Was Jairus’ Daughter Dead or Dying when he spoke to Jesus? Is there a Contradiction in the Bible?
Was Jairus’ Daughter Dead or Dying when he spoke to Jesus?
Is there a direct contradiction in the Bible, as many claim?
Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:22-43; and Luke 8:41-55
I remember coming across this apparent contradiction years ago, and I honestly could not explain it at the time. Some Christians have actually abandoned their faith in the Inerrancy of the Bible when they have run into this example.
The polls show that the majority of present day Christians do NOT believe that any Bible in any language - including “the” Greek and “the” Hebrew - IS now or ever was the inerrant and 100% true words of God; and the situation is getting worse.
I am a redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, born again, King James Bible believing Christian. I fully believe that the King James Bible is the complete and inerrant and 100% historically true words of God. No other Bible version that I know of is.
There are many whole verses, phrases, names and numbers as well as meanings that are radically different among today’s Bible Babble Buffet versions, (that are leading more and more to abandon faith in an inerrant Bible), but the texts in all three accounts about the raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead are the same in virtually every Bible out there.
We will look at the three passages and notice the apparent contradiction, and then offer a reasonable explanation that fits all the recorded facts of this historical event as I go through each gospel account.
What are known as the Synoptic Gospels - Matthew, Mark and Luke - often record similar or the same events that occurred during the life of our Lord Jesus Christ while he was here on this earth.
But they are not all carbon copies of each other. One will mention certain facts, events or teachings that are not found in the others.
Each one may add certain details or words that were spoken that the others do not contain. But this does not mean that they contradict each other.
Sometimes Christians just ASSUME certain things are true, but they are not really what is found in the Bible.
For example, through the influence of countless Christmas cards, most Christians and even the world just “knows” that there were three wise men who came to visit the baby Jesus when he was born in a stable and placed in a manger. Right?
But the Bible never says this happened. Only Luke records the birth of the baby Jesus in the manger and it was the shepherds (and not the wise men), who heard the angel tell them about it and who told them to go to Bethlehem to see the “babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12)
Mark doesn’t even mention the birth of Christ, and Matthew skips over the whole manger scene and relates what took place about two years LATER when the three wise men followed the star to THE HOUSE (not the manger) where they saw Mary and the YOUNG CHILD, “and fell down and worshipped him; and when they had opened their treasures, they presented him with gifts: gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11.
In fact, we don’t even know if there were three wise men or not. We just assume there were three and not two or four of them, because there were three gifts given.
So, let’s take a look at the three passages that relate the events of Jairus and his daughter. I fully believe these events happened, and what is recorded, was actually said at some point in the narration of the story, and that there are NO provable contradictions in these historical events.
I will HIGHLIGHT certain words that I think will help explain this only “apparent” contradiction.
18 While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and WORSHIPPED HIM, SAYING, MY DAUGHTER IS EVEN NOW DEAD; but come and lay thy hand upon her, and SHE SHALL LIVE.
19 And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples.
20 And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:
21 For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.
22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.
23 And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise,
24 He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.
25 But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose.
26 And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land.”
Explanation: Matthew’s historical account is much shorter than the other two. Matthew takes up the account beginning at what was said AFTER the messenger had come from Jairus’s house and told him that his daughter had died.
That is why he says “My daughter is even NOW DEAD; but come and lay thy hand upon her, and SHE SHALL LIVE.” And only Matthew records the fact that Jairus WORSHIPPED the Lord at this point in the story.
Mark 5:22-24 and 35-42 (verses 25-34 relates the healing of the woman who had the issue of blood.)
And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet,
23 And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter LIETH AT THE POINT OF DEATH; I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, THAT SHE MAY BE HEALED; and she shall live.
24 And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.
35 While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue's house certain which said, THY DAUGHTER IS DEAD; why troublest thou the Master ANY FURTHER?
At this point Jairus hears that his daughter had actually died. Notice the words “why troublest thou the Master ANY FURTHER?” This is not recorded in Matthew, because Matthew takes up the narrative at a later point in the story.
36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, BE NOT AFRAID. ONLY BELIEVE.”
37 And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.
38 And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly.
39 And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.
40 And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying.
41 And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.
42 And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.”
Luke 8:41-42 (43-48 woman healed) 49-55
41 And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus' feet, and besought him that he would come into his house:
42 For he had one only daughter, about twelve years of age, and SHE LAY A DYING. But as he went the people thronged him.
(43-48 woman healed)
49 While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue's house, SAYING TO HIM, THY DAUGHTER IS DEAD; trouble not the Master.
*********50 But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, FEAR NOT; BELIEVE ONLY,
***********I believe it is at this point, between verses 49 and 50, after he heard that his daughter had died, that Jairus then tells Jesus the message he had just received from his house saying: “MY DAUGHTER IS EVEN NOW DEAD; but come and lay thy hand upon her, and SHE SHALL LIVE.” (not “may be healed.”)
51 And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden.
52 And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth.
53 And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.
54 And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise.
55 And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.”
It is only Matthew that tells us that Jairus WORSHIPPED the Lord, and I think this happened after Jesus had just told him, after learning of her death, “FEAR NOT; BELIEVE ONLY.”
Only in Matthew do we hear Jairus tell Jesus that his daughter had actually died - “WORSHIPPED HIM, SAYING, MY DAUGHTER IS EVEN NOW DEAD” and that is because Matthew begins his narration at this point, whereas Mark and Luke began theirs with remarks and requests that had been previously made.
Thus there are NO provable contradictions in the three gospel narratives. It is all a matter of discerning what was said and done at what point in time.
All of grace, believing the Book, the King James Holy Bible,
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Notes from the Internet
Answers in Genesis offers a similar explanation.
Bible Commentaries -
Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible - “Mark and Luke say that she was “at the point of death,” and that information of her actual death was brought to him by one who was sent by the ruler of the synagogue, while Jesus was going. Matthew combined the two facts, and stated the representation which was made to Jesus, without stopping particularly to exhibit the manner in which it was done. In a summary way he says that the ruler communicated the information. Luke and Mark, dwelling more particularly on the circumstances, state at length the way in which it was done; that is, by himself stating, in a hurry, that she was “about to die,” or “was dying,” and then in a few moments sending word that “she was dead.”
Thomas Constable’s Expository Notes - “According to Matthew he announced that his daughter had just died. Mark and Luke have him saying that she was near death. Since she died before Jesus reached her, Matthew evidently condensed the story to present at the outset what was really true before Jesus reached his house.”
Matthew Poole’s English Annotations - “The best answer is, that Matthew relates the story compendiously. It appears from Luke 8:49, that the maid did die. Matthew reports that first, which the messenger brought them the news of afterwards”
John Gill - “the case was this; when Jairus left his house, his daughter was in the agony of death, just ready to give up the ghost; so, that he concluded, by the time he was with Jesus, she had made her exit; as it appears she had, by a messenger, who brought the account of her death, before they could get to the house.”