Luke 24:36-49


Everyone agrees that Luke 24:36-43 is the same occasion as John 20:19-23. And it is clear that John, who wrote later than did Luke, did not use Luke as a source. But when did Luke 24:44-49 take place? There are five opinions:

  1. Lenski, Beck (The Christ of the Gospels, except for verse 49), NASB, LB, RSV, TEV, and JB hold that these verses tell us what happened immediately after verses 36-43 and contain the same elements found at John 20:19-23;
  2. Stoeckhardt felt that verses 44-49 are the same occasion as the Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20;
  3. Hendriksen, Geldenhuys, Arndt and Marshall are of the opinion that verses 44-49 are a summary of Jesus' sayings during the 40 days prior to Ascension;
  4. Fahling and Robertson equate them with Acts 1:3-8, just prior to the Ascension; and finally,
  5. Bengel and Ylvisaker equate them with the Ascension itself.
Hendriksen: Opinions are rather sharply divided. . . I find it rather difficult to decide this question. I incline toward the view of Geldenhuys.

The preacher will likely have a private opinion as to the occasion of Luke 24:44-49 but should not be dogmatic. It is clear from these verses that Jesus is preparing His disciples and others for Pentecost. That is the important point.

From the account in John we know that the doors were locked. From Mark 16:14 we learn that they were eating supper. Now, on with the text.

Luke 24:36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." 

The first four words are a genitive absolute. What is the antecedent of "about this?"  KJV, NKJV, NASB, TEV, LB and RSV limit it to the Emmaus disciples, telling what had happened. But AAT, NIV, JB, NEB and Lenski are of the opinion that it means that all who were present were discussing what had happened to the Emmaus disciples and Peter. The difference does not disturb the sensus literalis. 

"Jesus Himself" is emphatic. He stood, not, He entered. John 20:19 has the same word. Jesus did not enter the room or go through the locked door. He simply appeared.

Arndt: The limitations of time and space were no longer operative for Him.
Lenski: In his risen and glorified state time, space, the rock of the tomb, the walls and the doors of buildings no longer hamper the body of Jesus. He appears where he desires to appear, and his visible presence is gone when he desires to have it so. . . Luther is right over against the Zwinglians: 'By this coming through locked doors is shown that since his resurrection in his kingdom on earth he is no longer bound to bodily, visible, tangible, mundane substance, time, place, space, and the like, but wants to be known and believed as ruling by his power everywhere present, having the will to be with us and help us in all places and at all times, when and where we need it, unfettered and unhindered by the world and all its might'.

But Hendriksen, who is Reformed, says: "How he entered we do not know. All we know is that the resurrection body must have certain properties which do not pertain to 'the body of humiliation'. On this see also 1 Corinthians 15:35-38." The Reformed do not accept what we call the genus maiestaticum.  Hendriksen is not so crass as were Zwingli and Calvin, but the Reformed teaching is still there. Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 15:35-38 speaks of the glorified state of the Christian, not of the person of Christ.

Bengel: More significant is that Jesus was there before they perceived Him coming.

Correct. He was already there.

"Peace be with you." Some translations omit this phrase. Note that the 26th edition of Nestle Greek text has restored the words. The theory of Westcott-Hort about "western non-interpolations" has been discarded. Only NASB, LB, RSV and NEB exclude these words. They must be included. They are more than a mere greeting, "Shalom." The fact that the disciples did not return the greeting proves that.

Bengel: A form of salutation, transferred by the Savior to higher things. Ephesians 2:17.
Lenski: It means infinitely more when it is spoken by him who died and rose for us. As the person, so the word.
Stoeckhardt: Our Savior did more than speak the words of peace. He is Peace Himself, which is the fruit of His resurrection, peace in the fullest sense of the word, because He has made peace through the blood of His cross. Colossians 1:20. through the bitter suffering He quieted the wrath of the Highest and through His resurrection He sealed this peace for us, and assured us that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Luke 24:37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.

Here "ghost" means a disembodied spirit. And "saw" means "actually viewing." Despite what people maintain, there is no such thing as seeing or communicating with the ghost of a dead person. God forbids man's attempts to communicate with the dead. Deuteronomy 18:11; Isaiah 8:19.

This verse does not contradict verse 34 which implies their joy over the risen Christ. They believed. But Christ knew that His disciples still had a sinful flesh which could quickly drag them back into superstition which would lead to a denial of the fact that He was alive. Despite their having received the positive information of Jesus' being alive, His sudden appearance frightened them. The fear, arising from their flesh, had to be overcome.

Luke 24:38 He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?" 

"Troubled"  a perfect passive participle, denotes an existing state of agitation.  "Doubts" denotes the cogitations of the flesh.

Bengel: The Lord throws open their thoughts. . . Our thoughts are hidden from us, before they rise up.

Though they had said nothing, Jesus read their sinful hearts. He is omniscient.

Luke 24:39  "Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." 

Arndt: Jesus desires to prove to the Apostles His identity and His having a true human body. For the former He presents His nail-pierced hands and feet and demonstrates that He was the Jesus who had been crucified; for the latter He lets them feel His body.

Jesus' body was now glorified but He had not lost His physical identity. Compare 1 John 1:1. They actually felt and touched Him.

Lenski: Jesus adds what they themselves know, that a spirit has no flesh and bones.

The last four words mean: "Exactly as you are viewing Me having," which means that He had flesh and bones. If and when our flesh tempts us to fear the presence of ghosts (which do not exist) we should think on the fact that our Lord Jesus is ever present with us also according to His human nature, though we cannot see Him, to dispel all fears and superstitions.

Luke 24:40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.

Note that the 26th edition of Nestle has restored this verse to the text, another so-called "western non-interpolation." Only NASB, NEB, and RSV exclude it. All others include it.
Marshall: The evidence favours retention.

Lenski, who did not claim to be a text-critic, was good at textual criticism. He writes:

The texts that shorten verses 3, 6, 9, omitting verse 12, also from verse 36, omit also verse 40; but they are too few to warrant even the marginal notes in the RV.

Lenski wrote at the time when Westcott-Hort and other critics "ruled the roost" but he was not afraid to use good, sound judgment. The recently found document P75 has done much to restore the true text. Verse 40 proves that they did what Jesus told them to do in verse 39: to see, to feel, to handle.

Luke 24:41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, "Do you have anything here to eat?" 

The psychology of this verse is so natural and yet so remarkable. Some of the translations are worth quoting:

The two participles denote their disbelief and amazement. Their joy caused them to be incredulous. That is paradoxical but true. Marshall, Plummer and Arndt quote a similar passage from Livy 39:49:5: "Because of unexpected joy, they could hardly believe it." 
Bengel: They no doubt believed at the time, otherwise they would not have rejoiced; but the full exercise of their faith was being retarded by their joy.
Lenski: It is one thing to disbelieve, it is quite another to disbelieve because of joy. The heart is too small all at once to take in the great joy.

And so, to cure this situation, Jesus asks a simple question: "Do you have anything edible here?" 

Luke 24:42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,

"Broiled fish" a form of this same verb is found at verse 30 in the Emmaus account. The words: "and of a honey comb," though found in KJV and NKJV, are likely not textual.

Luke 24:43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.

He took and ate, both proving that He had a living body. "In their presence" practically means "while they watched." Here compare Acts 10:41. Because of His glorified estate Jesus did not need to eat but that does not mean that He could not eat. He did it for their sake, not His own.

Bengel: He ate freely, without necessity.
Lenski: The great joy (John 20:20) of the disciples was not an entirely safe symptom, nor was the wondering connected with it; presently, after Jesus would be gone, and sober thoughts would once more come back, the old doubts and new ones might return.

In other words, Jesus' eating was an utter necessity for the disciples.

Before we go on, we summarize the deftness with which Jesus handled this situation: When the Emmaus disciples returned to Jerusalem and informed the ten and others as to what had happened, there was great joy. But when Jesus suddenly appeared, all of them, including the Emmaus disciples and Peter, became superstitious. In His omniscience, Jesus read the superstitious thoughts in their hearts, saw them even before they were fully aware of them. He cures that by identifying Himself and then proving that He has a true body, the very body which had been crucified and had died. Their unbounded joy left them in the precarious state of saying: "This is too good to be true. Can it really be?" And so he gives another proof, one they had seen often: Jesus eating. But the proofs which lock out all doubts and give firm convictions follow in verses 44-49.

Luke 24:44 He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." 

This verse immediately reminds us of John 5:39 and 46 and of Luke 24:27.
Arndt: Many a time Jesus had spoken to the Apostles of the prophetic message of the Old Testament Scriptures concerning the Messiah, which, being divine, had to be fulfilled; cf. e.g. Luke 18:31-33. But how little they had understood Him! 'When I was still with you'; the words imply that Jesus now was not with them anymore, that is, in the old familiar way when they could see him with their bodily eyes anytime they wished, sit at table with him, morning, noon, and evening, and even at night, if they desired, behold Him as He slept in their midst. He was still present with them, of course, but His presence was of a different nature. His visible contact with them now was not the rule but the exception. This is the meaning of the much-discussed words of Jesus addressed to Mary Magadalene 'Do not touch me' John 20: 17. She was not aware of the altered relationship between the Master and His disciples that had now begun, a relationship depending not on visible but invisible contact.
Marshall: The reference backwards is to his statements in 9:22.44; 17:25; 18:31f; 22:37, which were made with reference to what the Son of man must undergo. The fulfillment of Scripture is a divine necessity.
Lenski: These things Jesus stated in words to his disciples during the past days. Luke has told us that at the time they failed completely to understand them (9:44). But those words were not spoken in vain by any means. The disciples remembered them and now they see them fulfilled and are at last able to understand them. . . Jesus views the Old Testament as a unit, and its prophecy concerning him is not confined to a few incidental passages. These only stand out, like Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22. The entire account centers in Christ; none of it would have existed without him or can now be properly understood without him.
We summarize:
  1. Jesus put His stamp of approval on the entire Old Testament as a prophecy and foreshadowing of Himself, His person, Word and work;

  2. Very often we see only the mountain tops in the Old Testament concerning Christ. But they testify of Him in their entirety;

  3. The Word of God is never preached in vain. It will bear fruit. Parents, teachers and preachers should learn that from this verse.

Luke 24:45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

Arndt: The Lord did for the whole group of His followers what He had done for the Emmaus disciples in verse 27.

The Emmaus disciples heard it twice that day.

Marshall: Until this time the disciples' minds had been unable to perceive the prophetic meaning of the Old Testament, i.e. to see that certain prophecies were about the Messiah and were fulfilled in Jesus.
Bengel: Many obstacles which in our mind need to be removed out of the way, in order that we may understand. See Acts. 16:14.
Lenski: This means that the disciples now saw that the Old Testament stated prophetically the very things they had witnessed and were now understanding.

Only the Triune God can open a person's mind to understand the Scriptures. Compare Luther's beautiful explanation to the third article. All synergism is gone. The preacher or teacher must always be explaining the Scriptures clearly to open the minds of his hearers to understand. Only thus can peoples' mental obstacles be removed.

Luke 24:46 He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day," 

Here in verse 46 and 47a we have the very heart of it all: the Suffering Messiah, the Risen Messiah, the Preached Messiah. "What is written," it stands lastingly written in the Old Testament.  "The Christ," heretofore He had always referred to Himself as the Son of man. Now He openly called Himself the Messiah.
Arndt paraphrases: This is what the Scriptures teach, the death and the resurrection of the Messiah and the proclamation of repentance and forgiveness of sins on the basis of His name. Could the contents of the Gospel be stated more succinctly?

Then he refers to Psalm 16:10; 22:24; Isaiah 53:10; Jonah 1:7; Isaiah 40:3-11.

Luke 24:47  "and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." 

The proclamation about Jesus is a matter of Old Testament prophecy. "In His name," means "on the basis of His name." 
Arndt: On the basis of everything that the name of Christ represents, the truths pertaining to His person and His work. Forgiveness of sins is a part of Christ's proclamation, but it is a forgiveness which can be received by those only who have repented. Repentance does not earn forgiveness; God be praised, His pardon is a great objective fact.
Lenski: It is to rest on the revelation he had made of himself

The connecting "and/for" in this verse needs attention. Note the variant "and" which is read by KJV, NKJV, RSV and NIV. Thus it reads: "repentance and forgiveness of sins."  Thus Lenski. NASB and JB read "for," "repentance for the forgiveness of sins."  NEB circumvents the problem: "repentance bringing the forgiveness of sins." And AAT: "repent of sins so that they will be forgiven." In any case  "repent" here means "confession of sins" and "forgiveness" means "forgiveness of sins." These notes suggest that "be preached" goes with both nouns, objective genitive. If "and/for" be read, contextually it means: "in preparation for." 1 John 1:8 and 9 is always a good rule of thumb to follow. "To all nations" cf. Matthew 28:19 and Galatians 3:8. The universal atonement and universal proclamation thereof go hand in hand, the latter beginning with Pentecost. Thereafter there was no distinction between Jew and Gentile. And so it is today.

