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Jesus cured Simon Peter's mother-in-law after he cleansed the leper:

[Matthew 8:1-15 NASB20] (1) When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. (2) And a man with leprosy came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." (3) Jesus reached out with His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. (4) And Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them." (5) And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, begging Him, (6) and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, terribly tormented." (7) Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him." (8) But the centurion replied, "Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. (9) "For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, 'Go!' and he goes, and to another, 'Come!' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this!' and he does [it.]" (10) Now when Jesus heard [this,] He was amazed and said to those who were following, "Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. (11) "And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline [at the table] with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; (12) but the sons of the kingdom will be thrown out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (13) And Jesus said to the centurion, "Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed." And the servant was healed at that [very] moment. (14) When Jesus came into Peter's home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever. (15) And He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she got up and waited on Him.

Jesus cured Simon Peter's mother-in-law before he cleansed the leper:

[Mark 1:30-42 NASB20] (30) Now Simon's mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and they immediately spoke to Jesus about her. (31) And He came to her and raised her up, taking [her by] the hand, and the fever left her, and she served them. (32) Now when evening came, after the sun had set, they [began] bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. (33) And the whole city had gathered at the door. (34) And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew who He was. (35) And in the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left [the house,] and went away to a secluded place, and prayed there [for a time.] (36) Simon and his companions eagerly searched for Him; (37) and they found Him and said to Him, "Everyone is looking for You." (38) He said to them, "Let's go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may also preach there; for this is why I came." (39) And He went into their synagogues preaching throughout Galilee, and casting out the demons. (40) And a man with leprosy came to Jesus, imploring Him and kneeling down, and saying to Him, "If You are willing, You can make me clean." (41) Moved with compassion, [Jesus] reached out with His hand and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed." (42) And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed.

[Luke 4:38-44 NASB20] (38) Then He got up and [left] the synagogue, and entered Simon's home. Now Simon's mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Him to help her. (39) And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately got up and served them. (40) Now while the sun was setting, all those who had [any who were] sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He was laying His hands on each one of them and healing them. (41) Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" And [yet] He was rebuking them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that He was the Christ. (42) Now when day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place; and the crowds were searching for Him, and they came to Him and tried to keep Him from leaving them. (43) But He said to them, "I must also preach the kingdom of God to the other cities, because I was sent for this [purpose.]" (44) So He kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

[Luke 5:1-13 NASB20] (1) Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret; (2) and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. (3) And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little [distance] from the land. And He sat down and [continued] teaching the crowds from the boat. (4) Now when He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." (5) Simon responded and said, "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say [and] let down the nets." (6) And when they had done this, they caught a great quantity of fish, and their nets [began] to tear; (7) so they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, to the point that they were sinking. (8) But when Simon Peter saw [this,] he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!" (9) For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; (10) and likewise also [were] James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not fear; from now on you will be catching people." (11) When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him. (12) While He was in one of the cities, behold, [there was] a man covered with leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." (13) And He reached out with His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately the leprosy left him.

Peter's mother-in-law was healed before Peter was called to be a disciple:

[Luke 4:38-39 NASB20] (38) Then He got up and [left] the synagogue, and entered Simon's home. Now Simon's mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Him to help her. (39) And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately got up and served them.

[Luke 5:10 NASB20] (10) and likewise also [were] James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not fear; from now on you will be catching people."

Peter's mother-in-law was healed after Peter was called to be a disciple:

[Matthew 4:18-19 NASB20] (18) Now as [Jesus] was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. (19) And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of people."

[Matthew 8:14-15 NASB20] (14) When Jesus came into Peter's home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever. (15) And He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she got up and waited on Him.

[Mark 1:16-17, 30-31 NASB20] (16) As He was going along the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. (17) And Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will have you become fishers of people." ... (30) Now Simon's mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and they immediately spoke to Jesus about her. (31) And He came to her and raised her up, taking [her by] the hand, and the fever left her, and she served them.

How might one explain this apparent chronological contradiction found in the Gospels? Is there a cogent, palatable explanation to this?

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  • Please quote the passages so that we can more easily see the alleged contradiction.
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 12 '21 at 13:25
  • Are you asking why [Matthew 8:14-15] does not declare the events took place immediately after leaving the synagogue on Shabbat - in contrast to Mark 1:29 & Luke 4:38? Apr 12 '21 at 13:37
  • You need to show directly the two contradictory propositions explicitly.
    – Tony Chan
    Apr 12 '21 at 13:51
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The Synoptic Gospels present numerous events in different sequences. Why?

The Argument from Order

The argument from order is used by students of the Synoptic Problem, but it may also be applicable here. The argument compares the order in which individual pericopes (“stories” for our purposes) are presented in each of the Synoptic Gospels in order to try to determine which author used which as a source.

It’s worth pointing out that if presenting material in a different order is a “chronological contradiction” then there are literally scores of chronological contradictions in the Synoptic Gospels alone. Their passion narratives are more closely aligned (though not perfectly) in terms of what happened after what, but the ministry portions of the Synoptic Gospels differ wildly.

My own study of the argument from order has led me to 4 conclusions that have bearing on the question in the OP:

  1. None of the Synoptic authors were trying to present the material in a strictly chronological sequence
  2. Matthew principally organizes his Gospel by topic (like an encyclopedia)
  3. Luke principally organizes his Gospel by geography (like an atlas)
  4. Mark borrows from Matthew & Luke, sometimes following the order of one and sometimes the other (like somebody telling stories from memory)

A more extended discussion of these points in the context of the argument from order, with whiteboard drawings of relative order, is found in this video (disclaimer: I made this video).

An answer from our earliest source

That the Synoptic Gospels do not present their material in the same order has been known and discussed for more than 1900 years.

Our earliest written discussion of the subject comes from Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, writing about the Gospel of Mark in the very early 2nd century, discussing what he had learned in the 1st century from first generation Christians. His words, as recorded by Eusebius:

The Elder used to say: Mark, in his capacity as Peter’s interpreter, wrote down accurately as many things as he recalled from memory—though not in an ordered form—of the things either said or done by the Lord. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied him, but later, as I said, Peter, who used to give his teachings in the form of chreiai, but had no intention of providing an ordered arrangement of the logia of the Lord. Consequently Mark did nothing wrong when he wrote down some individual items just as he related them from memory. For he made it his one concern not to omit anything he had heard or to falsify anything. (see HE 3:39, translation by Bauckham)

Conclusion

If we expect the Gospel authors to write in a 21st century style, we will be disappointed. They were not trying to present a day-by-day travel log, but a collection (from what must have been a much larger pool of material) of the teachings and sayings of Jesus they believed were most important for the audiences they had in mind (even Luke, who tells us in his prologue he is writing an orderly account, doesn’t specify what “orderly” means).

The exact sequence of events surrounding the healing of Peter's mother-in-law is not 100% certain. The Synoptic Gospels do not present their material in the same order, because the authors never intended them to do so.

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  • Right. Starting with "In the beginning" isn't the only reason John's gospel should be considered the first book in the Greek scriptures. It lays the basic chronological framework in which the other three gospels can be understood. Anyone starting biblical study should start with John. (It also allows Luke to flow naturally into Acts, its sequel.) Nov 27 '21 at 19:42
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The leper was healed first, after Jesus came down from the mountain where he gave the sermon on the mount(ch. 5-7, Matthew 8:1); Mark simply places the story at the end of his first chapter(1:40-45), giving no immediate context thereto.

As for the second question, Luke essentially backtracks in ch. 5 vss. 1-11 from Jesus' first visit to Capernaum(as recorded in the synoptics) to a time before he gave his sermon on the mount, which is not anything surprising in Luke(there are notable exceptions), also given that he doesn't mention the specifics of the sermon on the mount until ch. 6 vss. 20-49; so Matthew and Mark are correct in saying that Peter was 'called' before he entered Capernaum to heal his mother-in-law(which is fairly logical), though it were, according to John 1, not the first time he had met Peter.

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I believe Luke's order is correct. It makes more sense that Peter, James & John would leave everything to follow Jesus if they had already:

heard him preach and teach (Luke 4:31, Luke 5:1-3) seen him cast out demons (Luke 4:35, 41) seen him heal illnesses and diseases (Luke 4:39-40) seen him do a miracle in their realm (Luke 5:6-10)

Just my two cents.

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  • Expressions like "I believe" and "my" generally don't belong in properly constructed answers (or questions) on Stack Exchange sites. Unlike comments, the postings should be objective and impersonal. Nov 27 '21 at 19:38

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