Fact checking the Bible (Part 3)

Bible verse used in the podcast

  • 1 Samuel 17:50 
  • 2 Samuel 21:19-20 
  • 1 Chronicles 20:5 
  • Gen 1:1-2, John 1:1-3 
  • Jude 1:6, 2 peter 2:4, Matthew 25:41, Revelation 12:9

Interesting resources

Through several examples, the concept of one, two or three pieces of evidence is a good study tool to use in many practical ways. But let’s talk about a more complicated issue we can use this trick for. We can use this trick to talk about theological and textural issues that might not be too straight forward all at once. 

Who killed Goliath?

One example is who killed Goliath? You might be thinking, everyone knows it’s David. And of course, the answer is yes. But we get into some trouble when we try to cross-reference this clear fact. For instance, we can find the story that we will know about:

4 And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5 He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. 6 And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. … 49 And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. 50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David.

1 Samuel 17:4-6, 49-50 ESV

Clearly there is no doubt about this issue, David killed Goliath. But what happens when you cross-reference this issue? Can you look up other places that talk about Goliath? It turns out you can and when you do, in 2 Samuel, you find something that appears to be a contradiction:

19 And there was again war with the Philistines at Gob, and Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim, the Bethlehemite, struck down Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. 20 And there was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number, and he also was descended from the giants.

2 Samuel 21:19-20 ES

So was it David or was it Elhanan? This would seem like a clear contradiction if we only had these two verses. But we don’t just have these verses, we actually have another verse that sheds light on the issue. 

4 And after this there arose war with the Philistines at Gezer. Then Sibbecai the Hushathite struck down Sippai, who was one of the descendants of the giants, and the Philistines were subdued. 5 And there was again war with the Philistines, and Elhanan the son of Jair struck down Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.

1 Chronicles 20:4-5 ESV

From here we find that Goliath has a brother and we get some information about the spear he used. After some digging, some scholars have some insights into what happened. First, Hebrew is not quite like English where missing one letter completely changes grammatical structure and meaning. For the most part, you can understand something in English even if several words in a sentence are misspelled. In the Hebrew text, that is not so accurate. If you change a letter, that could change the meaning of the sentence. Upon inspection, what it seems is that a scribe mistook one letter when copying and that causes a change in the meaning of the sentence over time. You might be thinking, but I thought the scribes were so careful as to not change details? You are right, this story is one they would have been extremely familiar with but after years of copying, they decided to preserve the text rather than alter it after not being sure if this was originally inspired or not. 

This is a well-known issue and many Bible translators, including the King James, knew about this issue so not every English translation has this issue. The problem is, even though we know there could be a problem with the text, should we try to fix the mistake? Interestingly enough, if this issue was not in the text, we could talk about this issue with regards to Bible study techniques. As stated before, all because you have two pieces of evidence, you don’t necessarily know if they are truly the same or not unless you can look at other details to clarify. Having the third verse is necessary in order to resolve this issue. There is another item of interest when talking about this issue. There is something called Psalms 151 which is not considered to be inspired by most, but it does seem to talk about the story of David killing Goliath as part of a celebrator Psalm. Again pointing at the fact that historically David killing Goliath is consistent with the way we are interpreting things. Simple because the people of those days interpreted the text in that way.

Can we trust the creation narrative?

Here is another issue.  Can we trust the account of Genesis? I am not asking this from a scientific point of view but as a view of witnesses. Adam was not around during all of creation. Instead, he was created at the end. So all of this was done without his direct witness. So if we assume we only got the account orally passed down from Adam, how could we trust it? Well, it turns out we don’t need Adam’s testimony. We have three witnesses who were there in the beginning before Adam. We know the father, the son, and the holy spirit were all there in the beginning during creation:

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:1-2 ESV

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

John 1:1-3 ESV

What about sketchy theology?

Often we have this issue of filling in gaps about what we have explicitly stated in the Bible, and what we can infer about the text. Back when talking about David and Goliath we had to do that. We can take a step back from the text, look at what clues it says, and make judgments about things from these clues. So on some level, this method should not be discarded. There are a lot of others that we need to take a step back from the text and piece together. For instance the idea of the Trinity. There is no direct verse that uses the word trinity and much of what we know about how the trinity works come from different verses that you can string together to make a claim. Or if you looked back previously about what I said about solving this issue of who killed Goliath. 

One example has to do with Satan. It is clear that Satan feels, but what about Demons and all this other stuff that we see in the Bible?

9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world–he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

Revelation 12:9 ESV

6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day–

Jude 1:6 ESV

4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;

2 Peter 2:4 ESV

40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Matthew 25:40-41 ESV

40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Matthew 25:40 ESV

When looking at these verses, it is clear that Satan fell, but he was not alone. Some angels also fell with him. The question of why they fell and explanation would need to be explored another time. But it is clear that more than one place clearly indicates that something happened, not just the angels. But out of that you also find that Hell was not just for man. Hell has a greater purpose than just bad people who don’t believe in God’s plan of redemption through Jesus.

Now in my recording, I talk about the gap theory in the context of this idea of using three or more witnesses and cross-referencing the Bible. There was a lot I didn’t put into the recording and too much for even this post, so there will be another post (Fact checking the Bible Addendum) with more details just on the gap theory alone.

Fact checking the Bible (Part 2)

Bible verse used in the podcast

  • Deuteronomy 19:15 ESV, 2 Corinthians 13:1 ESV, John 8:17-18 ESV Matthew 18:16, 1 timothy 5:19, Hebrews 10:28, Numbers 35:30
  • Luk 24:1-3, 9-11 Mat 28:1-7, Jhn 20:1-3, Mark 16:1-7
  • John 19:25 
  • Gen 1:26-27, Mark 10:6 
  • Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, John 6:1-15, Luke 9:10-17 
  • Matthew 15:32-39, Mark 8:1-9
  • Acts 7
  • Exodus 7:10-11 ESV 
  • 2 Timothy 3:8 ESV 
  • Hebrews 13:1-2 ESV 
  • Mat 22:29-30 
  • James 1:17 ESV 
  • 1 John 4:8 ESV 
  • Genesis 4:17-24 ESV

Interesting reading

The concept of 3 or more witnesses

I talked about two ideas. The first is what happens when you use the Bible to cross-reference itself. The second is the idea of using multiple witnesses (or pieces of evidence) to establish something as truth. 

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.

Matthew 18:15-16 ESV

Let’s look at this situation about two or three one more times to get a better grasp of what is going on. Imagine you walk into a room and you have a glass cup that is smashed on the floor. There is only one thing and it is clear it leads to a truth that something happened. Later you have two kids walk into a room and both claim a different story about how the glass smashed on the floor. What you can do is use their stories and line them up with the cup to see which one is more accurately in line with the facts of the smashed up. But the cup alone doesn’t give you the story of what happened. We know it was smashed and can infer some things. But just the cup smashing itself is not enough to tell what happened.

Three witnesses of Jesus’ Fulfillment

Through the Bible, similar situations happen. Out of the old testament, we get this concept that the Messiah (Christ) is supposed to come and take away the sins of the world. That is a promise of God so you can consider that as a fact that it will happen. But now Jesus comes along and starts making claims and people start seeing the implications that Jesus is claiming to be this person. Now you don’t just have Jesus claiming to be this Messiah, you also have the Father and the Spirit:

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

John 15:26 ESV

17 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.”

John 8:17-18 ESV

16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Matthew 3:16-17 ESV

The witness of three women

When you look at the most important core message of Christianity, they rely on two important facts. The first is that Jesus died for our sins, and the second is that he was raised again on the third day. This is at the core of the definition of the gospel as defined by Paul.

1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 ESV

When you look at these two events, you find that at the crucifixion there were multiple people, not just three. There were Jews who rejected Jesus, the Jew who supported Jesus (the disciples), there were the gentiles around (the Romans), and so on. But you can make several observations about the witnesses who were there at the time. [ also see Mat 28:1-7, Jhn 20:1-3]

25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

John 19:25 ESV

25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

John 19:25 ESV

1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. … 9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.

Luke 24:1-3, 9-11 ESV

1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. … 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”

Mark 16:1-2, 7 ESV

When you compare the events, there are at least three witnesses who saw both accounts. But moreover, at least two of the witnesses were at both events. It helps demonstrate that not only are there groups of people who say the events, but the same people saw both events. The witness didn’t get half of the story, they got both sides of the story.

There is something else to be said. There are three witnesses that help establish the testimony of the cross and resurrection. The message of the Gospel was first spread by the women, not the men (including the disciples). This is one way you can show that the testimony of a woman is equal to that of a man. The same conditions that need for anyone to establish the truth are met independently of whether it is a man or a woman.

Feeding of the 4 and 5 thousand

You might get some deja-vu when reading and come across the passages where Jesus multiplied bread and fish. This is one of those places where you need to ask, did the Disciples get the story right? There are different details mentioned, so are they the same event with similar details, or are they different events? When you look at the passage you can compare them in many ways.

