For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2001 James Melough

24:1.  “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.”

Those spices weren’t needed.  Their attention was about to be focused, not on death, but life.  Many have seen in the coming of those faithful women to the tomb, with their prepared spices, a shadowy picture of what should be the activity of believers each Lord’s day morning.  The women themselves speak of obedient submission; and the spices, of worship.  As they came to the tomb, so should we come to the Lord’s table with our worship.  And in the fact that time and work had gone into the preparation of the spices, God would teach us that time and work should go into the preparation of our worship.  If we haven’t been occupied with the Lord’s sufferings and death during the week, it is highly unlikely that we will have any worship to offer when we take our places at His table on the first day of the week.

It is also instructive to reflect on the attitude of those women during Friday night and Saturday.  It is difficult to imagine their having been engaged with anything remotely resembling the frivolity which marks those hours in the lives of many believers today.  It is sadly apparent that the majority of professing Christians seldom give a thought to what it cost the Lord to redeem them, or to the fact that at the institution of the Lord’s Supper, He said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”  Nor, apparently, do many pay any attention to Paul’s words, “As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come,” 1 Co 11:26.

We might note also the hour at which they came.  It was “very early in the morning.”  This was the hour they had been waiting for.  With them there was nothing more important than being at the tomb at the first possible moment.  The tardy arrival and erratic attendance of many at the Lord’s Supper declares all too clearly that the remembrance of His sufferings and death are far from being first on their list of priorities.

24:2.  “And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.”

How the stone might be rolled away had been of much concern to them, but their concern was needless.  Where there is a genuine desire for fellowship with the Lord, and we ourselves have done all we can to achieve it, He Himself will remove the obstacles which we lack the power to move.

24:3.  “And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.”

They had come expecting only to embalm His body, but God had better things in store for them.  They were to see the Lord Himself, and alive!  God always does for us “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,” Eph 3:20.

24:4.  “And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:”

The men were angels sent to convey the wonderful news that the Lord was risen.  It is interesting to note that while angels are sexless creatures (see Mt 22:30), they are always referred to as being masculine: we never read of female angels.

24:5.  “And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?”

The reverence manifested by these women in the presence of the angels, rebukes the irreverence which marks the attitude of many professing believers in the presence of the One before Whom angels themselves bow, and veil their faces.

The economy of words used in making the stupendous announcement is remarkable, the restraint standing in stark contrast with man’s usual verbosity.  Yet those few words were sufficient to tell the women that the Lord was alive.

24:6.  “He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,”

Norman Crawford points out that some of the results of His resurrection are: the declaration of His Sonship, “declared to be the Son of God with power ... by the resurrection from the dead,” Ro 1:4; the verification of prophecy, “he rose again the third day according to the scriptures,” 1 Cor 15:4; the proof of Christ’s victory over Satan, “that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil,” Heb 2:14; the evidence of the power of God, “according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead,” Eph 1:19-20; the ratification of our justification, “who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification,” Ro 4:25; the guarantee of the resurrection of believers, “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits (actually the word is singular) of them that slept,” 1 Cor 15:20, and the assurance that none of His promises will fail, “remember how he spake unto you.”

24:7.  “Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”

The Lord Himself had told His followers that He would be crucified, and would rise again on the third day, see Mt 16:21; Mk 8:31; Lk 9:22; 18:31-34, but it seems that they hadn’t grasped the full meaning of His words.

24:8.  “And they remembered his words,”

Now with His death and resurrection accomplished facts, they remembered, and who can comprehend the joy that accompanied the recollection, and the assurance from the angels!  So will it be with us on that day when the fulfillment of His words to us evokes the response, Why didn’t I see more clearly?  Why didn’t I believe implicitly?  How could I ever have doubted?

24:9.  “And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.”

What they had expected to be the sad task of embalming the Lord’s body, became instead the joyous privilege of carrying to the eleven and the others the wonderful tidings that the Lord had risen from the dead.

24:10.  “It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and the other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.”

Mary means their rebellion; Magdalene, a tower; Joanna, Jehovah is gracious giver; and James, supplanter. Why these three names should have been recorded isn’t disclosed, nor do the meanings furnish any clue, though undoubtedly there is a reason; but there being three, the number of resurrection, is in keeping with their message concerning the Lord’s resurrection.  An incidental truth declared in the fact that the apostles first heard the glad tidings from the lips of these women, is that the woman has her God-appointed place in the proclamation of the Gospel, no less than the man.  This, however, may not be taken to imply that there are female evangelists.  Only men are given to the Church as evangelists, elders, and teachers, but every believer is commanded to preach the Gospel.

24:11.  “And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.”

Unbelief is not always easily banished.  It might have been supposed that the testimony of the women, and particularly their report of the angels’ words relative to the Lord’s having foretold His death and resurrection, would have convinced the men, but it didn’t.  That their disbelief wasn’t absolute however, is declared in Peter’s running to see for himself.

The scepticism of those who should have believed in His resurrection, helps us to understand the refusal of unbelievers to accept it.

24:12.  “Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.”

We can only imagine the thoughts which must have raced through Peter’s mind as he ran to the tomb, saw the linen clothes, and then went away again.  Nor are we told why the Lord delayed revealing Himself to the others until that evening, but undoubtedly the gradual revelation was like a rising tide filling their hearts with increasing wonder, excitement, and joy.  How different was that evening of the first day of the week compared with the two preceding evenings when there wasn’t a ray of hope to illuminate the darkness of their despair!  God always reserves the best wine till the end.

Relative to the grave clothes, it is generally believed that they were in the same form as when they had swathed His body, making it clear that His resurrection was an indisputable fact, for apart from a miracle, His body couldn’t have been removed without disturbing the wrappings.  It is to be remembered also that since those strips had been wound over the resinous embalming mixture, it is beyond belief that the disciples, even had it been possible for them to pass the guards, would have removed the linen strips, leaving them to carry His body covered with the sticky embalming mixture.

24:13.  “And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.”

We are given only the name of one, see verse 18; and the reason for their seven mile journey to Emmaus isn’t disclosed.  Emmaus means in earnest longing, and undoubtedly that meaning reflected the state of their hearts.  They must have been longing earnestly for some further revelation concerning the Lord Whose resurrection had been reported to them, but without confirmation.

24:14.  “And they talked together of all these things which had happened.”

No detail of their talk has been recorded, but clearly it was of all the events that had occurred in Jerusalem during the past three days, and particularly the latest report brought by the women, of the empty tomb, and of the Lord’s resurrection.

24:15.  “And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.”

Reasoning conveys the idea of examining and reexamining all the facts in search of an explanation. Though they knew it not, they were soon to have full confirmation of all about which they had been speculating so fruitlessly.  The Lord drew near, and went with them.

24:16.  “But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.”

Obviously it was God Himself Who was preventing them from recognizing the Lord.  But why?  What an exposition of Scripture they would have missed had the Lord made Himself known to them immediately!  It was crucial that they should learn to see Him in the Scriptures, for He was soon to return to heaven, and they must learn to walk by faith and not by sight, faith enabling them to see Him just as clearly in the written Word as if they saw Him with their physical eyes.

24:17.  “And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?”

The Lord was well aware of what they were talking about, and of the sorrow in their hearts, but He would provide an appropriate opportunity to talk with them.  We might well ask ourselves what likelihood there is that He would find us talking about Him if He were to suddenly join us.

24:18.  “And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?”

Cleopas means famed of all, but I regret being unable to see what significance this has in the present context.  His answer would indicate that the matter of the Lord’s crucifixion was the whole topic of conversation in the city, as well it might be.

24:19.  “And he said unto them, What things?  And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:”

There might be much about which they were still ignorant, but an imperfect knowledge didn’t diminish their praise of Him.  It must have warmed His heart to hear such words from two whose obvious love for Him transcended their lack of knowledge.  The Lord sets a very high value on the love of a devoted heart.

24:20.  “And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.”

They didn’t hesitate to charge the Jewish rulers with the Lord’s death, and the present attempts to absolve the Jews of responsibility for His murder is simply the ploy of the evil ecumenical movement which would unite all men in one great religious travesty which will be Satan’s counterfeit of the true Church.

24:21.  “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.”

There seems to have been a strange mixture of faith and unbelief wrestling for control of their minds, for they had evidently believed that He was the Messiah, but they couldn’t reconcile that belief with His death; yet they appear to have entertained at least some vestige of hope that He would rise again, as is indicated in their words, “And beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.”  We can almost sense their hope that even yet He might indeed rise again.

24:22.  “Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;”

24:23.  “And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.”

The spark of hope in His resurrection hadn’t quite died out, and had they but known it, the risen Lord Himself would shortly fan that spark of hope into the flame of certainty, and change their sorrow to unspeakable joy.  Nothing cheers the hearts of discouraged saints like the reminder that the Lord is risen, and sits beside His Father, and ours, crowned with glory and honor, interceding for us, and preparing us a place in that same heaven.

24:24.  “And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.”

Their faint hope in His resurrection continues to flicker behind their words.  It seems that they desperately wanted to believe that He had risen, but couldn’t muster up the faith to believe it without actually seeing Him.  What joy was soon to be theirs as the Lord fulfilled the desire of their hearts and revealed Himself to them!

24:25.  “Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:”

The Lord began to confirm their faith by turning them to the Scriptures, and showing them that all that had befallen Him had been foretold by the prophets.  His death was not the hopeless tragedy they were dwelling upon.  It was all part of God’s glorious plan for the redemption of Adam’s fallen sons, as it is written, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” Jn 3:16.  Man hadn’t taken the Lord’s life against His will.  He allowed them to put Him to death.  He laid down His life voluntarily, having the power to lay it down, and the power to take it up again, see Jn 10:11-18.

24:26.  “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?”

He would turn them from a morbid occupation with His death, and have them exult in His resurrection and glory, also foretold, and now also accomplished.  He would teach them the absolute necessity of His death and resurrection, if men were to be saved from hell and fitted for heaven.

24:27.  “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”

Moses was the general name of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the OT, and His referring to those Scriptures raises the question, How could He show them what is written about Him there since His name isn’t even found once on their pages, nor do we find there any mention of Messiah’s death and resurrection?  The answer lies in the fact that the language of Scripture is symbolic and typological, as well as literal; and to see something of what is written there about Christ, the reader is referred to the author’s book Genesis Verse by Verse

It is a sad commentary on present day Christendom that multitudes of professing Christians not only fail to see the Lord in the OT Scriptures, but charge with unbridled flights of fancy those who do see.

24:28.  “And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.”

The Lord will never force Himself on anyone.  Having arrived at their destination the two disciples were free to terminate the conversation if they wished.

24:29.  “But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.  And he went in to tarry with them.”

His explanation of the Scriptures had been such as to intensify their desire to learn more, as they themselves said, “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?”  Their constraining Him to abide with them was no mere social gesture.  It was the sincere desire of two hearts that had been warmed by His teaching, and that longed for more.  Every servant who undertakes to expound Scripture should pray that his ministry of the Word will have the same result.

In response to their sincere invitation the Lord went in to tarry with them, and so will He with every one who honestly desires His presence.  As that literal day was far spent, so also is the present day of grace, and it is a sad commentary on the state of the professing church, that many of those who are about to leave this scene should evince so much desire for the company and things of this evil world, and so little for the fellowship of the Savior.

24:30.  “And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.”

24:31.  “And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.”

According to the Scriptural record there were only three present at that first recorded “breaking of bread” meeting: the Lord, and the two disciples, and if ever there was a fulfillment of His promise, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them,” Mt 18:20, that meeting was it.  It was the essence of simplicity, and sets the pattern for every Lord’s Supper.  The breaking of the bread resulted in their seeing Him, and if that isn’t the outcome of every observance of the Lord’s Supper then we have engaged in a mere religious ritual, and our coming together has been in vain.

His vanishing out of their sight continues to emphasize the need for the disciples to learn to live by faith and not by sight.  Just as His pre-crucifixion  ministry had repeatedly emphasized that He would die and rise again, so now was His post-resurrection ministry to prepare them to understand that He must return to heaven to prepare a place for all of His redeemed people, His assurance being that when that work was complete He would return again to take them into heaven.  They had failed to understand His words relative to His death and resurrection, but now with those two great events become accomplished facts (His resurrection being certified by His appearances to them), they did believe His assurance that He was going back to heaven, but that He would return again to take them there to be with Him for ever.  It is that same glad expectation which has cheered the hearts of multitudes of believers since that day to this.  We look for His return.

24:32.  “And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?”

We are missing an important lesson here if we fail to understand that their heartwarming experience on the road to Emmaus can be ours also as we walk the road to heaven.  They didn’t “see” the Lord as He walked and talked with them, i.e., they didn’t recognize Him, but that didn’t alter the fact that their hearts burned as He expounded the Scriptures to them.  We don’t “see” the Lord either with our physical eyes, but His presence with us is no less real, and we can enjoy what they enjoyed every time we open the Scriptures and allow Him to “talk” with us, i.e., explain them to us.  It is to be remembered, however, that He drew near to teach them because they earnestly desired to be instructed.  It is folly to think that He will draw near to unfold truth to those who have no desire to know.  Remember the meaning of Emmaus: it is in earnest longing.  One reason why there are so many uninstructed Christians today is because there are very few who have an earnest longing to learn; and as noted already, the Lord won’t force His company on those who don’t want it.  One indication of the depth of a man’s desire to know more of Christ is the length of time he is willing to give to the study of Scripture.  The man who sincerely desires enlightenment must be prepared to abandon the world’s pastimes, sports, music, art, literature, theater, politics, etc., and devote time to the prayerful study of his Bible. 

It is instructive to note also that those two disciples had come out of Jerusalem, the supposed repository of the knowledge of God.  But it had long since ceased to be that, having become instead the home of apostasy.  He who would be instructed in the things of God must also be willing to “leave Jerusalem,” (the travesty masquerading today as the Christian church, but which is as ignorant of and as bitterly opposed to Christ as was the city which had just crucified Him).  No worthwhile knowledge of the Lord or His Word will be found within that evil system in spite of the religious facade behind which it seeks to cloak its wickedness. 

It is also instructive to note that Emmaus lay northwest of Jerusalem, and the north is the Biblical direction that speaks of intelligence, while the west is the Biblical direction that speaks of approach to God.

An honest inquiring heart, an open Bible, and an ungrieved, unquenched Holy Spirit are indispensable to the acquisition of true knowledge.

24:33.  “And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,”

24:34.  “Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.”

God doesn’t impart spiritual truth simply to gratify curiosity, or to puff up one’s mind: it is to be used for His glory and the blessing of others.  In spite of having just completed a tiring journey of seven miles, those two disciples immediately retraced their steps so that they might share the wonderful news with their brethren and sisters in Jerusalem.  (This reminds us that today there are true believers still “in Jerusalem,” and we have an obligation to acquaint them with the truth God has revealed to us).

“The eleven” incidentally is a general term used to describe the apostles remaining after the death of Judas, and before the appointment of Matthias.  There were, in fact, just ten of them present that evening, for Thomas wasn’t with them, see Jn 20:24.  It appears to have been the ten, not the two from Emmaus who said, “The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.”  We have no details of that appearance to Peter, the only other mention of it being in 1 Co 15:5.

24:35.  “And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.”

What rejoicing there must have been in the midst of that little company as the evidence of the Lord’s resurrection became ever more certain, requiring only the appearance of the Lord Himself to remove the last vestige of doubt!  And that confirmation was about to be given them, not by men or angels, but by the Lord Himself appearing in their midst.

24:36.  “And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.”

They were no longer called upon to believe the reports of others.  Each for himself saw the Lord, and heard His words, “Peace be unto you.”

24:37.  “But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.”

Unbelief isn’t easily banished.  In spite of all the evidence given during that day, the disciples still weren’t quite ready for the appearance of the risen Lord in their midst.  But their fear was of brief duration.  Every doubt, every fear, were about to be dispelled, and by the presentation of evidence that was incontrovertible: the risen Lord Himself stood in their midst.

24:38.  “And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?”

24:39.  “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.”

The wounds in his hands and feet proved beyond all doubt that the One Who stood in their midst was the Lord Himself; and that this form was no mere apparition was proved by His invitation, “Handle me, and see.”  The body in which He had walked amongst them for over three years was the same as that in which He now stood before them. 

24:40.  “And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.”

24:41.  “And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?”

Those nail-pierced hands and feet were evidence which no one could doubt, the words “they yet believed not for joy” declaring, not that they still doubted, but that their joy was so great, His resurrection a miracle so stupendous, that they could scarcely take it in.  Nor can any but renewed minds grasp it still!  The world may give token assent to His resurrection, but the natural mind cannot possibly grasp its full significance.

His perfect humanity is declared in His request for food.

24:42.  “And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.”

24:43.  “And he took it, and did eat before them.”

Inasmuch as the fish taken in a net, and used for food, represent believers, the Lord’s eating the fish may speak of the satisfaction He finds in every believer, and its being given Him by the disciples may point to the fact that they were shortly to become fishers of men.  To view it in this symbolic way, however, requires that the honey also be viewed symbolically, and His eating it speaks also of its representing something which gives Him satisfaction.  It may be therefore that it represents all in the believer’s life which is for God’s glory.

Apart from any spiritual significance, however, the very fact of His eating in their presence continues to emphasize how perfectly human He was.

24:44.  “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.”

24:45.  “Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.”

It seems very likely that the truths He had taught the two on the road to Emmaus, were repeated for the benefit of the others, and there can be no question that the revelation caused their hearts also to burn.

24:46.  “And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:”

24:47.  “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

Having shown them the necessity of His death to make atonement for sin, He proceeded to show them that it was now to be their great privilege to spread the good news worldwide; but the fact that it was to be preached first in Jerusalem reminds us that the Jews hadn’t yet been abandoned to their fate.  They were to be the first to hear the glad tidings.  Sadly, they for the most part refused to believe, and by that refusal forfeited the millennial kingdom, and damned their own souls.

24:48.  “And ye are witnesses of these things.”

An essential part of their qualification to bear that witness was that they were the privileged few who had been given infallible proof of His resurrection.

24:49.  “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”

The Father’s promise was that the Holy Spirit would be poured out as one of the blessings of the Millennium, see for example such Scriptures as Isa 44:3; Eze 36:27; Joel 2:28.  The fact that that promise was about to be fulfilled is proof that Israel could have had the millennial kingdom then had she as a nation believed the gospel of salvation through faith in a crucified and risen Messiah.  What blessings were forfeited by that stubborn unbelieving generation!  Instead of a thousand years of millennial blessing, they have suffered two thousand years of scattering and persecution among the Gentiles, the kingdom offer being postponed until the terrible Tribulation judgments will have produced a believing remnant, the new Israel, which will inherit that glorious kingdom.

The promised endowment was the Holy Spirit given on the day of Pentecost.

24:50.  “And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.”

Luke passes over the forty days of the Lord’s post-resurrection ministry, enough having been recorded to convince readers of the reality of His resurrection, it being Luke’s task apparently to emphasize that momentous event rather than the teaching given by the risen Lord in the interval between His resurrection and His return to heaven.

Bethany means house of affliction (or response),  and the propriety of His having chosen it as the place from which to ascend to heaven, is disclosed in its meaning.  The world He was about to leave, but in which the disciples were to remain as His witnesses, is a “house of affliction” for all men, but particularly for those who belong to Christ.  It is, however, also the place of “response.”  Every sinner who calls on the Lord out of a broken, contrite heart will find that God’s response is to pardon all sin and bestow His priceless gift of eternal life; while every believer who calls on the Lord will find His response to be the bestowal of grace sufficient for every need.

24:51.  “And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.”

24:52.  “And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:”

24:53.  “And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.”

This was their last literal view of the Lord, but it was very different from the view they had had at Calvary.  There they had seen Him die, and had returned to Jerusalem with broken hearts, and shattered hopes; but His resurrection appearances, and forty days of post-resurrection ministry had changed everything.  Now, even though they were not to see Him again literally until they themselves would be in heaven, they, “returned to Jerusalem with great joy.”  What made the difference?  They had been more fully instructed in the things of God, and had learned that what belongs to His kingdom is eternal, while the things of earth are transient; and above all they had learned that God is in control, accomplishing His eternal purposes by means incomprehensible to the natural mind, making even the wrath of man to accomplish His great designs.  Nothing imparts peace to the heart like familiarity with God’s Word, and the faith to believe that every part of that Word will be fulfilled.

Relative to their worshiping Him, it is to be noted that this was a unique moment.  The normal order for the presentation of our worship is to address it to the Father, in the name of the Son, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Adherence to this order ensures that all three Persons of the Godhead receive our worship.  Departure from it results in the exclusion of two of those Persons.

In regard to their being “in the temple, praising and blessing God,” we have to remember that during the early Apostolic age, until AD 70 which brought Jewish autonomy to an end, there was one order for Jewish believers, and another for their Gentile brethren.  For both, there were believer’s baptism and the Lord’s Supper, but in addition the Jewish saints also continued to use the Levitical ritual, and for a very good reason.  Israel was still being offered the millennial kingdom, and in that kingdom the worship, not only of Israel, but of the Gentiles also, will be according to the Levitical order.  Had Israel believed the Gospel in the early Apostolic age, the seven year Tribulation era would have followed, being ended by the Lord’s return in power and glory to inaugurate the millennial kingdom, in which, Scripture makes very clear, worship will be according to the Levitical order.  But God foreknew her unbelief, and the resultant postponement of the kingdom, so after AD 70 the Jewish order of worship ceased, and the Gentile order became the form for Jewish and Gentile believers alike.

As to why the Levitical form should have continued for Jewish believers until AD 70, and as to why it will be the universal form in the Millennium, the explanation is that in the OT age it was anticipative, but in the Apostolic and millennial ages it was and will be commemorative.  As in the past it pointed forward to Christ’s coming, so, since His death and resurrection, does it point back to that coming as an accomplished event, and is just as appropriate for Israel’s worship after His death and resurrection as it was before they occurred.  The commemoration of His death and resurrection by means of the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper, is unique to the Church age.


[Lord Willing, next week: Hosea 1]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough