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Bible Commentaries
Luke 24

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary

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A.M. 4037. A.D. 33.

(1,) Two angels assure the women who visited his sepulchre that Jesus was risen, as he had foretold, Luke 24:1-7 .

(2,) They report this to the disciples, but are not believed, Luke 24:8-11 .

(3,) Peter visits the sepulchre, and finds the grave-clothes laid by themselves, but the body gone, Luke 24:12 .

(4,) Christ joins and converses with two disciples going to Emmaus; explains the prophecies concerning himself, and makes himself known to them, Luke 24:13-35 .

(5,) He appears to ten of the disciples the same day at evening; desires them to look upon and handle him for their conviction; eats with them, and explains the Scriptures to them, Luke 24:36-48 .

(6,) Promises them the Holy Spirit, and, having blessed them, he ascends into heaven, and leaves them full of wonder, joy, and praise, Luke 24:49-53 .

Verse 1

Luke 24:1. Upon the first day of the week, &c. On the morning of the first day of the week, when every thing was made ready, all the women, mentioned Luke 24:10; and Mark 16:1; and certain others with them, who were not from Galilee, went out very early, carrying the spices which they had prepared, to the sepulchre, at which some or all of them arrived about the rising of the sun. Whether they went and returned all in one company, or at different times, and by different ways, is not quite certain. See the notes on Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-2; John speaks of none of the women who made this visit to the sepulchre but Mary Magdalene. Yet, because he mentions none but her, it does not follow that there were no others with her. In the gospels there are many such omissions. For instance, Mark and Luke speak of one demoniac only, who was cured at Gadara, though Matthew tells us there were two who had devils expelled out of them at that time In like manner Mark and Luke speak only of one blind man, to whom Jesus gave sight near Jericho, while from Matthew it is certain two had that benefit conferred on them there. Before Jesus rode into Jerusalem both the ass and its colt were brought to him, though Mark, Luke, and John speak only of the colt. Wherefore, since it is the manner of the sacred historians in other instances to make such omissions, John may be supposed to have mentioned Mary Magdalene singly in this part of his history, notwithstanding he knew that others had been with her at the sepulchre; and the rather, because his intention was to relate only what things happened in consequence of her information, and not to speak of the transactions of the rest, which his brother historians had handled at large.

Verses 2-8

Luke 24:2-8. They found the stone rolled away Their inquiry among themselves, while they were going along, had been, Who shall roll us away the stone? That difficulty, however, they found removed, but alas! when they entered in, they found not the body of the Lord Jesus. About this, as we may well suppose, they were much perplexed. God, however, was graciously pleased soon to remove their perplexity. For, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments Or, suddenly appeared to them, as the word επεστησαν may be properly rendered. It does not imply that the angels, at their first appearing, were close by the women, as may be proved from the Greek translation of Genesis 18:2, where, though it be said, that Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, lo, three men ( ειστηκεισαν επανω αυτω ) stood by him, it is added, that when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, which shows that they were at some distance from him. It is probable that both these angels were in a sitting posture when they first showed themselves to the women, because Mark affirms it expressly of the one whom he mentions, (Luke 24:5,) and because they showed themselves in this posture afterward to Mary Magdalene, John 20:12. Or, the evangelists may be reconciled by supposing that the angel of whom Mark speaks, arose when the women went down into the sepulchre. See on Mark 16:3-6. And as they were afraid Mark says, εξεθαμβηθησαν , affrighted, or terrified, at this extraordinary and surprising sight; and bowed down their faces to the earth Fixed their eyes upon it, in token of the profoundest respect; they Namely, the angels; said unto them This evangelist, having no intention to tell which of the angels spake, attributes to them both words, which, in the nature of the thing, could be spoken only by one of them, probably the one mentioned by Matthew and Mark, it being the custom, as has been just observed, of the sacred historians to mention one person or thing only, even in cases where more were concerned. Why seek ye the living among the dead? Why are you come hither with materials for embalming one who is possessed of an immortal life? He is not here, but is risen He has quitted the grave to return no more to it. Remember how he spake when he was yet in Galilee Thus they refer the women to his own words, which if they and his other disciples had duly believed and observed, they would more easily have credited the fact when it took place. That the tidings, therefore, might not be such a surprise to them as they seemed to be, the angels repeat to them what Christ had often said in their hearing. And they remembered his words When they were thus reminded of them. And now, doubtless, they were ashamed of the preparations they had made to embalm him on the third day, who had so often said, he would on the third day rise again.

Verses 9-12

Luke 24:9-12. They returned from the sepulchre To Jerusalem; and told all these things to the eleven Apostles, in the course, probably, of that morning, for it is not likely that they found them all collected together in one body; and to all the rest Namely, at different times. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, &c. Their Master’s crucifixion had given such a severe blow to their faith, that they had laid aside all the thoughts which they had entertained of his being the Messiah. And, therefore, they had not the least expectation of his resurrection, notwithstanding he had often predicted it to them: nay, they looked upon the story which the women told them about it as a mere chimera, the delusion of a disordered imagination. Then arose Peter, &c. Or rather, But Peter, arising; ran to the sepulchre That is, Peter was an exception: the tidings brought by Mary Magdalene, and the other women, did not seem as idle tales to him, nor to John, who now arose and went with him, and got to the sepulchre before him. See on John 20:1-10.

Verses 13-24

Luke 24:13-24. Behold, two of them Not of the apostles, for those two, returning, told what had passed between Christ and them to the eleven apostles, (Luke 24:33; Luke 24:35,) but two of the other disciples that were with them; went that same day On which Jesus arose; to a village called Emmaus Not that Emmaus near Tiberias, so called from the hot baths there, for that was in Galilee, but a village in the tribe of Judah; about threescore furlongs That is, near eight miles from Jerusalem. Some MSS. say it was one hundred and sixty furlongs distant from Jerusalem, which is evidently a mistake, Josephus confirming the declaration of Luke, Bell., Luke 7:27. And they talked together of all these things As they walked along they discoursed together of all these wonderful and important things which had lately happened, and which could not but lie with great weight on their minds. And while they communed together About the sufferings and death of their beloved Lord, and the report which had been spread that morning of his resurrection; and reasoned Concerning these things, namely, whether it was probable that he actually was risen, and therefore, notwithstanding he had suffered death, was the Messiah. The word συζητειν , here rendered reasoned, properly signifies, as Mr. West observes, to discuss, examine, or, inquire together; and it appears from the connection, that as they were discoursing on the sufferings, and death, and resurrection of Jesus, the scope of their inquiry was, how to reconcile these events with what had been foretold concerning the Messiah, which, by the message that the women had but just before brought from the angels, they were particularly called to remember. Accordingly, when Jesus had inquired, (Luke 24:17,) What manner of communications, &c.? or, as Mr. West would render it, What arguments are these that ye are debating one with another? this is the point he took occasion to illustrate and explain, (Luke 24:26-27,) by showing them it was necessary, in accomplishment of what was foretold, that the Messiah should suffer these things, and so enter into his glory. Jesus himself drew near, &c. As one come from Jerusalem, and who was travelling the same way. But their eyes were holden Their sight was supernaturally influenced; that they should not know him Probably, also, one reason why they did not know him, was that, as Mark says, (Mark 16:12,) he appeared, εν ετερα μορφη , in another form, or habit, namely, different from that which he formerly had when he conversed with them. And he said, What manner of communications are these that ye have, and are sad? Jesus spake thus to them in the character of a stranger, making free, as travellers might do one with another, to ask what the subject of their conversation was, and why they looked so sad? And one of them One of the two; whose name was Cleopas The same with Alpheus, the father of James the Less and Judas, who were two of the apostles, see on Luke 6:15-16; answering said, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem? Cleopas was surprised that any one who had come from Jerusalem should have been ignorant of the extraordinary things which had lately happened there. “There are two ways,” says Dr. Campbell, “wherein the words of Cleopas may be understood by the reader: one is, as a method of accounting for the apparent ignorance of this traveller; the other, as an expression of surprise, that any one who had been at Jerusalem at that time, though a stranger, should not know what had made so much noise among all ranks, and had so much occupied, for some days, all the leading men in the nation, the chief priests, the scribes, the rulers, and the whole sanhedrim, as well as the Roman procurator, and the soldiery. The common version favours the first interpretation; I prefer the second, in concurrence, as I imagine, with the majority of interpreters, ancient and modern. I cannot discover, with Beza, any thing in it remote from common speech. On the contrary, I think it, in such a case as the present, so natural an expression of surprise, that examples remarkably similar may be produced from most languages.” And he said, What things What are those matters to which you refer? And they said, Concerning Jesus, a prophet mighty in deed and in word Who wrought the most astonishing miracles, and taught the most instructive and excellent doctrine; before God Who evidently bore testimony to him; and all the people Among whom he appeared publicly for some years. And the chief priests, &c. Delivered him to the Roman governor; to be condemned Prevailing on him, by their importunity, to pass sentence of death upon him. But we trusted, &c. Having thus given an account of Christ’s character, miracles, and sufferings, Cleopas was so ingenuous as to acknowledge, that they once believed him to be the deliverer of Israel, and in that faith had become his disciples. But that they now began to think themselves mistaken, because he had been dead three days. He added, that some women of their acquaintance, who had been that morning at the sepulchre, had astonished them with the news of his resurrection, affirming, that they had seen a vision of angels, which told them that he was alive. It seems his companion and he had left the city before any of the women came with the news of Christ’s personal appearance. And certain of them who were with us Meaning, probably, Peter and John, as is related, John 20:2, &c.; went, &c ., and found it as the women had said That is, that the body was gone, and that the funeral linen was laid in order there; but him they saw not They had not the satisfaction of seeing Jesus.

