Chronology of First Part of The Second Galilean Ministry

This entry discusses the Chronology about the following events in my Harmony of the Gospels

Jesus returns to Galilee and preaches

Location:          Galilee

This is one of the few points in the Gospels where all three are synchronized; his departure from Judea and entry into Galilee.

Matthew Mark Luke John
17  ¶ From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Matt. 4:17

14  Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,

15  And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Mark 1:14 – 15

14  ¶ And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.

15  And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.

Luke 4:14 – 15

43  ¶ Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee.

44  For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.

John 4:43 – 44.

Healing of the nobleman’s son

Location:          Cana

43  ¶ Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee.

44  For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.

45  Then when he was come into Galilee, the Galilæans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went unto the feast.

46  So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine.  And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. (John 4:43 – 46)

No Honor

Farrar says the “For” in verse 44 is problematic.  What does it mean?  Did he go into Galilee because he had no honor?  But then verse 45 says they received him.  Does verse 44 refer to the rejection at Nazareth not recorded by John in his book, and thus John next speaks of the healing at Cana?  Perhaps John, while writing his testimony, had the other books available to review, and this was his way of nodding to the testimony in Matthew and Luke about the Savior’s rejection in his home town.

Second Miracle

Later, the last verse of chapter 4 says this healing of the nobleman’s son is Jesus’ second miracle.

54  This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judæa into Galilee. (John 4:54)

The statement about the second miracle, though, I don’t think should be taken to mean was his second miracle of all miracles.  Other authors seem to agree it simply means that it was his second miracle in Cana.  McConkie and Clark suggest that the Savior had been preaching for nine months in Judea before his return to Galilee, and had likely performed many miracles there.  I am not sure how the nobleman would have developed the initial faith sufficient to ask Christ to heal his son had not there been some evidence, more than turning water into wine, that such healing was even possible.

McConkie states, based upon Clark’s chronology, Talmage and Farrar agree that healing the nobleman’s son was done before going to the other places in Galilee.

Going to the Feast

John can be read though that the healing of the Nobleman was the last thing to occur in Galilee, just before going back to Judea.

This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judæa into Galilee. (John 4:54)

AFTER this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. (John 5:1)

Yet the phrase “when he was come out of Judea into Galilee” is problematic as well.  John is clearly indicating that this miracle is linked to the coming out of Judea into Galilee.

I suspect scholars have decided to give more weight to “come out of Judea” than to the subtle suggestion that it might have happened after his rejection in Nazareth.

Jesus rejected at Nazareth and Removal to Capernaum

Location:           Nazareth and Capernaum

Matthew Luke
13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:

14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,

15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;

16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.

Matt. 4:13 – 16

16 ¶ And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias.  And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, …

20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down.  And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

22 And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.  And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?

23 And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.

24 And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.

25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, …

28 And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,

29 And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.

30 But he passing through the midst of them went his way,

31 And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days.

32 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.

Luke 4:16 – 32

Matthew just says that Jesus left Nazareth; looking at the maps in the scriptures it appears to me that perhaps Nazareth was in Issachar, (on the border with Zebulun).  Capernaum is clearly in the territory of Naphtali.

Luke is the main story of the Savior’s rejection.

Why would the people in Nazareth say, “whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country”?  Was it because the nobleman and his son were from Capernaum, but Jesus said the words about being healed in Cana.  It is unlikely the people would have been referring to the now 9 month old miracle of turning water into wine alone.  Thus the healing of the nobleman’s son must have preceded going to Nazareth.

It may be that the faith of the nobleman was appealing to the Savior as providing a fitting home for himself, as opposed to Nazareth, with its unbelief.  And thus he moved there.

A Glorious Sabbath Day

Location:           Capernaum

The astonishment at the doctrine suggested in Luke 4:32 is reflected in Mark 1:22.  Mark and Luke both show that a healing happened right after the removal to Capernaum.  This happened in Capernaum, and is a very logical flow from the prior story.

Mark Luke
21 And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.

22 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.

23 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,

24 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth?  art thou come to destroy us?  I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.

25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.

26 And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.

27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this?  what new doctrine is this?  for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.

28 And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.

Mark 1:21 – 28

32 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.

33 ¶ And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice,

34 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth?  art thou come to destroy us?  I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God.

35 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.  And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not.

36 And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this!  for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.

37 And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about.

Luke 4:32 – 37

It looks like to me the Bible Dictionary order is mostly following Matthew, but Luke and Mark seem to agree on it being one solid day. Two witnesses are better than one.  Clark and McConkie seem to agree.  I have chosen to reorder the LDS Bible Dictionary Harmony to reflect this order.

McConkie speaks of four who would become apostles joining the Savior in teaching at the synagogue, healing of a man possessed of an unclean spirit, healing Peter’s mother-in-law, and healing many others at the door of the home as “A glorious Sabbath day.

Discourse from a boat, Fishermen called to be fishers of men

Location:          Sea of Galilee

Matthew Mark Luke
18 ¶ And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.

22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

Matt. 4:18 – 22

16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.

18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.

19 And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.

20 And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.

Mark 1:16 – 20

1  AND it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,

2  And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.

3  And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land.  And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.

4  Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.

5  And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.

6  And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.

7  And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them.  And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.

