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Answering The Atheist
December 11, 2005 / Volume 5, Issue 50

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
What colour was Jesus' robe? Matthew 27:28 says it was "scarlet", but Mark 15:17 and John 19:2 say it was "purple". Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
We do not know what the exact colour of the garment was, but the Bible writers saw fit to use both words to describe it. Both scarlet and purple are acknowledged as colours of royalty. Barnes comments, "The ancients gave the name purple to any colour that has a mixture of red in it..." Wesley adds, "The Tyrian purple is said not to have been very different from scarlet." And Robertson also states, "There are various shades of purple and scarlet and it is not easy to distinguish these colours and tints."

It is interesting to note that of the appearances of the word "purple" in Scripture, it is often accompanied by the word "scarlet" (Exodus 25:4; 26:1, 31, 36; 27:16; 28:5, 6, 8, 15, 33; 35:6, 23, 25, 35; 36:8, 35, 37; 38:18, 23; 39:1-3, 5, 8, 24, 29; 2 Chronicles 2:7, 14; 3:14; Rev 17:4; 18:12, 16). It would seem that when one term was appropriate as a description, the other was also. The words can and were used in harmony to describe the colour of royalty or fine apparrel.

There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible