Some verses in the Bible seem to contradict each other. Why is this so?

I’ve noticed some verses seem to contradict each other. I’ve also heard one preaching about that. What is the reason behind it?

Good question. @cocoyoongie. Please post some example if possible?

For by grace are ye saved through faith…not of works. —Ephesians 2:8,9
Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. —James 2:24

No man hath seen God at any time. —John 1:18
For I have seen God face to face. —Genesis 32:30

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. —Romans 3:23
There was a man…who name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright. —Job 1:1

@cocoyoongie, thanks for that. Sorry for the delayed response.

When you read/study the bible, it is important to look each verse/passage in its context, though sometimes Holy Spirit may inspire verses that doesn’t belong to the same context to you as you meditate God’s word. (Isaiah 34:16)

Look in the scroll of the LORD and read: None of these will be missing, not one will lack her mate. For it is his mouth that has given the order, and his Spirit will gather them together.

But generally when you read or study the bible verses it is good to do so in the verses own context.

For example, let me talk about the verses you have pointed out.

The first verse is written by Apostle Paul and second verse is written by James, brother of Jesus. Both the books are written to different audiences.

Just imagine that you are writing a letter to someone. You will definitely have an intent to write the letter. For instance, when you write an official letter you will not talk about personal things. You have a specific intent to write the letter. In the same way both of these authors must have had some intent to write these letters to the audience whom they sent the letter to.

One of the most important aspect you need to remember when you read the scriptures is coherence. What I mean is this. Both these verses here doesn’t have to be viewed as contradictions. Rather what if both are right? Of course the basis of Christian faith is grace. But when too much grace is emphasized even morals can be ignored. One can say Jesus has forgiven my sin and I can live however I want to live. I believe in Jesus. He can forgive my sinful life even if I commit terrible mistakes. (Romans 3:8)

If people start to think like this there will be moral chaos. Hence James is emphasizing on works. His argument is that, you say you are saved by faith and grace but if you have faith shouldnt it reflect in your lives? If you have grace it should be revealed in your life? But you say you believe but your life is immoral. How can you claim that you are saved? You can read James 2 in detail to find more of his arguments. But this is the perspective to look at it.

So if you look at it both are right. You are saved by grace, yes. But as Paul himself says in Romans 6:1,2, you cannot continue to live in sin any longer, therefore you still need to be careful to live a moral life. As someone said, Salvation is not a license to sin. This is the point Apostle James wants to emphasize. Got it? Feel free to post your questions, if you have.

Others are similar. You may take a look and post here if you have qs.

thank you

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This is a common misunderstanding of scripture. James is talking about fruit. Remember when Jesus said a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit? Then He said “You will know them by their fruits”.

Matthew 7:15-16 New International Version (NIV)
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

Much as what @Moses_C said, I say because I’ve studied it (for a long time, I mean it has taken me a long time to understand it) and listened to those who have been faithfully teaching the scriptures for decades. The best way to understand the difference between Ephesians 2:8-9 and James 2:24 is first to see that Ephesians is talking about salvation. James is talking about life after salvation.

And in Romans 3 Paul presents the argument favored by those who teach that these contradict each other. Paul explains that yes, while Christians can fall into sin, their response is not to stay there and keep (continue) sinning, but to get up, usually weeping, and ask God’s forgiveness, ask Him to cleanse them, wipe their tears, make their amends to people if need be, and move on.

The unsaved or seemingly converted briefly (see the Parable of the Soils Luke 8:4-21) when they fall into sin, just keep right on walking deeper and deeper into it.

I also know this from my own life’s experience. I was pressured by my whole family at age 10 and held out until I was 11, then finally caved and prayed the “sinners prayer” then waited. Nothing happened. I was not saved at that age. But I tried to get with the program. Ultimately, I could not stop sinning for 5 minutes! Disgusted, I threw in the towel and walked away.

At age 55 is when GOD decided to save me. You see, salvation is nothing of us, it is all of God: His choice, His timing, and all His doing.

The book of Romans is the best explanation of this seeming dichotomy as I’ve found so far. Romans 1 then read to Romans 16

Briefly, the answer to the Genesis 32:30 versus John 1:18, is that … ready? It was night when Jacob wrestled with an unknown man. You have to remember that in the ancient world, that is thousands of years before Christ even, when Jacob lived and later when Moses lived, there were no great lights, other than God Himself when He travelled with the Israelites through the desert. Then He was a cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night. So whether He was leading them during the night or the day, by following the cloud or the pillar, the Israelites knew that God was moving and they best follow. But this was even before that time, when Jacob wrestled with the angel.

Also whether or not Jacob (later named Israel) actually saw God face to face is answered if you read Genesis 32:24-30 but doesn’t answer that nagging question, “Did he really see God face to face?” I find the answer in Exodus 33:18-24 and Exodus 34:5-8. This shows that had Moses actually seen God face to face clearly he would have died! God had to protect Moses from this by hiding him in the cleft.

Also, Abraham has an encounter with God when three men visit him. He speaks to God after the two men of three, (or was it all three?) who are actually angels sent by God, go down to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, God and Moses have a “talk”. See Genesis 18:1-33 (just one chapter)

If all these are so, why then does the apostle John say in John 1:18 that “No man hath seen God at any time”?

Well, you might want to get in the habit of always checking scripture FIRST before believing ANYONE (from me to John MacArthur!). Look at what John 1:18 actually says:

John 1:18 New International Version (NIV)
18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

As for the last argument you listed between Romans 3:23 and Job 1:1 consider this: Noah was perfect in all his generations. See Genesis 6:9 here then read this:

“NKJV MacArthur Study Bible
(These are notes in a Study Bible by John MacArthur)
6:9 a just man…perfect…walked. Cf. Ezek. 14:14, 20; 2 Pet. 2:5. The order is one of increasing spiritual quality before God: “just” is to live by God’s righteous standards; “perfect” sets him apart by a comparison with those of his day; and that he “walked with God” puts him in a class with Enoch (5:24).”

To sum that up: yes, all have sinned, even Job (see Job 38-42). He was not utterly blameless, and yet he had a righteousness as did Enoch, as did Moses, as did David, as did Noah.

When we are saved, we are not only forgiven our sins, but we are given the righteousness of Christ. Does that mean we become perfect? No. That is, not yet. Once we are in heaven we will be given heavenly bodies and will see Christ as He is, face to face and know Him as we have been known. (See 1 Corinthians 13:12).

I hope that made things a little clearer. It took me a lot of reading the Bible and reading the Bible before I became familiar enough with it that I can at least spot when someone is arguing “cleverly” in order to take something away from God’s perfection, or to introduce heresy or even doubt.

Keep reading @cocoyoongie!

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Sorry to make a second post, but I found someone who says it so much better than I regarding the concept that somehow Ephesians 2:8-9 and James 2:24 contradict each other.

Blog Post - Is Calling on the Lord's Name All It Takes to Be Saved? <— click here to read
Is Calling on the Lord’s Name All It Takes to Be Saved?
by Jeremiah Johnson

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