Refutation of 194 Biblical “Contradictions” (#1-25)

Refutation of 194 Biblical “Contradictions” (#1-25) April 5, 2022

I will be resolving all of the alleged “contradictions” from the web page entitled “194 CONTRADICTIONS, New Testament.” It’s perpetually striking to observe how many of these are obviously not logical contradictions, and how very easy they are to refute (many being patently and evidently absurd). A few here and there do seem to be genuinely perplexing (at first glance) and require at least some thought and study and serious examination (they save my patience). But all are ultimately able to be (in my humble opinion) decisively resolved. All of my biblical citations are from RSV. The words from that web page will be in blue.

See further installments:

Refutation of 194 Biblical “Contradictions” (#26-50) [4-6-22]

Refutation of 194 Biblical “Contradictions” (#51-75) [4-7-22]

Refutation of 194 Biblical “Contradictions” (#76-100) [4-8-22]

Refutation of 194 Biblical “Contradictions” (#101-125) [4-8-22]

Refutation of 194 Biblical “Contradictions” (#126-150) [4-9-22]

Refutation of 194 Biblical “Contradictions” (#151-175) [4-11-22]

Refutation of 194 Biblical “Contradictions” (#176-194) [4-11-22]


1) Jesus’ lineage was traced through David’s son Solomon. Mt.1:6.
Jesus’ lineage was traced through David’s son Nathan. Lk.3:31.

Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin decisively refuted this one:

Queen Elizabeth II descends from William the Conqueror (c. 1028-1087) by the line of King Henry I and the line of St. Adela of Normandy, both of whom were William’s children. In fact, Elizabeth II is descended from William by multiple lines (at least eight through Adela alone). . . .

Jesus, . . . descended from David by both the Solomon and Nathan lines . . . This is not unexpected. David lived a millennium before Jesus. Matthew records twenty-seven intervening generations, so according to the doubling pattern, Jesus would have at least 67,108,864 ancestors in David’s generation. (“Questions About Jesus’ Genealogies”, 3-11-22)

2) The announcement of the special birth came before conception. Lk.1:26-31.
The announcement of the special birth came after conception. Mt.1:18-21.

Luke details the Annunciation, which was God’s “proposition” to Mary, which she accepted (being willing to bear God in the flesh). Matthew gives an account from the perspective of Joseph. An angel tells him, “do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (1:20). I don’t see how two announcements about the same event, given to the two people involved, is any sort of “contradiction.” It’s no more contradictory than a doctor informing a woman that she is pregnant, and the woman informing her husband that she is pregnant. It’s simply two announcements to two people about the same thing. No one would say that both are the same (one) announcement.

3) Jesus’ parents were told of their son’s future greatness. Mt.1:18-21; Lk.1:28-35.
Jesus’ parents knew nothing of their son’s potential. Lk.2:48-50.

The notion of Mary and Joseph knowing “nothing” is reading into the text what isn’t there. They were simply bewildered about one particular thing that He said. No doubt He had been calling Joseph “father” for twelve years, so they were probably startled that He used it in a different sense. It could very well have been merely a momentary confusion, followed by a realization of “ah, of course that’s right; we knew that!”

I think it likely was also the case that they were taken aback by Jesus’ use of “my father” with regard to God, since this was terminology used only once in the entire Old Testament. It is true that “thou art our Father” and “thou, O LORD, art our Father” (Is 63:16), and “O LORD, thou art our Father” (Is 64:8) appear (a collective use), but “Thou art my Father, my God” occurs (interestingly) only with regard to the Messiah (Ps 89:26) — Jesus, of course, being the Messiah. As far as I have been able to tell, this is the only time such an address is seen in the Old Testament.

So I think they were momentarily startled, without it necessarily following that they forget all that God through angels had revealed to them. Jesus’ “softspokenness” and humility regarding His divinity is then brought out in the next verse: “he . . . was obedient to them” (2:52). See my paper,  Mary’s Knowledge About Jesus’ Divinity [2000 and 1-8-02].

4) The angel told Joseph. Mt.1:20.
The angel told Mary. Lk.1:28.

See my reply to #2. This is clearly silly.

5) There were 28 generations from David to Jesus. Mt.1:17.
There were 43 generations from David to Jesus. Lk.3:23-31.

