Encyclopedia of alleged Bible contradictions answered and refuted!
Matthew 28:1 sequence of events at the tomb with Mary and the apostles.

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There are no contradictions in the Bible!
Supposed contradictions in God's word are widely advertised by Mormons, Muslims, Modernists, Bible skeptics and Atheists in an attempt to trash the Bible as God's word.
Click to ViewSee also a complete harmony of the four gospels.

Click to ViewSee also: Muslims allege 101 contradictions in the Bible: Refuted!



Recommended Procedures in Dealing With Bible Difficulties:

In dealing with Bible problems of any kind, whether in factual or in doctrinal matters, it is well to follow appropriate guidelines in determining the solution. This is most easily done by those who have carefully and prayerfully studied the Bible over a number of years and have consistently and faithfully memorized Scripture. Some guidelines are as follows:

  1. Be fully persuaded in your own mind that an adequate explanation exists, even though you have not yet found it. The aerodynamic engineer may not under-stand how a bumble bee can fly; yet he trusts that there must be an adequate explanation for its fine performance since, as a matter of fact, it does fly! Even so we may have complete confidence that the divine Author preserved the human author of each book of the Bible from error or mistake as he wrote down the original manuscript of the sacred text.
  2. Avoid the fallacy of shifting from one a priori to its opposite every time an apparent problem arises. The Bible is either the inerrant Word of God or else it is an imperfect record by fallible men. Once we have come into agreement with Jesus that the Scripture is completely trustworthy and authoritative, then it is out of the question for us to shift over to the opposite assumption, that the Bible is only the errant record of fallible men as they wrote about God. If the Bible is truly the Word of God, as Jesus said, then it must be treated with respect, trust, and complete obedience. Unlike all other books known to man, the Scriptures come to us from God; and in them we confront the ever-living, ever-present God (2 Tim. 3:16-17). When we are unable to understand God's ways or are unable to comprehend His words, we must bow before Him in humility and patiently wait for Him to clear up the difficulty or to deliver us from our trials as He sees fit. There is very little that God will long withhold from the surrendered heart and mind of a true believer.
  3. Carefully study the context and framework of the verse in which the problem arises until you gain some idea of what the verse is intended to mean within its own setting. It may be necessary to study the entire book in which the verse occurs, carefully noting how each key term is used in other passages. Compare Scripture with Scripture, especially all those passages in other parts of the Bible that deal with the same subject or doctrine.
  4. Remember, no interpretation of Scripture is valid that is not based on careful exegesis, that is, on wholehearted commitment to determining what the ancient author meant by the words he used. This is accomplished by a painstaking study of the key words, as defined in the dictionaries (Hebrew and Greek) and as used in parallel passages. Research also the specific meaning of these words in idiomatic phrases as observed in other parts of the Bible. Consider how confused a foreigner must be when lie reacts in a daily American newspaper: "The prospectors made a strike yesterday up in the mountains." "The union went on strike this morning." "The batter made his third strike and was called out by the umpire." "Strike up with the Star Spangled Banner." "The fisherman got a good strike in the middle of the lake." Presumably each of these completely different uses of the same word go back to the same parent and have the same etymology. But complete confusion may result from misunderstanding how the speaker meant the word to be used. Bear in mind that inerrancy involves acceptance of and belief in whatever the biblical author meant by the words he used. If he meant what he said in a literal way, it is wrong to take it figuratively; but if he meant what he said in a figurative way, it is wrong to take it literally. So we must engage in careful exegesis in order to find out what he meant in the light of contemporary conditions and usage. That takes hard work. Intuition or snap judgment may catch one up in a web of fallacy and subjective bias. This often results in heresy that hinders the cause of the Lord one professes to serve.
  5. In the case of parallel passages, the only method that can be justified is harmonization. That is to say, all the testimonies of the various witnesses are to be taken as trustworthy reports of what was said and done in their presence, even though they may have viewed the transaction from a slightly different perspective. When we sort them out, line them up, and put them together, we gain a fuller understanding of the event than we would obtain from any one testimony taken individually. But as with any properly conducted inquiry in a court of law, the judge and jury are expected to receive each witness's testimony as true when viewed from his own perspective-unless, of course, he is exposed as an untrustworthy liar. Only injustice would be served by any other assumption-as, for example, that each witness is assumed to be untruthful unless his testimony is corroborated from outside sources. (This, of course, is the assumption made by opponents of the inerrancy of Scripture, and it leads them to totally false results.)
  6. Consult the best commentaries available, especially those written by Evangelical scholars who believe in the integrity of Scripture. A good 90 percent of the problems will be dealt with in good commentaries (see Bibliography). Good Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias may clear up many perplexities. An analytical concordance will help establish word usage (e.g., Strong's, Young's).
  7. Many Bible difficulties result from a minor error on the part of a copyist in the transmission of the text. In the Old Testament such transmissional errors may have resulted from a poor reading of the vowels; Hebrew was originally written in consonants only, and the vowel signs were not added until a thousand years after the completion of the Old Testament canon. But there are also some consonants that are easily confused because they look so much alike (e.g., [d, daleth] and 1 [r, resh] or " [y, yod] and 1 [w, waw]). Besides that, some words are preserved in a very old spelling susceptible of misunderstanding by later Hebrew copyists. In other words, only a resort to textual criticism and its analysis of the most frequent types of confusion and mistake can clear up the difficulty (for bibliography on this, cf. Introduction). This takes in confusion of numerals also, where statistical errors are found in our present text of Scripture (e.g., 2 Kings 18:13).
  8. Whenever historical accounts of the Bible are called in question on the basis of alleged disagreement with the findings of archaeology or the testimony of ancient non-Hebrew documents, always remember that the Bible is itself an archaeological document of the highest caliber. It is simply crass bias for critics to hold that whenever a pagan record disagrees with the biblical account, it must be the Hebrew author that was in error. Pagan kings practiced self-laudatory propaganda, just as their modern counterparts do; and it is incredibly naive to suppose that simply because a statement was written in Assyrian cuneiform or Egyptian hieroglyphics it was more trustworthy and factual than the Word of God composed in Hebrew. No other ancient document in the B.C. period affords so many clear proofs of accuracy and integrity as does the Old Testament; so it is a violation of the rules of evidence to assume that the Bible statement is wrong every time it disagrees with a secular inscription or manuscript of some sort. Of all the documents known to man, only the Hebrew-Greek Scriptures have certified their accuracy and divine authority by a pattern of prediction and fulfillment completely beyond the capabilities of man and possible only for God.

Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Gleason L. Archer, 1982, p15-17




This harmony resolves the alleged contradictions of:

  1. Why Mary didn't know what had happened to Jesus' body when she left the tomb.
  2. It is impossible to assume that Mary had left the group early.
  3. The Gospel of John contradicts the other three.


It is well known that the Bible writers would often tell stories to maximize narration often ignoring the specific actual sequence of events. Acts 10 and Acts 11 are excellent examples of where the first chapter tells the story for narration purposes and the second is in "orderly sequence". (11:4) This effectively nullifies any complaint Bible trashers have about Matthew 28:2-4 being out of sequence with 28:1, and other examples.


Matthew 28

Mark 16

Luke 24

John 20

Jesus rises after angels roll away stone. Only guards witness this.

2 And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. 3 And his appearance was like lightning, and his garment as white as snow; 4 and the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.




First visit by Mary, Mary and Salome with spices. Started out when dark, on the way to tomb.


1 And when the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. 3 And they were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?"


1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene *came early to the tomb, while it *was still dark,

They arrived at tomb when sun was risen with spices

1 Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.

2 And very early on the first day of the week, they *came to the tomb when the sun had risen.

1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared.


Saw stone rolled away, but did not enter tomb


4 And looking up, they *saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large.

2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

and *saw the stone already taken away from the tomb

Ran immediately away to tell Peter and John, not yet knowing Jesus had risen




2 And so she *ran and *came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and *said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him."

Peter and John go to tomb




3 Peter therefore went forth, and the other disciple, and they were going to the tomb. 4

John arrives first but doesn't enter tomb.




And the two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter, and came to the tomb first; 5 and stooping and looking in, he *saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in.

Peter arrives second but enters tomb.



12 [But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he *saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at that which had happened.]

6 Simon Peter therefore also *came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he *beheld the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the face-cloth, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself.

John enters tomb and is first person to believe Jesus rose




8 So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb entered then also, and he saw and believed.

Peter doesn't believe, both go home immediately




9 For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 So the disciples went away again to their own homes.

About 5 women arrive at tomb a second time after Peter and John had left. (Men ran, women walked)




11 But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping;

Woman look in the tomb


5 And entering the tomb,


11 and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb;

They see Angels


5 they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed.

4 And it happened that while they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling apparel;

12 and she *beheld two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying.

Angels question women




13 And they *said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She *said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him."

Angels announce resurrection to women

5 And the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. 6 "He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.

6 And he *said to them, "Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.

5 and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living One among the dead? 6 "He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, 7 saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again." 8 And they remembered His words,


Angels send women to tell disciples

7 "And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going before you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you."

7 "But go, tell His disciples and Peter, 'He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He said to you.'"

9 and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.


All women except Mary flee tomb for second time

8 And they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples.

8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.



Jesus appears to Mary at tomb alone


9 [Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons.


14 When she had said this, she turned around, and *beheld Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus *said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Supposing Him to be the gardener, she *said to Him, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away." 16 Jesus *said to her, "Mary!" She *turned and *said to Him in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" (which means, Teacher). 17 Jesus *said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren, and say to them, 'I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'"

Jesus appears to the other women

9 And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus *said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they shall see Me."




Mary alone tells apostles Jesus is risen.


10 She went and reported to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping.


18 Mary Magdalene *came, announcing to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and that He had said these things to her.

Apostles reject Mary's testimony


11 And when they heard that He was alive, and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.



Other women arrive and together with Mary tell apostles Jesus risen



10 Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles.


Apostles reject women's testimony



11 And these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them.


 Steve Rudd

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