|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
27:51-56 The rending of the veil signified that Christ, by his death, opened a way to God. We have an open way through Christ to the throne of grace, or mercy-seat now, and to the throne of glory hereafter. When we duly consider Christ's death, our hard and rocky hearts should be rent; the heart, and not the garments. That heart is harder than a rock that will not yield, that will not melt, where Jesus Christ is plainly set forth crucified. The graves were opened, and many bodies of saints which slept, arose. To whom they appeared, in what manner, and how they disappeared, we are not told; and we must not desire to be wise above what is written. The dreadful appearances of God in his providence, sometimes work strangely for the conviction and awakening of sinners. This was expressed in the terror that fell upon the centurion and the Roman soldiers. We may reflect with comfort on the abundant testimonies given to the character of Jesus; and, seeking to give no just cause of offence, we may leave it to the Lord to clear our characters, if we live to Him. Let us, with an eye of faith, behold Christ and him crucified, and be affected with that great love wherewith he loved us. But his friends could give no more than a look; they beheld him, but could not help him. Never were the horrid nature and effects of sin so tremendously displayed, as on that day when the beloved Son of the Father hung upon the cross, suffering for sin, the Just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God. Let us yield ourselves willingly to his service.
Verse 53. - Came out of (ἐξελθόντες) the graves after his resurrection. The masculine participle, not agreeing with "bodies" (σώματα), denotes the personality of the bodies of the saints, that these arose perfect in soul and body. They could not rise before Christ rose. "Christ the firstfruits, afterwards they that are Christ's." Ewald and others have understood "after his resurrection" to mean "after he raised them from the dead." But the language is against such an interpretation, and there can be no reasonable doubt that the words refer to Christ's own resurrection. If it be contended that the word used, ἔγερσις, is active in sense, we may reply that, granting this, it merely emphasizes Christ's voluntary action in raising himself. As was said above, St. Matthew anticipates the regular sequence of events in order to complete at one view his accounts of the portents that attended the death and resurrection of Christ. The holy city. Jerusalem, as in ch. 4:5. The guilty Jerusalem is still the holy city, as retaining the temple, with its services, the ministry, the Scriptures. Some would understand the heavenly Jerusalem, into which these spiritual bodies entered; but the context is wholly against such an exposition. Appeared unto many. They were permitted to show themselves openly in their well known forms to pious relations and friends, as witnesses and proofs of the resurrection. If they had already gone to heaven, they could not have thus appeared. It may he right to add that many of the Fathers and modern commentators hold that these resuscitated saints were those to whom Christ preached (1 Peter 3:19) when he descended into hell, and that they accompanied him into glory when he ascended into heaven.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And came out of the graves after his resurrection,.... The resurrection of Christ; for he rose as the first fruits, as the first begotten of the dead, and the firstborn from the dead; for he was the first that was raised to an immortal life; for though others were raised before him, by himself, and in the times of the prophets, yet to a mortal life; but these saints came forth to the resurrection of life, and therefore it was necessary that Christ the first fruits, should rise first. The Arabic version indeed reads, "after their own resurrection"; and the Ethiopic version, "after they were raised"; both wrong, and scarcely sense:
and went into the holy city; the city of Jerusalem, which though now a very wicked city, was so called, because of the temple, and the worship of God, and his residence in it: the burying places of the Jews were without the city (a), and therefore these risen saints, are said to go into it:
and appeared unto many; of their friends and acquaintance, who had personally known them, and conversed with them in their lifetime. These saints, I apprehend, continued on earth until our Lord's ascension, and then joining the retinue of angels, went triumphantly with him to heaven, as trophies of his victory over sin, Satan, death, and the grave,
(a) Vid. Gloss. in T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 80. 2. & Maimon. Hilch. Shemitta veyobel, c. 13. sect. 3.
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