List of the Biggest Contradictions in the Bible

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How many contradictions are in the Bible?


That’s how many contradictions you will actually find in the Bible.

Yes. Zero.


Skeptics have made many “lists of the biggest contradictions in the Bible.”

All of the so-called major contradictions were proven false decades -even centuries ago.

When you’re done reading this, you will know the truth.

Read on, and you’ll know exactly why the Bible has zero contradictions and why the claims of Bible contradictions are badly mistaken.

Skeptical? Let’s view a few claimed Bible contradictions and debunk them together.

Here’s an example of one of the “blatant contradictions in the Bible” published by a mistaken author.  (Accessed November 14, 2019)

“Genesis chapter 1 lists six days of creation, whereas chapter 2 refers to the “day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.”

This writer has made a serious blunder.

Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

Genesis 1:1-5 clearly covers the creation of the heavens and the earth and the separation of light and darkness in the first day of creation.

So when Genesis 2:4 says “…in the day that the Lord God made the earth heavens”… it clearly, obviously, and beautifully confirms Genesis 1:1.

So this mistaken author is staring confirmation right in the face and calling it a contradiction.

Most “Bible contradictions” are just as mistaken as this one. A few others take slightly more work to solve.

Why are there so many mistaken authors who tell us of self-contradictions in the Bible that don’t exist?

Let’s take a closer look.

Mike Winger has studied so-called Bible Contradictions extensively. Watch him dismantle supposed contradictions piece-by-piece.

Why Some People Think There Are Contradictions in the Bible

 It’s apparent by reading some of the Bible Contradiction lists that there are common reasons people think the Bible has contradictions when close inspection reveals otherwise.

So here’s a list of reasons why people think so:

(1) They have an agenda that says there must be many contradictions in the Bible, so they see them even when they don’t exist.

This is called Confirmation Bias.

Confirmation Bias is a phenomenon known to occur even among some of the brightest scientists. 

It happens when people get focused on trying to prove a point.

They get so focused on trying to prove the point they want to make that they get blinded by opposing evidence that’s right in front of them.

Confirmation Bias usually gets uncovered by peer review, but lists of Bible contradictions posted on the internet don’t usually go through a peer review process.

(2) They don’t know the meaning of the word “contradiction”.

So here’s the definition of contradiction:  to assert the contrary or opposite of; deny directly and categorically.

Many people do not know the difference between a contradiction and a variation.

There are lots of variations in the Bible as there are in our everyday lives.

Variations are not bad. In fact, we can learn a lot from variations.

One way variations happen is when there are multiple observers.

Each observer may have a different viewpoint because of the position from which they view an event.

Just watch the instant replay of any professional sports game and you’ll immediately know what I mean.

Every camera may see the event differently from all the others.

The contradictionists do not understand the culture (in fact, they don’t even try) of the people during the times of the Bible, so they project contradictory assumptions into the text.

Our culture today and our great technological advances cause us to see things much differently than the way people saw things in antiquity.

Many people fail to account for cultural differences across 2-3 millennia.

They also fail to understand underlying assumptions that may be much different than today’s assumptions.

They fail to understand the context of the Biblical text. All “Bible contradictions” clear up immediately once the underlying context is understood.

(3) They don’t take the time to study, understand and love the Bible for its many amazing truths.

The reason we have such a great understanding of the Bible today is because of scholars who loved the Bible enough to study it in detail to unlock and understand it.

These scholars have written extensively and have spent the time to resolve Biblical misunderstandings.

But skeptics haven’t taken the time to know and understand the Bible.

Too bad for them, because they could have learned so much!

Why don’t they take the time to read what the scholars have said and understand the Bible for what it really is?

(4) Bible skeptics might (or might not) be very bright people in a certain profession or field of study, but they naïvely assume folks who study an old book like the Bible aren’t as bright as the skeptic.

But many of Earth’s finest PhD scholars have studied and written beautiful peer-reviewed articles and Theses on the Bible and many Bible-related subjects.

Many, many former atheist truth-seekers –when finally exposed to clear-headed thinking- have themselves become Christians after realizing the truth they were always looking for was right in front of them!  

One of the most prolific authors to study and write about apparent contradictions in the Bible was highly loved and respected Bible scholar Norman Geisler.

He wrote The Big Book of Bible Difficulties, with co-author Thomas Howe that you can get on Amazon.

I have my own copy.

It has opened my eyes to many Bible difficulties I didn’t know about, and it has shown me how a little bit of scholarship can go a long way in resolving virtually every Bible difficulty.  

Bible contradictions melt away in the presence of knowledge and understanding.

I heartily recommend it –and any other book by Norm Geisler you can get your hands on.

Another great book on the subject is The New International Encyclopedia of Biblical Difficulties, by Gleason Archer –also available on Amazon.

It’s even more comprehensive than Geisler’s book.

Answers to Contradictions in the Bible 

Here are some my favorite cleared up contradictions in the Bible that I’m sure you will enjoy.

The Sabbath Day Contradiction

“Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” Exodus 20:8, ESV

“One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” Romans 14:5, ESV

Some folks call this a contradiction since the Old Testament passage from Exodus seems very strong about keeping the Sabbath holy.

But the New Testament passage in Romans seems to be saying any man can decide for himself.

Here’s an article on this subject, called “Who Changed the Day of Worship from Saturday to Sunday?” that explores the details.

Here’s the short version of the story:

(1) A clear reading of Exodus 20 shows God clearly gave the Sabbath law only to Israel.

(2) Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Sabbath and the Sabbath Law is completely fulfilled in Him

(3) Therefore the faith of the Christian is in the works of Jesus Christ and not in the works of the law.

(4) The audience of Romans 14 is a gentile audience, so the context is completely different than the Hebrew audience in Exodus 20.

Verdict: Not a Contradiction

Did Jesus Carry His Own Cross?

Some skeptics contend there is a contradiction between John 19:17 where Jesus bears his own cross, and Mark 15:21-23 where Simon carries the cross for him.

The differences between these two passages have been known for a long time, so it’s surprising people still bring it up.

Scholars noted this and solved the apparent contradiction centuries ago.

So the solution has been known for ages, but that doesn’t stop the skeptics from bringing it up.

Skeptics don’t bother to read the events that preceded these passages.

Jesus Christ –knowing what was ahead of him, was so anguished that as he prayed, he was sweating great drops of blood.

Then he was kept awake for two straight days, being subjected to an illegal overnight trial.

Then he was whipped and beaten savagely, punched in the face, forced to wear a crown of thorns, and subjected to great humiliation.

If anybody stops to think about these horrible events and the effects they have on a human being, its amazing Jesus was still alive at this point.

The solution? Jesus was ordered to bear his own cross as was the custom.

After a short time, it was clear that –due to his injuries- he couldn’t carry it any longer.

Then Simon was ordered to carry his cross for him.

And because when a man was condemned to die on the cross, he was also condemned to bear that cross, Simon’s efforts to carry Jesus’ cross did not absolve Jesus of the legal requirement of bearing the cross.

That’s why the Bible tells us Simon was compelled to carry Jesus’ cross –because the State was not going to take the responsibility of a condemned man.   

In other words -when Simon was carrying the cross, Jesus was still bearing it.

Verdict: Not a contradiction

Circumcision Contradictions Solved

Circumcision was part of the Old Covenant Law God began with Abraham.

It was given to the Israelites and no one else, and was never intended for other people. (Gen 17:10)

Skeptics bring up the verse of Galatians 5:2 “if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing”.

The skeptics have no understanding of how the original directive was given to Abraham and how it was intended only for his direct descendants.

Would the skeptics change their tune after seeing this passage?

“A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.” (Romans 2:28-29)

Verdict: Not a contradiction

Abraham and Sarah Incest Contradiction

Abraham’s wife Sarah (Genesis 17 and Genesis 20) was his half-sister.

Contradictionists point out that the Levitical law (Lev. 20:17, Deut 27:22) condemns this practice –called incest.

But the skeptics fail to understand something that is crystal clear to anybody who has studied the Bible just a little bit.

Skeptics ignorantly hold Abraham and Sarah to a law that wouldn’t come until 500 years later.

In the times of Abraham and Sarah, the earth’s human population was very small, and this practice was very, very common among all people groups.

It was also at least 500 years before God gave the Levitical Laws to the Israelites. 

God’s law is perfect and it is beneficial to man. The practice of incest is linked to birth defects due to mutations.

People who avoid incest prevent mutations and birth defects.

But the earlier generations didn’t have all these mutations, so God gave the law later when man needed it.

Skeptics commit an obvious and embarrassing chronological error.

They hold Abraham and Sarah to a law that would not come until 500 years later!

Verdict: Not a contradiction

Honor Your Father and Your Mother Contradiction

The 4th Commandment is “Honor Your Father and Your Mother.” God gave this commandment to Moses in Exodus 20:12.

Skeptics bring up a New Testament verse that supposedly contradicts it:

“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children and brothers and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26

The skeptics are so blinded by their own presuppositions that they fail to understand basic logic.

The passage from Luke mentions not only the father and mother, but many, many other close relatives.

It’s obviously a much different context than the Exodus passage, and the use of the word “hate” is there to make a point:

The believer’s love for Christ should be so strong that any other kind of love for even close relatives looks almost like hate compared to his to his love for his Savior.

To put it another way, Jesus is telling the hearer is that if you are really serious about making him Lord, he has to take first place in your life.

God must come before all else.

So a believer who follows the true and Living God will place what God says above what his family says.

Verdict: Not a contradiction

Visiting the Iniquity of the Father Contradiction

“I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.” –Exodus 20:5, KJV.

In this case, the contradictionists conveniently leave off the last few words of the verse, which are “of them that hate me.”

By leaving off those words, they completely reverse the intended meaning.

Then verse 6 –which the skeptics don’t quote, says

“And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:6 KJV

Skeptics only want to quote the words that make God into a caricature of their own making.

They make him out to be fierce and vindictive, and they ignore God’s amazing mercy and love for those who keep his commandments.

Key point: “visiting the iniquity of the fathers” does not mean “punishing the children for the father’s sins” which skeptics imply. If the children continue to hate God as their parents did, then as a just God, he must deal with those who break his laws.

Yes, God is love. But God is also just and righteous.

And righteousness demands judgment.

The skeptics are wrong again.

Verdict: Not a contradiction.

Would You Like to See More of the Most Difficult Bible Contradictions Debunked?

The End of the World Contradiction

Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” Matthew 16:28, KJV

Skeptics then comment that 2000 years have gone by and Jesus hasn’t returned so this is an obvious contradiction.

But they are wrong again, because they didn’t bother to read the very next verses –Matthew 17:1-6 known as the Transfiguration.

The Son of Man clearly comes into his kingdom in these verses and the prophecy is fulfilled right then and there.

Verdict: Not a contradiction.

Human Sacrifice Contradiction

The story of Jephthah and his daughter is another failed contradiction claim from Judges 11:30-31.

Jephthah made a foolish oath:

“whatever came out the door of his house to meet him when he came home in peace from a successful battle against his enemy would be sacrificed.”

When he arrived home, his daughter –and only child- came out the door to greet him.

Skeptics and cynics make a big deal out of it.

And in this case –let’s be honest – Jephthah really painted himself into a corner on this one.

For sure, this wasn’t Jephthah’s finest moment.

But there are some serious problems with skeptic’s claims, and you can read the full explanation in pages 148-9 of The Big Book of Bible Difficulties which you can get on Amazon.

Here it is in a nutshell:

-Skeptics assume Jephthah then offered his daughter as a burnt offering, but 1) the Bible never records that and 2) there are other possibilities.

Strong possibilities, as we will see.

-The daughter goes for two months and bemoans her virginity. She does not bemoan her life.

If she believed she was going to become a burnt offering, she could be expected to have behaved very differently.

-This is a very good case for her to have made herself a living sacrifice while maintaining her virginity for life, which is still a big price to pay as the only child.

It is a price for both father and daughter to pay, since she would not produce any children to carry on his line.

Jephthah would have known that God did not accept human sacrifice.

Also note that in the passage from Judges 11:30-31, it says sacrifice but it never says what kind of sacrifice.

There are many other ways to make a sacrifice without the taking of life.

This is a more difficult “contradiction” to resolve than some of the other ones, but somebody who really cares about the truth can always read Geisler and Howe.

Verdict: Not a contradiction.

Size of Israel’s/Judah’s Army Contradiction

How many fighting men were counted during the census of David’s army in 2 Samuel 24:9 and 1 Chronicles 21:5-6?

The 2 Samuel passage lists 800,000 for Israel and 500,000 for Judah, but the 1 Chronicles passage lists 1,100,000 for Israel and 470,000 for Judah.

You see, those Bible writers just couldn’t get anything right, could they?

Well -not so fast. It takes a little bit of work to debunk this Bible difficulty –but it has been solved –brilliantly, yet simply.

