Why don’t the apostles recognize Jesus after the Resurrection?


Full Question

I’m baffled by the passages in Scripture that say the apostles didn’t recognize Jesus when he rose from the dead (e.g., John 20:14). Should we not take this literally, or did Jesus really look different?


When Jesus rose from the dead, it wasn’t as though he was resuscitated (as were others who rose from the dead, like Lazarus); instead, Jesus’ Resurrection was the kind of resurrection that all of the saved will have at the end of time: He received and we will receive our glorified bodies. While we will know each other in heaven, we may look different than we do now. In like manner, Jesus’ glorified body probably was different in some respects from the body he had during his public ministry, but it was close enough to what he had before that his disciples eventually recognized him (see John 21:4-7). Luke 24:16 also notes that in one of Jesus’ encounters with the disciples that “their eyes were kept from recognizing him,” suggesting that he may have looked the same, but people were miraculously kept from understanding who he was for the moment.



  1. edgar molinari Reply

    mary magdelene had no trouble recognizing the lord,jesus.and she was
    the first to see him after the resurrection.

  2. philip marcelo Reply

    The explanation is needed not complete

  3. Larry Makoski Reply

    Mary Magdalene did not recognize Jesus right away. At first she thought he was the gardener. We will all receive glorified bodies at the Final Judgement and we will look different – Jesus was the “First born of the dead”, so the explanation makes sense.

  4. Vince Warde Reply

    If you are interested in the opinion of an evangelical minister, here it is: Not only is all of the above true, but we must remember that they thought Jesus was dead. They did not expect him to come back. Their world had been shattered. Mary Magdelene did not recognize Him until He spoke her name (John 20:16). In John 21, Jesus was some distance away on the shore, while the disciples were in the boat 100 yards off shore. (John 21:8). At that distance it can be hard to recognize someone. In short, there are quite reasonable explanations for each occasion where people failed to recognize Jesus after His resurrection.

    1. Joseph Borg Reply

      You are right Vince.They did not expect him to come back. Their world had been shattered.And I will further add to that in my opinion that I think because they were doubtful they didn’t recognize him…how can we recognize Jesus Christ in our lives if we doubt him, how can we trust in him if we doubt him, how can we follow his teachings if we doubt him. Jesus says in scripture that if we say we know him but do not keep his commandments we are liars and the truth is not within us. 😉 peace bother

  5. Mark Reply

    Glorified body? Wasn’t Thomas the one who touched the nail holes? Perhaps getting punched repeatedly in the face, severely whipped, and crucified with a crown of thorns had something to do with it. On the third day, Jesus was probably also very bruised. Hard to recognize someone looking like that. The more critical question is “do we recognize Jesus’ resurrection”? Happy Easter!

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  8. Saggi Jones Reply

    Correction: Lazerous was not “resuscitated”. Who writes this stuff?

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