A List of Alleged Contradictions in the Gospels

by Max Andrews

I’ve provided a list of alleged contradictions in the New Testament from a file I’ve found floating around the internet. This is so you know what someone is talking about when this comes up in discussion. Some of them had explanations that were blatantly obvious and weren’t problematic at all but I’ve saved some interesting one’s for your consideration. Even so, some of these are a bit easy to harmonize. However, don’t be so quick to lay down a Christian trump card.  Carefully consider what’s going on and work through it.  I do affirm biblical inerrancy and I would recommend several books to address the issues of such alleged contradictions:

Mike Licona’s The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach

Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, and Dan Wallace’s Reinventing Jesus

Craig Blomberg’s The Historical Reliability of the Gospels

  • MT 1:18-21 The Annunciation occurred after Mary had conceived Jesus.
  • LK 1:26-31 It occurred before conception.

 

  • MT 2:13-16 Following the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary flee to Egypt, (where they stay until after Herod’s death) in order to avoid the murder of their firstborn by Herod. Herod slaughters all male infants two years old and under. (Note: John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, though under two is somehow spared without fleeing to Egypt.)
  • LK 2:22-40 Following the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary remain in the area of Jerusalem for the Presentation (about forty days) and then return to Nazareth without ever going to Egypt. There is no slaughter of the infants.

 

  • MT 2:23 “And he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: He will be called a Nazarene.’” (This prophecy is not found in the OT and while Jesus is often referred to as “Jesus of Nazareth”, he is seldom referred to as “Jesus the Nazarene.”)

 

  • MT 3:17 The heavenly voice addressed the crowd: “This is my beloved Son.”
  • MK 1:11, LK 3:22 The voice addressed Jesus: “You are my beloved Son….”

 

  • MT 4:1-11, MK 1:12-13 Immediately following his Baptism, Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness resisting temptation by the Devil.
  • JN 2:1-11 Three days after the Baptism, Jesus was at the wedding in Cana.

 

  • MT 4:5-8 The Devil took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple, then to the mountain top.
  • LK 4:5-9 First to the mountain top, then to the pinnacle of the temple.

 

  • MT 4:18-20, MK 1:16-18 (One story about choosing Peter as a disciple.)
  • LK 5:2-11 (A different story.)
  • JN 1:35-42 (Still another story.)

 

  • MT 5:32 Divorce, except on the grounds of unchastity, is wrong.
  • MK 10:11-12 Divorce on any grounds is wrong.

 

  • MT 6:13 Jesus’ prayer implies that God might lead us into temptation.
  • JA 1:13 God tempts no one.

 

  • MT 7:21, LK 10:36-37, RO 2:6, 13, JA 2:24 We are justified by works, not by faith.
  • JN 3:16, RO 3:20-26, EP 2:8-9, GA 2:16 We are justified by faith, not by works.

 

  • MT 8:5-12 The centurion himself approaches Jesus to ask to heal his servant.
  • LK 7:2-10 The centurion sends elders to do the asking.

 

  • MT 8:28-33 Two demoniacs are healed in the Gadarene swine incident.
  • MK 5:2-16, LK 8:26-36 One demoniac is healed in this incident.

 

  • MT 9:18 The ruler’s daughter was already dead when Jesus raised her.
  • LK 8:42 She was dying, but not dead.

 

  • MT 10:2, MK 3:16-19 The twelve apostles (disciples) were: Simon (Peter), Andrew his brother, James the son of Zebedee, John his brother, Philip, Bartholemew, Thomas, Matthew the tax collector, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus (Labbaeus), Simon, and Judas Iscariot.
  • LK 6:13-16 The above except that Thaddaeus (Labbaeus) is excluded, and Judas the son of James is added (and Judas Iscariot remains).
  • AC 1:13, 26 Same as MT and MK except that, like LK Thaddaeus (Labbaeus) is excluded, Judas the son of James is included, and Mathias is chosen by the others to replace Judas Iscariot.

 

  • MT 10:10 Do not take sandals (shoes) or staves.
  • MK 6:8-9 Take sandals (shoes) and staves.

 

  • AC 16:31 He that believes on the Lord Jesus will be saved.
  • AC 2:21 He that calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
  • RO 10:9 He who confesses with his mouth “Jesus is Lord” and believes in his heart that God raised him from the dead will be saved.
  • MT 10:22, 24:13, MK 13:13 He that endures to the end will be saved.
  • MK 16:16 He that believes and is baptized will be saved.
  • JN 3:5 Only he that is born of water and Spirit will be saved.

 

  • MT 12:30 Jesus says that those who are not with him are against him.
  • MK 9:40 Jesus says that those who are not against him are for him.

 

  • MT 5:37, 15:19, MK 7:22, JN 8:14, 44, 14:6, 18:37 Jesus says that you should answer a plain “yes” or “no,” that his purpose is to bear witness to the truth, and that his testimony is true. He equates lying with evil.
  • JN 7:2-10 Jesus tells his brothers that he is not going to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Tabernacles, then later goes secretly by himself.

 

  • MT 16:6, 11 Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
  • MK 8:15 Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod.

 

  • MT 17:1-2 The Transfiguration occurs six days after Jesus foretells his suffering.
  • LK 9:28-29 It takes place about eight days afterwards.

 

  • MT 20:20-21 The mother of James and John asks Jesus a favor for her sons.
  • MK 10:35-37 They ask for themselves.

 

  • MT 20:29-34 Jesus heals two blind men on the way to Jericho.
  • MK 10:46-52 He heals one blind man.

 

  • MT 21:1-17 The sequence was: triumphal entry, cleansing of the temple, Bethany.
  • MK 11:1-19 Triumphal entry, cleansing of the temple.
  • LK 19:28-48 Triumphal entry, cleansing of the temple, daily teaching in the temple.
  • JN 12:1-18 Cleansing of the temple (early in his career), Supper with Lazarus, triumphal entry, no cleansing of the temple following the triumphal entry.

 

  • MT 21:2-6, MK 11:2-7, LK 19:30-35 The disciples follow Jesus instructions and bring him the animal (or animals, in the case of MT).
  • JN 12:14 Jesus finds the animal himself.

 

  • MT 21:7 Jesus rides two animals during his triumphal entry.
  • MK 11:7, LK 19:35, JN 12:14 Only one animal is involved.

 

  • MT 21:19-20 The fig tree withers immediately after being cursed by Jesus. The disciples notice and are amazed.
  • MK 11:13-14, 20-21 The disciples first notice that the tree has withered the day following.

 

  • MT 23:35 Jesus says that Zacharias (Zechariah) was the son of Barachias (Barachiah).
  • 2CH 24:20 Zacharias was actually the son of Jehoida, the priest.
  • (Note: The name Barachias, or Barachiah, does not appear in the O.T.)

 

  • MT 26:6-13, MK 14:3 The anointing of Jesus takes place in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper.
  • LK 7:36-38 It takes place at the house of a Pharisee in Galilee.

 

  • MT 28:6-8 The women ran from the tomb “with great joy.”
  • JN 20:1-2 Mary told Peter and the other disciple that the body had been stolen. (Would she feel “great joy” if she thought the body had been stolen?)

 

  • MT 26:8 The disciples reproach her.
  • MK 14:4 “Some” reproach her.
  • JN 12:4-5 Judas Iscariot reproaches her.

 

  • MT 26:14-25, MK 14:10-11, LK 22:3-23 Judas made his bargain with the chief priests before the meal.
  • JN 13:21-30 After the meal.

 

  • MT 26:26-29, MK 14:22-25 The order of the communion was: bread, then wine.
  • LK 22:17-20 It was: wine, then bread.

 

  • MT 26:49-50, MK 14:44-46 Jesus is betrayed by Judas with a kiss, then seized.
  • LK 22:47-48 Jesus anticipates Judas’ kiss. No actual kiss is mentioned.
  • JN 18:2-9 Jesus voluntarily steps forward to identify himself making it completely unnecessary for Judas to point him out. No kiss is mentioned.

 

  • MT 26:57, MK 14:53, LK 22:54 After his arrest Jesus is first taken to Caiphas, the high priest.
  • JN 18:13-24 First to Annas, the son-in-law of Caiphas, then to Caiphas.

