ABC:Matthew 4

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Verse 5[edit]

TheThinkingAtheist.com claims the Bible is wrong about the following passage, and makes the following comments (italicized) in the section "Where Did the Devil Take Jesus?"[1]

Matthew 4:5-8 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

Satan took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple, then to the mountain top.

Luke 4:5-9 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence:

Satan took Jesus to the mountain first, then the temple.

There are two possibilities here which would avoid a contradiction. The first, and in my opinion most likely, is that the devil showed Jesus the Earth's kingdoms twice, as argued by CARM.[2] Perhaps the original starting point was near a high mountain in the wilderness, in which case Satan was simply taking Jesus back to their original starting point. What makes this particularly likely to me is that Matthew 4:8 says "AGAIN" the devil took Jesus to the high mountain, suggesting this was a reoccurrence. This key word "again" is missing from the Luke passage, suggesting it mentioned the first occurrence. What also makes this likely for me is that there were stones in the original area (v. 3) which would fit with an original starting point near a mountain.

The second possibility raised by Eric Lyons of Apologetics Press is that the events are arranged topically rather than chronologically. As argued by Lyons, "Open almost any world history textbook and you will see that even though most events are recorded chronologically, some are arranged topically... Had Matthew and Luke claimed to arrange the temptations of Jesus chronologically, skeptics would have a legitimate case. But, the fact of the matter is, neither Matthew nor Luke ever claimed such."[3] Recourse may be made for this point of view by observing that the Gospel of Luke does not begin chronologically, but opens with Luke's later address to Theophilus presenting the book.

Verse 8[edit]

Infidels.org claims the Bible is wrong about the shape of the Earth given the following verses and explanation by Meritt:[4]

Isaiah 40:22 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

Matthew 4:8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

Astronomical bodies are spherical, and you cannot see the entire exterior surface from anyplace. The kingdoms of Egypt, China, Greece, Crete, sections of Asia Minor, India, Maya (in Mexico), Carthage (North Africa), Rome (Italy), Korea, and other settlements from these kingdoms of the world were widely distributed.

First of all, "circle" is the English KJV translation of the Hebrew word "chuwg", and carries the idea of a circuit - it's used just 3 times in the Bible (the others being Job 22:14 and Proverbs 8:27).[5] Its word origin is another word called "chuwg" that is used only once in the Bible in Job 26:10 and is translated "compassed" or "completely surrounded."[6] That word's origin is the Hebrew "chagag" which means holidays, festivals, or feasts held regularly in constant succession.[7]

At any rate, as ChristianAnswers.net points out, there is plenty of room for debate whether so rarely used a word means circle or sphere. As Paul Taylor of ChristianAnswers also points out, the Bible thousands of years before was dead on in claiming the universe or heavens are expanding, a fact that has been verified by recent astronomy.[8] Critics of the Bible are of course quick to try and claim the word means circle rather than sphere, when in reality there is no clear reason for doing so.

Secondly, Matthew 4:8 never says it was because of the mountain's height that Jesus could be shown all the kingdoms of the world. While such a naturalistic explanation might be considered inferred, it is quite possibly an incorrect assumption on the part of Jim Meritt to make. Other possibilities include a supernatural vision of all the world's kingdoms there. We simply aren't told, and to prove a definite contradiction in the Bible, one should certainly not resort to putting words in its mouth as Meritt does here.

Verse 18[edit]

TheThinkingAtheist.com claims the Bible is wrong about the following passage, and makes the following comments:[1]

Matthew 4:18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

Peter and Andrew are fishing.

John 1:42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.
43 ¶ The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.

Andrew was following Jesus, found his brother and brought him to Jesus.

The verses aren't at all incompatible. Evidently Andrew met Jesus first and brought Peter to Jesus as described in John 1:42. Then the next day Jesus went to Galilee while they were fishing and told both them and Philip "Follow me." Matthew 4 just doesn't mention the initial meeting between Jesus, Peter, and Andrew, perhaps because Matthew was less familiar than John with that meeting and the early history of what occurred. As one of the first disciples and the one closest to Jesus, John likely knew more detail about the early history of the apostles than Matthew did.

Sources[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 TheThinkingAtheist. Bible Contradictions. Retrieved from http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/page/bible-contradictions.
  2. Where Did the Devil Take Jesus First, the Pinnacle or Somewhere Else? Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.
  3. Lyons, E. (2004). In What Order Did Satan Tempt Jesus? Apologetics Press.
  4. Meritt, Jim (1992). A list of Biblical contradictions. Retrieved from http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html.
  5. Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. Hebrew Lexicon entry for Chuwg. The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon. Retrieved from http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/hebrew/kjv/chuwg-2.html.
  6. Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. Hebrew Lexicon entry for Chuwg. The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon. Retrieved from http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/hebrew/kjv/chuwg.html.
  7. Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. Hebrew Lexicon entry for Chagag. The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon. Retrieved from http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/hebrew/kjv/chagag.html.
  8. Taylor, Paul S. (1997). Did Bible writers believe the earth was flat? Films for Christ. Retrieved from http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-c015.html.