6 or 8?

And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,

Matthew 17:1

And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them.

Mark 9:2

And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.

Luke 9:28

I know that it doesn’t seem like a big deal but the smallest difference in the way something is worded in the Bible is important. There are no errors in the word of God!

Some would seek to discredit the Bible as being inerrant and point at a case like we have before us. They would say, “Matthew and Mark say that it was six days later, and Luke says it was eight. There is obviously an error in such a simple detail. Therefore, I don’t trust the Bible.” 

To such a one I would say, “Slow down and read for understanding rather than for an excuse to ignore!”

I have heard a few different explanations for this difference found in Luke but the simplest explanation makes the most sense. So, here goes:

First of all, Matthew and Mark say “after” six days and Luke says, “about eight days after.” Luke’s terminology allows for some leeway but that isn’t even necessary. 

  • Matthew and Mark are counting the 6 days in between two events. The first event is when Peter makes the confession that Jesus is the Christ and Jesus instructs the disciples about taking up their cross and following Him. The second event is the transfiguration scene we have before us. So, beginning the day after the first event, you count six days, and then the day after that is the day of the second event.
  • Luke simply includes the days of the first and second events in His counting. The same six days are in between the first and last days. This adds up to eight days.

I know it may seem tedious to spend effort in explaining this but I want to know that I can trust my Bible as being the inerrant word of God. Don’t you?

God is perfect and exact in everything He does. His written word reflects this same perfection.

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