Matthew 28:15 MEANING

Matthew 28:15
(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).

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.

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.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.

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