the first day of the week: That is, Nisan 16. For the Jews, the day immediately after the Sabbath was the first day of the week.
tomb: Or “memorial tomb.” A vault, or chamber, cut into the soft limestone rock, rather than a natural cave. Such tombs often contained benchlike shelves or niches where bodies could be laid.—See Glossary, “Memorial tomb.”
bought spices . . . apply them to his body: Jesus’ body had already been prepared for burial “according to the burial custom of the Jews.” (Joh 19:39, 40) However, since Jesus died about three hours before the start of the Sabbath and the Jews were not allowed to do such work during the Sabbath, this task was likely done hastily. Now, on this first day after the Sabbath, that is, the third day from Jesus’ execution, the women may have come to add more spices and oils, perhaps as a means of preserving the body for a longer period. (Lu 23:50–24:1) Likely, they would apply the spices and oils over the wrapped body.
the first day of the week: See study note on Mt 28:1.
tomb: See study note on Mt 27:60.
the spices they had prepared: See study note on Mr 16:1.
a stone: Apparently a circular stone, since this verse says that it was rolled into place and Mr 16:4 says that it “had been rolled away” when Jesus was resurrected. It might have weighed a ton or more. Matthew’s account calls it “a big stone.”—Mt 27:60.
the stone: See study note on Mr 15:46.
of the Lord Jesus: Some manuscripts do not include these words, but the longer reading has strong support in early authoritative manuscripts.—For more information about how ancient manuscripts are used to establish the Greek text, see App. A3.
He is not here, but has been raised up: Some manuscripts do not include these words, but they have strong support in early authoritative manuscripts.—See App. A3.
executed on a stake: Or “to be fastened on a stake (pole).” This is the first of over 40 occurrences of the Greek verb stau·roʹo in the Christian Greek Scriptures. This is the verb for the Greek noun stau·rosʹ, rendered “torture stake.” (See study notes on Mt 10:38; 16:24; 27:32 and Glossary, “Stake”; “Torture stake.”) The verb form is used in the Septuagint at Es 7:9, where the order was given to hang Haman on a stake that was over 20 m (65 ft) tall. In classical Greek, it meant “to fence with pales, to form a stockade, or palisade.”
tell his disciples that he was raised up: These women are not only the first disciples to be told of Jesus’ resurrection but also the ones instructed to inform the other disciples. (Mt 28:2, 5, 7) According to unscriptural Jewish tradition, a woman’s testimony was not permissible in a court of law. By contrast, Jehovah’s angel dignifies the women by giving them this joyful assignment.
they . . . reported all these things to the Eleven: The two angels, referred to at Lu 24:4 as “men in shining garments,” could have shared the news of Jesus’ resurrection with his male disciples first. Instead, women were favored with being the first to learn of his resurrection. (Lu 24:6-9; Joh 20:11-18) And women were also given the honor of reporting the resurrection “to the Eleven and to all the rest” of the disciples. Additionally, Mary Magdalene was among the first disciples who saw the resurrected Jesus.—Joh 20:16; see study note on Mt 28:7.
from the tomb: Some manuscripts do not include these words, but they have strong support in early authoritative manuscripts.
Mary who was called Magdalene: The woman often called Mary Magdalene is first mentioned here in the account of Jesus’ second year of preaching. Her distinguishing name, Magdalene (meaning “Of, or Belonging to, Magdala”), likely stems from the town of Magdala. This town was located on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, about halfway between Capernaum and Tiberias. It has been suggested that Magdala was this Mary’s hometown or place of residence. Mary Magdalene is mentioned most prominently in connection with the death and resurrection of Jesus.—Mt 27:55, 56, 61; Mr 15:40; Lu 24:10; Joh 19:25.
Mary Magdalene: See study note on Lu 8:2.
Joanna: This is a shortened feminine form of the Hebrew name Jehohanan, meaning “Jehovah Has Shown Favor; Jehovah Has Been Gracious.” Joanna, who had been healed by Jesus, was the wife of Chuza, one of Herod Antipas’ officials. She is mentioned only twice in the Christian Greek Scriptures and only in Luke’s Gospel account.—Lu 8:2, 3.
. . . what had occurred: Some manuscripts do not include the words of this verse, but the verse has strong support in early authoritative manuscripts.—See App. A3.
interpreted: The Greek word di·er·me·neuʹo can be used in the sense “to translate from one language to another.” (Ac 9:36; 1Co 12:30, ftn.) However, it also signifies “to clarify the meaning; to explain fully.” In this verse, it refers to interpreting the meaning of prophecies.
burning: The expression is rendered from a Greek word that is here used metaphorically to describe strong emotions, such as joy and pleasure, and includes the idea of intense interest and enthusiasm. Here it describes the reaction of the two disciples when Jesus was fully opening up, or carefully explaining, the inspired Hebrew Scriptures to them.
within us: Some early manuscripts do not include these words, but they are included in other early authoritative manuscripts.—See App. A3.
