Mathew 21:18 mark 11:20 why they give deferent account here?
What a tough question! At first glance, I thought the conflict was only in the word “presently” (Matthew 21:19) It can mean “immediately” but can also mean “after a short time” or “soon” and so did not necessarily represent a conflict or error.
However, being out of sequential order, it did represent a conflict/error.
Since I believe that there is no error in the scripture, I prayerfully looked more deeply into comparing the two versions of the same story and I saw that Mark’s account is chronological (as it happens) and Matthew’s account is topical (in succinct/girded packages.)
Note Matthew’s lack of any story of Jesus’ first visit to the temple wherein he did nothing but look around. Mark tells us that after He entered Jerusalem on a colt, “when He had looked round about…He went out unto Bethany…” Mark 11:11.
Mark then says Jesus cursed the fig tree on His way back from Bethany, the next day…this time entering the temple and overthrowing the tables of the moneychangers. (Mark 11:12-16)
Note Matthew’s account spends no time on that chronology. He teaches the significance of the colt and its relevance to prophecy (Matthew 21:2-7) saying nothing about the those who questioned their taking of the colt that was detailed in Mark 11:5-6.
After that story, Matthew goes into the story about Jesus’ visit to the temple, overturning the tables…and departing (Matthew 21:12-17)…and then the next story is about the fig tree…all treated as separate stories. While Mark splits the fig tree story up within the chronological events, Matthew does not. Each of Matthew’s stories can, and does, stand alone.
Also, Matthew 21:18-20 starts, "Now, in the morning…and when He saw a fig tree…and presently the fig tree withered away…and when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying “How soon is the fig tree withered away!” Nothing in this topic demands that it happened on the same day but is certainly a succinct story unto itself. In fact, I think that they marveled at how “soon” it had withered implies that it was not immediate (which may have resulted in a different marvel like how it withered before their eyes…and Matthew tells us that it was in a day timefream…one part of the Bible adding details to and confirming another…but not necessarily conflicting.
And then Matthew moves on to the next story about His time in the temple each of his stories, again, being treated separately and able to stand alone.
I noted that the use of the word “Now…” may be used to note the beginning of another story or an aside in the story of Judas. The question involved how Judas could both hang himself and burst open while in the field purchased with the blood money. The story actually says “Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst…” (Acts 1:19) which I suggested may signify an inserted story maybe for another person like the priest who used the money to buy the field and burst open on it) while not losing the main story of Judas.
But, alas, that’s what I think. I hope there will be other thoughts.
Thank-you so much I’m so greatful.
Johanna, you have succinctly summarized the matter, and are in good company. As R. T. France (1985) wrote:
Matthew has disentangled Mark’s interwoven narrative, giving the impression that each event took place all at once, and by so doing has produced a more striking miracle story (hence his double use of at once in vv. 19 and 20); the symbolic nature of the tree as a picture of the temple or of Judaism is thus less emphasized, but still remains to be inferred from the sequence of the stories. (p. 307)
In other words, you nailed it!
France, R. T. (1985). Matthew: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 1, p. 307). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Hello, Peter @PeterSolomonmaina
Johanna @JTAnderson has given you an excellent accounting of the differences with these two scriptures. There is another question that people wonder about, and that is, “Why did Jesus curse the fig tree?” On the surface, it seems petty and arbitrary on Jesus’ part… couldn’t get a fig when He wanted one???
However, this passage is a pronouncement against the hypocritical Jewish leaders at the time.
This event took place in our equivalent of March-April, or early spring in Israel. We know this because it was Passover time. The fig tree had leaves on it. It was putting out a false picture because fig trees don’t get leaves until late spring. But, even more false is that fig trees put out figs before the leaves. So, the tree was indicating it had figs when it shouldn’t have, nor did it have figs. This was what drew Christ to it. The fig tree was being false.
One of the names associated with Israel is the fig tree (Joel 2:21). (The vine and olive tree are other names.) By Jesus cursing the fig tree, He was also making a statement about the condition of Israel at the time. They appeared to be righteous, but were far from it.
I hope this completes this story for you.