Some argue that the Bible is contradictory concerning how many angels or men there were at the tomb. The argument is that Matthew 28:2-5 says that there was one angel, Mark 16:5-6 says that there was one man, Luke 24:4-6 says that there were two men, and John 20:12-13 says that there were two angels. However, there is a reasonable explanation that solves this alleged contradiction in the Bible.
Scriptures – How Many Angels/Men Were at the Tomb?
One Angel – Matthew 28:2-5
2 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
One Man – Mark 16:5-6
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
Two Men – Luke 24:4-6
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 24:4-6
Two Angels – John 20:12-13
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
The Answer – How Many Angels/Men Were at the Tomb?
There Were Two Angels Who Looked Like Men
The answer to this alleged contradiction is that there were two angels who looked like men. Perhaps the reason why Matthew and Mark only mention one of the angels is that one was more prominent than the other, or only one of the angels actually spoke. In any case, neither Matthew nor Mark say that there was ”’only”’ one angel.
In Scripture, angels often appeared in the form of men:
1 And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. 2 He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earthGenesis 18:1-2
while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice.Daniel 9:21
Foundational Principles Regarding Bible Difficulties
There are some foundational principles that apply to all alleged and apparent contradictions in the Bible. To read more, see Bible Difficulties: Foundational Principles.
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: