1When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:
1 CHAPTER XXVII.
NOTES ON CHAP. XXVII.
Verse 1. When the morning was come] As soon as it was
light-took counsel against Jesus. They had begun this counsel the
preceding evening, see Mt 26:59. But as it was contrary to all
forms of law to proceed against a person's life by night, they
seem to have separated for a few hours, and then, at the break of
day, came together again, pretending to conduct the business
according to the forms of law.
To put him to death] They had already determined his death, and
pronounced the sentence of death on him; Mt 26:66. And now they
assemble under the pretence of reconsidering the evidence, and
deliberating on it, to give the greater appearance of justice to
their conduct. They wished to make it appear that "they had taken
ample time to consider of it, and, from the fullest conviction, by
the most satisfactory and conclusive evidence, they had now
delivered him into the hands of the Romans, to meet that death to
which they had adjudged him."
2And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
2 Verse 2. They-delivered him to Pontius Pilate] The Sanhedrin
had the power of life and death in their own hands in every thing
that concerned religion; but as they had not evidence to put
Christ to death because of false doctrine, they wished to give
countenance to their conduct by bringing in the civil power, and
therefore they delivered him up to Pilate as one who aspired to
regal dignities, and whom he must put to death, if he professed to
be Caesar's friend. Pontius Pilate governed Judea ten years under
the Emperor Tiberius; but, having exercised great cruelties
against the Samaritans, they complained of him to the emperor, in
consequence of which he was deposed, and sent in exile to Vienna,
in Dauphiny, where he killed himself two years after.
3 ¶ Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
3 Verse 3. Judas-when he saw that he was condemned, repented]
There is much of the wisdom and goodness of God to be seen in this
part of Judas's conduct. Had our Lord been condemned to death on
the evidence of one of his own disciples, it would have furnished
infidels with a strong argument against Christ and the Christian
religion. "One of his own disciples, knowing the whole imposture,
declared it to the Jewish rulers, in consequence of which he was
put to death as an impostor and deceiver." But the traitor, being
stung with remorse, came and acknowledged his crime, and solemnly
declared the innocence of his Master, threw back the money which
they gave him to induce him to do this villainous act; and, to
establish the evidence which he now gave against them and himself,
in behalf of the innocence of Christ, hanged himself, or died
through excessive grief and contrition. Thus the character of
Christ was rescued from all reproach; infidelity deprived of the
power to cry "imposture!" and the Jewish rulers overwhelmed with
eternal infamy. If it should ever be said, "One who knew him best
delivered him up as an impostor,"-to this it may be immediately
answered, "The same person, struck with remorse, came and declared
his own guilt, and Christ's innocence; accused and convicted the
Jewish rulers, in the open council, of having hired him to do this
iniquitous action, threw them back the bribe they had given him,
and then hanged himself through distress and despair, concluding
his iniquity in this business was too great to be forgiven." Let
him who chooses, after this plenary evidence to the innocence of
Christ, continue the objection, and cry out imposture! take heed
that he go not and do LIKEWISE. Caiaphas, Pilate, and Judas have
done so already, and I have known several, who have called Christ
an impostor, who have cut their own throats, shot, drowned, or
hanged themselves. God is a jealous God, and highly resents every
thing that is done and said against that eternal truth that came
to man through Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit. Indeed, there is
one class of Deists, viz. those who are vicious in their lives,
and virulent in their opposition to Christianity, who generally
bring themselves to an untimely end.
4Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
4 Verse 4. Innocent blood.] αιμααθωον, a Hebraism, for an
innocent man. But instead of αθωον, innocent, two ancient MSS.,
Syriac, Vulgate, Sahidic, Armenian, and all the Itala; Origen,
Cyprian, Lucifer, Ambrose, Leo, read δικαιον, righteous, or
What is that to us?] What is it?-A great deal. You should
immediately go and reverse the sentence you have pronounced, and
liberate the innocent person. But this would have been justice,
and that would have been a stranger at their tribunal.
5And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
5 Verse 5. In the temple] ναος signifies, properly, the temple
itself, into which none but the priests were permitted to enter;
therefore εντωναω must signify, near the temple, by the temple
door, where the boxes stood to receive the free-will offerings of
the people, for the support and repairs of the sacred edifice.
See this amply proved by Kypke.
Hanged himself] Or was strangled-απηγξατο. Some eminent
critics believe that he was only suffocated by excessive grief,
and thus they think the account here given will agree with that in
Mr. Wakefield supports this meaning of the word with great
learning and ingenuity. I have my doubts-the old method of
reconciling the two accounts appears to me quite plausible-he went
and strangled himself, and the rope breaking, he fell down, and by
the violence of the fall his body was bursted, and his bowels
gushed out. I have thought proper, on a matter of such
difficulty, to use the word strangled, as possessing a middle
meaning between choking or suffocation by excessive grief, and
hanging, as an act of suicide. See Clarke on Mt 10:4. Dr.
Lightfoot is of opinion that the devil caught him up into the air,
strangled him, and threw him down on the ground with violence, so
that his body was burst, and his guts shed out! This was an
6And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.
6 Verse 6. The treasury] κορβαναν-the place whither the people
brought their free-will offerings for the service of the temple,
so called from the Hebrew korban, AN OFFERING, from
karab, he drew nigh, because the person who brought the gift came
nigh to that place where God manifested his glory between the
cherubim, over the mercy-seat in the most holy place. It is from
this idea that the phrase to draw nigh to God is taken, which is
so frequently used in the sacred writings.
Because it is the price of blood.] "What hypocrites, as one
justly exclaims, to adjudge an innocent man to death, and break
the eternal laws of justice and mercy without scruple, and to be,
at the same time, so very nice in their attention to a ceremonial
direction of the law of Moses! Thus it is that the devil often
deludes many, even among the priests, by a false and superstitious
tenderness or conscience in things indifferent, while calumny,
envy, oppression of the innocent, and a conformity to the world,
give them no manner of trouble or disturbance." See Quesnel.
7And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in.
7 Verse 7. To bury strangers in.] τοιςξενοις, the strangers,
probably meaning, as some learned men conjecture, the Jewish
strangers who might have come to Jerusalem, either to worship, or
on some other business, and died there during their stay. See
here, the very money for which the blessed Jesus was sold becomes
subservient to the purpose of mercy and kindness! The bodies of
strangers have a place of rest in the field purchased by the price
at which his life was valued, and the souls of strangers and
foreigners have a place of rest and refuge in his blood which was
shed as a ransom price for the salvation of the whole world.
8Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.
8 Verse 8. The field of blood] In vain do the wicked attempt to
conceal themselves; God makes them instrumental in discovering
their own wickedness. Judas, by returning the money, and the
priests, by laying it out, raise to themselves an eternal
monument-the one of his treachery, the others of their
perfidiousness, and both of the innocence of Jesus Christ. As,
long as the Jewish polity continued, it might be said, "This is
the field that was bought from the potter with the money which
Judas got from the high priests for betraying his Master; which
he, in deep compunction of spirit, brought back to them, and they
bought this ground for a burial-place for strangers: for as it was
the price of the blood of an innocent man, they did not think
proper to let it rest in the treasury of the temple where the
traitor had thrown it, who afterwards, in despair, went and hanged
himself." What a standing proof must this have been of the
innocence of Christ, and of their perfidy!
9Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;
9 Verse 9. Jeremy the prophet] The words quoted here are not
found in the Prophet Jeremiah, but in Zec 11:13. But St. Jerome
says that a Hebrew of the sect of the Nazarenes showed him this
prophecy in a Hebrew apocryphal copy of Jeremiah; but probably
they were inserted there only to countenance the quotation here.
One of Colbert's, a MS. of the eleventh century, has ζαξαριου,
Zechariah; so has the later Syriac in the margin, and a copy of
the Arabic quoted by Bengel. In a very elegant and correct MS. of
the Vulgate, in my possession, written in the fourteenth century,
Zachariam is in the margin, and Jeremiam in the text, but the
former is written by a later hand. Jeremiah is wanting in two
MSS., the Syriac, later Persic, two of the Itala, and in some
other Latin copies. It is very likely that the original reading
was διατοιπροφητου, and the name of no prophet mentioned. This
is the more likely, as Matthew often omits the name of the prophet
in his quotations. See Mt 1:22; 2:5, 15; 13:35; 21:4. Bengel
approves of the omission.
It was an ancient custom among the Jews, says Dr. Lightfoot, to
divide the Old Testament into three parts: the first beginning
with the law was called THE LAW; the second beginning with the
Psalms was called THE PSALMS; the third beginning with the prophet
in question was called JEREMIAH: thus, then, the writings of
Zechariah and the other prophets being included in that division
that began with Jeremiah, all quotations from it would go under
the name of this prophet. If this be admitted, it solves the
difficulty at once. Dr. Lightfoot quotes Baba Bathra, and Rabbi
David Kimchi's preface to the prophet Jeremiah, as his
authorities; and insists that the word Jeremiah is perfectly
correct as standing at the head of that division from which the
evangelist quoted, and which gave its denomination to all the
rest. But Jeremiah is the reading in several MSS. of the Coptic.
It is in one of the Coptic Dictionaries in the British Museum, and
in a Coptic MS. of Jeremiah, in the library of St. Germain. So I
am informed by the Rev. Henry Tattam, Rector of St Cuthbert's,
10And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.
11And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.
12And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.
12 Verse 12. He answered nothing.] An answer to such accusations
was not necessary: they sufficiently confuted themselves.
13Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?
14And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.
15Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.
15 Verse 15. The governor was wont to release] Whence this custom
originated among the Jews is not known,-probably it was introduced
by the Romans themselves, or by Pilate, merely to oblige the Jews,
by showing them this public token of respect; but if it originated
with him, he must have had the authority of Augustus; for the
Roman laws never gave such discretionary power to any governor.
16And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.
16 Verse 16. A notable prisoner-Barabbas.] This person had, a
short time before, raised an insurrection in Jerusalem, in which
it appears, from Mr 15:7, some lives were lost. In some MSS.,
and in the Armenian and Syriac Hieros., this man has the surname
of Jesus. Professor Birch has discovered this reading in a
Vatican MS., written in 949, and numbered 354, in which is a
marginal note which has been attributed to Anastasius, bishop of
Antioch, and to Chrysostom, which asserts that in the most ancient
MSS. the passage was as follows:-τιναθελετεαποτωνδυωαπολυσω
υμινιντονβαραββανηιντονλεγομενονξν: Which of the two
DO ye wish me to release unto you, Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is
called Christ? As Jesus, or Joshua, was a very common name among
the Jews, and as the name of the father was often joined to that
of the son, as Simon Barjonah, Simon, son of Jonah; so it is
probable it was the case here, Jesus Barabba, Jesus, son of Abba,
or Abbiah. If this name were originally written as above, which I
am inclined to believe, the general omission of JESUS in the MSS.
may be accounted for from the over zealous scrupulosity of
Christian copyists, who were unwilling that a murderer should, in
the same verse, be honoured with the name of the Redeemer of the
world. See Birch in New Test.
17Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?
18For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
18 Verse 18. For envy] διαφθονον, through malice. Then it was
his business, as an upright judge, to have dispersed this mob, and
immediately released Jesus.
Seeing malice is capable of putting even Christ himself to
death, how careful should we be not to let the least spark of it
harbour in our breast. Let it be remembered that malice as often
originates from envy as it does from anger.
19 ¶ When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.
20But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.
20 Verse 20. Ask Barabbas] Who had raised an insurrection and
committed murder-and to destroy Jesus, whose voice was never heard
in their streets, and who had, during the space of three years and
a half, gone about unweariedly, from village to village,
instructing the ignorant, healing the diseased, and raising the
21The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.
21 Verse 21. They said, Barabbas.] What a fickle crowd! A little
before they all hailed him as the Son of David, and acknowledged
him as a gift from God; now they prefer a murderer to him! But
this it appears they did at the instigation of the chief priests.
We see here how dangerous wicked priests are in the Church of
Christ; when pastors are corrupt, they are capable of inducing
their flock to prefer Barabbas to Jesus, the world to God,
and the pleasures of sense to the salvation of their souls. The
invidious epithet which a certain statesman gave to the people at
large was, in its utmost latitude, applicable to these Jews,-they
were a SWINISH MULTITUDE.
22Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.
22 Verse 22. What shall I do then with Jesus?] Showing, hereby,
that it was his wish to release him.
23And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.
23 Verse 23. What evil hath he done?] Pilate plainly saw that
there was nothing laid to his charge for which, consistently with
the Roman laws, he could condemn him.
But they cried out the more] What strange fury and injustice!
They could not answer Pilate's question, What evil hath he done?
He had done none, and they knew he had done none; but they are
determined on his death.
24 ¶ When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.
24 Verse 24. Pilate-took water, and washed his hands] Thus
signifying his innocence. It was a custom among the Hebrews,
Greeks, and Latins, to wash the hands in token of innocence, and
to show that they were pure from any imputed guilt. In case of an
undiscovered murder, the elders of that city which was nearest to
the place where the dead body was found, were required by the law,
to wash their hands over the victim which was offered to expiate
the crime, and thus make public protestation of their own
innocence. David says, I will wash my hands in innocence, so
shall I compass thine altar, Ps 26:6. As Pilate knew Christ was
innocent, he should have prevented his death: he had the armed
force at his command, and should have dispersed this infamous mob.
Had he been charged with countenancing a seditious person, he
could have easily cleared himself, had the matter been brought
before the emperor. He, therefore, was inexcusable.
25Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
25 Verse 25. His blood be on us and on our children.] If this man
be innocent, and we put him to death as a guilty person, may the
punishment due to such a crime be visited upon us, and upon our
children after us! What a dreadful imprecation! and how literally
fulfilled! The notes on chap. 24, will show how they fell victims
to their own imprecation, being visited with a series of
calamities unexampled in the history of the world. They were
visited with the same kind of punishment; for the Romans crucified
them in such numbers when Jerusalem was taken, that there was
found a deficiency of crosses for the condemned, and of places for
the crosses. Their children or descendants have had the same
curse entailed upon them, and continue to this day a proof of the
innocence of Christ, the truth of his religion, and of the justice
26 ¶ Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
26 Verse 26. Scourged Jesus] This is allowed to have been a very
severe punishment of itself among the Romans, the flesh being
generally cut by the whips used for this purpose: so the poet:-
"To be cut by the horrible whip."-HOR. Sat. I. 3. 119. And
sometimes it seems, they were whipped to death. See the same
poet, Sat. I. 2. 41.
It has been thought that Pilate might have spared this
additional cruelty of whipping; but it appears that it was a
common custom to scourge those criminals which were to be
crucified, (see Josephus De Bello, lib. ii. c. 25,) and lenity in
Christ's case is not to be allowed; he must take all the misery in
Delivered him to be crucified.] Tacitos, the Roman historian,
mentions the death of Christ in very remarkable terms:-
Nero-quaesitissimis poenis is affecit, quos-vulgus CHRISTIANOS
appellabat. Auctor nominis ejus CHRISTUS, qui Tiberio
imperitante, per Procuratorem Pontium Pilatum supplicio affectus
erat.-" Nero put those who commonly went by the name of Christians
to the most exquisite tortures. The author of this name was
CHRIST, who was capitally punished in the reign of TIBERIUS, by
PONTIUS PILATE the PROCURATOR."
27Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.
27 Verse 27. The common hall] Or, praetorium. Called so from the
praetor, a principal magistrate among the Romans, whose business
it was to administer justice in the absence of the consul. This
place night be termed in English the court house, or common hall.
28And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.
28 Verse 28. Stripped him] Took off his mantle, or upper garment.
A scarlet robe] Or, according to Mark and John, a purple robe,
such as emperors and kings wore.
29 ¶ And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!
29 Verse 29. A crown of thorns] στεφανονεξακανθων. It does not
appear that this crown was intended to be an instrument of
punishment or torture to his head, but rather to render him
ridiculous; for which cause also they put a reed in his hand, by
way of sceptre, and bowed their knees, pretending to do him
homage. The crown was not probably of thorns, in our sense of the
word: there are eminently learned men who think that the crown was
formed of the herb acanthus; and Bishop Pearce and Michaelis are
of this opinion. Mark, Mr 15:17, and John, Joh 19:5, term it,
στεφανονακανθινον, which may very well be translated an
acanthine crown or wreath, formed out of the branches of the herb
acanthus, or bear's foot. This, however, is a prickly plant,
though nothing like thorns, in the common meaning of that word.
Many Christians have gone astray in magnifying the sufferings of
Christ from this circumstance; and painters, the worst of all
commentators, frequently represent Christ with a crown of long
thorns, which one standing by is striking into his head with a
stick. These representations engender ideas both false and
There is a passage produced from Philo by Dr. Lardner, which
casts much light on these indignities offered to our blessed
"Caligula, the successor of Tiberius, gave Agrippa the tetrarchy
of his uncle Philip, with the right of wearing a diadem or crown.
When he came to Alexandria, on his way to his tetrarchate, the
inhabitants of that place, filled with envy at the thoughts of a
Jew having the title of king, showed their indignation in the
following way. They brought one Carabus (a sort of an idiot) into
the theatre; and, having placed him on a lofty seat, that he might
be seen by all, they put a diadem upon his head, made of the herb
byblos, (the ancient papyrus, or paper flag;) his body they
covered with a mat or carpet, instead of a royal cloak. One
seeing a piece of reed, παπυρου (the stem, probably, of the
aforesaid herb) lying on the ground, picked it up, and put it in
his hand in place of a sceptre. Having thus given him a mock
royal dress, several young fellows, with poles on their shoulders,
came and stood on each side of him as his guards. Then there came
people, some to pay their homage to him, some to ask justice, and
some to consult him on affairs of state and the crowd that stood
round about made a confused noise, crying, Mario, that being, as
they say, the Syriac word for LORD; thereby showing that they
intended to ridicule Agrippa, who was a Syrian." See PHILO,
Flace. p. 970, and Dr. Lardner, Works, vol. i. p. 159.
There is the most remarkable coincidence between this account
and that given by the evangelists; and the conjecture concerning
the acanthus will probably find no inconsiderable support from the
bylos and papyrus of Philo. This plant, Pliny says, grows to ten
cubits long in the stem and the flowers were used ad deos
coronandos, for CROWNING THE GODS. See Hist. Nat. lib. xiii. c.
The reflections of pious Quesnel on these insults offered to our
blessed Lord merit serious attention.
Let the crown of thorns make those Christians blush who throw
away so much time, pains, and money, in beautifying and adorning a
sinful head. Let the world do what it will to render the royalty
and mysteries of Christ contemptible, it is my glory to serve a
King thus debased; my salvation, to adore that which the world
despises; and my redemption, to go unto God through the merits of
him who was crowned with thorns."
30And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.
30 Verse 30. And they spit upon him] "Let us pay our adoration,"
says the same pious writer, "and humble ourselves in silence at
the sight of a spectacle which faith alone renders credible, and
which our senses would hardly endure. Jesus Christ, in this
condition, preaches to the kings of the earth this truth-that
their sceptres are but reeds, with which themselves shall be
smitten, bruised, and crushed at his tribunal, if they do not use
them here to the advancement of his kingdom."
31And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.
32And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.
32 Verse 32. A man of Cyrene-him they compelled to bear his
cross.] In John, Joh 19:16, 17, we are told Christ himself bore
the cross, and this, it is likely, he did for a part of the way;
but, being exhausted with the scourging and other cruel usage
which he had received, he was found incapable of bearing it alone;
therefore they obliged Simon, not, I think, to bear it entirely,
but to assist Christ, by bearing a part of it. It was a constant
practice among the Romans, to oblige criminal to bear their cross
to the place of execution: insomuch that Plutarch makes use of it
as an illustration of the misery of vice. "Every kind of
wickedness produces its own particular torment, just as every
malefactor, when he is brought forth to execution, carries his own
cross." See Lardner's Credib. vol. i. p. 160.
33And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull,
33 Verse 33. A place called Golgotha] From the Hebrew or
, golgoleth, a skull, probably so called from the many
skulls of these who had suffered crucifixion and other capital
punishments scattered up and down in the place. It is the same as
Calvary, Calvaria, i.e. calvi capitis area, the place of bare
skulls. Some think the place was thus called, because it was in
the form of a human skull. It is likely that it was the place of
public execution, similar to the Gemoniae Scalae at Rome.
34 ¶ They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.
34 Verse 34. They gave him vinegar-mingled with gall] Perhaps
χολη, commonly translated gall, signifies no more than bitters
of any kind. It was a common custom to administer a stupefying
potion compounded of sour wine, which is the same as vinegar, from
the French vinaigre, frankincense, and myrrh, to condemned
persons, to help to alleviate their sufferings, or so disturb
their intellect that they might not be sensible of them. The
rabbins say that they put a grain of frankincense into a cup of
strong wine; and they ground this on Pr 31:6:
Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, i.e. who is
condemned to death. Some person, out of kindness, appears to have
administered this to our blessed Lord; but he, as in all other
cases, determining to endure the fulness of pain, refused to take
what was thus offered to him, choosing to tread the winepress
alone. Instead of οξος, vinegar, several excellent MSS. and
versions have οινον, wine; but as sour wine is said to have been
a general drink of the common people and Roman soldiers, it being
the same as vinegar, it is of little consequence which reading is
here adopted. This custom of giving stupefying potions to
condemned malefactors is alluded to in Pr 31:6:
Give strong drink, shekar, inebriating drink, to him who is
ready to PERISH, and wine to him who is BITTER of soul-because he
is just going to suffer the punishment of death. And thus the
rabbins, as we have seen above, understand it. See Lightfoot and
Michaelis offers an ingenious exposition of this place:
"Immediately after Christ was fastened to the cross, they gave
him, according to Mt 27:34,
vinegar mingled with gall; but, according to Mark, they offered
him wine mingled with myrrh. That St. Mark's account is the
right one is probable from this circumstance, that Christ refused
to drink what was offered him, as appears from both evangelists.
Wine mixed with myrrh was given to malefactors at the place of
execution, to intoxicate them, and make them less sensible to
pain. Christ, therefore, with great propriety, refused the aid of
such remedies. But if vinegar was offered him, which was taken
merely to assuage thirst, there could be no reason for his
rejecting it. Besides, he tasted it before he rejected it; and
therefore he must have found it different from that which, if
offered to him, he was ready to receive. To solve this
difficulty, we must suppose that the words used in the Hebrew
Gospel of St. Matthew were such as agreed with the account given
by St. Mark, and at the same time were capable of the construction
which was put on them by St. Matthew's Greek translator. Suppose
St. Matthew wrote (chaleea bemireera) which signifies,
sweet wine with bitters, or sweet wine and myrrh, as we find it in
Mark; and Matthew's translator overlooked the yod in
(chaleea) he took it for (chala) which signifies vinegar;
and bitter, he translated by χολη, as it is often used in the
Septuagint. Nay, St. Matthew may have written , and have still
meant to express sweet wine; if so, the difference only consisted
in the points; for the same word which, when pronounced chale,
signifies sweet, denotes vinegar, as soon as it is pronounced
With this conjecture Dr. Marsh (Michaelis's translator) is not
satisfied; and therefore finds a Chaldee word for οινος wine,
which may easily be mistaken for one that denotes οξος vinegar;
and likewise a Chaldee word, which signifies σμυρνα, (myrrh,)
which may be easily mistaken for one that denotes χολη, (gall.)
"Now," says he, " (chamar) or (chamera) really
denotes οινος (wine,) and (chamets) or
(charnetsa) really denotes οξος (vinegar.) Again,
(mura) really signifies σμυρνα (myrrh,) and (murera)
really signifies χολη (gall.) If, then, we suppose that the
original Chaldee text was (chamera heleet bemura)
wine mingled with myrrh, which is not at all improbable, as it is
the reading of the Syriac version, at Mr 15:23, it might easily
have been mistaken for (chametsa haleet bemurera)
vinegar mingled with gall." This is a more ingenious conjecture
than that of Michaelis. See Marsh's notes to Michaelis, vol. iii.,
part 2d. p. 127-28. But as that kind of sour wine, which was used
by the Roman soldiers and common people, appears to have been
termed οινος, and vin aigre is sour wine, it is not difficult to
reconcile the two accounts, in what is most material to the facts
35And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
35 Verse 35. And they crucified him] Crucifixion properly means
the act of nailing or tying to a cross. The cross was made of two
beams, either crossing at the top at right angles, like a T, or in
the middle of their length, like an X. There was, besides, a
piece on the centre of the transverse beam, to which the
accusation or statement of the crime of the culprit was attached,
and a piece of wood which projected from the middle, on which the
person sat, as on a sort of saddle; and by which the whole body
was supported. Tertullian mentions this particularly: Nobis, says
he, tota crux imputatur, cum antenna scilicet sua, et cum illo
SEDILIS excessu. Advers. Nationes, lib. ii. Justin Martyr, in
his dialogue with Trypho the Jew, gives precisely the same
description of the cross; and it is worthy of observation that
both he and Tertullian flourished before the punishment of the
cross had been abolished. The cross on which our Lord suffered
was of the former kind; being thus represented in all old
monuments, coins, and crosses. St. Jerome compares it to a bird
flying, a man swimming, or praying with his arms extended. The
punishment of the cross was inflicted among the ancient Hindoos
from time immemorial for various species of theft; see Halhead's
Code of Gentoo Laws, p. 248, and was common among the Syrians,
Egyptians, Persians, Africans, Greeks, and Romans: it is also
still in use among the Chinese, who do not nail, but tie the
criminal to it. It was probably the Romans who introduced it
among the Jews. Before they became subject to the Romans, they
used hanging or gibbeting, but not the cross. This punishment
was the most dreadful of all others, both for the shame and pain
of it: and so scandalous, that it was inflicted as the last mark
of detestation upon the vilest of people. It was the punishment
of robbers and murderers, provided they were slaves; but if they
were free, it was thought too infamous a punishment for such, let
their crimes be what they might.
The body of the criminal was fastened to the upright beam, by
nailing or tying the feet to it, and on the transverse piece by
nailing, and sometimes tying the hands to it. As the hands and
feet are the grand instruments of motion, they are provided with a
greater quantity of nerves; and the nerves in those places,
especially the hands, are peculiarly sensible. Now, as the nerves
are the instruments of all sensation or feeling, wounds in the
parts where they abound must be peculiarly painful; especially
when inflicted with such rude instruments as large nails, forced
through the places by the violence of a hammer; thus tearing
asunder the nervous fibrillae, delicate tendons, and small bones
of those parts. This punishment will appear dreadful enough, when
it is considered that the person was permitted to hang (the whole
weight of his body being borne up by his nailed hands and the
projecting piece which passed between the thighs) till he perished
through agony and lack of food. Some, we are informed, have lived
three whole days in this state. It is true that, in some cases,
there was a kind of mercy shown to the sufferer, which will appear
sufficiently horrid, when it is known that it consisted in
breaking the bones of their legs and thighs to pieces with a large
hammer, in order to put them the sooner out of pain! Such a coup
de grace as this could only spring from those tender mercies of
the wicked which God represents as cruelty itself. Some were
permitted to hang on the cross till eaten up by birds of prey,
which often began to tear them before life was extinct. Horace
alludes to this punishment, and from what he says, it seems to
have been inflicted on slaves, &c., not on trifling occasions, but
for the most horrible crimes.
The anguish occasioned by crucifixion was so intense, that
crucio, (a cruce,) among the Romans, was the common word by which
they expressed suffering and torment in general.
And parted his garments, casting lots] These were the Roman
soldiers, who had crucified him: and it appears from this
circumstance, that in those ancient times the spoils of the
criminal were claimed by the executioners, as they are to the
present day. It appears that they divided a part, and cast lots
for the rest: viz. for his seamless coat, Joh 19:23, 24.
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet,
saying, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture
did they cast lots.] The whole of this quotation should be
omitted, as making no part originally of the genuine text of this
evangelist. It is omitted by almost every MS. of worth and
importance, by almost all the versions, and the most reputable of
the primitive fathers, who have written or commented on the place.
The words are plainly an interpolation, borrowed from Joh 19:24,
in which place they will be properly noticed.
36And sitting down they watched him there;
36 Verse 36. They watched him] To prevent his disciples or
relatives from taking away the body or affording any relief to the
37And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
37 Verse 37. His accusation] It was a common custom to affix a
label to the cross, giving a statement of the crime for which the
person suffered. This is still the case in China, when a person
is crucified. Sometimes a person was employed to carry this
before the criminal, while going to the place of punishment.
It is with much propriety that Matthew calls this αιτια,
accusation; for it was false that ever Christ pretended to be KING
OF THE JEWS, in the sense the inscription held forth: he was
accused of this, but there was no proof of the accusation; however
it was affixed to the cross. From Joh 19:21, we find that the
Jews wished this to be a little altered: Write, said they, that HE
said, l am king of the Jews; thus endeavouring, by the addition of
a vile lie, to countenance their own conduct in putting him to
death. But this Pilate refused to do. Both Luke, Lu 23:38, and
John, Joh 19:20, say that this accusation was written in Greek,
Latin, and Hebrew. In those three languages, we may conceive the
label to stand thus, according to the account given by St. John;
the Hebrew being the mixed dialect then spoken.
It is only necessary to observe, that all the letters, both of
the Greek and Roman alphabets, were those now called square or
uncial, similar to these above.
38Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.
38 Verse 38. Two thieves] λησται, robbers, or cutthroats: men
who had committed robbery and murder; for it does not appear that
persons were crucified for robbery only. Thus was our Lord
numbered (his name enrolled, placed as it were in the death
warrant) with transgressors, according to the prophetic
declaration, Isa 53:12; and the Jews placed him between these
two, perhaps to intimate that he was the worst felon of the three.
39 ¶ And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,
39 Verse 39. Wagging their heads] In token of contempt.
40And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
40 Verse 40. Thou that destroyest] Who didst pretend that thou
couldst have destroyed the temple, and built it up again in three
days. This malicious torturing of our Lord's words has been
noticed before. Cruelty is obliged to take refuge in lies, in
order to vindicate its infamous proceedings.
If thou be the Son of God] Or rather, υιοςτουθεου A son of
God, i.e. a peculiar favourite of the Most-High; not ουιοςτου
θεου, THE Son of God. "It is not to be conceived," says a learned
man, "that every passenger who was going to the city had a
competent knowledge of Christ's supernatural conception by the
Holy Spirit, or an adequate comprehension of his character as the
Messiah, and (κατεξοχην) THE SON OF GOD. There is not a single
passiage where Jesus is designed to be pointed out as the MESSIAH,
THE SON OF GOD, where the article is omitted: nor, on the other
hand, is this designation ever specified without the article,
thus, 'ουιοςτουθεου. See Mt 16:16; 26:63; 28:19."
41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,
41 Verse 41. Chief priests-scribes and elders] To these, several
ancient MSS. and versions add, καιφαρισαιων, and Pharisees. But
though the authority for this reading is respectable, yet it does
not appear that the Pharisees joined in with the others in the
condemnation of our Lord. Probably his discourses and parables,
related in some of the preceding chapters, which were spoken
directly to them, had so far convinced them that they would at
least have no hand in putting him to death. All the infamy of
this seems to fall upon the PRIESTS, scribes, and elders.
42He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.
42 Verse 42. He saved others; himself he cannot save.] Or, Cannot
he save himself? Several MSS. read this with the mark of
interrogation as above; and this makes the sarcasm still more
A high priest who designs to destroy the temple of God: a
Saviour who saves not himself; and the Son of God crucified:
these are the contradictions which give offence to Jews and
libertines. But a high priest who dispels the types and shadows,
only that he may disclose the substance of religion, and become
the minister of a heavenly sanctuary; a Saviour who dies only
to be the victim of salvation; and the Son of God who confines his
power within the bounds of the cross to establish the
righteousness of faith: this is what a Christian adores; this is
the foundation of his hope, and the fountain of his present
comfort and final blessedness. See Quesnel.
We will believe him.] Instead of αυτω, him, many excellent
MSS. have επαυτω, IN him: this is a reading which Griesbach and
other eminent critics have adopted.
43他信靠 神；如果 神喜悦他，就让 神现在救他吧，因为他说自己是 神的儿子。”
43He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.
43 Verse 43. If he will have him] Or, if he delight in him-ει
θελειαυτον. The verbs θελω and εθελω, are used by the
Septuagint in more than forty places for the Hebrew chaphets,
which signifies, earnestly to desire, or delight in. Now as
this is a quotation from Ps 22:8,
He trusted in the Lord, that he would deliver him; let him deliver
him, ( ki chaphets bo,) for he HATH DELIGHTED IN
HIM:-οτιθελειαυτον, Sept. This will sufficiently vindicate
the above translation; as the evangelist quotes the words from
that version, with the simple change of ει, if, for οτι,
44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.
45Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
45 Verse 45. There was darkness over all the land] I am of
opinion that πασαντηνγην does not mean all the world, but only
the land of Judea. So the word is used Mt 24:30; Lu 4:25, and
in other places. Several eminent critics are of this opinion:
Beza defends this meaning of the word, and translates the Greek,
super universam REGIONEM over the whole COUNTRY. Besides, it is
evident that the evangelists speak of things that happened in
Judea, the place of their residence. It is plain enough there was
a darkness in Jerusalem, and over all Judea; and probably over all
the people among whom Christ had for more than three years
preached the everlasting Gospel; and that this darkness was
supernatural is evident from this, that it happened during the
passover, which was celebrated only at the full moon, a time in
which it was impossible for the sun to be eclipsed. But many
suppose the darkness was over the whole world, and think there is
sufficient evidence of this in ancient authors. PHLEGON and
THALLUS, who flourished in the beginning of the second century,
are supposed to speak of this. The former says: "In the fourth
year of the 202nd Olympiad, there was an extraordinary eclipse of
the sun: at the sixth hour, the day was turned into dark night, so
that the stars in heaven were seen; and there was an earthquake in
Bithynia, which overthrew many houses in the city of Nice." This
is the substance of what Phlegon is reputed to have said on this
subject:-but 1. All the authors who quote him differ, and often
very materially, in what they say was found in him. 2. Phlegon
says nothing of Judea: what he says is, that in such an Olympiad,
(some say the 102nd, others the 202nd,) there was an eclipse in
Bithynia, and an earthquake at Nice. 3. Phlegon does not say that
the earthquake happened at the time of the eclipse. 4. Phlegon
does not intimate that this darkness was extraordinary, or that
the eclipse happened at the full of the moon, or that it lasted
three hours. These circumstances could not have been omitted by
him, if he had known them. 5. Phlegon speaks merely of an
ordinary, though perhaps total, eclipse of the sun, and cannot
mean the darkness mentioned by the evangelists. 6. Phlegon speaks
of an eclipse that happened in some year of the 102nd, or 202nd
Olympiad; and therefore little stress can be laid on what he says
as applying to this event.
The quotation from THALLUS, made by AFRICANUS, found in the
Chronicle of SYNCELLUS, of the eighth century, is allowed by
eminent critics to be of little importance. This speaks "of a
darkness over all the world, and an earthquake which threw down
many houses in Judea and in other parts of the earth." It may be
necessary to observe, that THALLUS is quoted by several of the
ancient ecclesiastical writers for other matters, but never for
this; and that the time in which he lived is so very uncertain,
that Dr. Lardner supposes there is room to think he lived rather
before than after Christ.
