ABC:Matthew 12

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Verses 3-4[edit]

The ReasonProject lists the following as a Bible contradiction with the headline "Was David alone when asking for the holy bread at Nob?"[1] Critic's words are italicized.

He was alone.

1 Samuel 21:1 Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest: and Ahimelech was afraid at the meeting of David, and said unto him, Why art thou alone, and no man with thee?

He was with others.

Matthew 12:3 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;
4 How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?

Mark 2:25 And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?
26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?

Luke 6:3 And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him;
4 How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone?

Eric Lyons points out the truth of this case in his article for Apologetics Press, "Was Jesus Mistaken?"[2] As seen from the context of 1 Samuel 21 which the critic sneakily omits (considering they quoted multiple verses in the other passages), David was visiting on behalf of his soldiers.

1 Samuel 21:1 Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest: and Ahimelech was afraid at the meeting of David, and said unto him, Why art thou alone, and no man with thee?
2 And David said unto Ahimelech the priest, The king hath commanded me a business, and hath said unto me, Let no man know any thing of the business whereabout I send thee, and what I have commanded thee: and I have appointed my servants to such and such a place.
3 Now therefore what is under thine hand? give me five loaves of bread in mine hand, or what there is present.
4 And the priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread under mine hand, but there is hallowed bread; if the young men have kept themselves at least from women.
5 And David answered the priest, and said unto him, Of a truth women have been kept from us about these three days, since I came out, and the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in a manner common, yea, though it were sanctified this day in the vessel.

David mentions that his warriors are waiting for him elsewhere (v. 2), and have not been engaging in sexual promiscuity. (vv. 4-5) As pointed out by Lyons, "Consider the situation where a colonel in the army might visit a general’s quarters 'alone' to discuss provisions for his men, while instructing his men to wait for him at a nearby designated location. In one sense, the colonel was alone with the general, yet in another sense, the colonel and his men had traveled to the general’s location in order to request essential provisions that would have been used for both the colonel and those who were with him."[2]

Jesus is correct. There were people with David and David took the shewbread to give to them. The critic wants to incorrectly argue that Jesus was saying David's men were with him when he received the shewbread, but that is not what Jesus said. David was acting in concert with his servants who were waiting elsewhere for him, they were hungry like he was, and the priest recognized the bread was intended for all of them, not just David, which is why he asked if David's men had been sexually promiscuously. David replied that women had been kept from "us." (v. 5)

Verse 30[edit]

Jim Meritt of claims the Bible contradicts itself here and asks "For or against?"[3] I am including Meritt's notes below each quoted verse to show his reasoning.

Matthew 12:30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

(default is against)

Mark 9:40 For he that is not against us is on our part.

(default is for)

Luke 9:50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.

(default is for)

None of the verses say anything about a default. That's simply Meritt's own faulty, so-called reasoning. All three verses simply maintain the same approach, that there are only two sides at work, the world's/Satan's, and God's. Jesus draws the same parallel constantly throughout the Gospels, that there is a kingdom of this world opposing the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, if there are only two sides, it can safely be said that if one is not on the other side, they are on your side, and vice versa - hence, no contradiction.

Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Matthew 8:11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 13:38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.

Luke 16:8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

John 8:23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.

John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

John 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

John 17:14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

The constant paradigm shown is that of two kingdoms warring one against the other, Satan's kingdom of this world vs. God's kingdom of Heaven, the prince of this world vs. the prince of Heaven, darkness vs. light. Therefore, if one is not on one side, they are on the other.

Verse 40[edit]

Jim Meritt of claims the Bible contradicts itself here and asks "How long was Jesus in the tomb?"[3] Meritt's explanation is as follows, with the related verses provided:

"Depends where you look; MAT 12:40 gives Jesus prophesying that he will spend "three days and three nights in the heart of the earth," and MAR 10:34 has 'after three days (meta treis emeras) he will rise again.' As far as I can see from a quick look, the prophecies have 'after three days,' but the post-Resurrection narratives have 'on the third day.'"

(Jim Meritt)

Matthew 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Mark 10:34 And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.

