The apostles having returned to Galilee, the Lord appears to seven of them whilst engaged in fishing John xxi. 1-23. upon the lake. The miracle of the great draught of fishes is repeated, and He feeds the seven with fish and bread. After they had dined, He commands Peter three times to feed His sheep, and signifies his future death and the protracted life of John.
After this He appears upon a mountain to a great Matt, xxviii. 16-20. body of disciples, and commands that the Gospel be 1 Cor. Xv. 6. preached and disciples baptized throughout the world. Mark xvi. 15-18.
That the appearance of the Lord at the lake of Galilee was before His appearance upon the mountain, may be inferred from the fact that " This was now the third time that He showed Himself to His disciples after that He was risen from the dead," (John xxi. 14.) This order is followed by most.1 In this threefold enumeration the Evangelist plainly refers to the apostles as constituting the most important, part of the disciples, although not perhaps to them exclusively. Thus the first appearance was to the " Eleven gathered together and them that were with them," (Luke xxi v. 33.) Mark (xvi. 14) says " The Eleven." John speaks simply of "The disciples," (xx. 19.) At this time Thomas was absent. The second was to the disciples, including Thomas, (John xx. 26.) The third " To the disciples at the sea of Tiberias." Of these, five at least were apostles; the names of the remaining two are not given, and it is not certain, though probable, that they also were of the apostles. Lightfoot supposes them to have been Philip and Andrew. Meyer (in loco) thinks it impossible that these three appearances can be made to harmonize with the statements of Paul, (1 Cor. xv. 5.)
1 So Lightfoot, Robinson, Lichtenstein, Ebrard, Krafft, Newcome.
But this depends upon the point whether Paul is designing to a give a chronological outline of all the appearances. This is generally and with good reason denied.1 Luthardt supposes that Paul, in the words " Then of the Twelve," (v. 5,) may embrace all the three appearances to them, and thus his order he made chronological.
Perhaps at this time the Lord gave them more specific directions respecting the meeting upon the mount. If we identify this meeting upon the mount with that when the 500 brethren were present, as most do, such a number of disciples could not have been gathered unless the notice had been early given, and widely spread. Both the time and place must have been definitely known.
The name of the mountain where the disciples met the Lord according to His appointment is not given. Many suppose it to be the same where He delivered the sermon, (Matt. v. 1.) Others identify it with the Mount of Transfiguration; others still with Tabor. It was a tradition current during the middle ages that it was the northern peak of the Mount of Olives. Saewulf2 speaks of a chapel called Galilee of Mount Sion, where the Lord first appeared to His apostles after His resurrection, according to His words, "After I am risen again I will go before you into Galilee." " That place was called Galilee, because the apostles, who were called Galileans, frequently rested there." 3 This tradition has recently been defended by Hofmann,4 but is wholly untenable.5
This meeting, having been appointed by the Lord before His death, and recalled to the memory of the disciples by the angels, must be looked upon as the chiefest and most significant of all His manifestations. There can be little doubt that it was identical with that mentioned by Paul, (1 Cor. xv. 6:) "After that He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once."
1 Liechtenstein, 476; Hodge in loco; Wieseler, 432.
s A. D. 1102. Early Travels, 42.
* See also Maundeville, Early Travels, 177. 4 Leben Jesu, 395.
6 See Meyer on Matt, xxviii. 16; Ewald, Jahrbuch, 1856, p. 196.
Although Matthew speaks only of the eleven disciples as present at the mountain, yet his silence respecting others would not exclude them, as in his introduction to the sermon on the mount, he speaks only of the disciples as His auditors* although great multitudes beside were present. That he should mention only the Eleven, is wholly consistent with his general purpose, and with the peculiarities of his Gospel. But in his own brief account there is a hint that others were there beside the Eleven. He says, " And when they saw Him they worshipped Him ; but some doubted." Who were these that doubted ? Meyer insists that it could only have been some of the Eleven. But when we recollect His prior appearances to them ; how that none of them after the first interview, except Thomas, seem to have had any doubts as to the reality of His resurrection; how the unbelief of Thomas was wholly overcome at the second interview; how He had given to them the first fruits of the Spirit; and that they had now gathered expressly to meet Him—we find it very difficult to believe that any of these doubters were apostles. If not, then others must have been present; and as most of these had not seen Him sinoe His resurrection, it will not appear surprising if some among them should doubt.1 This is confirmed by the fact that the angel, speaking to the women, does not confine his direction to go into Galilee to the apostles, but makes it general, embracing all the disciples, and perhaps also the women.
Some, however, though admitting that others were present with the apostles, make some of the latter to have doubted. If so, of what did they doubt ? Whether they should offer to Him worship ? * It is not indeed anywhere said that He had before been worshipped by them; and now something new and divine in His aspect may have impelled them to the act. (See Matt, xxviii. 9.)
i So Lightfoot, Norton, Kobinson, Ebrard, Stier, Alford. a So Wetstein, quoted in Meyer; De Wette, Lange.
But their doubts could scarce refer to this. Did they doubt of His personal identity ? Some have thought that He was so far from them that all could not at first distinctly see Him; others refer their doubts to the changed appearance of His body, either as already glorified, or as in an intermediate condition, midway between the earthly and heavenly. Some, as Newcome, would translate it " had doubted,5' and refer it to the earlier doubts of the apostles. " Some had doubted before; but all were now convinced." But if this was the interview when the 500 were present, many of whom must have been from Galilee, and had not seen Him since His resurrection, this fact best explains the circumstance that some doubted even now.
Upon this occasion, the words seem to have been spoken which are recorded by Matthew xxviii. 18-20, and Mark xvi. 15-18.1 Some, however, suppose His words in Mark to have been spoken to the Eleven, as they sat at meat, on the evening of the day of the resurrection.2 Alford would refer v. 15 to this occasion, but doubts respecting vs. 16-18. Townson makes all to have been spoken in Jerusalem, after the return from Galilee. He would place here also His words, Luke xxiv. 44-48.3 Ebrard considers all that Luke records from v. 44 on, a resume of all that Jesus had spoken after His resurrection, in His various interviews with His disciples. We shall consider the point more fully in connection with the ascension.
Thursday, May 18th, 783. A.d. 30.
1 So Lichtenstein, Tischendorf, Krafift, Ebrard.
8 So Newcome, Robinson. 3 So Wieseler, Bengel, Tischendorf.