Matthew 28


The resurrection of Christ declared by an angel to the two

Marys at the sepulchre, 1-6.

They are commissioned to announce this to the disciples, 7.

They go, and are met by Christ himself who promises to meet the

disciples in Galilee, 8-10.

The watch go into the city, and report to the chief priests what

had taken place, 11.

They give them money, to say that his disciples had stolen the

body by night, while they slept, 12-15.

Christ meets the eleven disciples in a mountain of Galilee,

16, 17.

He gives them a commission to preach the Gospel throughout the

earth; to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son,

and of the Holy Ghost; and promises to be with them to the end

of the world, 18-20.


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. Ge 1:5;

Mr 6:47. 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,

Joh 11:31, and to embalm the body of our Lord, Lu 24:1. 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

before, Mt 27:56.

Were not Mary and Salome two distinct persons?

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.

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 Mr 16:5, 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 Mt 28:2.

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?

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.

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

any case?

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,

Joh 19:41; so there could be no deception in the case.

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, Mt 26:32.

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


----Vix sum apud me, ita animus commotus est metu,

Spe, gaudio, mirando hoc tanto, tam repentino bono.

TERANT. Andr. v. 945.

"I am almost beside myself, my mind is so agitated with fear,

hope, and joy, at this unexpected good news."

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.

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. See Clarke on Mt 28:8.

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

for ever.

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

taken place.

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.

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

the theft.

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.

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

Lord's resurrection.

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

the tenth.

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 Mt 26:8, and

Mt 27:44.

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?

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

Mt 3:16.

See Clarke on Mt 3:6,

and particularly See Clarke on Mr 16:16.

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 Ac 2:38; 8:16; 19:5.

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 Ex 6:14,) 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.

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

Mr 16:17-19.

By my name they shall cast out demons, &c., &c. But though the

words are used in this sense in several places, see Mt 13:39, 40,

Mt 13:49; 24:3, 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

shall endure.

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!

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