The Four Gospels are Similar, not Identical

It has been too generally assumed that events and discourses which are similar are identical also.  But this is not the case. By failing to distinguish things that differ as to its times, events are brought together and treated as though they were one and the same event, whereby difficulties are created which baffle all the attempts of those who would remove them. It will be noted that there are great events which were never repeated: such as the Mission of the Twelve, the Transfiguration, the Dividing of the Garments, etc. These help us in determining the order and place of other events which, though similar, are not identical.

Some Questions for You

Why should not words be repeated at different times and under other circumstances?  And as there were many people suffering in various places from similar diseases, why should we not expect to find similar miracles? Why assume that two miracles, which are apparently alike in general character, are identical, and then talk about the two accounts being contradictory?

For example, let's say you were to look at two different medical books about the lifetime achievements of a Doctor Smith. One of the books reported how Doctor Smith healed Mary of cancer in a hospital in the morning, and the other book reported how Doctor Smith healed a woman of leprosy at her home at night. Would you claim that these two different reports are repeating the exact same healing? Then go on to say how these books cannot be trusted because these two healings are contradictory?!

Or, on the other hand, would you believe that Doctor Smith healed more than one woman during his lifetime, and that these two books as reporting two different healings of two different women at two different places? Of course you would choose this later one! Only if somebody had an ulterior motive would they claim that these two different events are one and the same event, then claim that this same event is contradictory because they are different!

This is what is going on today with those who attack scripture. They claim that two different books of scripture, which are reporting two different events, are actually reporting the same event! And then they say these books cannot be trusted because this same event is different from one another, and thus contradictory! Instead of admitting the truth that these are two different events in two different books!

Demoniac Healings

Discrepancies, so called, are manufactured when similar miracles are regarded as identical.  One such example is seen in the case of the two demoniacs of Matthew 8:28, which are not the same as that recorded in Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:26-40. In the former there were two men; in the later miracle there was one. In the former, they landed opposite the place whence they set sail (Gergesenes); in the later the Gadarenes (not Gadera) not opposite. In the former no name is asked; in the former the name is “Legion.” In the former no bonds used; in the later many. In the former the two were not afterwards used, and the Twelve not yet called; in the later the one man was used, and the Twelve had been called. The consequents also are different.

Healing of the Lepers

The healing of the leper in Matthew 8:2 is not the same miracle as in Mark 1:40 and Luke 5:12.  In the former, both are without the city (Capernaum); in the later both are within, for the leper was “full” and therefore “clean” (Leviticus 13:12-13). In the former, the antecedents were different, and the consequents also, as may be seen by the two records.

Two Prayers

The prayer in Matthew 6 is slightly different from the prayer in Luke 11. If you look closely at the text, you will see that Jesus taught this prayer on two different occasions and to two different groups of people. Matthew's version was part of the Sermon on the Mount. "Disciples" in this context referred to a rather large group of followers. In Luke's account, Jesus is speaking only to the twelve apostles.

Two Females raised from the Dead

The first (Matthew 9:18) was to korasion (a little girl), whose father was probably a civil magistrate (archon). She died before her father started to see the Lord, and so no messengers were dispatched with the news. The second (Mark 5:22, Luke 8:41) was to paidion, a girl of about twelve years, whose father was one of the rulers of the Synagogue (archisunagogos), by name Jairus.  She was not dead.  No mourning had commenced, but as the Lord approaches news of her death was brought.

Other antecedents and consequents of time and place and circumstances are all different.

Two Females touched Jesus

There were two women suffering from the same disease.  And why not?  It is not surprising that there were two, but surprising there were not more -- as probably there were among the many unrecorded (Matthew 14:36, Mark 3:10; 6:56, Luke 6:19).

The first (Matthew 9:20) was evidently watching her opportunity, and had probably heard the report of the Lord's "touch."  She came behind Him; and there is no mention of a crowd as in the case of the other woman.

The first spoke "within herself" of what she would do; the second had spoken to her friends.

The Lord saw the first woman, and spoke before the healing was effected.  He did not see the second, and inquired after the healing was accomplished.

In the first the disciples said nothing, but in the second, they reasoned with the Lord as to the crowds.

In the first there is no mention of physicians or of spiritual blessing received.  In the second case, both are mentioned.

It appears, therefore, that in this case, the differences are so great that they cannot be combined and treated as being identical.

The Healing Of The Blind Men At Jericho

Commentators and harmonizers agree in treating these three accounts in Luke 18:35-43, Mark 10:46-52 and Matthew 20:29-34 as recording one single miracle.  As in other cases, they assume similar discourses, sayings, and miracles to be identical, as though the Lord never repeated a single word or work. The same may be seen in dealing with the healing of the blind men at Jericho. From a comparison of the three Gospels it will be readily seen that four blind men were healed, and that there were three separate miracles on the Lord's visit to Jericho.

The following particulars may be noted and considered:

I.  The Occasion.
    1.  In the first miracle the Lord was "come nigh unto Jericho".
    2.  The second was "as He went out of Jericho".
    3.  The third took place "as they departed from", and had evidently left Jericho.

II.  The Blind Men.
    1.  In the first there was one, unnamed.
    2.  In the second there was one, named (Bartimaeus).
    3.  In the third there were two men.

III. The Circumstances.
    1. The one man was begging.
    2. The second likewise.
    3. The two men were not begging, and apparently were simply waiting for the Lord to pass by.

IV.  Their Knowledge.
    1.  The first man did not know what the crowd meant, and asked.
    2.  The second (Bartimaeus) heard, but seems to have made no inquiry and at once cried out.
    3.  The two men also heard, and cried out at once.

V.  Their Cry.
    1.  The first man cried "Jesus, thou Son of David".
    2.  The second man cried "Son of David".
    3.  The two men cried "O Lord, son of David".

VI.  The Lord's Action.
    1.  The Lord "commanded (the first man) to be brought".
    2.  He "commanded (the second man) to be called".
    3.  He called the two men Himself.

VII.  Their Healing.
    1.  The first desired that he might be able to see (anablepo).
    2.  The second in like manner.
    3.  The two men asked that "their eyes might be opened" (anoigo).

VIII.  The Lord's Reply.
    1.  In the first case, the Lord said "Receive thy sight, thy faith hath saved thee."
    2.  In the second case, the Lord said "Go thy way, thy faith hath saved thee."
    3.  In the third case, the Lord "had compassion on them, and touched their eyes," saying nothing.

IX.  The Result.
    1.  The first man "followed Him, glorifying God, and all the people gave praise to God."
    2.  Bartimaeus "followed Jesus in the way," apparently in silence.
    3.  The two men "followed Him," in silence also.

We thus gather that the first two men were beggars who sat daily at either gate of Jericho: Jericho having at that time some 100,000 people, and doubtless many blind men.

The Two Entries Into Jerusalem

Most "Harmonies" assume that because each Gospel records an entry of the Lord into Jerusalem the four accounts must be identical because they are similar; and therefore conclude that because they differ in certain particulars there are "discrepancies." Whereas, if we treat them in their chronological sequences, and have regard to the antecedent and consequent circumstances, the supposed discrepancies will disappear, and the similar, but diverse, expressions will be seen to be necessary to the different events.

In this present case, one entry (Matthew 21:1-9) takes place before the other, which is recorded in Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:30-34, and John 12:12-15.

  1. In Matthew the Lord had actually arrived at Bethphage. In Luke He "was come nigh" (engisen); in Mark "they were approaching" (engizousin).

  2. In Matthew the village lay just off the road (apenanti); in Luke and Mark it was below them, and opposite (katenanti).

  3. In the former, two animals were sent for and used; in the latter, only one.

  4. In the former, the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, which required the two animals is said to have been fulfilled; in the latter, the prophecy was not said to be fulfilled, and only so much of it is quoted (John 12:15) as agrees with it.

  5. The former seems to have been unexpected, for "all the city was moved, saying, 'Who is this?'" (Matthew 21:10, 11), while, if there was only one entry, the two accounts are inexplicable, seeing that the later and subsequent entry was prepared for : much people in the city "heard that He was coming", and "went forth to meet Him" (John 12:12, 13).
The latter therefore, was the great formal entry of the Lord, called "the Triumphal Entry", which took place on what is called "Palm Sunday".

The Three Suppers

That there were three suppers, and not only two, at the close of our Lord's ministry, will be clear from a careful comparison of the three Scriptures.

  1. There was the supper recorded in John 12:1-9. This was probably in the house of Lazarus (for all the family were present; and "Martha served" - Luke 10:40-42), and was "six days before the Passover." At this supper there was an anointing of the Lord by Mary.

  2. The second supper, recorded in Matthew 26:6-13, took place "two days before the Passover" at the house of Simon the leper, which was also in Bethany (Mark 14:1-9). At this supper there was also an anointing by a woman unknown.

  3. The supper recorded in John 13:1-20 is the same as that recorded in Matthew 26:20, Mark 14:17, and Luke 22:14. It was "the last supper", "the hour was come", and when supper was begun, or going on, the Lord first washed the disciples' feet; and later, the events took place as recorded in all four Gospels. John's Gospel adds some antecedents; but gives the same consequence. The rendering of genomenou in John 13:2, by "ended" instead of by "taking place", or "beginning", has been the cause of much confusion.

The Two Anointings

There can be no doubt that, during the last week, the Lord was anointed on two separate occasions.

  1. The former is recorded in John 12:3-8, "six days before the Passover", in the house of Lazarus, at Bethany.
    The latter is recorded in Matthew 26:7-13, and Mark 14:3-9, "two days before the Passover", in the house of Simon the leper, also in Bethany. Thus the times and places distinct.

  2. In the former case it was "a pound of ointment" that was used (John 12:3).
    In the latter case it was an alabaster vessel (Matthew 26:7).

  3. In the former case it was "the feet" of the Lord that were anointed (John 21:3).
    In the latter case it was His "head" (Matthew 26:7)

  4. In the former case the term used is "anointed" (John 12:3).
    In the latter case the term is "poured" (Matthew 26:7. Mark 14:3)

  5. In the former case it was Judas who asked the question why it was not sold, as there was plenty of time to do so during the six days (John 12:4).
    In the latter it was the disciples who "had indignation" (Matthew 26:8) "among themselves" (Mark 14:4); and their words (not necessarily spoken aloud to all) seem to refer to what Judas had said before.

  6. In the former the Lord directs the ointment to be reserved for His burial; and not sold (John 12:4).
    In the latter He declared that it had been kept for that purpose (Matthew 26:12. Mark 14:8)

  7. In the former case the Lord said, "Let her alone," in order that she may keep it (John 12:7).
    In the latter He declared that she had well used it (Matthew 26:10-13).

  8. In the former case the woman is named "Mary" (John 21:3).
    In the latter case the woman is unnamed.
Thus on each occasion both the antecedents and consequences are different.
Instead of wondering that there should be two anointings, the wonder should be that there were only two, seeing that examples are so easily followed.

The Denials Of Peter

There are several facts that have to be noticed before we can arrive at a clear understanding of all the denials recorded by Peter by the four evangelists:

I. We have to note that the fact that Peter would deny His Lord was foretold in three distinct prophecies uttered on three separate occasions and differing both as to the occasion and as to particulars.

  1. The first was in the upper chamber, recorded in John 13:38. It was absolute as to the fact, general as to the day, but particular as to the number of denials: "a cock shall by no means crow [from this time forth] until thou hast denied Me thrice."
  2. The second was in the upper chamber, recorded by Luke 22:34. It was after the "strife", and immediately before leaving the room. It was absolute as to the fact but particular as to the day and the number of denials : "a cock shall not crow this day, before thou wilt thrice deny that thou knowest Me.”
  3. The third was after the Lord had left the city and immediately before entering the garden of Gethsemane. It is recorded in Mark 14:30, and was particular in every detail : "Verily I say unto thee that (hoti) thou (added by all the texts) this day, in this night, before a cock crow twice, thrice thou wilt deny Me."
    This last prophecy furnishes the key to the whole problem. For, note : -

    (a) that a cock was to crow twice, and
    (b) that Peter would deny thrice;

In other words, before each of the two cockcrowings Peter would thrice deny His Lord. This is confirmed by the repetition in the fulfillment (Mark 14:72). Thus, there would be six denials in all; three before each cockcrowing. Note that the word "cock" has no Article in any of the four records : in each case it is not "the", but "a cockcrowing".

II. Consonant with these data, we have the remarkable fact that Matthew, Luke and John each record three denials, and one concluding cockcrowing. Mark also records three denials, but mentions the two cockcrowings.

Consequently, in the four Gospels there are no less than twelve denials mentioned. And the questions are, which of these are duplicates, and which are the resulting six required by the Lord's third prophecy in Mark 14:30?

