Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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.
Mt 28:1-15. Glorious Angelic Announcement on the First Day of the Week, that Christ Is Risen—His Appearance to the Women—The Guards Bribed to Give a False Account of the Resurrection. ( = Mr 16:1-8; Lu 24:1-8; Joh 20:1).
The Resurrection Announced to the Women (Mt 28:1-8).
1. In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn—after the Sabbath, as it grew toward daylight.
toward the first day of the week—Luke (Lu 24:1) has it, "very early in the morning"—properly, "at the first appearance of daybreak"; and corresponding with this, John (Joh 20:1) says, "when it was yet dark." See on Mr 16:2. Not an hour, it would seem, was lost by those dear lovers of the Lord Jesus.
came Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary—"the mother of James and Joses" (see on Mt 27:56; Mt 27:61).
to see the sepulchre—with a view to the anointing of the body, for which they had made all their preparations. (See on Mr 16:1, 2).
And, behold, there was—that is, there had been, before the arrival of the women.
a great earthquake; for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, &c.—And this was the state of things when the women drew near. Some judicious critics think all this was transacted while the women were approaching; but the view we have given, which is the prevalent one, seems the more natural. All this august preparation—recorded by Matthew alone—bespoke the grandeur of the exit which was to follow. The angel sat upon the huge stone, to overawe, with the lightning-luster that darted from him, the Roman guard, and do honor to his rising Lord.
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.
His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
3. His countenance—appearance.
was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow—the one expressing the glory, the other the purity of the celestial abode from which he came.
And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
4. And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men—Is the sepulchre "sure" now, O ye chief priests? He that sitteth in the heavens doth laugh at you.
And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
5. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye—The "ye" here is emphatic, to contrast their case with that of the guards. "Let those puny creatures, sent to keep the Living One among the dead, for fear of Me shake and become as dead men (Mt 28:4); but ye that have come hither on another errand, fear not ye."
for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified—Jesus the Crucified.
He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
6. He is not here; for he is risen, as he said—See on Lu 24:5-7.
Come—as in Mt 11:28.
see the place where the Lord lay—Charming invitation! "Come, see the spot where the Lord of glory lay: now it is an empty grave: He lies not here, but He lay there. Come, feast your eyes on it!" But see on Joh 20:12.
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.
7. And go quickly, and tell his disciples—For a precious addition to this, see on Mr 16:7.
that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee—to which those women belonged (Mt 27:55).
there shall ye see him—This must refer to those more public manifestations of Himself to large numbers of disciples at once, which He vouchsafed only in Galilee; for individually He was seen of some of those very women almost immediately after this (Mt 28:9, 10).
Lo, I have told you—Behold, ye have this word from the world of light!
And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
8. And they departed quickly—Mark (Mr 16:8) says "they fled."
from the sepulchre with fear and great joy—How natural this combination of feelings! See on a similar statement of Mr 16:11.
and did run to bring his disciples word—"Neither said they anything to any man [by the way]; for they were afraid" (Mr 16:8).
Appearance to the Women (Mt 28:9, 10).
This appearance is recorded only by Matthew.
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.
9. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail!—the usual salute, but from the lips of Jesus bearing a higher signification.
And they came and held him by the feet—How truly womanly!
Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
10. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid—What dear associations would these familiar words—now uttered in a higher style, but by the same Lips—bring rushing back to their recollection!
go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me—The brethren here meant must have been His brethren after the flesh (compare Mt 13:55); for His brethren in the higher sense (see on Joh 20:17) had several meetings with Him at Jerusalem before He went to Galilee, which they would have missed if they had been the persons ordered to Galilee to meet Him.
The Guards Bribed (Mt 28:11-15).
The whole of this important portion is peculiar to Matthew.
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.
11. Now when they were going—while the women were on their way to deliver to His brethren the message of their risen Lord.
some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done—Simple, unsophisticated soldiers! How could ye imagine that such a tale as ye had to tell would not at once commend itself to your scared employers? Had they doubted this for a moment, would they have ventured to go near them, knowing it was death to a Roman soldier to be proved asleep when on guard? and of course that was the only other explanation of the case.
And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,
12. And when they were assembled with the elders—But Joseph at least was absent: Gamaliel probably also; and perhaps others.
and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers—It would need a good deal; but the whole case of the Jewish authorities was now at stake. With what contempt must these soldiers have regarded the Jewish ecclesiastics!
Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.
13. Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept—which, as we have observed, was a capital offense for soldiers on guard.
And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.
14. And if this come to the governor's ears—rather, "If this come before the governor"; that is, not in the way of mere report, but for judicial investigation.
we will persuade him, and secure you—The "we" and the "you" are emphatic here—"we shall [take care to] persuade him and keep you from trouble," or "save you harmless." The grammatical form of this clause implies that the thing supposed was expected to happen. The meaning then is, "If this come before the governor—as it likely will—we shall see to it that," &c. The "persuasion" of Pilate meant, doubtless, quieting him by a bribe, which we know otherwise he was by no means above taking (like Felix afterwards, Ac 24:26).
So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
15. So they took the money, and did as they were taught—thus consenting to brand themselves with infamy.
and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day—to the date of the publication of this Gospel. The wonder is that so clumsy and incredible a story lasted so long. But those who are resolved not to come to the light will catch at straws. Justin Martyr, who flourished about A.D. 170, says, in his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, that the Jews dispersed the story by means of special messengers sent to every country.
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
Mt 28:16-20. Jesus Meets with the Disciples on a Mountain in Galilee and Gives Forth the Great Commission.
16. Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee—but certainly not before the second week after the resurrection, and probably somewhat later.
into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them—It should have been rendered "the mountain," meaning some certain mountain which He had named to them—probably the night before He suffered, when He said, "After I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee" (Mt 26:32; Mr 14:28). What it was can only be conjectured; but of the two between which opinions are divided—the Mount of the Beatitudes or Mount Tabor—the former is much the more probable, from its nearness to the Sea of Tiberias, where last before this the Narrative tells us that He met and dined with seven of them. (Joh 21:1, &c.). That the interview here recorded was the same as that referred to in one place only—1Co 15:6—when "He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remained unto that day, though some were fallen asleep," is now the opinion of the ablest students of the evangelical history. Nothing can account for such a number as five hundred assembling at one spot but the expectation of some promised manifestation of their risen Lord: and the promise before His resurrection, twice repeated after it, best explains this immense gathering.
And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
17. And when they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted—certainly none of "the Eleven," after what took place at previous interviews in Jerusalem. But if the five hundred were now present, we may well believe this of some of them.
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
19. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations—rather, "make disciples of all nations"; for "teaching," in the more usual sense of that word, comes in afterwards, and is expressed by a different term.
baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost—It should be, "into the name"; as in 1Co 10:2, "And were all baptized unto (or rather 'into') Moses"; and Ga 3:27, "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ."
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.
20. Teaching them—This is teaching in the more usual sense of the term; or instructing the converted and baptized disciples.
to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I—The "I" here is emphatic. It is enough that I
am with you alway—"all the days"; that is, till making converts, baptizing, and building them up by Christian instruction, shall be no more.
even unto the end of the world. Amen—This glorious Commission embraces two primary departments, the Missionary and the Pastoral, with two sublime and comprehensive Encouragements to undertake and go through with them.
First, The Missionary department (Mt 28:18): "Go, make disciples of all nations." In the corresponding passage of Mark (Mr 16:15) it is, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." The only difference is, that in this passage the sphere, in its world-wide compass and its universality of objects, is more fully and definitely expressed; while in the former the great aim and certain result is delightfully expressed in the command to "make disciples of all nations." "Go, conquer the world for Me; carry the glad tidings into all lands and to every ear, and deem not this work at an end till all nations shall have embraced the Gospel and enrolled themselves My disciples." Now, Was all this meant to be done by the Eleven men nearest to Him of the multitude then crowding around the risen Redeemer? Impossible. Was it to be done even in their lifetime? Surely not. In that little band Jesus virtually addressed Himself to all who, in every age, should take up from them the same work. Before the eyes of the Church's risen Head were spread out, in those Eleven men, all His servants of every age; and one and all of them received His commission at that moment. Well, what next? Set the seal of visible discipleship upon the converts, by "baptizing them into the name," that is, into the whole fulness of the grace "of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," as belonging to them who believe. (See on 2Co 13:14). This done, the Missionary department of your work, which in its own nature is temporary, must merge in another, which is permanent. This is
Second, The Pastoral department (Mt 28:20): "Teach them"—teach these baptized members of the Church visible—"to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you," My apostles, during the three years ye have been with Me.
What must have been the feelings which such a Commission awakened? "We who have scarce conquered our own misgivings—we, fishermen of Galilee, with no letters, no means, no influence over the humblest creature, conquer the world for Thee, Lord? Nay, Lord, do not mock us." "I mock you not, nor send you a warfare on your own charges. For"—Here we are brought to
Third, The Encouragements to undertake and go through with this work. These are two; one in the van, the other in the rear of the Commission itself.
First Encouragement: "All power in heaven"—the whole power of Heaven's love and wisdom and strength, "and all power in earth"—power over all persons, all passions, all principles, all movements—to bend them to this one high object, the evangelization of the world: All this "is given unto Me." as the risen Lord of all, to be by Me placed at your command—"Go ye therefore." But there remains a
Second Encouragement: "And lo! I am with you all the days"—not only to perpetuity, but without one day's interruption, "even to the end of the world," The "Amen" is of doubtful genuineness in this place. If, however, it belongs to the text, it is the Evangelist's own closing word.