Was Jairus’s Daughter Dead When He Saw Jesus?

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Some argue that the Bible is contradictory concerning whether Jairus’s daughter was dead when he came to see Jesus. The argument is that Matthew 9:18 says that she was dead, but Mark 5:22-23 and Luke 8:41-42 say that she was near death. However, there is a reasonable explanation that solves this alleged contradiction in the Bible.

Scriptures – Was Jairus’s Daughter Dead When He Saw Jesus?

Jairus’s Daughter Was Dead

While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.”

Matthew 9:18

Jairus’s Daughter Was Near Death

22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.”

Mark 5:22-23

41 And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house, 42 for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying. As Jesus went, the people pressed around him.

Luke 8:41-42

The Answer – Was Jairus’s Daughter Dead When He Saw Jesus?

The Three Passages All Express the Same Meaning

It is reasonable to believe that there is no contradiction between the three passages because all three passages are expressing the same meaning. Craig Blomberg suggests this:

As consistently throughout his Gospel (and esp. with miracle stories), Matthew abbreviates Mark, this time to such an extent that he seems to contradict the parallel accounts (Mark 5:21–43; Luke 8:40–56). Instead of coming to plead with Jesus while his daughter is still alive, Jairus apparently arrives only after her death. Yet to call this a contradiction is anachronistically to impose on an ancient text modern standards of precision in story telling. What is more, in a world without modern medical monitors to establish the precise moment of expiry, there is not nearly so much difference between Matthew’s arti eteleutēsen in v. 18 (which could fairly be translated “just came to the point of death”; cf. Heb 11:22) and eschatos echei in Mark 5:23 (which could also be rendered “is dying”). What is important is not the precise moment of death but Jairus’s astonishing faith.

Craig Blomberg, Matthew, vol. 22, ”The New American Commentary” (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 160.

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:

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