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10-28-11 AP Jesus-Go-to-Egypt-EL2

When Did Jesus Go to Egypt?

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Most people familiar with the few details given in Scripture about the early life of Jesus are aware of the fact that following the visit from the wise men, Matthew indicates that Joseph and Mary took Jesus and fled to Egypt at the command of God (Matthew 2:13-14). Later, after Herod’s death, Jesus’ family departed Egypt for Nazareth where they made their home (Matthew 2:19-23). According to some, however, Luke’s account of the early life of Jesus contradicts Matthew’s (Wells, 2011; cf. Ehrman, 2005, p. 10). Luke indicates that after Jesus’ birth, and once Mary’s days of “purification according to the law of Moses were completed” (2:22), which would have been about six weeks after Jesus was born (Leviticus 12:3-4), Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem (Luke 2:22-38). The inspired physician then writes: “So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth” (Luke 2:39, emp. added). Since Luke mentions nothing about Egypt, and Matthew says nothing about a trip to Nazareth soon after Jesus’ birth, allegedly either Matthew or Luke is mistaken.

The allegation that Matthew and Luke’s accounts are contradictory is actually based on an assumption: the skeptic assumes that Matthew and Luke each included all of the whereabouts of Jesus’ family during His early life. The fact is, however, such a conjecture cannot logically be upheld unless both of the inspired writers claimed to write exhaustive, chronological accounts of everything Jesus did. Neither writer made such a declaration (cf. John 21:25).

Could it be that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus “returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth” (Luke 2:39) before going to Egypt, and then after traveling to and from Egypt they returned to Nazareth again (Matthew 2:23)? The Holy Spirit certainly could have inspired Matthew to write his truthful account of some of the life of Christ without mentioning a brief “return” to Galilee. However, it is also very possible, and perhaps more likely, that Luke simply omitted Joseph, Mary, and Jesus’ trip to Egypt, which sequentially could be placed between Luke 2:38 and 2:39. Bible writers frequently moved from one subject to the next without intending to give every action that took place during a particular time or the exact order in which something was done or taught (cf. Luke 4:1-3; Matthew 4:1-11). Later, for example, in chapter 24, Luke omitted the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus in Galilee, which both Matthew and John mentioned. The events that Luke recorded in the first 43 verses of chapter 24 all took place on the very day of Jesus’ resurrection. The final four verses of Luke 24 (vss. 50-53), however, took place more than five weeks later (see Acts 1:1-12). Yet Luke simply recorded the various events in chapter 24 (vss. 1-43,44-49,50-53) and connected them with the Greek conjunction de (“but” or “and”), which has no specific chronological implications. The same is true with the Greek conjunction kai, which Luke used in 2:39….

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  • Stephen Ray Hale

    There would be no problem if Jesus was born at about 6:46 PM September 11, 2 or 3 BC (Depending on whether 1 BC or 1 AD becomes a “zero” year), and the following December 25th when Jesus was about 15 months, nine months shy of 2 years old, when Jupiter the king star was hanging low on the horizon, it having apparently stopped its westward journey across the night sky as the earth and Jupiter align with the sun about midnight, the maji came to visit and viewed Jupiter hanging right above Bethlehem as one looks south from Jerusalem toward that little city.

  • Bill Mullins

    Everyone needs to remember that the Bible is neither a book of science, history, biography, poetry or wisdom. The Bible is a book of “Theology” in the truest sense. The Bible is God’s word to mankind. It contains historical, scientific, biographical wisdom and poetic information but it is not a book of any of those areas – OR ANY OTHER BESIDES THEOLOGY.

    Each writer was tasked – and guided/aided/inspired – by the Holy Spirit to write a portion of God’s message to a lost world. In doing so each writer used information and literature of different types to convey the message he was inspired to convey.

    Each of the four Gospel writers had a different task. Each was a different man and their styles are as individual as they were. Anyone who reads the Scripture in its original language cannot help but be struck by the differences. These men were not merely taking dictation from the Holy Spirit. No! They wrote what THEY knew (I submit they were GUIDED to acquire that knowledge and understanding) in the way that THEY wrote.

    Argument from silence is always a specious argument. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

  • Stephen Ray Hale

    Brother Mullins,
    The Bible is a book of testimony, eyewitness testimony for the most part, though other types of testimony in the form of revelation, direct from the mind of God through His Holy Spirit, many times called prophecy. All of it is knowledge (GNOSIS in the Greek). When individual testimonies are passed through a process given by Moses in the Torah which can be considered the law of two or three witnesses that establishes a matter, this usually found in two corollaries in the Torah as paraphrased:
    Corollary One – In the mouth of one witness shall no man be put to death.
    Corollary Two – In the mouth of witnesses, two or three shall any man worthy of death be put to death.
    Of interest would be the two eyewitness testimonies of the creation of the earth and mankind.
    Such a process involved in the interpretation of several testimonies would take in obvious apparent discrepancies that the mind would be forced to interpret in a manner that would result in a temporal phenomenon, if dealing with prophesies, akin to stereoscopic perspective.
    This process is general throughout scripture even through the New Testament where the process of developing church doctrine (the first eyewitness testimonies of Jesus life, death and resurrection being developed into a spoken tradition until incorporated in archived written scripture) first by living demonstrations of testimony from eyewitnesses, and those gifted with prophecy or other revelatory gifts, and then according to Paul’s 1 Corinthians 13 prophecy concerning about two sets of termination of special gifts, in order to allow Agape love or the unconditional love of the true Christian to be the only credibility giving gift left to the churches, a view of testimony in an archived manner such as scripture, which was fulfilled, first with the 70 AD destruction of the temple, closing out the years of “this evil generation” that Jesus condemned, and then through the final writings of John the Apostle and perhaps his death in about 90-95 AD.
    Much confusion has been generated by the unfortunate or intentional mistranslation of 2 Peter 1:20 in the Latin Vulgate of Jerome and the English translations which seems to forbid private interpretation of prophecy, but when correctly translated, “this first knowing that every prophecy of scriptures is NOT OF ITS OWN INTERPRETATION,” one finds Peter basically giving for interpreting prophecy Corollary Two of Moses’ law of multiple witnesses involving only one witness, which is void. This is the mirror of the protestation of Jesus’ to the questioning of the Jews when he said, If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.
    Paul introduces a type of jargon when he refers to all of the manners of single testimony as “knowledge” or Gnosis in the Greek, but when two or more are compared he gives a kind of new jargon type name to this judgment as Epignosis in Greek, sometimes translated “ recognition” or “acknowledgement.” This knowledge or “gnosis” answers to “scientia” in Latin and from this we get our word Science, so in a manner of speaking, especially when it introduces judgments being made from more than one eyewitness testimony, the Bible INDEED is a book of Science, and as such, I would not doubt to call the Bible “a book of science, history, biography, poetry or wisdom.” And in that the thrust of the Bible is to reveal the mind of Christ/God of all that He wishes us to know, and that these testimonies, multiple testimonies, which dims the Bible as being just SOLA SCRIPTURA, the process of deriving teachable matters or doctrine ALSO makes the Bible a book of Theology.
    As a geologist who has studied a technique of interpreting features of the surface of the earth by means of the method of stereoscopic pairs of photos taken from an airplane at measured intervals and documented altitudes that give the stereoscopic effect of two pairs of eyes looking at the surface of the earth, I appreciate the science in Paul’s 1 Corinthians 13:12 which compares the single knowledge as of one eye (or one revelation of testimony from a Holy Spirit gifted saint in the church) to that of a pair of eyes (or more than one testimony described above) to obtain a more sure prophecy or doctrine, but in the analogy, the face of the observer of one’s self in a mirror now swimming out from the background knowledge as if one sees Paul upon greeting him and walking toward him according to the context of the background in life. That the word Paul uses, a form of EPIGNOSIS in the Greek, is translated “recognize” is further illustration of how one can ascertain the identity of a close friend or family member by just noting two or three features, perhaps of the face, a silhouette, the shape of the nose, the slope of the brow or the impetuosity of the lips.
    The Bible is a remarkable book and one can ascertain knowledge, more than just knowledge, from it…the mind of God Himself of those things He desires us, in this church age, to know.

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