What can we say to someone who says that the Bible contradicts itself? For example, doesn't the prohibition against committing murder contradict the many people in the Bible who were put to death at God's command?
When people make claims that the Bible contradicts itself they are only proving that they haven’t studied it. 99% of the time this argument is raised as a way of justifying their unwillingness to hear the Bible’s message. And in most cases, the person making that claim is unable to cite any examples —and the ones they do cite aren’t contradictions at all.
Such is the case with the reference above. God did, in fact, command us not to commit murder (Exodus 20:13) . Murder is defined as taking a life in an unjust manner—apart from the process of law and justice. However, the taking of a life in keeping with the process of law and justice is never referred to as murder. They are two completely different terms and describe two very different acts.
When a judge determines that a crime is so heinous that the criminal needs to pay with their life, those involved in taking that life are never seen as committing murder. They are executing judgment in keeping with the law.
God commanded that His people were never to take justice into their own hands in the taking of another human life. That would be murder and it was always forbidden. However, when a crime was such that it was considered a capital offense, taking the lives of those who were guilty was and is considered an act of justice.
God is never random or caviler when it comes to the taking of someone’s life. As He said through the prophet Ezekiel, “I take no pleasure in the death of anyone…” Ezekiel 18:32. When lives are taken at God’s command it is always the result of justice and never the act of personal vengeance. God is the ultimate Judge, and as such always makes determinations from the perfection of His justice and mercy.
Thus there is no contradiction between Exodus 20:13 and the biblical executions of justice initiated at God’s command.
So, when someone tells you the Bible is full of contradictions, just respond by saying, "Name one"--and let them struggle with the burden of proving their claim.