Cambridge Bible:Lk Farrar
Ch. 24:1. Now] Rather, But.
very early in the morning] Literally, at deep dawn, i. e. at the earliest morning twilight, ‘while it was yet dark’ (Joh_20:1), though the sun began to rise before they reached the tomb (Mar_16:2). St John mentions only Mary of Magdala (20:1); St Matthew adds Mary, mother of James (28:1); St Mark adds Salome (16:1); and St Luke Joanna, vs. 10. They may have gone singly or in small groups, the Marys being separate from the others. There is no discrepancy in the different narratives, although, as we might have expected, they are fragmentary and seem to reflect the varied and tumultuous emotions of those who were the first to see the Lord. The Easter music, as Lange says, is not ‘a monotonous chorale’ but an impassioned fugue.
and certain others with them] These words are probably spurious, not being in א, B, C, L.
Bringing the spices – To embalm the body of our Lord: but Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea had done this before the body was laid in the tomb. See Joh_19:39, Joh_19:40. But there was a second embalming found necessary: the first must have been hastily and imperfectly performed; the spices now brought by the women were intended to complete the preceding operation.
And certain others with them – This clause is wanting in BCL, two others; Coptic, Ethiopic, Vulgate, and in all the Itala except two. Dionysius Alexandrinus, and Eusebius also omit it. The omission is approved by Mill, Bengel, Wetstein, Griesbach, and others. Bishop Pearce thinks it should be left out for the following reasons:
1. “They who came to the sepulchre, as is here said, being the same with those who, in Luk_23:55, are called the women which came with him from Galilee, there was no room for Luke (I think) to add as here, and some others came with them; because the words in Luk_23:55, to which these refer, include all that can be supposed to be designed by the words in question.
2. Luke has named no particular woman here, and therefore he could not add and some others, etc., these words necessarily requiring that the names of the women should have preceded, as is the case in Luk_24:10, where, when Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, and Joanna, had been named, it is very rightly added, and other women that were with them.”
24. The Resurrection and the Ascension.
It is well known that the difficulty of harmonizing the different accounts of the Resurrection given by the Evangelists and by S. Paul is great; and this difficulty is perhaps at a maximum when the narrative of Lk, is compared with the others. Here, as so often in the Gospels, we have not sufficient knowledge to piece together the different fragments which have come down to us, and consequently the evidence for important facts is not what we might antecedently have expected or desired. But our expectations and wishes are not adequate criteria, and it is no paradox to say that the difficulty of harmonizing the various narratives is in itself a security for their general truthfulness. Dishonest witnesses would have made the evidence more harmonious. As it is, each witness fearlessly tells his own story according to the knowledge which he possesses, and is not careful as to whether it agrees with what may have been told elsewhere. Nevertheless there is agreement in the following important particular:—
1. Resurrection itself is not described. Like all beginnings, whether in nature or in history, it is hidden from view. (Contrast the attempt at description in the Gospel of Peter.)
2. The manifestations, while confined to disciples, were made to disciples who were wholly unexpectant of a Resurrection. The theory that they were visions or illusions, arising from intense and unreasoning expectation, is contrary to all the evidence that has come down to us. On the contrary,
3. They were received with doubt and hesitation at first, and mere reports on the subject were rejected.
4. The evidence begins with the visit of women to the tomb very early on the first day of the week, and the first sign was the removal of the stone from the door of the tomb.
5. Angels were seen before the Lord was seen.
6. He was seen on various occasions by various kinds of witnesses, male and female, both individuals and companies, both sceptical and trusting.
7. The result was a conviction, which nothing ever shook, that “the Lord own indeed” and present with them (see Wsctt. on Joh_20:1: he gives a tentative arrangement of the events of the first Easter Day, which at least shows that there is no serious discrepancy between the four narratives)
Sadler asserts, and Godet endeavours to show, that each narrative is determined by the purpose which each Evangelist had in view in writing; but in most cases the distinctions are not very convincing. Nearly the whole of Lk.’s narrative is peculiar to him, the partial exceptions being vv. 1-6 and 9, 10. The nucleus of the whole is the account of the walk to Emmaus (vv. 13-43); and the first part of the chapter is an introduction to this graphic account, with special reference to vv. 22, 23.See Loofs, Die Aufstehungsberichte.
1-11. The Visit of the Women to the Tomb and the Vision of Angels. Comp, Mat_28:1-10; Mar_16:1-8; Joh_20:1-10. Lk. and Jn. mention two Angels; Mt. and Mk. mention only one: but we know too little about the manner of Angel appearances to be sure that Lk. and Jn. mention the same two Angels, or that Mt. and Mk. mention the same one. In the other two cases of similar difference (the Gerasene demoniacs and the blind men at Jericho) it is Mt. who mentions two, while Lk. gives only one. In all three cases Mk. mentions only one. Where, out of two or more, only one is spokesman, he is necessarily remembered. The other or others may easily be ignored or forgotten. It is an exaggeration to call such differences absolute discrepancies. Lk. records only those appearances of the risen Lord which took place in Judæa.
1. τῇ δὲ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων. “But on the first day of the week.” The δέ corresponds to the previous μέν: they rested on the sabbath, but the next day they did not. Jn. has the same expression (20:1), which literally means “but on day one of the week,” una antem sabbati (Vulg.). Cov. here translates “upon one of the Sabbathes,” and in Jn. “upon one daye of the Sabbath.” But here with Cran. he rightly has “But” (RV.) and not “And” (Rhem.) or “Now” (AV.).
Comp. Act_20:7; Mat_28:1; Mar_16:2; Joh_20:19; Rev_9:12. This use of the cardinal for the ordinal is Hebraistic: Gen_1:5; Est_3:6; Psa_23. tit. In class. Grk. it occurs only in combination with an ordinal: τῷ ἐνὶ καὶ τριηκοστῷ (Hdt. v. 89, 2).
ὅρθρου βαθέως. It is doubtful whether βαθέως is the Attic form of the gen. of βαθύς (De W. Nösg. Alf.) or an adv. (Mey. Weiss). The former is probable; for ὅρθρος βαθύς occurs (Aristoph Vesp.216; Plat. Crit. 43 A; see esp. Prot. 310 A; Philo, De Vita Mosis, i. 32), and 2Co_11:23 does not favour the latter. For ὅρθρου comp. [Jn.] 8:2, Jer_25:4, Jer_26:5.
τὸ μνῆμα. With the exception of Mar_5:3, Mar_5:5, Mar_5:15:46; Rev_11:9, the word is peculiar to Lk. in N.T. (8:27, 23:53; Act_2:29, Act_7:16). The common word is μνημεῖον (11:44, 47, 23:55, 24:2, 9, 12, 22, 24, etc.); but Mt sometimes has τάφος (23:27, 29, 27:61, 64. 66, 28:1; comp. Rom_3:13). RV. “tomb” for μνῆμα and μνημεῖον and “sepulchre” for τάφος.
A C2 D X Λ etc. d f q Syrr. (Cur. Sin. Pesh. Harcl. Hier.) Sah. Arm. Aeth. (most MSS.) add καί τινες σὺν αὐταῖς, and D c d Sah. add from Mar_16:3 ἐλογίζοντο δὲ ἐν ἐανταῖς τίς ἅρα ἀποκυλίσει τὸν λίθον; א B C* L 33, 124 a b c e ff21 Vulg. Bob. Aeth. (some MSS.) omit. The insertion is a gloss from ver. 10 and Mar_16:1, Mar_16:3.
Vers. 1-49. THE RESURRECTION. All the four evangelists give an account of the Resurrection. None of the four, however, attempt to give a history of it simply from a human point of sight. Each Gospel probably reproduces the special points dwelt on in certain great centres of Christian teaching, in what we should now term different schools of thought. (Attempts have been made by theological scholars to classify these as Jewish, Gentile, Greek, Roman; but only with indifferent success).
The teaching which St. Matthew”s Gospel represents, evidently in the Resurrection preaching dwelt with peculiar insistence on the great Galilaean appearance of the Risen. St. Luke confines himself exclusively to the appearance, in Judaea. St. John chooses for his Resurrection instruction scenes which had for their theatre both Galilee and Judaea. St. John, as his central or most detailed piece of teaching, dwells on a fishing scene on Gennesaret, the actors being the well-known inner circle of the apostles. While St. Luke chooses for his detailed Resurrection narrative a high-road in a Jerusalem suburb; and for actors, two devoted, but historically unknown, disciples.
Then there is no question of discrepancies in this portion of the great history. It is not easy to frame a perfectly satisfactory harmony of all the events related by the four, after the Lord had risen; for, in fact, we possess no detailed account or history of what took place in that eventful period in presence of the disciples. We simply have memoranda of eye-witnesses of certain incidents connected with the Resurrection selected by the great first teachers as specially adapted to their own preaching and instruction.
The events of the first Easter Day have Been tabulated by Professor Westcott, in what he terms a provisional arrangement, as follows:
Very early on Sunday
The Resurrection, followed by the earthquake, the descent of the angel, the opening of the tomb. (Mat_28:2-4)
Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome, probably with others, start for the sepulchre in the twilight. Mary Magdalene goes before the others, and returns at once to Peter and John, (Joh_20:1, etc.)
Her companions reach the sepulchre when the sun had risen. (Mar_16:2) A vision of an angel. Message to the disciples (Mat_28:5, etc,; Mar_16:5, etc.).
Another party, among whom is Joanna, come a little later, but still in the early morning (Luk_24:1, etc.; comp. Mar_16:1, note). A vision of “two young men.” Words of comfort and instruction. (Luk_24:4, etc.)
The visit of Peter and John. (Joh_20:3-10) A vision of two angels to Mary Magdalene. (Joh_20:11-13) About the same time the company of women carry their tidings to the apostles. (Luk_24:10, etc.)
The Lord reveals himself to Mary Magdalene. (Joh_20:14-18 Mar_16:9) Not long after he reveals him self, as it appears, to the company of women who are returning to the sepulchre. Charge to the brethren to go to Galilee. (Mat_28:9, etc.)
The appearance to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus. (Luk_24:13, etc.; Mar_16:12)
After 4 p.m…
An appearance to St. Peter. (Luk_24:34; comp. 1Co_15:5)
The appearance to the eleven and others. (Luk_24:36, etc.; Mar_16:14 Joh_20:19, etc.)
In the above table one point must be specially noticed: two companies or separate groups of women are mentioned as going to the sepulchre with the same pious object of assisting in the final embalming of the sacred body.
If this be assumed to be the fact, there will be nothing improbable in the supposition that both these groups of women, all doubtless intimate friends belonging to the little company of the Master, but living probably some distance apart in Jerusalem, came together some time on the sabbath day, and then arranged to meet early on the first day at the sepulchre. Probably the spices purchased in some haste just before the sabbath commenced were judged inadequate.
(1) For in Luk_23:56 we read of a company of women, most probably including all, i.e. both groups, of holy women, who, after beholding the sepulchre, “returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day.
(2) In Mar_16:1 we read, When the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought not had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.” This company (alluded to in Mar_16:1) arrives the first at the sepulchre, and sees the vision of one angel. (Mar_16:5) The other company (alluded to in Luk_24:1) arrives not long after at the sepulchre, and sees the vision of two angels. (Luk_24:4)
In considering the accounts of the Resurrection, the following memoranda will be found suggestive:
(1) The holy women are the principal actors in all the four accounts of the circumstances connected with the tomb. But their assertions were not believed by the disciples until their statements were confirmed by the Lord”s personal appearance.
(2) When St. Paul (1Co_15:5-8) sums up the great appearances of our Lord, the basis of our faith, he makes no reference to
his appearance to Mary Magdalene (Joh_20:14, etc.; Mar_16:9) or to the women. (two Maries mentioned Mat_28:9, Mat_28:10)
(3) No evangelist describes the Resurrection-no earthly being having been present. St. Matthew is the evangelist who, in his narrative, goes furthest back. He mentions the shock of the earthquake, the awful presence of the angel, the benumbing terror which seized the guards who were watching. Most probably these signs accompanied the Resurrection.
(4) The risen Lord appeared only to his own.
(5) That no future doubt should be thrown on the reality of the appearances of the Risen, he showed himself not only to solitary individuals, but to companies, i.e. to two, to the eleven (repeatedly), and to above five hundred brethren at once. And these manifestations took place
(a) at different hours of the day;
(b) in different localities in Judaea, in Galilee, in rooms of houses, in the open air.
Vers. 1-12. The Resurrection. At the sepulchre.
Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. In the foregoing general note on the Resurrection, the probability has been discussed of the holy women having been divided into two companies who separately came to the sepulchre. St. Luke”s notice here refers to the party who arrived the second at the tomb.
Vers. 1-12. The Resurrection-morning.
Who are the witnesses to the Resurrection? What is the evidence on which it was believed by the first disciples? on which it is received by all Christians still?
I THE WITNESSES ARE THE HOLY WOMEN AND THE APOSTLES. It is (ver. 1) the very early morning: “while it was yet dark,” says St. John; “as the day began to dawn,” says St. Matthew; “at the rising of the sun,” says St. Mark. Then the women hasten towards the sepulchre. How many formed the company, or, as seems to be implied, the two companies, of women we know not. The names of five are given, and the rest are grouped under the phrases, the “others that were with them,” and “the others from Galilee.” They quickly pass through the silent streets.
Jerusalem is still asleep; neither memory of what had happened, nor fear of what might happen, has disturbed its repose. They have only one care (ver. 1) the complete embalming of the body which had been hastily laid in the rock-hewn sepulchre of Joseph. There is no idea beyond this; there is no hope even against hope that, on this the third day, he would rise again. With the eagerness characteristic of woman”s nature, they proceed, the question never suggesting itself until they near the tomb, “Who shall roll away the stone from the mouth of the cave?” It would seem that they did not know of the guard which had been commanded to watch or of the sealing of the stone, for that had been done on the sabbath morning; but some of them had observed the setting of the stone a block three or four feet in height, and two or three in breadth, requiring several men to move it. “How shall it be moved? how shall we find an entrance?” is the question before them as they press towards the holy place. Now, what are the facts? In the dawn, half-clear and half-dark, as the east begins to lighten, Mary of Magdala, the foremost of the company, sees the cave standing wide open the stone having been rolled aside. Horror-struck, she turns to her companions, and, yielding to the moment”s impulse, she speeds back to the city to communicate her fears to Peter and John. (Joh_20:1, Joh_20:2) In the meantime, her companions venture forward. Timidly they enter the tomb, or the vestibule of the tomb, to search for the body. Lo, there, (Mat_28:2, Mat_28:3) on the stone which had been pushed into a corner, sits one “whose countenance is like lightning, and his raiment white as snow,” and prostrate on the ground are the Roman sentries. The women start., but the assuring word, “Fear not ye,” is spoken, and the invitation (Mat_28:6) is given to “come and see the place where the Lord lay.” Yes, guardians, and only guardians, are these one where the head, another where the feet, of Jesus had been token of the complete, protecting care of his Father. And these guardians ask (vers. 5-7), “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” and repeat the testimony, “He is not here: he is risen,” bidding them remember his own words, and bear the news of the Resurrection to the sorrowing company. It is with fear and great joy that they depart, running to bring the disciples word. They encounter scepticism. Their hot, eager sentences (ver. 11) seem to the apostles “as idle tales, and they believe them not.” Peter and John, however, have already obeyed the importunate pleading of Mary. And there, to be sure, as they reach the sepulchre, is the open door. John, who is first, looks in without entering; Peter, coming up, enters at once. “John,” observes Matthew Henry, “could outrun Peter, but Peter could out-dare John.” Undoubtedly the tomb is empty. Examining it, they discover (ver. 12) the linen clothes laid by themselves; and the napkin which had surrounded the head laid by itself. There had been no haste. Not thus would any have acted who had borne away the sacred form. Peter, after minute examination of the surroundings, “departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.” John, with the quick intuition of love, not only wondered, but believed felt sure that these grave-clothes were the sign of a victory. Such is the account of that ever-memorable morning. The arrangement of its events may not be absolutely accurate; in the ignorance of all that occurred, it is impossible to supply every link in the chain of narrative. The evangelists are so filled with the one reality, “He is risen,” that they are not careful as to the minutiae of the circumstances. On the Resurrection, as personal, as real, the structure of Christian life and doctrine is reared. By the effect of the Resurrection the apostles were transformed. The foolish and slow-hearted fishermen of the past became the princes of a new and heavenly kingdom. “With great power they gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.
II But WITHOUT FURTHER DWELLING ON THE EVIDENCES OF THE RESURRECTION AS A HISTORICAL FACT, CONSIDER IT AS A MIGHTY SPIRITUAL FORCE. Consider what the apostle calls “the power of the Resurrection.” What is the central truth of the forty days between the Resurrection and Ascension? Study the brief account of these forty days, and you see at once a change in the manner and conditions of the revelation of Christ. shows himself only to chosen witnesses. St. Mark says that he appeared to the disciples “in another form.” The eyes of the disciples are declared to be so held (ver. 16) that they do not know him. It is the same Jesus, but much is altered. “He came and he went as he pleased; material substances such as the fastened doors were no impediment to his coming; when he was present his disciples did not, as a matter of course, know him.” These forty days were what the sunrise is to the day; they were the beginning of the relation in which he stands to his Church now. All his self-revelations are pictures of the way and truth of his presence as we are called to realize it. Men had seen him without knowing him; now they know him without seeing him. We behold him, as Newman has finely said, “passing from his hiding-place of sight without knowledge to that of knowledge without sight.” As a transition-time, giving us intimations of the glory in which he is abiding and of the grace in which he is dealing with us, regard the period that was ushered in by the early morning of the first day of the week. It was a great day. Four appearances are noted. The first, (Joh 20) to Mary of Magdala, followed or preceded, perhaps, by an appearance to the other women; (Mt 23) the second (vers. 13-35), to the two brethren journeying to Emmaus; the third, to Simon Peter (ver. 35); and the fourth, (Joh_20:19-23) to the disciples assembled at night when the doors were shut for fear of the Jews. Each of these appearances is significant. St, Luke relates the second. One remark only as to Mary of Magdala. Renan has asserted that the glory of the Resurrection belongs to her; that, “after Jesus, it is Mary who has done the most to the founding of Christianity.” There can be nothing more contrary to the explicit statements of the evangelists than much that is contained in the brilliant French man”s statement. But the message of Mary is indeed the basis of the faith of the Church, the basis of the faith of humanity. “If Christ is not risen, our hope is vain; we are yet in our sins.” And the commandment which sent her to the disciples is the inspiration of all Christian hearts. “Go, tell my brethren.” Tell the message of the risen Lord in the light with which the countenance is irradiated; tell it in the glad obedience by which the life is sanctified; tell it through all that you do and are; tell let your teaching cease only with your breathing that Christ has risen, that the imprisoning stone has been rolled away, and the kingdom of heaven is open to all believers, its gates being closed neither by day nor by night, for there is no night there.
HOMILIES BY VARIOUS AUTHORS. Vers. 1-12. Side-lights from the Resurrection.
The simple, unpretending story of the Resurrection, as here narrated, brings into view other truths than that great and supreme fact of the rising of our Lord. We have our attention called to
I THE CONSTANCY AND THE EAGERNESS OF TRUE AFFECTION, (Ver. 1) No thought had these women of deserting him whom they loved but whom the world hated and had now slain. On the contrary, the enmity of those that maligned and murdered him made their affection to cleave all the more firmly to him. It attended him right up to the very last; it followed him to the grave; it came to bestow those final ministries which only devoted affection would have cared to render. And it showed itself as eager as it was constant. “Very early in the morning they came unto the sepulchre.” True love to our Lord will stand these tests. It will survive the enmities and oppositions of an indifferent or a hostile society; it will be unaffected by these except, indeed, to be strengthened and deepened by them; moreover, it will show its loyalty and its fervour by the eagerness of its service, not waiting for the last hour of necessity, but availing itself of the first hour of opportunity.
II THE DISAPPEARANCE OF DIFFICULTIES AS WE GO ON OUR WAY OF FAITHFUL SERVICE. We know from Mark (Mar_16:3) that these women were full of apprehension lest they should be unable to get the stone rolled away from the door. But they went on their way to do their sacred office; and when they reached the spot they found their difficulty vanished (ver. 2). This is the common experience of the seeker after God in Christ, of the man desirous of discharging his duty in the fear of God, of the Christian worker. “Who will roll away that intervening stone?” we ask timidly and apprehensively. “How shall we get over that insurmountable barrier? How will our weakness prevail against such solid obstacles?” Let us go on our way of faith, of duty, of loving service, and we shall find that, if some angel has not been on the scene, the hindrance has disappeared, the way is open, the goal within our reach, the service within the compass of our powers.
III THE SURPRISES THAT AWAIT US AS WE PROCEED, These women found an empty grave, visitants from the unseen world, a most unexpected though most welcome message; instead of a mournful satisfaction, they found a new hope, far too good and far too great to be held all at once within their heart (vers. 4-7). Peter, too, found himself the subject of a great astonishment (ver. 12). God has his merciful surprises for us as we proceed on our Christian path. He may surprise us with a sudden fear or a sudden sorrow; but he also surprises us with an unanticipated peace; with an unlooked-for joy; with a new, strange hope; before long he will introduce us to the blessed surprise of the heavenly realities.
IV THE NEARNESS OF THE HEAVENLY TO THE EARTHLY SPHERE. (Ver. 4) Angels were always at hand to render service in the great redemptive work. Why should we think of heaven as “beyond the stars”? Why should we not think of it as encompassing us on every side, only separated from us by a thin veil, through which our mortal senses cannot pass to its glorious spectacles and its blessed harmonies?
V THAT GOD HAS MUCH BETTER THINGS IN STORE FOR US THAN WE THINK POSSIBLE. Neither the wondering women nor the incredulous apostles could believe in such a happy issue as they were assured of, though they had been carefully prepared to expect it (ver. 11). In the feebleness of our faith we say to ourselves, “Surely God is not going to give me that, to place me there, to bestow on me such a heritage as this!” But why not? For him to make all grace, all power, all life, to abound, is for him to do what he has promised, and what he has been doing since he first opened his hand to create and to bestow. C.
HOMILIES BY R.M. EDGAR Vers. 1-12. The Resurrection discovered.
When the women and the other mourners left the Lord”s tomb on the evening of the Crucifixion, it was with the intention, after the sabbath was past, of completing the embalmment. This office of love seems to have been left largely to the women; for it is they who make their way, in the early morning of the first day of the week, to the sepulchre. They seem to have had no knowledge, for they had no apprehension, of the Roman guard, which was manifestly placed at the sepulchre on the Jewish sabbath, when the disciples and the women were keeping the sad day in strictest privacy. Their one apprehension was how to roll away the stone; but, like so many apprehended difficulties, it was found to vanish away some hands stronger than women”s had been before them and had rolled away the stone, and left them no difficulty in discovering an empty tomb. The narrative of John about Mary Magdalene”s visit is quite consistent with Luke”s narrative; for, as Gilbert West has pointed out in his admirable analysis of the Resurrection-history, Mary rushes off alone to tell the disciples, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him implying that others had been with her at the tomb. Without any misgivings, therefore, about the reliable character of the history, let us point out the instructive steps in the discovery of our Lord”s resurrection.
I THE WOMEN WITH THE SPICES DISCOVER AN EMPTY TOMB. (Vers. 1-3) They had employed the evening after the sabbath was past in preparing all that was needful for embalming thoroughly and finally the Saviour”s body. It was with this fragrant burden they made their way in the twilight towards the tomb, to find their fears groundless and the stone already removed. But a new fear now laid hold on them. There is no body in the tomb; it is empty. They do not appear to have taken in the significance of the grave-clothes carefully put aside because never to be needed more, as John did at his subsequent visit; their whole anxiety was about what had become of the dear body which they had come to embalm. The empty tomb was a discovery. The first impression, as indicated by Mary”s message, (Joh_20:2) was that their enemies had seized the body and disposed of it to defeat all their ideas of embalming. One thing is certain from the history, that neither the women nor the disciples could have been parties to the removal of the body.
II THE WOMEN THAT WAITED GOT EXPLANATIONS FROM THE ANGELS. (Vers. 4-7) Mary Magdalene, acting on impulse, seems to have hurried off to tell Peter and John about the discovery of the empty tomb, while her companions wait longer to get some explanation, if possible, regarding it. And the waiting women are not disappointed. Angels appear in shining garments, and, as the women sink before them in terror, they proceed to reassure them with the glad tidings, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man mast be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” It was the angels that reminded them of the promise of resurrection, and how it was now fulfilled. This is the second stage, therefore, in the discovery of the Resurrection. The fear of the women had been that the Jews had got the body. But there could have been no such plot carried out, for the very simple reason that, if they had got the body and it had not risen, they could have produced such evidence at the Pentecost as would have overturned the apostolic testimony, and prevented the inauguration of the Christian society. The angelic explanation, based as it was on our Lord”s previous promises, was the only satisfactory one. The Resurrection was the fulfilment of Christ”s deliberate plan.
III THE REPORT OF THE WOMEN TO THE ELEVEN AND THE REST. (Vers. 8-11) It is quite reasonable to suppose that Mary Magdalene was the forerunner of the rest, and through her report induced Peter and John to start at once for the sepulchre, while the main body of the women, consisting of Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and others, returned more leisurely to make their report. At all events, the narrative of Luke implies all that is given by Matthew and by John. For the disciples who went to Emmaus distinctly say that certain of the disciples “went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said; but him they saw not” (ver. 24) implying that the women, in their report, had spoken of having seen the Master. The testimony of the women was based upon a threefold foundation first, the assurance of the angels; secondly, the promise of resurrection given in Galilee by the Lord; thirdly, according to Matthew”s account, an interview with the risen Lord himself. (Mat_28:9, Mat_28:10) It was a remarkable testimony certainly, but at the same time it had ample warrant.
IV THE BEST-ATTESTED FACTS MAY SEEM, TO DAZED MINDS, THE IDLEST FANCIES. (Ver. 11) The poor disciples are, however, so overpowered with grief and disappointment that they are utterly unprepared for the announcement of the Resurrection. Here the suppler mind of woman is revealed in contrast to the more plodding, sifting, logic-demanding mind of man. The women enjoy the consolations of the Resurrection much sooner than the men. They take in the evidence at a glance. They do not question. They simply accept. But the disciples will not believe in a hurry. And so the messengers of the best tidings ever related unto men are at first in the position of the Master ….. himself, and constrained to cry, “Who hath believed our report?” And the unbelieving criticism of to-day is more unreasonable than the disciples were before the women. Because the resurrection of Christ may break in upon the ideas of nature”s absolute uniformity which the critics have adopted, the whole evidence of resurrection-power continued through the ages is to be treated as an idle tale! Minds may be so dazed with grief or with success on certain lines as to discredit the completest evidence ever offered to the world. Before prejudice, the strongest facts get resolved into the idlest fancies. We should earnestly seek an impartial mind.
V PETER”S FIRST ATTEMPT TO DEAL WITH THE EVIDENCE OF THE RESURRECTION. (Ver. 12) Peter, as we learn from John”s account, accompanied by John, rushes off to see the sepulchre. He reaches it after John, but pushes past him, and goes into the sepulchre. There he sees the linen clothes laid by themselves, yet departs without reaching anything but perplexity. To John”s keener intellect the grave-clothes, so neatly deposited and the napkin laid in a place by itself, show that Jesus had risen, and laid aside his sleeping-clothes, as we do our night-dresses in the morning, because he had entered on the day of resurrection. John becomes a believer in the Resurrection on circumstantial evidence. Peter, it would seem, cannot make it out, and has to get a personal interview somewhat later on that day (cf. ver. 34), before he can take it in. It thus appears that one mind may handle the Resurrection evidence successfully, while another may only stumble through it into deeper perplexity. But when a soul like Peter is in earnest, the Lord will not leave him in the darkness, but will grant such further light as will dispel the gloom and dissipate all perplexity. Meanwhile the discovery of Christ”s resurrection is but the interesting first stage in the remarkable evidence to part of which we have yet to proceed. R.M.E.
At early dawn (orthrou batheos). Genitive of time. Literally, at deep dawn. The adjective bathus (deep) was often used of time. This very idiom occurs in Aristophanes, Plato, et cetera. Joh_20:1 adds “while it was yet dark.” That is, when they started, for the sun was risen when they arrived (Mar_16:2).
Which they had prepared (ha hētoimasan). Mar_16:1 notes that they bought other spices after the sabbath was over besides those which they already had (Luk_23:56).
Very early in the morning (ὄρθρου βαθέως)
Lit., at deep dawn, or the dawn being deep. It is not uncommon in Greek to find βαθύς, deep, used of time; as deep or late evening. Plutarch says of Alexander, that he supped “at deep evening;” i.e., late at night. Philo says that the Hebrews crossed the Red Sea “about deep dawn (as here), while others were yet in bed.” So Socrates, in prison, asks Crito the time of day. He replies, ὄρθρος βαθύς, the dawn is deep, i.e. breaking (Plato, “Crito,” 43).
Cambridge Bible:Lk Farrar
2. they found the stone rolled away] On their way they had considered how they should get over this difficulty, since the stone was “very great” (Mar_16:3). From St Mark’s expression, “looking up,” we infer that the tomb was slightly elevated; and from St John’s “lifted” (ἠρμένον) that the first aperture of the tomb was horizontal. St Matthew also tells us of the Angel and the Earthquake (28:2-4).
And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. The tomb in which the body of the “King”s Son” was laid was in a garden close by the scene of the Crucifixion. It had been recently hewn out of a rock, the low ridge opposite the slight ascent of Calvary. “In front of a tomb belonging to a rich family there was generally a vestibule open to the air, then a low entrance sometimes, as in this case, on the side of a rock, leading into a square chamber of moderate dimensions, on one side of which was a place for the body, either cut some seven feet into the rock, or lengthways, three feet deep, with a low arch over it… The tomb had been lately made, and the door which closed the entrance, the only aperture into the tomb, was a large stone”. (“Speaker”s Commentary,” on Mat_27:60) Recent investigations in Jerusalem serve to confirm the accuracy of the original traditional sites. (comp. Williams, “Holy City,” 2:240; Professor Willis, “Treatise on the Holy Sepulchre,” etc.). We find the following passage in the Bordeaux Pilgrim (A.D. 333): “On the left side (of the original Church of the Holy Sepulchre) is the hillock Golgotha, where the Lord was crucified. Thence about a stone-throw distance is the crypt where his body was deposited.” St. Cyril of Jerusalem makes several references to the spot. In the days of Eusebius (first half of the fourth century) there was no doubt as to the site.
Cambridge Bible:Lk Farrar
3. found not the body] Even advanced sceptics admit this circumstance as indisputable, nor has one of them been able to invent the most remotely plausible explanation of the fact by natural causes. For the white-robed angel or angels in the tomb, see Mar_16:5; Joh_20:11, Joh_20:12. On the mention, omission, and numbers of these angels Van Oosterzee quotes a very striking remark from Lessing. “Cold discrepancy-mongers, do ye not then see that the Evangelists do not count the angels?… There were not only two angels, there were millions of them. They appeared not always one and the same, not always the same two; sometimes this one appeared, sometimes that; sometimes on this place, sometimes on that; sometimes alone, sometimes in company; sometimes they said this, sometimes they said that.”
of the Lord Jesus] These words are omitted in D. The combination ‘Lord Jesus’ would however naturally begin at this point, as it is common in the Acts and Epistles, where ‘Lord Jesus Christ’ occurs about 40 times, though not found in the Gospels.
Cambridge Bible:Lk Farrar
4. much perplexed] The word means ‘utterly at a loss.’
in shining garments] Literally, “flashing as with lightning,” which recalls the expression of Mat_28:3; comp. 9:29.
And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. To one company of women one angel appeared: to another, two. Mary Magdalene, a little later, saw two angels in white sitting, as it were keeping watch and ward over the sepulchre for a short time after the sacred form had left it. The words which these beings from another sphere spoke to the mourning women were slightly different, but the teaching was the same in each case: “He is not here, but is risen. Do you not remember what he told you when he was yet with you?” Van Oosterzee and Farrar repeat a beautiful passage from Lessing on this: “Cold discrepancy-mongers, do you not, then, see that the evangelists do not count the angels?… There were not only two angels there were millions of them. They appeared not always one and the same, not always the same two; sometimes this one appeared, sometimes that; sometimes on this place, sometimes on that; sometimes alone, sometimes in company; sometimes they said this, sometimes they said that.”
