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Wednesday, July 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 28

The Expositor's Greek TestamentExpositor's Greek Testament

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Verse 1

Matthew 28:1 . ὀψὲ .… σαββάτων , a curious and puzzling note of time, inconsistent with itself if translated “late on Sabbath, towards daybreak on the first day of the week,” and on the assumption that the day is supposed to begin and end at sunset. That would give, as the time at which the events to be narrated happened, the afternoon of one day and the early morning of the next. Of course the two clauses are meant to coincide in meaning, and a way out of the difficulty must be sought. One is to take ὀψὲ as = post , after the Sabbath, or late in comparison with the Sabbath, σαββάτων in clause I being in effect a genitive of comparison. So Euthy. and Grotius, who take σαββ . as = the whole passover week, De Wette, Weizsäcker, etc. Another is to take ὀψὲ as = not later than , but late on , and to assume that the day is conceived to begin and end with sunrise according to the civil mode of reckoning. So Kypke, Meyer, Weiss, Morison. Authorities are divided as to Greek usage, Meyer and Weiss, e.g. , contending that ὀψὲ always means lateness of the period specified, and still current. Holtzmann, H. C., remarks that only from the second clause do we learn that by the first is not meant the evening of the Sabbath, but the end of the night following, conceived as still belonging to the Sabbath. τῇ ἐπιφωσκούσῃ , supply ἡμέρᾳ or ὥρᾳ . εἰς μίαν . σ ., towards day one of the week ( Sabbath in first clause). ἦλθε , came, singular though more than one concerned, as in Matthew 27:56 ; Matthew 27:61 . Mary of Magdala, evidently the heroine among the women. θεωρῆσαι τ . τ ., to see the sepulchre; no word of anointing, that being excluded by the story of the watch.

Verses 1-10

Matthew 28:1-10 . The open grave (Mark 16:1-8 , Luke 24:1-11 ).

Verse 2

Matthew 28:2 . he particulars in this and the following two verses are peculiar to Mt.: first, an earthquake ( σεισμὸς ), as in Matthew 27:51 ; second, an angel descending from heaven; third, the angel rolling away the stone; fourth, the angel sitting on the stone as guard.

Verse 3

Matthew 28:3 . ἰδέα (here only in N. T.; in Sept [160] , Daniel 1:13 ; Daniel 1:15 ), the appearance, aspect (of the countenance of the angel). Vide Trench, Syn. , p. 262, on μορφή , σχῆμα , ἰδέα . ὡς ἀστραπὴ (Matthew 24:27 ), as lightning brilliant, dazzling. τὸ ἔγδυμα α ., his raiment as distinct from his face ὡς χιών , white as snow ( cf. Matthew 17:2 ).

[160] Septuagint.

Verse 4

Matthew 28:4 . ὡς νεκροί : the keepers, through fear of the angel, were shaken as by an earthquake, and became as dead men stupefied, helpless, totally incapacitated for action by way of preventing what is assumed, though not directly stated, to have happened. The resurrection is not described.

Verses 5-7

Matthew 28:5-7 . The angel speaks to the women . μὴ φοβεῖσθε ὑμεῖς , fear not ye , with tacit reference to the guards. οἶδα γὰρ : γὰρ gives a reason for the soothing tone of the address. The angel recognises them as friends of the Crucified.

Verse 6

Matthew 28:6 . οὐκ ἔστιν , etc.: with what sublime simplicity and brevity is the amazing story told! “Versus hic incisa habet perquam apta” (Beng.). The last clause is better without the epithet ὁ κύριος , more in keeping with the rest. Bengel calls it gloriosa appellatio , but, as Meyer remarks, just on that account it was more liable to be added than omitted.

Verse 7

Matthew 28:7 . ταχὺ πορευθεῖσαι : introducing “quite in his own (the evangelist’s) manner of expression” (Weiss) the command of the angel = go quickly and tell, etc. προάγει : present; He is even now going before you into Galilee; in accordance with the prediction in Matthew 26:32 the risen Shepherd is on His way to the pre-appointed rendezvous. ὄψεσθε , there shall ye see Him, and be able to satisfy yourselves that He is indeed risen. With this word ends the message to the disciples. ἰδοὺ εἶπον ὑμῖν , behold I said it to you = note what I say, and see if it do not come true. Mark has καθὼς εἶπεν ὑμῖν = as He said to you, referring to the promise of Jesus, and forming part of the message to the disciples.

