The New Testament Author's (Mis)Citations of the Old Testament: Another Proof For Their (Un)Inspiration?


Bassam Zawadi

In this article I will present a few examples of how the New Testament authors incorrectly cited passages from the Old Testament. I would also show you the lame responses that Christians have to offer to these arguments so that you would be more convinced of how clear it is that the NT authors weren't inspired.

Hebrews 8:7-9 vs. Jeremiah 31:32

Paul is supposedly going to quote from the book of Jeremiah:

Hebrews 8:7-9

For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said: "The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.

Notice that the portion that I highlighted is actually not to be found in the actual passage in the Old Testament:

Jeremiah 31:32

It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the LORD.

One would also notice that in the Hebrews passage Paul changed "though I was a husband to them," to "and I turned away from them"

A Look At The Christian Response

Christians would claim that Luke was quoting from the Septuagint that actually shows the phrase "and I disregarded them":

31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Juda: 32 not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day when I took hold of their hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; for they abode not in my covenant, and I disregarded them, saith the Lord. (See Chapter 38, verses 31-32 in the Septuagint version, Source)

They would argue that Paul was using the Septuagint while quoting passages from the Old Testament, thus the authors of the Septuagint are to blame for including mistakes in it, not Paul. Thus, Christians think that they have vindicated Paul.

This response is foolish.

First of all, Paul knew how to speak Hebrew. So why didn't he just go to the Hebrew Old Testament writings instead of appealing to fallible translations?

Secondly, God supposedly inspired Paul so why didn't God 'inspire' him to avoid these mistakes?

At the end of the day, the Christian has to admit that either the Old Testament passages in the Hebrew Old Testament are incorrect or the Septuagint and Paul.

We will let the Christians take their pick. Either way, they are left with serious problems that are a threat to the validity of the inspiration of Paul as an author

Recommended Reading:

Ephesians 4:8 vs. Psalm 68:18

Paul is supposedly going to quote from the book of Psalm:

Ephesians 4:8

This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men."

Notice that the portion that I highlighted is actually not to be found in the actual passage in the Old Testament:

Psalm 68:18

When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train; you received gifts from men, even from the rebellious? that you, O LORD God, might dwell there.

One would also notice that in the Ephesians passage Paul changed "you received gifts from men," to "and gave gifts to men."

A Look At The Christian Response

Now Christians cannot argue back that Paul was quoting from the Septuagint, since the Septuagint agrees with the Hebrew Old Testament and not with Paul:

Thou art gone up on high, thou hast led captivity captive, thou hast received gifts for man, yea, for they were rebellious, that thou mightest dwell among them. (Source)

So why on earth did Paul get it wrong this time?

John Gill tries to run to Paul's defense:

and gave gifts unto men;
meaning the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and particularly such as qualify men for the work of the ministry; these he received (Mdab) , "in man"; in human nature, in that nature in which he ascended to heaven; (hleml ewdyh Mdab) , "in the man that is known above", as say the Jews; and these he bestows on men, even rebellious ones, that the Lord God might dwell among them, and make them useful to others: wherefore the Jews have no reason to quarrel with the version of the apostle as they do; who, instead of "received gifts for" men, renders it, "gave gifts to men"; since the Messiah received in order to give, and gives in consequence of his having received them; and so Jarchi interprets the words, (Mttl) , "to give them" to the children of men; and besides, as a learned man has observed, one and the same Hebrew word signifies to give and to receive; to which may be added that their own Targum renders it (atbhy) , "and hast given gifts to the children of men"; and in like manner the Syriac and Arabic versions of (Psalms 68:18) render the words; very likely the apostle might use the Syriac version, which is a very ancient one: it was customary at triumphs to give gifts to the soldiers, to which there is an allusion here.
(John Gill, The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible, Commentary on Ephesians 4:8, Source)

The Hebrew word for "received" in Psalm 68:18 is laqach, which could only mean to "take, receive, take away, fetch, bring, get, take out, carry away, buy, etc." (Source)

It could never mean "to give", which is the exact opposite of the meaning of the word.

Thus, Paul's words are in clear opposition to the Hebrew Bible.

John Gill argues that Paul might have used the Syriac versions.

But what is going on here? Why is Paul using the Septuagint at one time and the Syriac version at another time? How can we believe that God inspires a man who already knows how to speak Hebrew to go ahead and copy mistakes from fallible translations?

Luke 4:17-19 vs. Isaiah 61:1-2

Luke is supposedly going to quote from the book of Isaiah:

Luke 4:17-19

The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

Notice that the portion that I highlighted is actually not to be found in the actual passage in the Old Testament:

Isaiah 61:1-2

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,

One would also notice that in the Isaiah passage Luke did not quote the phrase, "He has sent me to bind up the broken".

