Mat 28:1 And in the end of the sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalen and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre.
“And in the end of the Sabbath, when it began to dawn,” &c. Commentators labour under some difficulty in reconciling the apparent discrepancy between St. Matthew’s own assertions here, viz., 1st., that the event took place “in the end of the Sabbath,” which was evening, as the words are rendered here by the Vulgate interpreter, “Vespere autem Salbbati;” and, 2ndly, that it occurred, “when it began to dawn,” early in the morning; and also between St. Matthew and the three other Evangelists, who expressly say, it occurred “very early in the morning, the sun being now risen” (Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1); “on the first day of the week, it being yet dark” (John 20:1). These apparent difficulties and contradictions will disappear by recurring to the original, in which the words rendered by the Vulgate, “Vespere Sabbati,” “in the end of the Sabbath” (οψὲ δὲ σαββὰτων), literally and strictly mean, late, or long, after the Sabbath days, or week had terminated. “When”—the entire night having intervened—“it began to dawn towards the first day of the week,” that is, when the early dawn of the day, which was the first of the week, began. The Greek is, εις μιαν των σαββατων, unto ONE (or, first) of the Sabbaths. The cardinal one is put, by Hebrew usage, for the ordinal, first. “Sabbaths,” in the plural, merely designates the week, or seven days of the week. Called Sabbath, according to Hebrew usage, in honour of the great day of rest, “jejuno bis in Sabbato,” says the Pharisee in the Gospel. The days were called first, second, &c., of the Sabbath, according to the order they held in reference to the Sabbath-day.
Then, the event here referred to, occurred long after the Sabbath had ended (οψε τῶν σαββατῶν). For, an entire night had intervened (note: according to Jewish reckoning days ran from sunset to sunset; thus the Sabbath began sunset Friday and ended sunset Saturday). The Evangelist next specifies at what precise hour it occurred, viz., at that time of the morning following the Sabbath, when it began to dawn, towards the first of the Sabbath-days (εις μιαν των σαββατῶν). This explanation fully removes any apparent discrepancy between St. Matthew’s own assertions, as referred to above; and also between him and the other Evangelists. The only point to be still cleared up is, how the words of St. Mark, “the sun be now risen,” can be reconciled with the words of the others, who say, “it was only beginning to dawn; that it was very early;” and St. John says, “it was yet dark.” Without recurring to the hypothesis, that there is question of different visits, or of different persons, in the words of the Evangelists—an hypothesis which is now generally rejected, as it is universally, held that there is but question of the same visit and the same persons in the narrative of the four Evangelists—the words are commonly reconciled in this way. The other Evangelists speak of the time the pious women left home for the sepulchre, which was before the sun had risen, darkness being still over the earth; whereas, St. Mark speaks of the time they had actually arrived, the sun having risen above the horizon, in the interval between their leaving home and their arrival at the monument. And while the words of the other Evangelists convey to us an idea of the anxious care and pious sedulity of the holy women who left home in the darkness, immediately preceding day, the words of St. Mark clearly express what we should naturally expect, viz., that these pious women would hardly have ventured to come to the monument before daybreak. Others, with St. Augustine, who give the Greek aorist for “risen,” a present signification, say, the words of St. Mark mean, “sole oriente,” when the sun was rising, and the shades of darkness were still brooding over the earth. Any further apparent difference observable in the narrative of the Evangelists may be accounted for, if we bear in mind that no one of them describes all the circumstances of the resurrection. One describes circumstances omitted by the other. “Vespere Sabbati,” is taken for the entire night succeeding the Sabbath. Vespere is sometimes used in this sense, in Scripture, “evening and morning was one day.” Should the Greek word, οψε, rendered vespere, be taken for night; then, the words, “when it began to dawn.” &c., show at what particular time of the night the occurrence in question took place, viz., at its close, when morning was breaking upon them.
“Came Mary Magdalen”—referred to (27:61)—“and the other Mary,” viz., Mary of Cleophas, the mother of James and Joseph (Mark 15:40–47). Although there were other women with them (Luke 23:55); still, these are specially mentioned, as being the leaders, distinguished beyond the rest, for their pious sedulity and the manifestation of ardent and intense love for our Blessed Redeemer. St. Mark (16:1), mentions, “Mary, the mother of James and Salome.” St. Luke adds, “Joanna” (24:10), “and the other women that were with them.” This Joanna, he tells us elsewhere (8:3), was the wife of Chusa, Herod’s steward.
These pious women “came to see the sepulchre,” with the ulterior object of embalming the body with the spices they had previously purchased (Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1). These spices they purchased on the evening of Friday, before the Sabbath commenced, and in the meantime they rested (Luke 23:56). St. Mark (16:1), insinuates, that it was on the evening after the Sabbath, they bought these spices. Hence, some interpreters say, that St. Luke describes this buying of the spices, by anticipation; while others say, both accounts are literally true. They bought some on Friday evening; and finding the quantity insufficient, they purchased more after the Sabbath was over, on Saturday evening. Most likely, these women were ignorant of the precaution taken by the Chief Priests, in placing a guard of soldiers, and sealing the mouth of the holy sepulchre, having returned home on Friday evening, before these occurrences took place. Had the Blessed Virgin been with them, she, surely, would have been mentioned. Her faith and her knowledge of His approaching resurrection, prevented her from taking any part in this pious preparation for embalming Him, as she knew it to be quite useless.
It is not mentioned at what precise hour our Redeemer had arisen, nor can we know for certain, as St. Jerome informs us. It occurred some time before the holy women had arrived, early in the morning. Some holy Fathers (Cyril of Alexandria, &c.), say, it was the hour before midnight. Others, early in the morning. Hence, St. Mark says (16:9), He arose “early the first day of the week,” before the sun rose. His resurrection, or rather His glorious Nativity in His resurrection, is referred to no less than His first birth of the Virgin, in the words of the Royal Psalmist, “ex utero ante luciferum genui te.” For, St. Paul tells us (Acts 13:33), that in His resurrection are verified the words “Filius meus es tu, ego hodie genui te.” St. Augustine (apud Prosperum senten. 203), observes, that He was born at midnight; died at noon; rose at morning; and ascended at mid-day.
Mat 28:2 And behold there was a great earthquake. For an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and coming rolled back the stone and sat upon it.
“And behold there was a great earthquake.” “Behold,” conveys that this earthquake occurred immediately in connexion with the approach of the women, on their way, just before arriving at the sepulchre. Hence, it was different from that which occurred at His death. As an earthquake occurred at Christ’s death, so did it also at His resurrection, and that “a great” one. It was not for the purpose of displacing the stone from the mouth of the sepulchre and opening it for our Redeemer to come forth, that the earthquake occurred. For, as the holy Fathers tell us, our Redeemer came forth in virtue of the glorious gift of subtilty, without displacing the stone, or, breaking the seal, or causing any separation of their component parts, just as He came forth from His mother’s womb, or entered the chamber where His Apostles were assembled, after His resurrection, the door being shut. Moreover, we know when the earthquake occurred; but no one could say when precisely the resurrection took place, although it is quite certain, it took place before the earthquake in question. But, it took place for the purpose of displaying the majesty of God, in the person of His Angels. For, in SS. Scriptures, an earthquake denotes the presence and power of God (Psa. 68:8, 9; 99; 104:7)—and here the power of Christ, who, having broken the gates of death and taken away the spoils of hell, arose powerfully, thus giving an idea of the commotion which the preaching of His resurrection would cause throughout the earth; also, for the purpose of rousing the guards to a full consciousness of the presence of the Angels, and the event of the resurrection.
“For an Angel of the Lord descended from heaven.” Here is assigned the cause of the earthquake. It was caused by the descent and power of the Angel.
“And coming, rolled back the stone.” The Greek reading is: For, the Angel of the Lord having descended (καταβας), from heaven, and having come (προσελθων), rolled, &c. These words show by whose agency the stone was rolled back. The Angel had thus shown to the women, that the sepulchre was empty, Christ having already risen.
“And sat upon it.” This he did, in order to show that it was he rolled it back, and also, that he was the guard of his Lord’s sepulehre, as St. Jerome expresses it. For, some persons might introduce another body, and endeavour to show that our Lord had not risen. Most likely, there is question of the same Angel referred to by St. Mark (16:5), whom, he tells us, the women saw, “on entering the sepulchre.” How to reconcile this with St. Matthew’s account, who insinuates that it was outside the sepulchre he sat on the stone (see next verse).
Mat 28:3 And his countenance was as lightning and his raiment as snow.
“And his countenance was as lightning,” &c. Besides wishing to show His heavenly origin, and the glory of the resurrection of the Divine Master whom they served, the Angels had also exhibited themselves in this brilliant, glorious form, with the view principally, of terrifying the guards, and deterring them from throwing any obstacle in the way of the pious women. And that this consequence resulted, appears from the following verse.
Commentators are somewhat perplexed in endeavouring to reconcile the apparently conflicting statements made by the four Evangelists with reference to the number, position, and apparition of the Angels on this occasion.
(a). Matthew and Mark speak of only one Angel; Luke and John, of two. The answer commonly given is, that two Angels appeared on the occasion. But, as Matthew and Mark had chiefly in view, to mention what the Angels said to the women, and as only one of them, most likely, addressed them; hence, they make no mention of the second. While, on the other hand, Luke and John, having chiefly in view, to show that the resurrection of our Lord was proved by the apparition of the Angels, speak of the two witnesses—the number required in every case of proof. Two are also mentioned at His ascension, as witnesses, that He was to return in the same manner from heaven. Or, it may be said, that the women saw one Angel, at one time; and two, at another; one, outside, sitting on the stone, who terrified the guards; and on coming nearer, and looking in, they saw two Angels, when the one that was on the right said, “Why seek you Him that is living,” &c.
(b). Matthew insinuates that the Angel sat on the stone outside the monument. For, it was rolled back from the mouth of the monument, and thus outside it; while St. Mark, who speaks of only one, and St. John, who speaks of two Angels, say it was inside the tomb the holy women saw them. The most probable answer is, that when St. Mark speaks of their “entering into the sepulchre” (16:5), he speaks of their preparing to enter. They saw the Angel inside the monument, inasmuch as the stone was placed within the enclosure which divided the monument from the rest of the garden.
(c). Matthew and Mark say, he sat; Luke, that he was standing. But, the word, standing, in Scriptural usage, indicates more the presence than the position of an object, “de his stantibus, non gustabunt mortem,” that is, who are present. Also Luke (7:37, 38; 18:11); John (1:26), or they might have sat at one time; and stood at another.
(d). St. John speaks of Magdalen only, as having seen the Angels (20:12). The other Evangelists speak of others besides, having seen them. But, this was owing to the fact, that the Evangelists omitted severally to mention all the circumstances of the resurrection. There is no contradiction between the Evangelists, one of whom mentions one circumstance which was merely omitted, but not denied, by the other. One Evangelist speaks of Mary Magdalen only, as the principal among those that came, but does not deny that others also came. In like manner, when St. John (20:2), says, she came to Peter and John, he does not contradict St. Luke, who says (24:10), that she and others announced the resurrection to the eleven. St. John does not deny this. For, as she did not come alone, although St. John makes express mention of her only, being the principal among the women that came, most remarkable for her ardent love and anxiety for our Lord; so, in like manner, she did not go to the two Apostles only, although they alone are mentioned by St. John; because, it was to those principally among the eleven, Magdalen spoke, as being the Apostles who most ardently loved our Lord. There is no contradiction between two writers, one of whom says less, the other more, by supplementing the former. The apparent contradiction between St. Luke (24:9), who says, they told the eleven the things they saw and heard; and St. John, who says, Magdalen said, in doubt, “they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him,” which doubt could hardly be consistent with the vision and words of the Angels, may be thus explained: The women, even after the vision of the Angels, could hardly be induced to believe firmly in our Lord’s resurrection, and therefore, while announcing the vision and words of the Angels, they also expressed their doubts and fears; and as St. John said nothing of the account given to the eleven, respecting the Angels, he supplies what the other Evangelists omit, regarding the expression of her doubts and fears. It is observed, regarding the Evangelists, in the several narratives, that each so continues and connects his own account, as if none of the particular circumstances supplied by the others were omitted. That St. Luke makes mention of the same announcement made to the Apostles, recorded by St. John, appears plain, from the words (24:24), “And some of our people went to the sepulchre,” &c. Hence, more than Peter (verse 12) went, as St. John declares (20:3).
(e). Magdalen, according to St. John (20:2), announces the removal of the stone, and says nothing of the Angels. But, it can be answered in a general way, that each Evangelist does not relate all the circumstances. It may be also said, in a special way, that, as the three other Evangelists agree in stating that Mary Magdalen and the women saw the Angels at their first approach, we must take their united and uniform testimony as clearly proving the fact. Then, most likely, St. John, out of anxiety to prove the resurrection, from his own testimony, and that of St. Peter, who went with him to the tomb, passes over the occurrences prior to this, relating to the vision of the Angels, and thus inverts the order in which things occurred. He mentions the apparition of the Angels, in the second place (20:12).—Maldonatus.
St. Luke says (24:9), the women mentioned to the eleven all that occurred. But, this might apply to the other Apostles, after Peter and John left for the sepulchre.
Mat 28:4 And for fear of him, the guards were struck with terror and became as dead men.
“And for fear of Him the guards were struck with terror.” Not a fear of human punishment, which the absence of our Lord’s body might entail; but, a sudden panic, with which they were preternaturally struck at the presence of the Angel—a fear, lest lightning from heaven might consume them; or, the earth swallow them.
“And became like dead men.” owing to the paleness of their countenances, and the stupor which seized on them, not, however to the extent of rendering them perfectly senseless; for, God had providentially so arranged, that they were capable of giving testimony in proof of our Lord’s resurrection (v. 11).
Mat 28:5 And the angel answering, said to the women: Fear not you: for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.
“Answering,” by a Hebrew usage, signifies, commencing to speak. “Said to the women,” Magdalen among the rest; for, she was present, though this is denied by some. “Fear not you,” as if to say: Let the guards and enemies of our Lord fear, who put Him to a cruel death, and endeavour still to impede the glory of His resurrection. As for you, who have come on an errand of charity and devout affection, there is no ground for fear, but rather for joy. “For I know that you seek Jesus, who was crucified.” I am fully aware of your object in coming here; you are engaged in the service of Him of whom I am but the minister. “Crucified,” to convey, that from the Cross of Christ have flown all blessings, salvation to men, glory to God, and perseverance to the Angels St. Mark adds, “Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified” (16:6).
Mat 28:6 He is not here. For he is risen, as he said. Come, and see the place where the Lord was laid.
“He is not here”—not, that He is taken away; but, rather by His own omnipotent power—“He is risen, as He said.” He has fully verified His promise of rising on the third day, and thus furnished the most undoubted grounds for your faith, so that if you believe not me, believe His own sacred words, whom you have followed as a great Prophet, incapable of deceiving or telling you a lie. “Come,” have a proof of it yourselves, enter the monument, “and see the place where the Lord was laid,” the common Lord of all, Angels and men; no other than the everlasting God Himself.
