In this chapter, Jesus is resurrected. The women visit the tomb and find it empty. The women are the first evangelists. Jesus dialogues with his uncle Cleopas, brother to Joseph, on the road to Emmaus. Then Jesus appears to the other disciples and shows them his hands and feet and eats in front of them. He commissions them but tells them to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father. Finally he ascends into heaven in front of them.
As I write in every chapter:
This commentary and entire website is for everyone, but it is mainly for those in oppressed or developing countries, where Christians cannot afford or have access to wonderful Study Bibles or commentaries. I hope it helps them.
The commentary has a practical application (GrowApp) at the end of each section of Scripture, for discipleship.
The translation is mine. It is not better than the published ones. I offer it only to learn what the Greek really says. It tends to be literal, but pure literalism and readability are impossible, so adjustments had to be made. If you would like to see other translations, please go to biblegateway.com.
The Greek terms with brief definitions can be looked up at biblehub.com. However, I hope to bring different nuances to the few words I focus on. A pronunciation guide is also offered. But I keep things nontechnical.
Links are provided for further study.
The Resurrection of Jesus (Luke 24:1-12)
1 On the first day of the week, while it was very early, the women went to the tomb, carrying the perfumed ointment which they had prepared. 2 But they found the stone had been rolled away from the tomb. 3 As they went inside, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it happened. While they were perplexed about this, look! Two men wearing gleaming clothes stood by them. 5 As the women were very afraid and bowed with their faces to the ground, the men said, “Why are you looking for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but he has been raised! Remember how he told you while he was still in Galilee, 7 saying that the son of Man must be betrayed to the hands of sinful men and be crucified and rise on the third day.” 8 Then they remembered his words.
9 So they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and the rest. 10 Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary, mother of James, and the other women with them were saying these things to the apostles, 11 and these words seemed like nonsense to them. They did not believe the women.
12 Then Peter got up, ran to the tomb, stooped and saw the linen cloth by itself. And he went home, amazed at what happened.
in his commentary on Acts, Craig Keener produces a table showing the similarities between the aftermath of the resurrection (Luke) and ascension (Acts):
|Two men in dazzling clothes (v. 4)||Two men in white robes (1:10)|
|Question: Why do you look for the living among the dead (v. 5b)||Why do you stand looking up toward heaven (v. 12)|
|Explanation of Jesus’s absence: He is not here, but has risen (5c).||Explanation of Jesus’s absence: This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come (v. 11)|
|They returned to Jerusalem (v. 9).||They returned to Jerusalem (v. 12).|
|Craig Keener, Acts, New Cambridge Bible Commentary (Cambridge UP, 2020), p. 111|
You can make of the table what you will. It is clear, though, that Luke has a plan to overlap some themes and elements.
The first evangelists are the women. Let’s look at their stories and compare them to those of the men.
No doubt these marvelous and committed and respectful and kind women did not sleep for the entire night. Maybe they dozed off, for a few minutes, but they did not nap for long. They went to the tomb very early in the morning. The first day of the week was Sunday.
Let’s work out the duration. He was crucified on Friday. In v. 7, Jesus is reported to have said that he would rise on the third day. “The first day of the week” was in fact on the third day. So he spent part of Friday, all day Saturday, and part of Sunday in the tomb. Friday—Saturday—Sunday—three days. He did not say three days of twenty-four hours each, a grand total of seventy-two hours.
Someone could object that Jonah spent three day and three nights in the belly of the fish (1:17), and Jesus referred to this miraculous incident, also saying three days and three nights (Matt. 12:40). In reply, however, in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus refers to Jonah but never mentions the three days and three nights (11:30, 32), so this omission now opens the door to other nonprecise interpretations. In Luke 9:22, he says he would rise on the third day, without saying seventy-two hours exactly. He did not say, “Count the hours, and if they do not add up to seventy-two hours, then ignore my resurrection!” Back in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus was simply making the general point that he was a sign to this generation as Jonah was to his, when Jesus spent time in the heart of the earth. Such a demand for precision would have been distracting and beside the point, as Jesus was speaking to the teachers of the law and the Pharisees who were demanding a sign, probably like the ones Moses performed. Jesus replied that the only sign this evil generation would get is that of Jonah in the fish. It was the acceptable rhetoric of a teacher, not the speech of a mathematician. When ultra-literalists interpret stories, they too often go wrong. Today, anyone requiring seventy-two hours precisely is also missing the point of Jesus’s rising on the third day and especially the victory that it offers.
Go to biblegateway.com and search the words “third day.” It is amazing how many significant hits there are. Important, transitional things happened on the third day, in Israel’s history.
The covering of a large tomb was a thick stone disk rolled in front of the opening. It was big enough for the women to go inside, but I don’t imagine that they stood up straight. Who knows, however? Joseph of Arimathea, who provided the tomb, was rich, so he may have purchased a big tomb. Such details, however, are not important to the thrust of the story. Let’s move on.
Luke records his reverence for Jesus. He called him “the Lord Jesus.” This tell me he had encountered the risen Jesus, if only by being born again. They key to anyone’s life is to make him the Lord of one’s heart and soul and body and confess him as Lord, as Luke does here. Well done, Dr. Luke. I love your respect and devotion. Jesus is risen still to this day, and your Gospel launched the message.
Understandably the women were perplexed or bewildered or baffled by all of this (all three words can be used to translate the verb). They carried out their plan and brought their perfumed ointment in an earthenware jar, but it wasn’t needed. I noted in the last chapter that their efforts showed their respect, but the burial preparation also revealed their lack of faith. They did not factor in the resurrection, just as Jesus had predicted. Such is the plight of humanity. People mean well, but they often miss the target. But at least let’s give the women partial credit for caring enough about their Lord to prepare the perfumed ointment.
If you don’t like the “look!” translation, which is literal, for it replaces the older “behold!” then just use “unexpectedly” or “suddenly” instead. It carries the rhetorical force of telling the reader to “pay attention!” or “wow!” or “look at what’s happening now!”
The fact that there are two angels may refer to the requirement for a double witness (Deut. 19:15). But the answer to whether there were one or two is the same when these differences crop up: Matthew and Mark just focus on one, while Luke knew the tradition handed down that said two. He could have trimmed it to one, but chose not to, probably for the reason I just stated.
There are a massive number of agreements. Focus on them. And don’t let your faith be brittle. A Difference ≠ A Contradiction
I really like this verse. Renewalists believe that angels appear today, just like they did back in biblical times. God is the Lord, we are not. He can work miracles as he sees fit. He will accomplish his plans, and in this case the angels were a messenger to tell them of the resurrection. The women bowed with their faces to the ground out of respect and awe or reverential fear. People who really see angels have similar reactions. People who are casual at the first encounter are not reliable. After they recover from the sense of awe, they can then listen respectfully.
Here is a multi-part study of angels in the area of systematic theology, but first, here is a summary list of the basics:
(a) Are messengers (in Hebrew mal’ak and in Greek angelos);
(b) Are created spirit beings;
(c) Have a beginning at their creation (not eternal);
(d) Have a beginning, but they are immortal (deathless).
(e) Have moral judgment;
(f) Have a certain measure of free will;
(g) Have high intelligence;
(h) Do not have physical bodies;
(i) But can manifest with immortal bodies before humans;
(j) They can show the emotion of joy.
Deut. 19:15 says that every fact should be established by two or three witnesses, so the double angelic witness may refer to this idea, though Luke does not specify. Note how he has several women evangelists—three named—and the “rest” or the “others” with them. There is credibility in numbers. There is no doubt that Luke held a special place for women. We need to draw far-reaching lessons from these honorable mentions. Luke could have omitted many of their stories.
This is the climax of the entire Gospel so far: “He is not here! He is risen!” Wow. When I first read those words in Greek, I really felt something special and awe inspiring. I had to slow down because Koinē (first-century, common) Greek is not, of course, my first language, so I’m like a second grader who has to read slowly. The words can hit the heart. They did that to mine.
The resurrection changes everything. Here is what it means:
(1) It constituted a declaration of the Father that the last enemy had been vanquished, the penalty paid, and the condition on which life was promised [was] met. (2) It symbolized what was destined to happen to the members of Christ’s mystical body in their justification, spiritual birth and future blessed resurrection (Rom. 6:4, 5, 9, 8:11; 1 Cor. 6:14, 15:20-22; 2 Cor. 4:10, 11, 14; Col. 2:12; 1 Thess. 4:14. (3) It also connected instrumentally with their justification, regeneration, and final resurrection (Rom. 4:25, 5:10; Eph. 1:20; Phil. 3:10; 1 Pet. 1:3).
Later in his life, here’s what Peter wrote about the resurrection:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Pet. 1:3, NIV)
We are born again or experience new birth through the resurrection. Peter grew up from his initial reaction!
Let’s dig deeper into the meaning of the resurrection. We do this by quoting from the epistles, because these writers were inspired and have the benefit of looking back on the resurrection and interpreting it for the church and our Christian lives.
First, the resurrection is essential to the core of the gospel:
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Cor. 15:3-8, NIV)
Some Christian scholars believe that those above verses contain a very early creed.
Second, if Christ was not raised from the dead, then the early apostolic preaching has been useless and so is our faith: “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Cor. 15:14, NIV).
Notice that Jesus appeared to five hundred at one time. Where? Either in or around Jerusalem or in Galilee. (I say Jerusalem.)
Third, the implication for us and the dead is massive if Christ is not raised from the dead:
More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Cor. 15:15-19, NIV)
Fourth, here are the benefits when Christ has been raised from the dead, as indeed he has:
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (1 Cor. 15:20-23).
Christ being the firstfruits means that we are next. His resurrection guarantees our own. He was first, and we follow him.
Fifth, his resurrection reveals what our bodies will be like:
42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (1 Cor. 15:42-44, NIV)
When we are reunited with our bodies at the second coming, they will be transformed and glorified. They will be immortal and imperishable.
To sum up, His resurrection changes everything. It ratifies the plan of salvation. It seals the promise that he will return to put all things right, for he is the God of justice. He can now send the Spirit into our hearts, sealing them for his second coming and our secure place in heaven. He has been restored to the glory he had before he was incarnated to a man. Now we relate to the heavenly Jesus. He can now have an intimate relationship with each of the seven billion people on the planet. That includes you.
For further inquiries into what he did between his death and resurrection (or between his death and ascension), please click on this post: Do I Really Know Jesus? Did He Descend into Hades to Preach?
The angels continue their commission to remind the women what Jesus had said in Galilee, as seen here: “He said, ‘It is necessary that the Son of man suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and teachers of the law and be killed and raised on the third day’” (Luke 9:22).
Remembering is a theme in Luke-Acts: 1:54, 72; 16:25; 23:42; 24:6, 8; Acts 10:31; 11:16. “In the wider biblical narrative, remembrance points to the covenantal acts of God in history. In this context, the women were not simply called to recall a certain statement from the earthly Jesus; they were called to interpret the present events in the light of the life and significance of Jesus, the one who brings salvation history to its climax” (Liefeld and Pao, comment on v. 8)
“must”: It comes from the word dei (pronounced day), and in some contexts it denotes a destiny orchestrated by God, as it does here. (Compare the French il faut, “one must” or “it is necessary,” if you know this language.) The Greek verb means: “it is necessary, one must … one ought or should … what one should do” (Shorter Lexicon). In Luke it often means divine necessity; that is, God is leading things: Luke 2:49; 4:43; 9:22; 12:12; 13:16, 33; 15:32; 17:25; 18:1; 19:5; 21:9; 22:37; 24:7; 24:26, 44; Acts 1:16; 1:21; 3:21; 4:12; 5:29; 9:6, 16; 14:22; 16:30; 17:3; 19:21; 20:35; 23:11; 25:10; 27:21; 27:24, 26. Here he was destined to die. God was not caught off guard.
“sinful men”: that’s a literal translation, but we could have gone with “sinners.” Who were they? They were the elders of the council, the chief priests, rulers, teachers of the law, Pilate, and Herod; the latter two, though, intended to let him go (Luke 22:63-23:25).
The good news, however, is that we get reliability about the flow of the story, from his birth or beginning of his ministry to his death, burial, resurrection and ascension. From beginning to end, the four Gospels, written in narrative format, are reliable.
In v. 8, The women’s memories were jarred and recalled what he had said. So now they are fluctuating between faith and hope on the one side and doubt on the other, because it would just be “too good to be true.” Yet he really did predict his death and resurrection, so it has to be true!
Here is a summary article of a fifteen-part series, on the reliability of the Gospels. You can read my conclusion and click on posts that interest you.
“third day”: See my comments on v. 1, for more information.
So the women—three named—and others went to the eleven and told them and the rest (masculine noun), so the women told the men, and no doubt women were in the group as well. Verse 22 says that the two men on the road to Emmaus were amazed by the women’s report, so they may have been in the group of disciples who made the next round of visits to the tomb on Sunday, unless they heard their account a day or two later.
Mary Magdalene and Joanna were named back in Luke 8:2-3. Mary Magdalene appears in all four scenes at the tomb. In Mark’s version Salome was there, too, but Luke has several more women at the tomb, as well. Why does Luke attach the clarifying Mary “the mother of James”? There were several Marys, and he needed to tell them apart.
So the point is that the accounts of the disciples, both men and women, going to the tomb can be reconciled if one sequences them correctly.
Grant R. Osborne, in his commentary, Matthew: Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Zondervan, 2010) compiled all the material about the appearances, and he counts eleven appearances (slightly edited, p. 1054):
1.. Mary Magdalene (John 20:14-18
2.. A group of women (Mark 16:5-7; Matt. 28:9)
3.. Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5)
4.. Two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35)
5.. The disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 24:36-43; John 24:13-35)
6.. Thomas and the others, eight days later (John 20:26-29)
7.. Seven disciples on the Lake of Galilee (John 21:1-23)
8.. The Great Commission appearance on mountain in Galilee (Matt. 28:16-20)
9.. Five hundred believers at one time (1 Cor. 15:6)
10.. James (1 Cor. 15:7)
11.. The disciples at the ascension (Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:1-12)
This link has another table:
Or you can see the table under vv. 41-43, below.
The apostles react. They did not believe it. The Greek literally says the “nonbelieved” or “unbelieved” or “abelieved.” “Nonsense” could be translated as an “idle tale” (ESV). It is a “term used in medical settings of delirious talk of the very sick” (Bock, p. 1898).
At the end of v. 11, I supplied the word “women” because the Greek pronoun “them” is feminine plural. In English, our plural pronouns are gender neutral “they, them” (unlike Spanish or French, which have ellas and elles).
Perhaps only Peter believed at this time. He learned his lesson and did not go against what Jesus had said.
Then Peter thought better of it. He got up and ran to the tomb and saw nothing but the linen cloth lying there without a body. He also saw the big rock disk rolled back as well. The women could not have moved the stone. He returned to his place, but where in Jerusalem? I don’t know, but he apparently did not leave for Galilee yet, unless he did go and thought better of it and returned to Jerusalem (v. 34). He was amazed and astonished about the empty tomb, but he had not yet seen the risen Lord.
GrowApp for Luke 24:1-12
A.. Read verse 6 and the famous declaration. Read Rom. 10:9. Tell us how important the resurrection is for your salvation.
Conversations on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35)
13 And now observe. On that same day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were dialoguing with one another about all the things that had happened.
15 And then it happened. While they were dialoguing and discussing, Jesus himself came up and went with them, 16 but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. 17 He said to them, “What are these words you’re tossing back and forth to each other while you are walking?” They stood and were gloomy.
18 In reply, one, named Cleopas, said to him, “Are you the only one staying in Jerusalem and have not known the things that happened there these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What sort of things?” They told him, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a man—a prophet!—powerful in action and word before God and all the people, 20 how that our chief priests and rulers handed him over to the death sentence and crucified him. 21 We were hoping that he was the one who was about to redeem Israel; instead, even with all these things, it goes on to this third day from the time these things took place! 22 However, then some of our womenfolk astonished us. After they went to the tomb early, 23 and, when they did not find his body, they came telling even of seeing a vision of angels, who said that he was alive! 24 And some of our group departed for the tomb and found it, just like the women had said: they did not see him.
25 And he said to them, “Oh! You are unwise! And you are slow of heart to believe in everything that the prophets have spoken! 26 Wasn’t it destined that Christ suffer these things and come into his glory?” 27 And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets he explained to them in all the Scriptures the things about himself.
28 Then they were getting closer to the village where they were going, and he made as if he was going farther. 29 But they strongly prevailed upon him, saying, “Stay with us. It is towards evening, and the day has already settled down. Then he entered and stayed with them. 30 And then it happened. As he was reclining at table with them, he took the bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. He vanished from them. 32 They told one another, “Was not our heart burning in us as he spoke to us on the road and as he explained the Scriptures to us?” 33 So they got up that same hour and returned to Jerusalem and found the eleven and those with them gathered together, 34 saying that truly Jesus was raised and appeared to Simon. 35 And the two men explained the things along the road, and he was recognized by them in the breaking of bread.
“Now observe” translates the older “behold!” It means to “pay attention.” Or something unexpected is about to happen. Don’t miss it.
Seven miles is about 11 kilometers.
They were dialoguing—dialogue in this verse is where our word “homily” comes from, in Greek. They were rehashing what had happened. No doubt they were mostly gloomy (v. 17), but then the story which the women told must have given them the tiniest spark of hope. But can they believe the women?
“And then it happened”: is my freer translation of “and it came to pass,” which seems archaic to me. My translation adds a little more drama to the whole scene. So while they were dialoguing and debating, Jesus appeared from out of nowhere a distance away out of their sight, and then he walked up to them. We are witnessing the resurrected body, but by the miraculous power of the Father. Recall that Philip was translated or whisked away (Acts 8:39-40), but this is not the same thing. Here Jesus’ resurrected body seems to have abilities that a physical body did not have.
See my post about Jesus’s resurrected body and some quotations below, in this post.
Also see the discussion under vv. 41-43, below.
Their eyes were restrained or obstructed. Concealing plays a role in Luke (9:45 and 18:34). Who did that? God? Their own unbelief? If it was God, then he was working with material that was already in them—doubt and belief in the old statements: “It’s too good to be true, don’t believe it!” And “don’t get your hopes up!” This is a situation of God testing their hearts. If they had believed, they would have recognized him immediately, but they did not believe; therefore they did not recognize him. Or at least their faith was so small that they could not bring themselves to go for it—full scale belief. “Yes, I believe in the Old Testament, so I believe in the resurrection! Yes, I believe in his predictions about his death and rising again!” They were not there yet.
Again, God is simply working with the material already in their heart. God did not cause their unbelief. And anyway, they are about to believe, but the Word has to be delivered into their hearts, which burned within them. Never omit the preaching of the Word, even in an old-fashioned Bible study, which Jesus is about to deliver to them (v. 27).
I like the verb antiballō (pronounced ahn-tee-bahl-loh), which has the idea of tossing something back and forth (the ballō stem means to “put” or “place” and often “throw” or “toss”). Their back-and-forth discussion probably omitted Scripture and Jesus’s predictions, so they did not see the full picture. At his question, they stopped walking and were gloomy or downcast. They were pessimistic. This gloom and pessimism replaced and kicked out their faith—the faith they should have had if they had believed in his predictions and the Scriptures (vv. 25-27).
“words”: it could be translated as “accounts” as in “stories.” “Hey, what are you recounting there?” Or, “What stories are you telling each other?”
Cleopas: Sometimes his name is spelled Clopas, which is the Semitic form, while Cleopas is the Greek form. This is just a variation in spelling. Trust me. If anyone has researched names in America, these variations do exist, sometimes in the same document!
Who was Cleopas?
New Testament scholar Richard Bauckham, who has researched all the names in the four Gospels and the rest of the NT, in Israel and the surrounding areas, writes:
If the names are of persons well known in the Christian communities, then it also becomes likely that many of these people were themselves the eyewitnesses who first told and doubtless continued to tell the stories in which they appear and to which their names are attached. A good example is Cleopas (Luke 24:18): the story does not require that he be named and his companion remain anonymous. There seems no plausible reason for naming him other than to indicate that the was the source of the tradition. He is very probably the very same person as Clopas, whose wife Mary appears among the women at the cross in John 19:25. Clopas is a very rare Semitic form of the Greek Cleopas, so rare that we can be certain this is the Clopas who … was the brother of Jesus’s father Joseph and the father of Simon, who succeeded his cousin James [Jesus’s brother] as leader of the Jerusalem church … Cleopas / Clopas was doubtless one of the relatives of Jesus who played a prominent role in the Palestinian Jewish Christian movement. The story Luke tells would have been essentially the story Cleopas himself told about his encounter with the risen Jesus. Probably it was one of the many traditions of the Jerusalem church which Luke incorporated in his work. (p. 47)
In short, Cleopas was Joseph’s brother and Jesus’ uncle, His wife’s name was Mary (John 19:25). He’s the one who told this story to Luke (or maybe his son or other relative did, if Cleopas had already died). Cleopas’s story got worked into the Gospel of Luke. And Luke knew its source or traditionist or story teller. That’s why Luke named him.
Who was the traveling companion? It could be Cleopas’s son Simeon who succeeded James in leading the church at Jerusalem (Bock, p. 1911, referring to church historian Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 3.11 and John 19:25).
So this fact adds poignancy when we consider that Jesus’s uncle (and possibly the traveling companion was Jesus’s cousin) could not recognize his own nephew!
The emotions were tense. Cleopas and his traveling companion had been in an emotional discussion. So Cleopas, an older man, used a little sarcasm or harshness in his reply. Here’s a free translation: “Are you the only guy in all of Jerusalem—as if you’re a stranger!—that has not heard of these things? Really?”
I really like Jesus’s response. He plays along. “What things?” Or “what sort of things?” Jesus is drawing out from them their unbelief. He is exposing it. Jesus’s uncle should have known better. So we have him as a victim of divine irony. You can read my comments in 22:66-71 for the details, but basically it means a person thinks he knows when he does not. In this case, there’s a wrinkle. Uncle Cleopas should have known his nephew and believe his predictions and the Scriptures, but he didn’t. Never underestimate how God will tease out your ignorance, exposing it. If he ever asks, “What am I doing your life? Do you know?” or “What am I doing on the earth?” just reply, “Lord, you know best. You tell me.”
Then Cleopas recounts the recent events. It’s good to know that he recognized his nephew was a man—no, wait, a prophet!—who was mighty in works and words. Even now Cleopas has to correct himself and come closer to the truth. This refers to Stephen’s speech, where he spoke these words: “Moses … was powerful in word and action” (Acts 7:22). Did Cleopas connect his (unrecognized) nephew and Moses? Maybe. But surely not fully—not yet.
Let’s explore the noun word. It is the Greek noun logos (pronounced loh-goss and is used 330 times in the NT). Logos should not be seen as individual words strung together like pearls on a string. He was speaking stories and explanations in large chunks. His entire accounts and discourses were gracious and pleasant and full of grace.
As I do in this entire commentary series, let’s explore the noun logos more deeply. It is rich and full of meaning. It always has built into it rationality and reason. It has spawned all sorts of English words that end in –log-, like theology or biology, or have the log– stem in them, like logic.
Though certain Renewalists may not like to hear it, there is a rational side to the Word of God, and a moment’s thought proves it. The words you’re reading right now are placed in meaningful and logical and rational order. The Bible is also written in that way. If it weren’t, then it would be nonsense and confusing, and we couldn’t understand the gibberish. (Even your prophecies have to make logical and rational sense on some level.) Your Bible studies and Sunday morning sermons have to make sense, also. Jesus’s words also have Bible-based logic and rational argumentation built into it. People need to be ministered to in this way. God gave us minds and brains and expects us to use them. Your preaching cannot always be flashy and shrieky and so outlandishly entertaining that people are not fed in the long term. Movements like that don’t last over the years without the Word. I have observed this from firsthand experience in certain sectors of the Renewal Movement.
People have the deepest need to receive solid teaching. Never become so outlandishly supernatural and entertaining that you neglect the reasonable and rational side of preaching the gospel and teaching the Bible. Yes, Luke-Acts is very charismatic, but it is also very orderly and rational and logical.
On the other side of the word logos, people get so intellectual that they build up an exclusive Christian caste of intelligentsia that believe they alone can teach and understand the Word. Not true. Just study Scripture with Bible helps and walk in the Spirit, as they did in Acts. Combining Word and Spirit is the balanced life.
“chief priests”: Learn more about them, here:
They were hoping that Jesus would release or liberate or buy back (I chose “redeem”) Israel from its captivity, just like Moses led the fledgling nation out of slavery in Egypt. Cleopas’s words express frustration and disappointment. In vv. 21-22 he uses two strong contrasts by one same word (alla and pronounced ahl-lah): “Instead … however.” He is having a “tennis match” in his mind, between disappointment and hope. Here’s a possible free paraphrase that catches the inner turmoil: “Stranger, it’s been three days already, and nothing has happened as we expected it. Where’s the liberation of Israel? What a disappointment! However, even (or also) some of our women astonished us! They went to the tomb early and did not find the body! They claim they saw angels who told them he was alive!”
Uncle Cleopas did not grasp that his nephew Jesus was about to liberate Israel through internal salvation, not an external military rescue operation (“salvation” and “rescue” are synonyms in the one word in Greek for salvation). He had come to reveal the kingdom of God, but the kingdom was a mystery that was unfolding, and still is.
See my comments on v. 1 for more information.
In any case, Jesus had just been risen.
But then there’s hope. An odd thing happened. It astonished and astounded us. Some of our women—it could be translated as wives (it is a good idea to listen to wives!)—went to the tomb early and did not find the body in it. They even claim they had seen a vision of angels. It was not really a vision; the angels appeared right in front of them without the women being in a trance or an altered mental state of some kind.
Then others went to the tomb; it seems these are men in contrast to the women, but some among the visitors to the tomb could have been more women who went later. Here Luke is expanding his account in vv. 1-13, because he had omitted the things in the earlier verses, for reasons that escape my notice. Peter may have been standing in for the others in v. 12.
And now Cleopas tells his nephew that the others confirmed the women’s story. They and the others did not see him (Jesus) (in the tomb). It was empty. Amazing.
“Oh!” This is an expression of great emotion. Jesus delivers a strong rebuke to the two men, one of whom, recall, was his uncle.
“unwise”: it is the Greek adjective anētos (pronounced ah-noh-ay-toss), and noē is related to “mind” and the “a” in front is a negation. So it literally means “unmindful” or “unthinking.”
“slow of heart” indicates that these men, one of whom was older, should have been quick to believe. They should have been leading the Christian community towards hope; instead, they were walking away from Jerusalem, debating and discussing the recent events. They were distracted by the liberation of Israel. It makes me wonder whether large numbers of American Christians are distracted by Israel today, when God’s main program and organism to change the world is the Church and its preaching the gospel. I don’t mean to put down that little nation, and I hope it prospers, so missionaries can convert and disciple as many Israelis as possible for their true Messiah, but it is not the centerpiece of God global outreach of salvation. Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). It is the one and only institution and organism which can fulfill the Great Commission (v. 47).
“destined”: see v. 7 for more comments, looking for the Greek verb dei.
“believe in everything the prophets have spoken”: The preposition “upon” is in the Greek; it could even mean believe on the Scripture in the sense of standing strong on it. Jesus is saying that they (and we) should put their trust and faith in Scripture—in everything it says. This is a very high view of the Bible.
Jesus gives a Bible lesson, beginning with the Torah. What did he say, as he offered a sweeping review of the Old Testament? Let’s speculate. In Genesis, he may have brought up the so-called protoevangelium (earliest gospel or proto-gospel) in Gen. 3:15, which indicates the offspring of the snake and the offspring of womankind shall be in a state of enmity. It is true that many (not all) women are afraid of snakes. In this case, the offspring of the snake are those who follow Satan, if we expand the meaning of the verse. Further, Jesus may have talked about Abraham’s faith and God counting it as righteousness. That is the path to salvation. Next, he may have reminded them that God is the God of the living, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. He is not the God of the dead. Therefore, if people were to read the Torah more carefully, they would see an indirect revelation of the resurrection in it. The resurrection speaks of him.
In the legal sections of the Torah, Jesus may have talked about his fulfillment of the ceremonial rituals, much as the risen Jesus inspired the authors of the epistle to the Hebrews to write about this rich topic. In Deuteronomy 18 he talked about the prophet who was to come after Moses.
In the Psalms he mentioned all sorts of passages that looked past their immediate context and forward to a ruler whose kingdom would not end. Jesus, the son of David, was actually the Lord of David. He said the Lord would not allow his Holy One to undergo decay. David’s tomb was nearby, and his body was still in it, suffering decay. Jesus did not go through decomposition or remain in the tomb.
In the prophets, the Messianic prophecies are numerous. No doubt he spent a long time in Isaiah 53—a really long time. He also discussed Daniel, which mentions the son of Man and the Anointed One being cut off. If you want more, go to the apostolic preaching of the cross in the book of Acts. Luke is telling us here that Jesus himself gave these ideas to the apostles. He boiled things down for them, and their preaching was confined to the cross and resurrection.
It must have been quite a Bible study! In the past I have heard enthusiastic Christians say, “Yeah, he wrote the Old Testament!” I too may have said that long ago, as kind of joke. We meant well, but Jesus had to learn the Scriptures just like everyone else. At twelve years young he was in the temple dialoguing with the experts, and they were impressed (Luke 2:46-47). He had a genius ability in him. May I urge everyone to study the Scriptures, as he did?
Here is a table of Messianic Prophecies
I don’t believe he went verse by verse and taught that he is in each one—except for the messianic ones at the above link. But prophecies are also about patterns and themes of Scripture, like salvation and redemption. He told them how he fulfills the gist of God’s dealings with humanity, their need and his offer to help—and other such things.
Jesus was and is Israel’s hope, but not in a conquering, militaristic way. That happens at the Second Coming, when one word of his mouth will flatten every enemy. For now, his kingdom goes global one soul at a time.
For an even clearer idea of what Jesus taught them, let’s look at part of Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 and 3 (my tentative translations):
Here is part of Peter’s sermon in Acts 2:
First Peter rehearses that Jesus’s death did not catch God by surprise, but he knew he would send him into the world to redeem humanity:
22 “My fellow Israelites, men and women, hear these words! God appointed Jesus of Nazareth for you, with mighty deeds, wonders and signs, which God did through him, right in front of you, as you yourselves know. 23 In the predestined counsel and foreknowledge of God, this man was handed over to the hands of lawless men and fastened to the cross, and you put him to death.
Now Peter proclaims the resurrection; the Holy One would not suffer decay:
24 But God lifted him out of the agony of death, because it was impossible for him to be ruled by it. 25 David said about him:
‘I saw the Lord before me always,
That he was at my right in order so I shall not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart was cheered up
And my tongue rejoiced
for yet my flesh also shall rest in hope
27 because you did not leave my soul in hades,
Neither shall you give your Holy One over to see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’ (Ps. 16:8-11)
Next, Peter applies David’s prophecy that David was speaking about the resurrection of Jesus, because David experience see decay.
29 “Brothers and sisters! I can boldly say to you about our forefather David that he died and was buried, and his tomb is nearby, right in front of you to this very day. 30 Therefore, being a prophet and knowing that God swore to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne— 31 foreseeing this, he spoke about the resurrection of the Christ: ‘he would not be left in hades, and neither would his flesh see corruption.’ 32 This Jesus God raised up, of which fact we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore he was exalted to the right hand of God; receiving the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he poured out even what you see and hear. 34 For it was not David who went up into heaven, but he himself says:
‘the Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
35 until I put your enemies
Under your feet for a footstool” (Ps. 110:1)
36 Therefore let all Israel know with certainty that God made him Lord and Christ, whom you crucified.”
Here’s part of Peter’s sermon in Acts 3. Note how he preaches repentance to wipe away sins:
17 “And so now, brothers and sisters, I know that you acted in ignorance, as your rulers did also. 18 But that which God earlier had announced through the mouth of his prophets—that the Messiah would suffer—was fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore and turn back to wipe away your sins, 20 so that times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord would come and that he would send you the one he appointed, the Messiah Jesus. 21 Heaven must welcome him until the times of reestablishing everything that God had spoken through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.
22 “Moses said: ‘the Lord God shall raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your brothers. You shall listen to everything that he tells you. 23 and every person who does not listen to that Prophet shall be cut off from the people.’ [Deut. 18:15, 18, 19] 24 And all the prophets from Samuel to one after the other who spoke of him announced this day. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and the covenant that God established with your fathers, saying to Abraham: ‘Even all the families of the earth shall be blessed by your descendants.’ [Gen. 22:18; 26:4] 26 And for you first God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning each one away from your wickedness.”
Peter boiled the message down to the resurrection and repentance and fulfilled prophecy. We can be sure that Jesus taught the huddled members of the Jesus Movement interpretations like those above. His interpretation of Scripture appeared in Peter’s proclamation or, to use the fancy words, kerygma.
These verses are transitional to set up the scene in the two men’s house. He was pretending to go farther. What? The Son of God was pretending? What’s up with that? He was “fibbing?” No. If they had not invited him to their house, he would have kept walking, and they would have failed the full test. They would have missed the fullest revelation of finding out who they were talking to. They would have missed Cleopas’s nephew and the resurrected Son of God. And secondarily, they would have failed the hospitality test, which was part of the social fabric of Israel. Then why pretend as if he was about to go farther? Acts 14:9 says that Paul saw faith in a crippled man such that the man was healed. I believe Jesus saw a little faith—but yet full of faith—in Cleopas and his traveling companion. Their hearts were burning within them, after all (v. 32). He perceived this. Would they pass the test and invite him in, so they could get a fuller revelation? It’s a blessing to themselves that they constrained or prevailed upon him to stay with them.
Jesus partly reenacts the Last Supper, but not in an official way. The New Covenant had already been initiated back in Luke 22:20. Cleopas was not there for Passover dinner on Friday, and probably neither was the other guy. But there must have been something special about Jesus breaking bread because at that moment their eyes were open. They had finally connected all the dots. Their faith surged, because of the Bible lesson, and the simple act of his giving thanks and breaking bread. Everything fell into place.
Verse 30 reminds me of Luke 10:21-22:
At that very time, he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden this from the wise and intelligent and revealed it to children. Yes, Father, because this way is your good will for you. Everything has been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is, except the Son and to whomever the Son wills to reveal him” (Luke 10:21-22)
Then he vanished or disappeared or literally “he became invisible or unmanifest from them.” It’s best, however, not to torture the sentence structure (syntax) and just translate it has I and other translations do. Now they had to act on their revelation. What do they do when they see Jesus? The next section tells us.
But first they recounted the feeling in their hearts. They were burning inside. Renewalists love this verse, because many of them too have experienced the burning in the heart. John Wesley said his heart was warmed within. Jonathan Edwards speaks of the heart being warmed during the Great Awakening, along with other physical manifestations.
However, we must be warned. Sects with offbeat doctrines like the Latter-Day Saints talk of the warming heart. In contrast, though, the hearts of the two traveling companions were warmed while Jesus himself gave a Bible study to them: “As he explained to us the Scriptures.” Our feelings must be built on and judged by the word.
I really like their response when their eyes were opened. They got up that very hour and retraced their steps back to Jerusalem. There were no paved roads or bicycle paths. They were full of ruts and uneven ground from erosion. It seems, however, that these older guys (at least Cleopas was) didn’t twist their ankles!
When your eyes are open to Jesus, you get up and tell people about it. They now took their leadership role in hand and seriously; they wanted to go back and tell the huddled members of the Jesus Movement that Jesus was alive and appeared to them. They must have walked quickly, and they arrived in Jerusalem at dark. So, whom did they meet? They saw the eleven gathered together, with the others. This group seemed dazed and confused.
The group was saying that Jesus appeared to Simon. In other words, the two men walked into a discussion. Jesus is making himself known one at a time, but that’s about to change. There is a lot of discussions going on, but not enough believing and childlike faith, as he is about to say in the next pericope (pronounced peh-RIH-koh-pea) or section.
The two men give their report of what happened. Did they give an account of the Bible study Jesus himself offered? Maybe. In any case, a smoother translation can read: “And the two men explained the things that happened along the road, and they recognized him when he broke bread.”
GrowApp for Luke 24:13-35
A.. Cleopas and the other traveling companion needed time to recognize who Jesus was. They needed a Bible study. They needed his voice. They needed him to break bread. How long did it take you to put everything together about him? What helped you? Tell your story.
Jesus Appears Bodily to the Disciples (Luke 24:36-43)
36 Now, while they were speaking about these things, he stood in the middle of them and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 They were terrified and became filled with fear and were thinking they were seeing a spirit. 38 He then said to them, “Why are you disturbed and why are doubts rising in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet because I myself am he! Touch me and look, because a spirit does not have flesh and bones, just as you perceive me having. 40 And saying this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 While they were still not believing from joy and were astonished, he said to them, “Do you have food in this place here?” 42 They gave him a portion of broiled fish. 43 And he took it and ate in front of them.
The appearance was sudden. There he was! Wow. Were they startled! He said, “Shalom to you!”
“peace”: It speaks of more than just the absence of war. It can mean prosperity and well-being. It can mean peace in your heart and peace with your neighbor. Best of all, it means peace with God, because he reconciled us to him.
Let’s explore more deeply the peace that God brings.
This word in Hebrew is shalom and means well being, both in the soul and in circumstances, and it means, yes, prosperity, because the farm in an agricultural society would experience well being and harmony and growth. The crops would not fail and the livestock would reproduce. Society and the individual would live in peace and contentment and harmony. Deut. 28:1-14 describes the blessings for obedience, a man and his family and business enjoying divine goodness and benefits and material benefits.
With that background, let’s explore the Greek word, which overlaps with shalom. It is the noun eirēnē (pronounced ay-ray-nay, used 92 times, and we get the name Irene from it). One specialist defines it: “Peace is a state of being that lacks nothing and has no fear of being troubled in its tranquility; it is euphoria coupled with security. … This peace is God’s favor bestowed on his people.” (Mounce, p. 503).
BDAG has this definition for the noun: (2) It is “a state of well-being, peace.” Through salvation we have peace with God (Rom. 5:1). We have peace that has been brought through Christ (Col. 3:15). We are to run towards the goal of peace (2 Pet. 3:14; Rom. 8:6). It is the essential characteristic of the Messianic Age (Acts 10:36; Rom. 10:15). An angel greeted and promised the shepherds peace on earth for those in whom God is well pleased, at the birth of the Messiah (Luke 2:29). In the entire Gospel of Luke, Jesus was ushering in the kingdom of God.
They were more than startled. They were terrified and became fearful. This is excessive fear. They lowered themselves down from reverential awe of God to human fear, survival of the cautious. Modern scholars have said that the first century was superstitious and the people easily believed in the resurrection, but of course Jesus’s resurrection didn’t really happen, certainly not physically, so say these modern philosophers. However, this verse and others teach us that these people of the first century were not “cheap,” gullible believers; they were not superstitious, but they really had doubts about his resurrection, even when he appeared right in front of them, suddenly. Back then people understood, as well as we modern sophisticates do, that people simply didn’t come back from the dead. But clearly Jesus did.
They thought they were seeing a spirit or ghost. It’s the same Greek word, so I decided to be consistent and translate it as spirit. God does not allow your dead relatives to visit you like this. If you claim any visitation like this, then this is a demonic spirit. In 1 Sam. 28, Samuel visited Saul in an apparition, and it seems really to have been Samuel, who delivered an explanation to Saul as to why God has taken the kingdom away from him and given it to David. However, we have to be careful about transferring this unique episode to our lives today, because Saul was outside of God’s will and lost everything. He was under divine judgment that only a king goes through. He lost his bearings and broke parameters in a Satanic environment. Unique supernatural cases make for bad general practice.
Just say no to Magic, Witchcraft, Sorcery, and Fortunetelling
Doubts can surge in your hearts and minds. That’s almost how I translated the verb anabainō (pronounced ah-nah-by-noh), which fundamentally means “I go up.” But I decided to go with “rise up.” It is stunning to me that Jesus has to call them out about doubts when he is standing right in front of them. It shows that doubts can rise up in our hearts in the strangest places. The best way to counter them is to feed your faith. That’s what Jesus is doing in this verse. He is offering the ocular (eyewitness) evidence. He is about to permit them to touch him. If you have doubts about the resurrection, then go online to many websites and look at the evidence that these fine men and women of God offer you. Feed your faith. Starve your doubts.
He reassures them many times, telling them that he is different from a spirit, because he has flesh and bones that spirits do not have. He tells them to touch his hands and feet. He must have lifted up one foot or sat down in a chair to lift up both feet. Or they bent over to touch his feet. I like to break things down to the nitty-gritty, and how else were they to touch his feet?
I myself am he. Egō eimi autos. (pronounced eh-goh ay-mee ow-toss) “I am he.” The pronoun autos is emphatic. Without it, it could be translated as “I am” or better “I am (he),” because he is identifying himself. With it, it is better to say “I myself am he.” Is there a reference to the I Am of Exod. 3:14 (through the Septuagint)? It cannot be ruled out completely, but here Jesus is just saying, “It’s me!” But if you see a connection, go for it.
It is possible to have joy and still doubt because it was mixed with skeptical wonderment. It is better just to have joy. The point, however, that Luke is making is that they had mixed emotions and mental states. They want to believe, but they cannot yet. Joy overwhelmed them. “Is this really happening?! I can’t believe it!”
Therefore, he gives them more evidence that it is he. He eats fish in front of them. I wonder whether he would have broken bread if they had had any. I’m sure he would have, as he did for Cleopas and his companion. But fish is what they offered him. I see them standing and sitting in the room, staring at him.
However, they must have believed to some degree because in v. 52, as he ascends, they worship him.
Before we shift to Jesus’s commission of them (24:44-49), let’s read what my favorite theologian J. Rodman Williams wrote in his three-volume systematic theology Renewal Theology about the resurrected body. He comments on these verses in Luke and other ones at the end of the four Gospels and 1 Cor. 15, writing:
Thus Jesus emphasized that He was not a different Jesus from whom they had known before, but that in His whole person—which included his body—He was totally alive again. Resurrection could not have occurred if the body had been missing. He just as firmly denied being a spirit … We may, then, properly speak of the essential identity of Jesus’ resurrected life with His life before. He had not been changed from body into spirit, but was the same Jesus they had known in the flesh. (vol. 1, p. 386)
Then he adds that some transformation occurred, but the transformation did not obliterate the continuity between Jesus’s earthly body and his new one:
Indeed a transformation had unmistakably occurred. There was something unique here. Other resurrections are reported in the Gospels, but none such—for all their wonder—signify a new mode of spiritual existence. They were only resuscitations of corporal existence. They represent transitory returns to physical life, and in due time the resuscitated person died once more. Jesus, on the contrary, was raised not to die again but to continue living. Thus, the resurrection, though its bodily, is not a continuing physical life but a spiritual one. … Thus while there is an essential identity and a continuity between Jesus’ existence prior to and after His resurrection (there is no transition into a disembodied state), the is also an otherness and a certain discontinuity from what had preceded. (vol. 1, p. 387)
Finally, all the resurrection narratives lie on the borderline between mystery and the commonplace.
Thus all the resurrection narratives are on the mysterious borderline between the commonplace and the unusual, the natural and supernatural. Another dimension of human reality is for the first time becoming manifest. There is both identity and otherness, continuity and discontinuity, familiarity and unfamiliarity. It all suggests that something new and inexplicable has for the first time come about. This is the transformation of physical existence into a higher order of spiritual existence: the spiritual body of the resurrection! (vol. 1, p. 388)
Further, here is a table of the resurrection appearances. I hope it clarifies the main passages:
|The Empty Tomb||Jerusalem||Resurrection Sunday||Mt. 28:1-10; Mk. 16:1-8; Lk. 24:1-12; Jn. 20:1-9|
|Mary Magdalene||In a garden in Jerusalem||Resurrection Sunday||Mk. 16:9-11; Jn. 11-18|
|Other women||Jerusalem||Resurrection Sunday||Mt. 28:9-10|
|Two men on Road to Emmaus||Emmaus seven miles from Jerusalem||Resurrection Sunday||Mk. 16:12-13; Lk. 24:13-32|
|Peter||Jerusalem||Resurrection Sunday||Lk. 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5|
|Ten disciples in upper room||Jerusalem||Resurrection Sunday||Lk. 24:36-43; Jn. 20:19-25|
|Eleven disciples in upper room||Jerusalem||Following Sunday||Mk. 16:14; Jn. 20:26-31; 1 Cor. 15:5|
|Seven disciples||Sea of Galilee||Some time later||Jn. 21:1-23|
|Eleven disciples on mountain||Galilee||Some time later||Mt. 28:16-20; Mk. 16:15-18|
|More than five hundred||Unknown||Some time later||1 Cor. 15:6|
|James||Unknown||Some time later||1 Cor. 15:7|
|His disciples at his ascension||Mount of Olives||Forty days after resurrection||Lk. 24:44-49; Ac. 1:3-8|
|Paul||Damascus||Several years later||Ac. 9:1-9, 22:3-16, 26:9-18; 1 Cor. 9:1|
|Adapted from NIV Study Bible, p. 1754.|
David L. Turner in his commentary Matthew: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Baker Academic, 2008), pp. 683-84, has a magnificent section in his commentary on “Without the resurrection,” which I modify here:
Without the resurrection…
Jesus’s redemptive act of dying for sinners would not have divine endorsement. The Father would not declare that Jesus’s death was victorious and the blood shed on the cross to initiate the new covenant would be effective (Rom. 4:25).
His promise that he would rise from the dead (12:40; 16:21; 17:9; 20:19; 26:32) would be empty, and his death would be scorned or pitied, but not believed or obeyed (1 Cor. 15:16-19)
Jesus could not save people from their sins, just as the angel had promised (1:21), for he would be cursed with infamy because he hanged on a tree or wooden pole (Deut. 21:22-23; Gal. 3:13).
There would be no apostolic foundation of the church (16:18), since the apostles deserted him at his arrest and death. Yet his resurrection turned them back and restored them and made them into disciples (26:27-29; 28:7, 10, 16-20).
There would be no complete model of sacrificial living. By dying to self, you gain your soul. Genuinely abundant living occurs when one gives up one’s own life, but without the resurrection the new orientation is short-circuited (10:38-39; 16:24-26; 20:26-28; 23:12; cf. Rom. 6:1-11).
There would be no eschatological shalom to rectify all earthly wrongs and renew the world (19:28). Shalom means peace and prosperity and wellbeing, and this will happen at the end of the age. But it would not happen without the resurrection.
The martyrs whose blood cries out from the ground would experience no justice or vindication (23:35; Rev. 6:9-11). Those who commit violence would not be held accountable without an ultimate reckoning (13:37-42; Dan. 12:2). “Satan would win the cosmic battle.”
People could not hope for their own resurrection and reward (13:43; 16:27; 25:31-40; 27:51-52). Jesus’s ethical teaching said that there would be judgment and reward in the coming kingdom (4:17; 5:12; 7:1-2, 21). What would become of the thrones of the twelve apostles and the rewards Jesus promised to all his disciples (6:9-21; 13:43; 19:27-29; cf. Dan. 12:3; Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21)?
The kingdom would never come to earth and be implemented fully, as it is in heaven (6:10, 33).
Jesus’s “climatic saving act of dying for sinners by crucifixion would lack interpretation and proof of divine acceptance.” The preaching of the cross (Gal. 6:14; 1 Cor. 18-25; 1 Pet. 1:19; Heb. 2:9, 14; 9:12-14; Rev. 5:6-9) would be insignificant and meaningless.
To sum up, the gospel must include the cross and the resurrection, side by side. The gospel must be communicated with the saving power of the cross, and the proof of the saving power of the cross comes through the resurrection. “Any ‘gospel’ that does not place Jesus’s resurrection alongside Jesus’s death is not the authentic message of Jesus and the apostles.”
Scriptures for the resurrection:
Acts 2:32; 3:15, 26; 4:2, 10, 33; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30-37; 17:18, 31; 23:6; 24:21; 25:19; 26:8, 23
Rom. 1:4; 4:25; 6:4-5; 8:11; 10:9
1 Cor. 15:3-8, 12-23, 32, 42.
2 Cor. 4:10, 14; 13:4
Eph. 1:20; 2:5; 4:10
Col. 2:12; 3:1-4
1 Thess. 4:14
1 Tim. 3:16
Heb. 1:3; 10:12; 12:1
1 Pet. 1:21; 3:18-22
Rev. 1:5, 18; 2:8; 5:6-10
Thus, the apostolic community, some of whom were infallibly inspired to write the NT, believed that the resurrection was the foundation of their faith. So it should be the foundation of our faith too. Are we better than their generation?
GrowApp for Luke 24:36-43
A.. It is stunning that the disciples doubted right in front of Jesus. He met their needs with evidence. Have you ever doubted? How did you starve your doubts and feed your faith?
Jesus Commissions His Disciples (Luke 24:44-49)
44 Then he said to them, “These were my words which I have spoken to you while I was with you, because it was destined that all the things written in the law of Moses and the Prophets and Psalms about me be fulfilled. 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. 46 And he said to them that in this way it was written that Christ must suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and in his name repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses to these things. 49 Now be attentive. I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But you settle in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.
This passage continues from the last pericope (Luke 24:36-43). It is in the same room. But the focus of the scene shifts probably because they did believe to some degree because in v. 52 they worship him. Now Jesus is going to commission them.
Jesus is placing his words on the level of the Old Testament. The Old Testament points to him, and he taught them his words. His words would never pass away. In the context of his prophecies of the judgment on Jerusalem and the temple, he said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Luke 21:33). We can expand this verse to his entire teaching, because Jesus also said during another commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations … teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19, 20). His words take precedence over the word of the Old Testament, but we should never ignore the Old Testament. Some even teach that we should throw it out. So, so false and misguided!
“destined”: see v. 7 for more comments, looking for the Greek verb dei.
As for the whether every verse refers to the Messiah, this is not what Jesus intended. He was teaching them the pattern and flow of OT history. Bock writes:
The Messiah need not be mentioned everywhere in the OT because in Jewish belief the eschaton involved the Messiah in an era of ideal rule and hope. It is on this holistic sense that Jesus speaks of the Scripture’s references to the Messiah here, although he adds the one element that Judaism lacked: a suffering Messiah. Luke’s threefold division is thus another way to say that all the OT teaches these things. This is the only place in the NT where this three-part division occurs. Jesus makes it clear that he is the subject of these Scriptures and that when it comes to God’s promise, he is at the center of those events. (p. 1937).
This verse hit me right in the heart. It spoke to me. Did Jesus supernaturally open their mind to everything he had said during his ministry? Or did he go over key passages again, and their minds were opened, as he spoke, because the resurrected Lord was standing (or sitting) in front of them? I’m not sure.
We must not think that every (oddball) interpretation we come up with flows from the resurrected Jesus opening our minds to understand the Scriptures. If you want to see the interpretation that Jesus taught them, read the sermons in the Book of Acts, particularly the ones quoted at v. 27, above.
Paul also said that he got revelation when he was transported somehow to the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:1-4). He said that the revelations and visions (plural) may not be uttered directly, but they surely appear in his letters, particularly to the Romans and the Galatians, if only as foundations of those two epistles. We should take these revelations seriously and not dismiss Paul’s writings, as some are prone to do nowadays. So, so false and misguided!
We can trust that Jesus guided the apostles and those in the apostolic community (James and Jude and Luke and Mark and the author of Hebrews) when they wrote their Gospels and letters, as well. His Spirit lived in them and prompted them to write to teach people and solve practical problems.
Be sure that when you get insights, therefore, that you don’t run with them. You should check them against the Scriptures that we know were inspired by virtue of having been written by the Spirit-filled apostolic community.
“third day”: see my comments at vv. 7 and 21 for more information.
In Luke Gospel and Acts, the message goes out in Jesus’s name: Luke 9:22; 17:25; 22:15; 24:26; Acts 1:3; 3:18; 4:12; 17:3.
Then he reinforces the prophecies about the Messiah suffering. See the long quotations from Acts at v. 27 to understand more fully what he opened up to them.
Here’s a fuller version of the commissioning in the book of Acts:
4 While meeting and taking meals with them personally, he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, “which you heard from me; 5 John baptized you with water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit, not many days from now.” … 8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:4-5, 8)
Jesus clearly means that the promise of the Father was the Holy Spirit falling or coming on them. Next, Jesus promised the huddled Jesus followers that he was going to send the promise of his Father upon them. Here’s how this prophecy-promise was fulfilled in the book of Acts (my tentative translation):
1 And when the Feast of Pentecost had fully come, all of them were together in that one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there was a sound like the rush of an extra-strong wind. The whole house was filled where they were sitting, 3 and tongues as fire were seen by them, were distributed among them, and settled on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other languages, as the Spirit gave them inspiration to speak and declare. (Acts 2:1-4)
Luke is simply continuing in Acts what he began in Luke 24, and indeed all of his Gospel.
Before we leave this pericope, let’s look at the meaning of repentance and forgiveness.
“repentance”: it is the noun metanoia (pronounced meh-tah-noi-ah), and it literally means “change of mind.” But it goes deeper than mental assent or agreement. Another word for repent is the Greek stem streph– (including the prefixes ana-, epi-, and hupo-), which means physically “to turn” (see Luke 2:20, 43, 45). That reality-concept is all about new life. One turns around 180 degrees, going from the direction of death to the new direction of life.
“forgiveness”: it comes from the Greek noun aphesis (pronounced ah-feh-seess), which means “release” or “cancellation” or “pardon” or “forgiveness.” Let’s look at a more formal definition of its verb, which is aphiēmi (pronounced ah-fee-ay-mee), and BDAG defines it with the basic meaning of letting go: (1) “dismiss or release someone or something from a place or one’s presence, let go, send away”; (2) “to release from legal or moral obligations or consequence, cancel, remit, pardon”; (3) “to move away with implication of causing a separation, leave, depart”; (4) “to leave something continue or remain in its place … let someone have something” (Matt. 4:20; 5:24; 22:22; Mark 1:18; Luke 10:30; John 14:18); (5) “leave it to someone to do something, let, let go, allow, tolerate.” The Shorter Lexicon adds “forgive.” In sum, God lets go, dismisses, releases, sends away, cancels, pardons, and forgives our sins. His work is full and final. Don’t go backwards or dwell on it.
Please read these verses for how forgiving God is:
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (Ps. 103:10-12)
And these great verses are from Micah:
18 Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
and passing over transgression
for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in steadfast love.
19 He will again have compassion on us;
he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our sins
into the depths of the sea. (Mic. 7:18-19, ESV)
“power”: it is the noun dunamis (or dynamis) (pronounced doo-na-mees or dee-na-mis, but most teachers prefer the first one). It is often translated as “power,” but also “miracle” or “miraculous power.” It means power in action, not static, but kinetic. It moves. Yes, we get our word dynamite from it, but God is never out of control, like dynamite is. Its purpose is to usher in the kingdom of God and repair and restore broken humanity, both in body and soul.
For nearly all the references of that word and a developed theology, please click on Miracles, Signs and Wonders.
In this verse the noun refers to the Holy Spirit and his empowerment.
GrowApp for Luke 24:44-47
A.. Read v. 45. Has God opened your mind to understand the Scriptures? Do you have an example? As you work your way through this study, have you been praying this verse to be carried out?
The Ascension of Jesus (Luke 24:50-53)
50 Then he led them as far as Bethany and, lifting his hands, he blessed them. 51 And while he was blessing them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 After they worshiped him, they turned back to Jerusalem in great joy. 53 They were continually in the temple, blessing God.
He led them out of Jerusalem. We must realize that Jesus did not float one foot (third of a meter) off the ground. He actually walked to the nearby town of Bethany, about 2 miles (1.2 km) from Jerusalem.
Bethany is where Mary, Martha and Lazarus lived. He was raised from the dead. No doubt they were in the crowd (John 11:11, 18; 12:1). How long does it take to walk two miles up and down inclines and crests? His feet were getting dusty.
“he blessed them”: We don’t know what he said, but since Luke 24 is full of references to the Old Testament, he probably gave them the Aaronic blessing, here:
24 The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. (Num. 6:24-26, ESV)
I really like the image of Jesus raising his hands to bless them. Today, would pastors and platform speakers be embarrassed to raise their hands to bless their congregations?
The sequencing of the verbs is wonderful. He was still blessing them while he was carried up (passive voice of the verb anapherō and pronounced ah-nah-feh-roh, which basically means “carry up”). In v. 31, Jesus vanished from the two men’s sight. In v. 36 Jesus suddenly appeared in a room. He could come and go as the Father willed. Similarly, he could have just “popped” out of their sight or vanished. However, Father God wanted to convey this message: heaven where he dwells is above the atmosphere and stars and is another dimension entirely.
Let’s explore this a little more.
Paul wrote that he was in the third heaven or paradise (2 Cor. 12:2-3). To have a third heaven, you must have two others. In this case, the other two are below the third heaven. The first heaven is the atmosphere, including the stars and sun and moon (the ancients didn’t know about the far reaches of space). The second heaven is also spiritual, where Satan and demons operate. Alternatively, some teach that the second heaven is above the earth’s atmosphere and into space, and Satan and demons operate there. However, if that’s true, then the demonic hordes must work and move in a spiritual dimension that is not bound by the laws of nature. (I prefer the belief that second heaven is spiritual and below the third heaven or paradise.) The imagery was important to teach the disciples the hierarchy. Let’s find out why the hierarchy of three heaven is important. In other words, what is the theological significance of his ascension? Let’s allow the epistles to interpret its significance.
First, God exalted him to the highest place in heaven and on earth:
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:9-11, NIV)
Second, many scholars believe the above verses were taken from an ancient Christian hymn.
Third, and the same goes for the next verse. It was part of an ancient hymn. He was taken into glory:
He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory. (1 Tim. 3:16, NIV)
Third, his ascension secures our heavenly position.
While we live on earth, we are in the heavenly realm by faith and in part, not in fulness, as we will be when we are resurrected: “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6, NIV). As written, that promise and truth is remarkable. Let’s accept it into our minds and hearts right now.
Fourth, the next verse (Col. 3:1) goes with that one, above. It means we set our hearts on things above. One very important practice in the Christian life is renewing our minds. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1, NIV).
Those two verses are remarkable (Eph. 2:6 and Col. 3:1). We are raised up with Christ, and now we set our hearts on him. We do not fight from a weakened position or point of view. We fight from his position in the heavenly realm. Confess and meditate on him and our heavenly position.
Fifth, it grants us our citizenship is in heaven right now. “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20, NIV).
That verse does not say our citizenship will one day be in heaven in the future. Rather the present tense “is” indicates our citizenship is there now. Our place in heaven is secure, thanks to Christ’s ascension.
Sixth, his ascension means our bodies will be like his glorious body. “Who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Phil. 3:21, NIV)
The verse in this point and the previous one (Phil. 3:20-21) teach us that Christ has power to bring everything under his control—a process that is happening gradually and sometimes imperceptibly right now. That power will transform our bodies, but that transformation won’t be gradual, but will happen in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor. 15:52).
Seventh, Jesus entered the heavenly tabernacle, where he makes intercession for us (Heb. 7:25):
11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come,[e] then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. … 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. (Heb. 9:11-12, 24, ESV)
Verse 24 says he is up there on our behalf or for our benefit. Some Bible interpreters say that he sprinkled his blood on the altar in the tabernacle, to effect, once and for all, the sacrifice he did on the cross.
The significance is now clear. We too have access to where God and Christ Jesus dwell. We are to fix our attention and our minds there; we are spiritually seated there, as well.
“worshipped”: It is the verb proskuneō (pronounced pros-koo-neh-oh), and it literally means “kiss toward” (kun– means to “fall” or “kneel,” and pros means “towards,” among other things). Further, it can mean, depending on the context, “(fall down and) worship, do obeisance to, prostrate oneself before, do reverence to, welcome respectfully.” The Bible shows that people do those things to humans (Matt. 18:26; Acts 10:25; Rev. 3:9); to God (Matt. 4:10; John 4:20, 23; 12:20; Acts 24:11; 1 Cor. 14:25; Heb. 11:21; Rev. 4:10; 14:7; 19:4); to idols (Acts. 7:43); to the devil and Satanic beings (Matt. 4:9; Luke 4:7; Rev. 9:20; 13:4; 14:9, 11); to Christ (Matt. 2:2, 8, 11; 8:2; 9:18: 14:33; 20:20; 15:25; 28:9, 17; Mark 5:6; 15:19; Luke 24:52).
Welcoming people respectfully is appropriate. However, the only appropriate beings to whom worships belongs and is due are God and Christ, not humans or devils or idols.
Their worshipping him means that they finally came to believe that he was not an anonymous ghost who appeared to them. They believed that he was the risen Jesus. No one else on the planet can claim to have seen Jesus rise to the heavens as these original disciples did. People today don’t get the privilege to witness the theological and eternal truths of his ascension. Renewalists may be invited to heaven to speak with an angel and even the Lord, but this is not the ascension. They may even have a visitation from the Lord, but when he disappears, this is still not the ascension. The ascension of Jesus in the previous verse deserves our worshipping him. His ascension means a whole “new ballgame.” The world has shifted and a new Jesus-centered age has dawned, and it is proceeding apace. The gospel, after two thousand years, is going around the globe and transforming lives.
Their living near and preaching in the temple continually is show in Acts for the first eight chapters in Acts, and even beyond. This is the focal point of the proclamation of the gospel. However, the earliest disciples may have been too comfortable there. They were supposed to go into Judea and Samaria and beyond. Only persecution moved them out, as far as we know (Acts 8:1). Yes, they probably were ministering in the area surrounding Jerusalem, in Judea, like Bethany, but they were not going outwards as soon as and as far as they should have.
But let’s not end on a criticism. Luke wants us to see that the disciples were blessing God in the temple. They are reaching people daily. Thousands will convert to the new Jesus Movement.
Summary and Conclusion
In Luke 23, Jesus was in the tomb. Here in this chapter, he left the tomb. So we now have the Great Reversal. In Luke 1:51-53, where Mary said that Jesus and his kingdom were bringing to the world. The powerful and people of high status are brought low, while the humble and those of low status are raised up. It also fulfills the reversal in 2:34, where Simeon prophesied that Jesus was appointed for the rising and falling of many. It is the down elevator and up elevator. Those at the top will take the down elevator, and those at the bottom will take the up elevator.
Through his resurrection, Jesus has taken the up elevator. And most clearly of all, through his ascension, Jesus has been exalted to the highest place in heaven.
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