Bible Query from
Q: What is the origin of the English word "gospel"?
A: The English word gospel comes from the Old English / Anglo-Saxon "godspell" meaning good news or good tidings. This is according to the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.396 and the skeptical Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.770. The English Dictionary edited by Charles Earle Funk, Litt.D. p.1122 adds the Old English "spell" means story, tidings, or statement. "spell", meaning to signify, comes from the Old French espeler, which is from the Middle Lower German spellen, "say".
Q: What is the origin of the English word "evangelist"?
A: It comes from the French word evangeliste (evangelist) as well as the Latin evangelicus which ultimately came from the Greek euangelion (eu = good and angelia = message.)
Q: Who was the first to write a book answering questions on the gospels?
A: The earliest I have found is Eusebius of Caesarea (313-339/340 A.D.) who wrote two works. The first is called Gospel Questions and Solutions Addressed to Stephanus, which is also entitled Questions and Solutions on the Genealogy of our Savior, and the second is Gospel Questions and Solutions Addressed to Marinus. The two works combined together are called Gospel Questions and Solutions. In addition, Eusebius wrote a refutation of the alleged contradictions put forth by Hierocles, a neo-Platonic philosopher and Roman governor of Bithynia and later Egypt who severely persecuted Christians under Domitian. Prior to that, many early Christian writers answered individual questions too.
See Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series vol.1 p.32,38-39 for more info
Q: How could Jesus be of the tribe of Judah, since tribal affiliation is only through the father (Numbers 34:14, Numbers 1:18-44, Leviticus 24:10)? The mother's tribal affiliation was considered irrelevant to what her children's tribal affiliation was and tribal affiliation/genealogy could not be inherited though a stepfather; only property could be inherited. Because Christians believe that Jesus had no human father, he would have had no tribal affiliation and thus cannot be counted as a descendant of Judah or David and would therefore be eliminated from messianic consideration. The web site http://www.jewsforjudaism.org/faq-primary-211/birth-of-jesus-primary-360/59-whos-genealogy-is-given-by-luke makes the following claims regarding Christ’s genealogy: "To presume that Mary was of Davidic descent presents the problem that Mary could not pass on what she did not possess: (1) Maternal connection does not enter into consideration for succession to the throne of David which is passed on only through a continuous male line: ‘There shall not be cut off from David a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel’ (Jeremiah 33:17); (2) Biblically, the right of lineal privilege, that is, kingship and priesthood, are exclusively passed on through the male line. The incident regarding the inheritance of the daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers, chapters 27 and 36) does not apply here since it concerns the transference of physical property and not privileges of lineage."
A: First the 5-second answer, then a detailed answer. Most Jews consider being Jewish as through the mother, but let’s go ahead and answer this ignoring that. Basically, while tribal affiliation was normally through the father, Jewish tribal affiliation was through the mother, NOT the father, for Jarha’s family (1 Chronicles 2:34-41), and the sons of a priest (Ezra 2:61; Nehemiah 7:63). How much more would tribal affiliation be through the mother for the virgin-born case!
As for a detailed answer, who said tribal or clan affiliation was only through the father? - nobody in the Bible. Numbers 34:14 does not show anything. Numbers 1:18-24 shows that the son of an Egyptian father and Israelite mother was not called an Israelite. People would have thought him Egyptian or half-Israelite. Leviticus 24:10 (and many other passages) only indicate that for regular Israelites that tribal affiliation was in fact through the father. But this is NO RESTRICTION ON GOD. The two biological parent cases have no bearing on the single biological parent case. Yet, even for two biological parents, there are in fact Old Testament examples of tribal lineage in fact being though the mother.
Three examples of tribal affiliation through the mother.
In the tribe of Judah, Sheshan had no sons, only daughters. So he gave his daughter in marriage to his Egyptian servant Jarha, and they had a son named Attai. Attai’s genealogy is given with the other Israelites in 1 Chronicles 2:34-41. Not only were the sons considered Israelites, they were also listed under Judah.
A second example is Jair, whose grandfather was Hezron of the tribe of Judah and the daughter of Makir, a Manassite. In 1 Chronicles 2:21-23 Jair controlled 23 towns in Gilead (in the territory of Manasseh). Yet even though Jair’s grandfather was from Judah, Jair is still called a Manassite as was his mother in Numbers 32:41 and Deuteronomy 3:14.
A third example is Ezra 2:61 and Nehemiah 7:63, where sons of a priest who married a daughter of Barzillai were called the sons of Barzillai. See the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.1 p.213 for more info.
Another example showing that ancestral affiliation was not only through the biological father is levirate marriage. When a husband dies before having children, the husband’s brother would marry the widow, and the first child born would be considered that of the dead first husband, even though biologically this was not the case.
Regardless though, question seems like splitting hairs. What ethnic background was the human DNA of Jesus? 100% Jewish. There were only 12 Jewish tribes (actually 11 tribes plus 2 half-tribes). Was Jesus’ human DNA from any one tribe? Yes, from Judah. If not having a Jewish father would make him not one of the 12 tribes, then what would be Jesus’ ethnic background?
This question seems like an avoidance of a bigger question. If Jesus was born of a virgin, sent from God to teach us, would you follow Him or not? If the choice was staying with the questioner’s Jewish culture vs. following the One True God, which would you choose? If the person would not say they would follow the One True God no matter what, then the issue is not Jesus’ DNA, but their not being willing to follow the One True God.
A second issue is succession to the throne. The questioner was wrong to say that Mary was not of Davidic descent; her genealogy in Luke, as well as Luke 2, Romans 1:3; and 2 Timothy 2:8 shows that Jesus (and her) were biologically from David. However, the questioner is correct in indicating that Mary’s genealogy would have no bearing on succession to the throne. For this, it was important that Jesus also be the adopted son of Joseph, who as a male from the Davidic line, would have a claim to the throne.
Q: In the gospels, why is there a need for gospel harmony?
A: Gospel harmonization would not be an issue if God had only preserved one gospel, or if God Himself had given a complete Gospel harmony. Instead, we have four accounts, where each human writer recorded what he believed was most important of what God providentially had him remember. See the question after the next for why we have four gospels.
Q: Who were the first writers in history to make a harmony of the gospels?
A: Tatian (170 A.D.) made a harmony of the gospels, called the Diatessaron, meaning "through [the] four". This testifies that there were only four gospels accepted, and it accurately quotes word for word 79% of the gospel verses. However, Tatian was an Encratite Gnostic, and he selectively left out all verses that emphasize the humanity of Jesus, such as genealogies. But even this heretic included all the verses that show Jesus is God.
Theophilus of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.) wrote a harmony/commentary on the gospels according to Jerome, but it has been lost. (ANF vol.2 p.87-88
Dionysius of Alexandria (246-265 A.D.) (partial) showed that the gospel writers did not "disagree or contradict each other" and gave a good and rather complete harmony of the gospels after the resurrection in his Letter 5 - to Bishop Basilides canon 1 Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.6 p.94-95.
Ammonius of Alexandria made a harmony of the gospels in the early third century. He used Matthew as a standard, and showed how the other gospels compared. See Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series vol.1 p.38-39 and vol.6 p.69
Juvencus (329 A.D.) made an epic poem of the gospels, harmonizing much of them.
Eusebius of Caesarea (313-339/340 A.D.) made a harmony that was easier to read, because he put the columns side by side. However Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series vol.6 p.69 says it was flawed in that he often had a parallelism where there was no need for one. See Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series vol.1 p.38-39.
Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.) also wrote a work called Harmony of the Gospels. This is in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series vol.6 p.77-236.
In the middle ages the following had harmonies of the gospels: Osiander, Jansen, Robert Stephens, John Calvin, Du Moulin, and Chemnitz according to Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series vol.6 p.69.
In modern times, a harmony of the gospels is in The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary p.495-498.
Q: In the gospels, why are there four gospels?
A: The four gospels have different purposes and somewhat different audiences.
Matthew: was first written in the languages of the Hebrews (Aramaic?) according to Papias. It emphasizes the kingdom of God, in contrast to John, which emphasizes how to be saved. Matthew lists many Old Testament prophecies, and it shows how the life of Christ paralleled the life of Israel in the Old Testament. Many think of Matthew’s gospel as a "lion" emphasizing Christ as the King. Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) in fragment 28 says that the Gospel of Matthew was written to the Jews, stressing that Christ was descended from David.
Mark: Emphasizes the actions of Christ. Many think of Mark’s Gospel as an "ox", emphasizing Christ as servant.
Luke: The longest gospel, was written by a physician and traveling companion of Paul. Luke has been called the greatest historian of the ancient world. Many think of Luke’s gospel as a "man", emphasizing the humanity of Christ.
John: Perhaps the most profound Gospel, emphasizes less of Christ’s life and more of his claims and teaching. Many think of John’s gospel as an "eagle", emphasizing the divinity of Christ.
The Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1198 mentions that in the Old Testament the Messiah is called The Branch in four contexts: "...to David a Branch ... a King" (Jeremiah 23:5,6), "My Servant, the Branch" (Zechariah 3:8), The Man ... the Branch" (Zechariah 6:12), and "The Branch of the LORD" (Isaiah 4:2).
There were no more gospels that Christians generally accepted. Irenaeus, who wrote about 182-188 A.D., said there were exactly four gospels (Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 chapter 11.8 p.428).
See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.11-12 and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.82-85 for more info.
Q: Is each gospel in chronological order?
A: No. Here are what four conservative sources say.
The NIV Study Bible p.1437 says, "(Chronological order does not appear to have been rigidly followed in any of the Gospels, however.)"
The New Geneva Study Bible p.1504 says "However, Matthew and Luke do not follow Mark at every point in the order of events of Jesus’ life, or the order of His teachings." On p.1698 it says, "While some difficulties arise in the correlation of details, the main elements are in complete harmony."
F.F. Bruce in Hard Sayings of the Bible p.454-455 says, ...none of the Gospel writers claims to be giving a careful chronology. ... It was far more important to the ancient historian that we grasp the meaning of history than that we get the chronology straight. Thus Matthew groups the sayings of Jesus in five major ‘books" by topic:...Luke has another way of grouping his material. ... In each case we get topical groupings, which give us an orderly account in that they order the material so we can better understand it. In neither case do we necessarily get the exact setting in which Jesus said all of the material."
In the early church, Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History book 3 ch.39 p.170-173 records Papias, a disciple of John the apostle, as saying, "Mark, who was the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately all that he remembered, whether of sayings or doings of Christ, but not in order. For he was neither a hearer nor a companion of the Lord; but afterwards, as I have said, he accompanied Peter, who adapted his instruction as necessity required, not as though he were making a compilation of the Lord’s oracles. So then Mark made no mistake when he wrote down thus some things as he remembered them; for he concentrated on this alone - not to omit anything that he had heard, nor to include any false statement among them" (taken from The New Bible Dictionary 1962 p.782)
The writers assumed people would read the whole book multiple times. For example, John 11:2 mentions that is was the Mary anointed Jesus with fragrant oil. But it did not relate the account of Mary anointing Jesus with fragrant oil until John 12:1-3. In Matthew 10:4 is mentions "Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him", and Judas had not betrayed Jesus yet.
Q: Why are the three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) as similar as they are?
A: There are four views, and the first three can be complementary.
1. Similarity of Purpose: The first three gospels are very much in parallel and were written to give a "synopsis" of the life of Christ. John, which was written later, perhaps assumed readers already knew of the other gospels. John is stated to be written so that people would believe in Jesus and have life in His name, as John 20:31-31 says. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.12 for more info on this view.
2. Verbal link: Mark was a companion of Peter, and Luke traveled with Paul. Mark was in Rome in 1 Peter 5:13. Luke and Mark were likely in Rome at the same time, and as one person put it "they probably did not spend all their time talking about the weather." While we do not know everywhere Matthew traveled, this view says the similarities are due to verbal communication among the writers. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.454 also discusses a common link between Matthew and Luke, saying that link probably was verbal.
3. Written link of Mark: The New Geneva Study Bible (p.1504) says "The Gospels do not simply present a schedule of Jesus’ activities. Nor are they modern, technical biographies that follow methods unknown in their day."
4. "Q": A fourth view, that many liberal scholars hold, is there was a now lost book, which they call "Q" that had the material common to Matthew and Luke but not Mark.
Q: My professor is allowing me to do a 75-minute presentation on the "Historical Jesus." In my research, I’ve come across a couple of arguments that I don’t quite know how to address, and I was wondering if you might have any insights!
1) We don’t know that the original manuscripts were written in Greek, since the oldest documents are [allegedly] a couple hundred years A.D. They could have been translated from some other language, and errors could have resulted.
2) Jesus might not have spoken in Greek. That would mean that the authors (or translators) of the New Testament had to interpret his words in their own way, and then translate them (not necessarily correctly).
Is there any information on the Helenization of Palestine in Jesus’ day, which might indicate that the New Testament authors actually did write in Greek? Jesus most likely spoke Aramaic, so how would you explain the inerrancy of what he is reported to have said? If the authors wrote in Aramaic, or some other language, how can we prove (or at least demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt) that it has been translated and passed down
accurately over the centuries?
If you know of any sources you could point me to, that would be great. Or if you’ve already thought through this one, I’d love to hear your conclusions. I believe in God’s sovereignty and in His ability to protect His Word, but any explanations as to how He’s done this would definitely help!
A: It seems there are four basic issues here:
1. What Jesus spoke
2. What the Gospels were written in
3. Testimony of the gospels’ reliability
4. Inerrant recording of Jesus’ teaching
1. What Jesus spoke
We know that Jesus spoke Aramaic, because he uttered some phrases in Aramaic. (Matthew 5:22, etc.) When Jesus spoke on the cross, "Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabathchani", some thought he was calling Elijah because they did not know Aramaic, though all the Romans would have known Greek and Latin. In the area where Jesus grew up, many people spoke Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. For example, just north and all east of the Sea of Galilee was all Greek-speaking. That is why Pilate had the sign above Jesus’ head written in three languages.
In addition, a number of Jewish people at this time had both Jewish and Greek or Roman names. Besides Simon Peter, there was Joseph Barsabbas, Judas Barsabbas in Acts 15:22;Jesus called Justus in Colossians 4:11, Joseph called Barnabas in Acts 4:36, and John Mark in Acts 12:12. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.9 p.267-268 for more info.
2. What the Gospels were written in
As to the gospels, we have the testimony of Papias, a disciple of the apostle John. According to what has been preserved by the church historian Eusebius, Papias said the Gospel of Matthew was originally written in the language of the Hebrews (Hebrew or Aramaic). The early Christians predominantly spoke Greek, though converts from Judaism spoke Hebrew and Aramaic also.
3. Testimony of the gospels’ reliability
I have heard a number of people say that the oldest complete (or nearly complete) New Testament we have are from around 350 A.D. However, that misses the point. We have the vast majority of all the verses of the gospels preserved much earlier. For example, up through 200 A.D. we have preserved manuscripts contained 71% of the verses of Luke (818 out of 1151 verses). They are: Luke 1:58-59; 1:52-2:1; 2:6-7; 3:8-4:2; 4:29-32; 4:34-5:10; 5:30-7:32; 7:35-39,41-43; 7:46-9:2; 9:4-17:15; 17:19-18:18; 22:4-24:53.
As for the Gospel of John, the earliest manuscript we have today is p52, which dates between 100 and 150 A.D. Other early manuscripts date up through 200 A.D. (p45, p66, p75, p90). These manuscript together with p52 contain 855 out of the 878 verses of John (97%). They include verses 1:1-14:30; 15:2-26; 16:2-4, 6-7, 10-33; 17:1-20:20; 20:22,23,25-41; 21:1-9,12,17.
Don’t forget early church and other writings. The earliest non-Biblical Christian writings we have are First Clement (to the Corinthians) 97/98 A.D., which quotes extensively from Hebrews in addition to other books and the Shepherd of Hermas which was around 100 A.D. The Diatessaron is a word for word harmony of about 79% of the verses of the gospels written by the Encratite Gnostic Tatian before 170 A.D.
4. Inerrant recording of Jesus’ teaching
The originals were just paraphrases of Jesus’ teaching. When Jesus taught the crowd for hours, and we can read his words in five paragraphs, obviously it was not word for word. The Christian doctrine of inerrancy has five basic parts:
1. The Bible in the original manuscripts is correct on all that which it speaks.
2. We have to understand the context, poetry is poetry, narrative is narrative, we can understand metaphors and expressions of speech, etc,
3. God was free to "use his own pens" in writing the Bible, and the pens were the people writing the words. Thus, different books by different human authors have different style, and that is OK; God’s truth shines through all of them.
4. It is the meaning that was written without error, not necessarily every word.
5. The Bible manuscripts preserved today do have some variations and errors in them, but God’s word was preserved without significant error that alters Christian doctrine, faith, or practice.
For more info, see http://www.biblequery.org/ntmss.html.
Q: the skeptic Bart Ehrman writes, "We have some information about what it meant to be a lower-class peasant in rural areas of Palestine in the first century. One thing it meant is that you were almost certainly illiterate. Jesus himself was highly exceptional, in that he evidently could read (Luke 4:16-20), but there is nothing to indicate that he could write.... How many could read? Illiteracy was widespread throughout the Roman Empire. At the best of times maybe 10 percent of the population was roughly literate. And that 10 percent would be the leisured classes ... Nothing in the Gospels or Acts indicates that Jesus’ followers could read, let alone write. In fact there is an account in Acts in which Peter and John are said to be ‘unlettered’ (Acts 4:13) – the ancient word for illiterate." (Jesus, Interrupted p.105-106). This is also similar to Ehrman’s Lost Christianities p.203.
A: The percentage of people in the Roman Empire (Spain, Britain, Germany, etc.) who could not read is irrelevant; it is the percentage of educated people among the Jews in Judea and Galilee that matters. The Jews had a much higher standard of learning than most other peoples in the Roman Empire. Nobody thought it unusual that Zechariah, father of John the Baptist, could write. The fact that the Sanhedrin accused Peter and John of being unschooled does not mean it was so, or that they could not write at all.
Deuteronomy 6:9 commands the Israelites to write the laws on the doorposts of their houses and on their gates. Do skeptics think that almost none of the Jews obeyed their own law?
As a side note, at Beir Allah in the Jordan Valley, archaeologists found a schoolboy’s writing practice mentioning Balaam son of Beor three times. This was radiocarbon dated to 800/760 B.C.
Q: What does the English word "synoptic" mean?
A: The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.723 says "synoptic comes from the Greek syn (together with" and opsis, (a sight, a view) as does The NIV Study Bible p.1437. Likewise The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.399 says the Greek word synoptikos means "to see the whole together, to take a comprehensive view."
In contrast to this, the skeptical Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.770 says the word "synoptic" comes from the Greek word meaning "one-eye" because each of the three synoptic Gospels tells the history of Jesus from their viewpoint. Perhaps he confused "syn/sun" with "mono" which means "one".
Strong’s Concordance for "sun" (4862) says "a prim. prep. denoting union; with or together (but much closer than 3326 or 3844) i.e. by association, companionship, process, resemblance, possession, instrumentality, addition etc." - beside, with. In comp. It has similar applications, include. completeness."
Q: Which of the four gospels was written first?
A: The most common view among Christians is Mark, though there are reputable Bible scholars who believe it was Matthew or Luke. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.98 says, "Some literary dependence seems to be the only way to explain adequately the close relationship between the Synoptic Gospels. The priority-of-Mark theory, though not without problems, accounts best for the basic outline of events and the detailed similarities between the Synoptic Gospels. The difference are probably due to a combination of oral and written traditions which Matthew and Luke used independently in addition to Mark."
The skeptical Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.770 says that Matthew was listed first because it was thought to be first, but today people generally think it was Mark. (p.770, p.903) However, Asimov p.771 also mentions that Papias wrote that Matthew was originally written in Hebrew [Aramaic?]. It is possible that Matthew was written first in Aramaic, Mark used that as a primary source in composing his gospel, and later the Gospel of Matthew was translated verbatim.
As a side note, of the 661 verses in Mark (shorter ending), 600 are similar to verses in Matthew, 350 are similar to verses in Luke, and only 31 are found nowhere else.
Q: In the Gospels, what are the Messianic prophecies?
A: These are prophecies God gave so that God’s people would be clearly able to recognize the Messiah. Here are many of them.
Who will the Messiah be?
From the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10; Matthew 1:2; Luke 3:23,33; Hebrews 7:14).
From Jesse (Isaiah 11:1; Matthew 1:6; Luke 3:23,32).
From David (Jeremiah 23:5; Luke 3:31; Matthew 1:1; 9:27; Mark 10:47-48; John 7:42; Acts 13:22-23; Revelation 22:16). Many Jewish Talmuds say the Messiah will come from David’s line.
A priest after Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6).
Son of God (Psalm 2:7 Matthew 3:17; 16:16-17; 27:54; 9:7; Luke 9:35; John 1:34; Acts 13:33; Hebrews 5:5).
Lord said to my Lord (Psalm 110:1; Matthew 22:43-45;Mk12:36-7; Like 2:11; 20:42-44). Midrash Tehillim, Commentary on Psalms, (200-500 A.D.) recognizes Psalm 110 as Messianic
Called ‘God with us’ (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Luke 7:16; ~John 20:28).
Child called Mighty God, Prince of Peace, etc. (Isaiah 9:6). This is Messianic according to the Yemenite Midrash 349-350 and the Pereq Shalom p.101
Seed of the woman will crush Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15). This is Messianic according to Targum Pseudo-Jonathan
Born of a virgin (dual fulfillment) (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18,25; Luke 1:26-35). Virgin according to the Septuagint
Where will the Messiah be?
Born in Bethlehem in Judah (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1,5-8; John 7:42; Luke 2:4-7). Targum Isaiah says this is Messianic.
Minister in Galilee (Isaiah 9:1-2; Matthew 4:12-16; Mark 1:14; Luke 4:31; John 4:43).
Enter Temple in Jerusalem (Malachi 3:1; Matthew 21:12; Mark 11:15)
When will the Messiah come?
The scepter will not depart (Genesis 49:10; Luke 3:23,33). This is Messianic according to Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds, Targum Jonathan, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, Targum Onkelos, Dead Sea Scroll Commentary, and the Aramaic Targum. Jews lost the right to execute people in 11 A.D. according to the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin chapter 4.
Israel abandoned until the Messiah comes (Micah 5:3).
Before the Temple is destroyed (70 A.D.) (Malachi 3:1).
After a forerunner (Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:1-3;11:10; Luke 1:17; John 1:23).
Killed 32/33 A.D. (Daniel 9:20-27 + Nehemiah 2:1-10 (445/444 B.C.)). This is Messianic according to Maimonides in Igeret Teiman, Rabbi Moses Abraham Levi in The Messiah of the Targums, Talmuds and Rabbinical Writers
What will the Messiah do?
Ministry of miracles (Isaiah 35:5,6a; Matthew 9:6-7,22,32-35; 11:4-6; 12:13; John 5:5-9; 9:6-11, etc.)
Carried our diseases (Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 8:17; Mark 2:10-12; Luke 5:13; John 5:5-9).
Teach in parables (Psalm 78:2; Matthew 13:34).
Enter as a king on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9; Mark 11:2-10; Luke 19:35-37; Matthew 21:5-9; John 12:15).
Stumbling block to cornerstone (Psalm 118:22-23; Isaiah 8:14-15; 28:16; Matthew 21:42; Mark12:10-11; 1 Pet 2:6-8; Acts 4:11).
Not abandoned to death (Psalm 16:8-11; 30:3; Acts 2:31; 13:33; Mark 16:6; Matthew 28:6; Luke 24:46).
Zeal for His Father’s house (Psalm 69:9; John 2:17).
Spirit of the Lord will be on Him (Isaiah 11:2; Matthew 3:16; Mark1:10-11; Luke 4:15-21,32; John 1:32). This is Messianic according to Targum Isaiah and the Babylonian Talmud
Mt shows Christ’s life parallels the Israelite people (Jeremiah 31:15 and Matthew 2:18, Hosea 11:1 and Matthew 2:15, Isaiah 9:1,2 and Matthew 4:15-16; etc.).
Reactions of the People
Hated without cause (Psalm 35:19; 69:4; Isaiah 49:7; John 15:25).
Some plotted Jesus’ ruin (Psalm 38:12; Mark 11:18).
Betrayed by a friend (Psalm 41:9; Matthew 10:4; 26:48-50; Mark 14:43-44; Luke 22:47-48; John 18:3,5).
Rejected by His own people (Isaiah 53:3-4; Psalm 69:8; John 1:11; 7:5; Matthew 21:42-44).
Gave Him gall for his drink (Psalm 69:21; Matthew 27:48).
Even friends stood afar (Psalm 38:11; Matthew 27:55; Mark15:40; Luke 23:49).
After shepherd struck, sheep scattered (Zechariah 13:7; Mark 14:27,50; Matthew 26:31).
Rejected by government (Psalm 2:1-2; Acts 4:25-28).
How will the Messiah die?
Sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13; Matthew 26:15).
Threw, not placed, coins in temple (Zechariah 11:13b; Matthew 27:5a).
Money for a potter (Zechariah 11:13; Matthew 27:7).
Unjustly taken away (Isaiah 53:7-8; Matthew 26:60; Mark14:55; Luke 23:4).
False witnesses (Psalm 35:11; Matthew 26:60).
Silent before his accusers (Psalm 38:13-14; Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 27:12).
Asked why God forsook Him (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34).
Mocked (Psalm 22:7,8 Matthew 27:31,39; Mark15:31-32).
Heart like wax (Psalm 22:14b; John 19:34).
Pierced for us (Psalm 22:16; Isaiah 53:5; Zechariah 12:10; Matthew 27:26; John 19:34).
People stared at him (Psalm 22:17; Luke 23:35).
Cast lots for his clothes (Psalm 22:18; Luke 23:34; John 19:23,24).
No bones broken (Psalm 22:17; Psalm 34:20; John 19:33).
Struck, spit on Him (Isaiah 50:6; Micah 5:1; Matthew 26:67; Luke 22:63).
Killed with transgressors (Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 27:38; Mark 15:27).
Interceded for transgressors (Isaiah 53:12b; Luke 23:34).
Buried in a rich man’s grave (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60).
Bore our sins as a guilt offering (Isaiah 53:5,6,10-12; John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 John 2:2; 4:10).
Jesus died with a Psalm on his lips (Psalm 31:5; Luke 23:46).
Q: In Mt 2:1,5-8; Lk 2:4-7; Jn 7:42 what does the name "Bethlehem" mean?
A: Bethlehem means "house of bread" according to the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.225.
Bethlehem in Judea is a very old town that predated the Israelites. Genesis 35:19 says, "So Rachel was buried on the way to Ephraph" (that is, Bethlehem in Judea). Genesis 48:7 says similar. So Bethlehem was originally called Ephraph, and that is why in Micah 5:2 the town is addressed as "Bethlehem Ephrathah"
The Amarna letters, writing by Canaanites to Egypt a little after 1400 B.C. during Joshua's time, mention that "Bit-Lahmi" had gone over to the 'Apiru people according to the Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.142, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.225, which references ANET p.489.
By the way, there is also a second, northern town called Bethlehem, in the territory of Zebulun in Joshua 19:15.
Q: A skeptic, Bart Ehrman, claims "There is no sense in Matthew and Luke that Jesus existed prior to his birth." (Jesus, Interrupted p.75. also in Jesus, Interrupted p.103)
A: Micah 5:2, which Matthew quotes in 2:6, says that the Messiah’s origins "are from old" in the Masoretic text, or "from the beginning, even from eternity" in the Greek Septuagint translation. In Matthew the scribes skip some parts, including that part about from old, but almost any Jewish rabbi would recognize the rest of this verse.
In Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34 Jesus says, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" This was said only a few days after the triumphal entry, when Jerusalem turned out to welcome Jesus. So when in Jesus’ earthly ministry, prior to this time, was Jerusalem given a choice to be gathered together under Jesus? Of course the answer is never. Matthew and Luke (and Jesus) had to have been thinking of the time Jesus existed before He was born, when the prophets Jesus was involved in sending to Jerusalem were killed.
Q: The skeptic Bart Ehrman says, "It is striking, though, in the Gospel of Mark, that Jesus never refers to himself as a divine being, as someone who preexisted, as someone who was in any sense equal with God. In Mark, he is not God and he does not claim to be." Jesus, Interrupted p.79
A: Mark 2:5-12 (as well as Matthew 9:26 and Luke 5:20-23) states that only God can forgive sins, yet Jesus forgave the paralytic’s sins. When Jesus was accused of doing only what God can do, Jesus neither said he was merely pronouncing God’s forgiveness nor denied their assumption. He instead said, and showed that He Himself had the power to forgive sins.
Q: On Mt 12:30 and Mk 9:40 the skeptic Bart Ehrman writes, "In Matthew, Jesus declares, ‘Whoever is not with me is against me.’ In Mark, he says, ‘Whoever is not against us is for us.’ Did he say both things? Could he mean both things? How can both be true at once? Or is it possible that one of the Gospel writers got things switched around?" Jesus, Interrupted p.41
A: Quite frankly, I am at a total loss as to how Ehrman could see this as a contradiction. Of course both can be true. Of course Jesus can say different but complementary things in different situations on different days without contradicting himself. In Matthew 12:22-37 (corresponding with Mark 3:20-29), this occurs when Jesus is brought a demon-possessed man. Much later, on a totally different occasion, in Mark 9:38-41 Jesus is told about someone else driving out demons. Perhaps Ehrman somehow thought it contradictory that if someone were against Jesus they could also be against His followers, or vice versa. But Jesus predicted that His followers will be persecuted and killed because the persecutors do not know the Father or Jesus in John 16:3. Jesus stated in John 15:18-21, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his maters.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name." (NIV) Jesus identified Himself closely with His followers in Matthew 25:34-46 in the parable of the sheep and the goats. In John 15:1-8 Jesus says we are in Him as branches are connected to a vine.
Q: In Jn 2:19, why in John died Jesus say, "destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up", when Mt 26:61b and Mk 14:58 it was [allegedly] false that Jesus said that as the skeptical Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.976?
A: Jesus did say it in John 2:19, and Matthew 26:61b and Mark 14:58 do NOT say it was false that Jesus said it. They record that Jesus’ accusers remembered that and used it to accuse Jesus. But Asimov is just making up that they said it was false.
Q: In Mt 17:12 and Mk 9:11-13, how did John the Baptist fulfill the prophecy of Elijah? Was he Elijah reincarnated?
A: No. In Jesus’ first coming, John had the purpose and the mission of Elijah. Of course, Elijah (not John) himself appeared briefly at the transfiguration. Many think Elijah will be one of the two witnesses right before the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11:3-12.
The first writer known to have addressed this verse is Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.), who noticed that the concept of one having another’s spirit is not unique to Elijah and John the Baptist. God promised that Joshua would have the spirit of Moses. (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew ch.49 p.220) Also Elisha had a double portion of the spirit of Elijah in 2 Kings 2:9-10.
See When Cultists Ask p.106-107 for more info.
Q: In Jn 7:1 why did Jesus [allegedly] fear death, when Jesus told the disciples not to fear death in Lk 12?
A: Jesus told the disciples not to be afraid of physical death, but rather spiritual death. John 7:1 does NOT say Jesus feared death. But you can still take precautions without fearing death. Jesus avoided going to Judea because the Jews there wanted to kill Him. This was a precaution for His ministry, not done out of fear, because later, Jesus did go to Jerusalem, when it was His time, where the Jews sought to kill Him, and even succeeded. See When Critics Ask p.413-413 for more info.
Q: In Lk 13:23 do some seek to enter and cannot, and seek and cannot find in Jn 7:34, or do those who seek find, as Mt 7:7; 1 Chr 28:9; Isa 55:6; Acts 10:35 show?
A: Some who seek God do NOT necessarily find Him. God says nothing about those who do not diligently seek Him, or who seek Him only partially, on their own terms, and not on His terms.
See When Critics Ask p.39-392 for more info.
Q: In Mt 17:12 and Mk 9:11-13, does Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah [somehow] indicate that we should pray to the dead, as some Roman Catholics have claimed?
A: No. Nobody spoke with Moses and Elijah at the transfiguration except for Jesus. They did not speak to anyone either, except to Jesus and each other. Only God should be the object of our worship. Catholics would agree but say that just as we can ask for help and prayers from Christians who are living on earth, we can likewise ask the same from Christians who are living in heaven. 2 Corinthians 11:3 says we are to not be devoted to anyone except Christ. While praying to someone would not necessarily mean you are devoted to them, many Catholic prayers are prayers of devotion to Mary or other saints. There is no example in scripture of any believer praying to anyone except God.
See also When Cultists Ask p.117-118 for more info.
Q: In Mk 15:25, was Jesus crucified on the third hour, or was He still before Pilate on the third hour according to John 19:14.
A: First what is not the answer, and then the answer.
A fact not a part of the answer: The Greek way of writing three and six differed by only one stroke, so one conjecture is that it was a scribal error. However, there is a simpler explanation.
The answer: Both are true, because the Jews and Romans kept the hours differently. John 19:15 says that He left Pilate on the 6th hour, which would be 6:00 am, because the Roman day started at midnight. Mark 15:22,25 says he was crucified on the third hour, which would be 9:00 am because the Jewish day was counted at sunup (about 6:00 am), and the Jewish night started at sundown (about 6:00 pm). John also uses the Roman/Greek way of keeping time in John 20:19, where the early night was considered part of the previous day, while the Jews would consider after sundown the following day.
How do we know the Romans reckoned the day from midnight to midnight? The Roman writers Plutarch (Morals: Roman Questions 84), Pliny the Elder (Natural History ii.77 (188), Aulus Gellius (iii.2), and Macrobius (Saturnalia, i.3) all say the Roman day was from midnight to midnight accord to A.T. Robertson in Harmony of the Gospels p.285-286 and William Arndt in Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.197-199. Pliny the Elder also noted that other cultures were different, and the Babylonians kept the day from sunup to sundown.
Q: In Mt 19:16-30, Mk 10:17-31; and Lk 18:18-30 how do these reconcile?
A: They reconcile very well once you understand that the gospel writers paraphrased, and did not necessarily give exact quotes. For example, Matthew says "Master ... obtain eternal life ... ask me about what is good ... There is just one who is good", while Mark and Luke say "Good Master ... inherit eternal life ... Why do you call me good ... No one is good but God alone", and so forth. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.329-332 for an extensive discussion.
Q: In Mt 19:28 and Lk 22:28-30 the skeptic Bart Ehrman falsely claims Jesus said that the twelve disciples would have twelve thrones. What about the disciple Judas Iscariot? (Jesus, Interrupted p.159)
A: No, there is no throne for Judas. First of all, Luke 22:28-30 does not mention twelve thrones, only twelve tribes. Actually Matthew 19:28 does NOT say the twelve disciples will sit on twelve thrones. Rather, it says, "... you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (NIV) So it says there will be twelve thrones, but does not say the twelve disciples will sit on them. Rather, Jesus only promised this to "you who have followed me." Judas did not continue to follow Jesus and deserted his place as a disciple after betraying Jesus, as Acts 1:20 says. In Matthew 19:28, Jesus only promised this to "you who have followed me."
Q: In Mt 26:14 a skeptic, Bart Ehrman, writes that Judas betrayed Jesus for the money, while in Luke 22:3 Judas did it because Satan entered into him. In John Judas is called a devil, so apparently he had an evil streak. (Jesus, Interrupted p.45-46)
A: Just as no fire starts from only one cause, but three (air, fuel, spark), many actions too have multiple simultaneous causes. Many things have three causes: a potential cause, such as water behind a dam, an immediate cause, such as a crack in the dam, and a preventative cause that was taken out of the way, such as stopping safety inspections of a dam. Which one caused the dam to break? – all three were involved. Likewise Judas was already a thief before this, so he was devilish. Judas was given an additional selfish motive, of the bribe from the priests. Finally, he saw the opportunity after the Last Supper. So which was the reason Judas betrayed Jesus? – All three reasons were involved.
Q: In Mt 26:26-28; Mk 14:22; and Lk 22:19, why are the bread and wine not Christ’s physical body?
A: We can see that Jesus meant the bread and wine were His body symbolically for two reasons.
First, there is not a shred of evidence that people bowed down to the bread and wine, neither in the Bible nor in the early church. We are not to worship anything or anyone besides God. We worship Jesus, but if the bread and wine is not Jesus, we are not to worship bread and wine.
Second, if a person took this metaphor as the bread and wine was or became Jesus, then to be consistent we would have to take other metaphors of Jesus' body as Jesus too, such as in 1 Corinthians 12:27. We (the church) are Christ's body. Do you think people should worship you, or worship the congregation that you attend? If neither, then why would you not worship a Christian, made in the image of God more than bread and wine, which are not made in God's image.
Now of course we are not ever to worship other Christians. But would worshipping other people, and justifying it by Christ's metaphor, be worse than worshipping the bread and wine, and justifying it by Christ's metaphor?
Q: In Mt 26:49-50 why is Jesus betrayed by Judas with a kiss, then Jesus is seized but in John 18:2-9 Jesus voluntarily steps forward identify himself, Judas gives no kiss?
A: Being silent about the detail of a kiss in John 18:2-9 does not prove there was no kiss. Judas could have kissed Jesus, per Matthew 26:49; then the soldiers drew back in John 18:2-9, and then they finally seized him in Matthew 26:50. The only part that was said to happen "immediately" was Judas' kiss at first.
Q: The skeptic Bart Ehrman claims that in Mark Jesus had a quick trial where Jesus said almost nothing, but a long, delayed trial in John where Jesus had sustained conversations (Jesus, Interrupted p.43).
A: This is rather silly, because neither Mark nor John specifically say how long the dialogue was, and Jesus probably said more things than either one records. There were not one but two trials (Jewish and Roman). Mark recorded two sentences Jesus spoke in the Jewish trial and 1 sentence in the Roman trial. John recorded 5 sentences of Jesus in talking in the Jewish trial, and 9 sentences in the Roman trial. But again, neither gospel writer claims to record everything Jesus said.
Q: In Mt 27:11-14 why does Jesus not answer a single charge at his hearing before Pilate, since Jn 18:33-37 [allegedly] tells us that Jesus answered all charges at his hearing before Pilate.
A: These are at different times. In Matthew 27:11-14, when the chief priests and elders were with him (in verse 12), Jesus answered nothing to them. John 18:28 said the Jews would not enter the Praetorium, so in John 18:29 Pilate (presumably with Jesus in tow) went out to them. John 18:33 says that after that Pilate entered the Praetorium and called to Jesus. Then in John 18:34-37 Jesus answered Pilate's questions. By the way, it is incorrect to say John 18:33-37 says that Jesus answered all charges; it only claims that Pilate said, "I find no fault with this man."
Q: In Mt 27:14, at the hearing before Pilate, did Jesus answer no charges, or did He respond directly to all of Pilate's questions as John 18:33-37 [allegedly] shows?
A: John 18:33-37 does NOT say Jesus answered all of Pilate's questions. Pilate may have asked him many questions, and John 18:33-38 lists only four, of which Jesus responded to three. Matthew 27:14 says that Jesus did not answer a word at the time the priests and elders accused him and the time Pilate asked him a question that was not given in John 18:33-37. So Jesus answered nothing that the priests and elders said, even when Pilate asked Jesus if he was hearing these accusations. Afterwards, Jesus answered [at least] three questions Pilate asked.
Q: In Mt 28:1-8, why would prophecies prove Jesus was God, if Jesus as an alien? (I actually heard this from a college student who was into Star Trek and the Church of Scientology.)
A: If Jesus were an extra-terrestrial, he would have to be a highly intelligent being to be able to have all these prophecies come true. In fact, compared to us, he would appear all-knowing. Jesus would also have to be an extremely powerful alien to do all the miracles he did, including rising from the dead. We would view them as all-powerful. For Him to teach man the teaching that Jesus taught, he would have to be morally very good, nearly perfect. So if you think Jesus might be an All-knowing, All-powerful, morally perfect being not from this world, who came to show us the truth, I agree!
Q: In the gospels, who else besides Jesus has claimed to be either a Messiah or God?
A: The following people have either made the following claims, or else others made the following claims about them.
|Grigori Rasputin (at least some others claimed this)|
|Rev. Jim Jones of Jonestown (died 11/16/1978)|
|Rev. Moon of the Unification Church|
|Jacob Katzan (1977-)|
|Guru Maharah Ji of the Divine Light Mission|
|many Hindu and New Age gurus|
|...A Jewish Messiah Come the First Time|
|Sabbatai Sebi/Zvi In Sept. 1666 A.D. he was forced to become Muslim|
|Rabbi Schneerson of New York (now dead)|
|probably Theudas in Acts 5:36. He claimed to be someone great|
|...The Mahdi in Shi’ite Religions|
|First Fatimid caliph ‘Obaidallah/‘Ubaydullah (909-933/934 A.D.)|
|Imam al Husayn bin al-Kasim al-‘Iyani (1010-1013 A.D.) (Husayniiya Zaydite sect)|
|Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1879 A.D., Ahmadiyya Movement)|
|The Baha’ullah (Baha’is) (1817-1892)|
|Husayn ‘Ali Nuri Baha’, half-brother to the Baha’ullah|
|Sliman Murshad of Syria (1900-1949)|
|The Mahdist movement in Sudan|
|...Zoroastrian Messiahs, or Saoshyants|
|Mohammed was worshipped as visible God by Muhammidiyya|
|‘Ali is divine according to the ‘Ulyaniyya/’Alaya’iyya|
|‘Ali bin Abi Talib and Saliman al-Farisi. They did not claim to be God, but long after their death some ‘Alawite sects worshipped them as sort of a Muslim Tritheism.|
|Lord Hakim (The Druze) (996-1021 A.D.)|
|God existed in the form of all the prophets according to the Rizamiyya / Muslimiyya Shi’ite sect|
Q: Besides Jesus is there anybody else who did great miracles in Palestine?
A: No. However, some claim Onias the circle maker from the first century B.C. did a miracle. He is called the circle maker because he drew a circle and told God he would not come outside of it until it rained, and then it rained. Here is the quote from Taanith 3.8 in The New Testament Background p.170. "Once they said to Onias the Circle-Maker, ‘Pray that rain may fall.’ He answered, ‘Go out and bring in the Passover ovens that they be not softened [i.e. by the rain].’ He prayed, but the rain did not fall. What did he do? He drew a circle and stood within it and said before God, ‘O Lord of the world thy children have turned their faces to me, for that I am like a son of the house before thee. I swear by thy great name that I will not stir hence until thou have pity on thy children.’ Rain began falling drop by drop. He said, ‘Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain that will fill the cisterns, pits, and caverns.’ It began to rain with violence. He said, ‘Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain of goodwill, blessing, and graciousness.’ Then it rained in moderation [and continued] until the Israelites went up from Jerusalem to the Temple Mount because of the rain." Eventually it rained so much they asked him to pray that the rain stop. Josephus (c.90 A.D.) also briefly mentions that Onias prayed for rain to stop in Antiquities of the Jews book 14 ch.2.1 p.290
Q: In the gospels, what are extra-Biblical references to Jesus prior to 200 A.D.?
A: One might expect Jesus’ life and Christianity not to go unnoticed, even outside the Bible. One purpose of giving these quotes is to put to rest the doubts of a few skeptical critics such as Bertrand Russell, that Jesus ever existed.
Cornelius Tacitus (c.55-c.117 A.D.) was a Roman historian who wrote about events in Rome and Great Britain from 15-70 A.D. By his contemptuous tone, he certainly was no friend of Christianity. In Annals 15:44 he wrote: "...But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration [fire of Rome] was the result of an order [of the Emperor]. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired...."
Tacitus in Histories book 5 also discusses in detail how various Roman legions, the 5th, 10th, 15th, 12th and some men from the 18th and 3rd put down the revolt in Judea and destroyed Jerusalem.
Quotes of Tacitus are takes from The Annals and The Histories by P. Cornelius Tacitus, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. 1952.
Mara Bar-Serapion was an ordinary Syrian man who wrote a letter to his son, Serapion, sometime after 73 A.D. He encourages him to emulate the wise men of history who died for what they believed in, such as Socrates, Pythagoras, and the wise King the Jews executed. This document is in the British Museum, and F.F. Bruce mentions this in The New Testament Documents : Are They Reliable.
Josephus was a Jewish scholar, born 37/38 A.D., who wrote positively about Christ. There are two versions of this passage; the shorter 10th century Arabic and the longer Latin. The briefer Arabic version is generally thought to be the more correct one. But whichever version is correct, this is a testimony of the existence and crucifixion of Christ. See the next question for more discussion on this.
Lucian of Samosata, (also called Lucian the Greek) second century satirist, wrote about Christ, "...the man who was crucified in Palestine because he introduced this new cult into the world....Furthermore, their first lawgiver persuaded them that they were all brothers one of another after they have transgressed once for all by denying the Greek gods and by worshipping that crucified sophist himself and living under his laws." (The Passing Peregrinus -also called The Death of Peregrine 11-13) (quoted from Evidence That Demands a Verdict vol. 1 p.82.)
Clement of Rome was a Christian bishop who wrote to the Corinthian church, basically asking them why they were not obeying what Paul wrote 50 years earlier. Clement’s letter was written in 97/98 A.D..
Pliny the Younger was a governor of Bithynia who killed many Christians for their faith. He wrote Emperor Trajan in 112 A.D. asking if he should continue to kill the men, women, and children simply for not worshipping a statue of the Emperor. Pliny says of Christians, "they affirmed, however, that the whole of their guilt, or their error, was, that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verse a hymn to Christ as to a god, and bound themselves to a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft, adultery, never to falsify their word, not to deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up. Epistles 10.96. (quoted from Evidence that Demands a Verdict vol. 1 p.83.) Besides this, Pliny also gives us information on the Essenes.
Papias was another bishop who was a disciple of John the apostle. He wrote many volumes, somewhere between 95 to 110 A.D. Unfortunately his writings have been lost, except for a short description by Eusebius of Caesarea (writing around 325 A.D.) Eusebius tells us that among other things, Papias says that the Gospel of Matthew was first written in Hebrew, Mark was the interpreter of Peter, and that Papias taught premillennialism. (Eusebius was an amillennialist.)
Ignatius was a disciple of John the Apostle. He wrote letters to many churches, and died either 107 or 116 A.D. under Emperor Trajan.
Polycarp bishop of Smyrna, was a Christian martyr and disciple of Ignatius who spoke of Christ. He died c.163 A.D.
Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon (in France), was a disciple of Polycarp, and a martyr who lived from 120/140-202 A.D. He wrote a long work against heresies of this time from 182-188 A.D..
The Didache (or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) was an anonymous church manual, of uncertain date, probably written before 125 A.D.
Justin Martyr was a Greek philosopher who was born either 110 or 114 A.D. He converted around 138 and according to Him his First Apology was 150 years after Christ was born. In his first and second apologies, and his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, Justin he talks of Jesus being God. The Chronicon Paschale tells us he was martyred for his faith in 165 A.D.
Suetonius, the Roman historian and court official who wrote about 120 A.D., says "As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus (another spelling of Christus, i.e. Christ], he expelled them from Rome. Life of Claudius 25.4 (Quoted from Evidence that Demands a Verdict volume 1 p.83.)
Theophilus, bishop of Antioch was the first writer we know of to use a Greek term to mean Trinity (Triad) in To Autolycus book 2 ch.15 p.101. He wrote between 168 and 181/188 A.D.
Clement of Alexandria, not to be confused with the earlier Clement of Rome, lived from 193-217/220 A.D. He wrote extensively, including a hymn to Christ and a major work called The Miscellanies.
Hippolytus wrote from 225-235/6 A.D. and wrote The Refutation of All Heresies. Hippolytus was a disciple of Irenaeus.
Tatian lived from 110-172 A.D. and wrote a harmony of the gospels, containing about 79% of the verses in the gospels. Unfortunately he later left the faith and joining the Encratites, a Gnostic heresy.
Jewish Talmuds refer to Jesus in a number of places. See Evidence That Demands a Verdict volume 1 p.85-87 for quotes from the Babylonian Talmud, Tol’doth Yeshu, Barailu, The Amoa ‘Ulla’, Yeb. IV 3, and Baraita. See also Tractate Sanhedrin.
Phlegon was a Greek writer from Caria and freed slave of the Emperor Hadrian. He wrote soon after 137 A.D. that in the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad [33 A.D.] there was "the greatest eclipse of the sun" and that "it became night in the sixth hour of the day [12:00 noon] so that stars even appeared in the heavens. There was a great earthquake in Bithynia, and many things were overturned in Nicea." (The Case for Christ p.111.) The entire quote according to The Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics p.384 is: "Jesus, while alive, was of no assistance to himself, but that he arose after death and exhibited the marks of his punishment, and showed how his hands had been pierced by nails" and later "the eclipse in the time of Tiberius Caesar, in who reign Jesus appears to have been crucified, and the great earthquake which then took place" both in Origen Against Celsus book 2 ch.33 p.455 in the Ante-Nicene Fathers volume 4 and Julius Africanus Events in Persia ch.18 p.136. See also Origen Against Celsus book 2 ch.59 p.455
Thales (or Thallus) was a Palestinian historian referenced by Julius Africanus (writing 232-245 A.D.) Julius says about the darkness at the time of Christ, "This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun." (The Ante-Nicene Fathers volume 6 fragment 18 p.136.) The context is Julius discussing how the time from Artaxerxes’ decree to Christ’s crucifixion, fulfilled Daniel 9.
The Samaritan historian Thallus, not to be confused with the Greek philosopher Thales, was fairly well known. The following mention Thallus.
Justin Martyr’s Hortatory Address to the Greeks ch.9 p.277 mentions Thallus, Philo, Josephus, and others.
Theophilus to Autolycus ch.29 p.120 mentions Thallus, as well as the earlier Chaldean historian Berosus on p.121.
The Octavius of Minucius Felix ch.22 p.186
Tertullian’s Apology ch.19 p.33 mentions Thallus and Josephus.
Julius Africanus fragment 18 p.136.
The Shepherd of Hermas was an anonymous Christian work written about 160 A.D.
Athenagoras wrote to the Roman emperor a defense of Christianity about 177 A.D.
Aristides of Athens and Quadratus are also known to have written apologies defending Christianity, but we only have some of their writings preserved.
Q: Which surviving version of Josephus is closest to what he originally wrote?
A: There are two passages in which he refers to Jesus. In the first one, Josephus describes the life and ministry of Jesus (Antiquities of the Jews book 18 ch.3.3), and in the second one, he identifies him as the brother of James (Antiquities of the Jews book 20 ch.9.1). There are several versions of the first passage, but we will discuss briefly the Latin and Arabic versions. The Latin version, which is shown here, and the 10th century Arabic, are essentially the same except that the Arabic is shorter because it does not have the underlined parts . . ." The shorter version is probably the most correct. First we will show the differences, then the evidence for three views, and then the conclusion of various scholars.
The longer Latin version has the underlined parts, and the tenth century Arabic version does not.
"Now there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, - a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and then ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day." (Antiquities of the Jews 18.3.3, written about 93-94 A.D.) (Taken from Josephus : Complete Works. Kregel Publications 1960. This is a combination of the William Whiston translation (1867) and the Standard Edition published by Porter and Coates, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Evidence for the Underlined Parts:
This text, with the underlined parts, is quoted in: Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History book 1 ch.11 (324 A.D.).
Jerome (c.400 A.D.) The Lives of Illustrious Men
Isidor of Pelusium book 4 letter 225.
Macarius in Actis Sanctorum tome 5 p.149 ap. Fabricius. Joseph p.61 (unknown time)
Cedrenus. Compendium Historia p.196 (c.1060 A.D.)
Zonaras Annal. tome 1 p.27 (c.1120 A.D.)
Gotfridus Viterbiensis Chronicale P.366 e Vers. Rufini (c.1170 A.D.)
Platina de Vitis Pontificum (c.1480 A.D.)
The following did not quote Josephus but said that Josephus openly called Him the Christ.
Sozomen’s Ecclesiastical History book 1 chapter 1 (440 A.D.)
Cassiodorus in the Three-Part History of Sozomen (510 A.D.)
Chronicles of Alexandria p.514,526,527,584,586 (640 A.D.)
Johan. Malela Chronicles book 10 (c.850 A.D.)
Photius Codex book 48 I Codex 238, Codex 33 (c.860 A.D.)
Glycus Annal. P.234 (c.1120 A.D.)
You can read the text of these in Josephus : Complete Works p.640-643.
Also, the style of the underline parts appears to match the rest.
Evidence Against the Underlined Parts:
The tenth century Arabic does not have this, and the Latin version does. The Latin version says so much about Christ that one would wonder why Josephus was not a Christian. As a point of fact, the early Christian scholar Origen says that Josephus did not believe Jesus was the Messiah in Origen Against Celsus book 1 ch.47 p.416; book 2 ch.13 p.437. F.F. Bruce in The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable p.108 speculates that Josephus might have in fact wrote this but that Josephus was being sarcastic. However, nothing in the Latin version betrays any sarcasm. In Josephus : Complete Works, the Appendix on p.644 says that Josephus is calling Jesus the Christ [Messiah] merely because He was one of a number of people who were presented as the Messiah, without implying that Josephus himself believed that.
Was Either One Accurate?
Pro: Tertullian is silent on Josephus, and Clement of Alexandria records what Josephus said about some years, but nothing relating to Christ.
Con: So many sources mention at least the basic Arabic version that it would be improbable that all of these sources were totally wrong. Even sources such as Origen that state Josephus did not believe Jesus was the Messiah imply that Origen read in Josephus’ works where he mentioned Jesus. The quote from Origen (as given in the Appendix of Whiston’s translation) is in part: "for Josephus testifies in the eighteenth book of his Jewish Antiquities, that John was the Baptist, and that he promised purification to those that were baptized. The same Josephus, also, although he did not believe in Jesus as Christ, when he was inquiring after the cause of the destruction of Jerusalem, and of the demolition of the temple, and ought to have said that their machinations against Jesus were the cause of those ‘miseries coming on the people, because they had slain that Christ who was foretold by the prophets, he, though as it were unwillingly, and yet as one not remote from the truth, says, these miseries befell the Jews by way of revenge for James the Just, who was the brother of Jesus that was called Christ;"
Conclusion - The Arabic is More Accurate
New Testament scholar R. T France says the following at http://www.leaderu.com/truth/1truth21.html.
"Virtually all scholars are agreed that the received text [the Latin translation] is a Christian rewriting, but most are prepared to accept that in the original text a brief account of Jesus, perhaps in a less complimentary vein, stood at this point. Josephus’ passing mention of ‘Jesus, the so-called Messiah’ in Antiquities book 20 ch.200 is hard to explain without some previous notice of this Jesus, especially since Josephus elsewhere makes no reference to Christianity, nor even uses the term Christos of any other figure. The different and less ‘committed’ version of the Testimonium preserved in a tenth-century Arabic quotation from Josephus, while it is unlikely to represent the original text, does testify to the existence of an account of Jesus in Josephus’ work underlying the Christianized text. But reconstruction of what Josephus wrote is necessarily speculative."
The Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics p.382 says "The genuineness of this passage has been questioned by scholars from all areas of belief because it seems doubtful that a Jew who lived and worked outside the Christian context would have said such things about Jesus.... Despite these concerns, there are reasons in favor of accepting most of the text as genuine. ... Even without portions that are likely Christian interpolations, this text is an extraordinary witness to the life, death, and influence of Jesus.
For more info see the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics p.253-254, 382 and Dissertation I in the Appendix of the translation of Josephus by Whiston.
Q: Why does the genealogy of Luke go back to Adam, while the genealogy of Matthew only go back to Abraham?
A: Scripture does not say, but we have a guess. Luke’s emphasis was on Jesus as the Son of man, while Matthew’s emphasis was on Jesus the promised Jewish Messiah. Luke’s genealogy through Mary proves that Jesus was a biological descendent of David (but not Solomon). Matthew’s genealogy of Joseph being from David and Solomon proves that Jesus, as Joseph’s legal son, had a right of kingship.
Clement of Alexandria (193-202 A.D.) in Stromata book 1 ch.21 p.334 mistakenly thought the Gospel of Matthew was the genealogy of Mary.
Q: In Mt 1:1-17 how does this genealogy reconcile with Lk 3:23-38?
A: Royal records generally had told of one genealogy, but Jesus had two. Many have seen a problem with the genealogies in Matthew and Luke of essentially different people after David. But let’s ask two questions of our own. What right would Christ have to claim David’s throne if He were a descendant of David? – none, if He was only descended on His mother’s side. This is why it was important that Jesus be the legal, adoptive son of Joseph in Matthew; people do not make claims of kingship based on the mother. On the other hand, if Mary were not from David, then what of the prophecy that Jesus was be descended from David? This is why the biological genealogy in Luke is important. So to show that Jesus fulfilled the role of Messiah, both genealogies were required.
The problem some people have is that the genealogy in Luke does not actually say "this is of Mary". But is implies that when it says "He [Jesus] was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the Son of Heli..." Ancient genealogies in general and Jewish ones in particular were not given of women.
Heli is mentioned as the father of Jesus because as Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.) wrote, "because of His [Jesus’] birth by the Virgin, who was, as I said, of the family of David, and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham; or because Adam was the father both of Himself and of those who have been first enumerated from whom Mary derives her descent. For we know that the fathers of women are the fathers [i.e. ancestral fathers] likewise of those children whom their daughters bear." Dialogue with Trypho the Jew ch.100 (ANF vol.1 p.249.)
Julius Africanus (232-245 A.D.) in his Letter to Aristides (Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.6 p.125-127) also differentiated between genealogies of law and nature. However, he said one was a biological genealogy of Joseph and the other the natural genealogy of Joseph. See also Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History book 1 chapter 7 and book 6 chapter 31.
Another early church writer who saw that one genealogy was of Joseph and the other of Mary (though he got them backwards) was Clement of Alexandria in The Stromata (193-202 A.D.) book 1 ch.21 (ANF vol.2 p.334.)
See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.97-98, Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.170-172, When Critics Ask p.385-386, and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.316 for more info.
Q: In Mt 1:12 and 1 Chr 3:15-17, was the father of Shealtiel Jeconiah, or Neri in Lk 3:27?
A: There were multiple people named Shealtiel and Zerubbabel.
In Matthew 1:12 it goes Josiah (grandfather)->Jeconiah->Shealtiel->Zerubbabel->Abiud->Eliakim
Luke 3:26-27 goes Melchi->Neri->Shealtiel->Zerubbabel->Rhesa->Joannas->Judah->Joseph
In 1 Chronicles 3:15-17 the genealogy goes Josiah->Jehoiakim->Jeconiah->Shealtiel and Pedaiah. Shealtiel has no children mentioned, but the next in the royal line is Pedaiah’s son Zerubbabel.
The genealogies of Mary and Joseph were the same until David, and then diverged. There is no similarity in either ancestor or descendant after that. Perhaps the Shealtiel and Zerubbabel in Luke were named in honor of the governors mentioned in 1 Chronicles 3:15-17 and Matthew 1:12. Note also that Luke 3:26-27 mentions Judah and Joseph, but these were different people than Judah Jacob’s son, Joseph Jacob’s son, and Joseph Mary’s husband.
Q: In Lk 1:26, was the birth of Christ announced to Mary, or was it announced to Joseph in Mt 1:20?
A: Both. It was first announced to Mary, since she would wonder why she was pregnant. Later, the angel gave the news to Joseph so that Joseph would not divorce Mary for unfaithfulness. See When Critics Ask p.381 for more info.
Q: In the Gospels, what points do the infancy narratives have in common?
A: Mark and John do not give any details about Jesus’ birth. Here are six common points of Matthew and Luke:
1. Genealogy from Abraham to David (Mt 1:2-6; Lk 3:31-34)
2. King Herod was ruling (Mt 2:1; Lk 1:5)
3. An angel of the Lord visits (Joseph: Mt 1:20; Mary: Lk 1:26-38)
4. Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea (Mt 2:1; Lk 2:4-7)
5. The three of them returned to Nazareth (Mt 2:19-22; Lk 2:39).
6. Jesus grew up in Nazareth (Mt 2:23; Lk 2:40).
In general, the two gospels dovetail beautifully to give a fairly complete picture of Jesus’ infancy. Matthew tells of Joseph’s genealogy, the wise men, and the flight to Egypt. Luke has Gabriel, John the Baptist’s birth, Mary’s genealogy, the shepherds, Simeon, and Anna. While we do not know which was written first, Luke mentions that others have drawn up accounts of Jesus. So, perhaps Luke was written after Matthew, and having read Matthew, Luke choose to bring in details that Matthew did not already write. John probably wrote after both of them, and John apparently did not have anything to add.
Q: In the Gospels, did Jesus believe scripture was inerrant (without error in the original manuscripts)?
A: This answer was taken from the defunct web page www.wam.umd.edu /~cbernard/Theology/inerrancy.html.
Jesus consistently treats Old Testament historical narratives as straightforward records of fact. He mentions:
Abel (Luke 11:51)
Noah (Matthew 24:37-39; Luke 17:26,27)
Abraham (John 8:56)
The institution of circumcision (John 7:22; c.f. Genesis 17:10-12; Leviticus 12:3)
Sodom and Gomorrah (Matthew 10:15; 11:23,24; Luke 10:12)
Lot (Luke 17:28-32)
Isaac and Jacob (Matthew 8:11; Luke 13:28)
manna in the desert (John 6:31,49,58)
The snake in the desert (John 3:14)
David eating the consecrated bread (Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5)
Jesus as David’s Lord (Matthew 22:43; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42)
Solomon (Matthew 6:29; 12:42; Luke 11:31; 12:27)
Elisha (Luke 4:27)
Jonah (Matthew 12:39-41; Luke 11:29,30,32)
Zechariah (Luke 11:51)
The last passage brings out Jesus’ sense of the unity of history from "the creation of the world" to "this generation." He repeatedly refers to Moses as the giver of the Law (Matthew 8:4; 19:8; Mark 1:44; 7:10; 10:5; 12:26; Luke 5:14; 20:37; John 5:46; 7:19). He frequently mentions the sufferings of the true prophets (Matthew 5:12; 13:57; 21:34-36; 23:29-37; Mark 6:4 [cf. Luke 4:24; John 4:44]; 12:2-5; Luke 6:23; 11:47-51; 13:34 20:10-12) and comments on the popularity of the false prophets (Luke 6:26). He sets the stamp of His approval on such significant passages as Genesis 1 and 2 (Matthew 19:4,5; Mark 10:6-8).
Some might object at this point and argue that Jesus was just using the myths and stories of the culture to illustrate his points. This is certainly possible for some passages but it seems unlikely. First, the feel one gets from reading the gospel accounts is that Jesus takes the stories of the Old Testament as real history. The spirit of his use of Scripture indicates that he believed the accounts in the Old Testament are historical. Second, it does not look like a real option to claim that Jesus was just using the myths of his culture to illustrate his teachings in passages like Matthew 12:41; 24:37; 11:23,24; 5:12; 4:4.
Third, Jesus assumes the inspiration of the Bible. He uses "Scripture says..." and "God says..." interchangeably and in so doing he identifies the Old Testament text with the Word of God. Quoting Genesis 2:24 Jesus says, "Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother...". Note that Genesis 2:24 is not a direct quote of God in the text but is a comment by the author or narrator of the text. Jesus considers the words of the Scriptural texts to be the very words of the Creator. Inspiration of the original copies (autographa) presupposes inerrancy. If Jesus is correct in recognizing the Old Testament as the very words of the Creator, then attributing error to the Old Testament is the same as attributing error to God Himself.
Fourth, Jesus clearly believed in the authority of the Bible. In His disputes with Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus appeals to the Scripture as if they have the authority to settle the dispute. He sees the Scriptures as the final word (John 5:39-47; Matthew 22:29,31; Mark 12:24-26, Luke 20:37) When Scriptures speak, God speaks and the issue is settled.
Q: In the gospels, what is a harmony prior to the ministry of Jesus?
A: It is important to distinguish between what is said to be order versus what may be in order. For these 27 events, numbers refer to events that must follow preceding numbers. Letters such as a,b,c refer to events that could happen in any order. Prior to the ministry of Jesus, everything in the gospels was written in chronological order, except the underlined parts. Markers of location, time, and sequence found in the gospels are in bold.
Before Jesus’ Ministry: Mt 4:1-11; Mk 1:1-13; Lk 1:1-3:18; Lk 3:21-4:13; Jn 1:1-42
B1a. In the beginning, Jesus pre-existed in Heaven. Jn 1:1-5; Jn 17:5
B1b. Mary’s genealogy from Adam (with gaps). Lk 3:23-37
B1c. Joseph’s genealogy from Abraham (with gaps). Mt 1:1-17
B2. In Jerusalem, while Herod ruled (37 B.C. to 4 B.C.), Gabriel visits Zechariah; Elizabeth will be expecting. Lk 1:1-25
B3. In Elizabeth’s 6th month, Gabriel visits Mary in Nazareth, telling her she will be with child. Lk 1:26-38
B4. Mary is pregnant, though still a virgin. Mt 1:18-19
B5. After Mary is pregnant, Gabriel visits Joseph. Mt 1:20-25
B6. Traveling to Judea, Mary visits Elizabeth. Lk 1:39-56
B7. John the Baptist is born. Lk 1:57-80
B8. While Herod was king (37-4 B.C.), Christ is born in Bethlehem of Judea. Mt 2:1; Lk 2:1-7
B9. In nearby fields, angels tell shepherds to visit Jesus. Lk 2:8-20
B10a1. On the 8th day, Jesus is circumcised. Lk 2:21
B10a2. After Mary’s purification (33 days later according to Lev 12:1-4), at the temple in Jerusalem, Jesus is presented to the Lord. Lk 2:22-38
B10b. In a house in Bethlehem, Magi from the east come to worship Jesus. Mt 2:2-12
B11. After the Magi left, the flight to Egypt. Mt 2:13-15
B12. Within 2 years, Herod kills the male babies of Bethlehem. Mt 2:16-18
B13. After Herod died, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus return to Nazareth. Mt 2:19-22; Lk 2:40a
B14a. In Nazareth of Galilee, Jesus grows up. Mt 2:23; Lk 2:40b
B14b. Every year at Passover, Jesus’ parents go to Jerusalem. Lk 2:41
B15. At 12 years old, Jesus goes to the Temple in Jerusalem. Lk 2:42-52
B16. In the Desert of Judea, John the Baptist preaches. Mt 3:1-12; Mk 1:1-8; Lk 3:1-18; Jn 1:6-28
B17a. When Jesus was about 30 (probably 33-34), He is baptized in the Jordan River. Mt 3:13-17; Mk 1:9-11; Lk 3:21-23
B17b. The next day [after John’s remark] Jesus comes to John the Baptist. John testifies that Jesus is the Lamb of God. Jn 1:29-34
B18a. At the Jordan River, Jesus calls Peter, Andrew and another. Jn 1:35-42
B18b1. Jesus decides to return to Galilee the next day after John the Baptist speaks. Jn 1:43a
B18b2. Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael. Jn 1:43b-51
B18c. For 40 days in the wilderness, Satan tempts Jesus. Mt 4:1-11; Mk 1:12-13; Lk 4:1-13
In this list, 1 event is identical to all four gospels, 2 are in the synoptic gospels, 3 are in Matthew and Luke, 5 are in Matthew alone, 5 are in John alone, 10 are in Luke alone, and 0 are in Mark alone. Mark only supplies 3 events here, and they are in common with Matthew and Luke. One could easily conclude that none of these were eyewitnesses of these early events, they got their material primarily from different sources, though Luke has the most information prior to Jesus’ ministry and Mark has the least.
By the way, The NIV Study Bible p.1636-1641 (at the end of John) has an extensive harmony of the gospels. I was not aware of that when I did these harmonies of the gospels, and I have not compared my results to theirs yet.
Q: Is it true that the information on the life of Jesus prior His public ministry is "meager"?
A: No, not compared to other famous ancient individuals. This view is not a result of objective scholarship, but of unbelief of "Christian critics". Five points to consider in the answer.
1. For reference, during Jesus public ministry prior to His death, we are given at least 176 facts on the life and teachings of Jesus.
2. Before Jesus began His ministry, we know at least 37 facts about Jesus.
3. We are given more information about Jesus prior to His public life, than historians give us about the most famous kings of Babylon, Egypt, Media, Persia, Greeks, Macedon, or early Rome. In other words, we know more about Jesus, prior to His first public appearance, than we do about the childhood of the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar, the Egyptians Akhenaten and Nefertiti, the Medes Kyaxares and Astyges, the Persians Cyrus, Darius, and Xerxes, the Greeks Agamemnon and Pericles, or the most famous Senators of Rome. The only ancient person we know as much about prior to their public life is Alexander of Macedon.
4. We actually have less information about some historical figures in the 18th and 19th century, prior to their public lives, than we have about Jesus.
5. If somebody is going to say the information on Jesus’ life prior to his ministry is meager, at least compared to others, they should either produce a number of ancient historical people of whom more information is given about their life prior to being in the public eye, or else stop giving misinformation.
See also the next question for at least thirty things we are told about Jesus prior to His ministry.
Q: In Mt 2:13-30, if Mary, Joseph, and Jesus escaped to Egypt, how could they return directly to Nazareth in Lk 2:39?
A: Luke 2:39 does not say Jesus’ family immediately returned to Nazareth. It only says that they performed what the law required [in Jerusalem] before returning to Nazareth. One could infer that this happened right after because nothing else was mentioned. Perhaps Luke did not see a need to mention the trip to Egypt, or perhaps Luke was unaware of the trip to Egypt.
Either way, it is not incompatible with the other gospels. The next question has a detailed harmony. Letters such as a,b,c refer to events that could happen in any order.
See Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.172-173 for more info.
Q: Prior to the public ministry of Jesus, what exactly are we told about Jesus?
A: We are told at least 37 things about Jesus prior to His ministry. The information we are given can be divided into three categories:
1. His mother was Mary.
2. Born of a virgin. (Even if a skeptic denies this, the skeptic has to admit that the claim was made that Jesus was born of a virgin)
3. Legal father was Joseph.
4. Born under Herod the Great. (37-4 B.C.)
5. Born in Bethlehem.
6. Circumcised on the eighth day.
7. Presented at the temple. (like many Jewish babies)
8. Family traveled to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15).
9. After Herod died, the family returned to Nazareth in Galilee (Matthew 2:19-23).
10a. Grew up in Nazareth (Luke 2:39-51), a small town considered by others as insignificant.
10b. After Jesus went to the Temple, He returned to Nazareth too (Luke 2:51).
11a. At 12 years old, Jesus went to the Temple.
11b. Every year Jesus’ parents went to the Temple at Passover (Luke 2:41).
12. By 12, was inquisitive and knew the scriptures well (Luke 2:41-46).
13. Jesus was sinlessly perfect (Hebrews 4:15; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Even if a skeptic disagrees with this statement, these verses as well as Luke 2:40 present us with the fact that at the very least, "Jesus was a good kid".
14. Jesus spoke Aramaic. (Matthew 5:22, etc.)
15. People from Galilee generally spoke Greek too. (Greek-speaking non-Israelites lived only 15-20 miles away.)
16. Jesus’ religion was Judaism; specifically he was closer to the Pharisees, believing all the Old Testament books. The early church writers said the Sadducees only accepted the Torah.
17. Jesus worked as a carpenter (Mark 6:3).
18. Around 30 years old, baptized by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:13; Mark 1:9-11).
19. Went to the wilderness prior to his public ministry (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13).
20. Joseph was a carpenter.
21. Mary pregnant before she was married (Matthew 1:18).
22. Joseph considered divorcing Mary (Matthew 1:19).
23. Genealogy of Joseph. (counted as only 1 item) (Matthew 1:1-16)
24. Genealogy of Mary. (counted as only 1 item)
25. Had four brothers named James, Joses/Joseph, Judas/Jude, and Simeon. (Matthew 13:55-56; Mark 6:4; Galatians 1:19; Jude 1, Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History (c.360 A.D.) 2:23 and 3:20)
26. Though of royal ancestry, Jesus grew up in a common family of a subject people, and probably were poor (Luke 2:23 + Leviticus 12:6-8).
27. Mary’s cousin was Elizabeth, who was a descendant of Aaron the priest (Luke 1:5).
28. Elizabeth’s husband was the priest Zechariah, of the division of Abijah (Luke 1:5).
29. John the Baptist, firstborn/only child of Zechariah and Elizabeth, was a relative of Jesus.
30. Mary, James, and Jude were still alive when Jesus was crucified.
Reactions to Jesus and Expectations of Him
31. Mary’s expectations for her son.
32. Jesus was thought to fit the Messianic prophecies (Matthew 2:6).
33. Worship by the shepherds (Luke 2:15-20).
34. Gifts by the kings (Matthew 2:10-11).
35. The paranoid reaction of Herod the Great.
36. John the Baptist’s testimony.
37. Anna and Simeon in the Temple. (A person could argue this is two items, but I will only count it as one.)
This is not at all meager compared to what we know of the lives of other public figures prior to their public life. For a comparison, see the next question.
Q: Since we know at least 37 things about Jesus prior to His public ministry, for comparison what do we know about other secular historical figures prior to their public appearing?
A: For comparison purposes, we know only a few things about Pompey, about 12 things about Aristotle, and 26 things Alexander of Macedon, prior to their public life. (Much of this is taken from the Encyclopedia Britannica).
Pompeius Gnaeus was a famous Roman general and politician born September 30, 106 B.C.
He was the son of a military commander.
3. When he was 17, he fought with his father in the Social War.
4. Like most Romans, he probably worshipped the Roman gods.
5. He spoke Latin, and perhaps also Greek.
There likely are more items, but certainly not 20+ more items.
1. Born around 384 B.C.
2. Born in Stagira, a Greek town on the northwest coast of the Aegean sea.
3. Spoke Greek.
4. People commonly believed in the Greek gods.
5. Father was Nicomachus, a doctor of the guild of the "sons of Aesculapius"
6. From 17 to 37 years old, studied under Plato at the Academy of Athens.
7. In 342 B.C., Aristotle became the tutor of Alexander of Macedon for 7 years.
8. In a grave near Eretria in Euboea, we have a skull and personal items which might be of Aristotle. He died around 322 B.C.
9. His father was a court physician to Amyntas II, the father of Philip of Macedon
10. Father’s genealogy: of Ionian Greek background
11. Mothers genealogy: Ionian from Chalcis in Euboea.
Reactions to Aristotle and Expectations of Him
12. They had some academic hopes for him, sending him to study under Plato at the Academy in Athens.
We only have five manuscripts of his writings, and the earliest is 1100 A.D.
From India to Spain, by far the most famous person prior to Jesus was Alexander of Macedon, often called Alexander the Great. Let’s look at what we know about his early life.
1. His father was Philip II of Macedon.
2. His mother was Olympias, a Molossian princess from Epirus.
3. Born around October in 356 B.C.
4. Born in Pella, the capital of Macedon.
5. When Alexander was 14 years old (342 B.C.), Aristotle became his tutor for 7 years.
6. Alexander loved to read Homer.
7. Alexander spoke some dialect of Greek.
8. Alexander believed in the Greek gods.
9. Alexander was a good horseman, with a white horse name Beucephalus.
10. At 16, Alexander crushed a revolt of the hill tribes while his father was away.
11. Alexander led the charge which defeated the Sacred Band at Chaeronea in 338 B.C.
12. After Philip divorced Olympias, Alexander lived with his mother in Epirus.
13. Genealogy of Olympias. She was the daughter of King Neoptolemos of Epirus, and niece of Arybbas, both sons of king Alketus, the Molossian king of Epirus.
14. Alexander’s father, Philip II, was the third son of King Amyntas II of Macedon. We are not sure of the genealogy past that though.
15. His uncle was Alexander I, king of Epirus.
16. Thus Alexander had the upbringing of a prince.
17. We have a statue and the casket of Philip II of Macedon (The Greek World p.174-175).
18. Philip was regent of Macedon in 359 B.C., but took control as king in 356 B.C.
19. Philip divorced Olympias to marry Kleopatra/Cleopatra, a Macedonian noblewoman.
20. Alexander I married his niece Kleopatra/Cleopatra, the half-sister of Alexander in 337 or 336 B.C.
21. Alexander had a baby half brother from Philip and Cleopatra, whom Alexander had killed when he became king.
22. Alexander had a cousin named Amyntas, whom Alexander killed when he became king.
23. In 336 or 336 B.C., Philip II was assassinated with a Celtic knife on the morning of the wedding of his daughter Kleopatra.
24. Alexander’s sent his mother spoils in 335 B.C.
Reactions to Alexander and Expectations of Him
25. Philip originally groomed him as the next king
26. He and Philip apparently were estranged after Philip divorced Alexander’s mother.
The writings of many who wrote on Alexander have been lost. The surviving ancient writings include:
"Didot edition of Arrian" by Karl Muller
Diodorus book 17 (c.20 B.C.)
Quintus Curtius (c 42 A.D.)
Plutarch (c.45-125 A.D.) Life of Alexander
Arrian’s Anabasis and Indica (150 A.D.)
Justin’s abridgment of the History of Trogus (c.10 B.C.?)
Itinerarium Alexandri (324-361 A.D.)
Epitome Rerum Gestarum Alexandri Magni (4th or 5th century)
For more information see the Encyclopedia Britannica, The Greek World, and the National Geographic.
Modern Biographer Mary Renault in the Nature of Alexander p.30 says of early biographers of Alexander, "Arrian’s History starts at his [Alexander’s] accession, probably because Ptolemy’s did, which is a pity, for his knowledge of earlier years would have been invaluable."
If someone wants to claim that what we are told about Jesus prior to his public ministry is "meager", they should be honest and add that they think what we are told about the early life of most historical figures up to Roman times is more meager than the life of Jesus.
I also believe that we know more about the early life of Jesus than of other famous contemporary Jews Josephus, Philo (20 B.C. to 50 A.D.), and Bar Kochba. I also believe that we know more about the life of Jesus prior to 30 than we know about the early life of Moses and Buddha. Perhaps we have more background on Julius Caesar and Josephus, but I do not know of any others.
Here is what we know about Moses prior to his public life.
1. Moses was born around 1525 B.C. in northern Egypt.
2. Either his parents, or more probably his ancestors were named Amram and Jochabed.
3. He was a Hebrew, a people who had been enslaved for 320 years.
4. He had an older sister named Miriam.
5. He had a brother named Aaron.
6. Moses was in his father’s house for his first three months (Acts 7:20).
7. As a child, when Pharaoh decreed that male Hebrew babies were to be thrown in the Nile River, his mother put him in a basket.
8. Pharaoh’s daughter found him, and cared for him as her own son.
9. He grew up in Pharaoh’s court, was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was powerful in speech and actions (Acts 7:21-22), and had the knowledge and learning of the Egyptians
10. His own mother served as his nurse.
11. He was concerned about the Hebrews as he killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew.
12. Even at 40 years old Moses was fairly strong, to kill the Egyptian.
13. Pharaoh tried to kill Moses.
14. Moses fled to Midian, where he saw some women drawing water for their flocks.
15. When shepherds tried to drive them away, Moses rescued them from the shepherds.
16. Moses married Zipporah.
17. The father-in-law of Moses was named Reuel, who also was named Jethro.
18. Moses and Zipporah had a son named Gershom.
19. Moses was about 80 when he saw the burning bush.
For the sake of argument, we will assume that legends about the young Buddha are true.
The son of a king of the Sakyas, a warrior caste people north of Kosala
Most likely worshipped the Hindu idols as a child.
3. He would renounce the world if he saw a sick man, an old man, and a corpse.
4. He left his home when he was 29.
5. He spent 6 years seeking enlightenment, which he claimed to find under a Bo tree.
6. He died either in 544 B.C. or 483 B.C. when he was 80 years old.
Mohammed was not a part of ancient history, but since he was a major religious leader, we will see what we know about his early life, prior to the start of his ministry, for comparison.
1. Mohammed was born around 567-569 A.D.
2. The son of Abdullah and his wife Aminah.
3. A member of the Quaryash tribe, which controlled Mecca.
4. His father died before he was born.
5. He first was raised by his uncle ‘Abd al-Mottalib/Muttalib.
6. Late he was raised by another uncle, Abu Talib.
7. His family was rather poor.
8. In his younger years he probably led caravans.
9. He married Khadija, a wealthy 40-year old widow when he was about 25.
10. After that he probably was a partner in a shop in Mecca which sold produce.
11. He probably could not write, though later in his life he could read some.
12. He was familiar with the Arab idols, including the three "daughters of Allah" Al-Lat, ‘Uzza, and Manat.
13. Somewhat familiar with Judaism and Christianity.
14. Mohammed was a white person, who later dyed his hair red.
15. When Mohammed had a vision, the hadiths record that strange things would happen. He would experience a ringing in his ears Bukhari Hadiths vol.1 book 1 ch.1 no.2 p.2; vol.4 book 54 ch.6 no.438 p.293. His heart would beat rapidly 1:3, his face would turn red Bukhari Hadiths vol.2 no.16; vol.5 no.618; vol.6 no.508, he would breathe heavily Bukhari Hadiths vol.6 no.508, he would fall on the ground with both eyes open toward the sky Bukhari Hadiths vol.5 no.170; vol.6 no.448, he would sweat profusely Bukhari Hadiths vol.1 book 1 ch.1 no.2 p.9; vol.2 no.544; vol.3 no.829, and see and hear things no one else did Bukhari Hadiths vol.1 book 1 ch.1 no.2,3 p.2-3; vol.4 no.458,461; vol.6 no.447. These may have appeared to be strange back then, but other people since then have had some of these symptoms when they have an epileptic seizure.
16. Mohammed said the angel Gabriel appeared to him, and on one occasion physically caused him pain.
He wondered if they were from Satan, but his wife convinced him they were from God.
Q: In Mt 1:18 and Lk 2:7, is Christ’s virgin birth incompatible with His pre-existence, as Rudolph Bultmann and Wolfgang Pannenberg thought?
A: No. It only seems incompatible to apostate theologians who believe in a god that is required to meet their restrictions. Christ pre-existed, but this did not restrict Him from:
1. Temporarily and voluntarily choosing not to use some of attributes and hiding some of His glory (Hebrews 2:9; John 17:5; Philippians 2:7).
2. Appearing as anything He wanted, including a man (Philippians 2:8)
3. Actually taking on humanity and becoming a man. (Hebrews 2:14-17)
4. Coming to earth initially as an adult, a child, a baby, or an embryo, or however He wished.
Actually, Christ’s pre-existence as Almighty God did not restrict Him from anything at all. The only restrictions on Almighty God are self-imposed restrictions. God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18; Titus 1:2), cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13), and cannot be tempted by evil (James 1:13).
Q: In Mt 1:18-21 did the "Annunciation" take place after Mary was pregnant, or before Mary was pregnant based on Luke 1: 26-31?
A: Joseph and Mary are two different people. The angel spoke to MARY in Luke 1:26-31 before she was pregnant. The angel spoke to JOSEPH after Mary was pregnant and Joseph had considered divorcing her in Matthew 1:18-21.
Q: In Mt 1:18 and Lk 2:7, who were the Ebionite heretics, and what did they believe?
A: Ebionites had a "low" view of Christ, believing Him to be from God the Father, but not God the Son. They believe Jesus could be called God in the manner of honor, but that He was not divine. The Ebionites believed Jewish customs should still be practiced. They denied the virgin birth of Christ saying He was born of Joseph (Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.21 p.451), and they only accepted a shortened form of the Gospel of Matthew (Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.10.7 p.428).
Q: In Mt 2:2,7,9 what was the star over Bethlehem when Christ was born?
A: While scripture does not say explicitly, it probably was the shekinah glory of God, as the "star" could lead them to a specific village and even a particular house. See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.100 for more info.
Q: In Mt 2:2,7 who else mentioned this star in the east that the Magi saw?
A: A number of early writers mention this.
Ignatius (c.100-117 A.D.) Letter to the Ephesians ch.19 p.57
Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.) Dialogue with Trypho the Jew ch.88 p.237
Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.9.2 p.423
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) On Idolatry ch.9 p.65
Hippolytus (222-234/5 A.D.) Refutation of All Heresies book 7 ch.15 p.108
Origen (225-249 A.D.) considered it a new star, not an existing heavenly body in Origen Against Celsus book 1 ch.48 p.422.
Treatise on Rebaptism (c.250-258 A.D.) ch.8 p.671
Peter of Alexandria (306,285-311 A.D.) Canonical Epistle ch.13 p.277 mentions the magi, but not the star.
Athanasius (318 A.D.) "Of whose birth did a star in the skies forerun, to announce to the world him that was born? For when Moses was born, he was hid by his parents: ... But of Christ’s birth the witness was not man, but a star in that heaven whence He was descending." Incarnation of the Word ch.38.5 p.55.
Q: In Mt 2:11, it seems reasonable to believe that the magi who came to worship Jesus were acquainted with Daniel’s Messianic prophecy, had studied it, and realized that the coming of the Messiah was near. Do you know of any reference in the writings of the Zoroastrians or other Persians (middle easterners), to Daniel’s prophecy of the Messiah?
A: Daniel lived some time in Persia, and had interactions with the Persian wise men and astrologers. The Magi were a tribe of Zoroastrian / Median priests, similar to the Levites being the priests and temple workers of Israel. I am not familiar with Zoroastrian literature, but I am not sure many people are, as the Muslims would have destroyed much of it. The Zoroastrians had less protection under the Muslims that "people of the Book", that is, Christians, Jews, and Sabi. Muslim literature has frequent references to Zoroastrians, and Muslim literature to my knowledge has no reference to the Zoroastrians coming.
Q: In Mt 2:11, why did the Magi enter a house, since Jesus was born in a manger in Lk 2:7?
A: Jesus was born in a stable because there was no room at the inn. Joseph and Mary would not want to stay in a stable any longer than needed. They moved to a house by the time the Magi came.
Modern western Christmas songs generally present the Magi as coming the very night Jesus was born. Actually it was some time after that they came. Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas December 25th, but celebrate the Magi coming in mid-January.
See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.30-31 and Catholic Apologetics Today p.249 for more info.
Q: In Lk 2:22-38, was Jesus presented at the Temple (in Jerusalem), or did Joseph take his family to Egypt after the Magi came as Mt 2:13-18 says?
1. Jesus was presented at the Temple in Jerusalem eight days after he was born. Then they returned to Bethlehem on the way to Egypt. After Mary was ready, they started out.
2. Contrary to western Christmas stories, the wise men did not come the very night Mary was in labor. They came some weeks later. As a side note, eastern Orthodox Christians generally do not give presents at Christmas. They give presents in the middle of January, when they believe the wise men came.
See Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.171 for more info.
Q: In Mt 3:17, did God say "This is my beloved Son...", or did God say "You are my beloved Son..." as Mk 1:11 says?
A: It could be either way for three reasons.
1. The Gospel writers frequently paraphrased quotes.
2. God the Father could have said it in Hebrew or Aramaic, but the Gospels we have are in Greek.
3. Papias, disciple of John the apostle, records that Matthew was originally written in the language of the Hebrews (Aramaic?), and it could have been paraphrased when it was translated into Greek.
See Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.173-174 for more info.
Q: In Mt 4:1 and Mk 1:12, was Jesus sent into the desert right after His baptism, or did He delay a few days as Jn 1:29,35,43 says and then go to Cana as John 2:1 implies?
A: Though Jesus went to Galilee sometime after these temptations ended, Matthew 4:11-12; Mark 1:13-14; and Luke 4:13-14 do not say where Jesus was immediately when the 40 days ended. Thus there are two different possibilities.
Baptism then 40 Days then Galilee: It is likely that John baptized Jesus on the day of John 1:29-34. Then Jesus stayed one more day (John 1:35), and the following day decided to leave for Galilee (John 1:43).
The wedding in Cana was much later, either on the third day of the week or the third day after arriving in Galilee. It could not be the next day after John 1:43 (which was after John 1:35), because that would be four days, not three days.
Matthew 4:1 simply says that Jesus went to the wilderness after He was baptized. Mark 1:12 says that Jesus went into the wilderness "at once", but that could still mean a few days later.
Baptism then 40 Days then back to John: John 1 never says when Jesus was baptized. Jesus could have been baptized by John 40 days or so prior to John 1:19. After Jesus’ temptations, He returned to John in John 1:29.
Q: In Mt 4:1-11, was the order of Jesus temptations bread, pride, and power, or was it bread, power, and pride in Lk 4:1-12?
A: There are two answers, and both may be true.
1. Luke simply uses the word "and", which does not necessarily imply he is giving these in order. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.454-457 for more on the view that Matthew is in order and Luke is not.
2. Also, in the forty days Jesus was tested, these and other temptations likely were given multiple times in different order.
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.320-321 and When Critics Ask p.328i329 for more info.
Q: In Mt 4:1-11; Mk 1:13; and Lk 4:1-13, how can we imagine that "God" is tempted by the devil, as Ahmad Deedat says?
A: Satan can try to do anything, but because Satan tempted Jesus, Satan’s actions do not in any way make Jesus any less.
Jesus was 100% God, but He was also 100% man. If Jesus as God appeared only as some kind of phantom then He could not be tempted. But because Jesus was fully human, and as the atoning sacrifice for humans, He had to experience what humans all experience.
Q: In Mt 4:1-11; Mk 1:13; and Lk 4:1-13 do you think God would allow his Son to be lifted by Satan as Jesus was kidnapped? (a Muslim asked this)
A: Jesus was not kidnapped by the devil; rather Jesus went into the wilderness to confront the devil. The devil took Jesus to a high mountain, and to the wing of the temple, but both Satan and Jesus knew that Satan was not allowed to do anything to Him. As proof that Jesus was not "kidnapped", when Jesus commanded Satan to leave Him in Matthew 4:10, Satan had to leave.
Q: In Mt 4:1-11 and Lk 4:1-13, how do Satan’s temptations of Jesus echo Satan’s temptations of Eve in Gen 3:6?
A: While they are not identical, Satan often uses similar tactics over and over, and that is probably because they continue to work well for Satan.
Eve saw that the forbidden fruit was
1. Good for food [physical appetite],
2. Pleasing to the eye [beauty, lust of the eyes],
3. Desirable for gaining wisdom, [eyes will be opened, and like God, knowing good and evil. [godlike power after following Satan’s command].
Jesus, who was fasting, was tempted with
1. Stones becoming bread [physical appetite],
2. Throwing himself from the wing of the temple [showing off],
3. Authority over all the kingdoms of the earth [godlike power under Satan’s command.]
1 John 2:16 mentions three kinds of sins in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
Q: Bart Ehrman writes, "In Matthew, Jesus refuses to perform miracles in order to prove his identity; in John, that is practically the only reason he does miracles." Jesus, Interrupted p.103 In Matthew, in the second temptation and elsewhere, Jesus will perform no signs to prove himself. Jesus, Interrupted p.84
A: Ehrman equates not obeying the word of Satan or the skeptical Pharisees with performing signs for people looking for answers, or needing help. Jesus said the reason He did not throw Himself down was that one should not put God to the test in Matthew 4:7. Jesus did not "owe" it to anybody to perform a single sign; and he never performed signs to skeptical people who thought Jesus owed them that. But Jesus graciously performed signs to people who had faith and strengthened their faith.
Q: In Mt 4:12 and Mk 1:14, after Jesus’ temptation, was John put in prison prior to Jesus’ ministry in Nazareth and Capernaum, or after Jesus came to Galilee in Jn 1:43?
A: The Bible says the following:
John 1:43 says that Jesus decided to return to Galilee (not that he returned that day) the day after John the Baptist again said that Jesus was the Lamb of God. John the Baptist was not arrested yet.
Matthew 4:12 says that at the time that Jesus heard of John’s imprisonment, Jesus returned to Galilee.
Mark 1:14 says that after John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee.
Sequence of Events:
1. John again said that Jesus was the Lamb of God.
2. The very next day Jesus decided He would (sooner or later) return to Galilee.
3. Either before Jesus left for Galilee, or else after he left but before he arrived in Galilee, John was imprisoned.
4. Jesus came into Galilee.
Q: In Mk 1:12-13, did Jesus go in the wilderness for 40 days after His baptism, or did He go to the wedding feast in Cana on the third day as Jn 2:1 says?
A: Both. The "third day" was the third day after coming to Galilee, not the third day after baptism as Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.196 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1473 say. A different answer is that "the third day" was the third day of the week.
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 9 p.42 says the third day might be the third day from leaving John the Baptist. While it says, "the next day" in John 1:29-35,43 might all refer to the same day, this is unlikely this meaning would be more clear if "the next day" were not used multiple times.
Q: In Lk 3:22 on Jesus’ baptism, should it say, "You are my son, today have I begotten thee.", according to Justin Martyr, [allegedly] Clement of Alexandria, [allegedly] Augustine, and others, or "You are my son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased". (This is the first half of an objection a Muslim brought up.)
A: First let’s see the implications of this Muslim’s argument, second apply the same standard to Islam, third the details of this manuscript variant, and finally apply this to Christianity in general.
A. Implications of the Muslim’s argument
Let’s assume for a second that the Muslim is absolutely right. The verse originally said what the Muslim states. Or alternately, assume we can only be sure of what was in common in both versions: "YOU ARE MY SON". Congratulations: If God really said that, to anyone, the Muslim’s own words have just disproved Islam and convicted the Qur’an of telling a lie about Allah. The Qur’an says the it is very wrong to say that Allah is a Father, or that Allah has sons (Sura 2:116; 4:171; 5:116,117; 6:100; etc.). If God really called Jesus "my son", then the Qur’an is telling a lie about God. (I assumed the Muslim questioner was an orthodox Muslim, though I might be wrong about this.)
B. Apply the Same Standard to Islam
This variant changes no Christian doctrine, for both phrases are mentioned elsewhere. Inerrancy of the Bible means that the Bible was without any error in the original manuscripts, manuscript variations have crept in, but none that significantly change faith or practice. In contrast to this, most Muslims believe the Arabic Qur’an today is an exact copy of the original on earth, which was an exact copy of tablets in Heaven (Sura 85:20-22). Yet the Qur’an has provably undergone changes too.
a) Sahih Muslim 2:2286 p.500,501 mentions a lost Sura of the Qur’an. It has an extensive quote from this Sura, and sure enough, it is not in the Qur’an today.
b) An early Qur’anic recension (‘Ubai) that survived ‘Uthman’s standardization did not have the first and last suras. (The are not just torn off, they were never there.). It is in the Al-Azhar museum in Cairo today.
c) Abu Yunus the freed slave of ‘Aisha transcribed a copy of the Qur’an for ‘Aisha. It was a little bit different in Sura 2:208. "Abu Yunus, the freed slave of ‘A’isha said: ‘A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) ordered me to transcribe a copy of the Qur’an for her and said: When you reach this verse: ‘Guard the prayers and the middle prayer’ (2:28) inform me; so when I reached it, I informed her and she gave me dictation (like this): Guard the prayer and the middle prayer and the afternoon prayer, and stand up truly obedient to Allah. ‘A’isha (Allah be please with her) said: This is how I have heard from the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)" Sunan Nasa’i vol.1 no.475 p.340
d) "Then Allah revealed to us a verse that was among the cancelled ones later on." Bukhari vol.5 book 59 ch.27 no.416 p.288.
"Narrated Anas bin Malik: ... There was revealed about those who were killed at Bi’r-Ma’una a Qur’anic Verse we used to recite, but it was cancelled later on. The verse was: ‘Inform our people that we have met our Lord. He is pleased with us and He has made us pleased.’" Bukhari vol.4 book 52 ch.19 no.69 p.53. See also the History of al-Tabari vol.7 p.156.
Other references to cancelled verses are: Bukhari vol.4 book 52 ch.9 no.57 p.45, Bukhari vol.4 book 52 ch.184 no.299 p.191, Bukhari vol.5 book 59 ch.27 p.416 p.288, and Bukhari vol.5 book 59 ch.27 no.421 p.293 all repeat the same thing about the same verse.
e) Bukhari Hadiths say parts of the Qur’an were missing and/or abrogated in vol.4 book 51 ch.12 no.62 p.48-49, vol.4 book 51 ch.19 no.69 p.53; vol.6 book 61 ch.3 no.510 p.489-480, vol.6 book 61 ch.4 no.511 p.480.
f) A few of the other places with variants (not just on vowels) are:
Sura 11:46 Abu Dawud vol.3 footnote 3383 p.1116
Sura 11:46 Abu Dawud vol.3 footnote 3383 p.1116
Sura 18:76 Abu Dawud vol.3 footnote 3384 p.1116
Sura 18:86 Abu Dawud vol.3 footnote 3385 p.1116
Sura 24:35 Abu Dawud vol.3 footnote 3387 p.1116
Sura 34:23 due to vowels, but in one case a consonant. Abu Dawud vol.3 footnote 3392 p.1117
Sura 39:59. This quotes with a feminine pronoun for soul, while the well-known readings has a masculine pronoun. Abu Dawud 3:3979 footnote 3393 p.1117
Sura 89:86 Abu Dawud vol.3 footnote 3399 p.1118
Sura 89:25-26 Abu Dawud vol.3 footnote 3408 p.1119
Sura 12:23 Abu Dawud vol.3 footnote 3411 p.1120
Sura 2:58 Abu Dawud vol.3 footnote 3413 p.1121
Sura 24:1 (missing or an extra "r" Faradnaha (and which we have ordained) vs. the majority farradnaha (which we have described in detail) Abu Dawud vol.3 footnote 3414 p.1121
g) A rationalization of changes in Mohammed’s lifetime: Satan always throws something in with a prophet’s words according to Sura 22:52, but God has to cancel it out. This might be an explanation for why four different Muslim historical sources report that Sura 53:19-20 originally said the intercession (help) of four idol goddesses was to be hoped for.
Would the Muslim questioner be satisfied about the Bible if Christians just destroyed the evidence and burned all of the manuscripts except one favored version? On one hand you would think not, except that is exactly what ‘Uthman did when he ordered people to turn in their copies of the Qur’an to be destroyed, and he reissued other copies. However, the Qur’ans today are not even identical with ‘Uthman’s text. For example, Variant: Sura 6:160a (6:159a in Yusuf ‘Ali): "...sects, I am not of them in anything;" (in ‘Uthman’s time) vs. "...sects, thou hast No part in them in the least:" al-Tabari vol.15 p.181 and footnote 323.
C. Details of this Manuscript Variant
"You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." (p4 (3rd century), Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, Byzantine Lectionary, some Italic, Sahidic Coptic, Ethiopic, Georgian, Augustine). Augustine had the first reading according to Aland et al. (4th revised edition), so the Muslim questioner was incorrect to put Augustine in the second category.
"You are my Son, today I have begotten you" (Bezae Cantabrigiensis, some Italic, Justin Martyr Dialogue with Trypho ch.88 p.244 (written about c.138-165 A.D.); Hilary (355-367/368 A.D.), Methodius (270-311/312 A.D.), apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus (Greek form ch.2; Apocryphal Infancy Narrative 54.)
"You are my beloved Son, today I have begotten you" Clement of Alexandria 193-217/220 A.D.). This is similar to the second reading, except with the "beloved" aspect of the first reading. Thus the Muslim questioner was incorrect to lump Clement of Alexandria in the second category.
D. Application to Christianity in General
Justin might have been quoting from memory, and even good people can have small mistakes of memory. We do not believe God’s message is the consonants and vowels of the Bible, but the message of the Bible, and the message is constant, even if you go with the second reading, since other verses both say that a) Jesus was beloved, and b) today I have begotten you (Psalm 2). What could be an honest mistake, an erroneous memory, does not prove forgery, that is, unless A’isha the wife of Mohammed having a verse of the Qur’an writing with a different meaning proves she was a forger too.
Q: In Lk 3:22, does this manuscript variation prove a forger was at work, and the Bible verse was changed to take out Jesus becoming God’s son at baptism, vs. birth or before? (This is the second half of the Muslim’s objection)
A: Not at all. While we do not know all the details, there are four possibilities, any one of which gives a satisfactory answer.
Multiple statements: Perhaps the Father made multiple statements. Why would God the Father be limited to calling Jesus His Son only once here?
One Comprehensive Statement: Perhaps the Father only said one sentence, and it was something like: "You are my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased; today I have begotten you." Everyone correctly recorded parts of that.
Memory error by Justin Martyr: Justin Martyr, perhaps quoting this from memory made a mistake, and later writers who had read Justin Martyr and writings of earlier writers who had read Justin Martyr, copied this mistake.
Bible Variant: Someone before Justin Martyr erroneously copied this phrase here, and Justin correctly quoted what was in his Bible.
For many Muslims, if any Qur’an changes, even non-theological ones, prove a forgery, then every copy of the Qur’an today should be burned because it is a forgery too. It has changes from ‘Uthman’s version (Sura 159a (or 160a) is just one example. And ‘Uthman’s standardized text is different from ‘Ubai’s text, and both of those left out the lost Sura. In fact, the Qur’an admits that Satan (at least temporarily) throws a little of his teaching into the prophet’s words too (Sura 22:52). As an example of that, consider the original wording of Sura 53:19-20.
Q: In Lk 3:23 how old was Jesus when He began His ministry?
A: Luke 3:23 says "about thirty" which could be 25 to 35 years old. Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great, who died in 4 B.C., and Jesus began his ministry after John the Baptist began his. John began his ministry in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar, which was 28 A.D. Thus, if archaeological dates are considered precise enough, Jesus was about 33 to 35 years old. Also, Pontius Pilate was only prefect of Judea from 26 A.D. until 36/37 A.D., so Jesus had to have been crucified before then. The best guess we have is that Jesus began his ministry about 30 A.D. and died most probably April 3, 33 A.D. See Today’s Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.61-62 for more info.
Q: In Mt 4:12-13, how did Simon and Andrew become disciples when Jesus was with John the Baptist, since Jesus told them to follow him in Galilee as in Mt 4:18-20, Mk 1:16-20, and Lk 5:1-11?
A: First they became "disciples" when Jesus was with John the Baptist. They only later became special disciples, later being designated apostles, in Galilee. Remember, that Jesus had a large number of disciples, some of whom left Him in John 6:66. In addition to those, he had specially appointed disciples, 72 in number, in Luke 10:1. Finally, Jesus had the twelve, who became apostles, in Matthew 6:7 and John 6:67.
Q: In Jn 1:35-37, did Andrew and the other disciple follow Jesus the day after His baptism, or did they wait 40 days after Jesus’ temptations?
A: -After. Jesus was baptized by John (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-23), was tempted for 40 days (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-12) returned the John (John 1:29-32)
Q: In the ministry of Jesus, can we know the order of the events?
A: We can only know the order of some events. However, many people can be very confused about the order of the gospels because of three misconceptions, which need to be cleared up.
Not every event was recorded by the gospel writers; however, they never claimed to do so either. For example, John, who formerly was a disciple of John the Baptist, is understandably silent between the time Jesus was baptized and the time he joined Jesus. John 21:25 specifically says that Jesus did many other things that were not written down. The Gospel of John was written after the other gospels, and John seems to emphasize the parts the others did not mention.
Repetition: Imagine Jesus traveling through the many towns he visited throughout Galilee, Judea, and Decapolis, and never repeating a single command or parable, and telling every town something completely different. ¾ not very likely! Jesus probably told these parables many more times than were recorded in each gospel, and people talked about Jesus more than is recorded. Thus for example, it is an open question whether the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, and the Sermon on the level place in Luke, was two events, where he repeated some teaching, or one event, where Jesus spoke on a plateau.
Not in order: The Gospel writers did not record all the events in order, but they never claimed to record them in order either. As a matter of fact, Papias, a disciple of John the apostle, specifically says Mark did not record the events in order.
Within each general period of Christ’s ministry, the Gospel writers did not claim anything was in order, except for the following parts, where the words "after", "the next day", etc. were used. In the Gospel harmony questions, see the bold words that indicate markers of time, order, and location.
Q: In the Gospels, what is a harmony for the early ministry of Jesus?
A: The early ministry is up to the time John the Baptist is killed. Before giving the order of events, it is good to know some geography.
Geography: The Sea of Galilee, the Lake, the Sea of Tiberias, are all the same freshwater lake. Galilee is west of the Sea of Galilee, and Decapolis is southeast of the Sea of Galilee. Bethsaida is on the Sea of Galilee due north, and west of it is Capernaum on the shore, with Korazin due north of Capernaum. Magdala is on the shore due west of the Sea of Galilee, and Cana is due west of that. Nain is southwest of the Sea of Galilee about 10 miles away from the shore. The land of the Gerasenes, Gennesaret, or the Gadarenes are either all the same place or places very close to each other east and southeast of the Sea of Galilee. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.373 says that Gerasa was 30 miles southeast of the Sea of Galilee and its lands did not reach to the Sea. Gadara was five miles southeast of the Sea of Galilee and its lands did reach the Sea, as proved by Josephus mentioning this and a coin of Gadara showing a ship.
Order: It is important to distinguish between what is said to be order versus what may be in order. For these 65 events, numbers refer to events that must follow the preceding numbers in order. Letters such as a,b,c refer to events that might be in order, but could happen in any order. The bold words indicate markers of time, order, and location. The underlined verses show passages that likely are not in chronological order in the gospel.
Early Ministry: Mt 4:12-14:12, Mk 1:14-6:29, Lk 3:19-20; 4:14-9:9, Jn 1:43-5:47
E1a1. At Cana on the third day (3rd day after return to Galilee, after John spoke, or 3rd day of the week?), Jesus turns water into wine. First miracle in Galilee, though His time is not yet come. Jn 2:1-11
E1a2a. During the Passover (14th day 1st month) in Jerusalem, Jesus drives out the moneychangers. Jn 2:12-25
E1a2b. Jesus teaches Nicodemus on being born again. Jn 3:1-21
E1a3. In the Judean countryside, John testifies of Jesus. Jn 3:23-35
E1a4a. At Sychar in Samaria, en route to Galilee, Jesus speaks with a Samaritan woman. Jn 4:1-42
E1b1. John rebukes Herod the Tetrarch. Mt 14:3; Lk 3:19-20
E1b2a. After Jesus hears John is cast in prison, Jesus returns to Galilee and begins to preach "The kingdom of God is near". Mt 4:12-17, Mk 1:14-15; Jn 4:43-45
E1b2b. From Cana Jesus heals nobleman’s son in Capernaum as His 2nd miracle. Jn 4:46-54
E1b2c1. In Galilee and Nazareth, Jesus reads a scroll. Lk 4:14-15
E1b2c2. Jesus explains the prophecy, and the Jews try to kill Him. Lk 4:16-31
E1b2d1. Beside the Sea of Galilee, Jesus calls Simon Peter and Andrew. Mt 4:18-20; Mk 1:16-18; Lk 5:1-10
E1b2d2. In Capernaum Jesus casts out a demon. Mk 1:21-28; Lk 4:31-37
E1b2e. Calling James and John. Mt 4:21-22; Mk 1:19-20; Lk 5:6-11
E1b2f. In Galilee, Jesus heals the sick. Mt 4:23-25; Lk 4:40-44
E2a. Sermon on the Mount, including the Lord’s prayer. Mt 5:1-7:29
E2b. In the evening, heals Simon’s mother-in-law and others. Mt 8:14-17; Mk 1:29-34; Lk 4:38-39
E2c. Jesus prays alone. Mk 1:35-38; Lk 4:42-44
E2d. Travel through Galilee. Mk 1:39
E2e. Heals gossipy leper. Mt 8:1-4; Mk 1:40-45; Lk 5:12-15
E2f. In lonely places, Jesus often withdrew to pray. Lk 5:16
E2g1. In Capernaum Jesus heals paralytic. Mk 2:1-12; Lk 5:17-26
E2g2. Calling Matthew/Levi. Mt 9:9-13; Mk 2:13-17; Lk 5:27-32
E3c1. In Galilee by the lake, cost of following Jesus. Mt 8:18-22
E3c2. In Nazareth Jesus heals the paralytic. Mt 9:1-8
E3c3. John’s disciples ask about fasting. Mt 9:14-17; Mk 2:18-22; Lk 5:33-39
E2h1. One Sabbath, Jesus in a field; appeal to David. Mt 12:1-8; Mk 2:23-27; Lk 6:1-11
E2h2. In the synagogue, Jesus heals withered hand. Mt 12:9-14; Mk 3:1-6; Lk 6:6-11
E2h3. Crowds follow Jesus. Mk 3:7-12
E2i1. On a mountainside, Jesus prays all night to God. Lk 6:12
E2i2. Jesus appoints the 12 disciples. Mk 3:13-19; Lk 6:13-16
E2j1. Sermon on the level place. Lk 6:17-49. If it was the same as in Matthew, it should be called the Sermon on the Plateau.
E2j2. In Capernaum Jesus heals the centurion’s servant. Mt 8:5-13; Lk 7:1-10
E3a. Some time later in Jerusalem for a feast [probably in the 7th month] at the pool Jesus heals a man who was an invalid for 38-years. Jn 5:1-15
E3b. Life through Jesus. Jn 5:16-47
E3c. At Nain, Jesus heals the widow’s son. Lk 7:11-17
E4. En route to the land of the Gadarenes/Gerasenes, Jesus calms the storm from inside the boat. Mt 8:23-27; Mk 4:35-41; Lk 8:22-26 (Note: storms are more frequent in the fall and winter]
E5a. In Gennesaret, healing two demon-possessed men; demons in swine. Mt 8:28-34
E5b. Healing the Gerasene [Gennesaret] demoniac. Mk 5:1-20; Lk 8:26-39 (Note: Gadarenes, Gennesaret, and Gerasene most likely refer to the same place.)
E6. Raising Jairus’ daughter and the woman with blood. Mt 9:18-26; Mk 5:21-43; Lk 8:40-56
E7. As He went on Jesus heals two gossipy blind men. Mt 9:27-31
E8. While they were going out, Jesus heals a mute demoniac. Pharisees accuse Jesus of casting out demons by Beelzebub. It does not mention Jesus responding to this accusation at this time.) Mt 9:32-34
E9a. Jesus goes to many cities and villages. Mt 9:35-38; Mk 6:6
E9b. Jesus sends out the twelve. Mt 10:1-42; Mk 6:7-13; Lk 9:1-9
E9c. Jesus preaches in Galilee. Mt 11:1
E9d. John the Baptist sends a message from prison and Jesus tells the parable of the kids in the market. Mt 11:2-19; Lk 7:18-35
E9e. Eating at Simon the Pharisee’s house, a sinful woman with an alabaster jar anoints Jesus’ feet with oil. Jesus speaks on loving more and loving less. Lk 7:36-50
E10. Immediately Jesus withdraws to a mountain. Mk 6:45-46
E11. Afterwards at Gennesaret, Jesus heals many. Mk 6:53-56
E12a. Rebuking Galilean cities. Mt 11:20-24
E12b. At that time, Jesus taught rest for the weary. Mt 11:25-30
E13. Jesus withdraws from that place. Mt 12:15-21
E14. In a house where it was too crowded to eat, Jesus’ family thinks He is out of his mind. Mk 3:20-21
E15. Jesus heals a blind demon-possessed man. Mt 12:22-23
E16. Jesus speaks of the strong men in the house, and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Mt 12:24-37; Mk 3:22-30
E17. Jesus’ mother and brothers. Mt 12:46-50; Mk 3:31-35; Lk 8:19-21
E18. First demand for a sign, and prophecy of three days and nights. Mt 12:38-45
E19. In Galilee from the boat, the parable of the sower. Mt 13:1-23; Mk 4:1-20; Lk 8:1-15
E20. Parable of the weeds. Mt 13:24-30
E21. Parable of the lamp on a stand. Mk 4:21-25; Lk 8:16-18
E22. Parable of the growing seed. Mk 4:26-29
E23. Parable of the mustard seed. Mt 13:31-35; Mk 4:30-34
E24. In the house, explains parable of the weeds. Mt 13:36-43
E25. Parables of the hidden treasure, pearl, and net. Mt 13:44-53
E26. Jesus returns to Nazareth; prophet without honor. Mt 13:53-58; Mk 6:1-6
E27. How John the Baptist was killed. Mt 14:1-12; Mk 6:14-29; Lk 9:7-9
In this list of 65 events, 0 events were common to all 4, 13 events were common to the three Synoptics, 1 event was common to Matthew and Luke, 4 events were common to Matthew and Mark, 4 events were common to Matthew and Luke, 4 events were common to Mark and Luke, 15 events were in Matthew alone, 7 events were in Mark alone, 7 events were in Luke alone, and 8 events were in John alone.
Q: In the Gospels, what were the key assumptions made for the early ministry of Jesus?
A: Everything has assumptions, and here are the assumptions I used here.
a) Some of John’s passages were placed in the middle period, when they could fit here too. The gospel harmony in The NIV Study Bible places John’s passages differently.
b) The Gospels were in chronological order, except where underlined, which is in more than 10 places.
Q: In Jn 1:43-50, did Jesus call these disciples to follow Him at this time, or did he appoint them as apostles later as Mt 4:18-22; Mk 1:14-20, and Lk 5:1-11 show?
A: Both. Jesus called them to follow Him at that time, but only later designated them as the twelve. When Critics Ask p.405 distinguishes between their initial interview and their permanent call. It points out that in John 1:39, they only stayed with Jesus that one day.
Today God first calls us to be His children. Many people He later calls to greater service, and some He later calls to even greater ministry.
Q: In Mt 4:17; 10:17; Mk 1:15; Lk 8:10; Jn 3:5 are the kingdom of God and Kingdom of heaven identical, or is there a slight difference between the two?
A: Many have seen them as identical; you will not be a part of one if you are not a part of the other. Matthew uses both terms, and Mark, Luke, and John use only the kingdom of God. Jesus uses both terms in adjacent verses in Matthew 19:23-24. The New International Bible Commentary p.1123 says that Jews at that time were not only reluctant to product God’s proper name (Yahweh), but they also Elohim. So the used as synonyms ha-shem (the Name), maqom (space), and shamayim heaven. So instead of saying "the kingdom of God", some Jews might instead say "the kingdom of heaven."
Others see a slight difference; the kingdom of heaven is where all believers go when we die, and the kingdom of God is what we belong to now when we are saved.
Regardless of the individual words, we can all agree that our salvation has both a present aspect on earth and a future aspect in heaven (1 Corinthians 13:12; Philippians 1:21-24) that will not be realized until we reach heaven. In John 3:5 some think water refers to amniotic fluid when a baby is born, but others think it refers to baptism. It cannot mean baptism, unless the thief on the cross was not saved! But it can mean that a person is not a visible part of God’s kingdom on earth until they are baptized. Similar to this, many churches do not want someone to take the Lord’s Supper until they are baptized.
See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.991 for more info.
Q: In Jn 4:26, why was Jesus quick to tell the Samaritan woman He was the Messiah, when Jesus seemed reluctant to do so elsewhere, such as in Mt 16:13-20?
A: There are two complementary answers: Timing and Audience.
Timing: Early in His ministry Jesus did not emphasize to the Jews publicly that He was God and He was the Messiah. Many Jewish leaders had trouble accepting the Messiah not coming in power the first time. Jesus seemed to want His miracles and teaching to speak for Him first, and then later in His ministry emphasize that He was the Bread of Life, the great "I Am", the way, the truth and the life, and the Messiah. However, Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman was very early in His ministry.
Audience: The Samaritans would not have the same difficulties accepting Jesus as the Messiah. So he told the Samaritan woman plainly. Also, there was little chance the Samaritans would tell a lot of Jews.
See When Critics Ask p.408 for more info.
Q: In Lk 6:12-49 and Lk 12:3-38, why does this sound similar to the Sermon on the Mount in Mt 5:1-7:29?
A: There are three different answers.
a. Jesus likely delivered a similar sermon at least two times. Everyone could not have heard the sermon the first time.
b. Perhaps it was the same sermon, and each writer wrote down a paraphrase of what he remembered. A "plain" on top of a mountain is simply what we call a plateau or mesa.
c. When Critics Ask p.387 observes that it only said that Jesus stood on a level place, not that the crowds did. Jesus standing on a level place to preach to a crowd sitting on a mountainside would make a natural amphitheater.
Regardless, the Jesus’ teaching is timeless, and true no matter how many times He said it.
See also When Critics Ask p.388-389 for more info.
Q: In Lk 6:17, did Jesus stand on a level place to teach them, or did Jesus sit as Matthew 6:17 says?
A: There are two answers, and both are likely true.
The sermons in Matthew and Luke are likely two different occasions. Furthermore, even when Jesus stood, after he spoke long enough, he might want to sit. Remember a sermon could be a multi-hour event, and what we have in both Matthew and Luke are just summary versions.
See When Critics Ask p.388 for more info.
Q: In Mt 5:3, did Jesus mention the "poor in spirit", or just the poor in Lk 6:20?
A: Jesus could have said both. Matthew and Luke both paraphrase what Jesus taught. These two sermons might have been different occasions, and Jesus could have said both. On the other hand, these two Sermons could have been the same. One was on a mountain, and one was on a plain. They might have been one Sermon on a plateau, which is a flat place on the top of some mountains.
Regardless, we understand that Jesus referred to those who were needy and acknowledged that they were needy. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.366 for more info.
Q: In Mt 8:5-13; 9:9-13; did Jesus heal the centurion’s servant before calling Matthew (Levi), or after as Lk 5:27-32; 7:1-10 implies?
A: It could be either way, as neither gospel gives the order, and the gospels are not said to be in chronological order. However, both says that Matthew/Levi was called after healing the paralytic.
Q: In Mt 8:5-10, did the centurion see Jesus, directly, or did the centurion not see Jesus but send friends in Lk 7:6?
A: There are two possible answers.
1. The centurion approached Jesus through friends, not directly. Matthew is leaving out this detail, and simply says the centurion came to Jesus with his request, without specifying that it was through friends. Perhaps Matthew did not want to blur the fact that Jesus was helping a non-Jew, according to The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.200. The NIV Study Bible p.1453 adds that likewise when Pilate flogged Jesus in Matthew 27:26, Matthew is NOT saying Pilate personally flogged Jesus, but had Jesus flogged.
2. Initially the centurion used friends. A likely reason is because that way it would not be too embarrassing if Jesus refused this request of a non-Jew. After this, the centurion then came himself. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.321-322 favors this view.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.458-459 for more info.
Q: In Mt 9:18-25, Mk 5:23-43, Lk 7:11-17, 8:41-56; and Jn 11:1-44, in His earthly ministry, who all did Jesus raise from the dead and why?
A: All three miracles glorified God and demonstrated that Jesus was the Son of God.
Widow’s son in Luke 7:11-17. Perhaps the dead son did not come back so much for his own sake, but for his mother’s sake.
Jairus’ daughter in Matthew 9:18-25; Mark 5:23.35-43; Luke 8:41-42,49-56. In this case the girl was dying, and Jesus was delayed because Jesus was ministering to another woman. God may not often be early, but He is never too late to work.
Lazarus in John 11:1-44. Curiously while Jesus especially loved Lazarus in John 11:3, Jesus delayed two more days in John 11:7, when Lazarus was sick, until he had died. This initially might have devastated the faith of Mary and Martha, but sometimes God deliberately tests our faith for His glory and to make us stronger in faith.
Q: In Mt 9:18, was Jairus’ daughter dead, or was she dying as Mk 5:22 and Lk 8:42?
A: First some Greek, two things that are probably not the answer, and then the likely answer.
In Matthew 9:18, the Greek phrase arti eteleutesen means "just now died" according to Green’s literal translation, or "has just died" but not "is now dying" according to The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.230.
In Mark 5:22 the Greek phrase eschatus exei means at the last end. We get our word eschatology from the first word.
In Luke 8:42 the Greek word apethnesken means "dying".
Not the answer: coma is like death
The breathing of a person in a coma is very shallow, and it is difficult to tell when they had died. However, this is probably not the correct answer because Jairus had left some time ago, and someone in a coma would still be somewhat warm. Finally, Jairus’ friends later telling him his daughter finally died would go against this.
Probably not the answer: Jairus said all three
Jairus himself was not sure if his daughter was still alive when he talked to Jesus, or if she had already passed away while he journeyed to Jesus. So Jairus might have at one point said she had died, and at another point said she was at the last end, and at another point said she was dying. However, in all three gospels, Jairus said the words in question to Jesus, and while he might have repeated his request to Jesus three times, using three different wording, the next answer is more probable.
The answer: Gospel writers paraphrased
In other places in the gospels dialogues are paraphrases, not exact quotes, and focusing on the main points with details left out. For example, when people came all day to hear Jesus’ teaching, yet we can read the account in only five minutes, what did they do for the rest of the time? As John 21:25 says, "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." (NIV)
Consider this: it only takes about three seconds to read what Jairus said in any one account. When Jairus came, did he only speak three seconds to Jesus, and then was silent? – of course we do not think that. But that means that each gospel writer chose to leave out many extraneous details and simply wanted to record the main point Jairus had. Whichever phrase Jairus used, and he may have used more than one, his beloved daughter was passing the end of her life.
Q: In Mt 9:24, Mk 5:39 and Lk 8:52, why did Jesus say she was only sleeping?
A: First what is probably not the answer, and then the answer.
Probably not the answer – vegetative state is like death
While sleep is often used for death, it could be a coma or vegetative state. Jesus said, "your daughter is not dead but asleep" in Mark 5:39. However, in Mark 5:35 when Jairus’ friends told him not to bother Jesus because his daughter had died, she was completely dead as far as they could tell.
Jesus wanted to emphasize that to Him death is no more than the physical body sleeping.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.421-422 for more info.
Q: In Mt 9:22,28,29 Can you explain to me the difference between faith that heals and saving faith? For example in Mt 9:22 Jesus says 'Daughter, take courage, your faith has made you well' and in Mt 9:29 "Jesus touched their eyes saying 'It shall be done to you according to your faith.'" and in Mt 15:28 "Then Jesus said to her, 'O woman, your faith is great, it shall be done for you as you wish.'" And her daughter was healed at once. Is faith a natural thing? Was the faith exhibited in the healings done by Jesus generated by the people who were healed or did God through the Holy Spirit grant them the faith necessary for the healing so that God could be glorified. In Eph 2:8 "For by grace you have been save through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;" I read this to be that faith is the gift of God.
A: You asked a deep question. The short answer is that there is only one faith; faith in God. But that faith can express itself in physical healing, and holy living, and that faith can also be entangled or snatched away.
For a more extensive answer, First let's look at faith in general, and then different aspects of faith. While faith includes intellectual agreement, James 2:19 shows that it is much more than that; it is trusting. There is a famous story that in the 19th century a famous tightrope walker named Charles Blondin was walking across Niagara Falls on a tightrope pushing a wheelbarrow. Somebody told him they had faith he could do it. He said that if they really did, then get in the wheelbarrow. Faith is not merely saying "I believe" but be willing to get in the wheelbarrow. Do we trust in God, to the extent that we would be willing to look foolish if God didn't come through? Faith is a commendable thing, and Hebrews 11 gives many examples of not just intellectually believing, but living by faith.
Faith has to have the right object; sincerely believing in an idol is not going to get you anywhere, or at least not anywhere good. If a person believes and practices many good things, but they do not believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead, their faith is in vain according to 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. They were not healed by having faith in healing, faith in themselves, faith in some saint, or even faith in faith; they were healed though having faith in Jesus. It is interesting that just prior to this passage, in Matthew 9:1-8, Jesus healed a paralytic, and there is no mention of his faith, or really anything whatsoever about him. We can easily infer that his friends had enough faith to go to the trouble to carry him to Jesus; and while he may have had faith, it is not mentioned. So while we cannot have saving faith for anybody but ourselves, our faith can be an effective tool God uses in the lives of others. On the other side of the coin, Jesus chose not to do many miracles in Nazareth because of their lack of faith in Matthew 13:57-58.
Unfortunately our faith can be partial and incomplete in time, sincerity, and scope.
Faith Only for a Time: Judas Iscariot believed in Jesus to leave his former life and follow Jesus, - at least for a time. Yet even prior to Judas betraying Jesus, Judas would steal from the money bag in John 12:6. Judas would even go out with the other eleven disciples and preach in the countryside in Matthew 10:4-16, but though many people’s faith could have been increased by seeing the great miracles, he did not (or perhaps it is better to say would not) have the faith that God would take care of his financial needs and he did not need to steal from Jesus and the disciples. So for having faith for a time, though I believe that the truly saved can never be "unelected", I also believe the Bible’s warnings that some who have been enlightened, and tasted (but does not say swallowed) the heavenly gift, can fall away to eternal destruction (Hebrews 6:4-6).
Insincerity and Faith: Some people, like the seed sown on shallow ground, have faith for a while, but then get entangled. They can be honest and say they do not have faith anymore, or dishonest and claim to have faith but be hypocritical. A person can have a sincere faith mixed in insincerity but be honest about it. When Jesus asked the father of a demon-possessed boy if he believed, he answered, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" in Mark 9:24. Others have no sincere faith, only insincere faith, such as Simon the magician in Acts 8:18-22.
Scope of faith: Some people can believe God in the big things where there is no other option, but not believe God in the little things. Some like Gideon can have tremendous faith in God to save them in battle with just a few soldiers, but then not believe God’s way is the best way instead of making money from having an idol, as Gideon shamefully did in Judges 8:24-27. Samson was similar.
I do not believe there are two kinds of faith, saving faith and healing faith; there is only one faith (Ephesians 4:5). But this belief of a person, responding to God's word, as a seed in Matthew 13:12-23, can grow (either a lot or just a little), multiply in others, but it can also wither and die and the person fall away (Matthew 13:20-21). As a warning to us, let’s look at four examples of faith that died:
Jesus taught in Matthew 7:21-23 that there will be people will preach the gospel (presumably the true gospel), and even do miracles in Jesus’ name, which I am sure you will agree would take great faith. Yet in the end these people will go to Hell because they were evildoers. It is significant that Jesus did not say "I forgot you", "I lost you" or "you lost your salvation". Rather, Jesus said to these evildoers with great faith "I never knew you."
Can a hell-bound person be helped by faith? Yes, at least for a short time. 2 Peter 2:20-22 says, "If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. If would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and ‘A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.’" (NIV) The person was never saved, they were always a dog or a sow. Yet that person "knew" in some sense, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Their knowledge was enough to even lift them from a sinful life to a godly one, but only for a while
Many people are helped by Jesus just like the nine lepers were in Luke 17:11-19. Jesus healed ten lepers, and yet only one, a Samaritan, came back and thanked Jesus. "Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praised to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.’" (NIV) The other nine were genuinely helped physically, and nothing says their physical healing was taken away. But physical healing was all they got; only the Samaritan came to Christ and praised God. If I had a physical problem, and I had to choose either a faith that healed or a faith that saved, I would want the faith that saved and spiritually healed more than the faith that merely physically healed. God gives faith that can do both, but make sure you emphasis on the Giver, not merely the gift.
Our faith must be tough as James 1:12 teaches; to be able to persevere even under harsh conditions; yet the faith of some only lasts for a while and then dies. I think the entire difference is whether a faith is tended by the Gardener (John 15:1b) and whether or not your faith is connected to the Vine (John 15:1-8). Having faith, even great faith, will not last, unless it is constantly tended by God. So while faith is important, it is more important to draw near to God. "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these if love." (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV)
But what is the role of saving faith?
Salvation is a gift of God; it is not from us and we are not saved by our faith. Rather, we are saved by God’s grace, through our faith, not works as Ephesians 2:8-9 says. Three things this short but complex pair of verses says:
It is by grace. We cannot "merit" our salvation, or else it would not be grace.
It is through faith. Faith has a different role than grace. Faith is our response to God’s initiative.
It is not works. Works do not have the same role as grace, they do nothing to merit our salvation.
Works have a different role than faith; we are not saved through works, but rather through faith.
So one might wonder if works have anything to do at all with salvation. Paul anticipates this question and answers it in Ephesians 2:10. Works do have a role in salvation, but not the role some people and many Catholics teach. Works are an output of our salvation, not an input. We are not saved by serving, but rather saved to serve. If the two do not go hand-in-hand in a believer’s, you might question if someone was really a believer as James 2:14-25 does, but they have different roles.
But since it is wrong to say works have the same role as faith in our salvation as some Catholics say, it is also wrong to say that faith has the same role as works in our salvation, as some Calvinists teach. Hebrews 4:2 says, For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith." (NIV)
As to whether this enduring faith is a gift of God, or our responsibility, it is both. God gives us faith as a gift, and we can and should ask for faith. Yet we have a responsibility to believe and a responsibility to run with perseverance (Hebrews 12:1). We have a responsibility to test/examine both ourselves and our teachers (2 Corinthians 13:5-6). Yet we can rely on God sealing all who are saved with His Holy Spirit, "who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession..." (Ephesians 1:14 NIV) See www.BibleQuery.org on the left hand menu under Doctrine and then under Predestination for more info.
Q: In Mk 5:35 and Lk 8:49 was Jairus given new information that his daughter was dead?
A: While it could be either way, the first way is more likely to be correct.
a) It could be that Jairus knew his daughter was about to die when he left to see Jesus, and as he was coming back, they told him that his daughter had just passed away.
b) More probably, Jairus might have already known his daughter was dead, or as good as dead, when he left to see Jesus, and as he was returning, he was told in effect, "don’t bother Jesus anymore, you already knew your daughter was dead."
Either way though, the message to Jairus was: "don’t bother Jesus, for not even He can do anything about this." I hope that we never have that attitude, just as Jairus chose to have faith and reject having that attitude.
Q: In Mt 10:2-5, Mk 3:16-18, Lk 6:13-16, Jn 1:45-47; 21:2, and Acts 1:13, are the list of the twelve disciples different, as Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.998 suggests?
A: No. While the order is somewhat different, the lists are the same as long as you have the following understanding.
Simon Barjona is the same as Peter. Barjona means "bar" (son of) Jona. Simon is a Hebrew name, and Peter is a Greek name.
Matthew the tax collector = Levi the son of Alphaeus the tax collector in Mark 2:13-17. Levi is a Hebrew name. Matthew is also a Hebrew name, a shortened form of Matthias. Perhaps as a tax collector we wanted an alias.
James, Son of Alphaeus is the same as James the Younger in Mark 15:40. Strong’s Concordance says James is a Graecized form of the Hebrew name Jacob.
Bartholomew (in all lists) is the same as Nathanael in John 1:45-47; 21:2. The Aramaic name Bartholomew might not have been his first name, but his surname, since it means "Bar" (son of) Talmai/Tolmai/Talmar according to the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.205,1177-1178. Nathanael is also Aramaic, meaning "God’s gift".
Thaddaeus is the same as Judas the son of James in Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13, similar to Peter and Simon being the same person. Perhaps after the crucifixion Thaddaeus did not what to be called Judas, because of potential confusion with Judas Iscariot. Judas is a Hebrew name. Some Greek manuscripts say Thaddaeus, some say "Lebbaeus", and some says "Lebbaeus called/surnamed Thaddaeus" Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.908 says "Lebbaeus" is the Greek form of "Levi".
Judas Iscariot is missing from Acts 1:13 for obvious reasons.
For the others, Andrew, James son of Zebedee, John, Philip, Thomas, and Simon the Zealot, we are only told one name.
One could conceivably believe that Nathanael in John 1:43-45; 21:2 was not the same person as Bartholomew; the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.205 mentions that some hold this view. This view would not mean an error in the Bible, only that Nathanael was a disciple but not one of the twelve disciples.
See Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.175-176 for more info.
Q: In Mt 10:9-10 how were the disciples not to acquire staffs and in Lk 9:3 not bring a staff, since they were to bring only a staff in Mk 6:8-9?
A: Christians give three different answers, but the third answer is the most probable.
Multiple trips: They could have made multiple trips. However, the only reason to suggest multiple trips is to reconcile bringing a staff versus not bring a staff.
Different Greek words: "acquire" in Matthew is different than "possess" in Mark. When Critics Ask p.339 says they could take the staff they already had, but not to take a spare, or anything else for that matter. The Greek word for "take/acquire" in Matthew 10:9 can mean acquire; as in do not buy or collect these things. The Greek word in Mark 6:8 means to possess. The difficulty with this view is that the Greek word in Luke 9:3 is simply a different conjugation of the same Greek word as Mark 6:8. Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.177-178 mentions this view, without mentioning Luke 9:3.
Scribal error: Perhaps the copies we have of Mark substituted "only" instead of "not". While all the copies we have say "not", in Greek the difference between "only" and "not" is the addition of the two-letter Greek word ei. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.422-424 mentions a scribal error of a different kind, where Matthew usually was very familiar with Mark, but he followed Luke here. So in other words, "only/except a staff" in Mark, probably should be "not a staff" as in Matthew and Luke.
Q: In Mt 10:9-10, were the disciples not to acquire shoes/sandals, or were they to bring sandals as Mk 6:8-9 says?
A: The Greek word in Matthew can mean "shoes", while the Greek word in Mark cannot mean shoes according to Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.177-178. Green’s Literal translation renders the word in Mark 6:9 as "tied-under sandals". Luke 9:3 does not mention anything about shoes or sandals.
So in conclusion, they could probably take sandals, but not shoes, which would be better for long journeys. This is consistent with them not taking staffs also.
Q: In Mt 10:22; 24:13; and Mk 13:13, what exactly is enduring to the "end" that Jesus talked about?
A: This is the end of the great tribulation. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.172 for more info.
Q: In Mt 11:14 and Jn 1:21, how is John the Elijah who is to come?
A: Four points to consider in the answer.
1. Elijah himself appeared in the transfiguration, and Elijah probably will literally appear before Jesus’ second coming, but John the Baptist is a different individual than Elijah.
2. John fulfilled the role of Elijah in Malachi 4:5, for Christ’s first coming, but Elijah himself will appear for Christ’s second coming.
3. As Arndt in Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.127 observes, Jesus did not say John was the old Elijah returned. Rather, Jesus said John was the Elijah who is to come.
4. Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.) in his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew chapter 49 points out that saying one person "has the spirit of another" was used elsewhere in the Bible, when God took the spirit that was on Moses and put it on Joshua, and when Elisha received a double portion of the spirit of Elijah. No one would understand these two examples as either reincarnation or being the same person, because in both these cases the elder and younger were alive at the same time.
Q: In Mt 11:14 and Jn 1:21, does this support reincarnation of Elijah?
A: No. The error of reincarnation teaches that a person dies, leaves forever their old body, and comes back in a new body. Elijah never died, and he (not John the Baptist) appeared to Jesus during transfiguration. Elijah will return in his own body in the end times. Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) answers this question well in A Treatise on the Soul ch.35 p.217-218. He adds that the "spirit and power" were bestowed as external gifts by the grace of God."
Q: In the Gospels, what is a harmony for the middle period ministry of Jesus?
A: The middle period of 24 events includes the two feedings and ranges from when John the Baptist was killed and Jesus left Galilee to the time at Caesarea Philippi. Numbers refer to events that must follow preceding numbers. Letters such as a,b,c refer to events that could happen in any order. The bold words indicate markers of time, order, and location. The underlined verses show passages that likely are not in chronological order.
Middle Ministry: Mt 14:13-16:28, Mk 6:30-9:1, Lk 9:11-27, Jn 6:1-7:9
M1. Leaving Galilee, Jesus and the disciples withdraw to Bethsaida. Lk 9:10
M2a. The crowds find Jesus. Lk 9:11
M2b. On the shore opposite of Capernaum, Jesus preaches to the crowds and heals. Mt 14:13-14; Jn 6:1-4
M3. On the grass (not in Gennesaret), Jesus’ first feeding: 5,000 men plus women and kids, with 5 loaves and 2 fish. 12 baskets left over. Mt 14:15-21; Mk 6:30-44; Lk 9:12-17; Jn 6:1-14
M4. En route to Gennesaret, during the fourth watch of the night, Jesus and Peter walk on water. Mt 14:22-36; Mk 6:45-52
M5a. In Gennesaret, Jesus heals men. Mt 14:34-36; Mk 6:53-56
M5b. Jesus withdraws to a mountain. Jn 6:15
M6a1. En route to Capernaum after rowing 3 or 3 1/2 miles, the disciples see Jesus walking on water. Jn 6:16-24a
M6a2. Immediately the boat arrives. Jn 6:24b
M6a3. On the lake by Capernaum, Jesus is the bread of life. Jn 6:25-71
M6a4. Until Feast of Tabernacles Jesus stays in Galilee. Jn 7:1-9
M6b. Pharisees criticize Jesus’ disciples; clean and unclean. Mt 15:1-20; Mk 7:1-23
M7. In Tyre and Sidon, Jesus heals a woman’s daughter. Mt 15:21-28; Mk 7:24-30
M8. In Decapolis Jesus heals the deaf and mute man. Mk 7:31-37
M9. In Galilee Jesus heals and teaches crowds. Mt 15:29-31; Mk 8:1
M10. On the ground along the Sea of Galilee, Jesus’ 2nd feeding of another large crowd: 4,000 men plus women and kids with seven loaves and a few small fish. 7 baskets left over. Mt 15:32-38; Mk 8:2-9
M11. Jesus goes in the boat to Magadan/Dalmanutha. Mt 15:39; Mk 8:10
M12a. Pharisees make 2nd demand for a sign from Heaven. Mt 16:1-4; Mk 8:11-13
M12b. Jesus speaks of yeast and the 2 feedings. Mt 16:5-12; Mk 8:14-21
M12c. At Bethsaida Jesus heals a blind man. Mk 8:22-26
M12d. Near Caesarea Philippi (where there was a large rock), Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ. Mt 16:13-20; Mk 8:27-30; Lk 9:18-20
M13. Jesus predicts His death. Mt 16:21-22; Mk 8:31; Lk 9:21-22
M14. Jesus tell Peter, "Get you behind me, Satan". Mt 16:23; Mk 8:32-33
M15. Cost of following Jesus. Mt 16:24-28; Mk 8:34-9:1; Lk 9:23-27
Q: In the Gospels, what were the key assumptions made for a harmony of the middle period of Jesus’ ministry?
A: Here were the assumptions I used to come up with this sequence of events.
a) The gospels are in chronological order for the middle period of Jesus’ ministry. While they could have some things out of order, there is no reason to suspect so.
b) Some passages in Luke, which I placed in the later ministry of Jesus, would fit in this section too.
Q: In Mt 12:30, Bart Ehrman asks, "Some sayings of Jesus are rendered in similar but nevertheless diverging ways. One of my favorite examples of this phenomenon is the pair of saying related in Matthew 12:30 and Mark 9:40. In Matthew, Jesus declares, ‘Whoever is not with me is against me.’ In Mark, he says, ‘Whoever is not against us is for us.’ Did he say both things? Could he mean both things? How can both be true at once? Or is it possible that one of the Gospel writers got things switched around?" Jesus, Interrupted p.41
A: Quite frankly, I am at a total loss as to how Ehrman could see this as a contradiction. In Matthew 12:22-37 (corresponding with Mark 3:20-29), this occurs when Jesus is brought a demon-possessed man. Much later, on a totally different occasion, in Mark 9:38-41 Jesus is told about someone else driving out demons. So of course Jesus could say different things on different days. Perhaps Ehrman somehow thought it contradictory that if someone were against Jesus they could also be against His followers, or vice versa. But Jesus predicted that His followers will be persecuted and killed because the persecutors do not know the Father or Jesus in John 16:3. Jesus stated in John 15:18-21, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name." Jesus identified Himself closely with His followers in Matthew 25:34-46 in the parable of the sheep and the goats. In John 15:1-8 Jesus says that we are in Him as branches are connected to a vine.
Q: In Mk 9:40 how does "whoever is not against us is for us", and "do not forbid him" in Lk 9:50 compare with Lk 11:23, "who is not with me is against me"?
A: There are two different answers.
Copyist error: Hard Sayings of the Bible p.466-467 says that virtually all Greek manuscripts older than the eighth century on Luke 11:23 read "against you... for you" instead of "against us ... for us." When Critics Ask p.390 also points this out, saying the KJV is in error here they were just using the later manuscripts. Regardless, though, there is no reason these statements need to be the same, as they were given at different times.
Different types of people: The person in Mark 9:40 and Luke 9:50 was someone who was not just trying to cast out demons, but successfully casting out demons in Jesus’ name. By contrast, at a different time in Luke 11:23 Jesus is rebuking people who said Jesus’ was casting out demons by Beelzebub.
Regardless, the man casting out demons in the name of Jesus was with Jesus, because he believed in Jesus, even though he was in a different place. Today, it can be easy to think someone is different because they are in a different place, a different Christian church, or a different culture and do things differently. However, if they are genuine brothers and sisters in the Lord, then they are with Jesus. Also, do not forget that people from our own culture, perhaps in our own church, who deny the essentials of Christianity are against Jesus, regardless of what cultural sympathies we may have for them.
Q: In Mt 14:15-21; Mk 6:30-44; Lk 9:12-17; Jn 6:1-14, did Jesus feed 5,000, or 4,000 as Mt 15:32-38 and Mk 8:2-9 say?
The 5,000 men plus women and children (Matthew 14:21) were Jews (John 6:14-15) who had been with Jesus one day (John 6:35) and sat on the grass. Five loaves and two fish were used (Matthew 14:17). The leftovers filled 12 baskets (Matthew 14:20).
The 4,000 men plus women and children (Matthew 15:38) were probably Gentiles, who had been with Jesus three days (Mark 8:2) and sat on dry ground. 7 loaves and a few small fish were used (Mark 8:5,7). The leftovers filled 7 baskets (Mark 8:8).
Both are mentioned in Matthew 16:7-11, as well as in Mark 6:52. Jesus could take care of the Jews, and Jesus could take care of the Gentiles.
Whether we focus on Jesus feeding 5,000 Jews in John 6:14-35, or see Jesus feeding 4,000 probable Gentiles, or both as Matthew 15:38; 16:7-11 and Mark 6:52, 8:2-8 teach, we have to decide whether or not we choose to trust that the Jesus of the Gospels eternally will feed us too.
See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1339 for more info.
Q: In Mt 14:15-21; Mk 6:30-44; Lk 9:12-17, and Jn 6:1-14, were there only men that was present at the miracle of feeding 5,000 fish and bread from Mk. 6:44 and John 6:10?
A: No it was not only men. The Greek word andres (andros in the singular) is the same in Mk 6:44; Luke 9:14, and Matthew 14:21 and basically means "male". But Matthew 14:19-21 says there were about 5,000 men, besides the women and children.
So in this mixed crowd there are two possibilities:
a) There was a roughly equal number of men and women, and they sat by families.
b) There were far more men than women and children present. Remember, unlike the feeding of the 4,000, this feeding was on the Gentile (eastern) side of the Sea of Galilee, and Greeks had a low view of women. So maybe most of the women stayed home.
Q: In Lk 9:52-53 did the Samaritans reject Christ and not receive Him, or did a great multitude of Samaritans meet Christ in Jn 4:39-40?
A: Both are true in three different ways.
a) These two events occurred at different times in Jesus’ ministry. The acceptance was early in Jesus’ ministry, and the rejection was late in His ministry when they knew Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem.
b) These occurred in different places; when a group of people, say a group of Africans, accept something, it does not follow that every African everywhere must accept the same thing the same way.
c) However, even among Jews, some followed Jesus for a time and then turned away. John 6:66 says that some of Jesus’ disciples turned back and no longer followed Him. Some of these could have included Samaritans as well as Jews.
See When Critics Ask p.390 for a complementary answer.
Q: In Mt 16:4 and Mk 8:12, would no sign be given to the people, or would no sign be given except the sign of Jonah be given in Lk 11:29-30?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
1. While Jonah experienced a miracle, the people of Nineveh did not see it. Jonah gave the people of Nineveh no miraculous sign telling them to repent; they had only Jonah and his message. They only "sign" they had was not a miracle they could observe but a man. Jonah, preached to the Ninevites, was all they had to see. One might say that Jonah’s message was authenticated by the miracle of his being swallowed by a great fish and living. However, the Ninevites could only hear about the miracle; they did not see it for themselves.
2. This is in contrast to the Exodus, where all the Israelites were able to see the miraculous cloud by day and pillar of fire by night.
3. Jesus came "in the style of Jonah", not that of Exodus. Jesus did not come in heavenly glory, and while He did miracles that authenticated His message, most people did not see the miracles, they only heard about them.
Summary: Jesus’ suddenly coming on the scene, was similar to Jonah coming to Nineveh. Sometimes people want to accept something only if the evidence is in the form they prefer to see. For both the hearers of Jonah and Jesus, they needed to listen to a message and not close their eyes and fail to see things they did not expect. See When Critics Ask p.371-372 for more info.
Q: In Mt 16:4, Mk 8:12 and Lk 11:29-30, why would no signs be given to the people, since Jesus did many miracles?
A: While everyone heard of the miracles that Jesus did, most of the people did not see any of Jesus’ miracles. The largest audience for miracles, feeding the 5,000 on the grass, and feeding the 4,000 on the dry ground, were still a small minority of the people living in Palestine at the time.
Both then and afterward, miracles serve to strengthen faith, but miracles by themselves are rarely successful in converting a person from unbelief to belief, especially if the person does not want to believe. Remember that some of the Pharisees actually saw the withered man’s hand restored in front of their very eyes, and yet they still did not want to follow Jesus.
Q: In Mt 16:16; Mk 8:29; and Lk 9:20 what were Jesus’ exact words? Matthew 16:16 says, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.". Mark 8:29 says, "You are the Christ". Luke 9:20 says, "The Christ of God"
A: Regardless of whether this was originally said in Greek, or said in Aramaic and translated into Greek, the gospel writers paraphrased, so while we know the meaning of what Peter declared, we do not know the exact words. See When Critics Ask p.347 for more info.
Q: In Lk 18:7, should are prayers be incessant (continual), or was Jesus against those who thought their prayers would be heard because of their many words in Mt 6:7?
A: Both are true. God looks at the strength of our prayer, not the length of our prayer. We are to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), but do not think that it is the unceasing words that matter, but rather our heart that matters. Similarly in Nehemiah’s time, they were to build the wall for their defense, but they were not to rely on the wall for their defense, but rely on God.
See When Critics Ask p.393 for more info.
Q: In the Gospels, what is a harmony for the later ministry of Jesus?
A: It is important to distinguish between what is said to be order versus what may be in order. For these 67 events, numbers refer to events that must follow preceding numbers. Letters such as a,b,c refer to events that could happen in any order. The bold words indicate markers of time, order, and location. If someone were to believe the gospels were all in chronological order for this part of Jesus’ ministry, they would see no problems.
Later Ministry: Mt 17:1-20:34, Mk 9:2-10:52, Lk 9:28-19:28, Jn 7:10-11:57
L1. After about eight days (or six days), Jesus took Peter, James and John to the Mount of Transfiguration (probably Mount Tabor). Mt 17:1-8; Mk 9:2-8; Lk 9:28-35
L2. Do not tell until the resurrection. Mt 17:9; Mk 9:9-10; Lk 19:36
L3. Jesus speaks on Elijah. Mt 17:10-13; Mk 9:11-13
L4. The next day, Jesus heals an epileptic boy the disciples could not. Mt 17:14-21; Mk 9:14-29; Lk 9:37-45
L5. In Galilee, Jesus again predicts His death. Mt 17:22-23; Mk 9:30-32
L6a. In Capernaum (on the north shore of Lake Galilee), Jesus pays the Temple tax with coins in a fish’s mouth. Mt 17:24-27
L6b. At that time, the disciples argue over who is greatest (could have occurred multiple times). Mt 18:1-9; Mk 9:33-37; Lk 9:46-48
L6c. John and disciples tell another to stop casting out demons in Jesus’ name. Mk 9:38-41; Lk 9:49-50
L6d1. En route to Jerusalem, Samaritans will not welcome Jesus. Lk 9:51-56
L6d2. While walking along a road, commitment of a disciple: foxes, dead, family. Lk 9:57-62
L6d3. Jesus sends out the seventy-two. Lk 10:1-24
L7a1. In Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles (5th day of 7th month), Jesus comes. Jn 7:10-52
L7a2. In Jerusalem, woman caught in adultery. Jn 8:1-11
L7a3. Jesus’ testimony is valid Jn 8:12-59
L7b. Jesus heals a blind man, who goes to the Pharisees. Jn 9:1-41
L7c1. Jesus teaches on the shepherd. Jn 10:1-21
L7c2. At the Feast of Dedication [Winter] in the Temple area in Jerusalem, Jesus says, "I and my Father are One". Jn 10:22-39
L7c3. Jesus goes to where John the Baptist had been baptizing. Jn 10:40-42
L7d1. The lawyer’s question on who is my neighbor. Lk 10:25-28
L7d2. The parable of the good Samaritan. Lk 10:29-37
L7d3. [Probably in Bethany of Judea], devoted Mary and hard-working Martha. Lk 10:38-42
L7e. In Bethany of Judea, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. Jn 11:1-44
L7f. One day, Jesus told His disciples how to pray, using the Lord’s Prayer (probably a second time). Lk 11:1-13
L7g1. Jesus drives out mute demon, accused of being in league with Beelzebub. Lk 11:14-26
L7g2. Woman blesses Jesus’ mother, Jesus disagrees with her. Lk 11:27-28
L7h. As the crowds increased, Jesus says they only have the sign of Jonah. Lk 11:29-32
L7i1. Lamp of the body. Lk 11:33-36
L7i2. At the Pharisee’s house, speaks six woes. Lk 11:37-53
L7i3a1. Meanwhile, teaching on disclosing in the light. Lk 12:1-7
L7i3a2. Acknowledging Jesus before men and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Lk 12:8-12
L7i3b. The parable of the rich fool. Lk 12:13-21
L7i3c. Parable to be watchful for the master’s return. Lk 12:35-48
L7i3d. Prophecy of division among families. Lk 12:49-53
L7i3e. Interpreting the times. Lk 12:54-59
L7i3f Jesus mentions Galileans killed when the Tower of Siloam fell. Lk 13:1-9
L7j On a Sabbath Jesus heals a crippled woman. Lk 13:10-17
L6k. Parables of the mustard seed and yeast. Lk 13:18-21
L6l1. While going through the towns and villages, the parables of the narrow door, and sorrow over Jerusalem. Lk 13:22-30
L6l2. At that time, Jesus’ sorrow over Jerusalem. Lk 13:31-35
L6m. One Sabbath at a prominent Pharisee’s house, Jesus heals a man with dropsy and the parable of the great banquet. Lk 14:1-24
L6n. When large crowds were with Jesus, He spoke of the cost of being a disciple, for the 2nd time: parents, parables of the tower, king, and salt. Lk 14:25-35
L6o. Teaching on little children. Mt 18:10-11
L6p. Parable of lost sheep. Mt 18:12-14; Lk 15:1-7
L6q1. Parable of the lost coin. Lk 15:8-10
L6q2. Jesus continued, the parable of the lost son. Lk 15:11-32
L6r. Parable of the shrewd manager. Lk 16:1-15
L6s. Teaching on forgiveness and the unmerciful servant. Mt 18:15-35
L6t. Teaching on John and the Law. Lk 16:16-17
L6u. Traveled from Galilee to Transjordan. Mt 19:1-2; Mk 10:1
L6v. Teaching on divorce. Mt 19:3-12; Mk 10:2-12; Lk 16:18
L6w. Parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Lk 16:19-31
L6x. To His disciples, Jesus teaches on sin, parable of the tree planted in the sea, and parable of a servant’s duty. Lk 17:1-10
L6y. Between Galilee and Samaria en route to Jerusalem, Jesus healed 10 lepers (...where are the other 9?). Lk 17:11-19
L6z. Pharisees ask how the kingdom of God comes. Lk 17:20-37
L7a. Parable of the persistent widow. Lk 18:1-8
L7b. Parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Lk 18:9-14
L7c. People were bringing babies to Jesus to bless; disciples rebuke them. Mt 19:13-15; Mk 10:13-16; Lk 18:15-17
L7d. Rich young ruler asks a question: ... eye of a needle. Mt 19:16-30; Mk 10:17-31; Lk 18:18-30
L8. Parable of the laborers in the vineyard. Mt 20:1-16
L9. En route to Jerusalem, Jesus predicts his death and resurrection. Mt 20:17-19; Mk 10:32-34; Lk 18:31-34
L10a. The mother of James and John comes with them to ask a request of Jesus. Mt 20:20-28; Mk 10:35-45
L10b. Leaving Jericho (probably the Old Jericho), Jesus heals two blind men who cry out "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!" (NIV) Mt 20:29-34
L10c. Entering Jericho (probably the New Jericho), Jesus heals a blind man, Bartimaeus, who cries "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" (NIV) Mk 10:46-52; Lk 18:35-43
L11a. At Jericho, Jesus meets Zacchaeus. Lk 19:1-10
L11b. Near Jerusalem (the two Jerichos were 15-17 miles northeast of Jerusalem), Jesus tells the parable of the ten servants and ten minas. Lk 19:11-28
L12. Caiaphas and Sanhedrin plot to kill Jesus. Jn 11:45-53
L13. Thus, Jesus withdraws to the village of Ephraim. Jn 11:54
Q: In the Gospels, what were the key assumptions made for a harmony of Jesus’ later ministry?
A: Everything has assumptions, and if someone else used the same assumptions, they would come up with a very similar list. Here are the assumptions for the previous sequence.
a) All the gospels are in chronological order for Jesus’ later ministry. While they could be out of order, there is no reason to suspect that they are.
b) Some of the passages of John, placed here, could have been in Jesus’ middle ministry.
c) The following events only occurred one time: the Transfiguration, the parable of the lost sheep, the rich young ruler.
d) Raising Lazarus, Mary and Martha’s brother, happened about the same time Jesus was at their house.
Q: Do Mt 19:16-17; Mk 10:18; and Lk 18:19 prove that Jesus is not God? (Muslims have mentioned this)
A: No, but it is good that we recognize here that Jesus is relating the man calling Him good with the claim that Jesus is God. Either:
a) Jesus was God, and He was asking the man why he called Jesus good unless he was acknowledging Jesus was God, or
b) Jesus was denying He was God as evidenced that Jesus was not completely good.
It cannot be both ways. Do you agree?
So which way is it? Was Jesus completely good (and God) or not?
So do you agree that Jesus was untouched by sin?
In the Bible, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15, and 1 Peter 1:18-19 say that Jesus had no sin.
Jesus even asked in John 8:46a, "Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?"
Jesus was careful in not lightly using the word "good", yet Jesus explicitly called Himself the good shepherd in John 10:11.
For Muslims, the Qur’an says Jesus was pure in Sura 3:45. The Muslim hadiths say Jesus was untouched by sin in Sahih Muslim vol.4 no.5837 (p.1261), Bukhari vol.4 book 55 ch.38 no.641 p.426, and Bukhari vol.4 book 54 ch.10 no.506 p.324.
See When Critics Ask p.350 and When Cultists Ask p.120-121 for more info.
Q: In Mt 19:16-30; Mk 10:17-31; Lk 18:18-30, exactly what is Jesus saying is impossible for man but all things (including this one) possible with God?
A: Entering the kingdom of heaven (salvation) is both hard, and impossible without God. Let's first look at that specific rich young ruler to the general cases to see two applications.
The rich young ruler looked pretty good at first, with his understanding of God’s Law. Yet he fell short of the righteousness he needed to go to heaven, because he showed if he had to choose between his riches and following Jesus, he could not give up his riches.
The first application is that it is often harder for rich people than others to be righteous enough to get to heaven, because it is so difficult for them to trust in God if it means they have to give up their riches. Abraham was very rich, and he went to heaven, so it is not riches themselves that are the problem. It is the love of money that is the root of all kinds of evil.
However, generalizing even more, non-rich people have problems too. People can trust in their own abilities, or desire their sinful habits, lesser loves, and even hatreds such that if Jesus were to call them to leave those and follow Him, they would not leave.
In fact, a second application is that 100% of all people who ever lived, except for Jesus, fall short of the righteousness they need to go to heaven. Even if God forgave all of our past sins, and said "just don't sin from this moment on and you will go to heaven", even then, we would not make it. Our hearts are not perfect; we have a sinful nature, and need to be cleansed.
So because of our hearts, it is impossible for people to go to heaven; and if that were the end of the story, heaven would be empty of people. However, what is impossible for people is possible for God. Even though are hearts are not perfect, we have sinned in the past, and we will still sin in the future, God, for whom all is possible made a way for sinful man to go to heaven. That way is Jesus Christ. It is sort of like the man who came to Jesus to heal his daughter, and Jesus asked if he believed. The man responded, "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief." We should be sincere and honest to God, but part of being honest to God is confessing to him when we are insincere and a hypocrite.
The rich young ruler, could have said, "Jesus, I'm sorry but I just can't give up my riches now; I am enslaved to them. Have pity on me, free me from my bondage to sin, and take over my life, such as it is, to follow you." But instead, the rich man turned away. Corrie ten Boom was a Christian who survived the Nazi concentration camp at Bergen Belsen. Once after the war, when she was speaking on God’s love, a man came up afterwards to shake her hand. She recognized him as one of the cruel concentration camp guards. After the war he had found Christ, but Corrie, despite the words she had just spoken to everyone, could not bring herself to shake his hand. She silently prayed, "Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness." Then incredibly, her hand went out and she could shake his hand. (The Hiding Place p.238)
In our affluent society, sometimes as Christians we can easily forget the important concept of the great dependency we have on God. If you think you can accomplish everything you need to do without God, then in your goals you are aiming for are too low. One thing in favor of poor people, defined as not knowing how they will eat two days from now, is that they know true self-reliance is nothing but an illusion for them. Actually though, self-reliance is an illusion for everyone.
Q: In Mt 20:20 did the mother of James and John make this request of Jesus, or did James and John make the request as Mark 10:35 says?
A: The mother and the sons all came to Jesus. In Matthew 20:22 Jesus immediately asks if you (i.e. speaking to James and John) are able to drink the cup Jesus will drink. They (the sons), said they were able. See When Critics Ask p.352 and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.332 for more info.
Q: In Jn 14:2, why did Jesus go to prepare a place for them, since heaven was prepared for them from the foundation of the world in Mt 25:24?
A: God is both in time, and beyond time. Before time even began, God knew who would go to Heaven, which presupposes God knowing He would prepare a place for them. Jesus’ death was necessary to open up Heaven for all who were going there.
As a simple analogy, when a couple adopts a child, they have to prepare the house for the child. The house is already built, but the couple might buy a crib or a bed, and food and maybe decorations for celebration.
In addition, 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 shows that different people receive differing rewards in Heaven. See When Cultists Ask p.419 for more info.
Q: In Mt 20:29-34 did Jesus heal two blind men as He left Jericho, or one blind man when He left Jericho as Mk 10:46-52 says?
A: There are two possibilities.
Two events: Jesus could have healed blind Bartimaeus, and also healed two other blind men either before or after Bartimaeus. Once Jesus healed at least one blind man, it would indeed be curious if the townspeople knew about it, and not a single additional blind person approached Jesus for healing. It is likely Jesus healed even more people in Jericho than the Gospel writers recorded. When Critics Ask p.353 says that if Jesus healed one blind man entering Jericho, and somebody saw it and told others, you can be sure there would be other blind men waiting for Jesus by the time He left Jericho. See the Complete Book of Bible Answers p.55-56 for more info on this answer.
One event: The NIV Study Bible p.1596 says that this was only one event. Mark 10:46-52 only names one of the blind men (Bartimaeus). Perhaps Mark was not aware there were two blind men. Of course, if there were two blind men, one of whom was named Bartimaeus, then saying there was one blind man is correct but imprecise. See When Critics Ask p.352 for more info on this answer.
See also the next question for more info on the two towns named Jericho.
Q: In Mt 20:29-34 and Mk 10:34-52, did Jesus heal the blind while leaving Jericho, or entering it as Lk 18:35 says?
A: This probably was just one event that occurred while Jesus was traveling between the two towns named Jericho.
Old Jericho (Tell es-Sultan) is northwest of modern Jericho (er-Riha). It was destroyed by Joshua, but rebuilt in 1 Kings 16:34. Mainly Jews lived there in the time of Jesus.
New Testament Jericho (at Tulul Abu el-’Alayiq) primarily was a Gentile town built around the winter palace of Herod the Great, who died there around 4 B.C.. The site is about 3/4 to 1 mile south or southwest of old Jericho. The winter palace had two pools, a large Roman bath, and six private mikvahs, which were places of Jewish ritual washing. A map showing the palace and pools of new Jericho is in the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.511-512.
The different sites of Jericho also are mentioned in the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1440, Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.179, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.903 The Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 8 p.1008, the New Geneva Study Bible p.1641, The NIV Study Bible p.1515-1516, The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.55-56, the liberal Anchor Bible Dictionary volume 3 p.723, and the Encyclopedia Britannica (1956 edition) volume 13 p.1.
Q: In the Gospels, what is a harmony for Passion Week, the last week prior to the Resurrection?
It is important to distinguish between what is said to be order versus what may be in order. For these 104 events, numbers refer to events that must follow preceding numbers. Letters such as a,b,c refer to events that could happen in any order. The bold words indicate markers of time, order, and location. If someone were to believe the gospels were all in chronological order in this section, they would see no problems.
Passion Week: Mt 21:1-27:66, Mk 11:14-15:47, Lk 19:29-23:56, Jn 12:11-19:42
P1. In Bethany, six days before Passover, the day before the triumphal entry, Jesus attends a feast at Simon the leper’s house in his honor, where Mary served. Lazarus is reclining there too. Jesus is anointed, for the second time, by Mary with a pint of nard, worth a year’s wages, from an alabaster jar. (Note this is the town where Lazarus lived, not the house.) Judas Iscariot and the disciples complain. Jn 12:1-12a; Mt 26:6-13; Mk 14:3-9
P2. Jesus at Bethphage at the Mount of Olives. Mt 21:1; Mk 11:1-6; Lk 19:29-34
P3. Jesus tells them to bring a young donkey and the mother. Mt 21:2-6; Mk 11:2-6; Lk 19:29-34
P4. The disciples return with the donkey and colt. Mt 21:7a; Mk 11:7-10; Lk 19:35-35; Jn 12:14-15
P5. On Palm Sunday, the Triumphal Entry. Mt 21:7b-11; Mk 11:7-11a; Lk 19:35-44; Jn 12:12b-19
P6a. Jesus predicts His death, and the Father speaks from Heaven. Jn 12:20-50
P6b. Jesus spends the night in Bethany. Mk 11:11b
P6c. [Sunday or Monday or both] Jesus drives moneychangers out of temple for the second time. Mt 21:12-13; Lk 19:45-48
P6d1. In the temple, Jesus heals blind and lame. Mt 21:14-16
P6d2. Jesus spends the night in Bethany. Mt 21:17
P7. Early in the morning the next day [Monday or Tuesday], returning to Jerusalem, Jesus curses a fig tree. Mk 11:12-14. Note this is Jesus’ second trip to the temple.
P8. Early in the morning [Tuesday or Wednesday], Jesus curses a fig tree a second time. Mt 21:18-19a
P9a. Immediately the fig tree withers. Mt 21:19b-22
P9b. The fig tree withers. Mk 11:20-25
P10. Jesus enters the temple, discusses authority (Mt 21:23-32) and drives out the moneychangers for the 3rd time. Mk 11:15-18 (Note: it would be strange if Jesus drove them out one day and permitted them the next.)
P11. In the evening, they leave the city. Mk 11:19
P12. At the Temple one day [Tuesday or Wednesday] Jesus is questioned about His authority. Mk 11:27-33; Lk 20:1-8
P13. Parable of the tenants. Mt 21:33-46; Mk 12:1-12; Lk 20:9-19
P14. Jesus tells the parable of the wedding banquet. Mt 22:1-14
P15a. Pharisees and Herodians ask about paying taxes to Caesar. Mt 22:15-22; Mk 12:13-17; Lk 20:20-26
P15b. The Sadducees question Jesus about resurrection. Mt 22:23-33; Mk 12:23-27; Lk 20:27-39
P16. After the Sadducees, a Pharisee asks the greatest commandment. Mt 22:34-40; Mk 12:28-33
P17a. Nobody asked Jesus any more questions. Mt 22:46; Mk 12:34; Lk 20:40
P17b. While the Pharisees were together, Jesus asks a question on Psalm 110:1. Mt 22:41-45; Mk 12:35-37; Lk 20:41-44
P18a. Jesus rebukes the scribes and Pharisees. Mt 23; Mk 12:38-40; Lk 20:45-47
P18b. Jesus observes the widow’s offering. Mk 12:41-44; Lk 21:1-4
P19. Leaving the temple, Jesus prophesies its ruin. Mt 24:1-2; Mk 13:1-2; Lk 21:5-6
P20. On the Mount of Olives, Jesus teaches on the end times. Mt 24:3-44; Mk 13:3-37; Lk 21:7-36
P21. Each day in the Temple Jesus teaches and spends the night on the Mount of Olives. Lk 21:37-38
P22. Three parables of the Master’s return. Mt 24:45-25:30
P23a. The teaching of the sheep and goat judgment at Jesus’ throne. Mt 25:31-46
P23b. Two days from the Passover, the chief priests and elders plot to arrest Jesus. Mt 26:1-5; Mk 14:1-2; Lk 22:1-2
P24. Judas secretly talks with priests to betray Jesus. Mt 26:14-16; Mk 14:10-11; Lk 22:2-6
P25. On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, they prepare the Last Supper. Mt 26:17-19; Mk 14:12-16; Lk 22:7-13
P26. Jesus washes His disciple’s feet Jn 13:1-18
P27. In a large upper room (Mk 14:15), they eat the Lord’s Supper. Mt 26:20-29; Mk 14:17-25; Lk 22:14-23; 1 Cor 11:23-26
P28. Jesus says Judas will betray Him. Jn 13:18-28a
P29. Jesus’ new command to love one another. Jn 13:31-35
P30. In the midst of the last supper, Judas leaves. Jn 13:28b-30
P31. Either at the Last Supper of shortly thereafter, another argument over who is greatest. Lk 22:24-30
P32a1. After Judas left, en route to the Mount of Olives, Jesus predicts Peter will deny Him three times. Mt 26:30-35; Mk 14:26-31; Lk 22:31-38; Jn 13:36-38
P32a2. In the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. Mt 26:36-46; Mk 14:32-43a; Lk 22:39-46
P32b. From the Last Supper to the Mount of Olives, Jesus speaks. Jn 14:1-16:33
P33. Jesus’ pre-arrest prayer. Jn 17:1-26
P34. After Jesus finishes praying, they cross the Kidron Valley and go into an olive grove. Jn 18:1
P35. Arrest of Jesus. Mt 26:47-56; Mk 14:43b-52; Lk 22:47-53; Jn 18:2-11
P36. The go to the house of Annas, father-in-law to Caiaphas the high priest. Lk 22:54; Jn 18:12-13.
P37. Jesus was sent to Caiaphas’ house. John 18:24. Mt 26:56-57 and Mk 14;51-53 skip the previous and just mention this.
P38a1. In/near the courtyard of the high priest, Jesus is tried by the Sanhedrin. Mt 26:57-68; Mk 14:53-65; Lk 22:66-71; Jn 18:12-14; Jn 18:19-23
P38b1. Because "this disciple" [John] was known the high priest, he went into the courtyard. Then he went back out and spoke to the girl/maid/servant on duty and brought Peter in through the door. Jn 18:15-16
P38b2. 1st accusation: In the courtyard, one girl/maid/servant girl of the high priest who was at the door, came to him (Mt), came by (Mk) and looked at Peter in the firelight, and spoke to Peter that he was with Jesus. Peter was warming himself in the courtyard. Mt 26:69; Mk 14:66-67; Lk 22:54-56; Jn 18:17a
P38b3. 1st denial: Peter denied Jesus, saying "Woman, I don’t know Him" (Lk) "I don’t know what you’re talking about" (Mt) or "I don’t know or understand what you are talking about." (Mk) before them all (Mt). Mt 26:70; Mk 14:68; Lk 22:57; John 18:17
P38b4. 2nd round of accusations: Then Peter went to the gateway (Mt), and another girl [allu] said to the crowd "This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth." (Mt). Peter was accused "You also are one of them." (Lk) The maid (Mk) seeing Peter again, said to the crowd "This fellow is one of them." (Mk) Peter was asked, "you are not one his disciples, are you?"(Jn) Mt 26:71; Mk 14:69; Lk 22:58a; Jn 18:25a
P38b5. 2nd denial: Peter with an oath said "I am not" (Jn), "Man [anthrope], I am not!" (Lk) "I don’t know the man" (Mt), and denied Jesus a second time. Mt 26:72; Mk 14:70a; Lk 22:58b; Jn 18:25b
P38b6a. 3rd round of accusations: About an hour later (Lk) those standing by [a small crowd?] said Peter was one of them and mentioned his Galilean accent. Mt 26:73; Mk 14:70b; Lk 22:59
P38b6b One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged Peter that he had seen Peter in the olive grove. Jn 18:26
P38b7. 3rd denial: Peter cursed, said "I don’t know what you are talking about!" (Lk) "I don’t know the man" (Mt) or "I don’t know this man you are talking about." (Mk, Jn), and denied Jesus a third time. Immediately, when they were still in the house, the cock crowed. Jesus looked at Peter (Mt 26:74-75; Mk 14:71-72; Lk 22:60-62; Jn 18:27).
P38c. Judas hangs himself. (The rope broke either before or after he died.) The body falls and is broken open. The chief priests buy the field where Judas' body lies. The field was called Akeldama. Mt 27:1-10; Acts 1:18-19
P38a2. Soldiers mock, beat, and blindfold Jesus. Lk 22:63-65
P39. At daybreak, the Jewish council asked Jesus (or asked Him again) "If you are the Christ, tell us." And they reached a decision. Mt 27:1; Mk 15:1; Lk 22:66-71
P40a. By now it was early morning, and Jesus, accompanied by the priests left the house of Caiaphas and went to Jesus’ trial before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. Mt 27:2; Mk 15:1; Lk 23:1; Jn 18:28-38.
P40b. The night before the trial with Pilate, his wife had a dream about having nothing to do with condemning Jesus. Mt 27:19
P41. Jesus’ trial before Pilate. Mt 27:11-14; Mk 15:1-15; Lk 23:1-6; Jn 18:28-37
P42. Pilate sends Jesus to Herod. Lk 23:7-11a
P43a. Herod sends Jesus sent back to Pilate. Lk 23:11b-12
P44. Jesus is returned to Pilate. Luke 23:13-16
P45. Pilate says he is innocent of his blood, appeals to the crowd and releases Barabbas. Mt 27:15-26; Lk 23:17-25; Jn 18:38-40
P46. Roman soldiers flog and mock Jesus and put on Him purple-scarlet rob and crown of thorns. Mt 27:27-31a; Mk 15:16-20a; Jn 19:1-3
P47. Pilate goes out the Jews again. Jn 19:4-15
P48. Jesus is led away to be crucified. Mt 27:31b; Mk 15:20b; Lk 23:26a; Jn 19:16
P49. Jesus [at first] carried His own cross. Jn 19:17a
P50. Simon of Cyrene [then] is made to carry Jesus’ cross. Mt 27:32; Mk 15:21; Lk 23:26b
P51. Jesus says, "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children..." Lk 23:28-31
P52a. On Golgotha on the third hour [9:00am], Jesus is crucified. Mt 27:33; Mk 15:22,25; Lk 23:33; Jn 19:16b-22
P52b. Wrote the trilingual sign above Jesus’ head. Mt 27:37; Mk 15:26; Lk 23:38
P52c. Two criminals are crucified alongside Jesus. Mt 27:38; Mk 15:27; Lk 23:32-33
P53a. Jesus says "Father forgive them, they know not what the do." Lk 23:34a
P53b. Some offer Jesus drink but He refuses. Mt 27:34; Mk 15:23
P53c.Casting lots for clothes. Mt 27:35-36; Mk 15:24; Lk 23:34b; Jn 10:23-24
P54a. Jesus said, "woman here is your son; son here is your mother". Jn 19:25-27
P54b. Others say "He saved others, let him save himself...". Mt 27:40-43; Mk 15:29-30; Lk 23:35a
P54c. Priests mock Jesus too. Mk 15:31-32; Lk 23:35b
P54d. Soldiers mock Jesus on the cross. Lk 23:36-37
P54e.1 Thief on the left insults Jesus. Mt 27:44; Lk 23:39
P54.e.2 Thief on the right defends Jesus. Lk 23:40-43a
P54.e.3 Jesus says "...today you will be with me in paradise". Lk 23:43b
P54.f. Jesus says, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me". Mt 27:45-47; Mk 34-36
P54.g. Jesus says, "I am thirsty" Jn 19:28-29. For the second time is offered drink from a sponge. Mt 27:48
P54.h Some wait to see if Elijah comes. Mt 27:49
P54.i. Darkness from about the sixth hour until the ninth hour. Mk 15:33; Lk 23:44-45a
P55a. Jesus says, "It is finished". Jn 19:30
P55b. Right before dying Jesus says, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit". Lk 23:46a
P56a. Jesus dies. Mt 27:50; Mk 15:37; Lk 23:46b
P56b. At that moment, the Temple curtain was torn in two. Mt 51a; Mk 15:38-39, Lk 23:45b (also Thales 52 A.D.)
P56c. An earthquake occurred, tombs broke open and dead people appear. Mt 51b-53.
P57a. Soldiers break thieves’ legs, but not Jesus’. Jn 19:31-37
P57b. Centurion says surely this was a righteous man. Lk 23:47-49
P57c. Centurion says "This was the/a Son of God!" Mt 27:54; Mk 15:39
P57d. Many women were watching. Mt 27:55-56
P58. As evening came, Joseph of Arimathea asks Pilate for the body of Jesus. Mt 27:57-58; Jn 19:38
P59a. In the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, Joseph and Nicodemus buried Christ’s body and a stone is rolled over the tomb. Mt 27:59-61; Mk 15:42-47; Lk 23:50-54; Jn 19:39-42
P59b. Before the Sabbath, the women get spices. Lk 23:55-56
P59c. Pilate agrees to a guard of soldiers at the tomb. Mt 27:62-65
P60. They put a seal on the tomb and post a guard. Mt 27:66
Q: In the Gospels, what were the key assumptions made for the harmony of Passion Week?
A: If one used these assumptions, one should be able to come up with a very similar harmony of the Passion Week of Jesus.
a) Jesus left Jerusalem more than one night.
b) Jesus drove out the moneychangers at least twice.
c) Jesus cursed the fig tree the day before it withered, and the next day too.
d) Everything in the gospels is in chronological order for Passion Week, except for Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; Mark 22:46; Luke 22:54-62, and Luke 23:38.
Q: In Mt 21:1-3, Mk 11:4-7, Lk 19:30, and Jn 12:13-15, did Jesus ride a colt or a donkey?
A: Not the answer: Some have wondered if it was one animal or two, since the Greek word kai can mean "and" or "even/namely". The Hebrew word in Zechariah 9:9 also means either "and" or "or". See as Arndt in Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.180 for more on this. However, as the next part shows, there really were two animals.
The Answer: There were two animals, because in the triumphal entry in Matthew 11:4-7 says the mother and colt were both there. The colt must have been fairly young, because it had never been ridden before. They apparently did not separate the mother from the colt, but brought the mother along too. From a natural standpoint people would do that to calm the young animal. If it was with its mother, and the mother was not concerned colt that the colt was being ridden, then the colt would not be concerned either. What better way to guide a young, nervous animal than to have it follow its mother? See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.484-485 for more info.
Outside of the Bible, Justin Martyr (writing about c.138-165 A.D.) also mentions bringing the mother donkey along with the colt in his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew ch.53 (ANF vol.1 p.222). See When Critics Ask p.353-354 and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.333-334 for more info.
Q: In Mt 21:12-13, Mk 11:11-17, and Lk 19:37-46, did Jesus drive out the moneychangers on a Sunday or a Monday?
A: Matthew 12:12-13 and Luke 19:37-46 do not specify if Jesus drove out the moneychangers the same day as the Triumphal entry (Sunday) or the next day. However, Mark 11:11-17 shows it was the next day.
Q: In Mt 21:12-13, Mk 11:12-19, and Luke 19:43-48, how could Jesus overturn the moneychangers’ tables here, since he did it at the beginning of His ministry in Jn 2:13-19?
A: Jesus did this twice, because His feelings about this trade in the Temple did not change. Jesus did not do it the first time and just smile the next time he saw the moneychangers in the Temple.
There was actually not just one but three things wrong with the moneychangers in the temple.
1. They were not God’s servants, yet they were making money inside of God’s Temple.
2. While the people might have come with an attitude of worship, they had to start thinking about bartering, and other financial concerns on "paying to worship God".
3. In addition, they were robbing the people by charging very high prices. For example, they would not let the people use common money to buy these animals. They had to exchange their money for special temple coins used to buy the animals.
Q: In Mt 21:12-19 did Jesus curse the fig tree the day after He cleansed the Temple, or before as Mk 11:12-14,20-24 seems to imply?
A: Jesus cursed the fig tree after He drove out the moneychangers, as Matthew says. Mark does not give as much detail, but even Mark says "Now the next day" to show it was after. See When Critics Ask p.354-355 and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.334-335 for more info.
Q: In Mt 22:37 and Mk 12:29-30, does obeying the greatest commandment bring about the unity of world religions, as some New Agers claim?
A: No. First of all this is two commandments, not one. Second, the first commandment, loving God with all, is greater than the second commandment, loving others as yourself. Unlike New Agers believe, all religions do NOT lead to God. At the Last Judgment Jesus will tell people who claimed to follow Him but did not, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" You certainly do not want Jesus to tell you "away from me." See When Cultists Ask p.122-123 for more info.
Q: In Mt 24-25 and Mk 13:5-30, when will these things be fulfilled?
A: These are fulfilled over a period of time. In Mt 24:2, the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. Other parts await Jesus’ Second Coming. The events of the end times are "imminent", meaning there is nothing that says they would be in the near future, but they could come at any time.
Q: In Mt 24:19 and Mk 13:17, why will it be so difficult for pregnant women and nursing mothers?
A: There could be two reasons. First, a hurried flight on a difficult journey is especially difficult for pregnant women and those with infants. Second, it could be terrible for mothers who are caught, concerning what would happen to the small children or unborn babies.
Q: In Mt 24:24 and Mk 13:22, how can even the elect be deceived?
A: The elect are not believers. Rather the elect are all those who will be believers. Of course, if a baby dies and goes to Heaven, even he or she will be a believer in Heaven.
These verses say the elect can be deceived, but it does not say permanently deceived. I personally knew someone whom I believed was a genuine Christian, who then joined the Mormon Church, and then soon after, left Mormonism, and returned to Christianity.
Q: In Mt 24:28 was Jesus speaking of a "dead body", or was it just a body, alive or dead, as the Greek in Lk 17:37 says?
A: There is no evidence that either writer exactly quoted all that Jesus said; they often paraphrased. Perhaps Jesus did not use either Greek word, if as is probable, he spoke this in Aramaic. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.482-483 for a more extensive answer.
Q: In Mt 24:29 will Jesus come immediately after the Great Tribulation, or will there be a "time of the Gentiles" as Lk 21:24,27 indicates.
A: Both. The Great Tribulation ends the time of the Gentiles. See When Critics Ask p.358 for more info.
Q: In Mt 24:30-31 and Mk 13:26-27, are the elect gathered before Christ returns in the clouds with great glory, or after?
A: While Christ returning is mentioned first in both passages, neither passage specifies the order.
Q: In Mt 24:34 and Mk 13:30, what would happen before this generation passed away?
A: First what is not the answer, and then the answer.
Not the answer: Jesus spoke this around 33 A.D. In Hebrew thought a generation was thought of as 40 years. The crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ would happen very soon, and the destruction of the Temple would happen in 70 A.D., which was just inside of 40 years. Partial Preterist Christians hold this view. However, a difficulty is that Jesus said "all these things", which imply the prophecies of his second coming too.
The answer: This likely was a scribal error since the Greek words for "race" and "generation" differ by just one consonant. Jesus was saying that the Jewish race would not pass away until Christ’s Second coming.
Q: In Mt 24:42 and Mk 13:35-37, when are Christians supposed to begin watching for the signs of Christ’s return?
A: Jesus commanded them to watch right away. Thus the church should have been watching for 2,000 years. This concept, called the "imminent return of Christ", that we should always keep watch, because we do not know the day or the hour, God gave us so that we would be diligent about the Lord’s word.
Q: Why do Mt 26:6-13, Mk 14:1-11, and Jn 12:1-11 differ significantly from Lk 7:36-50 in Jesus being anointed with oil?
A: Luke 7:36-50 records a different event. Specifically, Luke records the anointing of Jesus’ feet by a sinful woman in the house of a Pharisee just after John the Baptist’s disciples asked when Jesus would reveal He was the Messiah. The other three passages record Mary Magdalene anointing in the house of a healed leper, with Lazarus present, right before the Passover.
Among the first to answer this question was Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.) in his Harmony of the Gospels book 2 ch.79:154 (NPNF1 vol.6 p.173-164.) See also 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.34-35 for more info.
Q: Why does Mt 26:6-13 say Jesus’ head was anointed, while John 12:1-11 says feet?
A: Mary Magdalene anointed first one and then the other.
Q: In Mk 14:1, did Mary anoint Jesus two days before the Passover, or six days before in Jn 12:1?
A: Both. This one event evidently happened on the 8th day of Nisan, which is two days before the start of the four-day Passover celebration, which ended with the Passover meal, as Exodus 12:1-11 shows.
Q: In Mt 26:17, Mk 14:12, Lk 22:1, and Jn 13:1-2, was the Last Supper Friday night or Thursday night?
A: It was Thursday night.
There was a weeklong celebration of Unleavened Bread (Numbers 28:17; Deuteronomy 16:3)
The Passover was Friday night after sundown. It was on the fourteenth day of the first month according to Exodus 12:1,6-8; Leviticus 23:5; Number 9:5; 28:16. This means sundown Friday night to sundown Saturday night.
The Jews (and the disciples too) prepared for the Passover, and killed the Passover lamb, on the first day of Unleavened Bread, which was a Thursday (Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7).
As Jesus was crucified on Friday during the day, this is the reason the Jews wanted to have His body taken down before the Sabbath started.
John 19:14 says of the crucifixion, "Now it was the day of preparation (paraskeue) for the Passover. The day of preparation for the Passover is sundown Thursday night to sundown Friday night. i.e. includes most of Friday. As a side note, the modern Greek word for Friday is paraskeue. Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) in de Corona ch.3 p.94 discussed how they early Christians celebrated the Lord’s Supper.
See When Critics Ask p. 343-344,375, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.448-449, and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.375-376 for more on why Jesus was crucified on a Friday.
For the Passover meal being one day earlier than normal, on a Thursday night see Hard Sayings of the Bible p.448-449
Q: In the Gospels, was Jesus crucified on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday?
A: People's speculations have run from Wednesday to Saturday. In summary, Wednesday and Saturday would not work. Friday works with the rest of the chronology, but Thursday would work too. However, early Christians say it was Friday, with the exception of Origen, who said it was either that or the day before.
Justin Martyr (151-155 A.D.) Jesus was crucified on the day before Saturday [Friday] and rose the day after Saturday [Sunday]. First Apology of Justin Martyr ch.67 p.186
Victorinus of Petau (martyred 304 A.D.) "On the sixth day [i.e. Friday], .... On this day also on account of the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, we make either a station to God, or a fast. On the seventh day..." On the Creation of the World p.341
Peter of Alexandria (306,285-311 A.D.) discusses the fourth day and that Jesus suffered on the sixth day [Friday] for us. Then he says, "But the Lord’s day we celebrate as a day of joy, because on it He rose again, on which day we have received it for a custom not even to bow the knee. " The Canonical Epistle Canon 15 p.278
Origen (225-254 A.D.) "He who was spoken of by the prophets, but also to the other heathen nations, that He who was crucified yesterday or the day before underwent this death voluntarily on behalf of the human race, " Origen Against Celsus book 1 ch.31 p.409
However, of the 80 or so writers after the Bible and prior to Nicea, three writers with one view is not very many. See the previous question for the discussion. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.375-376 for more info.
Q: In Mt 12:40 was Jesus in the tomb three days and three nights, or did He rise on the third day in Mk 8:31, or through three days in Mk 14:58, or in three days in Jn 2:19 or the third days comes today in Lk 24:21?
A: After three days was a known Hebrew idiom in the Bible meaning part or all of three days.
Day and night are counted if just one part. Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah (1st century A.D.) states, "A day and a night are an onah [a portion of time], and the part of an onah is as the whole of it" (Mishnah, Jerusalem Talmud: Shabbath, Chapter IX, paragraph 3, Babylonian Talmud: Pesahim 4a)
Part of a day counts as a full day. Besides the previous quote, Rabbi Simeon ben Gamaliel also discussed this with others. "And how long is a full 'onah? - Rabbi Simeon ben Gamaliel explained: A night and half a day. But do we require an 'onah to be so long? Is not [such a requirement] rather incongruous with the following: If a person's winepresses or oil-presses were unclean and he desired to prepare his wine and oil respectively in conditions of cleanness, how is he to proceed? He rinses the boards, the twigs and the troughs;" Babylonian Talmud Tractate Niddah folio 65a
Some have tried to say that an onah referred only to a woman's days of uncleanness, but the previous quote shows that an onah is a general period of time.
We sometimes use inclusive time today. http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=756. mentions that even today if someone checks into a hotel at night, and does not leave by the checkout time, they are charged for two full days.
A Biblical example is the application of Leviticus 12:2-3. It says that Jewish boys were to be circumcised on the eight day. So if a Jewish boy was born on Monday, when was he to be circumcised? He was to be circumcised on Monday a week later. What if he were born on Monday at 11:59 pm? He would still be circumcised on Monday a week later. That is inclusive timekeeping.
Here are nine other examples of inclusive timekeeping from the Bible.
1. In Genesis 42:17, Joseph imprisoned his brothers for three days. But in verse 18 he released ten of them on the third day.
2. Rehoboam in 2 Chronicles 10:5 told the people "three days return to me". Yet in 2 Chronicles 10:12, the people returned "on the third day, as the king commanded."
3. In 1 Samuel 30:12 a sick Egyptian slave told David he had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days and three nights. Yet a person could not survive outside in the desert with no water at all for 72 hours. Undoubtedly the slave meant part of three days.
4. In Esther 4:16 Esther says to fast for her, "for three days, night and day" and she would do the same. Yet Esther 5:1 says it happened "on the third day" Esther had a banquet, so this is an equivalent time.
5. Matthew 27:62b-63a "saying, Lord, we have recalled that that deceiver said while living, After three days I will rise. Therefore, command that the grave be secured until the third day,"
6. In referring to Christ’s death and resurrection, Jesus himself said in Matthew 12:40 says "three days and three nights", Mark 8:31 says "the third day he will rise up", Mark 14:58 says "through three days", John 2:19 says "in three days", and Luke 24:21 says "This third day comes today".
7. So "three days and three nights" in Mt 12:40 (and presumably Jonah 1:17) is equivalent to "on the third day" in Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:19 and Lk 13:32. It is equivalent to "Is it the third day" in Luke 24:21.
8. But there is nothing special here about the number three. The phrases "seven days" and "on the seventh day" are interchangeable too. 1 Kings 20:29a says, "For seven days they camped opposite each other, and on the seventh day the battle was joined."
9. The phrase four days in Acts 10:30 means parts of four days in Acts 10:3,9,23,24.
Q: In Lk 22:3-4,7 did Satan enter into Judas when he went to the chief priests to betray Jesus, or was it at the Last Supper when Jesus gave him the bread in Jn 13:27?
A: Both occurred. Satan entered into Judas when Judas decided to act to talk with the chief priests about betraying Jesus, and Satan entered into Judas again when Judas returned to the chief priests to tell them where Jesus would be. See Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.199-200 for more info.
Q: In Mt 26:34, Mk 14:30-71, and Lk 22:34, how many times did Peter deny Christ and how many times did the cock crow?
A: Matthew 26:34, Luke 22:34, and John 13:38 say that before the cock/rooster crowed (an unnamed number of times) Peter would deny Jesus three times. Mark 14:30 says that before the cock crowed 2 times, Peter would deny Jesus 3 times.
1. The first denial is in Matthew 26:70, Mark 14:68, and Luke 22:57.
2. The second denial is in Matthew 26:72, Mark 14:70, and Luke 22:58
3. The third denial is in Matthew 26:74, Mark 14:71, and Luke 22:60.
The cock crowed a second time in Matthew 26:75, Mark 14:72, and Luke 22:60. Scripture does not specify if the cock crowed both times after Peter denied the third time, or if the cock crowed once earlier, and the second time after Peter’s third denial. In any case, it does not really matter.
See When Critics Ask p.359-360, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.339-340, and Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.181-182 for more info.
Q: In Mt 26:40,42,44 and Mk 14:27,40,41, why were the disciples sleeping, since Jesus specifically asked them not to, but to stay awake and pray for Him?
A: They should not have been sleeping. The disciples probably were very tired after the stress of being where they knew the leaders wanted to arrest Jesus. They probably thought the Garden was a safe place, and in the peaceful setting they were tired.
Jesus did not even get the help of their concerns and prayers, only their snores.
Q: In Mt 26:69-75, Mk 14:66-72, Lk 22:54-62; Jn 18:15-18,25-27, how do you reconcile these four accounts here, especially the second denial?
A: There is no problem if you recall that crowds usually are not silent. First let’s look at a sequence of events, then let’s eliminate what is not the answer, and finally give the answer.
Sequence of events:
1. Because "this disciple" [John] was known the high priest, he went into the courtyard. Then he went back out and spoke to the girl/maid/servant on duty and brought Peter in through the door. Jn 18:15-16
2. First accusation: In the courtyard, one girl/maid/servant girl of the high priest who was at the door, came to him (Mt), came by (Mk) and looked at Peter in the firelight, and spoke to Peter that he was with Jesus. Peter was warming himself in the courtyard. Mt 26:69; Mk 14:66-67; Lk 22:54-56; Jn 18:17a
3. First denial: Peter denied Jesus, saying "Woman, I don’t know Him" (Lk) "I don’t know what you’re talking about" (Mt) or "I don’t know or understand what you are talking about." (Mk) before them all (Mt). Mt 26:70; Mk 14:68; Lk 22:57; John 18:17
4. Second round of accusations: Then Peter went to the gateway (Mt), and another girl [allu] said to the crowd "This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth." (Mt). Peter was accused "You also are one of them." (Lk) The maid (Mk) seeing Peter again, said to the crowd "This fellow is one of them." (Mk) Peter was asked, "you are not one his disciples, are you?"(Jn) Mt 26:71; Mk 14:69; Lk 22:58a; Jn 18:25a
5. Second denial: Peter with an oath said "I am not" (Jn), "Man [anthrope], I am not!" (Lk) "I don’t know the man" (Mt), and denied Jesus a second time. Mt 26:72; Mk 14:70a; Lk 22:58b; Jn 18:25b
6a. Third round of accusations: About an hour later (Lk) those standing by [a small crowd?] said Peter was one of them and mentioned his Galilean accent. Mt 26:73; Mk 14:70b; Lk 22:59
6b Either before or after 6a, one of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged Peter that he had seen Peter in the olive grove. Jn 18:26
7. Third denial: Peter cursed, said "I don’t know what you are talking about!" (Lk) "I don’t know the man" (Mt) or "I don’t know this man you are talking about." (Mk, Jn), and denied Jesus a third time. Immediately, when they were still in the house, the cock crowed. Jesus looked at Peter (Mt 26:74-75; Mk 14:71-72; Lk 22:60-62; Jn 18:27).
What is not the answer:
Different order is not the answer, because the gospel accounts use words like "late", "after", and "about an hour later".
More than three denials is remotely possible, as one person suggested, but there is no compelling reason why Jesus said Peter would deny three times and it was more than three times.
The answer: (Crowds are not silent)
After Peter’s first denial, a little later a second girl spoke to the crowd about Peter. The courtyard was inside a house, and probably not that large. Would you expect the first girl to remain silent? – almost certainly not. She would repeat what she told Peter. Would you expect the crowd to keep silent to this serious charge? – very unlikely. A man did not accuse Peter, but asked him if he was with Jesus. That is why though the women accused Peter, he answered the man.
Likewise on the third denial, would you expect someone to speak to the crowd, and no one in the crowd to say anything? Besides these two things said, there were probably more things said too.
Q: In Mk 14:1, how the woman (Mary Magdalene) anoint Jesus two days before the feast of the Passover, since this happened six days before the Passover meal?
A: The words "the feast of" in the King James Translation are not in the original Greek, nor in more modern translations.
Q: In Mk 15:25, was Jesus crucified on the third hour, or was his trial at the sixth hour as Jn 19:14 says?
A: First a fact not a part of the answer, and then the answer.
Fact not a part of the answer: As Eusebius and others pointed out, the Greek way of writing three and six differed by only one stroke, so it might have been a scribal error. This is not the answer because the next part shows why the two times should be different.
Mark used the Jewish day which began at 6:00 am., so Jesus was crucified about 9:00 a.m. John, writing primarily to Gentile readers, used the Roman day in John 1:39; 4:6; 19:14), which started at midnight, so the trial started about 6:00 a.m. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.363-364 and When Critics Ask p.376 for more info. Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.197-198 mentions two other answers as possibilities, but also agrees that this explanation is superior.
As a historical note, the Romans and Greeks started the day at midnight. The famous astronomer Claudius Ptolemy (2nd century A.D.) started each half day at midnight and high noon, and this is apparently how we got A.M. and P.M. according to The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.2 p.619.
Q: The skeptic Bart Ehrman says that Jesus was apocalyptic (focusing on the end times) in Mark, but not John (Jesus, Interrupted p.81)
A: Jesus was apocalyptic (spoke of the end times), in three gospels: Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 17:20-37. It is generally acknowledged that John was written later than the other gospels. John is about the same length as the other gospels. He provides a lot of detail on the discourses that are not in the other gospels, but he apparently did not see a need to repeat what other gospels already spelled out quite clearly. Of course, the book with the most apocalyptic material in the Bible is not a gospel, but the book of Revelation, written down by John.
Q: In Mt 26:14-16; Mk 14:43-45; Lk 22:1-6; and Jn 18:2 Ehrman thinks that Judas telling the Jews where Jesus was not too significant; rather Judas told the Jews that Jesus considered himself king of the Jews, and they could use that to get the Romans to execute him. He admits this "is a more unusual interpretation." [what about the triumphal entry?] (Jesus, Interrupted p.170-171)
A: He is the only person I have heard of who has this novel interpretation. Ehrman is saying the Jewish leaders could have followed Jesus and snatched him up, but they did not have a strong enough charge for the Romans to convict him. So Ehrman is basically saying that is was important for the Jewish leaders to: a) prove that He claimed to be a king, and b) be able to snatch Jesus when the crowds could not protect him. And how would Judas claiming that Jesus said this alone be a credible witness?
What about the palm branches and the triumphal entry? That would already give them cause for a charge they could make. As for following Jesus when he disappeared every night among his followers they would need a spy, someone to mingle in among the followers and report back to them. The Jewish leaders had a spy: Judas.
Q: In Mt 26:26-29 and Mk 14:22-23, did Jesus Himself actually eat the bread and drink of the cup at the Last Supper?
A: Yes, Jesus ate with them according to Luke 22:15-16. It would seem very strange to the disciples for them to be eating a full meal while Jesus ate nothing.
Q: In Mt 26:26-29, Mk 14:17-26, Lk 22:15-38, Jn 13:3-29, and 1 Cor 11:24-25, what exactly did Jesus say during the Last Supper?
A: No account claims to be a verbatim description.
Here is what we can see
Before the Supper
Jesus washed His disciples’ feet and spoke of servanthood (John 13:3-20).
"I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." (Luke 22:15-16) This might also have been said right before or after the fifth statement.
"Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me (Matthew 26:21).
"Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me." (Mark 14:18b)
"Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me." (John 13:21b)
"The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me..." (Matthew 26:23-24)
"It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born." (Mark 14:20b-21)
Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." (John 13:26a)
"You have said so." (Matthew 26:25)
"Do quickly what you are going to do." (John 13:27f)
"Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." (Luke 22:17b-18)
"Take, eat; this is my body." (Matthew 26:26)
"Take, this is my body" (Mark 14:22).
"This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." (Luke 22:19b)
"This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." (1Corinthians 11:24)
Gave thanks for the cup (Matthew 26:27)
"Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom." (Matthew 26:27b-29)
"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God." (Mark 14:24b-25)
"This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!" (Luke 22:20b-22)
"This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." (1 Corinthians 11:25b)
Dispute over who was the greatest (Luke 22:25-31)
Telling Peter the cock will crow when Peter denies three times (Luke 22:34)
Discussion of the purse and the swords (Luke 22:35-38)
Singing a hymn (Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26)
The Scriptures are quoted from the NRSV.
Q: In Mt 26:26-28; Mk 14:22-24; Lk 22:19-21; 1 Cor 11:23-26, a skeptic proposed that the Last Supper as described in the Bible was completely fabricated, because the Jews detested the idea of partaking "body and blood", so not only would Jesus have known this, but His disciples and other Jews would have been outraged at this institution and rejected His teaching. Is there anything behind this claim?
A: No, I have never heard the claim that the Last Supper was fabricated. However, let’s look at this.
If all Jews would have been repulsed, then what about Paul the former Pharisee? First he was not repulsed as a Christian, and he still taught this to others, including Jews.
At the Passover, the lamb’s blood was put on the doorpost, so the Jews were well acquainted with blood sacrifice and the sacrifice of lambs.
John the Baptist did call Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world in John 1:29.
This sounds like an innovative 20th century charge with no historical context. They should first find in the Talmud, later Jewish writings, early and later Christian writings, Roman writings, or somewhere, at least some evidence that the Jews rejected this, Christians did not practice this, etc. A person could make the claim that Jesus really came from New Zealand, but without any presenting any actual evidence would people believe that too?
Anyway, here is evidence apart from the Bible that the last supper was indeed practiced. Thousands of early Christians died for their faith. They were charged with being atheists (because they did not believe in the gods of the Romans), and being cannibals (a distortion because they ate and drank Christ’s body and blood during the Lord’s Supper). Now why would they be falsely charged with being cannibals if they did not partake of the Lord’s Supper?
Ignatius, disciple of the apostle John who died before 116 A.D., mentions the Lord’s Supper in his Letter to the Romans chapter 7 p.77. "I desire the bread of God, the heavenly bread, the bread of life, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became afterwards of the seed of David and Abraham; and I desire the drink of God, namely His blood, which is incorruptible love and eternal life."
"Take ye heed, then, to have but one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and one cup to [show forth] the unity of His blood;" Ignatius’ Letter to the Philadelphians chapter 4 p.81.
Justin Martyr in his First Apology (147-151 A.D.) ch.66 p.185 "And this food is called among us Eucharistia [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh."
Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) in his work Against Heresies book 5 chapter 2 p.528 wrote, "But if this [flesh] indeed do not attain salvation, then neither did the Lord redeem us with His blood, nor is the cup of the Eucharist the communion of His blood, nor the bread which we break the communion of His body."
a) Jesus really did have the Last Supper, or
b) Matthew, Mark, Luke, Paul, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and all the other early church writers got it all wrong.
c) They did not write this; through the centuries this has been systematically added to their writings.
To handle objection c), we need to know the dates of the earliest manuscripts that contain the verses in question. Here are the specific verses that during the Last supper that specifically mention Jesus’ body and blood.
p45 Chester Beatty I (all four gospels and Acts) (100-150 A.D.) (formerly thought to be late 2nd or early 3rd century A.D.) (Mt 20:24-32; 21:13-19; 25:41-26:39
p37 (=Ann Arbor 1570) Mt 26:19-52 (middle 3rd century)
Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.) and Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.) contain all of Matthew. A photograph of a page of the Gospel of Matthew from the Codex Sinaiticus is in the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.2004.
Alexandrinus [A] (c.450 A.D.) has preserved only Matthew 25:7 to the end.
Vaticanus [B] (325-350 A.D.), Sinaiticus [Si] (340-350 A.D.), and Alexandrinus [A] (c.450 A.D.) have all of Matthew.
p75 Bodmer 14/15 Papyrii (most of Luke and John) Contains Luke 3:18-22; 3:33-4:2; 4:34-5:10; 5:37-6:4; 6:10-7:32; 7:35-39,41-43; 7:46-9:2; 9:4-17:15; 17:19-18:18; 22:4-24:53. is typically dated 175-200 A.D., or 175-225 A.D. However, its handwriting is very similar to another document, Papyrus Fuad XIX, which is known to have been written 145-146 A.D.
Vaticanus [B] (325-350 A.D.), Sinaiticus [Si] (340-350 A.D.), and Alexandrinus [A] (c.450 A.D.) contain all of Luke.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
p46 Chester Beatty II 100-150 A.D. 1 Cor 1:1-9:2; 9:4-14:14; 14:16-15:15; 15:17-16:22
Vaticanus [B] (325-350 A.D.), Sinaiticus [Si] (340-350 A.D.), and Alexandrinus [A] (c.450 A.D.) contain all of 1 Corinthians.
Q: In Mt 26:27b-29, Mk 14:24b-25, Lk 22:20b-22, and 1 Cor 11:25b, did they take the cup after the bread, or before the bread as Lk 22:17b-18 clearly shows?
A: Both. During the Jewish Passover, four cups were taken at various points in the meal. The last cup, after the meal, was where Jesus said "this is the blood of the new covenant..." Even if one did not know Jewish customs, one could still see the answer, since Luke 22 mentions both the cup before the bread and the cup after the bread.
Q: In Lk 22:31,34, did Jesus say Peter would deny Jesus during the Passover, or after they left as Mt 26:34, Mk 14:30, and Jn 13:38 say?
A: This statement would have so amazed Peter, he probably would have figured he had not heard clearly, if Jesus had not repeated it after the Passover. By the way, scripture does not say Jesus had said this only two times, either.
Q: In Mt 26:57-68 and Mk 14:53-65, was Jesus’ trial at night, or was it in the morning as Lk 21:54-71 and Mt 27:1,2,11-26 say?
A: Both, because there was a trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin and the trial before Pilate.
The trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin in Matthew 26:57-68 and Mark 14:53-65 was started in the middle of the night and ended at daybreak. By the way, it was against Jewish Law to hold a trial at night.
Luke does not tell about the trial, except from the perspective of Peter standing outside. Jesus went into the house of the high priest, and then he and the priests came out of the house.
The cock crowed a little before daybreak in Matthew 26:74-75, Mark 14:27, and Luke 22:60-62.
Then daybreak came in Matthew 27:1; Mark 15:1; and Luke 22:66.
Jesus then had the trial before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate in Matthew 27:1-2,11-26; Mark 15:1-5; and Luke 23:1-5. See also the next question.
Q: In Mt 26:57-68 and Mk 14:53-65 and Luke 22:60-62, what was the sequence before the trial of the Sanhedrin?
A: Here is the sequence.
1. They went first to the house of Annas, father-in-law to Caiaphas the high priest right after Jesus was arrested at Gethsemane (Luke 22:54; John 18:12-13).
2. Either in John 18:24 or earlier, Jesus was sent to Caiaphas’ house. Matthew 26:56-57 and Mark 14:51-53 skip over the previous detail and just mention going to the house of Caiaphas.
3. Peter denied Jesus once (Matthew 26:60; Mark 14:68; Luke 22:57; John 18:17).
4. A little later Peter denied Jesus a second time (Matthew 26:71; Mark 14:69; Luke 22:58; John 18:25).
5. About an hour later Peter denied Jesus a third time. They were still in the house when the cock crowed (Matthew 26:74; Mark 14:71-72; Luke 22:59-62; John 18:27).
6. At daybreak, the Jewish council asked Jesus (or asked Him again) "If you are the Christ, tell us." And they reached a decision (Matthew 27:1; Mark 15:1; Luke 22:66-71).
7. By now it was early morning, and Jesus, accompanied by the priests left the house of Caiaphas and went to Jesus’ trial before the Roman governor Pilate (Matthew 27:2; Mark 15:1; Luke 23:1; John 18:28-38).
8. Pilate sent Jesus to Herod in Luke 23:7-11a.
9. Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate in Luke 23:11b-12.
10. The night before Pilate’s wife had a dream about having nothing to do with condemning Jesus. Matthew 27:19
11. Pilate asked them if they wanted Barabbas or Jesus freed (Matthew 27:15-27; Luke 23:18-25; John 18:39-40).
Q: In Mt 27:2, why is Pontius Pilate called the governor, when he actually was a prefect?
A: A prefect (praefectus) was a more specific term for a governor of a small, hard-to-govern area. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 8 p.559 for more info.
Q: In Mt 27:2,11-26, since Pilate was known outside of the Bible to be a cruel and unjust ruler, why do the Gospels show Pilate to be weak and very concerned about the appearance of fairness?
A: There are two complementary explanations.
Shaky ground: Perhaps Pilate’s behavior changed by 33 A.D., since at this time Pilate realized he was on very shaky ground with the Emperor. Pilate ordered shields with images of the Emperor’s name on them placed in Herod’s palace in Jerusalem. The Jews appealed to the Roman Emperor, and Tiberius himself directly ordered Pilate to remove the shields.
A second insecurity was that Pilate was placed in his position through the influence of his mentor, the anti-Semitic Sejanus. Sejanus was executed by Tiberius on October 9, 31 A.D., and Pilate had probably heard the news by 33 A.D.. Prior to this, Tiberius showed no hesitation in punishing fellow Romans for extortion and treason. Pilate himself was recalled from office in 36/37 A.D.
Two sides: In addition, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 8 p.559-560 also mentions a second factor. "Psychologically, a person who is at the core weak, insecure, selfish, when he is put in a position of power, may be despotic and insensitive. In other words, Pilate’s character did not change, it is just that he was showing another side. Pilate’s behavior, while it might appear as being somewhat ‘pro-Jesus’, was actually not, as Jesus’ torture and crucifixion show. Rather than being ‘pro-Jesus’, Pilate was really being ‘anti-Sanhedrin’".
Pontius Pilate was not a secure man. After Tiberius removed Pilate from office in 36/37 A.D., Pilate committed suicide according to Eusebius.
Q: In Mt 27:2-14, Mk 15:2-15; Lk 23:1-24 and Jn 19:1-15, outside of the Bible, what evidence is there that Pontius Pilate existed?
A: There are six independent pieces of evidence outside of the Bible.
1. The non-Christian Roman historian Tacitus (100 A.D.), in Annals 15:44 writes, "Christus, from whom the [Christians] got their name, had been executed by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate when Tiberius was emperor;"
2. The Bible As History p.373 has picture of the front and back of a coin issued by the Roman Procurator, Pontius Pilate.
3. An inscription that mentions Pontius Pilate was found at the Roman theater in the port of Caesarea in 1961. A photograph of it is in the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1343, the Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.456, and The Archaeology of the New Testament (Finnegan) p.138-139. The surviving parts read:
To the people of Caesarea
Prefect of Judea
The Dictionary of New Testament Background p.534 and The Archaeology of the New Testament (Blaiklock) p.58 also mention this.
4. Philo the Jew also says that Pontius Pilate had brought golden shields with the Emperor Tiberius’ name on them and hung them up in Herod’s palace. The Jews considered that offensive, and appealed to Tiberius, who ordered Pilate to remove the shields, which probably made Pilate lose face. (On the Embassy to Gaius 38-39 (299-306) p.784-785.
5. Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews 18.3.1 (written about 93-94 A.D.) and Wars of the Jews 2.9.2 also mentions Pontius Pilate as governor.
6. Early Christian writers.
Ignatius (died 107/116 A.D.) in the Letter to the Magnesians ch.11-12 p.64 mentions Pontius Pilate
Jesus was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate, truly crucified, died, and raised from the dead. Ignatius’ Letter to the Trallians ch.9 p.70
Justin Martyr (c.150 A.D.) Jesus Christ crucified under Pontius Pilate. "...and we reasonably worship Him, having learned that He is the Son of the true God Himself, and holding Him in the second place, and the prophetic Spirit in the third, and we will prove." First Apology of Justin Martyr ch.13 p.166-167
Crucified under Pontius Pilate. First Apology of Justin Martyr ch.61 p.183
Melito of Sardis (170-180 A.D.) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.8 ch.4 p.757 says Jesus was condemned by Pilate.
Irenaeus Against Heresies (182-188 A.D.) book 3 ch.4.2 p.417 says that Jesus "united man through Himself to God" suffered under Pontius Pilate, and rose again. Jesus is the Judge of those who are judged.
Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.) quotes 1 Timothy 6:13 and mentions Pontius Pilate. Fragment 4 p.579 (Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History book 6 ch.14)
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) mentions Pontius Pilate. in Tertullian’s Apology ch.21 p.35
Hippolytus bishop of Portus (222-235/6 A.D.) mentions Caiaphas, Herod, and being scourged by Pilate. Against the Heresy of One Noetus ch.18 p.230
Origen (225-254 A.D.) says that the crowds would have influenced Pilate to condemn Jesus. It also mentions his hostility to Herod and their apparent friendship. Origen’s Commentary on Matthew book 12 ch.1 p.449-450.
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) "finally seized Him [Jesus] and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate, who was then the procurator of Syria on behalf of the Romans, demanding with violent and obstinate urgency His crucifixion and death." Treatises of Cyprian Treatise 7 ch.13 p.468
Peter of Alexandria (306,285-311 A.D.) mentions that Jesus was delivered to Pilate. The Canonical Epistle Canon 9 p.273
Lactantius (c.303-c.325 A.D.) mentions after Judas betrayed Jesus, that the Jews took Jesus before Pontius Pilate. The Divine Institutes book 4 ch.18 p.119. He mentions Herod in ch.18 p.120.
Athanasius (331 A.D.) mentions that Pilate, at Christ’s trial washed his hands. History of the Arians ch.68 p.295
Eusebius the Christian church historian (c.325 A.D.) mentions Pontius Pilate, and says that after he was removed from office he committed suicide.
Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, succeeding Gratus, from 26-36/37 A.D.
Q: In Mt 27:2-14, Mk 15:2-15; Lk 23:1-24 and Jn 19:1-15, apart from the Bible, what else do we know about Pontius Pilate?
A: "Pontius" was a Roman family. "pilatus" means one armed with a pilum, or javelin. Most of what we know about Pontius Pilate comes from Josephus. The Emperor Tiberius Caesar had a friend name Sejanus, who wanted to destroy all the Jews, and Pontius Pilate and his contemporary Flaccus were likely proteges of Sejanus. When Pontius Pilate became governor (or procurator) of the Jews in 26 A.D., he was the first to bring into Jerusalem the standards of the image of Caesar. When the Jews formerly asked that they be removed, Pilate surrounded them with soldiers and threatened to kill them. Josephus records that the Jews threw themselves on the ground to demonstrate they would rather die than break their law. Pilate removed the standards to Caesarea.
Pilate then took the money from the temple treasury to build an aqueduct to carry water to Jerusalem. When the Jews protested, Pilate had soldiers dressed as civilians among the crowds, who killed many in the crowd. Luke 13:1 also records that Pilate killed some Galileans, whose blood he mixed with their sacrifices.
When some Samaritans gathered on a mountain to view to sacred containers that Moses supposedly put there, Pilate sent troops to ambush them and kill them. The Samaritans appealed to Vitellius, the legate of Syria, who sent Marcellus to take temporary charge of Judea and ordered Pilate to go to Rome in 36/37 A.D. to give an account of his actions to Caesar. Sejanus had been executed on October 18, 31 A.D., and Tiberius was trying to reverse anti-Semitic policies. Tiberius Caesar died on March 16, 37 A.D., while Pilate was en route to Rome. Pilate never returned to Judea. Traditions say he committed suicide in modern-day Austria or Switzerland by drowning.
Philo the Jew says that Herod Agrippa I called Pilate "naturally inflexible, a blend of self-will and relentlessness".
Today’s Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.60 speculates that Pilate’s position with the emperor was especially precarious. While the Emperor (Caesar) wanted stability, Pilate had nearly caused revolts three times. The Emperor Tiberius had recently had a number of officials executed for treason. If Pilate were to be seen tolerating someone who claimed to be a king, or did not pay taxes, or wanted his own kingdom, Pilate would be just one of the many others Tiberius had executed. This point was not lost on the Jews, who boldly told Pilate that if you let this king go, you are no friend to Caesar.
See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1343-1344 The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.789-790, and the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels p.615-617 for more info.
Q: In Mt 27:19-26, Mk 15:7-15; Lk 23:23-25; Jn 18:38-40, how many people were in the crowd in front of Pilate, Jesus and Barabbas?
A: Archaeologists excavated the area in front of Pilate’s Judgment seat and said that a maximum of 150 people could be in that area according to The Olive Tree Connection p.48. During Passover there might be a couple hundred thousand people in Jerusalem, but only 150 could be in front of Pilate. It would be easy for the priests to hand-pick the people they wanted in front of Pilate when he offered to release one prisoner.
Q: In the Mt 27:26; Mk 15:15; Lk 23:20-25; Jn 19:16; Acts 2:23; Heb 12:2; what do we know about crucifixion prior to Christ?
A: Crucifixion was a gruesome but common form of execution among many peoples.
Who and When: It was practiced by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Egyptians according to The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.242. Herodotus in his History 3.125 mentions the Persians using crucifixion of living people. In his History 3.159 Herodotus also says that Darius (512-485 B.C.) crucified 3000 leading citizens of Babylon. The Anchor Bible Dictionary volume 1 p.1207 also mentions that other ancient sources, not necessarily reliable, mention the crucifixion was used by the people of India, Assyrians, Scythians, Taurians, Thracians, Celts, Germans, and Britons. Julius Caesar reported that the Numidians used crucifixion. When Alexander the Great finally captured the Phoenician city of Tyre in 332 B.C., he killed 6,000-8,000 immediately and crucified 2,000 later according to the Encyclopedia Britannica and the Anchor Bible Dictionary volume 6 p.687.
Jews were crucified by the Seleucid Antiochus IV (267 A.D.) according to Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews book 12 ch.5 p.257. In Antiquities of the Jews book 13 ch.14 .2 p.285 Josephus also says the Sadducee ruler Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 B.C.) crucified 800 Pharisees in Jerusalem, after killing their wives and kids before their eyes.
Among Romans, the Anchor Bible Dictionary volume 1 p.1206-1208 says Plautus (died in 184 B.C.) was the first writer who provides evidence of Roman crucifixion, and these were of people crucified before his time. For example, 25 male slave conspirators in Rome were crucified in 217 B.C. Josephus said there were three main forms of Roman execution: decapitation/thrown to animals, burning, and crucifixion. He also said that being burned to death was considered more mild than crucifixion.
Where the Romans Learned of it: The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.404-405 says both the Greeks and Romans borrowed crucifixion from the Phoenicians. (Carthaginians can be considered as "western Phoenicians"). The Anchor Bible Dictionary volume 1 p.1207 also says numerous sources attest to Carthaginian crucifixion, and that the Romans might have taken over this practice from them.
Archeological remains: Though crucifixion was widely mentioned and practiced, we have only one archaeological remain of a crucifixion according to The Resurrection of Christ p.36 footnote 28. The one single artifact is the bones of a man named Yehohanan Ben Hagko. One of the nails was still embedded in his ankle, as apparently the people burying him were unable to remove it. This is cataloged as Israel Antiquities Authority, 95-2067/5.Crucifixion
As a Christian symbol: The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.404-405 also has some very interesting archaeological discoveries about the use of the cross as a symbol. Of course Paul (around 52 A.D.) "preached Jesus crucified" in 1 Corinthians 2:2, "gloried in the cross" in Galatians 6:14, and was persecuted for the cross in Galatians 5:7; 6:12. But how do we know for certain what the cross looked like?
When Herculaneaum was destroyed by the eruption on Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., an excavated house shows a cross (a Latin cross like a lower-case t).
In Talpioth, a suburb of Jerusalem, ossuaries (which stored bones) were found prior to 70 A.D. showing four sides marked with a cross that looked like a plus sign.
According to Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.), he compared the crucifix to the Greek letter Chi (like an X) in his First Apology chapter 60.
The cross looked like the Greek letter Tau according to Tertullian’s Five Books in Reply to Marcion book 3 v.120 p.153.
Athanasius (326-323 A.D.) said in the Incarnation 25:3, that it is only on the cross that a man dies with his hands spread out.
Also, Roman graffiti was found in Rome on Palatine Hill ridiculing Christians. It shows a cross with arms outstretched according to The Archaeology of the New Testament (Blaiklock) p.99.
Q: In Mt 27:15-19, Mk 15:6-7, Lk 23:16-18, and Jn 18:39-40 why was Jesus, who was not yet declared guilty, considered for ‘the merciful release program’?
A: Nobody said Roman justice was always just. Since Jesus’ condemnation apparently was almost a foregone conclusion, I supposed it made sense to Pilate to go ahead and nominate for pardon a man not yet declared guilty. Sometimes even acts of mercy can be used for unjust purposes.
Q: In Mt 27:19, why was Pilate’s wife in Jerusalem?
A: Wives often accompanied Roman governors. Prior to this time, Tacitus in Annals 3:34-35 mentions that the Senate debated a proposal by Severus Caecina to prohibit wives from accompanying magistrates, but the proposal was defeated. See also The Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 8 p.569 for more info.
Q: In Mt 27:34 and Mk 15:23, did others offer Jesus drink and he refused, or did Jesus say "I am thirsty" and accept drink as Jn 19:28-29 implies?
A: People being crucified would get extremely thirsty, and Jesus apparently was no exception here, saying that He was thirsty. They offered him a sponge soaked with vinegar. The drink would contain gall, which would dull the pain. Jesus initially accepted the sponge and tasted the drink, but then refused any more. Jesus did not want to use a painkiller when He suffered for our sins.
Q: In Mt 27:35-36; Mk 15:24; Lk 23:34b; Jn 10:23-24 my wife wants to go to a casino in Louisiana for our 10th anniversary. (I feel uneasy about it, as a Christian, but have given into her wishes.) We have agreed not to spend over $200.00 on gambling. This is only the second time we’ve been at a casino in 10 years. (the last time we were at a casino, we spent maybe $100.00 tops, and that was 3 years ago.) Are we committing sin, according to God’s Word?
Personally, I can’t find anyplace in the Scriptures that address gambling directly. And I agree the gambling industry is causing people to become addicted, and is an industry America could live without. Yet, I doubt that I am truly committing sin, if I gamble such a small amount of money, and will have only visited two casinos in 10 years. I even told my wife, whatever we win, we should give to charity. I’m even taking chick tracts to place in the casino. I figure some good could come out of this trip? (Gen. 50:20) =) (Yet, it doesn’t make me feel any better about going.)
But.... here’s a mirror example: Should all Christians stop buying and drinking wine (for special occasions/weddings) since the alcohol industry is causing millions to become addicted to this drink?
But then, what type of example am I giving to my kids? What if my son grows up to believe that visiting casinos is ok, and then becomes addicted to gambling? But then again, my son could get addicted to wine, yet is his addiction my fault since I drink wine or beer on rare occasions? (and I’m not addicted)
A: In the Bible there is no direct verse that forbids believers to gamble, and there is nothing that says it is OK either. (There are both OT and NT verses that say drinking wine in moderation is OK.)
Of course as Christians we are not to read the commands in the Bible and try to stray as far as possible without actually break a command. Rather, we are to want to know the center of God’s will for us and be there. Gambling is an area where we are to obey God with our conscience and understanding of what pleases Him.
Things indicating some gambling might be OK
Other recreation is OK: You said you are not addicted and will not spend more than $200. One could spend $200 on a theme park (like Disneyland) and that is not necessarily a sin.
Christian witness. Since you mentioned bringing Chick tracts for people to read, you might check to see if Chick has an especially appropriate tract on people losing all their money on gambling.
Please your wife: If this is what your wife wants to do, and it is not forbidden, you should do something you two enjoy together.
Things indicating that your gambling might not be pleasing to God
Example for children: Will your son (and any future children) be addicted to gambling, or will they even gamble just once foolishly losing large sums of money. To see whether this is an issue or not, why don’t you and your wife privately "practice" explaining your gambling to your son, since you will need to later anyway. See how it will sound to him.
Unavoidable immorality: Will there be any bawdy shows you will see in the place you are gambling? If so, then you should not be gambling, or doing anything else, at that location.
What else you could do: If you do not gamble, there are other tours and attractions (and some very excellent restaurants) you could be doing instead.
Conviction: Do you think your uneasiness is the Holy Spirit convicting you, or just something else?
Perhaps you can think of more "con" reasons.
Seek to follow God: Pray about what God would desire for you in this situation. I have no direct command/permission to show you, but I pray you will make the best decision.
Q: In Mt 27:38, Mk 15:32, and Lk 23:39 did the thieves revile Jesus, or did one thief repent and turn to Jesus in Lk 23:39?
A: Both thieves reviled Jesus initially. However, the thief on Jesus’ right later had a change of heart, and believed in Jesus. Jesus told him that today he would be with Jesus in Paradise. See Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.187-188 for more info.
Q: In Mt 27:44 and Mk 15:31-32 exactly when did the robbers revile Jesus?
A: Scripture does not say exactly. Matthew and Mark each mention three groups of people that reviled Jesus: passers-by, priests, and the robbers. However, these verses neither specify the order if they only said this once, or how many times. In general, it is not common for someone to say just one ugly sentence and stop there.
Today Christians can be ridiculed for their faith by criminals, complete strangers, and even false religious leaders.
Q: In Lk 21:7, did Jesus teach on the last times at the Temple, or on the Mount of Olives as Mt 24:3-44; Mk 13:3-37 show?
A: Jesus taught this on the Mount of Olives, and possibly as they were traveling there. Luke 21 never says that Jesus was at the Temple when He taught this.
Q: In Mt 27:32, Mk 15:21, and Lk 23:26, did Simon of Cyrene carry Jesus’ cross, or did Jesus as Jn 19:17 shows?
A: Both. It was generally the custom for the condemned man to carry his own cross as Jn 19:17 says. However, Jesus was so weak, after the whippings, and beatings, that he could not carry his cross all the way. Thus the Romans made a passer-by, Simon of Cyrene, carry it the rest of the way. See Today’s Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.408-411 for more info, and the rationale of why John chose to be silent about Simon of Cyrene.
Q: In Mt 27:32; Mk 15:21; and Lk 23:26, do we have any extra-Biblical evidence for Simon of Cyrene?
A: It is very likely that we do. An ossuary (bone-box) before 70 A.D. from the Kidron Valley, Jerusalem, was found with the inscription "Alexander (son) of Simon", "Alexander the Cyrenean." For more info see:
E. L. Sukenik, BASOR 88 (1942): 38. Inscriptions not published until 1962: N. Avigad, "A Depository of Inscribed Ossuaries in the Kidron Valley," IEJ 12 (1962): 1-12 + pls. 1-4.
Not published in a popular format until 2002-03."Treasures in the Storeroom: Family Tomb of Simon of Cyrene", Biblical Archaeology Review, July-August, 2003.
P. W. van der Horst, Ancient Jewish Epitaphs: An Introductory Survey of a Millennium of Jewish Funerary Epigraphy (300 BCE-700 CE) (Kampen: Kok Pharos, 1991).140-41.
Biblical Archaeology Review, July-August, 2003, p.51. Cf. http://israelpalestineguide.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/alexander-simon-ossuary-a-second-look-from-bar.pdf
Q: In Mt 27:48; Mk 15:23; Lk 23:36; and Jn 19:29 what exactly was Jesus given to drink on the cross?
A: Matthew 27:48 says "sour wine / wine vinegar" Mark 15:23 says "wine mingled with myrrh", and Luke 23:36 says "wine vinegar" and John 19:29 says "wine vinegar". However "gall / vinegar" is not a substance but a description of something bitter, and myrrh was bitter. See Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.185 for more info.
Q: In Mt 27:37, Mk 15:26, Lk 23:38, and Jn 19:19, exactly what was written in the sign above Jesus’ head?
A: First five facts that relate to the answer, and then two answers.
1. First of all there was not one message, but three messages, as John 19:20 says the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek.
2. Here is what the Gospel writers record.
Matthew 27:37 says "This is Jesus, the king of the Jews.
Mark 15:26 The king of the Jews.
Luke 23:38. This is the king of the Jews.
John 19:19 "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews"
3. Ancient writers often paraphrased their words. What we have here is accurate, but not precise. So for example, if one writer said "This is Jesus, the king of the Jews" and another said "the king of the Jews", both could be recording the same statement. The first writer simply recorded more of the statement than the second one.
4. Papias, a disciple of John the Apostle, records that Matthew was originally written in the language of the Hebrews (Aramaic?) and then translated into Greek. The other writers wrote in Greek. Thus there is a translation between the sayings and what the Gospel writers wrote.
5. Regardless of the differences of the three signs, Mark seems to simply record what is common among all of them.
First Answer: The three messages in three different languages are recorded in Matthew, Luke, and John. Mark records what is common between them. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.345-346 adds that Pilate probably did not know Aramaic so it would be written in Latin, and translated into Greek and Aramaic so that everyone could read it.
Second Answer: Since the Gospel writers record translated words, and some things like "This is" vs. "The" are often merged in a translation, we are certain of the message of the signs, but we are not sure of the exact words. However, it is the message that is important here, not the exact words.
See Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.185-187 for more info.
Q: What exactly were the seven things Christ spoke on the cross, in order?
A: While the order given in the gospel is not necessarily the order in which they were said, it is simplest to assume that they were in chronological order, which is:
1. Father forgive them; for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34a
2. Woman here is your son; son here is your mother. John 19:25-27
3. Truly I say unto you, today you will be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43b
4. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34
5. I am thirsty. Matthew 27:48; John 19:28-29
6. It is finished. John 19:30
7. Right before dying Jesus said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." Luke 23:46a
Of course, Jesus could have said other words, too.
Q: In the Gospels, did Jesus really die on the cross, or did God miraculously and undetectably substitute someone else as the Muslim Qur’an claims?
A: The different views of Christians and Muslims are a fundamental difference between their two religions.
Christians say it was really Jesus because all Christian and well as non-Christian accounts say it was Jesus. The Allah of Muslims is different from the God of the Bible, and Allah has fooled and deceived all his people into thinking Allah substituted another.
Muslims say Allah is the same as the God of the Bible. Allah’s switching Jesus would not be detectable by anyone, and thus there would be no historical evidence of the switch.
Both can agree on two things: 1) It at least appeared that Jesus died on the cross. 2) At some point in time, the god of Islam, totally fooled and deliberately deceived Allah’s own people.
Q: In the Gospels, what extra-Biblical evidence is there of "darkness was over the land" during Jesus’ crucifixion?
A: It is not reasonable to expect that every culture would record a darkness. For example, it is computed that a solar eclipse darkened Egypt on December 12, 504 B.C., yet there are no historical records, among the highly civilized Egyptians, or anyone else, about this. See http://www.informationblast.com/500s_BC.html for more info.
Nevertheless, the non-Christian Palestinian historian Thales (also spelled Thallus), wrote in 52 A.D., less than 20 years after the crucifixion. He wrote that darkness accompanied the crucifixion of Jesus.
The Samaritan historian Thallus, not to be confused with the Greek philosopher Thales, was fairly well known.
Justin Martyr’s Hortatory Address to the Greeks ch.9 p.277 mentions Thallus, Philo, Josephus, and others.
Theophilus to Autolycus ch.29 p.120 mentions Thallus, as well as the earlier Chaldean historian Berosus on p.121.
The Octavius of Minucius Felix ch.22 p.186 mentions the historian Thallus.
Tertullian’s Apology ch.19 p.33 mentions Thallus and Josephus.
Julius Africanus fragment 18 p.136.
Phlegon was a Carian Greek writer who wrote soon after 137 A.D.. He wrote that in the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad [33 A.D.] there was "the greatest eclipse of the sun" and that "it became night in the sixth hour of the day [12:00 noon] so that star even appeared in the heavens. There was a great earthquake in Bithynia, and many things were overturned in Nicea." (The Case for Christ p.111.) Origen (225-254 A.D.) also mentions Phlegon writing about the darkness in the 13th or 14th book of the writer Phlegon. Origen Against Celsus book 2 ch.14 p.437, book 2 ch.33 p.445; book 2 ch.59 p.455.
Justin Martyr (c.150 A.D.)’s Hortatory Address to the Greeks ch.9 p.277 mentions Thallus, writing about the darkness over the land at that time.
Tatian’s Diatessaron (died 172 A.D.) section 51 p.123 says there as darkness when Jesus was crucified from the 6th to the 9th hour. Tatian’s Diatessaron (died 172 A.D.) section 52 p.123 says there was an earthquake when Jesus died.
Melito of Sardis (170-177 A.D.) says that the earth shook, the sun fled away, and the day was changed, for they could not endure their Lord hanging on a tree. From the Discourse on the Soul and the Body ch.2 Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.8 p.756
Irenaeus in Against Heresies (182-188 A.D.) book 4 ch.34 p.512 says, "And the points connected with the passion of the Lord, which were foretold, were realized in no other case. For neither did it happen at the death of any man among the ancients that the sun set at mid-day, nor was the veil of the temple rent, nor did the earth quake, nor were the rocks rent, not did the dead rise up, nor was any one of these men [of old] raised up on the third day, nor received into heaven... Therefore the prophets spake not of any one else but of the Lord, in whom all these aforesaid tokens concurred."
Tertullian (c.200 A.D.) in On Fasting ch.10 vol.4 p.109 also mentions the darkness accompanying Jesus’ crucifixion. He also mentions it in An Answer to the Jews ch.12 p.170.
Hippolytus was bishop of Portus (222-235/6 A.D.). He mentions that for Jesus’ sake "the sun is darkened, the day has no light, the rocks are shattered, the veil is rent, the foundations of the earth are shaken, the graves are opened, and the dead are raised." Against the Heresy of One Noetus ch.17 p.230
The Ebionite Recognitions of Clement (c.211-250 A.D.) book 1 ch.42 p.88 says that Jesus suffered for us, the sun went dark, and the mountains torn asunder when he went to the cross. He rose again.
Origen (writing 225-254 A.D.) mentions the darkness over the land, and the tombs split open in Against Celsus book 2 chapter 33 p.445.
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) "Word of God is led silently to the slaughter. And when at the cross of the Lord the stars are confounded, the elements are disturbed, the earth quakes, night shuts out the day, the sun,..." Treatises of Cyprian Treatise 9 ch.7 p.486
Dionysius of Alexandria (246-265 A.D.) mentions the earthquake in Matthew. Letter to the Bishop Basilides canon 1 p.94.
Arnobius (297-303 A.D.) in Against the Heathen book 1 ch.53 p.428 mentions the darkness during Jesus’ death.
Athanasius (318 A.D.) (Implied) says the sun was darkened and the earth shaken when the Savior died. The Incarnation of the Word ch.49.4 p.63
Alexander of Alexandria (313-326 A.D.) mentions how the tombs burst open, the earth was rocking and the lights were afraid and the sun and moon disappeared, the stars withdrew their shining when Jesus was suffering on the cross. Epistles on the Arian Heresy Epistle 5.6 p.301
Lactantius (260-325 A.D.) earthquake the same hour that Jesus died and the sun suddenly withdrew its light and there was darkness from the sixth to ninth hours. The Divine Institutes book 4 ch.19 p.122
Hilary of Poitiers (355-367/368 A.D.) (partial) "Creation is set free by the mediation of this Sin-offering; the very rocks lose their solidity and strength." On the Trinity book 3 ch.11 p.65
Athanasius (c.371 A.D.) says "the sun withdrew his beams and the earth trembled and the rocks were rent,..." Personal Letter 61 (To Maximus) ch.2 p.578
Athanasius (356-360 A.D.) mentions that the veil was rent, the sun was hidden, the rocks torn asunder, and the dead in graves rose. Four Discourses Against the Arians Discourse 3 ch.29 p.424
Ephraim the Syrian (350-378 A.D.) says there was darkness and earthquake when Jesus’ died. Nativity Hymns hymn 3 p.273
Cyril of Jerusalem (c.349-386 A.D.) mentioned that the sun ran backward in Hezekiah’s time, and the sun was eclipsed for Christ. (First Catechetical Lecture 2 Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers p.12)
Cyril of Jerusalem (c.349-386 A.D.) says the sun grew dark during the crucifixion. First Catechetical Lecture 4 ch.10 Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers p.21 and the rocks were asunder. Lecture 4 ch.11 p.22
Gregory Nanzianzen (330-391) in discussing Jesus’ crucifixion says "He wrapped the visible world in darkness" and "...for the mysterious doors of Heaven are opened; the rocks are cleft, the dead arise. He dies, but He gives life, and by His death destroys death." On the Son - Third Theological Oration ch.20 p.309
Theodore of Mopsuestia (392-423/429 A.D.) Says the sun and moon were actually darkened in Christ’s time. He also mentions "the saving blood of Christ the Lord" Commentary on Joel ch.2 p.119
Augustine of Hippo (388-430 A.D.) mentions the darkness that occurred when Jesus was crucified. City of God book 3 ch.15 p.51
Q: In the Gospels, is the mention of the darkness and earthquake and torn veil when Christ was crucified only figurative and did not actually happen, because they were not recorded anywhere else, as Some Answered Questions p.37-38 states?
A: No. See the previous question for the evidence for the darkness, and the question on Mt 27:51 for the evidence for the earthquake.
Q: In Lk 23:45-46 the skeptic Bart Ehrman says that the Temple veil ripped while Jesus is alive, but it rips after He died in Mark. (Jesus, Interrupted p.68) Then he asks if the torn veil represents God rejecting the Jewish system of worship, or does it symbolize Jesus atoning for us. (also in Jesus, Interrupted p.52)
A: Two points to consider in the answer. 1) Of course the ripped veil can represent more than one thing, especially when the two things are closely related. It does not actually symbolize that God rejected the Jewish system of worship though; rather that the now that Jesus atoned for sins, the Jewish system of worship was over. (Indeed the temple would be destroyed within 40 years.)
2) Luke does not specify the moment the veil ripped in two. Luke 23:44-46 says there was darkness from the 6th to 9th hour, and the veil of the temple was torn in two, and Jesus cried out before dying. It does not specify the order.
Q: In Lk, the skeptic Bart Ehrman says in Jesus, Interrupted p.46-47, "The death of Jesus important to both Mark and Luke. But for Mark, his death is an atonement; for Luke it is the reason people realized they are sinful and need to turn to God for forgiveness. They reason for Jesus’ death, then, is quite different, depending on which author you read." (also in Jesus, Interrupted p.94)
A: Ehrman is trying to make up a difference of belief between Mark and Luke when there is none. Even Ehrman would recognize that Luke and Acts were by the same author. Probably one of the clearest statements of the atonement made by Luke is in Acts 5:30-31: "The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead – whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel." (underline added to show where Ehrman is wrong.)
Q: In Mt 27:54 and Mk 15:39, did the centurion say, "this was the/a son of God", or "this was a righteous man" as Lk 23:47 says?
A: Both. The centurion was not restricted to uttering only one sentence. The gospels frequently did not quote verbatim, and they did not include every word, so the centurion likely said additional things too.
Most people would agree that during the entire time from when Jesus died to when they wanted to make sure he was dead, to taking His body down from the cross, the centurion had plenty of time to say more than one sentence. It would be quite odd if the centurion was totally silent except for one sentence.
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.346-347 for more info.
Q: What is a harmony of the Gospels after the Resurrection?
A: First of all I should acknowledge that I merely "re-invented the wheel" here. Way back in 246-265 A.D., Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, showed that the gospel writers did not "disagree or contradict each other" and gave a good and rather complete harmony of the gospels after the resurrection in his Letter 5 - to Bishop Basilides canon 1 Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.6 p.94-95. Anyway, here is a harmony of these 29 events, and it agrees with his.
Numbers refers to events that must have in order, and letters such as a,b,c refer to events that could happen in any order. The bold words indicate markers of time, order, and location. The underlined verses show where passages that are not in chronological order.
After Jesus Rose from the Dead: Mt 28, Mk 16, Lk 24, Jn 20-21
R1a. When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, the other Mary [the mother of James], Salome, and the women start to travel to the tomb. Mt 28:1b; Mk 16:1-3; Lk 24:1; Jn 20:1
R2a. There was an earthquake as the angel hurled away the stone. The guards became like dead men. Mt 28:2-4
R2b. The angel hurled away the stone. Mk 16:4; Lk 24:2
R1b. No body found, and two "men" speak to the women. Lk 24:3-8; Jn 20:2
R3. The morning that Jesus rose, an angel appears to the women and tells them to tell the disciples to go to Galilee. Mt 28:5-7; Mk 16:5-8
R4a. While the women were hurrying back, Jesus also appears to the women and tells them to tell the disciples to go to Galilee. Mt 28:8-10
R4b1. When the women returned from the tomb, the disciples do not believe the women. Lk 24:9-11
R4b2. Peter and John run to the tomb; John gets there first. Lk 24:12; Jn 20:3-9
R4b3. Then the disciples return to their homes [in Jerusalem]. Jn 20:10
R4c. The guards tell the priests; the priests then bribe them. Mt 28:11-15
R4d. As Mary wept, two men, and then Jesus, appear to Mary Magdalene. Mk 16:9-11; Jn 20:11-18
R5. The same day on the road to Emmaus, Jesus appears to two disciples (not of the eleven disciples). He stays with them until evening. Mk 16:12; Lk 24:13-29
R6. Immediately the two disciples rushed back to Jerusalem (7 miles away) and tell the 11 disciples. Mk 16:13; Lk 24:33-35
R7. In Jerusalem, the evening of the same day that Jesus rose, while the two are talking to the disciples, Jesus appears, the first time, to ten disciples. Jn 20:19-23
R8. Other disciples tell Thomas they have seen Jesus. Jn 20:25
R9. Eight days later, Jesus appears, 2nd time, to the eleven disciples including Thomas. Mk 16:14; Jn 20:19,26-31
R10. Jesus appears to them (3rd time), by the Sea of Tiberias [Galilee]. They catch 153 fish. Mt 28:19-20; Jn 21:1-14
R11a. Three times, Jesus asks Peter if Peter loves Him. Jn 21:15-23
R11b1. Jesus appears to more than 500 followers. 1 Cor 15:6
R11b2. Jesus appears to James his brother. 1 Cor 15:6
R12. In Galilee Jesus appears to the disciples and gives great commission. Mt 28:16-20; Mk 16:15-18
R13. They return to Jerusalem, either staying there or at Bethany, a suburb.
R14. While they are eating, Jesus commands them to remain in Jerusalem until they received power from on high (Lk 24:49; Acts 1:4). They obey this command. Lk 24:52
R15. Jesus leads them to Bethany, a suburb of Jerusalem on slope of the Mount of Olives. Lk 24:50
R16. Forty days after the resurrection (Acts 1:3), Jesus ascends to Heaven in the clouds. Mk 16:19; Lk 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11
R17a1. Returning to Jerusalem, the apostles remain in the temple. Lk 24:52-53
R17b. The 11 apostles choose Matthias to replace Judas. Acts 1:15-26
R18. In Jerusalem on Pentecost (50 days after the Passover), the apostles are filled with the Holy Spirit. Acts 2
R19. After this, the apostles travel freely. Mk 16:20
Q: In Mt 28:1, Mk 16:2, Lk 24:1, was Mary at the tomb just after sunrise, or did she travel to the tomb while it was still dark as Jn 20:1 says?
A: Both at true. John 20:1 says the walked to the tomb while it was still dark, but Mk 16:2 shows they arrived at the tomb when the sun had risen. If they had stayed in Bethany, and the tomb was just outside of Jerusalem, it would have taken some time to travel from Jerusalem's suburb to Jerusalem. See When Critics Ask p.377 for more info.
Q: In Mt 28:1; Mk 16:1-2, Lk 24:1, Jn 20:1 why did the women go to the tomb, since there was a Roman seal over it in Mt 37:62-66?
A: There are two possible answers, but the second is more likely.
The women thought they would be permitted: It was not a normal custom to put a seal and a guard of Roman soldiers over a tomb. The chief priests and Pharisees specially asked Pilate for those "for the tomb to be made secure until the third day" in Matthew 27:64. The authorities did not want to forbid burial customs, only make sure somebody did not steal the body, so the woman could be expected to be allowed to do this.
The women did not know about the seal and the guard: Guarding the tomb of a criminal and putting a Roman seal and a guard of Roman soldiers around it was highly unusual. Luke 23:55-56 said the women followed Joseph to see where Jesus’ body was laid, and then the left to go home to prepare spices and perfumes. In other words, they did not hang around watching the tomb. The request for the seal and guard was not until the next day according to Mathew 27:62. So the women were likely unaware of any seal and guard.
Q: In Mt 28:1; Mk 16:1-2, Lk 24:1, Jn 20:1 why did the women go to the tomb to wrap the body, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus already wrapped the body in Jn 19:39?
A: Jesus died around 3:00 pm, and there would be some time delay between Joseph of Arimathea asking for the body, Pilate checking that Jesus was in fact dead, and them taking the body down and then carrying it to the tomb. They would not have had sufficient time before dark for a proper burial (think Egyptian mummy-like) before dark. So Joseph and Nicodemus in John 19:38-39 did the first part, including some spices, to keep the body for decomposing for a few days, and then they would return and wrap him properly, i.e. wrap strips of cloth around his arms, legs, torso, and head in the daylight on Sunday. It might seem sort of a gruesome task, but it was a common custom of the time.
In addition, while we do not know so much about Jewish burial practices of that time, but in Egyptian burial practices, some of the preparation of the body did not take place until a few days after anyway.
Q: In Mk 15:47 did Mary Magdalene and Mary mother of Joses saw where Jesus was laid, or was it the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee" as Lk 23:55 says?
A: Both. On one hand, women from Galilee could mean women who traveled with Jesus from Galilee, not necessary born in Galilee. On the other hand, Magdala was a town in Galilee, on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
Q: In Mt 28:1 was the tomb closed, or was the stone rolled away as Lk 24:2 says?
A: Luke 24:2 says the stone was rolled away by the time they got there. Matthew 28:2 also mentions that the stone was rolled away, by way of explanation for Matthew 28:1. Nothing says the women were present when the stone was rolled away.
Q: In Mk 16:4, the skeptic Bart Ehrman asks if the stone had already been rolled away, or was it rolled away by an angel [allegedly] when the women were there (Mt 28:2)?
A: In both gospels the stone was rolled away prior to the angel talking with the women. Matthew 28:2 does not say the women were present at the time the stone was rolled away.
Q: In Mt 28:1-8, Mk 16:1-8, Lk 24:1-10, and Jn 20:1-8, what happened when Jesus was resurrected?
A: Jesus was alive inside his physical body again. His physical body still could be touched (John 20:27; Matthew 28:9; Luke 24:39), and eat (Luke 24:41-43). Jesus said His post-resurrection body had flesh and bones in Luke 24:39, and I think you would agree that Jesus would know better than anyone else! However, Jesus’ body was a glorified physical body that could pass through walls (John 20:19-20) and disappear (Luke 24:31).
Tertullian (198-220/240 A.D.) Christ died for our sins and rose in his flesh. It is the very foundation of the gospel, our salvation. Five Books Against Marcion book 3 ch.8 p.328
Novatian (250/254-256/7 A.D.) He [Jesus] was raised again in the same bodily substance in which He died, is proved by the wounds of that very body, and thus He shows the laws of our resurrection in His flesh, in that He restored the same body in His resurrection which He had from us." Treatise Concerning the Trinity ch.10 p.620.
Adamantius (c.300 A.D.) discusses what if Jesus only suffered in appearance. "If He suffered in appearance, and not in reality, Herod sat in judgment only in appearance; in appearance Pilate washed his hands of Him, and in appearance Judas betrayed Him. Caiaphas likewise delivered Him up in appearance; the Jews seized Him in appearance, and the apostles.... Even His blood was poured out in appearance; the Evangelists preached the Gospel in appearance; Christ came from Heaven in appearance, and He ascended in appearance. The salvation of mankind was also in appearance, and not in truth. Why then does Christ say, ‘I am the truth?’" Dialogue on the True Faith fifth part ch.851a p.149
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.506-508 and When Critics Ask p.395-396 for more info.
Q: In Jn 20:1, did Mary Magdalene come to the tomb alone, or Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (Matt. 28:1), or Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome in Mark 16:1, or Magdalene, Joanna, Mary, the mother of James, and other women in Luke 24:10?
A: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary mother of James, and the other women all came. John 20:1 does NOT say Mary came alone. If a number of women came it is still accurate, though not as precise, to mention one, two or three of them. If some came earlier and some right afterward, it is still accurate for one account to say that some came, and another account to mention the entire group.
Q: In Mt 28:2-5 and Mk 16:5, was there only one angel, or were there two angels as Lk 24:4 and Jn 20:12?
A: If there were two or more angels, then it is also correct that there was one angel. This is one of many examples where the Gospel accounts are accurate, but not precise.
Q: In Mt 28:8 did the women tell the disciples, or did they tell no one as Mk 16:8 says? (Jesus, Interrupted p.48)
A: Mark obviously did not mean the women did not tell anyone the rest of their lives. Certainly they did not tell anyone they saw as they were fleeing from the tomb. If you read all of Matthew 28:8-10, the women ran without telling anyone yet, and then Jesus met them. Jesus said to tell my brothers (i.e. the disciples). If one wants to be picky, strictly speaking Matthew 28 does not actually say the women obeyed and told anyone. However, the actions of the disciples strongly imply that the women told the disciples.
Q: In Mt 28:9 did Mary Magdalene know Jesus when he first appeared to her, or did she not as John 20:14 says?
A: Matthew 28:9 does not say how soon Mary recognized Jesus; it simply tells that they temporarily did recognize Jesus. In John 20:14 Mary did not know it was Jesus at first. But John 20:15-17 also shows that then she DID recognize Jesus.
Q: In Jn 20:29 are those who believe without seeing blessed, or are those who see blessed in Lk 10:23?
A: Jesus is saying two different things in different contexts, and both are blessed, but in different ways.
In John 20:29 Jesus did NOT say those who personally saw a resurrection appearance were not blessed. Rather, Jesus told doubting Thomas, "Because you have seen me [now], you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (NIV) Thomas was making Jesus’ resurrection appearance the ground of his faith. Jesus was saying that those are more blessed (highly commended) who, while having the miracles support their faith, do not make miracles the ground of their faith, as Thomas did.
In Luke 10:23 Jesus is telling the disciples (including Thomas) that they were blessed (shown to be highly favored) to see firsthand the things they saw.
What is the ground for your faith in Christ? If it is just miracles, what if Satan perpetrated a counterfeit miracle? If it is just apologetics, what if you encounter a non-Christian who is a better debater? If it is just having an answer to every Bible objection, what if someone comes up with a new Bible objection that you do not have an answer for? The ground of our faith should be our relationship with Christ; these others things are all good to support our faith, but they should not be the ground for our faith.
See When Critics Ask p.391 for more info.
Q: In Lk 24:44 did the Jews divide the Bible into three sections, or just two sections as Mt 5:17 shows?
A: Jews refereed to it both ways, as did Jesus.
Law and the Prophets: The Jews called the Old Testament the Law and the Prophets according to Matthew 5:17-18; Luke 24:27 (Moses and the Prophets); Zechariah 7:12 (Law or the earlier prophets); 2 Maccabees 15:9; Qumran Manual of Discipline 9.11.
Three fold division (Law, Prophets, Writings) Prologue of Ecclesiasticus (ca.132 B.C.), Philo of Alexandria (ca.40 A.D.) "...studying in that place the laws and the sacred oracles of God enunciated by the holy prophets, and hymns, and psalms, and all kinds of other things..." Contemplative Life 25 p.700, Josephus (37-100 A.D.) Against Apion 1.8, and the Babylonian Talmud (4th century A.D.). Prologue to Sirach has "the Law, Prophets, and the other books of the fathers." Sirach 39:1 says, "law, wisdom, prophecy". The Halakhic Letter from Qumran "the book of Moses, the Prophets, and David and the history of the generation" (4QMMT).
Jesus was apparently not too concerned about the exact division, as long as the readers knew what He meant, as He referred to the Law, the Prophets, and Psalms in Luke 24:44.
See When Critics Ask p.399-400 for more info.
Q: In Lk 24:49, were the disciples to stay in Jerusalem, or did they go to Galilee in Mt 28:10,16?
A: First they were told to go to Galilee, which they did after an eight-day delay. Then they returned to Jerusalem, and Jesus told them to remain there until they received the power from on high. Here is the order of events for the 40 days that Jesus was on this earth, after His resurrection and prior to his ascension.
R2. Go to Galilee, is what an angel told them the morning that Jesus rose (Mark 16:7). Jesus also appeared to the women and told them to tell the disciples to go to Galilee (Matthew 28:9-10).
R7. In Jerusalem, the evening of the same day that Jesus rose, while the two were talking to the eleven, Jesus appeared to ten disciples (John 20:19-23).
R9. Eight days later, Jesus appeared again to all the disciples, including Thomas (John 20:19,24-29).
R10. They went to Galilee, by the Sea of Tiberias [Galilee] (Matthew 28:19-20; John 21:1-24).
R14. They returned to Jerusalem, either staying there or at Bethany, a suburb. (implied)
R15. While they were eating, Jesus commanded them to remain in Jerusalem until they received power from on high (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4). They obeyed this command (Luke 24:52).
R16. Jesus led them to Bethany, a suburb of Jerusalem on slope of the Mount of Olives (Luke 24:50).
R17. Forty days after the Resurrection (Acts 1:3), Jesus ascended to Heaven in the clouds (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11).
R19. They were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, which was 50 days after Passover (Acts 2).
R20. After that, they went freely between Jerusalem and other cities.
See the question on the harmony after the Resurrection for the comprehensive sequence of events, and When Critics Ask p.400 for more info.
Q: Is the "Testimonium Flavianum" of Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews 18.63-64 historically reliable?
A: First what it says in Hebrew, and then a discussion. It says, "About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Christ. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing among us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvelous things about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, have still to this day not disappeared."
Michael J. Wilkins and J.P. Moreland in Jesus Under Fire : Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus p.212-213 says, "Scholarly opinion about this passage can be divided into three camps: (1) those who defend the essential authenticity of the passage; (2) those who reject the entire passage;" (3) those who believe that the passage has an authentic core but also includes Christian insertions. Most recent scholarship has favored the last opinion." The Arabic version, by Agapius, the 11th century Melkite bishop of Hierapolis in Syria, says "good conduct" instead of "miracles", after three days is the word "report", and "perhaps" is inserted before "he was the Messiah." Eusebius of Caesarea (fl. 325 A.D.) quotes this passage, but Origen (225-254 A.D.), remarks that Josephus spoke of James, but did NOT speak of Christ in Origen Against Celsus book 1 ch.47 p.416; book 2 ch.13 p.437.
Q: Which early writers referred to the gospels as the gospels?
A: Here is the list.
To Diognetus (c.130 A.D.) ch.11 p.29 "...the faith of the gospels is established, and the tradition of the Apostles is preserved..."
Justin Martyr (151-155 A.D.) "For the Apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them;" First Apology of Justin ch.66 p.185
Theophilus to Autolycus (168-181/188 A.D.) book 3 ch.12 p.114 says "found both with the prophets and in the Gospels, because they all spoke inspired by one Spirit of God."
Hegesippus (c.170 A.D.) Five Books of Commentaries on the Acts of the Church ch.3 vol.8 p.764 mentions the Scripture of the Gospels.
Claudius Apollinaris (160-180 A.D.) mentions Matthew, the Gospels, and the law. Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.8 ch.772
Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) "It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. ... the ‘pillar and ground’ of the Church is the Gospel and the spirit of life; it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side." Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.11.8
Irenaeus mentions "examining the gospels" in Irenaeus Against Heresies book 2 ch.22.3 p.390
Muratorian canon (c.190-217 A.D.) Third book of the gospels is Luke. Muratorian Canon 1. (So the unnamed Matthew and Mark are counted as two.)
Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.) mentions the prophecies, the gospels, and the apostolic words in Who is the Rich Man That Shall be Saved ch.42 p.604
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) says Marcion "labours very hard to destroy the character of those Gospels which are published as genuine and under the name of the apostles, in order, forsooth, to secure for his own Gospel the credit which he takes away from them." Tertullian’s Five Books Against Marcion book 4 ch.3 p.348. Also book 5 ch.2 p.432 and On the Resurrection of the Flesh ch.33 p.568
Tertullian (c.213 A.D.) "Or perhaps, after all, he was only reproaching the Gospels with a lie, saying in fact: "Away with Matthew; away with Luke!" Against Praxeas ch.1 p.597
Hippolytus (225-235/6 A.D.) mentions the Gospels in The Refutation of All Heresies book 6 ch.24 p.85.
Origen (225-254 A.D.) has two whole chapters on why the gospels and not other books are called that in Commentary of John book 1 ch.7,8. p.300,301
Origen (225-254 A.D.) spoke of the New Testament and said there were only four gospels. Origen’s Commentary on John (225-231 A.D.) book 1 ch.1 p.299.
Novatian (250-247 A.D.) "For as well the ancient prophecies as the Gospels testify Him to be the son of Abraham and the son of David" Treatise on the Trinity ch.9 p.618
Treatise on Rebaptism ch.17 p.677 (250-258 A.D.) "For of this adulterous, yea, murderous baptism, if there is any other author, it is then certainly a book devised by these same heretics on behalf of this same error, which is inscribed The Preaching of Paul in which book, contrary to all Scriptures, thou wilt find both Christ confessing His own sin-although He alone did no sin at all-and almost compelled by His mother Mary unwillingly to receive John's baptism. Also, that when He was baptized, fire was seen to be upon the water, which is written in neither of the Gospels."
Cyprian of Carthage (246-258 A.D.) mentions the Gospels in Letter 72 ch.17 p.383
Dionysius of Alexandria (246-265 A.D.) mentions the four "evangelists" by name. Letter to Bishop Basilides canon 1 p.94
Archelaus (262-278 A.D.) mentions the "gospels" in Disputation with Manes ch.5 p.182
Diodorus (262-278 A.D.) appeals to "the Apostle Paul and the Gospels" Disputation with Manes ch.45 p.221
Adamantius (c.300 A.D.) mentions four who preached the gospel, but they preached the same, so the four gospels are one gospel. Dialogue on the True Faith First part ch.6 p.43.
Victorinus of Petau (martyred 304 A.D.) says the world is composed of four elements, just as there are four gospels, four generations from Adam to Noah, from Abraham to Moses, four rivers in paradise, four soldiers at the crucifixion, four living creatures, and four seasons. On the Creation of the World p.341
Methodius (280-312 A.D.) "For which cause, also, four Gospels have been given, because God has four times given the Gospel to the human race," Banquet of the Ten Virgins Discourse 10 ch.2 p.348
Athanasius (318 A.D.) quotes Luke 19:10: "as He [Jesus] says Himself in the Gospels: ‘I came to find and to save the lost.’ Incarnation of the Word ch.14 p.43
Athanasius (318 A.D.) quotes John 3:3,5. "He [Jesus] says Himself in the Gospels: ‘I came to find and to save the lost.’" Incarnation of the Word ch.14 p.43
Alexander of Alexandria (313-326 A.D.) mentions God who gave us the Law, the prophets, and the Gospels. Epistles on the Arian Heresy Epistle 1 ch.12 p.295
Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History (323-326 A.D.) book 3 ch.24 p.152 discusses the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series vol.1 p.152
Juvencus (329 A.D.) (partial) wrote an epic poem using the four gospels, but he did not call them gospels.
Hilary of Poitiers (355-367/368 A.D.) "Again the Gospels fill up what is lacking in one another: we learn some things from one, some from another, and so on, because all are the proclamation of the same spirit." The Trinity book 10 ch.42 p.193
Athanasius (367 A.D.) "Again it is not tedious to speak of the [books] of the New Testament. These are, the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John." (Athanasius’ Festal Letter 39 ch.5 p.552)
Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae (350-370 A.D. or fifth century)
Cheltenham Canon (=Mommsen Catalogue) (ca.360-370 A.D.) mentions the gospels.
Ephraim/Ephrem, Syrian hymn-writer (350-378 A.D.)
Basil of Cappadocia (357-378/379 A.D.)
Synod of Laodicea (in Phrygia) (343-381 A.D.) canon 60 p.159 lists the books of the Old Testament and the New Testament. Canon 59 p.158 says only the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments may be read in church.
Cyril of Jerusalem (c.349-386 A.D.) says there were only four gospels in Lecture 4:36 p.27
Gregory of Nazianzen (330-391 A.D.)
Pacian of Barcelona (342-379/392 A.D.)
Amphilochius Iambi ad Seleucum (before 394 A.D.)
Gregory of Nyssa (c.356-397 A.D.) mentions the Gospels in Against Eunomius book 2 ch.4 p.104, and On Infant Early Deaths p.378
Syrian Catalogue of St. Catherine’s (ca.400 A.D.) mentions the gospels.
Epiphanius of Salamis (360-403 A.D.) mentions the four gospels, 14 letters of Paul, James, Peter, John, Jude, Acts, Apocalypse of John, Wisdom of Solomon and Sirach (=Ecclesiasticus).
Pope Innocent I of Rome (ca.405 A.D.) mentions the four gospels.
Rufinus’ Commentary on the Apostles Creed (374-406 A.D.) mentions the four gospels.
John Chrysostom (martyred 406 A.D.) discusses where there are four gospels, not just one in The Gospel of Matthew Homily 1.6 p.3. (vol.10)
Orosius/Hosius of Braga (414-418 A.D.) mentions the gospels. Defense Against the Pelagians ch.7 p.123
Council of Carthage (218 bishops) (393-419 A.D.)
Sulpicius/Sulpitius Severus (363-420 A.D.) mentions the Gospels in Sulpitius Severus Dialog 1 ch.26 p.37 and Dialog 2 ch.13 p.45
Jerome (317-420 A.D.) mentions each of the four gospels by name as the Lord’s team of four in letter 53.9 p.101.
Sozomen (370-380/425 A.D.) mentions the gospels in Sozomen’s Ecclesiastical History book 2 ch.14 p.267
Augustine of Hippo (388-430 A.D.) mentions the Epistles of Paul and then the four books of the Gospel. On The Profit of Believing ch.7 p.350
John Cassian (419-430 A.D.)
Vincent of Lerins (c.434 A.D.)
Socrates’ Ecclesiastical History (c.400-439 A.D.) book 3 ch.16 p.87 says that Apollinaris expounded the gospels.
Socrates’ Ecclesiastical History (c.400-439 A.D.) book 3 ch.20 p.89 mentions the Jews and the Law of Moses and Christ in the holy gospels.
Evidence of heretics and spurious books
The Encratite heretic Tatian (-177 A.D.) wrote a harmony of the four gospels called the Diatessaron, which means "through [the] four".
X Megethius (c.300 A.D.) a self-labelled follower of Marcion, in his debate with Adamantius says he rejects the four gospels. Dialogue on the True Faith first part ch.1 p.36
Pelagian heretic Theodore of Mopsuestia (392-423/429 A.D.) quotes Matthew 5:23-24 as given by the Lord in the Gospels. Commentary on Malachi ch.2 p.410
Pelagian heretic Theodore of Mopsuestia (392-423/429 A.D.) quotes Mark 10:2-9 as "by the Lord in the gospels". Commentary on Malachi ch.2 p.412
Pelagian heretic Theodore of Mopsuestia (392-423/429 A.D.) alludes to Luke 11:42 as "in the gospels." Commentary on Hosea ch.5 p.63
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