Questions and Answers: Was Jesus Transfigured 6 or 8 Days After Prophesying?

From Issue: R&R Volume 22 #2


Was Jesus transfigured six or eight days after prophesying that some would live to see the establishment of the kingdom (Matthew 16:28-17:2; Mark 9:1-2; Luke 9:27-29)?


At first glance, it may appear to some that Luke’s time line contradicts Matthew and Mark’s account of the amount of time that elapsed between Christ’s prophecy and His transfiguration. However, a closer examination reveals that Luke never intended for his readers to understand that exactly 192 hours (eight 24-hour days) elapsed from the moment Jesus finished His prophecy to the time that He and the others began their ascent to the mount of transfiguration. Luke recorded that it was “about eight days,” not exactly eight days. Although Luke was a physician (Colossians 4:14), he did not use “scientific precision” in this case. He merely approximated the time between the two events.

Furthermore, it seems clear that whereas Matthew and Mark excluded the days of the two terminal events (the prophecy and the transfiguration), Luke included both days, as well as the six intermediate days, and thus mentioned that the two events were eight days apart. Even today, when people rehearse something they witnessed a few days earlier, they may refer to the events as happening on “different” days. For example, if a store was robbed on a Monday afternoon, and the following Monday morning a witness told friends what he had seen, he could say truthfully that he recalled the events six days or eight days after they occurred. If one were counting only full days, then six would be correct (i.e., Tuesday through Sunday). However, it also would be correct to speak of the events as occurring eight days earlier—if one were including both full and partial days (Monday through Monday). Whether one uses “six” or “eight” does not discredit his story. Likewise, the time difference between Matthew, Mark, and Luke in no way represents a legitimate Bible contradiction. Luke simply used the inclusive method of reckoning time, whereas Matthew and Mark counted only complete days (Coffman, 1971, p. 261).


Coffman, James Burton (1971), Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Abilene, TX: ACU Press).


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