Some argue that the Bible is contradictory concerning whether anyone is righteous and if every human has sinned. The argument is that Genesis 7:1, Job 1:1, and Luke 1:5-6 say that some people are righteous, while Romans 3 and Psalm 14:3 say that no human is righteous. However, there is a very simple explanation that solves this alleged contradiction in the Bible.
Scriptures – Is Anyone Righteous? Have All Sinned?
Some Are Righteous
Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation.Genesis 7:1
There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.Job 1:1
5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah,[a] of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.Luke 1:5-6
None Are Righteous
9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;”… 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,Romans 3:9-10, 23
The Answer – Is Anyone Righteous? Have All Sinned?
The Difference Between Perfect Righteousness and Righteousness Through Christ
The solution to this supposed Bible difficulty is that there is a difference between being perfectly righteous and being righteous through Jesus Christ. Romans 3 and Psalm 14 are saying that no human is perfectly righteous, while Genesis 7:1, Job 1:1, and Luke 1:5-6 speak of particular people as being righteous through Christ.
The Bible teaches that those who have faith in Jesus (or, in the case of Old Testament believers, trust in the promise of Jesus) are not only credited with Jesus’ perfect righteousness, but they have also been born again, or regenerated, by God with a new nature that is capable of obeying and pleasing God.
So, Noah, Job, Zacharias, and Elizabeth were righteous in the sense that they had been regenerated by God and were living lives that were obedient and pleasing to God. They were not righteous in themselves, or perfectly righteous, but rather, they were considered righteous by God through the work of Jesus Christ.
Foundational Principles Regarding Bible Difficulties
There are some foundational principles that apply to all alleged and apparent contradictions in the Bible. To read more, see Bible Difficulties: Foundational Principles.
Related to “Is Anyone Righteous? Have All Sinned?”
To read more answers to alleged and apparent contradictions in the Bible, see “Contradictions” in the Bible Answered.
These books are also excellent resources: