Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bible difficulties Answered (Part 24)

By: Jay Smith, Alex Chowdhry, Toby Jepson, James Schaeffer

"The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him." (Proverbs 18:17) 

95. Did Saul take his own sword and fall upon it (1 Samuel 31:4-6), or did an Amalekite kill him (2 Samuel 1:1-16)?

(Category: misread the text)

It should be noted that the writer of 1 & 2 Samuel does not place any value on the Amalekite's story. Thus, in all reality it was Saul who killed himself, though it was the Amalekite who took credit for the killing. The writer relates how Saul died and then narrates what the Amalekite said. The Amalekite's statement that he 'happened to be on Mount Gilboa' (2 Samuel 1:6) may not be an innocent one. He had quite possibly come to loot the dead bodies. In any case, he certainly got there before the Philistines, who did not find Saul's body until the next day (1 Samuel 31:8). We have David's own testimony that the Amalekite thought he was bringing good news of Saul's death (2 Samuel 4:10). It is likely, therefore, that he came upon Saul's dead body, took his crown and bracelet and made up the story of Saul's death in order that David might reward him for defeating his enemy. The Amalekite's evil plan, however, backfired dramatically on him.

96. Is it that everyone sins (1 Kings 8:46; 2 Chronicles 6:36; Proverbs 20:9; Ecclesiastes 7:20; 1 John 1:8-10), or do some not sin (1 John 3:1, 8-9; 4:7; 5:1)?

(Category: misunderstood the Greek usage & Imposes his own agenda)

This apparent contradiction asks: 'Does every man sin?' Then a number of Old Testament passages that declare this are listed followed by one New Testament passage from 1 John 1:8-10:

"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives."

After this it is claimed by Shabbir that: 'True Christians cannot possibly sin, because they are children of God.' This is followed by a number of passages from the First Epistle of John showing that Christians are children of God. Shabbir is here imposing his view on the text, assuming that those who are children of God, somehow suddenly have no sin. It is true that a person who is born of God should not habitually practice sin (James 2:14ff), but that is not to say that they will not occasionally fall into sin, as we live in a sinful world and impinged by it.

The last of the verses quoted is from 1 John 3:9 which says:

"No-one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God."

Shabbir in his quote uses an older translation for 1 John 3:9 and so states, "No one born of God commits sin...and he cannot sin...," which is not a true translation of the Greek. In the newer translations, such as the NIV they translate correctly using the present continuous in this verse, as it is written that way in the Greek. Thus those born of God will not continue to sin, as they cannot go on sinning..., the idea being that this life of sinning will die out now that he has the help of the Holy Spirit in him or her.

It is interesting how Shabbir jumps around to make his point. He begins with 1 John 1, then moves to 1 John 3-5, then returns to the 1 John 1 passage at the beginning of the Epistle and re-quotes verse 8, which speaks of all men sinning, with the hope of highlighting the seeming contradiction. There is no contradiction in this as Shabbir obviously hasn't understood the apostle's letter or grasped the fact that the letter develops its theme as it goes on. Therefore quoting from the beginning of the letter, then moving to the middle of the letter, and finally returning to the beginning of the letter is not the way to read a letter.

The Scriptures clearly teach that all men have sinned except for one, the Lord Jesus Christ, therefore we have no quarrel with Shabbir on this point. As to Shabbir's second point I am glad he has come to realize that Christians are children of God therefore we have no quarrel with him on this subject.

It is Shabbir's third point, however, which is a contentious one because it does not take on board the development of the themes of the letter, of which the one pointed out here is the call to holiness and righteousness because of the forgiveness of sins by Jesus Christ's atoning death. It is for that reason that we are called not to continue in our sinful ways but to be changed into Christ's sinless likeness. In his attempt to show an apparent contradiction Shabbir has mischievously rearranged the order in which the verses were intended to be read in order to force a contradiction, which doesn't exist.

97. Are we to bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2), or are we to bear only our own burdens (Galatians 6:5)?

(Category: misread the text)

The question is asked: 'Who will bear whose burden?' Galatians 6:2 and 6:5 are compared, one says each other's, while the other says your own.

There is no contradiction here at all. This is not a case of 'either/or' but of 'both/and'. When you read Galatians 6:1-5 properly you will notice that believers are asked to help each other in times of need, difficulty or temptation; but they are also called to account for their own actions. There is no difficulty or contradiction in this, as the two are mutually inclusive.

98. Did Jesus appear to twelve disciples after his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:5), or was it to eleven (Matthew 27:3-5; 28:16; Mark 16:14; Luke 24:9,33; Acts 1:9-26)?
(Category: misread the text)

There is no contradiction once you notice how the words are being used. In all the references given for eleven disciples, the point of the narrative account is to be accurate at that particular moment of time being spoken of. After the death of Judas there were only eleven disciples, and this remained so until Matthias was chosen to take Judas' place.

In 1 Corinthians 15:5 the generic term 'the Twelve' is therefore used for the disciples because Matthias is also counted within the Twelve, since he also witnessed the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, as the passage pointed out by Shabbir records in Acts 1:21-22.

99. Did Jesus go immediately to the desert after his baptism (Mark 1:12-13), or did he first go to Galilee, see disciples, and attend a wedding (John 1:35, 43; 2:1-11)?

(Category: misread the text)

This apparent contradiction asks: 'Where was Jesus three days after his baptism?' Mark 1:12-13 says he went to the wilderness for forty days. But John 'appears' to have Jesus the next day at Bethany, the second day at Galilee and the third at Cana (John 1:35; 1:43; 2:1-11), unless you go back and read the entire text starting from John 1:19. The explanation about the baptism of Jesus in John's Gospel is given by John the Baptist himself. It was "John's testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was" (vs. 19). It is he who is referring to the event of the baptism in the past. If there is any doubt look at the past tense used by John when he sees Jesus coming towards him in verses 29-30 and 32. While watching Jesus he relates to those who were listening the event of the baptism and its significance. There is no reason to believe that the baptism was actually taking place at the time John was speaking, and therefore no reason to imply that this passage contradicts that of Mark's Gospel.

100. Did Joseph flee with the baby Jesus to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-23), or did he calmly present him at the temple in Jerusalem and return to Galilee (Luke 2:21-40)?

(Category: misunderstood the historical context)

This supposed contradiction asks: 'Was baby Jesus's life threatened in Jerusalem?' Matthew 2:13-23 says yes. Luke 2:21-40 appears to say no.

These are complementary accounts of Jesus' early life, and not contradictory at all. It is clear that it would take some time for Herod to realize that he had been outsmarted by the magi. Matthew's Gospel says that he killed all the baby boys that were two years old and under in Bethlehem and its vicinity. That would be enough time to allow Joseph and Mary the opportunity to do their rituals at the temple in Jerusalem and then return to Nazareth in Galilee, from where they went to Egypt, and then returned after the death of Herod

101. When Jesus walked on the water, did his disciples worship him (Matthew 14:33), or were they utterly astounded due to their hardened hearts (Mark 6:51-52)?

(Category: didn't read the entire text)

This seeming contradiction asks: 'When Jesus walked on water how did the disciples respond?' Matthew 14:33 says they worshiped him. Mark 6:51-52 says that they were astounded and hadn't understood from the previous miracle he had done when he fed the 5000.

This again is not a contradiction but two complementary passages. If Shabbir had read the entire passage in Matthew he would have seen that both the Matthew account (verses 26-28) and the Mark account mention that the disciples had initially been astounded, thinking he was a ghost. This was because they had not understood from the previous miracle who he was. But after the initial shock had warn off the Matthew account then explains that they worshiped him.


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