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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Matthew 28

Verse 1

Matthew 28:1 . Ὀψὲ , after) i.e. after the Sabbath; cf. Mark 16:1 . E. Schmidius compares with this expression that of Plutarch, ὀψὲ τῶν βασιλέως χρόνων , after the times of the king ; and that of Philostrahis, ὀψὲ τῶν Τρωϊκῶν , after the Trojan war . [1220] Now with the new week very different matters arise. σαββάτων σαββάτων , [1221] genitive plural of σάββατον , the Sabbath ) The Vulgate has Sabbati Sabbati , genitive singular, in both places, and it does not stand alone. σαββάτον σαββάτων , the first in the genitive singular, the second genitive plural, is the middle reading between these two. [1222] Τῇ [sc. ἩΜΈΡᾼ ] ἘΠΙΦΩΣΚΟΎΣῌ , as it began to dawn ) When the period of death had elapsed, our Lord rose as quickly as possible. εἰς μίαν [sc. ἩΜΈΡΑΝ ] on the first day, i.e. the whole day , the first of the week. The first day of the week had already begun on the preceding evening; now the day, as opposed to the night, was dawning on that first day. The first remarkable mention of the Lord’s day is combined with the resurrection of our Lord. It is generally called ἡ μία ( the first ) with the article: see Mark 16:2 ; Luke 24:1 ; John 20:1 ; John 20:19 ; Acts 20:7 , and on the other hand 1 Corinthians 16:2 . [1223] ΣΑΒΒΆΤΩΝ , of the days of the week ) ἦλθε , κ . τ . λ ., came , etc.) Such offices were performed by those who were not connected by the closest relationship; so that it is not wonderful that our Lord’s mother was not there with them. [1224]

[1220] We may translate the Greek words thus: “On that day which commences from the evening after the Sabbath, and on the following morning dawns upon the first day of the week.” This was Sunday, very early in the morning. Harm. , p. 584, etc.

[1221] This too is the reading of E. M. (I. B.)

[1222] In the original the passage runs thus: “ σαββάτων σαββάτων , sabbati sabbati ) habet Lat . nec solus. σαββάτου σαββάτων , lectio media.

[1223] In the last instance the omission of the article may be accounted for by the presence of the preposition κατὰ , which, as is frequently the case in similar instances, renders μίαν σαββάτων anarthrous. See Middleton on the article, who observes also, that if two nouns be in regimen, and if one be anarthrous, the other will be so too; so that σαββάτων , being without the article, causes μίαν to drop the article, which it otherwise should have. (I. B.)

[1224] It seems to be desirable to give the reader here a succinct history of this first Lord’s day, framed from a comparison of the Evangelists as instituted by Bengel, in such a way, however, as that the arguments are left in their own places to be investigated by the reader. The summary of events which the Harm. Ev. , p. 584. etc, exhibits, amounts to this:

The preparations for anointing Jesus, which had been begun before the Sabbath, having been continued and completed by the women after the end of the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene came to the sepulchre much sooner than the rest of the women; (for too long a space of time intervenes between the time preceding day-break [ Joh 20:1 ] and the rising of the sun [ Mar 16:2 ] to admit of our supposing that all the women at one time left home before day, and only reached the tomb at sunrise. Meanwhile the angel sent down from heaven rolled away the stone from the door of the sepulchre, whilst an earthquake accompanied his action, very much to the terror of the soldiers on watch. Mary Magdalene is the first of all who perceived the stone rolled away, and without having entered the sepulchre, she goes to tell tidings of the fact to Peter and John. Whilst these things are being carried on, the rest of the women, having entered the sepulchre, are thrown into a state of anxiety by not discovering the body of the Lord, and upon receiving the angel’s announcement concerning the resurrection, they depart quickly [ Mat 28:8 ]. Then Peter and John, coming to the sepulchre. and having seen the state of things there, believe that the body of the Lord has been carried away, and return home. But Mary, having now taken her stand at the sepulchre [ Joh 20:11 ]; (for she had followed the Apostles hither anew after her first visit to it), gives vent to her tears, and after having beheld the two angels, to whom she scarcely pays attention, she sees Jesus Himself, who presently after appears to the rest of the women also, as they were preparing to carry on the tidings of the angels to the disciples also. (Whilst these were going away, the soldiers in watch of the sepulchre, having brought to the priests tidings of what had happened, are bribed with money.) By this time Mary, attended by the rest of the women, has come to the disciples; but not even on the part of Peter does she find faith in the good tidings which she announces. Our Lord, meantime, appears to Cleophas and his companion (and elsewhere to Peter also). But not even to these announcements do the disciples give faith, before that, upon the intervention of the apparition, which had, in addition, been vouchsafed to Simon, the reports were confirmed by reports. In fine, on that very evening, when the disciples were congregated together, and were conversing with one another on these subjects, the risen Lord presents Himself to their view. E. B.