Cambridge Bible:Lk Farrar
5. Why seek ye the living among the dead?] Comp. Act_1:11. The expression “the living” is probably used on the lips of the angels with something of its true mystic depth. Joh_1:4, Joh_5:26, Joh_11:25, Joh_20:31.
Vers. 6, 7. He is not here, but is risen. These words were repeated in each of the angelic communications at the sepulchre. Remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. The angels here call to the women”s memory the Master”s former promises of the Resurrection. In St. Matthew and Mark the angel bids them tell the disciples not to forget the appointed place of meeting in Galilee, referring to the Lord”s words on the way from the “Last Supper” to Gethsemane. (Mat_26:32)
He is not here, but is risen (ouk estin hōde, alla ēgerthē). Another Western non-interpolation according to Westcott and Hort. The words are genuine at any rate in Mar_16:6; Mat_28:7.
The third day rise again (tēi tritēi hēmerāi anastēnai). See note on Luk_9:22; and the note on Luk_18:32, Luk_18:33 where Jesus plainly foretold this fact. And yet they had forgotten it, for it ran counter to all their ideas and hopes.
TEXT: “among the dead? ·He is not here, but has been raised. Remember how he spoke to plyou”
EVIDENCE: p75 S A B C3 K L W X Delta Theta Pi Psi 0124 f1 f13 28 33 565 700 892 1010 1241 Byz Lect three lat vg syr(c,s,h,pal) most cop
TRANSLATIONS: KJV ASV RSVn NASV NIV NEBn TEV
NOTES: “among the dead? ·Remember how he spoke to plyou”
EVIDENCE: D some lat
TRANSLATIONS: ASVn RSV NASVn NEB
OTHER: “among the dead? ·He is not here; he has been raised. Remember how he spoke to plyou”
EVIDENCE: C* syr(p) one cop(north)
COMMENTS: While it is possible that the missing sentence was derived by copyists from similar sentences in the parallels of Mat_28:6 and Mar_16:6, the fact that neither the text reading nor the minor variations of it read exactly like either of those parallels indicates that the text reading is original. It is supported by most early manuscripts of several types of ancient text.
Expositor’s Greek NT
6. μνήσθητε, etc.: the reference is to what Jesus told the disciples in the neighbourhood of Caesarea Philippi (9). There is no indication elsewhere that women were present on that occasion.—ὡς: not merely “that,” but “how,” in what terms.—ἐν τῇ Γαλιλαίᾳ: this reference to Galilee suggests that Lk. was aware of another reference to Galilee as the place of rendezvous for the meeting between the disciples and their risen Master (Mat_26:32, Mar_14:28, to which there is nothing corresponding in Lk.).
7. Τὸν Υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, the Son of man) This is repeated from the discourses which were delivered by the Lord before His passion. But the Lord Himself did not give Himself the appellation, Son of man, after His resurrection, but either spake in the first person, or else employed the express appellation, Christ.—ἁμαρτωλῶν, of sinful men) viz. the Gentiles.
And they remembered his words; by which we are taught that, though they had made little proficiency in the doctrine of Christ, still it was not lost, but was choked up, until in due time it yielded fruit.
36.Jesus himself stood in the midst of them. While the Evangelist John copiously details the same narrative, (Joh_20:19,) he differs from Luke in some circumstances. Mark, too, differs somewhat in his brief statement. As to John, since he only collects what Luke omitted, both may be easily reconciled. There is no contradiction about the substance of the fact; unless some person were to raise a debate about the time: for it is there said that Jesus entered in the evening, while it is evident, from the thread of the narrative, that he appeared at a late hour in the night, when the disciples had returned from Emmaus. But I do not think it right to insist precisely on the hour of the evening. On the contrary, we may easily and properly extend to a late hour of the night what is here said, and understand it to mean that Christ came to them after the evening, when the apostles had shut the doors, and kept themselves concealed within the house. In short, John does not describe the very commencement of the night, but simply means that, when the day was past, and after sunset, and even at the dead hour of night, Christ came to the disciples contrary to their expectation.
Still there arises here another question, since Mark and Luke relate that the eleven were assembled, when Christ appeared to them; and John says that Thomas was then absent, (Joh_20:24.) But there is no absurdity in saying that the number — the eleven — is here put for the apostles themselves, though one of their company was absent. We have lately stated—and the fact makes it evident—that John enters into the details with greater distinctness, because it was his design to relate what the others had omitted. Besides, it is beyond a doubt that the three Evangelists relate the same narrative; since John expressly says that it was only twice that Christ appeared to his disciples at Jerusalem, before they went to Galilee; for he says that he appeared to them the third time at the sea of Tiberias, (Joh_21:1) He had already described two appearances of our Lord, one which took place on the day after his resurrection, (Joh_20:19,) and the other which followed eight days afterwards, (Joh_20:26) though, were any one to choose rather to explain the second appearance to be that which is found in the Gospel by Mark, I should not greatly object.
I now return to the words of Luke. He does not, indeed, say that Christ, by his divine power, opened for himself the doors which were shut, (Joh_20:26;) but something of this sort is indirectly suggested by the phrase which he employs, Jesus stood. For how could our Lord suddenly, during the night, stand in the midst of them, if he had not entered in a miraculous manner? The same form of salutation is employed by both, Peace be to you; by which the Hebrews mean, that for the person whom they address they wish happiness and prosperity.
Cambridge Bible:Lk Farrar
36. stood in the midst of them] The words imply a sudden appearance. The Eleven, with the exception of Thomas the Twin, were sitting at supper with the doors closed through their fear of the Jews (Joh_20:19). This is one of the most remarkable appearances of the Risen Christ. His intercourse with them on this occasion consisted of a greeting (36); a reproach and consolation (38; Mar_16:14); a demonstration of the reality of His person (39-43; Joh_20:20); an opening of their understandings (44-46); an appointment of the Apostles to the ministries of remission and witness (47, 48; Joh_19:21, Joh_19:23); a promise of the Spirit, for the fulfilment of which they were to wait in Jerusalem (49). At the close of this great scene He once more pronounced the benediction of Peace, and breathed on them with the words ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ (Joh_20:22). It is doubtless the extreme fulness with which St Luke has narrated this appearance which led him in accordance with his economy of method to omit some of the other appearances.
Vers. 36-49. The Lord appears to the apostles as they were gathered together on the evening of the first Easter Day.
And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them. St. John, who also gives an account of this appearance of the Risen, adds the detail, “when the doors were shut.” The eleven and their friends were gathered together for counsel, probably too in hope that something more would happen after what had already taken place that Easter Day the report of the holy women of the repeated vision of angels, their own verification of the empty sepulchre, and above all the testimony of Peter that he had seen the Lord. Into this anxious, waiting assembly the two “Emmaus” disciples enter with their wondrous story. In the act of their mentally comparing notes, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them. This sudden presence there is evidently supernatural. He “stood in the midst of them,” though the doors were carefully closed and barred “for fear of the Jews” Rumours of the Resurrection, no doubt, had already spread through the city, and it was uncertain whether such turnouts might not be followed by the arrest of the chief followers of the Crucified. Peace be unto you. This was the ordinary Jewish greeting, but on this occasion, spoken by the Lord, possessed more than the ordinary meaning. This “peace” was his solemn, comforting greeting to his own, just as “his peace” which he left with them on the sad Thursday eve was his solemn farewell to the eleven, spoken, perhaps, in the same “upper room just before he went out to the garden of the agony.
Vers. 36-43. Christ and his Church.
I THE CHURCH. It is found in miniature in the upper room eleven, and them that were with them.
1. Its separation. It is isolated from the outer world. A new bond, a new manner, of union is already realized. It is not of the world, as Christ himself was not. There is a door shut between the little flock and the Jews. A supreme attraction to him whom the world sees not, an affiance of soul of which the world knows not, unites the company, and, in thus uniting, separates it. It has a secret with which the world does not intermeddle.
2. Its unity.
(1) That stands in Christ, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you”. (Joh_15:16) The Church is not a mere voluntary association; it is a spiritual organism rooted and grounded in the Man Christ Jesus in what he is and has done, in his Divine-human Person, and the orifices which he executes as Redeemer.
(2) It is realized through continuance in the apostles” doctrine and fellowship. “The eleven, and those with them.” Christ had looked through the ages down to the end of the time, and thus had spoken: “I pray for those who shall believe on me through the word of the men whom thou didst give me.” Here the eleven form the centre of the company. There is a definite word on which the Church is built. It has not a mere collection of” memoranda;” it is not an institution of “hazy outlines.” It has a distinct testimony that of the apostles and prophets. And there is a social life, a fellowship, by which it “makes increase to self-edifying in love the fellowship which continues that which is witnessed to in the assembly of the eleven and those with them. Remember, it is fellowship, all holding themselves to be fellows in Christ, exchanging their experiences, imparting the gift which each has received, that it may tend to quicken the faith and love of all “As they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst” (ver. 36).
II CHRIST. He had promised, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” Behold the fulfilment and the way of the fulfilment of this promise. Behold him present in his Church.
1. The sovereignty of the presence. On a sudden he stands in the midst. They are not expecting him. He comes through barred doors. It is the day of his power. Christ prescribes means; he ordains channels of grace; and, where there is the obedience of faith in the use of the means, there is blessing. “Where two or three are gathered together, there am I in the midst of them.” But in all that speaks of spiritual life, there is the witness for a spiritual sovereignty, for reserves of power in the hands of the Lord himself. The new birth is a secret and a surprise. (Joh_3:7, Joh_3:8)
2. It is the personal Jesus who is present to bless Jesus himself. ” (Ver. 36) Above and beyond the mere teaching and fellowship, there is the Lord. Christianity is Christ. The full blessing, that which wholly fills the soul, is himself in felt relation with each self. “Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made to us Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, Redemption”. (1Co_1:30)
3. The announcement of the presence is peace. (Ver. 36) One of the last words before he suffered was “peace.” It was the legacy of the dying Saviour. The salutation of the risen Saviour is, “Peace to you! the customary salutation transformed and glorified. His immanence in the Church is evidenced by the breathing of peace over human souls. “Peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ;” “The peace of God which passeth all understanding.
4. The complete benediction of the presence.
(1) Fears and doubts are scattered. The disciples are terrified and affrighted (ver. 37). They are afraid at his tokens. Scepticisms reassert themselves. A Church, a Christian, wanting in spiritual enthusiasm, with a low spiritual temperature, is subject to the fogs of doubt. Its action is crippled by a subtle scepticism. When he is realized as truly in the midst, the fogs are dispelled. There is a counteracting why (ver. 38). In the psalms (Ps 42) the soul, dark-and doubtful, asks, “Why hast thou forgotten me?” Its questioning is dispelled through another why: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” The blessed Jesus-question to poor confused humanity is, “Why art thou troubled? and why do thoughts arise in thy heart?” As the Sun of Righteousness shines into the soul, the melancholy, perplexing thoughts scatter, the clouds whose banks lie so low on the heart”s horizon flee away.
(2) The evidence of the sacrifice establishes the faith. (Vers. 39, 40) He shows the pierced hands and feet the wounds whence comes the healing, the death whence has come the life. And, even in the glory into which he has entered, the print of the nails is seen. The gaze of the redeemed who share that glory is ever towards the Lamb that was slain. “Worthy is the Lamb!
(3) The full revelation is the Divine humanity. (Vers. 41-43) While they believe, and yet can scarcely believe, for the joy seems too great and too wonderful, he eats the fish and honeycomb before them. It is no ghost who is in that room; it is very man of very man. And this is the abiding consciousness and strength of the Church. It presents the true humanity. It has the true humanitarianism. The Christ is he “who liveth and was dead, and is alive for evermore.” And in him humanity is fulfilled, represented, and redeemed. This is the truth of the social life of the Church. The Church is not a mere institute for instruction and worship; it is a social state built up in the ever-abiding humanity of Jesus Christ. Thus, in the upper room at Jerusalem, on the first Easter night, there is an apocalypse of the great mystery, Christ and the Church.
The peace of Christ.
It is true that these words, “Peace be unto you!” were the ordinary Jewish salutation. But remembering that our Lord used these words a second time in this interview, (see Joh_20:21) and having in mind the way in which he made these words his own, and gave to them not merely a formal but a profound significance, (Joh_14:27) we may find much meaning in them. We recognize the fact that they were
I SPECIALLY APPROPRIATE TO THE CIRCUMSTANCES. The minds of his apostles had passed through the deepest distress. They had lost their Lord and their Friend; and with him they had lost, as they thought, their cause and their hopes; they were, therefore, afflicted with an overwhelming grief. And now they were filled with the liveliest agitation. They were in a mental state in which blighted hopes were struggling with darkest fears; their soul was stirred to its very depths; and what, above all things, they needed was One that could come and say, “Peace be unto you!” It was the very word that was wanted to be breathed into their ear, to be spoken to their heart.
II ADMIRABLY DESCRIPTIVE OF HIS ABIDING MISSION. It is true that Jesus once said, “I came not to send peace, but a sword.” But it will be found, on referring, that then he simply meant to say that division and strife would be an inevitable incident of the course of his gospel; he did not mean that this was its deep purpose or its long and last result. It was the back-water, and not the main current, of the truth he preached. Christ came to give peace to a world profoundly disturbed and disquieted by sin. “Come unto me,” he said,” and I will give you rest.” Not as the world gives rest or peace does he give.
(1) Not mere comfort or gratification that is very short-lived;
(2) nor satisfaction that is based on ignorance of ourselves, and must before long be exposed;
(3) nor the quiet of indifference or unbelief that must soon be broken up. Not of this order is the peace of Christ. It is:
1. Rest to the burdened conscience. lie shows us our sin and makes us ashamed of it; he fills our heart with a true and righteous sorrow for it; he awakes within us a just and honourable concern for the consequences of it. And then he offers himself as the One who bore the burden upon himself, through whom we may find forgiveness and acceptance. And “being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. Abiding gladness to the hungering heart. “In the world” is unsatisfiedness of soul, emptiness and heartache; a sense of disappointment. But in him is a true and lasting satisfaction. “How happily the days in his blest service fly!” To live heartily and wholly unto him who loved us and gave himself for us, to expend our powers in his praise and in his service, this is the secret of lifelong peace. All the lower springs will fail, but this never. To “lose our life” unto him is to “find it” and to keep it for ever.
3. Comfort to the troubled spirit. When darkness falls upon the path, when losses come, when bereavement makes a gap in the home and in the heart, when some heavy disappointment blights the prospect, then the felt presence, the realized sympathy, and the unfailing succour of that Divine Friend give a peace which is deeper than our disturbance, a thrice-blessed calm to the tempest-tossed soul.
4. Peace in death. For many centuries the dying have departed in peace because they have hoped for everything through the Divine Saviour; they have calmly “slept in Jesus;” and those who now look forward to death as a passage through which they will be passing can find no better wish or prayer than that “the music of his Name” may “refresh their soul in death. C.
Vers. 36-53. Infallible proofs and inevitable partings.
The Emmaus pilgrims have hardly entered the upper room and reported their interview with Jesus, receiving the intelligence that perplexed Peter has got his perplexity resolved, when, notwithstanding that the doors are barred for fear of the Jews, the Risen One appears in the midst of them, and says, “Peace be unto you!” They are at first terrified at such an advent, seeing that it sets aside the ordinary laws of matter, and shows all precaution unavailing when Jesus is determined to get in. But he soon disabuses their minds and.dismisses their troubles. Although he can get through barred doors, he is not a disembodied spirit, but a Person with flesh and bones. This he proceeds to demonstrate to their sense-perceptions. Having given them infallible proofs, he next proceeds to expound the Scriptures in detail to them, just as he had done on the way to Emmaus. On these sure foundations he bases their faith, and sends them forth, commissioned to preach repentance and remission of sins. He concludes his interview with the promise of the Father, for which they were to wait at Jerusalem after his visible ascension. And so he is carried up to heaven from Bethany, and the disciples return to wait at Jerusalem in joy until they receive power from on high. And here we have to notice
I THE MESSAGE OF THE RISEN SAVIOUR TO DISTRACTED SOULS IS PEACE. The salutation of the East received new depth and meaning when employed by the risen Saviour, when for the first time he appeared among his assembled disciples. He only could pacify them. He is the same “Peacemaker” still. It is his advent which drives away distractions, and secures a peace which passeth all understanding.
II THE RISEN JESUS SUPPLIES INFALLIBLE PROOFS OF HIS RESURRECTION TO THE PACIFIED DISCIPLES. When pacified by him, they were then fitted for judgment. To place the proofs before worldly, distracted souls would have been throwing pearls before swine.It is before the disciples whose fears have been dispelled that he places the proofs. He urges calm investigation. Here are his hands and feet and side. Handle him, use sense-perception to the utmost. Make out that he has a body, and the same one which was crucified. Their joy at the proofs overpowered them for the moment, so that they could hardly credit it. Then he asked them for meat, and was content to eat before them a piece of a broiled fish. The honeycomb addition is not supported by the best manuscripts, and has been omitted in the Revised Version. The last doubt must depart before such proofs. It is the same Saviour who had been crucified, and he is among them in a body, able to partake of food, and perform all the functions assigned to a body dominated by a healthy spirit. Now, although we cannot see or handle the Risen One, we have yet the evidence of his Resurrection so set before us that only criminal partiality can resist it. Dr. Arnold, so accomplished a historian, declares that there is no fact of history sustained by better evidence. If we made sure of impartial and fearful minds to begin with, the infallible proofs would be recognized in their full power.
III THE RISEN SAVIOUR HELPS HIS SERVANTS TO UNDERSTAND THE SCRIPTURES. We learn from John”s account that “he breathed on them,” and so conveyed to them the Holy Ghost. Along with the outward exposition, therefore, of the Scripture references to himself, there is given the inward inspiration. It is this which made these men such masters of the sacred oracles so far as they indicate Christ”s mission. With opened understandings, with inspired hearts, the once sealed book became an open secret, and the fountain-head of missionary enterprise. And the witnesses need similar enlightenment still. By waiting on the Master prayerfully and studiously we shall obtain the key to interpretation, and have the fairy palaces unlocked for us.
IV A GOSPEL OF REPENTANCE AND REMISSION OF SINS OF A UNIVERSAL CHARACTER IS TO BE PREACHED IN HIS NAME. For Christ comes to make men sorry for their sins, while at the same time they enjoy the sense of their pardon. As risen Saviour, he is the outward Guarantee of our justification from all things from which we could not be justified by the Law of Moses. He was “delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification”. (Rom_4:25) And to these benefits all nations are to have access. The proofs of resurrection, the understanding of the Scriptures, and the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, were with a view to a practical issue in the publication of glad tidings to all nations.
V POWER IS GUARANTEED IF THEY WAIT PRAYERFULLY AT JERUSALEM. They had got the Spirit as zephyr-breath. They had still to get him in Pentecostal and fiery power. Hence they are encouraged by the Lord to wait for this at Jerusalem, for work without spiritual power would be useless. And they waited, and were made world-conquerors by the gift of power. So ought the Lord”s people to wait for power still.
VI THE ASCENSION WAS THE NECESSARY COMPLEMENT OF RESURRECTION, AND THE GUARANTEE OF ULTIMATE VICTORY. We have already seen reason for believing that, on the day of resurrection, Jesus privately ascended to the Father, reported himself there, and made heaven his head-quarters during “the great forty days.” But a public ascension before the assembled disciples was necessary to establish their faith and joy. And so they were permitted to see their beloved Lord ascending, in spite of gravitation, up into the blue heavens, and speeding towards the centre of the universe at the right hand of God. Yet the inevitable separation did not prevent them from returning to Jerusalem with great joy, and continuing there until the Pentecost. They divided their time between the upper room and the temple. They waited in joyful anticipation of the promised power, and they got it in due season. And the Ascension ought to be to all believers a matter of definite experience. It is to this St. Paul refers when he speaks, in the Epistle to the Ephesians, of being “raised up together with Christ, anti made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” There is an ascension-experience as well as a resurrection-experience an experience in which we feel that we have risen superior to all earthly attractions, and that we, setting our affections, indeed, on things above, are sitting by faith among them with our Lord. It is this ecstatic state which heralds the advent of spiritual power. May it belong to all of us! R.M.E.
TEXT: “stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace to plyou.'”
EVIDENCE: p75 S A B K L X Delta Theta Pi Psi f1 f13 28 33 565 700 892 1010 Byz Lect syr(c,s) most cop
TRANSLATIONS: KJV ASV RSVn NASVn NIV NEBn TEV
NOTES: “stood in their midst.”
EVIDENCE: D some lat
TRANSLATIONS: ASVn RSV NASV NEB TEVn
OTHER: “stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace to plyou. It is I; quit being afraid.'”
EVIDENCE: P W 1241 three lat vg syr(p,h,pal) some cop(north)
COMMENTS: Although it is possible that the words “and said to them, ‘Peace to plyou'” were added by copyists from the parallel in Joh_20:19, the fact that they are found in so many early manuscripts of several types of ancient text indicates that they are original. The words “It is I; quit being afraid” were apparently added by copyists from the time that the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water and thought that he was a ghost, as found in Mat_14:27, Mar_6:50, and Joh_6:20.
37.And they were terrified and affrighted. John does not mention this terror; but as he also says that Christ showed his hands and sides to the disciples, we may conjecture that some circumstance had been omitted by him. Nor is it at all unusual with the Evangelists, when they aim at brevity, to glance only at a part of the facts. From Luke, too, we learn that the terror excited in them by the strangeness of the spectacle was such, that they dare not trust their eyes. But a little ago, they had come to the conclusion that the Lord was risen, (verse 34,) and had spoken of it unhesitatingly as a matter fully ascertained; and now, when they behold him with their eyes, their senses are struck with astonishment, so that they think he is a spirit. Though this error, which arose from weakness, was not free from blame, still they did not so far forget themselves as to be afraid of enchantments. But though they did not think that they are imposed upon, still they are more inclined to believe that an image of the resurrection is exhibited to them in vision by the Spirit, than that Christ himself, who lately died on the cross, is alive and present. So then they did not suspect that this was a vision intended to deceive them, as if it had been an idle phantom, but, seized with fear, they thought only that there was exhibited to them in spirit what was actually placed before their eyes.
But they were terrified and affrighted. They spoke one to another of the Master; they discussed the empty sepulchre, the angelic vision, the recital by Peter of his interview with the Risen, and were listening to the details of the quiet Emmaus meeting, all hoping for something more; but this sudden, mysterious appearance of their crucified Master in their midst was not, after all, what they had looked for. It terrified them. And supposed that they had seen a spirit. How else could they explain his presence in their midst, when the doors were shut? The evangelists make no attempt to explain his sudden appearance. He was simply there as they spoke of him. It is clear that his presence could be accounted for in no ordinary, natural way. His disciples felt that; hence their supposition that they were looking on a spirit. We can, with our present limited knowledge, form no adequate conception of this resurrection-body of the Lord. It was a reality, no phantasm or appearance; of that the scene about to be described gives us ample evidence. Still, it is clear that his resurrection-body was not bound by the present conditions of material existence of which we are conscious. Epiphanius ascribes to the body of the risen Lord leptothv pneumatikh , “a spiritual subtilty,” Euthymius uses similar language when he speaks of “his body being now subtile, thin, and unmixed.” He could come into a closed, barred room. He could be visible or invisible, known or unknown, as he pleased and when he pleased.
38.Why are you troubled? By these words they are exhorted to lay aside terror, and regain the possession of their minds, that, having returned to the rigor of their senses, they may judge of a matter which is fully ascertained; for so long as men are seized with perturbation, they are blind amidst the clearest light. In order, therefore, that the disciples may obtain undoubted information, they are enjoined to weigh the matter with calmness and composure.
And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? In this second clause, Christ reproves another fault, which is, that by the variety of their thoughts they throw difficulties in their own way. By saying that thoughts arise, he means that the knowledge of the truth is choked in them in such a manner, that seeing they do not see, (Mat_13:14;) for they do not restrain their wicked imaginations, but, on the contrary, by giving them free scope, they permit them to gain the superiority. And certainly we find it to be too true, that as, when the sky has been clear in the morning, clouds afterwards arise to darken the clear light of the sun; so when we allow our reasonings to arise with excessive freedom in opposition to the word of God, what formerly appeared clear to us is withdrawn from our eyes. We have a right, indeed, when any appearance of absurdity presents itself, to inquire by weighing the arguments on both sides; and, indeed, so long as matters are doubtful, our minds must inevitably be driven about in every direction: but we must observe sobriety and moderation, lest the flesh exalt itself more highly than it ought, and throw out its thoughts far and wide against heaven.
Why are ye troubled? – Why are you alarmed or frightened?
And why do thoughts … – The word “thoughts” here means “doubts” or suspicions. It is used in this sense also in 1Ti_2:8. The doubts which they had were whether he was the Christ. He reproves them for doubting this; for,
1. The Scriptures had foretold his death;
2. He had himself repeatedly done it; and,
3. They had now the testimony of Peter that he had seen Jesus alive, and of the angels that he was risen. After all this evidence, Jesus reproves them for doubting whether he was truly the Messiah.
39.Look at my hands and my feet. He calls upon their bodily senses as witnesses, that they may not suppose that a shadow is exhibited to them instead of a body. And, first, he distinguishes between a corporeal man and a spirit; as if he had said, “Sight and touch will prove that I am a real man, who have formerly conversed with you; for I am clothed with that flesh which was crucified, and which still bears the marks of it.” Again, when Christ declares that his body may be touched, and that it has solid bones, this passage is justly and appropriately adduced by those who adhere to us, for the purpose of refuting the gross error about the transubstantiation of bread into the body, or about the local presence of the body, which men foolishly imagine to exist in the Holy Supper. For they would have us to believe that the body of Christ is in a place where no Mark of a body can be seen; and in this way it will follow that it has changed its nature, so that it has ceased to be what it was, and from which Christ proves it to be a real body. If it be objected, on the other hand, that his side was then pierced, and that his feet and hands were pierced and wounded by the nails, but that now Christ is in heaven without any vestige of wound or injury, it is easy to dispose of this objection; for the present question is not merely in what form Christ appeared, but what he declares as to the real nature of his flesh. Now he pronounces it to be, as it were, a distinguishing character of his body, that he may be handled, and therefore differs from a spirit. We must therefore hold that the distinction between flesh and spirit, which the words of Christ authorize us to regard as perpetual, exists in the present day.
As to the wounds, we ought to look upon this as a proof by which it was intended to prove to us all, that Christ rose rather for us them for himself; since, after having vanquished death, and obtained a blessed and heavenly immortality, yet, on our account, he continued for a time to bear some remaining marks of the cross. It certainly was an astonishing act of condescension towards the disciples, that he chose rather to want something that was necessary to render perfect the glory of the resurrection, than to deprive their faith of such a support. But it was a foolish and an old wife’s dream, to imagine that he will still continue to bear the marks of the wounds, when he shall come to judge the world.
Some (but not the majority) of the older authorities omit this verse. And when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his feet. It has been suggested that the Risen simply pointed to those parts of his body which were not covered with clothing, and invited the disciples to touch these, and so to assure themselves that he had actually flesh and bone. Von Gerlach has an interesting suggestion that the feet were especially referred to “because there was in the feet something more convincing and touching than even in the hands, on account of the wonder that One who had been so grievously wounded could move.” The real reason, however, of the Lord calling attention to the hands and feet comes out from St. John”s account of this appearance of the Risen, for he adds that Jesus also showed them his side. Thus he pointed to the wounded members of his blessed body to show that in the resurrection-body he retained these marks of his wounds. That he retained them now and for ever we]mow from the glorious vision of the Revelation, where the wounded humanity of the Lord appears throned and adored in the highest heaven: “Lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain”. (Rev_5:6) Our Master and God retains these as the glorious tokens of his victory and atonement. Augustine very strikingly deduces from this that perhaps we shall see the same with respect to the wounds of the martyrs (“De Civ. Dei,” lib. 22. cap. 19).
TEXT: include verse 40: “·And when he had said this, he showed them [his] hands and [his] feet.”
EVIDENCE: p75 S A B K L W X Delta Theta Pi Psi f1 f13 28 33 565 700 892 1010 1241 Byz Lect some lat vg syr(p,h,pal) cop
TRANSLATIONS: KJV ASV RSVn NASVn NIV NEBn TEV
NOTES: omit verse 40
EVIDENCE: D some lat syr(c,s)
TRANSLATIONS: ASVn RSV NASV NEB TEVn
COMMENTS: While it is possible that this verse was added by copyists from Joh_20:20 with “his side” changed to “his feet” to match verse Luk_24:39, the fact that the verse is found in early manuscripts of several types of ancient text indicates that it is original.
44.These are the words. Though it will afterwards appear from Matthew and Mark that a discourse similar to this was delivered in Galilee, yet I think it probable that Luke now relates what happened on the day after his resurrection. For what John says of that day, that he breathed on them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost, (Joh_20:22) agrees with the words of Luke which here immediately follow, that he opened their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures. By these words Christ indirectly reproves their gross and shameful forgetfulness, that, though they had long ago been fully informed of his future resurrection, they were as much astonished as if it had never been mentioned to them. The import of his words is: “Why do you hesitate as if this had been a new and unexpected occurrence, while it is only what I frequently predicted to you? Why do you not rather remember my words? For if hitherto you have reckoned me worthy of credit, this ought to have been known to you from my instructions before it happened.” In short, Christ tacitly complains that his labor has been thrown away on the apostles, since his instruction has been forgotten.
All things which are written concerning me. He now rebukes them more sharply for their slowness, by declaring that he brought forward nothing that was new but that he only reminded them of what had been declared by the Law and the Prophets, with which they ought to have been familiar from their childhood. But though they had been ignorant of the whole doctrine of religion, nothing could have been more unreasonable than not to embrace readily what they knew to have undoubtedly proceeded from God; for it was a principle admitted by the whole nation, that there was no religion but what was contained in the Law and the Prophets. The present division of the Scriptures is more copious than what we find in other passages; for besides the Law and the Prophets, he adds, in the third place, the Psalms, which, though they might with propriety have been reckoned among the Prophets, have, something distinct and peculiar to themselves. Yet the division into two par which we have seen elsewhere, (Luk_16:16; Joh_1:45,) embraces notwithstanding the whole of Scripture.
Cambridge Bible:Lk Farrar
44. These are the words] i. e. this is the meaning of the words.
which I spake unto you] 18:31; Mat_16:21.
while I was yet with you] Important as shewing that the forty days between the Resurrection and the Ascension were not intended to be a continuous sojourn with the Disciples, or an integral portion of the Lord’s human life.
which were written] See on vss. 26, 27.
the law … the prophets … the psalms] This corresponds with the (possibly later) Jewish division of the Old Testament into the Pentateuch, Prophets, and Ketubhim (Hagiographa).
44. εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς. This new introduction points to a break of some kind between vv. 43 and 44; but whether of moments or of days we cannot be certain. It is probable that Lk. himself, when he wrote his Gospel, did not know what the interval was. This was one of several points about which he had obtained more exact information when he wrote the first chapter of the Acts.
οὗτοι οἱ λόγοι. “These are My words, which I spake unto you formerly (and repeat now), viz. that all things,” etc.
ἔτι ὢν σὺν ὑμῖν: refers to His intercourse with them before His death, a mode of intercourse which is entirely at an end: comp. Act_9:39. Not that the new intercourse will be less close or continuous, but it will be of a different kind. His being visible is now the exception and not the rule, and He is ceasing to share in the externals of their lives. That the words refer to what He said during the walk to Emmaus (ver. 26) is most improbable. Christ is addressing all the disciples present, not merely those was walked with Him to Emmaus. Such passages as 18:31-33 and 9:22 are meant.
ἐν τῷ νόμῳ Μωυσέως καὶ [τοῖς] προφήταις καὶ ψαλμοῖς. This is the only place in N.T. in which the tripartite division of the Hebrew Canon of Scripture is clearly made. But it does not prove that the Canon was at this time fixed and closed; nor need we suppose that “Psalms” here means the whole of the Kethubim or Hagiographa. Of that division of the Jewish Scriptures the Psalter was the best known and most influential book; and, moreover, it contained, very much about the Messiah. Hence it is naturally singled out as representative of the group. In the prologue to Ecclesiasticus we have the tripartite division in three slightly different forms (1) “the Law and the Prophets and others that have followed their-steps” (2) “the Law and the Prophets and other our fathers” (3) “the Law and the Prophets and the rest of the books.” Elsewhere we have “the Law and the Prophets” (16:16; Mat_7:12); “Moses and the Prophets” (16:29, 31, 24:27); and “the Law of Moses and the Prophets” (Act_28:23); where the third division is not to be regarded as excluded because not specially mentioned. Ryle, Canon of the O.T. pp. 150, 191, 291.
Note that the prep. is not repeated with either προφήταις or ψαλμοῖς, and that the art. is not repeated with ψαλμοῖς and not quite certainly with προφήταις: the three divisions are regarded as one storehouse of Messianic prophecy. The evidence stands thus: καὶ προφήταις (A Δ N X Γ D Δ Π, et prophetis Latt.), καὶ τοῖς προφήταις (B, Boh.), ἐν τοῖς prof. (א), καὶ ἐν τοῖς προφ. (L).
Vers. 44-49. A summary of some of the Lord”s last words. The next six verses do not record sayings uttered the same first Easter evening. They are, in fact, a very brief summary of instructions given by the Master on different occasions during the forty days which elapsed between the Resurrection and the Ascension.
In considering the reasons of the omission of any special reference to the Galilaean appearances of the risen Lord, two points must be borne in mind.
(1) Neither Luke nor Paul had any personal reminiscences, like Matthew, or Mark (who wrote down, we believe, St. Peter”s memories), or St. John. Luke was dependent on other sources altogether.
(2) Luke, when he wrote the Gospel bearing his name, probably proposed to complete his recital of the close of the earthly ministry of the Lord in his second work, the Acts of the Apostles. His knowledge of what took place after the Resurrection was evidently derived from a source unfamiliar with the Galilaean manifestations of the risen Lord.
St. Luke”s knowledge of the Ascension seems to have been most precise. He evidently lays great stress upon the importance of this last scene, both as a piece of evidence and as a theme of teaching; for he not only concludes his Gospel with it, but commences his book of the Acts with the same recital, accompanied with further details.
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me. The words, “while I was yet with you,” plainly show that, in the Master”s mind, the period of his sojourn with men was, in the human sense of the expression, past. His abode now was elsewhere. This and the next verse (45) probably refer to what the Master said that first Easter evening to the assembled disciples, but the exact fixing the time in the forty days (the time specially mentioned by St. Luke in the Acts as elapsing between the Resurrection and the Ascension, Act_1:3) is of comparatively small importance. What is, however, of real moment is the weight Jesus showed that he attached to Old Testament words and types and prophecies by this repeated mention. The remarks of Meyer and Van Oosterzee on this subject are well worthy of being quoted: “If the exegete should read the Old Testament Scriptures without knowing to whom and to what they everywhere point, the New Testament clearly directs his understanding, and places him under an obligation, if he would be a sound Christian teacher, to acknowledge its authority and interpret accordingly. Doubt as to the validity of our Lord and of his apostles” method of expounding, involves necessarily a renunciation of Christianity” (Meyer). “They who consult the teaching of Jesus and his apostles with respect to the prophecies concerning the Messiah, need not grope in uncertainty, but should, nevertheless, remember that the Lord probably directed the attention of the disciples, on this occasion (he is referring to the walk to Emmaus), less to isolated Scriptures than to the whole tenor of the Old Testament in its typical and symbolical character” (Van Oosterzee).
Vers. 44-49. The instruction of the apostles.
The words contained in these verses are a summary of the instruction given by the risen Lord during the forty days in which he showed himself alive after his Passion. They are not to be regarded as the outline of only one discourse, following the appearance to the eleven recorded in the previous verses; they are rather the heads of the teaching which was imparted in the great period between the Resurrection and the Ascension. “We must suppose the evangelist to be hurrying to a close in this portion of his history, and to be giving us a brief sketch of the words and actions of our Lord which are summed up in the expression in the first chapter of the Book of Acts, “Jesus had given commandment unto the apostles.” Note the points in this instruction.
I THE SWORD WHICH HIS CHURCH IS TO WIELD. (Vers. 44, 45) As St. Paul afterwards said, “The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. The Lord gives the treasury from which the Church is to draw the Law, the prophets, the psalms, the Scriptures; but these writings, with the key to their inner meaning, to their saving force things in them concerning me.” The great word spelt through all the books each book, as Dr. Quincey put it, forming as it were a letter of the word is “Christ.” And not only so; these Scriptures are to be expounded and enforced in the light and through the skill of the opened understanding. This is the secret of the effect; it is this that makes them the sword. Only when they are thus the weapon of the Spirit, illuminating the mind of the teacher, as well as acting on the conscience of the hearer, are they quick and powerful. The opening of the understanding is spoken of as a definite action at a definite time. Then opened he their understanding.” What a new light is then shed on the sacred page! What a blessed “Eureka!” is then realized! The foolish and slow in heart go forth with the sword of the Spirit, “conquering and to conquer.
II THE MESSAGE WHICH THE CHURCH IS TO DELIVER. (Ver. 46) The message is: the Christ whom God has sent, and the world needs the historical Christ, incarnate, suffering, crucified, risen; and this Christ presented as the fulfilment of all Scripture, the consummation of Divine thought and purpose, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” the Prophet, Priest, and King, by whom man is redeemed, in whom the nature and want, the hope and desire, of all nations are interpreted. The Church is called to teach that “thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.” Wide is the environment of truth, and the Church must sweep this environment in its vision; but this is the centre of all the circle.
III THE CONDITIONS OF FELLOWSHIP IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD WHICH IT IS TO DECLARE. (Ver. 47) The beginning of the gospel preached by Christ was the word “repent”. (Mat_4:17) Now he solemnly and emphatically urges that repentance is to be the great fact in New Testament preaching. The end to be ever before the Church is “to open the eyes, and turn men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God.” And with this repentance is to be associated the blessing of the kingdom, “remission of sins; i.e. the sending of the guilt and power of sin away from between the soul and God, and thus making the inner vision clear, inspiring with the consciousness of the spirit of adoption and the spirit of brotherhood, confirming in the liberty wherewith Christ makes free. In the name of Christ, all nations are to be summoned to repent, and receive this remission; the voice lifted up with strength, “There is none other Name given under heaven among men whereby we must be saved.
IV THE WITNESS WHICH THE CHURCH IS TO REALIZE. (Ver. 48)
1. Its range. “Among all nations.” The universality and catholicity of the Christian word, of the Christian Church, are asserted, with regal authority, at the conference on the mountain in Galilee. (Mat_28:18-20)
2. Its course. “Beginning at Jerusalem.” There, where the Lord of glory was crucified, the first call to repentance is to be sounded, the first offer of the Christ for the remission of sins is to be made. So it was. (Ac 2) But, from Jerusalem, the course of the witness is ever outward Judaea, Samaria, the uttermost parts of the earth.” We are first to find our own; but the love which begins, is never to stop, at home.
3. Its power. (Ver. 49) Not in the witnessing man or woman; not in the things witnessed to; not in word, ordinance, ministry; no, the power is from on high. Christ reasserts what he taught in the last discourse before he suffered. The great consolation then was the promise of the Father that in which his Fatherly love and will are expressed, his great promise to his Son the Holy Ghost. It is the Holy Ghost who testifies of him. He is not the accompaniment of the Church; the Church is his accompaniment. “He shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness”. (Joh_15:26, Joh_15:27)
Now, in the forty days” instruction, he repeats this word. He reminds us that the power of witnessing is a descent from on high, the anointing of the man by the Holy Spirit. Two things are said the one, the declaration that the promise is imminent, “I am sending it;” and the other, the injunction to wait in the city, to attempt nothing, until the promise is made good, and they are endued with the power. Let the Church, let every Christian, remember the injunction; let eternal thanksgiving arise because the promise of the Father has been sent, and the Holy Spirit now dwells with the Church.
Expositor’s Greek NT
Vv. 44-49. Parting words.—εἶπε δὲ αὐτοῖς: it is at this point, if anywhere, that room must be made for an extended period of occasional intercourse between Jesus and His disciples such as Act_1:3 speaks of. It is conceivable that what follows refers to another occasion. But Lk. takes no pains to point that out. His narrative reads as if he were still relating the incidents of the same meeting. In his Gospel the post-resurrection scenes seem all to fall within a single day, that of the resurrection.—οὗτοι οἱ λόγοι, etc., these are the words. With Euthy. Zig. we naturally ask: which? (οὗτοι· ποῖοι; and there he leaves it). Have we here the concluding fragment of a longer discourse not given by Lk., possibly the end of a document containing a report of the words of Jesus generally (so J. Weiss in Meyer)? As they stand in Lk.’s narrative the sense must be: these events (death and resurrection) fulfil the words I spoke to you before my death. If that be the meaning the mode of expression is peculiar.—ἐν τ. ν. Μωσέως, etc.: Moses, Prophets, Psalms, a unity (no article before προφήταις or ψαλμοῖς) = the whole O.T. canon. So most. Or, these three parts of the O.T. the main sources of the Messianic proof (Meyer, Hahn, etc.). The latter the more likely.
45.Then he opened their understanding. As the Lord had formerly discharged the office of Teacher, with little or no improvement on the part of the disciples, he now begins to teach them inwardly by his Spirit; for words are icily wasted on the air, until the minds are enlightened by the gift of understanding. It is true, indeed, that the word of God is like a lamp, (Psa_119:105;) but it shines in darkness and amidst the blind, until the inward light is given by the Lord, to whom it peculiarly belongs to enlighten the blind, (Psa_146:8.) And hence it is evident how great is the corruption of our nature, since the light of life exhibited to us in the heavenly oracles is of no avail to us. Now if we do not perceive by the understanding what is right, how would the will be sufficient for yielding obedience? We ought, therefore, to acknowledge that we come short in every respect, so that the heavenly doctrine proves to be useful and efficacious to us, only so far as the Spirit both forms our minds to understand it, and our hearts to submit to its yoke; and, therefore, that in order to our being properly qualified for becoming his disciples, we must lay aside all confidence in our own abilities, and seek light from heaven; and, abandoning the foolish opinion of free-will, must give ourselves up to be governed by God. Nor is it without reason that Paul bids men become fools, that they may be wise to God, (1Co_3:18;) for no darkness is more dangerous for quenching the light of the Spirit than reliance on our own sagacity.
That they might understand the Scriptures. Let the reader next observe, that the disciples had not the eyes of their mind opened, so as to comprehend the mysteries of God without any assistance, but so far as they are contained in the Scriptures; and thus was fulfilled what is said, (Psa_119:18,) Enlighten mine eyes, that I may behold the wonders of thy law.
For God does not bestow the Spirit on his people, in order to set aside the use of his word, but rather to render it fruitful. It is highly improper, therefore, in fanatics, under the pretense of revelations, to take upon themselves the liberty of despising the Scriptures; for what we now read in reference to the apostles is daily accomplished by Christ in all his people, namely, that by his Spirit he guides us to understand the Scriptures, and does not hurry us away into the idle raptures of enthusiasm.
But it may be asked, Why did Christ choose to lose his labor, during the entire period of three years, in teaching them, rather than to open their understandings from the very outset? I reply, first, though the fruit of his labor did not immediately appear, still it was not useless; for when the new light was given to them, they likewise perceived the advantage of the former period. For I regard these words as meaning, not only that he opened their understandings, that, in future they might be ready to receive instruction, if any thing were stated to them, but that they might call to remembrance his doctrine, which they had formerly heard without any advantage. Next, let us learn that this ignorance, which lasted during three years, was of great use for informing them that from no other source than from the heavenly light did they obtain their new discernment. Besides, by this fact Christ gave an undoubted proof of his Divinity; for he not only was the minister of the outward voice, which sounded in their ears, but by his hidden power he penetrated into their minds, and thus showed that what, Paul tells us, does not belong to the teachers of the Church is the prerogative of Him alone, (1Co_3:7.) Yet it ought to be observed, that the apostles were not so destitute of the light of understanding as not to hold certain elementary principles; but as it was only a slight taste, it is reckoned to be a commencement of true understanding when the veil is removed, and they behold Christ in the Law and the Prophets.
Cambridge Bible:Lk Farrar
45. opened he their understanding] Spiritual things can only be spiritually discerned, 1Co_2:10-13. On this most important truth see Mat_11:27, Mat_11:13:11, Mat_11:16:17; Joh_16:13; Act_16:14. “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law,” Psa_119:18.
that they might understand the scriptures] Hence the power with which they—till this time so dull and slow of heart—henceforth explained them, Act_1:16, Act_1:20, Act_1:2:16, Act_1:25, &c.
Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures. Assuming (as is most probably the case) that vers. 44 and 45 refer to words spoken by Jesus on the first Easter evening to the eleven and to Cleopas and his friend, then the way in which he opened their understanding is described by St. John (Joh_20:22) thus: “He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” Among the new powers bestowed on them by this Divine gift, St. Luke especially dwells on the spiritual insight henceforth possessed by these men into the Scriptures of the Old Testament, hitherto only partly understood. This power was doubtless one of the great instruments of their success as preachers.
In the next four verses (46-49) St. Luke evidently briefly summarizes the Master”s great sayings, some probably spoken in the course of the walk to Emmaus, some on that first Easter evening, some on other occasions during the forty days which elapsed between the Resurrection and the Ascension. The introductory words, “and said unto them” (ver. 46), seem the commencement of. this summary.
The Divine Spirit and the human understanding.
It may be that we do not sufficiently recognize the very intimate connection between our human intelligence and the action of the Spirit of God. We may be seriously in danger of coming short in gratitude for all that God has wrought for us in this respect, and in prayer for his continued and especial help in the future.
I THE DIVINE ENDOWMENT WITH WHICH HE STARTS US ON OUR COURSE. We receive from his creative hand a kind and a measure of intellectual power which may be said to valor with each individual of the human race. To one he giveth five talents, to another two, to another one. And it is not only difference in measure, but also in kind. The human spirit has many faculties, and one man has a large share of one and another a goodly share of another, “as it pleaseth him.” Most happily for us, there is every possible variety of human understanding resulting from the different capacities and dispositions with which our Creator endows us,
II THE BENEFICENT LAW OF EXPANSION HE HAS ORDAINED FOR US. The law under which we live, and under which our understanding grows, is this him that hath is given.” We observe, we hear and read, we reflect, we reason, we construct and produce; and as we do this, we grow our intelligence is opened and enlarged. Thus by the operation of one of his wise and kind laws God is “opening our understanding” every day, but more particularly in the earlier days of curiosity and of study. Youth has but to do its rightful and proper work, and God will do his gracious, enlarging work; and thus he will “build up” a mind, well stored with knowledge and wisdom, capable of great and noble service.
III THE SPECIAL ILLUMINATIONS HE HAS GRANTED AND IS WILLING TO IMPART.
1. God has given to members of our race illumination or expansion of mindwhich we pronounce miraculous, i.e. not in accordance with known laws. Such was the inspiration he gave to Moses when he inspired him to write his books; or that he gave to Samuel, to Elijah, to Isaiah, to Zechariah, when he moved these prophets to remonstrate with or to exhort their contemporaries, or to write words that should live for all time on the sacred page; or that he gave to these two disciples when he opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures as they had never understood them before; or that he gave to the Apostles Peter and Paul and John when he prompted them to speak as they spoke and to write as they wrote. Here was an altogether unusual and supernatural enlightenment and enlargement of mind granted for the special purpose of making known his mind and will to the race of man.
