Refuting Paul William’s take on “but some doubted” in Matthew 28:17

Paul Bilal Williams, in a tweet to Nabil Qureshi, asks about Matthew 28:17, “but some doubted”.  [No longer there, as Paul Williams has deleted several blogs over the years.]  Interesting that he left out the part about the disciples “worshiping Jesus”.  Indeed.  The Greek construction seems to point to the 11 worshiping Jesus, but that there were others there that “doubted”.  The “doubting” is probably a term of amazement as in “wow, I don’t believe it!”  or “Amazing! It’s too good to be true!”  Luke 24:41 captures the essence of this statement – “they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement” (Luke 24:41, NASB)   If it was real doubt, it was only temporary, whether it was some of the 11 or the others, as in the 500 brethren of I Corinthians 15:6.

Keith Thompson demonstrates that the 500 brethren who witnessed the resurrection of Jesus Christ was in Matthew 28:10-28.

James D. G. Dunn on Paul’s testimony in 1 Corinthians 15 – “This tradition, we can be entirely confident, was formulated as a tradition within months of Jesus’ death.” Jesus Remembered, page 855. (some sources, say the page number is 825, but I have the electronic version of Jesus Remembered and it is on page 855. Interesting that Paul B. Williams’ favorite NT scholar affirms 1 Corinthians 15!

“but some doubted” – this comment by Tim Chaffey seems to capture the essence of what Matthew is trying to say: 

The doubt exhibited here is not unbelief, but more like hesitation, which is what the Greek word distazo implies (see BDAG, p. 252). This is not the typical word for doubt used in the New Testament (diakrino). In fact, it is only used in one other time (Matthew 14:31, see below for explanation). Instead of refusing to believe what they were seeing, like some have said, the disciples were amazed. The concept here is somewhat comparable to our modern statements like “It’s too good to be true,” or “Pinch me, I’m dreaming.”  (Tim Chaffey)

It seems the “some” ( Greek, hoi = literally “those”, plural of “he” ho) are others who are there with the 11 disciples.

There are other passages that support this idea and show why the three claims listed in the introduction are illegitimate interpretations. Jesus appeared to the group of disciples (minus Thomas) on Easter night. At first, they were afraid, but He comforted them by showing them His hands and feet and telling them not to be afraid. Even after these things, we read that “they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement” (Luke 24:41, NASB). The disciples already believed Jesus had risen from the dead. Just minutes earlier they told the two disciples who had seen Jesus on the road to Emmaus: “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” (Luke 24:33–34). But now that they could see Him with their own eyes, they were amazed and rejoiced, which was the reason for their “doubt.”

Earlier in His ministry, a man with a demon-possessed son pleaded with Jesus to cast out the demons. Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” The man’s response is intriguing—he cried out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:14–24). (Tim Chaffey)


About Ken Temple

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am a sinner who has been saved by the grace of God alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), through faith alone (Galatians 2:16; Romans 3:28; 4:1-16), in Christ alone (John 14:6). But a true faith does not stay alone, it should result in change, fruit, good works, and deeper levels of repentance and hatred of my own sins of selfishness and pride. I am not better than you! I still make mistakes and sin, but the Lord is working on me, conforming me to His character. (Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18) When I do sin, I hate the sin as it is an affront to God, and seek His forgiveness in repentance. (Mark 1:15; 2 Corinthians 7:7-10; Colossians 3:5-16 ) Praise God for His love for sinners (Romans 5:8), shown by the voluntary coming of Christ and His freely laying down His life for us (John 10:18), becoming flesh/human (John 1:1-5; 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8), dying for sins of people from all nations, tribes, and cultures (Revelation 5:9), on the cross, in history, rising from the dead (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 28, Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24; John 20-21; 1 Corinthians chapter 15). His resurrection from the dead proved that Jesus is the Messiah, the eternal Son of God, the word of God from eternity past; and that He was all the gospels say He was and that He is truth and the life and the way to salvation. (John 14:6)
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2 Responses to Refuting Paul William’s take on “but some doubted” in Matthew 28:17

  1. Ken Temple says:

    Thanks! Paul W. has totally banned me now. I try to make a comment and nothing goes through. I wonder why? He lets so much other nasty and goofy stuff through, but it seems he cannot deal with good arguments. Did he completely ban you also?

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