Matthew 28:4
And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) The keepers did shake.—The words imply that the two Maries when they reached the sepulchre saw the soldiers prostrate in their panic terror.

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.The keepers did shake - It was night. The appearance was sudden and unexpected, and to them terrific. The stone was probably suddenly removed. At the noise, the light, the suddenness of the appearance, they were affrighted.

And became as dead men - Probably by terror they fainted, or were thrown into a swoon. At this time it is probable that the Lord Jesus arose, and hence he was not seen by them when he came forth. At what precise time of the night this was we are not certainly informed. The narrative, however, leads us to suppose that it was not long before the women came to the sepulchre, or near the break of day.

4. And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men—Is the sepulchre "sure" now, O ye chief priests? He that sitteth in the heavens doth laugh at you.Ver. 2-4. Matthew alone telleth us this; all the other evangelists agree that when the women came they found the stone rolled away, which eased them of the solicitude they had as they came, saying amongst themselves,

Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? Matthew saith, an angel descended and rolled away the stone, and came and sat upon it. This angel had assumed a shape, for he appeared to those that saw him, as to

his countenance, like lightning; as to his garment, as one clothed in exceeding white linen, white as snow. What doth the watch all this while? Matthew saith, they were afraid, shook, and became like dead men. Luke and John make mention of two angels. Indeed there needed not any angel at all to remove the stone, if this had been all he had come down for; He that was quickened by the Spirit, could by the same power have rolled away the stone; but as it was fit that the angels, who had been witnesses of his passion, should also be witnesses of his resurrection, that he who was justified in the Spirit, should be seen of angels, 1 Timothy 3:16; so it was necessary, that the keepers might give a just account to Pilate, the chief priests, and scribes. And no wonder that they were afraid, and as dead men, whereas all apparitions of this nature naturally affright us, and they had such a conscience of guilt upon them, and might justly fear what their masters should say to them, when they found the body was missing; especially also seeing, or being sensible of, the earthquake, or great concussion of the air (for though we translate it earthquake, yet the Greek saith no more than seismov megav). Besides that the presence of the angels seemed reasonable to prevent a cheat, by putting some other dead body into the sepulchre, and to direct the women who were now coming towards the sepulchre, for they were not yet come: when they were come, they found the stone rolled away; and Matthew’s relation, how the stone came removed, was doubtless not from them, but from the keepers, or some to whom they had related it.

And for fear of him the keepers did shake,.... Though they were soldiers, Roman soldiers and veterans, who had been used to terrible sights in the field of battle; were men of courage, and fearless of danger; and yet were seized with a panic, and every limb of them shook and trembled at the sight of the angel, for fear he was come as an executioner of divine vengeance upon them; who had been concerned in the crucifixion of Christ, had watched him as he hung upon the cross, and now his body in the sepulchre: and even supposing no consciousness of guilt in them, or dread of punishment from him; yet such was the glory and majesty in which he appeared, of which they had never seen the like before, that it had this effect upon them:

and became as dead men: they turned pale, as dead men, and had scarce any life, or spirit, left in them.

And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 28:4. ὡς νεκροί: the keepers, through fear of the angel, were shaken as by an earthquake, and became as dead men—stupefied, helpless, totally incapacitated for action by way of preventing what is assumed, though not directly stated, to have happened. The resurrection is not described.

Matthew 28:4. Ὡσὲι νεκροὶ, as dead men) Not even militany daring endures the power of the inhabitants of heaven.

Verse 4. - And for fear of him; but from the fear of him. From the fear inspired by this awful angel. It would seem, from this expression, that the soldiers were sensible, not only of the earthquake and the movement of the stone, but also of the presence of the heavenly messenger, in this respect differing from the companions of Daniel and St. Paul, who were only partially conscious of the visions beheld by the two saints (see Daniel 10:7; Acts 22:9). Did shake. The verb is cognate with the noun "earthquake;" they were shaken, convulsed with terror. If these were some of the company that had watched the Crucifixion, they were already possessed of some feeling respecting the unearthly nature of the Occupant of the tomb which they were guarding, and had a vague expectation of something that might happen. At any rate, they must have heard the late events discussed by their comrades, and were not without apprehension of a catastrophe. Became as dead men. They fell to the ground in deathlike faintness, and, when they recovered from the trance, fled in terror from the tomb into the city (ver. 11). Matthew 28:4
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