8  When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

9  For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:

10  And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon.  And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.

11  And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.

Luke 5:1 – 11

Who Wrote First?

The Matthew and Mark versions are remarkably similar.  There are very few differences.  It makes one wonder if one did not refer to the other in writing the account.  In Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, McConkie says that some scholars believe that Mark was the first book written, and Luke and Matthew had his account in front of them as they wrote their accounts.  This would be evidence of that.

However, Farrar seems to think (I don’t have the reference but it is in his discussion of the calling of the Twelve) that because Matthew was one of the Twelve, and the first introduced by name in the books, that perhaps he was the first writer.

How does this question affect building a harmony of the Gospels?  I am coming to understand that when there are conflicts between the books, the feeling about the relative importance of the writers comes into play.  If Mark wrote first, I find I think much more highly of his book than if I think he wrote last.  The unique content of the book of Mark is the lowest of the gospels (See BD sv. Harmony of the Gospels).  If Mark wrote last, he must have not been very thorough in his research, but rather simply copied passages from others.  But if Mark wrote first, then the unique content of his book would be well explained, as others copied from him.

I think I choose to believe that Mark wrote first, Matthew wrote second, Luke wrote third, but may not have had access to Matthew’s writings, and John was recorded last and had access to all three.


The Chronology of events around the healing of the nobleman’s son, the rejection at Nazareth, the move to Capernaum, being called to be Fisher’s of men, the Glorious Sabbath day, and the first tour are difficult.  It is clear they happened near each other.  I believe the order I have laid out above is correct.

So what about being called as Fisher’s of Men.

The LDS Bible Dictionary version of the Harmony of the Gospels has two lines for “Fishers of Men” basically, trying to reconcile Mark (which Matthew follows in his brief comments) and Luke’s accounts of the order.  I find it hard to believe there were two incidents where the same basic things happen.

Did the fisher of men incident happen before or after the Glorious Sabbath?  Mark is pretty explicit that the Savior did this on his way to Capernaum; Luke says it happened after the departure on the tour.  I can believe that the Savior was providing reassurance to Peter, having called him and him answering, that his family would be cared for.  But it is also possible that the Savior provided the blessing before the calling (Luke’s order). It is irreconcilable.

McConkie (and Clark) describe fishers of men before the Glorious Sabbath day. It seems he has followed Mark’s order of events. I can better imagine the sermon from the boat and the calling happening on Friday, before the Sabbath, with a departure for the tour on Sunday morning, rather than Peter laboring all night Saturday night (after the Sabbath) and then leaving.  I will follow that order as well.

Proclamation of the gospel in Galilee: the first tour

Location:          Galilee

Matthew Mark Luke
23  ¶ And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

24  And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.

25  And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judæa, and from beyond Jordan.

Matt. 4:23 – 25

35  And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.

36  And Simon and they that were with him followed after him.

37  And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee. [and the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from them Luke 4:42]

38  And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.

39  And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.

Mark 1:35 – 39

37  And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about.

Luke 4:37

42  And when it was day, he departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from them.

43  And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.

44  And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee.

Luke 4:42 – 44

Luke makes it clear that the day after the “Glorious Sabbath” that the Savior departed to go preach the gospel in Galilee.  So should the departure for the tour be before calling fishers of men?  Would Peter have left at night to go fishing after the healings in the evening on that Sabbath day?  Or was it a day or two or more later?  If I am going to follow Luke’s chronology on this section, then I would have to have the fisher of men after the departure on the tour.

Deciding when the “First Tour” began would be difficult.  Was it in the morning as they left town and went to the sea where the fishing was going on, or was it after they left there?  Pinpointing that will be difficult.  Since the Savior now lived in Capernaum, let’s think of it as they left Capernaum to go to other towns, etc. Having chosen Mark’s order, I will say the tour began after the Glorious Sabbath day, which followed the call of the Twelve; a day of farewell and Sabbath refreshment prior to beginning the missionary labors in earnest.

Paralytic Healed

It appears that the standard LDS Bible Harmony of the Gospels favors the order outlined by Matthew.  In the case of the Paralytic Healing, calling of Matthew and feast at his home, and discussion of fasting and old and new, both Mark and Luke agree on the order, (with Clark and McConkie agreeing) rather than that of Matthew.  The order of these events is no different in Matthew, it is simply that the events happened here rather than Matthew’s later on.

Second Passover

These comments from McConkie about development of a Harmony are relevant:

We are with Jesus in Jerusalem. It is Passover time, the second such feast of his ministry, and his disciples are with him, for they, like he, are under obligation, imposed by Jehovah, to appear three times each year before the Lord in the temple. Our Gospel author, John in this case, does not name the feast, and many volumes have been written to sustain one view or another as to what feast it is.

As to the present feast, suffice it to say that it fits as well into the chronology here as elsewhere, and it is logical to assume that Jesus—as yet not subject to the total harassment of scribes, Pharisees, and Sanhedrinists—would appear again in the Passover crowds to make the doctrinal declarations relative to him and his Father that we are about to hear.  (Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, Vol.2, p.64 – p.65)

To repeat, “As to the present feast, suffice it to say that it fits as well into the chronology here as elsewhere…”  I have decided to agree.

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