2. God still imparts special illumination to us according to our need and in response to our prayer. The “age of miracles” may be past, but assuredly the age of Divine illumination is not passed. God remains, and will remain, in constant communication with his human children; he has, and ever will have, access to their understanding; he can touch and quicken us, can enlarge and equip our minds for special service in his Name and cause, can make clear to our minds those things which have been obscure, whether in his Word or in his providence, so that we can “understand the Scriptures,” and also interpret his dealing with ourselves and his fashioning of our lives. Three things become us.
(1) A sense of our own insufficiency insufficiency both for comprehending what we are called upon both to consider and (as far as may be) to understand, and for doing the work of explanation and enforcement which is required of us.
(2) Faith in God in his observation of us; in his interest in our humble endeavours to take our part and do our work; in his power over us to “open our understanding” as well as to “open our heart”. (see Act_16:4 Eph_1:18 2Ti_2:7)
(3) Prayer for Divine illumination. Lacking wisdom, let us ask of God, “who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not. (Jam_1:5; see Col_1:9 Eph_1:16, Eph_1:17) Whenever we read the Scriptures that we may learn the “mind of Christ,” whenever we stand up to speak in his Name, when ever we set ourselves to any effort that requires spiritual wisdom, we do well to pray in the spirit, if not in the language, of our great poet”Thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer Before all temples the upright heart and pure, Instruct me; for thou know”st:… What in me is dark, Illumine! What is low, raise and support! C.
Opened he their understanding – Enabled them fully to comprehend the meaning of the prophecies which foretold his death and resurrection. They had seen him die, they now saw him risen. Their prejudices were now, by his instructions, and by the facts which they could no longer call in question, removed, and they no longer doubted that he was the Messiah, and that all the “facts” in the case which had before confounded them could be easily accounted for. Hence, we may learn:
1. That “facts,” or the farther disclosure of truth, will yet remove the “mysteries” that we now see in religion.
2. That our prejudices and our preconceived opinions are one cause of our seeing so many mysteries in the Bible. If a man is willing to take the plain declarations of the Bible, he will commonly be little perplexed with mysteries.
3. That God only can open the mind so as fully to comprehend the Scriptures. He only can overcome our prejudices, open our hearts, and dispose us to receive the ingrafted word with meekness, and with the simplicity of a child. See Act_16:14; Jam_1:21; Mar_10:15.
4. The design of God’s opening the understanding is that we may be acquainted with the Scriptures. It is not that we may be made wise above what is written, but that we may submit ourselves wholly to the Word of God.
47.To all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Christ now discovers clearly what he had formerly concealed—that the grace of the redemption brought by him extends alike to all nations. For though the prophets had frequently predicted the calling of the Gentiles, still it was not revealed in such a manner that the Jews could willingly admit the Gentiles to share with them in the hope of salvation. Till his resurrection, therefore, Christ was not acknowledged to be any thing more than the Redeemer of the chosen people alone; and then, for the first time, was the wall of partition (Eph_2:14) thrown down, that they who had been strangers, (Eph_2:19,) and who had formerly been scattered, might be gathered into the fold of the Lord. In the meantime, however, that the covenant of God might not seem to be made void, Christ has assigned to the Jews the first rank, enjoining the apostles to begin at Jerusalem. For since God had peculiarly adopted the posterity of Abraham, they must have been preferred to the rest of the world. This is the privilege of the firstborn which Jeremiah ascribes to them, when Jehovah says, I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is first-born, (Jer_30:9.) This order, too, Paul everywhere observes with the greatest care, telling us that Christ came and proclaimed peace to those who were near, and afterwards to strangers who were at a distance, (Eph_2:17.)
Cambridge Bible:Lk Farrar
47. remission of sins] See on 1:77. “Your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake,” and 1Jn_2:12.
among all nations] See Gen_12:3, “all families of the earth.” Psa_22:27, “all kindreds of the nations.” Isa_49:6, “a light to the Gentiles,” &c. See on 2:32.
beginning at Jerusalem] “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem,” Isa_2:3; Mic_4:2.
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his Name among all nations. This is more definitely expressed in Mat_28:19 and Mar_16:15, where the universality of his message, here summarized, is found in the form of a definite command. Beginning at Jerusalem. St. Luke enlarges the thought contained in these words in his Acts. (Act_1:8) Psa_110:2, contains the prophecy that from Zion should first proceed the proclamation.
The solemn charge.
It is an allowable curiosity to wonder how the apostles of our Lord received this “their solemn charge.
1. They must have been greatly impressed by its extreme seriousness; they were to preach repentance and remission of sin “among all nations. ” And although they did not know as we do what that meant, and how wide was the range of the Saviour”s purpose, they could realize as we cannot how deep and bitter would be the enmity which a gospel of the crucified Nazarene would encounter, more especially in Jerusalem.
2. But they may have been powerfully sustained by the presence of the Lord himself. The “power or” his resurrection” was then upon their souls; they were to go forth in his Name, who had just triumphed over man”s last and greatest enemy death. What could they not do through him? If we ask what was the message, in its fulness, which they were charged to deliver, we reply
I REPENTANCE AS CHRIST HAD PREACHED IT. They were to preach repentance in his Name. Therefore of the kind which he demanded. And this was no mere outward amendment; it was not found in the external habits of devotion; no amount of almsgiving, fasting, prayers, would constitute it. It meant:
1. Self-condemnation. Not necessarily the exhibition of overwhelming emotion, but the decided and deep conviction of our own unworthiness, and real regret for wrong done and for service withheld in the past.
2. The return of the heart to God. The coming back from the far country of estrangement, or forgetfulness, or denial and open enmity, and the seeking anew the Father”s face and favour.
3. The outcasting from the soul of all tolerance of evil, so that sin is not only shunned but hated.
4. The pursuit of all moral excellency; to be attained by the study and the love of the great Exemplar himself. And this repentance, real and thorough, was to be immediate. There was to be no guilty and dangerous postponement; as soon as the soul recognized its duty it was to start on the true and right course.
II REMISSION AS CHRIST OFFERED IT. And this was:
1. Full. It was a forgiveness without reserve. The son (of the parable, Lu 15) was not relegated to the servants” hall, though he had thought of asking for no more than that. He was admitted to the full honour of sonship; he was to wear the best robe and the ring, and he was to sit down to the table which was loaded in his honour. The mercy we receive through Christ, and which is to be offered “in his Name,” is no imperfect thing; it is full, entire, complete. All past transgressions are absolutely forgiven, so that they will never be alleged against us or stand between us and the love of God. We ourselves are taken into the gracious favour of our heavenly Father, admitted to his family, counted among his own children, constituted his heirs, having freest access to his presence, welcome to call him by the most endearing name.
2. Immediate. There is no probation or apprenticeship to be served; we have not to wait to approve ourselves; we are not sentenced to any form of expiation by menial service before we gain our childhood. At once, so soon as we return in spirit unto God, that moment we are welcomed to the side and to the home of our Father.
3. In faith. We are to seek and to find forgiveness “in Christ”s Name,” i.e. in the exercise of a simple but living faith in him as in our Divine Saviour. So the apostles evidently understood their Master. (see Act_10:43 Act_13:38, 39 1Pe_1:8, 9 1Jn_2:12) Thus the ascended Saviour instructed the “abortive-born apostle”, (Act_26:18) and thus that faithful witness continually taught. (see Act_20:21) Those who speak for Christ are to invite all sinful men to put their trust in him, the Saviour of mankind, the “Propitiation for the sins of the world,” and, accepting him as such, to take the full, free mercy of God unto eternal life.
Such was the message which the apostles were solemnly charged to deliver. There was in this great instruction:
1. One charge which they were more particularly to observe they were to begin at Jerusalem. It was right they should begin there, for it was there that all “these things” (ver. 48) were known and could be attested; and, beginning there, the grace and the magnanimity of the Crucified One would be more abundantly manifested.
2. Another, which more particularly affects ourselves this message of mercy is to be carried to “all nations.” It is “the common salvation,” needed by all and fitted for all, to work out and send forth which the Lord Jesus lived and died. C.
TEXT: “repentance for the forgiveness of sins”
EVIDENCE: p75 S B syr(p) cop
TRANSLATIONS: ASVn NASV NEB
NOTES: “repentance and the forgiveness of sins”
EVIDENCE: A C D K L W X Delta Theta Pi Psi f1 f13 28 33 565 700 892 1010 1241 Byz Lect lat vg syr(s,h,pal)
TRANSLATIONS: KJV ASV RSV NASVn NIV TEV
COMMENTS: Luke uses both expressions: “repentance for forgiveness” in Luk_3:3 and “repentance and forgiveness” in Act_5:31. The UBS Textual Committee decided that copyists would have been more likely to have changed “for” (literally, “into”) to “and” than visa versa, because of the second use of “into” (often translated “to”) in the prepositional phrase “to all nations” later on in the verse.
Repentance – Sorrow for sin and forsaking of it. It was proper that the “necessity” of repentance should be preached among all nations, for all were sinners. See Act_17:30.
Remission of sins – Pardon or forgiveness of sins. It should be proclaimed that all people should repent, and that those who are penitent may be pardoned.
In my name – By my command it should be proclaimed that people should repent, and by my merit that they may be pardoned. Pardon is offered by the authority of Christ to all nations, and this is a sufficient warrant to offer the gospel “to every man.”
Beginning at Jerusalem – This was the dwelling of his murderers, and it shows his readiness to forgive the vilest sinners. It was the holy place of the temple, the habitation of God, the place of the solemnities of the ancient dispensation, and it was proper that pardon should be first proclaimed there. This was done – the gospel was first preached there. See Acts 2. Paul also, in his travels, preached the gospel “first” to the Jews, the ancient people of God, offering them pardon through their own Messiah; and, when “they” rejected it, turned to the Gentiles, Act_13:46.
48.And you are witnesses of those things. He does not yet commission them to preach the gospel, but only reminds them to what service he has appointed them, that they may prepare themselves for it in due time. He holds out this, partly as a consolation to soothe their grief, and partly as a spur to correct their sloth. Conscious of their recent departure from their Master, they must have been in a state of dejection and here, contrary to all expectation, Christ bestows on them incredible honor, enjoining them to publish to the whole world the message of eternal salvation. In this manner he not only restores them to their former condition, but by the extent of this new favor he utterly obliterates the recollection of their heinous crimes; but at the same time, as I have said, he stimulates them, that they may not be so slow and dilatory in reference to the faith of which they were appointed to be preachers.
Ye are witnesses of these things. This personal witness of the first preachers of Christianity was the secret of their great power over men”s hearts. What Dr. Westcott wrote of St. John was true of the rest of the eleven. “We have seen, and do testify. He (John) had no laboured process to go through; he saw. He had no constructive proof to develop; he bore witness. His source of knowledge was direct, and his mode of bringing conviction was to affirm.
These brief words, “Ye are witnesses,” being among the very last which Jesus spoke to his apostles, must have lingered in their ear for the rest of their life. In moments of doubt, or of depression, or of danger, the remembrance that their Lord and Leader had charged them to be his witnesses may well have stirred and strengthened them to fresh courage and to renewed activity. They are words that may well stimulate us also to duty and self-sacrifice.
I THE UNIQUE SERVICE RENDERED BY THE APOSTLES. They were witnesses of “those things,” the greatest things that were ever seen and ever attested in the history of mankind; things they were on the full and true statement of which, on the cordial and practical acceptance of which, depended the life and the hope of the world. They could face all with whom they came in contact, and declare that they saw with their own eyes, heard with their own ears, witnessed in their own persons:
1. A perfectly beautiful, a spotless human life, in which, though they saw it under all possible circumstances and when under least constraint or reserve, they could find no flaw at all. (1Pe_2:22)
2. Works of power, which were invariably works of pity and of kindness, of such a nature that there was no possibility of mistake.
3. Words of truth and grace such as mortal lips had never spoken, and such as met the deepest wants of man”s hungering heart, of his yearning and aspiring soul.
4. Sufferings and sorrows beyond what others knew, borne with a patience that was sublime.
5. A death undergone in shame and pain, amid natural wonders and with more than human nobility.
6. A glorious resurrection from the grave.
7. A message of mercy and hope to be delivered to all mankind in the name of this great Teacher, Healer, Sufferer, Conqueror.
II THE VALUABLE SERVICE WHICH IS OPEN TO US ALL.
1. We also can testify, in word, to “these things.” We leave, and are content to leave, some mysteries which belong to the Christian faith; we do not try, as we need not try, either to explain or to understand them. But “these things,” which the world needs to know for its inward peace and its true prosperity, we can speak. We are familiar with the holy and beautiful life of Jesus Christ. We know the thought, we “have the mind of Christ” on all the deepest and highest subjects with which our character and our destiny are bound up. We are conversant with the sufferings and the sorrows of the Saviour; for the story of his Passion is better known by us than any other history whatsoever it is not only in our memory, it is in our heart. We can speak of his death and of his triumph over the grave. We know well what is the message of truth and grace he desires to be declared to the whole world. We can speak of him and for him.
2. And we can find an audience. There are many who will not listen to us, but there are those who will. The young, who have a spirit of docility and inquiry; the sick and the sad, to whom “the consolation which is in Christ” is the one thing that heals and calms; the poor, to whom the pearl of great price is welcome, and who are willing to be made “rich toward God;” the disappointed and the weary, who are glad to know of One who can give “rest unto the soul; these will receive our testimony.
3. We can bear the best and truest witness of the life. What men want to be convinced of is that Christianity is a living power; that it not only has very fine sentiments to teach these can be found elsewhere but that it is a moral and spiritual power that can save the lost, can cleanse the foul, can soften the hard-hearted, can humble the proud, can arouse the indifferent and obtuse, can infuse cheerfulness and joy into the heart of the poor and lowly, can give rest of spirit to those who are encompassed by the cares of time, can fill the soul with tender sympathy and prompt to generous and self-denying succour, can substitute a forgiving for a vindictive spirit in the wronged, can enable its possessors to gain a victory over themselves and over the world and to crown a victorious life by a death of calm tranquillity and joyful hope. Here is scope for witness-bearing; and, as every Christian man has the truth of Christ on which to feed, the example of Christ to follow, and the Holy Spirit of Christ to whom to look for his indwelling power, it is open to every disciple to be a witness, whose testimony shall be valuable on earth and acceptable in heaven. C.
49.And, lo, I send. That the apostles may not be terrified by their weakness, he invites them to expect new and extraordinary grace; as if he had said, though you feel yourselves to be unfit for such a charge, there is no reason why you should despond, because I will send you from heaven that power which I know that you do not possess. The more fully to confirm them in this confidence, he mentions that the Father had promised to them the Holy Spirit; for, in order that they might prepare themselves with greater alacrity for the work, God had already encouraged them by his promise, as a remedy for their distrust. Christ now puts himself in the place of the Father, and undertakes to perform the promise; in which he again claims for himself divine power. To invest feeble men with heavenly power, is a part of that glory which God swears that he will not give to another: and, therefore, if it belongs to Christ, it follows that he is that God who formerly spoke by the mouth of the prophet, (Isa_42:8.) And though God promised special grace to the apostles, and Christ bestowed it on them, we ought to hold universally that no mortal is of himself qualified for preaching the gospel, except so far as God clothes him with his Spirit, to supply his nakedness and poverty. And certainly, as it is not in reference to the apostles alone that Paul exclaims, (2Co_2:16,) And who shall be found sufficient for these things? so all whom God raises up to be ministers of the gospel must be endued with the heavenly Spirit; and, therefore, in every part of Scripture he is promised to all the teachers of the Church without exception.
But remain you in the city of Jerusalem. That they may not advance to teach before the proper time, Christ enjoins on them silence and repose, until, sending them out according to his pleasure, he may make a seasonable use of their labors. And this was a useful trial of their obedience, that, after having been endued with the understanding of the Scripture, and after having had the grace of the Spirit breathed on them, (Joh_20:22;) yet because the Lord had forbidden them to speak, they were silent as if they had been dumb. For we know that those who expect to gain applause and admiration from their hearers are very desirous to appear in public. Perhaps, too, by this delay, Christ intended to punish them for indolence, because they did not, in compliance with his injunction, set out immediately, on the same day, for Galilee. However that may be, we are taught by their example, that we ought to attempt nothing but as the Lord calls us to it; and, therefore, though they may possess some ability to teach in public, let men remain in silence and retirement, until the Lord lead them by the hand into the public assembly. When they are commanded to remain at Jerusalem, we must understand this to mean, after they had returned from Galilee. For, as we shortly afterwards learn from Matthew, though he gave them an opportunity of seeing him at Jerusalem, still he did not change his original intention to go to Galilee, (Mat_26:32.) The meaning of the word, therefore, is, that after having given them injunctions at the appointed place, he wishes them to remain silent for a time, until he supplies them with new rigor.
