10. Be certain of the original text.
The doctrine of inerrancy claims that it is the original autographs that were without error, not the copies made from them. It is quite possible that copyists have made some minor errors in transcription. This might account for some variation among numbers reported in the Old Testament. 1 Kings 4:26 says that Solomon had 40,000 stalls for horses and 12,000 horsemen. 2 Chronicles 9:25 says that he had 4,000 stalls and 12,000 horsemen. Similarly, 1 Samuel 13:1 says that Saul reigned for 32 years, while Paul says that his reign lasted 40 years (Acts 13:21). In the Hebrew language numbers were recorded by assigning numerical value to each of the letters of the alphabet. Letters were then used in combination to record larger numbers; this made for greater susceptibility for a scribal mistake because the letters were not grouped according to a logical linguistic pattern (a word they were used to seeing), but randomly, to record a given number.
Though there may be other legitimate explanations for these numerical differences, it is possible that we have a scribal error made in transcription. If such minor errors do exist, they do not harm the doctrine of inerrancy, nor lessen our confidence in the accuracy of our Bibles. There are not many of these kinds of difficulties in the Bible. It is said that our current text of the New Testament is 98.33% pure from copyist error. Of the few slight variations not one affects any major doctrine.
11. Face the possibility that you may have misinterpreted one or both passages.
If it appears that the difficulties of a passage are insurmountable, consider the possibility that you have misinterpreted it. Just after I came to faith in Jesus Christ as a Junior High student, I began to read my Bible regularly. Starting at the beginning of the New Testament, I soon came upon Matthew 5:29, “And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” I was stumped. I wanted to please Christ, but this request seemed too harsh! How could I gouge my eye out? How could I handle the pain? How could I explain to my parents what I had done? Fortunately I waited for further information and came to see that I was taking literally what Jesus was using as a literary technique to make a point.
Not long afterward I came to Matthew 16:2-3: “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is read.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is read and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?” My conclusion? I understood this to mean that it was wrong to attempt to predict the weather; therefore, I thought I had to stop watching the weather forecast with my father each evening before going to bed. I wanted to do what Christ commanded, but the command, as I interpreted it, seemed a bit arbitrary. I sought further input and discovered that I had misunderstood the point of what Jesus said.