Command therefore that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say to the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Until the third day.—The phrase is worth noting as indicating the meaning which the priests attached to the words “after three days.” They were looking for the fraud which they anticipated as likely to be attempted at the beginning of the third day from the death.
The last error.—Better, deceit, to connect the word, in English as in the Greek, with the “deceiver” of Matthew 27:63.Matthew 12:40.
The last error shall be worse than the first - That is, the last "deception," or the taking him from the tomb, pretending that he rose, will have a wider influence among the people than the first, or his pretending to be the Messiah.
until the third day—after which, if He still lay in the grave, the imposture of His claims would be manifest to all.
and say unto the people, he is risen from the dead—Did they really fear this?
so the last error shall be worse than the first—the imposture of His pretended resurrection worse than that of His pretended Messiahship.See Poole on "Matthew 27:66".
until the third day: not from the time they made this request, but from the time of Christ's death; for no longer did they desire the sepulchre to be guarded; for if he did not rise, and no pretensions could be made to it in that time, they then very likely intended to expose his dead body, and triumph over him as an impostor; and after that time, they cared not what became of it, and were in no concern about watching the sepulchre; but till then they judged it necessary and desired it,
lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away: but of this there was no danger; they were too fearful and timorous to do such an action, had they been ever so much inclined to it; they all forsook him and fled immediately upon his apprehension; nor durst any of them appear at the time of his crucifixion, but John; and were now shut up for fear of the Jews; and besides, they had forgot what Christ said to them about his resurrection, though these men remembered it, and even disbelieved it when it was told them: the phrase "by night", is not in two copies of Beza's, nor in the Vulgate Latin and Arabic versions, nor in Munster's Hebrew Gospel; but is in other copies, and in the Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions:
and say unto the people, he is risen from the dead; to the common people, that were illiterate, credulous, and easily imposed on: as for themselves, who were the learned, the wise and knowing, they were in no danger of being carried away with such a deception; but the populace, for whom they pretend a great concern, were:
so the last error shall be worse than the first; either their own error and mistake, should the sepulchre be neglected, and an opportunity given for such a report; this would be of more fatal consequence than their first mistake, in suffering him and his followers to go on so long: or rather, the error of the people, in believing that Jesus was the Messiah; which would be greatly strengthened and received by greater numbers, should it be given out, and there was any proof of it, that he was risen from the dead: nor were they mistaken in this, for the number of the disciples and followers of Christ greatly increased after his resurrection; to an hundred and twenty, which was their number upon Christ's resurrection, three thousand were added at one time; being converted under one sermon, and that the first preached after Christ was risen.Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 27:64 Καὶ ἔσται] is more lively and natural when not taken as dependent on μήποτε. The Vulgate renders correctly: et erit.
ἡ ἐσχάτη πλάνη] the last error (see on Ephesians 4:14), that, namely, which would gain ground among the credulous masses, through those who might steal away the body of Jesus pretending that He had risen from the dead.
τῆς πρώτης] which found acceptance with the multitude through giving out and encouraging others to give out that He was the Messiah.
χείρων] worse, i.e. more fatal to public order and security, etc. For the use of this expression, comp. Matthew 12:45; 2 Samuel 13:15.Matthew 27:64. ἕως τ.τρίτης ἡμέρας: the definite specification of time here and in Matthew 27:63 may have been imported into the story in the course of the tradition.—ἡ ἐσχάτη πλάνη, the last delusion = faith in the resurrection, belief in the Messiahship of Jesus being the first.—χείρων, worse, not so much in character as in consequences, more serious.64. by night] Omitted in the best MSS.
He is risen] Rather, He rose.
error] Better, deceit. The Greek word has the same root as deceiver, Matthew 27:63.Matthew 27:64. Ἀσφαλισθῆναι, to be made sure, to be secured) They ignorantly minister to the confirmation of the truth. No human ἀσφάλεια (making sure) hinders God; see Acts 5:23; Acts 16:23-26.—τῷ λαῷ, unto the people) The Pharisees supposed that they should not believe it themselves. They wish (as they persuade themselves) to take precautions for the people.—καὶ ἔσται ἡ ἐσχάτη πλάνη, κ.τ.λ., and the last error shall be, etc.) The latter victory of truth, however, spread more widely than the first.—ἡ ἐσχάτη, the last) A similar mode of expression occurs in 2 Samuel 13:16.Verse 64. - Command therefore. In consideration of the fact which we have stated, and of our apprehension of some imposture. The rulers had no power in themselves to take the measures which they required. Jesus was a state criminal, and they dared not assume the responsibility of guarding his tomb from invasion. Until the third day. Which was all that was necessary, as Christ had promised to rise on that day - neither before nor after it; and if it passed without the predicted event, he would be proved to be an impostor. Come by night (νυκτός). This word is absent from the best manuscripts and from the Vulgate. It seems to have been an early interpolation. And steal him away. A most unlikely hypothesis under the circumstances. The disciples had forsaken Christ while alive, were now hiding in terror, and utterly demoralized and depressed; were they likely to incur further danger for the sake of supporting an assertion, which, unless it proved absolutely true, would only further crush their faith and hope? The rulers seem to have had an uneasy feeling that Jesus might reappear, and they thus prepared themselves to cast discredit upon him, even if, like Lazarus, he rose from the dead. This explanation of the Resurrection has obtained among the Jews from the time of Justin Martyr ('Dial. c. Tryph.,' 17; 108.), and has scarcely yet died out, though in many quarters what is called the "vision-hypothesis" has taken its place (see on Matthew 28:15, and Edersheim, 2, pp. 626, etc.). The people. The Pharisees were always disdainful of the vulgar herd. "This people who knoweth not the Law are cursed" (John 7:49). The last error...the first. "Error" is πλάνη, as they had called Christ πλάνος (ver. 63), so the word here may be taken actively, as meaning "imposture." The deception arising from his death and supposed resurrection would be of graver consequence than that concerned with his previous life. Morison, considering the word to have its usual meaning of "error," regards it as used by the Pharisees in a political sense, in accordance with the governor's standpoint: "If that deceiver's body should be stolen by his disciples, the fickle people will undoubtedly leap back to their old conclusion, that after all he was what he professed to be. This conclusion would be, as we all know, an 'error;' but yet it would be most thin, ions to the interests of Caesar. There would be more political disaffection than ever." It is more simple to say that the first error, the acceptance of Christ's Messianic claims, was not of such decided and far-reaching consequence as would be the belief in his resurrection. They do not, indeed, see all that such belief involves; but they understood enough to know that it would give supernatural importance to all the words and acts of his life.
Not, as many render, deceit or imposture, referring to πλάνος above; but the error on the people's part. The last error, namely, the false impression that he has risen from the dead, will be worse than the first error - the impression made by his impostures that he was the Messiah.
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