Saturday, June 3rd, 2023
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament Schaff's NT Commentary
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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 24". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ scn/ luke-24.html. 1879-90.
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 24". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
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Luke 24:1. The latter part of the verse preceding should be prefixed.
But, having rested during the Sabbath, on the first day of the week, at early dawn. This agrees with the other accounts.
They came, etc., i.e., the women spoken of in chap. Luke 23:55-56. It is evident from that passage as well as Luke 24:10, that there were a number of them. It is highly probable, but not certain, that this verse refers to the larger company, which had been preceded by the two Marys (Matthew 28:1). In chap, Luke 23:55-56 Luke tells us, not what we learn from Matthew and Mark the two Marys did, but what the rest of the women did. The omission of the last clause,’ and certain others with them,’ also favors this view; the words having been inserted because ‘they’ was misunderstood as referring to the women mentioned by Matthew and Mark, not to the larger company.
ON THE RESURRECTION. See the Introductory Note to Matthew 28:0 . Of the five appearances there grouped as occurring on the day of the resurrection, Luke omits all mention of (1) and (2). He, however, details the appearances of (4) and (5) in the subsequent part of this chapter, telling of (3) in Luke 24:34, and then passing over the others, (which are, however, alluded to in Acts 1:3) he closes with an account of the last appearance (10), which ended with the Ascension (Luke 24:50-51; comp. Acts 1:6-10). Luke narrates only that vision of two angels which was witnessed by the whole company of women (comp. Mark 16:5).
Luke 24:3. And they entered in. This we think is the entrance spoken of in Mark 16:5.
Luke 24:4. Perplexed thereabout. A natural state of mind, even if they had some hope of His rising, for now He seemed lost to them. Comp. Mary Magdalene’s expression (John 20:2-13).
Two men. This was the form of the angelic appearance.
Stood by them. As this word (comp. chap, Luke 2:9: ‘the angel of the Lord stood by them’) does not necessarily imply a standing position, there is no difficulty in reconciling this with Mark 16:5.
In shining garments. The word used implies that the brilliancy was like that of lightning. At such a time the presence of a multitude of angels was, so to speak, natural, and hence a variety of appearances.
Luke 24:5. Bowed down their faces to the earth. Peculiar to Luke.
Why seek ye the living among the dead? Why seek ye one who is living and no longer dead in the place where the dead are looked for. The term ‘living,’ or ‘him that liveth,’ may have here a higher significance. Christ is the Living One, as Himself the Life, and this the angel knew; whether he meant to say so or not. Mark does not give these words, but their substance.
Luke 24:6. Remember, etc. This they had forgotten naturally enough in the circumstances.
When he was yet in Galilee, i.e., with them in Galilee, their home (Luke 23:55). This verse has occasioned difficulty, in view of the fact that according to Matthew and Mark Galilee was spoken of by the angel in a different connection. But we suppose that this reminder preceded the direction of Mark 10:7 (The angelic announcement of Matthew 28:5-7 was, we think, made to but two of the women; see notes there.)
Luke 24:7. Saying that the Son of Man, etc. Comp. Luke 9:22; Luke 18:32. The announcements in these passages were made to the Twelve, but Mark 8:0 shows that a wider circle heard them. The angel knew of this. The term ‘Son of Man’ is here quoted; it is not otherwise applied to Christ after the resurrection.
Luke 24:9. And told all these things. Comp. Mark 16:8. The accounts, despite the variations, complement each other. Their doubt is brought forward there where the command is mentioned, here where nothing is said of the command we have the final obedience, which however followed the appearance of Jesus Himself to them as they returned. Luke says nothing of this latter. Why, we cannot tell, in the absence of further information. Taking the chapter as a whole, it would seem that Luke’s account was derived from one of the two disciples mentioned in Luke 24:13-35, who had left Jerusalem before obtaining all the particulars, and that we have here a portrayal of the successive events as they came before his mind. Notice the marked agreement between Luke 24:9-12; Luke 24:22-24.
All the rest, i.e., of Jesus’ followers. Peculiar to Luke, and in close connection with the subsequent incidents.
Luke 24:10. This verse is somewhat parenthetical, and its exact form must be carefully noted: How they were Mary Magdalene, and Joanna and Mary the mother of James (who thus reported), and with them the other women told these things onto the Apostles. The more important persons are mentioned first, but all bore the message. In the next verse we learn the reception given to the story. The form suggests a variety of accounts in the tumult of feeling natural at such a time, and divides the women into two parties. On the women here spoken of, see chap. Luke 8:2-3; Matthew 27:56. The individual experience of the Magdalene is passed over, but her story doubtless met with the same reception.
Luke 24:11. These words (or, ‘sayings’). The original indicates that accounts were given by different persons.
Appeared in their sight. A full expression, more than ‘seemed to them.’
Idle talk. ‘Nonsense and superstitious gossip.’
Luke 24:12. But Peter arose. ‘Then’ is incorrect, for it is not implied that this happened after the women returned. The unbelief just mentioned is contrasted with the conduct of impulsive Peter. Luke does not mention John, but Luke 24:24 shows that he does not exclude him. The details agree so closely with John’s account (chap. Luke 20:2-10) that we must suppose the two Evangelists speak of the same visit, which took place before the return of the whole company of women. Luke does not mention the appearance to Peter at this point, but in Luke 24:34. It is his habit to go on with one line of thought, and afterwards to insert an omitted detail, in logical, rather than chronological, connection.
Luke 24:13. Two of them, i.e., of those spoken of at the close of Luke 24:9. It is unlikely that they were Apostles (comp. Luke 24:33). One was named ‘Cleopas’ (Luke 24:18), but we know nothing further. The name seems to be == Cleopatrus (as Antipas == Antipatros), and a different one from Clopas (or ‘Cleophas’ in the E. V.) mentioned in John 19:25. We reject the view that this was Alphaeus (Clopas), and his companion, ‘James the son of Alphaeus.’ This theory would identify this appearance with that spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:7. Conjecture has been busy in naming the companion of Cleopas: Luke himself; Nathanael; others, supposing that Luke 24:34 is the language of these two disciples, have thought that it was Simon Zelotes, or Simon Peter. This is least likely of all.
Emmaus. The site of this village has been much discussed. The name itself means warm water, and a number of places were thus called, in each case doubtless because of a warm spring in the neighborhood (comp. the French Aix, attached to several watering places). There was a town of this name about one hundred and seventy-six stadia from Jerusalem, in the plain of Judea (see 1Ma 3:40 ), called Nicopolis in the third century. This was early confounded with the place here spoken of, and a few manuscripts, among them the oldest (Sinaitic), insert ‘one hundred’ before ‘sixty.’ Still, as Josephus (7, 6, 6) speaks of another Emmaus as sixty stadia from Jerusalem, we should look for it at that distance, especially as Nicopolis was too far away to permit of a return to Jerusalem the same day. If we place the return later, we introduce a difficulty in regard to the appearance of the Lord, narrated in Luke 24:36, etc. Opinion is divided between two places, now called respectively Kubeibeh and Kulonich, both west of Jerusalem (the latter more to the north).
Sixty furlongs (stadia) = about eight English miles. They therefore probably left Jerusalem early in the afternoon, thus reaching Emmaus about sundown (see on Luke 24:29).
This section is peculiar to Luke, although Mark 16:12 refers to the same event. This is the fourth appearance of our Lord; that to Peter (Luke 24:34) having been passed over in the narrative. The particularity of detail, and the fact that the whole chapter seems to give the impressions of one of the two who walked to Emmaus, have led some to the opinion that Luke was himself the companion of Cleopas (for other theories, see on Luke 24:13). But Luke was probably a Gentile. It is most likely that Luke derived his information from Cleopas or his companion. This appearance has rightly been regarded as bearing the most human character.
Luke 24:14. And they were communing, etc. The substance of their conversation is evident from Luke 24:19-24.
Luke 24:15. Jesus himself drew near. Probably coming from behind and overtaking them, since He went with them. Further, they assume that He had been in Jerusalem (Luke 24:18). Jesus draws near to commune with those who commune of Him.
Luke 24:16. But their eyes were holden, etc. He Himself prevented their knowing Him; and this was His purpose of love; He would conceal only to reveal more fully. Thus he could best explain to them the meaning of His own death; immediate recognition would have filled them with a tumult of joy, fear, and doubt. Natural causes probably aided in preventing the recognition. Comp. Mark 16:12 (‘in another form’). A quiet, vigorous, dignified traveller, such as He appeared to be, would not be readily recognized as the One so lately languid in death on the cross. We often fail to recognize Christ when He is nearest to us; if He holds our eyes, as He sometimes does, it is to bless us more; if we hold our own eyes, then we are in danger of never recognizing Him at all.
Luke 24:17. What communications? Some earnest disputing is meant, though no blame is implied. This implies also that He walked with them for a time before He thus spoke.
And they stood still, looking sad. This is the reading now generally accepted. It suggests that the interruption was unwelcome, as does the response of Cleopas (Luke 24:18). The other reading may be taken as two questions: ‘as ye walk? and why are ye sad?’ or rendered as in the E. V. A briefer reading gives: ‘as ye walk (being) sad?’
Luke 24:18. One of them. The best authorities omit ‘the.’
Cleopas. See Luke 24:13.
Art thou the only one sojourning in Jerusalem and not knowing, etc. A literal translation would be: ‘Dost thou alone sojourn at Jerusalem and not know,’ etc. It might mean: ‘Dost thou sojourn alone, and (hence) not know.’ The other is, however, more grammatical. ‘Sojourning’ implies that they took Him for one who had been at Jerusalem to attend the Passover. This they probably inferred from His walking away from the city, or from the thought that no inhabitant could be ignorant of this matter; hardly from any peculiarity of dialect. It is implied not only that even a stranger might be expected to know of these things, out that only one who was ignorant of the whole matter could inquire why they thus talked. So absorbing did the events appear to them.
Luke 24:19. What things? Our Lord says nothing in regard to either point which Cleopas had assumed (Luke 24:18), but puts a question to draw them out. It was the wisdom of love, concealing without falsehood or deceit.
And they said. Probably Cleopas, the other chiming in. But it is unnecessary to portion out the discourse.
The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth. They give Him the human name, of which a stranger might have heard.
A prophet, mighty in word and deed. The sphere of His power was both in word and in deed. A similar expression is applied by Stephen to Moses.
Before God and all the people. By word and deed He had attested Himself as a Prophet, not only in the eyes of the people, the mass of whom thus regarded Him, but before the face of God.
Luke 24:20. And how. The connection is with Luke 24:18; Hast not known how?
Our rulers. These disciples were therefore Jews; and they probably thought their new companion was also of their race.
Delivered him. This was the act of the rulers.
To be condemned to death. Lit., to the condemnation of death, i.e., by Pilate.
And crucified him. Here, as so often, this is spoken of as the act of the chief-priests and rulers.
Luke 24:21. Here we see most distinctly the conflict of hope and fear in the minds of the disciples. It seems as though they were thinking aloud, unmindful of the supposed stranger.
But we (on our part over against the hostility of the rulers) hoped. They do not say they had believed this, or that they still hoped so, but that they had once been in the habit of thus hoping, until their expectation was checked by the events they mentioned.
That it was he who should redeem Israel. A Messiah would certainly come, to redeem Israel; their hope had been that this Jesus was that One. Their view of redemption included both spiritual and political deliverance.
Yea and. This marks a contrast with their former hope.
Besides all this, it is now the third day. The Greek is peculiar. Lit., ‘it’ (or, ‘he’) ‘leadeth the third day.’ Some refer this to Jesus. In any case there seems to be a thought of the promise of the resurrection. Their faint hope had grown fainter, until the third day came without bringing a fulfilment of the promise.
Luke 24:22. Moreover. Here too there is a contrast, as much as to say: We were well-nigh hopeless, yet other occurrences aroused our hope, without however fulfilling it (Luke 24:24).
Of our company, cherishing the same hope.
Amazed us. This strong expression indicates the effect produced upon them in their perplexed state of mind, by the strange, but unsatisfactory state of things mentioned in Luke 24:23-24.
Having been early, etc. This should be joined with what follows. It begins the account of the facts that amazed them.
Luke 24:23. The narrative agrees with Luke 24:2-11.
That they had also seen. Not finding what they sought, they had ‘also’ seen what they did not seek, and heard what they could scarcely believe.
Luke 24:24. And certain of them that were with us. This may properly be referred to the Apostles, Peter and John. They would not speak of them by name, or as Apostles, to this apparent stranger. Knowing from other sources that John accompanied Peter (John 20:2-10), we have a right to use this verse in explaining Luke 24:12.
