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Bible Commentaries

The Fourfold Gospel

Matthew 28

Verses 1-8


P A R T E I G H T H.
OUR LORD’S RESURRECTION, APPEARANCES
AND ASCENSION. JUDÆA AND GALILEE.
TIME, FORTY DAYS. SPRING AD. 30.

CXXXIV.
ANGELS ANNOUNCE THE RESURRECTION TO
CERTAIN WOMEN. PETER AND JOHN
ENTER THE EMPTY TOMB.
(Joseph’s Garden. Sunday, very early.)
aMATT. XXVIII. 1-8; bMARK XVI. 1-8; cLUKE XXIV. 1-8, 12; dJOHN XX. 1-10.

c1 But a1 Now late on the sabbath day, b1 And when the sabbath was past, con the first day of the week, {aas it began to dawn toward the first day of the week,} cat early dawn, dwhile it was yet dark, cometh {acame} dMary Magdalene early aand the other Mary bthe mother of James, and Salome, cunto the tomb, bringing {bbrought} cthe spices which they had prepared. [ Luke 23:56.] ato see the sepulchre. bthat they might come and anoint him. a2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled away the stone, and sat upon it. 3 His appearance was as lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4 and for fear of him the watchers [the Roman soldiers on guard] did quake, and became as dead men. [The angel sat upon the stone that the Roman guards might make no attempt to reclose the tomb.] b2 And very early on the first day of the week, they come to the tomb when the sun was risen. 3 And they were saying among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the tomb? c2 And they found the stone rolled away from [739] the tomb. b4 and looking up, they see {d [Mary Magdalene] seeth} bthat the stone is rolled back: {dtaken away from the tomb.} for it was exceeding great. c3 And they bentering into the tomb, {centered in,} and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. [John mentions Mary Magdalene alone, though she came with the rest of the women. As she was the one who reported to John and Peter, he describes her actions, and makes no mention of the others.] d2 She runneth therefore, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we know not where they have laid him. [Though Mary came with the other women, she departed at once, while the others tarried, as the sequel shows. The narrative proceeds to tell what happened to the other women after Mary had departed.] c4 And it came to pass, while they were perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel: bthey saw a young man sitting on the right side, arrayed in a white robe; and they were amazed. c5 and as they were affrighted and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, {bhe athe angel} answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye; cBe not amazed: afor I know that ye seek Jesus, bthe Nazarene, who hath been crucified: cWhy seek ye the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but {afor} he is risen, even as he said. cremember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 7 saying that the Son of man must be delivered up into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. 8 And they remembered his words [For the words referred to, see Matthew 17:22, Matthew 17:23. The angel continues his speech as follows], aCome, bbehold, the place where they laid him! asee the place where the Lord lay. [Here is a double wonder, that men should put the Son of God in a grave, and that he should consent to be put there.] b7 But {a7 And} go quickly, and tell his disciples, [740] band Peter, aHe is risen from the dead; and lo, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: bas he said unto you. alo, I have told you. [The women were told to hasten, for the disciples were not to endure their sorrow a moment longer than was needful. Peter was mentioned by name that he might know that he was not cast off for his denial. The Lord appeared to some chosen few in Judæa, but the large body of his disciples were to see him in Galilee; see Psalms 16:10, Isaiah 53:10, and many other passages set forth the resurrection of our Lord; his own words, too, had plainly foretold it, yet among the disciples it was so much beyond all expectation that the prophecies had no meaning until made clear by the event itself. Yet these are the men whom the Jews accused of inventing the story of a resurrection!]

[FFG 739-742]

Verses 9-10


CXXXV.
FIRST AND SECOND APPEARANCES OF THE RISEN CHRIST.
THE RESURRECTION REPORTED TO THE APOSTLES.
(Jerusalem. Sunday morning.)
aMATT. XXVIII. 9, 10; bMARK XVI. 9-11; cLUKE XXIV. 9-11; dJOHN XX. 11-18.

[The women, having received the message of the angels, and remembering that the message accorded with the words [742] of Jesus himself, made haste.] c9 and returned from the tomb, b9 Now when he was risen early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. [Mark here agrees with John that Mary separated from the other women. As to Mary Magdalene, see Luke 24:16), lest the shock of his sudden appearance might be too much for her, as it was for even his male disciples [743] ( Luke 24:37). Conversation with him assured her that he was not a disembodied spirit.] 15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. [Christ’s first question expressed kindly sympathy; the second suggested that he knew the cause of her grief, and might be able to help her find what she sought. Thus encouraged, Mary at once assumes that the gardener himself had removed the body, probably under instructions from Joseph, and hope lightens her heart. In her effort to remove the body, she doubtless counts upon the help of her fellow-disciples.] 16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. [Her eyes and ears were no longer held; she knew him. It was the same way he used to speak, the same name by which he used to call her. The grave had glorified and exalted him, but had not changed his love.] She turneth herself, and saith unto him in Hebrew, Rabboni; which is to say, Teacher. [Seasons of greatest joy are marked by little speech. Jesus and Mary each expressed themselves in a single word.] 17 Jesus saith to her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended unto the Father: but go unto my brethren, and say to them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and my God and your God. [This passage is one of well-known difficulty, and Meyer or Ryle may be consulted by those wishing to see how various commentators have interpreted it. We would explain it by the following paraphrase: "Do not lay hold on me and detain yourself and me; I have not yet ascended; this is no brief, passing vision; I am yet in the world, and will be for some time, and there will be other opportunities to see me; the duty of the moment is to go and tell my sorrowing disciples that I have risen, and shall ascend to my Father." Jesus does not say "our Father." Our relation to God is not the same as his. While, however, our Lord’s language recognizes the difference between his divine and our human relationship to the Father, his words are intended to [744] show us our exaltation. We have reason to believe that next to our Lord’s title as Son our title as sons of God by adoption is as high in honor as any in the universe.] 18 Mary Magdalene cometh and telleth {bwent and told} dthe disciples, bthem that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. [The poignancy of the disciples’ grief, even after the intervention of the Sabbath day, explains why the Lord and his angels were so eager to bring them word of the resurrection.] dI have seen the Lord; and that he had said these things unto her. b11 And they, when they heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, disbelieved. [It is likely that Mary brought the first word, for we shall see below that Luke places her first in the catalogue of witnesses. The narrative now turns back to take up the account of the other women.] a9 And behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. [This was a customary salutation. But the old formula took on new significance, for it means "rejoice."] And they came and took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. [This delay, permitted to them, and denied to Mary, probably explains why she became the first messenger, though the other women were first to leave the tomb.] 10 Then saith Jesus unto them, Fear not: go tell my brethren that they depart into Galilee, and there shall they see me. [The repetition may be due to the reticence of the women remarked by Mark in the last section by the key words "and they said nothing to any one." The women may have been hesitating whether they should tell the disciples. Thus Jesus reiterates the instruction already given by the angel. This is the first time the word "brethren" is applied by our Lord to his disciples.] cand [they] told all these things to the eleven, and to all the rest. 10 Now they were Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James: and the other women with them told these things unto the apostles. 11 And these words appeared in their sight as idle talk; and they disbelieved them. [Lamar well says that this very incredulity on the part of the apostles "enhances the value of their [745] testimony to the fact of the resurrection. They were not expecting it; they were no visionary enthusiasts, prepared to welcome and credit any story that might be told them; nor would they be satisfied with any proof short of palpable and ocular demonstrations."]

[FFG 742-746]

Verses 11-15


CXXXVI.
SOME OF THE GUARDS REPORT TO THE JEWISH RULERS.
aMATT. XXVIII. 11-15.

a11 Now while they were going [while Joanna and the group of women with her were on their way to tell the apostles that they had seen Jesus], behold, some of the guard [not all] came into the city, and told unto the chief priests all the things that were come to pass. [Esteeming it folly to guard an empty tomb, the soldiers went to their barracks, while their officers returned to those who had placed them on guard to report what had happened. They rightly judged that the plain truth was their best defense. They could not be expected to contend against earthquakes and angels. Their report implies that they saw Jesus leave the tomb, and after the angel opened it. Matthew 27:64), lends credibility to this statement.] [747]

* NOTE.--We fail to see any such implication. In our opinion Jesus had already departed from the tomb when the angel came. The tomb was not opened to let the Lord out, but to let the disciples in, that they might see as soon as possible one of the chief evidences of his resurrection ( John 20:8, Matthew 28:6). Jesus did not need that one open doors for him ( John 20:19, John 20:26), but the disciples had such a need ( Mark 16:3). But it seems to us contrary to Scripture precedent that these unbelieving soldiers should see the risen Christ, for he did not appear to the unbelieving so far as the record shows, and the implication is that the same principle which made Jesus refuse the testimony of demons made him also decline to let unbelievers become witnesses to his resurrection ( Acts 10:40, Acts 10:41).--P. Y. P.

[FFG 746-747]

Verses 16-17


CXLI.
EIGHTH APPEARANCE OF JESUS.
(A mountain in Galilee.)
aMATT. XXVIII. 16, 17; eI. COR. XV. 6.

a16 But the eleven disciples went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them. f6 then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep; a17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. [Though Matthew speaks of only eleven being present at this appearance, yet as it was the oft-promised meeting by appointment and as the women and disciples generally shared in the promise ( Matthew 28:7-10), we have no doubt that it was the meeting mentioned by Paul the account of which we have here blended with Matthew. As to the doubts, we may explain them in three ways: 1. Among so large a number as five hundred some would likely be skeptical. 2. It would take Jesus some time to draw near enough to all to convince each one of his identity. Some, therefore, would doubt until they were thus convinced by Jesus coming to them and speaking to them, as the first clause of the next section shows that he did. 3. Matthew records no other appearance to the apostles save this one, and it seems to us reasonable to think that he here notes the doubts of Thomas, and connects them with the appearance of Jesus generally. He could not well say "had doubted," for he records no other appearance where they had opportunity to doubt. The history of the eleven sustains this view, for there [761] were no doubters among them at Pentecost. According to Paul, many of these brethren were still alive when he wrote his epistle to the Corinthians, which is commonly accepted to have been in the spring of A. D. 57.]

[FFG 761-762]

Verses 18-20


CXLII.
THE GREAT COMMISSION GIVEN.
(Time and place same as last section.)
aMATT. XXVIII. 18-20; bMARK XVI. 15-18; cLUKE XXIV. 46, 47.

a18 And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. b15 And he said unto them, Go ye atherefore, binto all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. aand make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: b16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned. cThus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day; 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. [The verses from Luke are taken from a later conversation, which will be handled in our Psalms 8:6, 1 Corinthians 15:27, 1 Corinthians 15:28, magnifies instead of detracting from their wonderful import, for he deems its necessary to state that the Father himself is not subject to the Son. Surely in connection with this marvelous celestial power, his dominion over out tiny earth would not need to be mentioned if it were not that we, its inhabitants, are very limited in our conception of things, and require exceedingly plain statements. The command calls for the Christianizing of all nations. If we realized better that authority with which Christ prefaces his commission, the conquest of the nations in his name would seem to us a small matter indeed, and we should set about it expecting to witness its speedy accomplishment. The structure of the sentence in the original Greek shows that it is the disciples and not the nations who are to be baptized; according to the commission, therefore, one must be made a disciple before he can be baptized. Baptism brings us into divine relation to God. Being a part of the process of adoption, it is called a birth ( John 3:5). The baptized Christian bears the name into which he is baptized ( Romans 2:24, James 2:7). Luke sums up the whole commission by recording the words of Christ, wherein he states that he suffered that it might be preached to all nations that if men would repent, God could now forgive ( Romans 3:26). From Luke’s record we also learn that the preaching of these glad tidings was to begin at Jerusalem.] b17 And these signs shall accompany them that believe: in my name shall they cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall in no wise hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. [The Book of Acts gives examples of each one of these except the fourth, and though we have no record of a disciple escaping the effects of drinking poison, [763] there is little doubt that in the many persecutions such cases did occur.] aand lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. [This is a promise not of bare companionship, but of full sympathy and support ( Isaiah 43:2, Exodus 33:15, Joshua 1:5). The duration of this promise shows that it is intended for all disciples.]

[FFG 762-764]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Matthew 28". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tfg/matthew-28.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.