Contradictions in the Gospels about Jesus’ Resurrection

Reading Time: 11 minutes

It’s been told to me by a number of atheists that there are contradictions in the Bible about Jesus’ resurrection within the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I’ve pointed out their fallacy of taking out of context the verses by their leaving out or adding specifics when none is mentioned, stating omission is contradiction, and informed them that total numbers, sets of events and the precise times aren’t given to us as these atheists keep insisting, exists. Yet these atheists continue to assert that they are correct about contradictions being in the four Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote. Well, let’s take a look at these four Gospels telling us about Jesus’ resurrection from death and see if there are any contradictions in them as these atheists claim.

First, let’s get on the same page about what a ‘contradiction’ is and what a contradiction is not. The following definition of “contradiction” is taken directly from the “Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary” at this link: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contradiction

Definition of CONTRADICTION

1 : act or an instance of contradicting

2 a : a proposition, statement, or phrase that asserts or implies both the truth and falsity of something b : a statement or phrase whose parts contradict each other <a round square is a contradiction in terms>

3 a : logical incongruity b : a situation in which inherent factors, actions, or propositions are inconsistent or contrary to one another

An example of a contradiction and an example which is not a contradiction:

Contradiction Example:

If I say to you, “I have only one apple.” And then I turn to tell a friend of yours that, “I have two apples.” I have just contradicted myself in what I said. When I qualified my statement to you that I have “only” one apple and then turned to your friend and said that I have “two” apples, it is a clear contradiction.

Not a Contradiction Example:

If I said to you, “I have four apples in my hands.” And then I turn to a friend of yours and say, “I have in total 15 apples.” Both statements I made would be true and not in contradiction of each other because if I have 15 apples in total, indeed then I could have four apples in my hands. Note that if I had said to you, “I ‘only’ have four apples.” When I did have 15 apples, this would have been a contradiction between what I told you and your friend about how many apples I had. When I first told you that I had “four” apples in my hands, I omitted telling you that I had eleven more apples too. An omission isn’t a contradiction.

Now, let’s get on the same page about what ‘omit’ is. The following definition of “omit” is taken directly from the “Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary” at this link: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/omit

Definition of OMIT

1 : to leave out or leave unmentioned

 

We’ve just seen some simple examples of contradiction and omission with regard a number of items (‘apples’) and now we will look at some examples regarding timelines, events, and items.

If I tell you that at 12:06pm yesterday I went to the store and bought a new laptop for a great price from Jackson at the corner of 5th and Pine then I tell your friend that I bought a fast laptop yesterday for $350 which was loaded with software yesterday around noon at the new computer store. Is this a contradiction? No, it is not a contradiction. To both you and your friend I omitted to tell some of the events and details of my purchasing the laptop and about the laptop but there clearly isn’t any contradiction. To both of you too I clearly told you about my purchase of a laptop which was the primary subject of the story I was telling you both. Also, when the two of you get together and talk about my purchase of the laptop, you will each gain more insight into the more complete set of details of my purchasing a laptop yesterday by putting together the details you each have from what I told you both.

If I tell you that yesterday I went to the new computer store at 5th and Pine, purchased a laptop at 12:06pm and then went home at around 12:30pm to hook it up to my local wireless network and ate lunch at home at 12:45pm and played games on the internet for a couple of hours then took a nap only to then tell your friend that yesterday I went home and right to bed after I purchased a laptop at lunch time. Is this a contradiction or omission? It’s in fact both a contradiction and omission. I omit telling your friend about hooking up the laptop to the wireless network, eating lunch, and playing games on the internet for a couple of hours and contradict what I told you to your friend by saying that after I purchased the laptop I went right home to bed after purchasing the laptop at lunch time. This example clearly has both omissions and contradictions and only partial truths yet due to the contradictions it isn’t clear what the truth is in this story about my actions after my buying a laptop.

Okay, now that hopefully we are on the same page about what a contradictions are and are not and what an omission is, let’s look into the claim that atheists have made to me about there being are contradictions in Bible about the telling of Jesus’ resurrection within the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

 

Listed here are the four Gospels that atheists have told me contain contradictions about Jesus’ resurrection.

Matthew 28:1-15 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2028:1-15&version=NIV

Mark 16:1-20 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark%2016:1-20&version=NIV

Luke 24:1-50 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%2024:1-50&version=NIV

John 20:1-31 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%2020:1-31&version=NIV

 

Number of women who went to Jesus’ Tomb

Some atheists tell me that there is a contradiction with the number of women who went to Jesus’ tomb. These atheists say that John says “only Mary Magdalene” went to the tomb and that the other Gospels tell of other women who went. Read John 20:1 and note that it doesn’t say that it was, “only” Mary Magdalene who went to the tomb. John omitted to tell about any other women who went to the tomb with Mary Magdalene and did not contradict the other Gospels which tell of other women who went to the tomb with Mary Magdalene. Nor do any of the Gospels say that Mary Magdalene didn’t visit Jesus’ tomb nor are there any mention of a specific number in any of the Gospels about the number of women who went to Jesus’ tomb. There are no contradictions about the number of women who went to Jesus’ tomb. 

Who saw the stone being moved away from Jesus’ Tomb

Some atheists tell me that there are contradictions with the stone being moved away from the tomb and who many women saw it happen. Read Matthew 28:2-4. Note that in Matthew 28:2-4 it doesn’t say any women witnessed the stone being moved from the tomb. Read Mark 16:1-4; Luke 24:1-2; John 20:1. Note that these Gospels also do not tell of any of the women seeing the stone being moved from the tomb. Matthew 28:2-4 says that the guards were afraid of the one who rolled back the stone and sat on it. There is no contradiction within any of these Gospels about how many women or about who saw the stone being removed from Jesus’ tomb.

How many angles talked to the Women and to Mary Magdalene in Particular

Some atheists tell me that there’s a contradiction with the number of angles talking to the women at Jesus’ tomb. Read Matthew 28:5. It says, “The angel said to the women…” so from Matthew we know there’s at least one angel talking to the women but we don’t know where it is that this angel is talking with them and with the exception of knowing it is after the stone is moved, we don’t know at which point in time it is that this angel is talking with them. Read Mark 16:5-6. Now we find that as the women entered the tomb on the right side they saw and were talked to by a young man dressed in a white robe. So with both Matthew and Mark, we know at least one being (described as an angel or young man dressed in white) was on the right side of the tomb when he talked to the women after they entered the tomb. Read Luke 24:3-5. In Luke we learn that there were at least two beings described as men in clothes that gleamed like lightning, who appeared suddenly beside the women, after they entered into the tomb. Putting this information from Luke with what we learned from Matthew and Mark, we know that after the women went into the tomb (but how long it was after or how soon it was after we were not told) there were at least two beings, described as dressed in gleaming white like lightning and as young men and one as angelic.

No contradictions to this point but let’s now read John 20:1-18. Reading John 20:1-2 we see that Mary Magdalene had after finding out that Jesus wasn’t in the tomb ran to tell Simon Peter and others that Jesus was no longer in the tomb. We also find out that she didn’t believe what she was told (which we know what she was told from Matthew, Mark, and Luke) about Jesus’ rise from the dead. Reading John 20:3-9 we find that Jesus’ disciples went to Jesus’ tomb and there is no mention of anyone taking with the women at Jesus’ tomb. So there are no contradictions in the Gospels about the number of beings however there are different details given and omissions of some details yet no contradictions.

However, continuing reading John 20:10-18 we do find that after Jesus’ disciples left Jesus’ tomb, Mary (we are not told which Mary until verse 18) went back to Jesus’ tomb. Upon Mary Magdalene’s return trip to the tomb she looked into the tomb and this time saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been. John 20:14 we read that Mary Magdalene turned around and soon realized that Jesus had come to be behind her as she was looking into the tomb at the two angels. Note that Luke omits telling about Jesus talking with Mary Magdalene yet Mark 16:9 makes mention of it without the detail given in John. Matthew in Matthew 28:9 makes no mention of Jesus’ specific first meeting with Mary Magdalene yet does tell us that Jesus suddenly meets the women sometime after they had left the tomb. No contradictions just different various details being highlighted by the authors of the Gospels yet each author insures that the main subject that they are writing about (Jesus’ rise from death) was the main focus of the events described.

There are No Contradictions in the Bible

You have learned by looking into the contradictions claimed by atheists about Jesus’ resurrection within the Gospels that there are no contradictions. Keeping in context what the authors wrote about the resurrection of Jesus from death, there are no contradictions in the Gospels. To get contradictions, the atheists who make claims that contradictions exist create the illusion of contradictions in numerous ways and these atheists are counting on you not actually reading for yourself the actual Bible for yourself. These atheists rely upon you believing them and that you will not actually read the Bible for yourself to find the truth. One way atheists make contradictions in the Bible is to pull a verse out of its overall context within a chapter when that verse isn’t a verse which stands alone. If you do not understand the context that the verse come from, then you may actually believe that there is some sort of contradiction when in fact, reading the chapter that the verse comes from will disprove any contradiction. Another way atheist makes claim to contradictions existing in the Bible is by adding qualifying terms like, “only” when “only” doesn’t exist in the verse. Take for example the atheists saying that John 20:1 says; “only Mary Magdalene went to the tomb” when it doesn’t. Again, these atheists are counting on you not knowing nor reading for yourself the Bible to put into context what the Bible actually says as opposed to what the atheist say it says. Many more ways atheists can make the Bible seem to have contradictions in it if you do not take it upon yourself to read the whole Bible in context.

Simple Demonstration of how to Take Something Out of Context

Let’s do a simple demonstration of an intelligent human being displaying the ability to see when something has been taken out of context or not. The following quote was taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson

“Jefferson’s commitment to liberty extended to many areas of individual freedom. In his “commonplace book,” he copied a passage from Cesare, Marquis of Beccaria related to the issue of gun control. The quote reads, “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms … disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes … Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”

This is taken out of context from that quote: Jefferson wanted, ‘Laws that forbid the carrying of arms’ so to, ‘disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes’ because he felt laws like that would be a way to help prevent crimes.

Now with that being taken out of context from that Wikipedia link about Thomas Jefferson, did you have to read the whole link about Thomas Jefferson to correct the statements above or just the paragraph which was taken out of context? In this case just the paragraph which was taken out of context however if you read the whole link about Thomas Jefferson you will better understand who he is and what he thought and his nature.

You can Confirm that there are No Contradictions in the Bible

Studying the Bible as a whole to understand what is being taught in it is the best way to confirm that there are no contradictions in it. Understanding passages within the Bible comes from reading it for yourself and not taking someone else’s word for what it says. Human beings are capable of learning from reading because we are intelligent beings created in God’s image and not just an animal. When people study they read books and comprehend the subject within the book through their intellect and their desire to comprehend it properly. If you were to study the Bible you would find that it is very consistent and through its consistency if you take the time to actually honestly study it, you will understand and know when something is taken out of context or not and how to put things into context if something is taken out of context.

With an understanding of the whole Bible, you will understand the nature of God and from that you will know when something is taken out of context about God’s nature. Knowing God’s nature then helps put into proper context what is written in the Bible and know God’s will. So it is good to read and study the Bible and understand it as a whole so to know when someone takes something out of context and so that you can properly explain to them what the context is.

A Challenge to You

It is of course your choice to make to read and study the Bible in context. I challenge you to point out an actual contradiction in the Bible to me. You best make sure that before you actually point out a contradiction to me that it is a contradiction and not just something taken out of context. I will give to you another hint about contradictions in the Bible, there are not any contradictions in the Bible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.