The Centurion’s Faith in Matthew and Luke -- By: Zane C. Hodges

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 121:484 (Oct 1964)
Article: The Centurion’s Faith in Matthew and Luke
Author: Zane C. Hodges

The Centurion’s Faith in Matthew and Luke

Zane C. Hodges

[Zane C. Hodges, Assistant Professor, New Testament Literature and Exegesis, Dallas Theological Seminary.]

Between the parallel accounts of the healing of the centurion’s servant as recorded in Matthew and Luke, a flagrant discrepancy in fact appears, at first sight, to exist. For, whereas Luke represents the centurion as approaching the Lord Jesus through intermediaries, Matthew seems plainly to indicate that he came to Him in person. Naturally, there are many who tacitly assume that the Gospel writers are here in transparent contradiction; but even among those who do not make this assumption, the efforts made to harmonize the records are often inadequate and superficial. It seems, therefore, that the problem involved fully merits a thorough reconsideration.

Although the average Bible reader may fail to notice the problem as long as he reads the Gospels consecutively, the moment the two accounts are read side by side the difficulty becomes apparent. The passages in question are the following:

Matthew 8:5–13

Luke 7:1–10

5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say to you, I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel.
11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

1 Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum.
2 And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unt...

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