Supposed Contradictions

Problems with Slight Differences

Bible Rejecter’s Question # 1: From where, to where, died where, went where?
Num.33:37-42 says that the Hebrews went from Kadesh to Mt Hor where Aaron died and then to Zalmondah but Deut.10:6-7 says they went from Beeroth to Mosera where Aaron died and then to Gudgodah!

Bible Believer: Both verses are correct. The Hebrews went to many places. In Deuteronomy ch10 Moses is giving an overview of his time with the Hebrews in the desert, during their decades of wanderings. Understandably he doesn’t mention every single place they pitched their tents. They had been to Beeroth of the children of Jaakan (also called Bene-jaakan) before they went to Kadesh (see Num 33:31), in Deut 10:6 Moses doesn’t mention Kadesh or any other locations the Israelites had been to on their journey from Beeroth to Mosera probably because the Israelites didn’t stay there for long (these places were probably just stopovers on the journey to Mosera). Mount Hor (where Aaron died) is in the region of Mosera. And Zalmonah and the other places mentioned in Num 33:42-46 are evidently specific locations in the region of Gudgodah. 


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 2: How did King Saul die?
1 Sam.31: 4-5 says Saul committed suicide but...
2 Sam 2l:12 says the Philistines killed him and...
2 Sam. 1:10 says an Amalekite did it.

Bible-Believer: Saul killed himself after he was hit with an arrow (1Sam 31:2-5). 2Sam 1:10 never says an Amalekite killed Saul, it merely records an incident when an Amalekite CLAIMED that he killed Saul. The context shows that the Amalekite was lying to get an award.

2Sam 21:12 however does say that the Philistines had “slain” Saul on mount Gilboa. At this point it should be noted that Saul only put a sword through himself on mount Gilboa because he had already been fatally struck by a PHILISITINE archer, was in great pain and was waiting to die anyway (1Sam 31:3-4). Saul then merely put himself out of his misery. It is therefore clear and understandable that the author of 2Samuel (and God) would consider the Philistines responsible for Saul’s death and as such his slayers. See also 3:27-30, where God holds both Joab and Abishai responsible for Abner’s murder even though it was only Joab that smote Abner dead (3:27).


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 3: Who caused the census?
God (2 Sam.24:1) or Satan (1 Chron.21:1) provoked David to number Israel? 2 Sam.24:10 says the census was a sin; God caused a sin; Worse still, although God caused the sin (2 Sam.24:1,10) and David committed the sin (2 Sam.24:10) “just” God (Deut.32:4) killed 70,000 Jews (2 Sam.24:15) for David’s sin which God himself caused!


Bible Believer: God was the ultimate cause of making David number Israel but He used Satan (who provoked David to do it) as His instrument. Thus both God and Satan are said to have caused the census. Other examples of this kind of situation occur throughout the Scriptures. God used Satan to test Job’s faith (Job 1:10-12), making both God and Satan Job’s testers and God used Moses to give the law to Israel, making both God and Moses (John 7:19) Israel’s law givers.

God didn’t cause a sin; the census itself wasn’t a sin (see Num 1:1-3) but rather David’s pride in 2Sam 24:3-4 where he delights in finding out the extent of Israel’s enlargement as if he had been behind it (compare this with Dan 4:30-31). God did KNOW that David was going to be proud after He had moved him to take the census but it was still DAVID’S choice to be proud. Brian makes it seem as if the 70,000 Jews that God killed were completely innocent but they weren’t! God was ALREADY angry at Israel (2Sam 24:1, 2Sam 15:6,13) for their backsliding, and He provoked David into numbering them in the first place (2Sam 24:1), with the view that it would eventually lead to their DESERVED devastation in 2Sam 24:15.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 4: Megiddo or Jerusalem?
2 Kings 23:29-30 says that Josiah was killed at Megiddo and brought dead in a chariot to Jerusalem but according to 2 Chron.35:23-24 he was wounded at Megiddo and brought alive in a chariot to Jerusalem and died there!

Bible-Believer: Josiah was wounded, placed in a chariot and died from the wound before he left Megiddo. 2Chron 35:24 doesn’t say when or where Josiah died, it just says “and he died”. Notice the verse doesn’t say “THEN he died”, and we can’t just assume it’s in exact chronological order (especially in light of what 2Kings 23:30 says). Josiah died between the “he had;” and the “and they” of verse 24 of 2Chron 35, the author didn’t insert the “and he died” there because he simply wanted to finish off his description of everything the servants did with Josiah’s body before telling us whether he survived the injury or not.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 5: Does knowledge make you happy or sad?
Prov.3:13 "Happy is the man that findeth wisdom and the man that geteth understanding ".
Eccles. l:18 "For in much wisdom is much grief and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow".

Bible-Believer: Obviously knowledge can make one both happy and sad in different contexts. When one gains knowledge of God’s word and understands its message they are happy to finally find the truth but at the same time that knowledge may make them sorrowful, when they realise that their lost loved ones that have already died are in Hell.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 6: Where did Satan take Jesus first?
Matt.4:5-8 says the Temple followed by a mountain.
Luke 4:5-9 says a mountain followed by the Temple.

Bible-Believer: Jesus went to the Temple then a mountain. Luke’s gospel doesn’t say Jesus went to a mountain followed by the Temple. He never uses the term “followed by”. He merely states all what happened that day and doesn’t discuss it in any chronological order; similarly to the way he describes many of the events in his gospel.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 7: Did the centurion speak with Jesus?
Matt.8:5 says the centurion sent nobody and spoke with Jesus personally.
But.. .
Luke 7:2-4 says the centurion sent the Jewish elders instead of coming himself and never met with Jesus at all.

Bible Believer: The centurion never actually did go to Jesus but Matthew writes as if he did because he sent people to speak to Jesus personally, who actually gave his messages in the 1st person “I am this and that” (Luke 7:8) We know of other instances where the deed that a man told others to do is written as being done by HIM. A good example is John 4:1, which says, “Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John” even though Jesus never baptized ANYBODY according to the very next verse, his disciples did it! Another interesting example is John’s description of the events of the crucifixion in ch19. Pilate gives Jesus over to the Jews to be crucified in verse 16 but verses 19-22 say that Pilate was at the crucifixion, writing the superscription to be put on the cross. Obviously this would be most bizarre, a governor involving himself in a mere soldier’s task. In fact Pilate didn’t do this, John writes it as if Pilate did the writing and disputing with the Jews when HIS SOLDIERS actually did the writing of the sign and disputing (we are told this in Matt 27:27-37). When the Jews ask the soldiers for the superscription to be changed, John writes it as though they said it to Pilate himself (John 19:19). John 19:1 also says “Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him”, again would the governor himself actually carry out this task or his soldiers? David, also is said to have killed many thousands of men when in fact his army did (2Sam 8:5) and in modern times George Bush invaded Iraq and overthrew Saddam Hussein without having to leave the White House.

So Matthew (biblical-linguistically speaking) could rightfully say the Roman centurion came to Jesus and asked him help when in fact only his messengers went to Jesus and not the man himself.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 8: One or two possessed with devils?
Matt 8:28-32 says there were two possessed with devils while Luke 8:26-34 and Mark 5:2-14 says there was just one.

Bible Believer: Mark and Luke never say there was “just one” possessed with devils. The eyewitness (Matthew) describes everything he saw while Luke and Mark (who weren’t eyewitnesses) tell the story of the more noteworthy of the two demoniacs, without mentioning the other. Obviously, many things that took place during Jesus’ ministry are absent from both Luke and Mark’s gospels (John 21:25). Matthew also focuses on the same possessed man instead of the other one (the words in Matt 8:29-31 were spoken by the devils in Legion-see Luke 8:28-31). See also our answer to “contradiction” no.9 below.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 9: One or two blind men?
Matt.20:29-30 says they passed two blind men as they left Jericho but Mark 10:46 says they passed just one blind man, Bartimaeus.

Bible Believer: There were two blind men. Mark 10:46 doesn’t say that there was “just one” blind man. The situation is the same as the one in “contradiction” no.8 above. Mark, who wasn’t an eyewitness to the event, only mentions Bartimaeus’ (and not the second man’s) receiving of sight because he knew Bartimaeus by name and probably only heard HIS testimony of the event. Meanwhile, Matthew (the eyewitness) was just reporting all that he saw.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 10: A kiss?
Matt.26:48-50 and Mark 14:43-46 say that Judas revealed Jesus to the Jewish authorities with a kiss but John 18:3-6 says there was no kiss, Jesus revealed himself and the crowd fell back.

Bible-Believer: Brian is wrong. John 18 never says, “there was no kiss”. The kiss is merely not mentioned by John and would’ve taken place between verses 18:3 and 18:4. The multitude waited while Judas came and kissed Jesus (Matt 26:49) Judas then, moved backwards towards the multitude and stood with them (18:5). Then Jesus Himself moves towards the multitude, tells them who He was, and they fall back. When they get up they lay hands on Him (Mark 14:46) and later bind Him (18:12). It’s called putting two and two together!


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 11: How did Judas die?
Matt.27:5 says Judas hanged himself.
But.. .
Acts 1:18 says he fell headlong into a field and burst open in an accidental fall.

Bible-Believer: The event of Acts 1:18 probably refers to the death of the person (a priest) who actually made the purchase for the field of blood for himself and the other priests (Matt 27:6-7) and NOT Judas, see “contradiction” no.30 in Section II). Even if the calamity of Acts1:18 is applied to Judas (in which case the “this man” of Acts 1:18 could still refer to a chief priest) the two accounts can be easily reconciled. Judas hangs himself on a tree over a large drop above the field of blood, the rope or branch breaks (and this would be likely given the earthquake in Matt 27:51), and Judas ends up falling headlong into the field, and bursting open in the midst.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 12: Silent before Pilate?
Matt 27:13-14 says that Jesus was silent before the Roman governor but according to John 18:33-37, 19:11 Jesus said much when the Jews brought him before Pilate.

Bible-Believer: Matt 27:13-14 could not possibly mean that Jesus was COMPLETELY silent before Pilate, for it records Him speaking to him about being King of the Jews in verse 9! John is only recording more of this brief “King” conversation in 18:33-37. Matt 27:12 says when Jesus was “accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing”, not He said nothing to Pilate full stop! (See also Mark 15:4-5) John also speaks of a period when Jesus’ wouldn’t answer Pilate in 19:9. The two accounts are in total harmony.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 13: Who asked the favour?
Mark 10:35 says James and John asked the favour of Jesus while Matt.20:20-21 says it was their mother!

Bible Believer: Evidently James, John AND their mother asked the favour. Matthew only records their mother’s request and doesn’t record James and John’s, while Mark only records James and John’s request and doesn’t record their mother’s, there’s no contradiction. The events would’ve unfolded in the following order:

First, James, John and their mother come to Jesus worshipping Him and desiring something of Him (Matt 20:20). James and John speak to Jesus, and make their request (Mark 10:35:37). After this Jesus asks their mother what she wants, and she makes a similar request for her sons, the only difference being she uses the word “kingdom” instead of “glory” (Matt 20:21). And lastly Jesus responds to the requests (Matt 20:21-23, Mark 10:38-40).


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 14: At what time was Jesus crucified?
Mark 15:25 says at the third hour.
John 19: 14-16 says after the sixth hour.

Bible-Believer: The Jewish day started at 6pm and finished at 6pm 24 hours later. Meanwhile the Romans used our standard, the day began at 12am and finished at 12am. That Matthew and Mark were written from a Jewish angle and this is clear to anyone who’d care to read them. Only the commission of Mark 16:15 has anything to say about Christ’s being the Saviour of the WORLD. Meanwhile John’s gospel is completely unique to the other three and mostly records what Jesus had to say and do for the whole “world” (see 1:29, 3:16-19, 6:51, 8:12, 8:26 etc.) because the gospel is written TO the non-Jewish world (see 4:6, 5:1, 6:4, 19:40 etc.), which of course used the Roman system of time. This considered then, John 19:14-16 (using the Roman system) has Jesus being handed over to the Jews at the sixth hour (6am) and Mark 15:25 (using the Jewish system) says Jesus was eventually crucified at the third hour (9am) or the ninth hour in Roman time. There’s no inconsistency.


The Resurrection Accounts -

Bible Rejecter’s Question # 15: Who went to the tomb?
John 20:1 says Mary Magdalene alone, Matt 28:1 says Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, Mark 16:1 says Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome and Luke 24:10 says Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the other women!

Bible Believer: The problem here (as in “contradictions” 10 and 12 above) is that Brian thinks if the author doesn’t mention something he is somehow saying it didn’t happen. John 20:1 doesn’t say Mary Magdalene went to the tomb “ALONE”, it doesn’t say whether or which. Likewise Matt 28:1 doesn’t say ONLY Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb. Mark 16:1-2 tells us Salome went with them (still no contradiction) and Luke 24 suggests there were even more than three women that went to the tomb. The accounts are complimentarily different not contradictory, as we shall see.We know from the other gospels that Mary Magdalene wasn’t alone on her first visit to the tomb but John writes only about HER journey to the tomb in 20:1 because the focus of John’s writing (at this point) is MARY’S story on the day of the resurrection. It makes sense that John would only write briefly about the initial visit to the tomb with minimal details and from MARY’S perspective only, in the lead up to talking about Jesus’ appearance to HER alone (verse 15). Also since Mary Magdalene is the only one of the women that John has already familiarised us with in his book (see 19:25), it makes perfect sense to only talk about HER visiting the tomb, just like it would make perfect sense in any other book to talk about a key person visiting some place without mentioning others who went with him/her, whom the book hasn’t mentioned.

Matt 28:1 probably only mentions Mary Magdalene and the other Mary because they were the ones that were bringing the spices to the tomb (Mark 16:1) and were perhaps separated by some metres from the rest of the women on the journey and the first to see the open tomb. You’re naturally going to get division into separated groups and couples when more than three people (Luke 24) are walking somewhere. Compare John 19:25 with 19:26 where we see that just because some names are mentioned as being at a certain place (verse 25) the list of names may not actually include EVERYBODY at that place (see verse 26). Alternatively the two Marys and Salome (Matt 28 and Mark 16) could’ve visited the tomb completely separately from the group in Luke 24. Luke could be speaking of different women, a different occasion and a different time of the morning (remember Luke 24:10 is only speaking about who TOLD the disciples, and is not saying that these women went all together) All in all there were at least six women that visited the tomb (Luke 24:10) whether partially together or completely separately, and none of the gospels discount this.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 16: Why did she/they go to the tomb?
Matt 28:1 says just to see the tomb (according to John 19:39-40 Jesus was already anointed and wrapped by Nicodemus) but Mark 16:1 and Luke 24:1 say it was to anoint the body!

Bible Believer: Again our Bible rejecter is inserting in words where they don’t belong, Matt 28:1 never says they went “JUST” to see the tomb. And seemingly it hasn’t occurred to Brian that a person can have TWO reasons to go somewhere. They went to see the tomb AND anoint Jesus if they got the chance. There is no reason to think that the women saw Jesus being anointed and wrapped by Nicodemus because the gospels only record them seeing His body being buried (Luke 23:55). And it’s always possible that they were going to anoint His body again even if they did see it being anointed the first time.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 17: Was the tomb open or closed when the women arrived on the morning of the Resurrection?
Luke 24:2 says it was already open when they arrived.
But.. .
Matt.28: 1-2 says it was closed when they arrived and they saw it open!

Bible-Believer: Matt 28:1-2 DOES NOT say that the when the women arrived the tomb was “closed and they saw it open”, see all verses 1-5. After speaking about the women’s heading off for the tomb (28:1) and the earthquake they felt (first half of verse 2) Matthew then changes “scenes” to speak about the cause of the earthquake, which was elsewhere and what was happening at the tomb BEFORE the women got there (after the “:” in verse 2 along with verses 3-4). Obviously some time passes between verse 4 and 5, before the women make it to the tomb (Luke 24:2) and speak to the angel. See Matt 11:25, 26:63 for the use of the term “answered and said” meaning “began to speak”.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 18: One angel or two, inside or out?
Matt.28:2 says one angel sitting outside.
John 20:11-12 says TWO angels sitting INSIDE!

Bible-Believer: These two instances have NOTHING to do with each other. Matt 28:2 is describing how an angel opened the tomb before anyone got there (Luke 24:2, Matt 28:5). John 20:11-12 is describing what Mary Magdalene saw inside the tomb when she was there alone, on her SECOND visit there, later that morning! (John 20:1-11). For the identity of “the women” of Matt 28:5 see “contradiction” no.21 below.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 19: Who did the resurrected Jesus appear to first?
Matt.28:9-10 says all the women together.
Mark 16:9 says it was Mary Magdalene alone.

Bible-Believer: Our Bible Rejecter is absolutely playing games with interpretations because nowhere does Matt 28:9-10 say this was the FIRST appearance of the resurrected Jesus, it’s merely the first one that gospel speaks of. The story in John 20 confirms Mark 16:9, that Mary Magdalene was indeed the first to see Jesus after the resurrection, this appearance took place after verse 8 and before verse 9 of Matt 28 (see John 20:1-15).


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 20: Where and when?
John 20:1-14 says Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene at the tomb, after the disciples were told but Matt 28:1-9 and Mark 16:1-10 say it wasn’t at the tomb and it was before the disciples were told the news!

Bible-Believer: If we believe all the accounts of the resurrection to be true and hence take them as complimentary to each other, we gather that at least six women went to the tomb (see “contradiction” no.15 above) early in the morning among whom was Mary Magdalene (Matt 28:1). However Mary Magdalene didn’t go inside the tomb on her FIRST visit (before the disciples were told the news) but ran to the disciples when she saw that the tomb was open (John 20:1-2). Therefore Matt 28:1-9 and Mark 16:1-10 could not speak of an appearance to Mary Magdalene since she had run off before verse 5 in both books (according to John) and long before Jesus’ appearance to these women. On her SECOND visit Mary met Jesus at the tomb after the disciples were told about the empty tomb (John 20:2). Mary only met two apostles (John 20:2) while the rest of the women of Luke 24:10 met the rest and told them, somewhere else. Mary also tells the rest of the apostles later, after her meeting with Jesus (John 20:18).


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 21: Did Mary Magdalene recognize Jesus when he appeared to her?
Matthew 28:9 says yes but John 20:14 says no she didn’t.

Bible-Believer: See “contradiction” no.20 just above. Mary Magdalene is not present in Matt 28:9, she had run off long ago (John 1:1-2). The “they” and “them” is either speaking of just Mary the mother of James and Salome or could include Joanna and others. But when compared with the other resurrection accounts it definitely cannot include Mary Magdalene (as the context would suggest). See Matt 27:55-6, 28:5, Mark 16:1, Luke 23:55 and 24:10 which show that there were more women than just two that went to visit the sepulchre and plenty for the “they” and “them” of Matt 28:8 and 9 to apply to.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 22: How did the women/woman find out that Jesus had risen?
Matt. 28:2-6 says the angel sitting outside told them and the women never entered the tomb, but Mark 16:5-6 says the man sitting on the right inside the tomb told them and Luke 24:3-6 says the two men standing inside the tomb told them!

Bible-Believer: Again there is no Bible contradiction here, as anyone reading the above verses will see. Before we begin,  the “men” of Mark 16 and Luke 24 are obviously angels.