Verses 25-27

Luke 24:25-27. Then he said, O fools Ω ανοητοι , O foolish, or thoughtless persons. The word is not Ω μωροι , properly rendered, O fools, and is a term of great indignation, and sometimes of contempt; but that employed here is only a term of expostulation and reproof; and slow of heart to believe, &c. From this reproof it would appear, that Cleopas and his companion were of the number of those who gave little credit to the tidings which the women had brought of their Master’s resurrection; his crucifixion and death, as they themselves acknowledge, having almost convinced them that he was not the Messiah. What he reproved them for was their not understanding and believing the prophets, which, he said, declared that, before the Messiah should enter into his glory, he must suffer such things as they said their Master had suffered. And beginning at Moses, &c. And in order that his reproof might appear to be well founded, that their drooping spirits might be supported, and that they might be prepared for the discovery he was about to make of himself, he explained the whole types and prophecies of the Old Testament, which relate to the Messiah’s sufferings, such as the Mosaical sacrifices, the lifting up of the brazen serpent, the twenty-second Psalm, the fifty-third of Isaiah, &c. Thus did Jesus demonstrate to these desponding disciples, from the Scriptures, that their despair was without cause, and the suspicion without foundation, which they had taken up, of their being deceived in thinking him to be the Messiah, because the priests had put him to death.

Verses 28-31

Luke 24:28-31. And they drew near unto the village, &c. His discourse made so deep an impression upon them, and engrossed their attention to such a degree, that they neither thought of the length of the journey, nor considered the countenance of him who spake to them, so that, ere they were aware, they arrived at the village whither they went. And he made as though he would have gone farther When the disciples turned aside from the road to go to their lodging in the village, Jesus walked forward as if he were going on, as he would have done, had they not pressed him to stay. But they constrained him Being loath to part with a person whose conversation had charmed them so much, they begged him to go no farther, but to abide with them; for, they said, it is toward evening Namely, the first evening of the Jewish day, which began at three o’clock. See on Matthew 14:15; and the day is far spent Greek, κεκλικεν η ημερα , the day has declined. That this is the meaning of the expression is evident, for, on any other supposition, the two disciples could not have returned to Jerusalem after dining at Emmaus, so as to have been present, (as it appears from Luk 24:33 they were,) when Jesus showed himself to his disciples the same day, which ended at sun-setting. And he went in to tarry with them By their pressing invitations the disciples prevailed with their fellow-traveller to turn in with them. And their humanity met with an abundant recompense. As he sat at meat with them he took bread, &c. Some have inferred from this, that he gave these two disciples the sacrament on this occasion, adding it to the ordinary meal they were eating, as at the first institution of the rite. But in the Greek there is no foundation for the conjecture, the words signifying properly, And it came to pass, when he sat down at the table with them, taking bread he blessed it, &c. Among the Jews, the giving of thanks at table for their food, and the distributing of it to the guests, was the office of the head of the family. This office Jesus now assumed, though he only appeared as a guest at this table, and, looking up to heaven, blessed, or gave thanks over it, just in the manner he had formerly done: And their eyes were opened The supernatural cloud, or the miraculous influence which before prevented their knowing him, was removed, partly, perhaps, through the action just mentioned, of his taking, blessing, and breaking the bread in the manner they had known him frequently to do, a manner probably peculiar to him. And they knew him To their unutterable astonishment, plainly seeing that it was Jesus their Master; and, as they were preparing to acknowledge him as such, he vanished out of their sight Rather, suddenly became invisible, or ceased to be seen by them, as the original words, αφαντος εγενετο απ ’ αυτων , literally signify. For certainly he did not vanish as a mere spectre.

Verses 32-35

Luke 24:32-35. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us? This reflection of the disciples, on this affair, is natural and beautiful. It is as if they had said, How strange it is that we should not have discovered him sooner, when we found his discourses have that effect upon us, which was peculiar to his teaching. For did not our very hearts glow within us, with love to God and our Divine Instructer, as well as to the truths which he made known to us by opening the Scriptures? They found the preaching powerful, even when they knew not the preacher; it not only made things of the greatest importance very plain and clear to them, but, together with a divine light, brought a divine warmth into their souls, and kindled therein a holy fire of pious and devout affections: and this they now notice for the confirming of their belief, that it was indeed Jesus himself who had been talking with them all the while. And they rose up the same hour Not being able to conceal such good news, or to defer the publication of that which they believed would give their brethren such joy, as they felt in their own breasts; they therefore, late as it was, rose up from their unfinished meal, that very hour, and made all possible haste to Jerusalem, that they might declare to the other disciples the wonderful story, and give them full assurance of their Lord’s resurrection. They were, however, in some measure prevented: for, immediately upon their arrival, the apostles, with the women, accosted them with this declaration, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon Before he was seen of the other apostles, (1 Corinthians 15:5,) he had, in his wonderful condescension and grace, taken an opportunity on the former part of the day, (though where or in what manner is not recorded,) to show himself to Peter, that he might early relieve his distresses and fears, on account of his having so shamefully denied his Master. The generality of the apostles had given little credit to the reports of the women, supposing that they were occasioned more by imagination than reality. But when a person of Simon’s capacity and gravity declared that he had seen the Lord, they began to think he was risen indeed. And their belief was not a little confirmed by the arrival of these two disciples, who declared that the Lord had appeared to them also, and gave a circumstantial relation of all that had happened.

