Category Archives: Bible Difficulties Questions

Questions about Bible Difficulties: How would you explain the inaccuracy between Judas hanging himself in Matthew 27:5 and “falling headlong he burst open” in Acts 1:18?


This question of the manner in which Judas died is one with which we are constantly confronted in our travels. Many people point to the apparent discrepancy in the two accounts as an obvious, irreconcilable error.

Some have gone so far as to say that the idea of an inerrant Bible is destroyed by these contradictory accounts. However, this is not the case at all.

Matthew relates that Judas hanged himself, while Peter tells us he fell and was crushed by the impact. The two statements are indeed different, but do they necessarily contradict each other?

Matthew does not say that Judas did not fall; neither does Peter say that Judas did not hang himself. This is not a matter of one person calling something black and the other person calling it white. Both accounts can be true and supplementary.

A possible reconstruction would be this: Judas hanged himself on a tree on the edge of a precipice that overlooked the valley of Hinnom. After he hung there for some time, the limb of the tree snapped or the rope gave way and Judas fell down the ledge, mangling his body in the process.

The fall could have been before or after death as either would fit this explanation. This possibility is entirely natural when the terrain of the valley of Hinnom is examined. From the bottom of the valley, you can see rocky terraces twenty-five to forty feet in height and almost perpendicular.

There are still trees that grow around the ledges and a rocky pavement at the bottom. Therefore, it is easy to conclude that Judas struck one of the jagged rocks on his way down, tearing his body open. It is important to remember that we are not told how long Judas remained hanging from the tree or how advanced was the decomposition of his body before his fall.

Louis Gaussen relates a story of a man who was determined to kill himself. This individual placed himself on the sill of a high window and pointed a pistol at his head. He then pulled the trigger and leaped from the window at the same time.

On the one hand, a person could say that this man took his life by shooting himself, while another could rightly contend he committed suicide by jumping from the tall building. In this case, both are true, as both are true in the case of Matthew’s and Peter’s accounts of the death of Judas. It is merely a situation of different perspectives of the same event.[1]



[1] McDowell, J., & Stewart, D. D. (1993). Answers to tough questions. Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

Questions about Bible Difficulties: 1 John 4:2–3—Does this refer to Jesus being in the flesh before or after His resurrection?


Problem: John declares that those who deny “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” are of Antichrist. While all orthodox Christians take this to mean Jesus was fully human, including having a physical body of flesh before His resurrection, some contend that Jesus was not raised from the dead in the same body of flesh and bones in which He died, but in a body that was not essentially material. What does this verse mean?

Solution: John uses the perfect tense here in Greek, meaning past action with continuing results in the present. Thus, he affirms that Jesus came in the flesh in the past and continues in the flesh in the present (i.e., when he is writing, which was after the Resurrection).

This is further clarified by John’s use of the same phrase, only in the present tense. He declared that many deceivers do not “confess Jesus Christ as coming [present tense] in the flesh” (2 John 7). From this it is clear that, even after the Resurrection when John wrote, he insisted that Jesus was still continuing in the flesh.

Finally, in addition to these two passages in John’s epistles, there are two other NT texts which explicitly declare Christ’s resurrection body to be one of flesh. Referring to the resurrection of Christ, Peter declared that “nor did His flesh see corruption” (Acts 2:30–31). Jesus Himself said to His disciples in one of His post-resurrection appearances, “Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:39).[1]




[1] Geisler, N. L., & Howe, T. A. (1992). When critics ask : a popular handbook on Bible difficulties (pp. 539–540). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

Questions about Bible difficulties: 1 John 3:9—Doesn’t John contradict himself when he asserts that Christians are without sin?


Problem: John affirms here that “Whoever has been born of God does not sin.” But in the first chapter he insisted that “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1:8).

Solution: John nowhere claims that believers are without sin or never commit a sin. First John 3:9 is in the present continuous tense and should be translated “Whoever is born of God does not continually practice sin.” Conversely, if a person habitually practices sin, he is not born of God. As James argued, true faith will produce good works (James 2:14ff). If a pig and a lamb fall into the mud, the pig wants to stay there, but the lamb wants to get out. Both a believer and an unbeliever can fall into the same sin, but a believer cannot stay in it and feel comfortable.[1]



[1] Geisler, N. L., & Howe, T. A. (1992). When critics ask : a popular handbook on Bible difficulties (p. 539). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

Questions about Bible Difficulties: Romans 1:26—Does this verse mean that homosexuals should not be heterosexual because it is unnatural to them?


Problem: According to some homosexuals, when Paul spoke against what is “unnatural” in Romans 1:26, he was not declaring that homosexuality was morally wrong, but simply that it was unnatural for homosexuals. “Unnatural” is used in a sociological, not a biological way. So rather than condemning homosexual practices, it is argued that this passage actually approves of them for homosexuals.

Solution: When the Bible declares that homosexual practices are “against nature” (Rom. 1:26), it is referring to biological nature, not sociological nature. First, sex is defined biologically in Scripture from the very beginning. In Genesis 1, God created “male and female” and then told them to “be fruitful and increase in number” (Gen. 1:27–28, niv). This reproduction was only possible if He was referring to a biological male and female.

Second, sexual orientation is understood biologically, not sociologically, when God said “for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24, niv). For only a biological father and mother can produce children, and the reference to “one flesh” speaks of a physical marriage.

Thirdly, the Romans passage says that “men committed indecent acts with other men.” This clearly indicates that this sinful act was homosexual in nature (Rom. 1:27, niv).

Fourth, what they did was not natural to them. They “exchanged” the “natural relations” for the unnatural ones (Rom. 1:26, niv). So the homosexual acts were pronounced unnatural for homosexuals too.

Fifth, homosexual desires are also called “shameful lusts” (v. 26, niv). So it is evident that God is condemning sexual sins between those of the same biological sex. Homosexual acts are contrary to human nature as such, not just to a homsexual’s sexual orientation.[1]



[1] Geisler, N. L., & Howe, T. A. (1992). When critics ask : a popular handbook on Bible difficulties (pp. 438–439). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

Questions about Bible Difficulties: Romans 2:7—Is immortality acquired or possessed?


Problem: Paul speaks here of “seeking” immortality. He also refers to acquiring it at the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:53). However, Jesus taught that the soul is immortal, that is, it cannot be destroyed by death (Luke 12:5). Paul also insists that the soul survives death (2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23; cf. Rev. 6:9). But which is it—do we already possess immortality or do we only acquire it at the resurrection?

Solution: The Bible reserves the term “immortality” for humans in their resurrected state. It is something acquired, not possessed before the Resurrection, since Christ, who was the first one to attain an immortal resurrection body (1 Cor. 15:20), “brought life and immortality to light” (2 Tim. 1:10) for the rest of the race.

Nevertheless, the fact of immortality includes the human soul as well. For the soul is not destroyed by physical death, just as Jesus said (Luke 12:5). It survives death and goes into either God’s presence (2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23), if it is saved, or into conscious hell (Luke 16:22–26; Rev. 19:20–20:15), if it is lost. Since the soul (and/or spirit) is not mortal, as the body is, in this sense it is proper to say the soul is immortal. However, the whole person—soul and body—is resurrected to immortality. So in this sense, the soul gains immortality at the resurrection of the body.

However, in the biblical sense of living forever in an immortal body, human beings do not possess immortality before the resurrection. Even so, only God is intrinsically immortal (see comments on 1 Tim. 6:16); whatever immortality humans have, they derive from God. The matter can be summarized as follows:



Indestructible   by man

Indestructible   by God

Survives   physical death

Can   avoid second death

Has   beginning but no end

Has   no beginning or end

Derived   from God

Inherent   like God’s



[1] Geisler, N. L., & Howe, T. A. (1992). When critics ask : a popular handbook on Bible difficulties (pp. 439–440). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.