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Jesus in the Consummation of His High-Priesthood; or, the History of the Passion
(Mark 14:15; Luke 22:23; John 12-19)
The prophetic office of Jesus was historically finished in His eschatological discourses: in the history of His sufferings, His high-priestly office, as to its historical aspect, was completed. It was necessary, in the very nature of the case, that the idea of the high-priestly sufferings should be prominent in all the Evangelists; but we find it made specially prominent in the account of Matthew. Thus he lays stress upon the fact, that the fallen priesthood in Israel determined to put Him to death (Matthew 26:3, etc); and he most sharply of all delineates the traitor who delivered Him up. Matthew alone mentions the thirty pieces of silver, as the price of Him who was sold. In Matthew’s account of the Supper, and in his alone, it is said that the sacrifice of Jesus availed for His people, εις ά̓φεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν (Matthew 26:28). The struggle in Gethsemane is described with particular minuteness; and the threefold repetition of the same prayer is expressly recorded. The reproof of Simon Peter when he drew his sword, the declaration that the twelve legions of angels might be summoned to help—that is the exhibition of our Lord’s voluntary submission at that time—occur in Matthew, and scarcely in any other. (Comp. John 17:11.) The suicide of Judas, and the history of the field of blood, are peculiar to Matthew (Matthew 27:8-10): as also, Pilate’s wife’s dream (Matthew 26:19), Pilate’s washing of his hands, the people’s invocation of the curse on themselves (Matthew 26:24-25), and specially the blasphemy against Christ on the cross (Matthew 26:43). The rending of the vail of the temple is recorded chiefly by Mark also; but the specific meaning of this event is unfolded only by Matthew (Matthew 26:51-53). So also is the very important circumstance of the sealing and watch set by the Sanhedrin on the sepulchre. Thus in his Gospel Christ appears from the beginning as sacrificed, and in purpose destroyed by the corrupt high-priesthood; and the signs of propitiation in His death are made sharply prominent. On the other hand, many dramatic traits of the synoptical Gospels are given very briefly by Matthew. Like Mark and Luke, he omits the washing of the feet (John 13:1 sqq.), and records instead the institution of the Supper. He passes over the contention of the disciples, Luke 22:24; and the further expansion of the warning to Peter, John 13:33; Luke 22:31. Like them also, he omits the farewell discourses in John. (Mark alone gives the account of the young man who fled, Mark 14:51.) Matthew, with the other Synoptists, says nothing of the examination before Annas, John 18:13, or of the details of the examination before Pilate, John 18:29. He omits also the sending to Herod, which Luke records, Matthew 23:7; the scourging, John 19:1; the transaction between Pilate and the Council concerning the title, “King of the Jews,” John 19:19; the Saviour’s words to the weeping women, Luke 23:27; His last saying to His mother, John 19:25; and the circumstances of John 19:31, etc.
Of all the words from the cross, Matthew records only the exclamation, “My God, My God!” and he alone makes the observation, that Jesus departed with a loud cry. In these, as in similar traits, Mark approaches him most nearly; but it is very plain that in Matthew the thought of the high-priestly suffering is most strongly impressed upon the whole narrative.
As it respects the chronology, the departure of Jesus from the temple, on Tuesday evening, after His great condemning discourse, had introduced the final crisis. We have seen how much more probable it is that Jesus announced on Wednesday to His disciples, that after two days He should be crucified, than that He announced it late on Tuesday evening. This refers the session of the Council, Matthew 26:3, to Wednesday (not to Tuesday night, Leben Jesu, ii. 3, p. 1307). From this fixed date the narrative goes back to the anointing in Bethany, which took place some days before—that is, on the evening of the Saturday before Palm Sunday. Then follows the preparation of the Passover on the first day of unleavened bread—that is, on the 14th Nisan, the morning of Thursday, Matthew 26:17. On the evening of the 14th Nisan, the beginning of the 15th, comes the Passover itself.
The question here arises, whether there is any difference between the Synoptists and John in the account of the Passover.1 As the Synoptists agree in the statement that Jesus ate the Passover at the legal time with His disciples, it is John who gives rise to a seeming difference; and the discussion of the question might therefore be deferred. It is better, however, to attempt a brief settlement at once.
On the first day of unleavened bread,—that is, on the 14th Nisan,—the paschal feast was, according to Matthew, made ready. On that day the leavened bread was to be removed. On the evening of that day, before six o’clock, and thus at the point of transition from the 14th Nisan to the 15th, the lega Passover was introduced by the feet-washing. This explains the representation of John. (1) John 13:1-4 : “Before the feast of the Passover,…Jesus riseth from supper, and layeth aside His garments ” (that is, to perform the washing). The feast itself began about six o’clock; and it would be very strange if the expression, “before the feast,” must be made to mean “a day before.” It would be much nearer to say, “some minutes before;”2 but the real meaning is, “an indefinite time previous.” (2) John 13:27 : Jesus said to Judas, “What thou doest, do quickly;” and some present thought that he was commanded to go at once, before the opening of the feast, and buy what provisions were necessary for it. But they could not possibly have entertained such a thought, if the whole of the next day had been open to them for the purpose; although it was a very natural one, if the time allowed for secular purposes was fast drawing to a close.3 (3) John, Matthew 18:28, narrates that the Jews, on the morning of the crucifixion, might not enter with Jesus into the Prætorium, “lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover ” (χλλ̓ ἴνα φάγασι τὸ πάοχα). Since the defilement occasioned by entering a Gentile house lasted only one day, they might very well have gone into the Prætorium, and yet eat the Passover after six o’clock; for the defilement would cease at six o’clock in the evening.4 But, if they had eaten the Passover the evening before, they could not have entered the hall on the morning of the 15th Nisan, lest they should desecrate the paschal feast. John uses here the common and ordinary expression, in the brief form, φαγεῖν5 τὸ πάσχα Wieseler thinks πάσχα an unusual and peculiar form, and understands it of the Chagigah [feast-offering] on the 15th Nisan; others refer it to the whole paschal feasts, Deu 16:2; 2 Chronicles 30:22 : “they did eat the paschal feast seven days, offering peace offerings;” but the peculiarity, we think, lies in the φαγεῖν, meaning the continuance of the paschal feast. Examples of such concise expressions are frequent enough, e.g., to eat fish for to fast; to celebrate Christmas (Weihnacht) for Christmas-day (Christtag), etc.6 (4) John 19:31; The Jews urged on the burial of the crucified, that the bodies might not hang upon the crosses on the Sabbath, the day of preparation. Wieseler: The day of preparation, πυρασκεμή, does not signify the preparation before the Passover, but before the first sabbath of the Passover. To the Jews, the Friday was the eve of the Sabbath, or day of preparation; and, if the Passover chanced to begin on a Friday, the next Saturday or Sabbath became a high day, the great day of the feast. “That Sabbath was a high day.” From this permanent παρασκευή for the Sabbath, John distinguishes a day of preparation for the feast generally, John 13:1 and Mat 26:29.7—Other reasons alleged in favor of the supposed difference of days are these: (1) Improbability of an execution on a feast day. Against this we have Rabb Akiba: Great transgressors were taken to Jerusalem, in order that they might be put to death at the feast, before the eyes of the people (according to Deuteronomy 17:12-13). Executions had a religious character. They were symbols of judgment, for warning and edification. Sad analogies are the Spanish auto da fés as popular religious festivals.8 (2) The women prepared their spices on the day of Jesus’ death. But we answer that on the mere feast days (not Sabbaths) spices might be prepared, and other things might be done: labor only was excluded (Leviticus 23:7-8). (3) The Synoptists as well as John describe the day of Christ’s death as παρασκευή and προσθ́ββυτος. We answer that the second of these terms simply proves the day to have been Friday.—Thus all the evidences brought forward to support the theory of a difference in the days may be used on the opposite side.
In addition to this we must urge the following positive reasons in favor of our view: 1. It cannot be conceived that Jesus, led always by the Father through the path of legal ordinance, would celebrate the paschal feast a day before the time, and thereby voluntarily hasten His own death. 2. Pilate releases a prisoner to the Jews ἑν τῷ πάσχα John 18:39. John 18:3. John, according to the testimony of the Quarto-decimans of the Easter controversy, kept the feast on the evening of the 14th Nisan, and therefore at the same time with the Jews. 4. The argument used by the Fathers, Clemens and Hippolytus, against the Quartodecimans, that Jesus died on the legal day of the Passover, because He was the real Passover, may be made to support the claim for the 15th Nisan (although there is an evident confusion among these fathers in the counting of the days, and too much stress laid on the fact that the paschal lamb was slain on the 14th Nisan).9 If Jesus died on the 15th Nisan, He died on the day of the legal Passover; for that day began at six o’clock of the 14th Nisan. If, on the other hand, it was at three o’clock in the afternoon of 14th Nisan that He died, it would have been one day before the legal paschal day, which did not begin till six o’clock. Neglect of the difference between the Jewish and the Roman (and our own) reckoning from midnight has tended much to confuse this question.
The chronological difference in the account of the Evangelists has been maintained by Bretschneider, Usteri, Theile, de Wette, Meyer, Lücke, Bleek, Ebrard, and many others, who decide the question, some in favor of the Synoptists, some in favor of John. On the other hand, the agreement of John with the other three has been established by Hengstenberg, Tholuck, Wieseler, and, temporarily, by Ebrard.10 Others, again, have striven to explain the Synoptists according to the supposed meaning of John; among the more recent writers Movers, Krafft, and Maier [of Freiburg, in his Commentar über das Evangelium des Johannes, p. 280 sqq.—not to be confounded with the Protestant Meyer so often quoted in this work]. The latter urges that, according to John, the meal of which the Lord partook fell upon the evening of the 13th Nisan. The term ἑν πρώτῃ των , in the Synoptists, is then explained by the custom of the Galileans; according to which the whole preparation day of the feast, the 14th Nisan, had been already kept. “According to their custom, this day fell into the Passover season, and might as including the last part of the 13th Nisan, when the leaven was removed, be described as πρώτη τῶιἀζύμων” Thus he explains Matthew as meaning that the meal, no proper Passover, took place on the evening of the 13th Nisan. But this is untenable. For, 1. Maier himself acknowledges that Mark and Luke expressly describe the Lord’s meal as a Passover celebrated at the legal time; and it is highly improbable that Matthew would here place himself on the side of John, in opposition to Mark and Luke 2:0. The circumstance, that the Galileans removed the leaven earlier than the Jews—so soon as the morning of the 14th Nisan, even the evening before—may be accounted for by the obligations of their journey. They came as travellers and guests to Jerusalem, and were therefore obliged to fix an earlier time for the beginning of the preparation. But it was not possible that they should begin the feast of unleavened bread a day earlier, because this would have been opposed to all Jewish ordinance, and because they must in that case, during that whole day, have avoided all social intercourse with the Jews. 3. Jesus is said to have anticipated the day, because He foresaw His own death. But Jesus also foresaw that the betrayal of Judas would be connected with the PassoMatthew 26:4. It is plain that Matthew speaks of a legal Passover which could not be anticipated; for the disciples remind the Lord that the time of the Passover was at hand. Matthew does not say that the first day of the feast of unleavened bread was approaching, but that it was come.—On other artificial attempts at reconciliation, see Winer, Reallexicon, art. Pascha.
All the Evangelists plainly agree in recording that Christ rose again on a Sunday, that He lay during the preceding Sabbath in the sepulchre, and that He died on the Friday before this Sabbath. According to Wieseler (p. 386 sqq.), Jesus was crucified on the 15th of Nisan of the year 30 a. d., or 783 from the foundation of Rome; and that day was a Friday.
[I call attention here to a different view on the day of Christ’s death, not hitherto noticed by commentators, but worthy of a respectful examination. Dr. Gustav Seyffarth, formerly professor extraordinary in the university of Leipzig, now residing in New York, the author of a number of learned works on Egyptiology, Astronomy, and Chronology, and the propounder of a new theory of the Egyptian hieroglyphics (see his Grammatica Ægyptiaca; Theologische Schriften der alten Ægypter, etc.), deviates from the traditional view, and holds that Christ died on Thursday, the 14th (not the 15th) of Nisan (the 19th of March), and lay full three days and three nights in the grave till Sunday morning. See his Chronologia Sacra, Leipzig, p. 8 sq. and p. 120 sqq. He thus solves the difficulty concerning the three days and three nights which the Saviour was to lay in the grave according to repeated statements, Matthew 12:40 (τρεῖς ἡμέρας καὶ τοεῖς νύκτας); 27:63 (μετὰ τρεῖς ἡμἑρας); John 2:19 (ἐν τρισὶν ἡμέραις); Revelation 11:9 (ἡμέρας τρεῖς). Dr. Seyffarth supports this view also by astronomical calculations of the eclipse of the sun at the death of our Saviour, into the details of which I cannot here follow him. In fact, he bases ancient chronology largely on astronomy. As to the year of Christ’s death, Dr. Seyffarth, considering the Æra Dionysiaca correct in the date of the year and the day of Christ’s birth, puts it the year 33 post Christum natum, or 787 Anno Urbis. Other dates of Christ’s death assigned by various writers are: A. U. 783 (Wieseler, Friedlieb, Tischendorf, Greswell, Ellicott, Lange, Andrews); 781 (Jarvis); 782 (Browne, Sepp, Clinton); 786 (Ebrard, Ewald).—P. S.]
The Meaning of the Sufferings and Death of Jesus.—Here is the sacred centre of history, the history of histories, the end and the summing up of all past time, the beginning and the summing up of all the new ages, the perfected judgment, and the perfected redemption. Therefore, also, it is a perfected revelation: it is the supreme revelation of Jesus and of the depths of His heart; of the deep things of the Godhead; of the divine wisdom, righteousness, and grace; of the depths of humanity, the most manifold characteristics of which are here laid bare in the contrast between the holy Son of Man and the sinful children of men; the depths of nature, living and suffering in fellowship with humanity; the deep things of the spiritual world, and the depths of Satan. As it is said in Isaiah 53:0, concerning the Redeemer: “Who shall declare His length of life?” so it may here be said: “Who shall declare the depths of His death?”
We can only hint here at the riches of the contrasts—revealing the fulness of the revelation of judgment and redemption—which the history of our Lord’s passion includes. 1. The contrast of the sufferings of Christ with His last eschatological predictions concerning His own future judicial majesty. Chrysostom: “At the fitting time He speaks now of His sufferings, when His future kingdom, with its rewards and punishments, was so present to His thoughts.” 2. The contrast of His passion with His past official work in life: suffering as the counterpart of action, passive obedience of active. Lisco; “The history of the Redeemer’s passion is related at large, and with peculiar preference, by the Evangelists. In His sufferings (as in His actions) the God-man reveals Himself in His dignity and glory But while the active virtues exhibit themselves in His whole life, the no less great virtues of patience, gentleness, longsuffering, and supreme submission to God, prominently express themselves in His sufferings. These were not so much the consequence of the cunning, malice, and power of His enemies, as His own free-will offering for the redemption of a sinful world: in this He manifested Himself as the innocent and patient Lamb of God, bearing and putting away the sins of the world in obedience to His heavenly Father. The suffering, dying, and victoriously rising Redeemer, amidst all the diversified concomitants of His passion, gives us a perfect image of the great conflict between the kingdoms of light and of darkness. Far from all passionless indifference, the Redeemer exhibited in His sufferings the tender emotions of sorrow and grief, and even of anguish and fear—thus becoming to us also a symbol of that endurance of suffering which is well-pleasing to God,” 3. The contrast of the perfected passion to the suffering course of His whole life. 4. The contrast between the great fulfilment, and the types and the predictions concerning the suffering Messiah (Psalms 22:0; Isaiah 53:0). 5. The contrast with the ancient martyrs from the blood of Abel downward. 6. The contrast between the woes of Christ and the sorrows and pleasures of the old world. 7. The contrast of His passion with His original divine glory, and his final human glorification.—A new series of such antitheses is then opened in the contrast of the sufferings of the personal Christ with the sufferings of His people, with the contrast of death and resurrection, to the end of the world. And, on the other side, there are the contrasts of reconciliation: the reconciliation of God and man, of heaven and earth, of this world and the next, of life and death, of the crown and the cross, of judgment and mercy. Heubner: “The history of the passion is the highest and holiest history; it is the turning-point in the history of the world, both in itself, and its design and effect.”
In the homiletical treatment of this event care should ever be taken not to forget the central-point, the Lord Himself, while contemplating the prominent figures surrounding Him. The suffering Redeemer Himself is always the essential object in every section;—the point of view from which to regard all the other persons, Judas, Peter, Pilate, and the rest, who must be seen in the light which He sheds upon them. Then, also, we should remember to regard these guilty and failing characters not with feelings of human excitement, and the rage of judicial revenge against Pilate and Judas (as in the Ash-Wednesday services of mediæval Catholicism), but in the spirit of conciliation which the atoning sacrifice before us suggests. And, lastly, the redeeming power of the victorious love of Christ should be supreme in our thoughts; from it we should derive our arguments and pleas.
Literature on the History of Christ’s Passion.11—See full lists of works in Lilienthal: Bibl. Archivartus, 1745, p. 118 sqq.; Danz: Wörterbuch der theol. Literatur, p. 732, and Supplement, p. 80; Winer: Handbuch der theol Literatur, ii. p. 155, Supplement, p. 258; Heubner, p. 376.—We mention the following: Hugo Grotius: Christus Patiens, a Latin drama, 1616; Klopstock: Messias (heroic poem); Lavater: Pontius Pilatus; Rambach: Meditations on the Whole History of Christ’s Passion (German). Berlin, 1742; Rieger: Sermons on the Passion (German), Stuttgart, 1751; Callisen: The Last Days of our Lord (German), Nürnberg, 182; F. W. Krummacher: The Suffering Saviour, Bielefeld, 1854 [English translation, Boston, 1857]; J. Wichelhaus: A complete Commentary on the History of Christ’s Passion (German), Hale, 1853. [L. H. Friedlieb: Archæology of the History of the Passion, Bonn. 1843; W. Stroud: Physical Cause of the Death of Christ, London, 1847; the relevant sections in the Lives of Christ by Hase, Neander, Sepp, Lange, Lichtenstein, Ebbard. Ewald. Riggenbach, Baumgarten, Van Oosterzee, Kitto, Ellicott, Andrews. On the doctrinal aspect of the History of the Passion, compare also W. Magee (archbishop of Duslin, † 1831): Discourses and Dissertations on the Scriptural Doctrines of Atonement and Sacrifice, 1801 and often (Works, London, 1842, vol. lst).—P. S.]
On the development of the Catholic celebration of the Passion of Christ during Lent and the. Holy Week to Good Friday, we refer to the archæological works of Augusti and Rheinwald [Bingham..Binteim]; a so to Fr. Strauss: The Evangelical Church-Year (German), p. 177, and Lisco: The Christian-Church Year (German), p. 19 etc.
Comp. on this intricate question Winer: Realwörterbuch, sub Pascha; De Wette. and Meyer: on John 12:1; John 13:1; John 18:28, and the other disputed passages; Bleek: Beitrüge zur Evangelien-Kritik, p. 107; Wieseler: Chronologische Synopse, p. 339; Ebrard: Kritik der Evang. Geschichte; Weizel.: Die christliche Paschafeier der ersten Jahrhunderts; Lange: Leben Jesu, i. p. 187; ii. p. 1166, and Geschichte des Apot,. Zeitalters, i. p. 71.—[Also Gust. Seyffarth: Chronologia Sacra. Untersuchungen über das Geburtsjahr des herrn, Leipz. 1846, pp, 119–148; and among English works, E. Greswell: Dissertations upon the Principles and Arrangement of an Harmony of the Gospels, 2d ed. Oxf. 1837, 4 vols.; vol. iii. p. 133 sqq.; Alford: Com. on Matthew 26:17-19 (p. 248 sqq.); Robinson: Harmony, etc.; Sam. L Andrews: The Life of our Lord upon the Earth, New York, 1863, pp. 425–460. Of English writers Andrews, Robinson, and Wordsworth agree with Dr. Lange’s view that Christ ate the regular Jewish Passover on Thursday evening, at the close of the 14th of Nisan, and was crucified on Friday the 15th, the first day of the feast; while Greswell, Alford, Ellicott, and others, side with the opposite view according to which Christ instituted the holy communion (either in connection with the real, or a merely anticipatory passover, or a πάσχα μνημονευτικόν, as distinct from the πάσχα θύσιμον, or an ordinary meal—for their views differ in these details) on the 13th of Nisan (Thursday evening), and died on the 14th (Friday afternoon) when the paschal lamb, of which He was the type, was slain and the Jewish Passover proper began. Seyffarth agrees with the latter as to the date of the month, but differs from both parties and from the entire tradition of the Christian Church as to the day of the week, by putting the crucifixion on a Thursday instead of Friday, and by extending the Saviour’s rest in the grave to the full extent of three days and three nights till Sunday morning. (See below, p. 457.) The chronological difficult) concerning the true date of Christ’s death and the true character of His last Supper divides the Greek and Latin Church, but was not made an article of faith in either. The Greek writers generally hold that Christ, as the true Paschal Lamb, was slain at the hour appointed for the sacrifice of the Passover (the 14th of Nisan), and hence the Greek Church uses leavened bread in the Eucharist. The Latin Church, using unleavened bread in the Eucharist, assumes that Christ Himself used it at the institution of this ordinance, and that He ate therefore the true Paschal Supper on the first day of unleavened bread, i.e., the 14th of Nisan, and died on the day following. In this whole controversy it should be constantly kept in mind that the Jewish day commenced six hours before the Julian day, and run from sunset to sunset, or from six o’clock in the evening till six o’clock in the evening, and that the day when Christ instituted the holy communion, embraces the whole history of the passion, crucifixion, and burial.—P. S.]
[This is the interpretation of W. Bäumlein, the latest commentator on the fourth Gospel. He explains the πρὸ τῆς ἑορτῆς τοῦ πασχα unmittelbar vor dem Paschafeste, i.e., immediately before the Passover. Compare such expressions as πρὸ δείπνου, πρὸ ἡμέρας. Ewald, however (Commentar, p. 343), explains: “am Tage vor dem Pascha-feste, i.e., a day before the Passover (the 14th of Nisan).—P. S.]
[Comp. the same argument more fully stated by Andrews: Life of our Lord, p. 446—P. S.]
[Lightfoot, ad John 18:28, makes the same remark.—P. S.]
[The German original reads here and afterward φάγειν (infin. from ἔφαγον, used as aor. ii. of ἐσθίω); but the Edinb. trsl. ought not to have copied such an obvious typographical error.—P. S.]
[Comp. the remarks of Andrews l. c. p. 447 sqq.. who urges that John in six out of the nine times in which he uses the word πάσχα, applies it to the feast generally; that he, writing last of all the Evangelists, speaks of Jewish rites indefinitely as of things now superseded: that therefore the term, to eat the Passover, might very well be used by him in a more general sense with reference to the sacrifices which followed the paschal supper on the 14th of Nisan. The most recent commentary on John’s Gospel, by W. Brumlein, Stuttgart, 1863, p. 166, arrives at the same conclusion with Wieseler, that πάσχα here means the חֲגִ־גָה or feast offering, i.e., the voluntary sacrifices of sheep or bullock which the Jews offered on the festivals.—P. S.]
[The term: παρασκευή, preparation, occurs six times in the Gospels (Matthew 27:62; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:14; John 19:31; John 19:42), and in all these cases it means προσάββατον, “the day before the Sabbath,” as Mark 15:42 expressly explains it. So the Germans call Saturday Sennabend, the Sunday-eve. Hence it is equivalent to Friday, and so rendered in Syriac. The Jews observed Friday afternoon from 3 o’clock as the time for preparation for the Sabbath which commenced at sunset (Joseph. Antiq. xvi. 6, 2). The only difficulty is with John 19:14 : “it was the preparation of the Passover,” which Dr Lange should have mentioned before John 19:31, as an argument urged by the friends of the opposite view, inasmuch as it seems to place the trial and crucifixion before the beginning of the Passover. But we have no clear proof that there was a special preparation day for a feast (a Passover eve) as well as for the weekly sabbath; Bochart, Hieroz. p. 567: Sacri scriptores aliam Parasceven seu Præparationem non norunt, quam Sabbuti. And, then, if παρασκευτή became the usual term for Friday, the phrase must mean the Friday of the Passover, i.e., the paschal week, according to the wider usage of πάσχα in John. Campbell translates: “Now it was the preparation of the paschal Sabbath;” Norton: “The preparation day of the paschal week.” As the 14th of Nisan was universally regarded as the beginning of the Passover, it is very unlikely that John should have gone out of his way to give it the came of the preparation for the Passover in the sense of Passover eve. Tholuck and Wieseler quote from Ignatius ad Phil. c. 18, the expression: σάββατον τοῦ πάσχα, and from Socrates, Ilist. Eccl. 5:22: σάββατον τῆς ἑορτῆς. Bäumlein in loc.: “Esist der Rüsttag der Paschazeit; denn wie wir gesehen haben, τὸ πάσχα bezeichnet bei Johannes die ganzs Paschafestzeit. Johannes wollte hervorheben, an welchem Wochentage der Paschazeit Jesus gekreusigt ward, wie nachher hereorgehoben wird, duss die Auferstehung aufden ersten Tug der Woche, also den dritten Tag nach der Kreuzigung fiel.” To this we may add the higher reason that John wished to expose the awful inconsistency and crime of the Jews in putting the Saviour to death on the very day when they should have prepared themselves for the service of God in His temple on the coming sabbath doubly sacred by its connection with the great Passover.—P. S.]
[It may be added that the Jews attempted several limes to seize Jesus on sabbaths or festival days, Luke 4:26; Luke 4:29 (on a sabbath); John 7:30; John 7:32 (in the midst of the feast of tabernacles, τῆς ἑορῆς μεσούσης, Matthew 26:14); 7:37, 44, 45 (on the last day if the feast); 10:22, 39 (at the feast of the dedication).—P. S.]
[The church fathers have the tradition that Christ died on the viii Cal. Apriles, i.e., on the 25th of March, three days after the vernal equinox. The most definite testimony is that of Tertullian, which may be turned, however, against the view of Dr. Lange: “Quœ passio facta est sub Tiberio Cœsare, Consulibus Rubellio Gemino et Fusio Gemino, mense Martio, temporibus Paschœ, die viii. Calend. Aprilium, die primo asumorum [this seems to be the 14th of Nisan, as in Matthew 26:17 and parallels], quo agnum ut occiderent ad vesperum, a Moyse fuerat præceptum.’ Adv Judges 8:0. De Bapt. c. 19.—P. S.]
[Ebrard held originally the other view, that Christ died on the 14th of Nisan, and was rather suddenly converted to the opposite side by Wieseler (Chronol. Synopse, Hamburg, 1848, pp. 333–390), but then he again returned to his first view in consequence of the clear, calm, and thorough investigation of Bleek (Beiträge zur Exangelien-Kritik, Berlin, 1846, pp. 107–156). Comp. Ebrard: Dan Evangelium Johannis, p. 42 sqq., where he defends Wieseler’s view, and his Wissen schafhiche Kritik der Evang. Geschiehte, 2d ed. 1850, p. 506 sqq, where he returns is to his first view with the honest confession: “The plausible and acute arguments of Wieseler have since been so thoroughly refuted by Bleek that no false pride of consistency can prevent me from returning openly to my original opinion as expressed in the first edition of this work.”—P. S.]
[All omitted in the Edinb. trsl.—P. S.]
JESUS AND HIS BETRAYER.—JUDAS AND THE HIGH-PRIESTS
(Mark 15:1; Luke 22:66 to Luke 23:1; John 18:28)
1When [But, δέ] the morning was come, all the chief priests and [the, οἱ elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: 2And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.1 3Then Judas, which [who] had betrayed2 him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself [regretting, μεταμεληθείς],3 and brought again [brought back] the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and [the] elders, 4Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent4 blood [I sinned, or erred, in betraying innocent blood, ἥμαρτον παραδοὺς αῖμα ].5 And they said, What is that [it] to us? see thou to that,[it]. 5And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed [withdrew, or isolated himself, ἀνεχώρησε],6 and went [away hence] and hanged himself. 6And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. 7And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. 8Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. 9Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy [Jeremiah]7 the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued [priced],8 whom they of the children of Israel did value [priced. Genesis 37:28; Zechariah 11:12-13; Jeremiah 18:1; Jeremiah 19:12; Jeremiah 32:6 ff]; 10And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me [to me].9
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Matthew 27:1 When the morning was come.—The formal meeting of the council must have taken place after six o’clock in the morning. The night of His betrayal into the hands of the high-priests was past, and the morning of His betrayal to the Gentiles had dawned. The deed, commenced in the night, was sufficiently developed and matured to be finished in clear day-light.—All the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel.—This meeting of the Sanhedrin, which Luke describes in his Gospel, was intended at the same time to meet all the forms of law, and definitely to express the grounds of the charge against Jesus. But, as we have already seen, in point of fact, it only served to cover those violations of the law into which their reckless fanaticism had hurried them. One of the main objects of the Sanhedrin now was, to present the charge in such a light as to oblige Pilate to pronounce sentence of death. Accordingly, they agreed on the following course of procedure: 1. They demanded the absolute confirmation of their own sentence, without further inquiry into their proceedings (John 18:30). 2. Failing to obtain this, they accused Jesus as King of the Jews, i.e., as Messiah, in the ambiguous, semi-religious and semi-political sense of that title. 3. When (according to John) Jesus repudiated the political character of His kingdom, they preferred against Him the charge of making the religious claim that He was the Son of God. But as the effect of this accusation proved the very opposite from what they had expected, they returned to the political charge, now threatening Pilate with laying before the Emperor the fact that Jesus had made Himself a king. No doubt the general outline of this procedure was planned and sketched in the meeting of the Sanhedrin. Of course, they could not have foreseen that Pilate himself would offer them the means to overcome his opposition, by setting Jesus and Barabbas before them on the same level.—All the priests, elders, and scribes.—[Matthew mentions only the first two of these three classes, but Luke, Luke 22:66, adds also the scribes.—P. S.] “Besides their common hatred, each of these three estates had their own special motive for hostility to the Lord. The priests were indignant that He should lay greater stress on obedience than on sacrifice; the elders were offended that He judged traditionalism by the standard of revelation; the scribes, that He contended against the service of the letter by the spirit of the word. In a thousand different ways had they felt their prejudices shocked, and their ambition and pride humbled. At last the hour of revenge had come. Thus they led Him before their supreme council. The language used by Luke (Luke 22:66) seems to imply that they led Jesus, in formal procession, from the palace of the high-priest into the council-chamber, on the area of the temple. It is scarcely probable that they would have conducted Him, with such formalities, from the prison-chamber to the upper hall of the high-priest’s palace. According to the Talmud, sentence of death could only be pronounced in the Gazith (the council-hall on the temple-mountain). See Friedlieb, p. 97 (who, however, questions the correctness of this statement). At any rate, it would appear indispensable that a formal meeting of the Sanhedrin should assemble on the temple-mountain” (Leben Jesu, ii. 3, p. 1786). On Sabbaths and feast-days the Sanhedrin met in an uncovered space, which was enclosed by a wall, in the vicinity of the court of the women, and not in the Gazith. In ordinary circumstances, judicial matters were not carried on upon the Sabbath-day. “Hence, notwithstanding the studied semblance of legality, the whole procedure was characterized by irregularity and violence.” Wichelhaus, p. 211.
To put Him to death.—The resolution had been finally taken during the night, and their present object was to put that sentence and the charge against Jesus into proper form, as a means toward the end in view.
Matthew 27:2. And when they had bound Him, they led Him away.—They bound Him, even when they first seized Him (Matthew 26:50; John 18:12). These fetters He also still bore when led from Annas to Caiaphas (John 18:24). They seem to have been removed during His examination before Caiaphas. After that they appear to have been again put upon the Lord. Now they proceed in a body (Luke) to hand over to the Roman procurator Him whom they had condemned. They calculated upon producing, by their formal procession in a body, so early in the morning, and that on the first day of the feast, the impression that Jesus had committed some fearful and unheard-of crime. For this purpose they now put Him again in fetters. Besides, this early and pompous procession would tend to terrify the friends of Jesus among the people, and to anticipate any possible movement in His favor. If Pilate had once sentenced Jesus, there would be less cause for apprehension on the score of a popular tumult. “The procession of the Sanhedrin passed from the council-chamber across the temple-mountain, in a northerly direction, toward the palace of the governor, which lay at the northern base of the temple-mountain. As the house of the high-priest was situated on the northern slope of the Upper City, or of Mount Zion, and a lofty archway led across the valley of the Tyropæon, connecting the temple-mountain with Mount Zion, it seems probable that Jesus may, before that, have been brought in formal procession across this high archway into the council-chamber on the temple mount. As we may assume that Herod, the ruler of Galilee, resided, during his stay at Jerusalem, in the palace of Herod, which also stood on the northern slope of Mount Zion, Jesus must afterward have again been led from the hall of judgment, on the temple mount, across that archway and back—a spectacle of ignominy and woe.” (From the author’s Leben Jesu, ii. 3, p. 1502.)
And delivered Him.—The original παρέδωκαν contains an allusion to the second great betrayal of the Saviour. “After Judea became a Roman province (upon the deposition of King Archelaus), the Sanhedrin no longer possessed the jus gladii. Comp. John 18:31.” Meyer.
Pontius Pilate.—The sixth Roman procurator of Judæa, and successor of Valerius Gratus. He held this office for ten years during the reign of the Emperor Tiberius (Joseph. Antiq. xviii. 4, 2). His arbitrary conduct, however, led to repeated risings of the Jews, which he suppressed by bloody measures (Joseph. Antiq. xviii. 3, 1; De Bello Jud. ii. 9, 2). He was accused before Vitellius, the Præses of Syria, who deposed and sent him to Rome, to answer before the Emperor for his administration. He was probably deposed from his office the same year as Caiaphas from the priesthood—in 36 p. C. (ær. Dion.). According to Eusebius, Hist. Ecclesiastes 2:7, and the Chronic. of the first year of Cajus, he committed suicide during the reign of Cajus Caligula. The opinion entertained of him by the Jews was affected by their fanaticism on the one hand, and on the other by his proud contempt of the Jewish nation. He affords one of the earliest instances of that antagonism between the Roman and heathen spirit of the world and Jewish fanaticism which, under the administration of his successors, attained such immense proportions, and at last burst forth in open war for independence. The bitter and derisive contemptuousness which he ever and again displayed, led to frequent conflicts with the leaders of the Jews, in which the obstinate determination and cunning of the latter generally secured the victory. This aversion to the Jews made it easier for him to take a favorable view of the cause of Jesus. To this must be added, the moral impression produced by the person of Jesus, the religious awe which the mysterious religious character of the Messiah evoked, and the warning of his wife. Under the influence of such feelings, he made unmistakable efforts to withdraw Jesus from the vengeance of His enemies, whose minds and motives he easily read, or at least sought to avoid having any part in His condemnation. Hence he sent Jesus to Herod, placed him side by side with Barabbas, solemnly washed his hands, presented Him to the people after He had been scourged, etc. But he was too weak and unrighteous to pronounce what he must have felt a righteous sentence, and boldly to adhere to it as a matter of duty, instead of resorting to these numerous paltry devices. Hence also his carnal and devilish wisdom was overmatched by the superior cunning and skill of the Jewish priesthood. Pilate may serve as a type of the complete unbelief, worldly-mindedness, and morally impotent civilization of the ancient Greek and Roman world. According to the word of the Lord Himself, Pilate was guilty, but his sin was less than that of the priesthood which had delivered the Christ into his hands (John 19:11). Ordinarily, Pilate appears not to have been so yielding. Philo, legatio ad Caj.: “His disposition was unyielding, nor was he moved to leniency toward daring malefactors.” For the literature and history of Pilate, comp. Danz, Univ. Wörterbuch, sub Pontius Pilate. On the defence set up by some writers for Pilate, see Heubner, Com. p. 484, note. See also especially, Lavater, “Pontius Pilate, or Human Character in all its Phases.” Winer, art. Pilate [and other Bibl. Encyclop.]. The apocryphal tales connected with Pilate are recorded in the “Acta Pilati.” They are of a twofold character: 1. Such as were invented by Christians; 2. such as were of heathen origin, defamatory in their nature, circulated in the schools by order of Maximums about the year 311. See Heubner, p. 427. The introduction of “Pontius Pilate” in the Creed shows that in the mind of the Church he was regarded as representing the ancient world, and in general the spirit of the world.
The governor, ἡγεμόνι,—the more general term. The more special designation of the office was ἐπίτροπος, procurator. Winer: “The official title of procurator or eparch was given to the chiefs of administration—commonly Roman knights—who were appointed along with the governors both of imperial and senatorial provinces, and whose duty it was to attend to the revenues of the imperial treasury, and to decide on all legal questions connected with this department. Occasionally they occupied the place of governor in smaller provinces, or in districts which had been conjoined with larger provinces, but were separately administered, when they had the command of the troops stationed in their district and administered the law even in criminal cases; the president of the province retaining, however, the superintendence of such administration, and being empowered to receive and hear accusations against the procurator. Comp. Joseph. Antiq. xviii. 5, 2; xx. 6, 2; Bell. Judges 2:4, Judges 2:3.”—After the banishment of Archelaus (six years after Christ), when Judæa and Samaria were conjoined with the province of Syria, the government of Palestine was administered by a procurator. This governor of Palestine generally resided at Cæsarea, by the sea; but during the Passover he was in Jerusalem, whither the male population of the whole country flocked, and where it was his duty not only to preserve order, but also the prestige of the Roman power. If the presidents of Syria were in Palestine, they, of course, exercised sovereignty in the country. In regard to succession of the procurators, which was interrupted by the reign of Herod Agrippa from 41–44, see Winer, art. Procurator, and K. von Raumer’s Palestine, p. 338 et seq.
Matthew 27:3. Then Judas ... when he saw.—He might readily learn that Jesus had been condemned. But he also saw it, from the procession in which the Pharisees conducted Jesus to Pilate, which could have no other object than to secure His condemnation.—Repented himself (regretted, felt sorrow, remorse).10—This repentance was not genuine, as occasioned by the consequences of his deed, but false, as caused by these consequences, and these alone. It seems, then, that he had not anticipated such an issue. This circumstance has frequently been adduced in support of the idea, that the object of Judas in betraying the Lord had been to induce Him to display His majesty and glory as the Messiah. But in that case we would have expected that his repentance would lead him now to cling to Jesus. Yet he seems to have expected that, as on former occasions, so now, Jesus would miraculously deliver Him self from the power of His enemies; and that in any case he would have his own honor promoted by the turn things would take (see above). Moreover, by the very fact, that after His betrayal Jesus surrendered Himself unto death, Judas was filled with terror and anguish, seeing in this the fulfilment of Christ’s prediction, and an indication that all His other sayings, notably that concerning His betrayer, would also be fulfilled. Reckoning in his own mean way, Judas expected an ordinary result; and the fact that all his anticipations proved so utterly false, and the issue proved so entirely extraordinary, filled his mind with awe.
And brought back the thirty pieces of silver.—The way of spurious penitence in contradistinction to the genuine repentance of Peter. His first disposition is to attempt some outward rectification of his deed in the sight of men, without previous humiliation before God, and seeking of refuge with Him. In connection with this, it is also a question whether he did not also entertain the hope of a still higher reward for his betrayal. The second stage and feature is expressed in the word ἀνεχώρησε, the force of which is too little understood [and not adequately rendered in our authorized version by “he departed”]. It conveys to us the idea that “he retired or withdrew” into solitude—desolation, a desert place—“and went away thence and hanged himself.”—The third stage was that of absolute despair. The precise time when Judas brought back the thirty pieces of silver is not mentioned. But from the circumstance that Matthew connects it with the leading away of Jesus unto Pilate, we infer that he approached the priests and elders during the time of their appeal to the Roman governor, and the transactions connected with it. We can readily conceive that many opportunities for this may have offered, when they were not otherwise engaged, as, for example, during the examination before Herod.
Matthew 27:4. I (have) erred.11—Luther translates ἥμαρτον here: I have done (did) evil; de Wette as the authorized Engl. Version]: I have sinned. The word bears either construction. Accordingly, we prefer rendering it, I (have) erred, which seems to express the mind and the views of Judas more fully. The desire to make his guilt appear as small as possible is also evident from the explanation which he offers of his conduct.—In that I betrayed innocent blood, i.e., that by my betrayal I have caused the bloody death of one who is innocent. This admission may be taken as a grand testimony in favor of the innocence of Jesus, which must be added to that of Pilate, and to the indirect testimony of the Sanhedrin itself, which could prefer no other accusation against Jesus than that He had designated Himself the Messiah and the Son of God. If Judas could have recalled any circumstance, however trifling, which might have cast a shadow upon the Lord, we may readily believe he would gladly have appeased his conscience in that manner. Still this declaration about innocent blood cannot in any way be construed into the testimony of a penitent disciple. It seems to us that, in his remorse and anguish, Judas, with his carnal millennarian views, would now view Jesus in the light of an innocent enthusiast. The balance of evidence is strongly against the reading αἷμα δίκαιον.
What is it to us? see thou to it!—Bengel: Impii in facto consortes post factum deserunt.
Matthew 27:5. In the temple.—Meyer rightly calls attention to the distinct and definite meaning of the expression. “It is neither beside the temple (Kypke), nor in the council-chamber, Gazith (Grotius), nor is it equivalent to ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ (Fritzsche and others); but—as the term ναός always implies, and in the sense which every reader must attach to the preposition ἐν—in the temple-building, i.e., in the holy place where the priests were. Thither Judas now cast the pieces of silver. In his despair, he had penetrated where priests alone were allowed to enter.” If, as seems probable, this took place on the morning of Christ’s death, we can readily understand how he found the temple empty, and thus was able to cast down the money in the sanctuary, as a testimony against the hierarchy. “There lay that blood-money, the price of the betrayal of innocent blood, from which the field was called, The field of blood—a. testimony against Israel.” Hengstenberg, Christologie, iii. 2, p. 464.
And he withdrew himself (anchorite-like into solitude), and went away hence.—We have here not one movement of Judas, but two: the verb ἀνεχώρησε is separated and distinguished by καί from ἀπελθών, and the latter indicates the going away from the deed, which had been designated by ἀνεχώρησε. From the locality where his suicide took place, we may infer that he had first attempted to retire from the world, and to lead a life of penitence as an anchorite in the valley of Gehinnom. But his despair allowed him no rest, and he committed that awful deed which the religion and the history of his people (Saul, Ahithophel) alike condemned.
And hanged or strangled himself.—Meyer (following de Wette) observes: “We must not be led by the statement in Acts 1:18 to attach any other than its primary meaning to the word ἀπάγχομαι (such as, he was consumed by anguish of conscience, Grotius, Hammond, Heinsius, etc.), as the only one which accords with the simple historical narrative. To reconcile the difference, it is generally assumed, that after having hanged himself, Judas fell down headlong. In that case, Matthew would simply have recorded one part, and Luke the other, of his sad end (thus Kuinoel, Fritzsche, Olshausen, etc.). This cutting in pieces of the narrative, is, however, not only arbitrary, but unsupported by Acts 1:18, which does not even explicitly record the fact of a suicide,” etc. Accordingly, Meyer supposes that there were two different traditions about the end of the betrayer, the relative historical value of which cannot be exactly determined, bearing to the end that Judas had met with a violent and fearful death, in a manner which tradition variously represented as suicide by hanging (Matthew), or as falling headlong and bursting asunder in the midst (Acts 1:18), or finally, as a swelling of the body, and crushing by carts and wagons (Papias according to Œcum.).” In considering this question, we must, in the first place, avoid being confused by the apocryphal legend. (See the passage in Winer, art. Judas, Note 4.) Next, we must bear in mind the different point from which Matthew here, and Peter in Acts 1:0. view the same event. Matthew simply records the successive stages of Judas’s despair, terminating in suicide by hanging himself. Peter, on the other hand, views the death of Judas as the condign reward of a wicked part, in opposition to the part of the apostleship which he was to have obtained. Viewed in this light, Judas had first voluntarily gotten the reward of iniquity, and ultimately (involuntarily) a field, upon which he fell dying, all his bowels gushing out. That the words of Peter do not mean that Judas had purchased a field with the thirty pieces of silver, appears from the rhetorical character of his address, in which he assumes a knowledge of the facts of the case, and by the explanatory clause, added to the words: he purchased—and fall ing headlong, etc. The expression, “purchased” or gained for himself, is ironical, with special reference to the circumstance that he hanged himself in the field which was afterward purchased for the thirty pieces of silver. Accordingly, we adopt the view so vividly sketched by Casaubonus. That writer suggests that Judas (according to Matthew) hanged himself over a precipice in the valley Of Gehinnom. The branch broke, or the rope was torn, and Judas (according to the report of Peter) fell down headlong and burst asunder. Winer, indeed, carpingly objects, that the effects described by Peter could in that case only have resulted if the body had fallen on jagged pieces of rock. But we may safely leave a criticism which is driven into difficulties in search of rocks, among the rocky valleys around Jerusalem.
Matthew 27:6. It is not lawful.—Wetstein: Argumento ducto ex Deuteronomy 13:18. Sanhedr. fol. 112.—Thus unconsciously condemning their own hypocrisy who had paid this same price of blood.
Matthew 27:7. And they took counsel;—i.e., resolved in council. No doubt this took place after the crucifixion, although soon afterward.—And bought the potter’s field.—Evidently a well-known place. A field used for potteries would, of course, be a waste and comparatively valueless spot.—To bury strangers in.—The expression does not refer to Jews from other countries (as Meyer supposes), who in a religious point of view were not strangers, nor to professing heathens, who were left to themselves, but to Gentile proselytes (of the gate), to whom a certain regard was due, while priestly exclusiveness would not allow them to repose in properly consecrated graves. Thus, even in this act of cheap charity and pious provision on the part of a Sanhedrin which slew the Lord of glory, Pharisaism remained true to itself. The price of blood and the field of blood are declared quite suited for “strangers.” The field of blood, or Aceldama (Acts 1:19), is on the steep face of the southern hill, opposite Mount Zion, which bounds the valley of Ben Hinnom. Tradition points out the spot. “In a corner where some graves or natural caves, in a semi-dilapidated condition, are found, is the Aceldama or field of blood of tradition. In support of the accuracy of this view, I may state, that above it there is a considerable stratum of white clay, where I repeatedly observed people working. Eusebius and Jerome are the first who mention the tradition in the Onomasticon. This place of sepulture, which till the fourteenth century belonged to the Latins, became afterward the property of the Armenians. Probably it ceased to be used for interments since the last century, although it is impossible exactly to determine the date. A large vaulted sepulchre in a rock, or rather a cave, served to indicate the locality of the field of blood.” Krafft, Topogr. of Jerus., p. 193.—The field of blood adjoins “the Hill of Evil Counsel,” where Caiaphas, according to tradition, possessed a country house, in which the death of Jesus had been resolved upon (Matthew 26:3). Braune confounds this with the Hill of Offence, on the southern top of the Mount of Olives. In the Middle Ages it was believed that the soil of the Aceldama had the power of consuming bodies in one, or at least in a few days. Accordingly, shiploads of it were, during the thirteenth century, transported to the Campo Santo at Pisa.
Matthew 27:9. That which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet.—De Wette observes: “Neither this nor any similar passage is found in Jeremiah. Accordingly, some Codd. and Versions omit these words. But a similar passage occurs in Zechariah 11:12. Hence Cod. 22, Syr. p. in m. read Ζαχαρίου. But even Origen, Eusebius, Jerome, and Augustine found the common reading, which, in fairness, cannot be disputed. Origen, Homil. 35, supposes that the passage is found in an apocryphal book of Jeremiah. Jerome found the passage in an apocryphal writing of Jeremiah, which a Nazarene showed him, but he thought it was borrowed from Zechariah. To us it seems probable that the Evangelist has been misled by the statement in Jeremiah 18:2, to name that prophet instead of Zechariah. The quotation from Zechariah is freely made, the phraseology being different both from the Hebrew text and from the Sept.” The following are various attempts at removing the difficulty: 1. It was a mistake of memory (Augustine)12; 2. the reading “Jeremiah” is spurious (Rupert von Deutz, etc.); 3. it occurred in a work of Jeremiah which has been lost (Origen, etc.); 4. it was an oral statement of that prophet (Calovius, etc.); 5. the Jews have expunged the passage from the book of Jeremiah (Eusebius). “If the passage has been found in an Arabic book, or in a Sahidic or Coptic lectionary, these must be regarded as interpolations from our passage.” Meyer,13—In reference to the above, we remark,—1. That it is very improbable our Evangelist should have confounded the prophecies of Zechariah—with which he evidently was quite familiar, quoting without naming them, as in Matthew 21:5; Matthew 26:31—with those of Jeremiah 2:0. It seems impossible to identify the passage before us with Jeremiah 18:2, since it contains no reference to a purchase on the part of the prophet. 3. On the other hand, however, we find a connection between the quotation of Matthew and Jeremiah 32:8, especially Matthew 27:14 : “Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel, Take these evidences [letters], this evidence of the purchase which is sealed, and this evidence which is open, and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days. For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Houses, and fields, and vineyards, shall be possessed [in German, purchased] again in this land.” These words must be taken along with Matthew 27:8, where the Lord commanded the prophet to act in this manner. These words are now paraphrased by the Evangelist, in connection with materials furnished by Zechariah and by Jewish history, so as to exhibit the πλήρωσις of what the prophet intended to convey, viz., that the boldest purchase should yet be made, by which the price set upon the Messiah would be given for a potter’s field to be a burying-place for pious pilgrims. The meaning of the quotation is as follows: At the command of the Lord, Jeremiah bought a field at Anathoth, at a time when Jerusalem seemed to be in the hands of the king of Babylon, in order thereby symbolically to express the idea that Jerusalem was still a place of hope, and that it had a blessed future in store. Thus unconsciously had the Sanhedrin, by its purchase of the potter’s field as a burying-place for strangers, symbolically and prophetically expressed the idea that Jerusalem was yet destined to be the place of pilgrimage of countless worshippers. Thus they unconsciously prophesied, as Caiaphas did, according to John 11:50; and thus had they fulfilled the prediction of Jeremiah (Matthew 27:15; Matthew 27:43-44). 4. The Evangelist sums up in a brief sentence the grand thought of Jeremiah (as he had done in Matthew 2:23), referring in it to Zechariah 11:12, without, however, quoting that passage. There the typical Shepherd of the people of God (who is the same as Jehovah himself) has His price fixed by His sheep. They give it as thirty pieces of silver, the well-known price of a slave. Jehovah says: “Cast it to the potter, אֶל־הַיּוצֵר: a goodly price that I was prized at by them.” (On the meaning of these obscure words, comp. the author’s “Leben Jem,” ii. 3, p. 1494.) The Sept. adds, by way of explanation, “to the melting-pot.” (An anomalous explanation by Hitzig, mentioned by Meyer, who thinks he finds in it a rectification of the Sept. and the punctuation of the text.) This is to imply that the money was impure, and required to be melted over again. 5. Matthew also distinctly alludes to Genesis 37:28—the purchase-money of Joseph when sold by his brethren. 6. Accordingly, the passage in question combines four different quotations: (a)“And they took the thirty pieces of silver,” which is derived from the narrative, with a special reference to Zechariah; (b)“the price of Him that was valued”—also after Zechariah; (c) “whom they bought of the children of Israel” [as in the margin of the authorized version]—after Genesis 37:0; (d) “and gave them for the potter’s field”—the narrative of the text, with a special reference to Zechariah; (e) “as the Lord appointed to me”—the key of the whole passage, quoted from Jeremiah 32:6; Jeremiah 32:8. They gave the whole price for which they bought and sold the Saviour for a potter’s field, to serve as a place of burial for believing Gentile pilgrims. Thus, while sealing their own doom, they have unconsciously made Jerusalem a city of the future—but of a future which shall bring advantage to believing Gentile pilgrims—they have purchased for them a resting-place in death.
Matthew 27:9. Of Him that was valued or priced, τοῦ τετιμηένου.—Meyer thinks that “the expression is intended to give the Hebrew הַיְקָר (pretii). But the Evangelist evidently read הַיָּקָר (cari, œstimati), and applies it to Jesus as the valued One κατ ̓ ἐξοχήν; Euthym. Zigabenus: τοῦ παντίμου χριστοῦ, comp. Theophylact, and of late Ewald: the invaluably valuable One, who nevertheless was valued at so low a price.” This view implies not only that Matthew had intended closely to follow Zechariah, but that he had at the same time misunderstood and misrepresented him. It attaches to the verb τιμάω a twofold and a contradictory sense. The meaning of the words really is: “of Him that was valued”—the sense favored by most critics, including de Wette and Hofmann. Nor is there any tautology about it, as the words δ Ìνἐτι μήσαντο mean: whom by valuing they purchased, or, whom they bought. Thus the expression, “of Him that was valued,” would seem specially to refer to the passage in Zechariah—the priests being the subject of the verb ἐτιμήσαντο.—Whom they bought of the children of Israel (=Jacob).—This does not mean that Christ had been valued by the whole people (Hofmann); nor, at the instigation of the children of Israel (Meyer); nor, from among the children of Israel, i.e., for a man of Israel (Baumgarten-Crusius); but, bought from the children of Israel (Castellio, Luther, and others). Judas is here the representative of the whole treacherous nation; and the passage alludes to the sons of Jacob, who sold Joseph.—For the potter’s field, εἰςτόν,—for the purchase thereof. The allusion here to Zechariah 11:13 is very slight. The passage in the prophet, “Cast it אֶל־הַיּוֹצֵר” (and that, as appears from the sequel, in the temple), is rendered by the Sept. εἰς τὸ χωνευτήριον, to the melting furnace. Hitzig proposes to read יוֹצָר, the treasure, hence, Cast it into the temple treasury. But, irrespective of the fact, that this is merely an arbitrary conjecture, it would give a wrong meaning, as the small price was to be treated with contempt, not with honor and distinction. Hengstenberg explains it: Cast it to the potter=the executioner. But these two terms are certainly not identical. The potter forms the vessels for the temple, and puts the old into new forms. Accordingly, we conjecture that in the court of the temple, where the various vessels were arranged, there was a place bearing the inscription “To the potter,” which was equivalent to “the melting furnace.” Into this receptacle, designated by its inscription, Jehovah directs the thirty pieces of silver to be cast.—Thus “to the old iron” cast the price, according to which they have valued Him as equal with “old iron.” Gerlach regards the thirty pieces of silver as the hire of a shepherd for a year. But it is well known to have been the price for a slave.—As the Lord appointed to me.—Referring not to the passage in Zechariah, but to the narrative of Jeremiah referred to, that the Lord had commanded him, by way of symbol, to purchase the field at Anathoth.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. On the Character of Judas, see our previous remarks. For more detailed treatises about his call to the apostolate, comp. Heubner, Comment, p. 418. On the defence set up for Judas by a section of the Gnostics and of the Menonites, and by some modern writers, see Heubner, p. 420.
2. The Repentance of Judas.—Terrible and mysterious as is the guilt, so awful and sad is the repentance of the traitor, as it ultimately terminates in the blackness of despair. The ancients were wont to place it side by side with the penitence of Cain, as the counterpart of true repentance. Thus much is evident, that from first to last his penitence was unhealthy and godless. For its source and origin was not his guilt, but the consequences resulting from it (“when Judas saw that,” etc.). Secondly, in its course and progress it did not appear as repentance toward God, in the economy of salvation. We see him seeking first to offer human satisfaction before the priests; next, retiring as a penitent into solitude; and lastly, casting himself, in his suicide, headlong into the abyss of despair. We note the opposite of all this in Peter. Here we have first bitter weeping, repentance toward God, and return to Christ; and then human satisfaction, offered in the strength of the pardoned soul and in newness of life. Lastly, there is the sad termination in the case of Judas,—his repentance being the sorrow of the world, which worketh death (2 Corinthians 7:10). At the outset, he wants the genuineness and sincerity in dealing with an offended God which constitutes the grand characteristic of true repentance; during the course of it, that faith which flies for refuge to the sovereign mercy of God, who is able and willing to pardon; and hence, in the end, the victory of hope and love over despair. Heubner remarks: “When the conscience of a sinner awakens and fills him with terror he is hopelessly lost if he lose faith—faith in the grace of God, who is able and willing to pardon, and faith in an atoning and all-sufficient Saviour. Hence it is absolutely necessary to keep firm hold of faith.” However, ingenuousness and truth are the condition of ability to believe. He that doeth the truth cometh to the light. The same writer remarks; “Satan has two arts by which he seduces men. Before we sin he cries out: Spera! and after we have sinned: Despera!” (See the quotation from Luther, Works, vol. xix. 1498.)
3. Suicide: Saul, Ahithophel, Judas.—“Suicide, if not freely and voluntarily committed, but arising from physical disturbance, may expect pardon from God.” In his “Table talk,” Luther expressly says (Walch’s edition, Matthew 48 § 13, p. 1039), “that all cases of suicide are not condemned.” (Which may be added to Stäudlin’s History of the opinions on Suicide, p. 116.) Heubner: “When suicide is committed freely, and with full consciousness and reflection, it is always the result of sinful estrangement and alienation from the Creator, and of despair in everlasting love. True, it is very generally also the consequence of gross sins which torment the soul, and of violent passions. These alone, however, do not lead men to their eternal downfall; it is unbelief alone. Hence it is that suicides are now so much more common.”—What makes suicide at once detestable and horrifying is, in the first place, the false and wicked combination of the most extreme contradictions,—self-love and self-abandonment, deliverance and destruction, healing and murder, rebellion against God and forth stepping to His judgment-bar; in the second place, the fact that the self-murderer perverts to his own destruction that moment which God had appointed to be the crisis of his perfected salvation (see Acts 16:27); in the third place, the circumstance that the self-murderer, regardless of consequences, anticipates and neutralizes, in a cowardly and wicked manner, the act of free surrender of the soul to God in death, which is its highest spiritual form (see the author’s Positive Dogmatik, p. 1243). Suicide is, so to speak, the theatrical exhibition and full development of sin’s self-destructive nature, and is the natural type of eternal self-condemnation. Truth accordingly must never in its testimony cease to war against suicide, regarded in itself; she cannot compromise with it, but must ever condemn it as the evidence of despairing unbelief. But as suicide is often the result of bodily and mental weakness, the twin child of madness, we should deal with actual cases in a forbearing, mild, and cautious spirit. We should act similarly in those cases where remorse in after-life leads to suicide, though that act appears to be merely the natural consequence of the preceding heinous crime committed by the miserable persons. The spiritual suicide of Judas was consummated in the moment of his treachery against his Lord and Master. Heubner’s statement: “We may fall ever so low, if we only hold fast the faith,” is as liable to misconception as many similar remarks of Luther. Faith is ethical in its very nature, and cannot be separated from moral laws. Unon other points connected with suicide, consult the Systems of Ethics. We should not return to the confessional, because the reserve of ungodly men and their brooding lead them to self-destruction; but we should, throughout the Evangelical Church, recommend the practice of a free confession of heart.
4. Appropriation of the Blood-Money.—“Hypocritical conscientiousness. Their scruples arose from Deuteronomy 23:18 :—‘Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the Lord thy God for any vow; for even both these are an abomination unto the Lord thy God.’ The instruments of the wicked are a source of disgust and dread to them, especially those to whom the stain of blood attaches as a memorial of their guilt. They are agents to awaken conscience, and threaten punishment. These wretches suffered blood to stain their hands and lie upon their consciences, but they would not allow the temple treasury to be defiled. The money-chest they valued above their conscience. They would not transgress by receiving defiled money, for they feared to render their treasury valueless: this was their reverence for God (Matthew 23:24). There is a proper solicitude, however, which we should all have, to keep our property undefiled.”—“They appropriated the money to a charitable purpose; but it is impossible to remove the guilt and disgrace of former days by acts of mercy.” Heubner. Similar institutions were common in the Middle Ages. The cloister of Königsfelden in Switzerland was the fruit of Queen Agnes’ bloody vengeance.
5. The Field of Blood.—Even in the acts of charity performed by the Sanhedrin, the characteristic traits of its members come to view; the most complete hypocrisy, making the money-chest of God’s house more sacred than God Himself and God’s acre.14 They purchase for a paltry sum, and that the price of blood, a field of blood, to inter pious pilgrims from heathen nations, who were not reckoned to be fully Jewish proselytes. So the charity of the Middle Ages sought out beggars upon whom to expend its kind offices, and these it furnished with beggars’ broth. Unconsciously, these hypocrites were compelled to perpetuate the memory of their sinful acts; and in this act, besides, was given unconsciously a plastic type of the Sanhedrin. Without willing it, they had to fulfil Jeremiah’s prophecy. The purchase of the potter’s field to be a resting-place for foreign pilgrims becomes prophetical of this, that Jerusalem, Palestine, and Israel’s entire inheritance, was destined to be a resting place for the believing Gentile world.
6. Here for the first time Christian grave-yards took the place of isolated sepulchres, as was the custom among the Jews. And who was probably the first interred in that field? This history preaches mildness and tenderness.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The counsel and the treachery on the morning of the feast. 1. The counsel and treachery: (a) An act of treachery from a resolution of council; (b) a counsel which was perfected by an act of treachery 2. On the morning of the feast: (a) The morning thought; (b) the festival thought, of the rulers of Israel.—The abominable display of the high-priest and the chief council on the festal morning.—Christ’s murder disguised under an imposing act of worship rendered to God.—The great display of fanaticism, in its historic import to the world.—Blessed are they who can resist the currents of the time.—The mad pomp with which the Jews abandon their long-looked for King to the Gentiles.—Judaism in the act of involving the Gentile world in the guilt of Christ’s murder: the opposite of the promise: “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed,” Isaiah 53:0—The effects of magnificent display: 1. Its power; 2. its weakness.—Jesus abandoned by His own nation to the Gentiles.—The second betrayal the sentence of death pronounced upon the first betrayal (Now when Judas saw).—The repentance of Judas the completion of his guilt, as seen: 1. In its beginning; 2. its means; 3. its end.—The repentance of Judas compared with Peter’s, 2 Corinthians 7:10.—To render due satisfaction, we must begin at God’s throne.—(Against Thee only have I sinned.) Ezekiel 33:15-16.—That innocent blood, which he had betrayed, would have saved him, had he known its full value.—Judas’s testimony to the innocence of Jesus a significant fruit of his discipleship: 1. The spoiled fruit of a reprobate or deserter; 2. the important testimony of a deserter.—The unwilling testimony of the unbelieving and despairing to the glory Jesus.—Behold how heartlessly the wicked abandon the instruments of their guilt! “See thou to that.”—The confession of a bleeding conscience is unheard by the hierarchical superintendents of the confessional.—How soon is the friendship of the wicked at an end!—They hurl one another mutually into destruction.—The fruitless attempts of Judas to silence his conscience.—The end of Judas; or, suicide the sign of finished unbelief.—The conscientious scruples of the unscrupulous: “It is not lawful.”—The charitable institutions of a hardness of heart which cloaks itself under the garb of piety: 1. Their occasion,—the committal of a crime; 2. their spring,—superstition and selfishness; 3. their form,—monuments of a proud, unloving spirit.—The price at which the world valued Christ sufficed to purchase an old, exhausted clay-pit (“loam-pit or sandhole”).—The fulfilment of the prophet’s word; or, the burying-ground of pious pilgrims—i.e., of believers—bought with the purchase money of Jesus.—The field of blood of despairing Judaism converted into a burial-field (a field of peace) for the believing Gentile world.—They who delivered Christ over to the Gentiles have had to yield their land likewise to the Gentiles.
Starke:—We should be up early, not to injure our neighbor, but to praise God, Psalms 108:2-3, and to attend honestly to our calling, Psalms 104:23.—Zeisius: Christ has been bound that He might free us from the bonds of sin, death, the devil, and hell.—He also thereby sanctified and blessed the bonds of our afflictions, especially those endured for the gospel.—Canstein: Satan blinds the eyes to precipitate man into sin; and then he opens them again, that despair may seize the sinner.—Do not be such a fool as to commit a sin to gain the world’s favor; for it will draw its head out of the noose, and leave thee to be hanged.—Quesnel: There is a kind of hirelings and false shepherds, to whom it is of no consequence whether their sheep stray and are lost or not.—Zeisius: Do but see how far greed will lead a man.—Canstein: The anguish of an evil conscience deprives a man of his judgment, so that he is no more his own master; for when he thinks by self-murder to free himself from: torment, he only plunges himself into eternal torment.—Thou canst find many a companion in sin; but when thy poor conscience will have comfort, thou art forsaken by them all.—Hast thou sinned deeply, despair not; arise, and repent truly.—Nova Bill. Tub.: Christ has given the grave money for our burial, and has purchased for us, poor pilgrims who have nothing of our own, a resting place.—Canstein: The wicked themselves must assist in establishing divine truth.
Gossner:—“See thou to that:” such is their absolution.
Gerlach:—It was a remarkable circumstance in the passion history of Christ, that He must be delivered up to the Gentiles. Not the Jews only were to reject and crucify the Son of God, but the Gentiles also; and His blood crieth for mercy on behalf of Jews as well as Gentiles.
Heubner:—The witness of Judas. He was the spy whom Satan had been permitted to place among the confidential friends; he was Satan’s appointed fault-finder, who should pay attention to discover any fault that might be committed. But he had to confess he had betrayed innocent blood.—That Judas might have gained pardon, if he had believed, is acknowledged by, e. g., Chrysostom, in Sermon 1 on Repentance, and by Leo the Great, in the 11th Sermon on the Passion.—Even the most glorious opportunities of virtue and religion, even the companionship and conversation of the most holy and most lovable of men, are perverted to its own ruin by a corrupted spirit.—An evil germ, small at first, but nourished and tended, produces fruits ever more and more poisonous.—They care for the bodies of dead foreigners, but let the souls of the living perish.—The perpetuation of sinful acts through memorials, names, etc., against the will and expectation of evil-doers.—How are the children of God, yea, Christ Himself, valued in this world! To how many are philosophers, artists, heroes, or millionnaires far more precious!
Braune:—Common minds become small criminals, great characters great criminals, as men judge: the former are base, the latter more wicked. (Still the deed of Judas was the very depth of baseness.)—He seeks to clear himself only before his own conscience and his accomplices, not before God, and that he would do without Jesus. He wanted faith, and hence he prayed not and sought not.—Themselves they have stained, God’s treasury they would not defile.—Schulz: The end of Judas: 1. His despair; 2. his ruin.
[Burkitt:—Behold! a disciple, an apostle, first a traitor, then a self-murderer. Behold! all ye covetous worldlings, to what the love of that accursed idol has brought this wretched apostle. Behold! Judas, once shining in the robes of a glorious profession, now shining in the flames of God’s eternal wrath and vengeance. Lord! how earnest ought we to be for thy preserving grace, when neither the presence, the miracles, the sermons, the sacraments of Christ, could preserve and secure a professor, a disciple and apostle from ruinous apostasy. Let him that standeth take heed lest he fall.—Doddridge:—The irresistible force of conscience in the worst of men.—The testimony of the traitor to the innocence of Jesus.—The wrath of man shall praise the Lord.—D. Brown:—The true character of repentance is determined neither by its sincerity nor by its bitterness, but by the views under which it is wrought. Judas, under the sense of his guilt, had nothing to fall back upon; Peter turned toward Jesus, who was able and willing to forgive. In the one case we hare natural principles working themselves out to deadly effect; in the other, we see grace working repentance unto salvation.—Wordsworth:—Judas, a type of the Jews, in his sin and end (?).—P. S.]
Matthew 27:2; Matthew 27:2.—[Τῷ ἡλεμόνι, here=ἐπίτροπος, procurator, which was the proper official character and title of Pilate; but ἡλεμών is a more general term which applies to proconsuls, legates, or procurators. Hence governor may be retained. Vulgate and Beza translate: præsidi (but this title belonged to the President of Syria (Luke 2:2), Pilate’s superior); Castalio: prœtori (in the wider acceptation of early Roman history); Tyndale, Coverdale, Cranmer, Genevan, Bishops: deputy (but this is used for ἀνθύπατος, proconsul, in Acts 13:7-8; Acts 13:12; Acts 18:12; Acts 19:38); Campbell: procurator (correct, but not so generally intelligible as governor); Luther: Landpfleger; Ewald and Lange: Statthalter.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:3; Matthew 27:3.—Παραδούς according to B., L., cursive MSS., Lachmann, [and Tregelles. Tischendorf and Alford retain the usual reading: παρα δι δούς.]
Matthew 27:3; Matthew 27:3.—[It is worth while to mark in the translation the difference between μεταμέλομαι, to change one’s care, and μετανοέω, to change one’s mind or purpose, and thus between the repentance of Peter, who abhorred the cause, his sin, and the remorse of Judas, who shrunk back from the effect; or the godly sorrow which lends to life, and the worldly regret which leads to death.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:4; Matthew 27:4.—In place of ἀθῶον (innocent) some manuscripts and translations read δίκαιον (righteous), which has too little authority.
Ver.4.—[So in accordance with the concise earnestness of the Greek, and the state of Judas. “The fewer words the better.” Similarly Ewald: Ich sündigte übergebend [better: verrathend] unschuldiges Blut, and Conant: I sinned, etc. But Lange: Ich habe gefehlt, etc., I erred; Luther: Ich habe übel gethan, I did evil, which draws a nice distinction between blundering and sinning, and is perhaps better suited to the case of Judas, who, like Cain and Saul, had no real sense of sin itself in its horrible guilt and enormity, and hence no true repentance, but shrunk back in dismay from the consequences of sin. The Greek π̔́ μαρτον, however, admits of both translations. Comp. Lange’s Exeg. Notes, Coverdale correctly omits the article before innocent, but the other older English Versions unmeaningly profix it.–P. S.]
Matthew 27:5; Matthew 27:5.—[Lange lays stress on ἀνεχώρησε, and translates: zog sich surück (einsiedlerisch in die Oede), See his Exeg, Notes—P. S.]
Matthew 27:9; Matthew 27:9.—Jeremiah is left out by several cursive MSS. and in the Syriac and Persian translations. Cod. 22, and others, ad Ζαχαρίου. [Cod. 22 is an inferior MS. of the eleventh century, and can therefore hardly claim any authority On the difficulty of the true reading, see the Exeg. Notes.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:9; Matthew 27:9.—[So Conant, who substitutes priced for valued, to retain the verbal correspondence between price and priced as in the Greek τήν τιμήν τοῦ τετιμημένου. Comp. Ewald, who translates: den Schatz des Geschätzten, weichen schätzten, etc.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:10; Matthew 27:10.—[Ευνέταξέμοι, either appointed to me, as Scrivener and Conant propose, or commanded me, as Coverdale has it. The appointed me of the Authorized Version is susceptible of another meaning. Thus correct Matthew 28:16.—P. S.]
[Comp. Crit. Note on Matthew 27:3, p. 501.—P. S.]
[So Dr. Lange translates in his Version: Ich habe gefehlt. See the Critical Note on Matthew 27:4, p. 501.—P. S.]
[Adopted by Alford: “The citation is probably quoted from memory and inaccurately.” He refers to similar mistakes in the apology of Stephen, Acts 7:4; Acts 7:16, and in Mark 2:26. Wordsworth cuts the Gordian knot in a manner directly opposite, though equally unsatisfactory, viz.: by the bold dogmatic assert on that the name of Jeremiah is here purposely substituted for that of Zechariah to teach us that all prophecies proceed from one Spirit, and that the prophets are merely channels, not sources, of the Divine truth. But this object could have been reached much better by substituting the Holy Spirit or the Scripture for the name of the writer —P. S.]
[Dr. Lange might have added a sixth attempt to solve the difficulty, viz.: that the book of Jeremiah, being actually arranged by the Jews as the first of all the prophets (Bava Bathra) gave its name to the whole body of their writings. So Lightfoot and Scrivener.—P. S.]
[Gottesacker, also Friedhof, is the German name for grave-yard.—P. S.]
JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS, BEFORE PILATES’S BAR; OR, CHRIST EXAMINED BY THE CIVIL AUTHORITY; INSULTINGLY PUT BESIDE BARABBAS; STILL MORE INSULTING REJECTED, AND, IN SPITE OF THE MOST DECISIVE PROOFS OF HIS INNONENCE, CONDEMNED, DELIVERED TO BE CRUCIFIED, MOCKED
(Mark 15:2-20; Luke 23:2-25; John 18:28 to John 19:16.)
11And Jesus stood [was placed]15 before the governor: and the governor asked [questioned]16 him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest [it].17 12And when he was accused of [by] the chief priests and [the] elders, he answered nothing. 13Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things 14[what things, πόσα]18 they witness against thee? And he answered him to never a word [and he answered him not a word];19 insomuch [so] that the governor marvelled 15[wondered] greatly. Now at that [the] feast20 the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. 16And they had then a notable [notorious ἐπίσημον],21 prisoner, called Barabbas.22 17Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas,8 or Jesus which [who] is called Christ? 18For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
19When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things [much] this day in a dream because of him.
20But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask [for] Barabbas, and [should] destroy Jesus. 21The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain [Which of the two] will ye that I release unto you? They 22said, Barabbas. Pilate said unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which [who] is called Christ? They all say unto him,23 Let him be crucified. 23And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.
24When Pilate saw that he could prevail [avail] nothing,24 but that rather a tumult was [is] made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person:25 see ye to it. 25Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. 26Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he [but Jesus he scourged and,τὸν δὲ Ἰησοῦν φραγελλώσας] delivered him to be crucified. 27Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall [Prætorium],26 and gathered unto him the whole band of 28, soldiers.27 And they stripped him,28 and put on him a scarlet robe. 29And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand:29 and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! 30And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. 31And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
General View.—Matthew describes the sufferings of Christ chiefly from the theocratic point of view. Hence, under the general head of a theocratic reference, we would group the silence of Jesus before Pilate, after He had declared that He was the Messiah; His being put upon an equality with Barabbas; the testimony of the wife of Pilate, and the testimony of Pilate himself (following that of Judas); the cry of the Jews: “His blood,” etc.; and the detailed narration of the mocking Christ in His kingly nature, on the part of the soldiers. The events, according to the Evangelists, occurred in the following order:—At first Pilate wished to hand Jesus over to the Jewish court, that is, to receive a simple ecclesiastical censure. Then he sent Jesus to Herod, to get rid of the difficulty. Thereupon occurred the presentation of Christ along with Barabbas, and, after the failure of that device, the significant hand-washing. Then, the presentation of Jesus to the people, after He had been scourged: Ecce homo. Finally, the scornful treatment of the Jews by Pilate, designed to veil his own disgrace.30
Matthew 27:11. Art Thou the King of the Jews?—For the circumstances leading Pilate to put this question, see John 18:0 Matthew 27:29 ff. From the same passage, Matthew 27:34-37, we learn that Jesus, before replying in the affirmative, asked whether Pilate used the expression, King of the Jews, in a Roman or a Jewish sense. The chief point for Matthew was, that Jesus, even before Pilate, the civil ruler, declared Himself explicitly to be the Messiah. Theophylact has, without reason, interpreted σὺλέγεις as an evasive answer.
Matthew 27:12. He answered nothing.—After He had, according to John 18:37, declared that He was the Messiah, and in what sense, He made no answer to the most diverse accusations and questions, and spake not till Pilate cast in His teeth the taunt, “Knowest Thou not that I have power to crucify Thee, and have power to release Thee?” John 19:10. The accusations were by His silence stamped as groundless, and this majesty of silence filled Pilate with wonder and amazement.
Matthew 27:15. Now at the feast.—Annually, at the Passover. The Passover was the Jewish feast κατ̓ἐξοχήν, and the connection shows that to this festival reference is here made. The antiquity of this custom is unknown. The Talmud makes no allusion to it; but that is in all likelihood an intentional over sight. Grotius says, this custom was introduced by the Romans for the purpose of flattering the Jews. Braune: “The Roman and Greek custom of releasing prisoners upon the birthdays and festive seasons of the emperors, and upon days of public rejoicing, had been undoubtedly introduced among the Jews before the time of Pilate, to soften the Roman yoke.” Meyer: “We must not overlook a reference to the significance of the Passover.” Hence our thoughts are carried back to the free escape of the Israelitish, first-born. Looked at in this light, the release of the prisoners at the Passover reminds us of the Good Friday dramas of southern Roman Catholic countries. The custom, as a Jewish custom, was improper, and was opposed to the law, especially in such a case as the present, Exodus 21:12. Barabbas had been arrested for sedition and murder, Luke 23:19.
Matthew 27:16. They had then a notorious prisoner.—The wardens of the jails, in which were confined those who had committed offences against the Roman laws.
Called Barabbas.—Several cursive MSS., versions, scholiasts, and also Origen, read Jesus Barabbas. See note appended to the text. Barabbas,=בַּר אַבָּא, which appears frequently, according to Lightfoot, in the Talmud, means “the father’s son.” Ewald says: “He was the son of a rabbi.” Theophylact saw in it an allusion to Antichrist, “the son of the devil.” On the contrary, Olshausen makes it refer to the Son of God, and finds in it a play of divine providence, according to the proverb: Ludit in humanis divina potentia rebus. De Wette terms this a very improper play of pious wit; and yet he must acknowledge it to be possible that Barabbas, being a mover of sedition (Luke 23:19), might have played the part of a false prophet, or a messiah. The objection, that he would not have committed a murder had he been representing himself as a messiah, is of no weight. Let us now conceive to ourselves the whole state of matters: a Jesus Barabbas, the son of the father, a pseudo-messiah, is presented to the Jews along with Jesus Christ. Surely in all this may easily be seen a striking sport of so-called “chance.” And why should the supposition that providence controlled the similarity and difference between the two names, be so senseless? It is conceivable, however, that the Christian tradition removed the name Jesus, out of reverence.
Matthew 27:17. When they were gathered together.—Pilate had by this time discovered how matters stood. In his crooked policy, accordingly, he calculated upon certain success, when he should place the notorious or distinguished criminal side by side with Jesus, for the Jews to choose which of the two should be released. Besides, he appears to have waited cunningly till the people had reassembled in very large numbers before his palace on the Antonia, after having gone and returned with the train which conducted Jesus to Herod. Because, according to Luke, this train had gone off before the events here recorded occurred. Pilate knew by this time how envious the members of the Sanhedrin were of Jesus, and must from this conclude that he stood high in the favor of the people.
Matthew 27:18. For envy.—The Evangelist mentions here, in a historical connection, envy as the cause of all the hostility manifested against Jesus, as if it were something well understood.
Matthew 27:19. When he was set down on the judgment-seat.—The people had a moment for consideration, and Pilate regards the issue as one of such certainty, that he ascends the seat of judgment to receive the decision of the people, and to pronounce judgment accordingly. The judge was required to pronounce judgment from a lofty seat of authority, from his chair of office. This stood usually upon a stone pavement (Lithostroton, in Hebrew, Gabbatha, John 19:13).31
His wife sent to him.—This fact is found in Matthew only. As formerly, according to Matthew, the spirit of truth had in visions of the night borne witness for the new-born Jesus, and as the testimony of the heathen magi had in the day-season confirmed this witness, so on this occasion is the solemn, political testimony of Pilate on behalf of the suffering Jesus strengthened by a witness speaking out of the dream-life of his wife. Thus it is that each Evangelist selects out of the store of facts those which accord best with his views and purpose. From the time of Augustus, it became usual for the Roman governors to take their wives along with them into the provinces, though the custom was attacked down till the age of Tiberius: Tacit. Annal. iii. 33. Pilate’s wife, according to a tradition, given in Niceph. Hist. Eccles. 1:30, was called Claudia Procula or Procla, and was, according to the Gospel by Nicodemus, θεοσεβής, i.e., a proselyte of the gate, and perhaps one who revered Jesus. The Greek Church has canonized her.
Have nothing to do with that just man. She designates Jesus the Just, and hints that Pilate, by injuring Him, may subject himself to the divine punishment.—For I have suffered much.—An ordinary dream would not be spoken of in this way, as a dream of bitter agony. Nor would such a dream have led a Roman wife to send a dissuasive message to her husband when seated upon the judgment-seat. Some apparition, something supernatural, awful, must be here understood. Hence many have attributed this dream to a direct interposition of God, especially32 Origen, Chrysostom, Augustin; others—namely, Ignatius (Epist. ad Phil. cap. 4), Beda, Bernard, also the old Saxon Gospel-Harmony, Heliand—ascribe the dream in a naive way to the devil, who wished in this way to prevent the redeeming death of Jesus. Of course the dream may have arisen quite naturally, as de Wette and Meyer hold. The governor’s wife knew something of the mission of Jesus; and the night before, the Sanhedrin had in all probability alarmed the procurator’s household, coming to demand a guard. But this view does not militate against divine interposition, although the Evangelist makes no allusion to such intervention. The dream was a morning dream, hence σήμερον—according to the Roman time-division, from twelve at midnight Klopstock makes Socrates appear in the dream to the wife of Pilate (in the seventh Song of the Messias).
[It is a remarkable fact that a woman, and she a heathen, should be the only human being who had the courage to plead the cause of our Saviour during these dreadful hours when His own disciples forsook Him, and when the fanatical multitude cried out. Crucify Him, crucify Him! It is equally remark able that she should call Him δίκαιος ἐκείνος, that just man, and thus remind one of the most memorable unconscious prophecy of heathenism, viz., Plato’s description of the perfect δίκαιος , who, “without doing any wrong, may assume the appearance of the grossest injustice (μηδὲν γὰρ );” yea, who “shall be scourged, tortured, fettered, deprived of his eyes, and, after having endured all possible sufferings, fastened to a post, must restore again the beginning and prototype of righteousness” (see Plato, Politia, vol. iv. p. 74 sqq.; ed. Ast, p. 360 sq., ed. Bip., and my History of the Apostolic Church, p. 433 sq.). Aristotle, too, says of the perfectly just man, “that he stands so far above the political order and constitution as it exists, that he must break it, wherever he appears.” The prophecies of Greek wisdom and the majesty of the Roman law here unite in a Roman lady, the wife of the imperial representative in Jerusalem, to testify to the innocence and mission of Christ. It is very likely that the wife of Pilate was one of those God-fearing heathen women, who, without embracing the Jewish religion, were longing and groping in the dark after the “unknown God.”—P. S.]
Matthew 27:20. But the chief priests and the elders persuaded.—The members of the Sanhedrin availed themselves of the delay during which Pilate was occupied in receiving this message, to canvass the people and obtain their support. The two warnings which came, the one from the thoughtful presentiment of a pious spirit to Pilate, the other from the tortured conscience of Judas to the priests—proved fruitless; indeed, the first occasioned only a delay which the enemies of Jesus turned to their account. Nevertheless the testimony of his wife was not wholly lost on Pilate, for it reacted upon his own later solemn testimony.
Matthew 27:21. But he answered, ἀποκριθεὶς δέ.—Meyer properly explains, He replies to these preparations on the part of the Sanhedrin, which he overhears from his chair, by asking the people again, and more definitely: Which of the two, etc., and so puts a stop to this canvassing of the priests.
Matthew 27:22. Let Him be crucified, σταυρωθήτω.—They might have asked simply that he would confirm the condemnation for blasphemy, and sentence Jesus to the Jewish mode of execution by stoning; but they go further, and demand his active cooperation in the judgment. They wished Jesus to be executed as an insurrectionist, and hence to be crucified according to the Roman custom. They sought by this extreme penalty and this deepest disgrace to annihilate the memory of Jesus, and to stake the Roman might against faith in Him. Thus, in their senseless, self-destructive fanaticism, they consigned to the Roman cross their own Messianic idea; for the accusation, that Jesus was a mover of sedition, was only an inference which they deduced from the Messianic dignity claimed by Jesus.
Matthew 27:23. What evil then hath He done? Tίγὰρ κακὸν ἐποίησεν;—then, γάρ, implies that they must be able to give positive reasons for His death. The Evangelist passes by, however, the further special points, and represents only the effect of the uproar, which threatened to become an insurrection.
Matthew 27:24. Washed his hands.—A symbolical act of Jewish custom (consult Deuteronomy 21:6; Sota, 8, 6), by which one frees oneself solemnly from guilt. Pilate adopted a Jewish custom, to make himself from their own stand-point fully understood, and probably also to make a final attempt to dissuade them from the course they were pursuing. “The heathen practice of cleansing the hands to clear them from the guilt of murder after it had been committed, might, from its analogy, have led to the adoption of the Jewish custom.” Meyer. The matter, however, was important enough to call for a peculiar symbolic expression. [Pilate washed his hands, but not his heart, and in delivering up Christ, whom he pronounced innocent, he condemned himself. Sense of guilt made him a coward.]
Matthew 27:25. His blood be on us—That is, the punishment for His death, if He be guiltless. That Matthew is the only one who records this act of self-cursing on the part of the people, cannot throw any doubt upon the truthfulness of the same, when we remember that he wrote for Jewish Christians, and brought, in this declaration, the saddest truth before his nation. The early Christians had reason to see in the speedily following downfall of the Jewish state a fulfilment of this imprecation. [The history of the Jews for these eighteen hundred years is a continued fulfilment of this daring and impious imprecation, this fearful legacy bequeathed by the murderers of Jesus to their posterity. Yet for repenting and believing Jews, this curse is turned into a blessing; the blood of Jesus which cleanseth from all sin, and speaketh better things than that of Abel, comes upon them as a cleansing and healing stream, and may yet come upon this whole race, after the fulness of the Gentiles has been saved, Romans 11:25-26.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:26. But Jesus he (caused to be) scourged.33—The Roman scourging, of which mention is here made, was much more severe than the Jewish. According to the latter, only the upper part of the body was bared; according to the former, the entire body. The Jews numbered the lashes (2 Corinthians 11:24); the Romans laid them on without number or mercy. Besides, the Roman scourge was more excruciating. None but slaves were subjected to this flogging, Acts 22:25. Little value was attached to a slave’s life, much less his feelings. It is a matter of controversy whether bones, iron teeth, or leaden balls, were inserted among the thongs of the lash (see Heubner, p. 435). “That such lashes are mentioned, is not to be doubted; one of such a description was called μάστιξ , a knout with bones woven to the end of the thongs, from ἀστράγαλος, a joint of the back-bone, then dice, talus.” The Romans scourged in two different ways. Those who were condemned to be crucified were flogged after one fashion. This scourging was so cruel, that the criminals died frequently while undergoing the punishment. Another kind of scourging was inflicted upon delinquents who were not condemned to capital punishment, for the purpose either of extorting a confession from them, or to punish them for a crime. This was the kind of scourging to which Pilate subjected Jesus. It was no less cruel than the other, inasmuch as it lay entirely in the hands of the judge to declare how far the punishment was to be carried.—See Friedlieb, p. 114.—De Wette: “Matthew and Mark represent Jesus as suffering the scourging which the Romans inflicted upon those condemned to the cross. (Liv. 32:36; Joseph. Bell. Judges 5:11, Judges 5:1; Hieron. ad 27:34) According to Luke, Pilate merely proposes to punish, that is, to scourge, Jesus, and then release Him; but from his account (Matthew 23:16) it would appear that there had been no actual infliction of scourging. From John 19:1, it seems that Pilate caused Jesus to be really scourged, hoping thus to satisfy the Jews, and to awaken their sympathy. Paulus holds John’s account to be the decisive one, and hence falsely explains our passage: after having already previously caused Him to be scourged.35 Strauss (2:525) considers that the Synoptists give the more correct and earlier account.” It is manifest that John’s narrative is the most exact. The scourging which Pilate inflicted was employed, it would seem, as a punishment of Him whom he considered innocent, in order to satisfy the accusers, and to move them to compassion. It was a police correction, and the right of inflicting it rested upon the right to employ torture. In this sense it was that Pilate had long ere this, according to Luke, proposed to scourge Jesus, hoping by this act to work upon the feelings of the people, and to influence them in their choice between Barabbas and Christ. Hence Luke considers it superfluous to record the later, actual chastisement. Matthew presents the scourging in its significance as an actual fact, which, in his eyes, was the transition from trial to crucifixion, the first act in the crucifixion agonies. He might all the more properly view the scourging in this light, inasmuch as Pilate sought to effect, in his hesitation, a twofold object. At one moment it seemed as though he would himself take the initiative in the crucifixion; again, as though he would craftily overmaster the Jews.—“It was usually lictors that scourged; but Pilate, being only sub-governor, had no command over lictors, and so handed Jesus over to the soldiers. Hence it is probable that Jesus was not beaten with rods, but scourged with twisted thongs of leather.” Friedlieb, p. 115. Those who were flogged were tied to a pillar; generally they were bound in a stooping posture to a low block, and so the skin of the naked back was stretched tight, and fully exposed to the fearful lashes. The whips were either rods or thongs, to the ends of which lead or bones were attached, to increase the tension of the lash, and render the blow the more fearful. The backs of the prisoners were completely flayed by this process. They frequently fainted, and sometimes died. The soldiers would not inflict the punishment mildly, for they were the cruel ones who mocked Him afterward. It was, moreover, the policy of Pilate that Jesus should be perfectly disfigured.
Matthew 27:26. He delivered Him to be crucified.—The actual decision succeeded the presentation of Jesus, after His being scourged and crowned with thorns. The history which Matthew gives of these circumstances is quite systematic. The matter was now as good as settled. The form of the sentence was not prescribed, but must be short and valid. It was commonly: Ibis ad crucem. By the time these transactions were over, it was already, as John informs us, the sixth hour, toward mid-day.
[By delivering Jesus to the Sanhedrin, Pilate sacrificed his lofty and independent position as a secular judge and representative of the Roman law, to the religious fanaticism of the Jewish hierarchy. The state became a tool in the hands of an apostate and blood-thirsty church. How often has this fact been repeated in the history of religious persecution! By this act Pilate condemned himself, and gave additional force to his previous testimony of the innocence of Christ, showing that this was dictated neither by fear nor favor, but was the involuntary expression of his remaining sense of justice from the judgment-seat.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:27. Into the prætorium or governor’s house.—Luther translates πραιτώριον by Richthaus (common hall). Its original meaning is the tent of the general in the Roman camp: then it came to signify the residence of the provincial ruler (prœtor, proprœtor), where the court of justice likewise was held. The prœtorium is consequently the residence of a military, or a civil and military magistrate; and hence it is connected with the main guard-house, and equally with the state-prison (Acts 23:35). “Already existing palaces were employed as prœtoria in the provincial towns; and we see from Joseph. Bell. Judges 2:14, Judges 2:8, that the procurators of Judæa, when they were in Jerusalem, converted the palace of Herod into a prœtorium.” Winer. Is it certain, however, that the palace of Herod was always so used? According to tradition, the governor lived in the lower city, and, as some more definitely assert, in the fortress Antonia. Winer is of opinion, that Pilate would find the empty, waste-standing palace of Herod the most convenient residence. But where, in that case, would Herod Antipas, who had come up to the feast, dwell? There is nothing certain to be made out. The following fact, however, speaks in support of the fortress Antonia. The scourging had taken place in from of the prœtorium. Then Christ was handed over to the soldiers; and they, instead of leading Jesus away immediately, commenced to mock and make a sport of Him. To carry this mockery on undisturbed, they conducted Jesus into the court of the prœtorium. In this conduct, the soldiers followed the excitement of the capital in its hate against Jesus, continuing the godless sport, which Herod had begun when he invested the Lord in a white robe, the token of candidateship, and so make a mock of His claim to the throne. Pilate had, however, the double design, either to mollify the Jews by the sight of the derided Jesus, or to mock them through Him, should his cunning plan fail.
And gathered unto him the whole band.—This is conclusive for the place being the fortress Antonia: σπεῖρα, the tenth of a legion, from 400 to 600 men.36
Matthew 27:28. And they stripped Him.—Meyer adopts the reading ἐνδν́σαντες, they clothed Him, and explains that His clothes had been torn off to scourge Him, and were now again put on. But the clothing is silently implied—mention being made here of a new maltreatment. Perhaps they may have first put on again the white dress in which Herod had caused Him to be clothed, to mark Him out as a candidate for royal honors, and then taken it off in order to invest Him with the scarlet robe, the sign of His having attained to kingly dignity. The drama would thus be complete. They, accordingly, again stripped off His outer garment, and, instead of it, put on a scarlet military cloak, sagum, which was intended to represent the imperial purple; “for even kings and emperors wore the sagum (only longer and finer).” Meyer. The mantle was a pallium dyed with cochineal The epithets, purple, purple robe, used by Mark and John, are explained by the fact, that they had before them the ironical import of the cloak.
Matthew 27:29. A crown of thorns.—It is impossible to settle accurately what particular kind of thorns was employed to crown Jesus. Paulus assumes, without good reason, that the crown was made of blooming branches of the hedge-thorn (Michaelis, of bear’s wort). Meyer: “A wreath of young, supple thorn-twigs, with which they would caricature the bay crown, as they did the sceptre by the reed. Their object is not to occasion pain, but to mock.” Why thorns then? Consult Winer, art. Dorn, as to the plentiful supply of thorns in Palestine. Hug considers it was the buckthorn. Braune: Perhaps the crown was made from the supple twigs of the Syrian acacia, which had thorns as long as a finger.
And a reed in His right band.—John omits this point, from which we might suppose that the reed had not remained in His hand. Probably a so-called Cyprian (we say now Spanish) reed. Sepp, iii. 516. De Wette says, ἀπέθηκαν, does not agree with κάλαμον. His ἔθηκαν does not agree, however, with the idea of a hand, which did not need to close on receiving the reed.
And they bowed the knee.—“After they clothed Him, they began their feigned homage, bowing the knee, and greeting, according to the usual form: Hail, King of the Jews!”
[On the symbolical meaning of this mock-adoration, Wordsworth observes: “All these things, done in mockery, were so ordered by God as to have a divine meaning. He (Christ) is clothed in scarlet and purple, for He is a military (?) conqueror and King; He is crowned with thorns, for He has a diadem won by suffering, the diadem of the world; He has a reed in His hand, for He wields a royal sceptre, earned by the weakness of humanity (see Philippians 2:8-11). The cross is laid on His shoulder, for this is the sign of the Son of Man, the trophy of His victory, by which He takes away sin and conquers Satan; His titles are inscribed upon the cross: ‘King of the Jews,’ for He is the sovereign Lord of Abraham and all his seed. In all these circumstances, as St. Hilary says, He is worshipped while He is mocked. The purple is the dress of royal honor; His crown of victory is woven with thorns. As St. Ambrose says (in Luke 23:31): ‘illudentes, adorant.’ ”—P. S.]
Matthew 27:30. And they spit upon Him.—Their cruelty, and the intoxication of wickedness, keep them from carrying out to the close the caricature exactly. The satanic mockery changes into brutal maltreatment.
Matthew 27:31. And after they had mocked Him.—And after the presentation to the people, John 19:5, had taken place,—Pilate’s last attempt to deliver Him. After the final decision, they clothed Jesus in His own garments, to lead Him away.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. Jesus, the longed-for Messiah of the Jews, abandoned by His people to the detested Gentiles. Christ, the desire of the old world, driven out by that old world, as if He were the old arch-enemy. Or, the condemnation of the world converted through His victorious patience into the world’s redemption.
2. Christ before the judgment-seat of Pontius Pilate.—When He stood before the judgment-seat of Caiaphas, He pronounced in spirit judgment upon the hierarchy of the old world; but in that He Himself bore this condemnation, He atoned for us. So here, standing before Pilate, He represents the judgment of God upon the old world, its civilization and arts; but, on the other had, He takes upon Himself this judgment, and makes an atonement for that world. Here, too, He stood the real judge Himself: here, too, did He suffer Himself to be judged.
3. The hierarchy, the people’s uproar (revolution), the secular government, and the soldiery of the old world, are all involved in the common guilt of the maltreatment and execution of Christ, though the degree of their guilt diners.
4. Christ’s threefold silence, before Caiaphas, before Herod, and before Pilate, not a silence of contrition because of well-grounded accusations, but an atoning silence of majesty, because of the worthlessness of those courts, which had sunk into the very depths of guilt. In this light, the contrast between the moments of silence and of reply is most significant.
5. On one side, the testimony of Pilate’s wife to the Lord stands most closely connected with Pilate’s own; but, on the other, is strongly opposed. The pious spirit; the political time-server. “It is by no means unusual to see noble, pious women go along side by side with vain, worldly men, like anxious guardian angels, and in moments most fraught with danger, step in their way, and dissuade them from sin.” (From the author’s Leben Jesu, ii. 3, p. 1517.)
6. Persuaded the people (Matthew 27:20).—The members of the Sanhedrin stirred up undoubtedly the fanaticism of the people. They would say, Jesus had been condemned by the orthodox court. Barabbas was, on the contrary, a champion of freedom; that Pilate wished to overthrow their right of choice, their civil rights, their spiritual authority, to persecute the friend of the people, etc. And so Barabbas would be gradually made to appear to the people by the statements of these demons of seduction as a Messiah, and the Messiah a Barabbas.
7. Crucify Him.—The State was here dethroned, and made subservient to the Church. Later, again, it became the slave of the heathen, Roman hierarchy, which hated and persecuted Christianity, till the days of Constantine. Again, the hierarchy of the Middle Ages ruled the State in the persecution of heretics. (Even the Emperor Frederic II.37 pronounced sentence of outlawry upon all who were excommunicated from the Church, unless they speedily made their peace with her.) Finally, the reform-detesting hierarchy is seen again and again, in the histories of Roman Catholic states, overriding the civil power. Even at the present day, France, though revolutionized three times, will not suffer a person who has retired from the priesthood to marry. In Austria, a monk can obtain from the civil authorities no defence against a persecution by his superiors, as bitter as the Inquisition of the Middle Ages (at least, it was so till very recently).—The old wound will take long to heal.
8. The crowd of those who cried Hosanna, are driven into the background by the crowd crying: Crucify Him. Hence contradiction. And yet agreement. The same people. The weakest and most cowardly, who ever swim with the stream, allowed themselves to be borne along with both streams.
9. The self-imprecation of the Jewish people, a satanic prediction of the people of the prophets, which was the last evidence and extinction of their prophetic gift. The final prediction of Judaism was a cursing of themselves.
10. Pilate’s total want of character in contrast to the perfect character (Hebrews 1:3, χαρακτήρ ).
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The apparent reconciliation of the Jews and the Gentiles: 1. In its deformity: (a) the priests seducers of the worldlings, the Jews seducers of the Gentiles, who hate them; (b) the Roman State made to be the executioner of the decrees of that Judaism which it despises and humbles; (c) both combined against the king of humanity. 2. The awful results of this reconciliation: (a) the rejection of Christ; (b) the new separation, which appears even before the crucifixion, and culminates in the Jewish war; (c) the downfall of Judaism; (d) the heavy guilt and deep uneasiness of the Gentile world. 3. The significant signs in this apparent reconciliation: (a) a caricature; but also, (b) a presage, though not pattern, of the true reconciliation, which Christ instituted by His death, between Jews and Gentiles, Ephesians 2:14.—The judge of the world before the bar of the old world.—The courageous confession and witness of Christ before Pilate (1 Timothy 6:13; Revelation 1:5).—The calm consciousness of Christ in His last victorious moments (calm before Caiaphas, Herod, Pilate).—The threefold silence of Christ, a majestic testimony: 1. To the eternal discourse of His life; 2. to the emptiness of His enemies’ replies; 3. to His certainty of a different judgment from God.—What were the motives leading Christ one time to speak, again to keep silence, before the ?Judges 1:0. He speaks first to preserve His self-consciousness by confession; second, to save His enemies by a great, solemn warning. 2. He makes no reply to the futile, the ambiguous, the confused, which must overthrow itself, confute itself, and reveal its own falsity; above all, He is silent before the unworthy and mean, especially before Herod.—Christ, at the bar of the world, acquitted and yet condemned.—Christ was put to death, not so much in consequence of the condemnation of the civil authority, as in consequence of the hierarchical revolution.—And this revolution was the most disgraceful of all.—Yet was this first year of this disgrace of man made by God’s rule to be the first year of man’s salvation.—Christ and His surrounding company at His trial: 1. The accusers; 2. His partner in trial, Barabbas; 3. the witnesses (Pilate and his wife); 4. the judge.—Notwithstanding the greatest promise of His release, nothing in the world could save Him, because the world was to be saved through His death.—The three arch-enemies of Christ upon His trial, and His impotent friends: 1. Against Him: (a) the envy of the priests; (b) the ingratitude of the people; (c) the unbelief of Pilate. 2. For Him: (a) a witty comparison (with Barabbas); (b) a pious dream; (c) an ineffective ceremony (washing of the hands).—The full powers of bell, and God’s full power to decide and save, were at work in the death of Christ; and yet human freedom was in no respect affected.—The world’s judgment of rejection, as concerns Christ, and Christ’s judgment of salvation, as concerns the world.—Christ and His accusers, and Barabbas, and Pilate’s wife, and Pilate, and the people, and the men of war.—Pilate, the judge of Christ, fallen under judgment. 1. His picture: with full understanding of the circumstances, conscious, warned, anxious, and yet succumbing. 2. The lessons taught by the picture. So fell the ecclesiastical judges of Jesus before him; so will all fall after him who presume to judge the Lord.—Pilate knew that for envy, etc.—Envy, which stirred Cain up against pious Abel, reaches its maturity in Christ’s crucifixion.—The Wis 2:24 : “Through envy of the devil came death into the world.”—The Spirit’s voice in the night-visions a witness from the Lord: 1. At the birth of Christ; 2. at his death.—The significance of the courtesies of hierarchical pride: 1. A sign that it seeks associates to carry out its enmity against Christ. 2. A mask. It appears friendly to government, and says: Christ stirs up the people; friendly to the people, and says: The government encroaches on the freedom of election, upon your rights; friendly to the world, and says: It is possible to live with Barabbas, but not with Christ.—Barabbas; or the people’s misguided selection.—The Hosanna and the Crucify Him: 1. The contrast: (a) the contrast of the two days; (b) the contrast of opinions; (c) the contrast of the criers. 2. The bond of unity: (a) Palm Sunday must lead to Good Friday; (b) enthusiasm for the Lord must excite hell’s opposition; (c) not the same persons, but the same people; and we may suppose some individuals had taken part in both.—Fickleness in the opinions of a people.—Revolution as an instrument used by cunning tyrants, and the powers of darkness.—The instigators of the people in hypocritical attire.—Pilate, frightened by the threat of an insurrection, becomes the murderer of Christ: a lesson to the world for all time.—Pilate washing his hands: 1. A testimony to the Lord; 2. a testimony against himself, against Rome, and against the old world.—His blood be on us! or, the impenitent make the blood of atonement their own condemnation.—The marks of the Jew ever more and more manifest in the Israelite, as he is putting his Christ to death.—The old curse and the eternal atonement.—The policy which would protect the Lord by evil means, only prepares for Him torment and shame without redress.—What means should Jesus, the world’s Saviour, employ, according to the world’s wisdom, to preserve His life? 1. An evil custom (the release of a criminal at the Passover); 2. a false title (as one whom the people had begged off and released); 3. an improper joke and comparison (being put side by side with Barabbas); 4. a futile ceremony on the part of the judge (to wash the hands, and, where needed, to lift them).—Pilate, the impotent saviour and deliverer: 1. In spite of his perception of what is justice, of the legions, of power, of policy, of haughty authority; 2. and exactly because he employed all these to wrest justice.—Then released he Barabbas, but Jesus he caused to be scourged: an old, but ever fresh, picture of the world.—Jesus scourged: 1. Who? The glorious body, the pure soul, the divine spirit. 2. By whom? By barbarism (barbarous, nameless soldiers); by worldly culture and civil power; by the sin of the world and all sinners.—The torture and its midnight history in the world and the Church.—The scourge (knout) is no standard of justice.—The twofold signification of the Lord’s scourging: 1. It was to have saved Him; 2. it was the introduction of His death, not only in a literal, but also spiritual sense.—Jesus given over to the wautonness of (the soldiery.—The repeated mutilation of the image of Christ in war, and by soldiers.—The mocking of the Lord in His Messianic royal character.—The brightness of heaven with which Christ emerges from all this world’s scorn.—The irony of the Spirit and of Divine Providence at the miserable mockery of this world, Psalms 2:0.—The view of Christ clothed in shame; the cure for all the vanity and pride of the world.—Christ, the true King in the realm of suffering.—So perfected as the King of glory.—Therefore hath God exalted Him, etc. At His name every knee shall bow, Philippians 2:9-10.—The patience of Christ triumphantly sustained: 1. Imperturbable, yet disturbing all; 2. paling all the world’s glory in its own glory; 3. supremely edifying, and yet awing.
Starke:—When we stand before godless judges, we must nevertheless answer them and honor them, Romans 13:1.—He answered nothing. To atone for our loquacity, which led to the first sin.—The Patient One committed all to God, 1 Peter 2:23.—Hedinger: Blind judges in matters of faith are not worth answering, Matthew 7:6.—Christ, even in His silence, worthy of admiration, Isaiah 53:7.—Osiander: It is an ill-timed grace, when wicked persons are spared, in such a way that honest and quiet people are brought into danger.—Luther’s margin: They would sooner have asked the release of the devil, than they would have allowed God’s Son to have escaped. This is the case even now, and will ever be.—There are degrees in sinfulness as in holiness, John 19:11.—Canstein: Straightforwardness is best. When we seek to make the truth bend, it usually breaks.—Quesnel: More truth is at times found among civil magistrates, than among those persons from whom we had a right to expect more.—A pious heathen is often more compassionate toward a poor sufferer than depraved Christians and priests, Luke 10:32-33.—Christ was reckoned with the greatest transgressors, and we seek always to be reckoned among the best and most pious, Isaiah 53:12.—Pilate did not act like a wise diplomatist, who might have easily known how far envy will lead a man.—Canstein: The most implacable foe is envy, and especially among the members of the so-called “spiritual” profession, Ecclesiastes 4:4.—Quesnel: Many console themselves with the thought, that they appear to the world wholly de voted to the service of justice and truth; but if we watch them closely, we see they are slaves of injustice and envy.—Wives have nothing to do in official concerns, but they may and should warn their husbands.—God warns man before he falls.—Canstein: In a corrupted Church, the ministers are ever the most corrupted; and corruption issues forth from them, polluting others, Jeremiah 23:15.—Quesnel Faithless teachers seduce the people from Christ, and teach them to prefer Barabbas.—Cramer: Is that not the Antichrist, which can willingly endure brothels and usurers, etc., but which would expel the gospel, and purge their land from it by fire and sword?—Hedinger: The world has ever robbed Christ; it likes Him not.—Murderers, fornicators, adulterers, drunkards, can be tolerated; Christian teaching and living never, John 15:19.—Canstein: Carnal wisdom may lead a man, when he despises conscience, departs from the right path, and betakes himself to by-paths, into such snares as he would have gladly shunned.—Ungrateful man wheels like a weathercock.—Conscience often struggles long, ere a man sins against his better knowledge; but the guilt is so much the greater.—The stubbornness of the wicked is more constant than an intention to act right (arising from worldly reasons).—Pilate’s testimony, the most glorious testimony to the innocence of Jesus: 1. Not from favor; 2. a judge’s testimony; 3. a testimony of Pilate against himself. His blood be on us. They act as if they had a good conscience: but it was mere false, assumed ease (impudence).—The Romans soon made them realize this curse: they still feel it. Yet it will one day cease.—Luther’s margin: Believers convert this curse into a blessing.—Zeisius: Accursed parents, who rashly precipitate their children with themselves into ruin!—The just for the unjust, 1 Peter 3:18.—Gaze on, O sinner, ecce homo!—Zeisius and others against extravagance in dress.38—Christ has borne all manner of shame and contempt, that we may attain to the highest honor.
Gossner:39—Yes, they probably said, Barabbas is a villain, but he is no heretic. He destroyed only bodies, but Jesus of Nazareth destroys souls.—The devil may be sure of this, that the people will blind themselves by a fair show.—Whoso sitteth in an official chair must not regulate his conduct by the cries of the multitude.
Lisco:—Pilate, a natural man of the world: 1. Not insensible to divine influences; 2. but sunk down into the then existing scepticism of the world; 3. bound by worldly considerations of all sorts; 4. making his conscience a sacrifice to circumstances, which are his gods.
Gerlach:—Mocking, they made him king; but it was really by virtue of His humiliation that Jesus received His kingdom.
Heubner:—Christ retained His dignity even in the deepest humiliation, where His claims appeared as madness or fanaticism.—The custom of releasing one: injustice trying to support itself by injustice.—A Christian wife should be the guardian angel of her husband.—Dreams, too, often deserve attention.—How easily can the people he misled!40—The placing of Jesus side by side with Barabbas is one of the mysteries of His humiliation. So is it often in the world: there, truth and falsehood, innocence and guilt, honor and dishonesty, worth and worthlessness, righteous leaders and seducers, the Prince of Peace and the great rebel, the fountain of life and the murderer, are often set side by side. The future will resolve all this confusion.—Innocence is dumb, guilt cries out.—The consequences of the choice: The Barabbas spirit, the devilish, the intoxicating passion for licentious freedom, entered like an evil spirit into the people, inflamed their hatred still more and more against the Romans, swept them with resistless sway beyond all prudence, and precipitated them at last into the pit of destruction. This spirit has entered into their posterity, leading them still to reject Jesus, and give heed to many false messiahs.—Jesus is our consolation, whenever in this world of imperfection the worthy and unworthy are classed together, yea, the former subordinated to the latter.—Such a choice as that of Barabbas is by no means uncommon: 1. In respect of faith; unbelief instead of belief in Jesus, etc. 2. In regard to our lives and acts; rather an unbridled, unfettered life, than a stern, moral regulation and life. 3. As regards civil government; rather obey demagogues than the soft words of Jesus.—What shall I do, etc.? Many know not what to do with Jesus.—Was the adage true here: vox populi, vox Dei?—In one sense do the people demand the crucifixion: God had decreed it in another.—The name of Pilate is preserved among the Christians, but as a name of disgrace: here, and in the Apostles’ Creed, it is the name of a coward, who wished to release Jesus, and yet surrendered Him,—who knew Him in some degree, and yet feared to confess Him.—His blood. Already we see the fruit of their choice of Barabbas: blind presumption, blasphemy, mockery of God’s justice.—If the Jews were not so blinded, they must see clearly that their fathers had committed a greater sin than had been ever perpetrated, when they had been punished before with a captivity of 70 years, and are now enduring one of 1800.—God has preserved them as a witness to the truth of the gospel.—As Christ’s high-priestly (prophetic) dignity had been mocked before the ecclesiastical tribunal, so was His kingly before the civil.
Rambach:—Thou must, my Redeemer, atone for the shame of my nakedness, and regain for me the robe of innocence which I had lost.—Consolation for derided saints.—Christ fled from a worldly crown; He took the thorny crown, to indicate that His kingdom was not of this world.—It is no true love, which is not willing to endure thorns.—The thorns of love are: hostile opposition, ingratitude, derision, insult.—The crown of thorns which we have plaited for ourselves: lusts, earthly cares, pangs of conscience. Christ has made atonement for this.—The rod with which Christ will feed His sheep (the rod of gentleness, the rod of affliction).—The court of justice, the liberty-hall of innocence, converted into a place of injustice.—This robing of Christ was full of shame and disgrace.
Braune:—The third hour was the hour at which the Roman judge took his seat in the place of judgment: on this occasion Pilate is forced to begin three hours earlier, in consequence of the wrath of the priests, and their feigned piety.—Barabbas: that is a horrifying deception, fearful, surpassing all others.—Pilate’s wife: no woman was found among Jesus’ enemies. The maid who forced Peter on to his denial stands alone there, in her forward character.—Peter’s sermon on this text, Acts 3:13-21.
Grammlich:—Daily is blessing or curse (Christ or Barabbas) set before thee, my soul!
F. W. Krummacher:—The crown of thorns calls for repentance, gratitude, submission.
Matthew 27:11-14. The silence of Christ is to be imitated when our reputation is concerned; the confession of Christ, when the glory of God and the interests of truth are at stake.—He knew that for envy they had delivered Him (Matthew 27:18). As covetousness sold Christ, so envy delivered Him. Envy is a killing and murdering passion. Envy slayeth the silly one, Job 5:2.
Matthew 27:19. Several kinds of dreams, natural, moral, diabolical, and divine. That of the wife of Pilate was from God. When all Christ’s disciples were fled from Him, when none of His friends durst speak a word for Him, God raises up a woman, a stranger, a pagan, to give evidence of His innocency. At our Saviour’s trial, Pilate and his wife, though Gentiles, are the only ones who plead for Christ and pronounce Him righteous, whilst His own countrymen, the Jews, thirst after His innocent blood.—Hypocrites within the visible Church may be guilty of acts of wickedness which the conscience of pagans and infidels protests against.
Matthew 27:25. What the Jews with a wicked mind put up as a direful imprecation, we may with a pious mind offer up to God as an humble petition: Lord, let Thy Son’s blood, not in the guilt and punishment, but in the efficacy and merit of it, be upon us and upon our posterity after us, for evermore.—Thomas Scott:—If Christ were now to appear on earth in disguise, He would meet with no better treatment.—There are still enough of hypocritical Pharisees and high-priests, ungodly Pilates, unstable multitudes, and hardened scoffers, to persecute, mock, and crucify the Lord of glory.—Barabbas is preferred to Jesus whenever the offer of salvation is rejected.—We are all chargeable with the guilt of crucifixion, as “He was wounded for our transgressions.”—All who delight in anathemas and imprecations will find that they rebound upon themselves.—All which has been admired in the suffering and death of heroes and philosophers is no more comparable to the conduct of Christ, than the glimmering taper is to the clear light of day.—We are called to do good, and to suffer evil, in this present world, after the pattern of Christ.—All our sufferings are light and trivial compared with His.—Ph. Doddridge:—How wisely was it ordained by divine Providence that Pilate should be obliged thus to acquit Christ, even while he condemned Him; and to pronounce Him a righteous person in the sane breath with which he doomed Him to the death of a malefactor! And how lamentably does the power of worldly interest over conscience appear, when, after all the convictions of his own mind, as well as the admonitions of his wife, he yet gave Him up to popular fury! O Pilate, how ingloriously hast thou fallen in the defence of the Son of God! and how Justly did God afterward leave thee to perish by the resentment of that people whom thou wast now so studious to oblige!—P. S.]
Matthew 27:11; Matthew 27:11.—Lachmann and Tischendorf read ἐστάθη [for ἔστη], according to B., C., L., [also Cod. Sinait, which generally agrees with Cod. Vaticanus. Meyer and Alford regard ἐστάθη as a correction to suit the sense better.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:11; Matthew 27:11.—[Ἐπερώτησεν is “a part of the formal judicial inquisition;” hence, questioned.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:11; Matthew 27:11.—[So Coverdale and Conant, who insert it. Others insert right or truly. Εύ λέλεις, like σὺ εἷ πας in Matthew 26:25, is a form of affirmative answer, common in Rabbinic writers (solennis affirmantium apud Judœos formula, as Schöttgen says); the object of the verb being implied.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:13; Matthew 27:13.—[So Dr. Lange: welche Dinge. Also Dr. Conant, who refers the word πόσα, quantus, how great, not so much to the number of the offences charged upon Him, as to their magnitude; and in this sense the reader naturally understands the word what in this connection.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:14; Matthew 27:14.—[Coverdale renders πρὸς οὐ δὲ ἓν ῥῆμα: not one word; Conant: not even to one word; Lange: nicht auf irgend ein Wort; Meyer: auf nicht einmal ein einziges Wort, i.e., not even to one inquisitorial question.— P. S.]
Ver 15.—[At the feast, at every passover. See Exeg. Notes.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:16; Matthew 27:16.—[The word ἐπίσημος is here used in a bad sense, as in Joseph. Antiq. v. 7,1, and Euripides, Orest. 289; hence, notorious (Rhemish Version, Symonds, Norton), or famous (Wiclif, Campbell, Scrivener), or noted (Conant); in German: berüchtigt (de Wette, Lange, etc.). The term notable, which dates from Tyndale, and was retained by Cranmer, the Genevan, and the Authorized Version, is now generally employed in a good sense. The Latin Vulgate, however, translates: insignis, and Ewald: berühmt.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:16-17; Matthew 27:16-17.—Fritzsche and Tischendorf read Ἰησοῦν Βαραββᾶν, following some cursive Codd, the Syriac and other versions, and Origen. Meyer thinks the sacred name was left out through reverence. De Wette supports this reading. [In his large critical edition of 1859 Tischendorf omits Ἰησοῦμ, and defends the usual reading: see his critical note. So also Alford, who thinks that some ignorant scribe, unwilling to ascribe to Barabbas the epithet ἐπίσημος, wrote in the margin Ἰησοῦς. This is doubtful. The insertion cannot be satisfactorily explained, and I am disposed to agree with Meyer, that Ἰησοῦς is genuine. It makes the contrast still more striking.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:22; Matthew 27:22.—The αὐτῷ of the Recepta, according to the best testimonies, is to be omitted.
Matthew 27:24; Matthew 27:24.—[The older English Versions and Campbell take ὅτι οὐδ ἐνὠ φελεῖ personally. So also Alfora, the Latin Vulgate, the German Versions, Lange (dass er nichts ausrichte), and Meyer (dass er nichts nütze). But Beza, Ewald, Norton, and Conant translate it impersonally=οὐδὲν ὠφελεῖται, dass es nichts nütze, that it avails nothing.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:24; Matthew 27:24.—The words τοῦδικαίου [before τούτου] are wanting in B., D. But Cod. A. reads: τούτου τοῦ δικαίου. Lachmann puts them in brackets, Tischendorf omits them [so also Alford]. The omission is more difficult to account for than the insertion. [Cod. Sinait. differs here from the Vatican Cod. and sustains the text. rec.: τοῦδικαίου τούτου.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:27; Matthew 27:27.—[The scourging took place outside of the πραιτώριον, which is the official palace of the Roman Procurator, or the the governor’s house, as the margin of the Authorized Version explains. Comp. Mark 15:16 :ἕσω τῆς αὐλῆς.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:27; Matthew 27:27.—[The interpolation: of soldiers, is a useless repetition. for ὅλης τήν σπεῖραν is meant the whole cohort (the tenth part of a legion) then on duty at the palace.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:28; Matthew 27:28.—Several Codd., B., D., etc., read ἐν δύσαντες [having clothed Him, By ἐκ δύσαντες αὐτόν]. Lachmann adopts it, but regards this reading as an old writing error. [Lachmann’s object, it should be remembered, is not to establish the most correct, but the most ancient text attainable, as it stood in the fourth century. Tischendorf and Alford retain ἐκδύαντες. See the Exeg. Notes.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:29; Matthew 27:29.—The best supported reading: ἐν τῇ δεξιῦͅ [for the lect. rec.: ἐπὶ τὴν δεξιάν, represents the conduct of Christ more passive, and is more suitable. [Cod. Sinait. reads ἐντῇ δεξιᾷ, and ἐπί τῆς κεφαλῆς for ἐπί τήν κεφαλήν.—P. S.]
[In German: “Schliesslich eine höhnische Behandlung der Juden, die seine (viz., Pilate’s) Schmach verhüllen sollte.” Dr. Lange refers evidently to the mockery of the Jews by Pilate related in John 19:14-15; John 19:20; John 19:22. The Edinb. edition entirely misunderstands this sentence in translating: “The conclusion of all being the ironical conduct of the Jews, as if they wished to throw a cloak over His indignities.” Here the word Behandlung was probably mistaken for Handlung, and the subject changed.—P. S.]
[The Edinb. translation reads: “This stood, unfortunately, upon a stone foundation.” It is as difficult to see the connection of the German üblicher Weise (usually) with unfortunately, as the connection of misfortune with a stone foundation, unless some one happens to fall on it. It is hardly conceivable that the translator should have derived so plain a word as üblich, customary, usual, from Uebel, evil, instead of üben, to practise.—P. S.]
[Not: namely, as the Edinb. translation reads, which uniformly confounds namentlich (especially) with nämlich (namely), although in this case the preceding many (viels in German, for which the Edinb. trsl. substitutes some) should have prevented the mistake.—P. S.]
[The verb φραγελλόω, which occurs twice in the N. T., here and Mark 15:15, and the noun φραγέλλιον, which occurs once, John 2:15, are Latin terms (flagello, flagellum), introduced into the later Greek for the more usual μαστίζω or μαστιλόω, and μάστιξ or ἱμάι (a whip, a scourge). Luke (Matthew 23:16) uses in this connection the more general term παιδεύσας αὐτόν, having chastised Him, John (Matthew 19:1), the more usual word ἐμαστίλωσεν, scourged Him.—P. S.]
[Jerome says on Matthew 27:26 : “Sciendum est Romanis eum (Pilatum) legibus ministrasse, quibus sancitum est, ut qui crucifigitur, prius flagellis verberetur. Traditus est itaque Jesus militibus verberandus, et illud sacratissimum corpus pectusque Dei capaœ ftagella secuerunt,” etc. He then says this was done “that by His stripes we might be healed” (Isaiah 53:5).—P. S.]
[This sentence, as well as the whole quotation, and the following passage, is entirely mistranslated in the Edinb. edition: “and so he rejects the statement here contained as false.” De Wette (on Matthew 27:26) as here quoted by Lange (and correctly quoted), ascribes to Paulus of Heidelberg no denial of the fact of scourging asserted by Matthew, but a false interpretation of φραγελλώσας as expressing an action which occurred at a previous stage according to John 19:1. He says: “Paulus halt den Bericht des Johannes für maassgebend und erklärt daher unsere Stella (i.e., Matthew 27:26) falsch: nachdem er ihn vorher schon hatte geisseln lassen.” The words in italics are quoted from Paulus. Some commentators assume that Jesus was scourged twice: but this is improbable and unnecessary, as the chronological difficulty can be satisfactorily accounted for in the manner proposed by Dr. Lange in the text.—P. S.]
[The Edinb. translation magnifies the company to 4,606 men! The original has “4–600 Mann;” the dash being always employed in such cases for bis, to. The number of men constituting a Roman legion varied at different times and according to circumstances from 3,000 to 6,000 or more. Consequently a σπεῖρα (spira),or cohort, which was the tenth part of a legion, embraced from 300 to 600 men or more. In Joseph. Bell. Judges 3:4; Judges 3:2, of eighteen σπεῖραι five are said to contain each 1,000 men, and the others 600. But in Polybius ἡ σηεῖρα is only the third part of a cohort, a maniple, manipulns. Sec Classical Dictionaries.—P. S.]
[Not: “Charles the Fifth,” as the Edinb. translation reads; for he belongs no more to the middle ages, but to the modern age, being a contemporary of the Reformation. Dr. Lange means Frederic II. German emperor of the famous house of Hohenstanfen in Würtemberg, who conquered Jerusalem, but quarrelled with Pope Gregory ix., was twice excommunicated by him, and deposed by the council of Lyons, and was supposed to be an unbeliever, although he died reconciled to the Church, A. D. 1250.—P. S.]
[In the original: “wider die Kleiderpracht,” which the Edinb. edition turns into: “upon the clothing of Jesus.”—P. S.]
[Gossner was originally a Roman Catholic priest, and suffered much persecution for his evangelical opinions.— P. S.]
[In German: “Wie ist das volk so verführbar!” The Edinb. edition turns this again into the opposite meaning: “How misleading are the masses.” It probably confounded verführbar with verführerisch. But the connection plainly shows that the Jewish hierarchy are here meant as the Instigators and seducers who led the people astray. The masses never lead, but are generally under the control of a few, as the body is ruled by the head. Hence the vox populi is not always the vox Dei, but, when influenced by political demagogues or apostate priests, it is the vox Diaboli Witness the Crucify Him of the Jews, the popular outcry of the Athenians against Socrates, the mad fury of the French during the reign of terror, etc. Then the people are tamed into a lawless mob with which it would be vain to reason, although it can be intimidated by brute force. Yet even in such cases the voice of the people is overruled for good by an all-wise Providence. So the crucifixion of Jesus became the salvation of the world.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:32; Matthew 27:32.—[This is the proper translation of the Greek verb ἀγγαρεύειν, which, like the noun ἄγγαρος a mounted, courier, is of Persian origin, and is a technical term for pressing horses or men into public service by authority Comp. Crit Note on Matthew 5:41, p. 118. The escort was under the command of a Roman officer who had official authority for this act according to Roman law. The Authorized Version makes the act falsely appear as an arbitrary assumption of power.—P. S.]
GOLGOTHA: THE CRUCIFIXION. (GOOD FRIDAY.)
(Mark 15:21-41; Luke 23:26-56; John 19:17-30; Isaiah 53:0—Pericopes: Matthew 27:33-38; Matthew 27:39-44; Matthew 27:45-56)
32And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled [impressed, ἠγγάρευσαν ]41 to bear his cross. 33And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha,42 that is to say, a [the] place of a skull,43 34They gave him vinegar [wine?]44 to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. 35And they crucified him, and parted [divided, διεμερίσαντο ] his garments, casting lots: [that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet (Psalms 22:15), They parted [divided] my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast 3637lots.]45 And sitting down they watched him there; And [they] set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
38Then were there [are] two thieves [robbers, λῃσταί ] crucified with him; one on the right hand, and another on the left. 39And they that passed by reviled him, wagging 40[shaking]46 their heads, And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in 41three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Like wise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be [he is] the King of Israel,47 let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him [we believe on him].48 43He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. 44The thieves [robbers] also, which [who] were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth [reproached him in like manner, or with the same thing, τὸα ὐτὸ …ὠνείδιζον αὐτόν ].49
45Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. 46And about the ninth hour Jesus cried [cried out, ἀνεβόησεν ] with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? (Psalms 22:1) that is to say, My God, my God, why hast 47thou forsaken me?50 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that [hearing it], said, This man calleth for Elias [Elijah]. 48And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. [But] 49The rest said, Let be [Come, Wait, ἄφες ],51 let us see whether Elias [Elijah] will come to save him.52
50[And] Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost [his spirit].53 51And, behold, the vail of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake [quaked], and the rocks rent [were rent, ἐσχίσθησαν ]; 52And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which [who] slept arose. 53And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
54Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the [a] Son of God [Θεοῦ υἱός ]. 55And many women were there beholding afar off, 56which [who] followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: Among which [whom] was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children [the sons of Zebedee].
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Survey.—The same brevity and sublimity with which Matthew described Christ’s sufferings during His trial, characterize his account of the crucifixion. Even Mark, in several parts, is more minute. Matthew, however, gives the fullest account of the blasphemy against Christ’s Messianic dignity; and he alone relates the effect produced upon the realm of the dead by the death of Jesus. The chief points are, Simon of Cyrene; Golgotha; the bitter wine; the parting of the garments; the watch (this last is recorded by our Evangelist alone); the two robbers crucified with Jesus; the blasphemies of the foes; the mocking by the robbers; the darkening of the sun; Jesus’ exclamation, My God, and the varying interpretations and the real meaning of the same; the giving up of His spirit; the rending of the temple-vail; the excitement in the world of the dead; the centurion’s testimony; the women beholding. The fulfilment of the Old Testament symbols of the Messiah’s sufferings is the point of view from which all is described.
Matthew 27:32. As they came out.—The executionstook place outside of the camp, and, accordingly, also outside of the holy city: Numbers 15:35; 1 Kings 21:13; Acts 7:56; see Lightfoot, p. 499. Instead of being led forth by lictors, the command of whom Pilate, as
sub-governor, did not enjoy, Jesus is conducted to the cross by the soldiery. A centurion on horseback, called by Tacitus exactor mortis, by Seneca, centurio supplicio prœpositus, headed the company. A herald, going in front of the condemned, proclaimed his sentence. Braune states: “There is a Jewish tradition to the effect that a herald went through the city, crying for forty days, Jesus was to be stoned: if any one could witness against Him, let him appear; but no one came forward.” We know from Matthew 28:11, that the Jews began very early to throw discredit upon the statements of the Evangelists. These falsifications were, at a later date, attempted especially in relation to the history of Jesus’ birth and death, and regarding the Messianic predictions of the Old Testament. The statement, moreover, of the Talmud, that there were two vails before the Most Holy, is evidently a concoction to remove the significance of the fact attested by the Evangelists.
They found a man of Cyrene.—Simon was from Cyrene, in African Libya, where many Jews were living. Ptoetmæus Lagi, when he obtained supreme power in Palestine, transported 100,000 Hebrews to Pentapolis, in that district. They had a synagogue of their own in Jerusalem. It is noteworthy, that we find in Acts 13:1, a Simon Niger associated with Lucius of Cyrene. Mark (Matthew 15:21) des gnates Simon “the father of Alexander and Rufus” two men who must have been well known to the Christian churches of that day, probably as brethren in the faith. Perhaps Simon was present as a pilgrim at the Passover (Acts 2:10); at all events, he was but lately come to Jerusalem, as his appellation, Κυρηναῖος , indicates. It is not likely that he was at that time more intimately related to Jesus. He had been out in the field, while Jesus was undergoing His tria’s before the various tribunals. Grotius and others, however, assume that he was a follower of Jesus. Rambach: “He manifested, it would appear, some sympathy with Jesus, and was therefore compelled to carry His cross.” Perhaps, during his bearing the cross, he became more intimately acquainted with Jesus; at all events, this fact has preserved his name in everlasting remembrance.54 Simon Peter was not now, as he had promised, in his place: another Simon from a distant land must serve in his place. The very circumstance of Simon’s arriving, a stranger and alone, at this time, drew the attention of the company; and they forced him, that is, they required of him, according to military custom, this service. For the verb ἀγγαρεύειν, see above, Matthew 5:41. Upon such requisitions, see Tholuck, Credibility of the Gospel History (German), p. 365. Simon may have been thus violently impressed by excited soldiers without being a Christian (Grotius), or a slave (Meyer’s supposition). Tradition reports that Christ had sunk to the ground beneath the load. It is possible that the captain of the band, who at a later period declared his conversion to the faith, was even now touched by a feeling of pity. The remainder of the way, it would appear, was short; and this is likely the reason why John omits the circumstance. According to custom, criminals were obliged to carry their own cross to the place of execution. [Comp. Plutarch, De sera numinis vindicta, c. Matthew 9:0 : ἕκαστος τῶν κακούργων ἐκφέρει τὴν αὐτοῦ σταυρόν . That our Saviour bore His own cross (probably the greater part of the way), is expressly stated by John 19:17.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:33. Golgotha.—Chald. גֻּלְגָּלְתָּא, Heb. גֻּלְגֹּלֵת that is, Skull. Hieronymus and others say this place of execution was so termed from the skulls of criminals.55 On the contrary, it is maintained by Cyril, Calovius, de Wette, and others, that the name arose from the conical shape of the hill.56 Certainly, for the second supposition, two reasons present themselves,—1. That Golgotha means skull, and that the place is not called κρανίων τόπος place of skulls, but κρανίου, skull,—Luke uses κρανίον; 2. that the skulls were not allowed to lie upon the place of execution unburied, but were covered up. The tradition of the Fathers, that Adam was buried there, gives us no assistance in explaining the name. Against the second supposition, the late origin of the name, which is not found in the Old Testament, comes in. If now we think of the Jewish mode of execution, stoning, in which the head was the first part injured, we gain something to support the first explanation.57 It would appear that Golgotha had not been selected as a place of execution till a late date; and that then the valley of Gehinnom ceased to be employed in that way. It is not unlikely that, up till this time, the place had been nameless, and now received this designation, and, it is possible, by way of reference to its shape.
The Christian tradition has made the position of Golgotha, which was certainly no hill, but merely an elevated place, to be that of “Mount” Calvary, the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This church lies within the walls of the present city, and in the north-western quarter. In opposition to this view, it is alleged that, without making any mention of the line of the city walls, which may belong to a later date, the city would have been in this part exceedingly small, if we suppose the present district of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to hare lain outside the walls. But, in reply, it is asserted, that a city may easily be small in some quarters, and extend in others. The fact is, Jerusalem then ran out more toward the south side. Against this identity the following have spoken decidedly:—Robinson (Biblical Researches, Bost. ed. 1856, vol. i. p. 407–418; vol. iii. 254–263; and Neue Untersuchungen, Halle, 1847); Titus Tobler: Golgotha, St Gallen, 1851, p. 224 ff.58 For the identity are—Karl von Raumer: Palästina, p. 355; Scholz: de Golgathœ situ, compare Friedlieb: l. c. p. 137; Schubert [Reise in das Morgenland, vol. ii. p. 503 ff.]; Schultz: Jerusalem, p. 96; Krafft: die Topographie Jerusalems, Bonn, 1846, p. 230.59 Wolff: Reise in das gelobte Land, Stuttgart, 1849, p. 83, pronounces in favor of the probability of the identity (more undecidedly in his work “Jerusalem,” Leipzig, 1857.) Berggren is decided for the identity, in the tract, Flavius Josephus, der Führer und Irrführer der Pilger im Alten und Neuen Jerusalem, Leipzig, Matt 1854:—“It may be quite indifferent to a Christian where the place of execution, Golgotha, and Christ’s grave, were, inasmuch as the truth of the Gospel history is not dependent upon the traditions regarding the external and local circumstances in the life and death of Jesus. But, overlooking the fact that tradition is often worthy of attention, there are all possible positive reasons to bring forward, why we should seek Golgotha at once, and only there, where the tradition represents. Neither the old world nor the new has any ground for doubting the common opinion regarding the Holy Sepulchre.”
The following remark appears important:—Jeremiah predicts (Jeremiah 31:38-40) that the city should it, future times extend beyond the north wall (the second wall), and enclose Gibeat Gareb, or the leper’s hill, and Gibeat Goath,60 or the hill of death (of roaring, groaning). The position of Gareb can correspond only with Under Bezetha, and the position of Goath only Upper Bezetha, where Golgotha rose. Both of these elevations were enclosed by Agrippa, as parts of the new city, and lay inside the third wall. From the context we learn that Gareb and Goath were unclean places, but, being measured in with the holy city, became sanctified. That the Goath-hill of Jeremiah is identical with the Golgotha of the Evangelists, is more than probable. The wall of Agrippa was built around Bezetha by Herod Agrippa, the grandson of Herod the Great.
In conducting this controversy, the following points should be kept in mind: 1. That those who oppose the identity have never pointed out any other site for Golgotha. 2. The history of the city of Jerusalem. It has been proved that the city, at a later period, extended considerably from south northward and north-westward, and that the third wall, or wall of Agrippa, enclosed on this side a piece of ground which had hitherto lain outside the city. 3. The history of the holy places themselves. It has never been disproved, that, according to the testimonies of Eusebius and Hieronymus, a marble statue of Venus desecrated Golgotha from the days of Hadrian to those of Constantine, to prevent Christians from resorting to the holy place; and that this and similar desecratory monuments form the connecting link between the apostolic tradition and the time of Constantine (Krafft, p. 172). 4. A distinction must be drawn between the statements of tradition regarding the holy places in general, and the description of special points; and it is an erroneous conclusion, when we entertain doubts regarding the former, because doubts attach themselves to the latter (Krafft, p. 234). Schultz represents Golgotha as a rocky height, which rose straight up over against the city, having a precipitous face toward north and east, and was in this way a kind of stage, exposed to the eyes of all the city’s inhabitants.
As regards the Via dolorosa, or Via crucis, or the Lord’s road from the prætorium to Golgotha, mention was first made of it in the fourteenth century (Krafft, p. 168). The real way trod by our Lord must have lain somewhat more to the south.61 Braune’s statement, that the way was about an hour’s walking, is incorrect: it was very much shorter.
On the discovery of the holy cross by Saint Helena, the Basilika erected on Golgotha by her, and the present Church of the Holy Sepulchre, consult the Church Histories, and works of travel to the holy land. The central-point in the history of the Holy Sepulchre is the Crusades; but the fact, that the Mohammedans still possess the spot, is less saddening than that Christian sects contend and fight over the holy places, that this contention gave occasion lately to a bloody war, and that the superstitious deception of the holy Easter-fire forms the chief attraction of the feast of Golgotha!
Matthew 27:34. Gave Him to drink.—It became a custom in later times, among the Jews, to give to those who were led away to execution a stupefying draught (Synedr. 6; Wetstein on Mark 15:23; Friedlieb, 141). The Rabbins considered this a custom of pious charity, and would ground it upon Proverbs 31:6 [“Prodeunti ad supplicium capitis potum dederunt, granumque thuris in poculo vini, ut turbaretur intellectus ejus, sicut dicitur: date siceram, etc.”]. In the days of the Christian martyrs, it sometimes happened that similar drinks were administered to the condemned on their way to execution by friends and brethren in the faith who accompanied them (Neander, Leben Jesu, p. 757). It cannot be shown to have been a Roman custom. Nevertheless the Roman soldier carried with him a wine, which, though weak in itself, was strengthened by being mixed with various roots. This common wine was called vinegar-wine (Mark), also vinegar (Matthew). Mark says myrrh was mixed with the wine.62 The Jewish Sanhedrin appointed for this purpose a grain of incense to be mixed with a cup of wine. The physician Dioskorides says myrrh was also used; Matthew, however, adds, “mingled with gall.” By χφλή the LXX. translate לַעֲנָח, wormwood, quassia. The Evangelist may have chosen the expression with reference to Psalms 69:22; but he has not marked the fulfilment specially. There is no trace of a later mythical tradition. The most common drink was vinegar-wine; the strongest and most stupefactive mixture, wormwood. Jesus refused this intoxicating draught decidedly, and that, too, knowing its nature: “when He had tasted, He would not drink.” The Romans named such a drink, significantly, sopor. Jesus did not thus afterward refuse the unmixed vinegar-wine when He thirsted, and had finished His work.
Matthew 27:35. And having crucified Him, σταυρώσαντες δέ αὐτόν κ.τ.λ .
1. The Cross, σταυρός : primarily a pale or beam, crux, two beams fastened together in the shape of a T; of these, the longer, called staticulum, projected often upward the shorter, or cross-beam, called antenna.63 In the middle of the larger beam there was a peg or a piece of wood, on which the sufferer rested; and this formed one of the most excruciating agonies of the cross.64 The height of the cross was not great, and the feet of the criminal were not more than two feet from the ground.
2. The Crucifixion. The most extreme capital punishment among several ancient nations; it was practised even by the Persians, Ezra 6:11; Esther 7:9; still, the Persian instrument of execution was something between the Roman cross and the Germanic gallows. The cross of the Romans was the severest punishment for the worst criminals, and so disgraceful, that it dare not be inflicted on Roman citizens (crudelissimum teterrimumque supplicium, Cicero, Verr. 5, 64); only slaves, highway robbers, rebels, and outlawed prisoners of war, were made to suffer it (Joseph. Bell. 5 Judges 11:1, etc.).65 Those condemned to the cross must first be scourged; then bear their own cross, also a tablet upon the breast stating their crime, as far as the place of execution, which lay outside the city, upon a thronged highway, or upon some exposed spot, that the crucified criminals might be mocked and at the same time inspire terror. When they had reached this place of execution, they were stripped, and, after the stupefying draught was administered, they were raised up and nailed to the cross, which had been previously erected, and above which was placed an inscription. There was, no doubt, another mode, according to which the criminals were fastened to the cross while it yet lay on the ground. But it would appear that the former was the more usual method (Friedlieb, p. l. c. 142). The arms were first extended and fastened to the cross-beam. The body rested upon a peg in the centre in a riding manner, which prevented the hands from being torn through, and allowing the person to fall. The feet, too, were fastened. Then began the nailing. The old traditional view of the Church, that the feet of the Lord were nailed as well as His hands, was contradicted since 1792 by Dr. Paulus, who maintained that the feet of Jesus were only bound. But this assertion has been disproved by Hengstenberg, Hug, and Bähr (consult Tholuck, Die. Glaubwürdigkeit der evangelischen Gesehichte; Hug, (Gutachten, ii. 174; Friedlieb, l. c. p. 144). The first proof that feet and hands were both fastened by nails, is supplied by Luke 24:39, where Jesus, after His resurrection, shows the disciples His hands and feet (with the marks in them). Again, we have the testimonies of the oldest Church Fathers, who wrote at a time when this punishment was still practised, upon this subject, namely, Justin Martyr, Dial. c. Tryph. 97; Tertullian, Advers. Marc. 3:19. Further, heathen writers testify that the feet as well as the hands were nailed: Plautus, Mostellaria, Acts 2:0 Scene 1.66 There is no reference made here by the Evangelist to Psalms 22:16. This is a matter not to be overlooked. Moreover, the explanation of the words כָּאֲרִי [which the English Version renders: they pierced] is acknowledged to be very difficult and doubtful (compare Hengstenberg, Ewald, Hitzig [also Hupfeld, Delitzsch, and J. A. Alexander] on the passage). The typical Messianic reference of Psalms 22:0 to the sufferings of Christ does not, however, depend on Matthew 27:16 th, although the similarity is very striking. See Meyer also on this passage. The spirit of torture of the old world must naturally manifest its inventive powers in the augmentation of the pains of this punishment. So arose the habit of crucifying with the head downward (Peter’s death), and such like (see Friedlieb, l. c. p. 146). Hence, too, arose the crux decussata, in an oblique form, in the shape of the letter X, upon which Andrew is said to have bled to death. The Roman punishment of crucifixion was introduced into Palestine after that country had become a province of the Roman empire. Meeting with a similar punishment, of a Jewish character, a modification ensued. Among the Jews, those who had been stoned to death were hanged upon a tree to excite terror, on the condition that the corpse was not to remain on the tree, but should be buried the same day; for one who is hanged is cursed of God (Galatians 3:13), and the land was not to be polluted by such an one (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). Hence the Jews employ, of crucifixion, the more usual תָּלָה, to hang, and Christ is designated in Jewish polemical works, the hanged. According to the Roman custom, the crucified were not taken down: they were allowed to die slowly; and in the case of young and strong men, this continued sometimes three days. Their flesh was given to the birds, or other wild animals. At times their sufferings were shortened, by kindling a fire beneath, or allowing lions and bears to tear them to pieces. But the Jewish custom did not permit that, partly from a sense of humanity, partly from regard to symbolic purity. The bodies must, according to the law just quoted, be taken down and buried. Hence arose the Roman Crucifragium, the breaking of the legs (otherwise a punishment in itself); and with this a “mercy-stroke” was at times associated, which ended the pain of the sufferer. Were they already dead, the Crucifragium was superfluous; but to make sure of death, the easier mercy-stroke was given, that is, the body was pierced by a lance. We see in the Jewish custom two things, which were combined into one in the Roman: 1. The torturing execution; 2. the public exposure to insult and mockery; 3. the kindling of a fire beneath is the third point, and indicates an annihilating burial. Nero, probably, in his persecutions of the Christians, carried the thing further; later it became common; and the Inquisition, in the Middle Ages, employed this legacy of the Romans, and cherished it lovingly.
3. The Agonies of the Cross. Crucifixion was the most extreme punishment, shame, and torture, which could be devised by the old world, as represented by the severe Roman court of criminal justice. Only the Inquisition, with its fiendish inventions, has been able to surpass this torturing death. There are two sides, agony and disgrace. Each side presents three acts. The agony includes scourging, bearing the cross, suffering on the cross. The torture of the cross begins with the pain of the unnatural method of sitting on a peg, the impossibility of holding up the weary head, the burning of the nail-pierced hands and feet. Besides this, there is the swelling of arms and legs, feverish thirst and anguish, the gradual extinction of life through gangrened wounds or exhaustion. The disgrace and mental suffering also presents a climax: The Scourged One appears as the detested; the expelled Cross-bearer, as the rejected of God and men; the Cross-suspended, as an object of horror, and of cursing (1 Corinthians 4:13; John 3:14).—The unique character of Christ’s sufferings lies, however, first, in the contrast between His heavenly healthiness and sensibility, and this hellish torture; secondly, in the contrast between His holiness, innocence, philanthropy, and divine dignity, and this experiencing of human contempt, rejection, and of apparent abandonment by God; above all, thirdly, in His sympathy with humanity, which changes this judgment, to which the world was surrendered, into His own, and so transforms it into a vicarious suffering. Upon the bodily sufferings of Christ, during the crucifixion, the physician Chr. Gottl. Richter has written four treatises (1775).68
They divided His garments.—“Perfectly naked did the cruciarii hang upon the cross (Artemid. 2, 58; Lips. De cruce 2, 7), and the executioners received their clothes (Wetstein upon this passage). There is no ancient testimony to show that there was a cloth even round the loins. See Thilo, Ad. Ev. Nicod. 10, p. 582.” Meyer. There is, however, also a “retrospective” prophetic view; and the Jewish custom is to be remembered, the sympathy of the heathen captain, Christ’s mother beneath the cross, etc. The garments became the property of the soldiers, after Roman usage. The outer garment was divided probably into four, by ripping up the seams. Four soldiers were counted off as a guard, by the Roman code. The under garment could not be divided, being woven; and this led the soldiers to the dice-throwing. Matthew presents the different points as a whole.
Casting lots.—For the more explicit account, see John 19:23.—That it might be fulfilled.—According to the textual criticism (see above), we are led to think these words introduced from John, “although it is worthy of attention, that ῥηθὲν . belongs only to Matthew.” De Wette. One is induced, certainly, to side with the minority of witnesses in this case. The addition is supported not merely by the mode of speech used by Matthew, but also especially by the fact, that he has put the crucifixion into the Aorist participle, as though he would emphasize particularly the fact brought forward by the finite verb. And this cannot be the division of the garments in itself, but its import. Accordingly the case stands thus: either the majority of the scribes have taken objection to the expression, ὑπὸ τοῦ προφήτου , or the others have expanded the words, “they divided His garments, casting lots,” according to Matthew’s meaning. The construction shows, however, that this explanation was intended. The prophecy in the psalm is of a typical nature. Upon the misconception of the passage, Psalms 22:19, which Strauss charges home upon the Evangelist, see the author’s Leben Jesu, ii. 3, p. 1602 (German edition).
Matthew 27:36. And sitting down, they watched Him there.—The watch was set to prevent those who had been crucified from being taken down. In this case, they had a peaceful bivouac which assumed a significant meaning.
Matthew 27:37.—And they set up over His head, etc.—The circumstance that the cruciarius, according to Dio Cass. 54, 8, was compelled to carry a “title” stating his guilt, suspended from his neck and resting upon his breast, while being led to the place of execution, justifies the conclusion that it was the custom to set up this title also above the criminal’s head, when fastened to the cross. We learn the same from the transactions regarding this title recorded by John, who lays peculiar stress upon the double meaning and significance of the superscription, Matthew 19:20. This title, according to Matthew, was attached after the division of the clothes. The very soldiers seem to feel that the statement of the crime was not in this case the chief matter. The small, white tablet, upon which the accusation or sentence of death stood inscribed, was called titulus, σανίς, or also λεύκωμ α, αἰτία.—This is Jesus, The King of the Jews.—No other crime but this. The Jews have crucified their Messiah. He has His title of honor; they have their shame.
Matthew 27:38. Then are two robbers crucified with Him, σταυροῦνται.—At this moment, and not till then, are (present). “By another band of soldiers;” for those who crucified the Lord have seated themselves beneath the cross. This arrangement was a combination devised by Pilate. First, the crucified Jesus is decked with the title, King of the Jews; then two robbers, as the symbol of His Jewish kingdom, are crucified. This was the governor’s revenge, that the Jews had overcome him, and humbled Him in his own estimation.—Two robbers, λῃσταί.—The usual punishment for such an offence was crucifixion. They were in all likelihood no common robbers, but fanatical insurrectionists, chiliastic enthusiasts, such as are frequently met with in later Jewish history. Comp. Mark 15:7.
Matthew 27:39. But they that passed by.—Not laborers going to their work (Fritzsche, de Wette), but the people who, on the afternoon of the feast-day, were walking about outside the gate, and going toward this populous quarter, where a new town was rising. As we previously remarked, Golgotha was a rocky height, turned toward the city, forming thus a natural stage for the public exposure of the crucified. And there the citizens of Jerusalem came forth this day purposely, to walk about with pleasure.—Shaking their heads.—“Not as a sign of disapprobation, but, as we may see from Psalms 22:8—as a gesture of passionate and malignant joy: compare Job 16:4; Psalms 109:25; Isaiah 37:22; Buxtorf, Lexic. Talm. p. 2039.” Meyer. Query, was not disapprobation hidden under this malignant joy?
Matthew 27:40. Thou that destroyest the temple. Following the participial form, more accurately, the destroyer of the temple (ὁ καταλύων τὸν ναόν). The popular accusation brought against Him by the citizens of Jerusalem, proud of their temple, though the false witnesses upon the trial had contradicted one another. Still, they understood that there lay in the rebuilding within three days an announcement of a delivering power, and also a claim laid to Messianic dignity: hence the summons, Save Thyself, and the parallel sentence, explanatory of the first: If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.—The witty mockers do not dream that He will really within three days rebuild the temple which they had destroyed. The parallelism, putting the words into poetic form, makes of the utterances a song of derision, which they improvise in their Satanic enthusiasm, as is still often observed in the East upon similar occasions.
Matthew 27:41-43. The chief priests…with the scribes.—The burghers blaspheme, for they were at first stung with feelings of disapprobation; the members of the Sanhedrin mock for they think they have achieved a perfect victory. But their mockery is no less blasphemy: and here, too, appears that poetic parallelism which makes a derisive song out of their mocking. But the mockery rises in this case to frenzy:—He saved others (forced recognition) Himself He cannot save (blasphemous conclusion). Then, He is King of Israel: ironical no doubt, and again a wicked conclusion. Finally, He trusted in God (with blasphemous reference to Psalms 22:9); and the godless conclusion, in which blasphemy against Christ passes unconsciously over into blasphemy against God, for whose honor they pretend to be zealous. Besides this, they unconsciously adopt the language of the enemies of God’s servant, Psalms 22:0. Thus are the statements, and even the prayers, of finished fanaticism usually filled with blasphemies. If He will have him, εἰθέλει αὐτόν:—if He has pleasure in him, after the Hebrew חָפֵּץ בּזֹ. It is worthy of note, that the mocking speech of the Sanhedrin consists of three members, while that of the other mockers presents but two.
Matthew 27:44. The robbers also, etc.—Apparent contradiction of Luke 23:39. Luke 23:1. Meyer and
others: It is an actual contradiction. 2. Ebrard and others: It is only a general expression, indefinitely put. 3. The older harmonists, Chrysostom, and others: At first, both mocked; afterward, only one. 4. At first, both mocked, ὠνείδιζον, in so far as they demanded that He as Messias should descend from the cross. But this the one did, as a nobler chiliast (millennarian), and with a heart filled by enthusiastic hopes; the other, in a despairing spirit. Afterward, the former resigned all earthly hopes, and in his death turned to the dying Christ; the other in his despair blasphemed the dying Lamb (ἐβλασφήμει, Luke). See the author’s Leben Jesu, ii. 3, p. 1565.
Matthew 27:45. Now, from the sixth hour there was a darkness, etc.—Since the third hour, or nine o’clock in the morning, Jesus had been hanging on the cross; from the sixth hour,—accordingly at midday, when the sun stood highest and the day was brightest, which also was the middle-point in His crucifixion-torments,—the darkness began. This statement regarding the time, appears to be opposed to that in John 19:14, where we read that it was the sixth hour (ὤρα ἦν ὡς ἕκτη), when Pilate pronounced sentence. If we adopt Tholuck’s view, that John follows the reckoning of time usual in the Roman forum, we obtain too early an hour. The periods of the day being reckoned especially according to the hours of prayer, 3, 6, 9, we may understand the passage thus: the third hour (nine o’clock in the morning) was already past, and it was going, was hastening on, to the sixth hour. The sixth hour was held peculiarly sacred by the Jews, especially upon the Sabbaths and the festivals. Mark’s statement is analogous, Matthew 15:25 : it was the third hour when they crucified Jesus. Mark, like Matthew, contemplates the scourging as a part of the crucifixion; and that occurred between the third and sixth hour. This cannot have been an ordinary eclipse of the sun, because the Passover was celebrated at the time of full moon. Moreover, Luke mentions the darkening of the sun after the darkening of the earth; and hence it is manifest, that he ascribes the darkness which spread over the earth to no mere eclipse; but he ascribes, on the contrary, the darkness of the sun to a mysterious thickening of the atmosphere. The Christian Fathers of the first century appeal to a statement which is found in the works of Phlegon, a chronicler under the Emperor Hadrian (Neander, p. 756). Eusebius quotes the very words, under the date of the 4th year of the 202d Olympiad: “There occurred the greatest darkening of the sun which had ever been known; it became night at mid-day, so that the stars shone in the heavens. A great earthquake in Bithynia, which destroyed a part of Nicæa.”69 Hug and Wieseler (Chronol. Synopse, p. 388) reject this reference, inasmuch as Phlegon speaks of an actual eclipse. But when we see that Phlegon unites that eclipse with an earthquake, we may reasonably conclude he refers to some extraordinary natural phenomenon. Still, as it is alleged that the reckonings do not agree accurately with the year of Christ’s death (either two or one year earlier, see Wieseler, p. 388; Brinkmeyer, Chronologie, p. 208), we let this reference rest upon its own merits. Paulus and others make the darkness to be such as precedes an ordinary earthquake. Meyer, on the contrary, asserts that it was an extraordinary, miraculous darkness. Without doubt, the phenomenon was associated with the death of Jesus in the most intimate and mysterious manner. But the life of the earth has something more than its mere ordinary round; it has a geological development which shall go on till the end of the world. This development is conditioned by the development of God’s kingdom, forms a parallel to the same, and agrees in all the principal points with the decisive epochs in the kingdom of God (see the author’s Leben Jesu, ii. 1, p. 312; and Positive Dogmatik, p. 1227). Accordingly, the death of Jesus is accompanied by an extraordinary occurrence in the physical world. But that these occurrences, as natural phenomena, were produced by natural causes, cannot be denied. For, improper as it is to represent the wonder in nature as a simple, accidental occurrence in nature, it is equally improper to set nature outside of nature herself, or to deny the natural side of the wonder in nature. This darkening of the sun is then to be connected with a miraculous earthquake, which again stood connected with the occurrence in the life of the divine Redeemer, which we are now considering. The moment when Christ, the creative Prince, the principle of life to humanity and the world, expires, convulses the whole physical world. In a similar moment of death, is nature to go to meet her glorification. When Christ was born, night became bright by the shining of the miraculous star, as though it would pass into a heavenly day; when He died, the day darkened at the hour when the sun shone in fullest glory, as though it would sink into the awful night of Sheol. Heubner, referring to the eclipse mentioned by Phlegon, says, Suidas relates that Dionysius the Areopagite (then a heathen), saw the eclipse in Egypt, and exclaimed: “Either God is suffering, and the world sympathizes with Him, or else the world is hurrying to destruction.” See also, p. 457, the well-known statement of Plutarch (De oraculorum defectu). Ships which were sailing toward Italy, passed by the island Paxe. The Egyptian helmsman, Thamus, heard a voice bidding him say to the paludes, when he arrived, that the great Pan was dead. The announcement of this death called forth many outcries and a sound of bitter lamentation. Many interpretations of this mysterious legend.
Over all the land.—Theophylact: κοσμικὸν δὲ ἦν τὸ σκότος, οὐ μερικόν. Meyer agrees with this interpretation and thinks that, in accordance with the miraculous character of the whole event, ἐπὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν must mean here over the whole earth, and not over the whole land (as Erasmus, Maldonatus, Kuinöel, Olshausen, Ebrard, and others take it); yet he admits that the term must not be measured by the laws of physical geography, and expresses simply the faith of popular observation.70 But the legitimacy of “the popular hyperbole” lies in this, that the Israelites used the “whole land” for the whole earth. There is a reference certainly to the whole world, though the natural phenomena may have been fully seen only in the holy land, Syria, and Asia Minor.—To the ninth hour.—Highly significant continuance of the darkness. Mere shadows of this gloom were the darknesses which accompanied the decease of Romulus and that of Cæsar. Virg. Georg. i. 164.
Matthew 27:46. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out, etc.—This is the only one of the “seven words” which is reported by Matthew and Mark: it is given accordingly in a pointed manner, and presented in its striking signification. Most exactly given by Mark in the vernacular Syro-Chaldaic dialect, Eloi, Eloi, etc.71 With this single exception the above-named Evangelists mention merely the loud cry of the Saviour without giving its contents. He cried out, ἀνεβόησεν; or, He shrieked with a loud and strong voice. The exclamation itself is given in its original form, as the “Talitha Cumi” and the “Abba” in Mark (Matthew 5:41; Matthew 14:36). Σαβαχθανί, Chald. שְׁבַקְתָּנִי=Heb. עֲזַבְתָּנִי. “The citation of this exclamation in the original tongue is fully and naturally explained by the mockery of Matthew 27:47, which rests upon the similarity of sound. The Greek translator of Matthew’s Gospel was accordingly forced to retain the Hebrew words, though he adds the translation.” Meyer.—Explanation of this cry: 1. Vicarious experience of the divine wrath (Melanchthon and the older orthodox school). 2. Testimony that His political plans had failed (Wolfenbüttel Fragments). 3. Mythical, founded on Psalms 22:0, the programme of His sufferings (Strauss). 4. Lamentation, expressed in a scriptural statement, showing He had the whole psalm, with its sublime conclusion, before His mind (Paulus, Schleiermacher). 5. Objective or actual momentary abandonment by God (Olshausen). 6. Subjective momentary abandonment or feeling of being forsaken by God. De Wette, Meyer. The latter says that Christ was “for a moment overpowered (!) by the deepest pain;” that “the agony of soul arising from His rejection by men, united with the torture of the body, which now surpassed endurance;” that “His consciousness of union with God was for the moment overcome by the agony.” 7. Amid the faintness, or the confusion of mind at the presentiment of approaching death, He felt His abandonment by God; and yet His spirit rested firmly on, and His will was fully subject to, God, while He was thus tasting death for every man through God’s grace (Lange’s Leben Jesu, ii. 3, p. 1573). Or the voice of conflict with death, a voice at the same time of victory over this temporal death to which humanity is subject. [We have in this exclamation an intensified renewal of the agony of Gethsemane, the culmination of His vicarious sufferings where they turned into victory. It was a divine-human experience of sin and death in their inner connection and universal significance for the race by one who was perfectly pure and holy, a mysterious and indescribable anguish of the body and the soul in immediate prospect of, and in actual wrestling with, death as the wages of sin and the culmination of all misery of man, of which the Saviour was free, but which He voluntarily assumed from infinite love in behalf of the race. But His spirit serenely sailed above the clouds and still held fast to God as His God, and His will was as obedient to Him as in the garden when He said: Not My will but Thine be done. While God apparently forsook Him, the suffering Head of humanity, in tasting death as the appointed curse of sin and separation from His communion, Christ did not forsake God, and thus restored for man the bond of union with God which man had broken. The exclamation: My God, My God, etc., implies therefore a struggle with death which was at the same time a defeat of the king of terror, and transformed death into life by taking away its sting, and completing the atonement. Hence the triumphant conclusion of the agony in the words: “It is finished!” Comp. the Doctrinal Thoughts below. There is great consolation in this dying word. Even if God hides His face from us, we need not despair; the sun of grace is still behind the clouds of judgment, and will shine through the veil with double effect.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:47. This (man) calleth for Elijah.—Explanation: 1. Misunderstanding on the part, a. of the Roman soldiers (Euthym. Zigabenus), b. of the common Jews (Theophylact), c. of the Hellenists (Grotius). 2. Meyer, following de Wette: “A blasphemous Jewish joke, by an awkward and godless pun upon Eli.”72 If we conceive to ourselves the state of matters, we may easily assume that joking and mockery were now past (see Luke 23:48). It may be supposed that this loud cry, Eli, Eli, wakened up the consciences of the on-looking Jews, and filled them with the thought, Perhaps the turning point may now actually have come, and Elijah may appear to bring in the day of judgment and vengeance (Olshausen); and, occupied thus, they may not have heard the remaining words. It is by no means far-fetched to imagine that the Jewish superstition, after the long-continued darkness, took the form of an expectation of a Messianic appearance. At least, we may say that they sought to hide their terror under an ambiguous pun upon the words.
Matthew 27:48-49. One of them ran and took a sponge.—The word of Jesus: I thirst, had immediately preceded this act, as we learn from John; and, succeeding the cry: Eli, marks that Christ was now conscious of having triumphed. Under the impulse of sympathy, one ran and dipped a sponge in a vessel of wine which stood there (the ordinary military wine, posca); and then fastening the sponge upon a hyssop-reed, which when fully grown is firm as wood, gave it to the Lord to drink. (See Winer, art. Hyssop.) According to John, several were engaged in this act. According to Matthew, the rest cry out to the man who was offering the drink, Wait (come), let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him. According to Mark, the man himself cries, Wait, etc.—an accurate picture of the excitement caused by the loud cry of Jesus. The one party seem to see in this act a disturbance of the expectation; the others see in it the fulfilment of the request, and a refreshment to support life till the expectation should be fulfilled. De Wette thinks the offer was ironical; but he confounds the second with the first draught. His view, too, is opposed by Christ’s reception of the second drink. Christ drank this draught, 1. because the wine was unmixed; 2. because now the moment of rest had come.
Matthew 27:50. Jesus cried again, κράξας.—The last words,—not those recorded in John 19:30, but those in Luke 23:46 : “Father, into Thy hands,” etc. Meyer is disposed, without ground, however, to find in these words a later tradition, arising from Psa 31:5.73 Paulus’ assumption of a merely apparent death needs no refutation.
[As to the order of the seven words from the cross, the harmonists are not entirely agreed. The most probable order is that adopted by Stier, Greswell, Andrews, and others: Before the darkness: 1. The prayer of Christ for His enemies. 2. The promise to the penitent robber. 3. The charge to Mary and John. During the darkness: 4. The cry of distress to His God. After the darkness: 5. The exclamation: “I thirst.” 6. “It is finished.” 7. The final commendation of His spirit to God. Ebrard puts (3) before (2), Krafft (4) before (3).—P. S.]
Matthew 27:51. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain.—Full development of an earthquake, which was mysteriously related to the death of Jesus, and yet was quite natural in its progress. The rending asunder of the veil was a result of the convulsion, although the earthquake is mentioned afterward. Such is ever the case in an earthquake: its approach is marked by such fixed signs as the shaking of houses, etc. Meyer holds that neither the earthquake nor the darkness were natural. But nature and spirit do not in the Scriptures pursue different roads; here nature is conditioned by spirit. An Earthquake, which is not natural, is a contradiction. Moreover, the veil which was rent was that before the Holy of Holies (הַפָּרֹכֶת, Exodus 26:31 sq.; Leviticus 16:2; Leviticus 16:12), and not before the Holy Place. See Heubner, p. 459, for the refutation of this assumption of Michaelis.74 This rending was a result of the convulsion, and at the same time a sign of the removal of the typical atonement through the completion of the real atonement, which ensures us a free access to God, Hebrews 6:19; Hebrews 9:6; Hebrews 10:19. For the mythical embellishment of this fact, in the Evang. sec. Hebr., see Meyer. [It is simply the exaggerating statement quoted by St. Jerome in loc.: “In. Evangelio, cujus saepe facimus mentionem (he means the Gospel of the Hebrews), superliminare Templi infinitae magnitudinis fractum esse atque divisum legimus.” This exaggeration, which substitutes a thick beam of the temple for the veil, presupposes the simple truth as recorded by Matthew. Meyer fully admits this event as historical (against Schleiermacher, de Wette, and Strauss), and assigns to it the same symbolical significance as Lange and all the orthodox commentators. Comp. Hebrews 9:11-12; Hebrews 10:19-23. There is neither a prophecy of the Old Testament, nor a Jewish popular belief, which could explain a myth in this case. The objection of Schleiermacher, that the event could not be known except to hostile priests, has no force, since the rumor of such an event, especially as it occurred toward the time of the evening sacrifice, would irresistibly spread, and since “a great company of the priests” were converted afterward, Acts 6:7.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:51-52. And the rocks were rent.—Progress of the miraculous earthquake: the firm foundation of the holy city begins to split.
The graves were opened.—Awful, significant phenomenon, introducing the following ghostly phenomenon. The whole forms a type and symbol of the general resurrection and the world’s end, which is seen in its principle in Jesus’ death, and hence is manifested by natural signs. The opening of certain particular graves in the neighborhood of Jerusalem was a special representation of the coming resurrection, particularly of the faithful. But it was typical as well as symbolic, as is evident from the spiritual apparitions which succeeded. [Travellers still point us to extraordinary rents and fissures in the rocks near the supposed or real spot of the crucifixion, as the effects of this earthquake. The Jewish sepulchres, unlike our own, were natural or artificial excavations in rocks, the entrance being closed by a door or a large stone. Hence it may be supposed that, besides the rending of rocks, the stone doors of the graves were removed by the force of the earthquake.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:52. And many bodies of the saints who slept, arose.—There is no ground for the opinion held by Stroth (in Eichhorn’s Repert. Matthew 9:1, p. 123) and by the, elder Bauer (Bibl. Theol. des Neuen Test. i. 366), that both verses are interpolated. De Wette: “This surprising statement does not seem to belong to the common evangelical tradition. As even a legendary (mythical) representation, it does not harmonize well with the Messianic belief of that time (it may, to some degree, with the expectation of the first resurrection, Revelation 20:4); and again, we cannot satisfactorily deduce the thing from the fact that a few graves were opened. (See Hase, § 148.) The legend is more fully developed in Evang. Nicodemi, cap. 17, 18.” Meyer’s view is, that the symbolical fact of the graves having opened, was transformed into the traditional history that certain persons actually arose; and hence he holds the passage to be an “apocryphal and mythical supplement.” With the one fact, that the graves opened, agrees the other, that after Jesus’ resurrection many believers saw persons who had risen from the grave, who had been delivered from Hades. These two facts became one living unity in the Apostle’s belief regarding the efficacy of Christ’s resurrection. Our text is thus the first germ of the teaching of the Church upon the Descensus Christi ad inferos, the development of which we have even in 1Pe 3:19; 1 Peter 4:6. The appearance of the bodies may hence be regarded as symbolical; they were the representations of redeemed souls. The death of Christ is accordingly proved at once to be the life75 of the world; as an atoning death and a triumphant entrance into Hades, it acted upon the spirit-world, quickening especially Old Testament saints; and these quickened saints reacted by manifold annunciations upon the spiritual condition of living saints. Accordingly, it is not miracles of a final resurrection which are here spoken of; but, on the other hand, neither is it a miraculous raising from death, as was that of Lazarus, to live a second life in the present world. In this respect, the order laid down in 1 Corinthians 15:20 continues, according to which Christ is the ἀπαρχή. “According to Epiphanius, Ambrose, Calovius, etc., these dead arose with a glorified body, and ascended with Christ.76 In Actis Pilati (Thilo, p. 810) Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the twelve patriarchs, Noah, are especially named. A different account is found in Evang. Nic.” Meyer. A distinction is made in our text between the effect of the death of Jesus and His resurrection. By His death, the saints are freed from the bonds of Sheol (“their bodies arose”); by His resurrection, their action on this world is restored (“went into the holy city,” etc.).
[There are six resurrections mentioned in the Scriptures as preceding that of Christ, but all of them are only restorations to the present earthly life, viz.: (1) The son of the widow of Sarepta, 1 Kings 17:0 (2) The Shunamite’s son, 2 Kings 4:0 (3) The resurrection caused by the bones of Elisha, 2 Kings 13:0 (4) The daughter of Jairus, Matthew 9:0 (5) The son of the widow at Nain, Luke 7:0 (6) Lazarus, John 11:0. The translations of Enoch and Elijah from earth to heaven, not being preceded by death, do not belong here. The resurrection mentioned in our passage, if real, was a rehearsal, a sign and seal of the final resurrection to life everlasting, but did not take place till after the resurrection of Christ, μετὰ τὴν ἔγερσιν αὐτοῦ, which must be referred to the preceding ἠγέρθησαν as well as ἐξελθόντες. The rising was the result, not the immediate accompaniment of the opening of the graves, and is mentioned here by Matthew in anticipation, but with the qualifying insertion: after His resurrection, to preven misunderstanding. Christ’s death opened their tombs. His resurrection raised them to life again, that He might be the first-born from the dead (πρωτότοκος τῶν νεκρῶν, Colossians 1:18), and the first-fruits of them that slept (ἀπαρχὴ τῶν κεκοιμηένων, 1 Corinthians 15:20; 1 Corinthians 15:23). Augustine, Theophylact, and others, supposed that these saints died again, while Origen, Jerome, Alford, Owen, Nast, and others, assume that they ascended with Christ to glory. There is also a difference of opinion among commentators, as to the question whether they were patriarchs and other saints of the olden times to whom Jerusalem was indeed a holy city, or saints who lately died and were personally known to some of the living. Owen favors the latter opinion with a doubtful “doubtless,” and specifies Simeon, Hannah, and Zachariah. Dr. Nast adds John the Baptist and Joseph. But in the absence of all Scripture information, it is perfectly useless to speculate on the age and number of these mysterious visitors from the spirit world. So much only appears certain to us, that it was a supernatural and symbolic event which proclaimed the truth that the death and resurrection of Christ was a victory over death and Hades, and opened the door to everlasting life.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:54. Now when the centurion.—The centurion who had presided over the execution. See above.—And they that were with him.—The soldiers on guard, who at the beginning had been thoughtlessly gambling. Mark mentions, as the single witness of Christ’s majesty in dying, this captain, who, along with the captain in Capernaum (Matthew 8:0), and the captain Cornelius at Cæsarea (Acts 10:0), forms a triumvirate of believing Gentile soldiers, in the evangelic and apostolic histories. But Matthew associates with the centurion, his band; and Luke informs us, the consternation was general, Matthew 27:48. The special testimony belongs, nevertheless, to the centurion.—Saw the earthquake, and what was done.—Not only the destructive effects of the earthquake upon the rocky region of Golgotha, but also the way in which Christ gave up His spirit (Mark and Luke).—Truly this was God’s Son [Θεοδυἱός].—Luke says, a just man. The word of a heathen must not always be taken in a heathen meaning (so Meyer, Heros, demi-god); least of all, here. Heathen became Christians, and their conversion was announced by their Christian confession. Yea, the centurion may easily have been acquainted with Jewish opinions; and so the accusation, Jesus had made Himself Messiah and God’s Son, was understood by the captain rather in a Christian sense, of a divine-human holy being, than in a heathen sense of a demi-god. The heathen coloring is exceedingly natural; but the germ is evidently not a superstitious conceit, but a confession of faith. [Alford likewise maintains against Meyer that the centurion used the words in the Jewish sense, and with some idea of what they implied. But the absence of the article before υἱός and the parallel passage in Luke should not be overlooked.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:55-56. And many women were there.—Luke gives us an accurate account of these female disciples, ch Matthew 8:2. They followed the Lord upon His last departure from Galilee, served Him, and supported Him out of their property. Matthew names, 1. Mary Magdalene. She was, judging from her name, a native of Magdala, on the Sea of Gennesareth; and hence she is supposed to have been the sinner who turned unto the Lord in that district, and anointed His feet, Luke 7:37. Out of the Magdalene, according to Mark, seven devils had been driven by Jesus; that is, He had wrought a miraculous deliverance of an ethical, not of a physical character (see the author’s Leben Jesu, ii. 2, 730 ff.); and this exactly agrees with the pardon of the great sinner. She is of course to be clearly distinguished from Mary of Bethany (John 12:1). Meyer says: “מגדלינא is mentioned by the Rabbins (Eisenmenger, Entdecktes Judenthum, i. p. 277); but this must not be confounded with מגדלא, a female hairdresser, with whom the Talmud identifies the mother of Jesus (Lightfoot, p. 498).” 2. Mary the mother of James and Joses, that is, the wife of Alpheus (John 19:25), sister-in-law of Joseph, and of the mother of Jesus. [?] 3. The mother of Zebedee’s children, i.e., Salome: see Matthew 20:20. She it is, undoubtedly, who is meant by the sister of Christ’s mother, John 19:25. The Evangelist chooses to name just these without excluding the mother of Jesus, and the other ministering women. “Hence we must reject the unnatural assumption of Chrysostom and Theophylact, which Fritzsche repeated, although Euthym. Zigabenus refuted it, that the mother of Jesus is the same with Mary the mother of James and Joses, Matthew 13:55.” Meyer.
[Matthew and Mark (Mark 15:40) omit Mary the mother of the Lord, while John (John 19:25) expressly mentions her first among the women who stood by the cross, but omits Salome, his own mother, unless we assume with Wieseler and Lange that she is intended by “His mother’s (Mary’s) sister,” so that John and James the Elder would be cousins of Jesus. Luke mentions no names, but speaks generally (Luke 23:49): “And all His acquaintance, and the women that followed Him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.” To account for the omission of Mary by Matthew and Mark, we must suppose either that she had at that time left the cross with John who took her to his home in obedience to the dying request of the Saviour (John 19:26), or that there were different groups, the one mentioned by Matthew and Mark consisting only of those who ministered to the wants of our Lord of their substance (διακονοῦσαι αὐτῷ,, Matthew 27:55). There must have been another group of disciples, including John and others, to whom He afterward showed the print of the nails as a proof of His identity. Comp. Luke’s all His acquaintance. The previous flight of the disciples, mentioned Matthew 26:56, does not exclude their return to witness the mighty scenes “afar off.” John certainly was there, according to his own statement. These pious women, who, with the courage of heroes, witnessed the dying moments of their Lord and Master, and sat over against the lonely sepulchre (Matthew 26:61), are the shining examples of female constancy and devotion to Christ which we now can witness every day in all the churches, and which will never cease. Woman’s love truly is faithful unto death. Women and children form the majority of the Church militant on earth, and, we may infer, also of the Church triumphant in heaven.—P. S.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. See the preceding remarks.
2. The prevailing point of view from which the Evangelist represents the crucifixion and its agonies, is the fulfilment of the Old Testament types. Hence it is that he twice makes the chief fact merely introductory, which is marked by the use of the participial form, and brings out into prominence some special circumstance as the chief thought by the use of the finite verb. 1. Καὶ ἐλθόντες εἰς τόπον Γολγ., ἔδωκαν αὐτῷ πιεῖν, κ.τ.λ., Matthew 27:33-34. Matthew 27:2. Σταυρώσαντες δὲ αὐτὸν, διεμερίσυντο, κ.τ.λ., Matthew 27:35.
3. The four chief points in the history of the passion, before us, are: (1) Jesus in the power of the Gentiles: (a) they press a Jew into the service of the cross; (b) they offer their stupefying drink to the Lord while dying; (c) they divide among themselves, and gamble for, His clothes, and guard His corpse; (d) they make the King of the Jews a robber-chief. (2) Jesus in the power of the Jews: (a) the derisive song of the people; (b) Christ blasphemed by the chief of the Jews and the teachers; (c) insulted even by their own dying criminals—He can give us no help. (3) Jesus sinks into apparent hopelessness, and with Him the Jewish and Gentile world, though then it is that He is really victorious: (a) the funeral pall of the world, or the darkening of the noon-day sun; (b) Jesus’ exclamation, or the judgment of death; (c) the last disappointed chiliastic expectation of help from Elijah here; (d) the last cry of Jesus, or the dark mystery of redemption. (4) The destruction of the world’s old form, and the signs of redemption and of the new world: (a) the temple service, or the slavery of conscience in this world, removed,—the access to the throne of grace in the Holy of Holies free; (b) the prison of Sheol, or the slavery of the spirits in the other world, removed,—the way of resurrection open; (c) the power of the Gentile tyrannical rule removed,—the Gentile centurion compelled, in his terror of soul, to make a confession of faith; (d) the slavery of women (and of the oppressed classes) removed,—the believing women, in their heroic spirit of faith, free.
4. Simon of Cyrene, an illustration of the fate which befel the Jews after Christ’s crucifixion under Gentile masters. An omen of the maltreatment and shame which were awaiting the Jews at the hands of the Gentile world, but likewise of their end; the Jews are to be excited and compelled by the Gentile world to take up the cross of Christ (Romans 11:0). Remarkable issue! Even up to that moment, the Jews still were imagining that they had subjected the Gentiles to themselves in the crucifixion of Christ, while the subjection of the Jew to the Gentile was now really becoming visible.
5. Golgotha, the old world’s accursed place of execution, transformed by Christ into the place of pilgrimage for the new world, and into the new city of Jerusalem.
6. The intoxicating drink, the old world’s remedy in suffering, anguish, and torture, proved by Christ, and rejected by Him with full and clear consciousness. The sympathy of the world with the suffering Christ, the complaint of Christ regarding the world’s consolations; and He, conscious of a truer comfort, does away with all these unavailing consolations of the old world.
7. The gamblers beneath Christ’s cross changed into confessors of His glory. The heirs of His coal are at the end witnesses of His spirit. The military guard changed beneath His cross into a camp of peace.
8. Christ, the King of the Jews, between the thieves, distinguished as a robber chief, become the royal Saviour and Judge of the world. The same title which honored the Lord, was the shame of the Jews.
9. The feast celebration of the unbelievers: (1) The people walk up and down before the cross, and blaspheme; (2) the hierarchical powers mock; (3) the transgressors and despairing are angry, and revile. God, however, condemns: (1) The first in their ignorance, speaking as they do merely from lying hearsay; (2) the second in their raving wit, in that they condemned themselves by openly blaspheming against God, while they imagine that they mock Christ (the bulls of the Romish Church, consigning Christians to perdition); (3) the third in their thoughtlessness, who dream not that redemption is so near; (4) generally, the millennarian expectations, according to which the old world is to be glorified, destitute of salvation though it be. But God, condemning this old world, founds a new world of redemption and salvation.
10. The darkness over the earth.—The indication of that development which this terrestrial cosmos is to pass through, according to the teaching of Scripture. The sign that the earth, and not the sinner only, suffers from the curse (Genesis 3:0; Deuteronomy 28:0); that the earth sympathizes with Christ (Zechariah 11:0); the presage of the earth’s final (eschatological) death and victory (Matthew 24:0).
11. Eli, Eli.—The darkness which spread over the heavens was a visible representation of the state of Christ’s soul during this period of silent suffering upon the cross. The bodily effects of the crucifixion began at this time to cease. The inflammation arising from the wounds in His hands and feet, the lacerated brow and back stretched on the cross, and the inner fire of the fever, consumed His strength. The great interruption in the flow of blood, which formerly circulated so peacefully, weighed down His head, oppressed His heart, and took from Him the joyous feeling of life; and, suffering these agonies, the Lord hung during the long weary hours beneath the heaven’s mourning blackness. At last the dizziness experienced before fainting must begin to make itself felt,—that condition in which consciousness commences to dream, to reel, to be lost, and then returning, to behold the awful apparitions presented by the imagination. This is a state in which we see how near death is related to madness. Jesus was experiencing the approach of death. He was “tasting” death,—tasting death as only that holy and pure Life could taste death. But in this His death, He felt the death of mankind; and in this death of mankind, their condemnation to death. This experience He adopted as His own, receiving it into His own consciousness, and then sanctified it by His loud cry to God: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” In that cry, His deep, full feeling of that great, full death, was changed into a prayer to God; and so His contest with and victory over death, became the glorification of death by the destruction of its sting: the completion of the atonement. His experience of being forsaken by God is expressed in the words: forsaken Me; His soul’s firm hold on God, in the words: My God, My God! The question: Why, is not the murmuring objection of one in despair, but the question of God’s child and servant; and almost immediately afterward, in the hour that He became conscious of victory, and cried aloud: It is finished, He received the answer through the eternal Spirit. From the beginning of His life He knew this, but in this moment it became a fact of experience, that He gave His life for the life of the world; and this enabled Him to declare soon afterward that all was now completed. We should not, accordingly, look upon this exclamation of Jesus as an exceptional singularity in Christ’s sufferings, but as the real climax, with which judgment changed into, victory, and death, the result of the curse, becomes the glorious redemption. This cry of Jesus, which is in one sense the darkest enigma of His life, becomes, when thus considered, the most distinct and most transparent declaration of the atonement. The doctrine of the personal union of the divine and human natures is as little disturbed by this passage as by the soul-sufferings of Jesus in Gethsemane; for the Evangelist refers to no unholy fear and trembling of His human nature, but to a holy one. But if divinity was really and fully united in Him with humanity, then His divine nature, even in the deepest depths of His human suffering, must be united with His human. And this was manifested here. No alteration was produced in God, however; but the deepest human pain, in other cases called despair, the full feeling of death becomes glorified as the fullest atoning submission.
12 Thessalonians 2:02 Thessalonians 2:02 Thessalonians 2:02d Psalm.—The numerous points of agreement between this psalm and the history of Christ’s passion, led Tertullian to say that the psalm contained totam Christi passionem. We may regard all the psalms as Messianic in the widest sense, and arrange them into: (1) Such as contain isolated Messianic references; (2) such as are typical of the life, sufferings, and victory of Christ; (3) such as are acknowledged prophecies of the ideal Messiah, and of the Messiah’s kingdom. The 22d psalm belongs to the second class. For manifestly in it a servant of God under the old economy describes his own unbounded theocratic Messianic sufferings. The representation becomes, without the writer’s knowledge, but truly with the Spirit’s knowledge, typical of the bitter agonies of Christ (comp. the author’s Positive Dogmatik, p. 673).
13. The curtain in the temple, before the Holy of Holies (see the descriptions of the temple in Winer, etc.).—This curtain was not merely torn in one spot: it was rent into two pieces, from top to bottom. This circumstance signifies that the real atonement was perfected; accordingly, that typical offerings and priestly mediation were done away; that the access to the throne for every believing soul, in the name of the Father, and of the Spirit of Christ, is now quite free. This view we might support from many a Scripture passage (Romans 3:25; Romans 5:2; the entire Epistle to the Hebrews). And hence, the excitement which takes place in the realm of death, which hitherto was under bondage, is the result, not of Jesus’ mere entrance into the realm of death, but of His entrance into the same in the might of His atoning death. Thus, too, is the idea of spiritual apparitions here realized; but these apparitions are to be entirely distinguished from the appearance of ghosts. See the article Gespenst (Spectre or Ghost) in Herzog’s Real-Encyklopädie.
14. The effects of the atoning death of Jesus: (1) Upon the realm of the dead (beginning of the resurrection); (2) upon the Gentile world (beginning of Confessions); (3) upon the world of the oppressed classes, namely, of women: free communion with Christ, in spirit, suffering, and victory.
15. At the siege of Jerusalem by Titus, the Jews sallied forth from the city in bands to free themselves, and were nailed by the Romans by hundreds to the cross. The cross of redemption cast upon the Jews numberless shadows of itself, as crosses of condemnation.
16. The cross, which to the old world was the symbol of deepest abhorrence, shame, infamy, and perdition, has now become for the new world the symbol of honor, blessing, and redemption. Even the superstition and vanity of the world have adopted this sign. It has risen to be the object of veneration. It is the original form of most of our orders of honor. But the glorification of the cross is the symbol and type of the transformation of death from a curse into salvation.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
On the Whole Section.—See the preceding christological reflections.—Christ treated as the slave of mankind: 1. By the Jews, estimated at a slave’s price; 2. by the Gentiles, executed like a slave.—A contemplation of Christ’s-cross: 1. The sufferings of the cross,—(a) on the side of the Gentiles, Matthew 27:32-38; (b) on the side of the Jews, Matthew 27:39-44. Matthew 27:2. The contest on the cross, Matthew 27:45-50 : (a) its reflection in the natural contest between light and darkness; (b) its culmination,—the contest between life and death in the heart of Christ (Eli!); (c) the false explanation (Elijah): (d) the decision (the drink of refreshment, the cry of triumph77). 3. The fruits of the cross, Matthew 27:51-56 : (a) symbol of the atonement; (b) of the resurrection; (c) of the conversion of the Gentiles; (d) of the companionship with Christ in suffering and victory.—The cross as the truest exemplification of, and testimony to: 1. Christ’s patience; 2. man’s guilt: 3. God’s grace.78—Christ on Golgotha.—The Lord’s silence and utterances in His death-hour: 1. His unbroken silence as regards the impotent hostility of the world. 2. His holy utterances: (a) His cry of suffering and of victory addressed to God; (b) His cry of awakening and of victory, addressed to men.—The mysteriousness of the atonement: 1. The deep darkness in which its central point is hidden: (a) the conceit of the Gentiles, who imagined that they crucified a transgressor; (b) the mockery and blasphemies of the Jews; (c) the darkening of the sun; (d) the silence of God; (e) the mysterious utterance of Christ Himself; (f) the misinterpretation of His words on the part of men, and the disappointed expectation. 2. The clear light: (a) the clear and kingly consciousness, which I would not submit to be stupefied, and which would suffer sensibly, free from opiates; (b) the distinct testimony to truth, which shines forth in spite of all the perversions of enemies (the King of the Jews, God’s Son, who saved others, who trusted in God, from whom the dying, no more than the living, can free themselves); (c) the instinct of nature, which testifies by its mourning to Jesus’ glory; (d) the freedom and obedience with which Jesus adopts death as His own, and thus conquers; (c) the glorious results of the death of Jesus.—The Lord’s death: 1. The result of the world’s most deadly hate; an unparalleled murder and death. 2. The result of Christ’s unconquerable love; the all-comprehensive death, in that all died in the One. 3. The result of God’s grace; it was the world’s redemption (its atonement, deliverance, illumination, sanctification).—The sublimity of the atoning death of Jesus, as it appears: 1. Towering above the most fearful and terrific guilt (blasphemy); 2. overcoming the most terrible temptation (the struggle against abandonment by God); 3. bursting through the most formidable barriers (the feeling of death); 4. displaying boundless and eternal efficacy (extending as far as the highest height of heaven, the depths of Sheol, the depths of the Gentile world, the depths of the human heart).
The Particular Portions.—Christ led to the cross: 1. The way to the cross, the falling cross-bearer; the greatest burden and oppression. 2. The place of the cross, or Golgotha, the place of a skull, the heaviest ban and curse. 3. The endurance of the cross the severest agony and shame. 4. Christ’s companions in crucifixion, the bitterest mockery and derision.—Simon of Cyrene; or, the man, coming from the country, who unconsciously became involved in the history of the cross.—Let us go forth with Him without the camp, bearing His reproach, Hebrews 13:13.—Golgotha, the place of blackest curse, changed into the place of greatest blessing.—Golgotha and its counterparts: 1. The counterparts of its curse: (a) the wilderness; (b) the grave; (c) the battle-field; (d) Sheol; (e) Gehenna. 2. The counterparts of its blessing: (a) Paradise and Golgotha—Paradise lost and regained, Golgotha present and disappeared; (b) Sinai and Golgotha—the law and the gospel; (c) Moriah79 and Golgotha—the shadow and the substance; (d) Gethsemane and Golgotha—the sufferings of the soul, and the sufferings of the cross; (e) Olivet and Golgotha—triumph, and suffering changed into the most glorious triumph.—The honors which the blinded people of Israel prepared for their King: 1. The procession of honor (beneath the weight of the cross); 2. the wine of honor (vinegar mingled with gall); 3. the guard of honor (gambling over the booty, His clothes); 4. the seat of honor (the cross); 5. the title of honor (King of robbers).—The intoxicating bowl and its false salvation rejected for the true salvation, which Christ with full consciousness has obtained for us.—The despairing world, and its means of strength.—Christ assures Himself of the clearness of His consciousness, and so of victory.—Soberness the necessary condition of all deliverance, 2 Timothy 2:26.—Moral and physical intoxication, the beginning of destruction; moral (spiritual) and physical soberness the beginning of salvation.—Christ must taste our death, Hebrews 2:9; He preserved a pure taste for that duty.—The visible inheritance left by Jesus, and the inheritance left to His spiritual heirs; 1. The visible inheritance: a booty of Gentile soldiers, an inheritance for which they gamble, cast lots, and squander their time. 2. The spiritual inheritance: His righteousness, His peace, His word and sacrament.—And sitting down, they watched Him. See how the duty of the military guard changes beneath the cross into a camp of rest, through the spirit of peace, which proceeds from Christ,—The fulfilment of the Old Testament in Christ’s sufferings; or, Christ presented with gall to drink, robbed, the King of the Jews.—Christ between the robbers; or, the beginning of His kingdom: 1. In His power to save; 2. in His power to condemn. —The blasphemy against, and the mockery of, the Crucified One; or, the sins of unbelief and obduracy.—Even the mocking and blaspheming foes of Christ must, against their will, praise Him.—The enthusiasm of derision and its result, the song of scorn: the most matured fruit of death.—The reviling robbers; or, dissatisfaction of the crucified transgressors with the crucified Saviour may issue in two different results: 1. It may lead to an unconditional surrender; 2. or to despair.
The darkening of the earth and the sun, the heavens’ testimony to the dying Jesus. A testimony: 1. That creation is dependent upon Christ’s consciousness; 2. that nature is entirely dependent upon spirit; 3. that the fate of the earth is entirely dependent upon the fate of the kingdom of God.—The last hiding of the holy God from the Crucified One, becomes, through the enduring trust of Christ, a presage of His full revelation.—Eli, Eli; or, the last struggle, and victory in one battle-cry.—Christ’s suspense upon Golgotha, the return and the culmination of His suspense in Gethsemane; 1. The full realization of abandonment; 2. the perfect harmony between His will and that of God.—Christ has altered condemnation to mean deliverance, and has thus given it its true meaning: 1. He changed the death, which sprang from the curse, into salvation; 2. He changed the mourning, which nature in her anger assumed because of Him, into compassion.—The crucified Jesus our trust and peace in the severest trial.—“He calls for Elias;” or, Christ crucified even in His utterances.—The last destruction of worldly expectations of deliverance, the beginning of the true deliverance.—Christ’s thirst slaked by His foes: a sign of His repose after the fight. 1. In the wilderness, He hungered after He had fought and fully vanquished, and angels ministered unto Him; 2. here he thirsted after the victorious struggle, and His enemies are compelled to minister unto Him.—Jesus receives His last refreshing draught out of the hands of His enemies in token of peace,—in token that His love has vanquished the world’s hate.—Christ’s last cry, though wordless, was doubtless a cry of triumph.—Death was overcome in Christ’s death, and the sun returned.—And lo, the veil rent.—The glorious and saving efficacies of the death of Jesus: 1. Atonement; 2. the dead redeemed, and the right of resurrection given to them; 3. the world’s conversion; 4. the perfection of the heart.—The new order of things instituted by the death of Jesus: 1. Believing suppliants have become priests (the rent veil); 2. the dead arise; 3. Gentile soldiers fear God and confess Christ; 4. women stand beneath the cross, and beside the grave, God’s heroines.—The spiritual apparitions at Jerusalem, a spring flower of the resurrection.—The earthquake at Christ’s death a sign of the world’s fate under the working of Christ; a sign: 1. Of the end of the old world: 2. of the beginning of the new, Haggai 2:6.
Selections from Other Homiletical Commentators
Starke:—Simon of Cyrene, the picture of all believers; for they must bear the cross after Christ, 1 Peter 4:13; Luke 9:23; Galatians 5:24.—If we lovingly help others to bear their cross, we do a good work.—Luther’s margin: Golgotha, the gallows, and the block.—He would not receive the draught, because He would suffer with full understanding, and had still various utteranance to pronounce.—Nova Bibl. Tub.: See how the Life-fountain pants with thirst, to atone for golden wine-goblets, excess, and drunkenness.—We should carefully guard our senses and our reason.—Luther’s margin: The garments of righteousness do not require to be divided, every one employs them whole and altogether.—Hedinger: Christ’s poverty our wealth, His nakedness our covering.—Christ in the midst of the thieves: this figure gives us to see Jesus surrounded by the two bands of soldiers.—He was reckoned with the transgressors.—Suffering is with some a suffering of martyrdom; with others, penance; with others, a self-inflicted punishment, 1 Peter 4:15-16.—Zeisius: Christ’s cruel mocking, the best remedy against the world’s envenomed mocking and derision.—Thou who destroyest the temple! The world has learned in a masterly way to pervert the words of the pious.—What worldlings do not understand of the mysteries of Christ, is to them only matter of contempt, scorn, and ridicule.—The darkness signifies: 1. The power of darkness, of sin, and of death over Him, who is the Sun of Righteousness; 2. the horror of this murder, from which the sun immediately hid his face; 3. that the Sun of Righteousness was darkened to the Jews, and the light of grace withdrawn, John 12:46.—Quesnel: Whosoever will not follow Christ, the light of the world, shall remain in darkness, and shall end by being precipitated into eternal darkness.—That Christ does not here say: My Father, but My God, must have its special reason.—All is dark before His eyes; he cannot know when the end and deliverance should come(?).—We had forsaken God; hence must Christ, again, be forsaken for our sake.—Learn from this example, that both may be true,—united with God, forsaken of God,—when the heart has had no experience of the power of the Spirit, of the divine life, of the sweetness of God’s love, of the hope of eternal glory.—The last cry: He roars when He snatches, as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the prey from hell.—Luther’s margin: The veil rends: here is the crisis, and an entirely new existence begins, as when the prophet says: “His rest shall be glory,” Isaiah 11:10.—Such a rent reveals: 1. That every shadow would be now, through Christ, distinctly illuminated; 2. that He, by His, Spirit, would remove every covering and darkness, from the law; 3. that the atonement was complete, so that it was not annually to be repeated; 4. that all had now a ready access to the Father; 5. that all ceremonies had ceased.—Bibl. Wurt.: Heaven, which had been closed, is now once more opened, Hebrews 9:11-12.—The most firm and hard bodies in nature spring asunder; how is it then that man’s heart is so hard?—Christ has deprived death of his power, 2 Timothy 1:10.—The centurion: those who acknowledge God’s mighty works, and fear in consequence, are near conversion.—The women: the grateful forsake not their benefactors in time of need.—Friends and relations should remain united even in suffering.
Gerlach:—In their blindness, the members of the Sanhedrin mocked Him, employing, without willing it, the words of the enemies of the Messiah, from Psalms 22:9, which passed dimly before their mind; and in this manner, the prophecies of this Psalm receive a literal fulfilment. A circumstance which has been often repeated. When Farel stood before the ecclesiastical court in Geneva, and denounced the mass, the president asked the bench: “He has blasphemed God, what further need have we of witness? What think ye?” They all replied: “He is guilty of death.”—Jesus upon the cross lived the 22d Psalm through, in His body and in His soul. His word: It is finished! points to its conclusion, Matthew 27:24.—The veil, the type of earthly, sinful, mortal human nature, rent,—earth, the theatre of sin, was shattered,—the heathen soldiers (chiefly of the German race, for the Romans had at that time a German legion in Palestine), were deeply impressed by the majesty of Jesus.
Lisco:—Every man mocks in his own way, and hi the terms that come most readily; and so here the scribes revile in the language of Scripture.
Heubner:—He was obedient to the death of the cross.—If Jesus had not trod this path, we had been led to the execution-place of hell.—He was cast out of the city of God, that we might obtain an entrance into the heavenly Jerusalem.—He had carried His cross from youth onwards upon His heart, now He beareth on His shoulders the tree of shame.—If we would have consolation from the cross of Christ, we must determine to enter into the companionship of the cross, by crucifying lusts within, and bearing the cross of shame cast upon us from without.—The highest honor is to bear Christ’s cross.—Golgotha: here the Prince of Life overcame death upon his own territory.—This place was part of the Moriah chain, upon which Isaac was to have been offered up.—The drink: the Christian never betakes himself, when suffering and oppressed with care, to worldly pleasures, sensual enjoyments, intoxication, 1 Timothy 5:23 (the Stoics intoxicated themselves, to deaden their pains).—The world always gives gall to God’s children; Christ has tasted all this bitterness for us.—Why was this mode of death chosen by Christ? 1. It was the most painful and shameful death; (a) the most painful: the body was stretched out, Psalms 22:18, gaping wounds, thirst, exposure to the wind and changing weather; (b) the most shameful: quite naked, the Roman mode of punishing slaves, accursed of the Jews, Deuteronomy 21:23. Deuteronomy 21:2. The most appropriate for revealing Christ’s glory to contemporaries and to posterity, a lingering and visible dying. 3. He hangs, lifted up on the cross. He draws to Himself the looks of all the world. 4. He hangs there as the atoning Mediator, typified by the paschal lamb and the brazen serpent: (a) upon a tree. The serpent was to be overcome upon a tree, having overcome the first man upon a tree. (b) Suspended between heaven and earth as Mediator, (c) Set in the pillory in the place of men. He took all up with Himself.—Lavater: Jesus Christ upon the cross, Satan’s greatest triumph, Satan’s greatest defeat: 1. The cross, expressive symbol of self-denial, of self-sacrificing love; 2. the greatest of God’s wonders, the mystery of all mysteries, the holy symbol (the cross in the heavens of the Southern Hemisphere).—Naked and poor did Jesus hang upon the cross, indicating that He renounced all possessions of earth, all honor, all rule, stripped Himself entirely, and hung there an offering consecrated to God, which had all its value in itself alone.—The superscription of the cross is: 1. In the meaning of Pilate, an apparent justification of the Jews; 2. according to God’s intention, a punishment of their vain and selfish Messianic expectations; 3. to all time, a declaration of the true, heavenly, kingly dignity of Jesus.—The blasphemy: a High Priest who wishes to destroy God’s temple, a Saviour who does not save Himself, a Son of God who appeared to be forsaken by God on the cross, seems to us self-contradictory; but a High-Priest who removes the shadow to bring in the religion of the Spirit, a Saviour who offers Himself up, a Son of God who is obedient to His Father even unto death, is to the spiritual eye an object worthy of adoration.—They did not know what to reproach Him with, except His piety, His benevolence, His trust in God.—The one incomparable death. His death-hour was the world’s most sacred hour.—The Roman guard: at last the hour of redemption strikes for many a hardened heart, when it acknowledges the Crucified One.—The soldier, despite his rough exterior, has an open, blunt manner, which keeps him, when moved, from concealing the truth or hardening his heart.
Braune:—The darkness ceased not till Jesus died.—Jesus, the light of the world, which shined in darkness, came to keep souls from darkness: He has finished His work; and the token of this completion we have in the expressive sign of the departing darkness, just as the bow of peace stretched a sign of peace over the falling waters of the deluge.—The dead and crucified Redeemer makes light.—We must renounce with Him the darkness of sin and error.—The following is found in Angelus Silesius: Though Christ were born a thousand times in Bethlehem, and not in thee, thou remainest, nevertheless, eternally lost.—If the cross of Golgotha is not erected in thy heart, it cannot deliver thee from the Evil One.—Mark, that it is to thee of no avail that Christ has risen, if thou continuest lying in sin and the bonds of death.
Good Friday.—See Fr. Strauss: Das ev. Kirchenjahr, p. 211; Bobertag: Das ev. Kirchenjahr, p. 150; Brandt: Homilet, Hülfsbuch, 3 Bd., 298; Archœological. The Quadragesima, or the forty days of the passion-week, and of Lent, concludes with the Great Week, ἑβδομὰς μεγάλη, hebdomas magna, Septimana major. During this season, there was divine worship daily, morning and evening, much secret meditation, a strict fast was observed, and acts of beneficence performed. It began upon Palm Sunday (κυριακή s. ἡμέρατῶν βα ῒων), dominica palmarum. Among the holy days of this week, the fifth was specially celebrated, ἡ μεγάλη πέμπτη, feria quinta paschœ, as the commemoration of the last Passover, and the institution of the Lord’s Supper (dies cœnœ Domini). All took part in the holy communion, which in some places was held at night, though this was an unusual time. And then, too, occurred the rite of Washing the Feet, introduced by the lesson from John 13:1-15. The origin of the later designation of Green Thursday [Maundy Thursday], dies viridium, is very obscure. Some deduce it from the custom of eating on that day fresh spring vegetables (probably with reference to the bitter herbs of the Israelitish Passover); others from the passage, Psalms 23:2, the green pasture,80 probably a symbol of the Holy Supper. The sixth day succeeded, παρασκευ ή, ἡ μέρα τοῦ σταυποῦ, dies dominicœ passionis, as a day of humiliation and fasting. The meaning of the German names, Charwoche, Charfreitag (Good Week, Good Friday), is also uncertain; from carus, or χάρις, or the old German form of küren, to choose, or karo, garo, to prepare, to equip; hence=preparation-week, παρασκευή. “The Constit. Apostolicœ; v. 188, forbid any festivals οὐχ ἑορτῆς, ἀλλὰ πένθους, and enjoin the strictest fast, because this was the day of the Lord’s suffering and death.” The texts were in the rule taken from the last section of the Passion-lesson (from the four Gospels), often from John 18:19; sometimes Isaiah 52:13-15. Many preachers had no particular text.
Selections from Sermons
Proclus:—As the whole state mourns when the king dies, so to-day the whole creation puts aside its joyous brightness.—O mystery! Christ to the Jews a stumbling-block, to the Greeks folly, but to us the power of God, etc.—Schweizer:—Simon of Cyrene: Am I still a servant through custom, and through compulsion, or am I filled with the freedom and joy of God’s children?—Ahlfeld:—Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews: 1. A king upon the cross; 2. upon the cross a king.—Schultz:—The redemption which Jesus by His death hath purchased for us.—Gentzken:—What is the cross? 1. A mirror: there thou beholdest thy guilt. 2. A seal of God’s grace and mercy. 3. A temple of virtue.—Theremin:—It is finished: 1. God’s counsel; 2. the work of Jesus’ love; 3. the good works of His people, finished in Him.—Hossbach:—With what consciousness the dying Saviour looked back upon His finished life.—Mazeroll:—Christ’s death, the completion of His work.—Schuderoff:—Jesus’ exaltation in His deepest humiliation.—Hagenbach:—How Jesus manifested Himself even in His sufferings as the Son of God.—The same:—To this very hour does the quiet congregation of the Lord gather together around His cross, amid all the tumult and bustle of this world (the same feelings, duties, consolation).—Harms:—The death of Christ, the chief lesson of faith, and the chief command to duty.—Nitzsch:—Christ’s crucifixion viewed in connection with other acts of the world, and of worldly wisdom.—Palmer:—Jesus in the midst of robbers: in this we have shown: 1. The Lord’s gentleness and love; 2. the Lord’s glory and judicial authority.—Nitzsch:—The contemplation of the dying Lord makes us of a different mind. It changes: 1. Our secure self-righteousness into repentance; 2. our wicked and despairing thoughts into confidence; 3. our repining into a willing endurance of trial, rich in hope.—Dräseke:—Christ’s struggles, and our struggles.—Bobe:—Behold the Lamb of God!—Florey:—Christ upon the cross: 1. His shame is thy honor; 2. His weakness thy strength; 3. His lamentations thy peace; 4. His death thy life, 1 John 1:6; 1 John 1:9; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Timothy 2:11.—A Knapp:—The great sermon for the world which has gone forth from the cross of Christ: 1. What God preached; 2. what the heavens; 3. the earth; 4. the pious; 5. sinners; 6. the dying Jesus.—Hofacker:—The world-atoning death of Christ in its power and effects.—Gaupp:—What testimony the cross gives unto Jesus.—Kapff:—Consider how our atonement is completed through the death of Jesus.
The Seven Last Words.—The consideration of these words comes in more appropriately in the commentary on Luke and John. See Rambach: Betrachtungen über die sieben letzen Worte Jesu, 1726; Arndt: Die sieben Worte Christi am Kreuz, 1840; Braune: Das Evangelium von Jesus Christus, p. 425; Brandt: Homilet. Hülfsbuch, vol. 3 p. 326; Fr. Krummacher: The Suffering Saviour, 1857; Lange: Auswahl von Gast und Gelegenheitspredigten, 2 Ausg. Die sieben letzen Worte, p. 208 sqq.
[This section is so rich and exhaustive that it would be mere repetition to add the practical reflections of the Fathers and the English commentators, whom we are in the habit of consulting and making contributors to the American edition of this work.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:33; Matthew 27:33.—Γολγοθά. is the prevailing reading. [Other readings are γολλγοθά, γολγοθθά, γολγαθῦν In Luke 23:33 the English Version, following the Vulgate, translated the Greek κρανίον cranium, a hare skull, ints the Latin calvary (calvaria). The popular expression “Mount Calvary” is not warranted by any statement of the Evangelises concerning the place of crucifixion, which was probably a small round and barren elevation of the shape of a skul;—P. S.]
Matthew 27:33; Matthew 27:33.—Lachmann: ὅ ἐστιν κρανίου τό πος λεγό μενος. The reading ὅ is better supported than ὅς and few MSS. omit λεγόμενος Great variety in the readings [In English κρανίου τόπος should be renderer either with the definite article: the place of a skull, as the Authorized Version does in the parallel passages, Mark 15:21 and John 19:17, or without any article: Place of a skull.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:34; Matthew 27:34.—Lachmann reads οῖ̓νον following B., D., K., L., etc.: this is opposed by A. and others, reading ὄξος. Meyer holds the first reading to have been introduced from Mark 15:28. [Cod. Sinait. reads likewise οῖ̓νον, wine, as in Mark 15:23. But the five uncial (Sinait., B., D., K., L.) and the ten cursive MSS., which support this reading, are nearly all Alexandrine. On their side are the Egyptian and the old Latin Versions (the Vulgate: vinum, and hence the Roman Catholic Versions: wine). It is possible that οῖ̓νον was a wilful alteration to harmonize Matthew with Mark. Tischendorf and Alford adhere to the received reading: ὄξος, vinegar. The difference, of course, is only apparent. It was probably sour wine with myrrh, given to criminals to stupefy them.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:35; Matthew 27:35.—All the uncial Codd. [including Cod. Sinait.] omit the reading of the Recepta, from “that it might” to the end of the verse, Δ alone excepted. It is supposed to have been interpolated from John 19:20. [Mill and Wetstein, and all the modern critical editors omit the words in question from ἵνα to κλῆρον Dr. Lange puts them in brackets. Comp. his Exeg. Notes.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:39; Matthew 27:39.—[So Cheke, Campbell, and Scrivener render κινοῦντες. Lange: schüttelten. Norton: nodding, Conant, however, defends wagging as better expressing the contemptuous, scornful motion intended by the Evangelist.— P. S.]
Matthew 27:42; Matthew 27:42.—Βασιλεὺς Ἰσραήλ ἐστιν. Fritzsche and Tischendorf adopt this reading, omitting the preceding εἰ, according to B, D., L., etc. The irony is thus stronger. Εἰ is probably an exegetical addition from Matthew 27:40.
Matthew 27:42; Matthew 27:42.—The reading: πιστεύομεν αὐτῷ, according to Lachmann and his authorities, is stronger [than the text. rec.: πιστεύσομεν αὐτῷ]. The reading: ἐπ̓ αὐτῷ also, is well supported and significant. [Cod. Sinait. reads: ἐπ̓α ὐτ όν—P. S.]
Matthew 27:44; Matthew 27:44.—[Or: upbraided or were upbraiding, Wiclif, Cheke, Doddridge, Campbell, Scrivener; or reproached, Rhemish Version, Conant, and N. T. of the Am. B. U.; or reviled him, Norton. The rendering: cast in his teeth, dates from Tyndale, and was retained in the following revisions, but would hardly be defended now.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:46; Matthew 27:46.—The difference in the mode of writing the Hebrew words is unimportant. See Lachmann and Tischendorf. [The best authorities are in favor of lema instead of lama.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:49; Matthew 27:49.—[This is, in modern English, the corresponding word for σ̓́φες, which must be connected with the following ἴδωμεν without comma. It is the hortatory come or wait now, and not, as is usually supposed, a rebuke: let him alone, as if they intended to stop the man who offered the vinegar. Comp. Mark 15:36, where that person himself utters the words ἄφες ἴδωμεν, in common with the rest. Lange: Lass nur, wir wollen sehen; Luther: Halt, lass sehen; van Ess: Wart! lass sehen; Ewald omits it altogether and translates simply: lass uns sehen. Conant and the Revised N. T. of the Am. Bible Union: Let alone, which invites the same popular misunderstanding as if it meant: Let him alone.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:49; Matthew 27:49.—The addition: ἄλλος δέ λαβών λόγχην, κ.τ.λ., though supported by B., C, L., is here quite out of place, and is an interpolation from John 19:34. [The same addition, from ἄλλος to αῖ̔μα is found in Cod. Sinait., which usually agrees with the Vatican MS.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:50; Matthew 27:50.—[So Middleton, Campbell, Scrivener, Crosby, Conant. Better than expired, as Norton translates. The article in τό πνεῦμα is employed as a possessive pronoun. To give up the ghost, is now used in a low sense.—P. S.]
[Meyer: “That Simon became a Christian in consequence of his carrying the cross and his presence at the crucifixion, may be inferred from Mark 15:21.” So also Alford and others.—P. S.]
[Hieron. in Matthew 27:33 : “Golgotha, quod est calvariÆ locus. Audivi quemdam exposuisse Calvariœ locum in quo sepultus est Adam, et ideo sic appellatum esse, quia ibi antiqui hominis sit conditum caput....Favorabilis interpretatio et mulcens aurem populi, nec tamen vera. Extra urbem enim et foras portam loca sunt in quibus truncantur capita damnatorum, et Calvariœ, i.e., decollatorum sumsere nomen.”—The ancient Jewish-Christian tradition that Adam was buried where the second Adam died and rose again, is also mentioned by Origen, Tertullian, Athanasius, and Augustine, and turned to practical account. Augustine: “Quia ibi erectus sit medicus, ubi jacebat ægrotus.” Dr. Wordsworth allegorizes on Golgotha (from גָּלַל volvit hence a rolling, and a skull from its roundness), and brings it in connection with the hill Gilgal. Joshua 5:9, where Joshua had his camp and rolled away (גַּלּוֹהִי) the reproach of Egypt. So by our Jesus at Golgotha the shame and guilt of sin was rolled away from the Israel of God; and there was His camp, for He conquered by the cross. Rather far fetched.—P. S.]
[So also Reland, Palest, p. 860, Bengel, Winer, Ewald, Meyer, A. Alexander. The objection of Alford and Wordsworth, that no such bill or rock is known to have existed (comp. Stanley, Palestine, p. 454), is hardly valid in view of the hilly and rocky character of Jerusalem and its vicinity. Ewald identifies it with “the hill Gareb,” Jeremiah 31:39; Krafft and Lange with Goath, which was without the city. Williams (Holy City, 2:240) supposes that the rock of Calvary was part of a little swell of the ground forming a somewhat abrupt brow on the west and south sides, which would afford a convenient spot for public execution, as it was sufficiently elevated to raise the sufferers above the gazing crowd —P. S.]
[This is hardly of sufficient account. The explanation of Jerome appears to me very doubtful for three reasons: 1. The name would then be not the place of a skull (τόπος κρανίου), still less a skull simply, as in the Hebrew and in the Greek of St. Luke (κρανίον), but the place of skulls (τόπος κρανίων); 2. there is no record that the Jews had a special place for public execution; 3. it is extremely unlikely that a rich man, like Joseph of Arimathea, should have kept a garden in such a place (for the sepulchre of Christ was near the place of crucifixion, John 19:41).—P. S.]
[Also John Wilson, Barclay, Bonar, Stewart, Arnold, Meyer, Ewald, Sam. J. Andrews: The Life of our Lord upon the Earth., New York, 1863, p. 560 sqq.. and Arnold, art. in Herzog’s Encyklopädie, vol. 5:307 ff., where the reader will find a summary of the principal arguments on both sides of the question with special reference to Robin son and Williams, as the chief champions of the opposite views. Korte, a German bookseller, who visited Jerusalem, A. D. 1788, at the same time with the learned Pococke, was the first who took a stand against the supposed identity of the spot of the Holy Sepulchre with the place of the crucifixion and sepulchre of our Lord. The late Dr. Robinson, of Union Theol. Seminary, New York, strongly opposes the old tradition, and lays down the general principle “that all ecclesiastical tradition respecting the ancient places in and around Jerusalem and throughout Palestine is of no value; except as far as it is supported by circumstances known from the Scriptures or from other cotemporary testimony” (Bibl. Researches in Palestine, etc., vol. 1 p. 258 and 3 p. 263 of the last Boston edition. Comp. also James Ferguson, art. Jerusalem, in W. Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 1 p. 1028 sqq Ritter, Winer, Bartlett, Stanley, and Ellicott, leave the matter doubtful.—P. S.]
[Comp. also on the same side Chateaubriand, who led the way in this century in a plausible defence of the old tradition, reasoning mainly a priori that the Christians must have known from the beginning and could never forget the places of Christ’s death and burial (Itinéraire de Paris à Jerusalem, Paris, 1811); Tischendorf (Reise in den Orient, Leipzig, 1846, vol. ii. 17 ff.); Geo. Finley (On the Site of the Holy Sepulchre, London, 1847); Olin; Prime; Lewin (Jerusalem, London, 1861); G. Williams (The Holy City, London, 1845; 2d ed. 1849, 2 vols.). Dr. Alford on Matthew 27:33 does not enter into the merits of the question, but gives it as his opinion that Williams “has made a very strong case for the commonly received site of Calvary and the Sepulchre.” The question is of little practical importance. The main argument in favor of the identity is derived from the unbroken Christian tradition. But while we are reluctant to break with a tradition of such extent, it is repugnant to sound Christian feeling to believe that a spot so often profaned and disgraced by the most unworthy superstitions, impostures, and quarrels of Christian sects, should be actually the sacred spot where the Saviour died for the sins of the race. At all events the testimony of tradition in such a case is not so important as maintained by Williams when he affirms that “the credit of the whole Church for fifteen hundred years is in some measure Involved In its veracity.” The Christian Church never claimed geographical and topographical infallibility, and leaves the question of the holy places open to fair criticism. The Apostles and Evangelists barely allude to the places of Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection. They fixed their eyes upon the great facts themselves, and wershipped the exalted Saviour in heaven, where He lives for ever. It was only since the age of Constantine, in the fourth century, that those localities were abused in the service of an almost idolatrous superstition, yet not without continued protest from many of the wisest and best men of the Church. From the Gospels so much only appears with certainty as to the place of the crucifixion, that it was out of the city, Matthew 28:11; John 19:17; comp. Hebrews 13:12; yet near the city, John 19:20; apparently near a thoroughfare, as may be inferred from Mark 15:29; and that the sepulchre was near the place of the crucifixion, John 19:41, in a garden and hewn in a rock, Matthew 27:60 and the parallel passages.—P. S.]
[Or accurately Goah, גֹּעה, the th being added to connect the Hebrew particle of motion,—Goathah. Gesenius derives it from גָּעָה, to low, or moo, as a cow. Hence also the translation of the Targum the heifer’s pool. The Syriac, on the other hand, has leromto, to the eminence, perhaps reading גֹּאָה.—P. S.]
[“If the trial of the Lord was at the palace of Herod on Mount Sion, He could not have passed along the Via dolorosa.” Andrews, 1. c p. 534.—P. S.]
[There is do necessary contradiction, as asserted by Meyer and Alford, between the “vinegar mingled with gall” of Matthew and the “wine mingled with myrrh” of Mark, since the common wine of the soldiers was little better than vinegar, and since χολή, gall, is used the Septuagint for various kinds of bitter substances. See Winer, sub Essig, vol. 1 p. 349 f.—P. S.]
[There were three forms of the cross: 1. Crux immissa or capitata, a transverse beam crossing a perpendicular one at some distance from the top,=+. According to tradition this was the form of the Saviour’s cross, which is thus commonly represented on ancient coins and in modern pictures of the crucifixion. There is no proof of this, but it appears probable from the fact that the “title” was placed over the head. The so-called Greek cross is a form of the crux immissa, where the two beams cross each other in the middle, and the four arms are of equal length. 2. Crux commissa, a transverse beam placed on the top of a perpendicular one, resembling the letter T. 3. Crux decussata, or St. Andrew’s cross, like the letter X. The cross which appeared to Constantine, was of this form, with the Greek letter R in it, so as to represent the first two letters of the word Christos= See pictures of coins of Constantine in Baronius’ Annales ad ann. p. 312; in Münter’s Sinnbilder der alten Christen, p. 86 sqq., and the second volume of my Church History, p. 27 sq.—P. S.]
[This needs explanation. The projection on the middle of the larger beam, on which the sufferer sat, a wooden pin called sedile (ἐφ̓ ῷ̔ ἐποχοῦνται οἱ οταυρούμενοι, Justin Mart Dial. c. Tryph. p. 818), was rather a relief, and prevented the weight of the whole body from falling upon the arms, which otherwise would soon have been torn from the nails. But in protracting the sufferings, it may be said to have been a chief source of pain.—P. S.]
[Crucifixion was abolished as a punishment by Constantine, the first Christian emperor, no doubt under the influence of the humane spirit of Christianity, which in this and many other features improved the Roman legislation, first indirectly and then directly, from the time of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius (although these emperors were heathen and persecutors) to Justinian. Comp. the writer’s Church History, vol. ii. (now in course of publication) § 18, p. 107 ff.—P. S.]
[The passage of Plautus alluded to above, reads thus: “Ego dabo ei talentum, primus qui in crucem excucurrerit, sed ea lege, ut offigantur bis pedes, bis brachia.” Here the only thing extraordinary is the repetition (bis), while the nailing of the feet itself is supposed to be the usual method. Each foot was probably nailed to the cross separately, and not both by one nail. In earlier pictures of the crucifixion, Christ was attached to the cross by three or four nails indifferently. Early tradition speaks of four nails. After the thirteenth century the practice prevailed of representing the feet as lying one over the other and both penetrated by only one nail. It is possible that the crown of thorns remained upon His head as represented by painters, since Matthew and Mark mention the removal of the purple robe by the soldiers, but not of the crown. See Friedlieb, Archæol. p. 145, and Andrews, Life of Christ, p. 538—P. S.]
[Not: Matthew 27:17, as in the Edinb. edition, which follows the German quotations of Psalms here and elsewhere, not knowing that the German, like the Hebrew Bible, treats the inscriptions of the Psalms as part of the text and numbers them as Matthew 27:1, while the Authorized English Version separates them from the text in smaller type. Hence all the German references to Psalms, which have an inscription, must be changed to suit the English Bible. The important words referred to above are: they pierced my hands and my feet.—P. S.]
[Dr. Christian Friedrich G. Richter. born 1676, died 1711, was a pious physician of the Orphan House in Halle, and the author of thirty-three excellent German hymns full of unction, several of which have passed into common use in public worship (e. g., Freuse such, erlöste Brüder; O Lisbe, die den Himmel hat serrissen; Es kostet viel, ein Christ nu sein; Es ist nicht schwer ein Christ su sein; Mein Salomo, dein freundliches Regieren; Es glünset der Christen inwendiges Leben; 0 wie selig sind die Seelen, He thus describes the physical sufferings of the crucifixion: 1. On account of the unnatural and immovable position of the body and the violent extens on of the arms, the least motion produced the most painful sensation all over the body, but especially on the lacerated back and the pierced members. 2. The nails caused constantly increasing pain on the most sensitive parts of the hands and feet. 3. Inflammation set in at the pierced members and wherever the circulation of the blood was obstructed by the violent tension of the body, and increased the agony and an intolerable thirst. 4. The blood rushed to the head and produced the most violent headache. 5. The blood in the lungs accumulated, pressing the heart, swelling all the veins, and caused nameless anguish. Loss of blood through the open wounds would have shortened the pain, but the blood clotted and ceased flowing. Death generally set in slowly, the muscles, veins, and nerves gradually growing stiff, and the vital powers sinking from exhaustion.—But all the ordinary sufferings of crucifixion give us but a faint idea of the sufferings of the sinless Godman and Redeemer of the world, which stand out solitary and alone,—the unexhausted and inexhaustible theme for meditation, gratitude, and worship to all ages and generations of the redeemed. See the excellent remarks of Dr. Lange in the text. Even the infidel Rousseau exclaimed: If Socrates lived and died like a sage, Jesus of Nazareth lived and died like a God.—P. S.]
[I add the original of the remarkable passage of Phlegon, who was a freedman of the heathen emperor Hadrian, and wrote a Sylloge Olympionicarum et Chronicorum: Τῷ Δ ἔτει τῆς ΣΒ ὀλυμπιάδος ἐγένετο ἔκλειψις π̔λίου μεγίστη τῶν ἐγνωσμένων πρότερον, καὶ νύξ ὥρα ἕκτῃ τῆς ἡμέρας ἐγένετο, ὥστε καὶ . Σεισμός τε μέγας κατὰ Βιθυνίαν γενόμενος τὰ πολλὰ Νικαίας κατεστρέψατο. The same passage is quoted by Julius Africanus, a. d. 222, In Syncellus’ Chron. 257, Ven. 322, Par.: φλέγων ἱστορεῖ ἐπὶ Τιβερίου Καίσαρας ἐν πανσελήνῳ (in the middle of the month) ἔκλειψιν ἡλίου γεγονέναι τελείαν . Another heathen historian, Thallus, as quoted by Julius Africanus, mentions the same eclipse of the sun: τοῦτο τὸ σκότος ἔκλειψιν τοῦ ἡλίου Θάλλος ὰποκαλεῖ ἐν τρίτῃ τῶν ἱστορίων. Eusebius mentions a third authority without naming it. To these testimonies must be added those of Tertullian, Origen, Rufinus, who boldly appeal to the Roman archives for the proof of the eclipse of the sun at the time of the Saviour’s death. See on this whole subject the learned astronomical investigation of Dr. Seyffarth, Chronologia Sacra, Leipzig, 1846, p. 130 ff. and p. 281 ff. Seyffarth, who defends the æra Dionysiaca as correct, both as to the year and day of Christ’s birth, puts this eclipse on the 19th of March, a. d. 33, and regards it both as a natural and as a supernatural phenomenon. He infers this even from Phlegon’s testimony, who says that this eclipse surpassed all others ever seen (μεγίστη τῶν ἐγνωσμένων πρότερον), and yet there can be no greater natural eclipse of the sun than a total eclipse, such as is not unfrequently witnessed in every generation. But the majority of orthodox commentators regard it as a purely supernatural event on account of the time of the passover in the full moon, when the sun cannot be obscured by the moon. So also Meyer, Stier, Alford, Wordsworth, who calls it a σκότυς θεοποίητον, Andrews, and Nast. At all events, the unanimous testimony of all the synoptical Gospels must silence all question as to the universal belief of this darkness as a fact. The omission of it in John’s Gospel is of no more weight than the numerous other instances of such omission. The darkness was designed to exhibit the amazement of nature and of the God of nature at the wickedness of the crucifixion of Him who is the light of the world and the sun of righteousness.—P. S.]
[This passage is entirely mistranslated in the Edinb. edition, so as to give the very opposite sense. I compared Meyer’s fourth edition, and gave his view more fully than Dr. Lange who quotes from the third edition. Alford confines the expression to that part of the globe over which it was day, but sees no strong objection to any limitation, provided the fact itself, as happening at Jerusalem, is distinctly recognized.—P. S.]
[Wordsworth infers from this an argument for the use of vernacular Scriptures.—P. S.]
[So Alford: “intended mockery, as οῦ̔τος clearly indicates.” Also Alexander, Ellicott, Andrews, Owen, Crosby, Stier, Nast, etc.—P. S.]
[Not: Matthew 27:6, as the Edinb. edition has it, slavishly following the German here and in similar quotations, without referring to the passage, and ignorant of the difference of the German and English Bibles in numbering the verses of Psalms, which arises from a different view of the inscription in its relation to the Psalm. The passage here meant is: “Into thy hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed, me, O Lord God of truth.” These were the dying words of Luther and of other great men. The τετέλεσται of John was said before the words recorded by Luke: Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit, and the latter are implied in the παρέδωκεν τὸ πνεῦμα with which John relates the death of the Saviour immediately after the exclamation: It is finished! The connection must be plain to every one, and there is no excuse for Meyer’s arbitrary assumption of the unhistorical character of the dying exclamation in Luke.—P. S.]
[Origen likewise referred it to the outer veil, and thought that the inner veil would not be taken away till that which is perfect is come, 1 Corinthians 13:10.—P. S.]
[The Edinb. edition has just the reverse: “the death of the world.”—P. S.]
[The fathers, however, correctly assumed that the dead did not actually arise till after the resurrection of Christ. Jerome in loc.: “Non antea resurrexerunt, guam Dominus resurgeret, ut esset primogenitus resurrectionis ex mortuis.”—P. S.]
[The Edinb. translation substitutes for culmination, the doubtful issue, for decision (Entscheidung), dissolution, and for cry of triumph (der Siegesschrei, viz.: It is finished!), the death-cry!—P. S.]
[In German an untranslatable rhyme: Christi Geduld, der Menschen Schuld, Gottes Huld.—P. S.]
[The Edinb. edition has here: Mary, mistaking the German Moria for Maria, and this in spite of the connection, which makes it sufficiently plain that Mount Moriah is intended, as the seat of the temple, which represents the types and shadows of the Jewish worship.—P. S.]
[The Edinb. edition has instead: the green ear! How the German: grüne Aue, could be thus mistaken, especially in connection with the quotation of Psalms 23:2, I am unable to explain. Is it possible that the translator mistook Aue for Aehre!—P. S.]
THE BURIAL. THE SEPULCHRE SEALED
(Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56.)
57When the even [evening] was come, there came a rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple [who had become a disciple of Jesus]:81 58He went to Pilate, and begged [asked for] the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commandedthe body82 to be delivered. 59And when Joseph had taken the body, he83 wrapped itin a clean linen cloth, 60And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre [tomb],84 and departed. 61And there was Mary magdalene,85 and the86 other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.
62Now the next day [But on the morrow, τͅῆ δὲ ἐπαύριον], that followed the day of the preparation [παρασκευή, Friday],87 the chief priests and Pharisees came together untoPilate, 63Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, Afterthree days I will rise again. 64Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night,88 and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error [deceit] shall [will] be worse than65the first. Pilate said89 unto them, Ye have [Ye shall have] a watch: go your way, make it as sure [secure] as ye can [know how, ὡς οἴδατε].90 66So they went, and made the sepulchre sure [secure], sealing the stone, and setting a watch [together with the watch, μετὰ τῆς κουστωδίας].91
ΕXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Synopsis.—John introduces this account by a statement of the motives that led to it. The Jews come, in the first place, to Pilate, requesting him to have the bodies removed, and thereupon Joseph of Arimathea entreats the governor to allow him to take the body of Jesus. Nicodemus is, according to John, associated with Joseph, and provides the spices for embalming. Mark and Luke characterize Joseph of Arimathea more exactly than Matthew. Special prominence is given by our Evangelist to the two Maries,—Mary Magdelene, and “the other” (the mother of Joses, according to Mark): they are represented, here as seated opposite to the grave. The sealing of the sepulchre (Matthew 27:62-66) is related by Matthew only.
Matthew 27:57. When the evening was come.—The first or early evening, the day’s decline; because the bodies must have been removed before the evening arrived, Deuteronomy 21:23; Josephus, De Bell. Judges 4:5, Judges 4:2.
There came a rich man.—1. De Wette: He came into the prætorium. 2. Meyer: He came first to the place of execution to go thence to the prætorium. 3. He came to the little company of female disciples upon Golgotha, and advanced into their midst, proclaiming himself as a disciple. “A disciple, but secretly for fear of the Jews,” says John. Luke: “A counsellor, a good man and a just. The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them; … who also waited for the kingdom of God.” Mark: “An honorable counsellor, who also waited for the kingdom of God.” Matthew gives the prominence to his wealth: “A rich man,” referring undoubtedly to Isaiah 53:9, according to the Septuagint translation, Καὶ δώσω τούς πονηροὺς , καὶ τοὺς πλουσίους . The following translation is indeed free, but is agreeable to the context: They had appointed Him a grave with the despised; and among the honored (עָשִׁיר, did He obtain it) in His death.—The first occasion of this step of Joseph was probably his fear that the Jews might remove the body in some disgraceful manner; for the circumstances related John 19:31-37 had preceded. Faith, however, shot a ray of hope, in all probability, through Joseph’s mind, and operated along with this feeling of veneration, and his desire openly to confess the name of Christ.
Of Arimathea.—“Commentators are divided between Rama in Benjamin (Joshua 18:25) and Rama (Ramathaim) in Ephraim (1 Samuel 1:19, Samuel’s birthplace). For the latter, indeed, the form speaks decisively; but the addition of Luke, πόλεως τῶν ’Ιουδαίων, according to 1Ma 11:34, does not harmonize.” De Wette. See “Ramah” in Winer [and other Bibl. Encyclop.].
Named Joseph.—One Joseph is appointed to take care of Jesus in His infancy, another to provide for His burial. Quite analogous, there was an Old Testament Joseph, who had the task of providing for the Jewish people in its infancy in Egypt; and to him corresponds the Josephus who has prepared the historic resting-place for the expired Israelitish nation in his books (Antiq., De Bello Jud., etc.). The name Joseph (יוֹסֵף) means, according to Genesis 30:24 : “he adds” (Increaser); for another explanation, see Gesenius. He was βουλευτής, a member of the Sanhedrin, Luke 23:50; not (as Michaelis supposed) a councillor of the little country-town Ramathaim, nor (according to Grotius) a town councillor of Jerusalem. Lightfoot makes him to have been a priestly temple-councillor; but that is probably the same as a Sanhedrist. According to the ecclesiastical tradition, he is represented to have belonged to the seventy disciples, and to have been the first who preached the Gospel in England (the rich man, the guardian-saint of a rich people; just as the Magdalene, the repentant sinner, is the patron-saint of France). For other traditions, see Evangelium Nicodemi, p. 12, and Acta Sanct. Mart. 2:507. He was evidently, like Nicodemus, one of the secret disciples of Jesus, who came forth and publicly confessed their faith after the death of the Lord. Μαθητεύ ειντινι, to be the disciple of some one. He was a follower of Jesus, and hence he had not consented to the murderous counsel of the Sanhedrin; and this holds good, of course, regarding Nicodemus.
Matthew 27:58. He went to Pilate—He ran the risk, says Mark.92 He was exposed to more danger from the Jews than from Pilate, because this act was a confession of his faith. “It was the Roman custom to allow the bodies to hang upon the cross till they wasted away, or were consumed by the birds of prey. Plaut. Mil. glor. ii. 4, 9; Horat. Epist. i. 16, 18.93 But should friends request the bodies to be taken for interment, the request could not be refused, Ulpian 48, 24, 1; Hug, De cadav. punit. in the Freiburger Leitschrift 5, p. 174.” Meyer.—That the body be delivered (to him). Meyer is in favor of retaining the second τὸ σῶμα, the repetition having a certain solemnity.
Matthew 27:59. He wrapped it in a clean linen cloth.—Bengel: Jam initia honoris. Not a shroud, nor a garment (Kuinoel); but winding sheets, linen clothes, John 19:40, in which the body was wrapped (Meyer). It was probably an entire piece at first, and was afterward divided for the purpose of rolling. This idea occurs to us from the object to be attained: the pieces of linen must be wrapped around the limbs in such a way as to enclose the spices, which had been powdered to be employed for embalming. The first, temporary anointing, and the intention of a second and more formal embalming, are both unnoticed by Matthew. But that the body was anointed, is self-evident; and the second formal anointing, which Mark and Luke declare to have been proposed by the women after the Sabbath, is not excluded by the merely temporary act. By the first anointing, they sought simply to preserve the body; by the second, they wished to fulfil the ceremonial requirements, for which no time remained upon Friday evening. Therefore, upon the first occasion, they made a profuse, but simple use of costly substances (myrrh and aloes); and the women would find no difficulty in buying before and after the Sabbath, upon the Friday evening before, and the Saturday evening after, from six o’clock, such quantities of these spices as appeared necessary to their womanly desires for the great burial: see Luke and Mark.
Matthew 27:60. In his own now tomb.—“It was a great disgrace among the Jews if any one had not a burying-place of his own; and so it came to be considered an act of charity to bury neglected dead bodies. Josephus mentions as among the abominable deeds of the Zelots and Idumeans, that they left their dead unburied.” See Friedlieb, p. 169. The statement of John, that the tomb was in a garden near the place of the crucifixion, and was chosen on account of the necessary haste, is not contradictory of the statement that the grave was the property of Joseph.94 It must have been exactly the location of his newly-formed family-tomb that led him to propose his grave, and yield it up as an offering.
In the rock.—With the article. In that particular rocky district of Golgotha. The Jews placed their graves outside their towns. It was only kings and prophets (and priests, indeed, no less) who might be interred inside the walls. Commonly, these graves were excavations, or grottoes in gardens, or in spots planted with trees; sometimes natural caves; often, as in this case, expressly hewn out (a costly method), and sometimes built up. These tombs were sometimes very roomy, and provided with passages. The sepulchres were either made with steps downward, or placed horizontally; while the particular graves inside were hollowed out, either lengthwise or crosswise, in the Walls of the tomb. For more particular accounts, consult Winer (art. Gräber—Graves), and Schultz, Jerusalem, p. 97.95. The new rock-tomb of Joseph, and the hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes (myrrh, a resin from the myrrh-tree of Arabia and Ethiopia; aloes, a precious, fragrant wood; the pound, the Attic litra, five and a half ounces less than our pound), which Nicodemus presented, are expressions of that sacrificing renunciation with which now these two disciples advanced into view, after that the death of Jesus had awakened them to life. Holy rivalry!
He rolled a great stone.—A natural method of closing the mouth of the tomb. “In the Talmud, such a piece of rock, employed to shut up a sepulchre, is called גֹּוֹלָל, roller.”
Matthew 27:61. The other Mary.—She was mentioned in Matthew 27:56, and is the mother of James and Joses, the wife of Alphæus; and Mark (Mark 15:47) accordingly says, Mary [the mother] of Joses, as the best and most codd. read. Codex A. reads there ἡ ’Ιωσήφ Wieseler infers from this reading, without sufficient warrant, that she was the wife or daughter of Joseph of Arimathea.—Were there sitting.—It is only Matthew who states this glorious fact; according to Mark, “they beheld where He was laid.”
Matthew 27:62. That followed the preparation.—The παρασκευή is the day of preparation for the Sabbath, Friday, on this occasion the first day of the feast; and hence the day which followed was the Sabbath, or Saturday, the second day of the Passover. Wieseler holds the expression was chosen, because the first day might have been called also σάββατον Meyer says: “The name is explained by the fact, that παρασκευή was the solemn designation in use among the Christians to distinguish the Friday of the crucifixion.” It is extremely noteworthy, that the Jews hold a council and hurry to Pilate upon the Sabbath morning, and that too the great Sabbath of the feast. Kuinoel: “Lex mosaica inierdixerat operam manuariam, ut et judicii exercitium, non vero ire ad magisratum, ab eoque petere aliquid, prœsertim cum periculum in mora esset.”
Matthew 27:63. After three days.—De Wette: “Jesus had never declared that openly and before strangers.” Still He had told it to the disciples, and not as secret teaching, but to be published. [John 2:19; Matthew 12:40.] Probably Judas had given them the more exact statements.
Matthew 27:65. Ye have a watch!—That is: Ye shall have a watch! Your petition is granted. Official, and perhaps discontented laconism. But it cannot moan, Ye have yourselves a watch (Grotius), of whom ye may make use, the temple-guards; for that view is opposed to Matthew 28:14.
As ye understand.—Not, “as sure as you can;” or, “as appears to you best;” or, “if that is possible;” but, “as ye understand that,” according to your meaning of securing. He places the guard at their disposal; the employment of the men, the guardianship or guarantee for Christ’s continuance in death, which they wished him also to undertake, that he will leave to themselves; and they are to employ this force to attain the end they had in view, especially the insuring of the tomb as long as it may be necessary. In this instance, again, Pilate kept not his conscience pure, and preserved not his civil power unimpaired,—giving a guard because of a religious question.
Matthew 27:66. Sealing the stone.—A string was stretched across the stone, and sealed to the rock at both ends with wax [upon which was stamped the official seal of Pilate].
The assertion of Meyer, that this sealing of the grave, which Matthew records, belongs to the unhistorical traditions, does not need here a lengthened refutation.96 But the following points furnish materials for an answer:—1. Jesus had certainly declared previously, that He would rise upon the third day. 2. The grave might be sealed, without the women coming to know it upon the Sabbath. 3. The Sanhedrists could not have taken the body of Jesus into custody, because Joseph had previously obtained it. Besides, it was their interest to affect carelessness regarding it. 4. The seduction of the guard to give a false testimony, and the silencing of the procurator, correspond in every point to the character of the world; besides, it is not said that the soldiers brought their false report to Pilate, rather the opposite. 5. It is quite natural that Matthew, according to the character of his Gospel, should be the writer to report this historic transaction, as he did the corresponding history of the resurrection, Mat 28:11-15.97 It is still less worth while to deal with the assumption of Stroth, that this is an interpolation. This statement simply proves, that the critic could not grasp the meaning of the passage. For the remainder, see Matthew 28:11.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. Regarding the early occurrence of death in our Lord’s case, consult the author’s Leben Jesu, ii. 3, p. 1619. One of the reasons why death appeared at so early a date, was that the dying body hurried forward to its transformation. To this, the phenomenon, John 19:34, had already pointed; for the resurrection of Jesus was at once resurrection and glorification. In the death of Jesus, the great mystery of death is glorified.
[Different opinions on the death of Christ: 1. It was His own voluntary act, by which He separated in the full vigor of life His spirit from His body, and placed it, as a deposit, in His Father’s keeping. 2. It was the act of God the Father, in answer to the prayer of the Saviour. 3. It was the natural consequence of His physical sufferings, and occurred so early (after six hours, instead of the usual twelve or more of sufferings on the cross), either on account of the extraordinary intensity of His agony of body and mind during the trial in Gethsemane and on Calvary, or by a sudden rupture of the heart. These views may be combined, by supposing that the Saviour hastened His death by a voluntary self-surrender which the Father accepted. The passage, John 10:17-18 should be carefully considered in this connection. The resurrection, too, is represented on the one hand, as Christ’s own act, to whom the Father has given to have life in Himself (John 2:19; John 5:26; John 10:17-18; Acts 1:3; Romans 1:4), and, on the other hand, as the act of His Father (Acts 2:24; Acts 2:32; Romans 4:24; Romans 6:4, etc.). Consult on this subject, W. Stroud: The Physical Cause of Christ’s Death, Lond. 1847; Samuel J. Andrews: The Life of our Lord upon the Earth, New York, 1863, p. 550 ff.; the various Commentators on the Gospels, and Lange’s profound suggestions in the Doctrinal and Ethical Thoughts to Chap, Matthew 28:1-10, nos. 7 and 8.—P. S.]
2. Along with the death of Jesus, the courage of the New Testament confessors begins to manifest itself. To this confessing band belong the sorrowing women who (according to Luke) follow the cross-laden Lord, the centurion beneath the cross, also the two hitherto-secret disciples, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. Under this head, also, must we notice the fact, that the two Maries continue sitting alone over against the Lord’s tomb, in that awing and affrighting spot.
3. One of the striking ironies of God’s judgment may be observed in the circumstance, that the members of the Sanhedrin are forced to go upon the morning of the paschal Sabbath to the sepulchre of Jesus, for the purpose of sealing the stone, because the dead Christ allowed them no rest. In that anxiety we may see the effect of the words of Judas, and of the Lord’s prediction of His resurrection. Upon this morning of the feast, it was no formal meeting of council they held: the most decided enemies of Jesus consulted among themselves, and then dropped in singly, as if by accident, to make their request to Pilate: and thus there came to be a kind of priestly council in the governor’s palace, to which the Evangelist here alludes. It was alleged by these priests, that the disciples might come and steal away the corpse; and this lying assertion reveals to us, how well prepared they were for any emergency, even the worst But, beneath all this disguise, they were the prey of fear, and the real motive was terror. Influenced by a monstrous, superstitious belief in the power of the seal of Jewish authority, and of a Roman guard, they imagined themselves able to shut up in the grave the possibility of a resurrection by Jesus, the divine retribution, a result of that resurrection, and, above all, their own wicked fears. And so they desecrate the great Passover Sabbath by their restless occupation, seeking to secure the grave of Him whom they had accused and condemned for His miracles of love wrought on ordinary Sabbaths. The disembodied spirit of the Jewish law must wander around the grave of Jesus upon the most sacred Sabbath of the year. In that act we have the last expression of their abandonment to the Gentiles of salvation through a Messiah; and also the strongest expression of the folly they manifested in their unbelief. By means of a priestly seal, and a borrowed military guard, they desire to secure in a permanent tomb the spirit and life of Christ, the spirit of His past, present, and future, as if all were a mere deception.
4. But in the meantime98 the spirit of Christ’s life is laboring in the depths of the grave and the under world or Hades. The germ of humanity and salvation was bursting into new life in the earth, and also in the heart of the disciples; in the former, saved from death, in the latter, from apparent despair.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The quiet Sabbath; or, the death-rest of Jesus in its twofold efficacy: 1. It institutes the sabbath of redemption in the disciples’ hearts; 2. it institutes the godless labor of wicked fear in the enemies’ camp.—How friends and foes are busied about the dead Christ: 1. The friends; 2. the foes.—The revival of the disciples, a presage of His resurrection.—How through Christ’s death His secret disciples obtain the power to confess Him openly: 1. Now they feel their full guilt; 2. now they see the world’s full condemnation; 3. the perfect vanity and wretchedness of the fear of man; 4. the perfect glory of the sacrificial death of Christ.—Joseph of Arimathea or, the wonder how, in spite of all, the rich enter the kingdom of heaven.—The sacrifice of Joseph.—The offerings of the male and female disciples.—The Church at the holy sepulchre.—How Christ’s love changed the women into heroines, beside the grave.—How the younger disciples meet the older always at Christ’s grave.—The Lord’s convulsing death, by which lambs become lions like Himself, the Lion of the tribe of Judah.—The import which that evening-seat over against Jesus’ grave has for us.—The quiet Sabbath, and the quiet grave.—The burial of believers a sermon.—The grave of Christ amidst all the world’s graves: a transfiguration of the same.—The Jewish method of burial in its difference from the heathen sepulchre, a prophecy which has been fulfilled in the grave of Jesus.—The interment of mankind, a picture of their religion,—1. Among the heathen; 2. the Jews; 3. the Christians.—Christ’s grave has changed the impure Jewish grave into a consecrated Christian grave.—The isolated graves of Judaism, and the Christian churchyard; or, the sleeping are gathered together by Christ—Gethsemane, and the holy sepulchre; or, the garden of struggle converted into the garden of rest—Paradise and the accursed earth, Golgotha and the garden of the grave and the resurrection; or, the old and the new world.—Priests and Pharisees in their ever-abiding dread of Christ, whom they imagined they have killed.—The means by which the slaves of the letter think to imprison in the grave the spirit and life of Christ: 1. Cunning pretences; 2. antiquated seals of authority; 3. borrowed guards.—The illusion which the foes of Jesus make of the truth of His life and efficacy: 1. The illusion: (a) they make Christ a lie; (b) a destructive lie; (c) a double deception. 2. The result of this illusion: (a) they become deceptive opponents of His life; (b) of His redemption; (c) of His resurrection.—How the old Sabbath fanatics desecrate the second, the great Sabbath of God.—They went and secured the grave with guards, and sealed the stone.—The old yet ever-new history: legalism becomes the servant of the kingdom of darkness.—The self-annihilation of the authority of the old world, making itself the minister of the Wicked One: 1. The self-annihilation of the power of the church-seal (the bull); 2. the self-annihilation of the power of the soldiery (in conflict with the Spirit of Christ).—The sacred corn-field upon Golgotha, between Good Friday and Easter.—Christ is dead to live for ever,—1. In the heart of God; 2. in the depths of His life; 3. in the bosom of humanity; 4. in the centre of our hearts.
Starke:—As God watched over His Son, and revealed His care visibly, so will He guard and take care of Christ’s members (in death).—Canstein: Riches and a high position are undoubtedly accompanied with dangers; 1 Corinthians 1:26; yet God has his own among the noble and wealthy, 1 Kings 18:12-13.—He who employs his wealth to God’s glory (upon Christ’s body, His Church, servants, members), has made a good investment—Bibl. Wirt.: In the most bitter persecutions, and greatest apostasy, there are many steadfast disciples who confess Christ and serve Him —Nova Bibl Tub.: Faith grows in trial; and he who acknowledged Christ but secretly daring His life, dared to solicit Him boldly after His death.—Osiander: Those often become cowardly and despairing, who were at first bold and fearless; and vice versa,—Cramer: God’s Spirit is mighty and wonderful, and can quickly make a heart where there is none.—God often draws out the hearts of the high to glorify Himself, and rejoice his people.—Osiander: We should bury our dead honorably, and testify in this way openly, that we believe in the resurrection of the dead.—Zeisius: The burial of Christ, the rest of our bodies.—The guard, and the sealing of the grave, must become testimonies to the resurrection.—Wilt thou do good to Christ, do it to His people.—We may still show love to Christ in the persons of His poor members.—True love loves still, after death.—True faith never lets Christ escape; if faith sees Him not with the eyes, still she keeps him, His cross and death, in her heart—Quesnel: Death cannot extinguish a friendship which God’s Spirit has instituted, and Christ’s blood has cemented.—The will’s extreme wickedness has united to itself extreme blindness of perception (in so far as they sought by a foolish proposal to remove the truth of the resurrection, while they only served to confirm it).—The wicked are like the restless sea, their evil conscience gives them no rest, Isaiah 57:20-21.—Zeisius: No human power prudence, or cunning, can hinder God’s work, Psalms 25:3.—The issue was a condemnation of themselves, and a glorification of Christ.
Heubner:—By Joseph’s example we are taught to honor the dead, especially when we had known them.—The body, too, is to be honored: it is the garment of the soul.—Many hands were employed in burying Christ, and with what tenderness and love!—Christ’s rest in the grave, the type of the soul’s spiritual sabbath.—Tarry lovingly by the graves of your loved ones.—Whosoever loves Jesus, is lost in the contemplation of His death.—Teach thyself to bury thy life Jesus.—They wish to prevent His resurrection, and they must establish unwillingly its certainty; at the outset they proclaim the secret of the resurrection, and, permitting their knowledge of the true meaning of the “destruction of the temple” to appear, they punish themselves thus for a false accusation.—As often as a man strives against God, against the truth, he strives against himself, and prepares shame and difficulties for himself.—The more men seek to bury the memory of the truth, the more it appears.—In their slanders, men give the key to their discovery and detection.
Braune:—Who had believed that any one would have come now to the cross? But, behold, two rich men come, members of that Sanhedrin which had rejected Christ!—Their hearts forced them; they acted under the impulse of a new spirit.—The fear of man is overcome.—The new grave, in which no man had been laid; as He rode into Jerusalem upon an unused colt. And shall His Spirit make His abode in an old heart?—The friends who acknowledged the Lord when covered with shame, are the Christian types of those who believe in virtue when all the world ridicules it.—The guards have one object in common with the friends of Jesus, that the bodies be not changed, and that so the resurrection be all the more certain.—The disciples forget the words of Jesus regarding the resurrection, His enemies remember them (Reason: the sorrow of the one, the fear of the others).—They would prevent a deception, and they themselves practise a deception.—These liars and murderers fear the disciples are liars.—What is done in God’s strength and spoken in His Spirit, appears to view and stands fast.
Gerok:—The sacred evening—stillness upon Golgotha: 1. The quiet rest of the perfected Endurer. 2. The quiet repentance of the convulsed world. 3. The quiet labor of the loving friends. 4. The quiet peace of the holy grave.—Kuntze:—The burial of Jesus manifests to us,—1. The believer’s courage; 2. love’s power; 3. truth’s seal; 4. the mourners consolation.—Wolf:—Looks of comfort toward the grave of Christ.—Brandt:—The burial of Jesus Christ,—a work of, 1. Grateful acknowledgment; 2. holy love; 3. praiseworthy courage; 4. a work causing the deepest shame to many.
Matthew 27:57; Matthew 27:57.—[Dr. Lange reads with Lachmann the passive form ἐμαθητεν́θη, which is sustained by Codd. C., D., and Cod. Sinait., instead of the lect. rec.: ἐααθήτενσε (to be one’s disciple), which has the majority of uncial MSS., including the Alexandrian and the Vatican, in its favor. Lange regards the former as more significant and emphatic: Joseph was overpowered. Tischendorf and Alford adhere to the received text. As to the use, Tischendorf remarks in his large edition: Utriusque usus exempla in promptu sunt, nisi quod prius (the active form) apud antiquos ut Plutarchum invenitur, posterius (the passive) apud recentiores tantum. See Stephan. Thesaur. Meyer and Alford regard ἐμαθητεν́θη as a correction after μαθητευθείς Matthew 13:52.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:58; Matthew 27:58.—Codd. B., L., and Fritzsche omit τὸσῶμα. [So also Cod. Sinait., but the great body of authorities are in favor of it. Do Wette and Alford explain the omission from regard to elegance, since τὸσῶμα occurs thrice in Matthew 27:58-59. Conant renders: that the body should be given up. Lange inserts in parenthesis ihm, to him: dass der Leichnam (ihm) ausgeliefert würde.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:59; Matthew 27:59.—[Or in the precise order of the Greek: And taking the body, Joseph wrapped it, etc., καὶ λαβὼν τὸ σῶμα ὁ Ἰωσ. ἐνετύλιξεν, κ.τ.λ—P. S.]
Matthew 27:60; Matthew 27:60.—[The same word should be used in this verse, either sepulchre or tomb, for the Greek μνημεῖον, especially as the second with the article refers to the first.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:61; Matthew 27:61.—[Better with Conant and others: And Mary M. was there, to bring out more plainly the demonstrative ἐκεῖ.—P. S.].
Matthew 27:61; Matthew 27:61.—The article ἡ is omitted in Codd. A. and D., but sustained by most witnesses.
Matthew 27:62; Matthew 27:62.—[ΙΙαρασκενή, in the Jewish sense, is the day of making ready for the sabbath, or sabbath eve, i. e., Friday, Matthew 10:0; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:14; John 19:31; John 19:42; Joseph. Antiq. xvi. 6, 2 (ἐν σὰββασιν ἢ τῇ πρὸ ταύτης παρασκευῆ), also called προσάββατον, Mark 15:42. Compare the German Sonnabend for Saturday. The day of the English Version should be put in italics, as in John 19:42, or omitted altogether. Here Tyndale and Cheke render the word: Good Friday, which is true enough, but goes beyond the term which is general. The Genevan Version adds: Preparation of the sabbath. The Rhemish N. T. retains the Greek after the Vulgate: Parasceve, which is unintelligible to the English reader. The best is to put Friday on the margin.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:64; Matthew 27:64.—The addition νυκτός is poorly sustained. [It is cancelled by the critical editors, and may have been inserted from Matthew 28:13, where it is genuine. Lange puts it in small type in parenthesis.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:65; Matthew 27:65.—Codd. A., C., D. read δέ after ἔφη; it is probably an addition, and weakens the significant decision of Pilate.
Matthew 27:65; Matthew 27:65.—[So Syriac, Vulgate, Beza, Castalio, Scrivener, Conant, etc. Alford: “As ye know how, in the best manner ye call.” Οἴδατε is not quite equivalent to δύνασθε, as ye can, or are able. The English Version in Matthew 7:11 literally renders οἴδατε, know how. Lange renders: wie ihr’s versteht. See his Exeg. Note in loc.—P. S.]
Matthew 27:66; Matthew 27:66.—[The watch procured from Pilate aided them in securing the tomb and setting the stone. So Wetstein, Meyer, Scrivener, Conant, Lange. The preposition μετὰ signifies the means whereby they secured the tomb, as in Luke 17:15; Acts 5:26; Acts 13:17, and in Thucydides 8:73—P. S.]
[Not: Luke, as the Edinb. edition falsely reads. The English Version renders Mark 15:43 : “Joseph of Arimathes went in boldly unto Pilate” (Vulgate: audacter introcivil); but the Greek is more expressive: τολμήσαςεἰσῆλθε Luther and Lange: er wagte es, etc.—P. S.]
[“Non pasces in cruce corvos.” The Jewish custom, as the contrary, was to take down the bodies of the crucified before sunset and to bury them, ἀναστανρωμένους πρὸδύντος ἡλίου καθελεῖν καὶ θάπτειν Joseph. De Bello Judges 4:5; Judges 4:2. This shows the superior humanity of the Jewish compared with the boasted Græco-Roman civiliazation.—P. S.]
[It is not likely that the body of a crucified person could be laid in a new tomb, ἐν ᾧ οὐδέπω ον̓δεὶς ἐτέθη without the previous consent of the owner. Matthew alone relates that it was Joseph’s property, but all the Evangelists mention that it was a new tomb. Jerome in loc. says that the tomb was new to prevent the enemies from saying that some other person had arisen: “In novo ponitur monumento, ne post resurrectionem, cœteris corporibus remanentibus, resurrexisse alius fingeretur,” But not satisfied with this, he adds: “Potest autem et novum sepulchrum Mariœ virginalem uterum demonstrate.” Other fathers likewise draw a parallel between the new tomb from which Christ arose to everlasting life, and the Virgin’s womb from which He was born to earthly life. Similarily Wordsworth, following the doubtful patristic and scholastic notions of the miraculous birth through the closed womb: “Christ rose from the new tomb, without moving away the stone. He, who, as a man entered life through the closed gate of the Virgin’s womb, rose to immortality from the sealed sepulchre.”—P. S.]
[From the Gospel narratives concerning the sepulchre of Christ, we may infer with Alford a d others: (is that it was entirely new; (2) that it was near the spot of the crucifixion; (3) that it was not a natural cave, but an artificial excavation in the rock; (4) that it was not cut downward, after the manner of our graves, but horizontally, or nearly so, into the face of the rock. The last seems to be implied, though not necessarily, in προσκνλίας λίθον μέγαν τῆ θν́ρᾳ τον͂ μνημείον—P. S.]
[I regret to see that Meyer adheres to this view in the fifth edition of his Commentary on Matthew which has just appeared and reached me (Aug. 29, 1864). Otherwise the valuable commentaries of this accurate, honest, and conscientious scholar, which occupy now the first rank among philological or strictly grammatico-historical commentaries, present a steady progress of improvement in every successive edition since they were first begun thirty years age. The first volume, which appeared in 1832, contained the first three Gospels in one moderate volume and was considered almost rationalistic, the fifth edition of Matthew alone, published in 1864, forms a respectable volume of 623 pages, and is not only much more thorough in a scientific point of view, but also far more decidedly Christian in tone and spirit (compare the touching preface), and much nearer the standpoint of evangelical orthodoxy.—P. S.]
“Against the opponents of this history, see particularly the work of the late, little-known Counsellor Brauer in Karlsruhe: ‘Pauleidolon Chroneicon, oder Gedanken eines Südländers über europäische Religionschriften Aufklärungsschriften, etc., Christianstadt (i. e., Frankfurt a[illegible] Main, 1797);” Heubner.
[Not; in spite of all, as the Edinb. edition mistranstes unterdessen,—P. S.]
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Matthew 27". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29