An Atheist argues that 1 Timothy 6:16 contradicts 1 Kings 8:12:
1Timothy 6:16 – Who (God) only hath immortality, DWELLING IN THE LIGHT which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
1 Kings 8:12 – Then spake Solomon, the LORD said that HE WOULD DWELL IN THICK DARKNESS.
Which is it? He confidently tried to prove to me that the Bible is full of contradictions; He dwells in the light or in darkness?
I think what he’s trying to imply here is that, if God dwells in the light (heaven); how can He dwell in darkness (hell)? Which is actually a good point; but what kind of darkness is being spoken of here? Pitch black kind of darkness?
Remember, English is a language that is very poor in vocabulary; a lot of English words are borrowed from other languages. The word translated as ‘darkness’ in the English Bible are not always the same Hebrew word.
The word ‘darkness’ from the original Hebrew of the Old Testament in 1 Kings 8:12 is ‘ערפל (‘ărâphel)’; it is often used to describe the glory of God’s presence in form of thick dark cloud, gloom (as of a lowering sky). It is never used in an evil way (hell).
Here are few passages where the term is used:
Exodus 20:21 – And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick DARKNESS (ערפל – ‘ărâphel) where God was.
2 Samuel 22:10 – He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and DARKNESS (ערפל – ‘ărâphel) was under his feet.
Most of the time it is associated with clouds (smoke):
Deuteronomy 4:11 – And ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire unto the midst of heaven, with darkness, CLOUDS, and thick DARKNESS (ערפל – ‘ărâphel).
Psalm 97:2 – CLOUDS AND DARKNESS (ערפל – ‘ărâphel) are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.
For more, see: Deuteronomy 33:26; Psalm 68:4, 33; Matthew 26:62-66
That’s what ‘darkness’ here means, not dark as in pitch black places (hell or dungeon), but as being cloudy, smoky type of darkness; when the presence of God’s glory is so strong. We see this happen in 1 Kings 8:10-11, “10 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that THE CLOUD FILLED THE HOUSE OF THE LORD, 11 So that the priests could not stand to minister BECAUSE OF THE CLOUD: for THE GLORY OF THE LORD had filled the house of the LORD.”
This is the very context of Solomon’s prayer above where the Atheist gets it from: ‘12 Then spake Solomon, the LORD said that he would dwell in thick darkness.’ – 1 Kings 8:12
The Hebrew word for pitch black (places, night) is ‘חשׁך (chôshek)’, it’s akin to the Greek ‘σκότος (skotos)’ (See Luke 22:53); it’s different from ‘ערפל (‘ărâphel)’ as I explained above. חשׁך (chôshek) is always associated with evil, wickedness…
Here are few passages where חשׁך (chôshek) is used (God is never associated to this kind of darkness):
1 Samuel 2:9 – He will keep the feet of his saints, and THE WICKED shall be silent in DARKNESS (חשׁך – chôshek); for by strength shall no man prevail.
2 Samuel 22:29 – For thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD (my lamp) will lighten my DARKNESS (חשׁך – chôshek).
Job 34:22 – There is no DARKNESS (חשׁך – chôshek), nor SHADOW OF DEATH, where THE WORKERS OF INIQUITY may hide themselves.
Job 3:4 – Let that day be DARKNESS (חשׁך – chôshek); let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it. 5 Let DARKNESS (חשׁך – chôshek) and THE SHADOW OF DEATH stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let THE BLACKNESS OF THE DAY terrify it. 6 As for THAT NIGHT, let DARKNESS (חשׁך – chôshek) SEIZE UPON IT; let it not be joined unto the days of the year, let it not come into the number of the months.
As we can see, this is the kind of darkness that is always associated with evil and wickedness. So again, I don’t see any contradiction here. It’s just that these people’s eyes (spiritual) have been blinded by their desire to despise and reject God; all they can see is the Devil’s lies and deceptions.
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