In Nestle Greek text 25th edition the words "beginning at Jerusalem" are taken with verse 47. In the 26th edition they are taken with verse 48. The difference does not disturb the sensus literalis. All our translations, except NEB, take it with verse 47.

Arndt: The thought expressed here is elaborated by the Savior, Acts 1:8.
Lenski: Jerusalem is the heart of the Jewish nation; here Jesus will win his first victories.

These words contain both a command and a promise. This is very often the case in Scripture.

Luke 24:48  "You are witnesses of these things." 

On this verse look at Acts 1 :8; 2:32; 3:15. The antecedent of "these things" is the person, Word and work of Jesus. They did not see the Lord rise but they saw the risen Lord. "You" is emphatic. Every child of God (and especially preachers) is a "witness of these things." That is possible only in view of what is said in the next verse

Luke 24:49  "I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." 

 "And so" (not translated here) notes something important. This verse points clearly to Pentecost, whether spoken on Easter Sunday, in Galilee, or later on the Mount of Olives. Note emphatic  "What my Father promised" here means "the promised Holy Spirit." 
Arndt: In a remarkable way Luke's account here agrees with John 14:16.26 etc. This note Jesus may well have stated a number of times during the forty days between His resurrection and His ascension.
Marshall: 'The promise' is often linked with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4; 2:33; Galatians 3:14; Ephesians 1:13). The wording implies both promise and fulfillment. The Old Testament background is to be found in Joel 2:28f; cf. Isaiah 32:15; 44:3; Ezekiel 39:29.

The Father sent the Holy Spirit at the bidding of Jesus. "My" is genitive of relation in a very special sense for the Son asked the Father to send the Holy Spirit and the proclamation of the Gospel is in keeping with the will of the Triune God.

In verse 49 we have two sentences. The first ends with "you," the second begins with  "you,"  emphatic. "Stay" literally means "sit." 
Bengel: If they had not received this directive, they without a doubt would have left the city.

The Lord gave them directives, down to the smallest detail. Sinful human nature needs direction. The metaphor of being clothed with power implies that they are powerless. Compare the same word in Galatians 3:27.

Baptism "clothes" man in the righteousness of Christ.

Arndt: The Holy Spirit would make them strong and able to do the great work which Jesus had just mentioned -- that of bearing witness to Him. The nature of this endowment is portrayed in the comforting farewell addresses given in John 14-16.
Bengel: We are naked whilst destitute of the heavenly power.
Lenski: The disciples need have no fears about this coming task. . . The figure of being clothed with authority or with power denotes that the power is a gift, and its source is 'from on high' from the Father and from Jesus who will presently ascend on high.
Stoeckhardt: (With reference to verses 44-45) According to Zechariah 13:1 we have here a free and open fountain for all our sins and uncleanness, because through His resurrection our own future Resurrection is guaranteed and we will be like Him since Isaiah 26:19 assures us that our corpse, our dead body, will arise, Job 19:26.

In conclusion, what does the Risen Jesus mean for you? You are a believer, but

  1. He must still dispel your superstitious thoughts, verse 37;

  2. He must dispel the doubts that arise in your heart, verse 38;

  3. He must dispel your fears and He does because He is the God-man, verse 39;

  4. He must still control your emotions which sometimes get in the way of your faith, verse 41;

  5. He must still convince you that the whole Bible, Old Testament and New Testament centers in His person, Word and work, verse 44;

  6. He must still open your mind, verse 45;

  7. He must still remind you of His suffering, death and resurrection in your behalf, verse 46;

  8. He must still give you the forgiveness of your sins, verse 47;

  9. He must still remind you that you are His witness;

  10. and, He still sends the Holy Spirit to you.

The charismatics who claim or demand special gifts of the Spirit, misrepresent all of Scripture, misrepresent Christ and the Trinity and are living in a delusion. Christ died to clothe you in His righteousness. Never depart from that thought.


Adapted from Exegetical Notes, Series B, Festival Season Sundays Gospel Texts, by Harold H. Buls, Concordia Theological Seminary Press: Ft Wayne IN, 1981, pp. 96-100. Used with permission.

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