Luke 24:1-12


Note that we have included verse 12. KJV, NASB, Beck, and NIV have this verse.  It should never have been removed from RSV and NEB.  It is in the best manuscripts.  At the beginning of this century text critics removed it because they thought that scribed inserted it from John 20:3-10. But, frankly, that does not even make good sense since only Peter is mentioned by Luke.  Today text critics include verse 12.

And one more item: the four translations mentioned above include the worlds  "of the Lord Jesus," verse 3, whereas the other two delete them.  Do not be afraid to consider them textual.

The flurry of activity on the first Easter is unparalleled in the Gospels.  Each evangelist gives his account.  All are true.  There was a great deal of activity, once it was know that Jesus rose from the dead.  Look at a good commentary for a harmony of these events.  Some questions must be left unanswered but that neither amounts to contradiction nor to lack of historicity.

Verse 56b:  "But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. "  This sentence indicates the pious, faithful obedience of these women to the ceremonial law.  Their love for Jesus did not cause them to violate the Old Testament law.  In a sense the Old Testament Sabbath passed away at the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  But that is not mentioned until  Colossians 2:16.  It gradually faded away.  God did not  "jolt" people by saying then and there:  "The Sabbath has been supplanted by Jesus, your great Sabbath Rest." 

Likewise, at the time of the Reformation, inasmuch as people were accustomed to receiving only the bread, at first Luther wisely used only bread and gradually introduced the wine.

The words indicate that the women observed the Sabbath by faith, not in a work-righteous fashion.

Luke 24:1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.

 Mark 16:1 informs us that (in addition to what is said in Luke 23:56a), after 6pm on Saturday, they bought more spices.  The explains why they did not go immediately after 6pm on Saturday.  But they did go at their earliest opportunity.  The fact that they were going to embalm Jesus shows clearly that they did not understand about the resurrection. But in no way do they reject Him or call Him a deceiver.  There is a great difference between the two.

Luke 24:2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,

"They found, but they did not find."  Note the beautiful parallel between these words in verse 2 and verse 3.

Luke 24:3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

They entered the tomb. Don't worry about whether three women could get into one tomb. It does not say that all three were in it at the same time.  John 20:8 seems to indicate that Peter and John, later, were both in the tomb at the same time.

The body was not there.  This seems to end all argument about whether there is a resurrection of the body. Look at  Luke 24:39. 

Lenski: In Luke's Gospel  Lord  as a title for Jesus occurs repeatedly from 7:13 onward. and the only new feature is that 'Jesus' is added.

Luke 24:4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.

Arndt: They are called men because that is what they seemed to be.
Lenski: When God sends angels in this form, men instantly recognize them as what they are. We take it that they were there all the time, their presence now all at once being made visible to the perplexed women.

Luke 24:5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them,  Why do you look for the living among the dead?

The verse contains two thoughts, their fear and casting their eyes down.  By the way, the first proof of the Lord's resurrection came in verse 3: the grave is empty.  Now, in verse 5, we have the second proof, the message, likely spoken by one angel, not a reprimand but a jubilant, forceful announcement of the victory Jesus achieved over death.  They are the first recipients of this heaven-sent message.

Lenski: No evangelist attempts to describe the resurrection proper: it had no witnesses. It is the direct opposite of the ascension.  Of this apostles saw the beginning but not the end when the cloud enfolded Jesus and he was transformed timelessly into heaven; of the other one saw the beginning but they all saw the end when the living, glorified body appeared to them again and again.

On the mode of Jesus' passing through the stone compare  Tappert page 586, paragraph 100.

Luke 24:6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:

Scripture teaches that Jesus both raised Himself and that the Father raised Him.  That Jesus raised Himself is as incomprehensible to us as is the fact that in the person of Jesus God truly died.  Look at  John 10:18. But it is the glorious Truth.

Mark 9:30-33 specifically tells of the prediction in Galilee. The predictions in Luke 9, etc. are not said to have been given in Galilee, but perhaps  "in Galilee"  refers to all the utterances since that time. This had been a very important announcement, clearly foretold.  The women are assumed to have been with the disciples when Jesus made His prophecy, or perhaps they heard it from the disciples.  In any case, they knew it.

Luke 24:7 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'"

Look at Luke 9:31 and Acts 12:32.

Lenski: The angel recalls the three essential acts, rise again, glorified, and the state we call that of exaltation.