In his own Greek New Testament (4 to 1734) Bengel has σαββάτων σαββάτων , and does not indicate the existence of any various reading. In his App. Crit., however, he writes in loc.: “ σαββάτων utrumque) sabbathi habet Lat. (passim) et alii. (I. B.)

Besides Vulg. sabbati, sabbati is read by abc . L Δ and Syr. read σαββάτῳ . But ABD Orig. 1,440 c read σαββάτων σαββάτων with Rec. Text. ED.

Verse 2

Matthew 28:2 . Ἀπὸ τῆς θύρας , from the door ) sc. of the sepulchre. It did not behove that the sepulchre should remain closed. ἐκάθητο , sat ) Afterwards the angel arose with his companion. See Luke 24:4 [where it is said, “Behold two men stood by them in shining garments.] ἐπάνω αὐτοῦ , upon it ) sc. the stone: so that no one could roll it back again to the sepulchre.

Verse 3

Matthew 28:3 . Ἰδέα , appearance ) [1225] sc. of his face. λευκὸν , white ) Heavenly messengers are not before this occurrence said to have appeared in this dress: they have done so however since: see Acts 1:10 ; Acts 10:30 . [1226]

[1225] Engl. Vers. “ countenance .” (I. B.)

[1226] The dress corresponded to the message they delivered Harm. , p. 589.

Verse 4

Matthew 28:4 . Ὡσὲι νεκροὶ , as dead men ) Not even militany daring endures the power of the inhabitants of heaven.

Verse 5

Matthew 28:5 . Μὴ φοβεῖσθε , fear not ) An expression used at the commencement of visions, which tempers fear, arising from the glorious sight overpowering the hearts of mortals, which promises security, and conciliates attention. ὑμεῖς , ye ) Although the soldiers are left to their fear. οἶδα , I know ) Thus the angel impresses his words on their heart.

Verse 6

Matthew 28:6 . Οὐκ ἔστιν , κ . τ . λ ., He is not , etc.) This verse contains short clauses which are exceedingly appropriate to the subject matter. ὁ Κύριος , the Lord ) A designation of honour.

Verse 7

Matthew 28:7 . Εἴπατε τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ , κ . τ . λ ., say to His disciples , etc.) The apostles were especially bound to have believed before they saw; therefore the fact is announced to them through the women, and their faith is thereby tried. [1227] ἨΓΈΡΘΗ , has been raised ) The message to the disciples extends as far as “ αὐτὸν ὄψεσθε , i.e. ye shall see Him ;” cf. Matthew 28:10 . ἐκεῖ , there ) And yet the kind Saviour showed Himself to them before then. The appearance in Galilee was very solemn and public (see Matthew 28:10 ; Mat 28:16 ), and had been promised before the Lord’s death.

[1227] However, it was a pre-eminent honour conferred on these women, that our Lord appeared to them the first after His resurrection. V. g.

Verse 8

Matthew 28:8 . Φόβου καὶ χαρᾶς μεγάλης , with fear and great joy ) These emotions can coexist in spiritual matters.

Verse 9

Matthew 28:9 . [1228] Καὶ ἰδοὺ , and behold ) An elegant expression, denoting something sudden and unforeseen. ὁ Ἰησοῦς , κ . τ . λ ., Jesus , etc.) The obedient receive a further revelation. χαίρετε , all hail ) A formula of frequent occurrence, which is employed by our Lord in a high and peculiar sense. προσεκύνησαν Αὐτῷ , they worshipped Him ) Before His passion, Jesus had been worshipped by strangers, rather than by His disciples.

[1228] The words immediately preceding, ὡς μαθηταῖς αὐτού , are no doubt expressed in the Germ. Vers. , but the margin of both the Greek Editions prefers their omission. E. B.

A supports the Rec. Text, in reading at the beginning of Matthew 28:4 . ὡς δὲ ἐπορεύοντο ἀπαγγεῖλαι τοῖς μὰθηταῖς αὐτοῦ . But BD Vulg. abc Memph. Syr. reject the words, which seem to me to have originated from a transcriber’s accidental error in repeating the closing words of Matthew 28:8 a class of errors of frequent occurrence. ED.

Verse 10

Matthew 28:10 . Τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς Μου , to My brethren ) See Gnomon on John 20:17 .

Verse 11

Matthew 28:11 . Τινὲς , some ) The rest went elsewhere, or at any rate not to the priests. ἅπαντα , all things ) From all these things they gathered that Jesus had risen.

Verse 12

Matthew 28:12 . Ἀργύρια ἱκανὰ , money sufficient) i.e. , to corrupt the Roman soldiers, and induce them to lie contrary to the truth, at their own great peril. [1229]

[1229] The greed of gold has more power with them than their fear spoken of in Matthew 28:4 . V. g.

Verse 13

Matthew 28:13 . Εἴπατε , κ . τ . λ ., say , etc.) The priests were a great stumbling-block to the soldiers, and sinned most heinously against God. ὅτι , κ . τ . λ ., that , etc.) A specimen of Jewish perfidy and calumny. νυκτὸς , by night ) They instruct them how to lie speciously.

Verse 14

Matthew 28:14 . Ἐὰν , κ . τ . λ ., if etc.) How laborious is the warfare of falsehood against truth. ἐπὶ , officially before ).

Verse 15

Matthew 28:15 . Διεφημίσθη , has been commonly reported ) There are many things of this kind by which the wretched Jews keep themselves in error. [1230]

[1230] And how signal are the injuries which are subsequently given birth to by even a single false representation! V. g.

Matthew 28:16 . εἰς τὴν Γαλιλάιαν , into Galilee ) This very appearance was the most solemn of all, being the one which the Lord had promised before His passion. And it is not without good reason that it is held to be the same one as that at which “more than 500 brethren” were present “at once,” 1 Corinthians 15:6 . For the Lord appeared to Paul after His ascension: but the rest of the Apostles ( 1Co 15:7 ) had not at that time need any more, as Paul had, of such a vision. No doubt at Jerusalem, after the ascension, only 120 disciples are reckoned ( Act 1:15 ). But Galilee contained far more disciples than that number. Harm. , p. 611.

Verse 17

Matthew 28:17 . Οἱ δὲ , others , or, some ) sc. of the Twelve. The day of Pentecost, however, removed all doubt from these, if any remained. The slower they were at first to believe, the greater credit is due to them afterwards as witnesses. Leo, in his first sermon on the Ascension, says, “They doubted, in order that we should not doubt.”

Verse 18

Matthew 28:18 . Προσελθὼν , having come unto ) And by that very circumstance, producing faith even in those who doubted. αὐτοῖς , to them) i.e. addressing them. ἐδόθη Μοι , has been to Me ) especially to Me, risen and ascending. This passage contains the sum of those things which the Lord declared afterwards more fully in the Apocalypse, concerning His possession of all authority, and His presence with His own; see Revelation 1:18 ; Revelation 1:13 . πᾶσα , κ . τ . λ ., all , etc.) This is the reason why Jesus sends His disciples into all the world, and why the whole world ought to worship Him, and why He institutes baptism; [1231] see Ephesians cited below. ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς , in heaven and on earth ) see ch. Matthew 9:16 , Matthew 16:1 . Hitherto He had been on earth, now He ascends to heaven: He fills all things; see Ephesians 4:10 , with the, preceding and following verses.

[1231] For the salvation of men, to be converted on earth, and conducted to heaven. B. G. V.

Verse 19

Matthew 28:19 . [1232] Πορευθέντες οὖν , κτλ ., go ye therefore , etc.) This injunction, to go forth, presupposes the waiting for the Paraclete mentioned in Luke 24:49 . It is the sum of the Acts, which may with that view be profitably compared with the Gospels, the sum of which is “ all things whatsoever I have commanded .” μαθητεύσατε βαπτίζοντες , discipulize baptizing ) The verb, μαθητεύειν , signifies to make disciples ; it includes baptism and teaching ; cf. John 4:1 , with the present passage. αὐτούς , them ) sc. τὰ ἔθνη , the nations , a synthesis [1233] of frequent occurrence; see ch. Matthew 25:32 , etc. The Jews who had been already brought into covenant with God by circumcision, were to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ , and to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost ; see Acts 2:38 . It is plainly commanded by these words of Institution, that the Gentiles should be baptized “ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost ;” they had been altogether aliens from God; see Gnomon on Ephesians 3:6 , and cf. Gnomon on Acts 11:21 . The Gentiles, mentioned in Acts 10:0 were not altogether ignorant of the God of Israel, nor altogether aliens from Him. The Jews, who had once acknowledged Jesus Christ to be the Son of God, could not but by that very act acknowledge the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of the Son. εἰς τὸ ὄνομα , κ . τ . λ ., into the name , etc. [1234] ) This formula of Baptism is most solemn and important; in fact it embraces the sum of all piety. [1235] After our Lord’s resurrection, the mystery of the Holy Trinity was most clearly revealed, together with the relations of the Divine Persons to each other and to us (see Gnomon on Rom 8:9 ); and since the confession of the Holy Trinity was so closely interwoven with Baptism, it is not to be wondered at, that it is not frequently put thus expressly in the Scriptures of the New Testament.

[1232] The Saviour, when brought back from the dead, very frequently enjoined upon His Apostles the office of preaching the Gospel (John 20:21 ; Joh 21:15 ). The Evangelists, therefore, might present a summary of such injunctions, according as this or that opportunity presented itself. Matthew connects this summary with His appearance in Galilee; Luke records it after that appearing, ch. Matthew 24:49 , nay, at Jerusalem, up to and upon the day of His ascension. Comp. Acts 1:2 , etc. And we may conjecture the same as to Mark, from ch. Matthew 16:15 ; Matthew 16:19 . Harm. , p. 612.

[1233] The word synthesis is not used here in its logical or mathematical sense, but as a technico-grammatical term, representing the figure otherwise called synesis; i.e. a joining together of words with respect to the idea conveyed, and not to the word by which it is expressed: see Riddle in vocc. In the present passage τὰ ἔθνη , the nations , are neuter and aggregate; αὐτούς , them , masculine and individual. This is Bengel’s meaning. (I. B.)

[1234] Engl. Vers. “ In the name . (I. B.)

[1235] At the baptism of Christ Jesus Himself, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost manifested themselves [cf. Gnomon on ch. Mat 3:16-17 ]. The entire Sum of Saving knowledge and doctrine is bound up with Baptism: and all the Ancient Creeds and Confessions of Faith are, in fact, a Periphrasis and Working-out [ Ausführung , rendered by E. B. ἐξεργασία ] of this incomparably momentous Formula of Baptism. B. G. V.

Verse 20

Matthew 28:20 . Αὐτοὺς , them ) The disciples had been instructed in order that they might instruct others. τηρεῖν , to observe, to keep ) as it becomes the baptized to do by virtue of faith, not merely as a legal performance. John often speaks thus. This verb deserves especial attention, from its occurrence in this solemn place. ἐνετειλάμηυ , I have commanded ) These commandments are to be found in Matthew 5:0 ; John 15:0 etc. μεθʼ ὑμῶν , with you ) even when you shall be scattered apart through the whole world. This promise belongs also to the whole Church, for our Lord adds, “ even to the end of the world .” πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας , always ) literally, all the days, i.e., every single day . A continual presence, and one most actually present; see Mark 16:17 ; Mark 16:19-20 . [1236] ἝΩς Τῆς ΣΥΝΤΕΛΕΊΑς ΤΟῦ ΑἸῶΝΟς , unto the end of the world ) For then we shall be with the Lord [as He is even now with us]. [To Him, therefore, Reader, commit thyself, and remain in Him; so will it be best for thee in time and in eternity. B. G. V.] 1237]

[1236] Therefore the Christian Church will never entirely expire. B. G. V.

[1237] Bengel, J. A. (1860). Vol. 1 : Gnomon of the New Testament (M. E. Bengel & J. C. F. Steudel, Ed.) (J. Bandinel & A. R. Fausset, Trans.) (403 490). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.

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Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Matthew 28". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.