As the women had said, i.e., that the sepulchre was empty.
But him they saw not. This is the last contrast. The hope that was rekindled was turned to sadness (Luke 24:17), because despite the angelic message, the Lord had not yet appeared. According to Matthew, the women (according to Mark and John, Mary Magdalene) had already seen the Lord, these disciples were therefore unaware of this. Yet ‘Him they saw not,’ hints that something had occurred to lead them to expect to see Him. Possibly then some rumor of it had reached their ears. But even were this the case, they had treated the report as ‘idle talk’ (Luke 24:11). It is more probable that they left Jerusalem before the full report came. The appearance to Peter may have taken place after these two disciples left Jerusalem (see on Luke 24:34).
Luke 24:25. And he said to them. Something in Him led them to speak so freely of their perplexity; with a word He might now have turned their sorrow into joy, but He would give them thorough instruction. He answers, not in a tone of pity, but of rebuke, as one competent to teach them.
O foolish men, without understanding, unreceptive intellectually, and slow of heart, sluggish in the entire disposition.
To believe all, etc. They could not have been disciples without believing a part of prophecy, but they would have understood His death and confidently expected His resurrection, if they had believed ‘all.’ Our Lord intimates that the slowness to believe was the ground of the want of understanding. Those slow to believe the Old Testament prophecies as a whole have been least apt to discover their Messianic meaning.
Luke 24:26. Behooved it not (according to these prophecies) the Christ (of whom they speak) to suffer these things (which have made you sad), and (according to the prophets, by just such sufferings) to enter into his glory? The ground of these prophecies lies in a deeper necessity. If we may thus speak of it, the necessity of such sufferings, on His way to glory, for our redemption. They needed most instruction about the necessity of such sufferings. Many doubting, unbelieving hearts need such instruction still: they talk of Christ’s glory, and forget that the appointed way thither was through suffering.
Luke 24:27. Beginning from Moses and from all the prophets. Taking each in order, Moses first, and then beginning with each of the others in turn.
In all the Scriptures, going through the whole Old Testament.
The things concerning himself. The reproof of Luke 24:25, and the phrase ‘in all the Scriptures,’ point to an explanation of the Old Testament as a whole, as typifying and prophesying of Him. Godet: ‘In studying the Scriptures for Himself, He had found Himself in them everywhere (John 5:39-40). He had now only to let this light which filled His heart ray forth from Him.’
Luke 24:28. He made as though, etc. It is not implied that He said He would go further, but was about to pass on. As a matter of decorum He must thus do, until they should invite Him to stop. This called forth their desire and request. It was still concealing to reveal more fully.
Luke 24:29. And they constrained him, by urgent entreaty. The ground of their conduct is found in Luke 24:32.
Abide with us. Emmaus may, or may not, have been their home, but they certainly felt themselves at home in the village.
For it is toward evening, and the day is now far spent. The repetition of the same thought is an indication of their urgency. The time was probably shortly before sunset, since the latter phrase seems to refer to the declining sun, and they returned to Jerusalem that evening. They probably walked slowly out from the city and hastened back.
Luke 24:30. And it came to pass, etc. The meal must have been soon ready, as the day was far spent, and as Luke 24:32 gives no hint of any continued conversation in the house.
He took the bread. In so doing He assumed the duty of the master of the house. This favors the view that it was not the home of the disciples. Our Lord was no doubt wont to act thus when eating with His disciples; so that this was a preparation for the subsequent recognition. The meal was an ordinary one, and in no sense a celebration of the Lord’s Supper, although it teaches lessons appropriate to that ordinance.
And blessed it. According to Jewish usage: ‘Three who eat together are bound to give thanks.’ Neither the breaking nor the giving to them would be deemed remarkable. Yet the form of the original reminds of the feeding of the multitudes and of the Lord’s Supper. The more exact grouping is: ‘taking the bread, He blessed, and breaking it, He gave to them.’
Luke 24:31. And their eyes were opened. The supernatural influence spoken of in Luke 24:16 was re-moved.
And they knew him. Natural causes may have aided them. There may have been something peculiar in the manner of breaking the bread and uttering the blessing, that recalls their previous intercourse with him; or they may have discovered in the hands opened to give thanks the marks of the wounds. Still the main fact remains: ‘their eyes were opened,’ and as an immediate result ‘they knew Him.’
