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Why does Matthew say there was only one angel at the tomb when John says there were two?

Matthew 28:5 refers to the “angel” at the tomb after Jesus’ resurrection, and yet John says there were “two angels” there (John 20:12)?  What's the right answer, 1 or 2?

Matthew 28:5

ESV - 5 But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.

Clarify Share Report Asked March 24 2021 My picture Jack Gutknecht

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
In my view, omission does not necessarily equal contradiction. The mention of one angel in Matthew's gospel does not preclude the possibility that there were more (since Matthew does not say specifically that there was only one angel). Also, Matthew's angel was outside the tomb, whereas the two angels mentioned in the other gospel accounts were inside the tomb. 

In addition, the accounts of the angels (who were seen only by the women who went to the tomb) covered multiple visits to the tomb, and were also written later by men, and were thus apparently second-hand tellings (in which the primary accounts themselves may have varied), done primarily for the purpose of proclaiming the central fact of the account (that is, the resurrection of Christ). (If the accounts had been identical in every detail, opponents would have said that the authors merely copied from each other.)

I view this as similar to the accounts in Matthew 8 and Luke 7 of the centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant. One account indicates that the centurion came personally to Jesus. The other account indicates that the centurion did not think himself worthy to come to Jesus in person, or even to have Jesus come to his house, and asked through friends that Jesus only speak the word, and the servant would be healed. Obviously, the two accounts are referring to the same incident (which there is no reason to doubt), but vary in material details.

I also found an instructive discussion of the issue raised by the question at the following website: 

March 24 2021 1 response Vote Up Share Report

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