I want to tackle a simple “contradiction” that some people seem to think exists in the Bible. As you know, I believe that the Word of God, the Bible, is inspired by God (as the Scriptures teach, and history has proven). Anytime a person says, “I have found a contradiction in the Bible” be very careful. That person has probably taken his/her information from another person and neither one of them has actually studied the source, the Bible. There are many, many so called “contradictions” in the Bible that can easily be disproved by a little inductive study of the text. Others require that you have a knowledge of the cultural context of Biblical times. If you really want to know how to study any passage of the Bible, both simple and difficult ones, then I would recommend that you learn the Inductive Bible study method. A great tool to teach this method is “How to study the Bible” by Kay Arthur.
Anyway, a common “contradiction” that I come across is, “who is Joseph’s father, as described in the Bible?”. This is both easy and hard at the same time because there are 2 simple passages that show the genealogy of Christ and reveal who Joseph’s father is. I will paste the 2 passages and then explain why there seems to be a contradiction to the 21st Century American.
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations. (Matthew 1)
The purpose of the Gospel of Matthew is to present Jesus as the King of Israel through the lineage of David. Joseph is from the house of David which makes his Son, Jesus, the rightful heir to the throne of David. Joseph’s father is called Jacob in the text. So from Matthew, we learn that Jesus is of the house of David on His earthly father’s side and the father of Joseph is Jacob.
Now, let’s take a look at Dr. Luke’s Gospel. Luke was a well educated Greek doctor so he decided to use his acquired research skills to lay out the chronological biography of Christ’s life (the humanity of Christ). Here is his genealogy of Christ.
Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Sala, the son of Nahshon, the son of Amminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Arni, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. (Luke 3)
You may have noticed that Luke says Joseph’s father was Heli. So the question is, who was Joseph’s father, Jacob or Heli? Remember, Luke is researching the life of Christ so he would have chosen to look at public or family records. During those days in the land of Israel, the women were placed under the protection of their fathers until they married and then upon marriage, they were placed under the protection of their husbands. Today, for instance, in many Middle Eastern countries, women are placed in the passports of the fathers until marriage and then in the passports of their husbands upon marriage. On paper, it looks like the women do not exist and when searching for their documents you have to look under the name of the father or the husband. That is what life was like during Joseph and Mary’s days. Mary would have been placed under the name of her husband so when looking to see who the father of Mary was, you would have to look under Joseph’s name, hence Joseph appears (on paper) to have two fathers. Heli is the father of Mary. So, Luke presents Christ’s heritage through His mother Mary, back to David. Jesus is the rightful ruler of the throne of David, both from His mother’s side and His earthly father’s side.
As you can see, there is no contradiction in the Bible. Joseph has one father and his name is Jacob. Heli is Joseph’s father-in-law. So those who claim that the Bible contradicts itself by saying that Joseph has 2 different fathers, are wrong and they prove that they do not study the Bible and do not understand the cultural context of the Bible. I hope that this has been helpful to you.