101 Contradictions in the Bible

Q. A Muslim friend of mine sent me this list of “101 contradictions in the Bible.” He says these contradictions prove that the Bible is not inspired. How do you answer these obvious contradictions?

1) What time did the women visit the tomb?
(it is alleged that all of the accounts give a different time).

Matt. 28:1
28:1 ¶ Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.

Mark 16:2
2 Very early on the first day of the week, they *came to the tomb when the sun had risen

Lk. 24:1
24:1 ¶ But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.

John 20:1
20:1 ¶ Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene *came early to the tomb, while it *was still dark, and *saw the stone already taken away from the tomb.

No contradiction here. It was early Sunday morning. It was beginning to become light out.


2) How many came to the tomb?
(it is alleged that the accounts list different people going to the tomb)

Matt. 28:1
28:1 ¶ Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.

Mk 16:1
16:1 ¶ When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him.

Lk. 24:1
24:1 ¶ But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. (“and certain others with them”
– KJV ) this clause is left out in the Vulgate Latin, and Ethiopic versions, and in one ancient copy of Beza’s; but is retained in the Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions.

Lk 24:10
10 Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles.

John 20:1
20:1 ¶ Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene *came early to the tomb, while it *was still dark, and *saw the stone already taken away from the tomb.

None of the accounts denies that more women were present than those he mentions by name. John does not say that Mary Magdalene was the ONLY one present, in fact, you know that can’t be the case because in verse 2 she goes to the apostles and says “We do not know where they have laid him.”

Here is the truth of the matter. Each gospel writer seems to single out one or more people he wants to mention, without denying the presence of others, in order to tell his story. Many explanations may be offered for this. When you tell a story you recall the names of people in the story that your readers will recognize or relate to. There is no contradiction here.

3) What was their purpose?
(it is alleged that the accounts differ as to the purpose for going to the tomb).

Matthew says they went to “see” the tomb, the other accounts say that they brought spices to anoint Him.

4) Was the tomb open or closed when they arrived?

* Matthew: No (28:2)
* Mark: Yes (16:4)
* Luke: Yes (24:2)
* John: Yes (20:1)

Here the claim is that Matthew says “No.”

Matt. 28:2
2 And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it.

You see what the Muslims are trying to do here? They start with a conclusion (that the Bible has contradictions) and then they attempt to twist what it says to prove their point. Matthew is simply telling us HOW the stone was removed, he is NOT telling us that he was an eye witness to it being moved.

5) Who was at the tomb when they arrived?

* Matthew: One angel (28:2-7)
* Mark: One young man (16:5)
* Luke: Two men (24:4)
* John: Two angels (20:12)

Here we have several misconceptions. Angels throughout the Bible appear in Human form. When Jesus ascended into heaven after his resurrection the Scriptures tell us:

Acts 1:10-11
10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them.
11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

It is clear that the “young man” in Mark’s account, and the “two men” in Luke’s account were angels.

Why then the difference in number? One angel appeared at a given time, two appeared at another time. None of the sacred writers claims to have mentioned all of the circumstances in this account. Each writer selects those particulars which seem to him most important, passing by intermediate incidents. There are no contradictions in these accounts, simply additional details.

You can try, as the Muslims do, to pit one verse against another, but you do so only in ignorance of the entire context. When you remove a verse from it’s context in an attempt to prove a preconceived idea you demonstrate your own gross ignorance of the Bible as a whole.

6) Where were these messengers situated?

* Matthew: Angel sitting on the stone (28:2)
* Mark: Young man sitting inside, on the right (16:5)
* Luke: Two men standing inside (24:4)
* John: Two angels sitting on each end of the bed       (20:12)

The same explanation as given above. One writer mentions the circumstances at a given time, another writer mentions something that happens at another time.

Each writer selects those particulars which seem to him most important, passing by intermediate incidents. There are no contradictions in these accounts, simply additional details.

7) Did the women tell what happened?

* Matthew: Yes (28:8)
* Mark: No. (16:8)
* Luke: Yes. (24:9, 22-24)
* John: Yes (20:18)

Matt. 28:8
8 And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples.

Mark 16:8
8 They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

So, it looks like we have a genuine contradiction here. One account says they talked, another says they did not.

Context, context, context.
Mark 16:9-11
9 ¶ [Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons.
10 She went and reported to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping.
11 When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.

Again this is a case of trying to pit one account against another. What Mark makes clear is this. The disciples were in such a state of shock and fear after Jesus was crucified that they had a hard time believing the truth. This may account for the reluctance the women felt in telling the rest of the disciples about his resurrection when they first returned from the tomb. Then Mark goes on to explain how and when they did tell the rest of the disciples. Again, there is no contradiction here.

8) When Mary returned from the tomb, did she know Jesus had been resurrected?

* Matthew: Yes (28:7-8)
* Mark: Yes (16:10,11)
* Luke: Yes (24:6-9,23)
* John: No (20:2)

John 20:2
2 So she *ran and *came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and *said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Mk. 16:9-10
9 ¶ [Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons.
10 She went and reported to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping.
Clearly, this is another attempt to take things out of context and make them appear to contridict with each other. John is simply relating what happened at one point in time, and Mark is telling what happened at another point in time. These verses do not contridict each other, they compliment each other.

The Muslim world has an agenda. It’s much different from the Christian agenda. The great commission that Jesus gives to the church of Christ is to go into all of the world and make disciples of all men (Matt. 28:18-20). This is accomplished by teaching the Truth of God’s Word.

The Muslim agenda is to force the world into submission or death.

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