Skeptics Annotated Bible A Response

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#28 - Where did Jesus first appear to the eleven disciples after the resurrection?

Response by Dave Marr

The skeptic's confusion:

On a mountain top in Galilee.
"Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted." Matthew 28:16

In a room in Jerusalem.
"Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen." Mark 16:14
"And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread. And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you." Luke 24:33-37
" Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you." John 20:19

The event on the mountaintop is one of the later appearances of Jesus. There is nothing in the passage in Matthew that indicates this as the first appearance, and there is no reason why the evangelist Matthew could not skip a few appearances if he thought it best for his audience in his personal record of the events. We must remember that many people of his generation had heard of the appearances, and there is a very strong probability that the Gospel of Mark was already written and distributed at the time of the writing of the Gospel of Matthew. Here is an exposition of the matter by commentator Matthew Henry:
“This evangelist[Matthew] passes over several other appearances of Christ recorded by Luke and John. The disciples had seen Jesus several times at Jerusalem, yet they went into Galilee because He appointed them to do so. Now was the time that He was seen of five hundred brethren at once, but some doubted of those who were present. These doubts were afterward removed, and their faith grew up to a full assurance.”