(KJV) Matthew 14:26

26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

All the Evangelists except Luke record Jesus walking on the water, but it is only Matthew who goes further to narrate the incident of Peter attempting to walk on water.

(KJV) Mark 6:45

45 And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people. 46 And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. 47 And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. 48 And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. 49 But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit

(KJV) JOHN 6:19

19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. 20 But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. 21 Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.

Did Matthew get his information from a different source?

  • @NigelJ,the question is very clear,not soliciting for an opinion but a hermeneutic approach. Nov 13, 2017 at 9:10
  • @NigelJ,have you ever heard of the Q-source hypothesis Nov 13, 2017 at 9:37
  • Questions regarding the potential sources of the Gospels are definitely on topic here. While I disagree with the Q hypothesis, I do not DV questions or answers merely because they address it.
    – Frank Luke
    Nov 13, 2017 at 14:47
  • 1
    Because only in Matthew does he set it up by recording Jesus' singling out Peter as the rock upon which He will build His Church and giving him the keys to the kingdom of heaven (i.e. the Church). He records the instance as an example of his leading role. St. Luke does the same with the beginning of Acts onwards, too. Nov 14, 2017 at 13:04

7 Answers 7


"Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written."

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 21:25). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

The Gospel of John, written after the Synoptic Gospels, tends to not repeat what is in the other gospels. When he does, it's usually to tie in with other accounts. John seems to assume the readers are familiar with the other gospels.

  • To your last point, part of John's reason for writing his Gospel, at least according to Church tradition, was precisely because he felt that some details needed to be filled in. Your statement about John assuming familiarity with the other Gospels is spot on as well, I think.
    – user33515
    Jan 28, 2018 at 1:27

There are several reasons (and good ones) why the gospels don't perfectly match each other in their reporting of events. 1.) Remember, these were written perhaps 20-60 years after the events reported, so what one remembered may differ slightly in time frame, numbers of people involved, etc. That the event reported DID happen is not in question, and if the details differ, they're of little consequence to the main report. 2.) The very fact that they don't entirely match each other in detail is proof that collusion did not take place, and the truth is being told, albeit in different detail. 3.) The cost of putting these things down in print was high indeed. Whether papyrus, vellum, or other writing medium, each written page could cost as much as a decent used car does now in exchange. 4.) They didn't write for years because they expected the eminent return of Christ to happen any minute: When He hadn't returned in the time they expected, one-by-one they realized the importance of writing down everything they could remember for future reference to those who might believe. (John 20;30-31) By the time each wrote what they did, each one of the gospel's writers chose those events they deemed most important, and passed those events on as they remembered them. There are many more legitimate, and good reasons why they differ, and why we should be glad they do! (Pastor Bruce Newton, M.A.Apologetics)


The pericope in question is not found in Luke; John frequently leaves out details found in the synoptics and focuses on other details.

So perhaps the question of most interest is why does Mark leave this out?

Source for Mark

In the opening decade of the 2nd century Papias of Hieropolis recorded--on the authority of a first generation Christian Elder--that Mark wrote based on the preaching of Peter.

Around the turn of the 3rd century Clement of Alexandria wrote--based on the authority of prominent earlier sources he knew personally--that Mark wrote based on the preaching of Peter, and provided several details not found in any known statement by Papias.

Both these testimonies are recorded by Eusebius, and the prima facie interpretation is that we're looking at two early, independent sources attesting to the Petrine origin of the Gospel of Mark.

Peter as storyteller

If it is Peter's preaching preserved by Mark, Peter appears to have been a master storyteller. The grammar of Mark may not be excellent, but the vivid storytelling is incredible.

I suspect then that Peter, like many great storytellers, made effective use of self-deprecation. Mark puts greater emphasis on Peter's shortcomings including, for example, more extensive discussion of Peter's denial of Christ. Mark also excludes several of Peter's greatest moments such as: the keys of the kingdom, his initial meeting with Jesus after the resurrection, and of course, Peter walking on water.


The Gospel of Mark doesn't mention Peter walking on water because Peter didn't wish to boast that he had walked on water. Instead he wanted to juxtapose his weakness as a servant with the greatness of his Master.


I think the broader question is why the Gospels are not entirely consistent with each other in general. There are many details covered by one or more Evangelists that are neglected by the others. A even more striking event might be the resurrection of Lazarus, which is only recounted by John (11:1-44).

The definitive commentary on this in antiquity comes from John Chrysostom (c.349-407), who wrote in his first homily on Matthew:

But if there be anything touching times or places, which they have related differently, this nothing injures the truth of what they have said. And these things too, so far as God shall enable us, we will endeavor, as we proceed, to point out; requiring you, together with what we have mentioned, to observe, that in the chief heads, those which constitute our life and furnish out our doctrine, nowhere is any of them found to have disagreed, no not ever so little.

But what are these points? Such as follow: That God became man, that He wrought miracles, that He was crucified, that He was buried, that He rose again, that He ascended, that He will judge, that He hath given commandments tending to salvation, that He hath brought in a law not contrary to the Old Testament, that He is a Son, that He is only-begotten, that He is a true Son, that He is of the same substance with the Father, and as many things as are like these; for touching these we shall find that there is in them a full agreement.


How about this: God wanted them recorded the way He inspired (breathed) them. 2 Timothy 3:16

These questions are so worldly and so frustratingly over complicated.

This is what happens when you try to impress the scoffing world.

If they don’t believe the Gospel by the drawing of the Holy Spirit, they won’t believe if you have an answer for every mystery and seeming contradiction.

  • Welcome to Bible Hermeneutics and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others.
    – agarza
    Nov 27, 2022 at 22:14

When we inspect more closely at the moment Peter was fascinating to walk on water liked Jesus, Jesus was almost near the boat. Note Matthew 14:31

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (NIV)

We would also note that Matthew's account was not telling whether Peter was successful to walk on the water, even for one step, but focus on the mental state of Peter, from the time his spirit was high, that drained out quick in a sudden of fear.

To all the disciples on the boat, they might observe the occasion, but in such a quick moment, and a failure attempt, how many would remember its significance, particularly at that spiritual state the disciples have by then?

Mark's Gospel had accounts from Peter's memoir, Peter would certainly focus on Jesus' miracle, rather on his failure simulation.

John's Gospel selectively chose seven signs of Jesus to illustrate He is the Son of God. Again the failure attempt of Peter did not align with his focus.

Then why it is in Matthew's Gospel?

The answer lies on the purpose of Matthew's Gospel, Discipleship!

Note how Jesus told Peter why he failed; "You of little faith, why did you doubt?"

There are three other moments in Matthew's Gospel, Jesus called his disciples "You of little faith".

Matthew 6:30 - If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you— you of little faith?

Matthew 8:26 - He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

Matthew 16:8 - Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread?

Matthew understood it is faith that bring us close to Jesus, and that revelation recalled his memory of Peter's failure moment.


Only Matthew and John were to witness it. John writes to provoke faith in Jesus, resulting in eternal life. “That you may believe”. He is likely writing both to call unbelievers to faith in Jesus and to provide confidence for those believers who are struggling in their faith.

Even if Mark and Luke were told of it, they couldn't verify the truth of it.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.