Jesus said that no prophet can die outside Jerusalem (Luke 13:33). Did any prophets die outside Jerusalem? If so, which ones?


2 Answers 2


The problem to solve is related to quoting Scripture out of context

Purposely then He says nothing in answer to the idle question, but turns His discourse to a more important subject. ~ St Cyril

Jesus was speaking about himself ("a prophet") in the third person

Jesus also referred to himself as "a prophet" in Mark 6:4:

“But Jesus said unto them, a prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house

The context of that comment in Mark is the negative reaction to him in Nazareth.

What's going on in Luke 13; what's the context?

Regarding Luke 13:33, a note in the New American Bible makes the following point:

[13:33] It is impossible that a prophet should die outside of Jerusalem: Jerusalem is the city of destiny and the goal of the journey of the prophet Jesus. Only when he reaches the holy city will his work be accomplished.

Consider the context of that section in Luke: Jesus is engaging in foretelling.

Luke 13:27-35 (NAB)

27 Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where [you] are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’ 28 And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. 29 And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. 30 For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” 31 At that time some Pharisees came to him and said, “Go away, leave this area because Herod wants to kill you.” 32 He replied, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and I perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I accomplish my purpose. Yet I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day, for it is impossible that a prophet should die outside of Jerusalem. 34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling! 35 Behold, your house will be abandoned. [But] I tell you, you will not see me until [the time comes when] you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”s

What, the Bible wasn't written in English?

What is the correct rendering of the passage into English? Good question. If we look at bible gateway, the two most common renderings are (1) "... it is not possible/it is impossible" and (2) "... it cannot be" ... that a prophet dies outside of Jerusalem." (More than 10 each). Those aren't identical meanings, but they are similar enough, and most of them use "a prophet" as the subject. (As Jesus did in Mark 6:4).

Other ways that is has been rendered into English. (All from biblegateway).

AMPC ... for it will never do for a prophet to be destroyed away from Jerusalem!
CJB ... it is unthinkable that a prophet should die anywhere but in Yerushalayim.
CEV ... Jerusalem is the place where prophets are killed.
DARBY ... for it must not be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.
ERV ... I must go, because all prophets should die in Jerusalem.
EXB ... it cannot be right [is impossible; is unthinkable] for a prophet > to be killed anywhere except in Jerusalem.
GNT ... it is not right for a prophet to be killed anywhere except in Jerusalem.
PHILLIPS ... for it would never do for a prophet to meet his death outside Jerusalem!
MSG ... it’s not proper for a prophet to come to a bad end outside Jerusalem.
NLV ... One who speaks for God cannot die except at Jerusalem.
WYC ... for it falleth not [for] a prophet to perish out of Jerusalem.

Dead prophets

At least two other prophets died outside of Jerusalem, besides the example you offer.

  1. Moses never made it to the promised land, so he obviously died "outside of Jerusalem."

  2. Jeremiah was released by the Babylonians and reportedly left for Mizpah, and thence to Egypt. As there is no record of his death, nor of his return, it is most likely that he died in Egypt.


Jesus is speaking of himself in the third person. He knows that it is God's will that he die in Jerusalem.

If you look at the commentaries of theologians who preceded Thomas Aquinas, you will find in Lectio 5 of the Cataena Aurea regarding Luke, none of them dwell on that phrase. Their commentaries vary somewhat, but their themes and interpretations are on the bigger picture of the trials Jerusalem (where prophets are killed) has coming ... but Jesus will go on, as his Father's will directs.

St Cyril:

Purposely then He says nothing in answer to the idle question, but turns His discourse to a more important subject.

@AndrewShanks points out that John the Baptist, a prophet, was killed by Herod who (according to Josephus) was based in Machaerus.

  • Thanks, Korvin, for yet again, another incredible answer! Are you a professor in theology? Oct 6, 2016 at 19:51
  • @ButterflyandBones No, but thanks for that compliment. :-) We have numerous far wiser contributors here whose resumes are closer to that than mine. Oct 6, 2016 at 19:52
  • This was a great answer, thank you very much. If there are any other prophets (especially since Jerusalem was settled) who died outside Jerusalem I would very much like to know.
    – Pipsqweek
    Oct 7, 2016 at 1:54
  • @Pipsqweek I think an easy way to check that out is heading to Wikipedia and entering "Old Testament Prophets" and check each one. some prophets chronicles are better presented than others in terms of how much record is left in OT, Torah, and other documentation. I figured with the three, you can spot the trend .. beyond the context of Luke. :-) Oct 7, 2016 at 3:51
  • John the Baptist. Jul 6, 2019 at 4:50

Perhaps reading it with a carnal mind does not make sense. Spiritually speaking Jerusalem is the city of God with whom he dwells. Moses perished outside of the carnal city of Jerusalem but did he perish out of the city of God? Jerusalem is an elect of number of people.

“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it. In that day, saith the Lord, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness. And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the Lord of hosts their God. In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem.” ‭‭Zechariah‬ ‭12:2-6‬ ‭KJV‬‬ https://www.bible.com/1/zec.12.2-6.kjv

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭21:1-3‬ ‭KJV‬‬ https://www.bible.com/1/rev.21.1-3.kjv

“And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭21:9-22‬ ‭KJV‬‬ https://www.bible.com/1/rev.21.9-22.kjv

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