This assumes that Hebrew genealogies always include every single generation. They do not. I prove that this is the case at great length in my article, Reply to Atheist Jonathan MS Pearce: “Contradictory” Genealogies of Christ? [7-27-17]. One excerpt:

In a long, fascinating article devoted to such alleged “gaps” or “omissions” (filled with many biblical proofs of this casually accepted practice in ancient Hebrew culture), Presbyterian theologian William Henry Green observed:

It can scarcely be necessary to adduce proof to one who has even a superficial acquaintance with the genealogies of the Bible, that they are frequently abbreviated by the omission of unimportant names. In fact, abridgment is the general rule, induced by the indisposition of the sacred writers to encumber their pages with more names than were necessary for their immediate purpose. . . .

The result of our investigations thus far is sufficient to show that it is precarious to assume that any biblical genealogy is designed to be strictly continuous, unless it can be subjected to some external tests which prove it to be so. (“Primeval Chronology” Bibliotheca Sacra [April, 1890], 285-303).

6) Jacob was Joseph’s father. Mt.1:16.
Heli was Joseph’s father. Lk.3:23.

Jimmy Akin provides five possible solutions, but only one of them has historical corroboration:

Around A.D. 200, the early Church historian Julius Africanus wrote a letter in which he addressed the subject. Large portions of this letter are preserved by Church historian Eusebius (see Church History 1:7).

And Africanus indicates his source: It was the extended family of Jesus, which continued to be known down to the mid-3rd century (c. A.D. 250; see Richard Bauckham, Jude and the Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church, 45-133). . . .

According to Julius Africanus, Jesus’ extended family indicated that Joseph was the child of a levirate marriage. The two brothers were Jacob and Heli (aka Eli), and according to Africanus:

Thus, we shall find the two, Jacob and Eli, although belonging to different families, yet brethren by the same mother.

Of these the one—Jacob—when his brother Eli had died childless, took the latter’s wife and begat by her a son Joseph, his own son by nature and in accordance with reason.

Wherefore also it is written [in Matthew]: “Jacob begat Joseph.”

But according to law he was the son of Eli, for Jacob, being the brother of the latter, raised up seed to him (Church History 1:7:9). . . .

Unlike the former explanations of the relationship of Jacob and Heli—which are possible but rely on conjecture—here we have an explanation that was being reported by Jesus’ own family at a very early date.

Since it is preserved by Julius Africanus, it must predate his time of writing, meaning it was circulating in the second century or even the first.

And it indicates that Joseph did, indeed, have two fathers due to his being the product of a levirate marriage—his legal father being Heli and his biological father Jacob. (“Who Was Jesus’ Grandfather?”, 3-12-22)

His other four possible explanations are:

  • Jacob and Heli may have been two names for the same person
  • One of the skipped generations may have occurred just before Joseph [see #5]
  • Adoption may have been involved
  • Mary may have been an heiress, whose legal ancestry Joseph inherited upon marrying her

7) He was to be called Emmanuel. Mt.1:23.
He was called Jesus. Mt.1:25.

People often had more than one name in the Bible. Jimmy Akin (ibid.), stated that “we see this repeatedly in the first generation of Christians (Simon/Peter, Joseph/Barnabas, Saul/Paul, John/Mark).” And we see it in the Old Testament (Abram/Abraham, Jacob/Israel, etc.). But in this instance, Jesus (Yeshua in Aramaic) was His actual given name. Emmanuel was a descriptive title based on his Incarnation and absolute uniqueness. As Matthew 1:23 informs us, it “means, God with us.”

8) Joseph, Mary, and Jesus flee to Egypt while Herod slaughters all males under 2 years old. Mt.2:13-16. (Note: Jesus’ cousin, John, was also under 2 and survived without having to flee.)
Joseph, Mary, and Jesus did not flee to Egypt, but remained for temple rituals. No slaughter of infants is mentioned! Lk.2:21-39.

This is an argument from silence, which is never effective, and is actually a logical fallacy, alongside the similar argument from ignorance. The fact that Luke doesn’t mention these things, doesn’t make them untrue. To not say that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus fled to Egypt is not the same as denying it. The same applies to the Slaughter of the Innocents. 

But beyond that, the definitive refutation is that the two passages refer to completely different time-periods, and so, as a result, are not contradictory. Luke 2:21-39 refers to the time when Jesus was between eight and forty days old (when purification rites were done). Matthew 2:13-16, on the other hand, is during the visit of the Wise Men (magi), which is when Jesus was 1-2 years’ old (and this is when Herod ordered the Slaughter). Many people think it occurred at His birth, but this isn’t the case, as I explain in my paper, Pearce’s Potshots #65: Who First Visited Baby Jesus? [2-26-22]:

When the magi stopped by, Jesus was a toddler. The word for child in Matthew 2:8-9 is paidion (Strong’s word #3813): defined as “a young child . . . properly, a child under training; the diminutive form of 3816 /país (“child”). . . . implies a younger child (perhaps seven years old or younger). . . .

The magi visit a “house” (Mt 2:11), not a baby in a “manger” (Lk 2:7, 12, 16), in a place which was, in fact, very much a cave (I’ve been there). There are no angels (Lk 2:9-10, 13-15), shepherds (Lk 2:8, 15-18), or animals are in sight. The star of Bethlehem is a factor in Matthew’s account only. Luke never mentions it. The picture of the star of Bethlehem shining down on baby Jesus (surprisingly enough) is not biblical at all.

The “contradiction” vanishes, once these facts are known. The tidbit about John the Baptist is thrown in as an extra “bonus.” The problem with it is: we have no reason to believe that John ever resided in Bethlehem in the first place. Many commentators believe John was born and grew up in Hebron, which was a city of priests (Josh 21:11), — his father, Zechariah, was a priest (Lk 1:5) –, and in the hill country region of Judaea. Moreover, it belonged to the house of Aaron (himself a priest), and his wife Elizabeth was “of the daughters of Aaron” (Lk 1:5). Hebron is 13 miles from Bethlehem, so it is altogether doubtful that John the Baptist (who was 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 at the time), was ever in range of Herod’s butchers.

9) Jesus was tempted during the 40 days in the wilderness. Mk.1:13.
Jesus was tempted after the 40 days in the wilderness. Mt.4:2,3.

Matthew 4 clearly refers to the same incident in the wilderness. The confusion comes from the word “afterward” in Matthew 4:2. But the passage following goes right back to His time in the wilderness, and is parallel to the other Gospel accounts. In any event, Matthew 4:1 makes it clear that the devil’s attempt to tempt Jesus was in the wilderness: “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Language must be interpreted in context, and so many alleged “biblical contradictions” utterly ignore context: thus rendering themselves silly and frivolous and mindless; irrational.

10) The devil first took Jesus to the pinnacle, then to the mountain top. Mt.4:5-8.
The devil first took Jesus to the mountain top, then to the pinnacle. Lk.4:5-9.

Matthew doesn’t specify sequence. He says: “Again [as opposed to “later” or “afterwards”], the devil took him to a very high mountain . . .” (4:8).Nor does Luke indicate sequence. He says, “And he took him to Jerusalem, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple . .. ” (4:9). Therefore, a contradiction of sequence cannot occur, since sequence isn’t specified in the first place. This is a prime example of countless “contradictions” where those bringing them up exhibit a very dim comprehension of the basic laws of logic.

11) Satan tempted Jesus. Mt.4:1-10; Mk.1:13; Lk.4:1,2.
Satan had no interest in Jesus. Jn.14:30.

This is ridiculous. Jesus merely notes in John that the devil had “no power over” Him. This has nothing to do with whether Satan would try to tempt Him or not. He would and did because he is stupid and ignorant, and doesn’t know that he’s completely out of his league, to try to manipulate Jesus. Any being who is present with God in heaven and chooses to rebel and leave “for better things” has to be absolutely the stupidest and most tragic creature imaginable.

12) The baptism of Jesus was with the “Holy Ghost”. Mk.1:8; Jn.1:33.
Fire was also added to the baptism. Mt.3:11; Lu.3:16.

This is a biblically illiterate alleged “contradiction” (we all live and learn). It’s comparing apples and oranges. Being “baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Mk 1:8; Mt 3:11; Acts 1:5; 11:16) is receiving the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; 1 Cor 12:15), and is not water baptism (Acts 11:16). Nor is the baptism of fire, water baptism. It’s a metaphor for suffering or persecution:

Mark 10:33-34, 37-38 saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and deliver him to the Gentiles; [34] and they will mock him, and spit upon him, and scourge him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise.” . . . [37] And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” [38] But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”

Luke 12:49-50 I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! [50] I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!

Since these are two different things, they’re obviously not contradictory.

13) John knew of Jesus before he baptized him. Mt.3:11-13; Jn.1:28,29.
John knew nothing of Jesus at all. Mt.11:1-3.

Matthew 11:1-3 doesn’t say he knew “nothing” of Him at all. John, while being persecuted in prison, simply wondered (it could have been for only ten minutes, for all we know) if Jesus was indeed the Messiah. It was merely a temporary lack of faith, in his suffering (probably without food or sleep). It shows that John was a human being, like all of us, and like all the saints are. The Bible is realistic about human nature, and the faults and imperfections even of great and saintly persons.

