Matthew

28:1-15

The Epilogue

13. Passion and Resurrection of Jesus, 26:1-28:20

xi] Christ is risen!

Synopsis

On the Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary go to Jesus' tomb. There is a violent earthquake, the stone rolls from the entrance and the women are greeted by an angel. The women are instructed to tell the disciples what has happened, and while on the way, they meet Jesus who tells them that he will meet with the disciples in Galilee. In the meantime, the guards report the mornings events to the chief priests who pay them to say that the disciples came during the night and stole the body of Jesus.

 
Teaching

The tomb was empty; Jesus is risen!

 
Issues

i] Context: See 26:1-16.

 

ii] Structure: Christ is risen:

The facts speak for themselves, v1-10:

The women return to the tomb, v1;

Angelic intervention, v2-3;

The tomb is under guard, v4;

The tomb is empty, v5-7;

The women encounter the risen Christ, v8-10;

The religious authorities attempt a cover-up, v11-15.

 

iii] Interpretation:

As Mounce notes, we now come to the heart of the gospel, "the cornerstone of the Christian faith." As Paul states in the fifteenth chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians, if Jesus is not raised from the dead then "faith is useless (v14), the apostolic witness is false (v15), believers are still in their sins (v17) and are to be pitied (v19)."

 

It is early morning, and Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joses / Joseph head for the tomb. Matthew calls it the day after the Sabbath, th/ epifwskoush/, "at dawn." He may mean Saturday evening, the beginning of the Sabbath, although this is unlikely. The women are on their way to check out (qewrhsai, "to observe") the tomb when there is an earthquake and the arrival of an angel who moves the stone. The guards get shaken out of their boots, transfixed by the scene. They may be present when the women arrive, or may make a run for it, because when the women approach the scene, what they see is an angel kaqhto, "sitting" on the stone (the verb is imperfect, expressing durative action). The angel is quite a sight; there is no mention of wings, but his visage is shimmering snow-white. The angel tells them not to be afraid; he shows them where Jesus once lay; he instructs them to go and tell the disciples the news of Jesus' resurrection, and that Jesus will go ahead of the disciples into Galilee and meet them there.

Matthew now moves beyond the Markan tradition to report a meeting between the women and Jesus. In John's gospel, this meeting is only with Mary Magdalene. It is interesting that Luke does not record the meeting. If he was working off both Mark and Matthew, as many scholars believe, why would he leave such a meeting out of his gospel? Luke gives women high status in his gospel. On meeting Jesus, the women are filled with fear, and falling at Jesus feet they worship him. Jesus repeats the message that the disciples are to go to Galilee where he will meet them there. It is interesting that Jesus' appearance to the disciples in John chapter 21 is in Galilee.

In v11-15 Matthew records a tradition particular to him. The tradition evidences an early Christian apologetic formed in the years of debate between believing Jews and their non-believing brothers. The official line by the religious authorities is that Jesus' disciples stole the body to pretend that he rose from the dead. So, the apologetic gathers the facts to answer the polemic of their fellow Jews: There were witness to the burial of Jesus in a well-known tomb; the tomb was guarded and sealed by the religious authorities; on the Sunday morning there was an angelic theophany and the tomb found empty, witnessed by the guards and female disciples; the guards conspired with the religious authorities for "a large sum of money" to promote the story that Jesus' disciples stole the body during the night while the guards were asleep.