DIONYSIUS the Areopagite is supposed to have mentioned this
event in the most decided manner: for being at Heliopolis in
Egypt, with his friend Apollophanes, when our Saviour suffered,
they there saw a wonderful eclipse of the sun, whereupon Dionysius
said to his friend, "Either God himself suffers, or sympathizes
with the sufferer." It is enough to say of this man, that all the
writings attributed to him are known to be spurious, and are
proved to be forgeries of the fifth or sixth century. Whoever
desires to see more on this subject, may consult Dr. Lardner,
(vol. vii. p. 371, ed. 1788,) a man whose name should never be
mentioned but with respect, notwithstanding the peculiarities of
his religious creed; who has done more in the service of Divine
revelation than most divines in Christendom; and who has raised a
monument to the perpetuity of the Christian religion, which all
the infidels in creation shall never be able to pull down or
This miraculous darkness should have caused the enemies of
Christ to understand that he was the light of the world, and that
because they did not walk in it it was now taken away from them.
46大约三点钟，耶稣大声呼叫：“以利，以利，拉马撒巴各大尼？”意思是“我的 神，我的 神，你为什么离弃我？”
46And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
46 Verse 46. My God! My God! why hast thou forsaken me!] These
words are quoted by our Lord from Ps 22:1; they are of very great
importance, and should be carefully considered.
Some suppose "that the divinity had now departed from Christ,
and that his human nature was left unsupported to bear the
punishment due to men for their sins." But this is by no means to
be admitted, as it would deprive his sacrifice of its infinite
merit, and consequently leave the sin of the world without an
atonement. Take deity away from any redeeming act of Christ, and
redemption is ruined. Others imagine that our Lord spoke these
words to the Jews only, to prove to them that he was the Messiah.
"The Jews," say they, "believed this psalm to speak of the
Messiah: they quoted the eighth verse of it against Christ-He
trusted in God that he would deliver him; let him deliver him,
seeing he delighted in him. (See Mt 27:43.) To which our Lord
immediately answers, My God! my God! &c, thus showing that he was
the person of whom the psalmist prophesied." I have doubts
concerning the propriety of this interpretation.
It has been asked, What language is it that our Lord spoke?
Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani. Some say it is Hebrew-others Syriac.
I say, as the evangelists quote it, it is neither. St. Matthew
comes nearest the Hebrew, Eli, Eli, lamah
azabthani, in the words, ηλιηλιλαμασαβαχτανι, Eli, Eli, lama
And St. Mark comes nearest the Syriac, Mr 15:34, [Syriac]
Alohi, Alohi, l'mono shebachtheni, in the words ελωιελωιλαμμα
σαβαχθανι, Eloi, Eloi, lamma sabachthani. It is worthy of note,
that a Hebrew MS. of the twelfth century, instead of
azabthani, forsaken me, reads shechachthani, FORGOTTEN
me. This word makes a very good sense, and comes nearer to the
sabachthani of the evangelists. It may be observed also, that the
words, Why hast thou FORGOTTEN me? are often used by David and
others, in times of oppression and distress. See Ps 42:9.
Some have taken occasion from these words to depreciate the
character of our blessed Lord. "They are unworthy," say they, "of
a man who suffers, conscious of his innocence, and argue
imbecility, impatience, and despair." This is by no means fairly
deducible from the passage. However, some think that the words,
as they stand in the Hebrew and Syriac, are capable of a
translation which destroys all objections, and obviates every
difficulty. The particle lamah, may be translated, to what-to
whom-to what kind or sort-to what purpose or profit: Ge 25:32;
Ge 32:29; 33:15; Job 9:29; Jer 6:20; 20:18; Am 5:18;
and the verb azab signifies to leave-to deposit-to commit to
the care of.
See Ge 39:6; Job 39:11; Ps 10:14, and Jer 49:11.
The words, taken in this way, might be thus translated: My God! my
God! to what sort of persons hast thou left me? The words thus
understood are rather to be referred to the wicked Jews than to
our Lord, and are an exclamation indicative of the obstinate
wickedness of his crucifiers, who steeled their hearts against
every operation of the Spirit and power of God. See Ling. Brit.
Reform. by B. Martin, p. 36.
Through the whole of the Sacred Writings, God is represented as
doing those things which, in the course of his providence, he only
permits to be done; therefore, the words, to whom hast thou left
or given me up, are only a form of expression for, "How
astonishing is the wickedness of those persons into whose hands I
am fallen!" If this interpretation be admitted, it will free this
celebrated passage from much embarrassment, and make it speak a
sense consistent with itself, and with the dignity of the Son of
The words of St. Mark, Mr 15:34, agree pretty nearly with this
translation of the Hebrew: ειςτιμεεγκατιλεπες; To what [sort
of persons, understood] hast thou left me? A literal translation
of the passage in the Syriac Testament gives a similar sense: Ad
quid dereliquisti me? "To what hast thou abandoned me?" And an
ancient copy of the old Itala version, a Latin translation before
the time of St. Jerome, renders the words thus: Quare me in
opprobrium dedisti? "Why hast thou abandoned me to reproach?"
It may he objected, that this can never agree with the ινατι,
why, of Matthew. To this it is answered, that ινατι must have
here the same meaning as ειςτι-as the translation of lama;
and that, if the meaning be at all different, we must follow that
evangelist who expresses most literally the meaning of the
original: and let it be observed, that the Septuagint often
translate by ινατι instead of ειςτι, which evidently proves
that it often had the same meaning. Of this criticism I say,
Valet quod valet, Let it pass for no more than it is worth: the
subject is difficult. But whatever may be thought of the above
mode of interpretation, one thing is certain, viz. That the words
could not be used by our Lord in the sense in which they are
generally understood. This is sufficiently evident; for he well
knew why he was come unto that hour; nor could he be forsaken
of God, in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. The
Deity, however, might restrain so much of its consolatory support
as to leave the human nature fully sensible of all its sufferings,
so that the consolations might not take off any part of the keen
edge of his passion; and this was necessary to make his sufferings
meritorious. And it is probable that this is all that is intended
by our Lord's quotation from the twenty-second Psalm. Taken in
this view, the words convey an unexceptionable sense, even in the
47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.
47 Verse 47. This man calleth for Elias.] Probably these were
Hellenistic Jews, who did not fully understand the meaning of our
Lord's words. Elijah was daily expected to appear as the
forerunner of the Messiah, whose arrival, under the character of a
mighty prince, was generally supposed to be at hand throughout the
east. See Mal 4:5; Mt 2:2-4; 17:10-12.
48And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.
48 Verse 48. Took a sponge] This being the most convenient way to
reach a liquid to his mouth; tied it on a reed, that they might be
able to reach his lips with it. This reed, as we learn from St.
John, was a stalk of hyssop, which, in that country, must have
grown to a considerable magnitude. This appears also to have been
done in mercy, to alleviate his sufferings. See Mt 27:34.
49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.
50 ¶ Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
50 Verse 50. Yielded up the ghost.] αφηκετοπνευμα, He dismissed
the spirit. He himself willingly gave up that life which it was
impossible for man to take away. It is not said that he hung on
the cross till he died through pain and agony; nor is it said that
his bones were broken, the sooner to put him out of pain, and to
hasten his death; but that himself dismissed the soul, that he
might thus become, not a forced sacrifice, but a free-will
offering for sin.
Now, as our English word ghost, from the Anglo-Saxon
[Anglo-Saxon] gast, an inmate, inhabitant, guest, (a casual
visitant,) also a spirit, is now restricted among us to the latter
meaning, always signifying the immortal spirit or soul of man, the
guest of the body and as giving up the spirit, ghost, or soul, is
an act not proper to man, though commending it to God, in our last
moments, is both an act of faith and piety; and as giving up the
ghost, i.e. dismissing his spirit from his body, is attributed to
Jesus Christ, to whom alone it is proper; I therefore object
against its use in every other case.
