Problem: John the Baptist was thrown in prison sooner or later
Verses: Mark 1:14, Matthew 4:12-17, John 3:22-24; Status: Minor

Mark 1:14 seems to say that the ministry of Jesus started after John the Baptist was arrested (and presumably, imprisoned):

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God (ESV)

Matthew 4:12-17 seems to say the same thing:

Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. [...] From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (ESV)

It should therefore be impossible for Jesus and John to be out and about preaching together at the same time, but this is John 3:22-24:

After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized (for John had not yet been put in prison). (ESV)

I imagine that inerrantists will want to say that Mark 1:14 and Matthew 4:12-17 do not explicitly say that the ministry was just beginning, and allow the possibility that the ministry had been going on for some time. While it's arguable that they don't explicitly say that the ministry was just starting, that's surely the natural reading (especially Matthew's statement that Jesus "began to preach").

Updated: 2009-01-01

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