Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for 400 years.” (Genesis 15:13)
And God spoke to this effect—that his offspring would be sojourners in a land belonging to others, who would enslave them and afflict them 400 years. (Acts 7:6)
The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years. At the end of 430 years, on that very day, all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:40–41)
Theologians have developed several explanations for the apparent contradictions of these verses, but why? If you read the verses in a straight forward manner, with the full knowledge that scripture is infallible and the ultimate authority, there can be only one conclusion. Let’s take a closer look.
In Genesis 15 the Lord said that Abrams offspring will be afflicted for 400 years. In Acts Luke wrote that his [Abrams] offspring would be enslaved and afflicted for 400 years. In Exodus, Moses wrote that the people of Israel lived in Egypt for 430 years. So, we must first define the people of Israel. They would be Jacob (Israel) and his 12 sons and their wives, children and offspring. Once you know that, you can remember back to when Joseph asked his father and all of his descendants (offspring) to move to Egypt to avoid the drought. During the next few years, 30 to be precise, they lived in freedom in Egypt under the rule of the Pharaoh that trusted all the management of his kingdom to Joseph. After this Pharaoh died, a new Pharaoh came into power and he enslaved the people of Israel and they remained enslaved and afflicted for 400 years. After that God delivered them from their bondage and slavery by using Moses and plagues to convince Pharaoh to let his people go.
If you want to know the truth, you need to read the Word of God in a straight forward manner, knowing that scripture is the ultimate authority. The people of Israel lived in the land of Egypt for 430 years, but were only enslaved and afflicted for the last 400 of those years. Man’s interpretations can be flawed, but the Word of God is always trustworthy and inerrant.
The Word of God – the Bible – should always be the ultimate authority.