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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Matthew 28



Other Authors
Verse 1

1. ὄψε denotes a longer interval after sunset than ἑσπέρα.

σάββατα. Plural in both senses, ‘sabbath’ and ‘week.’

τῇ ἐπιφωσκούσῃ. Cp. Luke 23:54, σάββατον ἐπέφωσκεν, the only other passage where the word occurs, the cognate form ἐπιφαύσκειν is classical, and occurs four times in the LXX. version of Job: ἢ οὐχ ὁρῶμεν ἥλιον τὸν ἐπιφασκοντα, Job 31:26. In Luke loc. cit. the word ἐπιφώσκειν is used not of the natural daybreak, but of the commencement of the sabbath after sunset on the παρασκευή. Here, as we see from the parallel passages (Luke 24:1, ὂρθρου βαθέως; Mark 16:2, λίαν πρωῒ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων; John 20:1, πρωΐ σκοτίας ἔτι οὔσης), it means the early dawn.

θεωρῆσαι τὸν τάφον. Both St Mark and St Luke mention that they brought spices and ointments.

Verses 1-8

Matthew 28:1-8. THE RESURRECTION

Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18

The discrepancies are slight, and may be accounted for by the agitation of the witnesses of this momentous scene. To the women named in this Gospel St Mark adds Salome; St Luke, Joanna and other women; St John names Mary Magdalene only. St Luke and St John mention the visit of Peter to the sepulchre, St John adding ‘that other disciple.’ This Evangelist also records the appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene in the garden.

The order of events was probably this: First, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, having come early to the tomb, were addressed by the Angel and saw the empty sepulchre; they hasten to inform Peter and the other disciples; Peter and John visit the tomb and depart; Mary Magdalene, left alone, beholds her Lord, whom at first she does not recognise; soon afterwards the Lord appears a second time to Mary Magdalene, now in the company of other women.

Verse 2

2. σεισμὸς ἐγένετο μέγας. Peculiar to St Matthew.

ἄγγελος κυρίου. ἄνδρες δύο ἐπέστησαν αὐταῖς ἐσθῆτι ἀστραπτούσῃ (Luke 24:4). δύο ἀγγέλους ἐν λευκοῖς καθεζομένους (John 20:12).

Verse 3

3. εἰδέα. Here only in N.T., not ‘countenance,’ but ‘appearance,’ ‘species sub oculos cadens,’ not the thing itself but the thing as beholden, ‘ἰδέα τοῦ προσώπου, ‘the look of the countenance.’ (Trench, N.T. Syn. 2nd series, p. 93.)

Verse 4

4. ἀπὸ φόβουὡς νεκροί. Cp. οἱ δὲ σύμμαχοι τεθνᾶσι τῷ δέει τοὺς τοιούτους ἀποστόλους, Dem. Phil. I. 45.

Verse 5

5. μὴ φοβεῖσθε ὑμεῖς. The pronoun is emphatic; a contrast with the alarm of the soldiers is implied.

τὸν ἐσταυρωμένον. ‘Who hath been crucified,’ not ‘which was crucified,’ A.V.

Verse 6

6. ἠγέρθη. As in ch. Matthew 27:64, He rose. So also in next verse.

καθώς. Non-Attic for classical καθά. See Lob. Phryn. p. 426.

ἴδετε κ.τ.λ. In order that they might be convinced of the fact.

It is hardly possible for us even to conceive the overwhelming joy that the conviction of this truth must have brought to these holy women, whose recollection of the divine words and looks and love-inspiring sweetness of character would be quickened by the painful watching and the passionate sorrow for their seeming loss.

Verse 7

7. εἴπατε κ.τ.λ. ‘And Peter’ (Mark). Peter, more than the rest, would be longing for the Lord’s return to win forgiveness.

Verse 9

9. ὑπήντησεν. See note, ch. Matthew 8:28.

Χαίρετε. The Greek salutation, both on meeting and on parting.

ἐκράτησαν αὐτοῦ τοὺς πόδας κ.τ.λ. The immemorial usage in the East in obeisance to a sovereign prince.

In the interesting clay cylinder of Cyrus he says of the subject kings: ‘they brought me their full tribute and kissed my feet.’ (Canon Rawlinson, Cont. Rev. Jan. 1880).

