Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
God's purpose in concealing its teachings until due, and then when due making it understood by the faithful only, and misunderstood by all others, we can see that it required the inspiration of an omniscient One so to construct the Bible as to effect these results, not taking into account its other proofs of inspiration.
Some object to the Bible's inspiration on alleged moral grounds. They say that the Bible tells of immoralities, e.g., as between Judah and his daughter-in-law, Tamar, David and Bath-sheba, etc., sodomies and rapes, e.g., the rape of Dinah, Jacob's daughter, of the Levite's concubine and of David's daughter, Tamar, by her brother, Amnon, and the incests of Lot and his daughters. They say that the Bible tells of murders, e.g., of Uriah at David's charge, of John the Baptist at Herod's charge, of Naboth at Jezebel's instigation, of polygamy, of more or less easy divorce, etc. In reply, we would say that the Bible not only does not sanction the aforesaid adulteries, sodomies, rapes, incests and murder, but positively disapproves of them, and tells them to warn against such sins, as well as to forecast antitypes of evil deeds. As for polygamy and more or less easy divorce: the Bible does not sanction them; it merely tolerates them as a concession to the deeply depraved condition of men and of social conditions, before God's people, by His teachings and disciplines, had time enough to be raised to conditions wherein such things were no longer to be tolerated. Hence Christ's teachings in Matt. 19, not only expressly set aside divorce, except on the one ground of adultery, but also by implication, through sanctioning monogamy alone, condemns polygamy. But none of these crimes affect inspiration, let alone nullify it. Rather, they are in favor of inspiration, since they are told as warning examples; and the temporarily tolerated easy divorce and polygamy are in harmony with inspiration, which, as seen, proceeds wisely to uplift its subjects in most practical ways, by a condescension to human conditions due to deep depravity. Certainly, to
demand instant reformation of these evils from people on so low a plane of degradation would have been most unwise and unloving, however justly justice could have demanded it; and certainly the interests of reformation were best attained by the toleration that God's wisdom and love allowed, His justice in the meantime afflicting by family troubles the indulgers in these practices, without its being at all against the Bible's inspiration.
Another feature of the objection now being considered is that God Himself has brought great calamities upon individuals and nations, yea, upon the whole race, which the objectors claim militate against the Bible, both as revelatory and inspired. This involves the question of why God permits evil, which was before discussed in some detail as the fifth internal reason for the Bible's being a Divine revelation, which refutes this objection so far as concerns its use against its being a Divine revelation, since it is a proof of its being such a revelation, and of Divine inspiration. But a consideration of some of the calamities as objections to the Bible's being a Divinely inspired revelation will prove helpful. Apart from the experience of evil on the whole race, which we saw was for the educational purpose of helping the race hate and avoid sin, when it by contrast comes to its educational experience with righteousness, teaching it to love and practice righteousness, and apart from the elects' suffering to prepare them properly to minister to the world Millennially, the following calamities are impressive ones coming under consideration here: the flood, the destruction of Sodom and its sister cities, the death of Egypt's firstborn and its host in the Red Sea, and the command to extirpate the seven nations of Canaan, but imperfectly carried out, and the Amalekites. God destroyed the bulk of the race by the flood, because its wickedness had so increased as to make this necessary for moral and social reasons; for the race had so greatly depraved itself, and the giant offsprings of the fallen angels and women had so oppressed the Adamic race, that Divine justice
could no longer permit their continuance, that of the hybrid giants, whose existence was not only not authorized but was also contrary to God's order in nature, and, therefore, had to be obliterated, and that of the wicked, for they had so greatly contaminated themselves that it would have been a great wrong to have permitted them to propagate themselves, since the law of heredity would have produced too great corruption in the race. Moreover, they were all under the death sentence, and, so far as they were concerned, they suffered less by being drowned, which is one of the easiest of deaths, than if they had succumbed to the pains of long diseases, so that no injustice was done these unworthy ones by the nature of their deaths.
A similar situation is presented in the case of Sodom and her sister cities of the plains. The crime that they attempted to commit against the two angels, additional to the gross sins that plagued the righteous Lot, reveals their unutterable depravity, which called for God's justice punishing them with an exemplary stroke, which prevented their further wrong and prevented them from propagating descendants who would have inherited their gross depravity. The wickedness of the Egyptians in general, and in particular as to God and Israel, fully justified God's justice in the retribution against them involved in the death of their firstborn and of their army at the Red Sea. As to the seven nations of Canaan and the Amalekites: in Genesis we read that their sins were not yet full, in Abraham's day, but in later Biblical times these did so greatly abound that God charged Israel to act as the executors of His sentence against them, and rewarded them to the degree of their doing so with that degree of possessing their land. Archaeological discoveries have revealed that venereal diseases, especially syphilis, increased through the practice of their unchaste religious rites, had literally rotted them, causing them to be so weak as to fall easily at Israel's hands. It was a mercy that, instead of succumbing to a slow painful dying process naturally endured,
they died suddenly in war, and thus were estopped from spreading their loathsome venereal diseases and from bringing offspring into existence so contaminated. Thus in all these cases no wrong was done them, since they were already under the death sentence, which their ungodliness deservedly brought upon them more quickly, but less sufferingly, than if they had gradually died. In executing retribution upon them God made them types of the punishment of other wicked ones connected with his plan, and thus these types became revelatory of such features of His plan.
Thus the flood and its destruction of the order then prevailing and the wicked became a type of the great tribulation and its destruction of the present evil world and its wicked ones (Matt. 24: 37-39); the destruction of the people of Sodom and her sister cities became a type of the eternal destruction of the incorrigibly wicked (Jude 7, see margin of A. R. V.). The death of the firstborn types the eternal destruction of those who once were God's people and then gave themselves up wholly to serve Satan, the antitype of Pharaoh, while the destruction of Pharaoh and the Egyptian army in the Red Sea types the eternal annihilation of Satan, his unrepentant fallen angels and those of the restitution class who will turn to sin during the Little Season. The destruction of the seven nations of Canaan and the Amalekites types the destruction of sin, error, selfishness and worldliness at the hands of God's overcoming people. Thus these experiences are a part of revelation and their recording in the Bible is a part of inspiration. Hence instead of their militating against revelation and inspiration they are a part of them and a proof of them. Thus there are no real moral objections to the Bible's account of these things. On the contrary, they are given in the interests of good morals. Certainly, the Bible standard of morals is the highest and most sublime in existence, a proof of its Divine origin.
Some have objected to its inspiration because of its being allegedly unscientific. On this we have given
complete refutations in detail, in our reply to Mr. Darrow (EA, 354-372) and in our discussion of creation and the flood in EB, 165-585. Hence we will say nothing more on this than that the Bible is in full harmony, not with the speculations and guesses of so-called science, which are exploded theories, almost as soon as they are announced, but with all the assured results of scientific findings, as the ablest scientists also hold. Nor will we give detailed answers to what some say are too trivial to be a part of a Divinely-inspired revelation, like some things in the Mosaic laws (all of which as types belong, and the genealogies, by their nature, to an inspired revelation), the Apostolic greetings (which reveal Christian sociability and friendship, and thus are worthy), Paul's direction to Timothy as to the latter's health (which shows his love, a worthy thing), and his desire for his mantle and manuscripts (needed by Paul in his cold cell and for his study of the Word), which certainly are worthy of a place in an inspired revelation. Such little things inspired by God show His love and care for His children and this love and care are thus fittingly a part of an inspired revelation.
Many of the difficulties of the Bible have made not a few doubt its inspiration. Some infidels are wont to gather together these difficulties and to fling them at Bible believers and Bible skeptics as proof that the Bible is not inspired. A correspondent of ours, who evidently has been presented with many of these difficulties as alleged contradictions in the Bible, has written us a letter with a long list of these alleged contradictions, desiring that we harmonize them with our view of the Bible's inspiration. Some of these alleged contradictions are found in the differing statements of the four Gospels on certain of their events and teachings. In a general way we would say that these differences are due to several causes. Those that make Jesus express Himself differently on the same matters in the same discourse are explainable reasonably, on the ground that Jesus gave some of His discourses at
different times and places, and thus varied the expressions connected with the same thought, e.g., Matthew's and Luke's accounts of what is popularly called the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5—7; Luke 6: 20-49). Only Matthew's account gives the sermon as delivered on the mount; for we are expressly told that Jesus withdrew from the multitude, and had only His disciples as His audience in the sermon on the mount (Matt. 5: 1, 2). Thereafter, having gone down from the mountain to the plain, His disciples, being with Him, heard again parts of the same talk, this time given additionally to all the people (Luke 6: 17; 7: 1).