 

  • MT 26:71-72 Peter’s second denial is to still another maid.
  • MK 14:69-70 (Apparently) to the same maid.
  • LK 22:58 To a man, not a maid.
  • JN 18:25 To more than one, “they.”

 

  • MT 27:3-7 The chief priests bought the field.
  • AC 1:16-19 Judas bought the field.

 

  • MT 27:5 Judas threw down the pieces of silver, then departed.
  • AC 1:18 He used the coins to buy the field.

 

  • MT 27:5 Judas hanged himself.
  • AC 1:18 He fell headlong, burst open, and his bowels gushed out.

 

  • MT 27:11-14 Jesus answers not a single charge at his hearing before Pilate.
  • JN 18:33-37 Jesus answers all charges at his hearing before Pilate.

 

  • MT 27:28 Jesus is given a scarlet robe (a sign of infamy).
  • MK 15:17, JN 19:2 A purple robe (a sign of royalty).

 

  • MT 27:46-50, MK 15:34-37 Jesus’ last recorded words are: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
  • LK 23:46 “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.”
  • JN 19:30 “It is finished.”

 

  • MT 27:48, LK 23:36, JN 19:29 Jesus was offered vinegar to drink.
  • MK 15:23 It was wine and myrrh, and he did not drink it.
  • JN 19:29-30 Whatever it was, he did drink it.

 

  • MT 27:54 The centurion says: “Truly this was the son of God.”
  • LK 23:47 He says: “Truly this man was innocent” (or “righteous”).

 

  • MT 27:55, MK 15:40, LK 23:49 The women looked on from afar.
  • JN 19:25-26 They were near enough that Jesus could speak to his mother.

 

  • MT 27:62-66 A guard was placed at the tomb (the day following the burial).
  • MK 15:42- 16:8, LK 23:50-56, JN 19:38-42 (No guard is mentioned. This is important since rumor had it that Jesus’ body was stolen and the Resurrection feigned.)
  • MK 16:1-3, LK 24:1 (There could not have been a guard, as far as the women were concerned, since they were planning to enter the tomb with spices. Though the women were aware of the stone, they were obviously unaware of a guard.)

 

  • MT 28:1 The first visitors to the tomb were Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (two).
  • MK 16:1 Both of the above plus Salome (three).
  • LK 23:55 – 24:1, 24:10 Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and “other women” (at least five).
  • JN 20:1 Mary Magdalene only (one).

 

  • MT 28:1 It was toward dawn when they arrived.
  • MK 16:2 It was after sunrise.
  • LK 24:1 It was at early dawn.
  • JN 20:1 It was still dark.

 

  • MT 28:1-2 The stone was still in place when they arrived. It was rolled away later.
  • MK 16:4, LK 24:2, JN 20:1 The stone had already been rolled (or taken) away.

 

  • MT 28:2 An angel arrived during an earthquake, rolled back the stone, then sat on it (outside the tomb).
  • MK 16:5 No earthquake, only one young man sitting inside the tomb.
  • LK 24:2-4 No earthquake. Two men suddenly appear standing inside the tomb.
  • JN 20:12 No earthquake. Two angels are sitting inside the tomb.

 

  • MT 28:8 The visitors ran to tell the disciples.
  • MK 16:8 They said nothing to anyone.
  • LK 24:9 They told the eleven and all the rest.
  • JN 20:10-11 The disciples returned home. Mary remained outside, weeping.

 

  • MT 28:8-9 Jesus’ first Resurrection appearance was fairly near the tomb.
  • LK 24:13-15 It was in the vicinity of Emmaus (seven miles from Jerusalem).
  • JN 20:13-14 It was right at the tomb.

 

  • MT 28:9 On his first appearance to them, Jesus lets Mary Magdalene and the other Mary hold him by his feet.
  • JN 20:17 On his first appearance to Mary, Jesus forbids her to touch him since he has not yet ascended to the Father.
  • JN 20:27 A week later, although he has not yet ascended to the Father, Jesus tells Thomas to touch him.

