Adam Clarke Commentary
The women coming early to the sepulchre on the first day of the week, bringing their spices, find the stone rolled away, and the tomb empty, Luke 24:1-3. They see a vision of angels, who announce Christ's resurrection, Luke 24:4-8. The women return and tell this to the eleven, Luke 24:9, Luke 24:10. They believe not, but Peter goes and examines the tomb, Luke 24:11, Luke 24:12. Christ, unknown, appears to two of the disciples who were going to Emmaus, and converses with them, vv. 13-29. While they are eating together, he makes himself known, and immediately disappears, Luke 24:30, Luke 24:31. They return to Jerusalem, and announce his resurrection to the rest of the disciples, Luke 24:32-35. Jesus himself appears to them, and gives them the fullest proof of the reality of his resurrection, Luke 24:36-43. He preaches to them, and gives them the promise of the Holy Spirit, Luke 24:44-49. He takes them to Bethany, and ascends to heaven in their sight, Luke 24:50, Luke 24:51. They worship him, and return to Jerusalem, Luke 24:52, Luke 24:53.
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 John 19:39, John 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:
They found the stone rolled away - An angel from God had done this before they reached the tomb, Matthew 28:2; : On this case we cannot help remarking, that, when persons have strong confidence in God, obstacles do not hinder them from undertaking whatever they have reason to believe he requires; and the removal of them they leave to him: and what is the consequence? They go on their way comfortably, and all difficulties vanish before them.
And found not the body of the Lord - His holy soul was in Paradise, Luke 23:43; and the evangelist mentions the body particularly, to show that this only was subject to death. It is, I think, evident enough, from these and other words of Luke, that the doctrine of the materiality of the soul, made no part of his creed.
Why seek ye the living among the dead? - This was a common form of speech among the Jews, and seems to be applied to those who were foolishly, impertinently, or absurdly employed. As places of burial were unclean, it was not reasonable to suppose that the living should frequent them; or that if any was missing he was likely to be found in such places.
Sinful men - Or heathens, ανθρωπων ἁμαρτωλων, i.e. the Romans, by whom only he could be put to death; for the Jews themselves acknowledged that this power was now vested in the hands of the Roman governor alone. See John 19:15.
They remembered his words - Even the simple recollection of the words of Christ becomes often a source of comfort and support to those who are distressed or tempted: for his words are the words of eternal life.
Then arose Peter - John went with him, and got to the tomb before him. See John 20:2, John 20:3.
The linen clothes laid by themselves - Or, The linen clothes only. This was the fine linen which Joseph of Arimathea bought, and wrapped the body in: Mark 15:46. Small as this circumstance may at first view appear, it is, nevertheless, no mean proof of the resurrection of our Lord. Had the body been stolen away, all that was wrapped about it would have been taken away with it; as the delay which must have been occasioned by stripping it might have led to the detection of the theft; nor would the disciples have run such a risk if they had stolen him, when stripping the body could have answered no end. This circumstance is related still more particularly by John, John 20:5-7. Peter seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin that was about his head not lying with the linen clothes, but Wrapped together in a place by itself. All these circumstances prove that the thing was done leisurely; order and regularity being observed through the whole. Hurry and confusion necessarily mark every act of robbery.
Behold, two of them - This long and interesting account is not mentioned by Matthew nor John, and is only glanced at by Mark, Mark 16:12, Mark 16:13. One of these disciples was Cleopas, Luke 24:18, and the other is supposed by many learned men, both ancient and modern, to have been Luke himself. See the sketch of his life prefixed to these notes. Some of the ancient versions have called the other disciple Ammaus and Ammaon, reading the verse thus: Behold two of them, Ammaus and Cleopas, were going in that very day to a village about sixty furlongs distant from Jerusalem. But the Persian says positively that it was Luke who accompanied Cleopas. See the inscription to section 140 of this Gospel in the Polyglott. Dr. Lightfoot thinks it was Peter, and proves that Cleopas and Alpheus were one and the same person.
