ABC:Matthew 27

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Verse 3[edit]

Jim Meritt of Infidels.org states a contradiction exists here and queries "How many apostles were in office between the resurrection and ascension?"[1]

1 Corinthians 15:5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

Matthew 27:3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

Acts 1:26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Matthew 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.

Meritt is trying to say Paul should have said there were eleven instead of twelve at the time. However, Paul was writing after the fact when there were once again twelve apostles (now including Mathias, who had replaced Judas). Therefore Paul was justified in using the phrase "the twelve" after the fact, since Mathias doubtless saw the risen Lord as well, even if Mathias was not considered one of the twelve yet.

The term "the twelve" was likely a common way of referring to the twelve apostles at the time Paul wrote that, just as the Beatles frequently were referred to as the "Fab Four" when they were alive. Yes, Paul was referring to a time Mathias wasn't yet considered one of "the twelve" but at the time Paul was writing Mathias had become one of "the twelve."

Even if one really wanted to nitpick like this, Judas didn't technically stop getting considered one of "the twelve" until Acts 1:26, so even if he died a few days before Peter saw Jesus (compare Matthew 27:3-5 and 28:7) he was still considered one of "the twelve." Meritt assumes Judas just stopped being considered one of "the twelve" upon dying which the Bible never states.

Verse 5[edit]

Infidels.org's Meritt claims a contradiction exists here.[1] TheThinkingAtheist.com also claims a contradiction while making the following comments:[2]

Matthew 27:3: Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.
7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in.
8 Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.

Judas hanged himself

Acts 1:16: Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.
17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.

Judas bought a field, fell down and his intestines spilled out.

There is no reason the verses need to contradict. Judas could have hanged himself from a high area in the field. Hanging literally involves "falling down" after all. The rope could have broken from the stress or been cut after the hanging, so that his body fell onto some rocks and burst open. It could have been hanging there for weeks as it rotted until a buzzard perched on it and it fell apart onto the ground for all we know. Whatever the scenario was, the verses appear complementary in relating it with no clear reason for assuming contradiction.

Verse 6[edit]

Infidels.org's Meritt claims a contradiction exists here in the section "Who bought potter's field." (sic)[1]

Acts 1:18-19: Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.

Matthew 27:6-8: And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.

In essence Judas did purchase the field with the cost of his betrayal, he attempted to return the silver for Jesus' freedom, was refused, killed himself, and the Pharisees bought for his burial ground the place where he hanged himself. The Pharisees essentially bought the field on Judas' behalf, since they had refused his return of the silver. Ultimately speaking, Judas' reward for Jesus' betrayal ended up being a land where he killed himself and was buried, so in that sense he did purchase a field in exchange for betraying Jesus.

Verse 9[edit]

Jim Meritt of Infidels.org states twice that a contradiction exists here, asking "Who bought the potter's field?"[1] Meritt notes of Matthew 27:9-10 "(mentions Jeremy but no such verse in Jeremiah) is in Zechariah 11:12-13" and of Zechariah 11:12-13 "(Note: There is nothing in Jeremiah remotely like this.)"

Matthew 27:9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;
10 And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.

Zechariah 11:12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.
13 And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.

Meritt makes a serious mistake in assuming the verse would need to be in the book of Jeremiah, first of all, since Jeremiah is also believed to have authored the books of 1 Kings, 2 Kings, and Lamentations.

Secondly, Meritt is incorrect that no similar verses exist in the book of Jeremiah, as Jeremiah does speak of a field's purchase with 17 pieces of silver. The field mentioned was in Anathoth which like the field Judas bought in Aceldama would have been very close to Jerusalem.[3] If so, this may have been an early precursor to the prophecy of Zechariah 11:12-13.

Jeremiah 32:6 And Jeremiah said, The word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
7 Behold, Hanameel the son of Shallum thine uncle shall come unto thee, saying, Buy thee my field that is in Anathoth: for the right of redemption is thine to buy it.
8 So Hanameel mine uncle's son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the LORD, and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray thee, that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance is thine, and the redemption is thine; buy it for thyself. Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.
9 And I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle's son, that was in Anathoth, and weighed him the money, even seventeen shekels of silver.
10 And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed him the money in the balances.

Jeremiah also contains a prophecy which involves Jeremiah buying a "potter's earthen bottle", going to the "valley of the son of Hinnom" (exactly where Judas' field of Aceldama was), and prophesying an "evil upon this place".

