How many were crucified with Jesus? - BibelCenter [apparent] contradictions
How many were crucified with Jesus?
von Wolfgang Schneider

Matthew 27:44:
The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.

Luke 23:39-42:
(And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

The problem with this apparent contradiction arises when assuming, as is generally done, that two other men were crucified with Jesus Christ. The biblical records about the crucifixion of Jesus are however very precise in what they tell and they give a different picture.

Upon carefully reading the records in Matthew 27 and Mark 15, one recognizes that "two robbers" were crucified with Jesus. They were brought to Golgotha and crucified after Jesus had already been hanging on the cross, after his garments had been distributed and after the soldiers had watched him for some time. But in Luke 23 it is recorded that there were "two malefactors" who were already led out to Golgotha with Jesus and who were crucified at the same time as Jesus. If one now would like to maintain the presupposed opinion and thinks that the assumption that only two others were crucified with Jesus is correct, then the Bible would be incorrect with its contradictory statements and it would be actually unreliable (this is exactly what some unbelieving scholars declare!). If however one holds fast to the statements made in Scripture and is willing to check and correct one's own assumptions, one is able to know the truth!

The words for "two robbers" in Mat and Mark are in the Greek text duo lestai; but the words for "two malefactors" in Luke are duo kakourgoi. This also confirms that the records are speaking of different people; also, every robber would be a malefactor, but not every malefactor would be a robber.

When taking into consideration now John 19 sa well, it becomes evident there as well that a total of four other men were crucified with Jesus Christ. In John 19:18 it says, "Where they crucified him, and two others with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst." A look in a Greek text or an Interlinear Greek-English New Testament shows that the word "one" is actually an addition to the text by the translators. The Greek texts read, "… two others with him on either side …" In general, it may be possible to understand the expression "two others on either side" perhaps as speaking of a total number of two and only one on each side. But when we consider the other records in the gospels about the identical situation, it becomes clear that "two others on either side" speaks of two each on either side. The Greek text has the following wording, "and with him others two from here and there [i.e. on both sides]". The emphasis is not that they crucified only "two others" with him, but that others were crucified with him, "two on either side".

The total picture is now clear. First, Jesus was led out to Golgotha together with two others, two malefactors, and they were crucified after arriving there, one of them on the left of Jesus and the other on the right. Some time later, two robbers were brought and crucified at the same location, again one to the left of Jesus, the other to the right. Both robbers reviled Jesus and joined the crowd in mocking him, and they were joined by one of the malefactors. The second malefactor however turned to Jesus with the request that he might remember him when he came into his future kingdom.

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Last changed: 10.02.2009