Threescore furlongs - Some MSS. say 160 furlongs, but this is a mistake; for Josephus assigns the same distance to this village from Jerusalem as the evangelist does. War, b. vii. c. 6. s. 6. Αμμαους απεχει των Ἱεροσολυμων σταδιους ἑξηκοντα, Ammaus is sixty stadia distant from Jerusalem, about seven English miles and three-quarters. A stadium was about 243 yards, according to Arbuthnot.
And reasoned - Συζητειν, concerning the probability or improbability of Christ being the Messiah, or of his resurrection from the dead. It was a laudable custom of the Jews, and very common also, to converse about the law in all their journeyings; and now they had especial reason to discourse together, both of the law and the prophets, from the transactions which had recently taken place.
Their eyes were holden - It does not appear that there was any thing supernatural here, for the reason why these persons (who were not apostles, see Luke 24:33;) did not recollect our Lord is given by Mark, Mark 16:12, who says that Christ appeared to them in another form.
Cleopas - The same as Alpheus, father of the Apostle James, Mark 3:18, and husband of the sister of the virgin. John 19:25.
Art thou only a stranger - As if he had said, What has been done it Jerusalem, within these few days, has been so public, so awful, and so universally known, that, if thou hadst been but a lodger in the city for a single night, I cannot conceive how thou couldst miss hearing of these things: indeed, thou appearest to be the only person unacquainted with them.
Which was a prophet - Ανηρ προφητης, a man prophet, a genuine prophet; but this has been considered as a Hebraism: "for, in Exodus 2:14, a man prince is simply a prince; and in 1 Samuel 31:3, men archers mean no more than archers." But my own opinion is, that this word is often used to deepen the signification, so in the above quotations: Who made thee a man prince (i.e. a mighty sovereign) and a judge over us! Exodus 2:14. And, the battle went sore against Saul, and the men archers (i.e. the stout, or well aiming archers) hit him, 1 Samuel 31:3. So in Palaephatus, de Incredib. c. 38. p. 47, quoted by Kypke, ην ανηρ βασιλευς μεγας, He was a great and eminent king. So ανηρ προφητης here signifies, he was a Genuine prophet, nothing like those false ones by whom the people have been so often deceived; and he has proved the divinity of his mission by his heavenly teaching, and astonishing miracles.
Mighty in - word - Irresistibly eloquent. Powerful in deed, working incontrovertible miracles. See Kypke in loco.
Cleopas paints the real state of his own mind in these verses. In his relation there is scarcely any thing well connected; important points are referred to, and not explained, though he considered the person to whom he spoke as entirely unacquainted with these transactions: his own hopes and fears he cannot help mixing with the narration, and throwing over the whole that confusion that dwells in his own heart. The narration is not at all in Luke's style; but as it is probable he was the other disciple who was present, and had heard the words of Cleopas, he gave them in that simple, natural, artless manner in which they were spoken. Had the account been forged, those simple, natural touches would not have appeared.
To-day is the third day - Our Lord had often said that he would rise again the third day; and though Alpheus had little hope of this resurrection, yet he could not help recollecting the words he had heard, especially as they seemed to be confirmed by the relation of the women, Luke 24:22-24.
O fools and slow of heart to believe - Inconsiderate men, justly termed such, because they had not properly attended to the description given of the Messiah by the prophets, nor to his teaching and miracles, as proofs that He alone was the person they described.
Slow of heart - Backward, not easy to be persuaded of the truth, always giving way to doubtfulness and distrust. This very imperfection in them is a strong evidence of the truth of the doctrine which they afterwards believed, and proclaimed to the world. Had they not had the fullest assurance of these things, they never would have credited them; and it is no small honor to the new-covenant Scriptures that such persons were chosen, first, to believe them; secondly, to proclaim them in the world; and, thirdly, to die on the evidence of those truths, the blessed influence of which they felt in their own hearts, and fully exemplified in their lives.
Ought not Christ to have suffered - Ουχι εδει παθειν τον Χριστον, Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer. This was the way in which sin must be expiated, and, without this, no soul could have been saved. The suffering Messiah is he alone by whom Israel and the world can be saved.
Beginning at Moses, etc. - What a sermon this must have been, where all the prophecies relative to the incarnation, birth, teaching, miracles, sufferings, death, and resurrection of the blessed Jesus were all adduced, illustrated, and applied to himself, by an appeal to the well known facts which had taken place during his life! We are almost irresistibly impelled to exclaim, What a pity this discourse had not been preserved! No wonder their hearts burned within them, while hearing such a sermon, from such a preacher. The law and the prophets had all borne testimony, either directly or indirectly, to Christ; and we may naturally suppose that these prophecies and references were those which our Lord at this time explained and applied to himself. See Luke 24:32.
He made as though he would have gone farther - That is, he was going on, as though he intended to go farther; and so he doubtless would had they not earnestly pressed him to lodge with them. His preaching had made a deep impression upon their hearts, Luke 24:32, and now they feel it their greatest privilege to entertain the preacher.
This is a constant effect of the doctrine of Christ: wherever it is felt, the Author of it, the ever-blessed Jesus, is earnestly entreated to dwell in the heart; and he who preaches it, is amply provided with the necessaries of life by those who have received his testimony.
For it is toward evening - And consequently both inconvenient and unsafe to proceed to another village. Reader! it is probably the eve of thy life, whether thou be old or young: thy day may have already declined, and there is, possibly, but a step between thee and the eternal world! Hath the Lord Jesus taught thee by his word and Spirit to believe in him, that thou mightest be saved? Is he come into thy heart? Hast thou the witness of his Spirit that thy sin is blotted out through his blood? Romans 8:16; Galatians 4:6; 1 John 5:10-12. If thou have not, get thee to God right humbly. Jesus is about to pass by, perhaps for ever! O, constrain him, by earnest faith and prayer, to enter into thy soul, and lodge with thee! May God open Thy eyes! May he stir up and inflame Thy heart!
And he went in - And so he will to thee, thou penitent soul! Therefore take courage, and be not faithless but believing.
He took bread - This was the office of the master and father of a family, and this was our Lord's usual custom among his disciples. Those whom Christ lodges with he feeds, and feeds too with bread that himself hath blessed, and this feeding not only strengthens, but also enlightens the soul.
Their eyes were opened - But we are not to imagine that he administered the holy eucharist at this time; there is not the most distant evidence of this. It was a mere family meal, and ended before it was well begun.
They knew him - His acting as father of the family, in taking, blessing, and distributing the bread among them, caused them to recollect those lips which they had often heard speak, and those hands by which they had often been fed. Perhaps he also threw off the disguise which he had before assumed; and now appeared in his own person.
He vanished out of their sight - Probably, during their surprise, he took the opportunity of withdrawing from the place; leaving them to reflect and meditate on what they had heard and seen.
Did not our heart burn within us - His word was in our heart as a burning fire, Jeremiah 20:9. Our hearts waxed hot within us, and while we were musing the fire burned, Psalm 39:3. In some such way as this the words of the disciples may be understood: but there is a very remarkable reading here in the Codex Bezae; instead of καιομενη, burned, it has κεκαλυμμενη, veiled; and one of the Itala has, fuit excaecatum, was blinded. Was not our heart veiled (blinded) when he conversed with us on the way, and while he unfolded the Scriptures to us, seeing we did not know him?
Saying, The Lord is risen indeed - The meaning here is, that these two disciples found the apostles, and those who were with them, unanimously testifying that Christ had risen from the dead. It is not the two disciples to whom we are to refer the word λεγοντας, saying; but to the body of the disciples. See the note on Mark 16:12.
And they - The two disciples who were just come from Emmaus, related what had happened to them on the way, going to Emmaus, and how he had been known unto them in the breaking of bread, while supping together at the above village. See on Luke 24:31; (note).
And as they thus spake - While the two disciples who were going to Emmaus were conversing about Christ, he joined himself to their company. Now, while they and the apostles are confirming each other in their belief of his resurrection, Jesus comes in, to remove every doubt, and to give them the fullest evidence of it. And it is ever true that, wherever two or three are gathered together in his name, he is in the midst of them.
Peace be unto you - The usual salutation among the Jews. May you prosper in body and soul, and enjoy every heavenly and earthly good! See the notes on Matthew 5:9; Matthew 10:12.
And supposed that they had seen a spirit - But if there be no such thing as a disembodied spirit, would not our Lord have shown them their error? Instead of this, he confirms them in their opinion, by saying, A spirit hath not flesh and bones as you see me have, Luke 24:39; therefore he says, handle me and see me. They probably imagined that it was the soul only of our blessed Lord which they saw; but they were soon fully convinced of the identity of his person, and the reality of his resurrection; for,
They - believed not for joy - They were so overcome with the joy of his resurrection, that they did not, for some time, properly receive the evidence that was before them - as we phrase it, they thought the news too good to be true.
The law - the prophets - the psalms - This was the Jewish division of the whole old covenant. The Law contained the five books of Moses; the Prophets, the Jews divided into former and latter; they were, according to Josephus, thirteen. "The Psalms included not only the book still so named, but also three other books, Proverbs, Job, and Canticles.
These all," says the above author, "contain hymns to God, and rules for the conduct of the lives of men." Joseph. Cont. App. i. 8. This account is imperfect: the common Jewish division of the writings of the old covenant is the following, and indeed seems to be the same to which our Lord alludes: -
III. The Hagiographa, (holy writings), כתובים kethuvim, which comprehended the Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and the two books of Chronicles. The Jews made anciently only twenty-two books of the whole, to bring them to the number of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet; and this they did by joining Ruth to Judges, making the two books of Samuel only one; and so of Kings and Chronicles; joining the Lamentations to Jeremiah, and making the twelve minor prophets only one book.
Then opened he their understanding - Διηνοιξεν, He fully opened. They had a measure of light before, so that they discerned the Scriptures to be the true word of God, and to speak of the Messiah; but they had not light sufficient to enable them to apply these Scriptures to their Lord and Master; but now, by the influence of Christ, they see, not only, the prophecies which pointed out the Messiah, but also the Messiah who was pointed out by these prophecies. The book of God may be received in general as a Divine revelation, but the proper meaning, reference, and application of the Scriptures can only be discerned by the light of Christ. Even the very plain word of God is a dead letter to those who are not enlightened by the grace of Christ; and why? because this word speaks of spiritual and heavenly things; and the carnal mind of man cannot discern them. They who receive not this inward teaching continue dark and dead while they live.
Repentance - See its nature fully explained on Matthew 3:1; (note).
Remission of sins - Αφεσιν ἁμαρτιων, The taking away - removal of sins, in general every thing that relates to the destruction of the power, the pardoning of the guilt, and the purification of the heart from the very nature of sin.
Should be preached in his name - See the office of a proclaimer, herald, or preacher, explained in the note on Matthew 3:1; (note), and particularly at the end of that chapter.
In his name - On his authority, and in virtue of the atonement made by him: for on what other ground could the inhabitants of the earth expect remission of sins?
Among all nations - Because God wills the salvation of All; and Jesus Christ by his grace has tasted death for Every man. Hebrews 2:9.
Beginning at Jerusalem - Making the first overtures of mercy to my murderers! If, then, the sinners of Jerusalem might repent, believe, and be saved, none, on this side hell, need despair.
Ye are witnesses of these things - He gave them a full commission to proclaim these glad tidings of peace and salvation to a lost world. The disciples were witnesses not only that Christ had suffered and rose again from the dead; but also that he opens the understanding by the inspiration of his Spirit, that he gives repentance, that he pardons sin, and purifies from all unrighteousness, and that he is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come unto the knowledge of the truth and be saved. And these are the things of which their successors in the Gospel ministry must bear witness. As far as a man steadily and affectionately proclaims these doctrines, so far God will bless his labor to the salvation of those who hear him. But no man can with any propriety bear witness of that grace that saves the soul, whose own soul is not saved by that grace.
The promise of my Father - That is, the Holy Ghost, promised, John 15:26. See Acts 1:4; Acts 2:33.
Until ye be endued with power - The energy of the Holy Ghost was to be communicated to them for three particular purposes.
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.
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 Genesis 48:8-20.
Carried up into heaven - Ανεφερετο - into that heaven from which he had descended, John 1:18; John 3:13. This was forty days after his resurrection, Acts 1:3, during which time he had given the most convincing proofs of that resurrection, not only to the apostles, but to many others - to upwards of five hundred at one time, 1 Corinthians 15:6.
