I have a question concerning a potential contradiction in the order of events in Galilee.

In Luke 4:31-36, Jesus visits the Capernaum synagogue and heals the man of unclean spirits. Early in Luke 5, Jesus makes his first call for his disciples.

But in Mark 1:21, Jesus first calls his disciples before he arrives to the Capernaum synagogue to drive out the impure spirit.

Is there any way to reconcile these events?

  • See a partial discussion of this issue here: apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=513 and here: rationalchristianity.net/jesus_early.html – Paul Chernoch May 31 '16 at 16:08
  • How to reconcile differences in gospels? Do what early Christians did. Pick your favorite gospel and ignore the others, or write your own gospel, complete with new never before revealed facts that you saw in a vision or heard from an angel. Then you can start your own sect... – 習約塔 May 10 '18 at 0:44
  • I must be missing something obvious here (otherwise I'd vote down the question). Luke 5 doesn't mention spirits, impure or otherwise; it doesn't mention Capernaum; and it doesn't mention a synagogue. It does mention curing a leper, and someone with palsy, but what reason is there to believe that these two people are the same person as Mark's "man with an unclean spirit"? – Ray Butterworth Jan 23 '19 at 14:56

If Mark and Luke were independent of each other, this would be a puzzling contradiction that we would need to resolve if we ever wanted to know in what order events really occurred. However, it is now the strong consensus of scholars that Luke was based on Mark's Gospel, with further sayings material taken from the hypothetical 'Q' document. Some of the reasons for this conclusion are found here, although there are some more technical reasons that scholars use and which are not listed in those answers. Adam Winn (The Purpose of Mark's Gospel, page 1) says the theory of Markan priority is one of the few that has reached a high level of consensus among New Testament interpreters.

The (anonymous) author of Luke's Gospel states that his community received the gospel from others, the earliest of whom he assumes were eyewitnesses, confirming the above conclusion:

Luke 1:1-2: Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

From this, we can establish that Luke 4:44-5:11 was copied from Mark 1:16-21. Modern historians expect events to be recorded exactly as they happened, but this was not always the case in ancient times. As far as we can know, the sequence of events should be as established in Mark's Gospel.


These are different events, and both chronologically fit ok without the need to preference Mark over Luke or Luke over Mark. Luke, however, states that he puts his gospel in order: something to weigh up. When you also factor in John's gospel you will find that Jesus had three calls to the disciples. Two of these events take place prior to the healing of the man with the impure spirit. John's comes first at Bethany beyond the Jordan where Jesus meets Andrew, Peter, Philip and probably John although John doesn't name himself. Then Jesus calls the four while they are working as outlined in Mark and Matthew. They follow but they are still working for a living. Then in Luke we find Jesus brings in the miracle catch of fish (after the healing) to demonstrate that they can leave all and follow as He is their provider. The Lord draws us progressively into deeper commitment and I think it is fantastic that the Lord shows us this in the gospels.


Luke 5:1-11 describes the disciples who were to become Apostles (Luke 6:12-16), but the passage does not say that those disciples were actually called at that instance. Matthew (4:18-22) and Mark (1:16-20) describe the event when the first Apostles were called. Luke does not.


Well this is a good one because in John we see after he’s baptized that Andrew went to tell Simon we found the messiah but in mark we see he meets peter and Andrew on a boat in Galilee and says be my followers I’ll make you fishers of men 2 totally different stories good question

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