This is a prophecy, not from the Old Testament, but from Jesus in His life-time. Note Luke 9:22, Luke 9:44, Matthew 16:21, Matthew 17:22-23, Mark 8:31, Mark 9:31. But when Jesus first said it He referred to Old Testament prophecies.

Luke 24:8 Then they remembered his words.

They combined recollection with realities.

Arndt: With the recollection there came the understanding of the words of Jesus, so enigmatic when they had first fallen from His lips.

They reported precisely what He had said.  They are messengers to the disciples.

Luke 24:9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.

Mark reports that they stopped to tell on one what they had learned.  Luke tells us what they did when they reached the disciples.  We know from John that Thomas was not there.  Who  "all the others" were, we do not know.

Arndt: It was a considerable group of people who heard the report of the women.

Putting the account of all four Gospels together, Lenski remarks:

We must not imagine that all these were assembled together and received this report in a body. We may well suppose that it brought about a gradual gathering, at least for the discussion of this report.

Luke 24:10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.

This verse presents textual and punctuation problems. Marshall thoroughly discusses the six possibilities. We list only three, reflected in our translations:

  1. "It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of Jesus,  AND other women that were with them,  who  told these things unto the apostles." KJV, RSV, NIV, Beck.

  2. "Now they  WERE Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James;  ALSO the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles." NASB.

  3. "The women Mary of Magdala, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and they, with the other women, told the apostles." NEB.

In any case, the text is saying that not only the three named but also the other women were reporting to the apostles.  The text indicates that they said it over and over as the group grew larger, especially if the gathering grew, as Lenski indicates.  All of our translations read  "Mary the  MOTHER of James."  Mary Magdalene is mentioned by all four Gospels.

Lenski: As Peter was the leader among the Twelve, the men, so 'Magdalene Mary' was the leader among the women.
Peter sinned grievously.  Seven evil spirits had been driven from Mary Magdalene.  The Lord cares much for sinners.  Luke along mentions Joanna.  The only other reference to he is at  Luke 8:3.

Luke 24:11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.

They did not accept the words of the women.  They were disbelieving.  By the way, this verse proves that the disciples were not gullible, credulous people.  That, of course, does not justify their unbelief.  In Athens,  Acts 17:32, many off-handed rejected the resurrection.  The disciples came to believe in it but were not the gullible men that some make them out to be.

Luke 24:12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

As noted above, do not be afraid to consider this textual. Look at the parallel at John 20:3-10. Why Luke does not mention John is not known but, in verse 24, he implies that John was there.  "Got up and ran" clearly indicates that Peter acted immediately upon getting the news.

Luke does not make the point, as does John, that the grave-clothes lay in a  "deflated" manner, if we may call it that, just as they had been on Jesus. John plainly indicates that Jesus passed through the grave-clothes in His glorified state.  But Luke does mention the head-cloth.  Both Luke and John are clear that the body could not have been stolen.  What thief would remove the grave-clothes?

Arndt: In Peter's mind wonder arose but not belief in the reality of the resurrection.
Marshall: The effect of the visit is to create wonder; the angelic explanation has not yet found belief.

What did he wonder at? The absence of the body. The other disciple, John, in John 20:8,  "saw and believed."

Stoeckhardt: Now, on the third day, He was quickened in the Spirit and also His body entered a new, spiritual, Godly life. Then He went and preached to the spirits in prison, presented Himself to the devil and his angels in hell, as well as to all the souls of the damned, as the Victor over death and hell, to make their damnation crystal clear.  1 Peter 1:18-19  That was the beginning of His exaltation. Now we know with utter certainty that He has destroyed hell's power and has taken all of Satan's might from him.  Thereupon He came forth from the grace victoriously. He is declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead.  Romans 1:4. But He is also the Savior of the world. Hebrews 13:20. The victory over death means that the sting, namely sin, has been destroyed.  Therefore, through the resurrection of Christ the great work of redemption, which Jesus already accomplished on the cross, is sealed. Romans 4:25. The appearance of the angels frightened the women but, at the same time, their message gave them inner joy.


Adapted from Exegetical Notes, Series C Luke-John, Festival Season Sundays Gospel Texts, by Harold H. Buls, Concordia Theological Seminary Press: Ft Wayne IN, 1979, pp. 58-61. Used with permission.

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