In the introductory comments to Jesus’ oft’-quoted sermon recorded in Matthew
chapters 5-7, the first verse sets the stage
for His “astonishing teachings.” Matthew indicates that “seeing the
multitudes,” Jesus “went up on a
mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him” (emp. added). When Luke gives
the setting for Jesus’
masterful sermon, he says that Jesus “came down with them and stood on a level
place” (emp. added). The question that
has been asked by many people is why Matthew recorded Jesus preaching this sermon from a
mountain, while Luke said it was while
He stood on a level place. Could Matthew or Luke have made a legitimate geographical error
here, or is there a reasonable
explanation for the difference that exists?
First of all, for these passages to be contradictory one must assume the two sermons were
delivered at the same place and at the
same time. But, as H. Leo Boles stated in his commentary on Luke, this sermon “may have been
repeated a number of times and Luke
gives a record of the sermon which was repeated at some later time than the record given by
Matthew” (1940, p. 134). It is more
than possible that Jesus repeated His teachings on various occasions. He easily could have
preached the beatitudes in Capernaum as well
as in Cana. He could have taught the model prayer in both Bethany and Bethsaida. Who are we to say
that Jesus preached the principles
and commands found in Matthew 5-7 only once? There are some men today who travel to a
different city nearly every week preaching
the same sermons—and do so effectively. Could Jesus not have done something similar?
A more likely solution to this geographical “problem” is simply to understand that
Matthew and Luke were referring to the
same sermon, and that Jesus was preaching it while being both on a mountain and on a
“plain” (KJV) at
the same time. The word “plain” (tópou pedinoú) simply means “
level place” (Wycliffe, 1985),
and is translated thusly in nearly all modern versions of the Bible. Since a mountain can have
level places on it, no one can assert
logically that Matthew 5:1 and Luke 6:17 are contradictory. I have been to the top of a mountain
in Anchorage, Alaska, that is so level
it is known as “Flattop Mountain.” To say Jesus stood on a level place on a
mountain is no oxymoron.
Boles, H. Leo (1940), A Commentary on the Gospel According to Luke (Nashville, TN:
Wycliffe Bible Commentary (1985), Electronic Database: Biblesoft.
Copyright © 2002 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.
We are happy to grant permission for items in the "Alleged Discrepancies" section to be reproduced in their entirety, as long as the following stipulations are observed: (1) Apologetics Press must be designated as the original publisher; (2) the specific Apologetics Press Web site URL must be noted; (3) the authors name must remain attached to the materials; (4) any references, footnotes, or endnotes that accompany the article must be included with any written reproduction of the article; (5) alterations of any kind are strictly forbidden (e.g., photographs, charts, graphics, quotations, etc. must be reproduced exactly as they appear in the original); (6) serialization of written material (e.g., running an article in several parts) is permitted, as long as the whole of the material is made available, without editing, in a reasonable length of time; (7) articles, in whole or in part, may not be offered for sale or included in items offered for sale; and (8) articles may be reproduced in electronic form for posting on Web sites pending they are not edited or altered from their original content and that credit is given to Apologetics Press, including the web location from which the articles were taken.
For catalog, samples, or further information, contact:
230 Landmark Drive
Montgomery, Alabama 36117
Phone (334) 272-8558