Every man, since the fall, has not only been liable to death,
but has deserved it; as all have forfeited their lives because of
sin. Jesus Christ, as born immaculate, and having never sinned,
had not forfeited his life, and therefore may be considered as
naturally and properly immortal. No man, says he, taketh it, my
life, from me, but I lay it down of myself: I have power to lay it
down, and I have power to take it again; therefore doth the Father
love me, because I lay down my life that I might take it again,
Joh 10:17, 18. Hence we rightly translate Mt 27:50, αφηκετο
πνευμα, he gave up the ghost; i.e. he dismissed his spirit, that
he might die for the sin of the world. The Evangelist St. John
(Joh 19:30) makes use of an expression to the same import,
which we translate in the same way: παρεδωκετοπνευμα, he
delivered up his spirit. We translate Mr 15:37, and Lu 23:46,
he gave up the ghost, but not correctly, because the word in both
these places is very different-εξεπνευσε, he breathed his last, or
expired; though in the latter place, Lu 23:46, there is an
equivalent expression-O Father, into thy hands, παρατιθεμαιτο
πνευμαμου, I commit my spirit; i.e. I place my soul in thy hand:
proving that the act was his own; that no man could take his life
away from him; that he did not die by the perfidy of his disciple,
or the malice of the Jews, but by his own free act. Thus HE LAID
DOWN his life for the sheep. Of Ananias and Sapphira, Ac 5:5,10,
and of Herod, Ac 12:23,
our translation says, they gave up the ghost; but the word in both
places is εξεψυξε, which simply means to breathe out, to expire,
or die: but in no case, either by the Septuagint in the Old, or
any of the sacred writers in the New Testament, is αφηκετοπνευμα,
or παρεδωκετοπνευμα, he dismissed his spirit, or delivered up
his spirit, spoken of any person but Christ. Abraham, Isaac,
Ishmael, Jacob, &c., breathed their last; Ananias, Sapphira, and
Herod, expired; but none, Jesus Christ excepted, gave up the
ghost, dismissed, or delivered up his own spirit, and was,
consequently, free among the dead. Of the patriarchs, &c., the
Septuagint use the word εκλειπων, failing; or κατεπαυσεν, he
ceased, or rested.
51And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
51 Verse 51. The veil of the temple was rent] That is, the veil
which separated the holy place, where the priests ministered, from
the holy of holies, into which the high priest only entered, and
that once a year, to make a general expiation for the sins of the
people. This rending of the veil was emblematical, and pointed
out that the separation between Jews and Gentiles was now
abolished, and that the privilege of the high priest was now
communicated to all mankind: ALL might henceforth have access to
the throne of grace, through the one great atonement and mediator,
the Lord Jesus. See this beautifully illustrated in Heb 10:19-22.
52And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
52 Verse 52. And the graves were opened] By the earthquake; and
many bodies of saints which slept, i.e. were dead, sleep being a
common expression for death in the Scriptures.
53And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
53 Verse 53. And came out of the graves after his resurrection]
Not BEFORE, as some have thought, for Christ was himself the FIRST
FRUITS of them who slept, 1Co 15:20.
The graves were opened at his death, by the earthquake, and the
bodies came out at his resurrection.
And appeared unto many.] Thus establishing the truth of our
Lord's resurrection in particular, and of the resurrection of the
body in general, by many witnesses. Quesnel's reflections on
these passages may be very useful. "1. The veil being rent shows
that his death is to put an end to the figurative worship, and to
establish the true religion. 2. The earthquake, that this
dispensation of the Gospel is to make known through the earth the
judgments of God against sin and sinners. 3. The rocks being rent
declare that the sacrifice of Christ is to make way for the grace
of repentance. 4. The graves being opened, that it is to destroy
the death of sin, and confer the life grace on sinners. 5. The
rising of the bodies of the saints shows that this death of Christ
is to merit, and his Gospel publish, the eternal happiness of body
and soul for all that believe in his name."
It is difficult to account for the transaction mentioned
Mt 27:52, 53. Some have thought that these two verses have been
introduced into the text of Matthew from the gospel of the
Nazarenes; others think that the simple meaning is this:-by the
earthquake several bodies that had been buried were thrown up and
exposed to view, and continued above ground till after Christ's
resurrection, and were seen by many persons in the city. Why the
graves should be opened on Friday, and the bodies not be raised to
life till the following Sunday, is difficult to be conceived. The
place is extremely obscure.
54Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
54 Verse 54. The centurion] The Roman officer who superintended
the execution, called centurio, from centum, a hundred, because he
had the command of one hundred men.
Truly this was the Son of God.] An innocent, holy, and Divine
person; and God thus shows his disapprobation of this bloody
tragedy. It is not likely that this centurion had any knowledge
of the expectation of the Jews relative to the Messiah, and did
not use the words in this sense. A son of God, as the Romans used
the term, would signify no more than a very eminent or Divine
person; a hero.
55And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him:
55 Verse 55. Many women] To their everlasting honour, these women
evidenced more courage, and affectionate attachment to their Lord
and Master, than the disciples did, who had promised to die with
him rather than forsake him.
Beholding afar off] At a distance-απομακροθεν. Though this
expression may be understood to refer, rather to the distance from
which they came, (viz. from Galilee,) than the distance they stood
from the cross; yet, as all malefactors were crucified naked,
perhaps this may account for the distance at which these modest
56Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.
56 Verse 56. Mary Magdalene] She probably had her name from
Magdala, a village or district in Lower Galilee. See Mt 15:39.
Some think she was called Magdalene from magdala, which
signifies a plaiter of hair. See Lightfoot.
Mary the mother of James] She was mother of him called James
the lesser, or junior, who was son of Alpheus or Cleopas-see
Mt 10:3; Mr 15:40; Joh 19:25; and she was sister to the holy
virgin. Thus it appears that there were four remarkable Marys
mentioned in the Gospels. 1. MARY the Virgin, wife of JOSEPH. 2.
MARY SALOME, her sister, wife of Cleopas, Joh 19:25. 3. MARY
MAGDALENE, or MARY of Magdala; and, 4. MARY, the sister of Martha
and Lazarus, Joh 11:1. Though Baronius asserts, and Lightfoot is
of the same opinion, that Mary Magdalene, and Mary, the sister of
Martha and Lazarus, was one and the same person. It is difficult
to ascertain and distinguish these women where their names occur
in the Gospels, so many being called by the name of Mary.
Joses] Several MSS. and versions read Joseph.
57When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathæa, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple:
57 Verse 57. When the even] This must have been about three
o'clock, or a little after; for our Lord having expired about
three o'clock, Mt 27:46, and the Jewish passover beginning about
four, it was necessary that Joseph, who would not fail to eat the
passover at the usual time, should have obtained and buried the
body of Christ some time before four o'clock. But such was the
general consternation, occasioned by the prodigies that took place
on this most awful occasion, that we may safely conjecture that
nothing was done in order, and perhaps the passover itself was not
eaten at the usual hour, if at all, that day. See at the end of
the preceding chapter.
