There seems to be a disagreement between the gospels of Luke and Matthew regarding the location of the first appearance of the resurrected Jesus to the eleven disciples.

The author of Luke states, Luke 24:

33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.

Verse 33 starts with two disciples relating their encounter with a post-resurrection Jesus to the eleven upon meeting them in Jerusalem. Via the use of the word "indeed" by the two disciples in verse 34 we can deduce that the eleven were unconvinced of the resurrection during this time.

So how are we to know this is their first time witnessing post-resurrected Jesus? Well, they are:

  1. Startled and frightened, thinking they had seen a spirit
  2. Troubled and doubtful of the risen Jesus
  3. Jesus tries to reassure them -- he shows them his mutilated hands and feet, compels them to touch him, and ate before them.

These are not the signs of people who had previously seen the risen Jesus. The author of Luke clearly tries to relate to us that this is the very first time the eleven witness the risen Jesus, and this occurs in Jerusalem. Furthermore, during this encounter Jesus orders the disciples not to leave Jerusalem until a certain event is to have occurred:

49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

The book of Acts, which is widely regarded to belong to a single composite work by the same author, often called "Luke-Acts", reaffirms the previous command of Jesus in Luke towards the apostles to remain in Jerusalem, Acts 1:

4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

We know that the disciples did not receive the Holy Spirit until after the Ascension of the resurrected Jesus, as told in Acts chapter 2. Therefore according to the author of Luke, from the moment of Jesus' first appearance to the eleven disciples, up until to his Ascension, they never left Jerusalem.

On the other hand, the author of Matthew states the following, Matthew 28:

8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

The women at the tomb run off to tell the disciples of the empty tomb, and suddenly meet Jesus. This occurs immediately after the angels appear at the tomb. None of Jesus' followers had seen the resurrected Jesus before this point. Contrary to Luke however, where the eleven first meet Jesus in Jerusalem, Jesus says here he will meet them in Galilee. Now, this would have been resolved if these disciples were other than the eleven, however we know that he is referring to the eleven:

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.

According to the author of Matthew, the eleven first encounter the risen Jesus in Galilee. This is exemplified in the doubt of some of the eleven. Of course we are not given elaborate descriptions of their reactions like in Luke, but if this would've been anything other than their first encounter then they wouldn't have doubted.

How is this supposed discrepancy resolved?

  • Related, possible duplicate, does this answer your question ? : Why are the four accounts of the tomb different ?.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 23, 2020 at 7:54
  • 1
    @NigelJ No. The question you linked is too general. Mine is very specific.
    – RandomUser
    Oct 23, 2020 at 9:40
  • There is also an excellent article giving a full breakdowm of the events and giving a diagram of the timeline. I do not wish to copy the entire article to here but I recommend it. The Sequence of Christ's Post-Resurrection Appearances. There is no contradiction once all the events are properly catalogued, as does the article.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 23, 2020 at 9:51
  • @NigelJ The article assumes that the appearance in Galilee occurs after the appearance in Jerusalem without any explanation other than that it must've occurred subsequently because it is more than a day's journey to Galilee, while the disciples were already in Jerusalem. Unconvincing to me, why? Because other details of this encounter are ignored. According to Matthew, Jesus told the women he would meet the disciples in Galilee. How could this be referring to anything other than the first time? Jesus says to meet him in Galilee, meets them in Jerusalem, then in Galilee? Odd order of events..
    – RandomUser
    Oct 23, 2020 at 10:36
  • @NigelJ I disagree. I believe I have established very reasonably that there seems to be an incompatibility between the two accounts.
    – RandomUser
    Oct 23, 2020 at 11:21

3 Answers 3


Jesus appeared first to the 11 disciples (minus Thomas) in Jerusalem, in the meeting described in Luke 24:36-43 and John 20:19-25. See The Sequence of Christ’s Post-Resurrection Appearances (article reference courtersy of Nigel J). The chart shows that Jesus first appeared to them on the Easter day in Jerusalem, then in Galilee, then again in Jerusalem (this is when they were told to stay in Jerusalem to wait for the Pentecost).

For a more detailed (but straightforward) explanation of where first meeting took place, please see Go and Stay Discrepancy?. The key is to locate the Galilee appearance in the space between Luke 24:43 and Luke 24:44, because

... it is a merely an assumption to assert that Jesus spoke Luke 24:44ff on Easter Day.

  • 1
    I find this to be the only possible answer, but not without its difficulties. It's hard to believe that when Jesus tells the women at the tomb "go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me" that what he actually means is "tell them they will see me in Galilee, but they will actually see me first in Jerusalem then in Galilee", Matthew and Mark seem to portray this as the very first time the disciples are to meet Jesus.
    – RandomUser
    Oct 24, 2020 at 19:35
  • Furthermore, John 21:14 says "This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead." So according to John the disciples met Jesus in Galilee only on the third time! And not even on the prescribed mountain in Matthew, but on the seashore of the Tiberias lake.
    – RandomUser
    Oct 24, 2020 at 20:12
  • @RandomUser Wouldn't "my brothers" in Matt 28:10 refer to Jesus's biological brothers, not the 11 apostles? If that's the case, I don't see anymore issues and the timeline graphic in Nigel's Sequence article is consistent with the "Go and Stay Discrepancy" explanation. The same chart also shows that the Tiberias meeting was the 3rd time. The Galilee mountain meeting was the 4th time. Oct 25, 2020 at 0:11
  • It certainly refers to Jesus' disciples, and not his biological brothers, because the angel repeats the same command in Matt 28:7 "Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him’ ". Not only that-- before Jesus dies he tells the disciples the same thing directly in Matt 26:32 " 'But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee'."
    – RandomUser
    Oct 20, 2021 at 17:41
  • If Thomas wasn't there during this first appearance in Jerusalem, why would Luke say the two met "the eleven?" According to you, there should only be 10 there. Mar 7 at 18:36

There are reasons for four different gospels even if as scholars state, that Mark was the primary source document. There are additional stories particular to each gospel as well with “telescoping” events that were peculiar to each author. Mark has more of a straight forward succinct rendition of events in an explanation to the Roman world. Matthew included more details as he was also emphasizing how Jesus fulfilled the numerous prophecies from the Old Testament. Luke researched more intently and he was much more inclusive with other details surrounding Jesus and John was emphasizing the living “Word ” and His love relationship with his disciples and man. All similar in certain respects, but different details and emphasis as well. From my perspective, it is easy to see that Mark did not embellish details as much as the other gospels. We know the disciples were hiding after the resurrection and they had not left Jerusalem. We know the women were shocked and scared after leaving the tomb…even without the instruction of “not to say anything,” women in that culture were not respected as witnesses. It is like witnessing a horrific car accident. When four witnesses are asked to tell their accounts, they all will be similar with basic facts, yet they will additionally expound upon different details that stuck out to them personally. Jesus did meet with the disciples in Jerusalem and later in Galilee…for forty days he appeared to His followers on numerous occasions. I don’t believe the authors were so concerned of giving a chronological “moment by moment” account, but rather a message of what happened after He was resurrected for those 40 days before His ascension, whether in chronological order or not. Ancient formats and protocols for recording history are different from the modern world.

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    Nov 1, 2022 at 12:28

I think there are 2 main issues really not being addressed here:

  1. Luke's account of the disciples being commanded not to leave Jerusalem just does not fit with any other narratives' timeliness. To suggest that first they met Jesus in Galilee and then in Jerusalem where commanded them to stay makes no sense. Why then the surprise when they actually see Jesus and why the doubt that other witnesses saw Jesus if they already met with Him in Galilee? And to suggest he met with them in Galilee at any point in between Luke's account of what's going on in Jerusalem also makes no sense. Jesus appears to the men in Emmaus on the same day he was resurrected. It seems he appeared to the 11 in Jerusalem that same day as well. And they were shocked. And he tells them not to leave Jerusalem. Where is there room for a trip to Galilee?
  2. We are harmonizing 4 accounts. The original audiences did not have 4 accounts, most likely only 1 account. The authors also did not write with there being 3 other accounts existing. So trying to harmonize these accounts is a privilege we have but not one that existed at the time of the writing of the gospels. So while we can claim the 4 authors are trying to fill in gaps or write different perspectives of the same story, the only way we could conceive of that possibility is by having 4 gospel accounts to begin with.
  • If you are going to discredit one of the gospels you need to do so by means of the science of Textual Criticism. It is not a matter of mere opinion.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 17, 2023 at 9:23

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