And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)They worshipped him—i.e., fell prostrate at His feet. The act, as has been said, was not new in itself, but it seems certain that our Lord’s manifestations of His Presence after the Resurrection had made the faith of the disciples stronger and clearer (comp. John 20:28), and so the act acquired a new significance.
Some doubted.—It seems hard at first to conceive how those who had been present in the upper chamber at Jerusalem (John 20:19-26) could still feel doubt; but the narrative of John 21:4 throws some light upon it. There was something mysterious and supernatural in the manifestation of the glorified body—outlines, at first indistinct and scarcely recognised, and then the whole form seen as it had been seen in life. The more devoted and loving disciples were probably, here as before, the first to recognise their Lord. Others questioned whether it was a phantom (comp. Notes on Matthew 14:26) or a reality.Matthew 28:17. When they saw him, they worshipped — The greatest part were so fully convinced that the person they saw was their Master, that they worshipped him; but some doubted — But with respect to a few, their joy, on seeing the Lord, put them into a kind of perturbation, and their desire that it might be him. made them afraid it was not. This reason is assigned by Luke for the unbelief of some on a former occasion, Matthew 24:41. They believed not for joy and wonder; and therefore it may fitly be offered to account for the unbelief of others on this. “Besides, the thing is agreeable to nature, men being commonly afraid to believe what they vehemently wish, lest they should indulge themselves in a false joy, which they must soon lose. Hence the saying in Terence, Misera mens incredula est: quo plus cupio, minus credo. ‘My anxious mind is incredulous: the more I wish, the less I believe.’ The case of the disciples, whose desire and joy made them doubt the truth of what they saw, may be illustrated by the instance of the states of Greece and Asia, whose joy and surprise on hearing a Roman herald declare them all free, and at liberty to use their own laws, had a similar effect upon them, as the story is beautifully told by Livy, lib. 33. cap. 35.” The Prussian editors, however, who are followed by some others, render the clause thus, — even those who had doubted. “Probably at this appearance the apostles received orders to return to Jerusalem; for from Acts 1:3-12, compared with Luke 24:50, it is plain that our Lord’s discourses, before his ascension, related Mark 16:15, and Luke 24:44, were delivered in or near to the city. Besides, he ascended from the mount of Olives, as we shall see in the subsequent evangelists. Wherefore, if the orders for the apostles to repair to Jerusalem were not given at this appearance, Jesus must have showed himself again, which indeed is not impossible, as it is evident from 1 Corinthians 15:7 that he showed himself somewhere, after his appearance to the five hundred brethren, to the Apostle James alone, though none of the evangelists have given the least hint of this appearance. Among the apostles there were two persons of that name: one the brother of John, who was killed by Herod, another the brother or cousin of Jesus. Perhaps it was to James the brother of John that our Lord appeared after his resurrection. His being to suffer martyrdom so early, might make this special favour necessary.”
But some doubted - As, for example, Thomas, John 20:25. The disciples had not expected his resurrection; they were therefore slow to believe. The mention of their doubting shows that they were honest men that they were not easily imposed on that they had not previously agreed to affirm that he had risen - that they were convinced only by the strength of the evidence. Their caution in examining the evidence; their slowness to believe; their firm conviction after all their doubts; and their willingness to show their conviction even by their "death," is most conclusive proof that they were "not" deceived in regard to the fact of his resurrection.when he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once, 1 Corinthians 15:6. The text speaks but of eleven that went into Galilee; it is possible more might meet him there, but we have no guidance of Scripture to conclude it. Some
worshipped him; but some doubted: Thomas we know did so, so might others: but some think that it had been better translated, ‘some had doubted’; I understand no sufficient reason for it, for it is not certain that this was after his other appearances mentioned by the other evangelists. Romans 1:4,
but some doubted; or "some of them", as the Syriac and Arabic versions render it; that is, some of the eleven disciples: not that they doubted now that Christ was risen from the dead; since he had appeared several times to them before this, and had given them all the proofs of the truth of his resurrection they could desire; but they, who worshipped him now in Galilee, had doubted before in Jerusalem; not only Thomas, but all of them: they looked upon the words of the women as idle tales; nor did the rest believe the two disciples, with whom Christ travelled to Emmaus: wherefore he upbraids them for their unbelief, Luke 24:11, or else the sense is, that some of them, though they believed Christ was risen from the dead, of which they had had the strongest assurance; yet they doubted whether what they then saw on the mountain was he, or whether it was not a spirit, or a mere phantom; and therefore, as in the next verse, he "came" nearer to them, when they knew him: or else this may be understood of some of the seventy disciples, or of the five hundred brethren, who saw him at this time, and at first had some doubts of his resurrection, but were afterwards fully satisfied.And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 28:17 Ἰδόντες, κ.τ.λ.] According to the account now before us, evidently the first occasion of meeting again since the resurrection, and the first impression produced by it—corresponding to the ὄψεσθε of Matthew 28:7; Matthew 28:10. See, besides, on Matthew 28:10.
οἱ δὲ ἐδίστασαν] It was previously said in a general way that the eleven fell prostrate before Him, though all did not do so: some doubted whether He, whom they saw before them, could really be Jesus. This particular is added by means of οἱ δέ, which, however, is not preceded by a corresponding οἱ μέν before προσεκύνησαν, because this latter applied to the majority, whereas the doubters, who did not prostrate themselves, were only the exception. Had Matthew’s words been: οἱ μὲν προσεκύνησαν, οἱ δὲ ἐδίστασαν, he would thus have represented the eleven as divided into two co-ordinate parts, into as nearly as possible two halves, and so have stated something different from what was intended. This is a case precisely similar to that of the οἱ δὲ ἐῤῥάπισαν of Matthew 26:67, where, in like manner, the preceding ἐκολάφισαν αὐτόν (without οἱ μέν) represents what was done by the majority. “Quibus in locis primum universa res ponitur, deinde partitio nascitur, quae ostendit, priora quoque verba non de universa causa jam accipi posse,” Klotz, ad Devar. p. 358. Comp. Xen. Hell. i. 2. 14 : ᾤχοντο ἐς Δεκέλειαν, οἱ δʼ ἐς Μέγαρα; Cyrop. iv. 5. 46: ὁρᾶτε ἵππους, ὅσοι ἡμῖν πάρεισιν, οἱ δὲ προσάγονται, and the passages in Pflugk, ad Eur. Hec. 1160; Kühner, II. 2, p. 808. According to Fritzsche, a preceding οἱ μὲν οὐκ ἐδίστασαν should be understood. This, however, is purely arbitrary, for the ἐδίστασαν has its appropriate correlative already in the preceding προσεκύνησαν. Again, as matter of course, we must not think of predicating the προσεκύνησαν of the doubters as well, which would be psychologically absurd (only after his doubts were overcome, did Thomas exclaim: ὁ κυριός μου κ. ὁ θεός μου!). Fritzsche (comp. Theophylact, Grotius, and Markland in Eur. Suppl. p. 326) attempts to obviate this objection by understanding ἐδίστασαν in a pluperfect sense (they had doubted before they saw Jesus); an expedient, however, of the same arbitrary nature as before (comp. on John 18:24), and such as no reader of our passage (with προσεκύνησαν before him) would have suspected to be at all necessary. Others, in spite of the plain and explicit statements of Matthew, and in order to free the eleven from the imputation of doubt, have here turned to account the five hundred brethren, 1 Corinthians 15:6 (Calovius, Michaelis, Ebrard, Lange), or the seventy disciples (Kuinoel), and attributed the ἐδίστασαν to certain of these! Others, again, have resorted to conjecture; Beza, for example, thinks that for οἱ δέ we might read οὐδέ; Bornemann, in the Stud. u. Krit. 1843, p. 126 (comp. Schleusner), suggests: οἱ δὲ διέστασαν (some fell prostrate, the others started back from each other with astonishment). The doubting itself on the part of the disciples (comp. Luke 24:31; Luke 24:37; Luke 24:41; John 20:19; John 20:26) is not to be explained by the supposition of an already glorified state of the body (following the Fathers, Olshausen, Glöckler, Krabbe, Kühn, wie ging Chr. durch d. Grabes Thür? 1838; comp. Kinkel’s unscriptural idea of a repeated ascension to heaven, in the Stud. u. Krit. 1841, p. 597 ff.), for after His resurrection Christ still retained His material bodily organism, as the evangelists are at some pains to remind us (Luke 24:39-43; John 20:20; John 20:27; John 21:5; comp. also Acts 1:21 f., Matthew 10:41). At the same time, it is not enough to appeal to the fact that “nothing that was subject to death any longer adhered to the living One” (Hase), but, in accordance with the evangelic accounts of the appearing and sudden vanishing of the risen Lord, and of the whole relation in which He stood to His disciples and His disciples to Him, we must assume some change in the bodily organism and outward aspect of Jesus, a mysterious transformation of His whole person, an intermediate phase of existence between the bodily nature as formerly existing and the glorified state into which He passed at the moment of the ascension,—a phase of existence, however, of which it is impossible for us to form any distinct conception, for this is a case where analogy and experience alike fail us. His body did not retain, as did those of Jairus’ daughter, the young man of Nain, and Lazarus, exactly the same essential nature as belonged to it before death, but still it was not as yet the σῶμα τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ (Php 3:21), though it was certainly immortal, a fact which of itself would necessarily involve the very essential change which came over it; comp. also Bleek.Matthew 28:17. very meagre statement, the whole interest of the evangelist being absorbed by the words spoken by Jesus.—προσεκύνησαν as in Matthew 28:9, but the men less demonstrative than the women; no mention of seizing Jesus by the feet.—οἱ δὲ ἐδίστασαν: but some doubted (cf. Matthew 14:31, in reference to Peter). This clause seems to qualify and limit the previous statement as to the worshipping, giving this sense: they worshipped, i.e., the most of them, for some were in doubt. So Meyer, who cites in support Klotz, Ad Devar, whose statement is to the effect that in passages of this kind containing a clause with δὲ without a μέν preceding, a universal affirmation is first made and then a division follows, which shows that a universal affirmation was not really intended (p. 358). Various methods have been adopted to get rid of the unwelcome conclusion that some of the eleven did not do homage, e.g., by taking ἐδίστασαν as a pluperfect (Fritzsche, Grotius), or by finding the doubters among the 500 mentioned by St. Paul (1 Corinthians 15:6), or even by altering the text οἱ δὲ into οὐδέ (Beza). The whole narrative is so brief and vague as to lend support to the hypothesis that in the appearance of Jesus here recorded we have not one particular occurrence, but a general picture of the Christophanies, in which mingled conflicting feelings of reverent recognition and hesitation as to the identity of the person played their part. Such is the view of Keil, Steinmeyer, and Holtzmann (H. C.).17. worshipped him] See note ch. Matthew 20:20. It is characteristic of St Matthew’s Gospel that this word, which indicates the homage and prostration before a king, should occur twelve times, whereas it is found twice only in each of the other Synoptics.
some] Probably not some of the Apostles, but some of the five hundred who had not previously seen the Lord.
doubted] The same word is used of St Peter’s doubt, ch. Matthew 14:31, and in these passages only in N. T.; there too the doubt is followed by adoration, Matthew 14:33.Matthew 28:17. Οἱ δὲ, others, or, some) sc. of the Twelve. The day of Pentecost, however, removed all doubt from these, if any remained. The slower they were at first to believe, the greater credit is due to them afterwards as witnesses. Leo, in his first sermon on the Ascension, says, “They doubted, in order that we should not doubt.”Verse 17. - They worshipped him. Evidently here they, or the majority of those present (for it is plain that others beside the apostles were there), adored him as God and Lord. This is the first time that this action of supreme worship is mentioned in connection with the disciples, though the women had offered the same homage to him (ver. 9). But some doubted (οἱ δὲ - without οἱ μὲν - ἐδίστασαν). (For the verb, comp. Matthew 14:31.) The doubters could not have been any of the eleven, for they had seen the Lord more than once at Jerusalem, and had had indubitable proofs that he had risen from the dead, and was no mere spirit or spiritual appearance, but possessed of his former body, with new powers, faculties, and laws. Those who for the moment doubted did not hesitate to acknowledge his resurrection, but his identity. They were, perhaps, at a distance. Christ may have appeared surrounded with heavenly glory; at any rate, in a shape, or vesture, or with an aspect with which they were not familiar; hence in this majestic form, they failed to recognize the "despised and rejected of men," the lowly Jesus whom they had known (cf. John 21:4).
As in Matthew 28:9. Prostrated themselves. The first time that the disciples are described as doing so.
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