Verse 9-10


Recorded by St Matthew only

Jesus had already appeared to Mary Magdalene alone. We must suppose that she was now joined by the other Mary, and perhaps by Salome, Joanna, and others; and while these were going to announce the great news to the rest of the disciples [Peter and John already knew] the Lord Jesus met them.

The following is a list of the different recorded appearances of Jesus during the forty days:—[1] To Mary Magdalene alone (John 20:14 foll.; Mark 16:9). [2] To Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, and perhaps other women (Matthew 28:9-10). [3] To Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5). [4] To Cleophas and another on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). [5] To the apostles, in the absence of Thomas, at Jerusalem (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36; John 20:19). [6] To the eleven apostles at Jerusalem (John 20:26). [7] To seven disciples at the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1-24). [8] To the eleven on the highland of Galilee (Matthew 28:16). [9] To five hundred brethren at once—possibly the same appearance as 8 (1 Corinthians 15:6). [10] To James, the Lord’s brother (1 Corinthians 15:7). [11] To the eleven in the neighbourhood of the Holy City (Mark 16:19-20; Luke 24:50; Acts 1:3-12; 1 Corinthians 15:7).

Verse 10

10. ἀπαγγείλατε κ.τ.λ. i.e. tell my brethren (of my Resurrection), in order that they may go.

ἀδελφοῖς μου. The disciples; ‘He named them brethren, as being Himself a man and their kinsman according to man’s nature’ (Euthymius quoted by Ellicott, Life of our Lord); comp. Hebrews 2:11, ὃ τε γὰρ ἁγιάζων καὶ οἱ ἁγιαζόμενοι ἐξ ἑνὸς πάντες· διʼ ἥν αἰτίαν οὐκ ἐπαισχύνεται ἀδελφοὺς αὐτοὺς καλεῖν. The name of ‘brethren’ is not directly applied by Christ to his disciples, until after the Resurrection (cp. John 20:17). He had clearly manifested the power of the Godhead, and there was special need of reminding his disciples that He was still man, and that they were brethren.

Verse 11

11. τινὲς τῆς κουστωδίας. An expression that implies more than the traditional number of four guards. The full complement of a κουστωδία appears to have been 60 men. See note, ch. Matthew 27:65.

Verses 11-15


This important testimony is given by St Matthew only.

Verse 12

12. ἀργύρια ἱκανά. Many pieces of silver, a largesse.

Verse 13

13. ἡμῶν κοιμωμένων. The penalty for which would be death.

Verse 14

14. ἐπὶ τοῦ ἡγεμόνος. ‘Before the governor.’ With this use of ἐπὶ comp. ἐπὶ μαρτύρων, 1 Timothy 5:19; ἐπὶ τῶν ἀδίκωνἐπὶ τῶν ἁγίων, 1 Corinthians 6:1, ‘at the bar of,’ and the common phrases ἐπὶ δικαστῶν, δικαστηρίων. These expressions are closely connected with the physical notion of ἐπὶ, ‘upon.’ A matter may be said to rest upon witnesses or judges, i.e. depend upon their evidence or decision. This use explains the expression in the text, which means either, [1] ‘If the matter should be heard in the Procurator’s Court’—come before him officially. [2] Or perhaps in a more general sense; ‘If rumours of it should come before him’—if he should hear of it.

πείσομεν. ‘Will persuade’ (by bribes). Cp. Eur. Medea 964, μή μοι σύ, πείθειν δῶρα καὶ θεοὺς λόγος· | χρυσὸς δὲ κρείσσων μυρίων λόγων βροτοῖς. Hdt. VIII. 134, ξεῖνόν τινα καὶ οὐ Θηβαῖον χρήμασι πείσας.

ἀμερίμνους. At Rome, in Cicero’s time, judicial bribery was so organized that contracts were taken to secure acquittal by this means. And the whole process of bribery had a special vocabulary, in which this very word ἀμέριμνος appears to have had a place, Curio meeting Verres and assuring him that he has won his acquittal by bribery: ‘hunc jubet sine cura esse: renuntio inquit tibi te hodiernis comitiis esse absolutum.’ ἀμέριμνος here and 1 Corinthians 7:32 only in N.T.

Verse 15

15. διεφημίσθη μέχρι τῆς σήμερον. Hence St Matthew found it especially needful to narrate the true facts. An aorist qualified by an adverb of present time has the force of a perfect definite. The note of time therefore, like the use of γέγονεν (ch. Matthew 1:22, Matthew 22:4), implies that the events described were still of comparatively recent memory.

Verse 16

16. τὸ ὄρος. The mountain. Perhaps the highland behind Tell Hum or Capernaum (see map), the scene of their earliest intercourse with Christ, and the very spot where the New Law was first proclaimed. There the brethren, possibly five hundred in number [see Matthew 28:9-10 [8] [9]], besides the Eleven, awaited the coming of the Great Shepherd (Matthew 28:7). As the sacred form appeared on the familiar mountain side they threw themselves on the ground, doing homage to their Lord and God. But some doubted still. Then He drew more near and spake. And as the words sounded in their ears, we may believe they ‘knew his voice’ and dismissed their doubts.

Verse 16-17


Peculiar to St Matthew

Verse 17

17. προσεκύνησαν. See note, ch. Matthew 20:20. It is characteristic of St Matthew’s Gospel that this word, which indicates the homage and prostration before a king, should occur twelve times, whereas it is found twice only in each of the other Synoptics.

οἱ δέ. Probably not some of the Apostles, but some of the five hundred who had not previously seen the Lord.

For οἱ δὲ when οἱ μὲν is omitted in the first clause see note, ch. Matthew 26:67. Il. XI. 536, ἀφʼ ἱππείων ὁπλέων ῥαθάμιγγες ἒβαλλον, | αἱ δʼ ἀπʼ ἐπισσώτρων (Winer, p. 131, and Riddell on Plato, Apol. Soc., p. 18, note 3, and Dig. 241).

ἐδίστασαν. The same word is used of St Peter’s doubt, ch. Matthew 14:31, and in these passages only in N.T.; there too the doubt is followed by adoration, 28:33.

Verse 18

18. προσελθὼν ἐλάλησεν. Came up to them, near to them, and spake.

Ἐδόθη, ‘was given,’—the aorist of an eternal fact, so undefined and independent of time-notion, cp. ch. Matthew 3:17 and Matthew 11:27, and Philippians 2:8-10. These words, in which the infallible King Himself announces His eternal possession of the Kingdom, St Matthew, who is essentially the historian of the Kingdom, alone records.

Verses 18-20


Verse 19

19. μαθητεύσατε. Make disciples of. Cp. Acts 14:21, μαθητεύσαντες ἱκανούς, and see ch. Matthew 13:52, Matthew 27:57, where the same word is used. διδάσκοντες, Matthew 28:20, = ‘instructing.’ ‘Make disciples of all the Gentiles πάντα τὰ ἔθνη) by baptism and by instruction in all my commands to you’ (πάντα ὅσα ἐνετειλάμην).

εἰς τὸ ὄνομα. ‘Into the name.’ Jewish proselytes were baptized into the name of the Father; Jesus adds the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. In the instances of baptism recorded in the Acts 2:38; Acts 8:16; Acts 10:48; Acts 19:5, the name of Jesus Christ (or the Lord Jesus) alone occurs in the baptismal formula, but the promise of the Holy Ghost is given (Acts 2:38), or the gift of the Holy Ghost follows the rite (Acts 8:17, Acts 19:6), or precedes it (Acts 10:44; Act_10:47).

Verse 20

20. μεθʼ ὑμῶν εἰμί. The Lord Jesus had already taught His disciples during the forty days how He could be present with them and yet be unseen by them. They could then the more easily believe this promise.

πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας. ‘All the days,’ not at intervals during the days (διʼ ἡμερῶν τεσσεράκοντα ὀπτανόμενος, Acts 1:3), but continuously on each and all the days between now and the completion of the Æon.

ἕως τής κ.τ.λ. See note ch. Matthew 13:39. The last words of St Matthew’s Gospel fall solemnly on the ear, the sense of the continual presence of Christ is not broken even by an account of the Ascension. No true subject can doubt that the King is enthroned in Heaven.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Matthew 28:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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