I was listening to a debate between a Muslim scholar and a Christian scholar, and the Muslim debater raised this and many other questions. The Christian debater did not address this issue in his reply, so I tried looking for answer but had no luck. My question is this:

After the resurrection of the Christ, where were the disciples actually?

In the Gospel of Matthew they are in Galilee:

Matthew 28:7-10 (KJV)
7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

In the Gospel of Luke they are in Jerusalem:

Luke 24 (KJV)
13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,
49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

I looked on a map, and Galilee and Jerusalem are quite far apart. What could be the explanation of this?

3 Answers 3


Christians who believe in the inerrancy or infallibility of the Bible argue that these two accounts are not contradictory: that Jesus met his followers in both Jerusalem and Galilee after his resurrection.

Such an argument first requires establishing that there was a lengthy period of time between the resurrection and the ascension, and that Luke 24 is a summary of that period. Acts 1:3, also believed to have been written by Luke, says:

[Jesus] presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. (ESV, emphasis added)

Once this is established, one can argue that Jesus appeared to his followers multiple times. For example, the New Bible Commentary (1970) says:

There need be no doubt that Jesus appeared to His disciples both in Jerusalem (as in Luke, Acts and Jn. 20) and in Galilee (as in Matthew and Jn. 21).

  • 7
    To me, this explanation even fits a natural reading of these scriptures. If someone says they saw me at the park today and someone else says they saw me at the grocery store today, then I would think most reasonable people would conclude that I was at both the park and the grocery store today. It takes more effort to believe that either or both of the two people who saw me are either lying or really have no real idea where I was today. Jun 12, 2015 at 13:53
  • many thanks, as i read again these chapters Matthew 28:10 "Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they" stood out. Because in Luke though Thomas name is not mentioned but the situation is the same regarding holes in the hands but whereas in Matthew no mention of twelve disciples, just the brethens and no ascension.
    – shakAttack
    Jun 12, 2015 at 20:31

With all due respect to those who see scripture as absolutely inerrant, I cannot help suspecting this as a translation error, resulting from garbled translations of the Aramaic version of Matthew.

Matthew 28:7

"And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth BEFORE you INTO GALILEE; there shall ye see him: lo, I have TOLD YOU."

"Lo, I have told you," seems a bit redundant. But hey, maybe Angels talk that way.

Now compare ...

Mark 16:7:

But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going AHEAD OF YOU INTO GALILEE. There you will see him, just as he TOLD YOU.’

"Ahead of you" instead of "before you" is just a difference in wording from the translator. But there is a more interesting change. Now it is not the Angels, but Jesus who "told you." Only problem (a minor one, I suppose) is that there is no record in Mark's gospel, or any gospel, of Jesus saying he will meet them in Galilee after his resurrection.

Now compare Luke's version of this line:

LUKE 24:6:

He is not here, but is risen: remember how HE SPOKE UNTO YOU when he was YET IN GALILEE.

Or to paraphrase:

  • Matthew: He is risen; he goes before you into Galilee; I just told you.

  • Mark: He is risen; he goes before you into Galilee; as he told you.

  • Luke: He is risen; just like he told you would happen, before, in Galilee.

    Luke's version is a good fit. In all 3 synoptic Gospels, Jesus does indeed predict, while still in Galilee, that he will be crucified and resurrected when he comes to Jerusalem.

  • For completeness, can you edit in the English translation of the bible that you used? (KJV, RSV, whatever) I made an edit for format. Welcome to Christianity.SE. Please take the tour and visit the help center to get a feel for how a question and answers site on the SE model works best. (Completing the tour will earn you a nice badge! :) ) We hope you'll enjoy browsing other questions and answers on Christian beliefs. Jul 6, 2018 at 12:39

The explanation for the discrepancy is in the history of the gospels. The consensus of modern scholars is that the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were substantially based on Mark and that John was also loosely based on Luke, with some material taken direct from Mark.

This in itself would not result in a difference, except that Mark originally ended at verse 16:8 with the young man telling the women that Jesus was risen and they fled in terror, telling no one (What is now known as the 'Long Ending' was added much later). The authors of Matthew and Luke were unsatisfied with an ending that did not provide any physical proof of the resurrection so each, unknown to the other, wrote what they believed probably happened. The authors of Matthew knew that in Mark, the young man had told the women that Jesus would meet the disciples in Galilee (Mark 16:7), so he completed his story in Galilee. The author of Luke knew that the early Christian church had roots in Jerusalem, so had the disciples remain there, where they met Jesus in the upper room.

That we do not really know where Jesus was, or even if (as some believe) his resurrection was purely spiritual, does not make the Muslim debater correct. Much in the Koran and in Islamic belief is equally open to challenge. Moreover, Islam claims Jesus as one of its prophets, so if the story of Jesus is untrue then so is the story of Islam. Christians can accept that the authors of Matthew and Luke elaborated the resurrection account, but still have faith in the fundamental story of Christianity.

  • 6
    Not knowing the beliefs of the Christian debater, I would still hazard a guess that the Muslim debater's attack was directed at the infallibility of the Bible, not the "story of Jesus." If he can establish that the Bible contains errors, he can disregard anything in the Bible that conflicts with the Quran. Jun 12, 2015 at 12:12
  • 4
    @Nathaniel Especially because the common Islamic claim is that the Bible is corrupted.
    – curiousdannii
    Jun 12, 2015 at 12:50
  • And also, they have their own version in the Quran.
    – user3961
    Jun 12, 2015 at 18:04
  • 2
    I am not keen on your last paragraph. Muslim use this tactic often when questions are raised for their belief or quran. We should be able to defend our faith first.
    – shakAttack
    Jun 12, 2015 at 20:39

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