Bible Commentaries
Luke 24

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Verses 1-11




See notes on Matthew 28:1; Matthew 28:5-8; Mark 16:2-8; John 20:1-2.

5. The living

The living one. Among the dead In the sepulchre where the dead repose.

7. Saying From this passage it would seem that our Lord had, even before leaving Galilee, assured these women that he was to be crucified and rise again. Perhaps they had assigned it a symbolic meaning and forgotten it; and now it is brought fresh by the angelic words to their memories and they realize its fulfilment.

Verse 12


Given more fully in John 20:3-10.

Verse 13

13. Two of them Two from them; that is from among the Christian body. One of them is named; but, says Bloomfield, “the evangelist, by omitting the other, has greatly exercised the commentators in guessing.” The best conclusion, as Stier thinks, is that of the German preacher: “Since the apostle has not named the other, let each of you put himself in his place.” You may learn much from such company. We make little doubt that Luke intends us to understand that the unnamed disciple was the evangelist himself. For, 1. His naming Cleopas shows a purpose to indicate that his not naming the other was not because he did not know his name. He could have named the other if some reason did not Deuteronomy 2:0. That reason probably was the same reason which deterred John from mentioning his own name modesty. Thus we bring John , Mark, (see note on Mark 14:51,) and Luke under the same analogy. All three beheld Jesus, and all three introduce their own persons without mentioning their own names. 3. Two evangelists were chosen eye-witnesses. (See note on Luke’s preface.) The other two were not official eye-witnesses and ministers of the word; but each once saw the Lord; Mark as Jesus was on his way to death, Luke as he was on his way from death. This is one of the thousand delicate and occult proprieties which the thorough student of the Bible finds. 4. Cleopas is apparently the elder and more positive Christian of the two. Luke was the subordinate, deeply interested in the scene, and perhaps but newly acquainted with its facts. This may have been his first full contact with Jesus and his history; and by this rencontre, and the marvellous discourse of Jesus, his heart may have been profoundly awakened to a burning interest in the whole of the Lord’s earthly life. Thus was he prepared for his work as an historian. 5. The details of the whole incident are those of deeply interested memory. There are throughout, all the delicate touches of one who narrates an old and touching reminiscence. 6. The only counter argument is drawn from the fact that Luke professes not to have been an eye-witness. Not quite so. Luke professes to have obtained his history from eye-witnesses; which fact he states in order to show the reliability of his history. But that can hardly be strained into a denial that he ever saw Jesus in a single instance. Though Jesus in his resurrection body may once have crossed his sight, it was none the less necessary for his work that he should strictly canvass the original eye-witnesses of the Lord’s earthly life, and none the less important to the confirmation of his work that he should declare the originality of his sources.

To a village called Emmaus See notes on parallel passage in Mark. It took Dr. Thomson three hours’ moderate riding over hill and vale to arrive at Jerusalem from the place he identifies as Emmaus.

Verses 13-35


Mark 16:12-13.

Verse 15

15. Reasoned Comparing opposite views (as the Greek word implies) in regard to the late events.

Verse 16

16. Their eyes were holden Restrained. Mark says that Jesus appeared to them in another form. It is thereby a nice question, whether the change was in the form of Jesus or in the eyes of the disciples. Some say both; making a superfluous amount of miracle. If their eyes were influenced, of course, optically speaking, Jesus would appear in another form; or the change of form may have holden their eyes.

Verse 17

17. What manner of communications Our Saviour is suddenly nigh the disciples, and his inquiry is in that tone and style which imply that he may give relief.

Sad The word describes the expression of their countenances, sad-faced.

Verse 18

18. Whose name was Cleopas This name is Greek, being an abbreviation of the name Cleopatros, the feminine of which is the celebrated name Cleopatra. It is not the same with Clopas (as it should be spelled) of John 19:25; which is a Hebrew name, the same with Alpheus.

Verse 19

19. What things? He who asks a question does not affirm that he does not know the answer. He may act as a teacher, a catechist, or an experimentist, to draw out and develop the mind of another. This last was our Lord’s design.

A prophet He has not the faith to say the Messiah. The late events have dashed that hope, but he still dare style him what Moses was called, a prophet mighty in deed and word. Before God and all the people A brief confession of unbroken faith in the genuine character of the Crucified One.

Verse 21

21. Should have redeemed Israel Equivalent to saying, we once had faith that he would be the true Messiah. To redeem Israel, doubtless included the idea of removing the Roman yoke; but it also implied the introduction of a reign of truth and righteousness. Perhaps even the world would be renovated to its Edenic state, inhabited by the holy dead in their resurrection glory.

