Today’s post took a little longer to post since I ended up chasing rabbit trails with rules of Greek syntax.
In light of the Christmas season we are tackling “Christmas” related Bible Contradictions. For today’s post we will look at a question that the Skeptic Annotated Bible asked: “Was Jesus the son of David?” I noticed the Skeptic Annotated Bible actually posted this difficulty twice in their list with the second question being “Will the Messiah be a descendant of David?”
Here are the two answers which the skeptic believes shows a Bible contradiction:
From Jesus’ Genealogy:
The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham (Matthew 1:1 cf. Matthew 1:6)
He was the son and seed of David, the furit of his loins his according to the flesh.
And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, (Acts 2:30)
From the descendants of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, (Acts 13:23)
concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, (Romans 1:3)
Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David. (2 Timothy 2:8)
“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” (Revelation 22:16)
He is not the son of David. (How could David call him “Lord” if he was his son?)
If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?” (Matthew 22:45)
And Jesus began to say, as He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David 36 David himself said in the Holy Spirit, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet.”’ 37 David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; so in what sense is He his son?” And the large crowd [c]enjoyed listening to Him. (Mark 12:35-37)
(Note: Scriptural quotation comes from the New American Standard Bible)
Here’s a closer look at whether or not there is a contradiction:
- When dealing with skeptics’ claim of Bible contradictions it seems one can never be reminded enough of what exactly is a contradiction. A contradiction occurs when two or more claims conflict with one another so that they cannot simultaneously be true in the same sense and at the same time.
- Technically it would be the case that both the answers “yes” and “no” to the question of whether Jesus was the son of David would be a contradiction if we are talking about “son” in the same sense. So the next question before us is whether the verses our skeptic has cited is justified in supporting both claims that Jesus was and was not the Son of David.
- The skeptic was correct in his use of the verses that showed “yes,” Jesus was the Son of David.
- Matthew 1:1 clearly calls Jesus “the son of David.” The genealogy in the chapter further attests to Jesus being the son of David.
- Acts 2:30 refers back to the Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament of how there will be one who comes to the Davidic Messianic throne. The Messiah is “one of his descendants,” that is, David’s descendents. In the Greek Acts 2:30 says literally “of his loins.”
- Acts 13:23, Romans 1:3, 2 Timothy 2:8 uses the Greek word σπέρματος that means “of the seed.” Note σπέρματος is where we get our English word “sperm.” Jesus in these verses is “of the seed” of David.
- Revelation 22:16 is literally “of the kind” of David, with the Greek term usually referring to family (Acts 7:13) and offspring produced by someone (Acts 17:28-29).
- Thus from the various Greek terms used as we seen, Scripture makes a very strong assertation that Jesus is the Son of David.
- The verses that the skeptic cited to showed “no,” Jesus was not the Son of David, does not support the skeptic’s claim.
- Contextually Matthew 22:45 does not deny Jesus being the Son of David.
- In the context Matthew 22 records the intense debate Jesus had with the religious leaders of the Jews during the last week of his life.
- In verse 45 notice here Jesus was asking a question. It is clear Jesus is asking a question because the next verse states “No one was able to answer Him a word,” presupposing it was a question of some kind. Also verse 45 is similar to what Jesus said in verse 42 which in verse 41 the narrator said “Jesus asked them a question.“
- But just because someone is asking a question does not necessarily mean the individual is denying that the claim is true.
- Here is where knowledge of the Greek is important. Matthew 22:45 is actually a Greek conditional sentence and one can see this even in English translation with the word “if.” What is a conditional sentence? It is a claim that if something happens, then something else will happen.
- In the Greek there is different kinds of Greek conditional sentences. There are at least four classes of conditional sentences that have difference of shades of assumption and probability.
- Here in Matthew 22:45 it is a first class conditional sentences in light of the Greek construct of the protasis being formed with the conditional particle ei (‘if’) plus an indicative mood for the main verb.
- First class conditional sentences assumes the claims to be true for the sake of the argument. So Jesus here in Matthew 22:45 is assuming that it is true that David called his Son Lord. The skeptic SHOULD NOT make this verse out to be that that Jesus is claiming David didn’t call his Messiah “Lord,” and that the Messiah would come from his lineage.
- If Jesus wanted to put doubt on the probability and even the factuality of David claiming that the Messiah would come from his lineage and is also called Lord by him, he could have used other Greek conditional construct (notably second and fourth class conditional sentences) and presented his argument in a different manner. But Jesus didn’t do this.
- Jesus didn’t just assume that the Messiah (and therefore He Himself) will come from David’s lineage for the sake of the argument here. Elsewhere in the context of the book of Matthew we see Jesus begins with the premise He’s the Messianic Son of David.
- More than any other Gospel the book of Matthew mentions Jesus as the Son of David.
- For example in Matthew 9:27-31 Jesus even healed two blind men only after He asked them if they really believed Jesus was the Messianic Son of David.
- Nowhere in any of the accounts did Jesus correct anyone when they believed Jesus was the Messiah and that He was the Messianic Son of David. We see Jesus correcting people when they are wrong and the fact He did not in these instances is significant.
- Contextually Mark 12:35-37 does not deny Jesus being the Son of David.
- Mark 12:35-37 is Mark’s parallel of the same debate in Matthew 22 of Jesus’ debate with the religious leaders of the Jews the last week of His life.
- Since Mark 12 correspond to the same events as Matthew 22 the argument I have given above concerning Matthew 22:45 applies here as well that Jesus assumed the truth that the Messiah will be a son of David and be called Lord.
- In the Greek construct Mark 12:37 assumes even more strongly for the sake of the argument that the Messiah would be David’s Son in the use of the indicative mood of the verb rather than a subjunctive mood.
- Just like with the book of Matthew, the rest of the context of the book of Mark record people believing Jesus was the Messianic Son of David which Jesus didn’t deny but affirmed.
- So like Matthew 22:45, Mark 12:35-37 does not deny that the Messiah would be the Son of David but instead it presupposes the opposite both grammatically/syntactically in the Greek and also contextually in light of the flow of the rest of the book.
- Contextually Matthew 22:45 does not deny Jesus being the Son of David.
There is not a Bible contradiction here.