Was the Stone Rolled Away Before or After Mary Arrived?

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Some argue that the Bible is contradictory concerning whether the stone was rolled away before or after Mary arrived at the tomb. The argument is that Matthew 28:1-5 says that the stone was rolled away after Mary arrived at the tomb, but Mark 16:3-4, Luke 24:2, and John 20:1 say that the stone was rolled away before Mary arrived at the tomb. However, there is a reasonable explanation that solves this alleged contradiction in the Bible.

Scriptures – Was the Stone Rolled Away Before or After Mary Arrived?

The Stone Was Rolled Away After Mary Arrived at the Tomb

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 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 28:1-5

The Stone Was Rolled Away After Mary Before at the Tomb

3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large.

Mark 16:3-4

And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, Luke 24:2

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.

John 20:1

The Answer – Was the Stone Rolled Away Before or After Mary Arrived?

The Stone Was Rolled Away Before Mary Arrived at the Tomb

The most likely solution to this alleged contradiction is that the stone was rolled away before Mary and the other women arrived at the tomb. The passage in Matthew can be translated to say that the earthquake and the stone being rolled away occurred before the women arrived at the tomb. The NASB translation translates Matthew 28:1-5 this way:

Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. 2 And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. 3 And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, “[a]Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.

Matthew 28:1-5 (NASB)

The NASB translation says that the earthquake “had occurred,” which would mean that the earthquake and the stone being rolled away occurred before the women arrived at the tomb. Thus, there is no contradiction between the passages.

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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