Jeremiah 19:1 Thus saith the LORD, Go and get a potter's earthen bottle, and take of the ancients of the people, and of the ancients of the priests;
2 And go forth unto the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the east gate, and proclaim there the words that I shall tell thee,
3 And say, Hear ye the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle.

There is an excellent note in "Hard Sayings of the Bible" by Kaiser et. al. for Matthew 27:9-10:

The quotation is not entirely a quotation of Zechariah. The majority of the quotation does come from Zechariah 11:13, but there is a change from the first person singular ('I' to the third plural ('they'. Furthermore, there is no field mentioned in Zechariah (in fact, in Matthew the NSRV follows the Syriac translation and has 'the treasury' instead of 'the potter' because Matthew clearly is not quoting Zechariah about the location). Finally, Zechariah does not include the phrase 'As the Lord commanded me.'

Second, Jeremiah is also involved with potters (Jer 17:1–1; 19:1–3—in this second passage he purchases something from a potter). Furthermore, Jeremiah purchases a field (Jer 32:6–5), although the price is seventeen pieces of silver rather than thirty. Finally, Jeremiah 13:5 has the phrase 'As the Lord commanded me'(RSV) (which also has to do with a purchase).
-Hard Sayings of the Bible[4]

Furthermore, as Apologetics Press writers Dave Miller and and Eric Lyons point out, Matthew 27 never said that Jeremiah wrote the prophecy, only that he spoke it.[5] Because of that fact alone, this cannot be considered a contradiction. Since Jeremiah lived shortly before Zechariah, it is quite possible Zechariah was reporting an earlier prophecy spoken by Jeremiah just as Paul and the Gospel authors later reported what Jesus spoke. Miller and Lyons also reference verses related to potters such as Jeremiah 18:2-3, 19:1-2, and 19:11.

Verse 11[edit]

TheThinkingAtheist.com claims the Bible is wrong about the following passage, and makes the following comments:[2]

Matthew 27:11 And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.
12 And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.
13 Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?
14 And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.

Jesus doesn’t answer the charges.

John 18:37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

Jesus answers the charges.

The translation the critic quotes uses the term "charge" to refer to the accusations of the "chief priests and elders." What we have here is a critic using a word they don't understand, namely charges. Charges are the accusations the priests and elders made against Jesus, not Pilate's curious questioning of Jesus. If the critic had any reading comprehension they would have noticed this. Jesus refused to answer the accusations the prosecution made, but did carry on a conversation with the judge about who He was, in other words. This really should have been quite obvious since John 18 also mentions Jesus responding to Pilate's questions.

Matthew 27:11 And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.

It should have been very obvious that Pilate's questions were not considered charges like the accusations of the priests and elders. Either the critic didn't even bother reading the passage at all carefully to see this, making a careless accusation, or deliberately was dishonest in trying to make the passage appear to say something it didn't. Take your pick.

Verse 12[edit]

Jim Meritt of Infidels.org states twice that a contradiction exists here, asking "Who bought the potter's field?"[1] Meritt notes of Matthew 27:9-10 "(mentions Jeremy but no such verse in Jeremiah) is in Zechariah 11:12-13" and of Zechariah 11:12-13 "(Note: There is nothing in Jeremiah remotely like this.)"

Matthew 27:9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;
10 And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.

Zechariah 11:12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.
13 And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.

Meritt makes a serious mistake in assuming the verse would need to be in the book of Jeremiah, first of all, since Jeremiah is also believed to have authored the books of 1 Kings, 2 Kings, and Lamentations.

Secondly, Meritt is incorrect that no similar verses exist in the book of Jeremiah, as Jeremiah does speak of a field's purchase with 17 pieces of silver. The field mentioned was in Anathoth which like the field Judas bought in Aceldama would have been very close to Jerusalem.[6] If so, this may have been an early precursor to the prophecy of Zechariah 11:12-13.

Jeremiah 32:6 And Jeremiah said, The word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
7 Behold, Hanameel the son of Shallum thine uncle shall come unto thee, saying, Buy thee my field that is in Anathoth: for the right of redemption is thine to buy it.
8 So Hanameel mine uncle's son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the LORD, and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray thee, that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance is thine, and the redemption is thine; buy it for thyself. Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.
9 And I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle's son, that was in Anathoth, and weighed him the money, even seventeen shekels of silver.
10 And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed him the money in the balances.

Jeremiah also contains a prophecy which involves Jeremiah buying a "potter's earthen bottle", going to the "valley of the son of Hinnom" (exactly where Judas' field of Aceldama was), and prophesying an "evil upon this place".

Jeremiah 19:1 Thus saith the LORD, Go and get a potter's earthen bottle, and take of the ancients of the people, and of the ancients of the priests;
2 And go forth unto the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the east gate, and proclaim there the words that I shall tell thee,
3 And say, Hear ye the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle.

There is an excellent note in "Hard Sayings of the Bible" by Kaiser et. al. for Matthew 27:9-10:

The quotation is not entirely a quotation of Zechariah. The majority of the quotation does come from Zechariah 11:13, but there is a change from the first person singular ('I' to the third plural ('they'. Furthermore, there is no field mentioned in Zechariah (in fact, in Matthew the NSRV follows the Syriac translation and has 'the treasury' instead of 'the potter' because Matthew clearly is not quoting Zechariah about the location). Finally, Zechariah does not include the phrase 'As the Lord commanded me.'

Second, Jeremiah is also involved with potters (Jer 17:1–1; 19:1–3—in this second passage he purchases something from a potter). Furthermore, Jeremiah purchases a field (Jer 32:6–5), although the price is seventeen pieces of silver rather than thirty. Finally, Jeremiah 13:5 has the phrase 'As the Lord commanded me'(RSV) (which also has to do with a purchase).
-Hard Sayings of the Bible[7]

Furthermore, as Apologetics Press writers Dave Miller and and Eric Lyons point out, Matthew 27 never said that Jeremiah wrote the prophecy, only that he spoke it.[8] Because of that fact alone, this cannot be considered a contradiction. Since Jeremiah lived shortly before Zechariah, it is quite possible Zechariah was reporting an earlier prophecy spoken by Jeremiah just as Paul and the Gospel authors later reported what Jesus spoke. Miller and Lyons also reference verses related to potters such as Jeremiah 18:2-3, 19:1-2, and 19:11.

Verse 28[edit]

Jim Meritt of Infidels.org claims there is a contradiction here in his section "What was the color of the robe placed on Jesus during his trial?"[1] TheThinkingAtheist.com also claims this is a contradiction in the section "What Color Robe Was Jesus Given?"[2]

Matthew 27:28 And <kai> they stripped <ekduo> him, <autos> and put on <peritithemi> him <autos> a scarlet <kokkinos> robe. <chlamus>

Mark 15:17 And <kai> they clothed <enduo> him <autos> with purple, <porphura> and <kai> platted <pleko> a crown <stephanos> of thorns, <akanthinos> and put it about <peritithemi> his <autos> head,

Meritt is apparently ignorant of the fact that the original Gospels were not written in modern English but in Greek. "Purple" and "scarlet" are English words chosen by the KJV translators in an attempt to correspond to the Hebrew words kokkinos and porphura. As defined by Strong's Exhaustive Concordance:

"4209. porfura porphura, por-foo'-rah

of Latin origin; the "purple" mussel, i.e. (by implication) the red-blue color itself, and finally a garment dyed with it:--purple."[9]

"2847. kokkinov kokkinos, kok'-kee-nos from 2848 (from the kernel-shape of the insect); crimson-colored:--scarlet (colour, coloured)."[10]

Kokkinos and porphura are of course Greek words, not English, and may be more synonymous than our English terms purple and scarlet. Even if the colors were different the robe may have been multi-colored. Regardless, there is no contradiction apparent here.

Verse 34[edit]

Jim Meritt of Infidels.org claims there is a contradiction here in his section "What did they give him to drink?"[1]

Matthew 27:34 They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.

Mark 15:23 And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not.

Meritt is just making himself look silly here in two different ways.

First, by not knowing what vinegar is. If he's going to accuse the Bible of contradictions he should at least do some minimal research on what he's talking about. Vinegar is essentially sour wine. The word translated 'wine' in Mark 15:23 from the original Greek text is "oinos" while the word translated 'vinegar' in Matthew 27:34 is the Greek word "oxos", they are defined by Strong's Exhaustive Concordance as follows:

"3631. oinov oinos, oy'-nos a primary word (or perhaps of Hebrew origin (3196)); 'wine' (literally or figuratively):--wine. See Hebrew 03196 (yayin)"[11]

"3690. oxov oxos, oz-os from 3691; vinegar, i.e. sour wine:--vinegar. See Greek 3691 (oxus)"[12]

Secondly, even if vinegar and wine weren't essentially synonymous, Mark 15 actually says separately that Jesus was given vinegar (not just the wine mentioned earlier). Meritt apparently never even bothered reading the rest of the chapter, just assumed he'd found a contradiction, thinking that vinegar wasn't the same as wine and was being referred to.

Mark 15:36 And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down.

Meritt made himself look bad twice in one alleged contradiction, that's pretty tough to do.

Verse 46[edit]

Jim Meritt of Infidels.org calls a contradiction "Jesus' last words".[1] TheThinkingAtheist.com also claims a contradiction exists here in the section "What Were Jesus’ Last Words on the Cross?"[2] RationalWiki also claims there is a Bible contradiction here.[13]

Matthew 27:46,50: "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?" that is to say, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" ...Jesus, when he cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost."

Luke 23:46: "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, "Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit:" and having said thus, he gave up the ghost."

John 19:30: "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished:" and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."

None of the passages say what were Jesus' last words, the phrase "Jesus' last words" is an expression originated by Meritt, not the Bible. The passages all actually complement one another, since neither Matthew 27 or Luke 23 say what it was that Jesus cried. So presumably the cry of Jesus not specified in those passages included "It is finished" in Luke 23:46 and both "Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit" and "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" in Matthew 27.

As seen from the chronology of the passages, Jesus' first cry was "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46) He then cried out again with a loud voice (Matthew 27:50), a cry that apparently included "It is finished" John 19:30 and then "Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit". (Luke 23:46) Since John 19:30 does not specify a loud cry, this statement presumably is the last of the three.

For a more detailed explanation of what Jesus said during the Crucifixion, see the Scofield Study Bible III's note for Matthew 27:33.[14]

Verse 54[edit]

TheThinkingAtheist.com claims the Bible is wrong about the following passage in the section "What Were the Centurion’s Words at the Cross?", and makes the following comments:[2]

Matthew 27:54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

"Surely he was the Son of God!"

Luke 23:47 Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.

"Surely this was a righteous man."

The statements are not remotely incompatible, there is no reason the centurion could not have said them both. Mark 15:39 additionally records the first statement. The critic simply doesn't understand the meaning of the word "contradiction." A contradiction means there are two incompatible statements which are mutually exclusive and cannot both be true, not a case like this where additional detail is given.

Sources[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Meritt, Jim (1992). A list of Biblical contradictions.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 TheThinkingAtheist. Bible Contradictions.
  3. Bible History Online. Aceldama. Retrieved from http://www.bible-history.com/links.php?cat=40&sub=492&cat_name=Bible+Cities&subcat_name=Aceldama.
    Bible History Online. Anathoth. Retrieved from http://www.bible-history.com/links.php?cat=40&sub=496&cat_name=Bible+Cities&subcat_name=Anathoth.
  4. Kaiser, Davids, Bruce, & Brauch (2004). Hard Sayings of the Bible. p. 399. Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=2eT5CbuJCWoC&pg=PA399&lpg=PA399.
    ChristianThinkTank.com. Where was the Judas quote from, actually? Retrieved from http://christianthinktank.com/judas30where.html.
  5. Miller, D. & Lyons, E. (2004). Who was Matthew quoting? Apologetics Press. Retrieved from http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=658.
  6. Bible History Online. Aceldama.
    Bible History Online. Anathoth.
  7. Kaiser, Davids, Bruce, & Brauch (2004). Hard Sayings of the Bible. p. 399. Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship.
    ChristianThinkTank.com. Where was the Judas quote from, actually?
  8. Miller, D. & Lyons, E. (2004). Who was Matthew quoting? Apologetics Press.
  9. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance. 4209: porphura.
  10. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance. 4209: porphura.
  11. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance. 3631:oinos.
  12. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance. 3690: oxos.
  13. RationalWiki Editors (2019). "Biblical Contradictions." RationalWiki.
  14. Scofield, C.I. (2006). The Scofield Study Bible III. p. 1307. Oxford University Press.