And he vanished out of their sight. Luke certainly means to describe an extraordinary disappearance; not a becoming invisible to them but a supernatural removal from them. On the bodily nature of the Risen Redeemer, see next section. The reason for this sudden removal is to be found in the wise method by which our Lord would teach His bewildered followers that He had actually risen from the dead.
Luke 24:32. Was not our heart burning within us? Extraordinary and tender emotion is meant; joy, hope, desire or affection, probably of all combined. The implied thought is: Such an effect ought to have made us recognize Him; but it did not.
While he opened. The particular form of His instruction is added. ‘It is a good sign for their inner growth that at this moment it is not the breaking of bread, but the opening of the Scripture which now stands before the eye of their memory’ (Van Oosterzee).
Luke 24:33. That very hour. Probably leaving the meal untouched. If the hour were six P.M., they would reach Jerusalem at no late hour, since their joy would occasion a rapid gait.
The eleven, i.e., the Apostles. Thomas was absent. Gathered together. According to John 20:19, ‘the doors were shut’ ‘for fear of the Jews.’ We identify that appearance with that mentioned in the next section.
Them that were with them. John’s account does not forbid the presence of others. Acts 1:14 tells who these persons were.
Luke 24:34. The Lord is risen indeed. The emphasis rests on ‘indeed;’ they had half hoped so, but had now good evidence. Notice the two came with good tidings to strengthen their brethren, and themselves are strengthened.
And appeared to Simon. Undoubtedly Peter is meant; no other Simon would be thus indefinitely mentioned. This appearance was doubtless like the others in character. What occurred is nowhere detailed. The prominence of Peter, the fact that the disciples in Jerusalem speak first on this occasion, as well as 1 Corinthians 15:5, suggests that this took place before the appearance at Emmaus; though it may have occurred after the two disciples left Jerusalem. Peter was probably the first (male) disciple who saw the risen Lord.
Luke 24:35. And they; the two disciples on their part
In the breaking of the bread. The agency was Christ opening of their holden eyes, the instrumentality was that act during which the recognition took place. As this was not a celebration of the Lord’s Supper, the phrase cannot be used in support of Christ’s bodily presence in the Eucharist or of sacramental grace in general. The analogies, which are numerous, may be profitably used in illustration and exhortation: but the Evangelist simply states a fact.
Luke 24:36. And as they spake these things. Mark’s account hints at unbelief, and their subsequent fear suggests the same.
He himself stood. A sudden miraculous appearing is meant, corresponding to the disappearance in Luke 24:31. John’s account (Luke 20:16), telling of closed doors, confirms this view.
In the midst of them. A stronger expression than ‘among them.’
Peace be unto you. Comp. John 20:19. The ordinary Jewish salutation, but meaning more in this case. See on Luke 24:40.
We assume that Luke did not intend us to regard the whole chapter as the history of one day. Luke must explain Luke, and Acts 1:3 shows that the Evangelist places forty days between Luke 24:36 and Luke 24:50. There is nothing here to indicate that he was not aware of the longer interval when he wrote this account. This appearance is the crown of all the appearances of that day. In the first (to Mary) the High Priestly character is prominent; in that to the two disciples, He is prophetic; here however He appears as King among His people, Head of His church, commissioning his ambassadors. The importance of the occasion is indicated by the fact that it alone is recorded by three Evangelists. The harmony of the three accounts presents no difficulties.
Luke 24:37. Terrified and affrighted. John’s account also implies this. It was now, not hopelessness, but terror in fear of the sudden appearance, at night too. If we bear in mind the command to go into Galilee (Matthew, Mark), we shall conclude that it was utterly unexpected.
And supposed that they beheld a spirit. A ghost, a departed spirit, returned in the semblance of a body. This assumes, and our Lord’s words (Luke 24:39) teach, that there are disembodied spirits, Comp. Matthew 14:26, where a more general term is used.
Luke 24:38. Why are ye troubled! The kindly rebuke was deserved.
And wherefore do questionings, ‘scruples of a discouraging nature, doubting and gainsaying thoughts,’ arise in your heart! These prevented them from at once and unhesitatingly recognizing Him, identifying Him.
Luke 24:39. See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. A comparison with John’s account leads us to find here a proof of His identity, from the wounds in His hands and feet. Since these members were uncovered, there is possibly even here a proof of the reality of the appearance.
Handle me, and see. The proof of the reality is the main thought here. The two parts of this verse correspond therefore to the two questions of Luke 24:38. They are invited to do what Mary Magdalene was forbidden to do. Well may John write (1 John 1:1): ‘which.... our hands have handled, of the Word of life.’ Comp. John 20:27.
A spirit hath not flesh and bones. This is a direct assertion of our Lord. There are disembodied spirits, without flesh and bones. Instead of ‘flesh and blood,’ our Lord says ‘flesh and bones.’ Alford suggests that the Resurrection Body probably had no blood, since this was the animal life. The thought is not without a bearing on the Roman Catholic view that the sacramental wine becomes the real blood of Christ.
Luke 24:40. He showed them his hands and his feet. As proof of identity, but also as ‘ signs of victory, proofs of His triumph over death. Moreover therefore and this is properly the deepest sense of His entering salutation as the sign of peace, the peace of the sacrificial death, of the completed atonement’ (Stier).
Luke 24:41. Were still unbelieving for joy. How natural! The identity was proven, but the reality was still a matter of doubt to them, especially as the fact seemed too glorious to be believed.
Have ye anything to eat! This question was designed to prove most conclusively that He was not a spirit.
Luke 24:42. And of a honeycomb. These words are omitted in many ancient authorities, and rejected by some modern editors. We prefer to retain them, since there are a number of reasons to account for their being left out, and more to account for their being put in by the copyists.
Luke 24:43. And did eat before them. The mere appearance of eating is out of the question: He really ate, and furnished a proof of His reality.
Luke 24:44. These are my words. These things which I thus prove to you are the realization of my words.
Which I spake onto you. On such occasions as chap. Luke 18:31-33; Luke 22:37; Matthew 26:56, probably on many others, not recorded.
While I was yet with you, i.e., before death. Death had separated them, and the previous companionship was not reestablished after the resurrection.
That, i.e., to this effect that. The purport of the words is now expressed.
In the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the Psalms. The Jews divided the Old Testament into Law, Prophets, and Hagiographa. The Pentateuch formed the first division: Joshua, Judges , 1 and 2 Samuel , 1 and 2 Kings, and the Prophets (except Daniel), the second; the remaining books were the Hagiographa. The original indicates that our Lord thus speaks of the Old Testament to show that in all its parts there was a prophetic unity. At the same time there is no objection to supposing He referred to the prophets and the book of Psalms in the stricter sense, since in these the most striking prophecies of the Messiah are found.
OUR LORD’S RESURRECTION BODY. The Gospel statements indicate-that at this time our Lord had a real body, identical with His pre-resurrection body and with His glorified body, and yet differing from both, especially from the former. ‘It is palpable, not only as a whole, but also in its different parts; raised above space, so that it can in much shorter time than we transport itself from one locality to another; gifted with the capability, in subjection to a mightier will, of being sometimes visible, sometimes invisible. It bears the unmistakable traces of its former condition, but is at the same time raised above the confining limitations of this. It is, in a word, a spiritual body, no longer subject to the flesh, but filled, guided, borne by the spirit, yet not less a body. It can eat, but it no longer needs to eat; it can reveal itself in one place, but is not bound to this one place; it can show itself within the sphere of this world, but is not limited to this sphere’ (Van Oosterzee). At the same time, the resurrection Body of our Lord had not yet, during the forty days He lingered on earth, assumed the full glory which belongs to it, and which it now possesses as the glorified Body of the Divine-human Redeemer. In view of the care with which our Lord proves the reality of His Body after the resurrection, we must take care not to slight the lesson; especially as the only positive facts bearing on the subject of our future glory are those here presented. More is told us, indeed, but only thus much has been shown us as a historical occurrence. The Apostles teach us that after the resurrection, the saints shall have bodies like unto His glorious body (Philippians 3:21), and in regard to the interval, our Lord’s teaching about disembodied spirits (Luke 24:39) suggests the obvious truth that the dead thus live without the body. The facts of this section guard against two classes of errors: those which deny the separate life of the soul, and, on the other hand, those which ignore the reality of Christ’s post-resurrection body by forgetting that believers will not possess their full glory until the whole man is redeemed at the resurrection.