The third day They doubtless here refer to the three days so often mentioned as connected with his death and burial. The period had passed, but the world is not renewed.

Verse 22

22. Certain women… made us astonished Something strange has taken place, but not such as to answer our expectations. These women found not his body, indeed, and a vision of angels said “he is risen;” and some of our men went to the sepulchre and found no body.

Verse 25

25. O fools The Greek word means destitute of discernment in the higher or spiritual faculty; unwise, unintuitive.

Slow of heart Not hard of heart but slow. Not springing and grasping divine truth. The head is confused because the heart is sluggish.

Verse 26

26. Ought not Christ He speaks the great word; not prophet but

Christ, the Messiah. To have suffered Here is a great question. Even to this day infidels like Gibbon object that the Messiah of prophecy is but a conquering hero. But is he not too a suffering Messiah? Prophecy written and uttered does indeed say much more of the glorious than of the suffering Messiah. But what mean those visible and acted prophecies the sacrifices, the bloody ritual of the Old Testament, if they did not prefigure the great sacrifice which had just been offered in Jerusalem? Those had been a constant acted and visible prophecy of a suffering Messiah.

Enter into his glory By ascension. So that his suffering should be on earth, and his glory at the right hand of God.

Verse 27

27. Beginning at Moses How sad must be the mental state of that theologian who can profess to believe in Christ and yet assert that Moses is not the author of the Pentateuch! He has here the testimony of Christ risen from the dead to the prophetic authority of Moses.

Expounded… Scriptures… concerning himself Who would not find his heart burn within him to hear this discourse on the prophecies from this great expounder? But we have its substance in these very Gospels; and in the Epistles, especially to the Romans and to the Hebrews.

Verse 28

28. Made as though Rather acted as though. Moved on his course, not in dissimulation, for he would have gone on his way sorrowfully and justly if they had not detained him with loving violence.

Verse 30

30. He took bread They readily resigned to him the dignity of host and president of the table.

Gave to them But ate not himself. It is plain that this was not a sacramental but an ordinary meal.

Verse 31

31. And their eyes were opened Utterly shallow and rationalistic is the interpretation of Alford, making these disciples discover Jesus by his mode of breaking bread! If neither voice, nor form, nor person, revealed the Lord, how absurd to suppose that his manner of breaking bread should accomplish the discovery. These two were not apostles, nor is it probable they were specially familiar with his style of breaking bread.

And they knew him There he stood, this very Messiah, of whom all Scripture was the harbinger; the sufferer, the heir of glory, the judge of the earth. Before this moment he could not reveal himself without disturbing their minds so as to unfit their understanding of the Scripture. And now he could reveal himself, to show that his exposition was authoritative and divine, being his own.

He vanished This finished the demonstration. He did not merely step out of the door. As they were beholding him, the place he occupied became at once vacant space. Then they knew that it was their Lord, and that their Lord was truly divine. Not Mary Magdalene, nor Peter, nor John, nor the whole college of apostles had as yet received such a favour as this vouchsafed to these two disciples, the one to us unnamed, and the other but a name!

Verse 33

33. Rose… hour Their fatigue is gone, and the darkness with which they deterred and detained their guest detains not them.

Returned to Jerusalem A night walk over a rough uneven road.

The eleven So called as their official number; but as Thomas was absent and Judas dead, there were but ten.

Verse 34

34. Saying This word refers to the eleven and them that were with them. Hath appeared to Simon Of this appearance to Peter we have no narrative. But that the fact was known to the apostolic Church is evident from 1 Corinthians 15:5-7.

Verse 35

35. And they told Mark says, nor believed they them, which Alford unwisely pronounces inconsistent with this passage. But the inconsistency is not in the Evangelists, but in the actors in the scene. They believed and they did not believe. They believed that a vision, or something, had taken place; they believed that Christ had risen and had been seen by Peter; and yet they could not realize the fact, either from strangeness or from joy. See note on Luke 24:41. It is probable that my readers and myself would have been in much the same state of mental ambiguity.

Verse 36

36. Stood in the midst of them There he was. Could they doubt their own sight?

And saith It is his voice; can they doubt their own hearing?

Peace be unto you Words how like him! The spirit in the voice stronger proof than the voice itself. Harriet Martineau in her better days, when writing an imaginative narrative of our Saviour’s times, reverently abstained from putting words of her own devising into his mouth. But when the simple Evangelist makes him speak, it is the same Jesus himself.

Verse 39

39. A spirit hath not flesh and bones We have here, in opposition to materialism, the clearest possible assertion of the independent existence of spirit. There is no other explanation of these words which does not insult the Saviour and abuse his language.

In regard to the nature of our Lord’s risen body previous to the ascension, we may say that there are FOUR different opinions prevalent. The first supposes a body in substance entirely new substituted for the previous body; the second, a body the same in substance and attributes; just as Lazarus’s natural unchanged body was raised the same as before death; the third, a body the same in substance but endowed with new properties and powers; the fourth, the same body glorified as completely as after his ascension.

We reject the first as being no resurrection at all, but a creation; and doubt the fourth as not provable if true. That the third is preferable to the second may thus appear.

Perhaps all will grant that our Lord’s ordinary stay or abode between his resurrection and ascension was in the invisible; his visible appearances during the forty days being only occasional. His body possessed then normally, and perhaps we may say naturally, in its risen nature, the power of invisibility, at will. It possessed, also, a superiority to the control of gravitation, to the need of food, clothing, and other bodily necessities, and, probably, a superiority to disease and a second mortality. But these are all new powers; possible by miracle, but not belonging to man or to Jesus corporeally as a man. The third, therefore, seems the preferable view.

This view assumes, that although our Lord’s risen body had its own proper form and substance, and its own proper outline and limitation, yet that he was able, more or less, to modify it at will. so as to retain or resume traces, constituent parts, or substantive properties of its former self, such as wounds, limbs, flesh, and bones. However modified, temporarily or permanently, by will or by nature, it would be the same body; able to prove itself such to human eyes by resuming its old familiar peculiarities. So he could identify himself to Thomas, John 20:25; he could be grasped by the women, John 20:29; could (like the angels in Genesis 18:8; Genesis 19:3) invest himself with apparent garments, and eat and drink before his disciples. Luke 24:41-43.

By his self-modifying power he could not only enter the invisible instantaneously, (Luke 24:31,) but could appear under another form, (Mark 16:12;) could pass through any material impediments, doubtless by those interstices between particles which science has so amply revealed as belonging to solid bodies. John 20:19.* Nor was the rolling the stone from the tomb by angels necessary so far as his power was concerned; but necessary to render visible to the world’s perception, the external reality of the resurrection. So it was, apparently, that our Lord after his resurrection (as at no previous time) seemed often times unrecognisable to the best acquainted eyes. John 20:14; John 21:4; John 21:7; John 21:12. So his ready presence (Luke 24:36) at different places evinced his power of invisible and, probably, instantaneous transference through space at will.

[* In the most solid bodies the ultimate particles are supposed to be immensely smaller than the spaces between them. In a body as dense as water they are, proportionately, as “one hundred men distributed over the whole surface of England.” Sir William Armstrong’s Presidential Address before the British Association, 1864.] All this involves not the idea either that his body was properly glorified, as after his ascension; or, as some imagine, that it underwent a gradual glorifying process through the forty days. The endowment with the properties belonging to a resurrection body (properties possessed even by the risen wicked) is one thing; his investiture at his enthronement with his full Mediatorial glories at God’s right hand is quite another thing.

Verse 41

41. Believed not for joy They believed not at first from the strangeness of the matter; they believed not next from fear; and now they believe not from joy. And yet through all this there was a belief, but not the realizing power.

Any meat As if to give them one of the most ordinary proofs of bodily existence, he called for food and did eat before them.

Verse 44

44. These are the words Words, by a Hebraism, signifies the things or events signified by the words. These refers to the events of his death, resurrection, and reappearance. No longer need the apostles doubt, when this whole train of strange events is but the fulfilment of his sayings and of the Scriptures.

Verses 44-45

44, 45. Carefully tracing the entire passage, (Luke 24:12-53,) the reader is likely to see no break in the narrative, and will at first conclude that the ascension took place upon the night (or next morning) of the meeting of the two travellers to Emmaus with Jesus, namely, the day of the resurrection. And sceptical critics have stoutly maintained that Luke believed that the ascension took place on the same day with the resurrection. But we shall be relieved, perhaps, from this apparent difficulty by duly taking into view the manner of Luke.

The passage in the Acts (Acts 1:1-12) actually goes over the same ground with this chapter, Luke 24:44-53. But if from the passage in Acts you strike out the two words “forty days,” you would suppose that the whole takes place on the day of the ascension; just as in the present Gospel passage you would suppose that all (ascension included) takes place upon the day of the resurrection. Transfer the words “forty days” to any place in the present passage which the syntax would allow, and you instantly see that the entire passage may as readily stretch over the forty days as the parallel passage in Acts. The “forty days,” therefore, explains both passages.

Some commentators suppose that Luke 24:43 terminates the Emmaus narrative, and that Luke 24:44-49 is a general summary of the teachings of Jesus during the “forty days.” Others extend the narrative and make the break at Luke 24:49. For reasons that will appear, we close the Emmaus narrative at Luke 24:45. In Luke 24:44 Jesus explains to them that the present events do but verify his past words and fulfil the Old Testament Scriptures. Luke 24:45, tied to Luke 24:44 by the then, avers that the Lord closed by opening their understanding to comprehend and digest at future leisure the Scripture fulfilments. Thus much looks to the past; what follows (Luke 24:46-49) looks to the future.

Verse 45

45. Then As his discourse furnished a complete view of the whole system of Scripture fulfilments now accomplished.

Opened he their understanding By a direct internal enlargement and enlivening of their spiritual faculties.

Understand the Scriptures So that, as the final result, they might go from this wonderful interview better qualified for their future office, after the ascension, described in the following verses.

Verse 46

46. Said unto them A subsequent continuation of discourse to the same them, on the same general subject, but with less reference to time or place.

It behooved Not only to fulfil Scripture, but to fulfil the great scheme of salvation of which Scripture itself is a part.

Verses 46-49

46-49. The discourse 44, at the interview, concerned the application of prophecy to explain the recent events. The present passage, like the parallel in Acts, exhibits some of the main points of the forty days’ teaching.

Verse 48

48. Witnesses See notes on Luke 1:2.

Verse 49

49. And behold A new point is here presented parallel with Acts 1:4.

The promise of my Father The

thing promised Luke has not anywhere told us what this promise was; but his words presuppose what John tells us Luke 14:16-26; Luke 15:26; Luke 16:7-11.

Tarry… Jerusalem This must have been uttered after the return to Jerusalem from the visit to Galilee.

Matthew 28:16-20; John 21:1-24.

Endued with power Clothed with power as with a garment.

Verse 50

50. Led them out From Jerusalem, where, doubtless, they tarried after their return from Galilee.

As far as to Bethany Εως εις , as far as into. That is, to the point where the into commenced; to the entrance, but not into Bethany. Luke implies in Acts 1:12, that the ascension took place from the Mount of Olives, which agrees with the present passage; for Bethany is upon the eastern slope of that mountain. Barclay, in his “City of the Great King,” identifies a hillock overhanging the margin of Bethany as clearly the true place. The summit of the Mount, where now stands the Church of the Ascension, certainly could not have been the spot.

Verses 50-53

§ 156. JESUS’S ASCENSION, Luke 24:50-53 .

Mark 16:19-20; Acts 1:9-12.

Inasmuch as Luke alone of the Evangelists explicitly describes the visible and bodily ascension of Jesus, adverse criticism has questioned the reality of the fact. The New Testament, they admit, does plentifully assume that Christ is in heaven; but, perhaps, his soul only. (Matthew 26:64; John 20:17; Acts 2:33; Eph 4:10 ; 1 Peter 3:22.) But, 1. Since the body of Jesus rose, in possession of supernatural qualities belonging to a resurrection body, either he must have passed through another death, and that a death of a resurrection body, or he must have gone corporeally to heaven. 2. The representation of his bodily return at the Judgment Advent (Matthew 25:31) necessarily implied a bodily ascension. 3. The unanimous and intense faith of the Church in his ascension can be no otherwise explained than upon the ground that his ascension was visibly witnessed. 4. The explicit and circumstantial narrative of one Evangelist would be sufficient, without either of the preceding reasons; with them, we hold any doubt to be superfluous and foolish. All assume the fact, but he supplies the mode.

Verse 51

51. Parted from them By his already commenced upward movement. It interrupted, as it were, his benediction, so that he ascended with hands outspread in blessing them. By a cloud upborne, he soon disappeared from sight; but for such a departure his apostles felt not grief, but abounding

joy. Up into heaven See note on Mark 16:19. The picture of the ascension, with its results upon their minds, is at once exquisitely beautiful and perfectly natural.

Verse 52

52. Worshipped him Not merely reverence to a present superior, but adoration of an absent Supreme.

Verse 53

53. Continually in the temple Religions engagements occupied the whole time. Theirs was now a religion of joy; their worship was praising and blessing. How powerful the contrast of their present courage with their despair at the death of Christ.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Luke 24". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.