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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Matthew: Chapter 27)

27:1 {Now when morning was come} (\prōias de genomenēs\).
Genitive absolute. After dawn came the Sanhedrin held a formal
meeting to condemn Jesus and so ratify the illegal trial during
the night (Mr 15:1; Lu 22:66-71). Luke gives the details of
this second ratification consultation. The phrase used, {took
(\sumboulion elabon\) is a Latin idiom (_consilium
for \sunebouleusanto\.

27:2 {Delivered him up to Pilate the governor} (\paredōkan
Peilatōi tōi hēgemoni\)
. What they had done was all a form and a
farce. Pilate had the power of death, but they had greatly
enjoyed the condemnation and the buffeting of Jesus now in their
power bound as a condemned criminal. He was no longer the master
of assemblies in the temple, able to make the Sanhedrin cower
before him. He had been bound in the garden and was bound before
Annas (Joh 18:12,24), but may have been unbound before

27:3 {Repented himself} (\metamelētheis\). Probably Judas saw
Jesus led away to Pilate and thus knew that the condemnation had
taken place. This verb (first aorist passive participle of
really means to be sorry afterwards like the
English word _repent_ from the Latin _repoenitet_, to have pain
again or afterwards. See the same verb \metamelētheis\ in Mt
21:30 of the boy who became sorry and changed to obedience. The
word does not have an evil sense in itself. Paul uses it of his
sorrow for his sharp letter to the Corinthians, a sorrow that
ceased when good came of the letter (2Co 7:8). But mere sorrow
avails nothing unless it leads to change of mind and life
(\metanoia\), the sorrow according to God (2Co 7:9). This
sorrow Peter had when he wept bitterly. It led Peter back to
Christ. But Judas had only remorse that led to suicide.

27:4 {See thou to it} (\su opsēi\). Judas made a belated
confession of his sin in betraying innocent blood to the
Sanhedrin, but not to God, nor to Jesus. The Sanhedrin ignore the
innocent or righteous blood (\haima athōion\ or \dikaion\) and
tell Judas to look after his own guilt himself. They ignore also
their own guilt in the matter. The use of \su opsēi\ as a
volitive future, an equivalent of the imperative, is commoner in
Latin (_tu videris_) than in Greek, though the _Koinē_ shows it
also. The sentiment is that of Cain (Grotius, Bruce).

27:5 {Hanged himself} (\apēgxato\). Direct middle. His act was
sudden after he hurled the money into the sanctuary (\eis ton
, the sacred enclosure where the priests were. The motives
of Judas in the betrayal were mixed as is usually the case with
criminals. The money cut a small figure with him save as an
expression of contempt as the current price of a slave.

27:6 {Into the treasury} (\eis ton korbanān\). Josephus (_War_
II. 9,4)
uses this very word for the sacred treasury. _Korban_ is
Aramaic for _gift_ (\dōron\) as is plain in Mr 7:11. The price
of blood (blood-money) was pollution to the treasury (De
. So they took the money out and used it for a secular
purpose. The rabbis knew how to split hairs about _Korban_ (Mr
7:1-23; Mt 15:1-20)
, but they balk at this blood-money.

27:7 {The potter's field} (\tou agrou tou kerameōs\). Grotius
suggests that it was a small field where potter's clay was
obtained, like a brickyard (Broadus). Otherwise we do not know
why the name exists. In Ac 1:18 we have another account of the
death of Judas by bursting open (possibly falling after hanging
after he obtained the field by the wages of iniquity.
But it is possible that \ektēsato\ there refers to the rabbinical
use of _Korban_, that the money was still that of Judas though he
was dead and so he really "acquired" the field by his

27:8 {The field of blood} (\agros haimatos\). This name was
attached to it because it was the price of blood and that is not
inconsistent with Ac 1:18f. Today potter's field carries the
idea here started of burial place for strangers who have no where
else to lie (\eis taphēn tois xenois\), probably at first Jews
from elsewhere dying in Jerusalem. In Ac 1:19 it is called
{Aceldama} or {place of blood} (\chōrion haimatos\) for the
reason that Judas' blood was shed there, here because it was
purchased by blood money. Both reasons could be true.

