Reading only part of the scriptures relating to the period of time from the resurrection of Jesus to the initial sending of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, will present only part of the message and in most cases not in the order of the actual events. Contained is a chronological summary as taken from Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Corinthians and Acts. All of the things listed below are listed in the order in which they actually occurred, although they are somewhat scattered between the books and letters of the Bible. Some of what you read may challenge your belief system or tradition. If you cannot accept the facts below it has no effect on your salvation although the time line is correct and the words recorded in the Bible are inspired by God. Many a good, intelligent person has rejected the Bible as the Word of God because of what they see as conflict from book to book, when in fact the differences all work together to prove the accuracy. Instead of linking truths together with context, we see what appears to be a gap and build a bridge based on a “song book” theology that never really explains the “gap.” It only projects a theoretical suggestion, based on mere human speculation, that becomes accepted as traditionally correct when it is continually repeated and then set aside as a finished topic. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak today. What He says is the only important message.
- Early Sunday morning an angel came and rolled back the stone of Jesus’ tomb. The earth shook in that immediate area of the tomb and the guards, upon seeing this fell out or as the bible states, “became as dead.” Matt 28:2-4
- Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James), and Salome came to the tomb with spices and found the stone rolled away. Matt 28:1, Mark 16:1-4, Luke 24:1-3, John 20:1
- The women enter the tomb and find the angel within (or angels, as Luke records there were two of them) and he tells them that:
- a. Jesus has risen
- b. Go and tell His disciples and Peter that He will meet them in Galilee. Matt 28:5-7, Mark 16:5-7, Luke 24:4-6
- Mary Magdalene ran and told Peter and John, “they have taken away the Lord and we don’t know where He is.” John 20:2
- Peter and John run to the tomb. John outruns Peter but waits for Peter to enter the tomb first. It is mentioned that John believed after seeing the empty tomb; where it is mentioned of Peter that he, “departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.” After seeing the grave clothes and empty tomb, they left and went back to where they were staying. Luke 24:12, John 20:3-10
- Mary Magdalene was alone and weeping at the tomb when Jesus appeared to her. Thinking that He was the keeper of the grave yard, she asked if He knew where Jesus’ body was. John 20:11-15
- Jesus revealed Himself to her as He spoke her name and told her not to touch Him because He had not ascended to His Father. John 20:15-17
- As the other women were on their way to tell the disciples that Jesus had risen, Jesus appeared to them and they held His feet and worshiped Him. Matt 28:9
- Mary Magdalene and a group of women report to a group of disciples, and to the eleven, that they have seen Jesus. Matt 28:8, Mark 16:9-10, Luke 24:9-10, John 20:18
- They did not believe that He had risen (with the exception of John who is said to have believed). Mark 16:11, Luke 24:11, John 20:8
- Jesus appears to two disciples who were on their way to Emmaus. He opens their understanding and explained Old Testament scriptures to them about Himself. They rush back to Jerusalem to let the others know that Jesus is alive. Mark 16:12, Luke 24:13:32
- The two arrive late on Sunday evening and, “found the eleven” and the others who were with them and told them of how they talked with Jesus. Mark 16:14, Luke 24:33-35
- They did not believe the two. Mark 16:13
- That same evening (Resurrection Day) just after the report of the two from Emmaus, Jesus appeared within the room and said “Peace be unto you.” Mark 16:14, Luke 24:36, John 20:19
- They were afraid and thought that it was a ghost. Then he told them to touch and handle Him for if He were a ghost, then He would not have flesh and bone. He showed them His hands and His side then He also ate some food to prove that He was not a ghost. Luke 24:37-43, John 20:20
- During the same evening (Resurrection Day) Jesus opened their understanding, spoke of the Old Testament scriptures and told them that it would be in Jerusalem that they would receive the Promise of the Father and be endued with power from on high. Luke 24:45-49, John 20:22
- Thomas was not with the apostles on this day (even though the scripture states that the two from Emmaus had reported to the eleven on the evening that Jesus entered the same room and proclaims His resurrection). John 20:24
- When Thomas returned to the group of disciples and the eleven apostles, they told him of the appearance of Jesus and he did not believe. He said that he would have to put his fingers into His hands and then his hand into Jesus’ side before he could believe. John 20:25
On the Eighth Day after the Resurrection:
- After eight days (on the eighth day after the resurrection) Jesus appeared again to the entire group and Thomas was present. Jesus told him to put his finger into the nail holes and to place his hand into His side where the spear had pierced Him. John 20:26-27
- Thomas believed and responded, “My Lord and my God.” John 20:28
- This is also recorded by Paul in 1 Cor 15:5, “And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve…”
At Some Uncertain Time after His Appearance to Thomas:
- At some time later, which is not clearly described, Jesus meets seven of His apostles and some disciples in Galilee while Peter and a group were fishing in the Sea of Galilee (also called the Sea of Tiberius). John 21:1-3
- He speaks with them there about many things and it is here that Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him the three times. John 21:4-23
At Some Uncertain Time after His Appearance to the Seven in Galilee:
- Some time after this, Jesus appeared to more than 500 people at one time as recorded in 1 Cor 15:6
- Jesus was seen by James and then all of the apostles (1 Cor 15:7)
- It is probably at about this point in time that Judas went and hanged himself, although some think that Judas was still alive at the time of the Ascension but disassociated himself from the other eleven immediately after Jesus was taken up. (See foot note 1)
- While they were in Galilee, Jesus meets with the eleven disciples and speaks with them about what we term as “The Great Commission.” Matt 28:16-20, Mark 16:15-18
Some Time Later in Jerusalem:
- Jesus showed Himself alive by “many infallible proofs” and was seen for forty days after His Resurrection Day. Acts 1:3
- Jesus told the apostles and the disciples again to wait in Jerusalem for the Promise of the Father (the Holy Spirit). That they were to be baptized with or “immersed into” the Holy Ghost in a few days. Acts 1:4-5
Forty Days after the Resurrection (The Ascension):
- Jesus led the apostles out as far a Bethany (about 1 to 2 miles from Jerusalem) to the Mount of Olivet. Luke 24:50
- He lifted His hands and blessed them. Luke 24:50
- He was carried up into heaven in a cloud and was seated at the right hand of God
- They remained for a while staring into the heavens and two angels appeared to them. The apostles were addressed by the angels as, “men of Galilee…” It is at this point that we are sure that Judas was not with them for Judas Iscariot was the only apostle who was not from Galilee. Therefore in addressing them all as Galileans, it clearly presents the absence of Judas. Mark 16:19, Luke 24:50-51, Acts 1:11
- They left the Mount of Olivet and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. Luke 24:52
- They all came to stay in one place called the “upper room” which was in Jerusalem. Those that were there were, “Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.” Also with them was Jesus’ mother, Mary and His family. Acts 1:13-14
- Notice that there are only eleven apostles named in #6 above.
- Peter initiates the process of replacing Judas in the presence of the eleven and several others which numbered about 120 people (including the apostles). He also speaks of the death of Judas Iscariot. Acts 1:15-22
- The election process, which was more like the drawing of straws, ultimately ended in the choice of Matthias. Acts 1:23-26
Fifty Days after the Passover (Pentecost):
- The appointed time had arrived, for Jesus had been glorified 7 to 10 days earlier at His ascension. John 7:39, Acts 2:1
- The Holy Ghost was poured out upon them and they spoke with tongues. They spoke in languages that they did not know and those who were in Jerusalem at that time heard them and understood the utterances as they were speaking of the mighty God and Father of Jesus, the Christ. Acts 2:2-11
- Peter began to speak boldly to everyone present about Jesus and about 3,000 people believed and were saved. Acts 2:14-40
- Then as recorded, “And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” Mark 16:20
- And as recorded, “And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.” Luke 24:53
Note 1: Considering that the angels who spoke to the apostles at the Ascension of Jesus addressed them as Galileans, of which Judas was not, then it is assumed that Judas was not present when the angels spoke.
The Traditional Belief of When Judas Died:
- Matthew 27:1-10 gives account of Judas’ conversation with the high priests after the arrest of Jesus. There is no question regarding the fact that Judas hanged himself. There is a question of when he did die.
- Verse 3 states, “Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that He was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders…” But Jesus was not condemned until verse 26 when Pilate released Him to be crucified.
- Therefore it is impossible for the timeline of Judas’ death to be associated in sequence with this passage in Matthew since it clearly states that it was after Jesus’ sentence of death that Judas even came to the high priests to return the 30 pieces of silver.
- This passage in Matthew does not establish the time of Judas’ death, but only mentions (as one would insert a fact into a conversation that had happened independently from the on-going conversation) that Judas did hang himself as some point.
- Exactly when Judas died is never clearly stated in the Bible.
- To accept as inerrant truth that Judas’ death took place during the trial of Jesus causes other parts of the Bible to be in complete conflict when referring to “the twelve” or the number of apostles who were present when Jesus first appeared to them (“the eleven” as stated in Luke 24:33 and as coupled with John 20:24 which states that Thomas was not present during this appearance.)
- The timeline for Judas’s death becomes of utmost importance. Either Judas did not die before the resurrection of Jesus or the Bible is in error regarding the number of apostles who were present when He first appeared to them (not to mention many other verses that refer to a specific number of apostles who existed pre and post Ascension).
- If it is true that the Bible is wrong in enumerating the apostles, then it is not the inerrant, inspired Word of God and can not be assumed to be correct in its entirety.
- If it is only a fact that the timeline of Judas’ death was wrongly interpreted by man, then the Bible stands as inerrant and can be accepted as correct and divinely inspired.
- The suggestion that the writers of the books and letters of the New Testament were using the phrase of, “the Twelve” as a title referring to the entire group of apostles, regardless of the existing numbers of them, is weak at best. The formation of this suggestion is perpetuated and even established by Bible translations that insist on capitalizing the first letter of the word (i.e. the “T”) to make the reader accept more readily the “title” theory.
- Considering that the Holy Spirit is the actual author of the Bible, through the hands of inspired men; then His use of the words “eleven” and “twelve” must be accepted as numerically accurate to maintain the accuracy of the scriptures as a whole. Otherwise what would stop us from simply capitalizing the phrase, “the Third Day” suggesting that this was only a title given to an event, and that Jesus did not really mean that He was to be in the grave for three days before rising from the dead? We do not have the right to make such decisions when they clearly oppose the context of the scriptures, regardless of the complexity of the placement of facts from book to book.
- Never bridge gaps with theory, but with context, even if it must be context from “book” to “book” or from letter to letter. The context of the entire Bible always remains the same from the beginning to the end. The bridges of theory and supposition (that eventually become tradition when mentioned often enough) can only lead to a place in which we find ourselves in a wrong belief about the Bible: God’s letter of love to us, His sons and daughters.