“There are contradictions in the Bible”. This is an often sincerely spoken statement, that I have heard a lot of folks make. And many of those people have actually READ the Bible, and took the time to try to understand it.
At first glance, to a novice, that statement is not without some merit. Many people read the Bible, and don’t understand what they read, or are confused by the seemingly conflicting, sometimes contrary messages they find in its text. Understanding “right division”, rightly dividing the word of truth, 2 Timothy 2:15, is the key to your understanding.
Along with 2 Tim 2:15, to even BEGIN to understand the Bible and what you read, you must always consider the CONTEXT of the scripture, and WHEN, then WHERE was he speaking? And WHO was speaking at that particular point in time, OR, is the scripture referring to THE FUTURE?.
Another thing to remember, as hard as it may be for some to accept, the Bible is ALWAYS LITERAL, unless it specifies that it ISN’T, in the context of the chapter.Luke 16 is a good example of this.Many people believe Luke 16 is a parable, but it isn’t. Nowhere in the context of the verse does it say it is a “parable”. Jesus describes “a CERTAIN rich man” and Lazarus. Very specific, and a true story, not a parable, and not to be construed as one. Often times people “spiritualize” LITERAL verses, and LITERALIZE parables and visions to make their doctrine work. Doing that will only leave you confused. the Bible “says what it says”. And most importantly, be sure you study from a KING JAMES VERSION Bible. Most all the others are “knock offs” of the original, and contain ommissions, and even complete verses are absent. And lastly, just because you cannot make sense of the scripture does not mean there is some error in the text. the only error would be in your understanding at the time.
My purpose of this writing is to bring you some clarity, and EMPOWER you. For simplicitys sake, it is written in essay, commentary form. This is meant more as an “explanation” than a Bible study. It is not infallible with regards to specifics, and I will not drown you in scriptural references you most likely won’t bother to run down and check. My goal is to “paint the picture” and “turn the light on” if you will, and once you understand the general principles, the scriptures will come alive the next time you open a Bible to read, you won’t need much more assistance. Most folks have never heard of what I am writing here, so I encourage you to study, and confirm it to yourself.
If you already understand this, please share it with others. Most people have never even heard of what I will present here, so I encourage you to study and confirm this on your own.
Covenants, and “contradictions” in the Old Testament
There were several covenants, or “agreements”, or contracts, between God and man in the Old Testament. The following is not an all inclusive list, just the most familiar, and easiest to find. The gospels I will mention are not an inclusive list either, just familiar, and good for comparison.
If one reads the Old Testament, and reads what God said to Adam,(Gen 2:16), then reads what he said to Adam, then Noah, then reads what he told Abraham, then reads what he said to Moses, it’s pretty obvious, on the surface, that they did all not receive the same message. But comparing apples to oranges is not fair to either the apple or the orange, and that is basically what you would be doing.
IF you tried the “one size fits all” approach, comparing one to the other, then logically, contradictions would be manifest. There are no “contradictions” in the Old Testament, just different Covenants, or agreements, at different times, between God and man.
There are often SHARED SIMILARITIES and COMMON PRINCIPLES in all of the different Covenants and Gospels presented in the Bible, but you will also find STARK DIFFERENCES among them as well.
I will compare the dietary restrictions of some of these covenants, reaching from there to the gospels, as a way to highlight the differences and similarities in the Covenants in the Old Testament, and the different gospel messages in the New Testament.
Logically, looking back almost 6000 years, Adam’s covenant, or “good news,” a Savior to come (Gen 3:15) is not OUR “good news” today. Moses covenant, or “good news” is not our “good news”, neither is Peter’s “good news,” to the Jew at Pentecost, “ye men of Israel”, (Acts chapter 2:14-38), OUR “good news”.
Consider this. Noah’s “good news,” or Covenant with God, (Gen 8:20-22, Gen 9:1-18) contradicted Adam’s Covenant, or “good news.” Adam, nor any of the animals before the flood ate meat. AFTER the flood though, Noah was permitted to eat ALL but human meat as a condition of his standing and relationship with God. (Gen 9:4) Contradiction? No, just a different program.
Moses’ Covenant, or “good news” forbade him to eat swine,(Deuteronomy 14:8), but Peter’s good news,(Acts 10:15), AND PAUL’s “good news,” allows it.(1 Timothy 4:4). It is my opinion also, that during the melliniel reign of Christ, all creatures, including man, will again be vegetarians.(Isaiah 65:25).
Not all “good news” is OUR “good news. The Jews “good news” (Acts 2:38), is not the Gentiles “good news”, BUT, from the fall of Israel until the rapture, the GENTILES “good news”, given to us through the Apostle Paul,(1 Corinthians 15:3, Eph 2:8), is also the Jews “good news”, until the Rapture. There is no difference at this point in time.(Galatians 3:28).
There was a short period of time after Calvary that the Jew had a gospel, (Acts 2:38), and, at the same time, the Gentile had a DIFFERENT gospel. Their gospels were not the same. You had a generation of People who had witnessed Jesus earthly ministry, and were saved under the Kingdom gospel. These folks were still around when Paul began his ministry to the Gentiles. One major difference in the two gospels was the Jew had the witness of Jesus earthly ministry, and his Resurrection. The Jew had hard evidence, signs and miracles from Jesus, the Apostles and Pentecost. The Jew also had the covenant promises, and prophecies that Peter referred to on the day of Pentecost, so blind faith was not a part of his salvation, as it was for the Gentiles.
It is not hard to concieve a Jew who had witnessed Jesus resurrection, standing in the same room with a Gentile. The Jew being saved under the gospel of the Kingdom Peter preached at Pentecost, but listening to Paul preach grace through faith alone to the Gentile. To THAT Jew, Paul’s gospel would have made no sense at all, because blind faith was not part of his Gospel, nor would it have made any sense.
He had seen Jesus IN THE FLESH, or witnessed his ministry. Conversely, to a Gentile in Paul’s day, Peter’s message at Pentecost “of whom ye are all witnesses (to Jesus resurrection) Acts 2:22-38, would have sounded silly to him. By the same standard, “repent, and be baptised”, the message Peter preached at Pentecost, have made no sense to a Gentile who had no Knowledge of Jesus, because he had not been responsible for Jesus death, nor had any knowledge that he had offended Jesus or God the Father.
In short, immediately after the Resurrection, if you had seen Jesus ministry or his resurrection, Acts 2:38 WAS your gospel. If you were a Gentile at that time, who had no prior knowledge of Jesus outside the Scriptures, 1 Cor 15:3, Ephesians 2:8 WAS YOUR GOSPEL. This is one explanation for Paul’s preaching “repentance” unto “good works” in the early part of his ministry. Paul was able to preach the Kingdom to Jews who had been saved at Pentecost, and also preach the Gospel of Grace to the Gentiles who didn’t have the blessing the Jew had. Two different groups of people, with different gospels.
The Gentile had no previous knowledge of Jesus Christ. All he could do was believe BY FAITH, in what he had heard about Jesus, which is why the Gentiles gospel is different. Make sense?
All of the Bible is GOOD for us, for our learning, but not all of it is specifically addressed TO us. There are many things in the Bible that applied to different peoples, at different times in our human history, some of these things STILL apply, and most of them don’t today, in the dispensation of Grace. We must always consider this in our study.
1 Timothy 2;15 says we must “rightly divide the word of truth”, meaning simply that we are to determine what part of the scriptures pertain SPECIFICALLY to US. There are often SHARED SIMILARITIES and COMMON PRINCIPLES in all of the different Covenants and Gospels presented in the Bible, but you will also find STARK DIFFERENCES among them as well. For us to learn this, and to know what gospel applies to US, is to understand OUR “GOOD NEWS”, and the rest of the Bible with clarity.
Good news? WHAT good news? WHOSE “good news”? Tell me more about this.?”
God has always had “good news” for us, and a way for us to fellowship with him. Understanding just what “good news” applies to YOU, in this present age, is the key to understanding the Bible, and making sense of all those apparent “contradictions” in the Scriptures.
“Gospel” literally means “good news”. Let’s Start from the beginning, with Adam, and do some comparisons.
Adam sinned against God, he separated himself from God by his sin. But God had “Good news” for ADAM. HE would provide a sacrifice for Adam’s sin in the FUTURE. (Gen 3:15) Until that time, ANIMALS would be sacrificed for sins. (Gen 3:21) Notice that GOD slew the animals to cover Adam’s sins AFTER he promised a coming Saviour from Adam’s seed. Adam’s covenant was sealed with the blood of animals. That was Adam’s “good news”!
BUT, it’s not OUR good news. Adam’s “good news” wouldn’t make any sense today.
OUR “good news” is that Jesus has ALREADY BEEN sacrificed for our sins. JESUS IS our blood sacrifice, animals are no longer required, and we are not under a covenant in this dispensation of the Grace of God.
OUR ‘good news” is that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day for our justification (1 Cor 15;3), and that any man who believes this by faith, is justified before God for Christ’s sake, and forgiven for all time by God’s grace through faith, not of works.( Ephesians 2;8).
Noah had “good news.” God would never destroy the world by water again,(Gen 9:11). And, as a provision of God’s plan for Noah, he still had to sacrifice animals for sins,(Gen 8:20), but was allowed to eat any kind of meat except human flesh (Gen 9:3-4). Noah’s “good news” appears to contradict Adams “good news”. But there’s no contradiction, just a change.
Moses’ covenant, or “good news,” was that God would make his people a “peculiar people, a priestly nation,” and he would bless the entire world through them. (Deut 14:2). Peter confirms that promise in 1 Peter 2:9. That was “good news”, but there were conditions and requirements. One was animal sacrifices, (Deut 12:16) another was the priesthood, (Exodus 20:24), the ten commandments,(Exodus 20 1-17) and part of Moses “good news,” to highlight a “contradiction”, was a prohibition on eating pork. (Deut. 14:8)
So why does all this “good news” SEEM to contradict? .
Because it was all different programs, for different people, at different times, in God dealing with his creation.
Adam’s situation was much different than ours: Jesus had not came yet to die for our sins. (Gen 3:15).
Noah’s situation was much different than Adam’s: Noah was only one of eight people living on earth at the end of the flood. No chance of a “nation of priests” in his day now was there?
Moses situation was much different than Noah’s: Moses and his people had just came out of 430 years in Egypt, 400 yrs. of which was bondage, in a nation steeped in idolatry and wickedness.. God’s specific laws reflected the degree of evil the Egyptian society, and the Jews had reached.
There are PRACTICAL , logical, sensible and CHRONOLOGICAL reasons for all these differences and so called “contradictions” in the Bible.
Understanding “right division” 2 Tim 2;15 is the key to understanding the covenants in the Old Testament, and the different Gospels mentioned in the New Testament, including the FUTURE gospels, after the rapture of the church.
Different “good news” Gospels in the New Testament
John the Baptist had “good news” for ISRAEL. (Luke 3:9-11) In a nutshell, John preached: “Your Messiah has come, your final sacrifice, redeemer, and eternal King is Here, behold, the LAMB that takes away the sins of the world,(John 1:29). Get ready to enter his Kingdom! Repent!, and be baptized” (Matthew 3:8, Luke 3:9). John was killed not long after this.
Jesus had “good news” for ISRAEL. Essentially he said: “I am here now, your Messiah, to fulfill the prophecies and promises made to you by the Father, BELIEVE in me, repent, and be baptized IN MY NAME, keep the commandments, and enter my Kingdom”.(Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:14). Israel rejected Jesus, and his message, and had him crucified.
Peter had “good news” for ISRAEL. An offer of reconciliation and forgiveness. At Pentecost, Peter said, essentially” “ Ye Men of Israel, You have murdered your King, and promised Messiah, but he is risen, as you all can testify, and God is renewing his offer of the Kingdom to you, and extending the hand of mercy to you, repent, and be baptized for the remission of sins, and to receive the Holy Spirit, and Jesus will return, and set up his Kingdom here on earth. ” (Acts 2:22-38).
Paul had “good news” for the GENTILES. “Christ died for our sins, was buried for three days, and was raised agian for our justification” Paul’s gospel had no requirements except believing 1 Cor 15:3 by faith. There were no other requirements, and, while many “religions” embellish Paul’s message, and add to it, Paul’s message has not changed.
In the Tribulation, God will again have “Good News” for ISRAEL, and the rest of the world.
Israel refused the “Gospels”, or offer of the Kingdom three times. They ignored the “good news”. All three of these Gospels had conditions and requirements of the JEWISH believer. OUR gospel TODAY, does not have ANY conditions or requirements (Ephesians 2:8, Titus 3:5). The only requirement is to believe Christ died for you, was buried for three days, and rose again for your justification. 1 Corinthians 15:3. THAT SINCERE BELIEF, by itself, brings about a changed heart, and “repentance” is a RESULT of that belief, and changed heart, not a pre requisite. “Repentance” is now JESUS work IN YOU AFTER SALVATION, not your work BEFORE it.
After Israel’s third refusal of the Kingdom offer, God placed them in unbelief with the Gentiles.(Romans 11:25-32). Because she denied Jesus, God no longer favored Israel. He now focused on a people who would hear him. The Gentiles were now “fellow heirs” to the blessings initially intended solely for Israel (Ephesians 3:6).
Israel refused her intended role in the Kingdom, which was to become a nation of priests, and evangelize the world to bring in the Gentiles. But God worked around that. He blinded Israel in part, and set her aside, then he sent a Jew named Paul to preach the “good news” to the Gentiles. (Acts 9, 26).
But the Gentiles “Good news” was not the same as the Jews “good news”. In Paul’s Gospel, and his 13 Epistles, there is no offer of a Kingdom to the Gentiles. That is reserved for the nation Israel IN THE FUTURE, and neither are there any “Kingdom conditions”, or requirements such as baptism, “repentance” “confession of sins”, or keeping the commandments, nor are there compulsory tithes placed upon the Gentile believer. Make sense?
The Gentiles “good news” is 1 Corinthians 15;3. When we believe, SPIRITUALLY, we become members of Christ’s BODY, (Ephesians 5:30), whereas the Jew, IN THE FUTURE, will one day be part of his earthly KINGDOM. But at the present time, spiritually speaking, all men are Gentiles, under the Gospel of the Grace of God.
This is the just one difference in the Jews “good news”, and the Gentiles “good news”. Peter preached the Kingdom Gospel, (Acts 2:38), and Paul preached the Gospel of the grace of God. (1 Cor 15:3)
Peter’s “Good news” to “ye men of Israel”, found in Acts 2:38, and all that accompanied it, IS NOT OUR “good news.” Noah’s good news, or Moses , or Johns, or Peter’s “good news” doesn’t “contradict” ours, they just don’t apply to us. PAUL”S “good news” found in Romans through Philemon, and 1 Corinthians 15;3. IS OUR GOOD NEWS!
If you ever have a question about something Biblical, or concerning your faith, simply go see what PAUL says about it, He is the authority for this dispensation, and you will avoid a lot of confusion that reigns in our churches and homes today.
A simple analogy
Imagine, in your workplace, taking a ten year old, outdated procedure that has been revised dozens times since, and going back ten years, to the first copy of the original procedure, without any revisions, and then trying to put it to use in your work place today. Once problems arise, and confusion reigns, or the procedure doesn’t work, one could say “well, it IS procedure” and technically he’d be PARTLY right. IT WAS procedure, but it doesn’t apply, or even work anymore.
That is EXACTLY what many “religions,” cults, and even believers are doing today with the Bible, and most don’t have a clear understanding of the Bible they read. So it is with trying to make a gospel message fit a time and a people that it was not intended for. You will only be confused.
Right division in the New Testament
I am often amazed at just how many people have never heard of “rightly dividing the word of truth”(2 Timothy 2:15). This is the key to understanding.
The New Testament contains several different gospel messages, intended for different groups of people at different times. Initially, you can “divide” the New Testament into three major parts. Part one, Matthew through John, contains a doctrine that was for the Jew, before Israel’s fall. (Acts 2:38). Then, after this, Paul’s gospel in Romans through Philemon contains the Gospel, and doctrines that apply TO ALL MEN, Jew and Gentile, (1 Cor 15:3, Eph 2:8, Rom 2:15) AFTER the fall of Israel, until the Rapture of the Church. And finally, Hebrews through Revelation is FUTURE, “Good news, with a similar doctrine found in Matthew through John. Hebrews through revelation is for the believer after the Rapture of the Church.
In reading the New Testament, you will notice a distinct difference in the “good news” found in Matthew through John, and the “good news”, and doctrine found in Romans through Philemon. Then, if you study further, you will realize that AFTER Philemon, that SAME gospel doctrine from Matthew through John REAPPEARS in Hebrews through Revelation. This is a FUTURE Gospel and doctrine. Again, most folks have never heard of what I am writing here, so I encourage you to study, and confirm it to yourself. It will help your understanding immensely. I didn’t mention the book of Acts because it contains transitional messages from the fall of Israel, to the Gentiles coming into favor with God, and is a matter for later comment and study.
