Matthew 27:45
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land to the ninth hour.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(45) From the sixth hour.—The first three Gospels agree as to time and fact. Assuming them to follow the usual Jewish reckoning (as in Acts 2:15; Acts 3:1; Acts 10:3; Acts 10:9) this would be noon, the fixing to the cross having been at the third hour, 9 A.M. (Mark 15:25), and the darkness lasting till 3 P.M. St. John names the “sixth hour” as the time of our Lord’s final condemnation by Pilate, following apparently (see Note there and on John 4:6) the Roman or modern mode of reckoning from midnight to noon. Looking to the facts of the case, it is probable that our Lord was taken to the high priest’s palace about 3 A.M. (the “cock-crow” of Mark 13:35). Then came the first hearing before Annas (John 18:13), then the trial before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, then the formal meeting that passed the sentence. This would fill up the time probably till 6 A.M., and three hours may be allowed for the trials before Pilate and Herod. After the trial was over there would naturally be an interval for the soldiers to take their early meal, and then the slow procession to Golgotha, delayed, we may well believe, by our Lord’s falling, once or oftener, beneath the burden of the cross, and so we come to 9 A.M. for His arrival at the place of crucifixion.

Darkness over all the land.—Better so than the “earth” of the Authorised version of Luke 23:44. The degree and nature of the darkness are not defined. The moon was at its full, and therefore there could be no eclipse. St. John does not name it, nor is it recorded by Josephus, Tacitus, or any contemporary writer. On the other hand, its appearance in records in many respects so independent of each other as those of the three Gospels places it, even as the common grounds of historical probability, on a sufficiently firm basis, and early Christian writers, such as Tertullian (Apol. c. 21) and Origen (100 Cels. ii. 33), appeal to it as attested by heathen writers. The narrative does not necessarily involve more than the indescribable yet most oppressive gloom which seems to shroud the whole sky as in mourning (comp. Amos 8:9-10), and which being a not uncommon phenomenon of earthquakes, may have been connected with that described in Matthew 27:51. It is an indirect confirmation of the statement that about this time there is an obvious change in the conduct of the crowd. There is a pause and lull. The gibes and taunts cease, and the life of the Crucified One ends in a silence broken only by His own bitter cry.

Matthew 27:45. Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour — From mid-day till three in the afternoon with us, (see note on Matthew 20:1,) there was darkness over all the land — Or, over all the earth, as the original expression, επι πασαν την γην, is more literally rendered in the Vulgate, and understood by many learned men; “the sun being darkened,” says Grotius, “as Luke informs us, not by the interposition of the moon, which was then full, nor by a cloud spread over the face of the sky, but in some way unknown to mankind.” It is true, the same expression sometimes evidently signifies only all the land, as Luke 4:25, where it is so translated. It seems, however, highly probable, if the darkness did not extend to the whole earth, or, to speak more properly, to the whole hemisphere, (it being night in the opposite one,) it extended to all the neighbouring countries. “This extraordinary alteration in the face of nature was peculiarly proper,” says Dr. Macknight, “while the Sun of righteousness was withdrawing his beams from the land of Israel, and from the world, not only because it was a miraculous testimony borne by God himself to his innocence, but also because it was a fit emblem of his departure, and its effects, at least till his light shone out anew with additional splendour, in the ministry of the apostles. The darkness which now covered Judea, together with the neighbouring countries, beginning about noon and continuing till Jesus expired, was not the effect of an ordinary eclipse of the sun; for that can never happen except when the moon is about the change, whereas now it was full moon; not to mention that total darknesses occasioned by eclipses of the sun never continue above twelve or fifteen minutes. Wherefore it must have been produced by the divine power, in a manner we are not able to explain.” The Christian writers, in their most ancient apologies to the heathen, while they affirm that, as it was full moon at the passover, when Christ was crucified, no such eclipse could happen by the course of nature; “they observe, also, that it was taken notice of as a prodigy by the heathen themselves. To this purpose, we have still remaining the words of Phlegon, the astronomer and freedman of Adrian, cited by Origen, (Contra Cels., p. 83,) at a time when his book was in the hands of the public. That heathen author, in treating of the fourth year of the 202d Olympiad, which is supposed to be the year in which our Lord was crucified, tells us, ‘That the greatest eclipse of the sun which was ever known happened then; for the day was so turned into night, that the stars in the heavens were seen.’ If Phlegon, as Christians generally suppose, is speaking of the darkness which accompanied our Lord’s crucifixion, it was not circumscribed within the land of Judea, but must have been universal. This many learned men have believed, particularly Huet, Grotius, Gusset, Reland, and Alphen.” Tertullian (Apol., cap. 21.) says that this prodigious darkening of the sun was recorded in the Roman archives; for, says he, “at the same moment, about noontide, the day was withdrawn; and they, who knew not that this was foretold concerning Christ, thought it was an eclipse.” — And Eusebius, in his Chronicle, at the eighteenth year of Tiberius, says, “Christ suffered this year, in which time we find in other commentaries of the heathen, these words: ‘There was a defection of the sun: Bithynia was shaken with an earthquake; and many houses fell down in the city of Nice.’” And then he proceeds to the testimony of Phlegon. See Whitby.27:45-50 During the three hours which the darkness continued, Jesus was in agony, wrestling with the powers of darkness, and suffering his Father's displeasure against the sin of man, for which he was now making his soul an offering. Never were there three such hours since the day God created man upon the earth, never such a dark and awful scene; it was the turning point of that great affair, man's redemption and salvation. Jesus uttered a complaint from Ps 22:1. Hereby he teaches of what use the word of God is to direct us in prayer, and recommends the use of Scripture expressions in prayer. The believer may have tasted some drops of bitterness, but he can only form a very feeble idea of the greatness of Christ's sufferings. Yet, hence he learns something of the Saviour's love to sinners; hence he gets deeper conviction of the vileness and evil of sin, and of what he owes to Christ, who delivers him from the wrath to come. His enemies wickedly ridiculed his complaint. Many of the reproaches cast upon the word of God and the people of God, arise, as here, from gross mistakes. Christ, just before he expired, spake in his full strength, to show that his life was not forced from him, but was freely delivered into his Father's hands. He had strength to bid defiance to the powers of death: and to show that by the eternal Spirit he offered himself, being the Priest as well as the Sacrifice, he cried with a loud voice. Then he yielded up the ghost. The Son of God upon the cross, did die by the violence of the pain he was put to. His soul was separated from his body, and so his body was left really and truly dead. It was certain that Christ did die, for it was needful that he should die. He had undertaken to make himself an offering for sin, and he did it when he willingly gave up his life.Now from the sixth hour - That is, from our twelve o'clock. The Jews divided their day into twelve hours, beginning to count at sunrise.