27:9 {By Jeremiah the prophet} (\dia Ieremiou\). This quotation
comes mainly from Zec 11:13 though not in exact language. In
Jer 18:18 the prophet tells of a visit to a potter's house and
in Jer 32:6ff. of the purchase of a field. It is in Zechariah
that the thirty pieces of silver are mentioned. Many theories are
offered for the combination of Zechariah and Jeremiah and
attributing it all to Jeremiah as in Mr 1:2f. the quotation
from Isaiah and Malachi is referred wholly to Isaiah as the more
prominent of the two. Broadus and McNeile give a full discussion
of the various theories from a mere mechanical slip to the one
just given above. Matthew has here (27:10) "the field of the
potter" (\eis ton agron tou kerameōs\) for "the potter the house
of the Lord" in Zec 11:13. That makes it more parallel with the
language of Mt 27:7.

27:11 {Now Jesus stood before the governor} (\ho de Iēsous
estathē emprosthen tou hēgemonos\)
. Here is one of the dramatic
episodes of history. Jesus stood face to face with the Roman
governor. The verb \estathē\, not \estē\ (second aorist active),
is first aorist passive and can mean "was placed" there, but he
stood, not sat. The term \hēgemōn\ (from \hēgeomai\, to lead) was
technically a _legatus Caesaris_, an officer of the Emperor, more
exactly procurator, ruler under the Emperor of a less important
province than propraetor (as over Syria). The senatorial
provinces like Achaia were governed by proconsuls. Pilate
represented Roman law. {Art thou the King of the Jews?} (\Su ei
ho basileus tōn Ioudaiōn;\)
. This is what really mattered.
Matthew does not give the charges made by the Sanhedrin (Lu
nor the private interview with Pilate (Joh 18:28-32). He
could not ignore the accusation that Jesus claimed to be King of
the Jews. Else he could be himself accused to Caesar for
disloyalty. Rivals and pretenders were common all over the
empire. So here was one more. By his answer ({thou sayest}) Jesus
confesses that he is. So Pilate has a problem on his hands. What
sort of a king does this one claim to be? {Thou} (\su\) the King
of the Jews?

27:14 {And he gave him no answer, not even to one word} (\kai ouk
apekrithē autōi pros oude hen rhēma\)
. Jesus refused to answer
the charges of the Jews (verse 12). Now he continued silent
under the direct question of Pilate. The Greek is very precise
besides the double negative. "He did not reply to him up to not
even one word." This silent dignity amazed Pilate and yet he was
strangely impressed.

27:17 {Barabbas or Jesus which is called Christ?} (\Barabbān ē
Iēsoun ton legomenon Christon;\)
. Pilate was catching at straws
or seeking any loophole to escape condemning a harmless lunatic
or exponent of a superstitious cult such as he deemed Jesus to
be, certainly in no political sense a rival of Caesar. The Jews
interpreted "Christ" for Pilate to be a claim to be King of the
Jews in opposition to Caesar, "a most unprincipled proceeding"
(Bruce). So he bethought him of the time-honoured custom at the
passover of releasing to the people "a prisoner whom they wished"
(\desmion hon ēthelon\). No parallel case has been found, but
Josephus mentions the custom (_Ant_. xx. 9,3). Barabbas was for
some reason a popular hero, a notable (\episēmon\), if not
notorious, prisoner, leader of an insurrection or revolution (Mr
probably against Rome, and so guilty of the very crime
that they tried to fasten on Jesus who only claimed to be king in
the spiritual sense of the spiritual kingdom. So Pilate
unwittingly pitted against each other two prisoners who
represented the antagonistic forces of all time. It is an
elliptical structure in the question, "whom do you wish that I
release?" (\tina thelete apolusō;\), either two questions in one
(asyndeton) or the ellipse of \hina\ before \apolusō\. See the
same idiom in verse 21. But Pilate's question tested the Jews
as well as himself. It tests all men today. Some manuscripts add
the name Jesus to Barabbas and that makes it all the sharper.
Jesus Barabbas or Jesus Christ?

27:18 {For envy} (\dia phthonon\). Pilate was dense about many
things, but he knew that the Jewish leaders were jealous of the
power of Jesus with the people. He may have heard of the events
of the Triumphal Entry and the Temple Teaching. The envy, of
course, came primarily from the leaders.

