An interesting question came up in our Gospel Doctrine class last week. We read in Matthew 28:
16 ¶Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
The question was – how could some of the eleven disciples still doubt when they had seen the resurrected Lord?
A little research was called for.
- Benson’s Commentary states that some Bible editors translate the phrase ‘but some doubted’ as ‘even those who had doubted’.
- Matthew Poole’s Commentary suggests ‘some had doubted’.
- Bornemann suggests the translation: ‘some fell prostrate, the others started back from each other with astonishment’
- Tim Chaffey writes: The doubt exhibited here is not unbelief, but more like hesitation, which is what the Greek word distazo This is not the typical word for doubt used in the New Testament (diakrino). In fact, it is only used in one other time (Matthew 14:31). Instead of refusing to believe what they were seeing, like some have said, the disciples were amazed. The concept here is somewhat comparable to our modern statements like “It’s too good to be true,” or “Pinch me, I’m dreaming.”
So, it seems it is a question of how you translate the original Greek. An alternative, but valid, translation would be ‘And when they saw him, they worshipped him, even those who had previously doubted.’ It appears that another way of translating it could be something like ‘And when they saw him they fell down and worshipped him, but some of them were astonished.’