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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 27

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary

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Matthew 27:0


Jesus Brought Before PilateJesus Handed Over to PilateJesus Before PilateJesus Taken to PilateJesus is Taken Before Pilate
Matthew 27:1-2Matthew 27:1-2Matthew 27:1-2Matthew 27:1-2Matthew 27:1-2
The Death of JudasJudas Hangs Himself The Death of JudasThe Death of Judas
Matthew 27:3-10Matthew 27:3-10Matthew 27:3-10Matthew 27:3-4aMatthew 27:3-10
Matthew 27:4b
Matthew 27:5
Matthew 27:6-8
Matthew 27:9-10
Jesus is Questioned by PilateJesus Faces Pilate Pilate Questions JesusJesus Before Pilate
Matthew 27:11-14Matthew 27:11-14Matthew 27:11-14Matthew 27:11aMatthew 27:11-14
Matthew 27:11-12
Matthew 27:13
Matthew 27:14
Jesus Sentenced to DieTaking the Place of Barabbas Jesus Sentenced to Death
Matthew 27:15-26Matthew 27:15-26Matthew 27:15-23Matthew 27:15-18Matthew 27:15-18
Matthew 27:19Matthew 27:19
Matthew 27:20-21aMatthew 27:20-26
Matthew 27:21b
Matthew 27:22a
Matthew 27:22b
Matthew 27:23a
Matthew 27:23b
Matthew 27:24-26Matthew 27:24
Matthew 27:25
Matthew 27:26
The Soldiers Mock JesusThe Soldiers Mock JesusThe CrucifixionThe Soldiers Make Fun of JesusJesus is Crowned with Thorns
Matthew 27:27-31Matthew 27:27-31Matthew 27:27-31Matthew 27:27-31Matthew 27:27-31
The Crucifixion of JesusThe King on a Cross Jesus Nailed to the CrossThe Crucifixion
Matthew 27:32-44Matthew 27:32-44Matthew 27:32-37Matthew 27:32-34Matthew 27:32-36
Matthew 27:35-38
Matthew 27:37-38
Matthew 27:38-44
The Crucified Christ is Mocked
Matthew 27:39-40Matthew 27:39-44
Matthew 27:41-43
Matthew 27:44
The Death of JesusJesus Dies on the CrossThe Death of JesusThe Death of JesusThe Death of Jesus
Matthew 27:45-56Matthew 27:45-56Matthew 27:45-54Matthew 27:45-46Matthew 27:45-50
Matthew 27:47-48
Matthew 27:49
Matthew 27:50
Matthew 27:51-53Matthew 27:51-54
Matthew 27:54
Matthew 27:55-56Matthew 27:55-56Matthew 27:55-56
The Burial of JesusJesus Buried in Joseph's Tomb The Burial of JesusThe Burial
Matthew 27:57-61Matthew 27:57-61Matthew 27:57-61Matthew 27:57-61Matthew 27:57-61
The Guard at the TombPilate Sets the Guard The Guard at the GraveThe Guard at the Tomb
Matthew 27:62-66Matthew 27:62-66Matthew 27:62-66Matthew 27:62-64Matthew 27:62-66
Matthew 27:65
Matthew 27:66

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. Was Joseph of Arimathea present at the night trial?

2. Why was Pilate so willing to have the bodies disposed of?

3. List the prophet's predictions in this section.

4. What role did the women who followed the apostolic group serve?

5. Explain the irony of Matthew 27:64 and the sarcasm of Matthew 27:65.


Verses 1-2

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 27:1-2 1Now when morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus to put Him to death; 2and they bound Him, and led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate the governor.

Matthew 27:1 "Now when morning came" Romans held court early each day, probably because of the heat. Most of the pilgrims and citizens of Jerusalem were not awake yet. It would have been around 6 a.m.

"all the chief priests" The plural referred to the priestly family of Annas, who had purchased this office from the Romans. He was succeeded by several of his sons and sons-in-law.

"conferred together" Jesus' statements in Matthew 26:64 condemned Him in their minds of blasphemy, which was punishable by stoning, but they wanted Him to bear the curse of crucifixion (cf. Deuteronomy 21:23). Therefore, they had to come up with a charge that the Romans would act on. This is where the charge that He claimed to be King of the Jews was used as a political threat against Roman rule.

Matthew 27:2 "bound Him" Jesus was bound during these trials possibly because (1) they were afraid of His performing magic to release Himself; (2) it was a way to humiliate Him; or (3) it was the common procedure with criminals.

"Pilate the governor" Probably this took place at the Roman Fortress of Antonia which was built next to the Temple, although it could have been at Herod's palace, which was made available to the Roman officials when they were in Jerusalem. The Romans stationed extra troops from Caesarea by the Sea in Jerusalem during the Jewish feast days in case of riot (cf. Matthew 27:24). Pilate was appointed Governor from A.D. 26-36. History depicts him as a cruel, ruthless man.

It has been surmised that the Jewish leadership brought Jesus to Pilate

1. to fulfill Jesus' prophecy about being killed by Gentiles

2. to have the Romans crucify Him because in this day the Sanhedrin did not have the authority of capital punishment

However, Jesus was accused of blasphemy and, therefore, should have been stoned. The Jews did this very thing to Stephen in Acts 7:0 and did not ask permission from the Romans. I think these Jewish leaders wanted Jesus crucified to have the divine curse of Deuteronomy 21:23 enacted on Him. They wanted this Messianic pretender cursed by God! Jesus did bear the "curse" (cf. Galatians 3:13; Colossians 2:14) for us!

There is a Greek manuscript variation here. In several good ancient manuscripts Pilate's first name, Pontius, is present, (cf. MSS A, C, W, and the Vulgate). It also appears in Luke 3:1; Acts 4:27 and 1 Timothy 6:13. The two names are the norm in the early church literature. However, it is absent in MSS א, B, and L, as well as Mark 15:1 and Luke 23:1.


Verses 3-10

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 27:3-10 3Then when Judas who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." But they said, "What is that to us? See to that yourself!" 5And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. 6The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, "It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood." 7And they conferred together and with the money bought the Potter's Field as a burial place for strangers. 8For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: "And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one whose price had been set by the sons of Israel; 10and they gave them for the Potter's Field, as the Lord directed me."

Matthew 27:3 "Then when Judas who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned" This phrase involves an ambiguous pronoun antecedent, He. The Williams and Phillips translations of the NT assume that it refers to Judas, but all the other modern translations refer this pronoun to Jesus. Notice the capital "He" in NASB. NIV, TEV, JB, and NRSV even insert the name "Jesus" for the pronoun.

"he felt remorse" There were two words in Greek which translate "repentance." The one used here was not the normal word used in Matthew 3:2, which meant "a change of mind and actions." Here the word meant " sorrow afterwards" but with the implication of no real change (cf. Matthew 21:29; 2 Corinthians 7:8). The best context in the NT to compare the connotations of these terms is 2 Corinthians 7:8-10. See SPECIAL TOPIC: REPENTANCE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT at Matthew 3:2.

"thirty pieces" This is an allusion to Zechariah 11:12. This was the price of a gored slave (cf. Matthew 26:15; Exodus 21:32).

Matthew 27:4 "innocent blood" There is a Greek manuscript variant at this point. All of the English translations which are compared in this commentary have "innocent." However, the ancient uncial manuscript B originally had "innocent," but a later copyist put "righteous" from Matthew 23:35. This was followed by the Vulgate and the Diatessaron. The Septuagint uses both adjectives to describe the noun "blood" ; " innocent" appears fourteen times and "righteous" appears four times in the LXX. UBS4 gives "innocent" a "B" rating (almost certain).

Matthew 27:5 "into the Temple sanctuary" This Greek word usually referred to the Central Shrine made up of the Holy Place and Holy of Holies as separate from the complete Temple area (cf. John 2:9).

"hanged himself" This was not a theological proof-text about suicide bringing damnation. There are several suicides mentioned in the OT: Judges 9:54; Judges 16:30; 1 Samuel 31:4, 1 Samuel 31:5; 2 Samuel 17:23; 1 Kings 16:18. Nothing negative is ever said about these acts. It was Judas'lack of true repentance that sealed his lostness, not his taking his own life.

The account of Judas'death in Acts 1:18 does not contradict Matthew's account but supplements it. Apparently Judas hanged himself over a cliff and later the rope broke and his body fell and broke open.


Matthew 27:6 "it is the price of blood" They had no qualms about giving the money for Jesus' betrayal, but they felt uncomfortable taking it back! What irony!

Matthew 27:7 "they. . . bought the Potter's Field" This was possibly a clay quarry which had been depleted and, therefore was of little value. It may have been an allusion to Jer. 18-19. From Jerome's time (4th century A.D.) it was said to have been in the valley of Hinnom near Jerusalem.

Matthew 27:8 "Field of Blood" This translates the Aramaic term Hakeldama, found in Acts 1:19. Jerome's Vulgate puts the Aramaic term in this verse.

Matthew 27:9 "spoken through Jeremiah the prophet" This is a direct quote from Zechariah 11:12-13. Jeremiah 18:119 also speaks of a potter and Jeremiah 32:7-9 mentions the buying of a field. This has caused commentators great problems.

1. Augustine, Beza, Luther, and Keil said Matthew quoted the name Jeremiah in error

2. The Peshitta, a 5th century A.D. Syriac translation and the Diatessaron just removed the prophet's name from the text

3. Origen and Eusebius said a copyist caused the problem

4. Jerome and Ewald said it is a quote from an apocryphal writing ascribed to Jeremiah

5. Mede said Jeremiah wrote Zechariah, chapters 9-11

6. Lightfoot and Scofield said Jeremiah was listed first in the Hebrew division of the canon known as "the prophets" and, therefore, his name stands for that section of the canon

7. Hengstenberg said that Zechariah quoted Jeremiah

8. Calvin said an error has crept into the text

9. F. F. Bruce and a JB footnote said it was a composite quote from Zechariah and Jeremiah

I think #6 is the best explanation.

Verses 11-14

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 27:11-14 11Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor questioned Him, saying, "Are You the King of the Jews?" And Jesus said to him, "It is as you say." 12And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He did not answer. 13Then Pilate said to Him, "Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?" 14And He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge, so the governor was quite amazed.

Matthew 27:11 "Are You the King of the Jews" This was the question which implied treason against Rome. It was the political issue that concerned Pilate.

Matthew 27:11

NASB, NKJV"It is as you say" NRSV"You say so" TEV"So you say" NJB"It is you who say it"

Jesus' answer was an enigmatic phrase which implied, "Yes!" but with qualification (cf. John 18:33-37), which shows His kingdom was not earthly.

Matthew 27:12 "accused" See Luke 23:2.

"He did not answer" This relates to the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 53:7. He answered Pilate in private, but would not address the charges in the presence of the Jewish leaders or Herod.

Verses 15-18

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 27:15-18 15Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the people any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16At that time they were holding a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. 17So when the people gathered together, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" 18For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over.

Matthew 27:15 "the feast" This refers to the Passover, one of the three annual feasts which all Jewish males above the age of twenty were required to attend (cf. Leviticus 23:0).

"the governor was accustomed" There is no historical corroboration for this except Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 20.9.3.

Matthew 27:16, Matthew 27:17 "Barabbas" Some later translations have " Jesus Barabbas," but this is not as much a textual option as a tradition. A good discussion is in Bruce Metzger's A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, pp. 67-68, from United Bible Societies. "Barabbas" meant son of a father or rabbi. He was truly guilty of the treasonous charge of which Jesus was accused.

Matthew 27:18 "For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over" Pilate tried several ways to release Jesus because of his contempt for the Jewish leaders and their manipulative practices.

Verses 19-23

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 27:19-23 19While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, "Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him." 20But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death. 21But the governor said to them, "Which of the two do you want me to release me for you?" And they said, "Barabbas." 22Pilate said to them, "Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" They all said, "Crucify Him!" 23And he said, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they kept shouting all the more, saying, "Crucify Him!"

Matthew 27:19 "his wife sent him a message, saying, 'Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him'" This information is unique to Matthew. They must have talked about Jesus. She used a Messianic title for Him, but how much she knew is uncertain! The irony is that a pagan woman saw what the Jewish leaders did not (cf. Matthew 27:54; John 1:11).

Matthew 27:20 "put to death" See Special Topic: Apollumi at Matthew 2:13.

Matthew 27:23 "Why, what evil has he done" Pilate was not convinced of Jesus' guilt. This text was a way for the early church (also the trials in Acts) to show that Christianity was not a threat to Roman rule.

"they kept shouting all the more" An imperfect tense phrase, this could be rendered "they began shouting" or " they shouted again and again." This crowd was not the same as the pilgrims involved in the Triumphal Entry. This was possibly the friends of Barabbas who had gathered for the purpose of trying to gain his release! Some have seen this crowd as a set up by the Sanhedrin.

Verses 24-26

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 27:24-26 24When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this Man's blood; see to that yourselves." 25And all the people said, "His blood shall be on us and on our children!" 26Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.

Matthew 27:24 "a riot was starting" This was always a possibility during feasts with Jerusalem being so crowded with exuberant pilgrims. Rome always stationed extra troops from Caesarea in the Fortress Antonio during feast days.

"washed his hands in front of the crowd" This was a Jewish custom, not a Roman practice (cf. Deuteronomy 21:6-7; Psalms 26:6; Psalms 73:13).

Matthew 27:25 "His blood shall be on us and on our children" This was a grave oath, especially in light of the OT view of corporate guilt (cf. Exodus 20:5-6; 2 Samuel 3:29). This was a self-curse! It was fulfilled in A.D. 70.

Matthew 27:26 "scourged" This was a severe punishment! It is often fatal. It always preceded crucifixion, but it seems initially from John 19:1, John 19:12 that this possibly was another attempt by Pilate to gain sympathy for Jesus.

The Gospels use different words to describe this brutal beating.

1. phragelloô in Matthew 27:26; Mark 15:15, translated by NASB as " scourged"

2. derô in Luke 22:63, translated by NASB as "beating"

3. mastigoô in John 19:1, translated by NASB as "scourged" (cf. Matthew 20:19; Mark 10:34; Luke 18:33)

This terrible beating always preceded crucifixion. It was so severe that many died from it. A person was unclothed and their hands tied to a stake in the ground. Then a whip of leather thongs with pieces of rock, metal, or bone braided into the end of the nine thongs was lashed across the exposed back. It is recorded that these thongs

1. blinded the victim

2. opened the ribs to the bone

3. knocked out teeth

There was no limit to the number of lashes given by the two soldiers, one on each side.

Verses 27-31

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 27:27-31 27Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him. 28They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. 29And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" 30They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. 31After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him.

Matthew 27:27

NASB, NKJV, NJB"Praetorium" NRSV, TEV"the governor's headquarters"

This was located in the Fortress Antonio or at Herod's palace which became the Roman governor's residence when in Jerusalem. Some have surmised that it was the site of the soldiers'barracks.


"cohort" This was about 600 men, but in reality, only some of them were on duty at one time.

Matthew 27:28 "scarlet robe" This word comes from an insect which was used to dye clothes dark red. Mark 15:17 and John 19:2 have " purple." This was probably a faded Roman officer's red cloak. Purple was the color of royalty. The early church saw this as symbolic of Jesus' kingly position (as they did the stephanos crown of thorns). The ancients were not as precise in naming colors as moderns.

Matthew 27:29-30 The soldiers take out their hostility toward the Jewish population on Jesus in their kingly mockery of Him. The "crown of thorns" may allude to (1) mocking Jesus' claim to kingship or (2) the curse of Genesis 3:18 (cf. Galatians 3:13). Thorns are a symbol of rejecting the gospel (cf. Hebrews 6:8).

Verse 32

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 27:32 32As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross.

Matthew 27:32 "man of Cyrene named Simon" Cyrene is modern Libya, but the man's name is Jewish. The fact that he was in Jerusalem at this time says he was a Jew or a proselyte. There was a synagogue in Jerusalem for Cyrenian Jews (cf. Acts 6:9). His racial or ethnic background is uncertain, but he was probably a Jew of the Diaspora.

"pressed into service" This is a Persian word used in Matthew 5:41. Occupying military forces had the right to command local citizens to perform certain tasks.

"to bear His cross" Whether the cross-bar or the entire cross was carried to Golgotha is uncertain. The shape of the cross may have been a capital "T," a small "t," an "X," or a scaffolding holding several persons.

Verses 33-34

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 27:33-34 33And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull, 34they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink.

Matthew 27:33 "Golgotha" This Hebrew word meant " skull." " Calvary" is from the Latin. The term referred to a low, bald hill, not a full skull.

Matthew 27:34 "they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall" The Babylonian Talmud says the women of Jerusalem gave this strong drink to condemned prisoners to ease their pain (cf. Mark 15:23, where "gall" means " myrrh"). This was possibly a prophetic reference to Psalms 69:21.

"He was unwilling to drink" This has nothing to do with the modern denominational issue of total abstinence (see Special Topic at Matthew 26:29). Jesus does later accept the cheap wine of the soldiers (cf. Matthew 27:48). He is refusing to take anything to dull either the pain or His senses.

Verses 35-37

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 27:35-37 35And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots. 36And sitting down, they began to keep watch over Him there. 37And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, "THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS."

Matthew 27:35 "they crucified Him" The Gospels do not dwell on the physical aspect of Jesus' death (cf. Psalms 22:16). This form of death was developed in Mesopotamia and was taken over by the Greeks and Romans. It was meant to be an extended, excruciating death taking several days. Its purpose was to humiliate and cause fear as a deterrent to rebellion against Rome. A thorough article is in the Zondervan Pictorial Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 1040-42.

"they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots" This is an allusion to Psalms 22:18. Jesus was possibly naked or, more probably, clothed in just His loin cloth.

The Textus Receptus manuscripts add to the text several phrases that come from John 19:24, which quoted Psalms 22:18; these however are not original in Matthew. These additions are not in the Greek uncial manuscripts א , A, B, D, L, or W, nor in the Latin or Syriac translations.

"Casting lots" is used in the NT both as a game of chance, as here, and a way of knowing God's will as in Acts 1:26. This followed the OT precedent of the Urim and Thummim. This mechanical means of knowing God's will has passed away. This shows that the Bible records things that it does not necessarily advocate. Another good example of this same idea would be Gideon's fleece (cf. Judges 6:36-40).

Matthew 27:37 "the charge against Him" From John 19:20 we learn the charge was written in three languages (Aramaic, Latin and Greek). Pilate worded it on purpose in such a way so as to anger the Jewish leaders. The charge is given differently in the four Gospels:

Matthew: "This is Jesus the King of the Jews"

Mark: "The King of the Jews" (cf. Mark 15:26)

Luke: "This is the King of the Jews" (cf. Luke 23:38)

John: "Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews" (cf. John 19:19)

Verses 38-44

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 27:38-44 38At that time two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left. 39And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads 40and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross." 41In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying, 42"He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. 43He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now, if He delights in Him; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.'" 44The robbers who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same words.

Matthew 27:38 "two robbers were crucified with Him" This is an allusion to Isaiah 53:12. Josephus'use of this term "robbers" suggests these may have been "zealots," like Barabbas.

Matthew 27:39 "those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads" This is an allusion to Psalms 22:7. Golgotha must have been near a main roadway into Jerusalem. The purpose of crucifixion was to deter crime and revolt.

Matthew 27:40 "If You are the Son of God" This is a first class conditional sentence, which the speaker assumes to be true for the purpose of making a point (cf. Matthew 4:3). These leaders had no doubt who Jesus claimed to be!

Matthew 27:41 "chief priest. . .scribes. . .elders" This was the full designation of the Sanhedrin.

Matthew 27:43 "He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now, if He delights in Him" This is a quote from Psalms 22:8. This psalm of David describes Jesus' crucifixion in amazing detail.

Matthew 27:44 Matthew states that both of the zealots crucified with Jesus insulted Him at first, but Luke 23:39 says only one of the criminals hurled abuses at Him. Again this is not contradictory but complementary. They were both angry and insolent at first, but one mellowed and repented.

Verses 45-54

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 27:45-54 45Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. 46About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" 47And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, "This man is calling for Elijah." 48Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. 49But the rest of them said, " Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him." 50And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. 51And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. 52The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!"

Matthew 27:45 "from the sixth hour. . .until the ninth hour" This refers to Roman time (i.e., noon to 3 p.m.). It is often difficult to know, especially in John's gospel, if the time designations are referring to Roman time, which begins at dawn, or Jewish time which begins at evening. Here it is obvious.

"darkness" Darkness was one of the plagues on Egypt which turned into a covenant curse if God's commands were not kept (cf. Exodus 10:21ff; Deuteronomy 28:29; Joel 2:10; and Amos 8:9). Theologically, it was a symbol of God's turning away from His Son as He bore the sins of the world. This personal spiritual separation, as well as the burden of all the sins of all mankind, was what Jesus feared most.

Matthew 27:46 "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani"Jesus combines Hebrew and Aramaic words from Psalms 22:1. Matthew and Mark (Mark 15:34) use slightly different words. Matthew translates them for his readers, who spoke only Aramaic. From Matthew 27:47 it is obvious Jesus' words were misunderstood by the crowd gathered to watch the crucifixion.

"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me" These are the first words of Psalms 22:0. By quoting them Jesus wants to bring to His hearers'minds the complete Psalm. Jesus was experiencing separation from God, the last great experience of sinful mankind (cf. Galatians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 5:21). However, the Psalm also expresses faith in YHWH's faithfulness!

Matthew 27:47 "This man is calling for Elijah" Elijah was to be the precursor of the Messiah (cf. Malachi 4:5). It is probable that Jesus' Aramaic "Eloi" (cf. Mark 15:34) or possibly "Eliya" sounded like the name of the prophet.

Matthew 27:48

NASB, NKJV, NRSV"sour wine" TEV"cheap wine" NJB"vinegar"

This was the cheap wine that the soldiers drank. Offering this wine was not an act of compassion on the part of the soldiers, but a way to prolong the agony of the crucifixion. Jesus took some because His mouth was so dry that He could not speak (cf. Psalms 22:15). This may have fulfilled Psalms 69:21

Matthew 27:49 At this point there is another added phrase from John 19:34. It is absent in the ancient Greek uncial manuscripts A, D, K, and the Greek texts of Origen, Jerome, and Augustine, but present in א , B, C, and L. It is hard to decide on the originality of this passage because (1) it seems to be an assimilation from John; (2) it seems to be out of chronological order; yet (3) it is present in several good manuscripts. Was Jesus pierced before He died? The UBS4 gives the shorter text a "B" rating (almost certain). In the context of Matthew, Jesus had not died yet!

Matthew 27:50 "Jesus cried out again with a loud voice" Compare John 19:30; Psalms 22:15; Luke 23:46; Psalms 31:5.

Matthew 27:51 "the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom" This was the veil which separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies, called the inner veil (cf. Exodus 26:31-35). This act by God indicated that the way was now open for all to come to God! It was torn from the top, which symbolized God's act of removing barriers to His presence and making Himself accessible to all people.

Matthew 27:52 "the tombs were opened" This was caused by the earthquake (cf. Matthew 27:54). Exactly when the people came back to life is uncertain. This resuscitation seems linked to Jesus' resurrection (cf. Matthew 27:53). But the text seems to place the event at Jesus' death. There is ambiguity here as to who, when, where and why. This information is unique to Matthew.

"saints" See Special Topic below.


"who had fallen asleep" Sleep is an OT euphemism for death (i.e., used mostly in Kings and Chronicles). This is not a proof-text for the theory of "soul sleep." The Scripture must be interpreted in light of the meaning of the words to the first hearers/readers!

Matthew 27:54

NASB, NKJV"Truly this was the Son of God!" NRSV"Truly the man was God's Son!" TEV"He really was the Son of God!" NJB"In truth this was a son of God!"

There is no article with "son." This soldier was surely impressed by all that happened. He asserts Jesus was "a son of God." However, in the parallel in Luke 23:47 he is proclaiming Jesus as " righteous" or "innocent." The irony is that this Roman soldier saw what the Jewish leaders did not (cf. Matthew 27:19; John 1:11).

This is literally "this man was a son of God." The image of God in mankind has been restored! Intimate fellowship is again possible. However the absence of the article does not automatically mean it is not definite (cf. Matthew 4:3, Matthew 4:6; Matthew 14:33; Matthew 27:43; and Luke 4:3, Luke 4:9). This was a hardened Roman soldier. He had seen many men die (cf. Matthew 27:54). This may be "the focal passage" of Mark because this Gospel was specifically written to Romans. Mark's Gospel has many Latin words and very few OT quotes. Also Jewish customs and Aramaic phrases are translated and explained. Here is a Roman centurion professing faith in a crucified Jewish insurrectionist!

It is possibly purposeful that passers by, chief priests, and even fellow prisoners mock Jesus, but a Roman centurion responds in affirmation and awe!


Verses 55-56

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 27:55-56 55Many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee while ministering to Him. 56Among them was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

Matthew 27:55 "many women" Mark 15:40 has a parallel list. These women were traveling companions of Jesus and the Twelve. They may have even supported Jesus and the Disciples financially as well as cooking for them and meeting the needs of other women who Jesus and the Apostles ministered to. See Special Topic following.



This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. Why did the Sanhedrin go to Pilate? Why not kill Jesus by stoning?

2. How is Judas'repentance different from Peter's?

3. Why does Pilate try to release Jesus?

4. What is the purpose of finding so many OT allusions to Christ's death?

5. Why did it turn dark when Jesus was on the cross? Why did Jesus feel forsaken?

6. List the signs that followed Jesus' death. What was their purpose?

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY (The context includes Matthew 27:57-20)

(The parallels to this Gospel are in Mark 15:42-8, Luke 23:50-12, John 19:30-10)

Verses 57-61

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 27:57-61 57When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave.

Matthew 27:57 "When it was evening" This phrase means it was close to the beginning of the Passover which began at Matthew 6:0 p.m. or twilight. The Jews had two evenings. The first at 3 p.m. and the second at 6 p.m., which started a new day.

"a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph" Several passages describe this man.

1. he was rich and a disciple of Jesus (cf. Matthew 27:57)

2. he was a highly honored member of the Sanhedrin (cf. Mark 15:43)

3. he was a good and upright man (cf. Luke 23:50)

4. he was a secret disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews (cf. John 19:38)

Matthew 27:57-58 This was a brave act on the part of Joseph for the following reasons.

1. he was publicly identifying himself with a man convicted of treason

2. he was willing to be ceremonially unclean for the Passover

3. this would surely ostracize him from the Sanhedrin

Matthew 27:59 Joseph hurried to prepare Jesus' body before 6 p.m., which started Passover. The exact time when the stone was rolled into place is uncertain. It was before 6 p.m. However brief the time, it was counted as one day in the three days Jesus was in the grace.

Matthew 27:60 "his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock" This is a fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 53:9.

Matthew 27:61 "Mary Magdalene" See Matthew 27:55-56 for a listing of the three women.

Verses 62-66

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 27:62-66 62Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, 63and said, "Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I am to rise again.'64Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead,'and the last deception will be worse than the first." 65Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how." 66And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.

Matthew 27:62-66 This account is unique to Matthew (cf. Matthew 28:2-4, Matthew 28:11-15).

Matthew 27:62 "Now on the next day, the day after the preparation" This is an obvious reference to the Sabbath. Being in Pilate's presence and court would have made the Jewish leaders ceremonially unclean and thus unable to participate in the Passover. This very act shows how fearful they were of Jesus and His power and predictions.

"the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together" It is so ironic (1) that they met at all; (2) that it was the Sabbath of Passover week; (3) that the Sadducees did not even believe in the resurrection; and (4) that they became powerful, though unwilling, witnesses to the resurrection!

Matthew 27:63 It is ironic that Pilate is called Kurie (translated "sir") by these Jewish leaders and Jesus the Lord is called "that deceiver."

NASB, NKJV"that deceiver" NRSV, NJB"that impostor" TEV"that liar"

This word (planos) may be literally rendered "wanderer," explaining the derivation of our English word "planet" from the same term for " wandering" celestial lights. It originally referred to the orbit of planets that did not follow the standard pattern of the constellations. The term had a negative connotation in Greek. It was applied to errors or liars.

NASB"After three days I am to arise again" NKJV"After three days I will rise" NRSV, NJB"After three days I will rise again" TEV"I will be raised to life three days later"

Literally, "after three days I am raised." This is a present passive. The context implies that Pilate assigned Roman soldiers to guard the tomb. The Jewish leaders knew of Jesus' predictions (cf. Matthew 12:40; Matthew 16:4) and feared them. The disciples were surprised by the resurrection-what irony!


Matthew 27:65 "You have a guard" This is an idiom (i.e., an imperative, not an indicative) for permission to the Jewish delegation for Roman soldiers to guard the tomb.

"go, make it as secure as you know how" " Go" is a present active imperative followed by an aorist middle (deponent) imperative. There is a bit of sarcasm here (i.e., "as you know how"). These priestly leaders were no friends of Pilate, but they shared a desire of political expediency.

Matthew 27:66 "they went" This refers to the representatives of the Jewish leadership and the Roman soldiers. These leaders wanted to make sure the tomb was sealed and guarded! Their representatives may even have helped seal the tomb themselves!

The phrase "the living God" is a word play on the title YHWH (cf. Exodus 3:14; Psalms 42:2; Psalms 84:2; Matthew 16:16). This same word play is often found in biblical oaths, "as the Lord lives."

"made the grave secure" This referred to an official sealing which used two blobs of wax placed at the juncture of the round stone and the wall of the tomb imprinted with an official Roman seal, with a string between them.

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Matthew 27". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/matthew-27.html. 2021.
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