|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
28:11-15 What wickedness is it which men will not be brought to by the love of money! Here was large money given to the soldiers for advancing that which they knew to be a lie, yet many grudge a little money for advancing what they know to be the truth. Let us never starve a good cause, when we see bad ones so liberally supported. The priests undertook to secure them from the sword of Pilate, but could not secure these soldiers from the sword of God's justice, which hangs over the heads of those that love and make a lie. Those men promise more than they can perform, who undertake to save a man harmless in doing a wilful sin. But this falsehood disproved itself. Had the soldiers been all asleep, they could not have known what passed. If any had been awake, they would have roused the others and prevented the removal; and certainly if they had been asleep, they never would have dared to confess it; while the Jewish rulers would have been the first to call for their punishment. Again, had there been any truth in the report, the rulers would have prosecuted the apostles with severity for it. The whole shows that the story was entirely false. And we must not charge such things to the weakness of the understanding, but to the wickedness of the heart. God left them to expose their own course. The great argument to prove Christ to be the Son of God, is his resurrection; and none could have more convincing proofs of the truth of that than these soldiers; yet they took bribes to hinder others from believing. The plainest evidence will not affect men, without the work of the Holy Spirit.
Verses 11-15. - The Roman soldiers bribed by the Jewish rulers to give a false account of the Resurrection. (Peculiar to St. Matthew.) Verse 11. - When (while) they were going. Into the city, in order to find the disciples and to deliver to them their Lord's message. This account takes up the narrative of Matthew 27:63-66 and ver. 4 of this chapter. As soon as they recovered from their swoon and had assured themselves that the tomb was empty, the soldiers hurried in affright to the Jewish rulers, under whose orders they had temporarily been placed, and told them all the things that were done. They could speak of the earthquake, of the appearing of the angel, of the removal of the stone, of the absence of the body which they were appointed to watch. Their task was done; the corpse was gone, they knew not how taken; they could not be expected to contend with supernatural visitants, or to guard against supernatural occurrences. St. Matthew seems to have introduced this incident in order to account for the prevalence of the lying rumour which he proceeds to mention, and which had been widely disseminated among his countrymen.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Now when they were going,.... Or were gone from the sepulchre: that is, the women, Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, and their companions, when they were going, or gone, and before they could come to the disciples, to inform them of what they had seen and heard, and deliver the message both of the angel, and of Christ, unto them:
behold, some of the watch came unto the city: that is, "of Jerusalem". The word "behold" is left out in the Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions; but ought to be retained as expressive of what is wonderful, and worthy of observation and attention; that the very persons who were placed to prevent every thing, that might be the foundation of a report, that Christ was risen, should be the first persons that should relate it to the chief priests and elders, that employed them: not all the watch, for some still stayed behind, till they had orders to come away; but some of them, the principal of them, or who were deputed by the rest, came. The Persic version, rather commenting than translating, has these words:
"moreover, the rulers and governors, who watched the sepulchre, coming to themselves, returned to the city with a pale and frightened countenance.''
And showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done; how that there had been a very great earthquake, and a very surprising appearance; one like a young man descended from the clouds, whose countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow, which filled them with astonishment and dread; that he rolled away the stone from the sepulchre, and then sat upon it; and that some women coming to the sepulchre, were shown by him where the body had been laid, but was now gone; and how, that after they had recovered themselves from the fright, they had themselves examined the sepulchre, and the body was certainly gone; and sure they were that the women did not carry it away, nor any other: all which they thought proper to relate to the chief priests; partly on their own account, to clear themselves from the charge of bribery and corruption, and sloth and negligence; and partly that the chief priests might consider what was proper to be done at such a juncture.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
11. Now when they were going—while the women were on their way to deliver to His brethren the message of their risen Lord.
some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done—Simple, unsophisticated soldiers! How could ye imagine that such a tale as ye had to tell would not at once commend itself to your scared employers? Had they doubted this for a moment, would they have ventured to go near them, knowing it was death to a Roman soldier to be proved asleep when on guard? and of course that was the only other explanation of the case.
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