III. If we note accurately the marks of time in each Gospel, the place and the persons addressing Peter, every condition required by each of the Greek words employed is fully and perfectly satisfied, without a shadow or suggestion of "discrepancy".
i. The First Series of Three.
  1. The First Denial, John 18:17. Place: the door (thura) without. Time: entering. The questioner: the porteress (Gr. thuroros).
  2. The Second Denial, Matthew 26:70 (Mark 14:68). Place: the hall (aule). Time: sitting. Questioner:
    a certain maid. Luke 22:56-58 combines the same place and time, with the same maid, and another (heteros, masc.).
  3. 3. The Third Denial, Matthew 26:71. Place: the gateway or porch (pulon). Time: an interval of an hour. John 18:25, 26 combines the same place and time, with another maid and bystanders, one of them being a relative of Malchus.
A Cock Crew
(Mark 14: 68. John 18:27)
ii. The Second Series of Three.
  1. The First Denial, Mark 14:63. Place: "beneath in the hall". Time: shortly after. Questioner: the maid again.
  2. The Second Denial, Matthew 26:73 (Mark 14:70). Place: the gate (pulon). Time: shortly after. Questioners: the bystanders.
  3. The Third Denial (Luke 22:59, 60). Place: the midst of the hall (aule; v. 55). Time: "an hour after" (v. 59). Questioner : a certain one (masc.).
A Cock Crew
(Matthew 26:74. Mark 14:72. Luke 22:61)
IV. We thus have a combined record in which there remains no difficulty, while each word retains its own true grammatical sense.

The Purchase Of "The Potter's Field" And The Fulfillment Of The Prophecy

There are two difficulties connected with these scriptures:

I. The two purchases recorded in Matthew 27:6-8, and Acts 1:18, 19, respectively; and
II. The fulfillment of the prophecy connected with the former purchase (Matthew 27:9, 10).

I. The Two Purchases.

For there were two. One by "the chief priests", recorded in Matthew 27:6; and the other by Judas Iscariot recorded in Acts 1:18. The proofs are as follows: -

  1. The purchase of Judas was made some time before that of the chief priests; for there would have been no time to arrange and carry this out between the betrayal and the condemnation. The purchase of the chief priests was made after Judas had returned the money.

  2. What the chief priests bought was "a field" (Gr. agros). What Judas had acquired (see 3, below) was what in English we call a "Place" (Gr. chorion = a farm, or small property). The two are quite distinct, and the difference is preserved both in the Greek text and in the Syriac version.

  3. The verbs also are different. In Matthew 27:7 the verb is agorazo = to buy in the open market (from agora = a market place); while in Acts 1:18, the verb is ktaomai = to acquire possession of (Luke 18:12; 21:19, Acts 22:28), and is rendered "provide" in Matthew 10:9. Its noun, ktema = a possession (Matthew 19:22, Mark 10:22, Acts 2:45; 5:1).

  4. How and when Judas had become possessed of this "place" we are not told in so many words; but we are left in no doubt, from the plain statement in John 12:6 that "he was a thief, and had the bag". The "place" was bought with this stolen money, "the reward (or wages) of iniquity". This is a Hebrew idiom (like our Eng. "money ill-got"), used for money obtained by unrighteousness (Numbers 22:7, 2Peter 2:15). This stolen money is wrongly assumed to be the same as the "thirty pieces of silver".

  5. The two places had different names. The "field" purchased by the chief priests was originally known as "the potter's field", but was afterward called "agros haimatos" = the field of blood; i.e. a field bought with the price of blood ("blood" being put by the Fig. Metonymy (of the Subject).
    The "possession" which Judas had acquired bore an Aramaic name, "Hakal dema" which is transliterated Akeldama, or according to some Akeldamach, or Hacheldamach = "place" (Gr. chorion) of blood" : a similar meaning but from a different reason : viz. Judas' suicide. It is thus shown that there is no discrepancy between Matthew 27:6-8 and Acts 1:18, 19.
II. The Fulfillment Of The Prophecy.

Many solutions have been proposed to meet the two difficulties connected with Matthew 27:9, 10.

i. As to the first difficulty, the words quoted from Jeremiah are not found in his written prophecy : and it has been suggested
  1. That "Matthew quoted from memory" (Augustine and others).
  2. That the passage was originally in Jeremiah, but the Jews cut it out (Eusebius and others); though no evidence for this is produced.
  3. That it was contained in another writing by Jeremiah, which is now lost (Origen and others).
  4. That Jeremiah is put for the whole body of the prophets (Bishop Lightfoot and others), though no such words can be found in the other prophets.
  5. That it was "a slip of the pen" on the part of Matthew (Dean Alford).
  6. That the mistake was allowed by the Holy Spirit on purpose that we may not trouble ourselves as to who the writers were, but receive all prophecy as direct from God, Who spake by them (Bishop Wordsworth).
  7. That some annotator wrote "Jeremiah" in the margin and it "crept" into the text (Smith's Bible Dictionary).
These suggestions only create difficulties much more grave than the one which they attempt to remove. But all of them are met and answered by the simple fact that Matthew does not say it was written by Jeremiah, but that it was "spoken" by him.

This makes all the difference : for some prophecies were spoken (and not written), some were written (and not spoken), while others were both spoken and written. Of course, by the Fig. Metonymy, one may be said to "say" what he has written; but we need not go out of our way to use this figure, if by so doing we create the very difficulty we are seeking to solve. There is all the difference in the world between to rhethen ( = that which was spoken), and ho gegraptai ( = that which stands written).

ii. As to the second difficulty : that the prophecy attributed to Jeremiah is really written in Zechariah 11:10-13, it is created by the suggestion contained in the margin of the Authorized Version. That this cannot be the solution may be shown from the following reasons:
  1. Zechariah 11:10-13 contains no reference either to a "field" or to its purchase. Indeed, the word "field" (shadah) does not occur in the whole of Zechariah except in 10:1, which has nothing to do with the subject at all.
  2. As to the "thirty pieces of silver", Zechariah speaks of them with approval, while in Matthew they are not so spoken of. "A goodly price" ('eder hayekar) denotes amplitude, sufficiency, while the Verb yakar means to be priced, prized, precious and there is not the slightest evidence that Zechariah spoke of the amount as being paltry, or that the offer of it was, in any sense and insult. But this latter is the sense in Matthew 27:9, 10.
  3. The givers were "the poor of the flock". This enhanced the value. "The worth of the price" was accepted as "goodly" on that account, as in Mark 12:43, 44. 2Corinthians 8:12.
  4. The waiting of "the poor of the flock" was not hostile, but friendly, as in Proverbs 27:18. Out of above 450 occurrences of the Hebrew shamar, less than fourteen are in a hostile sense.
  5. In the disposal of the silver, the sense of the Verb "cast" is to be determined by the context (not by the Verb itself). In Zechariah 11, the context shows it to be in a good sense, as in Exodus 15:25. 1Kings 19:19. 2Kings 2:21; 4:41; 6:6. 2Chronicles 24:10, 11.
  6. The "potter" is the fashioner and his work was not necessarily confined to fashioning "clay", but it extended to metals. Cp. Genesis 2:7, 8. Psalms 33:15; 94:9. Isaiah 43:1, 6, 10, 21; 44:2, 9-12, 21, 24; 45:6, 7; 54:16, 17. Out of the sixty-two occurrences of the Verb (yazar), more than three-fourths have nothing whatever to do with the work of a "potter"
  7. A "potter" in connection with the Temple, or its service, is unknown to fact, or to Scriptures.
  8. The material, "silver", would be useless to a "potter" but necessary to a fashioner of metallic vessels, or for the payment of artizans who wrought them (2Kings 12:11-16; 22:4-7. 2Chronicles 24:11-13). One might as well cast clay to a silversmith as silver to a potter.
  9. The prophecy of Zechariah is rich in reference to metals; and only the books of Numbers (31:22) and Ezekiel name as many. In Zechariah we find six named: Gold, six times (4:2, 12; 6:11; 13:9; 14:14). Fine gold, once (9:3). Silver, six times, (6:11; 9:3; 11:12, 13; 13:9; 14:14). Brass, once (6:1, margin). Lead, twice (5:7, 8). Tin, once (4:10, margin). Seventeen references in all.
  10. Zechariah is full of references to what the prophet saw and said but there are only two refs. to what he did; and both of these have references to "silver" (6:11; 11:13).
  11. The Septuagint, and its revision by Symmachus, read "cast them (i.e. the thirty pieces of silver) into the furnace (Gr. eis to choneuterion), showing that, before Matthew was written, yotzer was interpreted as referring not to a "potter" but to a fashioner of metals.
  12. The persons are also different. In Matthew we have "they took", "they gave", "the price of him"; in Zechariah we read "I took", "I cast", "I was valued".
  13. In Matthew the money was given "for the field", and in Zechariah it was cast "unto the fashioner."
  14. Matthew names three parties as being concerned in the transaction; Zechariah names only one.
  15. Matthew not only quotes Jeremiah's spoken words, but names him as the speaker. This is in keeping with Matthew 2:17, 18. Jeremiah is likewise named in Matthew 16:14; but nowhere else in all the New Testament.
    iii. The conclusion. From all this we gather that the passage in Matthew 27:9, 10 cannot have any reference to Zechariah 11:10-13.
1. If Jeremiah's spoken words have anything to do with what is recorded in Jeremiah 32:6-9, 43, 44, then in the reference to them other words are interjected by way of parenthetical explanation. These are not to be confused with the quoted words. They may be combined thus: --