So we have two problems here.

First, why did Luke add the phrase "and recovery of sight for the blind" when it actually is not there in Isaiah?

Secondly, why did Luke not cite the whole passage and cut out the phrase "He has sent me to bind up the broken"?

A Look At The Christian Response

Christians would claim that Luke was quoting from the Septuagint, which actually shows the phrase "and recovery of sight for the blind":

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me; he has sent me to preach glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken in heart, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind; to declare the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of recompence; to comfort all that mourn; (Source)

However, this would still be problematic since the phrase "to heal the broken in heart" is to be found in the Septuagint, which was not quoted by Luke as I have previously mentioned.

So one might understand why Luke included the phrase "and recovery of sight for the blind" since it is included in the Septuagint, but why did he leave out the phrase "to heal the broken in heart"?

Recommended Reading:

Acts 7:14 vs. Genesis 46:27, Exodus 1:5 & Deuteronomy 10:22

Luke quotes Stephen who is allegedly referring to the Old Testament when he says:

Acts 7:14

After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family, seventy-five in all.

However, this contradicts the Old Testament, which actually says that the number is seventy:

Genesis 46:27

With the two sons who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob's family, which went to Egypt, were seventy in all.

Exodus 1:5

The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy in all; Joseph was already in Egypt.

Deuteronomy 10:22

Your forefathers who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the LORD your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky.

How can Stephen, a man supposedly inspired by the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5) make such a mistake?

A Look At The Christian Response

John Gill states:

which seems to disagree with the account of Moses, who says, that "all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten", (Genesis 46:27) . But there is no contradiction; Moses and Stephen are speaking of different things; Moses speaks of the seed of Jacob, which came out of his loins, who came into Egypt, and so excludes his sons' wives; Stephen speaks of Jacob and all his kindred, among whom his sons' wives must be reckoned, whom Joseph called to him: according to Moses's account, the persons that came with Jacob into Egypt, who came out of his loins, and so exclusive of his sons' wives, were threescore and six; to which if we add Jacob himself, and Joseph who was before in Egypt, and who might be truly said to come into it, and his two sons that were born there, who came thither in his loins, as others in the account may be said to do, who were not yet born, when Jacob went down, the total number is threescore and ten, (Genesis 46:26,27) out of which take the six following persons, Jacob, who was called by Joseph into Egypt, besides the threescore and fifteen souls, and Joseph and his two sons then in Egypt, who could not be said to be called by him, and Hezron and Hamul, the sons of Pharez not yet born, and this will reduce Moses's number to sixty four; to which sixty four, if you add the eleven wives of Jacob's sons, who were certainly part of the kindred called and invited into Egypt, (Genesis 45:10,19) (45:5) it will make up completely threescore and fifteen persons: or the persons called by Joseph maybe reckoned thus; his eleven brethren and sister Dinah, fifty two brother's children, to which add his brethren's eleven wives, and the amount is threescore and fifteen: so that the Jew F23 has no reason to charge Stephen with an error. (John Gill, The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible, Commentary on Acts 7:14, Source)

I find this argument to be desperate. This is mere speculation and John Gill is just creatively trying to come up with a way to justify why Luke would put those words into Stephen's mouth.

I have previously shown that Luke was using the Septuagint and the Septuagint makes a mistake by saying that the number is 75 instead of 70:

Genesis 46:27

And the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in the land of Egypt, were nine souls; all the souls of the house of Jacob who came with Joseph into Egypt, were seventy-five souls.  (Source)

Exodus 1:5

But Joseph was in Egypt. And all the souls born of Jacob were seventy-five. (Source)

Thus, it seems clear and obvious to us that Luke was using the Septuagint and incorporated its mistakes again.

However, even that lame excuse won't work, since Deuteronomy 10:22 in the Septuagint does not say seventy five, but seventy:

With seventy souls your fathers went down into Egypt; but the Lord thy God has made thee as the stars of heaven in multitude. (Source)

Remarkable! Even the Septuagint is wrong. Why didn't 'inspired' Stephen know that?

Luke 24:46 vs. The Entire Old Testament

Luke is supposedly quoting a passage from the Old Testament:

Luke 24:46

He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,

However, the ironic thing is that there is no such verse in the Old Testament that mentions this statement. So either Luke made this up purposely to deceive his audience or either he quoted it from some other source that he deemed to be inspired, yet we don't have it today. If it is the latter, then it would still hold serious problems to the Christian who would have to explain why the word of God has not been preserved in its entirety and would raise questions about what else has not been preserved as well.

