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Bible Questions with Michael Pearl
Episode 081: Are there any paradoxes in the Bible?

By Michael Pearl

This Weeks Bible Question:

Are there any paradoxes in the Bible? If so, what kind of paradoxes?

Episode Transcription


Michael Pearl: Alright, here we are once again. I’ve still got my new green shirt on, and we’re here to answer your Bible questions. Jared is sitting behind the camera, and he is going to read the question, which I have not seen yet, and we are going to try to give you an answer from the Word of God.

Jared: Are there are any paradoxes in the Bible? If so, what kind of paradoxes?

Michael: Paradoxes! You know, the Bible is full of paradoxes. When you ask it, the one that hit me right off is probably the sovereignty of God and the free will of man. I mean, that’s the most classic, not only in the Bible, that’s in philosophy; it’s in all regions. It’s something that everyone’s wrestled with — how can God be sovereign and man be free at the same time? And so, the very nature of God is a paradox too, that God is infinite and finite at the same time. How can He be everywhere and be in one place? How can He come and go? How can He learn and know if He knows all things? How can something occur that’s new? Everything would be old. You know, it’s very strange.

You can stay up late at night wrestling with that, and I have. I have gone over things in my mind since I was old enough to think, I guess. Most people do. The problem with our understanding the complexity of these issues is our finiteness. We make assumptions about the infinite based on the finite. For instance, God represents Himself as three, and yet one. Genesis 1, “Let us create man in our image, after our likeness.” “The Lord our God is one God.”

So God is an “our”? “Our likeness, our image,” plural — in fact, the very word “God” has got a plural ending in Hebrew. Is God one or is He three? It says there in the book of John, chapter one he says, “In the beginning was the Word” — that’s the Word — “and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. By Him” — the Word — “all things were made, and without Him was not anything made that was made.” So, the Bible represents Jesus as with God and being God at the same time.

To illustrate it another way, Jesus is with the Father, and yet He is the Father at the same time. In the Old Testament in the Book of Isaiah, speaking of the coming of Jesus, it says, “And His name shall be called Wonderful, Councilor, the mighty God, the Everlasting Father.”

So the Creator in Genesis chapter one is Jesus, and yet the Holy Spirit also is God. So, I might illustrate it this way, although this is not accurate. It’s as close as I can get to it. So, this is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

The problem with my illustration is, this is the Holy Spirit, this is the Holy Spirit, this is the Holy Spirit. This is God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and any place within my drawing is all three Persons of the Godhead and yet the three are one.

Now how can three be one? Mathematically, it is impossible. In our finite thinking, it is impossible. How can I be free to make a choice and yet my choice is already known to God?

The Bible clearly holds me responsible for all my choices, and encourages me to choose wisely and warns me if I choose incorrectly. So, I am willing to accept the fact that I don’t know much, and I live in a finite world with a finite mind, and I have a small percentage of knowledge of that which actually could be known in my finiteness. And a lot of what I know is messed up and confused, and so I end up having to do what I do when I wire a house: I get a book, and I read the book, and I trust somebody knows more about it than I do, and I put it all together, not knowing the theory, turn it on, and it works.

I say, “Ha! Boy, I must be smart. I got this thing fixed. I made it work.” No! I just followed the book. [taps the Bible] Here’s my book. This is my book. It tells me all about God, and about these things and so, I believe what it says, and the beauty of it is that it is functional. It actually works in my life and the lives around the people to put us in contact with God, and change our lives.

When I can’t resolve a paradox, I am certainly not going to bail out of the ship of faith from what I don’t know. I am going to continue to ride the ship of faith based on what I do know, and what God has revealed to us.
Voiceover: If you would like to ask a Bible question, email us at [email protected] or call at 931‑805‑4820.

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17 comments on “Are there any paradoxes in the Bible?”

  1. Jesus tells us that he wanted the disciples to be one in Him just as He and His Father are one. One in spirit. Not one in being. If we look at John 17: 3 we see that salvation is found in knowing two beings - the Father and His advocate - not three. Also, Jesus never claimed to be equal to the Father, but rather He stated Himself "My Father is greater that I." His power was not of Himself, but was given to Him of His Father. He said, "The works that I do, I do not of myself, but the Father that dwells in Me, He doeth the works." The Bible makes it clear that the Father exalted Him to His position as God. This is due to His being His Son which naturally makes Him heir to the throne. Does this make sense?

  2. Phil 2:7. "He emptied Himself and took on the form of a servant"
    He allowed himself to be born as a real human being, dependant on his Father, God.......
    This is so far beyond our comprehension..... Must we inderstand "how" God became man in order to believe that He did?
    He took my sins upon Himself. He did not have a son in order to do the work of atonement....he did it himself. He could because he has a plural nature......Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

  3. How do you explain the paradox that Paul creates in Titus 1 vs 12-13 when he comments that the testimony of Epimenides is true. Was he unaware that his comment created a paradox?

    1. Biblically, when a prophet speaks prophetically, he is speaking God's words and not his own. Paul recognized (and its inclusion in scripture confirms it) Epimenides as a prophet and that these particular words are prophetic, and therefore God's words, not Epimenides'.

      1. Epimenides was a Cretan. His testimony was , "All Cretans are liars." This means that his testimony must be a lie (since he is a Cretan) which means that at least one Cretan tells the truth. This contradicts Epimenides own testimony yet Paul says the testimony is true. This is the paradox that apparently Paul didn't know he was a part of because it CAN'T be true. (It can't be false either). That's the nature of a paradox.

          1. Epimenides was a philosopher, poet and "even a prophet of their own". It is possible for someone hold multiple positions. Some examples would be that a man can be a son, bother, husband and father, or christian, American and soldier, or an athlete, student and employee. You are going to great lengths in your attempts to prove a paradox where none exist.

        1. No the problem here is that you don't seem to understand what a paradox is. Epimenides statement is a version of what is called the "Liar paradox." Look it up maybe then you'll see the point.

          1. I completely understand what a paradox is and about the "liar paradox". The lack of understanding is on your part, about the nature of a prophet. When speaking prophetically (as it was identified in the given passage) it is understood that the words are God's words, not the prophet's word.

          2. Ok, so since Paul says that what Epimenides is true...then what Epimenides said is false since Epimenides is a Cretan and Cretans always lie! I don't think anyone gets a pass on this problem. EVEN prophets.

  4. 'Your personal opinion and erroneous thoughts are irrelevant in the face of the facts." The problem haven't presented any facts! You say Epimenides was a prophet....fact or belief? You say that prophets are exempt from paradoxes.... fact of belief? The fact is.....religion is not based on facts! It's based on beliefs. If anyone is wrong because of "facts" it would be you.

    1. Why do I bring up religion? I believe you're the one who brought up Epimenides being a prophet speaking gods words (even though he was not a christian). Furthermore the bible does not say Epimenides was a prophet. I haven't yet stated my beliefs or opinions. I simply pointed out what Epimenides said and the FACT that it is a paradox and that when Paul says is true makes it even more problematical. I think that you are the one that needs to "open your mind enough to get beyond your own prejudices."

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