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Answering The Atheist
October 15, 2006 / Volume 6, Issue 42

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Did the eleven disciples believe the two men? Luke 24:33-34 says yes, since Jesus had already appeared to Simon, but Mark 16:12-13 says no. Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
Indeed, Mark reveals that the disciples did not believe when the two men who saw Jesus on the road to Emmaus came, telling of their experience. The text could not be more plain. It says, "...they did not believe them either."

Luke's account does not say whether the disciples believed these two men or not. It is the questioner's conclusion that they did. However, that conclusion is based upon a failure to understand what the text says. It is assumed by the questioner that the disciples who were gathered together said to these two who came in, "The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" In fact, this discourse was the reverse. These two, who came amidst the disciples, revealed that the Lord had appeared to Simon, and "...told about the things that had happened on the road..." (v 35). Did the disciples believe? No, Mark's account makes that clear.

Verse 14 in Mark's account reads, "Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen." In Luke's account, corresponding to this, we read, "Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, ‘Peace to you.' But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. ...But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled..." (Luke 24:36-37, 41). Both accounts reveal that the apostles did not yet believe that Jesus had risen from the dead.

There is no contradiction here.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible