Two Disciples at Emmaus

Early in the afternoon two of the disciples leave Luke xxiv. 13-32. Jerusalem for Emmaus. As they go, Jesus joins Him- Mark xvi. 12. self to them, and converses with them till they reach the village. At their urgent request He sits down to eat with them, anjl as He was breaking the bread, their eyes, which were hoiden that they should not know Him, were opened, but He immediately vanished out of their sight. They return at once to Je- Luke xxiv. 33

1 See Meyer in loco.

2 See the excellent observations of Jones, Notes, 483.

rusalem, and find the Eleven and others gathered Mark xvi. 13, 14.

together, who meet them with the announcement Luke xxiv. 34, 35.

that the Lord is indeed risen, and has appeared to 1 Cor. Xv. 5.

Simon. But the account of the two disciples that

they had also seen Him at Emmaus,was disbelieved.

While yet speaking together, Jesus Himself stood in Luke xxiv. 36-48.

the midst of them, although the doors were shut, and John Xx. 19-23.

saluted them. He convinces them of the reality of

His bodily presence by showing them His hands and

His feet, and by eating before them. He breathes

upon them, and gives them the power to remit sins,

and opened their understanding to understand the


The name of one of the disciples going to Emmaus was Cleopas, (Luke xxiv. 18.) Many identify him with Cleophas, Clopas, or Alphaeus, the husband of Mary. It is most probable that he was a different person. The name of the other disciple is not given. Lightfoot supposes him to have been Peter himself; and it was early a very common opinion that he was Luke, and that the Evangelist through modesty did not mention his own name. Wieseler, (431,) who makes Cleopas to have been Alphaeus, makes the other the apostle James, his son.

Josephus mentions three places by the name of Emmaus.1 Of one of these he speaks as " sixty furlongs distant from Jerusalem." This coincides so exactly with the statement of Luke, (v. 13,) that no reasonable doubt can exist that both refer to the same place. The name itself signifies warm water, and indicates that there was a hot spring in the neighborhood. The site of the old Emmaus has been for a long period supposed io be a village now called El Kubeibeh, which lies about seventy furlongs, or nine miles, north-westerly from Jerusalem, and is reached by the road running near Mizpeh. JSchwartz (111) finds its §ite in some ruins about seven and a half miles from Jerusalem, now called by the Arabs Baburaia.

* War, 4.1. 3; 7. 6. 6. Antiq. 14. 11. 2.

The identification with Kubeibeh, Robinson denies, (ii. 255 and ill. 147,) and attempts to identify it with that Emmaus which lay in the plain of Judah, more than one hundred and seventy stadia from Jerusalem, or about twenty-two Roman miles, and ten from Lydda. It received the name of Nicopolis in the third century, and both names were in use for many centuries. It is now known as Amwas.

The ground upon which Robinson asserts that this village is the Emmaus of Luke, is, that " for thirteen centuries did the interpretation current in the whole Church regard the Emmaus of the New Testament as identical with Nicopolis." He disposes of the statement of Luke, that it was "about threescore furlongs from Jerusalem," (v. 13,) by questioning the correctness of this reading, several manuscripts having one hundred and sixty furlongs. He questions also the reading, sixty stadia, in Josephus, several manuscripts having thirty. The correctness of the received reading in both cases seems too well supported to be shaken. But aside from this it is scarcely possible that Emmaus could have been so far distant from Jerusalem. According to Robinson himself, it now requires six to six and a half hours to pass from the former to the latter, and if the two disciples had left Jerusalem at 12 A.m., they would have reached their home about 6 P. M. Allowing that only a very brief interval was spent in preparation for the evening meal, (v. 30,) and that they returned with all haste, they could not have reached Jerusalem till near midnight. But considering the habits of the orientals, it is very improbable that the disciples were assembled together at that hour; nor is it likely that the Lord would have selected it to make His first appearance to them. Besides, some marks of the time when they met the Eleven are given us. John (xx. 19) states that when Jesus made His appearance to them it was evening. This was probably the first evening, which began at 3 P. M. and ended at 6, or at sunsetting. This is eonfirmed by Mark, (xvi. 14,) who says that "He appeared to the Eleven as they sat at meat." This could not well have been late in the evening.

Upon these grounds we believe that the Emmaus of Luke cannot be placed at a greater distance than he has placed it. Whether it can be identified with Kubeibeh or not, is unimportant. Robinson1 says rightly, although in opposition to his present opinion, that "the distance (of Mcopolis) one hundred and sixty stadia, or six hours, is too great for the disciples to have returned the same evening. We must therefore abide by the usual reading."3

The time when the two disciples left Jerusalem is not mentioned, but it was probably early in the afternoon, as the distance was about eight miles, and they seem to have reached Emmaus about sundown.3

When the Lord met the two He was not recognized by them. Luke says (v. 16) "Their eyes were holden that they should not know Him." This some have thought discrepant with Mark's statement (xvi. 12) that "He appeared, in another form—ev ercpa fiopcj^rj-^-unto two of them." The latter expression may refer to His previous appearance to Mary Magdalene, by whom He had been mistaken for the gardener ;4 or to another form than that before the resurrection. That His bodily aspect was in many points after the resurrection unlike what it had been before, we cannot doubt, though it is impossible for us to tell wherein those distinctions consisted. (See John xxi. 4.) Still the language of Luke implies that there was no such distinction as to hinder His recognition; and that, in this case, except the eyes of the disciples had been specially holden, they would have known Him. " And their eyes were opened and they knew Him," (v. 31.)

1 In Bib. Sacra, 1845, p. 181. 2 See Winer, i. 325 ; Raumer, 169.

3 See v. 29 : " For it is toward evening, ar*d the day is far spent;" and it was about the time of the evening meal. " They arrived at Emmaus about 3 p. M.," (Lardner;) between 3 and 4 p. M., (Jones.) But this is too early.

4 So Lardner.

It was probably early in the evening that the two reached Jerusalem on their return, joy at again beholding their Lord adding wings to their feet. They find the eleven apostles gathered together, and others with them, but the doors were closed for fear of the Jews. As they enter they are greeted by the cry, " The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared unto Simon."l They proceed to tell that He has also appeared to them, but their words are not believed, (Mark xvi. 13.) Why was this? If the disciples believed Peter's word, that He had appeared to him, and thus the fact of His resurrection was established, how easy to believe the report of the two that they also had seen Him. Upon this ground, and because Luke does not mention the fact that the Eleven disbelieved, it is said that the two Evangelists are at variance.3 But the silence of Luke does not disprove Mark's statement. Nor is it difficult to understand why, after having given credit to Peter, they should deny it to the two disciples. It was in the supposed incompatibility of their respective statements. The two reported that He had been with them on their journey and at Emmaus; yet He had also been seen by Peter at Jerusalem. If we now suppose that immediately after He vanished from their sight He appeared to the apostle, into what perplexity would all be cast! Ignorant of the properties of His resurrection body, and its power of sudden transition from place to place, they would either deny the reality of the resurrection, and say that they had seen a spirit or ghost; or deny their testimony, and the fact that they had seen Him at all. Probably the former opinion was the more general one; for when the Lord immediately afterward stood in the midst of them, " They were terrified, and thought that they had seen a spirit."

1 Some would make this an interrogation: " Has the Lord risen, and has He appeared to Simon ? " So Townsend; but there is no ground for this. a So Meyer, Alford.

Under what circumstances the Lord appeared to Peter we are not informed : it is probable that it was the same appearance to which Paul alludes, (1 Cor. xv. 5.) The circumstance mentioned by John, (xx. 19,) that the doors were shut when Jesus appeared to the disciples, seems designed to show that He had now entered a new stage of being; and that that, which was a barrier against the intrusion of the Jews, was no barrier against Him. How He entered we cannot say. The doors were shut—they were not seen or heard to open, yet He stood among them. As He had suddenly vanished from the two at Emmaus, so did He now suddenly appear to the apostles at Jerusalem. And these sudden appearances and disappearances seem to have marked all His interviews with His disciples during the forty days. The first work of the Lord, after He saw the terror of the Eleven and their superstitious fears, was to convince them of His true bodily presence. He shows them His hands and His feet, in which they might see the prints of the nails, and even proceeds to eat before them. He afterward, when their minds were tranquillized, and they were fully convinced that He was indeed with them, breathes on them, and gives to them the Holy Ghost, with power to remit and retain sins. Into the special significance of this gift, or its relations to the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost, our purpose does not lead us to enter. He also opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures.

Some would refer the statement of Mark (xvi. 14) not to His first, but to His second appearance to the Eleven. It is said that neither Luke nor John in their accounts of the first interview intimates that He upbraided their unbelief. It was their continued incredulity that brought down upon them His reproof. But it does not appear that any of the apostles except Thomas, who was not present at His first appearance, did disbelieve after they had actually seen Him; and He may have used language of reproof, although it is not specially reported by Luke or John. Indeed, His words and acts during that interview necessarily imply reproof. *

1 Clericus refers to this occasion all of Mark xvi. 14-18 ; Luke xxiv. 3649. Bucher would place this meeting after the return from Galilee, and just before the ascension : Mark xvi. 14—19; Luke xxiv. 44-53; Acts i. 4-13.