The only place where there’s a contradiction is between Brian’s own INTERPRETATION of Matt 28:2-6 all taking place “outside” on the one hand and the passages in Mark 16:5-6/Luke 24:3-6 on the other. Matt 28 never says that the angel was sitting “outside” when he told them that Jesus had risen from the dead, there’s no reason to doubt that the angel went inside the tomb between verses 2 and 5 (Mark 16:5). The “Come, see the place” of Matt 28:6 is spoken by the angel while both he and the women are INSIDE the tomb (Mark 16:5-6). While Matthew and Mark undoubtedly are recording the same visit, Luke isn’t. Since Luke’s account suggests that many women visited the tomb (Luke 24:10) it’s probable that the small group of women (see “contradiction” no.15 above) that saw the open tomb first, went in, saw the angel of Matt 28/Mark 16 and left without telling the other group/couples of women behind (see Matt 28:8, Mark 16:8). It’s also possible that the women of Matt/Mark and Luke are two separate groups altogether that went at totally different times to the tomb. Anyhow the second group investigated the tomb for themselves and saw two angels who said something different to them (Luke 24:1-8) than the angel of Matt 28/Mark 16. Either all the women were reunited when they met Jesus, or alternatively only Mary the mother of James and Salome met Jesus (Mark 16:1-2, John 20:1-2, Matt 28:9) while the second group never did meet Him (Luke 24:8-9).


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 23: Too scared to tell anyone or told everyone the news?
Matt.28:8 says the women ran from the tomb to tell the disciples the good news but Mark 16:8 says they left too terrified to say anything, saying nothing to any man!

Bible-Believer: Matt 28:8 explains (not contradicts) Mark 16:8 fully. For not only does it also say that the women were afraid it explains that despite their fear the women still ran to tell the disciples (by the way RUNNING doesn’t imply SPEAKING to “any man”). Mark 16:8 also says the women ran somewhere “quickly”, Matt 28:8 fills us in on where they were running to. They obviously ran to the disciples in FEAR and were too afraid to say anything to anyone ON THE WAY. Brian seems to miss the fact that the Mark 16:8 statement “neither said they anything to any man” must have a time limit (they obviously didn’t become mute for their entire lives) and there’s no reason to think that the time that this statement applies to is the time between leaving the tomb and meeting the disciples, just like the other gospels say.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 24: Peter and John?
Luke 24:12 says Peter went to the tomb alone but John 20:2-6 says he went with John.

Bible-Believer: John 20:2-8 explains that (although they were at one point side by side) Peter and John did not stay together and each other’s journey and visit to the tomb were separate. Luke speaks only of Peter’s visit to the tomb and not John’s. That’s no big deal, remember John is describing his own eyewitness experience here, Luke is writing what he heard from people’s testimonies. The accounts are bound to be different. We repeat the point that, if the author doesn’t mention something he is not saying it didn’t happen. Click here to see a simple sequence of events for the Resurrection.


Bible Rejecter’s Question # 25: Does God want everyone to be saved?
2 Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance ",
2 Thess,2:11,12 "God shall send upon them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they might all be damned",
John 12:40 "He [God] hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart and be converted, and I should heal them",
Rom. 11:8 "God hath given them a spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear unto this day". See also Isaiah 6:10 and Luke 8:10.

Bible Believer: God does want everyone to be saved. As for 2Thess 2:11-12, Brian would do well to read the context, the previous verse (2Thess 2:10) says these people “...received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” God gave these people their chance to be saved, they heard the truth but they didn’t respond to it, clearly then God DID WANT these to be saved at one time. In John 12:40 the “He” is referring to Isaiah not God, who made Israel to shut their own eyes (because they didn’t want to know) by just WARNING them of disaster (Isaiah 6:8-11). And Brian’s Romans reference actually backs up the argument that God wants all to be saved! This verse refers to Jews who also squandered their chance to be saved before God abandoned them so that the Gentiles (who were heading for total damnation at the time) could get their chance. In the same passage, Romans 11:11 says of this situation, “I say then, Have they (the Jews) stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy”. It was necessary for the salvation of BOTH Jews and non-Jews. Isaiah 6:10 has already been cleared up (see our comments on John 12:40 above). Jesus statement in Luke 8:10 is explained in Matt 13:13-15. The Jews had hardened their own heart, shut their own ears and closed their own eyes (Matt 13:15) God was not behind this either.