Doctrinal Discrepancies #1

1. GOD—Omnipotence

God can do all things.

Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all

flesh: is there any thing too hard for


Jeremiah 32:27

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

Matthew 19:26

Cannot do some things. 

And the Lord was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.

Judges 1:19

It was imposssible for God to lie.

Hebrews 6:18

Omnipotence does not imply the power to do every conceivable thing, but the ability to do everything which is the proper object of power. For example, an omnipotent being could not cause a thing to be existent and nonexistent at the same instant. The very idea is self-contradictory and absurd. When it is said that God can do "all things," the phrase applies to those things only which involve no inconsistency or absurdity.

According to Voltaire, the quotation from Judges asserts that the Lord "could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley." The fact, however, is that the pronoun "he" refers to the nearest antecedent "Judah." Doubtless, the reason why Judah was not helped, at that time, to drive out the dwellers in the valley, was that too great success might have proved, as it often does, detrimental. God gave to Judah that degree of prosperity which, on the whole, was best for him.

The fourth text refers not to physical but to moral impossibility—such as is intended when we say, "it was impossible for Washington to betray his country." Our meaning, of course, is that it was incompatible with Washington's character and principles to be a traitor. In an analogous yet higher sense, it is "impossible" for God to utter falsehood.

God is tired and rests. 

In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.

Exodus 31:17

Is never weary.

The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary.

Isaiah 40:28

"Rested and was refreshed" is merely a vivid Oriental way of saying that he ceased from the work of creation, and took delight in surveying that work.

Dr. J. P. Thompson: "To rest here does not mean to seek repose from fatigue, but to suspend activity in a particular mode of operation, to cease from doing thus and so." Maimonides says that the word used in the parallel text, Exodus 20:11, properly means "ceased." With this explanation the Septuagint agrees.

Murphy: "'Refreshed' includes, at all events, the pure delight arising from the consciousness of a design accomplished, and from the contemplation of the intrinsic excellence of the work."


God knows all things. 

Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.

Psalm 139:2-4

I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins.

Jeremiah 17:10

Thou, Lord, which knowest the heart of all men.

Acts 1:24

Tries to find out some things. 

Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

Genesis 22:12

The Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thy heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no,

Deuteronomy 8:2

All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

Hebrews 4:13

Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Deuteronomy 13:3

In the texts to find some things, the language is accommodated to the human understanding, uttered, as it were, from man's point of view. By the testing process applied to Abraham and the Israelites, the knowledge which had lain hidden in the divine mind was revealed and verified.

The words addressed to Abraham, "Now I know that," etc., are equivalent' to saying, Now I have established by actual experiment that which I previously knew. I have demonstrated, made manifest by evident proof, my knowledge of thy character.

Murphy:"The original I have known denotes an eventual knowing, a discovering by actual experiment; and this observable probation of Abraham was necessary for the judicial eye of God, who is to govern the world, and for the conscience of man, who is to be instructed by practice as well as principle."

The language in Genesis may be illustrated as follows: A chemical professor, lecturing to his class, says: "Now I will apply an acid to this substance, and see what the result will be." He speaks in this way, although he knows perfectly well beforehand. Having performed the experiment, he says, "I now know that such and such results will follow." In saying this, he puts himself in the place of the class, and speaks from their standpoint.

The texts from Deuteronomy mean simply, The Lord hath dealt with thee as if he were ignorant, and wished to ascertain thy sentiments toward him; he hath put thee to as severe a test as would be requisite for discovering the secrets of thine heart. Such is the interpretation which men would give to his treatment of thee.

Forgets not his saints. 

Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.

Isaiah 49:15

Temporarily forgot Noah. 

And God remembered Noah.

Genesis 8:1

The latter text is shaped "after the manner of men." God left Noah in the ark, for many long months, as if he had forgotten him. He then "put forth a token of his remembrance."

Does not sleep.

Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

Psalm 121:4

Sometimes sleeps.

Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord?

arise, cast us not off forever.

Psalm 44:23

Sometimes God, in wisdom, defers the punishment of the wicked, and the deliverance of his people, so that he seems oblivious of both. He gives no sign of activity with reference to either, so that a superficial observer might say, "he sleeps." The silence, the long-suffering of God is attributed to indifference or lack of knowledge on his part.


God everywhere present. 

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

Psalm 139:7-10

Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Isaiah 66:1

Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 23:23-24

Though they dig into hell, thence shall my hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down: and though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them.

Amos 9:2-3

Not in some places.

Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

Genesis 3:8

And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord.

Genesis 4:16

And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.

Genesis 11:5

And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.

Genesis 18:20-21

The Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

1 Kings 19:11-12

Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

Jonah 1:3

See Psalm 1:21 and 73:11.