Verse 8

Matthew 28:8 . ἀπελθοῦσαι : the reading of T. R. ( ἐξελθ .) implies that they had been within the tomb, of which no mention is made in Matthew. They went away from, not out of, the tomb. ἀπὸ τ . μν ., depending on ἀπελθοῦσαι , in Mark on ἔφυγον . μετὰ φόβου καὶ χαρᾶς μεγάλης , with fear and great joy. This union of apparently opposite emotions is true to human nature. All powerful tides of gladness cause nervous thrills that feel like fear and trembling. Cf. Isaiah 60:5 and Philippians 2:12 . The fear and trembling St. Paul speaks of are the result of an exhilarating consciousness of having a great solemn work in hand a race to run, a prize to win.

Verses 8-10

Matthew 28:8-10 . Appearance of Jesus to the women on the way to deliver their message .

Verse 9

Matthew 28:9 . καὶ ἰδοὺ , and behold, another surprise (Matthew 28:2 ). They are on the way to tell the disciples that they are to be favoured with a meeting in Galilee, and lo! they are themselves privileged to meet the risen One. ὑπήντησεν , cf. chap. Matthew 8:34 , Matthew 25:1 ; Matthew 25:6 . ἐκράτησαν , etc., they took hold of His feet and cast themselves before Him; the gesture befitting the circumstances, an unlooked-for meeting with one who has been crucified and whose aspect is greatly changed. Impossible to resume the old familiar relations as if nothing had happened.

Verse 10

Matthew 28:10 . μὴ φοβεῖσθε : kindly in word and tone, meant to remove the embarrassment visible in their manner. ὑπάγετε ἀπαγγείλατε , another asyndeton as in Matthew 27:65 . The instructions to the women simply repeat, in much the same words, those given by the angel (Matthew 28:7 ), with the exception that the disciples are spoken of by the kindly name of “brethren”.

The similarity of Matthew 28:9-10 to John 20:14-18 has been remarked on ( vide Weiss, Meyer, on Matthew 28:9 ). It has been lately commented on in connection with the theory of a “four-gospel Canon” prepared by the Presbyters of Asia Minor in the beginning of the second century. Vide Der Schlnss des Marcus-Evangeliums der Vier-Evangelien-Kanon und die Kleinasiatischen Presbyter , by Dr. Paul Rohrbach. Rohrbach’s idea is that when this Canon was prepared the editors altered more or less the statements of the Synoptists as to the visions of the Risen Christ so as to bring them somewhat into harmony with those of the fourth Gospel. For this purpose Mark’s original ending was cancelled and the present one, Matthew 28:9-20 , put in its place. The editorial procedure in the case of Matthew consisted in inserting Matthew 28:9-10 in the narrative, thus providing for at least one vision in Jerusalem, and making room for more, and so cancelling the impression otherwise produced that Jesus was seen only in Galilee. In support of the view that Matthew 28:9-10 are an editorial addition at a later date Rohrbach adduces the fact that the narrative has an appearance of continuity when they are omitted, and also that the instructions of Jesus to the women are a mere echo of those given by the angel.

Verse 11

Matthew 28:11 . πορευομένων δὲ α ., while the women go on their errand, the guards, crestfallen, play their poor part. Some of them ( τινὲς ) go into the city and report in their own way to the priests all that has happened.

Verses 11-15

Matthew 28:11-15 . The guards and the priests .

Verse 12

Matthew 28:12 . ἀργύρια ; the holy men thoroughly understand the power of money; silver pieces, shekels are meant. ἱκανὰ probably means here a considerable number, not a number sufficient to bribe the soldiers (Meyer and Weiss). They gave with a free hand. This sense of ἱκανός is frequent in the N. T. Vide , e.g. , Mark 10:46 , of the crowd following Jesus at Jericho, and Acts 27:9 (of time).

Verse 13

Matthew 28:13 . εἴπατε , introducing the lie they put into the mouths of the soldiers. The report to be set abroad assumes that there is a fact to be explained, the disappearance of the body. And it is implied that the statement to be given out as to that was known by the soldiers to be false: i.e. , they were perfectly aware that they had not fallen asleep at their post and that no theft had taken place. The lie for which the priests paid so much money is suicidal; one half destroys the other. Sleeping sentinels could not know what happened.

Verse 14

Matthew 28:14 . ἐὰν ἀκουσθῇ , either: if this come to the ears of, etc., as in A. V [161] , or: if this come to a hearing, a trial, before, etc., as in R. V [162] margin. The latter is preferred by many modern commentators. The reading ἐπὶ τ . ἡ . suits the second sense best. Cf. 1 Corinthians 6:1 , 1 Timothy 5:19 . ἡμεῖς , emphatic, implying a great idea of their influence, on their part. πείσομεν , will persuade him; how not said, money conceivably in their minds. Kypke renders: will appease; so also Loesner (“aliquem pacare vel precibus vel donis”), citing examples from Philo. The ordinary punishment for falling asleep on the watch was death. Could soldiers be persuaded by any amount of money to run such a risk? Of course they might take the money and go away laughing at the donors, meaning to tell their general the truth. Could the priests expect anything else? If not, could they propose the project seriously? The story has its difficulties. ἀμερίμνους , free from grounds of anxiety; guaranteed against all possible unpleasant consequences. Bengel’s comment on this verse is: “Quam laboriosum bellum mendacii contra veritatem!”

[161] Authorised Version.

[162] Revised Version.

Verse 15

Matthew 28:15 . his verse states that the soldiers did as instructed, so originating a theft theory, which, according to our evangelist, was current in his day in Jewish circles at the time he wrote.

Verse 16

Matthew 28:16 . οἱ δὲ ἕνδεκα μ ., the eleven , not merely to discount Judas, but to indicate that what follows concerns the well-known Twelve (minus one), the future Apostles of the faith. εἰς τὸ ὄρος , to the mountain, a more specific indication of the locality than any previously reported. Conjectures have been made as to the mountain meant, e.g. , that on which the hill teaching was communicated. An interesting suggestion but unverifiable. οὗ , an adverb = ubi , used pregnantly so as to include quo : whither Jesus had bid them go, and where He wished them to remain. ἐτάξατο : if this points to an instruction given expressly by Jesus, it is strange that the evangelist has not recorded it. It rather seems to presuppose an understanding based on experiences of the Galilean ministry as to the rendezvous The meeting place would be some familiar haunt, recalling many past associations and incidents, only imperfectly recorded in the Gospels. If there was such a retreat among the mountains often resorted to, it would doubtless be the scene of the hill teaching, as well as of other unrecorded disciple experiences. The disciples would need no express direction to go there. Instinct would guide them.

Verses 16-20

Matthew 28:16-20 . The meeting in Galilee , peculiar to Mt.

Verse 17

Matthew 28:17 . very meagre statement, the whole interest of the evangelist being absorbed by the words spoken by Jesus. προσεκύνησαν as in Matthew 28:9 , but the men less demonstrative than the women; no mention of seizing Jesus by the feet. οἱ δὲ ἐδίστασαν : but some doubted ( cf. Matthew 14:31 , in reference to Peter). This clause seems to qualify and limit the previous statement as to the worshipping, giving this sense: they worshipped, i.e. , the most of them, for some were in doubt. So Meyer, who cites in support Klotz, Ad Devar , whose statement is to the effect that in passages of this kind containing a clause with δὲ without a μέν preceding, a universal affirmation is first made and then a division follows, which shows that a universal affirmation was not really intended (p. 358). Various methods have been adopted to get rid of the unwelcome conclusion that some of the eleven did not do homage, e.g. , by taking ἐδίστασαν as a pluperfect (Fritzsche, Grotius), or by finding the doubters among the 500 mentioned by St. Paul (1 Corinthians 15:6 ), or even by altering the text οἱ δὲ into οὐδέ (Beza). The whole narrative is so brief and vague as to lend support to the hypothesis that in the appearance of Jesus here recorded we have not one particular occurrence, but a general picture of the Christophanies, in which mingled conflicting feelings of reverent recognition and hesitation as to the identity of the person played their part. Such is the view of Keil, Steinmeyer, and Holtzmann (H. C.).

Verse 18

Matthew 28:18 . προσελθὼν , approaching; the speech of Jesus is majestic, but His bearing is friendly, meant to set them free from doubt and fear. ἐλάλησε : this may seem a word not sufficiently dignified for the communication made. But it is often used, especially in Hebrews, in reference to divine revelations ( vide , e.g. , chap. Matthew 1:1 ). ἐδόθη μοι , there was given to me; the aorist as in Matthew 11:27 , the thought of which earlier text this utterance reiterates and amplifies. The reference may be to the resurrection, and the meaning that that event ipso facto placed Jesus in a position of power. Cf. Romans 1:4 . πᾶσα ἐξουσία , every form of authority; command of all means necessary for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. ἐν οὐρανῷ : this points to session on His celestial throne at the right hand of God. Jesus speaks as one already in heaven. There is no account of the ascension in Mt. It is conceived as involved in the resurrection. ἐπὶ γῆς : upon earth, the whole earth. The two phrases together point to a universal cosmic dominion. But so far as earth is concerned, the dominion is only a matter of right or theory, a problem to be worked out. Hence what follows.

