by Rob Lundberg
If you have just been answering the question without reading the posts, you are missing out on a good Bible study thus far. For some these posts might be an introduction or a reintroduction to hermeneutics, or a study in the harmony of the gospels, OR learning more about undesigned coincidences. Whichever the case, we will often run into a skeptic that will challenge passages, missing the fact that the minds and personalities of the writers of the gospels remained in tact when the wrote their particular accounts.
Such is the case with this fourth objection from a skeptic about what happened at the tomb of Jesus. This fourth objection addresses the question of who the women were greeted by at the tomb. Was it an angel or angels? Was it a young man or young men? What did those who greeted the women do and what did they say to the women?
As it has been the practice of the previous three posts, I am going to remain consistent in setting up the objection; and from there move to the response. What we will find, as in the previous three objections, and the ones to follow, there are no conflicts or contradictions. Those raising the question are essentially ones who do not have an understanding of textual transmission nor the inspiration of Scripture.
Summarizing this Objection.
In Matthew’s gospel (28:1-8), states that an angel sat on the stone (v. 5). Mark’s gospel (16:1-8) tells us that they saw a young man sitting wearing a white robe, and they were amazed (v.5). In these first two gospels the writers tell us that it was just one being (human or angelic that greeted the women.
Moving now to Luke’s gospel, we read that there are two men in dazzling clothing (24:3,4). And finally in John’s gospel we have a totally different picture (20:11-13). In John’s gospel we see that Mary Magdalene, who was expected to go inside the tomb, but she ends up leaving. However we also see in John’s gospel that there are two angels sitting in the tomb, one at the head and one at the feet of the stone-bed.
This brings us to the questions for this part of the account at the tomb. Is there a problem with whether these were human men or supernatural beings? Was there one angel, or were there two angels? The same question is the case for one man or two men? What were they doing? Are these passages in conflict with each other in the gospel records?
Answering this Objection.
Whenever there appear to be conflicting passages, the first thing that we need to remember is that each of the gospel writers worked independently from the others. Matthew wrote his gospel based on his eyewitness testimony. Mark penned Peter’s eyewitness testimony to give us the gospel of Mark. Luke wrote his gospel using the testimonies from those in Herod’s courts. And John wrote his gospel based on his eyewitness testimony.
Each of the gospel writers record what they were led to write, with their personalities in tact and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Each writer chose to write what they did.
Bearing this in mind, we know that whenever you have two of something or there are two members of a set of people, you always have at least one of them. So it is no problem if Matthew records only one. It does not matter if you have one young man in dazzling clothing or two angels in white clothing again, there is no problem.
Also the fact that there are more details in one gospel does not nullify the ones with a minimal of information. This is the case with John’s gospel. Some may think that John gospel might be in conflict with the other three. This is really not a problem, because John volitionally opts to record more details before telling us that there were “these two angels present”, than some of the other gospel writers.
Skeptics try to impose a “moral ought” in trying to reconcile passages recording the same gospel events. Neither skeptics nor you or I need to impose anything on the the Bible by trying to say this is what the gospel writer should have written. If we look at the writers writing to a particular audience, the rendering of each of the events of what happened at the tomb of Jesus have no problem and should be taken at face value.
Therefore, there are no contradictions and the writers with their personalities in tact chose to write are what they were inspired to write. And it is was under the leadership and superintending of the Holy Spirit.
If You Like This Series & Would Like to Read the Other Posts in the Series Check Out
Do the Gospel Accounts Contradict Who Went to Jesus’ Grave?
Are there contradictions in the time the women went to the tomb?
Are the Reports of What Was Seen at Jesus’ Tomb in Conflict?
Rob is a blogger, writer and public speaker on a mission to equip the believer to think and articulate what they believe and to communicate the message of the gospel to a confused culture in a confused, chaotic, “brave new world.”
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