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Inspiration of the Bible: Factual Accuracy

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Questions and Answers: Was the Robe Placed on Jesus Scarlet or Purple

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Q.

Was the robe placed upon Jesus scarlet or purple (Matthew 27:28; John 19:2)?

A.

All would agree that we sometimes see colors a little differently. What one person calls blue, someone else may be more specific and call navy blue. A die-hard football fan may refer to his team’s color as dark red, whereas someone else who sees the team’s faded uniforms for the first time at the end of a grueling season might conclude that the team’s color is more maroon. While coloring pictures for their parents, one child may color an orange-yellow Sun, while the other draws a Sun that is bright yellow.

Surely no one would accuse these individuals of lying or being deceitful because one was more specific than another. Likewise, skeptics have no solid ground on which to stand when they disregard common sense and create biblical contradictions that do not exist. The simple fact is, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote from different perspectives. In the same way that individuals today look at colors and see different tones, shades, and tints, the writers of the gospels wrote about the trial and crucifixion of Jesus from different angles.

The garment placed upon Jesus after his brutal scourging likely was similar to faded football uniforms, but in His case we read of “a scarlet robe...faded to resemble purple” (Wycliffe). [It is difficult to imagine Pilate arraying Jesus’ bloody body with a new robe. More likely, it was one that had been worn and cast off as worthless.] Furthermore, according to Greek scholar A.T. Robertson, there were various shades of purple and scarlet in the first century and it was not always easy to distinguish the colors or tints. In fact, the ancients (especially the Romans) frequently used the term “purple” when speaking of various shades of red. Consequently, these different colors sometimes would be called by the same name. The charge of a contradiction occuring within the Scriptures in this instance simply cannot be sustained in light of the facts.

REFERENCES

Robertson, A.T. (1997), Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).

The Wycliffe Bible Commentary (1985), Electronic Database: Biblesoft.




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