Verses 18-20

Matthew 28:18-20 . he final commission .

Verse 19

Matthew 28:19 . πορευθέντες οὖν : the οὖν omitted in many texts aptly expresses the connection. The commission to the Apostles arises out of the power claimed = all power has been given to me on earth, go ye therefore , and make the power a reality. μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη : make disciples (act., cf. at Matthew 27:57 ) of all the nations ( cf. Matthew 10:5 , “go not into the way of the Gentiles”). βαπτίσαντες : baptism the condition of discipleship = make disciples by baptising; the sole condition, circumcision, and everything particularistic or Judaistic tacitly negatived. Christian baptism referred to here only in this Gospel. αὐτοὺς refers to ἔθνη , a constr. ad sensum , as in Acts 15:17 ; Romans 2:14 . In the anabaptist controversy αὐτοὺς was taken by the opponents of infant baptism as referring to μαθητὰς in μαθητεύσατε , and the verb was held to mean “teach”. For some references to this extinct controversy vide Wetstein, ad loc. , and Hermann’s Viger , p. 61. εἰς τὸ ὄνομα , into the name, i.e. , as confessing the name which embodies the essence of the Christian creed. τοῦ πατρὸς , etc.: it is the name not of one but of three, forming a baptismal Trinity Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It is not said into the names of, etc., nor into the name of the Father, and the name of the Son, and the name of the Holy Ghost. Hence might be deduced the idea of a Trinity constituting at the same time a Divine Unity. But this would probably be reading more into the words han was intended.

Verse 20

Matthew 28:20 . διδάσκοντες α ., teaching them, present participle, implying that Christian instruction is to be a continuous process, not subordinate to and preparing for baptism, but continuing after baptism with a view to enabling disciples to walk worthily of their vocation. τηρεῖν : the teaching is with a view not to gnosis but to practice; the aim not orthodox opinion but right living. πάντα ὅσα ἐνετειλάμην ὑμῖν : the materials of instruction are to be Christ’s own teaching. This points to the desirableness for the Church’s use of an oral or written tradition of Christ’s words: these to be the rule of faith and practice. καὶ ἰδοὺ , introducing an important promise to the missionaries of the new universal religion to keep them in courage and good hope amid all difficulties. ἐγὼ μεθʼ ὑμῶν , I the Risen, Exalted, All-powerful One, with you my apostles and representatives engaged in the heroic task of propagating the faith. εἰμὶ , am , not will be, conveying the feeling of certainty, but also spoken from the eternal point of view, sub specie aeternitatis , for which distinctions of here and there, now and then, do not exist. Cf. John 8:58 , “before Abraham was I am”. In the Fourth Gospel the categories of the Absolute and the Eternal dominate throughout. πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας , all the days, of which, it is implied, there may be many; the vista of the future is lengthening. ἕως τῆς συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος , until the close of the current age, when He is to come again; an event, however, not indispensable for the comfort of men who are to enjoy an uninterrupted spiritual presence.

This great final word of Jesus is worthy of the Speaker and of the situation. Perhaps it is not to be taken as an exact report of what Jesus said to His disciples at a certain time and place. In it the real and the ideal seem to be blended; what Jesus said there and then with what the Church of the apostolic age had gradually come to regard as the will of their Risen Lord, with growing clearness as the years advanced, with perfect clearness after Israel’s crisis bad come. We find here (1) a cosmic significance assigned to Christ (all power in heaven and on earth); (2) an absolutely universal destination of the Gospel; (3) baptism as the rite of admission to discipleship; (4) a rudimentary baptismal Trinity; (5) a spiritual presence of Christ similar to that spoken of in the Fourth Gospel. To this measure of Christian enlightenment the Apostolic Church, as represented by our evangelist, had attained when he wrote his Gospel, probably after the destruction of Jerusalem. Therein is summed up the Church’s confession of faith conceived as uttered by the lips of the Risen One. “Expressly not as words of Jesus walking on the earth, but as words of Him who appeared from heaven, the evangelist here presents in summary form what the Christian community had come to recognise as the will and the promise of their exalted Lord” (Weiss-Meyer).

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Matthew 28". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/egt/matthew-28.html. 1897-1910.
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