The same story is found in both Mathew and Mark, yet Mathew, who is said to have written the Gospel after Mark's, but used Mark's skeleton structure and quotes him many many times, changes the story.

In this story, a man asks Jesus some questions, below are the 2 versions found in Marka and Mathew:

Mathew: 17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

Mark 10:18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.

To me it seems the version in Mark was putting Jesus in a more Prophetic role, and that didn't look good at the time for Mathew so he changes the words to suit his theological agenda.

But for people who believe that both Mark and Mathew are inspired by God, how could you bring this change in harmony?

  1. In Mark, Jesus is clearly separated himself not only from being God, but from even being referred to as "Good". And says only God is truly Good.

  2. In Mathew, it is saying that you can't ask Jesus about Good? If he is a Prophet or God why would he even say that? It makes sense to ask him about good right?

How do Catholics reconcile this?

If Mark is inspired by God, how or why would Mathew change anything?

  • Mark is the controversy. We dont know but I would think Mark was written for the Gentiles. Why would Mark tell a gentile to follow the 10C when we are no longer under the Law. Mar 12, 2014 at 19:24
  • I'm really sorry that your question has attracted three close votes and especially three down votes with only one person (@AffableGeek) offering an explaination. Mar 13, 2014 at 7:26

3 Answers 3


First assumption is that "Why do you ask me about what is good?" etc. is what the original Greek actually said.

Second assumption is that the Lord Jesus distanced himself from being God.


Mat. 19:17 – Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God changed to Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good.

Scrivener's Textus Receptus Matthew 19:17 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Τί με λέγεις ἀγαθόν; οὐδεὶς ἀγαθός, εἰ μὴ εἷς, ὁ Θεός. εἰ δὲ θέλεις εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ζωήν, τήρησον τὰς ἐντολάς.

KJV Matthew 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

From the CNTTS Database it is clear that the support for the Textus Receptus reading is overwhelming.

Mat 19:17 variation unit #3.0 [Mat 19:17-3.0] ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· τί με ἐρωτᾷς περὶ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ; εἷς ἐστιν ὁ ἀγαθός· εἰ δὲ θέλεις εἰς τὴν ζωὴν εἰσελθεῖν, τήρησον τὰς ἐντολάς. (Mat 19:17 BNT - Nestle Aland text)

  • τί με ἐρωτᾷς περὶ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ S0- a B L019 Q 1 700 1424ccc 1582* 2372 ¦1 SBL a b c e ff2 g1 h >>
  • Τί με λέγεις ἀγαθόν R 2 C E07 F09 G011 H013 K017 M021 S U Wsupp Y W 2 13 28 33 35 69 118 124 157 346 565 788 1005 1071 1424* 1582ccc 2358 ¦13 MT TR f q >>
  • τί με ἐρωτᾷς περὶ ἀγαθοῦ M 50 D05 >>
  • Τί με ἀγαθόν R 51 D >>
  • Τί με λέγεις ἀγαθοῦ R 52 579 >>
  • lacunae - 99 î1 î19 î21 î25 î35 î37 î44 î45 î53 î62 î64 î67 î70 î71 î73 î77 î83 î86 î96 î101 î102 î103 î104 î105 î110 A N P024 Q P Y k >>

Mat 19:17 variation unit #5.0 [Mat 19:17-5.0] ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· τί με ἐρωτᾷς περὶ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ; εἷς ἐστιν ὁ ἀγαθός· εἰ δὲ θέλεις εἰς τὴν ζωὴν εἰσελθεῖν, τήρησον τὰς ἐντολάς. (Mat 19:17 BNT - Nestle Aland text)

  • εἷς(1) ἐστιν ὁ(2) ἀγαθός S0- a Bc L019 Q 1424ccc 1582* SBL >>
  • οὐδεὶς ἀγαθός, εἰ μὴ εἷς, ὁ Θεός R 2 MT TR f g1 h q >>
  • οὐδεὶς ἀγαθός, εἰ μὴ εἷς, ὁ Θ-ς R 2 X C E07 F09 G011 H013 K017 M021 S U Wsupp Y D W 2ccc 13 28 33 35 69 118 124 157 565 579 788 1005 1424* 1582ccc 2358 ¦13 >>
  • οὐδεὶς ἀγαθός, εἰ μὴ, ὁ Θ-ς R 2 X 2* 346 1071 >>
  • εἷς ἐστιν ἀγαθός M 3 D05 1 700 2372 ¦1 a >>
  • ἐστιν ὁ ἀγαθός M 50 B* >>
  • unus est bonus deus A 51 b c ff2 >>
  • unus est bonus pater A 52 e >>
  • lacunae - 99 î1 î19 î21 î25 î35 î37 î44 î45 î53 î62 î64 î67 î70 î71 î73 î77 î83 î86 î96 î101 î102 î103 î104 î105 î110 A N P024 Q P Y k >>

Church Fathers attesting to the Textus Receptus reading:

  • Origen - Against Celsus (Book 5 Ch 11) [A.D. 185-230-254.]
  • Hippolytus - Refutation Book 5 Ch 2 [A.D. 170-236]
  • Pseudo-Clementine - Homilies Part 3 Ch 57 [A.D. 270?]
  • Diatessaron of Tatian - Section 28 [circa A.D. 170]


What the Lord Jesus actually was doing is the same as He has done in the Garden of Eden to grandpa Adam. He asks questions for the hearer to think about and to realise the implications. The Lord in effect was saying: "Do you realise that by calling Me good you are in fact calling Me God?" It is a proving of the faith of the hearer.


Use a proper translation based on the true text and the contradictions will disappear.

  • If I use proper translation I get more confused. Like the term 'son of god' doesn't mean it in the literal sense. If I ask Jewish people, they say it means a pious person or a claim of Messaihship. Begotten means something, yet somehow it now means beginningless. It is confusing when a word doesnt' mean anything anymore. Mar 13, 2014 at 15:00
  • @user1361315 What else can the terms only begotten Son of God mean? As much as I love the Jewish people and Israel, I would not lightly ask them to interpret the Messianic titles in the New Testament for me, since they would likely be biased against the Lord Jesus by default. Even the fact that many see the possibility that just about anyone who will be restoring their Temple to them would be the Messiah, shows that there is a misconception in general over Who the Messiah is.
    – McGafter
    Mar 13, 2014 at 15:29
  • Jesus followed the commandments, the early followers were Jewish "Christians". In the OT and the early followers, they understood "Son of God" as a title not in the literal sense. This term is not new, its filled in the OT. Interesting how nobody wants to see how the term was used in the Jewish Context considering Jesus was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel. Mar 13, 2014 at 16:08
  • The fact is that Jesus was not only the Son of God, He IS also God as part of the Holy Trinity. Any lesser sacrifice would not suffice for the sins of the world. This firmly attested to by His apostles (John chapter 1) who walked with Him day by day and would certainly know more about it all than anybody else that ever lived before or after.
    – McGafter
    Mar 14, 2014 at 9:26
  • Except for that fact that we don't know who really wrote that Gospel as it is anonymous. If we say its John, then we are saying he waited 50 years or so to write it, and somehow learnt to write in Greek, and not just normal Greek, but high end literary Greek. And John is against the synoptics. How come Mathew doesn't meantion a single "I am" statement? Many scholars don't take John statements literally, Jesus never said them according to them. Mar 14, 2014 at 15:27

On the day that Jesus said that, Mark had left his tape recorder at home, and Matthew's microphone was unplugged.

When we read the Bible we tend to forget that when these things took place, not only was it different than a modern World leader making a speech in front of TV cameras and microphones.

There are very normal reasons why these versions of the same incident are different;

  1. These incidents were years past by the time these two Apostles wrote their Gospels.

  2. No two people will be able to give the same account of an incident which they have witnessed.

  3. These two Gospels were written to two very different groups of people.

  4. Mark's Gospel was written to the Jews mainly in Jerusalem, while Matthew's was not.

  5. Mark would have been very careful not to offend the Jews by saying that Jesus was in any way claiming equality with God. That was the Sanhedrin's reason for proclaiming a death sentence on Jesus.

Mat 26:63 through 65 KJV

But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.

The surprising thing about these Scriptures is not how different they are, but how alike they are after years, that the two could relate those stories as closely as they did.

  • I have read according to most biblical scholars, they think Mathew had Mark's Gospel when he wrote his. So he is editing Mark's work, which doesn't make sense if he believes it is also inspired. Not sure how people reconcile this with themselves, there is always some sort of explanation but it really doesn't reason with..well...reason. BTW, ask a Jewish person what was meant by 'son of god' and claiming power, that is Messaih not that he is saying he is a God. Why would Mark care what others think, should't the truth be told clearly?
    – Blankman
    Mar 13, 2014 at 1:01
  • Another problem with this answer is, your saying Mark and Mathew are changing the statement of Jesus based on their audience. For Jews, let's stress the commandments and that there is really only 1 God and Jesus isn't God, for others lets change it to make them happy. Mar 14, 2014 at 15:29
  • @user1361315 Even though you have distorted my answer by injecting something not said, if you do not believe that God tailors his word to the audience, how do you explain: Luke 12:11 and 12 >And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.
    – BYE
    Mar 14, 2014 at 16:01
  • @CecilBeckum Sorry didn't mean to do that. That verse just means don't worry about it, the answer will come. Do you think it means you are allowed to contradict or change the meaning? And regardless, this is Jesus answering a question so the Gospels are reporting something that happened. Not sure where the confusion is here sorry. One of them or none of them are correct, but it can't be both since the words and meanings are different then. Mar 14, 2014 at 19:20
  • @user1361315 The words are only different because taking them from the original Greek to English, and they are subject to the individual doing the interpreting. McGafter is totally correct. most serious Bible scholars learn to read Greek and study the New Testament in Greek. The old testament they study in the Hebrew language, and some times in Latin when they go to the Latin Vulgate, for the simple reason that words change meaning over time and in translation to other languages.
    – BYE
    Mar 14, 2014 at 20:12

The idea of divine inspiration was not in the thinking of the early Christian writers of the first century. That idea comes into play when the Church determines the final canon, including the books and letters they believe are inspired and rejecting many books and letters that the Church concluded were not.

  • 1
    This is not an answer to the question.
    – Steve
    Mar 13, 2014 at 5:01
  • The Apostles did know that some of their writings were inspired - see 2 Peter 3:15-16 when Peter equates Paul's letters with the other scriptures. Did they know at the time whether they were writing under the inspiration of God? Probably not, but they recognised it very soon after. Also the canon was pretty firmly decided very early on, the few that were debated included things like Revelation and 1 Clement. There are only a couple that were ever seriously considered that aren't in the canon now.
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 13, 2014 at 5:33
  • Wrong; Divine inspiration was in the mind of Luke at least: Luke 12:11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: Luke 12:12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.
    – BYE
    Mar 14, 2014 at 16:11

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