and go quickly and tell his disciples he was raised from the dead. And indeed, he is going before you into Galilee. You will see him there. Look, I have told you.” Bible other translations

“go.” The Greek verb is poreuomai (#4198 πορεύομαι), and is an aorist participle, literally, “having gone.” This is the idiom of the prophetic perfect, when a past tense is put for something that is actually future to express the certainty of it or emphasize it [For more information on the prophetic perfect, see commentary on Ephesians 2:6].

“indeed.” The Greek word is idou (#2400 ἰδού), and it is used to get our attention. See commentary on Matthew 1:20 (“Look!).

“Galilee.” One of the interesting details in the record of the death and resurrection of Christ is the fact that it took so long for the disciples to obey the command to go to Galilee. The chronology of the trip to Galilee is: On the night of his arrest Jesus told the disciples that he would meet them in Galilee after his resurrection; so obviously they were supposed to go there (Matt. 26:32). However, they were all denying that they would forsake him, and his statement about Galilee seemed to go unnoticed. It would have been a great act of trust for them to have gone to Galilee and waited for him to meet them, just as he said. It seems certain, however, that he knew they did not believe he would be raised from the dead, and just as certain that he would have to tell them a few times to go to Galilee, which is what he ended up doing.

The Sunday after he was resurrected, angels, then Jesus himself, told the women to tell the disciples to go to Galilee (Matt. 28:7, 10), but they still did not go. Then, when Jesus appeared to the disciples behind closed doors that evening (Luke 24:36-46; John 20:19-24), the Bible does not say he told them to go to Galilee, but at that point they should have believed the women (and what Jesus said in Matt. 26:32) and left for Galilee. Instead, they were still in Jerusalem, still behind locked doors, a week later when Jesus appeared to them again (John 20:26-29).

The Bible does not say if Jesus told the disciples to go to Galilee in this second behind-locked-doors meeting with his disciples. However, it seems that he did, because the next thing the Bible says after the second meeting is that the disciples went to Galilee (Matt. 28:16 a), and Jesus met them at the Sea of Galilee (which John 21:1 calls the Sea of Tiberias, because Tiberias was the most influential city on the lake).

A major reason for the disciples to go to Galilee was it was the base of Jesus’ operation and where he had the most disciples. In the days before his ascension, in Jerusalem there were only 120 disciples (Acts 1:15). In contrast, he met with more than 500 people at one time (1 Cor. 15:6), which is likely the meeting on a mountain in Galilee, mentioned in Matthew 28:16-20.

The Bible does not record the consequences of the disciples not obeying Jesus and going to Galilee. However, we know that Jesus would not say to do it if there was not some good reason, so we can be sure that there were some consequences. There were almost certainly two important consequences: for one thing, if all the Apostles had returned to Galilee right after his death, the rumor that they had taken Jesus’ body from the tomb would have been difficult to perpetrate, because if his leaders had all left the area, what disciple would steal the body? The lie that the disciples had stolen Jesus’ body only made sense because the Apostles were still in town, and in hiding.

Even on Sunday morning, however, Jesus was still directing the Apostles to go to Galilee. He still wanted the witness of his resurrection to reach the people of Galilee, and there may have been another reason as well. It is likely that the disciples were being sought out by the religious leaders and painfully interrogated. The situation was dangerous enough that a week after the resurrection the disciples were still hiding behind locked doors. It is typical that the Bible would not focus on any hardship to the disciples at this time, focusing instead on the resurrection of Christ and events involving his appearances to people, so the fact that the Bible does not mention any specific persecution does not mean it did not happen. By the time Jesus and the Apostles showed back up in town, likely almost a full month later, Jesus apparently did not publicly show himself, and the religious leaders apparently thought the crisis was over and left them alone.

“Look.” The Greek word is idou (#2400 ἰδού), and it is used to get our attention. See commentary on Matthew 1:20 (“Look!).

Commentary for: Matthew 28:7