Bible Commentaries
Matthew 28

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Verses 1-99

28:1-8. From Mark 16:1-8.

(M) 1. And after the Sabbath, at the dawning towards the first (day) of the week, came Mary of Magdala and the other Mary to see the grave.] Mk. has: “And when the Sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala and Mary the (mother) of James, and Salome, bought perfumes that they might come and anoint Him. And very early on the first (day) of the week, they come to the tomb when the sun had risen.”—ὀψὲ δὶ σαββάτων] seems to correspond to Mk.’s διαγενομένου τοῦ σαββάτου. But whereas Mk. goes on to record something which happened on the evening after the close of the Sabbath, Mt. omits this, and passes on to the event of the next morning. His ὀψὲ σαββάτων is therefore pointless and negligible. He seems to have wished to omit the “purchase,” but not to have cared to pass over the note of time attached to it. Cf. his omission of the “purchase,” Mark 15:42. For ὀψὲ σαββάτων in the sense of “late on the Sabbath” = “after the Sabbath,” cf. Blass, p. 97; Moulton, p. 72; Zahn, in loc.; and Dalm. Gram.2 p. 247, Anm. 2. It is, however, very difficult to believe that ὀψὲ σαββάτων can mean anything else than either “ as the Sabbath ended,” or “when it had ended,” i.e. “on the evening after the Sabbath had drawn to a close,” which is exactly what the parallel phrase in Mk. means; cf. Dalm. l.c. Anm. 4. And yet this meaning is inconsistent with the context; for τῇ ἐπιφωσκούσῃ εἰς μίαν σαββάτων corresponds to Mk.’s λίαν πρωὶ τῇ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων—ἀνατείλαντος τοῦ ἡλίου, and clearly means “at or about sunrise on Sunday morning.” In other words, Mt. by omitting Mk.’s reference to the purchase of perfumes has combined two entirely inconsistent notes of time. Of course, Mt.’s two notes of time will be in harmony if we suppose that he wishes to correct Mk. and to place the visit of the women to the grave on the Saturday evening. In that case τῇ ἐπιφωσκούσῃ means “as the Sabbath was passing into the first day of the week,” i.e. “on Saturday evening.” This is the meaning which ἐπιφώσκειν has in Luke 23:54 “the Sabbath was beginning,” i.e. not Saturday morning, but Friday evening. The Aram. ננהי means both “dawn” and “the beginning of the technical day,” i.e. “evening.” See the note of Merx on Luke 23:54. But it is very difficult to think that Mt. has consciously abandoned Mk.’s reckoning of the appearance of the angels at dawn on Sunday to the women, and has placed it on the Saturday evening. However, Mk.’s λίαν πρωὶ τῇ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων—ἀνατείλαντος τοῦ ἡλίου is itself difficult (see Swete). It is possible that Mt. believed that the appearance of the angels to the women took place on Saturday evening, and that he has substituted therefore for Mk.’s λίαν πρωί, κ.τ.λ., a technical Jewish phrase which expresses the time on Saturday evening when the Sabbath was ending or had just ended. On the whole this seems the easiest view of the matter. Mk.’s chronology will be here, as in 14:1, 12, due to misunderstanding of his Aramaic authority. See on Luke 23:54.

θεωρῆσαι τὸν τάφον] The motive given by Mk., ἴνα ἐλθοῦσαι�Mark 15:47.

(E) 2-4. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled away the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was as lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and from fear of him the guards were dismayed, and became as dead men.] Mk. is quite different. Mt., who has inserted the account of the sealing of the tomb and the setting of the guard, could hardly follow Mk. here in his record that the women expected to obtain access to the tomb, and thought that the stone would be the only obstacle. They came to see the tomb only. Mk vv. 3-5. have to fall out.—ἰδού] see on 1:20.—σεισμός] cf. the earthquake, 27:51.—προσελθών] see on 4:3.—ἀστραπή] cf. Daniel 10:6, and note on 17:2.—ὡς χιών1 cf. Isaiah 1:18, Daniel 7:9 (Th.) καὶ τὸ ἔνδυμα αὐτοῦ ὡσεὶ χιὼν λευκόν, Matthew 17:2 D S2 latt. Revelation 1:14. See Hastings, DCG. i. p. 504.

(M) 5. And the angel answered and said to the women, Fear ye not: for I know that ye seek Jesus the crucified.] Mk. has: “And he saith to them, Be not amazed; ye seek Jesus, the Nazarene, the crucified.”

