Some argue that the Bible is contradictory concerning whether the angels were sitting or standing at the tomb. The argument is that Matthew 28:2-5 says that the angels were sitting on the stone, Mark 16:5-6 and John 20:12-13 say that the angels were sitting in the tomb, and Luke 24:2-6 says that the angels were standing in the tomb. However, there is a reasonable explanation that solves this alleged contradiction in the Bible.
Scriptures – Were the Angels Sitting or Standing at the Tomb?
Sitting on the Stone
And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.Matthew 28:2-5
Sitting in the Tomb
5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.Mark 16:5-6
12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”John 20:12-13
Standing in the Tomb
And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,Luke 24:2-6
The Answer – Scriptures – Were the Angels Sitting or Standing at the Tomb?
The Angels Were Sitting, Then Stood Up
It is reasonable to believe that the angels were sitting on the stone before the women arrived, and it is while the angels were sitting on the stone that “for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men” (Matthew 28:4).
After this, the angels moved to sit inside the tomb, as Mark and John record. When the women entered the tomb, the angels stood up. The word “stood” in John 20:12-13 could refer to what the angels did, rather than what the angels were already doing.
More Answers to “Contradictions” in the Bible
To read more answers to alleged and apparent contradictions in the Bible, see “Contradictions” in the Bible Answered.
These books are also excellent resources: