Was the Sun Up, Down, or In Between?
by Kyle Butt, M.Div.
Attempting to cite contradictions between the resurrection accounts of the four Gospels consistently has been an endeavor long on effort and Scripture-twisting but short on evidence and valid reasoning. For example, some Bible critics demand that the time of day at which the women visited the empty tomb of Jesus is different when the Gospel of John is compared with the other three accounts. Please read for yourself the four different accounts that follow (emphasis has been added to underscore the time of day under discussion).
Matthew 28:1: Now late on the sabbath day, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
Luke 24:1: But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came unto the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared.
Mark 16:2: And very early on the first day of the week, they come to the tomb when the sun was risen.
John 20:1: Now on the first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, while it was yet dark, unto the tomb.
First, please understand that if these four accounts were in any ancient book other than the Bible, they hardly would be questioned as contradictory. In fact, they most likely would be considered to be in perfect agreement. Yet the Bible often is scrutinized much more strictly than any other book that records ancient history. Consider this: if the above accounts were read to a group of third graders could they understand what time of day was under discussion? To ask is to answer. Everyone who reads the accounts can see quite plainly that the women visited the tomb sometime very early on the first day of the week.
Second, it is not difficult to understand how Mary Magdalene could have arrived at the tomb while it was yet dark, and as it began to dawn, and at early dawn. The fact is, it was so early that the Sun had not fully come up, and thus a hint of darkness lingered over the scene.
This alleged contradiction is easily reconciled, proving once again that the sum of God’s Word is truth (Psalm 119:160).