27:19 {His wife} (\hē gunē autou\). Poor Pilate was getting more
entangled every moment as he hesitated to set Jesus free whom he
knew to be free of any crime against Caesar. Just at the moment
when he was trying to enlist the people in behalf of Jesus
against the schemes of the Jewish leaders, his wife sent a
message about her dream concerning Jesus. She calls Jesus "that
righteous man" (\tōi dikaiōi ekeinōi\) and her psychical
sufferings increased Pilate's superstitious fears. Tradition
names her Procla and even calls her a Christian which is not
probable. But it was enough to unnerve the weak Pilate as he sat
on the judgment-seat (\epi tou bēmatos\) up over the pavement.

27:20 {Persuaded} (\epeisan\). The chief priests (Sadducees) and
elders (Pharisees) saw the peril of the situation and took no
chances. While Pilate wavered in pressing the question, they used
all their arts to get the people to "ask for themselves"
(\aitēsōntai\, indirect middle ingressive aorist subjunctive) and
to choose Barabbas and not Jesus.

27:22 {What then shall I do unto Jesus which is called Christ?}
(\ti oun poiēsō Iēsoun ton legomenon Christon;\). They had asked
for Barabbas under the tutelage of the Sanhedrin, but Pilate
pressed home the problem of Jesus with the dim hope that they
might ask for Jesus also. But they had learned their lesson. Some
of the very people who shouted "Hosannah" on the Sunday morning
of the Triumphal Entry now shout {Let him be crucified}
(\staurōthētō\). The tide has now turned against Jesus, the hero
of Sunday, now the condemned criminal of Friday. Such is popular
favour. But all the while Pilate is shirking his own fearful
responsibility and trying to hide his own weakness and injustice
behind popular clamour and prejudice.

27:23 {Why, what evil hath he done?} (\ti gar kakon epoiēsen\;).
This was a feeble protest by a flickering conscience. Pilate
descended to that level of arguing with the mob now inflamed with
passion for the blood of Jesus, a veritable lynching fiasco. But
this exhibition of weakness made the mob fear refusal by Pilate
to proceed. So they "kept crying exceedingly" (\perissōs
ekrazon\, imperfect tense of repeated action and vehemently)

their demand for the crucifixion of Jesus. It was like a
gladiatorial show with all thumbs turned down.

27:24 {Washed his hands} (\apenipsato tas cheiras\). As a last
resort since the hubbub (\thorubos\) increased because of his
vacillation. The verb \aponiptō\ means to wash off and the middle
voice means that he washed off his hands for himself as a common
symbol of cleanliness and added his pious claim with a slap at
them. {I am innocent of the blood of this righteous man} (or
{this blood})
; {see ye to it}. (\Athōios eimi apo tou haimatos
tou dikaiou toutou\ or \tou haimatos toutou\ as some manuscripts
have it, \humeis opsesthe\.)
The Jews used this symbol (De 21:6;
Ps 26:6; 73:13)
. Plummer doubts if Pilate said these words with
a direct reference to his wife's message (26:19), but I fail to
see the ground for that scepticism. The so-called _Gospel of
Peter_ says that Pilate washed his hands because the Jews refused
to do so.

27:25 {His blood be upon us and upon our children} (\to haima
autou kai epi ta tekna hēmōn\)
. These solemn words do show a
consciousness that the Jewish people recognized their guilt and
were even proud of it. But Pilate could not wash away his own
guilt that easily. The water did not wash away the blood of Jesus
from his hands any more than Lady Macbeth could wash away the
blood-stains from her lily-white hands. One legend tells that in
storms on Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland his ghost comes out and
still washes his hands in the storm-clouds. There was guilt
enough for Judas, for Caiaphas and for all the Sanhedrin both
Sadducees and Pharisees, for the Jewish people as a whole (\pas
ho laos\)
, and for Pilate. At bottom the sins of all of us nailed
Jesus to the Cross. This language is no excuse for race hatred
today, but it helps explain the sensitiveness between Jew and
Christians on this subject. And Jews today approach the subject
of the Cross with a certain amount of prejudice.

27:26 {Scourged} (\phragellōsas\). The Latin verb _flagellare_.
Pilate apparently lost interest in Jesus when he discovered that
he had no friends in the crowd. The religious leaders had been
eager to get Jesus condemned before many of the Galilean crowd
friendly to Jesus came into the city. They had apparently
succeeded. The scourging before the crucifixion was a brutal
Roman custom. The scourging was part of the capital punishment.
Deissmann (_Light from the Ancient East_, p. 269) quotes a
Florentine papyrus of the year 85 A.D. wherein G. Septimius
Vegetus, governor of Egypt, says of a certain Phibion: "Thou
hadst been worthy of scourging ... but I will give thee to the

27:27 {Into the palace} (\eis to praitōrion\). In Rome the
praetorium was the camp of the praetorian (from praetor) guard of
soldiers (Php 1:13), but in the provinces it was the palace in
which the governor resided as in Ac 23:35 in Caesarea. So here
in Jerusalem Pilate ordered Jesus and all the band or cohort
(\holēn tēn speiran\) of soldiers to be led into the palace in
front of which the judgment-seat had been placed. The Latin
_spira_ was anything rolled into a circle like a twisted ball of
thread. These Latin words are natural here in the atmosphere of
the court and the military environment. The soldiers were
gathered together for the sport of seeing the scourging. These
heathen soldiers would also enjoy showing their contempt for the
Jews as well as for the condemned man.

27:28 {A scarlet robe} (\chlamuda kokkinēn\). A kind of short
cloak worn by soldiers, military officers, magistrates, kings,
emperors (2Macc. 12:35; Josephus, _Ant_. V. 1,10), a soldier's
_sagum_ or scarf. Carr (_Cambridge Gk. Test._) suggests that it
may have been a worn-out scarf of Pilate's. The scarlet colour
(\kokkinēn\) was a dye derived from the female insect (\kermes\)
which gathered on the \ilex coccifera\ found in Palestine. These
dried clusters of insects look like berries and form the famous
dye. The word occurs in Plutarch, Epictetus, Herodas, and late
papyri besides the Septuagint and New Testament. Mark (Mr
has "purple" (\porphuran\). There are various shades of
purple and scarlet and it is not easy to distinguish these
colours or tints. The manuscripts vary here between "stripped"
(\ekdusantes\) and "clothed" (\endusantes\). He had been stripped
for the scourging. If "clothed" is correct, the soldiers added
the scarlet (purple) mantle. Herodotus (iii. 139) relates that
Darius richly rewarded a Samian exile for a rare scarlet robe
which he obtained from him. This scarlet mantle on Jesus was mock
imitation of the royal purple.

27:29 {A crown of thorns} (\stephanon ex akanthōn\). They wove a
crown out of thorns which would grow even in the palace grounds.
It is immaterial whether they were young and tender thorn bushes,
as probable in the spring, or hard bushes with sharp prongs. The
soldiers would not care, for they were after ridicule and mockery
even if it caused pain. It was more like a victor's garland
(\stephanon\) than a royal diadem (\diadēma\), but it served the
purpose. So with the reed (\kalamon\), a stalk of common cane
grass which served as sceptre. The soldiers were familiar with
the _Ave Caesar_ and copy it in their mockery of Jesus: {Hail,
King of the Jews}
(\chaire, Basileu tōn Ioudaiōn\). The soldiers
added the insults used by the Sanhedrin (Mt 26:67), spitting on
him and smiting him with the reed. Probably Jesus had been
unbound already. At any rate the garments of mockery were removed
before the _via dolorosa_ to the cross (verse 31).

27:32 {Compelled} (\ēggareusan\). This word of Persian origin was
used in Mt 5:41, which see. There are numerous papyri examples
of Ptolemaic date and it survives in modern Greek vernacular. So
the soldiers treat Simon of Cyrene (a town of Libya) as a Persian
courier (\aggaros\) and impress him into service, probably
because Jesus was showing signs of physical weakness in bearing
his own Cross as the victims had to do, and not as a mere jest on
Simon. "Gethsemane, betrayal, the ordeal of the past sleepless
night, scourging, have made the flesh weak" (Bruce). Yes, and the
burden of sin of the world that was breaking his heart. {His
(\ton stauron autou\). Jesus had used the term cross about
himself (16:24). It was a familiar enough picture under Roman
rule. Jesus had long foreseen and foretold this horrible form of
death for himself (Mt 20:19; 23:24; 26:2). He had heard the cry
of the mob to Pilate that he be crucified (27:22) and Pilate's
surrender (27:26) and he was on the way to the Cross (27:31).
There were various kinds of crosses and we do not know precisely
the shape of the Cross on which Jesus was crucified, though
probably the one usually presented is correct. Usually the victim
was nailed (hands and feet) to the cross before it was raised and
it was not very high. The crucifixion was done by the soldiers
(27:35) in charge and two robbers were crucified on each side
of Jesus, three crosses standing in a row (27:38).