(M) 6. He is not here. for He is risen, even as He said: Come, see the place where He lay.] Mk. has: “He is risen; He is not here lo the place where they laid Him.”—καθὼς εἶπεν] Mt. anticipates this clause from Mk v. 7, where he has reason for substituting ἰδοὺ εἶπον ὑμῖν. See below.

3. λευκόν] Om. S1 c ff1 g1, 2.

6. ἔκειτο] Add ὸ κὺριος, A C D al Omit א B 33 S1 e.—ὸ κύριος] is not used in direct narrative of Christ in this Gospel, and is, no doubt, not genuine here.—εἶπεν] S1 adds “to you” (fem.), a manifest error of translation.

(M) 7. And go1 quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead; and, behold, He goes before you into Galilee; there ye shall see Him: behold, I told you.] Mk. has: “But go, tell His disciples and Peter that He goes be fore you into Galilee. There ye shall see Him, even as He told you.” Mt. Omits καὶ τῷ Πέτρῳ. See below.—ἰδοὺ εἶπον ὑμῖν] Mk. interprets τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ of the larger body of Christ’s disciples to whom Christ had not spoken these words. See below.

(M) 8. And they went away quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy; and ran to bring His disciples word.] Mk. has “And they went out, and fled from the tomb; for fear and amazement possessed them: and they told no one anything; for they were afraid.” With these words our Mk. ends. See Swete.

Attempts have recently been made2 to show that Matthew 28:9-20 preserves in part the lost ending of Mk.’s Gospel. 28:11-15, no doubt, formed no part of it, for this section is the sequel of 27:62-66, which is an interpolation into Mk., and like it, no doubt, came from a non-Marcan source. But it is urged that in 28:9-10, 16-20 we have a portion of Mk.’s lost ending edited by the author of the first Gospel. The argument rests (1) upon the probability that Mk. contained just such a narrative as we have recorded in Matthew 28:9-10, Matthew 28:16-20, which supplies the fulfilment of the promise, Mark 16:7; (2) upon some points in Mt.’s narrative which suggest that he is editing an earlier account.

E.g. (a) Mark 16:7 has τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ καὶ τῷ Πέτρῳ. This suggests that there was to be a special appearance to Peter, and possibly that τοῖς μαθηταῖς indicates not the “Eleven,” but the larger body of Christ’s disciples. If Mt., for reasons indicated below, proposed to omit this appearance to Peter, it is natural that he should omit τῷ Πέτρῳ here.

(b) Mark 16:8 says that the women “told no one, for they were afraid.” It is very natural that this should have been followed by an appearance to them of Christ dispelling their fear and repeating the angel’s message. Mt. alters “and told no one,” etc., into “ran to tell His disciples.” Consequently the appearance of Christ, vv. 9-10, repeating the angel’s message is quite unmotived. It would seem that Mt. has found Mk.’s οὐδενὶ οὐδὲν εἶπαν difficult, and has altered it, and then has continued with the appearance of Christ without noticing that the clause “they told no one,” etc., is necessary to explain the appearance.

(c) The τὸ ὄρος of Matthew 28:16 is unexplained in Mt. If in Mk. there stood an account of Christ’s appearance to Peter (Mark 16:7) and the Eleven, at the latter of which He again bade them go to Galilee, and appointed a mountain as a meeting-place, it would be adequately accounted for. In that case Mark 16:8 must have been followed by narratives which recorded that the women brought Christ’s message to the disciples, that the disciples disbelieved, and that, therefore, Christ Himself appeared to them and probably also to Peter. Why, then, has Mt. omitted all this? For the same reasons that have caused him to make the alterations of Mk.’s statements about the Twelve which are tabulated in Introduction, p. xxxiii f.

(d) In Matthew 28:17 we read that “when they saw Him they worshipped. But some doubted.” Who are the some? Hardly some of the Eleven. It is inconceivable that Mt. should end his Gospel leaving his readers with the impression that some of the Eleven doubted the fact of Christ’s resurrection. The οἱ presupposes a larger gathering than the Eleven only. But Mt. says distinctly οἱ ἕνδεκα μαθηταί. Yes; but this does not preclude the possibility, even in the editor’s mind, that others were present. If in his source an appearance to the Eleven immediately preceded, which he has omitted, it is not unnatural that he should say that the Eleven went to Galilee, and there they and others met Christ at the appointed place of gathering.

These suggestions seem to make it possible that the Mk. which Mt. had before him contained after v. 8 words corresponding to Matthew 28:9-10, then a statement that the disciples disbelieved the message of the women; and that, therefore, Christ appeared to Peter and to the Eleven, repeating the command to go to Galilee, and appointing a mountain as a place of meeting; lastly, a narrative corresponding to Matthew 28:16-20. The whole of Matthew 28:9-10 might be Marcan so far as language goes, except, perhaps, καὶ ἰδού (ἰδού occurs in Mk. only in sayings, not in narrative), and τότε, which never occurs in Mk. in narrative. For ὑπήντησεν, cf. Mark 5:2; for προσελθοῦσαι, cf. Mark 1:31, Mark 1:6:35, Mark 1:10:2, Mark 1:12:28, Mark 1:14:35, Mark 1:45; for ἐκράτησαν, cf. (of the hand, but gen., not acc.) Mark 1:31, Mark 1:5:41, Mark 1:9:27; for προσεκύνησαν, cf. Mark 5:6, Mark 15:19. But προσέρχεσθαι and προσκυνεῖν are so characteristic of Mt., that, like καὶ ἰδού and τότε, they may be due to Mt.’s editorial revision. How much of Matthew 28:16-20 stood in Mk. cannot, of course, be determined with any precision. οἱ δὲ ἕνδεκα μαθηταί seems to have been transferred here by the editor from the narrative which preceded in Mk. πορεύεσθαι occurs only in Mark 9:30 (B* D), and in Mt. twenty-eight times. It is therefore probably editorial. οὖ never occurs in Mk. τάσσομαι never occurs in Mk., and in Mt. only here in this sense. διστάζω does not occur in Mk., and in Mt. only again 14:31. προσκυνεῖν may be editorial. μαθητεύειν is probably editorial. πάντα τὰ ἔθνη is probably Marcan, cf. Mark 13:10. τηρεῖν may be Marcan, cf. Mark 7:9. So may ἐνετειλάμην, Mark 10:3, Mark 13:34. On the other hand, καὶ ἰδού is probably and ἕως τῆς συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος certainly editorial. See on 13:39. It is true that vv. 9-10, 16-20 contain no phrase that is characteristically Marcan. We should expect to find in a narrative section like this εὐθὺς, an historic present, an imperfect or some other characteristic of Mk.’s style. But still this is not decisive. If, e.g., Mk.’s Gospel were lost from 15:41, we should feel doubtful whether Matthew 27:57-61 were based on Mk. These verses contain no characteristically Marcan phrases, whilst ἐμαθητεύθη, προσελθών, τότε are all Matthæan. This is probably due to the fact that the section in Mk. has few of his most characteristic phrases, though now that we have it before us we can specify the following as finding analogies in his language: ἤδη ὀψίας γενομένης, cf. 6:35(2), 8:2, 11:11; ἦν προσδεχόμενος, Mk. has ἦν with a participle 16 times, Mt. only 6, of which 4 are from Mk.; the repetition of εἰ ἤδη τέθνηκεν; ἦν λελατομημένον; and the imperfect ἐθεώρουν. Indeed, the test of language is so indecisive that we might pick at random sections which Mt. has borrowed from Mk., e.g. 12:46-50, 8:23-27, of which we could not be sure that Mk. was the source, if the corresponding sections of his Gospel had been lost. It must, therefore, remain as a possible inference, on the grounds stated above, that Matthew 28:9-10, Matthew 28:15-20 are based on verses which originally stood at the end of Mk.’s Gospel. If this were not the case, it is possible that vv. 16-20 are an editorial epilogue to the Gospel. A parallel may perhaps be found in 25:31-46 if this is a Chrisitian homily based quite possibly on traditional sayings of Christ, placed at the end of the great discourse, 24:4-25:30, as a suitable peroration to the speech. In this case vv. 18-20 may be based on sayings from the Logia or other sources.

(M?) 9. And, behold, Jesus met them, sayin, Hail. And they came and held His feet, and worshipped Him.]—For καὶ ἰδού, see on 1:20.—προσελθοῦσαι] See on 4:3.—ἐκράτησαν] See on v. 8. In Mk. κρατεῖν is used with “hand” in the genitive as the object three times, 1:31, 5:41, 9:27, and so Matthew 9:25. Elsewhere it takes the accusative; so 12:11 of an animal in a pit, 14:3, 21:46, 26:4, 48, 50, 55, 57 of the seizure of arrest, and 18:28 of a creditor seizing hold of his debtor.—προσκυνεῖν] See on 2:2.