That Jesus gave the same talks in different places is evident from the fact that He went everywhere in Galilee, etc., preaching the kingdom message; but naturally, while giving the same talks, He would vary His wording. The writer, traveling from church to church throughout the U. S., Canada, the Tropics and Europe, frequently gives the same discourse, since he speaks to totally different audiences; but memorizing not his words, but his thoughts, he never gives the same lecture in exactly the same words. This fact of Jesus' giving the same discourse at different times and places makes it very evident that He not seldom varied the words expressive of the same thought. Yea, frequently in the same talk He would repeat the same thought in somewhat different words, or sometimes would give added, but related thoughts in different words, which made Him vary His words. Again, some of these differences are due to some of the Gospel writers' having been especially impressed with certain features of events and discourses, while others of the four Evangelists were especially impressed with others; and some of the differences are due to the different purposes that each writer had from the others. As we come to the various points that our correspondent brings up we will refer to these reasons as they apply to the pertinent cases. We will take up the various matters thought by our correspondent to be contrary
to one another, and thus thought to disprove inspiration, in the order of their presentation in the letter.
The first point is this: How many times did the cock crow in connection with Peter's denial of our Lord? In Matt. 26: 34 it is said that before the cock would crow he would deny Jesus three times; and in Mark 14: 30 it is said that before it would crow twice he would deny Him thrice. Is this not a contradiction, disharmonious with inspiration? our correspondent asks. To this we reply, No! The harmony is seen in the following way: The expression, "before the cock crow," is used in a technical sense and in a natural sense. In its technical sense it means 3:00 A.M. (Mark 13: 35), because at that time in the Orient cocks habitually crow. Hence arose the custom of calling 3:00 A.M. cockcrowing. Jesus' statement in Matt. 26: 34 uses the expression in this technical sense. Hence we may paraphrase it as follows: Before 3:00 o'clock of this very night thou shalt deny me three times. In Mark 14: 30, 68, 72, Jesus uses the words naturally, i.e., that night before the cock would crow two times Peter would deny Jesus three times. The second crowing here referred to was one that occurred at the usual time, 3:00 A.M.; and the first one occurred earlier at an unusual time; for it is a fact of experience that exceptionally some cocks crow quite a while before cocks in general crow, i.e., in this case a cock crowed some time before 3:00 A.M., or before cockcrowing time. We understand that Jesus first used the expression of Matt. 26: 34; and then after Peter vehemently denied Jesus' statement, the Latter added by way of emphasis the statement that the threefold denial would be before two cockcrowings, an unusually early one and the usual one. This harmonizes the matter; and, of course, there is nothing against inspiration in these two statements.
The second point brought out is that the Bible in Matt. 10: 2-4; Mark 3: 16-19 and Luke 6: 13-16 allegedly mentions more than twelve Apostles as appointed by Jesus, since there are more than twelve
names in these three passages; hence our correspondent thinks that there is here a contradiction. In reply we would say that each one of the eleven Apostles is given the same name in all three accounts. But three different names occur that are not given to any of the eleven just referred to. Some have, therefore, inferred that Jesus appointed 14 Apostles. But it will be noted that in all three accounts, Matt. 10: 2; Mark 3: 16 and Luke 6: 13, the number appointed is definitely limited to twelve. Hence one of these twelve must be mentioned under three names: Labbaeus, Thaddaeus and Judas, the brother of James (John 14: 22). The harmony is not far to be sought; it is found in this: He had three names, and each of the three Evangelists calls him by a different one of these three names, e.g., sometimes the writer is called Paul, at other times Samuel, at other times Leo and still at other times Johnson; but who would therefrom conclude that four persons are thereby meant? Nothing here militates against inspiration.
The fact that Jesus is called a carpenter (Mark 6: 3) and a carpenter's son (Matt. 13: 55) is our correspondent's third point. There is no contradiction here. How many a son and how many an adopted son has followed his father's or foster father's trade! Nothing here is unfactual, unreasonable or self-contradictory; hence nothing here impinges against inspiration. Next there is thought to be contradictions in the accounts of the different ones visiting the tomb of Jesus and the connected events (Matt. 28: 1-10; Mark 16: 1-11; Luke 24: 1-11; John 20: 1-18) on the morning of His resurrection. Before attempting a harmony we would say that each of the four Evangelists gives such facts as best fit his pertinent experiences and information and his peculiar purpose in writing and the peculiar people for whom he especially wrote. These facts will account for the differences (which are not at all contradictory) in their pertinent accounts. The following is offered as a full harmonization of these four accounts: There were two companies of women who set
out, and that at different times, for the sepulcher. The first company consisted of three: Mary Magdalene, Mary, James' mother, and Salome, who early Sunday morning started out without spices (Mark 16: 1; Matt. 28: 1). A little later the other women followed with spices (Luke 24: 1). The first three found the stone rolled away, which moved Mary Magdalene to leave the other two and hasten to meet the coming Apostles (John 20: 2); the other two remained and saw one angel sitting upon the stone (Mark 16: 2-7). These two women went back to meet the second company of women, those who were bringing the spices. In the absence of all the women Peter and John arrived at the tomb and found it empty (John 20: 3-10). Mary Magdalene then returned to the tomb and saw two angels in the grave (John 20: 12). Turning around she saw Jesus, at whose charge she went and told the disciples of Jesus' resurrection (John 20: 14-18). The other two women, astounded at the angel's statement that Jesus had arisen, after leaving the tomb, met the spice-bearing women. All of these, the two and the spice-bearing women, visited the tomb and saw the two angels standing (Luke 24: 4-7), but just as they entered one of them was sitting at the right side (Mark 16: 5). Going back toward the city, they met the risen Lord (Matt. 28: 9). It is from Luke's account that we get the thought of the two companies of women; for Matthew and Mark tell of the two Marys' watching Jesus' burial, Mark adding Salome to the two, in Mark 16: 1 (Matt. 27: 61; Mark 15: 47), while Luke mentions other women as doing the same, and later all as preparing the spices (Luke 23: 55, 56); and Luke speaks of them collectively as bringing the spices, but none of the other three Evangelists mention the three as bringing spices, whence we infer that there were two companies: (1) the three and (2) the others, a larger company, bearing the spices. The above harmonizes the accounts of the various visits at the tomb and the events connected therewith. Here inspiration holds.
Our correspondent thinks the Evangelists contradict one another as to the time of the women's starting out for and their visiting at the tomb (Matt. 28: 1; Mark 16: 2; Luke 24: 1; John 20: 1), asking us to harmonize this matter with our view of inspiration. All four Evangelists fix the women's visit at the tomb as occurring at early dawn, or early twilight, as can be seen from the citations just given. The apparent discrepancy arises from Mark's expression, "at the rising of the sun," literally, "after the sun rising," yet his expression, "very early," fixes the time as the same as that given by the other three Evangelists. How is this to be harmonized? By understanding the expression, "after the sun rising," to mean, as popularly used, the dawn, when the light of the sun rises and struggles with the darkness and makes the dawn, or twilight, begin. In other words, the word sun is frequently used to mean sunlight, e.g., when Joshua prayed that the sunlight be kept from Mt. Gibeon (by the falling hail darkening it); for the sunlight, not the sun, was on that mountain (Josh. 10: 12-14). The usage in Mark's Greek is the same as the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint, uses in the following passages, in which the word sun means the light of the dawn before the sun itself appears above the horizon: Judg. 9: 33 (where Abimelech waited all night, until early dawn to attack the city); Ps. 104: 22 (lions seek their lairs at the earliest streaks of dawn, and do not wait so to do until the sun appears above the horizon); 2 Kings 3: 22 (in the dim light of dawn the Moabites mistook its streaks of light on the water for blood, a thing that they would not have done, if the sun had been shining above the horizon on the water); 2 Sam. 23: 4 (here the Truth of God, as symbolic light in the dawn of the Millennium, before the Sun of Righteousness will have appeared to mankind [Mal. 3: 2], is referred to). These four cases prove that it is Greek usage to speak of the sun rising also to mean the light of the dawn before the sun appears above the horizon. This is evidently
the use of the term in Mark 16: 2, proven by the fact that he speaks of it as very early in the morning, i.e., during dawn, twilight, and second, by the fact that the other three Evangelists, as cited above, use synonymous terms. Here is no contradiction of inspiration.
Next our correspondent asks us to harmonize Acts 9: 7 and 26: 14 with our understanding of inspiration. Above we harmonized the matter of the two hearings referred to in these verses; but our correspondent desires to have harmonized the expressions, "stood speechless, hearing a voice," and "when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking." We harmonize as follows: All at first stood speechless, hearing a sound whose sense they did not understand; thereafter they all fell to the ground, and Paul alone understood what that voice said thereafter, though the others while prostrate heard the sound of the voice speaking to Paul. Hence there is nothing here contrary to inspiration. We are asked to harmonize the accounts of Matt. 20: 29-34 with Mark 10: 46-52 and Luke 18: 35-19: 1, Matthew saying that there were two blind men healed, and that after Jesus had left Jericho, while Mark and Luke speak of but one, Mark, like Matthew, saying that the cure was done after Jesus left, and Luke saying it was done as He was coming to, Jericho. The following harmonizes the two accounts: There were two Jerichos: the old Jericho and the new Jericho, about a mile apart, the old one being north of the new one, and Jesus, traveling from the north, naturally reached the old one first. The two blind men were, one outside of old Jericho, the other not far away from him toward the new Jericho, both being near each other between the two Jerichos. Jesus, coming from the north, had already left the old Jericho when He healed the first one, named Bartimaeus (Matt. 20: 29-34; Mark 10: 46-52); and walking a very little further toward the new Jericho (Luke 18: 35, drew nigh, R. V.). He healed the other, the unnamed blind man. The two healings occurring very near together
between the two Jerichos, Matthew an eye-witness, records both, Mark and Luke, not being eye-witnesses, each records a different one of the healings, Mark getting his from Peter, Luke getting his from Paul. This proves that nothing here is contrary to inspiration.
Our correspondent claims that in some places the Bible teaches that Jesus was crucified, in other places that He was hanged, citing 1 Pet. 2: 24; Acts 5: 30; 10: 39 and Gal. 3: 13 as proof of the latter thought, and thinks that this is contradictory. We reply that in crucifixion one was hanged, not by a rope about his neck, but either by nails driven through his hands and feet, or by being bound to a cross at hands and feet. That both Peter and Paul understood Jesus' hanging on a tree to mean His crucifixion is evident from the following passages, first, some giving Peter's thought, who also gave Mark his thought: Mark 15: 13-15, 20, 24, 25, 27, 32; Acts 2: 23, 36; 4: 10, second, some giving Paul's thought, who also gave Luke his thought: Luke 23: 21, 23, 33; 24: 7, 20; Rom. 6: 6; 1 Cor. 1: 23; 2: 2, 8; 2 Cor. 13: 4; Gal. 2: 20; 3: 1. Hence there is here nothing against inspiration.
Our correspondent says that John (Rev. 2: 2) calls Paul a liar, while the latter claimed to speak the Truth (Rom. 9: 1; 2 Cor. 4: 2; 7: 14; Gal. 4: 16; 1 Tim. 2: 7). Our correspondent lies under a misapprehension of the facts. John, rather Jesus, does not mean Paul by those who lyingly claimed to be Apostles, but false teachers who claimed to be Apostles and were not, and whom Paul and Peter and John opposed right and left (2 Cor. 11: 13-15; 2 Pet. 2: 1-22). In the opening verse of almost all his epistles Paul by inspiration claimed to be a true Apostle; thus God witnessed through him to his being a true Apostle and speaker of the Truth. Hence John did not call Paul a liar. There is nothing in this charge against inspiration. Next we are asked to harmonize the (alleged) contradiction between Matt. 27: 5, where Judas is said to have hanged himself, and Acts 1: 18, where he is said to have fallen
down and burst, his bowels falling out of him. The accounts are harmonious: Judas hanged himself and the thing on which he hanged himself, perhaps a branch of a tree, broke, which caused him to fall, whereby he burst open and his bowels dropped out of him. Matt. 1: 16 and Luke 3: 23 are by our correspondent claimed to contradict each other, he alleging that Jacob is called Joseph's father by Matthew and Heli by Luke. We harmonize as follows: Matthew gives Joseph's genealogy, saying that Jacob begat Joseph and thus was his real father, while Luke gives Mary's genealogy, whose father was Joseph's father-in-law and, therefore, according to Jewish custom was as Mary's husband the son of Heli, Mary's father. Thus David was by Saul, his father-in-law, called his son (1 Sam. 24: 16) and God addresses Jesus' bride, His daughter-in-law, as daughter (Ps. 45: 10). Deut. 5: 4 and 34: 10, where God and Moses are said to have spoken face to face, are alleged to contradict John 1: 18, where it is said that no man ever saw God. Be it noted that Deut. 5: 4; 34: 10 do not say that Moses saw God face to face, but spoke to Him face to face, i.e., God spoke orally "mouth to mouth"—to him and he to God, without Moses seeing Him, and not in dreams and visions, as God spoke to other prophets, even as this matter is set forth in Num. 12: 6-8. The most that Moses ever saw was a similitude of God (v. 8). Hence here is no contradiction, nor any thing against inspiration.
Next 1 Cor. 15: 52 is cited as contradicting Is. 26: 14; Job 7: 9 and Eccl. 3: 19, 20. In reply we would say that there is no contradiction between the first and the rest of the passages; for 1 Cor. 15: 52 treats of the first resurrection, i.e., that of the Church and only that of the Church (Rev. 20: 4-6), even as 1 Cor. 15: 41-56 treats of that resurrection. But Is. 26: 14 and Job 7: 9 treat of those who in this life have been given the opportunity of gaining Brideship with Christ, and not only failed to gain it, but willfully sinned unto death, the second death. These, as no longer being
saints, will not only not share in the first resurrection of 1 Cor. 15: 50, but as second-deathers will not share in any other resurrection. They are dead, annihilated eternally, as Is. 26: 14 and Job 7: 9 teach. Eccl. 3: 19, 20 treats of natural men, those who did not have in this life the opportunity of being Christ's Bride. It does not treat of the resurrection at all; but it shows that so far as the life-principle, here called the spirit, is concerned, there is no difference between theirs and that of beasts, as respects their ability to return to life and their condition in death. But other Scriptures tell us that, unlike beasts, they are redeemed by Christ's precious blood, and, therefore, will live again, despite the fact that while in death their condition, apart from the ransom, is just like that of beasts—dead. Thus none of these three passages contradict 1 Cor. 15: 52, and there is here no impingement against inspiration.
Our correspondent supposes that 2 Cor. 11: 17 contradicts the statement of 2 Tim. 3: 16 on all Scripture being inspired. As in a previous part of our discussion on inspiration we refuted this claim, we will go no further into it here. Next our correspondent thinks that 2 Sam. 6: 23, which says that Michal, Saul's daughter and David's wife, was childless, and 2 Sam. 21: 8, which says that she had five sons, contradict each other. The answer is simple: Several Hebrew MSS., the Septuagint and the Syriac translations, two targums and some Hebrew variants, all more ancient than our present Hebrew Massoretic text, have in 2 Sam. 21: 8 the name Merab, Saul's older daughter, and not Michal, his younger daughter; and that this is correct is evident, for Merab, not Michal, was the wife of Adriel (1 Sam. 18: 19), while Michal was David's wife, later given by Saul to Phalti, or Phaltiel, and still later restored to David (1 Sam. 18: 27; 25: 44; 2 Sam. 3: 14-16). Hence there is here no contradiction, nor anything against inspiration. Next this correspondent claims that in Rom. 2: 7 (which tells us some seek immortality) and 1 Cor. 15: 53 (which tells us that the Church will
attain immortality in the resurrection) contradict 1 Tim. 6: 15, 16 (which affirms that only Jesus had immortality). In 1 Tim. 6: 15, 16 evidently Jesus is referred to as alone having immortality, as He, as the connection shows, is the one spoken of there. This is not to be taken to deny that God has immortality; for He is not included in the comparison here; for here Jesus is compared with all the other kings and lords, of whom He is King and Lord (Rev. 19: 16); for Jesus expressly says that God has immortality, life in Himself, and had promised it to Jesus, if He were faithful unto death (John 5: 26; Heb. 12: 2). Thus here the comparison is not between God and Christ, but between Christ and the future kings and lords (Christ's faithful followers), of whom Jesus is King and Lord. And at the time Paul wrote 1 Tim. 6: 15, 16 Jesus alone of these had immortality; for it is only first in the first resurrection that His faithful followers became immortal, as Rom. 2: 7 implies and 1 Cor. 15: 53, 54 says. Hence there is no contradiction here nor anything against inspiration. Next our correspondent claims that Paul's statement made in 1 Cor. 2: 9 is a misstatement, as it is nowhere else to be found in the Bible. We reply that Paul does not say that he is there making a verbal quotation. He is there merely expressing by a paraphrase that he makes of it a thought that is written elsewhere in the Bible, which thought is given in Is. 64: 4. In other words, he is expressing in his own words the thought of Is. 64: 4, a thing that is done often by writers with the writings of others. Our correspondent has imagined that Paul here makes a misstatement, not seeing that he is here not quoting verbally, but paraphrasing the thought written in Is. 64: 4. Hence here is nothing against inspiration.
Our correspondent claims that there is a contradiction of at least nine years between the statement of Matt. 2: 1 (where Jesus is said to have been born in the days of Herod the king) and Luke 2: 2 (where it is said to have occurred in the days of Cyrenius as
governor of Syria). We answer: Cyrenius was governor of Syria twice: once 3-1 B.C. and once 6-9 A.D. Jesus was born in the days of Herod, during Cyrenius' first governorship of Syria. For details please see our comments given before, when treating of another set of (alleged) objections to inspiration. Another contradiction is alleged to be between Mark 15: 25 (where Jesus is said to have been crucified in the third hour) and John 19: 14 (which the correspondent claims gives the sixth hour as that of the crucifixion, claming that Mark gives 9 A.M. and John noon as the time of crucifixion), whereas the latter seems to speak of the trial of Jesus going on about the sixth hour, though John may mean that the preparation of the Passover began about the sixth hour. However, John does not here say that Jesus was crucified about the sixth hour. Yet there is a difficulty between the passages, though not the one that our correspondent claims. The difficulty is solved as follows: Mark gives the Jewish, and John the Roman way of counting the hours, the latter beginning to count the hours from midnight and noon on, the former from evening and morning. There is an ambiguity in the expression, "It was about the sixth hour," i.e., around 6 A.M. Is this "it" the indefinite "it," such as we use in expressions like these: "It is 1 P. M.," "it thunders," "it lightnings," "it dawns," "it rains," "it snows," etc., or does this "it" refer to the preparation of the passover? We know that the preparation of the passover began about 6 A.M. And this may be John's meaning, or his meaning may be that the trial was going on about 6 A.M., Roman time. But in neither case is there a contradiction; for John does not give the time of the crucifixion, whereas Mark sets it as 9 A. M., the third morning hour, Jewish time. Hence there is no contradiction of inspiration.
Next Matt. 27: 34 (where Jesus is said to have been offered vinegar mixed with gall) and Mark 15: 23 (where He is said to have been offered wine mixed with myrrh) are by our correspondent thought to be
contradictory and thus against inspiration. In reply we say, first, that Palestinian vinegar was sour wine. Hence there is no contradiction here. But the best MSS. and Greek recensions on Matt. 27: 34 have the word wine, not vinegar. However, Luke calls it vinegar (Luke 23: 36), which is to be explained as a kind of wine, for sour wine is vinegar. These references are to what was offered Jesus to drink shortly after He was crucified, but toward the end vinegar, sour wine, was offered to Him (Matt. 27: 48; Mark 15: 36; John 19: 29, 30). It will be noted that Matthew says that the wine was mixed with gall, and Mark says with myrrh. Which is correct? Both are right; for it was mixed with both, since Matthew mentions one, and Mark the other; for when two Evangelists mention separate things connected with the same matter, we are not to assume that they contradict each other, but that they supplement each other, as often happens in court when some witnesses tell of certain things and others of other things connected with the case; the rules of legal evidence, other things being equal, require both to be accepted as evidence. Hence nothing in this matter is against inspiration. Again, our correspondent alleges a contradiction between Mark 15: 32 (which speaks of both thieves reviling Jesus) and Luke 23: 39, 40 (which speaks of one doing it and the other rebuking him for it). The accounts are harmonized as follows: At first both reviled Him, and that shortly after He was crucified, sometime before noon, before the sixth hour (Jewish time, Mark 15: 32, 33), while at the sixth hour, one of the thieves, after observing Jesus' meekness under the hard conditions of His sufferings and mockings, was melted into repentance and, after rebuking the reviling thief, desired Jesus to remember him when He would come in His kingdom (Luke 23: 39-44). Thus the accounts are harmonious with inspiration.
Our correspondent thinks that there is a contradiction between all four Evangelists on what was the inscription on the cross (Mark 15: 26, "The king of the
Jews"; Luke 23: 38, "This is the king of the Jews"; Matt. 27: 37, "This is Jesus the king of the Jews"; and John 19: 19, "Jesus of Nazareth the king of the Jews"). The harmony is as follows: The inscription was in three languages (Luke 23: 38; John 19: 20, 21) and the wording was different in each of these languages, Matthew quoting one, Luke another and John the third, John quoting the Hebrew, which usually omits the verb is; while Mark, usually the briefest in his wording, gives what was common to all three and omits wherein the three give different wordings from one another. Thus here is harmony with inspiration.
Our correspondent thinks that there is a contradiction between Matt. 9: 9 (where the publican called to be an Apostle is called Matthew) and Luke 5: 27 (where he is called Levi). This is no contradiction; for this publican had two names, one the first, the other the second, like the king of Judah who in 2 Chro. 26 is called Uzziah and in 2 Kings 15: 1-9 is called Azariah. Nothing here contradicts inspiration. On the one hand, Mark 6: 8 (where the A. V. allows the Apostles to take only a staff for their journey) and, on the other hand, Matt. 10: 10 and Luke 9: 3 (where they were forbidden to take a staff along) are presented as contradictions. The difficulty is due to a mistranslation in the A. V. of Mark 6: 8. The rendering should be "[They] should take nothing for their journey, no, if only a staff" [i.e., not even a staff, the almost invariable help for travelers, should be taken along]. Thus the right translation solves the difficulty. Hence there is nothing here derogatory of inspiration. Our correspondent thinks that Matt. 2: 11 (where the wise men are said to come into the house where the child Jesus lay) teaches that Jesus was born in a house, and that this contradicts Luke 2: 16 (where the shepherds found Him lying in a manger where Mary laid Him [v. 7] after His birth and swaddling, which manger our correspondent thinks was the place of His birth). Several things are here to be said: (1) Jesus was born neither
in a manger, nor in a house, but in a stable, into one of whose mangers He was laid shortly after His birth (2) The shepherds' visit is referred to in Luke 2: 16, while that of the wise men is given in Matt. 2: 11; the scene of Luke 2: 16 occurred the night of Jesus' birth (vs. 11, 15, 16), while the visit of the wise men occurred at least 40 days afterward, since on the 40th day He was presented to the Lord in the temple (Luke 2: 22-38; compare with Lev. 12: 1-8); for we read that shortly after the visit of the wise men Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt and remained there until after Herod died, and thus preserved the child's life from Herod's murderous designs (Matt. 2: 12-15). It, therefore, appears that Joseph and Mary some time after Jesus' birth, either before or after His presentation in the temple on His 40th day, moved from the stable to a house. Here, too, is harmony with inspiration.
Finally, Jesus is supposed in Matt. 5: 17, 18 (where Jesus says that not the least part of the Law Covenant would pass away before it would be fulfilled in antitype, and that heaven and earth would pass away rather than such a thing failing) to contradict Paul in Gal. 3: 24, 25 (where Paul shows that Jewish Christians of his day were freed from the Law Covenant) and Rom. 7: 6 (where Paul shows that Jewish Christians of his day had once been under bondage to the Law Covenant, but were delivered from it through coming into Christ). Neither Jesus nor Paul in the pertinent passages refer to the Divine law of justice, which subjects all beings, human and spiritual, to its mandates. They are speaking of the Mosaic Law Covenant, of which Jesus and Paul say that every part of it would be valid and operative until fulfilled in antitype, a thing done in Christ for Jewish Christians during the Gospel Age, without doing this for unbelieving Jews, who will not be freed from the Law Covenant until they become believers in the Millennium, when for them the New Covenant, the antitype of the Law Covenant, will displace it as its fulfillment. Here is no
contradiction. Here all is in harmony with inspiration.
Our correspondent seemingly has culled these alleged contradictions from the writings of infidels, whose superficiality and lack of real Biblical knowledge our replies prove, and who, seeking to destroy faith in the inspired Word have, as the fruits of their long and hard research, assembled the above alleged contradictions. It is a case of mountains travailing and bearing a ridiculous mouse, a stillborn one at that. Our correspondent names, apparently as sources of these alleged contradictions, some of the leading infidels of the last two centuries. Surely the Bible stands on safe grounds as to harmony and inspiration, if such are the fruits of two centuries' toil of the leading infidels! Its harmony and their futile efforts to discredit it should increase our faith in its Divine origin and inspiration and our conviction of the uselessness of getting the waters of Truth from the dry wells of infidel higher critics.
Whence, but from Heaven, could men unskill'd in arts,
In several ages born, in several parts,
Weave such agreeing truths? or how, or why,
Should all conspire to cheat us with a lie?
Unask'd their pains, ungrateful their advice,
Starving their gain, and martyrdom their price.
If on the book itself we cast our view,
Concurrent heathens prove the story true;
The doctrine, miracles, which must convince;
For Heaven in them appeals to human sense:
And though they prove not, they confirm the cause,
When what is taught agrees with nature's laws.