FUTURE “good news”?? HUH!? DOO WHAAAT!???
Bear with me in my folly.
Here’s a bit of news few folks understand. PAUL”S gospel will EXPIRE. It ends at the Rapture of the Church. At the moment of the Rapture, Paul’s parenthetical gospel will cease to be in effect.
BUT, there will still be “good news”, for the tribulation believer. This “good news” is found in Hebrews through Revelation.
Note that the doctrines found in Hebrews through Revelation are essentially the SAME as what you find in Matthew through John, “believe” “repentance” , “obedience”(endure to the end)”keep the commandments”, “confession of sins”, etc., “enduring to the end” means one must endure, and be faithful unto death during the TRIBULATION PERIOD, in order to enter the Kingdom. Paul never preached anything remotely close to that, so it is clear, it’s not OUR “good news”. THIS is the future of God dealing with Man during the coming tribulation period AFTER Jesus removes US, his church from the earth. Immediately after the Rapture, God will again focus on Israel, for the first time in 2000 years.
Imagine this if you can for a moment: BAM!, the Rapture occurs, almost half the world’s population vanishes in the blink of an eye. There is chaos worldwide, Then, from the skies over Israel, Enoch and Elijah arrive in Jerusalem on a chariot of fire straight from heaven. They immediately confirm the rapture, and begin preaching Jesus imminent return to set up his kingdom. They can call fire down from heaven, work signs and miracles, and no one can kill them (until God allows it 3.5 yrs. later). Imagine their message sounding something like this: “YE MEN OF ISRAEL, Repent!, the Kingdom of heaven is at hand, Christ is going to return soon, get ready!, there is still time to be saved, still time for salvation before Jesus returns, and judges the wicked in flaming fire!”. If you read John the Baptist’s message in , You can easily see that HIS gospel, or elements of it, would also be echoed by the two prophets of the Tribulation.
After these men are killed, resurrected, and taken up to heaven, God still has “good news”, in the 144,000 from the 12 tribes of Israel. (rev 14:4), and when an angel flys through the heavens, in the last three and a half years of the tribulation, preaching “the everlasting gospel”, until Jesus returns.
None of those gospels sounds anything like “Christ died for your sins, was buried, and was raised again on the third day, your sins are forgiven”. Make sense?
When Jesus returns, The gospel, or “good news” HE preached to Israel during his earthly ministry 2000 years ago, will AGAIN be the Gospel for salvation. Although satan will be bound, man will still have a sin nature. Sin will still be present, and salvation will still be needed during Jesus millennial reign after his return, and Jesus will be the only way. (John 14:6)
At Jesus second coming, Israel will have already acknowledged her sins, repented and will gladly receive her promised Messiah, her final sacrifice, and her Lord and King for all time. (Zech. 12). King Jesus will judge the nations, and will appoint raptured saints (the body of Christ, the church from the age of grace before the tribulation started, US!) as judges, rulers and administrators of his Kingdom. King David will rule as a Prince over ISRAEL (Ezekial 34:24). God will have a “covenant of peace” with Israel (EZ 37:26). Israel will then become a nation of priests, with the 12 Apostles ruling from thrones over the 12 tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:28, Lk. 22:30). The knowledge of the Lord will saturate the earth. (Hab 2:14, Is.11:9)And the regeneration of the world will begin. The sacrificial system will be reinstituted for a thousand years, BUT there WILL BE NO BLOOD SACRIFICES. God will have his Tabernacle here in Israel also during that time.(Ez 37:28, Revelation 21).
During this thousand year time span, King Jesus will rule with a rod of Iron, but sin will still be present. To be saved, one will be required to go through a Jew, or a Jewish priest for salvation.(Zech 8:23). No doubt, the “good news” of this future dispensation may well be. “Believe on Jesus, that he died for your sins, repent, and be baptized in his name” That is pretty much the same gospel that Jesus preached 2000 years prior, to a stiff-necked nation. Make sense?
I pray this helps your understanding of the Bible. God bless!
James Dixon firstname.lastname@example.org