(M?) 10. Then saith Jesus to them, Fear not: go tell My brethren, that they go into Galilee, and there they shall see Me.]—τότε] See on 2:7.—τοῖς�

11. Mt. here adds vv. 11-15, the sequel of 27:62-66, and, no doubt, from the same source.

(P) 11. And as they were going, behold certain of the guard came into the city, and told to the chief priests all that had happened.]—ἰδού See on 2:7.—κουστωδία] See on 27:66.

(P) 12. And being gathered together with the elders, and having taken counsel.]—συμβούλιόν τε λαβόντες] See on 12:14.

(P) 13. They gave much money to the soldiers, saying, Say that His disciples came by night and stole Him while we were sleeping.]—ἱκανά] only here in this sense in Mt.; cf. Mark 10:46. It is common in the Acts. For the tradition as to the theft of the body, cf. Tert. de Spec. 30: “This is He whom His disciples secretly stole away, or the gardener took away that his lettuces might not be injured by the crowds of visitors.” Still earlier, Just. Mart. (Dial. c. Trypho, 108) speaks of the statements put forward by the Jews that the disciples had stolen the body of Christ.

(P) 14. And if it be heard before the governor, we will appease him, and make you secure.]

(P) 15. And they took the money, and did as they were instructed: and this account was noised abroad among the Jews until this day.]—διαφημίζειν] Cf. 9:31, Mark 1:45.

(M?) 16. And the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus appointed to them.]

(M?) 17. And when they saw Him, they worshipped; but some doubted.]—προσκυνεῖν] See on 2:2.—οἱ δέ] “Some,” not of the Eleven, but of others who were present. The proper contrast to “doubted “would be “believed”; but Mt. is aware that the Eleven had already seen Christ in Jerusalem, where their doubts were dispelled. See on 27:8. For διστάζειν, cf. 14:31.

(M?) 18. And Jesus came and spake to them, saying, All power was given to Me in heaven and upon earth.]—προσελθών] See on 4:3.—ἐδόθη] See on 11:27 and cf. Daniel 7:14.

(M?) 19. Go therefore, make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.]—μαθητεύειν] See on 13:52.—πάντα τὰ ἔθνη] is due to Mt.’s source (Mark?); cf. Mark 13:10. βαπτίζειν in the New Testament describes a ceremonial process of the application of water (whether by immersion or affusion?) to persons. The rite thus termed presupposes a good deal that is not always expressed.

(a) The person baptized has repented of his sins, and baptism implies the consequent forgiveness of them; Acts 2:38.

(b) Baptism also implies belief in Christ. The person baptized expressed this belief, and was regarded after baptism as a disciple of Christ.

(c) In connection with baptism we find two expressions, “in the name of Christ”—Acts 2:38, Acts 10:48—and “into the name of Christ”—Acts 19:5. These are not identical in meaning.

“In the name of Christ” probably implies the fact that the person baptized had expressed his belief in Christ, and his wish to be Christ’s disciple, and that the name of Christ was uttered over him, symbolising the fact that as a result of the ceremony he had become a disciple of Christ. The phrase thus describes a part of the procedure of the baptismal ceremony.

“Into the name of Christ,” on the other hand, lays stress on the result of the ceremony. The person baptized became “into the name of Christ,” i.e. became His disciple, i.e. entered into a state of allegiance to Him and of fellowship with Him.1

“Baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” means, therefore, “causing them to submit to a rite which results in their becoming disciples of, and confers upon them fellowship with, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

The remarkable fact that here only in the New Testament do we get the Triune Name used in connection with baptism, can be easily misunderstood. Elsewhere we have only the name of Christ. It is urged that a series of passages in the New Testament are most reasonably explained, if the writers were acquainted with the tradition that Christ Himself had sanctioned the use of the Threefold Name in connection with baptism. But, on the other hand, it is equally difficult to believe that if the tradition as recorded here by Mt. had been widely known in the time of S. Paul, and had been interpreted as a direction of Christ as to the exact form of words to be used in baptism, we should find several references to baptism in or into the name of Christ, and none in or into the Threefold Name. Nevertheless, the conclusion that the formula as here recorded marks a developed and late stage of doctrinal belief and ecclesiastical practice, is unjustified. The phrase may already have stood in the lost ending of Mk.; but even if we suppose that Mk.’s ending contained a reference to baptism in or into Christ’s name, or no clause about baptism at all, and if the connection of baptism with the Threefold Name is due to the editor, yet the conception Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is clearly as ancient as the Christian Society itself. For S. Paul, cf. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 2 Corinthians 13:14; for S. Peter, 1 P 1:2; for S. John, 1 John 3:23, 1 John 3:24 and the Gospel, passim. In the earliest Gospel, Mark 13:32, we already have the antithesis “the Father, the Son,” which, combined with the Jewish and Christian conception of the Holy Spirit, presupposes the possibility of the formula “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Mt. has borrowed this phrase from Mk., and in 11:27 he has a parallel saying showing that the combination “the Son, the Father,” was also familiar to the source from which he was drawing (the Matthæan Logia?). This antithesis “the Father—the Son” is above all characteristic of the Fourth Gospel, and is no doubt due to the Palestinian background of that very Hebraic book. Thus, even if the editor of the first Gospel was the first to connect baptism with the Threefold Name, he was probably only bringing that rite into connection with a circle of Christological ideas and phrases which were current in the early Palestinian Church, and which from Palestine had penetrated Christian teaching everywhere. The objection that the Gospel containing this phrase cannot be early, because it conflicts with the custom of the early Palestinian Church, which baptized in or into the name of Christ, rests upon the false assumption that the editor intended to represent Christ as prescribing the formula which should be used at baptism. The words rather mean baptizing them into the fellowship of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and describe, not the formula to be used at baptism, but the end and aim which would be secured in and through baptism. The editor may well have written these words at a period when it was customary to baptize in or into the name of Christ, without at all wishing to represent Christ as having prescribed a fuller formula, but simply with the intention of summing up in a phrase the end and aim of the Christian life into which the convert entered at baptism. The best commentary on the words would be 1 John 1:3 combined with 1 John 3:23, 1 John 3:24. See Briggs, Messiah of the Gospels, p. 229.

19. βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος] On the text, see Conybeare, Zeitsch. für die Neutest. Wissensch. 1901, 275 ff.; Hibbert Journal, October 1902; Lake, Inaugural Lecture; Riggenbach, Der Trinitarische Taufbefehl; Chase, Journal Theol. Stud. vi. 481 ff. The evidence of Eusebius must be regarded as indecisive, in view of the fact that all Greek MSS. and all extant VSS., contain the clause (S1 S2 are unhappily wanting). The Eusebian quotation: πορευθέντες μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου cannot be taken as decisive proof that the clause εἰς τὸ ὄνομα, κ.τ.λ., was lacking in copies known to Eusebius, because ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί may be Eusebius’ way of abbreviating, for whatever reason, the following clause. On the other hand, Eusebius cites in this short form so often that it is easier to suppose that he is definitely quoting the words of the Gospel, than it is to invent possible reasons which may have caused him so frequently to paraphrase it. And if we once suppose his short form to have been current in MSS. of the Gospel, there is much probability in the conjecture that it is the original text of the Gospel, and that in the second century the clause, βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ ὄνομα, κ.τ.λ., supplanted the shorter ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου. An insertion of this kind derived from liturgical use would very rapidly be adopted by copyists and translators. The Didaché has, ch. 7: βαπτίσατε εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος: but the passage need not be dependent on our canonical Gospel, and the Didaché elsewhere has a liturgical addition to the texts of the Gospels in the doxology attached to the Lord’s Prayer. But Irenæus and Tertullian already have the longer clause.

(M?) 20. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded them: and, behold, I am with you all the days, unto the consummation of the age.]—τηρεῖν] cf. 19:17, 23:3.—καὶ ἰδού] cf. on 1:20.—συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος] If Mt. has been recasting in this section a portion of Mk.’s lost ending, this phrase is no doubt due to him; see on 13:39.

M the Second Gospel.

Dalm. Dalman.

E editorial passages.

1 Cf. also Mark 9:2 A D gr al latt. S1, Secrets of Enoch 1:3 “Their hands whiter than snow,” Enoch 1062, 10 “his body was whiter than snow.”

Th. Theodotion.

S Syriac version: Curetonian.

latt. Manuscripts of the Old Latin Version.

DCG. Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels.

S Syriac version: Sinaitic MS.

al i.e. with other uncial MSS.

1 πορεύεσθαι for Mk’s ὑπάγειν. See on 21:1.

2 Cf. especially Torkild Skat Rördam (The lost end of Mark’s Gospel, Hibbert Jourmal, July 1905), to whom I am indebted for much that follows.

P Palestinian traditions.

Tert. Tertullian.

1 Cf Heitmüller, Im Namen Jesu.

Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on Matthew 28". International Critical Commentary NT. 1896-1924.