A rich man] He was a counsellor of the great Sanhedrin,
Lu 23:50; and, from the accounts given of him by the evangelists
we learn that he was a man of the greatest respectability. He now
acted a more honourable part than all the disciples of our Lord.
He was of Arimathea, or Rama, in the tribe of Benjamin, Mt 2:18,
but lived ordinarily in Jerusalem, as being a member of the great
58He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.
58 Verse 58. Begged the body] That he might bury it honourably
otherwise, by the Jewish customs, he would have either been
burned, or buried in the common place appointed for executed
59And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
59 Verse 59. Wrapped it in a clean linen cloth] The Jews, as well
as the Egyptians, added spices to keep the body from putrefaction,
and the linen was wrapped about every part to keep the aromatics
in contact with the flesh. From Joh 19:39, 40, we learn that a
mixture of myrrh and aloes of one hundred pounds' weight had been
applied to the body of Jesus when he was buried. And that a
second embalmment was intended, we learn from Lu 23:56; 24:1, as
the hurry to get the body interred before the Sabbath did not
permit them to complete, the embalming in the first instance. See
an account of the mode of embalming among the Egyptians, in the
note on Ge 50:2, 26.
60And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
60 Verse 60. Laid it in his own new tomb] To all human appearance
the body of Christ must have had the same burial-place with those
of the two robbers, as he was numbered with the transgressors, and
suffered with them; for then he was a sacrifice, bearing the sin
of the world in his own body on the tree; but now the sacrifice is
offered, the atonement made and accepted, he is no longer to be
enrolled with the transgressors, and, according to a prophecy
delivered nearly seven hundred years before that time, he is to
have the burying-place of a rich man. See Isa 53:9, 10. Had our
Lord been buried in the common burial-ground of the malefactors,
his resurrection could not have been so distinctly remarked, as
the chief priests would never have thought of sealing the stone
there, or setting a watch; but now that the body is got into the
hands of a friend, they judge it necessary to make use of these
precautions, in order, as they said, to prevent imposture; and
from this very circumstance the resurrection of Christ had its
fullest evidence, and was put beyond the power of successful
contradiction. What a number of objections would not human
prudence have made to Joseph's conduct, had he consulted it on
this occasion! It would have represented to him that, "this was
to expose himself, to bring himself into trouble, to render
himself suspected, to put himself out of all capacity of doing
good, to ruin himself irrecoverably; and now it could do no good
to his teacher-he is now dead, and needs no longer any office of
kindness from men." There is, sometimes in our whole life, but
one opportunity in which God designs signally to employ us; and,
through our general backwardness to every good work, we are for
reserving ourselves to other opportunities, in which God neither
requires nor will accept our services.
Rolled a great stone to the door] Some are of opinion that this
tomb was cut down into the rock, perpendicularly from the surface;
and that the great stone spoken of here covered over the entrance
to it. The stone, no doubt, was intended to secure the place as
much as possible.
61And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.
61 Verse 61. Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary] The mother of
James and Joses, Mt 27:56. The mother of our Lord had probably,
by this time, been taken home to the house of John.
See Joh 19:26, 27.
Sitting over against the sepulchre.] These holy women, filled
with that love to their Lord which death cannot destroy, cleaved
to him in life, and in death were not divided. They came to the
grave to see the end, and overwhelmed with sorrow and anguish, sat
down to mourn.
62 ¶ Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,
62 Verse 62. The next day] This was the seventh, or Saturday,
and might be what we should term the evening of the sixth, or
Friday, because the Jews always ended their day when the sun set,
and then began the next.
That followed the day of the preparation] That is, of the
Sabbath. The victuals, &c., which were to be used on the Sabbath
by the Jews, were always prepared the preceding evening before the
sun set. It is of this preparation that the evangelist speaks
here; and it is the same which is mentioned by Mark, Mr 15:42; by
Luke, Lu 23:54; and by John, Joh 19:31. But there was another
preparation which happened in the same day: viz. The preparation
of the passover; this began about twelve o'clock, and continued
till four, the time in which they ate the paschal lamb.
See Joh 19:14.
63Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.
63 Verse 63. Sir, we remember, &c.] While these wicked men are
fulfilling their own vicious counsels, they are subserving the
great cause of Christianity. Every thing depended on the
resurrection of Christ; if it did not appear that he rose from the
dead, then the whole system was false, and no atonement was made.
It was necessary therefore that the chief priests, &c., should
make use of every precaution to prevent an imposture, that the
resurrection of Christ might have the fullest evidence to support
it. See Clarke on Mt 27:60.
The word κυριε is here very properly translated sir, which, in
many other places, is as improperly translated Lord. When a Roman
is the speaker, or the person addressed, κυριε should always be
translated sir; when strangers address our Lord, the word is a
title of civil respect, and should, in general, be translated in
the same way.
After three days I will rise again.] This they probably took
from his saying, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will
build it up. If so, they destroyed, by their own words, the false
accusation they brought against him to put him to death; then they
perverted the meaning, now they declare it. Thus the wise are
taken in their own craftiness. Neither the devil nor his servants
ever speak truth, but when they expect to accomplish some bad
purpose by it.
64Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
64 Verse 64. Lest his disciples come by night] νυκτος, by night,
is wanting in ten of the uncial MSS., and in several others, and
in most of the versions. Erasmus, Aldus, Bengel, and Boghard,
with Griesbach, leave it out of the text.
65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.
66So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.
66 Verse 66. Made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and
setting a watch.] Or rather, made the tomb secure by the guard,
and by sealing the stone. I follow Kypke, in construing μετατης
κουστωδιας, with ησφαλισαντο. The guard was to take care that
the disciples should not steal him away; and the seal, which was
probably the seal of the governor, was to prevent the guards from
being corrupted so as to permit the theft. So every thing was
done which human policy and prudence could, to prevent a
resurrection, which these very precautions had the most direct
tendency to authenticate and establish. How wonderful are the
wisdom and goodness of God!-and how true is it, that there is
neither might nor counsel against him!
1. The death of Christ was ordered, so as to be witnessed by
thousands; and if his resurrection take place, it must be
demonstrated; and it cannot take place without being
incontestable, such are the precautions used here to prevent all
2. The more the circumstances of the death of Christ are
examined, the more astonishing the whole will appear. The death
is uncommon-the person uncommon-and the object uncommon; and the
whole is grand, majestic, and awful. Nature itself is thrown into
unusual action, and by means and causes wholly supernatural. In
every part, the finger of God most evidently appears.
3. How glorious does Christ appear in his death! Were it not for
his thirst, his exclamation on the cross, and the piercing of his
side, we should have found it difficult to believe that such a
person could ever have entered the empire of death; but the
divinity and the manhood equally appear, and thus the certainty of
the atonement is indubitably established.
4. But who can reflect on the state of the poor disciples, during
the whole of the time in which our blessed Lord lay under the
empire of death, without sharing their sorrows! When he expired
on the cross their expectation was cut off; and when his body was
laid in the grave their hopes were buried; and nothing but the
resurrection of Christ from the dead could have given a
resurrection to their hopes. It is true they had heard him say
that he would rise again the third day; but in this it is evident
their faith was very imperfect; and the uncertainty, perplexity,
anxiety, and distress which they in consequence must have
suffered, can neither be described nor imagined. Though we know
the glorious result, yet who can help sympathizing with the pious
father, the virgin mother, and the disconsolate disciples!