 

  • MT 28:7-10, MT 28:16 Although some doubted, the initial reaction of those that heard the story was one of belief since they followed the revealed instructions.
  • MK 16:11, LK 24:11 The initial reaction was one of disbelief. All doubted.

 

  • MT 28:1-18 The order of Resurrection appearances was: Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, then the eleven.
  • MK 16:9-14 It was Mary Magdalene, then two others, then the eleven.
  • LK 24:15-36 It was two, then Simon (Peter?), then the eleven.
  • JN 20:14 – 21:1 It was Mary Magdalene, then the disciples without Thomas, then the disciples with Thomas, then the eleven disciples again.
  • 1CO 15:5-8 It was Cephas (Peter?), then the “twelve” (which twelve, Judas was dead?), then 500+ brethren (although AC 1:15 says there were only about 120), then James, then all the Apostles, then Paul.

 

  • MK 1:2 Jesus quotes a statement that allegedly appears in Isaiah. No such statement appears in Isaiah.

 

  • MK 1:14 Jesus began his ministry after the arrest of John the Baptist.
  • JN 3:22-24 Before the arrest of John the Baptist.

 

  • MK 1:23-24 A demon cries out that Jesus is the Holy One of God.
  • 1JN 4:1-2 Everyone who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God. (Note: This would mean that the demon is of God.)

 

  • MK 4:11-12, 11:25 Jesus says that he uses parables so that the meaning of some of his teachings will remain secret to at least some persons. He explains the meanings of the parables only to his disciples. He thanks God for hiding some things from the wise while revealing them to “babes.”
  • JN 18:20 Jesus says that he always taught openly, never secretly.

 

  • MK 6:16 Herod was the source of the belief that John had been raised from the dead.
  • LK 9:7 Others were the source. Herod was perplexed by the belief.

 

  • MK 15:25 It was the third hour when Jesus was crucified.
  • JN 19:14-15 It was after the sixth hour since Jesus was still before Pilate and had not yet been sentenced at that time.

 

  • MK 16:1-2 The women came to the tomb to anoint the body.
  • JN 19:39-40 The body had already been anointed and wrapped in linen cloth.

 

  • MK 16:5, LK 24:3 The women actually entered the tomb.
  • JN 20:1-2, 11 They did not.

 

  • MK 16:14-19 The Ascension took place (presumably from a room) while the disciples were together seated at a table, probably in or near Jerusalem.
  • LK 24:50-51 It took place outdoors, after supper, at Bethany (near Jerusalem).
  • AC 1:9-12 It took place outdoors, after 40+ days, at Mt. Olivet.
  • MT 28:16-20 No mention is made of an ascension, but if it took place at all, it must have been from a mountain in Galilee since MT ends there.)

 

  • LK 22:3-23 Satan entered Judas before the supper.
  • JN 13:27 It was during the supper.

 

  • LK 23:55-56 The women followed Joseph to the tomb, saw how the body had been laid, then went to prepare spices with which to anoint the body.
  • JN 19:39-40 Joseph brought spices with him (75 or a 100 lbs.) and annointed the body (as the women should have noticed).

 

  • JN 2:11 Water is turned into wine and called ‘the first sign’
  • JN 2:23 Tells us that many more signs followed this first sign
  • JN 4:54 Tells us that he later heals a centurion’s son and that this is the ‘second sign’

 

  • JN 3:17, 8:15, 12:47 Jesus does not judge.
  • JN 5:22, 5:27-30, 9:39, AC 10:42, 2CO 5:10 Jesus does judge.

 

  • JN 5:22 God does not judge.
  • RO 2:2-5, 3:19, 2TH 1:5, 1PE 1:17 God does judge.

 

  • JN 5:31 Jesus says that if he bears witness to himself, his testimony is not true.
  • JN 8:14 Jesus says that even if he bears witness to himself, his testimony is true.

 

  • JN 7:38 Jesus quotes a statement that he says appears in scripture (i.e., the OT).
  • (No such statement is found in the OT.)

 

  • JN 13:36 Peter asks Jesus where he is going.
  • JN 14:5 Thomas does the same.
  • JN 16:5 Jesus says that none of them have asked him where he is going.

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