If ancient Israelites had the same concept of a 'day' as modern Americans this might be easier to call a contradiction, but they didn't, and several differences existed:

  1. The Hebrew concept of a day did not begin with the day, but with the night, so each 'day' was a combination of night/day, not day/night. Even today the Jewish day is considered to start at sundown, not sunup.[4] This is primarily because of Genesis 1, "the evening and the morning were the first day." According to Jewish custom at the time, the 'day' would have actually began the previous evening. This is specifically stated in Leviticus 23:32 as well, "from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath."[5]
  2. Likewise with the Jewish concept of hours, the "ninth hour of the day" would not mean 9 am. In Judaism the total daylight of a given day is divided into 12 equal parts, so the ninth hour would mean 9/12 or 3/4 of the daylight in the day has elapsed. Once all daylight is gone, a new day begins in the evening, contrary to modern American thinking. If daylight began at 7 am and ended at 7 pm, for example, then the ninth hour would be 9/12 of the 12 hours of daylight, or 9 hours after 7 am, or 4 pm.[6] This is referenced in John 11:9 when Jesus said, "Are there not twelve hours in the day?"

Now, with all of that said, what does the timeline show occurred?

  • The crucifixion proceedings/trial began the third hour on Friday. (Mark 15:25)
  • Pilate appealed on the sixth hour of Friday one last time to the crowd, asking if they were sure they wanted to crucify their King before the crucifixion itself began. (John 19:14-18)
  • The land experienced unusual early darkness, perhaps an eclipse, from the sixth to ninth hours, meaning the sun apparently came out afterward. (Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44-45)
  • One of Jesus' last cries being crucified is said to be the ninth hour, Friday afternoon by our time. (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34)
  • Jesus had died by the time the evening (new day) began and Joseph of Arimathaea came to bury Jesus. (Matthew 27:57) This day after Jesus died is said to be "preparation, the day before the Sabbath," i.e. Saturday by Jewish time and Friday evening by our time. (Mark 15:42-43; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:40-42) During this time the chief priests and Pharisees asked Pilate to set a watch over the tomb to prevent the disciples from taking the body. (Matthew 27:62-66)
  • The women prepared spices for Jesus' burial and rested on the sabbath (Saturday) according to Jewish commandment. (Luke 23:56)
  • After the sabbath (Saturday) had ended as dawn began for the first day of the week (Sunday) meaning Sunday had already begun in the evening and the daylight phase was beginning the women came to the tomb to find Jesus risen. (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1-2,9; Luke 24:1-6; John 20:1,19)

So in summary, by Jewish reckoning, Jesus was crucified at the end of Friday's day during which an eclipse began. He was in sheol the heart of the earth throughout Saturday as well until the beginning of Sunday. So Friday day/Saturday night/Saturday day/Sunday night/Sunday day. However, where did the additional night come from?

This is where God decided to make a supernatural night per what was an apparent eclipse, remember? See Matthew 27:45, Mark 15:33, and Luke 23:44-45. The Gospel writers knew this was important and gave special attention to it because it was this that fulfilled the last night of the prophecy, so counting this, Jesus was indeed three days and nights in sheol, the heart of the earth. Indeed, if Jesus died before the eclipse began, one could consider there to be an extra full day and night rather than just night since the sun came out again. Thus by counting the eclipse the time could indeed be easily considered three days and nights by Jewish reckoning.

God the Father may have intervened this way to supernaturally save His Son from an extra day in Hell while still fulfilling the prophecy, per Jesus' appeals to Him. Knowing His Son was exhausted and weakening, God the Father may well have granted Jesus' request that "if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him." If so, God essentially removed the most trying day from His Son by supernaturally altering Jewish record-keeping itself. The only such lunar eclipse that could have occurred near that time would have been Friday, April 3, 33 A.D., which in 1983 led scholars to proclaim (in the journal Nature no less) this the date of the crucifixion.[7]

Mark 14:35 And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.
36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

Matthew 26:38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

Luke 22:42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

John 12:27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.

Just as God made the rainbow a naturally reoccurring phenomenon after the Flood as a symbol to later generations (Genesis 9:12-17) even so He may have changed the solar cycles so eclipses would reoccur in such a way as to make evident the timing of what He had done earlier for His Son.

Verse 40, Again[edit] claims the Bible is wrong about the following passage, and makes the following comments in the section, "How Long Did it Take for Jesus to Get to Heaven After the Crucifixion?":[8]

Matthew 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Jesus wouldn’t ascend to heaven for 3 days. His journey is compared to Jonah’s 3 days in the belly of the fish.

Luke 23:42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Jesus is to be in Paradise that very day.

The critic just doesn't understand the Biblical concept of the afterlife, although this isn't uncommon, many people think there's just one Heaven where God dwells that all go to upon dying. As shocking as people might find this, the Old Testament does not say people go to Heaven upon dying, but a place called sheol divided into halves. Jesus did indeed go to Paradise, or sheol, in the heart of the earth. The critic fails to realize they are one and the same, and that the public's concept of Heaven is not Biblical.

Biblical Concept of Heaven[edit]

There are three heavens referred to in the Bible (1 Corinthians 12:2). There's the sky/atmosphere (Genesis 1:20, Jeremiah 4:25; 34:20; Lamentations 4:19; Zephaniah 1:3), outer space (Genesis 1:14-17; 15:5; 22:17; 26:4; Deuteronomy 1:10; 17:3; Psalm 8:3, Jeremiah 8:2; Matthew 24:29), and the dwelling place of God (1 Peter 3:22) which is called the "heaven of heavens." (Deuteronomy 10:14; 1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 2:6, 6:18, Nehemiah 9:6; Psalms 148:4) As Richard Anthony points out, that there is more than one heaven is evidenced in the Old Testament also by Psalms 115:16, "The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD'S..."[9]

Biblical Afterlife, Sheol[edit]

Furthermore, the Heaven where God dwells is not where the dead go. Rather, all die and go to what the Old Testament calls "the grave" or "the pit" (Heb. sheol[10]). It is divided into two parts, one side of peace where children who die prematurely and those who've lived righteously go (Job 3:11-19) and another side where the wicked go to be tormented. (Psalms 9:17) Jesus said there is a "great gulf fixed" between these two sides preventing travel between them.

Luke 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

Heaven Not Where Dead Go[edit]

The Bible does not say people go to the Heaven where God dwells when dying, quite the opposite, it says that none have gone up to this Heaven but the one who came down from it, Jesus.

John 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

Proverbs 30:4 Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?

New Heavens and a New Earth[edit]

It seems only after the Final Judgment will new heavens and a new earth be created. After the 1,000 year reign of Jesus on Earth (Revelation 20:4) Satan will lead a final rebellion (Revelation 20:8-10) and then will occur the Final Judgment where death, hell, and the sea will give up the dead to be judged according to their works. (Revelation 20:11-15) God will then make new heavens and a new earth, and create a 'New Jerusalem' on Earth where He will dwell with men. Those who do evil not written in Jesus' Book of Life will be cast into the Lake of Fire. (Revelation 20:15; 21:8,27)

Revelation 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.


My point in all of this is to say that this is not a contradiction. Jesus and the thief on the cross did indeed go to Paradise, but Paradise Biblically is sheol not Heaven. Jesus went to Paradise in the "heart of the earth" known as sheol but would not ascend to Heaven yet.


  1. Marlow, Andy (2009). Contradictions in the Bible. Project Reason.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Lyons, Eric (2006). Was Jesus Mistaken? Apologetics Press.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Meritt, Jim (1992). A list of Biblical contradictions. Retrieved from
  4. Hecht, Mendy. Why does the Jewish day start at sundown? Retrieved from,198/Why-does-the-Jewish-day-start-at-sundown.html. The Jewish Day. Retrieved from
  5. Taylor, P.S., Van Bebber, M., & Easton, M.G. Day. Retrieved from
  6. Hours. Retrieved from Determining the Hebrew Hour. Retrieved from
  7. Ogden, Arthur M. (1984, May 17). The Crucifixion Date. Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 10, pp. 296-297. Truth Magazine. Retrieved from
  8. TheThinkingAtheist. Bible Contradictions. Retrieved from
  9. Anthony, Richard. Elijah, Enoch, and Moses. Devoted to Truth. Retrieved from
  10. Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. Hebrew Lexicon entry for Sh@'owl. The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon. Retrieved from