1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
1 CHAPTER XXVIII.
NOTES ON CHAP. XXVIII.
Verse 1. In the end of the Sabbath] οψεδεσαββατων. After
the end of the week: this is the translation given by several
eminent critics; and in this way the word οψε is used by the most
eminent Greek writers. Thucydides, lib. iv. chap. 93, τηςημερας
οψεην-the day was ended. Plutarch, οψετωνβασιλεωςχρονων-
after the times of the king. Philostratus οψετωντροικων-after
the Trojan war. See Rosenmuller. In general the Jews divided
their natural day, which consisted of twenty-four hours, into day
and night. Their artificial day began at the rising and ended at
the setting of the sun; all the rest of the time, from the setting
to the rising of the sun, they termed night: hence the same word,
in Hebrew, signifies both evening and night. ;
. Matthew has employed the word in this extensive sense
here, pointing out the latter part of the Jewish night, that which
immediately preceded the rising of the sun, and not that first
part which we call the evening. The transaction mentioned here
evidently took place early on the morning of the third day after
our Lord's crucifixion; what is called our Sunday morning, or
first day of the next week.
Came-to see the sepulchre.] That is, they set out at this time
in order to visit the tomb of our Lord, and also to weep there,
, and to embalm the body of our Lord, . St.
Matthew omits Mary Salome, mentioned by Mark; and Joanna, the wife
of Chuza, Herod's steward, mentioned by Luke. The other Mary was
the wife of Cleopas, and mother of James and Joses, mentioned
Were not Mary and Salome two distinct persons?
2And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
2 Verse 2. A great earthquake] σεισμος, a shaking or
commotion of any kind: probably the word means no more than the
confusion caused among the guards by the angel's appearance. All
this had taken place before the women reached the sepulchre.
The angel of the Lord descended from heaven] Matthew is very
particular in this, to show that the word angel is not to be taken
in the sense of an ordinary messenger, who might have come from
Joseph of Arimathea, or from any other; but in the sense of an
extraordinary messenger, who descended from GOD, out of heaven,
for this very purpose. It is likely that the angel had descended,
rolled away the stone, and was sitting on it, before the women
reached the tomb.
3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
3 Verse 3. His countenance] His appearance, ηιδεααυτου; or,
his face, for so the word is used in some of the best Greek
writers. It seems, from , that this angel had assumed the
appearance of a young man.
Like lightning] Coruscations of glory continually flaming from
his face. This might produce the confusion mentioned .
His raiment white as snow] He was clothed in garments
emblematical of the glad tidings which he came to announce. It
would have been inconsistent with the message he brought, had the
angel appeared in black robes, such as those preposterously wear
who call themselves his successors in the ministry of a once
suffering, but now risen and highly exalted, Saviour. But the
world is as full of nonsense as of sin; and who can correct and
bring it to reason and piety?
4And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
4 Verse 4. The keepers-became as dead men.] God can, by one and
the same means, comfort his servants, and terrify his enemies.
The resurrection of Christ is a subject of terror to the servants
of sin, and a subject of consolation to the sons of God; because it
is a proof of the resurrection of both, the one to shame and
everlasting contempt-the other to eternal glory and joy.
5And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
5 Verse 5. I know that ye seek Jesus] Speaking after the manner
of men, these women deserved to be the first witnesses of the
resurrection of Christ: during life they ministered to him, and in
death they were not divided. They attended him to the CROSS,
notwithstanding their attachment to him exposed them to the most
imminent danger; and now they come to watch and weep at his TOMB.
The common opinion is, that women are more fickle and less
courageous than men. The reverse of this I believe to be the
truth, in those who are thoroughly converted to God; and who,
previously to conversion, whether man or woman, can be trusted in
6He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
6 Verse 6. Come, see the place] The tomb in which our Lord was
laid was no doubt like the rest of the Jewish burying places, a
receptacle for the several dead of a whole family, divided into
separate niches, where each had his place. Come and see the
place-was tantamount to, Come and see the niche in which he was
laid-it is now empty; nor was there any other body in the place,
for the tomb was a new one, in which no man had ever been laid,
; so there could be no deception in the case.
7And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
7 Verse 7. Go quickly and tell his disciples] Thus these
faithful women proclaim the Gospel to those who were afterwards to
be the teachers of the whole human race! Behold what honour God
puts upon those who persevere in his truth, and continue to
acknowledge him before men!
That he is risen from the dead] There is a remarkable saying of
R. Judah Hakkodesh, which some critics quote on this subject:
"After THREE DAYS the SOUL of the Messiah shall RETURN to its
body, and he shall GO OUT of that STONE in which he shall be
Goeth before you into Galilee] As himself promised, .
8And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
8 Verse 8. They departed quickly from the sepulchre] At the
desire of the angel they went into the tomb, to have the fullest
certainty of the resurrection.
Fear and great joy] Fear, produced by the appearance of this
glorious messenger of God; and great joy occasioned by the glad
tidings of the resurrection of their Lord and Master. At the
mention of unexpected good news, fear and joy are generally
"I am almost beside myself, my mind is so agitated with fear,
hope, and joy, at this unexpected good news."
9 ¶ And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
9 Verse 9. And as they went to tell his disciples] This clause
is wanting in the Codex Vatican, and Codex Bezae, and in twenty
others, and in most of the versions. The omission is approved by
Mill, Bengel, and Schmid. Griesbach leaves it in the text with a
note of doubtfulness. It appears to be superfluous. To connect
this with the next clause, the particle και, and, is obliged to be
suppressed in all the translations. I think the verse should
begin with, And behold he goeth, &c., and the former clause be
suppressed. Probabiliter delenda, says Professor White, in his
Crisews Griesbachianae, speaking of the preceding words.
Jesus met them] Christ bestows his graces and consolations by
degrees, first by his angels, and then by himself. He does not
reveal himself to incredulous and disobedient souls; he appears
not even to these women till he has tried their faith and
obedience by his ministering angels.
All hail.] Anglo-Saxon, [Anglo-Saxon], Health be to you!
χαιρετε, Be ye safe, rejoice.
And they held him by the feet, and worshipped him.] This kind
of reverence is in daily use among the Hindoos: when a disciple
meets his religious guide in the public streets, he prostrates
himself before him, and, taking the dust from his teacher's feet,
rubs it on his forehead, breast, &c. See WARD'S CUSTOMS.
10Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
10 Verse 10. Be not afraid] They were seized with fear at the
sight of the angel; and this was now renewed by this unexpected
appearance of Christ. .
Go, tell my brethren] This is the first time our Lord called
his disciples by this endearing name: they no doubt thought that
their Lord would reproach them with their past cowardice and
infidelity; but, in speaking thus, he gives them a full assurance,
in the most tender terms, that all that was passed was as buried
11 ¶ Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.
11 Verse 11. Some of the watch] Or guards. Probably the rest
still remained at the tomb, waiting for orders to depart, and had
sent these to intimate to their employers the things that had
12And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,
12 Verse 12. With the elders] That is, the senators of the great
Sanhedrin or Jewish council of state, elsewhere called the elders
of the people; they could now meet, as the Sabbath was over.
13Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.
13 Verse 13. His disciples came by night] This was as absurd as
it was false. On one hand, the terror of the disciples, the
smallness of their number (only eleven;) and their almost total
want of faith; on the other, the great danger of such a bold
enterprise, the number of armed men who guarded the tomb, the
authority of Pilate and of the Sanhedrin, must render such an
imposture as this utterly devoid of credit.
Stole him away while we slept.] Here is a whole heap of
absurdities. 1st. Is it likely that so many men would all fall
asleep, in the open air, at once? 2dly. Is it at all probable
that a Roman guard should be found off their watch, much less
asleep, when it was instant death, according to the Roman military
laws, to be found in this state? 3dly. Could they be so sound
asleep as not to awake with all the noise which must be
necessarily made by removing the great stone, and taking away the
body? 4thly. Is it at all likely that these disciples could have
had time sufficient to do all this, and to come and return,
without being perceived by any person? And 5thly. If they were
asleep, how could they possibly know that it was the disciples
that stole him, or indeed that any person or persons stole
him?-for, being asleep, they could see no person. From their own
testimony, therefore, the resurrection may be as fully proved as
14And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.
14 Verse 14. If this came to the governor's ears] Pilate-we will
persuade him that it is for his own interest and honour to join in
the deception; and we will render you secure-we will take care
that you shalt not suffer that punishment for this pretended
breach of duty which otherwise you might expect.
15So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
15 Verse 15. Until this day.] That is to say, the time in which
Matthew wrote his Gospel; which is supposed by some to have been
eight, by others eighteen, and by others thirty years after our
16 ¶ Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
16 Verse 16. Then the eleven disciples went] When the women went
and told them that they had seen the Lord, and that he had
promised to meet them in Galilee. From the eleventh to the
fifteenth verse inclusive, should be read in a parenthesis, as the
sixteenth verse is the continuation of the subject mentioned in
17And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
17 Verse 17. But some doubted.] That is, Thomas only at first
doubted. The expression simply intimates, that they did not all
believe at that time. See the same form noticed on , and
18And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
18 Verse 18. And Jesus came and spake unto them] It is supposed
by some that the reason why any doubted was, that when they saw
Jesus at first, he was at a distance; but when he came up, drew
near to them, they were fully persuaded of the identity of his
All power is given unto me] Or, All authority in heaven and
upon earth is given unto me. One fruit of the sufferings and
resurrection of Christ is represented to be, his having authority
or right in heaven to send down the Holy Spirit-to raise up his
followers thither-and to crown them in the kingdom of an endless
glory: in earth, to convert sinners; to sanctify, protect, and
perfect his Church; to subdue all nations to himself; and,
finally, to judge all mankind. If Jesus Christ were not equal
with the Father, could he have claimed this equality of power,
without being guilty of impiety and blasphemy? Surely not; and
does he not, in the fullest manner, assert his Godhead, and his
equality with the Father, by claiming and possessing all the
authority in heaven and earth?-i.e. all the power and authority
by which both empires are governed?
19 ¶ Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
19 Verse 19. Go ye therefore] Because I have the authority
aforesaid, and can send whomsoever I will to do whatsoever I
please:-teach, μαθητευσατε, make disciples of all nations, bring
them to an acquaintance with God who bought them, and then baptize
them in the name of the Father. It is natural to suppose that
adults were the first subjects of baptism; for as the Gospel was,
in a peculiar manner, sent to the Gentiles, they must hear and
receive it, before they could be expected to renounce their old
prejudices and idolatries, and come into the bonds of the
Christian covenant. But, certainly, no argument can be drawn from
this concession against the baptism of children. When the
Gentiles and Jews had received the faith and blessings of the
Gospel, it is natural enough to suppose they should wish to get
their children incorporated with the visible Church of Christ;
especially if, as many pious and learned men have believed,
baptism succeeded to circumcision, which I think has never yet
been disproved. The apostles knew well that the Jews not only
circumcised the children of proselytes, but also baptized them;
and as they now received a commission to teach and proselyte all
the nations, and baptize them in the name of the holy Trinity,
they must necessarily understand that infants were included: nor
could they, the custom of their country being considered, have
understood our Lord differently, unless he had, in the most
express terms, said that they were not to baptize children, which
neither he nor his apostles ever did. And as to the objection,
that the baptized were obliged to profess their faith, and that,
therefore, only adults should be baptized, there is no weight at
all in it; because what is spoken of such refers to those who,
only at that period of life, heard the Gospel, and were not born
of parents who had been Christians; therefore they could not have
been baptized into the Christian faith, forasmuch as no such faith
was at their infancy preached in the world. That the children and
even infants, of proselytes, were baptized among the Jews, and
reputed, in consequence, clean, and partakers of the blessings of
the covenant, see proved at large by Wetstein, in his note on
and particularly .
In the name of the Father, &c.] Baptism, properly speaking,
whether administered by dipping or sprinkling, signifies a full
and eternal consecration of the person to the service and honour
of that Being in whose name it is administered; but this
consecration can never be made to a creature; therefore the
Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are not creatures.
Again, baptism is not made in the name of a quality or attribute
of the Divine nature; therefore the Father, and the Son, and the
Holy Spirit, are not qualities or attributes of the Divine
nature. The orthodox, as they are termed, have generally
considered this text as a decisive proof of the doctrine of the
holy Trinity: and what else can they draw from it? Is it possible
for words to convey a plainer sense than these do? And do they
not direct every reader to consider the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Spirit, as three distinct persons? "But this I can never
believe." I cannot help that-you shall not be persecuted by me
for differing from my opinion. I cannot go over to you; I must
abide by what I believe to be the meaning of the Scriptures. Dr.