Verses 36-43

Luke 24:36-43. As they thus spake, Jesus stood in the midst of them While the disciples from Emmaus were giving their brethren an account of the Lord’s appearing to them, and were probably offering arguments to convince those (if any such were present) who doubted the truth of his resurrection, Jesus himself came in, and by his appearance, and by what he said and did in their presence, put an end to their discourse, and gave them all full satisfaction. How he came in, is not here said; but ( Joh 20:19 ) we learn, it was when the doors of the room were shut where the disciples were assembled. It was, however, just as easy to his divine power to open a door undiscernedly, as it was to come in at a door opened by some other hand. And saith unto them, Peace be unto you Thus graciously intimating that he forgave their former cowardice, and would still continue to treat them as friends, though they had of late conducted themselves in a manner unworthy of that character and relation. But they were terrified and affrighted At this sudden, unexpected appearance; and supposed that they had seen a spirit This is not to be wondered at, considering that they knew the doors of the room were shut, and secured by locks and bolts, for fear of the Jews. And in the present hurry of their thoughts, they did not reflect on the proofs Christ had so often given of his divine power, or on the evidences they had but just before received of his resurrection. And he said, Why are ye troubled? Why are ye thus perplexed and affrighted? and why do thoughts Διαλογισμοι , doubtful and suspicious reasonings, arise in your hearts, as if it were only the appearance of a spirit which you have here before you? Behold my hands and my feet Which, for your satisfaction, still retain the scars of those wounds which I received in being nailed to the cross. Handle me, and see Whether this be not really a solid and substantial body; for a spirit As you know; hath not flesh and bones, as you see me have But is only an empty form, presenting itself to the eye, but eluding the grasp of any hand. Here our Lord manifestly allows, both that disimbodied spirits, even the spirits of deceased persons, do exist, and that they may appear to the living. This the disciples supposed; and surely if they had been mistaken, our Lord would haw shown them their error. And he showed them his hands and his feet And, as John says, also his side, in which probably was the appearance of a large wound, newly, but perfectly, healed. Our Lord did this that they might be fully convinced, by the united testimony of their senses, that he their Lord and Master was indeed risen. And while they yet believed not for joy They did in some sense believe; otherwise they would not have rejoiced. But their excess of joy prevented a clear, rational belief; and wondered Were in such astonishment, that they hardly knew what they saw or heard, or where they were; he said, Have ye here any meat?

That I may eat with you, and thereby may still more fully assure you of the truth of my resurrection, and of the reality of my presence with you. And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish On which it is probable they had been supping just before. And he took it, and did eat before them Not that he had any need of any food, but to give them still further evidence, in order that not even a shadow of a doubt might remain in their minds, upon a point of the utmost importance to the business for which he came into the world, and a fundamental article of the Christian system. As our Lord remained on earth forty days after this, during which he had several interviews with his disciples, he continued all that time, according to this evangelist, (Acts 1:3,) to give them still further proof of the reality of his resurrection; discoursing also to them concerning the nature of the new dispensation of religion, which he was about to erect in the world by their ministry.

Verses 44-48

Luke 24:44-48. And he said to them Not, as appears, on the day of his resurrection, but on that of his ascension. These are the words which I spake to you In private, frequently; while I was yet with you Dwelling among you: we should better understand what Christ does, if we did but better remember what he hath said; that all must be fulfilled which is written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms Under these three, the Jews were wont to comprehend all the books of the Old Testament. Under the name law, the five books called the pentateuch were included; the chief of the historical books were joined with the prophets, and all the rest with the psalms. The prophecies, as well as types, relating to the Messiah, are contained in one or other of these books. Then opened he their understanding to understand the Scriptures Especially in their reference to him. He had explained many parts of them before, repeatedly, in the course of his ministry, and since his resurrection, especially to the two as they went to Emmaus. But still they understood them not, till he took off the veil from their hearts, by the illumination of his Spirit. And he said, Thus it is written, &c. Thus Moses and the prophets foretold that the Messiah should suffer, and rise from the dead on the third day, as Jesus had done; so that, if they had understood the Scriptures, instead of being stumbled at these events, and finding their faith in him as the Messiah shaken by them, they would thereby have found it confirmed. And that repentance and remission of sins The two principal doctrines of the gospel, inclusive of, or leading to, all the others; should be preached As they continually were by the apostles, both to Jews and Gentiles. And should they not still be preached? are they not as necessary to be preached as ever? in his name In imitation of his example as a prophet; through his mediation and grace as a priest; and by his authority and ordinance, as a king; among all the Gentile nations As well as among the Jews; beginning at Jerusalem In God’s visible church, where there had long been the greatest light, and the greatest privileges and advantages; where the greatest blessings had been abused, and the greatest guilt contracted; and where, in a little time, judgment would begin, as mercy was to begin now. That the heralds of divine grace should begin at Jerusalem, was appointed both graciously and wisely; graciously, as it encouraged the greatest sinners to repent, when they saw that even the murderers of Christ were not excepted from mercy; and wisely, as hereby Christianity was more abundantly attested, the facts being published first on the very spot where they happened. And ye are witnesses of these things Chosen of God, and appointed to be such; namely, witnesses of Christ’s life, doctrine, and miracles, and especially of his death, resurrection, and ascension.