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers wrote about this Matthew 3:11: “The sickness of deferred hope turns the full assurance of faith into something like despair. So of old Jeremiah had complained, in the bitterness of his spirit, that Jehovah had deceived him (Jeremiah 20:7).”  Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges adds: “In the weariness and misery of the prison the faith of the strongest fails for a moment. It is not doubt, but faith wavering: ‘Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.’ ” [Mk 9:24]

14) Jesus begins his ministry after John’s arrest. Mk.1:13,14.
Jesus begins his ministry before John’s arrest. Jn.3:22-24.

Mark simply doesn’t state that He “began His ministry” then. It’s words “being put into his mouth.” He says, rather, “after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,” (1:14). The emphasis was on location. John, on the other hand, writes, “Jesus and his disciples went into the land of Judea” (3:22).

Apples and oranges; no “contradiction.” Keep trying, atheists and skeptics! Hope springs eternal!

15) It is recorded that Jesus saw the spirit descending. Mt.3:16; Mk.1:10.
It is recorded that John saw the spirit descending. Jn.1:32.

They both saw the same thing. So what? If my wife and I both see a meteor lighting up the night sky, that’s somehow a “contradiction”?! Remember, that’s what all of these are supposed to be, according to our never-ending critics.

16) The heavenly voice addressed the gathering. Mt.3:17.
The heavenly voice addressed Jesus. Mk.1:11; Lk.3:22.

I think this can be classified as a trifling difference, based on expected differential memory in finer details of eyewitnesses, or in oral traditions originating from witnesses. There is no essential difference; it’s simply the distinction between second person address (“Thou” / “You”) and a third person statement.

It’s also true that the Gospel writers may not always necessarily intend to produce exact citations. Sometimes (in a time long before videos and tape recorders or even inexpensive writing capacity) they are knowingly paraphrasing: like a person in court saying, “to the best of my memory, I remember him saying something like . . .” If that’s the case here, it still remains true that there is no essential difference. The essence of it is that God is speaking from heaven, saying that Jesus was His “beloved Son.” All three accounts contain that. To quibble about difference in type of address is to not see the forest for the trees.

17) Immediately after the baptism, Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness. Mt.4:1,2; Mk.1:12,13.
Three days after the baptism, Jesus was at the wedding in Cana. Jn.2:1.

Eric Lyons of the wonderful Apologetics Press website explains this:

Nowhere in John 1 does a person learn that Jesus and His disciples are in Galilee at a wedding three days after His baptism. The gospel of John does not even contain the actual account of Jesus’ baptism. The apostle John records only what John the Baptizer testified about the baptism of Jesus, which occurred some time in the past (exactly when, we are not told). While John and the others looked at Jesus, he related to them (in the past tense) the event of Jesus’ baptism and its significance. It is erroneous to assume that His baptism actually was taking place at the very time John the Baptizer was speaking the words recorded in John 1:29-34. Thus, the apostle John, in writing his gospel account, did not “deny” (as Steve Wells alleged) what the other gospel writers wrote concerning the days immediately following Jesus’ baptism. (“To the Wilderness—or a Wedding?”, 26 May, 2004)

Note that John the Baptist here speaks in the past tense when referring to Jesus’ baptism:

John 1:31-33 I myself did not know him; . . . [32] . . . I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. [33] . . . he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, . . .

Therefore, since that entire account was John talking about a past event, it’s not contradictory to the Synoptic accounts of Jesus’ baptism and the wilderness temptations. John never says that Jesus was at the wedding three days after His baptism. Skeptics — in their zeal to trash the Bible — so often “see” what they want to or wish to see in biblical texts: not what is actually present. Even Christians can and do easily assume that John 1 was taking place at the time of the baptism (I’ve done it myself), whereas the text — examined closely — never actually indicates that, as John the Baptist’s use of past tense proves.

18) Jesus went to Bethphage and the Mt. of Olives, then left for Bethany. Mt.21:1,17.
Jesus went to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mt. of Olives. Mk.11:1; Lk.19:29.
Jesus went to Bethany and then Jerusalem. Jn.12:1,12.

First of all, Bethany and Bethphage are both located on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. They are only 4.5 kilometers or 2.8 miles from each other. In Matthew, it’s reported that Jesus came through Bethphage, then down the western slope of the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem. That night (the night of Palm Sunday), He went back up the mountain to lodge in Bethany. Mark adds that he also went through Bethany on His way to Jerusalem (which is not a contradiction), and agrees that He stayed in Bethany overnight (11:11-12). So far so good.

Luke agrees with how Mark describes the journey: Jesus went through both Bethany and Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, but doesn’t include the detail of His staying in Bethany that night. None of this is contradictory in the slightest. Not every Gospel includes every detail of a story.

John’s account mentions that Jesus went through Bethany en route to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, without also mentioning Bethphage, or the night spent in Bethany after He was in Jerusalem. But of course, this is not contradictory, either. All of the accounts complement each other. A true contradiction would be something like, “Jesus went only through Bethphage on the way to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday” according to one account, and another Gospel saying  “Jesus went only through Bethany on the way to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday”. That‘s a contradiction, but nothing like that is in the four Gospel stories of the same broad events.

So, no dice. Sorry, skeptics! You try so hard . . .

19) Jesus and his disciples taught in Capernaum. Mk.1:20,21.
Only Jesus taught in Capernaum. Lk.4:30,31.

Mark doesn’t inform us that the disciples taught. It states, rather: “And they went into Caper’na-um; and immediately on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught” (Mk 1:21). Luke says that Jesus was in Capernaum and that “he was teaching them on the sabbath” (Lk 4:31), “in the synagogue” (4:33): precisely as Mark reported. Where’s the beef?

These pathetic pseudo-“arguments” reek of desperation. We will repeatedly see that as I make my way through the list. And the serious Christian’s belief in the inspiration and infallibility of the revelation of Holy Scripture can only be increased, in seeing how flimsy and nonexistent the objections are, upon close scrutiny. That’s why I love to do this apologetics work and am privileged and honored to do so. I’m more than happy to shoot down falsehood and encourage and exhort Christians to be confident in their faith.

20) Peter was chosen, with Andrew, by the Sea of Galilee. Mt.4:18-20; Mk.1:16-18.
Peter was chosen, with James and John, by the lake of Gennesaret. Lk.5:2-11.
Andrew chose Jesus and then got Peter to join. Jn.1:35-42.

The account in Luke seems to assume that Jesus already knew Simon: “he . . entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever . . .” (4:38); “Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, . . .” (5:3). Simon (Peter) calls Him “Master” (5:5) and “Lord” (5:8): also strongly implying that he was already His disciple. When Jesus told Peter, “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men” (5:10), it could simply have been a reiteration of what He said before (repetition being a great teacher), when He called Peter and Andrew: “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men” (Mk 1:17).

This time (in Luke’s report), He said it within earshot of James and John, Peter’s “partners” (Lk 5:10), who were “with” him in the boat (5:9). Consequently, their response according to the narrative was: “they left everything and followed him” (5:11). All indications are that this was a later event, after the calling of Peter and Andrew. Luke 5 is not referring to the calling of Peter, but to that of James and John.

John (as in #17) is also talking about an entirely different third event. Jesus never says in this separate incident, “follow Me” or “I will make you fishers of men.” Eric Lyons of the Apologetics Press elaborates:

John places Andrew, Peter, and the unnamed disciple (who very likely was John himself; . . .) in Judea (cf. John 1:19,28), whereas the synoptists describe an event that took place in Galilee . . . In the synoptics, the disciples clearly were called to begin a life of service as apostles . . .  At least two other differences in these accounts are evident: (1) In John 1, Andrew is with an unnamed disciple, not Peter (whom he later finds and informs that he had “found” the Messiah), whereas in the synoptics, Peter and Andrew are called together; (2) James and John are called together in the synoptics, whereas in John 1, James is nowhere mentioned, while John is likely the unnamed disciple (John 1:37). . . .

John records Peter and Andrew’s first meeting with the Christ. The synoptists, however, testify of a later meeting, when Jesus called them at the Sea of Galilee to become “fishers of men.” (“When Did Jesus Call the First Apostles?”, 20 May 2007; one bolded word changed to italics)

The critics try to turn these things into “contradictions”: but if it’s three different events in the first place, and not one, then it’s not contradictory.

21) Peter was to preach to the Jews. Mt.10:2,5,6; Gal.2:7.
Peter was to preach to the Gentiles. Acts 15:7.

At first, the mission of Jesus and His disciples was to preach to their fellow Jews, as Matthew makes clear.  Later, St. Peter’s emphasis (but not exclusively) was still to the Jews but his overall mission expanded and included Gentiles, as Acts 15:7 indicates. Indeed, the entirety of Acts chapter 10 as about the opening of the gospel to the Gentiles, led by Peter (as Paul had just recently become a Christian).

Likewise, Paul’s emphasis was on the Gentiles: though not exclusively in his case, either, as he regularly debated in the synagogues (Acts 9:20; 13:5, 43; 14:1; 17:1-4, 10-12, 17) and otherwise with Jews (9:22; 19:10, 17; 20:21), proclaiming the gospel. So both reached out to both groups, but emphasized one group (more or less a “division of labor”). Emphases and expansions of missions and goals of this sort are simply not contradictions.

It’s not contradictory for Peter to exclusively preach to the Jews and first and then “branch out” to include the Gentiles. It’s this wooden “either/or” mentality of the skeptic that makes them falsely believe contradictions are occurring. And it’s rank ignorance of scriptural teachings and motifs that are constantly in play as well.

22) Jesus cured Simon Peter’s mother-in-law after he cleansed the leper. Mt.8:1-15.
Jesus cured Simon Peter’s mother-in-law before he cleansed the leper. Mk.1:30-42; Lk.4:38 to 5:13.

The StackExchange website has a page called “When was Peter’s mother-in-law healed? Chronological contradiction?”  An excellent answer was provided (posted on 12 April 2021):

My own study of the argument from order has led me to four conclusions . . .:

  1. None of the Synoptic authors were trying to present the material in a strictly chronological sequence
  2. Matthew principally organizes his Gospel by topic (like an encyclopedia)
  3. Luke principally organizes his Gospel by geography (like an atlas)
  4. Mark borrows from Matthew & Luke, sometimes following the order of one and sometimes the other (like somebody telling stories from memory) . . .

If we expect the Gospel authors to write in a 21st century style, we will be disappointed. They were not trying to present a day-by-day travel log, but a collection (from what must have been a much larger pool of material) of the teachings and sayings of Jesus they believed were most important for the audiences they had in mind . . .

The exact sequence of events surrounding the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law is not 100% certain. The Synoptic Gospels do not present their material in the same order, because the authors never intended them to do so. [italics added]

23) Peter’s mother-in-law was healed before Peter was called to be a disciple. Lu.4:38,39; 5:10.
Peter’s mother-in-law was healed after Peter was called to be a disciple. Mt.4:18,19; 8:14,15; Mk.1:16,17,30,31.

This is also a question of the writers’ intention (or lack thereof) as regards chronology, which I dealt with in #22.

24) James and John were with Jesus when he healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. Mk.1:29-31.
James and John were not with Jesus when he healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. Lu.4:38,39; 5:10,11.

This is not an issue about chronology or sequence, and so must be dealt with separately. Mark mentions that James and John were present, and so they were. Luke doesn’t mention that tidbit, but also doesn’t deny it. He doesn’t write something like, “Jesus alone entered . . .”: which would be an actual, authentic contradiction. Hence, this is another always-lousy argument from silence, and in no way, shape, or form a logical contradiction.

How often I have hoped and prayed that these inveterate, relentless, “gotcha!-seeking Bible critics would trouble themselves to take a course in logic (I did in college, by the way)! It would sure save me a lot of trouble as an apologist. But I’m here to serve Christians and fair-minded non-Christians who may possibly be persuaded to respect the Bible as an extraordinary book to some degree (even if only in the sense of being historically trustworthy), short of faith and becoming a Christian. For anyone out there ready to become a Christian: welcome! and “come on in, the water’s warm.”

25) Lebbaeus (Thaddaeus) was the name of an apostle – but no Judas, brother of James. Mt. 10:3.
Judas, the brother of James, was an apostle, but no Thaddaeus. Lk.6:16; Acts 1:13.

This is a clear (though not immediately obvious) case of multiple names for one person. Judas, the son (not brother) of James (Lk 6:16) — not Iscariot! — was also known as Thaddeus or Lebbaeus, according to various translations (see Mt 10:3; Mk 3:18). The RSV I use calls him Thaddeus in Matthew and Mark, and Judas in Luke. “Lebbaeus” appears in Matthew 10:3 in KJV, but it is plainly explained, “whose surname was Thaddaeus.” So, much ado about nothing, as so often in these matters. One person had three names, and this is obvious (by a logical process of elimination) once the lists of disciples are all set side-by-side. Different names for a single person are not “contradictory.”


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Summary: A Bible skeptic has come up with 194 alleged biblical “contradictions” (usually recycled from old lists). I am systematically going through the list and refuting each one.

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