A Black and White Choice

By Daniel Morneau, Jan. 2010

This brief article will reveal a disparity between Ellen White's timing of the events on the evening of the resurrection day and the Biblical chronology.

The following three texts address events on the resurrection day. Please note in this first text that the Lord upbraided (reproachfully addressed) those who rejected the testimony of those who had seen Him after He had risen. Please note also that Jesus appears to them as they reclined at the table to eat.

9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.
11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.
12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.
13 And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.
14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. (Mark 16:9-14)

Please note in the following text that it is toward evening when the two disciples arrived at their destination. Also notice that the disciples rose the same hour and returned to Jerusalem and were with the eleven when Jesus Himself stood in their midst.

27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.
29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,
34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.
35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.
36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. (Luke 24:27-36)

Please notice in the next text that it is the same day at evening--still the first day of the week--when Jesus stood in their midst. This is most important to consider for since it is yet the first day of the week the Lord must have appeared to all of them in the light of day, since the first day terminates at sunset.

15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.
19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. (John 20:15-19)

From these three texts we can put together the Biblical chronology of events:

  1. The two disciples arrived with Jesus at their destination "toward evening"
  2. They "rose up that same hour, and returned to Jerusalem"
  3. They arrive back in Jerusalem and "told it" to the other disciples
  4. The eleven disciples are sitting at the table
  5. As the two disciples "thus spoke" the story of their encounter, "Jesus himself stood in the midst of them"
  6. Jesus "stood in the midst" on the "same day at evening, being the first day of the week."
  7. Christ upbraids them which did not believe the reports of the three.

This appearing took place in the light of the first day, for we are told it was: “the same day at evening being the first day of the week.” With this understanding please read the following from Mrs. White's book Desire of Ages. Her description of the walk to Emmaus is quite different from that of Scripture.

"During the journey the sun had gone down, and before the travelers reached their place of rest, the laborers in the fields had left their work. As the disciples were about to enter their home, the stranger appeared as though He would continue His journey…"1

This statement highlighted above contradicts Luke 24:29: “But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening…” This means that evening had not yet come. The NIV states, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over." However, Mrs. White leads us to believe that the sun had gone down on their way to Emmaus.

On the following page of Desire of Ages Mrs. White addresses the two men's treck back to Jerusalem. Please note that according to Mrs. White it takes place in the dark of night.

"With their pilgrim staff in hand, they press on, desiring to go faster than they dare. They lose their track, but find it again. Sometimes running, sometimes stumbling, they press forward, their unseen Companion close beside them all the way.

"The night is dark, but the Sun of Righteousness is shining upon them. Their hearts leap for joy."2

We are here witnessing a direct contradiction of Scripture, and there is more. Going down a few lines to the following chapter, Ellen White continues to contradict Scripture:

"On reaching Jerusalem the two disciples enter at the eastern gate, which is open at night on festal occasions. The houses are dark and silent, but the travelers make their way through the narrow streets by the light of the rising moon. They go to the upper chamber where Jesus spent the hours of the last evening before His death. Here they know that their brethren are to be found. Late as it is, they know that the disciples will not sleep till they learn for a certainty what has become of the body of their Lord. They find the door of the chamber securely barred. They knock for admission, but no answer comes. All is still. Then they give their names. The door is carefully unbarred, they enter, and Another, unseen, enters with them. Then the door is again fastened, to keep out spies.

The travelers find all in surprised excitement. The voices of those in the room break out into thanksgiving and praise, saying, "The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon." Then the two travelers, panting with the haste with which they have made their journey, tell the wondrous story of how Jesus has appeared to them. They have just ended, and some are saying that they cannot believe it, for it is too good to be true, when behold, another Person stands before them. Every eye is fastened upon the stranger. No one has knocked for entrance. No footstep has been heard. The disciples are startled, and wonder what it means. Then they hear a voice which is no other than the voice of their Master. Clear and distinct the words fall from His lips, 'Peace be unto you.'"3


Mrs. White clearly states that the whole event from Emmaus took place in the dark of night. She even has the two disciples arriving so late as to find the city "dark and silent" at an hour when the disciples might normally have been asleep had it not been for the events of the day. This story contradicts the Bible which plainly states that it happened in the light of day. So which will it be: Ellen White or Scripture? As you ponder over your decision please keep in mind that with the arrival of the dark of night came the ending of the first day, and so your choice truly is between black and White.

Your Questions Answered

QUESTION: You are in error in your assumptions about Ellen White and what she wrote in Desire of Ages regarding the two disciples on their way to Emmaus. In checking the Bible commentary vol 5 it states clearly that at that time of year the sun sets at about 6:30 PM. Luke 24:29 says that "THE DAY WAS FAR SPENT", so that means in the Jewish way of reckoning time, it was actually MONDAY (the dark part) since the days begin with the dark part. Pastor R.B.

ANSWER: First of all, the Bible says it was "the first day of the week", not Monday (the second day).

Secondly, let us have the Bible interpret the meaning of the phrase "the day is far spent". The phrase appears only one other time in the New Testament, in Mark (6:35):

"And when the day was now far spent, his disicples came unto him..."

The setting for this passage is the feeding of the 5,000 men. In Mark 6:36-45 we find the following actions taking place after the day was "far spent":

  1. The disciples seat the people in groups of 50 and 100
  2. The disciples distribute food to feed 5,000 men (not to mention all the women and children)
  3. All the people eat and are filled
  4. The leftovers are picked up and put into baskets
  5. The people are sent home

The parallel passage of John 6:15 adds that the people were sent home after the leftovers had been picked up and the people devised plans to "come and take him [Jesus] by force, to make him a king". After the people were sent home, then the evening, the end of the day came: "when even was [now] come, his disciples went down unto the sea." (John 6:16)

NONE of the events described above could have taken place after dark. Even with all the disciples assisting Jesus, it must have taken a significant amount of time to distribute food to thousands of people. Obviously, these events took more than an hour, and could easily have taken two hours or even longer. The Bible says that they were in a "deserted place" (Mark 6:31 NKJV). In all likelihood, the people would have had to walk more than a short distance to get back to their homes. It is unthinkable that Jesus would have sent people stumbling home in the darkness. This shows that the phrase "day far spent" indicates at least one or two hours of daylight remained.


1. Ellen G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 800.

2. Ibid., p. 801.

3. Ibid., p. 802.

Category: Bible vs. Mrs. White
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