Did St Luke mention Christ appearing “over 500” from 1 Corinthians?

The day after Easter I wrote about the appearance of Christ to “over 500 at the same time” mentioned by Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians. Who were they? You can read it here. I provided four possible options.

Since then I’ve found a fifth option within Saint Luke’s Gospel. As I explain in my book The Catholic Perspective on Paul, I always try to interpret Saint Paul’s Epistles in light of Luke-Acts and vice versa. I do this because Saint Paul explicitly cites the Gospel of Luke as Sacred Scripture (read about it here).

So this new “fifth option” of finding Christ appear to the 500 within Luke’s Gospel is especially attractive to me, since I believe that Saint Paul received and carried Luke’s written Gospel as his favorite Gospel:

Luke on Christ appearing to more than the Apostles “at one time”:

It is the episode after the apparition of Christ to the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus on the actual afternoon of Christ’s resurrection. First, Christ appears to “the women,” and then to Peter in the morning. Then later, on the road to Emmaus Christ appears to the two, and then once again to a larger group that includes the Apostles who are gathered with an unspecified number of people:

33 And they [the two Emmaus witnesses] rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the Eleven gathered together and those who were with them [Is this the 500? We are not told how many had gathered together with the Apostles on that day, but word had gotten out already since the two on the road had already heard of it – so the followers of Jesus were already talking and likely coming together on Sunday]34 who said [to the two returning from Emmaus], “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” [So Luke records Jesus appearing to Peter here] 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. [Euchastic theology here]

36 As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them [the Apostles, the two from the Road to Emmaus and however many more – is this the 500?], “Peace to you.” 37 But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them. [It doesn’t get more “resurrection of the body” than that.]

This is definitely a resurrection appearance of Christ, but I had never previously noted that the Apostles were not alone. They were with “others.” Could this be the “500 at one time” from 1 Corinthians. I’m now inclined to think so.

Luke’s Timeline for First Week after Resurrection:

I’m also wondering if Luke has telescoped the timeline here. Luke specifically says that the two disciples arrived to Emmaus on the day of the resurrection: “today is the third day since these things happened.”

But then after dark they have invite the Stranger (Jesus) to dine with them and during the dinner the Stranger “breaks bread” and they realize that is is Jesus! By now it’s likely 8pm.

It says that they rose up and returned to Jerusalem. But Jerusalem is 7 miles from Emmaus. If they ran it would take 1-2 hours. If they walked, it would take about 3 hours. By now it’s closer to midnight.

I believe that the two Emmaus disciples actually met up with the Eleven one week later. Why?

Luke says that the “eleven” were together, and that they touched and “handled” Christ. However, John tell us on the day of the Resurrection (first day of Easter), only 10 Apostles were assembled and not all 11 Apostles since Thomas was absent. It was the next Sunday that Thomas was there (all 11 Apostles) and we have the details of touching and handling Jesus Christ. This, I think, is when the 2 Emmaus disciples met with the “eleven.”

For those interested in private revelation, Blessed Anne Katherine Emmerich states that the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus were Cleopas (named in the Gospel) and…Saint Luke.

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The Resurrected Christ appeared to 500: When and Where did this Happen?

Saint Paul mentions an interesting detail: that the resurrected Jesus appeared to 500 people! That’s a big deal. Why isn’t it mentioned in the Gospels (or is it)? We’ll explore this detail in this post:

In 1 Corinthians 15, Saint Paul recites what seems to be a formula or creedal statement about the resurrection of Christ. I’ll bullet point it to make it clear:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received:

  • that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
  • that he was buried,
  • that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
  • and that he appeared to Cephas,
  • then to the Twelve.
  • Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.
  • Then he appeared to James,
  • then to all the Apostles.
  • Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1 Cor 15:3-8)

Here we have the kernel of the Apostles Creed (died, buried, rose on third day) but appended to it six resurrection appearances. Five apparitions and then finally one apparition to Saint Paul himself.

Paul speaks of the resurrected Christ appearing to “more than five hundred” and this event is recorded nowhere in the four Gospels or within St Luke’s Acts of the Apostles. So what is Saint Paul describing?

Christ Appearing to Over 500?

There are 4 opinions on this “500 witnesses event”:

  1. Never Happened: Liberal scholars say that Saint Paul made this up to make it sound like there were plenty of witnesses to the resurrection. It never happened. It’s a lie. The Catholic Christian cannot allow that the Apostle Paul would bear false witness within Divine Scripture.
  2. Galilee Event: Saint Paul refers to the Galilee appearance of the resurrected Jesus Christ as described by Saint Mark: “But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee. There you shall see him, as he told you” (Mark 16:7). The 11 Apostles would have then gathered over 500 believers to join them in Galilee where Jesus appeared to them in His resurrected body.
  3. After the Ascension: Saint John Chrysostom speculates that this event happened after Ascension because the Greek “more than (ἐπάνω) five hundred” could accurately be translated “above five hundred,” as in “above in the sky.”
  4. Pentecost in Jerusalem: Saint Paul is referring to Pentecost. Saint Luke says that 120 Christians (Mary, Apostles, the Seventy, the women, the brethren of Jesus) were gathered for miracle of the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost in Jerusalem. These 120 and the first several converts somehow witnessed an apparition of the resurrected Christ on this day, as well. Or perhaps the manifestation of the “Spirit of Christ” is counted as an apparition of Christ by Paul.

The majority position is (2) that this happened in Galilee when the Apostles went back to Jerusalem to witness Christ there. Here’s why this is the best answer:

  1. The Ten Apostles (without Thomas) saw the resurrected Christ on the evening of the Resurrection Sunday when Christ appeared to them within locked doors and breathed on them.
  2. The Eleven Apostles (now with Thomas) saw the resurrected Christ one Sunday later and allowed Thomas to place his fingers within His wounds.
  3. If the Apostles saw Christ at least twice in Jerusalem, why then would Christ instruct them to go to Galilee to be witnesses there? Presumably so that all of Christ’s followers in Galilee could see Him resurrected there. This would make sense and this is why “more than five hundred” would see Christ resurrected. This “more than 500” would be the nucleus of the 5000 that were fed and of those who had seen His miracles.
  4. When Saint Paul writes: “then to all the Apostles,” at the end of his list, he is likely referring to the Ascension of Christ. So the appearance to 500 likely happened before the Ascension. That rules out (3) Christ appearing after Ascension as suggested by Saint John Chrysostom. Sorry Chrysostom.
  5. It also rules out (4) Christ appearing at Pentecost, because Christ appearing to disciples at Pentecost would have been recorded by Paul’s friend Saint Luke. After all, Saint Luke mentions Christ appearing to Saint Stephen – so why would he omit an apparition of Jesus on Pentecost? So then, it seems safe to say that Christ did not appear on Pentecost.

It could also be that Saint Matthew records the “500 Event” as having occurred in Galilee without mentioning “500”:

“The eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him they worshipped him, but some doubted” (Mt 28:16-17).

Matthew speaks only of the 11 living Apostles but says “some doubted.” Surely the 11 didn’t doubt at this time since it follows the “doubting Thomas” event that happened 13 days after the Resurrection in Jerusalem. So it could be that “some doubted” refers to “some of the 500 doubted.”

Christ is risen!
Dr Taylor Marshall

Question: I’d love to hear others weigh in on this topic. Who were the five hundred and when did it happen? I think it was the Galilee Event but I’m open to other ideas. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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133: Saint Joseph in 9 Points Podcast (Should You Bury His Statue?)

In today’s audio lesson podcast I cover 9 questions on Saint Joseph:

  1. What does the name “Joseph” mean?
  2. Where is he mentioned in the 4 Gospels?
  3. Was Joseph really a “carpenter” or something more?
  4. What languages would he have spoken? Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin?
  5. Was Joseph young or old when he married Mary?
  6. Was he truly married to Mary even those it was a Josephite marriage?
  7. Did Joseph ever commit sins?
  8. Why are there no relics of Joseph?
  9. Should you bury his statue to sell your home?

Listen to this brief podcast as I tackle each of these questions:

Or download the mp3 directly by clicking here.

 

132: St Patrick in 9 Bullet Points and the “Two Patrick Theory” [Podcast]

Who was the historical Saint Patrick? In this 8 minute podcast, I give you an overview of his person, theology, and tradition based primarily on his own autobiography: St Patrick’s Confessio. Click on the triangle player below to get started:

PARENTAL WARNING: I discuss a strange episode in Patrick’s life where sailors ask him to “suck their breasts” and explain what that meant in ancient Ireland (Hint: it symbolized as oath of coming under another person’s protection.)

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  • POPULARITY: 1,448,642 downloads on iTunes as of today.
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130: How do we get to Heaven? Wrong Answers for Catholics [Podcast]

I recently asked my children in evening devotions: “How do we get to Heaven?”

Their answer was “Going to confession.” I didn’t really like this answer…

While confession is a necessary sacrament for human salvation, I didn’t like their answer for a few reasons. It has do with highlighting the source of salvation (Christ) and the instrumentality of salvation (His sacraments).

In this podcast I explain the situation and why there’s a better answer to “How do we get to Heaven?”

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If you find this podcast episode helpful, please share this podcast on Facebook.

I’d love to read your feedback: While you listen to today’s podcast, would you please take 30 seconds to write a review? Please click here to Rate this Podcast!

Please Share Your Feedback:

  • POPULARITY: 1,448,642 downloads on iTunes as of today.
  • SHOUT OUTS: A huge “shout out” to all 520 (!) of you who wrote amazing 5-star reviews at iTunes. Please rate this podcast by clicking here. From there you can leave a review. I appreciate you for this! Thank you!

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The Name of Jesus Adds up to 888 (against the 666)

Here’s a short 3 minute video I recorded answer a question about the number 8 as the eternal numeral in Natural Law, Old Law, and the New Law and how the Holy Name of Jesus adds up to 888 – which is contrary the Beasts name adding up to 666. Here’s the short video:

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129: Aquinas Why Fish and No Meat in Lent PLUS the Demonic Incubus and Sucubus! [Podcast]

Join Dr Taylor Marshall this week as he explains why Thomas Aquinas thought animal and bird flesh caused a higher human sexual libido and how it relates to our customs for fasting and abstinence during Lent. Believe it or not, what Saint Thomas says in the 1200s about diet is actually confirmed by testosterone studies in our time.

We also look Eastern Catholic Church Bible translations AND the demonic sexual apparitions of the sucubus (female version) and incubus (male version) attested to by Augustine and Aquinas.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

129: Aquinas Why Fish and No Meat in Lent PLUS the Demonic Incubus and Sucubus! [Podcast]

If the audio player does not show up in your email or browser, please click here to listen.

I’d love to read your feedback: While you listen to today’s podcast, would you please take 30 seconds to write a review? Please click here to Rate this Podcast!

Please Share Your Feedback:

  • POPULARITY: 1,448,642 downloads on iTunes as of today.
  • SHOUT OUTS: A huge “shout out” to all 520 (!) of you who wrote amazing 5-star reviews at iTunes. Please rate this podcast by clicking here. From there you can leave a review. I appreciate you for this! Thank you!

Subscribe to This Weekly Podcast:

  • Apple/Mac Users: Please subscribe via iTunes by clicking here and then clicking on “View in iTunes.”

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Viking Creation Myth vs. Jewish Creation in Genesis 1-3

I’m reading Viking Norse Cosmology. I got into it while writing Storm of Fire and Blood depicting Saint George in northern Europe, as well as Saint Christopher (and Saint Nicholas) as historical types of an authentic and Christian “Odin.”

The Norse creation myths are interesting and entertaining. Yet they is also ridiculous. Fire and ice converge to make an evil giant. Another giant spring from that giant’s left armpit sweat. His right foot breeding with his left foot and makes another giant.

Odin and the gods chop him up to create planet earth. They pulverize his bones to create sand and extract the giant’s teeth to make mountains and rocky crags.

At this point you realize the profound scientific and philosophical accuracy of Hebrew cosmology in Genesis 1-3 and John 1. 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.

Compare this to the recitation of the Norse Viking creation myth:

Philosophically, the Norse creation myth lacks what the Jewish creation account has: God speaking and creating through His Word (John 1). This makes the universe into a rational construct. It isn’t the recycling of a giant’s mutilated body. It is the result of the spoken word. A word goes forth from God and “bang” there is space and time.

It is remarkable how well our scientific knowledge about the expanding universe maps on to the account in Genesis. Even the progressive creation of the vegetable and animal species lacks the fantastical accounts.

The Norse myths are fun but I don’t see how a modern man could honestly assent to them – even in an extremely allegorical way. Meanwhile the account in Genesis, with man formed from the earth, is quite on point.

Godspeed,

Dr Taylor Marshall

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Saint Paul never once mentions the word Hell

I’m writing a commentary on Romans for the New Saint Thomas Institute, and I’ve been going over his passages on salvation and damnation. I’m certainly not the first to notice it, but Paul never once mentions “hell” or “hades” or “gehenna” in his epistles. This is interesting, because our Lord Jesus Christ speaks about hell all the time. Yet Paul does not mention the word once.

Don’t take this too far. Saint Paul speaks plenty of human damnation and believes in punishment in the afterlife. For example:

“But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed…But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” (Rom 2:5, 8)

“If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Gal 1:8-9).

“He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among those who have believed.” (2 Thess 1:8-10)

“All will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” (2 Thes 2:12)

My belief is that Paul is does not use the language of “Hades” because it conjures ideas of Homer and Virgil in Roman audiences. And he does not use the language of “Gehenna” because it’s an exclusively Jewish idea. So “eternal condemnation” and “fire” are his favorite categories for Gentile audiences.

There is a lot of crazy stuff on the internet (and bookstores) on Saint Paul. If you want a concise Catholic commentary on all the writings of Saint Paul, please check out this book: The Catholic Perspective on Paul.

 

Concerning the Death of Unbaptized Infants by St Gregory Nazianzus

Two of the most rewarding practices for a Christian are 1) reading the Bible from beginning to end, and 2) reading the sermons of the Church Fathers. One of the greatest theologians and orators of the Church Fathers is Saint Gregory Nazianzus. He is simply called Saint Gregory “the Theologian” in the East because of his precise and excellent presentation of theology.

Since the Apostles and Church Fathers universally recognized that baptism was the instrumental means by which Jesus Christ removes sin and infuses grace, they also received the pastoral question of what happens to unbaptized babies. Before we look St Gregory the Theologian, let that sink in. The presumption is that infants should be baptized.

Not only that, but we know from the Eastern Fathers and from Western Fathers like Cyprian, Ambrose, and Augustine that baptized infants were confirmed and received the Holy Eucharist. We Roman Catholics would do well to request that the Apostolic and Patristic practice of paedo-communion (infant communion) be rightfully restored to our children.

Here is Saint Gregory “the Theologian” Nazianzus on the death of unbaptized children: