Matthew 28:3
His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
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(3) Like lightning.—The word employed by St. Luke to describe the “raiment has the same force. The “white as snow” has its counterpart in the record of the Transfiguration (Mark 9:3) and the vision of the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7:9.

Matthew 28:3-4. His countenance was like lightning — Coruscations of light darting from his face; and his raiment white as snow — Glittering with an extraordinary lustre, beyond what any human eyes could bear; and for fear of him the keepers — Though Romans and soldiers; did shake, and became as dead men — Falling down on their faces in a most helpless condition; for they were effectually frightened by the majestic appearance of the angel, and especially by the lightning which flashed from his countenance. Quickly after, it appears, being recovered from their swoon, and finding the stone rolled away, and the sepulchre open, they fled to some distant place, to consult their own safety in so surprising an occurrence. This we have great reason to believe was the case, as nothing is said of any interview between them and the friends of Christ. It is not said at what particular instant Jesus arose, whether it was before the guards fell into this swoon, or after they recovered themselves and fled. Mark, indeed, by observing that Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene, may be thought to insinuate that the guards did not see him when he arose; yet the evangelist’s words do not necessarily imply this, for his meaning may be, that he appeared to Mary Magdalene first of all the disciples only. Besides, if the guards even did see him arise, it was, properly speaking, no appearance of Christ to them. However, be this as it may, it is certain that Jesus was arisen and gone before any of the women arrived at the sepulchre.

28:1-8 Christ rose the third day after his death; that was the time he had often spoken of. On the first day of the first week God commanded the light to shine out of darkness. On this day did He who is the Light of the world, shine out of the darkness of the grave; and this day is from henceforward often mentioned in the New Testament, as the day which Christians religiously observed in solemn assemblies, to the honour of Christ. Our Lord Jesus could have rolled back the stone by his own power, but he chose to have it done by an angel. The resurrection of Christ, as it is the joy of his friends, so it is the terror and confusion of his enemies. The angel encouraged the women against their fears. Let the sinners in Zion be afraid. Fear not ye, for his resurrection will be your consolation. Our communion with him must be spiritual, by faith in his word. When we are ready to make this world our home, and to say, It is good to be here, then let us remember our Lord Jesus is not here, he is risen; therefore let our hearts rise, and seek the things that are above. He is risen, as he said. Let us never think that strange which the word of Christ has told us to expect; whether the sufferings of this present time, or the glory that is to be revealed. It may have a good effect upon us, by faith to view the place where the Lord lay. Go quickly. It was good to be there, but the servants of God have other work appointed. Public usefulness must be chosen before the pleasure of secret communion with God. Tell the disciples, that they may be comforted under their present sorrows. Christ knows where his disciples dwell, and will visit them. Even to those at a distance from the plenty of the means of grace, he will graciously manifest himself. The fear and the joy together quickened their pace. The disciples of Christ should be forward to make known to each other their experiences of communion with their Lord; and should tell others what God has done for their souls.His countenance - In our language the word "countenance" refers to the "face only;" in the original it refers to his "whole person." His "general aspect, or the appearance of the angel himself," was, etc.

Like lightning - Peculiarly bright and shining.

His raiment white as snow - Celestial beings are usually represented as clothed in white, Acts 1:10; Daniel 7:9; Revelation 3:4-5; Revelation 4:4; Revelation 7:13-14. White, among the Jews, was the symbol of "purity or innocence."

3. His countenance—appearance.

was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow—the one expressing the glory, the other the purity of the celestial abode from which he came.

See Poole on "Matthew 28:4".

His countenance was like lightning,.... There was such a lustre and brightness in his face, that it glittered like lightning: such a description is in Daniel 10:6,

and his raiment white as snow: the word "white" is left out in the Vulgate Latin, and in Munster's Hebrew Gospel: the angel appeared clad in white, as a token of the purity and innocence of his nature; and because of the victory and triumph of Christ over death and the grave; and that he might be known and taken by the women for a good angel, it being a commonly received notion of the Jews, that ministering angels were clothed in white (b).

"Said R. Ame to R. Levi, show me the Persians; he said to him, they are like to the mighty men of the house of David: show me the Chaberin, (another nation near the Persians,) they are like to destroying angels: show me the Ishmaelites, they are like to devils of the house of Hacsa: show me the disciples of the wise men in Babylon, they are like to the ministering angels.''

Upon which the gloss says,

""to the devils", because they are clothed in black, and are like to devils; to "the ministering angels", "they are clothed in white", and veiled like the ministering angels; as it is written in Ezekiel 9:2, "and the man was clothed with linen": and it is said (c) of R. Judah, that he was veiled, and sat in fine linen fringed, and was like to an angel of the Lord of hosts: and elsewhere (d) it is said, who are the ministering angels? the Rabbins: and why are they called ministering angels? because they are fringed, as the ministering angels, in beautiful garments.''

(b) T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 72. 1.((c) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 25. 2.((d) T. Bab. Nedarim, fol. 20. 2.

His {c} countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

(c) The beams of his eyes, and by the figure of speech called synecdoche, this is understood as the countenance.

Matthew 28:3 f. Ἡ ἰδέα αὐτοῦ] his appearance, his outward aspect, found nowhere else in the New Testament, though occurring in Daniel 1:15, 2Ma 3:16, and frequently in classical authors. On the relation of this term to εἶδος, see Stallbaum, ad Plat. Rep. p. 596 A, and Parmen. p. 128 E; and comp. Ameis on Hom. Od. ix. 508, Appendix. The appearance of the countenance is meant; see what follows. Comp. Matthew 17:2.

ὡς ἀστραπή] not: as having the form, but as shining with the brightness of lightning. Comp. Plat. Phaedr. p. 254 B: εἶδου τὴν ὄψιν ἀστράπτουσαν. For the white raiment, comp. 2Ma 11:8; Acts 1:10. The sentinels were convulsed (ἐσείσθησαν, 3 Esdr. 4:36) with error at the sight of the angel (αὐτοῦ), and became as powerless as though they had been dead. The circumstance of these latter being mentioned again at this point is in strict keeping with the connection of Matthew’s narrative.

Matthew 28:3. ἰδέα (here only in N. T.; in Sept[160], Daniel 1:13; Daniel 1:15), the appearance, aspect (of the countenance of the angel). Vide Trench, Syn., p. 262, on μορφή, σχῆμα, ἰδέα.—ὡς ἀστραπὴ (Matthew 24:27), as lightning—brilliant, dazzling.—τὸ ἔγδυμα α., his raiment as distinct from his face—ὡς χιών, white as snow (cf. Matthew 17:2).

[160] Septuagint.

Matthew 28:3. Ἰδέα, appearance)[1225] sc. of his face.—λευκὸν, white) Heavenly messengers are not before this occurrence said to have appeared in this dress: they have done so however since: see Acts 1:10; Acts 10:30.[1226]

[1225] Engl. Vers. “countenance.”—(I. B.)

[1226] The dress corresponded to the message they delivered—Harm., p. 589.

Verse 3. - His countenance (ἰδέα, appearance) was like lightning. The angel's aspect was as bright and startling as the flash of lightning (comp. Ezekiel 1:14; Daniel 10:6). His raiment white as snow. Pure and glistening, like the effect of the Transfiguration on the Lord (Matthew 18:2; comp. Acts 1:10; Revelation 10:1). Matthew 28:3Countenance (εἰδέα)

Rev., more correctly, appearance. The word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It does not refer to the face alone, but to the general aspect. Wyc., looking.

As lightning

In effulgence. Each evangelist's account of the resurrection emphasizes different particulars. Matthew alone notes the outward glory, the earthquake, the agency of the angel, and the impotence of the military and priestly power to crush the new faith. He only notices the adoration of the risen Lord before his ascension, and traces to its origin the calumny current among the Jews to this day.

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