27:33 {Golgotha} (\Golgotha\). Chaldaic or Aramaic _Gulgatha_,
Hebrew _Gulgoleth_, place of a skull-shaped mount, not place of
skulls. Latin Vulgate _Calvariae locus_, hence our Calvary.
Tyndale misunderstood it as a place of dead men's skulls. Calvary
or Golgotha is not the traditional place of the Holy Sepulchre in
Jerusalem, but a place outside of the city, probably what is now
called Gordon's Calvary, a hill north of the city wall which from
the Mount of Olives looks like a skull, the rock-hewn tombs
resembling eyes in one of which Jesus may have been buried.

27:34 {Wine mingled with gall} (\oinon meta cholēs memigmenon\).
Late MSS. read {vinegar} (\oxos\) instead of wine and Mark (Mr
has myrrh instead of gall. The myrrh gave the sour wine a
better flavour and like the bitter gall had a narcotic and
stupefying effect. Both elements may have been in the drink which
Jesus tasted and refused to drink. Women provided the drink to
deaden the sense of pain and the soldiers may have added the gall
to make it disagreeable. Jesus desired to drink to the full the
cup from his Father's hand (Joh 18:11).

27:36 {Watched him there} (\etēroun auton ekei\). Imperfect tense
descriptive of the task to prevent the possibility of rescue or
removal of the body. These rough Roman soldiers casting lots over
the garments of Christ give a picture of comedy at the foot of
the Cross, the tragedy of the ages.

27:37 {His accusation} (\tēn aitian autou\). The title (\titlos\,
Joh 19:19)
or placard of the crime (the inscription, \he
which was carried before the victim or hung around
his neck as he walked to execution was now placed above (\ep'
the head of Jesus on the projecting piece (\crux immurus\).
This inscription gave the name and home, {Jesus of Nazareth}, and
the charge on which he was convicted, {the King of the Jews} and
the identification, {This is}. The four reports all give the
charge and vary in the others. The inscription in full was: This
is Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews. The three languages
are mentioned only by John (Joh 19:20), Latin for law, Hebrew
(Aramaic) for the Jews, Greek for everybody. The accusation
(charge, cause, \aitia\) correctly told the facts of the

27:38 {Robbers} (\lēistai\). Not thieves (\kleptai\) as in
Authorized Version. See Mt 26:55. These two robbers were
probably members of the band of Barabbas on whose cross Jesus now

27:39 {Wagging their heads} (\kinountes tas kephalas autōn\).
Probably in mock commiseration. "Jews again appear on the scene,
with a malice like that shewn in the trial before the Sanhedrin"
(McNeile). "To us it may seem incredible that even his worst
enemies could be guilty of anything so brutal as to hurl taunts
at one suffering the agonies of crucifixion" (Bruce). These
passers-by (\paratēroumenoi\) look on Jesus as one now down and
out. They jeer at the fallen foe.

27:40 {If thou art the Son of God} (\ei huios ei tou theou\).
More exactly, "If thou art a son of God," the very language of
the devil to Jesus (Mt 4:3) in the early temptations, now
hurled at Jesus under the devil's prompting as he hung upon the
Cross. There is allusion, of course, to the claim of Jesus under
oath before the Sanhedrin "the Son of God" (\ho huios tou theou\)
and a repetition of the misrepresentation of his words about the
temple of his body. It is a pitiful picture of human depravity
and failure in the presence of Christ dying for sinners.

27:41 {The chief priests mocking} (\hoi archiereis empaizontes\).
The Sanhedrin in fact, for "the scribes and elders" are included.
The word for mocking (\empaizontes, en,\ and \paizō\, from
\pais\, child)
means acting like silly children who love to guy
one another. These grave and reverend seniors had already given
vent to their glee at the condemnation of Jesus by themselves
(Mt 26:67f.).

27:42 {He saved others; himself he cannot save} (\allous esōsen;
heauton ou dunatai sōsai\)
. The sarcasm is true, though they do
not know its full significance. If he had saved himself now, he
could not have saved any one. The paradox is precisely the
philosophy of life proclaimed by Jesus himself (Mt 10:39). {Let
him now come down}
(\katabatō nun\). Now that he is a condemned
criminal nailed to the Cross with the claim of being "the King of
Israel" (the Jews) over his head. Their spiteful assertion that
they would then believe upon Jesus (\ep' auton\) is plainly
untrue. They would have shifted their ground and invented some
other excuse. When Jesus wrought his greatest miracles, they
wanted "a sign from heaven." These "pious scoffers" (Bruce) are
like many today who make factitious and arbitrary demands of
Christ whose character and power and deity are plain to all whose
eyes are not blinded by the god of this world. Christ will not
give new proofs to the blind in heart.

27:43 {Let him deliver him now} (\rhusasthō nun\). They add the
word "now" to Ps 21; 22:8. That is the point of the sneer at
Christ's claim to be God's son thrown in his teeth again and at
the willingness and power of God to help his "son." The verb
\thelō\ here may mean {love} as in the Septuagint (Ps 18:20;
or "cares for" (Moffatt), "gin he cares ocht for him"
(_Braid Scots_).

27:44 {The robbers also} (\kai hoi lēistai\). Probably "even the
robbers" (Weymouth) who felt a momentary superiority to Jesus
thus maligned by all. So the inchoative imperfect \ōneidizon\
means "began to reproach him."

27:45 {From the sixth hour} (\apo hektēs hōras\). Curiously
enough McNeile takes this to mean the trial before Pilate (Joh
. But clearly John uses Roman time, writing at the close
of the century when Jewish time was no longer in vogue. It was
six o'clock in the morning Roman time when the trial occurred
before Pilate. The crucifixion began at the third hour (Mr
Jewish time or nine A.M. The darkness began at noon, the
sixth hour Jewish time and lasted till 3 P.M. Roman time, the
ninth hour Jewish time (Mr 15:33; Mt 27:45; Lu 23:44). The
dense darkness for three hours could not be an eclipse of the sun
and Luke (Lu 23:45) does not so say, only "the sun's light
failing." Darkness sometimes precedes earthquakes and one came at
this time or dense masses of clouds may have obscured the sun's
light. One need not be disturbed if nature showed its sympathy
with the tragedy of the dying of the Creator on the Cross (Ro
, groaning and travailing until now.

27:46 {My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?} (\Thee mou,
thee mou, hina ti me egkatelipes;\)
. Matthew first transliterates
the Aramaic, according to the Vatican manuscript (B), the words
used by Jesus: _Elōi, elōi, lema sabachthanei_; Some of the MSS.
give the transliteration of these words from Ps 22:1 in the
Hebrew (_Eli, Eli, lama Zaphthanei_). This is the only one of the
seven sayings of Christ on the Cross given by Mark and Matthew.
The other six occur in Luke and John. This is the only sentence
of any length in Aramaic preserved in Matthew, though he has
Aramaic words like amen, corban, mammon, pascha, raca, Satan,
Golgotha. The so-called Gospel of Peter preserves this saying in
a Docetic (Cerinthian) form: "My power, my power, thou hast
forsaken me!" The Cerinthian Gnostics held that the _aeon_ Christ
came on the man Jesus at his baptism and left him here on the
Cross so that only the man Jesus died. Nothing from Jesus so well
illustrates the depth of his suffering of soul as he felt himself
regarded as sin though sinless (2Co 5:21). Joh 3:16 comes to
our relief here as we see the Son of God bearing the sin of the
world. This cry of desolation comes at the close of the three
hours of darkness.

27:48 {Gave him to drink} (\epotizen\). Imperfect of conative
action, {offered him a drink} of vinegar on the sponge on a reed.
Others interrupted this kindly man, but Jesus did taste this mild
stimulant (Joh 19:30) for he thirsted (Joh 19:28).

27:49 {Whether Elijah cometh to save him} (\ei erchetai Eleias
sōsōn auton\)
. The excuse had a pious sound as they misunderstood
the words of Jesus in his outcry of soul anguish. We have here
one of the rare instances (\sōsōn\) of the future participle to
express purpose in the N.T. though a common Greek idiom. Some
ancient MSS. add here what is genuine in Joh 19:34, but what
makes complete wreck of the context for in verse 50 Jesus cried
with a loud voice and was not yet dead in verse 49. It was a
crass mechanical copying by some scribe from Joh 19:34. See
full discussion in my _Introduction to the Textual Criticism of
the N.T._

27:50 {Yielded up his spirit} (\aphēken to pneuma\). The loud cry
may have been Ps 31:5 as given in Lu 23:46: "Father, into thy
hands I commend my spirit." John (Joh 19:30) gives {It is
(\tetelestai\), though which was actually last is not
clear. Jesus did not die from slow exhaustion, but with a loud
cry. {He breathed out} (\exepneusen\, Mr 15:37), {sent back his
(Mt 27:50), {gave up his spirit} (\paredōken to
pneuma\, Joh 19:30)
. "He gave up his life because he willed it,
when he willed it, and as he willed it" (Augustine). Stroud
(_Physical Cause of the Death of Christ_) considers the loud cry
one of the proofs that Jesus died of a ruptured heart as a result
of bearing the sin of the world.

27:51 {Was rent} (\eschisthē\). Both Mark (Mr 15:38) and Luke
(Lu 23:45) mention also this fact. Matthew connects it with the
earthquake, "the earth did quake" (\hē gē eseisthē\). Josephus
(_War_ VI. 299) tells of a quaking in the temple before the
destruction and the Talmud tells of a quaking forty years before
the destruction of the temple. Allen suggests that "a cleavage in
the masonry of the porch, which rent the outer veil and left the
Holy Place open to view, would account for the language of the
Gospels, of Josephus, and of the Talmud." This veil was a most
elaborately woven fabric of seventy-two twisted plaits of
twenty-four threads each and the veil was sixty feet long and
thirty wide. The rending of the veil signified the removal of the
separation between God and the people (Gould).

27:52 {The tombs were opened} (\ta mnēmeia aneōichthēsan\). First
aorist passive indicative (double augment). The splitting of the
rocks by the earthquake and the opening of tombs can be due to
the earthquake. But the raising of the bodies of the dead after
the resurrection of Jesus which appeared to many in the holy city
puzzles many today who admit the actual bodily resurrection of
Jesus. Some would brand all these portents as legends since they
appear in Matthew alone. Others would say that "after his
resurrection" should read "after their resurrection," but that
would make it conflict with Paul's description of Christ as the
first fruits of them that sleep (1Co 15:20). Some say that
Jesus released these spirits after his descent into Hades. So it
goes. We come back to miracles connected with the birth of Jesus,
God's Son coming into the world. If we grant the possibility of
such manifestations of God's power, there is little to disturb
one here in the story of the death of God's Son.

27:54 {Truly this was the Son of God} (\alēthōs theou huios ēn
. There is no article with God or Son in the Greek so
that it means "God's Son," either "the Son of God" or "a Son of
God." There is no way to tell. Evidently the centurion
(\hekatontarchos\ here, ruler of a hundred, Latin word
_kenturiōn_ in Mr 15:39)
was deeply moved by the portents which
he had witnessed. He had heard the several flings at Jesus for
claiming to be the Son of God and may even have heard of his
claim before the Sanhedrin and Pilate. How much he meant by his
words we do not know, but probably he meant more than merely "a
righteous man" (Lu 23:47). Petronius is the name given this
centurion by tradition. If he was won now to trust in Christ, he
came as a pagan and, like the robber who believed, was saved as
Jesus hung upon the Cross. All who are ever saved in truth are
saved because of the death of Jesus on the Cross. So the Cross
began to do its work at once.

27:55 {Many women} (\gunaikes pollai\). We have come to expect
the women from Galilee to be faithful, last at the Cross and
first at the tomb. Luke (Lu 23:49) says that "all his
acquaintance" (\pantes hoi gnōstoi autōi\) stood at a distance
and saw the end. One may hope that the apostles were in that sad
group. But certainly many women were there. The Mother of Jesus
had been taken away from the side of the Cross by the Beloved
Disciple to his own home (Joh 19:27). Matthew names three of
the group by name. Mary Magdalene is mentioned as a well-known
person though not previously named in Matthew's Gospel. Certainly
she is not the sinful woman of Lu 7 nor Mary of Bethany. There
is another Mary, the mother of James and Joseph (Joses) not
otherwise known to us. And then there is the mother of the sons
of Zebedee (James and John), usually identified with Salome (Mr
. These noble and faithful women were "beholding from
afar" (\apo makrothen theōrousai\). These three women may have
drawn nearer to the Cross for Mary the Mother of Jesus stood
beside the Cross (\para tōi staurōi\) with Mary of Clopas and
Mary Magdalene (Joh 19:25) before she left. They had once
ministered unto Jesus (\diakonousai autōi\) and now he is dead.
Matthew does not try to picture the anguish of heart of these
noble women nor does he say as Luke (Lu 23:48) does that "they
returned smiting their breasts." He drops the curtain on that
saddest of all tragedies as the loyal band stood and looked at
the dead Christ on Golgotha. What hope did life now hold for

27:57 {And when even was come} (\opsias de genomenēs\). It was
the Preparation (\paraskeuē\), the day before the sabbath (Mr
15:42; Lu 23:54; Joh 31:42)
. \Paraskeuē\ is the name in modern
Greek today for Friday. The Jews were anxious that these bodies
should be taken down before the sabbath began at 6 P.M. The
request of Joseph of Arimathea for the body of Jesus was a relief
to Pilate and to the Jews also. We know little about this member
of the Sanhedrin save his name Joseph, his town Arimathea, that
he was rich, a secret disciple, and had not agreed to the death
of Jesus. Probably he now wished that he had made an open
profession. But he has courage now when others are cowardly and
asked for the personal privilege (\ēitēsato\, middle voice, asked
for himself)
of placing the body of Jesus in his new tomb. Some
today identify this tomb with one of the rock tombs now visible
under Gordon's Calvary. It was a mournful privilege and dignity
that came to Joseph and Nicodemus (Joh 19:39-41) as they
wrapped the body of Jesus in clean linen cloth and with proper
spices placed it in this fresh (\kainōi\) tomb in which no body
had yet been placed. It was cut in the rock (\elatomēsen\) for
his own body, but now it was for Jesus. But now (verse 60) he
rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and departed. That
was for safety. But two women had watched the sad and lonely
ceremony, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (mother of James and
. They were sitting opposite and looking in silence.

27:63 {Sir, we remember} (\kurie, emnesthēmen\). This was the
next day, on our Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, the day after the
Preparation (Mt 27:62). Ingressive aorist indicative, we have
just recalled. It is objected that the Jewish rulers would know
nothing of such a prediction, but in Mt 12:40 he expressly made
it to them. Meyer scouts as unhistorical legend the whole story
that Christ definitely foretold his resurrection on the third
day. But that is to make legendary much of the Gospels and to
limit Jesus to a mere man. The problem remains why the disciples
forgot and the Jewish leaders remembered. But that is probably
due on the one hand to the overwhelming grief of the disciples
coupled with the blighting of all their hopes of a political
Messiah in Jesus, and on the other hand to the keen nervous fear
of the leaders who dreaded the power of Jesus though dead. They
wanted to make sure of their victory and prevent any possible
revival of this pernicious heresy. {That deceiver} (\ekeinos ho
they call him, a vagabond wanderer (\planos\) with a
slur in the use of {that} (\ekeinos\), a picturesque sidelight on
their intense hatred of and fear of Jesus.

27:64 {The last error} (\hē eschatē planē\). The last delusion,
imposture (Weymouth), fraud (Moffatt). Latin _error_ is used in
both senses, from _errare_, to go astray. The first fraud was
belief in the Messiahship of Jesus, the second belief in his

27:65 {Make it as sure as you can} (\asphalisasthe hōs oidate\).
"Make it secure for yourselves (ingressive aorist middle) as you
know how." {Have a guard} (\echete koustōdian\), present
imperative, a guard of Roman soldiers, not mere temple police.
The Latin term _koustōdia_ occurs in an Oxyrhynchus papyrus of
A.D. 22. "The curt permission to the Jews whom he despised is
suitable in the mouth of the Roman official" (McNeile).

27:66 {Sealing the stone, the guard being with them}
(\sphragisantēs ton lithon meta tēs koustōdias\). Probably by a
cord stretched across the stone and sealed at each end as in Da
6:17. The sealing was done in the presence of the Roman guard
who were left in charge to protect this stamp of Roman authority
and power. They did their best to prevent theft and the
resurrection (Bruce), but they overreached themselves and
provided additional witness to the fact of the empty tomb and the
resurrection of Jesus (Plummer).

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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Matthew: Chapter 27)