There was darkness - This could not have been an eclipse of the sun, for the Passover was celebrated at the time of the full moon, when the moon is opposite to the sun. Luke says Luke 23:45 that "the sun was darkened," but it was not by an eclipse. The only cause of this was the interposing power of God - furnishing testimony to the dignity of the sufferer, and causing the elements to sympathize with the pains of his dying Son. It was also especially proper to furnish this testimony when the "Sun of righteousness" was withdrawing his beams for a time, and the Redeemer of men was expiring. A thick darkness, shutting out the light of day, and clothing every object with the gloom of midnight, was the appropriate drapery with which the world should be clad when the Son of God expired. This darkness was noticed by one at least of the pagan writers. Phlegon, a Roman astronomer, speaking of the 14th year of the reign of Tiberius, which is supposed to be that in which our Saviour died, says "that the greatest eclipse of the sun that was ever known happened then, for the day was so turned into night that the stars appeared."

Over all the land - That is, probably, over the whole land of Judea, and perhaps some of the adjacent countries. The extent of the darkness is not known.

The ninth hour - Until about three o'clock in the afternoon, at which time the Saviour is supposed to have died.

Mt 27:34-50. Crucifixion and Death of the Lord Jesus. ( = Mr 15:25-37; Lu 23:33-46; Joh 19:18-30).

For the exposition, see on [1375]Joh 19:18-30.

See Poole on "Matthew 27:50". Now from the sixth hour,.... Which was twelve o'clock at noon,

there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour; till three o'clock in the afternoon, the time the Jews call "between the two evenings"; and which they say (c) is "from the sixth hour, and onwards". Luke says, the sun was darkened, Luke 23:45. This darkness was a preternatural eclipse of the sun; for it was at the time when the moon was in the full, as appears from its being at the time of the passover; which was on the fourteenth day of the month Nisan, the Jews beginning their months from the new moon: and moreover, it was over all the land, or earth, as the word may be rendered; and the Ethiopic version renders it, "the whole world was dark"; at least it reached to the whole Roman empire, or the greatest part of it; though some think only the land of Judea, or Palestine, is intended: but it is evident, that it is taken notice of, and recorded by Heathen historians and chronologers, as by Phlegon, and others, referred to by Eusebius (d). The Roman archives are appealed unto for the truth of it by Tertullian (e); and it is asserted by Suidas, that Dionysius the Areopagite, then an Heathen, saw it in Egypt; and said,

"either the, divine being suffers, or suffers with him that suffers, or the frame of the world is dissolving.

