|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
15:33-41 There was a thick darkness over the land, from noon until three in the afternoon. The Jews were doing their utmost to extinguish the Sun of Righteousness. The darkness signified the cloud which the human soul of Christ was under, when he was making it an offering for sin. He did not complain that his disciples forsook him, but that his Father forsook him. In this especially he was made sin for us. When Paul was to be offered as a sacrifice for the service saints, he could joy and rejoice, Php 2:17; but it is another thing to be offered as a sacrifice for the sin of sinners. At the same instant that Jesus died, the veil of the temple was rent from the top to the bottom. This spake terror to the unbelieving Jews, and was a sign of the destruction of their church and nation. It speaks comfort to all believing Christians, for it signified the laying open a new and living way into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. The confidence with which Christ had openly addressed God as his Father, and committed his soul into his hands, seems greatly to have affected the centurion. Right views of Christ crucified will reconcile the believer to the thought of death; he longs to behold, love, and praise, as he ought, that Saviour who was wounded and pierced to save him from the wrath to come.
Verse 33. - And when the sixth hour was come. This would be midday, twelve o'clock; and the darkness continued until the ninth hour, that is, three o'clock. This supernatural darkness came when the day is wont to be at its brightest. The moon was now at the full, so that it could not have been caused by what we call an eclipse, for when it is full moon the moon cannot intervene between the earth and the sun. This darkness was doubtless produced by the immediate interference of God. An account of it is given by Phlegon of Tralles, a freedman of the Emperor Adrian. Euse-bius, in his records of the year A.D. , quotes at length from Phlegon, who says that, in the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad, there was a great and remarkable eclipse of the sun, above any that had happened before. At the sixth hour the day was turned into the darkness of night, so that stars were seen in the heaven; and there was a great earthquake in Bithynia, which overthrew many houses in the city of Nicaea. Phlegon attributes the darkness which he describes to an eclipse, which was natural enough for him to do. The knowledge of astronomy was then very imperfect. Phlegon also mentions an earthquake. This brings his account into very close correspondence with the sacred narrative. There was darkness ever the whole land (ἐφ ὅλην τὴν γῆν). "Land" is a better rendering than "earth." We are not informed precisely how far the darkness extended. Dionysius says that he saw this phenomenon at Heliopolis, in Egypt, and he is reported to have exclaimed, "Either the God of nature, the Creator, is suffering, or the universe dissolving." St. Cyprian says, "The sun was constrained to withdraw his rays, and close his eyes, that he might not be compelled to look upon this crime of the Jews. To the same purpose St. Chrysostom, "The creature could net bear the wrong done to its Creator. Therefore the sun withdrew his rays, that he might not behold the deeds of the wicked."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And when the sixth hour was come,.... Or twelve o'clock at noon, having hung upon the cross from about the third hour, or nine in the morning:
there was darkness over the, whole land until the ninth hour; or three o'clock in the afternoon. The Ethiopic version renders the whole thus, "and when it was noon, the sun was darkened, and the whole world was darkened until the ninth hour"; See Gill on Matthew 27:45.
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