Do Mark 15:25 and John 19:14 contradict?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Read Mark 15:25: “And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.” Nothing appears amiss here, right?

Turn now to John 19:13-16 and consider it: “[13] When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. [14] And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! [15] But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. [16] Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.”

At this point, there appears to be an incongruity. Mark places Christ’s crucifixion at the third hour,” but, strangely John estimates His trial before Pontius Pilate was at the sixth hour.” How could Christ be tried three hours after His crucifixion? Is Mark mistaken in his timetable? Maybe John is wrong? What about Bible inerrancy?

Firstly, the easiest route to take is to throw up our hands and cry out, “Contradiction! We have found an error in the Bible!” Then, we just toss aside the Scriptures and gleefully begin our lifelong crusade of “disproving the Bible.” We travel the world, exhibiting our “skillful” handling of using Mark against John and John against Mark. Since denominational people are always looking for excuses to discard the Bible and embrace their church tradition, many will convert to our side after they hear our “appealing” (yet superficial) case. (Unfortunately, this scenario of unbelief is a true story!)

Secondly, we can take the difficult road. Following this course, we will face much opposition. Actually, it is because we will encounter people who have gone the easiest route (see previous paragraph). We can simply take the position of faith and believe the Bible is perfect. Instead of us correcting the Scriptures, we let the Scriptures correct us. Yes, it is a strange view to most, seeing as to we are so accustomed to hearing people in church not believing the Bible, and preachers and teachers discouraging us from trusting the Scriptures. Yet, we will assume Mark meant what he said and said what he meant, and John meant what he said and said what he meant. There is no error in either Gospel Record.

Here is a plausible scenario. What if Mark reckoned time according to the Jewish calendar? If so, the “third hour” is roughly three hours after sunrise, or 9 A.M. Now, what if John wrote according to the Roman method of timekeeping? Romans, like all other Gentiles, start a day at midnight. Consequently, the “sixth hour” is six hours after midnight, approximately 6 A.M. To summarize it in one simple sentence: Christ’s trial before Pilate was at 6 A.M. (John / sixth hour, Roman time), and He was crucified at 9 A.M (Mark / third hour, Jewish time). Is that possible? Indeed, it is, and if we can explain it then there is no mistake. See, dear friends, just a little mental effort, a little study, goes a long way with the Scripture! (That is, if [!] we are willing to handle the Bible honestly and objectively. Otherwise, let us commence our “crusade!”)

Also see:
» Why are Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9 contradictory?
» Is Matthew 26:59-61 contradictory?
» Do Hosea 11:12 and Hosea 12:2 contradict?