Add to this the continuance of it, that it lasted three hours; whereas a natural eclipse of the sun is but of a short duration; see Amos 8:9. The Jews (g) have a notion, that in the times of the Messiah

"the sun shall be darkened, , "in the middle of the day", (as this was,) as that day was darkened when the sanctuary was destroyed.

Yea, they speak (h) of a darkness that shall continue a long time: their words are these:

"the king Messiah shall be made known in all the world, and all the kings shall be stirred up to join together to make war with him; and many of the profligate Jews shall be turned to them, and shall go with them, to make war against the king Messiah; so , "all the world shall be darkened" fifteen days, and many of the people of Israel shall die in that darkness.

This darkness that was over the earth at the time of Christ's sufferings, was, no doubt, an addition to them; the sun, as it were, hiding its face, and refusing to afford its comforting light and heat to him; and yet might be in detestation of the heinousness of the sin the Jews were committing, and as expressive of the divine anger and resentment; for God's purposes and decrees, and the end he had in view, did not excuse, nor extenuate their wickedness; as it shows also their wretched stupidity, not to be awakened and convinced by the amazing darkness, with other things attending it, which made no impression on them; though it did on the Roman centurion, who concluded Christ must be the Son of God. It was an emblem of the judicial blindness and darkness of the Jewish nation; and signified, that now was the hour and power of darkness, or the time for the prince of darkness, with his principalities and powers, to exert himself; and was a representation of that darkness that was now on the soul of Christ, expressed in the following verse; as well as of the eclipse of him, the sun of righteousness, of the glory of his person, both by his incarnation, and by his sufferings,

(c) T. Hieros Pesachim, fol. 31. 3.((d) In Chronicis. (e) Apolog. c. 21. (g) Zohar in Exod. fol. 4. 1.((h) Ib. fol. 3, 4.

{12} Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.

(12) Heaven itself is darkened for very horror, and Jesus cries out from the depth of hell, and all during this time he is being mocked.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 27:45 Ἀπὸ δὲ ἕκτης ὥρας] counting from the third (nine o’clock in the morning), the hour at which He had been nailed to the cross, Mark 15:25. Respecting the difficulty of reconciling the statements of Matthew and Mark as to the hour in question with what is mentioned by John at Matthew 19:14, and the preference that must necessarily be given to the latter, see on John, John 19:14.

σκότος] An ordinary eclipse of the sun was not possible during full moon (Origen); for which reason the eclipse of the 202d Olympiad, recorded by Phlegon in Syncellus, Chronogr. I. p. 614, ed. Bonn, and already referred to by Eusebius, is equally out of the question (Wieseler, chronol. Synops. p. 387 f.). But as little must we suppose that the reference is to that darkness in the air which precedes an ordinary earthquake (Paulus, Kuinoel, de Wette, Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 448, Weisse), for it is not an earthquake in the ordinary sense that is described in Matthew 27:51 ff.; in fact, Mark and Luke, though recording the darkness and the rending of the veil, say nothing about the earthquake. The darkness upon this occasion was of an unusual, a supernatural character, being as it were the voice of God making itself heard through nature, the gloom over which made it appear as though the whole earth were bewailing the ignominious death which the Son of God was dying. The prodigies, to all appearance similar, that are alleged to have accompanied the death of certain heroes of antiquity (see Wetstein), and those solar obscurations alluded to in Rabbinical literature, were different in kind from that now before us (ordinary eclipses of the sun, such as that which took place after the death of Caesar, Serv. ad. Virg. G. I. 466), and, even apart from this, would not justify us in relegating what is matter of history, John’s omission of it notwithstanding, to the region of myth (in opposition to Strauss, Keim, Scholten), especially when we consider that the death in this instance was not that of a mere human hero, that there were those still living who could corroborate the evangelic narrative, and that the darkness here in question was associated with the extremely peculiar σημεῖον of the rending of the veil of the temple.

ἐπὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν] Keeping in view the supernatural character of the event as well as the usage elsewhere with regard to the somewhat indefinite phraseology πᾶσα or ὅλη ἡ γῆ (Luke 21:35; Luke 23:44; Romans 4:17; Romans 10:18; Revelation 13:3), it is clear that the only rendering in keeping with the tone of the narrative is: over the whole earth (κοσμικὸν δὲ ἦν τὸ σκότος, οὐ μερικόν, Theophylact, comp. Chrysostom, Euthymius Zigabenus), not merely: over the whole land (Origen, Erasmus, Luther, Maldonatus, Kuinoel, Paulus, Olshausen, Ebrard, Lange, Steinmeyer) though at the same time we are not called upon to construe the words in accordance with the laws of physical geography; they are simply to be regarded as expressing the popular idea of the matter.Matthew 27:45-49. Darkness without and within (Mark 15:33-36, Luke 23:44-46).45. from the sixth hour … unto the ninth hour] From 12 to 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the hours of the Paschal sacrifice.

there was darkness over all the land] Not the darkness of an eclipse, for it was the time of the Paschal full moon, but a miraculous darkness symbolic of that solemn hour and veiling the agonies of the Son of Man, when human soul and body alike were enduring the extremity of anguish and suffering for sin.Matthew 27:45. Πᾶσαν, all) The whole of our planet is meant; for the sun itself was darkened.[1199]—ἕως ὥρας ἐννάτης, until the ninth hour) A three hours full of mystery. Psalms 8, in the third verse of which the omission of mention of the sun agrees with the darkness here spoken of, may be aptly compared with this period of dereliction and darkness.

[1199] There are some who think that this was the same Eclipse as that which was noted by Phlegon [Trallianus] and others of the ancients, or even as that one, the traces of which are now found among the [traditions of the] Chinese. Whatever degree of plausibility there may be in this, they are convicted of error by far stronger arguments, since, in fact, they must thus thrust forward the passion of Christ beyond the thirtieth year of the Dionys. era.—Harm., p. 571.Verses 45-50. - Supernatural darkness. Last words, and death of Jesus. (Mark 15:33-37; Luke 23:44-46; John 19:28-30.) Verse 45. - The sixth hour; i.e. noon. Christ was crucified about 9 o'clock a.m., the hour of the morning sacrifice; he had therefore by this time been hanging three hours on the cross. His agonies, his sufferings mental and spiritual, were at their height. There was darkness over all the land (ἐπὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν). The historical accuracy of this darkness there is no more reason to doubt than there is to doubt the death of Christ itself: The great fact and its details stand on the same basis. How the phenomenon was produced we know not. That it could not be an ordinary eclipse is certain, as the moon was then full, it being the Paschal time, and the darkness thus produced would have lasted but a few minutes. Nor had it any connection with the subsequent earthquake (ver. 51), as some unscientific exegetes have supposed. On such occasions a thickness of the atmosphere has been noticed, but such an occurrence could never have been described in the words used by the synoptists; and. the earthquake itself was no ordinary event, and took place in no ordinary manner. We cannot doubt that the darkness was supernatural, conveying a solemn lesson to all who beheld it. When we consider what was being done on Calvary, who it was that was dying there, what was the object of his Passion, what was the infinite and unspeakable effect of the sacrifice there offered, is it wonderful that the Divine Architect controlled Nature to sympathize with her Creator, that as a supernatural effulgence heralded the Saviour's birth, a supernatural darkness should shroud his death? We are in the region of the Divine. What we have learned to regard as natural laws (but which really are only our formulary for expressing our experience of past uniformity) were superseded for the time by the interference of the Lawgiver; he used the material to enforce the spiritual being the Lord of both. Whether the darkness extended beyond Judaea unto all that part of the earth which was then illumined by the light of the sun, we cannot tell. Some of the Fathers refer to it as if it was universal. A supposed allusion was made by Phlegon, a writer of the second century, whose work, called 'Annals of the Olympiads,' is not extant, but is quoted by Julius Africanus and Eusebius (see Wordsworth, in loc.); but it seems certain that Phlegon is speaking of an astronomical eclipse which occurred in the ordinary course of nature. Tertullian states that a notice of this darkness was to be found in the archives of Rome ('Apol.,' 21.); but we have no further information on this point. There are some other uncertain references, as that of Dionysius the Areopagite, who is related to have said on the sudden obscuration, "Either the God of nature is suffering, or the machinery of the world is being dissolved;" but none of these will stand the test of criticism; and perhaps it is safer to determine that Gentile notices of the phenomenon are not forthcoming, because the darkness was confined to Palestine. It had, doubtless, a doctrinal and typical significance. Chrysostom considers it a token of God's anger at the crime of the Jews in crucifying Jesus; others see in it an emblem of the withdrawal of the light of God's presence from this wicked land. It was, in Iced, to all who would receive it, a sign of some awful event in the spiritual world of unspeakable consequence to the children of men. The ninth hour. Three o'clock p.m., about the time of the evening sacrifice.
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