Long before the gospel records were put in writing, the disciples of Jesus went everywhere preaching about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
That’s how the Jesus movement grew! The Jesus communities that came to be known as Christians were growing and multiplying everywhere even though it was an illegal movement under Roman occupation. yet, the disciples preached what Jesus told them to preach and made new disciples everywhere. The gospel records were only written down some 30 years after the events. In other words, the gospel narratives were based on an event. Not the other way round. Meaning to say, the gospels were written because of the resurrection! We don’t say the resurrection happened because of the gospels!
To illustrate this, imagine the following scenario. We are both spectators of a football match. Some time after the game, we decide to write reports of the match we watched.
Let’s say you write a detailed commentary while I decide that my review would record various highlights of the match.
Do the differences in our independent reports affect or change the event itself in any way?
If I had omitted some details in my account, that are mentioned in yours, does that mean there are contradictions in our reports?
For example, if you mention that one of the goalkeepers argued with the referee during the game, but I make no mention about the incident, would it mean it didn’t happen? Would someone who reads both our accounts surmise that in your account there is an “addition” that is not found in mine, therefore it must be false or invalid? Do the differences in our writings means it is questionable that the goalkeeper or referee existed or if the match even took place?
Let’s say, we both wrote about the goals scored but approach it from different perspectives. While you talk about the tactics involved, I instead focus on the jubilation of the players on the pitch. Once again, would someone who reads both our reports conclude there is a contradiction, because we have written different things about the same event? And therefore this must be evidence that one of us must be lying since we did not say the exact same things in the exact same way???!
This is what skeptics of the Bible do. They say there are contradictions in the Bible, especially the gospel accounts. Like I stated in my opening paragraph, the gospels were written BECAUSE of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ! We don’t say this event happened because the gospels said so! That football match didn’t take place because of our reports about it. Our reports took place because of the football match!
Differences are not necessarily contradictions. A witness can differ with another witness and not contradict each other. Even IF there are seeming contradictions in our reports THAT DOES NOT AFFECT OR CHANGE THE MATCH THAT TOOK PLACE!
The Christian faith would have been stillborn if the resurrection did not take place. The disciples of Christ would have gone back to fishing instead of going in obedience of the commission Jesus entrusted to them after the resurrection. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
They did go everywhere and eventually gave their lives in martyrdom to tell everyone the good news of the kingdom, the message of salvation. Why would they endure this if the resurrection did not take place or if it was a story they themselves made up? It was because they saw it with their own eyes.
There are no contradictions in the Bible. There are variants which are well documented. There are differences which are not contradictions. All alleged contradictions can be resolved when we take a closer look at the context and meaning conveyed by the writers.
The four-fold gospel present a more complete picture of the life, ministry, miracles and mission of Jesus Christ.
Read more: Why Are There Four Gospels?