In Luke 24:12 it states that Peter stooped down to look through into the tomb, but omits any mention of hims actually going into the sepulchre itself. Only after he briefly stoops down does he run away from the location.

John 20:3–6 contrasts this by clearly saying that Peter fully entered the tomb and did not just stoop down to see from afar.

How would one reconcile these events?


3 Answers 3


Commentators who consider the Bible inerrant and attempt to resolve the apparent discrepancy agree that Luke is simply omitting details that John includes. For example, James Burton Coffman writes:

Here Luke abbreviated the whole incident so fully presented in John 20:1-9, omitting not only John's participation in it, but also, the fact of Peter's having actually entered the tomb. (source)

Adam Clarke says:

This circumstance is related still more particularly by John, John 20:5-7. (source)

And, John Gill, commenting on the phrase "and went into the sepulchre" in John, sees no discrepancy:

though not without first stooping down, as John did; see Luke 24:12. (source)


They likely cannot be reconciled.

The Church Fathers never maintained that Scripture is wholly without discrepancies. John Chrysostom (4th c.) stated that the very fact that there were occasional differences in recollections between the Evangelists was proof that the stories were not concocted.

Nay, this very thing is a very great evidence of their truth. For if they had agreed in all things exactly even to time, and place, and to the very words, none of our enemies would have believed but that they had met together, and had written what they wrote by some human compact; because such entire agreement as this cometh not of simplicity. But now even that discordance which seems to exist in little matters delivers them from all suspicion, and speaks clearly in behalf of the character of the writers. But if there be anything touching times or places, which they have related differently, this nothing injures the truth of what they have said.

Homily I, Homilies on the Gospel According to Matthew


As eminent a theologian as Archbishop Carnley, former Anglican primate of Australia, did not believe they could be reconciled literally, saying (The Structure of Resurrection Belief, page 47) that the reconciliation of all four accounts of the empty tomb must be based on the history of gospel development:

The presence of discrepancies might be a sign of historicity if we had four clearly independent but slightly different versions of the story, if only for the reason that four witnesses are better than one. But, of course, it is now impossible to argue that what we have in the four gospel accounts of the empty tomb are four contemporaneous but independent accounts of the one event. Modern redactional studies of the traditions account for the discrepancies as literary developments at the hand of later redactors of what was originally one report of the empty tomb...

There is no suggestion that the tomb was discovered by different witnesses on four different occasions, so it is in fact impossible to argue that the discrepancies were introduced by different witnesses of the one event; rather, they can be explained as four different redactions for apologetic and kerygmatic reasons of a single story originating from one source.

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