Bible Think

Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels

One of the clearest kinds of evidence for the accuracy of the accounts in the Gospels is the set of detailed correspondences between the accounts. Because there are four Gospels which produce sets of parallel accounts there is a good opportunity to find undesigned coincidences. The coincidences often involve details in parallel accounts which complement one another to show some minor back-story.

The Feeding of the 5000

There are several examples in the accounts of the feeding of the five thousand (see single page download). One of these notes that there are several references to grass. Mark 6:39 notes that the grass was green and John 6:10 comments that there was much grass in the place. Matthew 14:19 simply mentions the grass in passing. This is distinct from the account of the feeding of the four thousand where the references are always to the ground. In the Eastern Mediterranean area there is only green grass on the ground in the spring - around the time of Passover. Before this the grass does not start to grow and later on the lack of rain and hot sun makes the grass turn brown and wither. John 6:4 notes that the miracle took place exactly at passover time.

 

This coincidence could not have been put together by having Matthew and Mark look at John’s Gospel before they wrote about the feeding of the five thousand; John’s Gospel was not written at this point. The only sensible explanation is that the Gospels are describing, in considerable accurate detail, an event that actually happened.

The Baptist and the Pharisees

This coincidence is not in Blunt, but it has considerable force. Luke 7:29,30 notes that the Pharisees were not baptised by John the Baptist and that they therefore rejected the teaching of Jesus. The actual account of the rejection of the Pharisees by John appears in Matthew 3:7-10 where John not only refuses to baptise them but refers to them as a “Brood of vipers”. This explains why the Pharisees were initially so opposed to the message that Jesus shared with John.

 

Again, this is a minor detail in the narratives and shows complete independence. It is only really explained by the idea that the Gospel writers were writing accurate accounts of real events.

Herod’s Servants

In Matthew’s Gospel we read of Herod discussing Jesus with his servants:-

At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus and he said to his servants, "This is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why these miraculous powers are at work in him."  (Matthew 14:1,2)

 

At the time of Jesus the difference in social standing between a king and his servants would be huge. It would be very unusual for a king like Herod to discuss matters of state with his servants. However, in this case there is a reason for Herod to approach his servants.

and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod‘s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.  (Luke 8:3)

 

Luke shows that there was a connection between at least some of his servants and Jesus. The wife of Chuza, one of Herod’s chief servants, was among the supporters of Jesus, and as a consequence Chuza would be able to present an informed opinion of Jesus. This is why Herod discusses the matter with his servants.

 

The two accounts are clearly independent of one another. They are not discussing the same matter. The only reason that we know that Jesus was supported by the wife of one of Herod’s servants is in a passage which identifies the wife. Similarly, the details are clearly trivial; neither Mark (Mark 6:14) nor Luke (Luke 9:7-9) includes any reference to Herod’s servants in their account of Herod’s saying. This is clearly an authentic record of a real event.

 

What it Means

The existence of  a considerable number of undesigned coincidences in the Gospels doesn’t, on its own, show that the Gospels are message from God. However, the coincidences do show that the Gospels contain an accurate and detailed record of the events that they describe. This is important. The words of Jesus recorded in the Gospels were really spoken by Jesus and the actions of Jesus reported in the Gospels were performed exactly as the Gospels describe them.

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Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels

Watch this space for a pdf file containing a magazine-length article which investigates the issue of Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels.

Full Length Discussion

A full account of undesigned coincidences in the Gospels, including some coincidences which don’t appear in Blunt’s book.

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Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Early Coincidences

Chapter 3: Middle Coincidences

Chapter 4: Later Coincidences

Chapter 5: The Last Passover

Chapter 6: Sub-Coincidences

Chapter 7: Alleged Contradictions

 

Links

Undesigned Coincidences

Click here to link to the main page for undesigned coincidences.

Acts and Epistles

Click here to link to the page for undesigned coincidences in Acts and the Letters of Paul.

The Old Testament

Click here to link to the page for undesigned coincidences in the Old Testament.

Linguistic Fossils

Linguistic Fossils are an alternative form of evidence that words of people recorded in the Gospels are from Judea and Galilee at the time of Jesus. Click here to link to the page for this subject.

Evidence of Reliability

Click here to link to the main page on evidence which shows how reliable the Bible is as a record of real events.

Gospel Evidence

Click here to link to the main page on the reliability of the Gospels.

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Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels