ABC:2 Thessalonians 2

From BibleStrength

Verse 11, Should We Tell Lies?

Dan Barker of FFRF claims there is a contradiction here and makes the following comments (italicized):[1]

Strange as it might seem, God does allow dishonesty for the purpose of defeating wickedness, by using their own tactics against them. As it is written, "With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward." (Psalms 18:26) Job observes that "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." (Job 5:13) Jesus called Christians to be wise as serpents but harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16) God sends punishments on the wicked for their sins. (Lamentations 3:38-41) God used lying spirits throughout the Bible to deceive those engaging in sin and idolatry that they might be punished. (cp. Ezekiel 14:7-10; Judges 9:23; 1 Kings 22:23; 2 Chronicles 18:19-22; Job 12:16-17; Isaiah 19:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:11)

Unfortunately righteous people cannot always be honest with the wicked, lest they be destroyed. Evil people do not play by the rules, and the righteous cannot always be open and honest with evil people, which is why even Jesus simply ignored evil people trying to entrap Him at times. (Matthew 26:63; 27:12; John 8:6) From a government standpoint, always speaking truthfully will result in betrayal by evil people who use espionage, allowing for the downfall of good governments unless they fight back through counter-espionage. Even righteous people in the Bible used lies and deception to avoid danger from those they considered wicked. (cp. Genesis 12:13-20; 20:1-13; 26:6-11; 34:13-26; Judges 4:19-21; 1 Samuel 21:13)

So how then can the two concepts be reconciled? False witness in Exodus 20:16 involved more than just dishonesty but distorting the truth when testifying legally (as in court of law) to harm the innocent and pervert justice. (cp. Deuteronomy 19:16-19; Exodus 23:1-8) The condemnation was not for occasional dishonesty, but using that dishonesty to destroy others without a cause. (Proverbs 3:30) As for Proverbs 12:22, lying lips are those which lie habitually to harm others without a cause, as contrasted with those that deal truthfully. (cp. Psalms 31:18,13; Proverbs 10:18; 17:7; Psalms 120:2-4) However, even righteous, ordinarily truthful people in the Bible had, at times, to use deception to avoid the traps of the wicked, as mentioned previously.

Verse 12

The ReasonProject lists the following as a Bible contradiction with the headline "Does God want some to go to hell?"[2] Critic's words are italicized.

John 12:40 like Romans 9:18 is referring to the Jews, how God has hardened their hearts and blinded their eyes. However, Paul specifically addresses this in Romans 11, stating that it is NOT God's intention that they should fall, but rather that through their hard-heartedness salvation might come to the Gentiles as well, that God might have mercy upon everyone.

This is consistent with the Old Testament. God's righteousness rejected leads to God's wrath and hardening of hearts (or as the Scofield Study Bible III puts it, "Light rejected, rightful obedience refused, inevitably hardens conscience and heart."[3]), but it is still God's intention that the wicked repent like Nineveh did. That is why God pleads with Israel to turn from their wickedness so they will not die.

So what about the other two passages? With 2 Thessalonians 2:12, when reading in context it is plain that God gave the wicked ample opportunity to repent, and they refused to repent and follow the Truth, Jesus. God did not set them up to fail because He did not want them to find eternal life, they deliberately rejected the truth of the Gospel in favor of lies and the deceptive pleasures of evil pleasures. Thus God in His wrath finally damns them by allowing them to pursue the lies that they prefer.

To put it bluntly, God does want everyone to become saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. God has given everyone enough knowledge that they are inexcusable. Romans 1:18-32 shows the pattern. God has shown mankind enough that they should recognize His power and authority and glorify Him. Instead, people choose vain imaginations over God. God in His wrath then allows them the consequences of their evil desires, lusts which enslave and destroy them. If God hardens their hearts, He nonetheless provides key opportunities for them to repent and forgives and heals those who do, like Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:34).

Proverbs 16:4 requires understanding of the original Hebrew language which the Old Testament was written in before being translated into English. As excellently pointed out by Robert L. Boldt, God has made everyone to give account to Himself, or give an answer to Him, as more clearly seen from reading the other surrounding verses in context.[4] Proverbs 16:1-8 is about how all consider their actions correct but it is God who determines the truth of one's ways. (v. 2) We should submit ourselves to God, abandon evil, and let the Lord direct our steps. (vv. 3-8)

The Hebrew word ma'aneh is usually translated "answer" in the KJV, indeed 7 out of 8 times it is translated that way. Only in Proverbs 16:4 did the KJV translate it differently, instead as "for Himself."[5] Thus if translating the passage consistently with the rest of the Bible, God creates the wicked TO ANSWER to Him, not simply as evil. God is not the author of evil, as mentioned by the Scofield Study Bible III (see also Lamentations 3:38).[6]

Thus, all passages simply represent the reality of God's wrath towards those who abide in evil. God wants them to repent and find salvation, but if they refuse to obey God, He will harden their hearts by allowing them to remain in the enslaving, wicked pleasures which will ultimately prove their destruction.


  1. Barker, D. (2019). "Bible Contradictions." FFRF.
  2. Marlow, Andy (2009). Contradictions in the Bible. Project Reason.
  3. Scofield, C.I. (2006). The Scofield Study Bible III. p. 92. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from
  4. Boldt, Robert L. Did God Make the Wicked for Punishment?
  5. Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon. Ma'aneh.
  6. Scofield, C.I. (2006). The Scofield Study Bible III. p. 934. Oxford University Press.