"Then was fulfilled that which was SPOKEN by Jeremiah the prophet saying; 'And they took the thirty pieces of silver [the price of him who was priced, whom they of the sons of Israel did price], and they gave them for the potter's field, as the LORD appointed me.'"

Thus Matthew quotes that which was "SPOKEN" by Jeremiah the prophet and combines with the actual quotation a parenthetical reference to the price at which the prophet Zechariah had been priced.

2. Had the sum of money been twenty pieces of silver instead of thirty, a similar remark might well have been interjected thus: --

"Then was fulfilled that which was SPOKEN by Jeremiah the prophet saying; 'And they took the twenty pieces of silver [the price of him whom his brethren sold into Egypt], and they gave them for the potter's field'", &c.

3. Or, had the reference been to the compensation for an injury done to another man's servant, as in Exodus 21:32, a similar parenthetical remark might have been introduced thus: --

"Then was fulfilled that which was SPOKEN by Jeremiah the prophet, saying : 'And they took the thirty pieces of silver [the price given in Israel to the master whose servant had been injured by an ox], and they gave them for the potter's field'" , &c.

A designed parenthetical insertion by the inspired Evangelist of a reference to Zechariah, in a direct quotation from the prophet Jeremiah, is very different from a "mistake" or "a slip of the pen", "a lapse of memory" or a "corruption of the text", which need an apology. The quotation itself, as well as the parenthetical reference, are both similarly exact.

The "Others" Crucified With The Lord

Mislead by tradition and the ignorance of Scripture on the part of medieval painters, it is the general belief that only two were crucified with the Lord. But Scripture does not say so. It states that there were two "thieves" (Gr. lestai = robbers, Matthew 27:38. Mark 15:27); and that there were two "malefactors" (Gr. kakouryoi, Luke 23:32).

It is also recorded that both the robbers reviled Him (Matthew 27:44. Mark 15:32); while in Luke 23:39 only one of the malefactors "railed on Him", and "the other rebuked him" for so doing (verse 40). If there were only two, this is a real discrepancy; and there is another, for the two malefactors were "led with Him to be put to death" (Luke 23:32), and when they were come to Calvary, "they" then and there "crucified Him and the malefactors, one on the right hand and the other on the left" (v. 33).

But the other discrepancy is according to Matthew, that after the parting of the garments, and after "sitting down they watched Him there," that "THEN" were there two robbers crucified with Him, "one on the right hand and the other on the left" (Matthew 27:38, Mark 15:27). The two malefactors had already been "led with Him" and were therefore crucified "with Him," and before the two robbers were brought.

The first two (malefactors) who were "led with Him" were placed one on either side. When the other two (robbers) were brought, much later, they were also similarly placed; so that there were two (one of each) on either side, and the Lord in the midst. The malefactors were therefore the nearer, and being on the inside they could speak to each other better, and the one with the Lord, as recorded (Luke 23:39-43).

John's record confirms this, for he speaks only of place, and not of time. He speaks, generally of the fact: "where they crucified Him, and with Him others, two on this side, and that side, and Jesus in the midst" (John 19:8). In Revelation 22:2 we have the same expression in the Greek (enteuthen kai enteuthen), which is accurately rendered "on either side." So it should be rendered here: "and with Him others, on either side".

But John further states (19:32, 33): "then came the soldiers and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with Him. But when they came (Gr. = having come) to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs." Had there been only two (one on either side) the soldiers would not have come to the Lord, but would have passed Him, and then turned back again. But they came to Him after they had broken the legs of the first two.

There are two words used of the "other" and "others" in John 19:32 and Luke 23:32. In the former passage we read, "they brake the legs of the first and of the other." Here the Greek is allos which is the other (the second) of the two when there are more (see Matthew 10:23; 25:16, 17, 20; 27:61; 28:1. John 18:15, 16; 20:2, 4, 8. and Revelation 17:10).

In the latter passage (Luke 23:32) the word is heteros = different: "and others also, two were being led with Him." These were different from Him with Whom they were led, not different from one another; for they were "in the same condemnation", and "justly", while He had "done nothing amiss" (verses 40, 41).

From this evidence, therefore, it is clear that there were four "others" crucified with the Lord; and thus, on the one hand, there are no "discrepancies", as alleged; while, on the other hand, every word and every expression, in the Greek, gets (and gives) its own exact value, and its full significance.

To show that we are not without evidence, even from tradition, we may state that there is a "Calvary" to be seen at Ploubezere near Lannion, in the Cotes-du-Nord, Brittany, known as Les Cinq Croix ("The Five Crosses"). There is a high cross in the center, with four lower ones, two on either side.

"In the Roman Catholic church ... the altar slab or "table" alone is consecrated, and in sign of this are cut in its upper surface five Greek crosses, one in the center and one in each corner ... but the history of the origin and development of this practice is not fully worked out" (Encyclopedia. Britannica., 11th (Cambridge) ed., vol. i, pp. 762, 763). This practice may possibly be explained by the subject of this Appendix.

The Three Commissions

It will be seen that there were three separate Commissions given to the Eleven Apostles, at different times, on distinctly specified occasions and in varying words.

first is recorded in Luke 24:47. This was given in Jerusalem on the evening of the day of the resurrection. It was given, not to the Eleven only, but also to "them that were with them." (v. 33). The commission was the continuation of His own ministry and that of John the Baptist (Matthew 22:1-10). They were all to proclaim "repentance and remission of sins". The New Covenant had been made, in virtue of which this message of pardon could be declared. (Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:14-23, Acts 3:19), first in Jerusalem, and then to all nations. This was done by Peter (Acts 2:38;3:19, etc.).

The second is recorded in Mark 16:15-18, and was given when the Lord appeared to the Eleven as they sat at meat; and it was carried out by "them that heard Him", as foretold in Matthew 22:4-7, and fulfilled in Mark 16:20, as confirmed in Hebrews 2:3.

The Acts of the Apostles is the inspired history of the fulfillment of this commission, so far as it is necessary for our instruction. It was given for the personal ministry of the Apostles, to be fulfilled by them before the destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem.

The third
is recorded in Matthew 28:19, 20, and was given on a mountain in Galilee. It was the proclamation of the King, who had left Jerusalem, according to the Parable (Luke 19:12), until He returned in power to set up His kingdom (26:64). It is the summons to the Gentile nations to submit to the Lord Jesus, as the King of Israel, according to Psalms 2:10-12. It was the proclamation of "the Gospel of the Kingdom" for a witness to all nations, immediately before the end of the age (Matthew 24:14, Revelation 14:6).


The tempest in Matthew 8:24 is not the same as that recorded in Mark 4:37-41 and Luke 8:22-25. The former took place before the calling of the twelve; the later was after that event. In the former it was a tempest (or earthquake, as this Greek word #4578 seismos is always rendered in the other thirteen occurrences); in the later event it was a squall (Greek word#2978 lailaps).

The Temptations Of Our Lord

It is well known that the order of the temptations in Matthew is not the same as in Luke. Commentators and Harmonizers assume that the one is right and the other is wrong; and proceed to change the order of one in order to make it agree with the other. But an examination of the combined accounts, giving due weight to the words and expressions used, will explain all the differences, and show that both Gospels are absolutely correct; while the differences are caused by the three temptations being repeated by the devil in a different order, thus making six instead of three.

Mark and Luke agree in stating that the temptations continued all the forty days (Mark 1:13, Luke 4:2); they are described as follows:

  1. (Luke 4:3,4) "The devil (ho diabolos) said to Him, "Speak to this stone (to litho touto) that it become a loaf (artos)." This appears to be the first temptation: and there is no reason whatever why it should not have been repeated in another form; for it is nowhere stated that there were three, and only three, temptations.