A Look At The Christian Response

Christians would tend to argue back that we shouldn't take Luke's statement literally. That Luke was not trying to say that the exact statement "The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day" is found in the Old Testament, rather that this concept is found and is the essential message of the Old Testament

This argument might only work as a response to my argument if I were to appeal to 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, where Paul says:

1 Corinthians 15:3-4

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

Now, the Christian argument might work over here since Paul seems to be saying that the concept of Jesus dying for our sins and rising from the dead is found in the Old Testament. There is no reason to believe that Paul necessarily implied that the exact statements were to be found in it.

However, that is not what Luke does. Rather, Luke makes it clear that he is quoting from Scripture:

 Luke 24:46

He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,

Every single time a New Testament author says "This is what is written", he goes ahead to quote a statement from the Old Testament.

See Matthew 2:5-6, Matthew 4:4, Matthew 4:6, Matthew 4:7, Matthew 4:10, Matthew 11:10, Matthew 21:13, Matthew 26:31, Mark 1:2, Mark 7:6-7, Mark 11:17, Mark 14:27, Luke 2:23, Luke 3:4-6, Luke 4:4, Luke 4:8, Luke 4:10-11, Luke 7:27, Luke 19:46, Luke 20:17, Luke 22:37, John 2:17, John 6:31, John 6:45, John 12:14-15, Acts 13:33, Acts 15:17, Acts 23:5, Romans 1:17, Romans 2:24, Romans 3:4, Romans 3:12, Romans 4:17, Romans 8:36, Romans 9:13, Romans 9:33, Romans 10:15, Romans 11:8, Romans 11:27, Romans 12:19, Romans 14:11, Romans 15:3, Romans 15:9, Romans 15:21, 1 Corinthians 11:19, 1 Corinthians 1:31, 1 Corinthians 2:9, 1 Corinthians 3:19, 1 Corinthians 9:9, 1 Corinthians 10:7, 1 Corinthians 14:21, 1 Corinthians 15:45, 1 Corinthians 15:54, 2 Corinthians 4:13, 2 Corinthians 48:15, 2 Corinthians 9:9, Galatians 3:10, Galatians 3:13, Galatians 4:27, Hebrews 10:7 & 1 Peter 1:16 for examples to know what I mean.

How come Luke is the only exception?

I would have to say that any unprejudiced person could clearly see that Luke is either being deceptive or quoting from another source that he deemed to be inspired. Either way, this is problematic for the Christian.

Now if Jesus were to say it in an indirect way just like Paul did in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, it might have been a different story. However, Jesus said "it is written" and then gave a quote which was direct and not indirect. I think there's good reason to doubt the reliability of this verse. Maybe manuscript discoveries in the future could affirm this.

A Christian might still stubbornly insist that the concept of Jesus' dying and rising is found in the Old Testament and this is what Luke meant to say.

Yes, the concept will only be found if one interprets the Old Testament in a biased way in order to make it say so.

Note the candid admission by Dr. William Lane Craig:

Early Christians were convinced that Jesus' resurrection, like his crucifixion, was, in the words of the old tradition quoted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. 3-5, "in accordance with the Scriptures." In Luke's story of Jesus' appearance on the road to Emmaus, the risen Jesus chastises the two travelers: " 'Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?' And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself" (Luke 24. 26-27). Similarly, in John's account of Peter and the Beloved Disciple's inspection of the empty tomb, John reflects that they did not believe in Jesus' resurrection until finding the tomb empty, save for the abandoned grave clothes, because "as yet they did not know the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead" (John 20.9).

The difficulty is that when we ask, "What Scriptures are they thinking of?", we come up with sparse results. Hosea 6.2 ' "After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him" - has been suggested because it mentions the "third day" motif found in the old formula cited by Paul. But Hosea 6.2 is never explicitly cited by any New Testament author, much less applied to Jesus' resurrection. In the apostolic sermons in the Acts of the Apostles, we find Psalm 16.10 interpreted in terms of Jesus' resurrection: "For thou dost not give me up to Sheol, or let thy godly one see the Pit." But if we look at the principal Old Testament passage cited in the Gospels with respect to Jesus' resurrection, we find the story of Jonah and the whale. "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12.40).

Now the problem for the theory in question is that nobody, especially a first century Jew, reading the story of Jonah and the whale would think that this has anything whatsoever to do with Jesus' burial and resurrection! Similarly for Psalm 16.10; this has to do with David's confidence that God will not allow him to see defeat and death. And as for Hosea 6.2, this has nothing to do with resurrection of the dead but with the restoration of the national fortunes of Israel.