St. Luke quotes different words, as spoken by the Angels: “Why seek you the living among the dead?” (24:5). St. John: “Woman, why weepest thou?” (20:13). All the words recorded by the Evangelists were spoken by the Angels. First, the women, on approaching and seeing the stone removed, began to weep—Magdalen alone is said to have wept. “Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping” (John 20:11). But although the others also wept; still, she alone is mentioned as being the chief among them. Next, entering the sepulchre, the Angels said to them, “Why weep ye?” Then, Magdalen answering on behalf of all, said, “Because they have taken away my Lord,” &c. (20:13). Then, the Angel speaking for himself and the other Angel, said, “Be not affrighted; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified” (Mark 16:6). “Why seek you the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5), as if rebuking them for their want of faith. “He is risen; He is not here;” and then he ordered them to announce the joyous tidings to the disciples (as in following verse).
Mat 28:7 And going quickly, tell ye his disciples that he is risen. And behold he will go before you into Galilee. There you shall see him. Lo, I have foretold it to you.
“Going quickly, tell His disciples”—who are now sorrowing for the death of their Master, the joyous news—“that He is risen.” St. Mark adds (16:7), “and Peter,” to show his singular regard for him who was at all times most ardent in his love for his Master; whom He made the head of His Church, His own vicar on earth. He probably wished to encourage Peter, lest a recollection of his fall might cause him to hesitate about coming with the rest (St. Gregory.)
“And behold He will go before you.” &c. The Greek (προαγει), is in the present tense: “He goeth before you.” But the present tense here has a future signification, He will go. It might also mean, He is resolved, prepared, to go before you; and no matter what haste you may make, He shall be before you, as in virtue of the glorious gift of subtilty, His glorified body would be transported there in an instant. “There you shall see Him.” No doubt, our Blessed Lord had manifested Himself to the women and disciples in Jerusalem and at Emmaus; but He did so in a transient and private way, to confirm their wavering faith. It was only in Galilee where He had most followers, having performed there most of His wonders, and devoted most of His time to preaching, and where His followers would be farthest away from those that would molest them, that He was determined to manifest Himself publicly to His assembled Apostles, and to great numbers at once (1 Cor. 15:6). It was there He conversed familiarly with them for forty days, and “showed Himself alive after His Passion, by many proofs, for forty days appearing to them, and speaking to them of the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). In Judea, where He had been often persecuted, and where His disciples could not well assemble, from fear of the Jews, He did not show Himself in this public manner.
“There you shall see Him.” The women, too, are not excluded from the privilege of seeing Him in Galilee.
“Lo, I have foretold it to you,” as if to say, when it shall have come to pass, you will derive fresh grounds of belief from the fact of My having told you of it beforehand; or, as if he said, I have now discharged my office, by announcing to you, on the part of God, what is to happen. St. Mark has (16:7), “as he told you,” as if the Angel was only quoting our Lord’s own prediction and promise on the subject, in order to gain credit for his words.
Mat 28:8 And they went out quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy, running to tell his disciples.
“With fear,” or rather, awe, produced by the appearance of the Angels at the sepulchre, and the announcement of the resurrection of their Lord, and anxiety lest these things might be spectral appearances, rather than realities. “And great joy,” caused by the joyous tidings they heard. They felt mingled sensations of awe and joy.
“Running to tell His disciples,” viz., “to the eleven, and to all the rest” (Luke 24:9). What they announced to the eleven, St. Matthew does not say, but St. Luke tells us, “they told all these things,” viz., the apparition of the Angels, and the taking away of our Lord’s body (John 20:2).
The apparent discrepancy between the account of what the women announced, as recorded in St. Luke (24), and St. John (20:2), is easily cleared up. The women being timid, and in doubt whether the whole thing was a reality or not, said nothing of it on their way back (Mark 16:8), and when they reached the Apostles, they informed them alternately of what they saw and heard, and of their own doubts and fears on the subject, which made them imagine our Lord’s body was taken away. This latter point, regarding their doubts, is recorded by St. John only (20:2), and omitted by the other Evangelists. The Apostles, too, in the first instance, regarded the women’s account “as an idle tale, and they did not believe them” (Luke 24:11).
Here, we must insert what is described by St. John (20:2–19), in order to fill up the Gospel narrative, and remove the apparent discrepancies in the narratives of the Evangelists. Magdalen and her companions, in obedience to the Angels injunctions, hasten to Jerusalem from the sepulchre, to announce to the Apostles what they saw and heard (Luke 24:9). While doing this, they give expression to their own fears and doubts (John 20:2). (Some expositors hold that at her first visit Magdalen did not wait for the vision of Angels seen by the other women, she at once, on seeing the stone removed, hastened back to tell the Apostles. This opinion is not easily reconciled with Luke 24:9, 10.) Immediately, Peter and John hasten to the sepulchre, followed by Magdalen and her companions. Peter and John enter the sepulchre, and return home, wondering at what they saw. The companions of Magdalen also return, leaving Magdalen behind them, weeping from fear, and a desire to find the body of our Lord. While stooping down and looking into the sepulchre, she saw two Angels, who were exhibiting reverence to our Lord, who was standing behind Magdalen. On looking behind her, to see who it was that the Angels were reverencing, she saw our Lord, and mistook Him for the gardener in charge of the garden where the sepulchre was. But immediately after recognizing Him, from His usual tone of voice, when pronouncing her name, she would lay hold of His feet (verse 9), which in Scripture denotes a species of adoration; but this He would not allow. Magdalen was, then, the first to whom, according to the Gospel History, our Lord showed Himself after His resurrection (Mark 16:9). She merited this favour by her love and affection, owing to which she clung to the sepulchre where His sacred body had been deposited. After this, overtaking the other women on their way (verse 9), she had the privilege of seeing Him a second time, in company with these others. It is supposed by many, as a matter of congruity—although the Gospel makes no mention of it—that He appeared first of all to His Blessed Mother, on the day of His resurrection.
Mat 28:9 And behold, Jesus met them, saying: All hail. But they came up and took hold of his feet and adored him.
“And Jesus met them saying,” &c. This occurred on their second return from the sepulchre, after the Apostles had left, Mary Magdalen remaining alone after them at the tomb. That it could not refer to the first time they ran back in haste to inform the Apostles of what they saw and heard, expressing at the same time their anxious doubts about His sacred body, appears clear from the fact, that from SS. Mark and John, it is certain that our Lord appeared to Magdalen first, early on the morning of His resurrection, and that at the tomb, not on the road. Moreover, the women said nothing of our Lord appearing to them, when first they announced these things to the Apostles (John 20:2; Luke 24:9, &c. 23, 24). It was on their return, after the Apostles had examined the tomb, that this apparition occurred to the women, and to Mary Magdalen, who had overtaken them, after having seen Him already alone at the sepulchre.
Maldonatus, quoting the authority of St. Athanasius, holds, that the apparition referred to is the same as that in Mark (16:9; John 20:16), which was made to Magdalen only; and that Magdalen alone is mentioned by St. Mark as having been first favoured with the apparition of our Lord, not in opposition to the other women, but to the Apostles; or, that she was the first among them who saw Him, and to her alone did He speak; and that she is spoken of alone out of the rest, because she was the most prominent among them for her love and deep affection for Him.
“All hail”—χαιρετε—is a common Hebrew form of salutation, expressive of peace, and embracing all blessings. It means, rejoice at the glad event, which has thrown open the gates of heaven, after the triumph over death and hell, and has reversed the malediction entailed by the first woman. Hence, as death commenced with the female sex, it was congruous, that the message of the resurrection—the triumph over death—should be first announced to the same (St. Hilary).
“They came up,” after recognizing Him, “and took hold of His feet,” out of modesty and reverence; they decline embracing His person. Among the Jews, it was a kind of reverence and adoration, particularly on the part of women towards men, to touch their feet (Exod. 4:25); also the case of the woman of Sunamis (4 Kings 4:27; also Luke 7:38; John 11:32). The women here touch His feet, with the view of adoring Him, which is afterwards explained. “And adored Him.” It is said, that He forbade Magdalen on the occasion of His first apparition (John 20:17) to touch Him. Whether He did so here, and that the women, in the excess of their love, still touched Him, thinking they were doing Him honour, as in the case of the blind men in the Gospel, who proclaimed His goodness, nothwithstanding His prohibition (9:30, 31), is not mentioned by the Evangelist. Neither does St. John say whether Magdalen touched Him or not. St. John tells us, He told Magdalen not to touch Him; whether she actually did so or not, he does not say. St. Matthew tells us here, that the other women actually took hold of His feet; whether they were prohibited from doing so or not, is not mentioned by him.
Mat 28:10 Then Jesus said to them: Fear not. Go, tell my brethren that they go into Galilee. There they shall see me.
Whilst they were engaged in reverently and affectionately adoring their Lord with mingled feelings of awe and affection, “Jesus said to them: Fear not.” The presence of spiritual and supernatural beings is calculated to inspire mortal man with awe and terror. Hence, the awe and fear which the women felt at the presence of their Lord risen from the tomb. Most likely, also, their fears arose from the apprehension, as in the case of the Angels, lest what they saw might be a phantom rather than a reality. Our Redeemer, addressing them, dispels their fears, from whatever cause proceeding, and tells them:
“Go, tell My brethren that they go into Galilee,” &c. By “His brethren,” are meant all His Apostles, including those who were nearly allied to Him by kindred. Our Redeemer is supposed here to allude to the words of the Psalm (21:23), “Narrabo nomen tuum fratribus meis,” quoted by St. Paul (Heb. 2:12). During His mortal life, He called them His disciples and friends; now, risen glorious and immortal from the dead, He designates them by the tender and endearing appellation of “brethren,” to assuage their grief for His death, strengthen their minds, and inspire them with confidence; to show, that, although He is now glorious, still He participates in the same human nature; and also to suggest to them, that while He is the natural Son of God, the first-born among many brethren, they are the adoptive sons of God, heirs of God, and co-heirs of Christ. He transmits the same message, that had been already given by the Angels (verse 7) to confirm the testimony of the Angels, and to show that His words and theirs perfectly agreed.
“There they shall see Me” (verse 7). He manifested Himself to them shortly after this in Jerusalem, but it was only in a passing, transient way: whereas, in Galilee He remained many days, freely conversing with them on all matters pertaining to the future government of His Church, &c.
Our Redeemer manifested Himself several times in Judea. On the day of His resurrection, He showed Himself five different times—1st, to Magdalen (Mark 16:9; John 20:16)—most probably, before all, He appeared to His Virgin Mother; 2nd, to the women (verse 9); 3rd, to Peter (Luke 24:34); 4th, to the disciples going to Emmaus (Luke 24:36); 5th, to the ten assembled disciples, after the return of the two from Emmaus (Luke 24:36), Thomas being absent.
After the day of His resurrection, He appeared five other times before His ascension—1st. After eight days, when Thomas was present (John 20:26). 2nd. When the seven disciples were fishing on the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:2). 3rd. To the eleven on a mountain of Galilee, generally supposed to be Thabor (Matt. 28:16). Most likely, this is the apparition referred to by St. Paul (1 Cor. 15:6), where “He was seen by more than five hundred brethren at once.” The Evangelist only makes mention of the eleven, who saw Him by appointment; he does not, however, say by how many more He was seen, on that occasion. 4th. He appeared to St. James (1 Cor. 15:7); this is not mentioned in the Gospel. 5th. To all the Apostles and others, on Mount Olivet, at His Ascension (Acts 1:9). He appeared to St. Paul afterwards (Acts 9:3; 1 Cor. 9:1; 15:8).