 

iv] Synoptics

The synoptic accounts of the resurrection are similar, including John's account, but as usual, with some differences. Mark has Salome going to the tomb with the two Marys, together carrying spices to perform the last rights on Jesus' body, whereas Matthew has the two Marys going to the tomb to observe. Mark has the women meeting "a young man" at the tomb; Matthew has them meeting "an angel." Mark tells us that tromoV kai ekstasiV, "trembling and amazement" seized the women and they told no one (Told no one other than the disciples? They did obviously tell the disciples); Matthew tells us that with fobou, "fear", the women, instructed by the risen Lord himself, ran off and told the disciples. Matthew adds three pieces of tradition to the Markan / proto-Mark tradition: First, the appearance of an angel who rolls the stone away, v2-4; Second, the women's meeting with Jesus immediately after going to the tomb and their being told by Jesus to inform the disciples to go to Galilee and that kakei me oyontai, "there they will see me", v9-10. Gundry suggests that Matthew could well be working off Mark's lost ending at this point. Mark's gospel does end abruptly, but the abrupt ending may be intended, underling the essential fact of the gospel, namely, the tomb was empty. The third piece of tradition peculiar to Matthew is the conspiracy of the religious authorities to hide the facts concerning Jesus' resurrection, v11-15, see "Synoptics", 27:57-66.

 
Text - 28:1

The risen Christ, v1-15: i] The facts speak for themselves, v1-10. a) The woman attend a tomb known to contain the body of Jesus. "Christian tradition gives symbolic meaning to the first day of the week; it is the day of a new creation", D&A.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative; "Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week", ESV.

oye + gen. "after [the Sabbath]" - Temporal use of the preposition (a rare usage), as NIV, although if it is being used as an adverb it could mean "late on the Sabbath", Olmstead, although unlikely.

th/ epifwskoush/ (epifwskw) dat. pres. part. "at dawn" - in the dawn. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of time, point of time, "at daybreak", as NIV. It is possible Matthew means "late on the Sabbath", which ends with sunset on Saturday afternoon, "as the night was dawning", the women came to check out the tomb. They would stay at home on the Sabbath, but at sunset they were free to come to the tomb. An evening trip to the tomb, as darkness settled in, is unlikely; "As Sunday morning was dawning", TEV.

eiV mian "on the first day" - into one. Temporal use of the preposition eiV, "into" = "on, at, ..", with mian, "one", used instead of prwtoV, "first" = "the first day", gives "on the first day - Helenistic idiom.

sabbatwn (on) gen. "of the week" - of sabbath = week. The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

qewrhsai (qewrew) "to look at [the tomb]" - [mary magdelene and the other mary came] to look at [the grave]. The infinitive is adverbial, final, expressing purpose, "in order to see the tomb." Note the article ton with "tomb" is anaphoric, referring back to the tomb the women originally sat in front of.

 
v2

b) Angelic intervention in the raising of Christ, v2-3. The importance of what follows is indicated by Matthew's idou, "behold, look." There was an earthquake in 27:51, and now a second aftershock, both apocalyptic symbols of the Great Day of Judgment vibrating into the present age. Within this event an angel of startling brilliance (Dan.10:6), moves the rock and is found "triumphantly sitting upon it", Hagner."

gar "for [an angel]" - [and behold there was a great earthquake] because [an angel]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why there was an earthquake.

kuriou (oV) gen. "of the Lord" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive, but possibly expressing source / origin; "from the Lord."

katabaV (katabainw) aor. part. "came down" - having come down [from heaven and having approached, rolled away the stone]. As with "having approached", the participle is attendant circumstance expressing action accompanying the verb "to roll away" - indicating simultaneous action; "An angel of the Lord came down from heaven and went and rolled away the boulder", Moffatt.

ex (ek) + gen. "from [heaven]" - expressing source / origin.

apanw + gen. "[sat] on [it]" - [and was sitting] on [it]. Spacial, "on, upon / above." Note the imperfect verb "was sitting", expressing imperfective / durative action, giving the sense "the angel was still sitting on the stone when the women approached", Quarles .

 
v3

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

autou gen. pro. "his [appearance]" - [the appearance] of him. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, identifying the possession of a derivative characteristic, in this case, an appearance which is shimmering.

wJV "like [lightning]" - [was] as [lightning, and the garment of him white] as [snow]. Here the comparative serves to express a characteristic quality. The angel's appearance was shimmering as / like the shimmering nature of lightning, and his clothing was white as / like the brilliant white of snow; "white as snow is white", Olmstead.

 
v4

c) The tomb is under guard up to the appearance of the angel. There is no exchange between the angel and the guards, possibly indicating that they flee the scene. There is a touch of Johannine irony in the scene: the guards shake as if in an earthquake, and they are the "dead men", not Jesus.

oiJ throunteV (threw) pres. part. "the guards" - [but/and] the ones guarding. The participle serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to be shaken."

apo + gen. "-" - [were shaken] from. Here expressing cause; "because / out of of fear for him." "The guards quaked with fear because they were so afraid of him."

autou gen. pro. "of him" - The genitive is adjectival, verbal, objective; "because of their fear for him."

wJV "[became] like [dead men]" - [they became] as, like [dead people are]. Comparative.

 
v5

d) The tomb is empty, v5-7. In meeting the angel, the women are acquainted with the facts; "he has risen." The facts present in terms of the gospel; "Jesus was crucified, buried, and raised from the dead", D&A, cf., 1Cor.15:3-5. Come see and tell.

apokriqeiV (apokrinomai) aor. pas. part. "-" - [but/and] having answered [the angel said to the women]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb to say; redundant.

uJmeiV pro. "-" - you [you do not fear, be afraid]. Emphatic by use; "No need for you to fear", Rieu.

gar "for" - because. More reason than cause, explaining the reasoning behind the command "Do not be afraid." The angel knows why the women have come to the tomb and he has waited around to tell them what has happened.

oJti "[I know] that" - Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what the angel knows.

ton estaurwmenon (staurow) perf. pas. part. "Jesus, who was crucified" - [you are seeking jesus] the one having been crucified. The participle may be adjectival, limiting "Jesus", "Jesus who was crucified", ESV, "you are looking for the crucified Jesus", but it may serve as a substantive standing in apposition to "Jesus", "you are looking for Jesus, the man who has been crucified", Cassirer.

 
v6

gar "-" - [he is not here] because [he was raised]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Jesus is not here. Note that the passive "was raised" is usually viewed as a divine passive (God does the raising), but a middle sense may be implied, "he is risen" (Jesus raised himself).

kaqwV "just as [he said]" - as, like [he said. come and see the place where he was lying]. Comparative. Jesus had predicted both his death and his resurrection and they occurred exactly as he said.

 
v7

poreuqeisai (poreuomai) aor. pas. part. "[then] go" - [and quickly] having gone [tell]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the imperative verb "to say, tell"; "go quickly and tell his disciples."

toiV maqhtaiV (hV ou) dat. "[his] disciples" - the disciples [of him]. Dative of indirect object.

oJti "-" - that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of direct speech expressing what the women are to tell the disciples.

apo + gen. "from [the dead]" - [he was raised] from [the dead]. Expressing separation; "away from."

proagei (proagw) pres. "is going ahead of [you]" - [and behold] he is going ahead of [you into galilee, there you will see him]. As in 26:32, a temporal sense is probably intended, either present, Jesus is on his way, or futuristic present, Jesus will be on his way. Either way, Jesus is heading for Galilee and will be waiting there for the disciples, and so they are to head off and meet up with him. It is possible, although unlikely, that the sense of "going before" is that of Jesus taking up the lead again, and doing so where he commenced his ministry, namely Galilee. So, the disciples should meet up again with Jesus there.

uJmin dat. pro. "[I have told] you" - [behold, i have said] to you. Dative of indirect object; "That's the message", Peterson.

 
v8

e) The women encounter the risen Christ, v8-10. With a mixture of fear = awe and joy, the women head away from the tomb and, as they do so, they encounter the risen Christ and do obeisance before him. The fear element is unnecessary, and so Jesus calms them with a gentle word. It is interesting that the instruction for the disciples to head to Galilee is repeated, underlining the importance of what happens in Galilee on "the mountain." Jesus calls them "brothers", an affectionate term, indicating that their less-than-courageous behavior over the last few days is forgiven.

kai "so" - and. Probably resultative here, "and so"; "And as a consequence of being told 'to go', they departed quickly ....."

apelqousai (apercomai) aor. part. "hurried away" - having departed [quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, they ran]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to run."

meta + gen. "[afraid yet filled] with [joy]" - with [fear / awe and great joy]. Adverbial use of the preposition, modal, expressing the manner of their hurrying quickly away, "fearfully and most joyfully"; "deep in wonder and full of joy", Peterson.

apaggeilai (apaggellw) aor. inf. "to tell" - [they ran] to report. The infinitive is adverbial, final, expressing purpose; "they ran in order to report."

toiV maqhtaiV (hV ou) dat. "to [his] disciples" - to the disciples [of him]. Dative of indirect object.

 
v9

autaiV dat. pro. "[met] them" - [and behold, jesus met] them. Dative of direct object after the uJpo prefix verb "to meet."

legwn (legw) pres. part. "he said" - saying [greeting]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to meet", but it can also be treated as adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of Jesus' meeting the women; "met them saying ..." "'Greetings', he said", Rieu.

proselqousai (prosercomai) aor. part. "[they] came to him" - [but/and they] having approached [grasped the feet of him]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to grasp hold of."

autw/ dat. pro. "[worshiped] him" - [but/and they did obeisance, worshiped] him. Dative of direct object after the verb "to do obeisance to"; "caught hold of his feet and did homage to him", Cassirer.

 
v10

autaiV dat. pro. "to them" - [then jesus says] to them. Dative of indirect object. "Jesus said to them, 'You're holding on to me for dear life! Don't be frightened like that'", Peterson.

toiV adelfoiV (oV) dat. "[my] brothers" - [do not be afraid, go tell] to the brothers [of me]. Dative of indirect object.

iJna + subj. "to [go to Galilee]" - that [they may go away into galilee, there they will see me]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what the woman are to say to the brothers.

 
v11

ii] The religious authorities attempt a cover-up, v11-15. This Christian apologetic was obviously shaped within the context of the negative polemic promoted by the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem. The interesting feature of this polemic is an acceptance by the authorities that the tomb was empty, even though the burial was witnessed and the site guarded. The best answer the authorities can come up with is to concoct the story that the disciples stole the body. Their argument suggests that the apostles, in the face of hostile forces, both religious and secular, continue to promote the religious teachings of a resurrected messiah whose body they surreptitiously stole from its grave and disposed of elsewhere - Really!

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

poreuomenwn (poreuomai) gen. pres. part. "while the women were on their way" - [they] were going. The genitive participle, along with the genitive pronoun "they", forms genitive absolute construction, best treated as temporal, as NIV.

thV koustwdiaV (a) gen. "[some] of the guards" - [behold certain] of the guard. The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

alqonteV (ercomai) aor. part. "went" - having gone [into the city told]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to tell", as NIV; "some of the military guard went into the city and told the chief priests the news of what had happened", Barclay.

toiV arciereusin (uV ewV) dat. "to the chief priests" - Dative of indirect object.

ta genomena (ginomai) aor. part. "that had happened" - [all the things] having become = happened. If we take the adjective "all" as a substantive, "everything", as NIV, then the participle is adjectival limiting "everything"; "announced to the chief priests everything that had occurred", Berkeley.

 
v12

sunacqenteV (sunagw) aor. pas. part. "when [the chief priests] had met" - [and the chief priests] having gathered together [with the elders]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, as NIV. Reflective sense; "held a meeting with."

meta + gen. "with [the elders]" - Expressing association / accompaniment.

labonteV (lambanw) aor. part. "devised [a plan]" - [and] having taken, received [counsel] (formed a plan). This participle is linked closely to the participle "having gathered together" by te, "and", and so it is also adverbial, temporal, together expressing concurrent action; "when they had assembled ..... and taken counsel."

toiV stratiwtaiV (hV ou) "the soldiers" - [they gave sufficient silver / money] to the soldiers. Dative of indirect object. The sense of the adjective iJkana, "sufficient, enough, worthy", "here refers to a large amount", Quarles, cf. BDAG 472b-c 3.b. "They handed a considerable sum of money to the soldiers", Cassirer.

 
v13

"The lie for which the priests paid so much money is suicidal: one half destroys the other. Sleeping sentinels could not know what happened", Bruce.

legonteV (legw) aor. part. "telling them" - saying. The NIV treats the participle as adverbial, modal, expressing the manner in which the authorities handed over the money to the soldiers, but it may just be attendant circumstance, "they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers and said", TEV.

oJti "-" - [you say] that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of direct speech expressing what the soldiers are to say with respect to Jesus' missing body. "What you are to say to the people is this", Cassirer.

elqonteV (ercomai) "came" - [the disciples of him] having come [of night stole him]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to steal"; "came .... and stole."

nuktoV adj. "during the night" - [having come] of night. The genitive is adverbial, temporal, expressing time within which an action takes place, in this case the action expressed by the attendant circumstance participle "having come", so as NIV; "This man's disciples made their appearance during the night", Cassirer.

koimwmenwn (koimaw) gen. pres. mid. part. "while [we] were sleeping" - [we] sleeping. The genitive participle with the genitive pronoun hJmwn, "we", forms a genitive absolute construction, best treated as temporal, as NIV. Genitive absolute constructions usually commence a sentence, not end one, but there is probably no significance in its placement here.

 
v14

ean + subj. "if" - [and] if, as may be the case, [this is heard before the governor, then we will persuade, reassure = pacify him]. Introducing a third class conditional clause where the proposed condition has the possibility of coming true. "If the governor should hear of this, we will convince him that you are innocent", TEV.

touto "this" - Backward referencing demonstrative pronoun, referring to the soldiers sleeping on duty and thus allowing the theft of the body of Jesus. Under Roman law, severe punishment fell on those who violated a tomb, or stole a dead body.

epi + gen. "to [the governor]" - [is heard] before [the governor]. Spacial, metaphorical, as in a case coming officially before a legal authority.

amerimnouV adj. "[keep you] out of trouble" - [and we will make, do = keep you] secure = out of trouble. The accusative adjective stands as the object complement of the direct object "you" standing in a double accusative construction. "You" is emphatic by position.

 
v15

Justin, reporting in the middle of second century, tells us that the story about the body of Jesus being stolen by his disciples was still being promoted by Jewish leaders at the time.

de "So" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

oiJ "the soldiers" - they. Nominative subject of the attendant participle "taking, receiving" and the verb "to do"; "they took the money and did as they were directed", ESV.

labonteV (lambanw) aor. part. "took [the money]" - taking [the silver, money did]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to do"; "they took .... and did."

wJV "as" - as, like [they were taught, instructed, directed]. Comparative conjunction serving to introduce a comparative clause; "they took the money and acted just as they were instructed."

kai "and" - It seems likely that the conjunction here carries a consecutive sense; "with the result that this story has been current in Jewish circles ever since", Rieu.

para + dat. "among [the Jews]" - [this word was made known] among [jews]. Spacial, here with the sense "among." Matthew's reference to "Jews" is strange to our ears, given that Matthew is likely to be a Jew. John in his gospel uses the same expression and he is certainly a Jew (although usually in reference to the Jewish authorities). D&A note that Josephus, a Jewish historian, uses the same term for Jews he opposes. Its use may be facetious, although the more important point to note is that it is the only time (other than King of the Jews) that Matthew uses the term. "Some of the Jewish people still tell each other this story", CEV.

mecri + gen. "to [this very day]" - up to [today]. Temporal use of this spacial preposition.

 

Matthew Introduction

 

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