  • 5000: Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, John 6:1-15, Luke 9:10-17
  • 4000: Matthew 15:32-39, Mark 8:1-9

There are several differences on a surface level and several within the greek. Overall they do have similar things happen such as multiplying the bread, collecting baskets, and a large number of people. But when you get into the details it is clear there are differences so much so that they are more than likely not the same event. How the people get there is different, how much time Jesus spends with the crowd is different, the conversation with the disciples have a different emphasis, the lessons that can be learned between the two can be different, and so on. The classic example is how the symbolism is different. Jesus feeds the group with different numbers of loaves and different numbers of baskets are collected later. One note that some have noticed is that one crowd seems to be Jewish the other gentile. Ironically Jesus instantly takes care of the Jewish crowd and then speaks to the disciples about how to deal with the gentile one. This echoes issues from Acts. 5 loaves are used to feed the Jewish crowd. When you think of the idea that bread can resemble the word of God as something you should chew on and it sustains you each day. Similar to the idea of mana in the wilderness. If you consider the parallelism to the five books of Moses, out of these teachings come the twelve tribes. In the gentile case, seven loaves are used. Paul primarily writes to 7 churches (although some several times). He does write to individuals as well, but the concept that the letters were instructions directed at the church first. Similarly, the five books of Moses were for all of Israel. We find that out of that in Revelation 2 and 3, 7 types of Churches are found. As much as all congregations want to be Philadelphians, all churches are a mixture of each of the seven letters, some more distantly than others. 

But in either case, even though there are two events, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the same. You need more details to tell them about and unless the context is clear, it can be easy to assume they are the same event.

Things only mentioned once

Let’s revisit this idea that some things are only mentioned once. When you have these, you can only decide how these are defined then it becomes a definition. There are several situations in the Bible of things that only appear one time and without them, we would not have a lot of insight. One example of this is Steven the  Martyr’s sermon to the high priest in Acts 7. Here they take Steven and he gives the religious leadership a lesson in their own history and theology that they missed. Even just the structure and thought process of what he says has major implications on prophecy that would be missed if not looked at. But there are several details that give us insight.

One example of this is when Abraham is called by God. We read the message and it seems clear that God told him to go and Abraham instantly follows the word of God. We think of Abraham as the father of faith and someone so is listening to the voice of God. But when you get to Acts 7, Steven brings up the fact the Abraham didn’t go right away.

1 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” 4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan,

Genesis 12:1-5 ESV

2 And Stephen said: “Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’ 4 Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living.

Acts 7:2-4 ESV

That is just a subtle moment, but there is one that has even more impact on theology. We won’t focus on the implication but instead, the basic conclusion is drawn from the text. We may be familiar with the story of Moses. He goes out, sees his people being abused, stands up for them, and then flees. But there is something that is missed that Steven fills in for us.

11 One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. 12 He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” 14 He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” 15 When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well.

Exodus 2:11-15 ESV

22 And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds. 23 “When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. 25 He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand. 26 And on the following day he appeared to them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong each other?’ 27 But the man who was wronging his neighbor thrust him aside, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29 At this retort Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons. 30 “Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. … 35 “This Moses, whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’–this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush.

Acts 7:22-30, 35 ESV

There becomes a reflection that Moses had a calling that he was going to bring God’s people out of Egypt even before the burning bush. But the people rejected Moses so he had to leave for 40 years before they got that chance again. To think they could have ended their slavery 40 years earlier if they would have accepted what God was planning. This happens again when the spies go into the promised land and return with reports. The people are too scared to go and now they have to wait another 40 years. If they would have listened, they could have gone into the promised land 80 years earlier than they actually did with Moses leading at the age of 40. Instead, it took years for them to get into the promised land and it wasn’t even the original generation that it was promised too.

Signal moments in the Bible

There are even more passages that bring up questions that are just a single passage with no direct or clear connection to other things in the Bible. For instance who were the magicians who opposed Moses when he visited Pharaoh? There is speculation that their names are in the Bible in the new testament. But they would also be people who confronted Moses when he came down from the mountain. Either way, we are left with this:

8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith.

2 Timothy 3:8 ESV

While we are here let’s look at some really strange verse about angels. I won’t get into the theological issues here. But there are some verses that are only mentioned once and that is all we get on the issue. How we interpret them really changes our theological view on specific things:

1 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Hebrews 13:1-2 ESV

29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Matthew 22:29-30 ESV

Not to mention there are even verses about God that are only used once. These verses do have other passages that talk about similar things, but they directly state a truth that we wouldn’t get because of how direct they are.

17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

James 1:17 ESV

8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 4:8 ESV

Of course, everyone knows the story of Cain and Abel. But few look at the verse that comes right after it. After in Genesis 4:17-26, Cain builds a city and names it after his son, it goes on to list some profession about his family and then about a murder that it seems one of his descendants commits. There doesn’t seem to be any other references to Cain and his family elsewhere in the Bible. 

Fact-checking the Bible (Part 1)

Bible verse used in the podcast

  • Deuteronomy 19:15 ESV 
  • 2 Corinthians 13:1 ESV 
  • John 8:17-18 ESV 

How do we go about interpreting the Bible? We can talk about literal versus symbolic interpretation. But let’s look at another way of interpreting the Bible. What if you use the Bible to interpret itself? 

When you look at the Bible, everything about love is not just in 1 Corinthians 13. Yes, there is a lot there, but if you rip out those pages of the Bible, everything about love is not lost. Not only that, love is not just in the new testament, it is also in the old testament. This is important, you can look through the Bible and see different areas about the same area. So if you lose something you can find it in other ways. like the core message of the Christian Gospel, it is not just in the new testament.

When you look at Abraham he takes his son up the mountain. There he is instructed to sacrifice him as a sin offering. But when you sit back, this parallels the central ideas of the Christain Gospels. A father who takes his son and sacrifices him as a sin offering. On a surface level, you can pass it over. But the details foreshadow this concept. The question is, are there other places that talk about the same topic? You can find other examples of this model but often they are there and you wouldn’t notice it. 

Now, what about other things? It isn’t a shocking idea that one can find similar ideas through the Bible, you probably heard your pastor do this every Sunday. But what happens when you cross-reference other things? Often this is when people start debates. Does the Bible contradict itself? In general, we have this idea that the Bible is the word of God and it is perfect, so ideally there shouldn’t be any contradictions right? But let’s ask this question, can we find things wrong with the Bible? Of course, when getting into this there is an issue to address. We don’t know everything. Humans are limited so there is an area of flaws that comes into play.

But still, this is an important question to ask now. Are there contradictions in the Bible? You would think this is straightforward either yes or no, but that is not the full store. There is another layer to it. Are we interpreting the Bible right or wrong? When you consider this there are four possibilities. One trick is to take this and layout these options and explore the possibilities that come out of this:

The Bible is rightThe Bible is wrong
We are right12
We are wrong34

The easy areas are 1 and 2; if we can reach the Bible and understand it clearly there is a problem with the Bible. If not they both are good and that’s what we intuitively think. But 3 and 4 are the issue. If you are interpreting things wrong, how do you know if it is truly right or wrong? Of course, we can not always know when we are wrong at hand so these two situations seem identical and probably can’t be distinguished. But let’s explore this a bit. We assume the Bible is always right, otherwise, why do we believe in the Bible? So that means there is a contradiction, then the only way that is true is if we are interpreting things wrong.  This begins an important concept that stems out of Acts 17:10-11:

10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. –

Acts 17:10-11 ESV

The fact that the people in Berea are questioning Paul, the go-to guy for theological issues, is important. We should be ready to hear different points of view but we should always make sure that what we are hearing is true. What happens if what you learn contradicts the Bible? Of course, we should feel safe to say that God knows what he is doing so we need to go back and exam things to make sure we understand what it is really saying. 

But how do we know if something is right or wrong? We should cross-reference things to make sure that everything matches and is consistent. It turns out this is not just a useful idea, but it is also a Biblical one:

15 “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.

Deuteronomy 19:15 ESV

1 This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.

2 Corinthians 13:1 ESV

17 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true.

John 8:17 ESV

In a legal system, you would hope that you can defend yourself with witnesses. In a just system, if someone is guilty or innocent, there should be facts and a way to tell if it is true or false. Why don’t we apply this idea to scripture? Why not look at scripture and see if we can find other areas of scripture that also agree with the claims being made. But not just one place but multiple places.

But we should dig a bit deeper, why 3 witnesses? Clearly only having one claim seems off and we wouldn’t one to be sent to jail because one person hates us. But why isn’t two enough?

When you think about only having one thing, that is it that is all you have. In a way having one thing is like having a definition, you only argue about what it is but once it is defined, that definition can not change. It’s like calling something a chair; what is a chair? In its basic form, a chair is something that you sit on right? Well not quite because when we think about a chair we generally think about something that has legs and a backrest. Saying a chair is something you sit on is too general to the point that just about anything can be a chair. A stool, a couch, a box, and so on. We wouldn’t necessarily call all of these chairs, which is why they have different names, but once we define what a chair is, we use that definition to distinguish what is and is not a chair.

What about two things? Well, this gets strange because when you have 2 things, they can either be the same or different. But how would you know? This can be a bit abstract to explain without concrete examples (which will come another time). But looking at these situations can be more clear by moving on and coming back to it.

When you have three things you can distinguish between the issue of two. For instance, let’s say you had a circle and a square and these can either be blue or red. But you can’t directly see the color. Instead, you need a special rod that can show you the color. The circle and square could be the same color or not but you can’t directly get at it. Instead, you need this third party to help distinguish the truth. This seems abstract but there are some important situations in the Bible where this comes up.

Sometimes when going through the gospels, you will notice stories that are similar, but yet they have slightly different details. Some will try to claim because the gospels have different details they aren’t reliable and so on. But this is not necessarily the case. Some of the details might be similar but yet when you examine them they clearly show that these situations or events are not the same. On the other hand, these details could be the same but they need the authors to point out different details that they remember that the others don’t. 

Of course, this is a nice thought experiment but we will need to go into the scriptures to see more of how we can apply this.