There are many, many questions in the Bible. It is difficult to give a precise number because ancient Hebrew and Koine Greek did not use punctuation—we can’t just pull out the Dead Sea Scrolls and count the question marks! Often, it is difficult to know if a sentence is truly intended to be a question. But Bible scholars estimate that there are approximately 3,300 questions in the Bible.
This list of questions in the Bible is definitely not complete. It is simply a survey of some of the most famous and important questions in the Bible.
“Did God really say . . . ?” (Genesis 3:1)
This is the first question in the Bible and also the first instance of someone questioning God’s Word. Satan tempts Eve to doubt God’s Word. Eve responds by adding to God’s Word: “And you must not touch it.” God told Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree. He did not say not to touch the tree or its fruit. Adam and Eve respond to Satan’s question by disobeying God’s Word. It went downhill from there, and it all started with a little question.
“Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9)
This is the first question asked by God in the Bible. Of course, God knew exactly where Adam and Eve were physically located. The question was for their benefit. God was essentially asking, “You disobeyed me; how is that working out for you? Did things turn out like you wanted or how I predicted?” The question also shows the heart of God, which is the heart of a shepherd seeking out the lost lambs in order to bring them into the fold. Jesus would later come “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
“Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9)
This was Cain’s question in response to God’s question of where Abel was. Beyond the fact that Cain had just murdered his brother, Cain was expressing the feeling we all have when we do not want to care about or look after other people. Are we our brother’s keeper? Yes, we are. Does this mean we have to know where they are and what they are doing 24/7? No. But, we should be invested enough in other people to notice when something seems to be out of place. We should care enough to intervene, if necessary.
“Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25)
Yes, the Judge of the earth always does right. Abraham asked this question in his appeal to God to spare the righteous and protect them from judgment. If something God does seems unjust, then we are misunderstanding it. When we question God’s justice, it is because our sense of justice is warped. When we say, “I do not understand how a good and just God can allow such-and-such a thing,” it is because we do not correctly understand what it means to be a good and just God. Many people think they have a better understanding of justice than God.
“Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9)
The entire book of Job resounds with this question from Job’s wife. Through it all, Job did maintain his integrity. Job’s “friends” repeatedly say, “Job, you must have done something really bad for God to do this to you.” God rebukes Job’s friends for attacking Job and for presuming on God’s sovereign will. Then God rebukes Job by reminding him that only God is perfect in all His ways. Included in God’s presentation of His greatness are many questions: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” (Job 38:4).
“If a man die, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14, ESV)
Barring the return of Christ in our lifetimes, we will all die someday. Is there life after death? Everyone wonders about this question at some point. Yes, there is life after death, and everyone will experience it. It is simply a matter of where we will exist. Do all paths lead to God? In a way, yes. We will all stand before God after we die (Hebrews 9:27). No matter what path a man takes, he will meet God after death. “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2).
“How can a young person stay on the path of purity?” (Psalm 119:9)
The answer: by living according to God’s Word. When we “hide” God’s Word in our hearts, the Word keeps us from sin (Psalm 119:11). The Bible does not tell us everything. It does not contain the answer to every question. But the Bible does tell us everything we need to know to live the Christian life (2 Peter 1:3). God’s Word tells us our purpose and instructs us how to fulfill that purpose. The Bible gives us the means and the end. God’s Word is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8)
The correct answer is spoken by Isaiah: “Here am I. Send me!” Far too often, our answer is, “Here am I—but send someone else.” Isaiah 6:8 is a popular verse to use in connection with international missions. But, in context, God was not asking for someone to travel to the other side of the planet. God was asking for someone to deliver His message to the Israelites. God wanted Isaiah to declare the truth to the people he rubbed shoulders with every day, his own people, his family, his neighbors, his friends.
“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” (Matthew 18:21)
Forgiveness is tough. Peter’s suggestion of seven-fold forgiveness probably seemed, to him, to be superbly gracious. Jesus’ answer showed how feeble our forgiveness usually is. We are to forgive because God has forgiven us of so much more (Colossians 3:13). We forgive not because a person deserves it. “Deserve” has nothing to do with grace. We forgive because it’s the right thing to do. That person might not deserve our forgiveness but neither did we deserve God’s, and yet God forgave us anyway.
