ABC:Ecclesiastes 7

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Verse 16[edit]

RationalWiki lists the following as a contradiction with the headline "Does fearing God make you wise?" and makes the following comments (italicized):[1]

"The fear of the LORD is the begin of all wisdom. Knowing the holy one is insight. "

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

"Don't be too just and don't be too wise. You could end up being betrayed. But don't live bad and don't act like a fool. You could be death before your time has come. The best is to maintain the one while not losing the other. Who fears God maintains the middle ground between the two."

Ecclesiastes 7:16-18 Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time? It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all.

The Bible makes clear that there is a godly wisdom which brings life, and a wisdom of this world that brings death. (1 Corinthians 1:20; 1 Corinthians 2:5-7; 1 Corinthians 3:18-19) I am not sure what Bible version RationalWiki is quoting from, as I can't find any version which reads this way. Had they quoted from the KJV (as is done with most other alleged contradictions mentioned on their list), it would have been apparent from Ecclesiastes 7:18 that the wisdom referred to in Ecclesiastes 7:16 is being contrasted with the fear of God in verse 18.

Verse 20[edit]

Infidels claims the Bible is wrong about whether every man sins.[2]

1 Kings 8:46 If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near;

2 Chronicles 6:36 If they sin against thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near;

Proverbs 20:9 Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?

Ecclesiastes 7:20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

1 John 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

The distinction is between past and present. Every person has sinned, the Bible makes that abundantly clear in Romans 3 and elsewhere. It is only by grace, i.e. God's undeserved mercy, that we can be justified.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

However, a Christian is not merely someone who is forgiven, but who is made a new person in Jesus. They surrender themselves and die to sin, being given a new heart, spirit, and mind. (Ezekiel 11:19, 18:31, 36:26) They are no longer under the power of sin, but have now the ability to live without sin. Rather than being slaves to sin as before, they now have the ability constantly to CHOOSE not to sin. Rather than being slaves to their lusts, passions, and environments, they are suddenly freed so that it has become a question of will and decision to do right.

Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Nonetheless, as seen above, Christians do have the ability to still sin and are urged to follow God's ways instead of the wrongful choices of their past before coming to new life in Jesus. (Romans 6:12-16) However, cases do occur where Christians fall back into sin (Galatians 6:1) and while they have the ability not to sin, they will always be tempted to sin because the human body is itself prone to sin. (Romans 7:18-25) Christians can by walking in the Spirit reject the temptations of the flesh which bring spiritual and eternal death. However, not until the final resurrection when new bodies are given will the Christian be free from the temptation to sin.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10 ¶ And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 ¶ And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

At any rate, it's important to note that the Old Testament verses being quoted were before the way of salvation was provided. As for those in 1 John 1:8-10 they refer to life before Christ, as evidenced by phrases like "cleanse us from all unrighteousness" and "have not sinned" (past tense). As Christians we are expected to live without habitually sinning, though isolated cases can occur. Therefore, while Christians are saved by repentance and the mercy of God through trusting in Jesus, not by works, that new life is to produce works. (Ephesians 2:8-10) Thus Jesus said His disciples are to be known by the fruits they produce. (Matthew 7:16-17; John 13:35)

Verse 20 (Do Christians Sin?)[edit]

Patheos' Bob Seidensticker claims there is a contradiction here and asks the question, "Christians sin, just like everyone (or do they?)"[3]

Ecclesiastes 7:20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

vs.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

This is standard Christian dogma, but things get confusing when you read the opening verse of Job, which says of Job, “This man was blameless and upright.” Even as his life was going to hell because of Satan and God’s little experiment, Job was vindicated in his belief that he had nothing to apologize for.

Job 1:1 ¶ There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.

We see another example in Noah, who was also “blameless” (Genesis 6:9).

Genesis 6:9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

But the sinless net goes a lot wider than that, because (plot twist!) ordinary Christians don’t sin.

1 John 5:18 ¶ We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

1 John 3:6-9 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

So which is it--are all people sinners, or are Christians the exception? Addendum: But why worry about sin? Every one of us is already saved. Paul draws a parallel between the man who got us into this mess (Adam, who ate the forbidden fruit and gave mankind Original Sin) and the one who got us out (Jesus, whose perfect sacrifice saved us all).

Romans 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

We didn’t opt in to get the sin of Adam, and we needn’t opt in to get the salvation of Jesus. No belief is necessary. Paul assures us we’re good.

There are two kinds of righteousness, Biblically, and Paul himself makes this plain. In fact, the entire book of Romans has as perhaps its major theme the contrast between the righteousness of the Law which noone measures up to, and the righteousness through faith which comes by trusting Jesus. Paul is contrasting two types of righteousness, a self-centered righteousness based on our works by which none will be justified because none are good enough in themselves, and a God-centered righteousness based on trusting Jesus to save us where it is God's righteousness that is credited to our accounts. (Romans 10:3-11; 3:19-28) There is no contradiction here. Paul is contrasting two types of righteousness, a righteousness according to the Law of works that nobody but Jesus measures up to, and a righteousness of faith where God credits righteousness based on trust in Jesus. (Romans 4:1-8)

God allowed Satan to test Job to justify greater rewards for him, both in this life and eternally (which he ultimately received--Job 42:10-12) while refining his character and making certain he was faithful to God. (Zechariah 13:9; 1 Peter 1:6-7; Daniel 12:10; James 1:12) God allowed Satan to persecute him; but God ultimately blessed him and showed favor to him, blessing him with twice as much as what he had lost. (Job 42:10-12) God used Job's trials to refine him, making him even stronger as a warrior for God, and justify even greater rewards for him. (Zechariah 13:9) God uses trials to refine His servants, the way that fire is used to refine metals and make them stronger. (Malachi 3:3; Proverbs 17:3; 27:21; Jeremiah 9:7; Isaiah 1:25; 13:12, 48:10; Psalms 66:10) Jesus Himself was purified and refined through sufferings, to make Him the perfect leader for all time. (Hebrews 2:10; 5:8-9) God's chastening is used to make us stronger warriors for His kingdom. Christians are thus encouraged to endure suffering as faithful soldiers of Christ. (2 Timothy 2:3; Hebrews 12:5-11) Although Job is repeatedly praised for his righteousness and endurance through trials, he ultimately sinned in speaking ignorantly of things he did not know about, and rashly condemning God. (Job 38:2; 40:2) Job himself acknowledged that he had spoken incorrectly about things he did not understand. (Job 42:3-6; 40:3-5) Job's primary error lay in justifying himself rather than God, and accusing God of punishing him without just grounds. (Job 32:2; 33:9-13; 34:5,9; 35:2-3; 40:8)

And no, Romans 5:19 does not say that everyone was made righteous by Jesus. It just says "by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." It says many, not everyone; and not even most. The verse, in and of itself, does not specify how they are made righteous. The surrounding verses show that such righteousness does not occur without condition; Romans 4:24 states that it is imputed 'IF' we believe. Romans 5:1-2 specifically says we are justified through faith. Romans 6:13-16 emphasizes that as Christians we must still deliberately make the choice not to sin.

Finally, 1 John 5 is referring to a perpetual pattern of deliberate, willful sin. As observed by the Scofield Study Bible III's note for 1 John 3:4: "3:4 committeth. Here and in similar places in this Epistle the Greek verb has the force of a continuous present tense (compare 3:5,9; 5:18) and thus denotes a person's habitual attitude toward sin as expressed in his practice or non-practice of it. John is not speaking of a state of perfection in which it is impossible for a Christian ever to sin; but he is stressing the fact that a Christian cannot keep on practicing sin, because he is born of God."

Sources[edit]

  1. RationalWiki Editors (2019). "Biblical Contradictions." RationalWiki.
  2. Meritt, Jim (1992). A list of Biblical contradictions. Retrieved from http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html.
  3. Seidensticker, P. (2018, October 20). "Top 20 Most Damning Bible Contradictions." Patheos.