  2. (Luke 4:5-8) "And the devil, conducting (anagagon) Him, shewed to Him all the kingdoms of the habitable world, or land (Gr. oikoumene), in a moment of time." Nothing is said about "an exceeding high mountain".

    The devil claims to possess the right to the kingdoms of the world, and the Lord does not dispute it. Satan says: "To Thee will I give this authority (exousia) and all their glory, for to me it has been delivered, and to whomsoever I wish I give it. Therefore, if Thou wilt worship before me, all shall be Thine."

    Nothing is said here about "falling down", as in Matthew. Here only "authority" is offered; for all the critical Greek texts read "pasa" (not "panta") fem. to agree with exousia.

    The Lord did not say, "Get thee hence" (as in Matthew 4:10), but "Get thee behind Me", which was a very different thing. Satan did not depart then, any more than Peter did when the same was said to him (Matthew 16:23).

  3. (Luke 4:9-12) "And he conducted (egagen) Him to Jerusalem, and set Him upon the wing of the temple, and said to Him, 'If Thou art the Son of God, cast Thyself down hence, for it is written, that to His angels He will give charge concerning Thee, to keep thee (tou diaphulaxai se)'", etc.

    There is nothing said about this "keeping thee" in Matthew; moreover, it is stated that having finished every form of temptation, "he departed from Him for a season". Note that the devil departed (apeste) of his own accord in Luke 4:13, while in Matthew the Lord summarily dismissed him and commanded him to be gone (Matthew 4:10).

  4. (Matthew 4:3-4) After the "season" (referred to in Luke 4:13), and on another occasion therefore, "he who was tempting Him (ho peirazon), having come (proselthon), said, If Thou are the Son of God, say that these stones become loaves (artoi)". Not "this stone", or "a loaf" (artos), as in Luke 4:3. Moreover he is not plainly called "the devil", as in Luke 4:3, but is spoken of as the one who had already been named as tempting Him (ho peirazon); and as "having come" (proselthon); not as simply speaking as being then present.

  5. (Matthew 4:5-7) "Then (tote)" -- in strict succession to the preceding temptation of the "stones" and the "loaves" -- "Then the devil taketh (paralambanei) Him unto the holy city, and setteth Him upon the wing of the temple", &c. Nothing is said here about the angels being charged to "keep" Him (as in Luke 4:10); nor is there any reason why any of these three forms of temptation should not have been repeated, under other circumstances and conditions.

  6. (Matthew 4:8-10) Here it is plainly stated that the second temptation (Luke 4:5-8) was repeated: for "Again the devil taketh Him unto an exceedingly high mountain, and sheweth to Him all the kingdoms of the world (kosmos, not oikoumene, as in Luke 4:5), and their glory, and said to Him, All these things," (not "all this authority", as in Luke 4:6)", will I give to Thee if, falling down, Thou wilt worship me". Here, in this last temptation, the climax is reached. It was direct worship. Nothing is said in Luke about falling down. Here it is boldly and plainly said, "Worship me." This was the crisis. There was no departing of satan's own accord here. The moment had come to end all these temptations by the Lord Himself. "Go! said the Lord (hupage), Get thee hence, Satan ... Then the devil leaveth (aphiesin) Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him".
This angelic ministry marked the end. There is no such ministry mentioned at the end of the third temptation in Luke 4:3-12; for then Satan "departed" of his own accord, returning (in Matthew 4:3) after "a season" (Luke 4:13). True, the Lord had said "Get thee behind Me, Satan" (Luke 4:8); but He did not, then, summarily dismiss him, nor did satan depart : he continued with his third temptation, not departing till after the third had been completed.

We thus conclude that, while there were temptations continuous during the whole of the forty days (Mark 1:13, Luke 4:2), they culminated in six direct assaults on the Son of man, in three different forms; each form being repeated on two separate occasions, and under different circumstances, but not in the same order.

This accords with all the variations of the words used, explains the different order of events in the two Gospels and satisfies all the conditions demanded by the sacred text.

The two different orders in Matthew and Luke do not arise from a "mistake" in one or the other, so that one may be considered correct and the other incorrect; they arise form the punctilious accuracy of the Divine record in describing the true and correct order in which Satan varied the six temptations; for which variation, he alone, and neither of the Evangelists, is responsible.

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