Is There a Contradiction Between Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-7

By: Rev. Sam Harris; ©2000
Matthew 8 states that the Centurion approached Jesus on behalf of his slave. Luke 7 says that he sent someone else to approach Jesus for him. This is a clear contradiction, isn’t it? Rev. Harris explains.

Is There a Contradiction Between Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-7?


I need some help on what “seems” to be a contradiction in the Bible. In Mat­thew 8:5-13, it says the Centurion approached Jesus and asked Him to heal his slave. In the cross reference of Luke 7:1-7, it says the Centurion sent some Jewish Elders. If you can help me with this I would appreciate it. I checked my Greek books and commentaries and cannot find a solid explanation. Thanks.


This does seem to be a contradiction, doesn’t it? And it is difficult to find any definitive evidence to help us in this dilemma. I have checked the Greek as well as a number of commentaries, just as you have, but to no avail.

Thanks to a friend, I did find an explanation in a book by Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe entitled “When Critics Ask,” c. 1992. They state on page 334, that both Matthew and Luke are correct. In the first century, it was understood that when a representative was sent to speak for his master, it was as if the master was speaking himself. For example, when the Secretary of State meets individuals from other countries, he goes out in the name of the President of the United States. What he says is what the President says. Matthew states that a centurion came to Jesus asking earnestly about his sick servant, when in fact the centurion sent others on his behalf. So, when Matthew declares that the centurion was speaking, this was true, even though he was, as Luke indicated, speaking through his official representative.

Can you be comfortable with this possible solution? This is one of those questions that we may never know the answer to until we get to heaven.

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