ABC:Luke 9

From BibleStrength

Verse 3 claims the Bible is wrong about the following passage, and makes the following comments (italicized) in the section "Did Jesus Allow His Disciples to Carry a Staff?"[1]

I have only seen one possible explanation for this thus far, made by several apologists, that the Greek word airo meaning "lift or take up" was used in Mark 6:8 as indicating they could not take anything on the journey they were not already wearing/equipped with - in other words, they could not "take up" an additional staff, pair of clothes, or provisions to travel with, and were to go only with what they had at the moment, the staff they were holding, the sandals and clothes they were wearing. This argument is made by Answers In Genesis[2], CARM[3], and Apologetics Press[4]. The Pulpit Commentary and Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible both give this argument as well.[5]

There are three passages dealing with this, and the following is the Greek interlinear text for them showing what the original Greek words being used are:

Essentially, the argument being made is that the word airo means "remove" as well as "take up" and that the controversial Mark 6:8 passage was simply saying the disciples should not remove additional supplies to take with them, only going with what they had. So for example, if they had staves with them, they could "take up" (airo) those staves, but they could not "remove" (airo) those staves from their houses - they were not to go looking for extra provisions, extra staves, food supplies, money, or extra sandals to take with them on their journey. This is why they were told they could not take two coats, they were to go only with the coat and staff they were equipped with.

Meanwhile, the Greek word ktaomai used in Matthew 10:9 is a rarely used term involving the idea of financial purchase.[6] It is used only 6 other times in the New Testament and 4 of those times with the clear meaning of financially purchasing or acquiring. (Luke 18:12; Acts 1:18; 8:20; 22:28)

The argument is that ktaomai shows the commandment is against going to acquire new provisions, whether by financially purchasing them, or returning to one's home to get them. Only already equipped provisions may be taken, the staff in one's hand, the clothes and sandals one is wearing. Thus one can "take up" a staff one has on hand that was put on the ground, but not go to "take up" provisions in another location such as one's house.

Strong's Definition of Airo

The following is the Strong's definitions for airo:

List of Places Where Airo Is Used

The following is a list of all usages of the Greek word airo in the first three Gospels to help determine its meaning. As seen from the following passages, it is typically used with the meaning "lift up" and often with a clear meaning of removing (Mt. 9:6,16; 13:12; 14:12,20; 15:37; 16:24; 17:27; 20:14; 21:21,43; 22:13; 24:17-18,39; 25:28-29; 27:32; etc.) The main reason it appears to have a definition of take up and not just remove, however, is that it is often used as part of the saying "take up (airo) your cross and follow Jesus." (Mt. 16:4; Mk. 8:34; 10:21)

70 Disciples

Interestingly, this same phrase appears two other times, in Luke 10 where 70 disciples are now sent out instead of 12, and in Luke 22, where Jesus reminds them of the earlier commandment, telling them now they are to provision themselves unlike before. Interestingly, the commandment about staves is not mentioned in either place, and the 70 disciples are not told anything about staves.


Is it possible the word airo was used in two different ways in the Mark and Luke passages? Yes, it is possible. As Lyons of Apologetics Press states, "In case you think such “language leeway” in the Greek sounds absurd, remember that this flexibility appears frequently in the English language. Consider two basketball coaches who are commenting on a player. One says, 'He is bad;' the other says, 'He is good.' The coaches may be using two different words to mean the same thing. The truth is, in some contexts the words 'bad' and 'good' are opposites, in other situations they are synonymous."[4]

And clearly the general meaning of the passages is as numerous commentators point out the same regardless, that the disciples were to hurry up and get going without preparation. However, I have to agree with Eric Lyons, this is "perhaps the most difficult alleged Bible contradiction that we have been asked to 'tackle'"[4], and as CARM concludes, "I must note that I am not completely satisfied with this explanation, and I wait further clarification should it arise." For that reason I give this case the ever-rare categorization of "Possible Contradiction" barring further clarification.

Verse 50

Jim Meritt of claims the Bible contradicts itself here and asks "For or against?"[8] I am including Meritt's notes below each quoted verse to show his reasoning.

None of the verses say anything about a default. That's simply Meritt's own faulty, so-called reasoning. All three verses simply maintain the same approach, that there are only two sides at work, the world's/Satan's, and God's. Jesus draws the same parallel constantly throughout the Gospels, that there is a kingdom of this world opposing the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, if there are only two sides, it can safely be said that if one is not on the other side, they are on your side, and vice versa - hence, no contradiction.

The constant paradigm shown is that of two kingdoms warring one against the other, Satan's kingdom of this world vs. God's kingdom of Heaven, the prince of this world vs. the prince of Heaven, darkness vs. light. Therefore, if one is not on one side, they are on the other.


  1. TheThinkingAtheist. Bible Contradictions. Retrieved from
  2. McKeever, Stacia (2009, January 12). Contradictions: A Staff or Not. Answers In Genesis.
  3. Did Jesus Tell His Disciples to Take a Staff or Not?. Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Lyons, Eric (2004). Take It or Leave It. Apologetics Press.
  5. Mark 6:8. BibleHub.
  6. Thayer and Smith. Greek Lexicon Entry for Ktaomai. New Testament Greek Lexicon.
  7. Thayer and Smith. Greek Lexicon Entry for Airo. New Testament Greek Lexicon.
  8. Meritt, Jim (1992). A list of Biblical contradictions. Retrieved from