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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Matthew 28

 

 


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Verse 1

1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

Ver. 1. The first day of the week] Greek, of the sabbaths, εις μιαν σαββατων. One day of seven is due to God of necessity. This the Scripture calls by an excellency the sabbath day, without a difference; as if it were the eldest brother to all the days of the week, which is called here and elsewhere sabbaths, in the plural, LXXE Psalms 24:1, title, "A psalm of David." To this the Greek addeth, "of the first day of the week," which now is the Christian sabbath, called "the Lord’s day," Revelation 1:10, in honour of Christ, and in a thankful remembrance of his resurrection. {See Trapp on "John 20:1"}

To see the sepulchre] To see what the Pharisees had done with the Lord’s body the day before (for they knew they had been tampering, and feared the worst, as love is suspicious) and to bring the spices, which by an easy error they had prepared, Luke 24:1. They knew not, belike, that Joseph and Nicodemus had been at that cost and pains before them; neither did any of them consider that what they did herein was superfluous, for that it was "impossible for God’s holy one to see corruption," Acts 2:27. But he is pleased to pass by our well meant weaknesses, where the heart is upright.


Verse 2

2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

Ver. 2. And behold, &c.] The Holy Ghost here calls for as great attention as if we had been present and seen it. Remember (saith St Paul) "that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead, according to my gospel," 2 Timothy 2:8. All the four evangelists have therefore punctually recorded it, that we may remember and ruminate it, as amain remarkable.

There was a great earthquake] Pythagoras said the reason of earthquakes was, the meeting of the dead: an odd conceit, {a} But the true reason of this earthquake was our Saviour’s rising from the dead, in despite of infernal spirits, who therefore quaked as much as the earth did, as Hilary hath it. {b} The earth shook both at Christ’s passion and at his resurrection; Then, to show that it could not bear his suffering; now, to show that it could not hinder his rising.

Rolled back the stone] As an officer sent to let Christ out of prison, without the keeper’s consent.

And sat upon it] In contempt of all their weapons, which fell out of their hands for woe, at the sight of the angel. And as a mighty man when he sits down shakes the bench under him, so do these the earth.

{a} Nullam aliam causam dicebat terrae motus quam conventum mortuorum. Aelian.

{b} Resurgente virtutum coelestium domino infernorum trepi. datio commovetur.


Verse 3

3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

Ver. 3. His countenance was like lightning] So that though he appeared in a human shape, yet it might easily appear that he was more than a man; his visage showed his power, his habit of innocence, to the terror of the keepers, and comfort of the women.


Verse 4

4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

Ver. 4. The keepers did shake] And well they might, as coming to see they had borne arms against God, and were therefore obnoxious to his wrath. It is a fearful thing to fall into the punishing hands of the living God here: how then will wicked men bear the horror of the last day, when they shall have an angry God over them, hell gaping beneath them, an accusing conscience within them, the world all on alight fire about them, the elements melting like scalding lead upon them, the good angels testifying against them, Job 20:27, the evil angels waiting to worry them, and hurry them to hell? Oh the unspeakable achings and quakings of heart, the terrible apprehensions, the convulsions of spirit, that shall seize and surprise them at that dreadful day!


Verse 5

5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

Ver. 5. Fear not ye] As the wicked are forbidden to rejoice for joy as other people, Hosea 9:1; so the godly to fear, so long as they have Christ by the hand; no, though the earth be removed, and the mountains cast into the midst of the sea, Psalms 46:2. David would not fear the shadow of death, the darkest side of death, death in its most hideous and horrid representations, because God was with him, Psalms 23:4; when Manasseh, that faced the heavens in his prosperity, in trouble basely hides his head among the bushes, and is there hence set, and bound with fetters, 2 Chronicles 33:11. These desperate soldiers run away as dastards, when the women stand it out, and as true daughters of faithful Sarah they are not afraid with any amazement, 1 Peter 3:6.

I know that ye seek Jesus] God and his angels know our goodness, why then should we hunt after men’s applause? Caesar hoc ipso veram laudem meruit, quod falsam conternsit, saith Lipsius: It should suffice us to know that our faith, how little soever seen or set by the world, shall be found to praise, and honour, and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 1:7. The eclipsed moon shall by degrees wade out of the shadow.


Verse 6

6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Ver. 6. He is not here] q.d. You are much mistaken, and deserve to be chided for your not crediting, or at least your not remembering, that he foretold you of his resurrection. All which notwithstanding, come see the place, &c., q.d. believe your own eyes at least. Hilaris est haec et plena gaudio invitatio, saith an interpreter. What marvel then though they departed with fear for their faithlessness, and joy for the good news the angels had told, and showed them?

For he is risen] Consentaneum est Phoenicem ante postremum annum Neronis, significasse resurrectionem Christi et omnium credentium ex morte recepta divinitus vita. The Phoenix is a fit emblem of the resurrection. (Dio in Nerone.)


Verse 7

7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

Ver. 7. And go quickly] Angels are called seraphims for their burning zeal; and are said to be winged creatures for their speediness in serving God and his people. Gabriel wearied himself, as it were, with swift flight, to certify Daniel of his good acceptance in heaven, Daniel 9:21. And this angel bids these women go quickly and carry the good news of the resurrection. Neither God nor angels can abide oscitancy and dulness in any. Tardis mentibus virtus non facile committitur, could the heathen say. (Cicero.)

Tell his disciples] And Peter with the first, Mark 16:7, because he is most dejected (and it is God that comforteth those that are cast down, 2 Corinthians 7:6; the Lion of the tribe of Judah spareth the prostrate prey). {a} The rest are in their dumps, as well they may, for deserting Christ; but Peter especially, for denying him. Now, therefore, that he is in a wilderness of ploddings and perplexities, Christ speaks to his heart, Hosea 2:14. He loves to comfort those that are forsaken of their hopes.

Lo, I have told you] q.d. Begone now about your business; you have your full errand, and this is all I have at present to say to you. These good women, at first afraid of the angel, are now hardly persuaded to depart from him. They could have been content to have heard him further. How unspeakably delicious unto us shall be that innumerable company of angels, Hebrews 12:22, that world of angels, as the Hebrew doctors call it, that panegyris or congregation house of the firstborn, enrolled in heaven as free denizens! O praeclarum ilium diem cum ad illud animorum concilium coetumque proficiscar, said the heathen orator. (Cic. de Senect.)

{a} Satis est prostrasse leoni.


Verse 8

8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

Ver. 8. And they departed quickly] According as they were bidden. A ready heart makes riddance of God’s work, and does it up quickly, as afraid to be taken with its task undone. Baruch repaired earnestly, and had done quickly, Nehemiah 3:30. Alexander being asked how he had so soon overrun so many countries, answered roundly, By making quick work, by despatching and not lingering long in a place. ΄ηδεν αναβαλλομενος. Plut.

With fear and great joy] A strange composition of two contrary passions; but frequently found in the best hearts, Psalms 2:11. God loves at once familiarity and fear.


Verse 9

9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

Ver. 9. Jesus met them] En obedientiae praemium, timoris remedium, saith Pareus. God still meets his people in the use of his ordinances, showing them great and mighty things that they knew not before, Jeremiah 33:3.

Held him by the feet] As those that would lose him no more: the saints do still the same by faith; clasping about Christ aud cleaving unto him, as it were by corporal contact.


Verse 10

10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

Ver. 10. Go tell my brethren] Brethren still, though foully fallen, Jeremiah 3:1. Infirmities discard us not, if bewailed, disclaimed, set against.


Verse 11

11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.

Ver. 11. Some of the watch came into the city] God would have the point of the resurrection well proven, for our better settlement, in so weighty a matter. The priests were unworthy to hear of it by an angel; they shall hear of it therefore by the profane soldiers, who came in to them much afraid, and thunder struck, as it were, and told them all. Now the confession of an adversary is held in law to be the most certain demonstration of the truth that can be.


Verse 12

12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,

Ver. 12. They gave large money] q.d. We know that you soldiers are good fellows, and both love and lack money. Now if you will but say thus and thus, you shall have a round sum paid you down in ready cash, &c. And what will not such men say or do for money? Pecunia avidos fecit forma mendacii industrios, iam illa promissio temerarios, saith Aretius.


Verse 13

13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.

Ver. 13. Stole him away while we slept] If it were Song of Solomon 1:1-17. Ye keep a good watch the while; and wanted some Epaminondas to slay you for sleeping. 2. If all asleep, who told you his disciples stole him? Did you sleep waking, as lions do? or did they make so little noise that you never heard them about it? as Sir Francis Drake, at Trurapasa in the West Indies, found a Spaniard sleeping securely upon the shore, and by him 13 wedges of silver, which he commanded to be carried away, not so much as once waking the man. Surely here it was neither so, nor so; but the devil, who began at first his kingdom by lying, and by lying still upholds it, set these fellows to work, to say, as they were taught, anything for money, though never so absurd and false. But money got on this manner will prove aurum Tolosanum, burn in thy purse, and bring God’s curse upon all thy substance.


Verse 14

14 And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.

Ver. 14. We will persuade him and secure you] Hypocrites have enough, if they can collogue with men, and escape the lash of the law. "God is not in all their thoughts," Psalms 10:4, or they think they can persuade him and secure themselves. Hence that overflow of sin, through hope of impunity, and abundance of atheism.

{a} To speak fair, employ feigned flattery or blandishment; to gloze; to deal flatteringly or deceitfully with any one, in order to cajole him or curry favour with him. ŒD


Verse 15

15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

Ver. 15. So they took the money] So sequacious are such men to sin, where anything is to be gotten by it. Balaam will venture hard for the wages of wickedness. Set but a wedge of gold in sight, and Joshua, that could stop the sun in his course, cannot stay Achan from fingering it.

And this saying is commonly reported] They were given up to believe this lie, "because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved," 2 Thessalonians 2:10. There are those who sense it otherwise. This saying is commonly reported; that is, this vile imposture of the priests and soldiers, wretchedly conspiring to cozen (deceive) the world with such a base lie, is sufficiently known for a piece of knavery, and is so resented to this day. Think the same of the Trent conventicle carried by the pope and his agents with so much finesse, &c., but so as now all is come out, to their eternal infamy.


Verse 16

16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.

Ver. 16. Went away into Galilee] They had seen him twice or thrice before at Jerusalem; yet took a long journey here into Galilee to see him again. "Whom having not seen ye love," 1 Peter 1:8. Austin’s wish was to see Christum in carne, Christ in the flesh. But if we had known Christ after the flesh, yet, saith St Paul, "henceforth should we know him so no more," 2 Corinthians 5:16, since the comfortable presence of his Spirit is better than his corporal presence, and more to our benefit, John 16:7. By this it is, that "though now we see him not, yet believing, we rejoice with unspeakable and glorious joy," 1 Peter 1:8, and must not think much of a journey, yea, though it be not to a mountain in Galilee, but to the heavenly hills, from whence comes our help, to see the King in his beauty, Christum regem videre in decore suo, which was Bede’s wish. Isaiah 33:17.


Verse 17

17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.

Ver. 17. They worshipped him, but some doubted] Even while they worshipped, they doubted; yet was not their worship rejected. The Lord knoweth his still, 2 Timothy 2:19. But they know not him still, as here in this text; howbeit they are "known of him," Galatians 4:9, and their whole way both known and approved, Psalms 1:6.


Verse 18

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

Ver. 18. All power is given to me] Christ premiseth his power, and promiseth his presence, the better to persuade them to set upon his work, his great work of subduing the world to the obedience of the faith. Better may this King of kings say, than that king of Spain, Sol mihi semper lucet: The sun shines always for me: for he is Catholic Monarch; "the kingdoms of this world" (and of the other too) "are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever," Revelation 11:15. As for the saints, how can they be but in an all-sufficiency, since all is theirs, they being Christ’s, and Christ being God’s? What boldness may they take to go to Christ, as Jacob did to Joseph, when he understood that the sway of the whole land was in his hand, &c. {See Trapp on "Matthew 11:27"}


Verse 19

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Ver. 19. Go ye therefore] In this my strength, as Gideon did against the Midianites, 7:13; and though but a barley cake, coarse and contemptible, yet shall ye overthrow the world’s tents, yea, the strongholds of Satan; though you have but lamps and pitchers in your hands, yet shall ye achieve great matters. The apostles were those white horses whereupon the Lord Christ sitting went forth conquering and to conquer. Britannorum inaccessa Romanis loca, Christo patuerunt, saith Tertullian. The Burgundians, much afflicted by the Huns, fled to Christ the God of the Christians; whom, after a long dispute, they determined to be a great God, and a great King above all gods. Sir Francis Drake tells us of twelve martyrs burnt for religion at Lima in Mexico, not two months before his coming thither. And he that set forth New England’s firstfruits, assures us of some of those natives, that being converted to the faith, lived Christianly, and died comfortably.

And teach all nations] Gr. disciple them, μαθητευσατε, Discipulate, make them Christians first, and then teach them to observe, &c., Matthew 28:20, as in baptism they have promised; for otherwise it was pity that font water was ever spilt upon their faces. In the kingdom of Congo, in Africa, many different heathens, by the persuasion of the Portugals, arriving there, were content to become Christians, and to be baptized; allowing of the principles of religion, and professing Christ, till the priests pressed them to lead their lives according to their profession; which the most of them in no case enduring, they returned back again to their Gentilism. As for the Spanish converts in Mexico, they so little remember their covenant made with Christ in baptism, that many times they forgot their very names soon after they have been baptized.

Baptizing them into the name of, &c.] That is, consecrating them unto the sincere service of the sacred Trinity, and confirming them by this holy sacrament, in the faith of the forgiveness of their sins, and in the hope of life eternal. This is the end, use, and efficacy of baptism; which, Piscator saith, few of the Fathers rightly understood; those Popish asses certainly did not, who moved this foolish question, An asinus bibens ex baptismo bibat aquam baptismi, et sic asinus dicendus sic baptisatus. {a} Pity but these questionites had been present, when the young scholar reading publicly the fifth of the First of Corinthians for probation sake, at the college of Bamberg, when he came to that passage, Expurgate vetus fermentum, &c. Sicut estis Azymi, he not understanding the word Azymi, unleaven bread, read, Sicut estis asini. The wiser sort of prebendaries (clergy) there present said among themselves, Cum a sapientioribus nolumus huiusmodi audire, a pueris audire cogimur. Children and fools usually tell the truth.

{a} Melancth. apud Manl.


Verse 20

20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Ver. 20. To observe all things] Our obedience must be entire; as for subject, the whole man; so for object, the whole law, that perfect law of liberty. The gospel requireth, that in our judgments we approve, and in our practices prove, what that good and holy and acceptable will of God is. Those are good Catholics, saith Austin, qui et fidem integram sequuntur, et bones mores. But let carnal gospellers either add practice, or leave their profession; renounce the devil and all his works, or else renounce their baptism. As Alexander the Great bade one Alexander, a coward in his army, change his name, or be a soldier.

I am with you alway] viz. To preserve you from your enemies, prosper you in your enterprises, and to do for you whatsoever heart can wish or need require. When Christ saith, "I will be with you," you may add what you will; to protect you, to direct you, to comfort you, to carry on the work of grace in you, and in the end to crown you with immortality and glory. All this and more is included in this precious promise.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Matthew 28:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/matthew-28.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 28th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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