Question:,I would like some help with something someone said to me about the Bible. They said that it can’t all be true as Matthew and Luke do not agree about lots of things about the story of Jesus. They said that Matthew says Jesus was born 28 generations after King David and Luke says it was 41 generations. Is this true? I can’t believe that one of them would have gotten something like that wrong. Also there is something that has been troubling me. There are lots of things in the Bible that we don’t do today.. For example, when God told Moses to kill someone for working on the Sabbath but obviously we don’t do that now. There are other things too. So my question is why don’t we follow the Bible exactly like that any more and if we are not supposed to then how do I know for sure which bits to follow and which bits not to follow?,Answer,It is very common for people to claim that there are contradictions between the gospel accounts. It is much harder to prove. I have covered supposed contradictions in the gospel accounts extensively through questions and answers at the web site. To troll these, you can go to the question and answer portion of the site and choose the section on “supposed inconsistencies.” To summarize, most of these supposed inconsistencies are things which are extremely easily understood if one simply asks how both accounts can be justified. In the gospels we have separate, independent witnesses to the events. Naturally, different witnesses notice different details. In fact, if the gospels were exactly in agreement this would be evidence that we do not have independent witnesses, which would make the combined witness weaker, not stronger. Of course there are literally hundreds of such supposed inconsistencies. Each example must be dealt with on its own merits. In summary, I have found that investigation of supposed inconsistencies has consistently caused me to be more and more confident of the inspiration of all four of the gospels. Let me deal with your specific examples.,About genaeologies, it is common knowledge that Jewish ancestor lists were not comprehensive. It was standard practice to skip generations in such genaeologies. When Jewish ancestor lists name someone as the “father” of another, this means that the second is in the direct line from the first. Perhaps he is son, or perhaps grandson, great grandson and so forth. There were more than twenty-eight generations between David (about 1040 BC) and Jesus. Matthew skips generations. The forty-one generations listed in Luke may be fairly close, so this list may do little skipping after David. However, Luke’s ancestor list clearly starts to skip generations when it stretches back to Adam.,As for the Law of Moses, Jesus said that he fulfilled the requirements of the Law (Matthew 5:17). Followers of Jesus are not required to meet the reqirements given to the Jews on Mount Sinai. This is the message of Romans 8:1-4, Galatians 2:15-21, Colossians 2:13-19, Hebrews 9:1-14 and many other passages. Paul tells us that the law of Moses leads to Christ, but we are saved, not by observing the ceremonial laws given at Sinai. We are saved by faith in the blood of Jesus, through repentance and baptism. The Law was cancelled, or more accurately fulfilled at the cross. This is why we do not have to offer animal sacrifices, avoid eating pork, observe the Sabbath and so forth. Which parts of the Bible do we follow? For doctrine, we look to the New Testament. From the Old Testament we learn a lot about the nature of God. We have great examples of pitfalls to avoid (1 Corinthians 10:1-13). We have great advice for godly life (Proverbs). We have wonderful examples of how to have a close relationship with God (Psalms, for example). There are many wonderful uses for the Old Testament. However, it is not intended as a list of laws for Christians to obey. There is a sense in which we “follow” the whole Bible. The whole Bible tells us about God and his relationship with us. However, when it comes to doctrine and “laws” for Christian living, our source for that is the sayings of Jesus and the teachings in the New Testament.,I hope this clears up most of your concerns.,John Oakes

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