TIME. It is impossible to determine with certainty when this discourse was uttered. Luke would scarcely be silent about the instruction given on the evening of the resurrection day; and Luke 24:44 would be at once regarded as the beginning of a discourse then uttered, had we no other information. But Luke’s own account in the Book of Acts, compels us to believe that Luke 24:49 was spoken forty days later. Yet the structure of the passage does not point to a single verse which seems to be the beginning of a second and later discourse. The E. V. assumes such a break at Luke 24:49, but Luke 24:46-48 include language similar to that in Luke 1:8, which was spoken after the command not to depart from Jerusalem. It cannot be supposed that Luke was ignorant of the interval of forty days when he wrote the Gospel; his silence on that point here is quite characteristic. Some have supposed the whole is a summary of our Lord’s teaching during the interval; but Luke 24:49 can only belong to the last discourse. Others, with more reason, regard the whole as spoken just before the Ascension. We incline to the view that Luke 24:44 was spoken on the evening of the Resurrection Day, that Luke 24:45 sums up the instruction of the interval, His ‘speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God’ (Acts 1:3), and that Luke 24:46 introduces the account of the discourse on Ascension Day, more fully recorded by Luke in Acts 1:4-8.
Luke 24:45. Then opened he their understanding, etc. Not only must the Scriptures be opened for the understanding, but the understanding for the Scriptures. This was doubtless the work of repeated interviews, as is hinted in Acts 1:3, and evident from the remarkable proficiency in the interpretation of Old Testament Scripture, manifested by Peter, for example, not only on the day of Pentecost, but during the interval between the Ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Comp. Acts 1:16; Acts 1:20. This verse may therefore bridge over the forty days.
Luke 24:46. Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, etc. Here, as everywhere, suffering and glory are inseparably connected.
Luke 24:47. And that, etc. This is part of what was ‘written.’
Repentance and remission of sins. These two things are inseparably connected. Comp. the preaching of John the Baptist, and of the Apostles (Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19; Acts 26:18).
In his name. The preaching derives all its significance and authority from Him in whose name and by whose commission it takes place. This phrase characterizes Christian preaching.
Unto all the nations. Matthew and Mark tell of the commission to preach the Gospel to all, but here this preaching is set forth as the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy.
Beginning at Jerusalem. If this clause is joined to Luke 24:47, it declares that the preaching should begin at Jerusalem in fulfilment of prophecy. See such passages as Isaiah 2:3; Isaiah 40:9. Comp. also Acts 1:8; Romans 15:19. But a better supported reading connects it with Luke 24:48: ‘Beginning at Jerusalem, ye are witnesses.’ etc.
Luke 24:48. Ye. The Apostles, but others may have been present Acts 1:22 hints that others saw Him ascend.
Witnesses. As such they were to proclaim the facts (Luke 24:46), and the repentance and remission based upon them; and thus be the fulfillers of the prophecies summed up in Luke 24:47.
These things. The Gospel facts respecting Christ, centering in His Death and Resurrection, and including His Ascension. The fulfilment of prophecy and the commission to preach remission and repentance, are not excluded.
Luke 24:49. I send forth. So our Lord speaks in John 15:26; John 16:7 and Peter (Acts 2:33) ascribes the gift of the Holy Ghost to the exalted Saviour. ‘Ye, on the earth, give testimony; and I, from heaven, give you power to do so’ (Godet).
The promise of my Father upon you. This means the Holy Spirit (see Acts 1:4-5). The same passage indicates that ‘the promise’ is not the general one of prophecy, but such specific ones as John 14:16; John 14:26. Notice the sending of the Holy Ghost is ascribed both to the Father and the Son.
But tarry ye in the city. A quiet, retired waiting is meant. Evidently this was spoken after the return from Galilee, especially as the next verse is so closely connected with it.
Until. Acts 1:5: ‘not many days hence.
Ye be clothed. The figure is the common one of being clothed as with a garment, here applied to spiritual relations, as in Romans 13:14; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:12. An abiding, characterizing influence is meant.
With power from on high. This power was not the Holy Spirit, but the direct result of His coming upon them, as is evident from Acts 1:8. Comparing this verse with John 20:22, we find in the latter a symbolical act, prophetic of the Pentecostal outpouring, and yet attended by an actual communication of the Spirit preliminary to the later and fuller one (at Pentecost) which was preeminently ‘the promise of the Father.’