fully opening up the Scriptures: The Greek verb for “to open up fully” (di·a·noiʹgo) is used three times in this chapter. First, at Lu 24:31, it describes how the “eyes” of the two disciples “were fully opened,” allowing them to perceive that they were talking with Jesus. Second, here at Lu 24:32, the word is used in the sense of “clearly explaining.” And third, at Lu 24:45, this Greek word is used to describe how Jesus “opened up” the minds of the disciples so that they could grasp the meaning of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures.—See also Ac 7:56, “opened up”; 16:14, “opened . . . wide”; and 17:3, “explaining [lit., “opening up thoroughly”],” where the same Greek word is used.
and said to them: “May you have peace”: Some manuscripts do not include these words, but they have strong support in early authoritative manuscripts.
a spirit: Although the Greek word pneuʹma can refer to invisible spirit persons, here the term evidently refers to an apparition or a vision. Jesus showed the disciples his hands and feet and told them: “Touch me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones just as you see that I have.” (Lu 24:39) This was to prove that like angels in the past, he had materialized in order to be seen by the disciples.—Ge 18:1-8; 19:1-3.
my hands and my feet: As in Jesus’ case, nailing the hands (and likely the feet also) of the accused to a stake was customary among the Romans. (Ps 22:16; Joh 20:25, 27; Col 2:14) Some scholars believe that a nail or nails pierced Jesus’ feet, fixing them directly to the stake or to a small platform attached to the stake.
. . . and his feet: Some manuscripts do not include the words of this verse, but the verse has strong support in early authoritative manuscripts.—See App. A3.
fish: Some later manuscripts add the words “and a honeycomb,” but early authoritative manuscripts do not include these words.
in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets and Psalms: Jesus was here evidently grouping the entire inspired Hebrew Scriptures in the way adopted by the Jews and known to them. “The Law” (Hebrew, Toh·rahʹ) refers to the Bible books of Genesis through Deuteronomy. “The Prophets” (Hebrew, Nevi·ʼimʹ) refers to the prophetic books of the Hebrew Scriptures, including the so-called Former Prophets (the Bible books of Joshua through Kings). “Psalms” refers to the third section, which contains the remaining books of the Hebrew Scriptures and is called the Writings, or in Hebrew, Kethu·vimʹ. The designation “Psalms” is used because it was the first book of the third section. The term “Tanakh,” a Jewish designation for the Hebrew Scriptures, comes from combining the first letter of each of these three sections (TaNaKh). Jesus’ use of these three terms indicates that the canon of the Hebrew Scriptures was well-established when he was on earth and was approved by him.
witnesses of me: As faithful Jews, Jesus’ early disciples were already witnesses of Jehovah, and they testified that Jehovah is the only true God. (Isa 43:10-12; 44:8) Now, though, the disciples were to be witnesses of both Jehovah and Jesus. They were to make known Jesus’ vital role in sanctifying Jehovah’s name by means of His Messianic Kingdom, a new feature of Jehovah’s purpose. With the exception of John’s Gospel, Acts uses the Greek terms for “witness” (marʹtys), “to bear witness” (mar·ty·reʹo), “to bear thorough witness” (di·a·mar·tyʹro·mai), and related words more times than any other Bible book. (See study note on Joh 1:7.) The idea of being a witness and bearing thorough witness about God’s purposes—including his Kingdom and Jesus’ vital role—is a theme that runs through the book of Acts. (Ac 2:32, 40; 3:15; 4:33; 5:32; 8:25; 10:39; 13:31; 18:5; 20:21, 24; 22:20; 23:11; 26:16; 28:23) Some first-century Christians bore witness to, or confirmed, historical facts about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection from their firsthand knowledge. (Ac 1:21, 22; 10:40, 41) Those who later put faith in Jesus bore witness by proclaiming the significance of his life, death, and resurrection.—Ac 22:15; see study note on Joh 18:37.
You are to be witnesses: This is one of the first times that Jesus tells his disciples “to be witnesses” about his life and ministry, including his death and resurrection. (Compare Joh 15:27.) As faithful Jews, Jesus’ disciples were already witnesses of Jehovah and testified that He is the only true God. (Isa 43:10-12; 44:8) Some 40 days after the events recorded here, Jesus repeats and further emphasizes their new assignment to be his witnesses.—See study note on Ac 1:8.
what my Father promised: That is, the holy spirit promised at Joe 2:28, 29 and Joh 14:16, 17, 26. This active force would energize Jesus’ disciples to serve as witnesses in all the earth.—Ac 1:4, 5, 8; 2:33.
the city: That is, Jerusalem.
Bethany: A village on the ESE slope of the Mount of Olives at a distance of about 3 km (2 mi) from Jerusalem. (Joh 11:18) The home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, located in this village, appears to have been Jesus’ base in Judea. (Joh 11:1) Today the site is marked by a small village with an Arabic name meaning “The Place of Lazarus.”
Then: Ac 1:3-9 shows that Jesus’ ascension took place 40 days from the time of his resurrection. So there is a time lapse between the events that took place on Jesus’ resurrection day (Nisan 16), as recorded at Lu 24:1-49, and the events that occurred on the day of his ascension (Iyyar 25), which are described from this verse to the end of the chapter.—See App. A7.
Bethany: See study note on Mt 21:17.
and taken up to heaven: Some manuscripts do not include these words, but the words do have strong support in early authoritative manuscripts. Also, Luke indicated at Ac 1:1, 2 that in his “first account,” namely, his Gospel, he had discussed what Jesus had done in his life and ministry “until the day that he [Jesus] was taken up.” So it is quite appropriate that in his inspired account, Luke would have included these words about Jesus’ ascension to heaven.
do obeisance: Or “bow down.” When the Greek verb pro·sky·neʹo is used to refer to the worship of a god or a deity, it is rendered “to worship.” In this context, however, the astrologers were asking for “the one born king of the Jews.” So it is clear that it refers to obeisance or homage to a human king, not a god. A similar usage is found at Mr 15:18, 19, where the term is used of the soldiers who mockingly “bowed down” to Jesus and called him “King of the Jews.”—See study note on Mt 18:26.
did obeisance to him: Or “bowed down to him; honored him.” People mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures also bowed down when meeting prophets, kings, or other representatives of God. (1Sa 25:23, 24; 2Sa 14:4-7; 1Ki 1:16; 2Ki 4:36, 37) This man evidently recognized that he was talking to a representative of God who had power to heal people. It was appropriate to bow down to show respect for Jehovah’s King-Designate.—Mt 9:18; for more information on the Greek word used here, see study note on Mt 2:2.
did obeisance to him: Or “bowed down to him; paid him homage.” These people recognized Jesus as God’s representative. They rendered obeisance to him, not as to a god or a deity, but as to “God’s Son.”—See study notes on Mt 2:2; 8:2; 18:26.
did obeisance to him: Or “bowed down to him; paid him homage.” By calling Jesus “Son of David” (Mt 15:22), this non-Jewish woman evidently recognizes him as the promised Messiah. She renders obeisance to him, not as to a god or a deity, but as to a representative of God.—See study notes on Mt 2:2; 8:2; 14:33; 18:26.
did obeisance to him: Or “bowed down to him; prostrated themselves to him; paid him homage.” When the Greek verb pro·sky·neʹo is used to refer to the worship of a god or a deity, it is rendered “to worship.” (Mt 4:10; Lu 4:8) In this context, however, the disciples recognized the resurrected Jesus as God’s representative. They rendered obeisance to him, not as to God or a deity, but as to “God’s Son,” the foretold “Son of man,” the Messiah with divine authority. (Lu 1:35; Mt 16:13-16; Joh 9:35-38) This was similar to the way that people mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures bowed down when meeting prophets, kings, or other representatives of God. (1Sa 25:23, 24; 2Sa 14:4; 1Ki 1:16; 2Ki 4:36, 37) On many occasions, the obeisance done to Jesus expressed gratitude for divine revelation or recognition of divine favor like that expressed in earlier times.—Mt 14:32, 33; 28:5-10, 16-18; Joh 9:35, 38; see also study notes on Mt 2:2; 8:2; 14:33; 15:25.
did obeisance to him and: Some manuscripts do not include these words, but the words do have strong support in early authoritative manuscripts.—See App. A3.
The first account: Luke here refers to his Gospel account of Jesus’ life. In his Gospel account, Luke focused on “all the things Jesus started to do and to teach.” In the book of Acts, Luke picks up where he left off and records what Jesus’ followers said and did. The accounts are similar in style and wording, and both are addressed to Theophilus. Whether Theophilus was a disciple of Christ is not stated explicitly. (See study note on Lu 1:3.) Luke begins the book of Acts by summarizing many of the events recorded at the end of his Gospel, clearly indicating that this second account is a continuation of the first. In this summary, however, Luke uses somewhat different wording and provides extra details.—Compare Lu 24:49 with Ac 1:1-12.
were continually in the temple: After Jesus’ execution, the disciples were in fear of their enemies, so they met behind locked doors. (Joh 20:19, 26) However, the disciples were strengthened when they received enlightenment from Jesus (Ac 1:3) as well as when they witnessed his ascension to heaven on the 40th day after his resurrection. They courageously came out in public, praising God. Luke adds to the record he began with his Gospel account by writing the book of Acts, documenting the zealous activity of the disciples.—See study note on Ac 1:1.
This is a photograph of a replica of a human heel bone pierced by an iron nail that was 11.5 cm (4.5 in.) long. The original artifact was found in 1968, during excavations in northern Jerusalem, and dates to Roman times. It provides archaeological evidence that nails were likely used in executions to fasten the person to a wooden stake. This nail may be similar to the nails employed by the Roman soldiers to fasten Jesus Christ to the stake. The artifact was found in a stone box, called an ossuary, into which the dried bones of a deceased person were placed after the flesh had decomposed. This indicates that someone executed on a stake could be given a burial.