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Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Luke 24

 

 

Verse 1

This final chapter of Luke briefly summarizes the astonishment and perplexity of finding the empty tomb, giving the experience of the Galilean women (Luke 24:1-12), then giving a full and vivid account of an appearance of Christ to the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). Luke then recounted the appearance of Jesus to the Eleven and them that were with them, including the disciples returned from Emmaus (Luke 24:36-43), concluding with a summary statement of Jesus' last words and a brief account of the ascension (Luke 24:44-53).

And on the sabbath day they rested according to the commandment. But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came unto the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. (Luke 24:1-3)

See the article at end of chapter on "The Four Witnesses Agree."

Sabbath day ... This was Saturday, the second of the back-to-back sabbaths intervening between the crucifixion and the first day of the week. See under Mark 15:42 in my Commentary on Mark.

They came unto the tomb ... The antecedent of the pronoun "they" is "the women who had followed him from Galilee" (Luke 23:55); and, from a comparison with Luke 24:10, these seem to have been ANOTHER group of women, not necessarily the same as those mentioned elsewhere in the Gospels, though many of both groups were from Galilee.

The stone rolled away ... The seal on the grave, placed there by the Roman government, had obviously been broken, which would have required a deputation from the governor's office to investigate it. Furthermore, the military authorities would have thoroughly investigated the fantastic lie of the guard concerning what happened "while they were asleep"; and with the activities of the Lord's followers beginning at the crack of dawn the same day, and increasing as the day progressed - all of these things, and may others of which we know nothing, made the day of Jesus' resurrection one of the busiest in history. The Sanhedrin, would they have not investigated? They bribed the soldiers to lie about what had happened, for they had witnessed some of the phenomena attending the resurrection; but it may be counted certain that they made their own investigation, decided that they had no case against the soldiers, and attempted to cover up the truth with lies.

Something of the nature of the rock-hewn sepulchre is evident in the stone that closed it, the same having been a large wheel-like rock fitted into a groove parallel to the entrance. It was so large that even a whole group of women would not have been able to move it.

And found not the body ... The empty grave of Jesus, along with the undisturbed grave clothes within, proved the resurrection of Jesus to be a fact; but to minds so long schooled against any possibility of a resurrection from the dead, it was a fact which they, at the time, could not fully believe.

Verse 4
And it came to pass, while they were perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel: and as they were affrighted and bowed their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?

Two men stood by them ... These were angels, as indicated by the dazzling raiment; and it is interesting that commentators generally set themselves in motion immediately to show that this does not contradict the other two synoptics' mention of but "one" angel. Thus, Lamar:

Matthew and Mark mention but one of these, for the reason, perhaps, that only one of them spoke. But in doing so he REPRESENTED both, and therefore it was virtually, as in our text the speech of both.[1]

If indeed this episode is the same as that mentioned in Matthew and Mark, Lamar's words are surely applicable; but the conviction maintained here is that this was a totally different episode, like the appearance to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. As noted under Luke 24:3, the women here were those who "followed him" from Galilee; but of those women mentioned in Matthew and Mark (and also by Luke in Luke 24:10), it is evident that they ACCOMPANIED Jesus in the same manner as the Twelve. See Luke 8:1-3, where this is plainly stated of Mary Magdalene, Joanna the wife of Herod's steward, and Susanna, these being women of wealth who funded the travels of Jesus and the Twelve. It is reasonable to suppose that this particular group of affluent women remained with the Twelve during the first day of the resurrection. Certainly, there were OTHERS besides the Eleven present in that upper room when the disciples returned from Emmaus; for Luke says they "returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together and "them that were with them" (Luke 24:33)! An element of conjecture is in such an interpretation, but certainly far less than in supposing that these women reported two angels, if in fact there had been only one. During those two years of Paul's imprisonment in Caesarea, Luke had ample opportunity to visit some of the women who were in that company; and it must be concluded that these were among the eyewitnesses mentioned in his introduction.

It is also significant that Mary Magdalene, blinded by grief and inattentive to anything else, was not impressed by the angel at all, but here the women were frightened and fell upon their faces. If all of the intensive activities of that day were known, such problems would disappear; but it was part of the Father's wisdom to give men just the amount of revelation which would leave them free to make their own moral decision.

Why seek ye the living with the dead ...? These words particularly impressed Barclay who said:

There are many who still look for Jesus among the dead. There are those who regard Jesus as the greatest man and the noblest hero who ever lived, who lived the loveliest life ever lived on earth and who then died. That will not do! Jesus is not dead; he is alive! He is not a hero of the past, but a living presence today![2]

[1] J. S. Lamar, The New Testament Commentary, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Chase and Hall, 1877), p. 276.

[2] William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1956), p. 305.

Verse 6
He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying that the Son of man must be delivered up into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

Angels of heaven announced the resurrection of Jesus, because no human eye beheld the wonder. The fact certified by the heavenly messengers here is the most important of all human history. Hobbs said:

Luke's medical training would have prejudiced him against a bodily resurrection. Yet, having traced all things accurately, he was so convinced of its reality that he recorded one of the most beautiful and complete accounts of it. ... This man of science, this historian of the first rank stands as a bulwark against those who would deny this Miracle of Miracles in which Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power by his resurrection from the dead.[3]

The resurrection is the central fact of the gospel. "Without it the words of Paul would stand as the epitaph of a dead Christianity, `Your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins' (1 Corinthians 15:17)."[4]

[3] Herschel H. Hobbs, An Exposition of the Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1966), p. 346.

[4] Donald G. Miller, The Layman's Bible Commentary (Richmond, Virginia: The John Knox Press, 1959).

Verse 8
And they remembered his words, and returned from the tomb, and told all these things to the eleven, and to all the rest.

To the eleven and all the rest ... is a reference to the apostles and to the other persons with them, the strong likelihood being that the women whose names are given in the next verse were included in "the rest."

Verse 10
(Now they were Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James). And the other women (with them) told these things to the apostles.

The above verse has been re-punctuated to show what is believed to be its meaning. All punctuation is of men; and it is well known that the punctuation of this verse is by no means agreed upon by scholars.

The rest ... Luke at once injected the parenthesis to show who "the rest" were, being the women mentioned but including others whose names were not given.

And the other women ... By understanding this as another parenthesis, the antecedent of "them" is Mary Magdalene, etc., the affirmation then being that the testimony of both groups concurred; thus, in that understanding of it, the testimony of the Galilean women agreed "with them" who reported separately.

Verse 11
And these words appeared in their sight as idle talk; and they disbelieved them.

The disbelieving apostles are in view here. Far from having concerted a series of lies to claim a resurrection that never occurred, the Eleven refused at first to believe it, and were not convinced until that night of the resurrection day when Jesus appeared to them (and a certain number of others) in that upper room.

Inherent in the unbelieving stance of the Eleven was their "hardness of heart" (Mark 16:14), a fact given only in the second Gospel and probably reflecting the testimony of the apostle Peter. From this, it is natural to suppose that one of the impediments to the belief of the Eleven was the fact of our Lord's appearing first to Mary Magdalene, and to at least one other company of women, and very probably to two other companies of women (if those in Luke 24:1-9 are different), and again to two ordinary disciples on the way to Emmaus "before he appeared to the Eleven." The apostles who had been so bothered about who would be the head man in the kingdom, it would appear were personally slighted by those first appearances for the sake of teaching them a lesson of humility; and, when the Lord finally appeared to the Eleven, the disciples from Emmaus were present, and probably Mary Magdalene and certain other women also.

Most assuredly, this verse teaches that the Eleven were of a mind to reject the testimony thus far received; and it is equally sure that they were wrong in so doing; for Jesus upbraided them for it (Mark 16:14),

Verse 12
But Peter arose, and ran unto the tomb; and stooping and looking in, he seeth the linen cloths by themselves; and he departed to his home, wondering at that which was come to pass.

Here Luke abbreviated the whole incident so fully presented in John 20:1-9, omitting not only John's participation in it, but also, the fact of Peter's having actually entered the tomb. This abbreviation cannot be viewed as a contradiction of the longer account, being rather an abridgment of it, focusing upon the extremely important key fact of the episode, namely, the position of the linen cloths, of which Harrison, said, "They kept the same position they had when the body was in them."[5] See more on this in my Commentary on John, under John 19:40,41; 20:5; and in my Commentary on Matthew, Matthew 27:52.

The linen cloths ... In Luke 23:53, Luke mentioned Joseph's wrapping Jesus' body in a "linen cloth" (singular)"; but here it is quite evident that before the wrapping was done, the cloth was reduced to strips. B. F. Westcott said:

The exact word for CLOTHS is the diminutive form which is used in Greek medical writings for bandages. This distinguished these swathes in which the body was bound from the linen cloth.[6]

JESUS' APPEARANCE TO THE DISCIPLES ON EMMAUS ROAD

Instead of giving a list of appearances, Luke here described one particular appearance fully; because, as Geldenhuys said:

In it there is so strikingly depicted what was going on in the hearts of the Saviour's followers on that day, and how Jesus, by word and act, as he appeared to them, removed all their pangs of despair.[7]

Summers described this as "the most beautiful of all the post resurrection accounts";[8] and Barclay denominated it "another of the immortal short stories of the world."[9]

[5] Everett F. Harrison, Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 273.

[6] B. F. Westcott, Commentary on the Gospel of John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1971), p. 281.

[7] Norval Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1951), p. 632.

[8] Ray Summers, Commentary on Luke (Waco, Texas: Word Books, Publisher, 1974), p. 322.

[9] William Barclay, op. cit., p. 308.

Verse 13
And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was threescore furlongs from Jerusalem.

Emmaus ... Childers noted that:

This village is now called Kolonieh, so called from the emperor Titus having made of it a colony for some of his veterans. It is located, as Luke says, about sixty furlongs or stadia from Jerusalem. One [@stadion] Isaiah 606.75 feet. Thus, the village was about six and three-fourths miles from Jerusalem.[10]

Two of them were going ... One of these was Cleopas, there being no other mention of him in the New Testament; and the other is not known. Some have sought to identify the other as Luke himself; but Luke 24:20 forbids that. Luke, a Gentile, would not have referred to "our rulers," in speaking of the authorities. The fact of these two disciples having been obscure, ordinary disciples without any particular distinction in the fellowship of the Lord's followers, as Dummelow noted, "is a pledge of authenticity of the narrative."[11]

[10] Charles L. Childers, Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City, Missouri: Beacon Hill Press, 1964), p. 611.

[11] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 769.

Verse 14
And they communed with each other of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, while they communed and questioned together, that Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.

The conversation of these two indicates their deep interest and concern in the knowledge of things pertaining to Jesus; and the fact of their not recognizing Christ indicates that Jesus did not intend them to recognize him. One of the mysterious qualities in the resurrection body of our Lord was this quality of remaining unrecognized until it was fully intended by the Lord.

Verse 16
But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. And he said unto them, What communications are these that ye have one with another as ye walk? And they stood still, looking sad.

It was so incredible, in the view of these two, that any person whosoever in the environs of Jerusalem should have been unaware of the stupendous events unfolded there so recently, or that such a person would not have known anything about them, that they stopped walking, astounded at what appeared to them incredible. Of course, Jesus did know all about those events, far more than they knew; nor was Jesus' question here for the purpose (a) either of procuring information for himself, or (b) of professing any need of enlightenment from them. It was a means of inviting himself into the conversation which had evidently continued for some little while after Jesus fell in step with them. God asked Adam, "Where art thou?" not to procure information but to induce a confession.

Verse 18
And one of them, named Cleopas, answering said unto him, Dost thou alone sojourn in Jerusalem and not know the things which are come to pass there in these days?

Such wonderment was natural. Here is spontaneous testimony to the fact that all men were conscious of the dramatic events related to the Passion of Jesus Christ. "This thing was not done in a corner" (Acts 26:26). The highest officials of government, both religious and secular, the total population of Jerusalem, with more than a million others there to observe the passover, from all over the Roman Empire - all were interested, as either observers or participants, in the world-shattering drama of the crucifixion of Jesus our Lord.

Verse 19
And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, The things concerning Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people; and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him.

Thus the two disciples responded, as Jesus had intended, by focusing attention upon the solemn events connected with his great sacrifice for sins.

Verse 21
But we hoped that it was he who should redeem Israel Yea, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things came to pass.

We hoped ... Tragic is the use of the past tense; for by it these two confessed that hope had vanished. How could a dead prophet redeem Israel?

The third day since ... If Jesus was buried about sunset on Friday, there is no way that these men would, on Sunday, have said, "This is now the third day since." Sunday was not the third day since Friday; but it was the third day since Thursday. See the chart under Luke 22:2. Their mention of this would seem to imply their remembering Jesus' promise about "rising again the third day," but rather vaguely and without conviction that it would indeed occur.

Verse 22
Moreover, certain women of our company amazed us, having been early at the tomb; and when they found not his body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. And certain of them that were with us went to the tomb, and found it even so as the women had said; but him they saw not.

At the time these two disciples had left the circle of believers, the Lord had not appeared to any of them. Of course, the Lord had appeared early that day to Mary Magdalene; but it appears this was discounted by all of the disciples, as it certainly had been by the Eleven.

Verse 25
And he said unto them, O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken.

O foolish men ... "This is not the same word as the one used in Matthew 5:22, where we are forbidden to say `Thou fool' to our brother."[12] This was Jesus' dramatic way of emphasizing their failure to accept the plain teachings of the Old Testament prophecies. It seems incredible that after all that was written in the Old Testament concerning the suffering Servant of God, his being despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and even the exact scenes of the crucifixion having been spelled out in Psalms 22, the Jewish people remained almost totally blind to that phase of Messiah's character.

"Artificial and even ridiculous explanations were applied to Old Testament prophecies of Messiah's sufferings and death."[13] And as Geldenhuys further said:

At all costs they reasoned away all the prophecies of the expiatory death of the Messiah and defended their own earthly view of a triumphant Jewish Messiah.[14]

This is precisely the fault of all generations of men who have rejected what they did not like in God's word, accepting only those portions of it which pleased them. Such persons say, "I believe in heaven, but I do not believe in hell and the devil!"

Inherent in the Lord's statement here is the fact that, in order to know God's teaching in any sector, it is mandatory to take account of "all that the prophets have spoken" on any given subject. Thus, in the understanding of the sacred Gospels, it is absolutely necessary to believe "all" that is written in all four of them. The scissors-and-paste method which is so much in vogue among critical scholars is utterly incapable of revealing the true teaching of God.

[12] Charles L. Childers, op. cit., p. 613.

[13] Norval Geldenhuys, op. cit., p. 637.

[14] Ibid.

Verse 26
Behooved it not the Christ to suffer these things, and to enter into his glory?

Thus, the Gospel of Luke confirms the view often expressed in John that Jesus was glorified in his crucifixion. Upon the departure of Judas to betray Jesus, the Lord said, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him" (John 13:31). It was only by his sufferings that Christ could be made perfect (Hebrews 5:8,9); and only "by his stripes" could men be healed (Isaiah 53:5).

Verse 27
And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

There are one-third of one thousand prophecies in the Old Testament regarding Jesus Christ, and this leads to the conclusion that a measure of hyperbole is in Luke's statement here; but a long walk of some six or seven miles would have afforded time enough for mentioning a very large number of the glorious prophecies fulfilled in Jesus our Lord.

Spence has suggested the following as having probably been included in the interpretations given by the Lord:

The promise to Eve (Genesis 3:15) The promise to Abraham (Genesis 22:18) The Paschal lamb (Exodus 12) The scapegoat (Leviticus 16:1-34) The greater Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15) The star and scepter (Numbers 24:17) Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14) "Unto us a child is born" (Isaiah 9:6) The Good Shepherd (Isaiah 40:10,11) The meek Sufferer (Isaiah 50:6) He who bore our griefs (Isaiah 53:4,5) The Heir of David (Ezekiel 34:23) The Ruler born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) The Branch (Zechariah 6:12) The lowly King (Zechariah 9:9) The pierced Victim (Zechariah 12:10) The smitten Shepherd (Zechariah 13:7) The Messenger of the Covenant (Malachi 3:1) The Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2)[15]

Of course, there were many other things also that could have been included in the Lord's instructions to these two disciples.

ENDNOTE:

[15] H. D. M. Spence, The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1962), Vol. 16, Luke, p. 271.

Verse 28
And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they were going: and he made as though he would go further. And they constrained him, saying, Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to abide with them.

As though he would go further ... There was no deceit in this, because Christ would have gone further had they not invited him to be their guest. See comments in my Commentary on Mark, under Mark 6:48, where the Lord would have passed by even the Twelve themselves if they had not invited him to come aboard. The Lord's blessings are always to be asked for and sought after by the men who would receive them.

Verse 30
And it came to pass when he had sat down with them to meat, he took the bread and blessed; and breaking it he gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.

Speculations are plentiful with regard to just how "their eyes were opened," some supposing that the familiar pattern of Jesus' breaking bread and offering thanks as he had so frequently done in the presence of all his disciples was what did it; but it is safer to conclude that the Lord willed their recognition of him at that particular moment, and accordingly it occurred. There can hardly fail to be a deep spiritual overtone in this to the effect that the Lord is still known to his disciples in the breaking of the bread of the Lord's Supper, which continues to be in all ages the great separator between the saved and the unsaved.

Verse 32
And they said one to another, Was not our heart burning within us, while he spake to us in the way, while he opened unto us the scriptures?

The study and meditation upon the word of God is ever the cause that produces the glowing heart in mortal men; and if ministers of the Lord's gospel would have audiences of burning hearts, the means of achieving such a thing is here. The exposition of the Holy Scriptures exceeds in importance all other tasks of the ministers of Christ.

Verse 33
And they rose up that very hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them.

The marvelous event related here and in the next two verses was mentioned significantly by Mark (Mark 16:14-18) and more fully by John (John 20:19-23). From John, it might be inferred that only the Eleven were present (actually ten, with Thomas absent); and yet John did not state any such limitation. From this verse it is clear that a considerable number were present, including (presumably) certain women mentioned in Luke 24:10, and now further augmented by the arrival of these two disciples who had just seen the Lord.

Verse 34
Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.

Them that were with them ... (Luke 24:33) also included these who were testifying to the appearance of the Lord to Simon Peter. There is no New Testament record describing the appearance of Jesus to Peter; and modesty should restrain human comment about it. Of the fact, there is no question. Paul declared that the Lord "appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve" (1 Corinthians 15:5); and Luke's record of it here is unimpeachable.

Verse 35
And they rehearsed the things that happened in the way, and how he was known of them in the breaking of bread.

From Mark 16:14-18, it would appear that even after all of this evidence had been received, a number of the apostles were still reluctant to believe. Peter, having seen the Lord already, could not have been among that number who were yet unbelieving; but due to his shameful conduct in denying Jesus, it seems that Peter took no vigorous part in the discussions on the first day following the resurrection. At least, no word or deed of Peter's in connection with that meeting is recorded by any of the Gospels.

Verse 36
And as they spake these things, he himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

JESUS' APPEARANCE TO THE APOSTLES AND OTHERS (THOMAS BEING ABSENT)

See in my Commentary on John, under John 20:19-23, for comment on the parallel passage in the Gospel of John.

Peace be unto you ... These were the last words Jesus had spoken before going forth to suffer crucifixion and death; but in the meanwhile, the conduct of the apostles had been such as to leave them weighted down with feelings of guilt and inadequacy. Under the circumstances, this was a shout of victory and a divine assurance that all would be well with them. There were two reactions on the part of those present. First, they were simply terrified, as any mortal would have been under the circumstances; but very soon this gave way to joy, which was also mentioned by Luke in Luke 24:41.

Verse 37
But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they beheld a spirit.

See under preceding verse. It was incumbent upon Jesus to win over the apostles to a complete and unfailing faith in his resurrection; and so, in these verses, one beholds the Son of God actually laying the keel, in a figure, of that ship of the church which would sail the seas of all subsequent generations. After the interview reported in this paragraph and the Johannine parallel, there was never any wavering at all on the part of the apostles forever afterward. They passed up and down the provinces of the great empire shouting, "He is risen from the dead," sealing their testimony with blood, and preaching the gospel that turned the world upside down. Did it all actually happen? There is no explanation of the results of that night appearance unless indeed it did all actually take place. No skepticism can explain it otherwise.

In order to counteract their terror at being in the presence of what they supposed was a spirit, Jesus did such things as would enable them ever afterward to remember that his body was real, one that they observed, handled, and recognized, with the added detail that he even ate with them, not that he needed to do any such thing, but because they needed to see that he could!

Verse 38
And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and wherefore do questionings arise in your heart? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye behold me having. And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here anything to eat? And they gave him a piece of broiled fish. And he took it and ate before them.

This was the overwhelming, absolutely convincing, undeniable, objective proof that Jesus rose from the dead. No wonder they believed it. Christ here established the fact of his resurrection in the intelligent faith of his apostles, the same being the foundation which no man could lay, "which is Christ the Lord" (1 Corinthians 3:11).