Luke 24:50. Led them out. Out of the city, which has just been mentioned (Luke 24:49).
As far as towards Bethany. Probably over the brow of the Mount of Olives to the descent towards Bethany. In Acts 1:0, Luke says nothing of their going out to the Mount of Olives, but takes for granted this previous statement. Bethany lies on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives and is invisible from Jerusalem. The traditional site of the ascension (now in possession of the Mohammedans) is on the summit of the Mount, in full sight of Jerusalem and too far from Bethany to satisfy the narrative. (See Robinson and Stanley.)
He lifted up his hands. The gesture of blessing. Leviticus 9:22.
ON THE FACT OF THE ASCENSION. This must be accepted on unimpeachable evidence. Meyer affirms this, adding: ‘For besides being reported historically (here, Acts 1:0, Mark 16:0), it was expressly foretold by Jesus Himself (John 20:17; comp. the hint in John 6:62), and is expressly mentioned by the Apostles as having taken place (Acts 2:32-33; Acts 3:21; 1 Peter 3:22; Colossians 3:1, etc.; Ephesians 2:6; Ephesians 4:10; comp. Acts 7:56; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 9:24); as a corporeal exaltation into heaven to the seat of the glory of God, it forms the necessary historical presupposition to the preaching of parousia (which is a real and bodily return) as well as to the resurrection of the dead and transformation of the living, which changes have their necessary condition in the glorified body of Christ, who consummates them; ( 1Co 15:5 ; 1 Corinthians 15:8; 1 Corinthians 15:16; 1 Corinthians 15:22-23; Philippians 3:20-21, etc.).’ Luke alone narrates the circumstances. These are not improbable in themselves; nor is it likely that our Lord would leave so important an event without witnesses. Luke wrote accounts during the lifetime of some of the Apostles, and his statements were received without contradiction and even without question.
Luke 24:51. While he blessed them. Not after, but during this benediction with uplifted hands.
He parted from them. This may mean only: He went a little distance from them, but it is better to understand it of the first separation made by His Ascension.
And was carried up into heaven. The tense of the original is picturesque and indicates a continued process, a gradual going up out of their sight. Comp. the more detailed account, Acts 1:9-11. The body of our Lord was actually lifted up towards the visible heavens. Yet in view of the repeated allusions to His position in glory, it is doubtful whether this exhausts the meaning. Without asserting that heaven is a place, ‘nothing hinders us, on the position of Scripture, from supposing a locality of the creation where God permits His glory to be seen more immediately than anywhere else, and to conceive our Lord as repairing directly thither’ (Van Oosterzee). Laws of gravitation, from the nature of the case, have nothing to do with this fact. Equally useless are the various theories suggested to support the dogma of the ubiquity of Christ’s body. Christ’s presence in heaven implies corporeal absence from earth. Yet the withdrawal of His circumscribed local presence was the condition of His spiritual real or dynamic omnipresence in His Church (Matthew 28:20, ‘lo, I am with you always’). His ascension is not His separation from His people, but the ascension of His throne and the beginning of His reign as the head of the Church which ‘is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all’ (Ephesians 1:23).
Luke 24:52. Worshipped him. As He went up; hence a more exalted worship than the homage accorded Him during His ministry.
With great joy. Terror at His bodily presence (Luke 24:37), joy after His bodily disappearance and exaltation, which was a pledge of the victory of His cause (comp. John 14:28). They rejoiced in His glory, and in the promise of the Spirit; doubtless their joy was itself ‘a prelude to Pentecost.’ (Bengel.)
Luke 24:53. Continually in the temple. At the stated hours of prayer, not ‘all the time.’ It is not necessary then to suppose that the ‘upper room’ (Acts 1:13) belonged to the temple buildings. An anticipation of the description of the life in the Apostolic Church given in Acts 2:46; Acts 3:1; Acts 5:21.
Blessing God. ‘Amen’ is to be omitted. The attitude of the disciples, as they waited for the Spirit, is significant. Their unity was itself a blessing; their composure a proof that they were not enthusiasts; the fact that they were undisturbed, a proof that the Jewish council dared not bring a charge that they had stolen the body of Jesus; their prayerfulness was a proof of their faith; their blessing God a sign that they had not lost Him, but should see Him again. ‘Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.’