Matthew 27:65
Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.
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(65) Ye have a watch.—Better, Take ye a guard. The Greek verb may be either imperative or indicative. The former gives the better meaning. The “watch,” or “guard,” was a body of Roman soldiers (St. Matthew uses the Latin term custodia), who could not be set to such a task without Pilate’s permission. If the priests had had such a “guard” at their disposal before, there would have been no need for them to apply to Pilate.

27:62-66 On the Jewish sabbath, the chief priests and Pharisees, when they should have been at their devotions, were dealing with Pilate about securing the sepulchre. This was permitted that there might be certain proof of our Lord's resurrection. Pilate told them that they might secure the sepulchre as carefully as they could. They sealed the stone, and set a guard, and were satisfied that all needful care was taken. But to guard the sepulchre against the poor weak disciples was folly, because needless; while to think to guard it against the power of God, was folly, because fruitless, and to no purpose; yet they thought they dealt wisely. But the Lord took the wise in their own craftiness. Thus shall all the rage and the plans of Christ's enemies be made to promote his glory.Ye have a watch - The Jews had a guard of Roman soldiers, who kept watch in the tower of Antonia, on the northwest of the temple. Pilate either referred to these, or to the "watch" that attended the crucifixion - the whole "band" that had been appointed for that. As the torments of crucifixion sometimes lasted many days, the band had been probably granted to them during that time, and they were therefore still at the direction of the chief priests. 65. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch—The guards had already acted under orders of the Sanhedrim, with Pilate's consent; but probably they were not clear about employing them as a night watch without Pilate's express authority.

go your way, make it as sure as ye can—as ye know how, or in the way ye deem securest. Though there may be no irony in this speech, it evidently insinuated that if the event should be contrary to their wish, it would not be for want of sufficient human appliances to prevent it.

See Poole on "Matthew 27:66".

Pilate said unto them, ye have a watch,.... Meaning either the watch of the temple, said to be placed in the tower of Antonia, for the service of it: hence mention is made of the captain of the temple, Acts 4:1, but it is not likely they would remove the temple guards, to watch a sepulchre night and day: or rather, therefore, the soldiers that had had the care of the crucifixion of Christ, and watched him on the cross, are designed: the words may be read imperatively, "have yea watch", or "take a watch", as the Ethiopic version renders it, and which seems best; for if they had a watch already, what occasion had they to have applied to Pilate for one? but having none, he gives them leave to take one, or such a number of soldiers as were sufficient:

go your way; as fast as you can, take the watch as soon as you please, make no stay, but satisfy yourselves in this point:

make it as sure as you can; or, as you know how to do it, and what will be proper and necessary.

Pilate said unto them, Ye have a {f} watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.

(f) The soldiers of the garrison who were appointed to guard the temple.

Matthew 27:65 f. Pilate’s reply is sharp and peremptory.

ἔχετε κουστωδίαν] with Luther, Vatablus, Wolf, Paulus, de Wette, Keim, Steinmeyer, ἔχετε is to be taken as an imperative, habetote (comp. Xen. Cyrop. viii. 7. 11; Mark 9:50; Mark 11:22; Soph. Phil. 778): ye shall have a watch! For if it be taken as an indicative, as is generally done in conformity with the Vulgate, we must not suppose that the reference is to Roman soldiers (Grotius, Fritzsche), for the Sanhedrim had not any such placed at their disposal, not even to the detachment that guarded the cross (Kuinoel), for its duties were now over, but simply to the ordinary temple guards. But it is evident from Matthew 28:14 that it was not these latter who were set to watch the grave. This duty was assigned to a company of Roman soldiers, which company the Acta Pil. magnifies into a cohort.

ὡς οἴδατε] as, by such means as, ye know how to prevent it, i.e. in the best way you can. The idea: “vereor autem, ut satis communire illud possitis” (Fritzsche), is foreign to the text.

μετὰ τῆς κουστωδίας] belongs to ἠσφαλίς. τ. τάφ.; they secured the grave by means of (Stallbaum, ad Plat. Rep. p. 530 D) the watch, which they posted in front of it. The intervening σφραγίς. τ. λίθ. is to be understood as having preceded the ἠσφαλ. τ. τ. μετὰ τ. κουστ.: after they had sealed the stone. To connect μετὰ τ. κουστωδ. with σφραγίς. (Chrysostom) would result either in the feeble and somewhat inappropriate idea that the watch had helped them with the sealing (Bleek), or in the harsh and unnecessary assumption that our expression is an abbreviation for μετὰ τοῦ προσθεῖναι τὴν κουστωδίαν (Fritzsche).

σφραγίς.] Comp. Daniel 6:17. The sealing was effected by stretching a cord across the stone at the mouth of the sepulchre, and then fastening it to the rock at either end by means of sealing-clay (Paulsen, Regier. d. Morgenl. p. 298; Harmar, Bcobacht. II. p. 467); or if the stone at the door happened to be fastened with a cross-beam, this latter was sealed to the rock (Strauss, Sinai und Golgatha, p. 205).


