In my last article we discussed Jesus and his authority with two “supposed” bible contradiction verses. This article will be part 2 of our Bible Contradiction series. In this article we are going to look at 2 verses that, at first glance, propose a very confusing and mind-boggling contradiction. But is it really? By looking at the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts of the New Testament along with other supporting Scriptures we can decipher if this really is a contradiction. The two verses we are going to look at are Genesis 22:1 and James 1:13. So lets look at Genesis 22:1 to begin our study.
As we look at both of these verses the question to keep in mind is “Does God tempt man?” This is a very difficult question, we are going to look at both sides to get a better understanding. The first one we are going to study first is Genesis 22:1. It says “ And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.”(KJV) Notice this verse says that God did “tempt” Abraham. That word “tempt” is the focus word here. In the NIV translation it says that “God tested Abraham.” Almost all versions say “tested.” According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible “tempt” means to test, or to try, or prove. (H5254). If that is the case what was God trying to prove or test? He was testing Abraham’s faith in Him. He was trying to prove his faith to Him. If you read on a little further you will come to realize that this is when Abraham goes to sacrifice his only son Isaac to God. This was a test for Abraham to see how strong his faith was. In the King James Version it uses the word tempt. But this is not a temptation of evil but certainly a test of faith. Keep in mind, that a “test” is something that you partake in.
Now that we have clarified the context of that verse, James 1:13 will come in a lot more clear. It says “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone..” With the prior knowledge of the previous verse, this Scripture doesn’t appear to be a contradiction at all does it? It says God (in the spirit) cannot be tempted by evil nor can he tempt any man. The words tempt, tempted, and tempting all used in this verse are used in pretty much every translation and version of the bible out there. If we look at Strong’s Concordance one more time these words all mean “to tempt” not test. (G3985) So God is saying ‘I cannot be tempted, nor do I tempt any man.’ Also a temptation is a desire of the flesh, it is something that you think you need but in reality, you can live without.
Well, then you might wonder about the temptation of Jesus. Jesus was God in the flesh and he was plainly tempted by Satan. So, is this another contradiction in itself? No, and here’s why. Jesus was God in the flesh as according to his power but (as mentioned in my last article) on this earth he was still a human therefore he was able to be tempted. James 1:13 says God cannot be tempted by evil and Jesus was tempted but he was a human at that point not God as a spirit. In Hebrews 2:18 it says “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” This claims Jesus was tempted and he suffered just like we do when we are tempted. Remember, not all temptations are evil. He was tempted just as we are and he resisted. There is still hope hope for us when we are tempted though, Since we know he has suffered the same thing we go through, it is nice to know we have a refuge in Jesus to help us. In Galatians 5:16 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Paul tells us if we are in the light as Jesus is we won’t even be tempted by the devil. What a promise that is and a secure feeling that is.
There are many other examples of people being tested by God in the bible. Job is a terrific example of a testing of faith. In Job 1:6-12 Satan confronts God about Job and tells him if he takes away everything he owns he will not have faith in God any longer. But God knew the true heart of Job so He allowed Satan to take away his family, livestock, and even his health, yet Job still remained faithful to the Lord. This was a test from God to see how faithful Job really was and if he would blame him for the happenings in his life. If we read on we see that he does remain faithful. But there are also examples of temptation in the bible, like Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11. The story goes that Ananias collected his money from his property. He kept part of it for himself and set the rest at the apostles’ feet. Then Peter asked him why he lied? Then after hearing this Ananias died instantly. So where is the temptation? The temptation is the lie. Ananias made it look like he had given everything to the apostles but instead kept most for himself. Lying is a sin and that caused him to be prideful. Both of these are examples of “testing” and “tempting”.
To wrap it up these two verses are not a contradiction. Genesis 22:1 is a test of faith, and James 1:3 is a promise from God expressing that he does not tempt us and that he is not tempted by evil. These two verses give a excellent view of God’s outlook on temptation. But just remember “tempting” and “testing” are not the same principle, they have two different definitions and two different ideas in the eyes of God. Testing is from God and it builds our faith up to make it stronger and it can also be used as a tool of God. Evil temptations on the other hand are just the opposite, it weakens our faith and the devil uses them to draw us away from God.