Verse 49

Luke 24:49. And behold, I send the promise of my Father Emphatically so called, namely, the Holy Ghost, in his enlightening, renewing, and comforting influences, that you may be enabled to understand, love, obey, and adorn the gospel which you preach; and in his extraordinary and miraculous gifts, that you may attest the truth and importance of it to the world. But tarry ye in Jerusalem, &c. As the divine wisdom hath seen fit that the first offers of mercy shall be made to this people, sinful as they are, and that the gospel dispensation, in its greatest glory, shall be opened here, and the fullest proof possible be given of its truth and importance, that those may be rendered inexcusable who shall continue to reject it; I charge you not to go from hence till you have received those gifts and graces with which you are to be furnished, for the perfect discharge of your ministry.

Verses 50-53

Luke 24:50-53. And he led them out as far as Bethany Not the town, but the district: namely, to the mount of Olives, which was within the boundaries of Bethany. And he lifted up his hands In a most solemn and devout manner; and blessed them As one that had authority, not only to desire, but to command a blessing upon them. And while he blessed Or was blessing them, and while they beheld, (Acts 1:9,) by which it appears that this event took place in the day-time; he was parted from them Miraculously and unexpectedly; and carried up into heaven Not suddenly, but leisurely, that they might behold him departing, till a cloud received him out of their sight, Acts 1:9. It was much more proper that our Lord should ascend into heaven, than that he should rise from the dead, in the sight of the apostles. For his resurrection was proved when they saw him alive after his passion; but they could not see him in heaven while they continued on earth. And they worshipped him Not only prostrated themselves before him, as the word προσκυνεω , here used, often means; but, being fully satisfied of his divine power and glory, they worshipped him in the strictest sense of the word, or paid him divine honours, though now become invisible to them; which it is certain they continued to do during the whole course of their ministry; confiding in him in all their dangers and trials; loving him and living to him; and making him, together with the Father, the great object of their prayers, praises, and obedience. And returned to Jerusalem with great joy On account of the glorious discoveries which he had made to them, the glorious work to which he had called them, the extraordinary qualifications with which he had promised to endue them, and the great success which he had engaged to give them therein; especially for the full proof they had now received, that he was indeed the true Messiah, their Saviour, and their Lord; and that they had not been deceived in attaching themselves to him as his disciples, but had been guided by the truth and grace of God. And were continually in the temple That is, constantly attended there at the hours of service; praising and blessing God As for all his other benefits, so in particular for sending the Messiah for the redemption and salvation of mankind, for raising him from the dead, after he had been unjustly and cruelly crucified by a cabal of wicked men; for his glorious ascension into heaven in their sight, and the promise made them of his return; and for performing such wonders to confirm and perfect their faith in him. Amen May he be continually praised and blessed!

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Luke 24". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/luke-24.html. 1857.
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