Cambridge Bible:Lk Farrar
49. the promise of my Father] both in the Prophecies of the Old Testament (Isa_44:3; Eze_36:26; Joe_2:28) and by His own mouth (Joh_14:16, Joh_14:17, Joh_14:20, Joh_14:15:26, Joh_14:16:7). Comp. Act_1:4, Act_1:5, Act_1:8. It is difficult not to see in this expression a distinct allusion to the discourses which are recorded by St John alone.
until ye be endued] Rather, until ye put on the garment of. For the metaphor see Rom_13:14; Eph_4:24, &c. We are unclothed till we receive heavenly gifts. “They had been washed (Joh_15:3), now the clothing is promised.” Bengel.
There are ten recorded appearances of the Risen Christ (including that at the Ascension), of which St Luke only narrates three (the 4th, 5th, and 10th), though he alludes to others (e. g. the 3rd). They are
1. To Mary of Magdala. Joh_20:11-17 (‘Noli me tangere’); Mar_16:9.
2. To other women, who adore Him. Mat_28:9, Mat_28:10.
3. To Peter. Luk_24:34; 1Co_15:5.
4. To the Disciples on the way to Emmaus. Luk_24:13-35; Mar_16:12, Mar_16:13.
5. To ten Apostles and others. Luk_24:36-49; Joh_20:19-23; Mar_16:14.
6. To the Eleven Apostles. The incredulity of Thomas removed. Joh_20:26-29.
7. To seven Apostles at the Lake of Galilee. Joh_21:1-24.
8. To five hundred on a hill of Galilee. Mat_28:16-20; Mar_16:15-18; 1Co_15:6.
9. To James, the Lord’s brother. 1Co_15:7.
10. Before the Ascension. Luk_24:50, Luk_24:51; Act_1:6-9.
Since more Appearances of the Risen Christ than those here narrated were well known to St Paul (1Co_15:5-7), it may be regarded as certain that they were known also to St Luke. If he here omits them it must be borne in mind
(i) that neither he nor any of the Evangelists profess to furnish a complete narrative;
(2) that St Luke especially shews a certain ‘economy’ (as has been already pointed out) in only narrating typical incidents;
(iii) that he is here hastening to the close of his Gospel; and (iv) that he has other particulars to add in the Acts of the Apostles.
The promise of my Father – That is, the Holy Ghost, promised, Joh_15:26. See Act_1:4; Act_2:33.
Until ye be endued with power – The energy of the Holy Ghost was to be communicated to them for three particular purposes.
1. That he might be in them, a sanctifying comforter, fortifying their souls and bringing to their remembrance whatever Jesus had before spoken to them.
2. That their preaching might be accompanied by his demonstration and power to the hearts of their hearers, so that they might believe and be saved.
3. That they might be able to work miracles to confirm their pretensions to a Divine mission, and to establish the truth of the doctrines they preached.
And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you. Promised on the last Passover evening, (John 14-16; see especially Joh_14:16-26 Joh_15:26, 27 16:7, etc.) and fulfilled partly on the first Easter evening, when he breathed on them, (Joh_20:22) and completely on the first Pentecost. (Act_2:1, etc.) But tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. These words apparently were spoken on the day of his ascension. (see Act_1:4)
The secret of spiritual strength.
How came it to pass that the apostles of our Lord became such strong men and did such noble work for their Master and for mankind so soon after they manifested such weakness as they did? We consider
I THEIR INSUFFICIENCY UP TO THE TIME OF THE ASCENSION. They had been receiving for many months the inestimable advantage of Christ”s own teaching for their mental enlightenment, and his own influence for their spiritual ennoblement. And this teaching and training cannot have been we may confidently say was not without very great value throughout their subsequent course. Yet they undoubtedly lacked something which would complete them for the great task before them. They showed but scant determination, (Mat_26:41, Mat_26:43) but feeble courage, (Mat_26:56) but little understanding of their Master”s aim; (Act_1:6) and this, too, at the very close of his ministry, when their great and special privilege was expiring. Something more they sadly needed to prepare them for their work.
II THE PROMISED POWER.
1. Its announcement and its confirmation. It was first predicted by the prophets who preceded our Lord; (Isa_44:3) and more particularly Joel. (Joe_2:28, Joe_2:29) It was renewed and confirmed, at first more indefinitely, and here more definitely, by our Lord. (Joh_14:16, 26 15:26, 27 16:7; text)
2. Its historical fulfilment. (Act_2:1-11)
3. Its permanent results. These men, whose character and whose fitness for their grand and lofty mission left much to be desired, “endued with power from on high,” became wonderfully equipped for and admirably adapted to the noble mission to which Christ appointed them.
They became strong
(1) to stand in the evil hour of temptation, defying the authority of Jewish council and the sword of Roman ruler; they became strong
(2) to suffer, rejoicing that they were “counted worthy to suffer shame” for the Master”s sake and Name; they became strong
(3) to testify, “with great power” giving witness to the Resurrection, and great grace being on them all; they became strong
(4) to grasp the great central and saving truths of the gospel, making known to their own compeers by their speech, and to all time by their letters, the “mystery which was hidden from the generations,” the great and gracious purpose of God to the whole race of men; they became strong
(5) to build and work, to lay the foundation-stone of the gospel of Christ, (Eph_2:2-6) of that Church of the future which has already endured for eighteen centuries, and is more than ever bent on the conversion and conquest of the world. We know what made these weak men strong, these failing men to triumph. It was the power of the Holy Ghost resting upon them, opening their eyes that they might see, quickening their souls that they might feel, nerving their hearts that they might stand, strengthening their hands that they might labour and achieve.
III ITS LASTING LESSON. It is this which, if anything does, will make us strong also. What the Christian workman wants is the power which comes immediately from God, the inspiration of the Divine Spirit; in truth, the same bestowal as that which the apostles were now promised and afterwards received. The miraculous endowments which accompanied the gift of the Holy Ghost were but the accidents of the bestowal. The power to heal without failure or to speak without error was nothing to the power to testify without fear and to live without reproach. “Though on our heads no tongues of fire Their wondrous powers impart, we need, as much as they did then, the illuminating, sanctifying, empowering influences of Heaven Spirit in our heart.” Without that, our most heroic efforts will fail; with it, our humblest endeavours will succeed. To gain that we must have
(1) purity of heart and aim;
(2) earnest and believing prayer. C.
And lifted up his hands, and blessed them; by which he showed that the office of blessing, which was enjoined on the priests under the law, belonged truly and properly to himself. When men bless one another it is nothing else than praying in behalf of their brethren; but with God it is otherwise, for he does not merely befriend us by wishes, but by a simple act of his will grants what is desirable for us. But while He is the only Author of all blessing, yet that men might obtain a familiar view of his grace, he chose that at first the priests should bless in his name as mediators. Thus Melchizedek blessed Abraham, (Gen_14:19,) and in Num_6:23, a perpetual law is laid down in reference to this matter. To this purport also is what we read in Psa_118:26, We bless you out of the house of the Lord In short, the apostle has told us that to bless others is a Mark of superiority; for the less, he says, is blessed by the greater, (Heb_7:7.) Now when Christ, the true Melchizedek and eternal Priest, was manifested, it was necessary that in him should be fulfilled what had been shadowed out by the figures of the law; as Paul also shows that we are blessed in him by God the Father, that we may be rich in all heavenly blessings, (Eph_1:3.) Openly and solemnly he once blessed the apostles, that believers may go direct to himself, if they desire to be partakers of his grace. In the lifting up of the hands is described an ancient ceremony which, we know:, was formerly used by the priests.
Cambridge Bible:Lk Farrar
50. he led them out] Not of course at the conclusion of the last scene, but at the end of the forty days, Act_1:3.
as far as to Bethany] Rather, as for as towards Bethany (pros, א B, C, D, &c.). The traditional scene of the Ascension is the central summit of the Mount of Olives (Jebel et-Tur); but it is far more probable that it took place in one of the secluded uplands which lie about the village. See a beautiful passage in Dean Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine) ch. iii.
He led them out as far as to Bethany – The difficulties in this verse, when collated with the accounts given by the other evangelists, are thus reconciled by Dr. Lightfoot.
“I. This very evangelist (Act_1:12) tells us, that when the disciples came back from the place where our Lord had ascended, they returned from mount Olivet, distant from Jerusalem a Sabbath day’s journey. But now the town of Bethany was about fifteen furlongs from Jerusalem, Joh_11:18, and that is double a Sabbath day’s journey.
“II. Josephus tells us that mount Olivet was but five furlongs from the city, and a Sabbath day’s journey was seven furlongs and a half. Antiq. lib. 20, cap. 6. About that time there came to Jerusalem a certain Egyptian, pretending himself a prophet, and persuading the people that they should go out with him to the mount of Olives, Ὁ και της πολεως αντικρυς κειμενον, απεχει σταδια πεντε; which, being situated on the front of the city, is distant five furlongs. These things are all true:
1. That the mount of Olives lay but five furlongs distant from Jerusalem.
2. That the town of Bethany was fifteen furlongs.
3. That the disciples were brought by Christ as far as Bethany.
4. That, when they returned from the mount of Olives, they traveled more than five furlongs. And,
5. Returning from Bethany, they traveled but a Sabbath day’s journey.
All which may be easily reconciled, if we would observe: – That the first space from the city was called Bethphage, which I have cleared elsewhere from Talmudic authors, the evangelists themselves also confirming it. That part of that mount was known by that name to the length of about a Sabbath day’s journey, till it came to that part which is called Bethany. For there was a Bethany, a tract of the mount, and the town of Bethany. The town was distant from the city about fifteen furlongs, i.e. about two miles, or a double Sabbath day’s journey: but the first border of this tract (which also bore the name of Bethany) was distant but one mile, or a single Sabbath day’s journey.
“Our Savior led out his disciples, when he was about to ascend, to the very first region or tract of mount Olivet, which was called Bethany, and was distant from the city a Sabbath day’s journey. And so far from the city itself did that tract extend itself which was called Bethphage; and when he was come to that place where the bounds of Bethphage and Bethany met and touched one another, he then ascended; in that very place where he got upon the ass when he rode into Jerusalem, Mar_11:1. Whereas, therefore, Josephus saith that mount Olivet was but five furlongs from the city, he means the first brink and border of it. But our evangelist must be understood of the place where Christ ascended, where the name of Olivet began, as it was distinguished from Bethphage.”
Between the appearance of Christ to his apostles, mentioned in Luk_24:36, etc., almost all the forty days had passed, before he led them out to Bethany. They went by his order into Galilee, Mat_26:32; Mat_28:10; Mar_14:28; Mar_16:7; and there he appeared to them, as is mentioned by Matthew, Mat_28:16, etc., and more particularly by John, Joh_21:1, etc. See Bishop Pearce.
Lifted up his hands – Probably to lay them on their heads, for this was the ordinary way in which the paternal blessing was conveyed, See Gen_48:8-20.
Vers. 50-53. THE ASCENSION. In considering the questions which suggest themselves in connection with the ascension of our blessed Lord, we are met on the threshold with the fact that only St. Luke, in his Gospel in this place, and in the Acts (Ac 1), has given us a detailed account of the scene. But the fact is referred to plainly by St. John (Joh_3:13 Joh 6:62 Joh_20:17) and by St. Paul. (Eph_4:9, 10 1Ti_3:16)
A vast number of passages besides, in the Epistles of SS. Paul, Peter, and James, and in the Revelation of St. John, presuppose the Ascension, when they describe the heavenly glory of Jesus and of his session at the right hand of God.
St. John”s triple mention of the Ascension (see above) is exactly in accordance with his constant practice in his Gospel; he avoids rewriting a formal narrative of things which, when he wrote, were well known i, the Churches; yet he alludes to these things in clear and unmistakable language, and draws from them his lessons and conclusions.
Notably this is the ease in the Fourth Gospel with regard to the sacraments. “It contains,” says Dr. Westcott, “no formal narrative of the institution of sacraments, and yet it presents most fully the idea of sacraments.
Neander writes with great force on this apparent omission of the Ascension: “We make the same remark upon the ascension of Christ as was before made upon his miraculous conception. In regard to neither is prominence given to the special and actual fact in the apostolic writings; in regard to both, such a fact is presupposed in the general conviction of the apostles, and in the connection of Christian consciousness. Thus the end of Christ”s appearance on earth corresponds with its beginning. Christianity rests upon supernatural facts stands or falls with them. By faith in them has the Divine life been generated from the beginning. Were this faith gone, there might indeed remain many of the effects of what Christianity has been; but as for Christianity in the true sense, as for a Christian Church, there could be none.
And he led them out as far as to Bethany; more accurately, and he led them out until they were over against Bethany. The scene of the Ascension could scarcely have been the central summit of the Mount of Olives ( Jebel-el-Tur), according to ancient tradition; but it is more likely that it took place on one of the remoter uplands which lie above the village. “On the wild uplands which immediately overhang the village, he finally withdrew from the eyes of his disciples, in a seclusion which, perhaps, could nowhere else be found so near the stir of a mighty city; the long ridge of Olivet screening those hills, and those hills the village beneath them, from all sound or sight of the city behind; the view opening only on the wide waste of desert-rocks and ever-descending valleys, into the depths of the distant Jordan and its mysterious lake” (Dean Stanley, “Sinai and Palestine,” ch. 3). He lifted up his hands, and blessed them. In Act_1:4 we read how Jesus, having assembled (sunalizomenov) the apostles, gave them some last commands before he left them. It is not expressly stated that only the eleven were present on this occasion.” When he had finished speaking, “he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.” There is now no laying on of hands. “Jam non imposuit manus,” comments Bengel. Those hands, as they were lifted up, were already separated from them, the space between the Risen and those he was blessing grew greater every moment.
Vers. 50-53. The farewell and the Ascension.
Once more the old relation is resumed. The Shepherd of Israel goes before his little flock. They see him, as in the former time, at their head. The well-known route is taken, the well-known place is reached. And the crowning memory of Bethany is imprinted on their hearts. It is the scene of the last adieu, of the Ascension (ver. 50). In the earlier history of Israel (2Ki 2) there was a day when the sons of the prophets, referring to Elijah, said to Elisha, “Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to-day?” And his answer was, “Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.” There were no sons of prophets thus speaking to the eleven. But whispers, no doubt, in their hearts raised shadows of some coming event. Something like the old amazement and fear (Mar_10:32) would be felt as, in silence, they followed their Leader. He is to be taken from their head; but better far than the mantle thrown on Elisha from the vanishing prophet is to be their portion. Observe Christ as he is revealed in the concluding verses of the Gospel; observe those whom he is to leave behind.
I OBSERVE CHRIST AS HE IS HERE REVEALED. See:
1. The action of the Lord towards them. “He lifted up his hands” (ver. 50). Before he suffered he had lifted up his eyes to heaven, and the voice of intercession had been raised for them (John 17). As the high-priestly prayer closed, the voice had passed from the tones of earnest but humble pleading into those of the Sovereign expressing his will: “I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.” Now the Priest, about to ascend to his throne, extends those hands in which is the print of the nails. It is the first time in which we are introduced to this attitude in the Gospels. The uplifted hands are the sign of the accepted sacrifice ever potent to cleanse. They are the sign of the righteousness ever ample to clothe. They are the sign of the protection ever sufficient to overshadow his Church. The uplifted hands constituted the last recollection of the Christ whom the disciples had seen; they mark the abiding truth of the Christ whom the eye sees not. And, as the hands are lifted, the lips are opened to bless. What were the words of the blessing? Perhaps the benediction (Num_4:24) which the sons of Aaron were commanded to pronounce was included in it. But who can measure all that it comprehended all the wealth of grace and truth with which it was charged? Let us say rather, with which it is charged for the Church until the end of the age. “Lo, I am with you alway, blessing and keeping, my face shining on you, my will gracious to you, the light of my countenance lifted on you, my peace possessing you.
