Just recently again I heard an acquaintance simply remark that there are errors in the Bible. It didn’t phase him in the least saying so, and he even still maintained a religious devotion to the Bible. He is sadly not the minority, for many unbelievers in God promote the idea of the Bible containing many errors, and sadly even many professing Christians seem to agree with them.
Although there are certainly some difficulties in understanding the Bible and making sense of the all the details (after all, it is a really old book), it appears that these more superficial arguments are more popular. Here are some of the more commonly mentioned ‘errors’ in the Bible and a brief answer to each one.
Did 24,000 people (Numbers 25:9) die in the plague or 23,000 people (1 Cor 10:8)? First, the plague mentioned in 1 Corinthians 10 can be either the one in Exodus 32, or the other event in Numbers 25. In Exodus 32, 3,000 people are killed by the sword (Ex 32:27-28) and presumably another 20,000 died in the following plague (Ex 32:35). If 1 Corinthians 10 does indeed refer to Numbers 25, then it is still not in error, for 23,000 died in one day (1 Cor 10:8) while 24,000 died in total. It is easy to simply assume an error, but that would be an erroneous assumption. It takes some work to see what God is saying, and the more details that are given, the more the picture is completed rather than destroyed.
Did God lie when He said that Abraham’s descendants would be in Egypt for 400 years (Gen 15:13) when it was 430 years (Ex 12:41; Gal 3:17)? This is not an error, but a simple variation in precision. To say it was 400 VS 500 years would make one account to be in error, but the difference between 400 and 430 is not the thirty years as much as it is a difference in precision. 400 is simply a more rounded number, and when the exact period was of importance, it got rounded to the nearest ten instead of the nearest hundred.
Here is a double-‘error’: Did Jesus heal just one blind man while arriving at Jericho (Mark 10:46 and Luke 18:35) or two while departing from Jericho (Matt 20:29-34)? The account in Mark doesn’t say only one man but, like Luke, only draws attention to one who is even named by Mark and therefore the focus rather than both. Matthew informs us of a little more detail. Regarding the arrival or departure from Jericho, a simple geographical observation is in order. There was the modern (at the time) Jericho and the ruins of the ancient Jericho still visible to our own era. These two locations were not too far from each other. Matthew, the more Jewish-oriented Gospel writer focusses on the older site famous for the OT Jericho events while Mark and Luke mention the one known more publicly among travellers.
In all this, never assume too quickly the validity of superficial arguments. Rather, turn to the text, read what it actually says, or does not say, compare it to all the other passages and put together the whole story before assuming a discrepancy. The Holy Spirit is not capable of lying (Num 23:19) or of incomplete inspiration (2 Pet 1:21).
Every word of God proves true.2 Samuel 22:31 and Psalm 18:30 and Proverbs 30:5