“What shall I do then with Jesus?” (Matthew 27:22)
This was Pilate’s question to the crowd gathered at Jesus’ trial. Their answer: “Crucify Him!” Their shout a few days earlier had been different: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matthew 21:9). It is amazing how unfulfilled expectations and a little peer pressure can change public opinion. In first-century Jerusalem, people who had an errant view of Jesus and His mission rejected Him; so, today, people who come to the Christian faith with an errant understanding of who Christ is will eventually turn away. We must make sure we accurately present who Jesus is and what Christianity is all about when we share our faith.
“Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15)
This question, from Jesus, is one of the most important that a person will ever answer. For most people, He is a good teacher. For some He is a prophet. For others He is a legend. Peter’s answer, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” is the correct answer (Matthew 16:16). C. S. Lewis addresses the issue of the various understandings of who Jesus is in his book Mere Christianity:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36)
If the cost is one’s soul, then whatever is gained—even the whole world—is good for nothing. Sadly, “nothing” is what the vast majority of people strive after—the things of this world. To lose one’s soul has two meanings. First, the more obvious meaning is that one loses his soul for eternity, experiencing eternal death in hell. However, seeking to gain the whole world will also cause you to lose your soul in a different way, during this life. You will never experience the abundant life that is available through Jesus Christ (John 10:10). Solomon gave himself over to pleasure and denied himself nothing, yet he said, “Everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained” (Ecclesiastes 2:10–11).
“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18) and “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30)
It is interesting to see the very different responses of Jesus and Paul to what was essentially the same question. Jesus, knowing the self-righteous mindset of the rich young ruler, told him to obey the commandments. The man only thought he was righteous; Jesus knew that materialism and greed were preventing the man from truly seeking salvation. The man first needed to understand that he was a sinner in need of a Savior. Paul, recognizing that the Philippian jailer was ready to be saved, declared, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” The jailer believed, and his family followed him in accepting Jesus as Savior. So, recognizing where a person is at in his or her spiritual journey can impact how we answer someone’s questions and change the starting point in our presentation of the gospel.
“How can someone be born when they are old? Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” (John 3:4)
This question came from Nicodemus when Jesus told him that he needed to be born again. People today still misunderstand what being born again means. Most everyone understands that being born again is not a reference to a second physical birth. However, most fail to understand the full implication of the term. Becoming a Christian—becoming born again—is beginning an entirely new life. It is moving from a state of spiritual death to a state of spiritual life (John 5:24). It is becoming a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Being born again is not adding something to your existing life; it is radically replacing your existing life.
“Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” (Romans 6:1)
We are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8). When we place our faith in Jesus Christ, all of our sins are forgiven and we are guaranteed eternal life in heaven. Salvation is God’s gift of grace. Does this mean that a Christian can live however he or she wants and still be saved? Yes. But a true Christian will not live “however he or she wants.” A Christian has a new Master and does not serve himself any more. A Christian will grow spiritually, progressively, in the new life God has given him. Grace is not a license to sin. Willful, unrepentant sin in a person’s life makes a mockery of grace and calls into question that person’s salvation (1 John 3:6). Yes, there are times of failure and rebellion in a Christian’s life. And, no, sinless perfection is not possible this side of glory. But the Christian is to live out of gratitude for God’s grace, not take advantage of God’s grace. The balance is found in Jesus’ words to the woman taken in adultery. After refusing to condemn her, He said, “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11).
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
Children of God will face opposition in this world (John 15:18). The devil and his demons oppose us. Many people in the world oppose us. The philosophies, values, and priorities of the world stand against us. In terms of our earthly lives, we can be overcome, defeated, even killed. But, in terms of eternity, God has promised that we will overcome (1 John 5:4). What is the worst thing that could possibly happen to us in this world? Death. For those who are born of God, what happens after death? Eternity in the most glorious place imaginable.
There are many other great questions in the Bible: questions from seekers, questions from scoffers, questions from discouraged believers, and questions from God. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but be ready to accept God’s answer when it comes.