2. The ascending Lord. “While blessing” (ver. 51). While the accents of his tenderness are flowing over the soul, lo! he moves from the soil on which he and his have bees standing. Upward, ever upward, he is borne; they gaze in wonder as the form in which they have beheld him is sublimated and passes whither their adoring vision can no longer follow. The apostle who was “born out of due time” completes, as far as thought of mortal can, the account of the evangelist, (Eph_1:20-23) when he describes the ascent “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but in that which is to come;” all things put under the feet of the glorified Man, “Head over all things to the Church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” He is “parted from them;” but only to be more nearly and entirely with them; only to bear with him the humanity through which Highest God is in touch with the whole life of man; only that, in the unchangeable Priesthood, he may ever live to make intercession; only to make good the word as to the promise of the Father. When ten more days have passed, the gates which had opened that the King of glory might enter, shall open again, and the Paraclete, Christ”s other self, shall descend from the heaven into which he has gone, to fill the little company with his presence. And in that day they shall know that he is in the Father, and they in him, and he in them.
II OBSERVE THE DISCIPLES.
1. The new worship. They had followed him, and had called him Master. His appearances during the forty days had prepared them for something higher still. Now, in deepest reverence, they kneel before the Lord. Thomas learns the whole reality of his answer, “My Lord and my God.” Mary learns that which is higher and holier than the touch with which, on the resurrection-morning, she had sought to detain him. John learns the word which afterwards he wrote,” This is the true God, and the Eternal Life.” Peter learns that which moves him to interpret the consciousness of faith, “Whom having not seen ye love.” Then first sounds the music which burst forth, in later years, in the sublimest hymn of the Church: “We praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord Thou art the King of glory, O Christ.” And this worship is the true life of the Church. It is the outcome of the faith in the Resurrection. “Christ died, yea rather, is risen again, and is even at the right hand of God, making intercession for us. ” Wanting this, there may be such an apostrophe as that with which Renan concludes his “Life of Jesus;” but worship full and adoring there cannot be. It is this worship which is the spring of all energy, the pledge of all victory, the bend of union between heaven and earth. “Salvation to our God who sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
2. The new joy. “They returned to Jerusalem” (ver. 25). But what a difference! They had left it dispirited, weighed down by many thoughts. Now “they come again rejoicing, bringing their sheaves with them.” “Parted from them!” Might they not feel as sheep without a Shepherd? Nay; for they know that their Shepherd is with them. Their hope had been sealed and confirmed, and they are flushed with “a great joy.” Should not this joy thrill the Church? Enthusiasm is essential to its vitality. To be strong, it must be sanguine, triumphant. Times of worshipful faith are always times of great joy. “We triumph in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we received the reconciliation.
3. The new life. “They were continually in the temple” (ver. 53). But the temple had a new meaning to them. Rite and offering, house of prayer and songs of praise, were all clothed with a new character. It was their Father”s house, and he had given a new song to their lips. Continually are they “praising and blessing God.” This is the life; for they are sitting in the heavenly places, and partaking of the heavenly things. “Day by day we magnify thee.” Beautiful as the first days of summer is this picture of the waiting Church. Would that the impression of this life of praise and blessing were more evident in the Church, witnessing, working, and still waiting. May the Church be “found unto praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ”!
Many thoughts offer themselves to us as we think upon this last scene.
I THE FITNESS OF THE PLACE WHENCE JESUS ASCENDED. Not, indeed, that Jerusalem could claim to be worthy of such an honour Jerusalem that had but lately dyed its hands in the blood of its Messiah. But as the ancient dwelling-place of God, as the seat and source of heavenly truth, as the metropolis of religion upon the earth, as the place that furnishes the name and type of the city of our hope, as the joyous gathering-place of the good, it was well that, from without its walls, he whose presence makes the home and the joy and the glory of his people should pass to his throne. For from that moment “Jerusalem” meant another thing to mankind, Christ took up its meaning as he rose. All the associations of love and hope, of grandeur and gladness, which had belonged to the earthly are transferred to the heavenly city, where he dwells in glory, where he reigns in power. There is a transference, not formal but actual, of the centre and metropolis of religious thought from the Jerusalem below to the Jerusalem above.
II THE NATURE OF THE LAST SCENE. “They climb the hillside; they cross its summit; they are approaching Bethany. He stops; they gather round. He looks upon them; he lifts his hands; he begins to bless them. What love unutterable in that parting look! What untold riches in that blessing! His hands are uplifted, his lips engaged in blessing, when slowly he begins to rise. Earth has lost her power to keep him; the waiting up-drawing heavens claim him as their own. He rises, but still, as he floats upward through the yielding air, his eyes are bent on those uplooking men; his arms are stretched over them in the attitude of benediction, his voice is heard dying away in blessings as he ascends. Awe-struck, in silence they follow him with straining eyes as his body lessens to sight, till the commissioned cloud enfolds, cuts off all further vision, and closes the earthly and sensible communion between Jesus and his disciples” (Dr. Hanna).
III THE RECEPTION THE SAVIOUR HAD IN HEAVEN. There have been “triumphant entries” in this little world of ours, and in the history of our human race, the pouring forth in loud acclaim of the pride and joy of many thousands of hearts. But to what a vanishing point do they sink when placed by the side of this entry of the conquering Saviour into heaven!
Though unable to form any conception that can approach the glorious reality, yet we may well love to linger in imagination over that blessed scene. His struggle over, his sorrows borne, his temptations met and mastered, his work finished, his great battle fought and his victory won, the victorious Lord passes through all the ranks of the angelic host, amid their reverent worship and adoring acclamations, to his throne of power and glory. “Look, ye saints I the sight is glorious: See the Man of sorrows now From the fight returned victorious; Every knee to him shall bow.
IV THE EFFECT IMMEDIATELY PRODUCED ON THE MINDS OF THE DISCIPLES. Blank dismay, inconsolable sorrow, should we think? So thinking, we should be wrong. They “returned to Jerusalem with great joy.” Yet their Master was gone from them to return no more till that uncertain and distant day of which the angels spoke. (Act_1:11) How do we account for this? The explanation is found here they were now perfectly assured of the Divine mission of Jesus Christ. His death had cast a dark shadow of doubt and dread over their hearts. His resurrection had revived their confidence and their hope. But this final manifestation, this “sign in the heavens,” this act of being taken up, like Elijah, into heaven, swept away the last fragment of doubt that may have been left behind; they were now absolutely sure, without any reserve or qualification whatever, that the Master they had loved and served was indeed their true Messiah, the Sent of God, worthy of their deepest veneration and their strongest attachment; so they “worshipped him” reverently, and went back to Jerusalem with the joy of faith and love filling their souls. There is no misery so unendurable as doubt, and there is no blessedness so sweet as rest of heart after spiritual disquietude.
V ITS PERMANENT EFFECT ON THE APOSTLES” MINDS. This was unreservedly good. It was “expedient for them that he should go away.” His bodily absence changed the complexion of their dependence upon him. It had been that of childhood; it was now to be that of manhood. With him by their side, as he had been, they would not have become the “men in him” they did become after he left them. The deeper and fuller knowledge of him they gained by his departure led to an enlargement of faith and to a deepening of love, and also to that fulness of attachment and consecration we recognize and rejoice in during their later life. They came
to know him and love him and serve him as the Divine Saviour of mankind, and this made them worthier men and truer servants of their Lord. All earthly ambitions respecting the right and left hand of the throne were transformed into a noble consecration to the invisible Lord.
VI ITS PRICELESS VALUE TO OURSELVES.
1. Christ is accessible to us all. Had he lived and reigned at Jerusalem, or some other sacred metropolis, he would only have been accessible to those who dwelt or journeyed there. But now he is “with us all.” For heaven is everywhere; the throne of grace is within the reach of the faintest whisper that comes from every burdened heart, from every seeking soul, wheresoever it may be breathed. A living faith can now realize the constant nearness of its living Lord; it has not to take even a sabbath day”s journey to find itself in his presence and to make known its request.
2. He is seated on the throne of power. To him who has passed into the heavens we can realize that “all power is given”. (Mat_28:18) We can well believe that our Master in heaven can do for us what we ask of him; that his arm is one of glorious might; that his hand has plenteousness of bounty and of blessing. And in all our time of need we can go to him, with holy confidence, to ask of him the help, the guidance, the blessing, we require.
3. He has all rightful authority. If he still dwelt on earth, we might be dubious of this; but to the heavenly Saviour we unanimously and cordially ascribe all headship; to him we yield our willing and unquestioning obedience; and we rejoice to believe that he is ruling and governing the affairs of his Church, and reigning in the interests of the whole human race; that it is his hand that is at the helm, and that will safely guide the tempest-ridden vessel to the harbour.
4. He is our constant and ever-living Lord. With all that is earthly we associate change and death; with the heavenly we connect the thought of continuance and life. Of our heavenly Lord we can think, and we delight to think, that whoever changes he is evermore the same, “yesterday, and today, and for ever;” that while human ministers “are not suffered to continue by reason of death,” he hath “an unchangeable priesthood,” and is able to save evermore (“to the uttermost”) all those “that come unto God by him.” And as we look forward to the future, and realize our own mortality, we cherish the joyous thought that, if we do but “abide in him” until the evening shadows gather and “life”s long day” passes into the darkness of death, we shall, in heaven”s eternal morning, open our eyes to see the “King in his beauty,” to “behold his glory,” and shall “sit down with him on his throne,” sharing for ever his own and his saints” everlasting rest. C.
And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven; more accurately rendered, while he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. The last clause, “was carried up into heaven,” is absent from some, but not from the majority of the older authorities. The Acts (Act_1:9) describe the act of ascension thus: “As they were looking, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.” The eleven and those chosen to witness the last earthly scene of the Lord”s ministry came together, in obedience probably to some command of their Master, to some meeting-place in Jerusalem, possibly the well-known upper room. Thence he led them forth from the sacred city, past the scene of the agony and the scene of the weeping, on to some quiet spot hard by loved Bethany, talking to them as they went; and as he spoke, suddenly he lifted up his pierced hands and blessed them; and in the very act of performing this deed of love, he rose, they still gazing on him rose, as it appears, by the exercise of his own will into the air, and, while they still gazed, a cloud came and veiled him from their sight. He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. Among the appearances of the Risen to his followers during the forty days (ten of these distinct appearances are related in the Gospels and Epistles), this last notably differs from all that preceded it. As at other times when he showed himself to his friends during these forty days, so on the “Ascension” day Jesus apparently came forth suddenly from the invisible world; but not, as on former occasions, did he suddenly vanish from sight, as if he might shortly return as he had done before. But on this fortieth day he withdrew in a different way; as they gazed he rose up into the air, and so he parted from them, thus solemnly suggesting to them that not only was he “no more with them” (ver. 44), but that even those occasional and supernatural appearances vouchsafed to them since the Resurrection were now at an end. Nor were they grieved at this final parting; for we read
TEXT: “he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.”
EVIDENCE: p75 Sc A B C K L W X Delta Theta Pi Psi f1 f13 28 33 565 700 892 1010 1241 Byz Lect some lat vg syr(p,h,pal) cop
TRANSLATIONS: KJV ASV RSV1n RSV2 NASVn NIV NEBn TEV
NOTES: “he parted from them.”
EVIDENCE: S* D some lat syr(s) (“was lifted up”)
TRANSLATIONS: ASVn RSV1 RSV2n NASV NEB TEVn
COMMENTS: The Sinaitic Syriac reading seems to be a condensation of the two phrases rather than an omission of the second. The omission of “and was carried up into heaven” in manuscript S* can be explained by a mistake of the eye, when the copyist’s eye jumped from “and” to “and.” It is also possible to explain the omission from manuscript D and the Latin manuscripts as a mistake of the eye when copyists’ eyes jumped from “them” to “him” in verse 52 (there is only one letter difference between these words in Greek). At any rate, the fact that the words are found in most early manuscripts of several types of ancient text indicates that they are original.
52.And having worshipped him, they returned. By the word worship, Luke means, first, that the apostles were relieved from all doubt, because at that time the majesty of Christ shone on all sides, so that there was no longer any room for doubting of his resurrection; and, secondly, that for the same reason they began to honor him with greater reverence than when they enjoyed his society on earth. For the worship which is here mentioned was rendered to him not only as Master or Prophet, nor even as the Messiah, whose character had been but half known, but as the King of glory and the Judge of the world. Now as Luke intended to give a longer narrative, he only states briefly what the apostles did during ten days. The amount of what is said is, that through the fervor of their joy they broke out openly into the praises of God, and were continually in the temple; not that they remained there by day and by night, but that they attended the public assemblies, and were present at the ordinary and stated hours to render thanksgiving to God. This joy is contrasted with the fear which formerly kept them retired and concealed at home.
Cambridge Bible:Lk Farrar
52. returned to Jerusalem] For fuller details see Act_1:3-12.
with great joy] as Jesus had promised (Joh_16:20, Joh_16:22). It is remarkable that they shewed great joy now that they were losing for ever the earthly presence of their Lord. It shews their faith in the promise that His spiritual presence should be even nearer and more precious (Joh_14:28, Joh_16:7).
And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. This “great joy,” on first thoughts, is singular till we read between the lines, and see how perfectly they now grasped the new mode of the Lord”s connection with his own. They knew that henceforth, not for a little time as before the cross, not fitfully as since the Resurrection, but that for ever, though their eyes might not see him, would they feel his blessed presence near. (see Joh_14:28 Joh_16:7) One question more connected with the Ascension presses for an answer. Much modern criticism regards this last scene simply as one of the ordinary disappearances of the forty days, and declines to admit any external, visible fact in which the Ascension was manifested. But St. Luke”s description. both in his Gospel and in the Acts, is plainly too circumstantial to admit of any hypothesis which limits the Ascension to a purely spiritual elevation. At the end of his earthly ministry, the evening before the cress, Jesus asked back his glory: “Now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own sell, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was”. (Joh_17:5) The Ascension and consequent session at the right hand was the answer to the prayer of Christ. It was necessary for the training of the first teachers of Christianity that the great fact should be represented in some outward and visible form. “The physical elevation,” writes Dr. Westcott, “was a speaking parable, an eloquent symbol, but not the truth to which it pointed, or the reality which it foreshadowed, The change which Christ revealed by the Ascension was not a change of place, but a change of state; not local, but spiritual. Still, from the necessities of our human condition, the spiritual change was represented sacramentally, so to speak, in an outward form He passed beyond the sphere of man”s sensible existence to the open presence of God” (“Tim Revelation of the Risen Lord”). The session at the right hand of God (Mar_16:19) cannot designate any particular place. The ascension, then, of Jesus is not the exchange of one locality, earth, merely for another we term heaven. It is a change of state; it is a passing from all confinement within the limits of space to omnipresence.
TEXT: “And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem”
EVIDENCE: p75 S A B C K L W X Delta Theta Pi Psi f1 f13 28 33 565 700 (omit “him”) 892 1010 1241 Byz Lect some lat vg (omit “him”) syr(p,h,pal) cop
TRANSLATIONS: KJV ASV RSVn NASVn NIV NEBn TEV
NOTES: “And they returned to Jerusalem”
EVIDENCE: D some lat syr(s)
TRANSLATIONS: ASVn RSV NASV NEB
COMMENTS: Although it is possible that the reference to worship could have been added by copyists from Mat_28:17, this does not seem likely. The omission may have been caused by a mistake of the eye when copyists’ eyes jumped from “them” in verse Luk_24:51 to “him” (there is only one letter difference between these words in Greek). At any rate, the fact that the words are found in most early manuscripts of several types of ancient text indicates that they are original.
They worshipped him – The word “worship” does not “always” denote religious homage. See the notes at Mat_2:11. Compare Luk_14:10. But here it is to be remarked,
1. That they offered this worship to an “absent” Saviour. It was “after” he left them and had vanished out of their sight. It was, therefore, an act of religion, and was the “first” religious homage that was paid to Jesus after he had left the world.
2. If “they” worshipped an absent Saviour – a Saviour unseen by the bodily eye, it is right for “us” to do it. It was an example which we “may and should” follow.
3. If worship may be rendered to Jesus, he is divine. See Exo_20:4-5.