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Who was Cleopas in the Bible?

The only mention of Cleopas in the Bible is in Luke 24:18. Cleopas was one of two disciples Jesus met on the road to Emmaus on the day of His resurrection. We do not know the identity of the other disciple, but we know that neither was one of the eleven apostles remaining after Judas' death (verse 33). Cleopas and the other disciple were on the road to Emmaus, discussing the crucifixion and the empty tomb, when Jesus suddenly joined them, although they did not recognize Him. Luke is the only gospel writer who included this event and who mentions the name of Cleopas. The whole incident is described in Luke 24:13–35.

Although we do not know where Emmaus is today, the Bible reports it as being "about seven miles from Jerusalem" (Luke 24:13). Cleopas and his companion were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, which may indicate that city was their home. Some scholars speculate that the other disciple was Cleopas's wife, due to the fact that they urged Jesus to stay with them (verse 29), but that cannot be confirmed. As they walked, they discussed Jesus and all that had happened in Jerusalem. When Jesus suddenly appeared and began walking with them, He asked what they were talking about. Cleopas responded, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" (verse 18).

Those words indicate that Cleopas assumed Jesus was a non-local visiting Jerusalem for Passover. He was surprised that anyone near Jerusalem would not have heard about the recent unrest and the public crucifixion of a man some Jews believed was the Messiah. So Cleopas gave this mysterious Visitor a short synopsis of all that had happened, concluding with the report from the women that Christ's body was missing from the tomb (Luke 24:19–24).

Jesus responded to Cleopas with a mild rebuke, suggesting that he and his companion recall what the prophets had foretold about the Messiah. He then went on to explain the Hebrew Scriptures to them, showing the ways that He had fulfilled those prophecies. Even then, they did not recognize Him, but their hearts were "burning within" at His words (Luke 24:32). When they arrived in Emmaus, they urged Him to stay with them that night, and He came inside with them.

Later, as they were all at the table to eat, Jesus gave thanks and broke the bread. At that moment, "their eyes were opened, and they recognized him" (Luke 24:30–31). Cleopas's sudden recognition may have been due to the fact that he had been present when Jesus fed the 5,000 (Luke 9:10–17), and Cleopas noticed His manner of giving thanks and breaking bread was familiar. We are not told the reason that Cleopas and the other disciple suddenly knew who Jesus was, but when they recognized Him, He vanished, only to reappear to all of them later in Jerusalem (Luke 24:36).

As soon as Cleopas and his companion knew who Jesus was, they went straight back to Jerusalem to tell the Eleven, who were assembled with other disciples (Luke 24:33–34). This group was most likely part of the 120 present in the upper room when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).

The fact that Luke records the name of Cleopas, who was not significant in any other way, probably indicates that Cleopas was Luke's source when writing of this incident. Cleopas and his traveling companion were some of the first to see Jesus after His resurrection. The mention of Cleopas reassures us that Jesus hears us (1 John 5:15), He comes to us when we need Him (James 4:8), and everyone is equally important in His kingdom (Luke 9:48).


Related Truth:

Who was Luke in the Bible?

Who were Jesus' twelve (12) disciples / apostles?

Who was Peter in the Bible?

What do we know about Simon of Cyrene?

Why is knowing about the various characters in the Bible important?


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