Does the Bible contain errors, contradictions, or discrepancies?
If we read the Bible at face value, without a mission to find problems with it, we will find it to be a relatively easy-to-understand book. Sure, there are difficult verses, but isn't that true with all literature? Would you fully understand the nuances of To Kill a Mockingbird the first time your English teacher put it in front of you?
As you may have heard, there are verses in Bible that appear to contradict each other. But keep in mind that the Bible was written by around 40 different authors over a period of about 1500 years. Think about how much culture would have changed over that time and how people talked and related to each other. Do we use the same phrases and slang that people used 1,000 years ago? Also, just like writers of today, each contributor to the Bible wrote with a different style and perspective, speaking to a different audience for different purposes. Because of these variants, we can naturally expect some minor differences.
However, a difference does not equal a contradiction. It is only an error if there is absolutely no way the verse or passage can make sense. Even still, just because an answer is not available right now, that does not mean there will never ever be an answer. Many have suspected an error in the Bible's account of history or geography only to find out that the Bible is actually correct once archaeological evidence was discovered. We haven't explored every nook and cranny of the planet, so mankind doesn't have all the answers to offer at any given time.
At our parent site, GotQuestions.org, they often get questions from people saying, "Explain how these verses do not contradict!" or "Look, here's an error in the Bible!" As we said earlier, some of the things in the Bible are difficult to understand, which brings up questions that are difficult to answer. However, we fully believe that there are totally possible and absolutely plausible answers to every supposed Bible contradiction and error.
You may have come across books or websites that list "all the errors in the Bible" or even books or websites that contradict the same accusations. Most people simply get their information from these places, yet they have never explored the Bible on their own. The saddest thing is that most people who attack the Bible don't really care about finding a true answer. Even worse, they might know these answers, but they continue using the same shallow attacks over and over just to rile people up.
What should I do if someone comes at me with a supposed Bible error?
First off, it's important to regularly study the Scriptures, always being open to listen to and talk to God while you read. Be familiar with the Bible so you can be prepared to see if there is a simple solution to whatever you're confronted with. However, if you don't know the answer offhand, don't be afraid to say, "I don't know," or "I find out and get back to you." It's better to admit the truth than to lie and get things mixed up.
Second, you may need to do some research using some a Bible commentary, "Bible defense" books, and biblical research websites. There's tons of information out there and lots of resources. Do a search on "Christian apologetics" for some heavy duty ammo for your faith.
If you get stuck, ask a pastor or another trusted church leader to see if they can find a solution. You never know, they might have already done the research!
Finally, if there is still no clear answer after doing all of that, pray that God would reveal His truth to this person one day. As believers, we must simply trust that God's Word is truth and that there is a solution to every question—even if it has not yet been realized by mankind (2 Timothy 2:15, 3:16-17).
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