As it is certain that Jesus cannot have predicted His resurrection in any explicit or intelligible manner even to His own disciples; as, moreover, it is impossible to suppose that the women who visited the grave on the resurrection morning could have contemplated embalming the body, or would have concerned themselves merely about how the stone was to be rolled away, if they had been aware that a watch had been set, and that the grave had been sealed; and finally, as the supposition that Pilate complied with the request for a guard, or at all events, that the members of the Sanhedrim so little understood their own interest as both to leave the body of Jesus in the hands of His followers instead of taking possession of it themselves, and to bribe the soldiers to give false testimony instead of duly calling them to account, as they might have done, for their culpable neglect, is in the highest degree improbable, just as much so as the idea that the procurator would be likely to take no notice of a dereliction of duty on the part of his own soldiers, who, by maintaining the truth of a very stupid fabrication, would only be proclaiming how much they themselves were to blame in the matter: it follows that the story about the watching of the grave—a story which is further disproved by the fact that nowhere in the discussions belonging to the apostolic age do we find any reference confirmatory or otherwise to the alleged stealing of the body—must be referred to the category of unhistorical legend. And a clue to the origin of this legend is furnished by the evangelist himself in mentioning the rumour about the stealing of the body,—a rumour emanating to all appearance from a Jewish source, and circulated with the hostile intention of disproving the resurrection of Jesus (Paulus, exeg. Handb. III. p. 837 ff.; Strauss, II. p. 562 ff.; Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 458 ff.; Weisse, Ewald, Hase, Bleek, Keim, Scholten, Hilgenfeld). The arguments advanced by Hug in the Freyburg. Zeitschr. 1831, 3, p. 184 ff.; 5, p. 80 ff.; Kuinoel, Hofmann, Krabbe, Ebrard, Lange, Riggenbach, Steinmeyer, against the supposition of a legend, resolve themselves into arbitrary assumptions and foreign importations which simply leave the matter as historically incomprehensible as ever. The same thing may be said with regard to the emendation which Olshausen takes the liberty of introducing, according to which it is made to appear that the Sanhedrim did not act in their corporate capacity, but that the affair was managed simply on the authority of Caiaphas alone. Still the unhistorical character of the story by no means justifies the assumption of an interpolation (in opposition to Stroth in Eichhorn’s Repert. IX. p. 141),—an interpolation, too, that would have had to be introduced into three different passages (Matthew 27:62; Matthew 27:66, Matthew 28:4; Matthew 28:11 ff.); yet one can understand how this apocryphal story should have most readily engrafted itself specially and exclusively upon the Gospel of Matthew, a Gospel originating in Judaeo-Christian circles, and having, by this time, the more developed form in which it has come down to us. For a further amplification of the legend, see Ev. Nicod. 14.

Matthew 27:65. ἔχετε: probably imperative, not indicative = have your watch, the ready assent of a man who thinks there is not likely to be much need for it, but has no objections to gratify their wish in a small matter. So most recent interpreters—Meyer, Weiss, Holtz., Weizsäcker, Morison, Spk., Com., Alford. The Vulgate takes it as indicative = habetis, which Schanz follows. This rendering implies that Pilate wished them to be content with what they had already, either their own temple watch or soldiers already put at their disposal. Carr (Camb. N. T.) doubts the correctness of the modern interpretation on the ground that no clear example of the use of ἔχειν in the sense of “to take” occurs in either classical or Hellenistic Greek.—κουστωδίαν, a guard, a Latinism, a natural word for the Roman Pilate to use.—ὑπάγετε ἀσφαλίσασθε, the three verbs: ἔχ. ὑπάγ. ἀσφαλ., following each other without connecting particles form an asyndeton “indicating impatience on the part of Pilate” (Camb. N. T.).—ὡς οἴδατε, as ye know how.

65. Ye have a watch] The meaning is either (1) that Pilate refuses the request; “Ye have a watch of your own”—(a) the Levitical temple guard, or (b) a small body of soldiers whom Pilate may have already placed at their disposal—or (2) he grants it curtly and angrily, “Take a watch; begone.”

The latter view is generally adopted now. It seems quite clear from ch. Matthew 28:14 that the guard was of Roman soldiers.

Matthew 27:65. Ἔχετε, κ.τ.λ., ye have, etc.) Pilate gives the guards quickly: and yet, as it were with indignation (cf. ch. Matthew 28:11-12), dismisses the calumniators quickly also.

Verse 65. - Ye have a watch (ἔχετε κουστωδίαν, take a guard). Pilate answers briefly and haughtily, "Well, I give permission; do as you like; take a body of soldiers as a guard, and go your way." This last verb is imperative, so the former is most probably imperative also. If taken as indicative, the question arises - What guard had they? This is difficult to answer, unless, as Alford supposes, it may refer to some detachment placed at their disposal during the feast. But of this we know nothing historically. Make it as sure (ἀσφαλίσασθε, secure it for yourselves) as ye can; literally, as ye know how. Take any precaution you think fit to employ. Matthew 27:65Ye have (ἔχετε)

Or, as some render, imperatively: Have a guard! Rev., in margin, take.

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