And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Many women were there beholding.—The group was obviously distinct from that of “the daughters of Jerusalem,” of Luke 23:28, but was probably identical with that mentioned in Luke 8:2-3, as accompanying our Lord in many of His journeyings.Matthew 27:55-56. And many women were there, beholding afar off — Viewing these things with weeping eyes and sympathizing hearts: which followed Jesus from Galilee — To Jerusalem, eighty or a hundred miles, out of the great love they had to him, and to his heavenly doctrine; ministering unto him — Liberally assisting him and his disciples with their property. Among which were Mary Magdalene — Or rather, Mary the Magdalene, or Mary of Magdala, as Μαρια η Μαγδαληνη, would be more properly rendered; even as Ιησους ο Ναξαρερηνος, is Jesus the Nazarene, or Jesus of Nazareth. “There can be no doubt that this addition, employed for distinguishing her from others of the same name, is formed from Magdala, the name of a city, mentioned Matthew 15:39, probably the place of her birth, or at least of her residence.” — Campbell. And Mary the mother of James, (namely, James the Less, 15:49,) and Joses — Probably our Lord’s mother’s sister, (called, John 19:25, Mary the wife of Cleophas,) and the mother of Zebedee’s children — Namely, Salome. The three evangelists agree in affirming that these women stood afar off, looking on. Yet this is not inconsistent with John 19:25, where two of them, with our Lord’s mother, are said to have stood by the cross. It seems they were kept at a distance a while, perhaps by the guards, or they were afraid to approach. But when the greatest part of the soldiers were drawn off, and the darkness began, they gathered courage, and came so near that Jesus had an opportunity to speak to them a little before he expired. It is greatly to the honour of these excellent women, that they thus manifested more courage and attachment to their Lord and Master, than even the apostles themselves, who, notwithstanding that they had promised to die with him rather than desert him, had forsaken him and fled. But O! who can describe the feelings of these pious females, while they attended Jesus in these last scenes of his sufferings! What words can express, or heart conceive the depth of sorrow, compassion, anxiety, and despondency which must have been excited in their breasts, by what their eyes saw, and their ears heard during these mournful and awful hours! Of some other circumstances which occurred while our Lord hung on the cross, see the notes on Luke 23:39-43; John 19:26-27; John 19:31-37.
Matthew 27:57-61. When the even was come — That is, when it was past three o’clock; for the time from three to six they termed the first evening: this being Friday, or the day before the sabbath, which began at six o’clock, after which no work could lawfully be done, our Lord’s body must have been applied for and obtained as soon as four, or a little after, otherwise there would not have been time to bury it before the sabbath began. There came a rich man of Arimathea — A city of the Jews, anciently called Ramoth: (Luke says, he was a counsellor; Mark, an honourable counsellor, and a good man and just;) who also himself was Jesus’s disciple — (But secretly, John 19:38,) not having courage openly to profess his faith in him, for fear of the Jews and their rulers. And he also waited for the kingdom of God, Luke 23:51; that is, for the manifestation of the Messiah’s kingdom; and, of consequence, had not consented to the deed of them who condemned Jesus: though a member of the sanhedrim, he had not joined them in their unjust sentence. He had either kept away from the court when they sat on the trial of Jesus, or, if he was present when the sentence was passed, he remonstrated against it. This honourable, just, and pious person went (Mark says, boldly) to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus — Joseph had nothing to fear from the governor, who in the course of the trial had showed the greatest inclination to release Jesus; but he had reason to fear that this action would draw upon him abundance of ill-will from the rulers, who had been at such pains to get Jesus crucified. Nevertheless, the regard he had for his Master overcame all other considerations, and he asked leave to take his body down; because, if no friend had obtained it, it would have been ignominiously cast out among the executed malefactors. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered — Namely, after he had called the centurion to him, and had been assured by him that Jesus was certainly dead, which Pilate had at first doubted. Pilate was probably the more willing to grant the body to Joseph, both because he was thoroughly convinced that Jesus was innocent, and because it was generally thought by the heathen that the spirits of the departed received some advantage from the honours of a funeral paid to their bodies. “In discharging this last duty to his Master, Joseph was assisted (as we learn from John 19:39) by another disciple named Nicodemus, the ruler who formerly came to Jesus by night, for fear of the Jews. But he was not afraid of them now, for he showed a courage superior to that of the apostles, bringing such a quantity of spices along with him as was necessary to the funeral of his Master. These two, therefore, taking down the naked body, wrapped it with the spices in the linen furnished by Joseph. And laid it in his own new tomb, hewn out in the rock — Here we learn that Joseph, though a man of great wealth, and in a high situation of life, lived mindful of his mortality. For he had erected for himself a sepulchre in his garden, John 19:41, the place of his pleasure and retirement, that it might be often in his view, and suggest to him the thoughts of death and eternity. In the description of the sepulchre given by the evangelists, it is particularly remarked, that it was nigh to the place where he was crucified, consequently nigh to Jerusalem. By this circumstance all the cavils are prevented which might otherwise have been occasioned, in case the body had been removed farther off. Moreover, it is observed that the sepulchre was a new one, wherein never any man had been laid. This plainly proves that it could be no other than Jesus who rose out of it, and cuts off all suspicion of his being raised by touching the bones of some prophet buried there, as happened to the corpse which touched the bones of Elisha, 2 Kings 13:21. Further, the evangelists take notice that it was a sepulchre hewn out of a rock, to show that there was no passage by which the disciples could get into it but the one at which the guards were placed, Matthew 27:62, &c., and consequently that it was not in their power to steal away the body while the guards remained there performing their duty. And he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre — To block up the entrance. The sepulchre, it seems, differed from that of Lazarus, being partly above ground; whereas Lazarus’s being wholly under ground, had a stone laid on the mouth of it, covering the entry of the stair by which they went down to it. The rolling of the stone to the grave’s mouth was with them as filling up the grave is with us; it completed the funeral. Having thus in silence and sorrow deposited the precious body of our Lord Jesus in the house appointed for all living, they departed without any further ceremony. It is the most melancholy circumstance in the funerals of our Christian friends, when we have laid their bodies in the dark and silent grave, to go home and leave them behind; but, it is not we that go home and reave them behind; no, it is they that are gone to the better home, and have left us behind! There was Mary Magdalene and the other Mary — Namely, the mother of James and Joses, Matthew 27:56. The mother of Jesus, it appears, was not there, being hindered, probably, by the excess of her sorrow, or, perhaps, she might have been taken to the house of John as to her home, John 19:26-27. Thus we see the company which attended the funeral was very small and mean. There were none of the relations in mourning to follow the corpse; no formalities to grace the solemnity, but only these two good women, that were true mourners, who, as they had attended him to the cross, so they followed him to the grave, as if they gave themselves up to sorrow; and they sat over against the sepulchre, “not so much,” says Henry, “to fill their eyes with the sight of what was done, as to empty them in rivers of tears:” for true love to Christ will carry us to the utmost in following him: death itself will not, cannot, quench that divine fire.
Ministering unto him - Attending him and providing for his wants. While multitudes of people joined in the cry, "Crucify him!" and forsook him in his trying moments, it does not appear that any of his female followers were thus unfaithful. In the midst of all his trials, and all the Contempt poured upon him, they adhered to their Redeemer. Never did female constancy shine more brightly, and never was a happier example set for all who should afterward believe on him!
from Galilee, ministering unto him—As these dear women had ministered to Him during His glorious missionary tours in Galilee (see on Lu 8:1-3), so from this statement it should seem that they accompanied him and ministered to His wants from Galilee on His final journey to Jerusalem.See Poole on "Matthew 27:55".