As in his life they had seen the way to the kingdom, and in his death the price of the kingdom, so in his ascension they had the fullest proof of the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the human body, and of his continual intercession at the right hand of God.
There are some remarkable circumstances relative to this ascension mentioned in Acts 1:4-12.
They worshipped him - Let it be observed that this worship was not given by way of civil respect, for it was after he was parted from them, and carried back into heaven, that they offered it to him; but acts of civil respect are always performed in the presence of the person. They adored him as their God, and were certainly too much enlightened to be capable of any species of idolatry.
Returned to Jerusalem with great joy - Having the fullest proof that Jesus was the promised Messiah; and that they had a full commission to preach repentance and remission of sin to mankind, and that they should be Divinely qualified for this great work by receiving the promise of the Father, Luke 24:49.
Were continually in the temple - Especially till the day of pentecost came, when they received the promise, mentioned Luke 24:49.
Praising and blessing God - Magnifying his mercy, and speaking good of his name. Thus the days of their mourning were ended; and they began that life upon earth in which they still live in the kingdom of God. May the God of infinite love give the reader the same portion in time and in eternity, through the same glorious and ever-blessed Jesus! Amen and amen.
There are various subscriptions to this book in the MSS. and versions. The following are the principal.
Through the assistance of the Most High God, the Gospel of St. Luke the physician, the proclaimer of eternal life, is finished. Arab. - The most holy Gospel of Luke the Evangelist is completed. Syr. - The end of the holy Gospel according to Luke - written in Greek - published in Alexandria the Great, - in Troas, - in Rome, - in the confines of Achaia and Baeotia, - in Bithynia, - in Macedonia, - in the Italic (or Latin) character, fifteen years after the ascension of Christ.
It is likely, the word Amen was added by the Church, on the reading of this book; but there is no evidence that it was affixed by the evangelist. It is omitted by some of the best MSS. and versions.
It is evident that, at the conclusion of this Gospel, St. Luke passes very rapidly over a number of interesting circumstances related by the other evangelists, and particularly by St. John, concerning the last forty days of our Lord's sojourning on earth; but, to compensate for this, he has mentioned a variety of important particulars which the others have passed by, a list of which I think it necessary to subjoin. It seems as if the providence of God had designed that none of these evangelists should stand alone: each has his peculiar excellence, and each his own style and mode of narration. They are all witnesses to the truth in general; and each most pointedly to every great fact of the Gospel history. In each there is something new; and no serious reader ever finds that the perusal of any one supersedes the necessity of carefully consulting and reading the others. The same facts and doctrines are exhibited by all in different points of view, which renders them both impressive and interesting; and this one circumstance serves to fix the narrative more firmly in the memory. We should have had slighter impressions from the Gospel history, had we not had the narrative at four different hands. This variety is of great service to the Church of God, and has contributed very much to diffuse the knowledge of the facts and doctrines contained in this history. Parallel passages have been carefully studied, and the different shades of meaning accurately marked out; and the consequence has been, what the wisdom of God designed, the fuller edification of the faithful. It is not the business of a commentator to point out beauties in the composition of the sacred text. Many might be selected from the evangelists in general, and not a few from Luke, who not only tells a true story, but tells it well; especially when he has occasion to connect the different parts of the narration with observations of his own. But this is his least praise: from his own account we learn that he took the utmost pains to get the most accurate and circumstantial information relative to the facts he was to relate: see the note on Luke 1:3. While, therefore, he thus diligently and conscientiously sought for truth, the unerring Spirit of God led him into all truth. Even he who expected the revelation of the Almighty, and to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, that he might correctly, forcibly, and successfully proclaim the truth and righteousness of his Maker, must stand upon his watch, and set himself upon his tower, and watch to see what God would speak In him, Habakkuk 2:1. In a similar spirit we may expect the fruits of these revelations. He who carefully and conscientiously uses the means may expect the accomplishment of the end.
I cannot close these observations with a more profitable word than what is contained in that truly apostolic and sublime prayer for the second Sunday in Advent; and may he who reads it weigh every word in the spirit of faith and devotion! "Blessed God! who hast caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning; grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that, by patience and comfort of thy holy word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Savior Jesus Christ!"
Now to him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever! Amen.
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