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2002 11 11
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Chapter 28


1 After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, 2 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.


3 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.


His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow.


The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men.


Then the angel said to the women in reply, "Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.


4 He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.


Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.' Behold, I have told you."


Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce 5 this to his disciples.


6 And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.


Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me."


7 While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had happened.


They assembled with the elders and took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers,


telling them, "You are to say, 'His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.'


And if this gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy (him) and keep you out of trouble."


The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present (day).


8 The eleven 9 disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.


10 When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.


11 Then Jesus approached and said to them, "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.


Go, therefore, 12 and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,


teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. 13 And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."




1 [1-20] Except for Matthew 28:1-8 based on Mark 16:1-8, the material of this final chapter is peculiar to Matthew. Even where he follows Mark, Matthew has altered his source so greatly that a very different impression is given from that of the Marcan account. The two points that are common to the resurrection testimony of all the gospels are that the tomb of Jesus had been found empty and that the risen Jesus had appeared to certain persons, or, in the original form of Mark, that such an appearance was promised as soon to take place (see Mark 16:7). On this central and all-important basis, Matthew has constructed an account that interprets the resurrection as the turning of the ages ( Matthew 28:2-4), shows the Jewish opposition to Jesus as continuing to the present in the claim that the resurrection is a deception perpetrated by the disciples who stole his body from the tomb ( Matthew 28:11-15), and marks a new stage in the mission of the disciples once limited to Israel ( Matthew 10:5-6); now they are to make disciples of all nations. In this work they will be strengthened by the presence of the exalted Son of Man, who will be with them until the kingdom comes in fullness at the end of the age ( Matthew 28:16-20).

2 [1] After the sabbath . . . dawning: since the sabbath ended at sunset, this could mean in the early evening, for dawning can refer to the appearance of the evening star; cf Luke 23:54. However, it is probable that Matthew means the morning dawn of the day after the sabbath, as in the similar though slightly different text of Mark, "when the sun had risen" ( Mark 16:2). Mary Magdalene and the other Mary: see the notes on Matthew 27:55-56; 57-61. To see the tomb: cf Mark 16:1-2 where the purpose of the women's visit is to anoint Jesus' body.

3 [2-4] Peculiar to Matthew. A great earthquake: see the note on Matthew 27:51-53. Descended from heaven: this trait is peculiar to Matthew, although his interpretation of the "young man" of his Marcan source ( Mark 16:5) as an angel is probably true to Mark's intention; cf Luke 24:23 where the "two men" of Matthew 24:4 are said to be "angels." Rolled back the stone . . . upon it: not to allow the risen Jesus to leave the tomb but to make evident that the tomb is empty (see Matthew 24:6). Unlike the apocryphal Gospel of Peter (9, 35 - 11, 44), the New Testament does not describe the resurrection of Jesus, nor is there anyone who sees it. His appearance was like lightning . . . snow: see the note on Matthew 17:2.

4 [6-7] Cf Mark 16:6-7. Just as he said: a Matthean addition referring to Jesus' predictions of his resurrection, e.g., Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:19. Tell his disciples: like the angel of the Lord of the infancy narrative, the angel interprets a fact and gives a commandment about what is to be done; cf Matthew 1:20-21. Matthew omits Mark's "and Peter" ( Mark 16:7); considering his interest in Peter, this omission is curious. Perhaps the reason is that the Marcan text may allude to a first appearance of Jesus to Peter alone (cf 1 Cor 15:5; Luke 24:34) which Matthew has already incorporated into his account of Peter's confession at Caesarea Philippi; see the note on Matthew 16:16. He is going . . . Galilee: like Mark 16:7, a reference to Jesus' prediction at the Last Supper ( Matthew 26:32; Mark 14:28). Matthew changes Mark's "as he told you" to a declaration of the angel.

5 [8] Contrast Mark 16:8 where the women in their fear "said nothing to anyone."

6 [9-10] Although these verses are peculiar to Matthew, there are similarities between them and John's account of the appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene ( John 20:17). In both there is a touching of Jesus' body, and a command of Jesus to bear a message to his disciples, designated as his brothers. Matthew may have drawn upon a tradition that appears in a different form in John. Jesus' words to the women are mainly a repetition of those of the angel ( Matthew 28:5a, 7b).

7 [11-15] This account indicates that the dispute between Christians and Jews about the empty tomb was not whether the tomb was empty but why.

8 [16-20] This climactic scene has been called a "proleptic parousia," for it gives a foretaste of the final glorious coming of the Son of Man ( Matthew 26:64). Then his triumph will be manifest to all; now it is revealed only to the disciples, who are commissioned to announce it to all nations and bring them to belief in Jesus and obedience to his commandments.

9 [16] The eleven: the number recalls the tragic defection of Judas Iscariot. To the mountain . . . ordered them: since the message to the disciples was simply that they were to go to Galilee ( Matthew 28:10), some think that the mountain comes from a tradition of the message known to Matthew and alluded to here. For the significance of the mountain, see the note on Matthew 17:1.

10 [17] But they doubted: the Greek can also be translated, "but some doubted." The verb occurs elsewhere in the New Testament only in Matthew 14:31 where it is associated with Peter's being of "little faith." For the meaning of that designation, see the note on Matthew 6:30.

11 [18] All power . . . me: the Greek word here translated power is the same as that found in the LXX translation of Daniel 7:13-14 where one "like a son of man" is given power and an everlasting kingdom by God. The risen Jesus here claims universal power, i.e., in heaven and on earth.

12 [19] Therefore: since universal power belongs to the risen Jesus ( Matthew 28:18), he gives the eleven a mission that is universal. They are to make disciples of all nations. While all nations is understood by some scholars as referring only to all Gentiles, it is probable that it included the Jews as well. Baptizing them: baptism is the means of entrance into the community of the risen one, the Church. In the name of the Father . . . holy Spirit: this is perhaps the clearest expression in the New Testament of trinitarian belief. It may have been the baptismal formula of Matthew's church, but primarily it designates the effect of baptism, the union of the one baptized with the Father, Son, and holy Spirit.

13 [20] All that I have commanded you: the moral teaching found in this gospel, preeminently that of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). The commandments of Jesus are the standard of Christian conduct, not the Mosaic law as such, even though some of the Mosaic commandments have now been invested with the authority of Jesus. Behold, I am with you always: the promise of Jesus' real though invisible presence echoes the name Emmanuel given to him in the infancy narrative; see the note on Matthew 1:23. End of the age: see the notes on Matthew 13:39 and Matthew 24:3.

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