beholding afar off; Christ upon the cross, in all his agonies, the chief priests and people mocking him, the darkness upon the earth, the quaking of it, and the rending of the rocks: they were witnesses of all this, being at some little distance, by reason of the crowd of people and soldiers about the cross; and they beheld with an eye of faith, their bleeding, dying Lord, as crucified for them, and as bearing and taking away their sins: a sight which at once stirred up their affection and love to Christ, their concern for him, and sorrow for sin; and yet joy and peace, in believing in him:
which followed Jesus from Galilee: where they had seen his miracles, heard his doctrines, and had been savingly converted by him; and therefore followed him wherever he went, though an hundred miles or more, and through many difficulties and discouragements: they attended him in his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and now at his cross; nor did they leave him when dead, and in his grave:
ministering unto him: not now, for he stood in no need of their assistance, nor could they give him any; but this respects what they had done heretofore, in their journey with him from Galilee to Jerusalem; when they ministered to him of their worldly substance, as a token of their affection for him; and which expresses the low estate and mean condition he was in, and is an instruction to his followers, how to behave towards the faithful preachers of his Gospel; see Luke 8:3.And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 27:55 f. Ἠκολούθησαν] Here, as in Matthew 27:60 and often elsewhere, we have the aorist in the relative clause instead of the usual pluperfect.
ἡ Μαγδαληνή] from Magdala (see on Matthew 15:39), comp. Luke 8:2; she is not identical with the Mary of John 12:1 ff., who again has been confounded with the sinner of Luke 7:36. Comp. on Matthew 26:6 ff. The מגדלינא is likewise mentioned in Rabbinical literature (Eisenmenger, entdeckt. Judenth. I. p. 277), though this must not be confounded with מגדלא, a plaiter of hair, which the Talmud alleges the mother of Jesus to have been (Lightfoot, p. 498).
ἡ τοῦ Ἰακώβου, κ.τ.λ.] the wife of Alphaeus. See on Matthew 13:55; John 19:25. The mother of Joses is not a different Mary from the mother of James (Ewald, Gesch. Chr. p. 401), otherwise we should have had καὶ ἡ τοῦ Ἰωσῆ μήτηρ. See also Mark 15:47, Remark.
ἡ μήτηρ τῶν υἱῶν Ζεβεδ.] Salome. Comp. on Matthew 20:20. In John 19:25 she is designated: ἡ ἀδελφὴ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ. The mother of Jesus, whose presence on this occasion is attested by John, is not mentioned by the Synoptists, though at the same time they do not exclude her (in opposition to Schenkel, Keim), especially as Matthew and Mark make no express reference to any but the women who ministered to the Lord. For this reason alone we feel bound to reject the hypothesis of Chrysostom and Theophylact, revived by Fritzsche, but refuted so long ago by Euthymius Zigabenus,—the hypothesis, namely, that it is the mother of Jesus who is meant by Μαρία ἡ τοῦ Ἰακώβου καὶ Ἰωσῆ μήτηρ (Matthew 13:55). So also Hesychius of Jerusalem in Cramer’s Catena, p. 256.Matthew 27:55. γυναῖκες, women, bolder than men, love casting out fear. Lk. associates with them others called οἱ γνωστοὶ αὐτῷ, His acquaintance, which might include the disciples. Though they fled panic-stricken they may have rallied and returned to see the end, either along with the women or mixed in the crowd, and so have become qualified afterwards for witnessing to what happened. It is no argument against this that no mention is made of them in the narratives. It is no part of the plan of the evangelists to indicate the sources of their information. The women are not mentioned for this purpose, but because they have a part to play in the sequel. If they had been introduced as witnesses it would not have been made so clear that they stood “afar off” (ἀπὸ μακρόθεν). In like manner that Peter followed his Master to the judgment hall is told, not that he may be available as a witness, but because there is a story of denial to relate about him.—πολλαὶ, many, a tribute to the impression made on feminine hearts by the Galilean ministry; for it was from Galilee they came, as the following clause states (αἵτινες, etc., defining them as women who knew Him well, loved Him warmly, and served Him devotedly).Verse 55. - Many women. These are mentioned as witnesses of all these events which the apostles are not recorded to have seen. Courageous and loving, they had followed the procession to Calvary, and at a distance watched the woeful proceedings there. Some, we know, had ventured to come closer to their dying Lord (see John 19:25). Which followed (equivalent to had followed) Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him. They had accompanied Jesus on his last journey to the Passover at Jerusalem, tending him during all the time, and of their substance ministering to his wants (Luke 8:3).
Denoting a class: who were of the body of women that had followed him.
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