The point is that no one who did not already have a belief in Jesus' resurrection would find in these Scriptures any impetus to think that Jesus had been raised from the dead. To this we may add the fact that in Jewish belief the resurrection of the dead was always an event at the end of the world involving all the people, an event which obviously had not yet taken place. The problem many people, even some scholars, have is not being able to put themselves in the shoes of a first century Jew confronted with Jesus' crucifixion - they tend to look at the disciples' situation through the rearview mirror of 2,000 years of Christian theology, and so the idea of his rising from the dead seems natural to them, when in fact it is an anachronism.

Once the disciples came to believe in Jesus' resurrection, then they could go to the Scriptures looking for verses to validate their belief and experience, and passages like Jonah and the whale and Psalm 16.10 could be re-interpreted in light of Jesus' resurrection. But to think that the belief in Jesus' resurrection was derived from the Old Testament is to put the cart before the horse; it gets things exactly backwards. (Belief in Jesus' Resurrection Derived from the OT?, Source)

Notice how Dr. Craig candidly admits that the prophecy of Jesus' supposed dying and rising is not clearly taught in the Old Testament. This shows that Christians can only interpret (more like distort) the Old Testament so that it can show this.

Romans 9:25 vs. Hosea 2:23

Romans 9:25 misquotes Hosea 2:23 to make us think that it is talking about Gentiles while it is really speaking about the Israelite Jews. Read the context of both of the verses and it would be clear.

I haven't searched hard for a Christian response to this argument, but I am guessing that they would reply back saying that the Old Testament should now be interpreted in light of the New Testament (in other words, let us use our presuppositions and distort the meaning of the Old Testament)

Romans 10:5-9 vs. Deuteronomy 30:10-14

Paul supposedly quotes from the book of Deuteronomy:

Romans 10:5-9

Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: "The man who does these things will live by them." But the righteousness that is by faith says: "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down) "or 'Who will descend into the deep?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Below, is the actual passage:

Deuteronomy 30:10-14

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

Anyone can clearly see what Paul is doing. He takes statements being attributed to the Law in Deuteronomy and instead in Romans he is making it to be attributed to faith (clearly he is trying to strengthen his pro faith alone - anti law position).

Even John Gill was forced to admit that Paul wasn't citing the Old Testament properly:

These words are not properly a citation of (Deuteronomy 30:12,13) ; but the apostle makes use of some phrases which are there, with his own explications of them; though the difference between them, stripped, of these explications is not very material: in the first clause, "who shall ascend into heaven?" the apostle leaves out the phrase, "for us"; which as to the sense was not absolutely necessary to retain; the difficulty, indeed, seems greater in the latter clause, "who shall descend into the deep?" which in the text of Moses is, "who shall go over the sea for us?" but when it is considered that the sea is often called the deep, and that sailing on it and over it, is expressed by "going down to the sea in ships", (Psalms 107:23) ; and moreover, when it is observed that the Jerusalem Targum paraphrases it thus,

``the law is not in heaven that it should be said, oh that we had one of us, as Moses the prophet, who could go up to heaven and bring it to us! nor is it beyond the great sea, that it should be said, oh that we had one of us, as Jonah the prophet (abr amy yqmwel twxyyd) , "who could descend into the depths of the great sea", and bring it to us;''

the apostle is to be justified in his expressions. His sense, indeed, may seem to be different from that of Moses, and of the common interpretations of the Jewish writers,. (John Gill, The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible, Commentary on Romans 10:6, Source)

Romans 3:10 vs. Psalm 14:1-3

Paul is supposedly quoting from the book of Psalm 14:

Romans 3:10

As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one;

However, this is not what Psalm 14 says. It says:

Psalm 14:1-3

The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

Paul said that the book of Psalm says, "There is no one righteous"; however the book of Psalm does not say that. Rather, it says "there is no one who does good". These are not the same things.

A Look At The Christian Response

Someone may argue that Paul meant the same thing that the passage in Psalm was trying to communicate. However, that is irrelevant because Paul said "it is written" in which he gave the readers the false impression that this is what the Old Testament actually says, which is false.

Even the Septuagint does not agree with Paul:

The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. They have corrupted themselves, and become abominable in their devices; there is none that does goodness, there is not even so much as one. (Source)

Plus, how can Paul say that no one is righteous when the Bible clearly says that there were righteous people just a few verses later?:

Psalm 14:5

There they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous.

I'm pretty sure that Christians could come up with some creative way of harmonizing Romans 3:10 with Psalm 14:5; however my main argument is Paul's distortion of Psalm 14:1.


I don't know how I can ever bring my self to put my hope and trust in authors who misquote scripture, regardless of whether it was intentional or not. Clearly, the Bible is an errant document. I can't believe that the Bible is the word of God and it is errant at the same time like many Christians do. I find this to be degrading to God.

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