Now I put together a composite of the gospel accounts to get a clearer picture of the sequence of appearances by Jesus after he was resurrected.  The gospel themselves also tell us the order of these appearances so there is no mistaking the sequence of events.  I also filled in the names for the individuals where needed. For example, Matthew 28:1 does not mention exactly which Mary, but we are not left guessing because Mark and Luke informs us that it is Mary the mother of James. At the very bottom of this page has a breakdown of appearances by their books.

Gospels Composite of Post-Resurrection + Pre-Ascension Account
1. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, Salome and other women (Matthew 28:1, 9; Mark 16:1, 9; Luke 24:10; John 20:14)
2. Cleopas and another (Simon?) on road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12; Luke 24:13, 18, 34)
3. Ten (first appearance to disciples Sunday evening) (John 20:19, 24)
4. Eleven (second appearance to disciples eight days later with Thomas) (John 20:26)
5. Seven disciples (third appearance to disciples) (John 21:2, 14)

At the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn on the first day of the week, Mary and the women went to the sepulchre. Mary was listed as the first person to see Jesus even though the women were all with her. Then Jesus appeared to Cleopas and another, possibly named Simon according to Luke 24:34. Then that same Sunday evening Jesus made his first appearance to the ten disciples in the room, not eleven for Thomas was not present. Eight days later Jesus made another appearance this time proving to Thomas that he had indeed resurrected. After that, Jesus showed himself to seven of his disciples at the sea of Tiberias and this was his third appearance to his disciples according to John 21:14. The gospels lays out clearly the order of appearances by Jesus.

Paul, however, has his own version of post-resurrection appearances by Jesus written in his letter to the Corinthians. In it he states that after Jesus resurrected he appeared to Peter, the twelve, then over 500 believers at once, then James and then the apostles. It’s very clear that Paul is giving his version of who Jesus appeared to after his resurrection in sequential order. When we compare the composite gospel account we find that it is inconsistent. Close examination will reveal a number of discrepancies.

1 Corinthians 15:4-8
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. (KJV)

Paul’s list of post-resurrection appearances by Jesus
1. Cephas
2. Twelve
3. Above five hundred brethren at once
4. James
5. the apostles
6. Paul

First, after Jesus’ resurrection he first appeared to Mary Magdalene and NOT Cephas (this is of course if you believe Mark 16:9-20 is not a later addition to the text). The other gospels corroborate Mary Magdalene was the first to see the resurrected Messiah.

Mark 16:9
9 When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. (KJV)

Second, there’s no mention of Jesus appearing to the two on the road to Emmaus. While Paul is clearly giving us a sequence of appearances by Jesus, and yet there is no mention of this occurrence.

Third, Paul says that after Cephas he was seen of the twelve. Judas by this time had already hung himself so there were only eleven left, not twelve. But let’s give Paul the benefit of the doubt here, that he was referring to the title of the group by calling them the twelve, even though there were only eleven left. However, the other writers were very distinct in calling them the eleven (Matthew 28:16; Mark 16:14; Luke 24:9, 33; Acts 1:26, 2:14). Doesn’t seem to consistent for a God-breathed text. Calling them twelve when clearly there are only eleven left is one of the many gaffes made by this self-proclaimed apostle.

Matthew 28:16
16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. (KJV)

Fourth, Paul says that Jesus appeared to five hundred brethren AT ONCE. However, Luke in Acts 1 tells us there were only about a hundred and twenty disciples in those days. So which is it? It can’t both be truth if this is historically accurate. The gospels never mentioned anything about Jesus appearing to five hundred brothers at once.

Fifth, Paul mentions James was the next to see the risen Lord. However, we don’t find James mentioned until after Jesus’ ascension, when he was in the upper room with the other apostles. There is no mention of James being visited by the Lord in the gospel accounts.

Paul seems oblivious as to what happened after Jesus was risen from the grave. There are discrepancies on who he saw, the order of appearances and on the number of people he saw. Of course, most Paulinists will worship his words and take his words over anyone simply because he made claims to being an apostle. But what they fail to see is the circular reasoning behind it. They see him first as an apostle and therefore his words are God-breathed and cannot be wrong, but they don’t realize Paul was actually clueless about what happened after Jesus’ resurrection. Paulinists can’t see through the deception because of all the wonderful speeches he gave and the many accomplishments he often boasted about. Why does he remind me so much of our current president?! Like the president, he has a loyal following that will listen to his every word no matter how wrong he’s proven to be.

Below are the accounts details of who Jesus saw by their books. Overall, they’re pretty consistent.

Matthew 28
– Mary Magdalene, Mary
(Matthew 28:1, 9)
– Eleven disciples
(Matthew 28:16)

Mark 16
– Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome
(Mark 16:1, 9)
– Two on road to Emmaus
(Mark 16:2)
– Eleven
(Mark 16:14)

Luke 24
– Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women
(Luke 24:10)
– Cleopas and Simon on road to Emmaus
(Luke 24:13, 18)
– Eleven + Cleopas and Simon

John 20-21
– Mary Magdalene
(John 20:14)
– Ten (1st appearance to disciples Sunday evening)
(John 20:19)
– Eleven (2nd appearance to disciples eight days later with Thomas)
(John 20:26)
– Seven disciples (3rd appearance to disciples)
(John 21:2, 14)

Acts 1
– Disciples commanded not to depart from Jerusalem until they received the promise of the Holy Spirit
(Acts 1:4, 8)
– Eleven + the women + Jesus brothers
(Acts 1:13-14)
– a group numbering about a 120 believers
(Acts 1:15)

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