Lightfoot has some good thoughts on this commission given to the
"I. Christ commands them to go and baptize the nations: but how
much time was past before such a journey was taken! And when the
time was now come that this work should be begun, Peter doth not
enter upon it without a previous admonition given him from heaven.
And this was occasioned hereby, that, according to the command of
Christ, the Gospel was first to be preached to Judea, Samaria, and
"II. He commands them to baptize in the name of the Father, and
of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; but among the Jews, they
baptized only in the name of Jesus. See .
For this reason, that thus the baptizers might assert, and the
baptized confess, Jesus to be the true Messias; which was chiefly
controverted by the Jews. Of the same nature is that apostolic
blessing, Grace and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord
Jesus Christ. Where then is the Holy Ghost? He is not excluded,
however he be not named. The Jews did more easily consent to the
Spirit of the Messias, which they very much celebrate, than to the
person of the Messias. Above all others they deny and abjure
Jesus of Nazareth. It belonged to the apostles, therefore, the
more earnestly to assert Jesus (to be the Messias) by how much the
more vehemently they opposed him: which being once cleared, the
acknowledging of the Spirit of Christ would be introduced without
delay or scruple. Moses, (in ,) going about to reckon up
all the tribes of Israel, goes no farther than the tribe of Levi;
and takes up with that to which his business and story at that
present related. In like manner, the apostles, for the present,
baptize in the name of Jesus, and bless in the name of the Father
and of Jesus, that thereby they might more firmly establish the
doctrine of Jesus, which met with such sharp and virulent
opposition; which doctrine being established among them, they
would soon agree about the Holy Ghost.
"III. Among the Jews, the controversy was about the true
Messias; among the Gentiles, about the true God. It was therefore
proper among the Jews to baptize in the name of Jesus, that he
might be vindicated to be the true Messias. Among the Gentiles,
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,
that they might be hereby instructed in the doctrine of the true
God.-Let this be particularly noted.
"IV. The Jews baptized proselytes into the name of the Father,
that is, into the profession of God, whom they called by the name
of Father. The apostles baptize the Jews into the name of Jesus
the Son, and the Gentiles, into the name of the Father, and of the
Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
"V. The Father hath revealed himself in the old covenant; the
Son in the new; in human flesh by his miracles, doctrine,
resurrection and ascension; the Holy Ghost in his gifts and
miracles. Thus the doctrine of the ever blessed Trinity grew by
degrees to full maturity. For the arriving to the acknowledgment
of which, it was incumbent upon all who professed the true God to
be three in one to be baptized into his name." LIGHTFOOT'S Works,
vol. ii. p. 274.
20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
20 Verse 20. Teaching them to observe all things] Men are
ignorant of Divine things, and must be taught. Only those can be
considered as proper teachers of the ignorant who are thoroughly
instructed in whatsoever Christ has commanded. Persons who are
entrusted with the public ministry of the word should take care
that they teach not human creeds and confessions of faith, in
place of the Sacred Writings; but those things, and those only,
which Jesus has commanded.
And, lo, I am with you alway] καιιδουεγωμεθυμωνειμιπασας
ταςημερας-literally, Behold, I am with you every day. A minister
of Christ should consider, that while his soul simply and
uniformly follows Jesus, he shall be made a constant instrument of
bringing many sons and daughters to glory. The dark, it is true,
must be enlightened, the ignorant instructed, the profligate
reclaimed, the guilty justified, and the unholy sanctified; and
who is sufficient for this work? HE with whom the Son of God is
EVERY DAY, and none other.
Unto the end of the world.] Some translate, εωςτηςσυντελειας
τουαιωνος, to the end of this age; meaning the apostolic age, or
Jewish dispensation; and then they refer the promise of Christ's
presence to the working of miracles, and explain this by
By my name they shall cast out demons, &c., &c. But though the
words are used in this sense in several places, see
, yet it is certain they were repeatedly used among
the primitive ecclesiastical writers to denote the consummation of
all things; and it is likely that this is the sense in which they
are used here, which the Anglo-Saxon has happily expressed:
[Anglo-Saxon]-And I, be with you all days, until world ending; and
this is indispensably necessary, because the presence and
influence of Jesus Christ are essentially requisite in every age
of the world, to enlighten, instruct, and save the lost. The
promise takes in not only the primitive apostles, but also all
their successors in the Christian ministry, as long as the earth
Amen.] This word is omitted by some of the oldest and most
authentic MSS., and by some versions and fathers. When it is
considered that the word amen simply means so be it! we may at
once perceive that it could not be added by our Lord. For our
Lord could not pray that his own will might be done, or his own
promise fulfilled. The word is, therefore, utterly impertinent as
a part of the sacred text, and could neither have been added by
our Lord, nor by the evangelist. The amens at the end of the
sacred books have no other authority than what they derive from
the transcribers of copies; and, at best, are only to be
considered as the pious wish of the writer, or of the Church, that
the promises contained in the sacred volume may be accomplished.