The "presence of the Lord," from which Adam hid himself, and Cain and Jonah fled, was the visible and special manifestation of God to them at the time; or else it denotes the place where that manifestation was made.

According to Henderson, either may be meant.

The builders of Babel and the inhabitants of Sodom had pursued their wicked course, as far as divine mercy could permit. God had been far away from these corrupt men; he was "not in all their thoughts." He took the sword of justice and "came down" into the sphere of their consciousness, in a signal and terrible manner.

Rabbi Schelomo strikingly observes that these texts represent God as "coming down from his throne of mercies to his throne of judgment"—as if mercy were a more serene, exalted, and glorious attribute than justice. Such expressions as "God came down," the Jewish writers term "the tongue, or language, of the event"—that is, the proper interpretation of the event, the lesson it was designed to teach. In such cases, God's acts are translated into words. The "language of the event" is, God comes down, interposes, to frustrate certain mad schemes of ambition.

Maimonides acutely suggests that, since the word "ascend" is properly applied to the mind when it contemplates noble and elevated objects, and "descend" when it turns toward things of a low and unworthy character, it follows that when the Most High turns his thoughts toward man for any purpose, it may be said that God "descends" or "comes down."

Prof. Murphy thinks that, as the Lord, after watching over Noah during the deluge, had withdrawn his visible and gracious presence from the earth, when he again directly interposes in human affairs, there is propriety in saying, "The Lord came down."

God was not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire; that is, he did not, upon that occasion, choose any one of these as the symbol of his presence, as his medium of communication and manifestation. He did not speak in or by these, but by "the still small voice."

Herder: "The vision would seem designed to teach the prophet, who, in his fiery zeal for reformation, would change everything by stormy violence, the gentle movements of God's providence, and to exhibit the mildness and longsuffering, of which, the voice spoke to Moses. Hence the beautiful change in the phenomena of the vision."

Keith Hunt - the shocking truth to many is that in some cases God has willed Himself not to know everything going on with man on earth. He is told such and such, by angels, and He has willed Himself to "come down" in person to see if it is indeed as He has been told, as bad as it has been told to Him. 

Also; God is or can be everywhere if He desires by His Spirit. He has the power to be everywhere, so you cannot hide from Him.


God from everlasting. 

Before  the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God.

Psalm 90:2

His origin in time.

God came from Teman, and the Holy

One from mount Paran.


The second text has, singularly enough, been adduced as teaching that God originated in time.

The passage simply refers to the wonderful displays of divine power and glory which the Israelites witnessed in connection with the giving of the law; Teman and Paran being "the regions to the south of Palestine generally, as the theatre of the divine manifestations to Israel." This is clear from the parallel text, "The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints; from his right hand went a fiery law for them."


God is One.

Hear O Israel: The Lord our God is

one Lord.

Deuteronomy 6:4

See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me.

Deuteronomy 32:39

I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me.

Isaiah 45:5

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God.

John 17:3

But to us there it but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him.

1 Corinthians 8:6

Plurality of Divine Beings.

And God said, Let us make man in our

image after our likeness.

Genesis 1:26

And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.

Genesis 3:22

And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Manure: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; and he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, the three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, and said, My Lord, if now I have found favor in thy sight.

Genesis 18:1-3

Worship him, all ye gods.

Psalm 97:7

The Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me.

Isaiah 48:16

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

1 John 5:7


The first two texts from Genesis have the word for "God" (Elohim) in the plural form. Gesenius considers this a "plural of excellence or majesty"; Nord-heimer, a "plural of preeminence"; Baumgarten, a "numerical plural, originally denoting God and angels together"; Delitzsch, a "plural of intensity"; Fuerst, as used "because the ancients conceived of the Deity as an aggregate of many infinite forces." Bush thinks the plural implies "greater fullness, emphasis, and intensity of meaning"; Lange takes it as denoting "intense fullness," and Heng-stenberg says, "it calls attention to the infinite riches and the inexhaustible fulness contained in the one divine being." Ewald: "It was an antique usage, more especially in this Semitic tribe, to designate God, as also every other superior, externally by a plural form, by which no more than the sense of a kind of dignity and reverence was simply expressed."

As to the plural pronouns, "us" and "our," which God here employs, Aben Ezra thinks that he addresses the Intelligences; Philo, Delitzsch, and others, that he spoke to the angels; Davidson, with Sedaiah a Gaon, that he spoke like a sovereign, "We the king": Kalisch, Tuch, and Bush in substance deem it the plural "employed in deliberations and self-exhortations"; Maimonides asserts that God is addressing the earth or the nature already created; Keil that he is speaking of and with himself in the plural number, "with reference to the fulness of the divine powers and essences which he possesses." On the other hand, Lange thinks the phraseology may "point to the germinal view of a distinction in the divine personality," and Murphy that it "indicates a plurality of persons or hypostases in the Divine Being."

We thus see that the above expressions are susceptible of several reasonable interpretations consistent with monotheistic principles.


With reference to Abraham and the "three men"-—-super-human beings in the form of man—the patriarch appeared to single out one as preeminent among the three, whom he addressed as "My Lord." Keil says, "Jehovah and two angels: all three in human form." Murphy: "It appears that of the three men, one, at all events, was the Lord, who, when the other two went towards Sodom, remained with Abraham while he made his intercession for Sodom, and afterward he also went his way." Lange: "Abraham instantly recognizes among the three the one whom he addresses as the Lord in a religious sense, who afterwards appears as Jehovah, and was clearly distinguished from the two accompanying angels."


As to the quotation from Psalms, Maimonides and David Kimchi say that the word "Elohim," in this case, means "angelic powers." Others that it means "magistrates" or "judges," as in Exodus 22:8-9, 28. Alexander and Hengsten-berg explain it as meaning "false gods"; Delitzsch, as "the superhuman powers deified by the heathen." The Syriac Peshito reads, "all ye his angels."

Isaiah 48:16 is ambiguous in the original. It may mean "Jehovah and his Spirit have sent me," or "Jehovah hath sent both me and his Spirit." So Delitzsch: "The Spirit is not spoken of here as joining in the sending. . . . The meaning is, that it is also sent, i.e. sent in and with the servant of Jehovah, who is speaking here."

First John 5:7 is a spurious passage. It is found in no Greek manuscript before the fifteenth or sixteenth century, and in no early version. It is rejected by Alford, Abbot, Bleek, Scrivener, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Wordsworth, and most modern critics.

It should be observed that the texts of the first series teach unequivocally and designedly the unity of God, while those of the second series—intended primarily to teach other truths—are fairly explicable in harmony with the former class.


God, a Spirit.

A spirit hath not flesh and bones.

Luke 24:39

God is a Spirit.

John 4:24

Has a material body and organs.

Tables of stone, written with the finger

of God.

Exodus 31:18

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust.

Psalm 91:4

He had horns coming out of his hand. 

Habakkuk 3:4

These texts, which represent God as having hands, fingers, wings, feathers, horns, and the like, are simply the bold figures and startling hyperboles in which the Orientals are wont to indulge. They would never, for a moment, think of being understood literally in using them.

"Finger of God" is his direct agency: his "wings" and "feathers" are his protecting care, set forth by an allusion to the bird hovering over and guarding her tender young.

Henderson, Delitzsch, Noyes, and Cowles agree substantially in rendering Habakkuk 3:4, "Rays streamed from his hand"—a decided improvement upon our version.


God, unchangeable.

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Numbers 23:19

And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.

1 Samuel 15:29

I the Lord have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent.

Ezekiel 24:14

For I am the Lord, I change not.

Malachi 3:6

The Father of lights, with whom is no

variableness, neither shadow of turning.

James 1:17

Repents, and changes his plans. 

I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way. . . . And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.

Exodus 33:3,15,17,14

Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein.

Numbers 14:30

The Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me forever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me. . . Behold the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father's house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house. 1 Samuel 2:30-31

Then came the word of the Lord onto Samuel, saying: It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments.

1 Samuel 15:10-11

In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord. . . . And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years.

2 Kings 20:1-2, 4-6

Thou hast forsaken me, saith the Lord, thou art gone backward: therefore shall I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting.

Jeremiah 15:6

And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

Jonah 3:10

In respect to his essence, his attributes, his moral character, and his inflexible determination to punish sin and reward virtue, God is "without variableness or shadow of turning."

Again, some of his declarations are absolute and unconditional; the greater part, however, including promises and threatenings, turn upon conditions either expressed or implied. The following passage is a very explicit statement of a great principle in the divine administration—of God's plan or rule of conduct in dealing with men: "At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them." Jeremiah 18:7-10. Here is brought clearly to view the underlying condition, which, if not expressed, is implied, in God's promises and threats. Whenever God, in consequence of a change of character in certain persons, does not execute the threats or fulfill the promises he had made to them, the explanation is obvious. In every such case, the change is in man, rather than in God. For example, God has promised blessings to the righteous and threatened the wicked with punishment. Suppose a righteous man should turn and become wicked. He is no longer the man whom God promised to bless. He occupies a different relation toward God. The promise was made to an entirely different character.

On the other hand, a wicked man repents and becomes good. He is not now the individual whom God threatened. He sustains another relation to his Maker. He has passed out of the sphere of the divine displeasure into that of the divine love. Yet all this while, there is no change in God. His attitude toward sin and sinners, on the one hand, and toward goodness and the good on the other, is the same yesterday, today, and forever. It is precisely because God is immutable that his relation to men, and his treatment of them, vary with the changes in their character and conduct. In a word, he changes because he is unchangeable.

A homely illustration may be permitted. Suppose a rock is to located at the center of a circle one mile in diameter. A man starts to walk around the circle. On starting he is due north from the rock, which consequently bears due south from him. After travelling awhile, he comes to be due east from the rock, and that due west from him. Now the rock does not move, yet its direction from the man changes with every step he takes. In a somewhat analogous manner, God's aspect and feelings toward men change as they change. That is, in the words of Whately, "A change effected in one of two objects having a certain relation to each other, may have the same practical result as if it had taken place in the other."

Wollaston: "The respect or relation which lies between God, considered as an unchangeable being, and one that is humble, and supplicates, and endeavors to qualify himself for mercy, cannot be the same with that which lies between the same unchangeable God, and one that is obstinate, and will not supplicate, or endeavor to qualify himself. . . . By an alteration in ourselves, we may alter the relation or respect lying between him and us." To sum up, if man changes, the very immutability of God's character requires that his feelings should change toward the changed man.

Murphy: "To go to the root of the matter, every act of the divine will, of creative power, or of interference with the order of nature, seems at variance with inflexibility of purpose. But, in the first place, man has a finite mind, and a limited sphere of observation, and therefore is not able to conceive or express thoughts or acts exactly as they are in God, but only as they are in himself. Secondly, God is a spirit, and therefore has the attributes of personality, freedom, and holiness; and the passage before us is designed to set forth these in all the reality of their action, and thereby to distinguish the freedom of the eternal mind from the fatalism of inert matter. Hence, thirdly, these statements represent real processes of the divine Spirit, analogous at least to those of the human."

Those passages which speak of God as "repenting" are figurative. They are the "language of the event," the divine acts interpreted in words. We see an artist executing a picture. Having completed, he surveys it, then, without a word, takes his brush and effaces it. We say at once, "he repented that he had made it." We thus interpret his action; we assume that such were his feelings. So God performed such outward acts with reference to the antediluvians and others, that, if they had been performed by a man, we should say "he repented of what he had previously said or done." Such is the construction we should naturally put upon his conduct. The language is evidently accommodated to our ideas of things.

Dr. Davidson: "When repentance is attributed to God, it implies a change in his mode of dealing with men, such as would indicate on their part a change of purpose."

Andrew Fuller: "God, in order to address himself impressively to us, frequently personates a creature, or speaks to us after the manner of men. It maybe doubted whether the displeasure of God against the wickedness of men could have been fully expressed in literal terms, or with anything like the effect produced by metaphorical language."

Prof. Mansel: "The representations of God which scripture presents to us may be shown to be analogous to those which the laws of our mind require us to form; and, therefore such as may naturally be supposed to have emanated from the same Author."


God's threat not to accompany the Israelites was unquestionably conditional. As Scott says, "such declarations rather express what God might justly do, what it would become him to do, and what he would do, were it not for some intervening consideration, than his irreversible purpose; and always imply a reserved exception in case the party offending were truly penitent."

As to the quotation from 1 Samuel 2, by Eli's father's house we are evidently to understand the house of Aaron, from whom Eli was descended through Ithamar. It was Aaron, the tribe-father of Eli, who received the promise that his house should walk forever before the Lord in priestly service. This promise, obviously conditional, was henceforth withdrawn with regard to a certain branch of Aaron's family, and on account of the sinfulness of that branch. So far as Eli and his sons were concerned, the Lord would now cut off the arm of Aaron's house.

By the expression, "be it far from me," God does not, says Keil, revoke his previous promise, but simply denounces a false trust therein as irreconcilable with his holiness. That promise would only be fulfilled so far as the priests themselves honored the Lord in their office.

The covenant made with Phinehas was not abrogated by the temporary transfer of the high priest's office from the line of Eleazar to that of Ithamar, since, as Keil reminds us, this covenant contemplated an "everlasting priesthood" and not specially the high priesthood; and the descendants of Phinehas meantime retained the ordinary priesthood.

When Abiathar, the last high priest—Eli being the first—of the line of Ithamar, was deposed by Solomon, the office of high priest was restored to the line of Phinehas and Eleazar.

In the case of Hezekiah, the divine declaration was clearly a conditional one. Yet, as Vitringa happily suggests, "The condition was not expressed, because God would draw it from him as a voluntary act."

God satisfied with his works.

God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold it was very good.

Genesis 1:31

Dissatisfied with them. 

And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

Genesis 6:6

This case has already been explained.


Will destroy.

And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air. Genesis 6:7

Will not destroy.

Neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

Genesis 8:21

One of these utterances was made before, the other after, the Flood. Both declarations were strictly fulfilled.