The solution is found in 1 Chronicles 27:1-15 (where 288,000 more troops from Israel are listed from a different category) and in 2 Chronicles 1:14, where a list of the remaining 12,000 missing troops is found.

So we have 800,000 + 288,000 + 12,000 =1,100,000.

So we now have the 1.1 million troop count to match the number from 1 Chronicles 21:5-6.

As for Judah, the 30,000 missing troops are located in 2 Samuel 6:1.  

And what accounts for the difference? Categories.

Just as a nation’s armed forces may consist of groups under arms with different names, like the Army, the Marines, Delta Force, SEALS, etc so did the Israelite armies of old.

Verdict: Not a contradiction.

Thief on the Cross Contradiction

Skeptics point out a difference in Matthew’s and Mark’s accounts of Jesus on the cross.

The argument goes something like this:

In the passage from Mark 15:32, both thieves reviled Jesus.

But in Luke 23:40-42 only one thief reviled Jesus, while the other one defended him.

Yes. Sure enough, Mark 15:32 says both thieves reviled Jesus, but Luke 23:40-42 says only one thief mocked Jesus while the other one defended Jesus.

Keep in mind that when other passages agree, skeptics claim the match is too perfect and the authors must have collaborated to say the same thing.

So here’s a difference, and they aren’t satisfied with that either.

And remember, a difference (or variation) isn’t the same as a contradiction.

Note there was a Centurion present during these events, who said “surely this was a good man.”

Could one of the thieves have been influenced by the events taking place right in front of him?

The solution? Both thieves initially reviled Jesus Christ on the cross.

But as Jesus’ character became apparent, one of the thieves had his eyes opened.

He defended Jesus and asked if Jesus would remember him when entering his heavenly kingdom.

Verdict: Not a contradiction.                    

Genealogies of Christ

Skeptics like to point out that the two genealogies of Jesus Christ differ in Matthew 1 and Luke 3.

Bible scholars found the solution in the 4th century –over 1500 years ago!

So it’s quite clear that skeptics don’t do their homework before bring up these problems.

And we Christians don’t always have a command of every answer to every supposed Bible contradiction.

Here’s the solution: Matthew gives us the family line through Jesus’ legal father Joseph.

Luke gives us the family line through Jesus’ birth mother Mary.

This video gives a great explanation from the solution produced by Eusebius in the 4th century AD.

It’s common in most Bible genealogies to skip generations, because the Jewish meaning of generations is different than ours.

So the generations often do not line up even though both genealogies have the same starting point.

Ancient Jewish thought isn’t the same as 21st century human thought. In their culture of that day, it wasn’t necessary -or expected- to list every single generation.

This is evident in readings of any of the Old Testament genealogies.

It’s just a historical fact that any serious skeptic would know if they did their homework.

Chapter 8 (pp 175-189) of When Skeptics Ask -by Norm Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks (available on Amazon)- explains the proper principles of Biblical interpretation.

These are mainstream principles acceptable to all Christians.

From reading this, it becomes clear how easily anybody can learn why this Bible difficulty is easy to explain.

Verdict: Not a contradiction.           

Bible Contradictions Refuted

As you can see, the so-called Worst Bible Contradictions are easy to refute.

Some of them take more effort than others, but what does it say about the claims of the contradictionists?

Will they now read these great books and retract their contradictions lists?

It’s unfortunate that so many people get led astray by these mistaken claims.

For the Contradictionists, it’s fair to say the Handwriting is on the Wall. A careful look at the Bible shows their claims do not hold up.

If you know somebody else who needs to read this post, do them a favor and forward the link to this article to them.

Many people really want to know the truth, and they are very glad to learn it once they see it laid out in front of their eyes.

Is this why so many former atheists have become believers in Jesus Christ? Former atheists like C.S. Lewis, J. Warner Wallace, and Lee Strobel all came to faith because they had a desire to know the truth.

Some of them tried to refute Christianity when a loved one became a believer.

When faced with the overwhelming evidence of the truth of God’s living Word -the Bible, they themselves decided to become followers of Christ.

If you want to study more on the subject of failed Bible contradictions, read The New International Encyclopedia of Biblical Difficulties, by Gleason Archer or The Big Book of Bible Difficulties, by Norm Geisler and Thomas Howe.

Both books are available on Amazon.

I also highly recommend When Skeptics Ask by Norm Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks.

The ultimate truth is found in the Bible itself, and scholars like Archer, Geisler, Howe and Brooks make it easier for all of us to understand.

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