See my hands and my feet ... This is as near as the New Testament comes to saying that the feet of Jesus were nailed to the cross; but in conjunction with the prophecy in Psalms 22:16, the evidence is conclusive to the effect that they were indeed nailed to the cross.

Wherefore do questionings arise ... The omniscience of Jesus, as so frequently during his ministry, was conspicuous in this reply, not to the words of his apostles but to their inward questionings.

He took and ate ... We shall not discuss the post-resurrection body of Jesus, because we know nothing of it; and it is quite evident from the writings of men who have delved into the matter that this ignorance is by no means unique. The wisdom of God has concealed many things, and among them is the exact nature and qualities of the post-resurrection body, either of Jesus or of ourselves in the hereafter. Perfectly evident in the account here is the ability to appear and disappear at will, the ability to pass through doors without their opening, and the ability to be recognized or unrecognized at will.

The reality of the resurrection is absolutely proved by Luke's record here. See article at end of chapter on "The Four Witnesses Agree."

Verse 44
And he said unto them, These are my words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me.

In this and verses following, Luke telescopes a number of events which took place during a period of some forty days. See Luke's own words in Acts 1:3. Summers very properly called this verse (and to the end of the chapter) "a summary of Jesus' teachings between his resurrection and his ascension."[16]

Jesus accepted the Old Testament in its entirety as the word of God; and here, as Childers said, "Jesus is referring to the full gamut of Messianic prophecy, from the first promise in Genesis 3:15 to the book of Malachi."[17]

The threefold division of the Old Testament is also indicated here by Jesus, these being the Torah, the Nebhi'im, and the Kethubhim,Hebrews 9:2. The divisions of the Old Testament are: the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets, as here; and in the New Testament, four divisions, the Gospels (which are central to the whole Bible), the Acts, the Epistles and the Revelation, thus making seven divisions in the entire Bible.

[16] Ray Summers, op. cit., p. 333.

[17] Charles L. Childers, op. cit., p. 617.

Verse 45
Then opened he their minds, that they might understand the scriptures.

This appears to be a reference to the gift of inspiration to the holy apostles, the conveyance of that Holy Spirit which would guide them into all truth and bring to their remembrance whatsoever Jesus had said unto them. In a lesser sense, all Christians have their minds opened to understand the Scriptures through prayerful and consistent study of them.

Verse 46
And he said unto them, Thus it is written that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

This is a summary of the great commission which was probably given repeatedly during the forty days prior to the ascension. This announcement of it stressed the importance of the sufferings of the Saviour, and the great corollary of it, his resurrection from the tomb on the third day.

Unto all nations ... is in the same vein of thought as "every creature" in Mark, and "all the nations," as in Matthew. Boles caught the significance of "beginning at Jerusalem" in these words:

They were not to regard even the city where Jesus was crucified as hopelessly wicked and too bad to be benefited by the gospel. The Jewish leaders who crucified Jesus were to hear the gospel and have the opportunity of being saved.[19]

Beginning at Jerusalem ...

Here the reign of Jesus Christ began. Here the dispensation of the Holy Spirit began. Here the reign of Christ upon the throne of David began. Here the reign of the apostles on twelve thrones began. Here the great commission began to be preached. Here the "times of the Gentiles" began. Here the gospel of forgiveness began to be preached. Here the church of Jesus Christ began. Here the evangelization of the world began.

ENDNOTE:

[19] H. Leo Boles, The Gospel according to Luke (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1972), p. 477.

Verse 48
Ye are witnesses of these things.

This brief verse has the effect of identifying the apostles as the ones addressed with regard to opening their minds to understand the Scriptures. The apostles were "witnesses" in the unique sense of having associated with Jesus from the baptism of John until he was taken up into heaven, a point to which Luke would return in the book of Acts (Acts 1:22).

Verse 49
And behold, I send forth the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city, until ye be clothed with power from on high.

This verse also, as indicated by Luke 24:48, was addressed to the apostles. They were here instructed not to begin the task of worldwide evangelism until they had been clothed with power from on high. Jesus also told them that "Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you" (Acts 1:8). The power was to come after the Holy Spirit came upon them; and, since this event occurred upon the first Pentecost after the resurrection, it is quite correct to identify that Pentecost as the beginning of the gospel age, the birthday of the church, the beginning of Christ's reign upon the throne of David, etc. All of this is clearly evident in Acts 2.

Verse 50
And he led them out until they were over against Bethany: and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass while he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven.

THE ASCENSION

The above verses relate the ascension of Christ into heaven, an event which was ten days before the first Pentecost after the resurrection, and thus some forty days after the events related in the first part of this chapter.

The indication in Acts 1:9-12 is that the ascension occurred on Mount Olivet; but it is wrong to make a contradiction out of the fact that "they were over against Bethany," as here. This does not at all say that he ascended "from" Bethany, but from a point (on the Mount of Olives) which was over against Bethany, that village being located, of course, on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. The "two locations" are one. Besides that, the words "and was carried up into heaven" may have the same meaning as the passage in Acts 1:9, that is, that Jesus was taken up beyond their vision. Dummelow pointed out that "It is just possible that Luke 24:51 does not describe the ascension."[20]

Cranfield observed that:

Human eyes were not permitted to see the event of the resurrection itself ... The angels as the constant witnesses of God's action saw it ... By their testimony the resurrection was made known to men.[21]

In Acts 1:9f, a cloud obscured the actual "going up" of Jesus; and, as the holy angels announced the ascension in connection with that disappearance, their word identifies that event as the ascension; and, if we identify this occasion with that, as being one and the same, which is the view most reasonable to this writer, then it may be assumed that the sacred author in this passage merely left off mentioning the cloud. "Carried up into heaven" would then be understood as an event certified by angelic testimony but not actually witnessed by men.

[20] J. R. Dummelow, op. cit.

[21] C. E. B. Cranfield, The Gospel according to St. Mark (Cambridge: University Press, 1966), p. 465.

Verse 52
And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, blessing God.

All of the temple forms and ceremonies were made null and void by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ; but for a season the Christians would still continue to meet, out of habit long maintained, in such places as Solomon's porch and other areas within the temple. Before a generation ended, God would utterly destroy the temple, one evident purpose being that of separating all Christian activities from it. However, it was too early at this point for the Christians fully to understand this. Of course, Luke did not mean that they "were in the temple throughout, but that they made use of every opportunity (as during the seasons of prayer) to go and worship in the temple."[22]

THE FOUR WITNESSES AGREE

The four witnesses are Matthew, John, Mark, and Luke, to use the order followed in this series of studies; and the mountain peaks of their quadruple testimony stand supremely above the mists of nineteen centuries. What do they say? What do they ALL say? What is their witness?

They said, and they all say, that Jesus of Nazareth is, was, and ever is a supernatural Person. They say, and they all say, that he performed the greatest wonders ever seen on earth. They say, and they all say, that he raised the dead to life again. They say, and they all say, that he gave himself up to die in order to redeem people from sin. They say, and they all say, that he was crucified and buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. They say, and they all say, that he rose from the dead on the third day. They say, and they all say, that he repeatedly appeared to his own group in his resurrection body. They say, and they all say, that he commanded the gospel of salvation to be proclaimed to all people. They say, and they all say, that he ascended to God and that all power in heaven and upon earth belongs to him. They say, and they all say, that he is one with Almighty God. They say, and they all say, that he alone can redeem human beings from the curse of sin. They say, and they all say, that he shall judge all people on the last day. They say, and they all say, that he is now enthroned with God in heaven. They say, and they all say, that he loves and cares for his spiritual body, the church. They say, and they all say, that he is the Christ promised in the Old Testament. They say, and they all say, that his alone is the name through which people ought to pray. They say, and they all say, that he is Lord and Saviour. They say, and they all say, that he should be worshipped as the Father in heaven is worshipped. They say, and they all say, that the fate of every soul ever born on earth hinges on that soul's relationship with Jesus Christ.SIZE>

Not a line of this testimony is missing from any one of the quadruple Gospels, nor is the slightest word in it diminished by anything that any of them wrote. Let men quibble if they will about variations in these four witnesses; there are no variations where these vital facts are concerned. They call all people to turn their dying eyes to the Cross for salvation in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

ENDNOTE:

[22] Norvel Geldenhuys, op. cit., p. 647.

 


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Luke 24:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". "http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/view.cgi?book=lu&chapter=024". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

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