In Defense of the Faith |

Hunt, Dave

When and Where Was the Sermon on the Mount?

Question: Concerning the famous Sermon on the Mount, Luke:6:12, 17 says Jesus came down from a mountain and stood in a plain to address his audience. But Matthew:5:1 says Jesus went up on a mountain and sat down to address his audience. How many contradictions such as this does it take before Christians admit that the Bible is not God’s infallible Word?

Response: Is it possible that in your eagerness to prove the Bible fallible you have overlooked the obvious? Surely you must know that the gospels do not tell every event in time sequence. In Luke:6:12–19, Jesus goes into a mountain and prays all night, then the next day chooses His 12 disciples. This same incident is told in Matthew 10. It is not connected with the Sermon on the Mount—much less immediately followed by it, as you imply—an event that Matthew presents long before in chapter 5.

There is a break in Luke chapter 6 between verses 19 and 20. Beginning at verse 20, an earlier incident, the Sermon on the Mount, is recited, out of sequence. There is no connection between that part of the gospel, which is recounted in verses 12–19 and the Sermon on the Mount, which begins at verse 20. There is no contradiction between Matthew and Luke.

Contradictory Accounts of the Transfiguration

Question: The stories of the so-called “transfiguration” of Jesus on the mount seem to contain a serious contradiction. Matthew:17:1 and Mark:9:2 say that it happened six days later than the incident just presented. But Luke:9:28 says it was eight days later. I’m stumped. Can you help me?

Response: Actually, both Matthew and Mark say, “After (Greek meta) six days,” which would be at least the seventh day; and Luke says “about an eight days.” “An eight days” is an idiomatic expression (like “fortnight”) for a week later, and the word “about” indicates that the timing is not precise. This criticism of the gospel account splits meaningless hairs, and once again the skeptic accusing the Bible of contradiction would be laughed out of court.

—An excerpt from In Defense of the Faith (pp. 103-4) by Dave Hunt