Indeed, it seems often to have no other meaning than our finis at
the end of our books.
In the MSS. and versions there are various subscriptions, or
epigraphs, to this Gospel: the following are the principal:-
"The Gospel according to Matthew-written by him in Jerusalem-in
Palestine-in the east-in the Hebrew dialect-in Hebrew-eight years
after the ascension of Christ-interpreted by John-by James the
brother of the Lord."
The subscription in some copies of the Arabic version is very
full: "The end of the copy of the Gospel of Matthew the Apostle.
He wrote it in the land of Palestine, by inspiration of the Holy
Spirit, in the Hebrew tongue, eight years after the bodily
ascension of Jesus the Messiah into heaven, in the first year of
the reign of Claudius Caesar, king of Rome."
These are sufficient to show how little credit should be
attached to the subscriptions found at the end of the sacred
books, either in the MSS., or in the versions.
1. IN concluding my notes on this evangelist, I cannot express
myself better than in the words of the late Mr. Wakefield, to whom
this commentary has been in many instances indebted. "I have now
finished my observations on the Gospel of Matthew: a piece of
history, it must be acknowledged, the most singular in its
composition, the most wonderful in its contents, and the most
important in its object, that was ever exhibited to the notice of
mankind. For simplicity of narrative, and an artless relation of
facts, without any applause or censure, or digressive remarks, on
the part of the historian, upon the characters introduced in it;
without any intermixture of his own opinion, upon any subject
whatsoever; and for a multiplicity of internal marks of
credibility, this Gospel certainly has no parallel among human
2. One thing the pious and intelligent reader has, no doubt,
already noticed: there is not one truth, or doctrine, in the whole
oracles of God, which is not taught in this evangelist. The
outlines of the whole spiritual system are here correctly laid
down: even Paul himself has added nothing; he has amplified and
illustrated the truths contained in this Gospel; but, even under
the direct inspiration of the Holy Ghost, neither he nor any other
of the apostles have brought to light any one truth, the prototype
of which has not been found in the words or acts of our blessed
Lord, as related by Matthew, in the work which has already passed
under review. The Gospel by St. Matthew is the grand text-book of
Christianity; the other Gospels are collateral evidences of its
truth, and the apostolic epistles are comments on the text. In
the commencement of this work, I stated my wish, "to assist my
fellow labourers in the vineyard to lead men to HIM who is the
fountain of all excellence, goodness, truth, and happiness;-to
magnify his LAW, and make it honourable;-to show the wonderful
provision made in his GOSPEL for the recovery and salvation of a
sinful world;-to prove that God's great design is to make his
creatures HAPPY; and that such a salvation as it becomes God to
give, and such as man needs to receive, is within the grasp of
every human soul."--General Preface, before Genesis. And having
thus far done what I could, in reference to these great and
important purposes, here I register my thanks to the ever-blessed
God, Father, Word, and Holy Spirit, that he has permitted me to
cast my mite into this sacred treasury, to add my feeble testimony
to his Eternal Truth; and has spared me, in the midst of many
infirmities and oppressive labours, to see the conclusion of this
Gospel, a consummation which I had long devoutly wished, but which
I had scarcely hoped ever to see realized.
May the Divine Author of this sacred book give the reader a
heart-felt experience of all the truths it contains; make and keep
him wise unto salvation; build him up in this most holy faith; and
give him an inheritance among the blessed, through Christ Jesus,
the Friend of mankind, and the Saviour of sinners, who is the
object and end of this glorious system of truth! And to Him, with
the Father and Eternal Spirit, be glory and dominion, thanksgiving
and obedience, for ever and ever, Amen and amen!