How Mentions of Money in Matthew’s Gospel Confirm Matthean Authorship

The Synoptics tell us that Matthew was a tax-collector by trade. So if his version of the Jesus story shows an unusual degree of interest in financial matters, we’re given a solid reason to think that the apostle is the genuine author. It wouldn’t likely be some later, anonymous non-eyewitnesses like the skeptical critics say.  As it turns out, this is precisely what we find to be the case. Matthew talks about moola more than any other Gospel writer, and it isn’t even close. When we add up the references to money in the Synoptics, here’s what we get:  Matthew – 44 Mark – 6 Luke -22 Luke’s total includes nine references in one parable … Read more

Animal Cruelty, Errors, and Contradictions: The Story of the Madman of Gadara

One of the weirdest stories in the Gospels is Jesus’ encounter with the Madman of Gadara. Here you have a demonized man living in tombs, naked, and cutting himself with rocks. Jesus cures the man but allows the evil spirits to enter into some nearby pigs, who end up drowning themselves immediately afterward. Not only does this raise some moral red flags about Jesus’ lack of concern for animals, but there are more problems with this story. Mark and Luke report this event happened in the country of Gerasenes. But Matthew says it was in the land of the Gadarenes. So right off the bat, there’s a contradiction. But it gets even worse. Gadara is … Read more

Was Jesus Hangry When He Cursed the Fig Tree?

Jesus said that he was gentle and lowly of heart. But elsewhere in the gospels, we see Jesus doing some pretty non-gentle things, like supposedly killing fig trees in a rage fit. (Mark 11:12-14) Some skeptics have said this makes Jesus look like a petty punk. For example, here’s atheist Marshall Brain: “The son of God is hungry. He approaches a fig tree. The tree is out of season and has no fruit. Jesus wants fruit. So he kills the tree. What a total jerk! Why didn’t he wave his all-powerful hand and cause figs to appear? Or how about borrowing a raisin from someone and turning it into 5,000 baskets of figs? Only a true … Read more

Is the Blind Man’s Expulsion From the Synagogue in John 9:22 Anachronistic?

In John 9, Jesus heals a man who was born blind during the Sabbath. The Pharisees, being fanatical over the Sabbath, called the man’s parents on the carpet to find out who healed him. His parents refused to answer, telling the Pharisees to ask their son for themselves. We learn why in John 9:22: “His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.” Skeptics have pounced on this passage, saying that it’s a glaring anachronism. Here’s NT scholar and critic Bart Ehrman:  “This verse [i.e. John 9:22] is significant from … Read more

Did the Writer of Mark’s Gospel Make a Historical Blunder Regarding Jewish Divorce Laws?

If the Gospels contain legal and cultural errors of the times, we would be less inclined to think they’re trustworthy. But Mark makes several of these errors, or so the critics argue. One such example is in the area of Jewish divorce. In an article titled “Shredding the Gospels”, one skeptic says that Mark was pulling things out of the air. In Mark 10:11-12, Jesus forbids divorce: He answered, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” Verse 12 implies that Mark believed women had a right to divorce in Jewish law. They did not. Was Mark … Read more

Was the tomb opened or closed when the women arrived?

Was the tomb opened or closed when the women arrived?

The Apostle Paul says that Christianity’s truth stands or falls on the resurrection. (1 Cor. 15:17) But skeptics point out that the resurrection narratives in the Gospels have more holes than swiss cheese. Why are they riddled with contradictions? One of their go-to contradictions is this: Was the tomb empty or closed when the women arrived? New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman asks: “Was the stone already rolled away when they arrived at the tomb (Mark, Luke, and John), or explicitly not (Matthew)?”  (How Jesus Became God) Before we take the scholar’s word for it, let’s look at the texts ourselves And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us … Read more

Was Jesus Being Racist and Harsh When He Told the Woman at the Well That the Samaritans Didn’t Know Who They Worshiped?

There are some wonderful spiritual lessons in John’s story about the Woman at the Well. We learn that salvation comes to those who recognize their spiritual thirst. We discover that Jesus is the source of this salvation and that only he can answer our spiritual needs. And it doesn’t matter if we’ve marred our own lives with sin, Jesus is willing to accept anyone.  But some might complain that Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman were too harsh. They smack with religious and racial superiority. Here are the passages in question:  “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where … Read more

The Death of Judas: A Hopeless Bible Contradiction?

Skeptics accuse Christians of not paying attention while they’re reading their Bible. If they didn’t rush through their daily devotional, they’d catch some obvious contradictions. One of the more famous of these contradictions is the two accounts of the death of Judas. Here’s Biblical scholar and critic Bart Ehrman: “The two reports give different accounts of how Judas died. However mysterious it may be to say he fell headlong and burst open, at least that is not “hanging” oneself. And they are flat out contradictory on two other points: who purchased the field (the priests, as per Matthew, or Judas, as per Acts?) and why the field was called the field of blood (because it … Read more

Were the Gospel Writers Really Geographically Inept?

Skeptics say that Mark and the other Gospel writers knew little about Palestinian geography. They made grave geographical gaffes. Had the Gospel writers knew their stuff, they wouldn’t make such blatant mistakes. Therefore, we can’t trust them as reliable historical documents.  For Matthew’s Gospel, this is especially problematic. A real Judean local like Matthew wouldn’t borrow from someone as geographically incompetent as Mark. Some critics have concluded from this that whoever wrote Matthew, it couldn’t be Matthew the disciple.  I want to look at three times the Gospel writers supposedly flunk at Palestinian geography and see if these objections really carry any weight. Is There a Blunder in Mark 7:31? Here’s the text: “Then he … Read more

The Virgin Birth: A Miracle, Not a Misunderstanding

The Christmas season is like an alarm clock for skeptics. It’s an annual reminder for them to tell you that the Christmas story is fiction. One of their favorite arguments is to cast doubt on the virgin birth. Critics say that Matthew was very quick to connect Jesus to the Old Testament. Even if it caused him to get sloppy and make a fool out of himself. So to bolster Jesus’ Messianic credentials, he invented the virgin birth story. He did this by misreading the Greek version of Isaiah 7:14, which does use the word virgin or parthenos in Greek. But the original Hebrew passage wasn’t referring to a virgin at all, but a young … Read more

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