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#2.3 JESUS' FIRST APPEARANCES TO HIS DISCIPLES AFTER HE WAS RAISED UP

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Greek Word Study on 4521 σάββατον sabbaton Sabbath.
Hebrew Word Study on 7676 שַׁבָּת shabbat Sabbath.
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Introduction 2.3

I have met a number of people who have agreed with me that Jesus didn't die on a Friday, but most of them still believe that Jesus rose on a Sunday. This next section is therefore crucial, and I encourage every one who reads it to follow the arguments very prayerfully, because only the Holy Spirit can reveal the truth of it to you. This bible study shows when Jesus first appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead, and proves that he did not rise on Sunday.

#2.31 Mary Magdalene went to the tomb on the Sunday morning according to John

JOHN 20:1 (KJV)
1 The first day of the week1 comes Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, to the sepulchre, and sees the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

JOHN 20:1 (RPT)
1 And on one day from the Sabbath1, Mary Magdalene comes early to the tomb, it being still dark, and sees the stone removed away from the tomb.

Note: The words translated the first day of the week1 (KJV) and one day from the sabbath1 (RPT) (John 20:1, 20:19) are the Greek words τῇ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων (Gtr.te mia ton sabbaton), and the issue of when Jesus rose from the dead depends very much on the interpretation of this phrase in the Greek. If you would like to see an intensive analysis of this phrase see our study on it. This scripture shows that Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark.

#2.32 The women disciples came to the tomb on the Sunday morning according to Luke

LUKE 23:56-24:3 (KJV)
56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment.
1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.

LUKE 23:56-24:1 (RPTG)
56 And having returned, they prepared spices and ointments, and on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.
1 But on one day from the Sabbath, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

Note: This scripture also shows that these women came to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus very early on the Sunday morning.

#2.33 The women disciples came to the tomb on the Sunday morning according to Mark

MARK 16:1-2 (KJV)
1 And when the sabbath1 was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week2, they came to the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

MARK 16:1-2 (RPT)
1 And having come through the sabbath1, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, that when they had come they might anoint him.
2 And very early in the morning during one night from the sabbath2, they come to the tomb as the sun was rising.

Note: The word translated the sabbath1 (Gr. σαββάτου, Gtr. sabbatou) is the genitive, singular of the word "sabbaton", which means "Sabbath". It is so translated in other places in the New Testament (Matthew 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5; 13:14; 13:16; 14:5; John 19:31; Acts 1:12), and everywhere in the text of the Septuagint. Here, it refers to that Sabbath of the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, as it also does in John 19:31 where it is not translated in the KJV. That translated the first day of the week2 (KJV), and during one night from the sabbath2 (RPT), are the Greek words τῆς μιᾶς σαββάτων (Gtr. tes mias sabbaton), which literally read "during one of the Sabbaths". The words "tes mias" are in the genitive case, which deals with "time during which" (H.P.V. Nunn p43, J.W. Wenham p64, Ward Powers p108), and literally means "during one day (or night) of", or "during one day (or night) from", or "during one day (or night) after". More specifically we know that the time was "about sunrise" (v2), but just before sunrise as it was still dark (John 20:1), so this would be about 6 a.m. This section just confirms what we have seen with the previous two sections, that the women came to the tomb at the dawn of Sunday morning.

#2.34 The two Marys came to the tomb on the Sunday morning according to Matthew

MATTHEW 28:1 (KJV)
1 In the end1 of the sabbath2, as it began to dawn toward the first3 day of the week2, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

MATTHEW 28:1 (RPT)
1 But after1 the Sabbath2, as it began to dawn into one3 day from the sabbath2, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.

Note 1: The word translated In the end1 (KJV), and after1 (RPTG) (Gr. ὀψὲ, Gtr. opse) is an adverb that has a basic meaning of "late", and occurs in only two other places in the New Testament. It is translated "evening" (Mark 11:19), and "in the evening" (Mark 13:35). It occurs four times in the Septuagint, where it has a similar meaning (Genesis 24:11; Exodus 30:8; Isaiah 5:11; Jeremiah 2:23). In these cases it means "late in the day" or "at evening". However, some scholars say that ὀψὲ can mean "after":

Walter Bauer A GREEK-ENGLISH LEXICON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT and Other Early Christian Literature p601 ὀψὲ.
3. used as an improper preposition with genitive, after ὀψὲ σαββάτων after the sabbath Matthew 28:1.

Joseph Thayer THAYER'S GREEK-ENGLISH LEXICON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT p471 ὀψὲ.
b. with a genitive [W. §54, 6], ὀψὲ σαββάτων, the sabbath having just passed, after the sabbath, i.e. at the early dawn of the first day of the week - (an interpretation absolutely demanded by the added specification τῇ ἐπιφωσκούσῃ κτλ.)

It obviously cannot mean "evening" here, because that would be near sunset, and the context here clearly shows that the time was daybreak, "at the rising of the sun" (Mark 16:2 KJV). If ὀψὲ does mean "after" in this scripture, then it refers to either the feast day Sabbath that had passed a few days before, or the weekly Sabbath of that week which had just passed. There is another alternative if we insist on ὀψὲ meaning "late", and that is that there are words missing from this text, which may not have confused the readers in those days, but it does make it more difficult for us to understand. If instead of ὀψὲ qualifying the missing word "day" at this place, it is the word "night" that has been omitted, then it could read, "But late the night from (or after) the Sabbath," (RPTG). This would then make very good sense with the rest of the verse.

(Matthew 28:1 RPTG) "But late the night after the Sabbath, at the dawning into one day after the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb."

It would also mean that the word ὀψὲ is now used with consistent meaning throughout Old and New Testaments, and so this is a good alternative interpretation.

Note 2: The word translated of the sabbath2, of the week2 (KJV), and twice sabbath2 (RPT) is the same Greek word σαββάτων (Gtr. sabbatōn) in each case. The word translated first3 (KJV), and one3 (RPT), is the Greek word μίαν (Gtr. mian), which is the accusative singular of the word μία (Gtr mia). The conclusion to be drawn from all of these scriptures is that the women came to the tomb at early dawn (just before 6 a.m.) on the Sunday morning of that week. The night after the Sabbath was coming to an end, and the day after the Sabbath was just about to start (Matthew 28:1). Jesus was already risen from the dead at this time (See #2.26).

#2.35 Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene on Sunday Morning

MARK 16:9 (KJV)
9 Now when Jesus was risen1 early the first day2 of the week3, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
10 And she went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept.
11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.

MARK 16:9 (RPT)
9 And having risen1, early the first day2 after the sabbath3 he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven demons.

Note 1: The word translated having risen1 (Gr. ἀναστὰς, Gtr. anastas) is the nominative, singular, masculine, second aorist, active participle of the verb ἀνίστημι, (Gtr. anistemi), "I raise up". The timing of the aorist participle is almost invariably prior to the main verb (here "appeared"), especially when it appears before the verb, and is used in a temporal sense. This shows what is obvious from the context, that Jesus rose from the dead before he appeared. Being masculine, "anastas" refers to Jesus rising from the dead, and not to Mary Magdalene rising from sleep. That translated the first day2 (KJV)(RPT) (Gr. πρώτῃ, Gtr. prōte) is the dative, feminine, of the adjective "prōtos". It means "first" whenever it applies to more than one thing numerically, which is by far the most common use, and that is what it means here. The word translated of the week3 (KJV) and after the sabbath3 (RPT)(Gr. σαββάτου, Gtr. sabbatou) is the genitive, singular of the word "sabbaton", which means "Sabbath". It is translated "week" (Mark 16:9) and in one other place in the KJV (Luke 18:12). This verse makes it clear that this was Jesus first appearance to anybody after his resurrection, and when Mary Magdalene told it to the disciples they did not believe her. Someone may ask, "Why have you changed the punctuation at the beginning of the verse and changed the meaning?" The answer is this. The original manuscripts were inspired by God, but were written with no spaces between the words, all capital letters, and no punctuation. The Greek texts that we have now have been punctuated by man who were not inspired by God. Although they generally did a good job there is always room for error when a writer has to make judgements according to what he believes. The vast majority of them probably believed in a Sunday resurrection as this has been traditionally handed down for centuries, and so they would punctuate the text that way. That doesn't make it right.

Note 2: We can show plainly from scripture that Jesus could not have risen on Sunday morning. Let us suppose that he rose sometime between midnight and 6 a.m. on Sunday, and then ask the question, "On what day did he die?" If we say Thursday, then as we have already shown that he must have been buried after 5 p.m. on that day (See #2.26), we can reason as follows. He was buried for at least 72 hours, (Matthew 12:40) and raised after three days (Matthew 27:63, Mark 8:31), which would bring us to at least 5 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, so he could not have died on Thursday and raised on Sunday morning. If we say then that he died on Wednesday, we can reason like this. Thursday was the first day, Friday was the second day, and Saturday was the third day, and many scriptures show that Jesus rose on the third day (Luke 24:7; Acts 10:40;  1 Corinthians 15:4). Therefore he could not have died on Wednesday and rose again on Sunday morning. The timing is wrong. For all scriptures to fit he had to rise late afternoon, and in this case the weekly Sabbath afternoon just before sunset. To say that Jesus rose on Sunday morning is always contradicting some scriptures.

#2.36 Jesus appeared to two disciples on the Emmaus road on Sunday according to Luke

LUKE 24:1 (RPT)
1 But on one day from the Sabbath2, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

LUKE 24:13-15 (Disciples on the way to Emmaus)
13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.

Note: If we wish to know when this happened, we only have to look at the words "that same day" (v13), to know that it was later on the same Sunday that the women went to the tomb, and found he had been raised (Luke 24:1). It was after Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, because the scripture shows that his first appearance was to her (Mark 19:9), and was in fact later in the day (Luke 24:22-24), "towards evening" (Luke 24:29), so probably it was late afternoon.

#2.37 Jesus appeared to his other disciples on the Sunday evening according to John

JOHN 20:19 (KJV)
19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be to you.

JOHN 20:19 (RPT)
19 Then it being evening on that day, one day from the Sabbath, and the doors being shut where the disciples had assembled themselves together because of the fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and says to them, Peace to you.

Note 1: This scripture has been used by some to prove that after the death of Jesus, the apostles, who were the New Testament church, began to gather together on a Sunday, "the first day of the week" (John 20:19), but why would they do that?

Did they get it out of their bible? No, their bible was our Old Testament, and everywhere that commanded the Sabbath day to be observed. There was no command there to change to Sunday.

Did Jesus tell them to do it? No, Jesus told them to "keep the commandments" (Matthew 19:17), referring to the ten commandments, and also told them to teach others not to break them (Matthew 5:19). He never commanded to change to Sunday.

Were they then inspired by the Holy Spirit as people such as Thomas Watson believed (See Intro 2)? No, because it would mean that the Holy Spirit inspired them to do things totally contrary to scripture, and their scripture, our Old Testament, told them to keep the Sabbath day.
It would also mean that the Holy Spirit told them to do something contrary to the instructions of Jesus, and Jesus said, "he shall receive of mine, and shall show it to you." (John 16:14). He also said that the Holy Spirit would, "bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you." (John 14:26), and Jesus told them, "keep the commandments." (Matthew 19:17).
Jesus also said, "when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:" (John 16:13), which meant that he would guide them to the ten commandments, as it is written, "all your commandments are truth." (Psalm 119:151).
Also at that time they had not received the Holy Spirit, they were not filled with the Spirit until the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4), so the idea that the Holy Spirit inspired them to change the day is not scriptural.

Were they then supposedly beginning to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus when they first did it? This cannot be right, because the women believers went to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus early on that day, expecting him still to be dead (Matthew 28:1-6;  Luke 24:1-7;  John 20:1). If they had believed he had risen they would not have done that. When they discovered that he had risen, they went to tell the disciples, who did not believe them, (Mark 16:8; Luke 24:10-11; John 20:2), because they did not know the scripture that he would rise from the dead (John 20:9). Some of them went to the tomb to check (Luke 24:12; John 20:3-10), after which Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9; John 20:14-18), and other women (Matthew 28:9-10). Even when the women reported that they had seen Jesus, the disciples still did not believe them (Mark 16:11; John 20:18). Jesus then appeared to two disciples on the Emmaus road (Luke 24:13-31), who though at first did not believe, after they understood, they went back to report to the apostles (Luke 24:33), but the apostles did not believe them either (Mark 16:12-13). At this point Jesus appeared to them (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-23), and rebuked them for not believing those who had seen him (Mark 16:14), but even then they thought they were seeing a spirit (Luke 24:37). Even after this, because he was not there at that time, Thomas still did not believe (John 20:24-25) until he saw Jesus for himself (John 20:28). So we can dispense with any idea that they had begun to gather together on the first day of the week to commemorate Jesus' resurrection; not one of them believed in his resurrection at that time.

What was the spiritual state of the Apostles at that time? Peter had denied Jesus three times (Mark 14:66-72), saw him suffer and die, and did not even have the opportunity to say sorry. The others (except John) deserted him in his hour of need (Mark 14:50), also saw him die, and they had no opportunity to apologise either. They must have been very sad, and as far as they were concerned their ministry had ended, and they had no idea what to do. They were full of fear, hiding away "for fear of the Jews" (John 20:19), and were even terrified when Jesus appeared to them (Luke 24:37). Look at the covenant that they had with God:

(Exodus 31:16-17) "Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.
It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever:"
(Exodus 34:28) "And he wrote upon the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
(Deuteronomy 4:12-13) "And the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire: you heard the voice of the words, but saw no likeness; only you heard a voice.
And he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tablets of stone."

How then can anyone believe that these men were so spiritually confident at that time, that they could change one of the Ten Commandments, totally contrary to what God spoke audibly himself (Exodus 20:1; 20:8; 31:13-14; 31:16; Deuteronomy 5:12; 5:22), and wrote himself (Exodus 31:18; Deuteronomy 9:10), contrary to a "perpetual covenant" that he made with them "for ever", the penalty for breaking which was death (Exodus 31:14-15), and contrary to the words of Jesus (Matthew 19:17)? The idea is absurd. Make no mistake, the apostles were not gathering together here to establish a new day of worship instead of the Sabbath, they were gathered together "for fear of the Jews" (John 20:19). This was his first appearance to his disciples together, and took place after he appeared to the two disciples on the Emmaus road, so probably at the very end of Sunday afternoon, just before 6 p.m.

#2.38 Conclusion on Jesus' first appearances to his disciples after he was raised

We have already concluded that Jesus was buried late on 14th Nisan, that he was buried for at least three days, and rose late on 17th Nisan, probably just before 6 p.m. (See #2.26). This Sunday on which people found that he had been raised must therefore have been 18th Nisan, in which case we can now work out when he died. The 17th Nisan, on which he was raised up, must have been a Saturday, and the 16th would have been Friday. The 15th, which was the Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, was on Thursday, and the 14th, which was the Passover on which Jesus died that year, was on Wednesday. So let us now put together the events of this day when he appeared to his disciples.

(1) The women believers went to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus early on the Sunday morning, about 6 a.m. Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1-3; Luke 24:1; John 20:1
(2) They found the stone rolled away, and spoke to two angels who told those who Jesus had risen. Matthew 28:2-7; Mark 16:4-7; Luke 24:2-8
(3) They went to tell the disciples, who did not believe them. Mark 16:8; Luke 24:9-11; John 20:2
(4) Peter and John ran to the tomb, but did not find the body of Jesus. Luke 24:12; John 20:3-10
(5) Mary Magdalene stayed at the tomb when the others left, and spoke to two angels. John 20:11-13
(6) Then Jesus appeared to Mary. Mark 16:9 John 20:14-18 This was his first appearance after he rose from the dead.
(7) After seeing Jesus, Mary Magdalene must have gone and told the other women first, who then all went together to tell the apostles. (This is speculative, but seems necessary for the next event to be understood.)
(8) As the women went, Jesus met with them and told them to tell the disciples. Matthew 28:9-10
(9) When the women reported to the disciples that Jesus had been seen by them, they did not believe them. Mark 16:11, John 20:18
(10) By this time the guards had entered the city, taken counsel of the elders, and took bribes to say that the disciples had taken the body away. Matthew 28:11-15
(11) During the afternoon, Jesus then appeared to two disciples on the Emmaus road. Mark 16:12; Luke 24:13-31
(12) They went back to report to the apostles. Luke 24:33-35
(13) The apostles did not believe them either. Mark 16:13
(14) At this point Jesus appeared to the apostles. Luke 24:36-43 John 20:19-23
(15) He rebuked them for not believing those who had seen him. Mark 16:14
(16) Thomas was not with them on that day. John 20:24

These seem to have been the order of the events that occurred on the first day that Jesus appeared to his disciples.

Considering all this evidence, the conclusion is that Jesus did not die on a Friday, nor did he rise on a Sunday. Although his first appearance to his disciples was on a Sunday, he had already been raised up the afternoon before. The phrase "the first day of the week" in the New Testament, in almost every bible, is a paraphrase of the Greek which refers to the day after the weekly Sabbath day. There is therefore, no case anywhere in scripture for substituting Sunday for the Sabbath day on the basis of Jesus' resurrection, or for forsaking the Sabbath commandment.

See a Diagrammatic representation of Jesus' Death, Burial, Resurrection, and first appearances.

Death, Burial, and Resurrection bible quiz  Green tick

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