Matthew 28:15
So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
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(15) This saying is commonly reported.—The passage is interesting as the earliest indication of a counter-statement to the witness borne by the disciples, and as in part explaining the partial non-acceptance of their testimony. The phrase “until this day” suggests some considerable interval—say, at least, fifteen or twenty years—between the facts recorded and the composition of the narrative. (See Note on Matthew 27:8.) Justin Martyr mentions the report as current among the Jews of his time, the Jews having sent “chosen men” into all parts of the world to propagate it (Dial. 100 Tryph. c. 108).

Matthew 28:15. So they took the money — They did not, either on the score of conscience, or on account of the palpable falsehood of the story they were to propagate, refuse the bribe that was offered them by the chief priests. Their love of money, as is common with wicked men, pushed them on headlong, so that they did not mind the many improbabilities implied in the lie, nor the horrid iniquity of it. And, though they had been greatly confounded with the vision of the angels, and the earthquake, the panic was by this time worn off. Besides, they did not consider the vision as connected with morality; or, if they did, the priests would endeavour to persuade them that it was nothing real, but the mere effect of their own imagination, terrified by seeing one rise from the dead. The only objection, therefore, made by the soldiers, to their complying with the desire of the priests, was, that by publishing such a story, they would acknowledge such a gross neglect of duty as would expose them to severe punishment, if the governor should hear of it. But to make them easy on this head, the priests promised to give such a representation of the matter to Pilate, that no harm should befall them. This only obstacle, therefore, being removed, the soldiers did as they were desired. They told everywhere the lie which the priests had put into their mouths: a lie the most impudent and barefaced that could be contrived, but which the priests and other members of the council were anxious to have propagated, because they hoped it would be swallowed by many without examination. Nor were they deceived in their expectation; for, improbable as the story was, it gained general credit among the enemies of Jesus, and was currently reported, as Matthew here tells us, at the time he wrote his gospel. Unluckily, however, for the cause of infidelity, it was only some of the watch who came to the chief priests; the rest had gone to their garrison, where no doubt they told their comrades what had happened. And even those who came to the chief priests would not be backward to speak of the extraordinary event as they passed along the streets, if they chanced to meet with any of their acquaintance. Far less would they conceal the matter in the high-priest’s palace, while they waited to be called in. None can doubt this who attend to the nature and operation of human passions, and the eagerness which all men naturally have to tell a wonderful story, not to mention the desire which these soldiers must have felt to justify themselves for quitting their posts. The truth, therefore, that Jesus was actually risen, in spite of all the endeavours of the chief priests to suppress it, came abroad, and doubtless became a subject of consideration and inquiry with many, who had not been Christ’s disciples; and the more they considered the evidences of it, and compared it with the false story which the priests had prevailed on some of the guard to propagate, the more such as were unprejudiced must be inclined to believe the former and reject the latter, which latter it was evident the priests themselves did not believe. For if they had believed it, doubtless, with a view to prove it, and justify themselves in their hostility to Christ and his cause, they would have narrowly examined where the apostles had been all that night, and would have made search for Christ’s body, which, if found, would at once have confuted the testimony of the apostles respecting his resurrection, and have proved their great guilt in endeavouring, by its removal, to palm a lie upon mankind, and establish an imposture of a most heinous nature and pernicious tendency. It is probable, therefore, that an impression in favour of the truth was made on the minds of many persons, and gained ground daily, and that this had considerable influence in preparing them for the reception of the gospel: which circumstance may, partly at least, account for the wonderful success of the ministry of Peter and the other apostles at and after the day of pentecost. To counteract, however, every impression of this kind, and confirm the Jews, whether in Jerusalem or elsewhere, in their prejudices against Christianity, the chief priests and elders were unwearied in their endeavours. “They even” (says Justin Martyr, Dialog. cum Tryph., p. 368) “sent chosen men of considerable rank over all the world, not only in the general to represent the Christians as an impious sect, but to assert that the body of Jesus was torn out of his tomb by night, and the persons who thus fraudulently conveyed it away, took occasion from thence to report that he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.” Which message is spoken of as having been sent before the destruction of Jerusalem.

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.This saying is commonly reported - This account of the disappearance of the body of Jesus from the sepulchre is commonly given.

Until this day - The time when Matthew wrote this gospel that is, about 30 years after the resurrection.

The resurrection of the Lord Jesus, of which an account is given in this chapter, is one of the most important doctrines of the Christian religion, and is attested by the strongest evidence that can be adduced in favor of any ancient fact. Let it be considered:

1. that he had often foretold his own death and resurrection. See Matthew 12:40; Matthew 16:21; Matthew 20:19.

2. There was no doubt that he was really dead. Of this the Jews. the Romans, and the disciples were all equally well satisfied.

3. Every proper precaution was taken to prevent his removal by stealth. A guard, usually consisting of sixty men, was placed there for the express purpose of keeping him, and the sepulchre was secured by a large stone and by a seal.

4. On the third day the body was missing. In this all were agreed. The high priests did not dare to call that in question. They labored, therefore, to account for it. The disciples affirmed that he was alive. The Jews hired the Roman soldiers to affirm that he was stolen while they slept, and succeeded in making many of the people believe it.

This account of the Jews is attended with the following difficulties and absurdities:

1. The Roman guard was composed usually of 60 men, and they were stationed there for the express purpose of guarding the body of Jesus.

2. The punishment of "sleeping" while on guard in the Roman army was "death," and it is perfectly incredible that those soldiers should expose themselves in this manner to death.

3. The disciples were few in number, unarmed, weak, and timid. They had just fled before those who took Jesus in the garden, and how can it be believed that in so short a time they would dare to attempt to take away from a Roman guard of armed men what they were expressly set to defend?

4. How could the disciples presume that they would find the Roman soldiers asleep? or, if they should, how was it possible to remove the stone and the body without awaking even "one" of their number?

5. The "regularity and order" of the grave-clothes John 20:6-7 show that the body had not been stolen. When men rob graves of the bodies of the dead, they do not wait coolly to fold up the grave-clothes and lay them carefully by themselves.

6. If the soldiers were "asleep," how did they, or how could they know that the disciples stole the body away? If they were "awake," why did they suffer it?


15. So they took the money, and did as they were taught—thus consenting to brand themselves with infamy.

and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day—to the date of the publication of this Gospel. The wonder is that so clumsy and incredible a story lasted so long. But those who are resolved not to come to the light will catch at straws. Justin Martyr, who flourished about A.D. 170, says, in his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, that the Jews dispersed the story by means of special messengers sent to every country.

Ver. 11-15. No other evangelist hath this passage, which was necessary to be inserted by Matthew:

1. To satisfy readers how it could come to pass, that Matthew should know of the earthquake, or concussion of the air rather, and that an angel came and rolled away the stone; for all this was done, and Christ risen, before the women came: it came out by the watch, or by Pilate to whom the watch related it, or else by some of the priests and elders, who did not keep counsel so well as others.

2. To show the horrible wickedness of these priests and elders, that would thus cover the blood they had spilt with a lie and subornation. Thus one sin requires more to defend it.

3. To let us see how simple people will show themselves in their malice. What a story here was! If they were asleep, how could they know that Christ’s disciples came by night and stole him away? Would no noise of rolling away the stone wake them? Malice will not allow men deliberation enough to show themselves wise. God infatuated these men, that succeeding ages might know they were suborned. Here we have also the ground of that fable with which the Jews presently filled all the world.

So they took the money, and did as they were taught,.... Though they had been just now in the greatest fright and consternation imaginable, at the sight of the angel, and knew what was done; yet being men of no religion or conscience, were tempted with the money, and took it, and reported every where what had been put into their mouths by the chief priests and elders.

And this saying is commonly reported among the Jews unto this day; to the time that Matthew wrote this Gospel; which according to the subscriptions to a most ancient copy of Beza's, and the Syriac and Arabic versions of De Dieu, was in the "eighth" year after our Lord's ascension; though others make it to be the "ninth"; and others the "fifteenth". The sense is, not that this narrative the evangelist gives, that the sanhedrim bribed the soldiers to give out such a lying story, was known to the Jews, and commonly reported by them; though some take this to be the sense; but that it was reported and believed among the Jews in common, to that time, that the disciples of Christ did really come in the night, and steal away the body of Christ, while the watch slept: to such judicial blindness, and hardness of heart, were they given up, as to believe a lie, and which had no appearance of truth in it. They have since contrived a more monstrous and ridiculous story than this. They say (e), that Judas, seeing where the body was laid, and the disciples sitting upon the tomb, and mourning over it, in the middle of the night, took his opportunity to take away the body, and buried it in his own garden, under a current of water; having first turned the water another way, and then put it in the same course as before; and which he afterwards discovered to the Jews; and the body was taken up and exposed, and insulted in the most ignominious manner: but alas! Judas had hanged himself some days before; and had he been living, would not have been capable of doing what they ascribe unto him.

(e) Toldos Jesu, p. 18, 19, 21.

So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
Matthew 28:15. his verse states that the soldiers did as instructed, so originating a theft theory, which, according to our evangelist, was current in his day in Jewish circles at the time he wrote.

15. this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day] Hence St Matthew found it especially needful to narrate the true facts.

Matthew 28:15. Διεφημίσθη, has been commonly reported) There are many things of this kind by which the wretched Jews keep themselves in error.[1230]

[1230] And how signal are the injuries which are subsequently given birth to by even a single false representation!—V. g.

Matthew 28:16. εἰς τὴν Γαλιλάιαν, into Galilee) This very appearance was the most solemn of all, being the one which the Lord had promised before His passion. And it is not without good reason that it is held to be the same one as that at which “more than 500 brethren” were present “at once,” 1 Corinthians 15:6. For the Lord appeared to Paul after His ascension: but the rest of the Apostles (1 Corinthians 15:7) had not at that time need any more, as Paul had, of such a vision. No doubt at Jerusalem, after the ascension, only 120 disciples are reckoned (Acts 1:15). But Galilee contained far more disciples than that number.—Harm., p. 611.

Verse 15. - This saying; viz. the theft of the body by the disciples. Is commonly reported (was spread abroad) among the Jews until this day; i.e. and continues to be reported until this day. This was true when St. Matthew wrote, and it is true at the present time, though thoughtful Jews of late years have adopted the idea that the apostles, in their excited state, were deceived by visions of Christ which they took for substantial realities (see on Matthew 27:64). In the passage of Justin Martyr ('Dial. cum Tryph.,' 108.) we are told that the Jews sent emissaries in all directions to spread this false report. The evangelist shows the origin of this most improbable tale, and virtually challenges any other explanation of the miracle than the authentic one. Matthew 28:15
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