My Muslim participants in the “Islam and Christianity Debate Group” seem to think the Bible is full of contradictions. Here is my answer to the first contradiction one of them proposed:
Muhammad Jahid, you have posed some very interesting questions about the Bible and Christian belief. I wish I had all day to answer each of your points in full, for most certainly I easily can. Rob Lopez has stepped up and given good information in short form.
(1) You pose the following apparent contradiction:
No man hath seen God at any time. —John 1:18
For I have seen God face to face. —Genesis 32:30
John’s statement applies to the fact that no person has seen God the Father at any time, for John also tells us in John 4:24 that “God is spirit,” so it is clear that God the Father possesses the attribute of being normally invisible to human eyes.
It is also possible to understand John to mean “No man hath fully comprehended God at any time, but Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, has made him known.” If you truly want to know and understand God, Jesus said you must learn of God through what Jesus has revealed.
Mat_11:27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
Yet the Bible record tells us that Jacob saw God face to face, and said “and my life is preserved” (Genesis 32:30).
Careful students of the Bible are never quick to make the mistaken judgment that here we have a contradiction. Rather, they make an informed judgment based upon examining all the evidence in the Bible that pertains to the question at hand.
When you take the steps to do that honestly, you can learn some amazing things you and most people never knew before.
And you may begin to learn that there are no contradictions in the Bible once you come to understand it correctly.
Notice Genesis 32:24 in the immediate context: “And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.”
Why does Jacob all the person who wrestled with him a man? The obvious answer would be that whoever that person was looked and felt like a man, and spoke like a man, speaking in language Jacob understood.
Then why would Jacob go so far as to call this person God?
There are other statements that Jacob made about this unusual person he wrestled with and was blessed by. Just now I spotted Genesis 48:3, “And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me.”
If you have access to a source of more complete cross references, the Bible cross references will direct your attention to several other occasions when Jacob saw God. Let me share one more such statement from Genesis 48:15, 16 as follows:
Gen 48:15 And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day,
Gen 48:16 The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.
Notice Jacob calls God, mentioned in Genesis 48:15, “The Angel,” mentioned in Genesis 48:16.
That Angel was no ordinary angel. That Angel is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament record. That Angel is called God. That Angel is called Jehovah. That Angel is called the Angel of Jehovah. That Angel can be proven from the Bible evidence to be the Second Person of the Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ who appeared as God in human or angelic form to humans, both men and women, in Old Testament times as recorded in the Bible.
If you would not be so quick to form a mistaken judgment, but instead follow carefully the actual evidence in the Bible, you will indeed come to know many things you likely never encountered before. That is what has happened for me as I have taken the time to patiently study the Scriptures, as we all are commanded by God Himself to do.