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Answering The Atheist
September 9, 2007 / Volume 7, Issue 36

Which came first, the calling of Peter and Andrew or the imprisonment of John the Baptist? Mark 1:14-17 indicates John's imprisonment came first, but John 1:40-42; 3:22-24 suggests that Peter and Andrew were called first. Is there a contradiction?

The questioner has wrongly assumed that John 1:40-42 and Mark 1:16-17 are speaking about the same occasion. They are not. In John 1, Andrew heard the testimony of John the Baptist, and upon that, brought his brother Peter to Jesus. In Mark 1:16-17, the brothers were fishing on the Sea of Galilee, and Jesus called them from their nets to be fishers of men. A brief chronology of events will suffice:

  • Andrew begins following Jesus, having heard the testimony of John. He also brings Peter along (John 1:40-42)
  • Andrew and Peter, along with others follow Jesus as He goes from Galilee to Judea, teaching and baptizing (John 2-3).
  • Hearing that John the Baptist was in prison, Jesus left Judea and went back to Galilee (John 4:3-4; Matthew 4:12; Mark 1:14)
  • There, Jesus returnted to Nazareth for a time, and then moed to Capernaum (Matthew 4:13)
  • It appears that upon the return to Galilee, Peter and Andrew went back to fishing. Thus, coming by the Sea, Jesus calls them away from their nets to follow Him (Mark 1:16-18; Matthew 4:18-20).
They began to follow before John was imprisoned, returned to fishing after coming back from Judea to Galilee (which coincided with John's imprisonment), and then were called by Jesus to follow Him not long thereafter. There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible