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done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had 12 taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, saying: Say 13 ye: His disciples came by night, and stole him away, while we slept. And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and se- 14 cure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught. And 15
Either because they knew the priests would be most interested in the matter, or because they were under their command, and responsible to them for what occurred. See note on chap. xxvi. 65.
12. Assembled with the elders, &c. A meeting of the Sanhedrim was called.-Large money. A large sum of money. This was given as a bribe to the soldiers to induce them to circulate a false report respecting the rising of Jesus. A fit conclusion to the long train of iniquity of which the priests and Scribes had been guilty, to destroy the innocent, but which had only redounded to their shame and his glory.
13. Stole him away, while we slept. Fox, in his sermon on the Jews' account of the resurrection, has well summed up the inconsistencies of this story. 1st, As the soldiers changed guard every three hours, it was improbable that they should sleep. 2d, This improbability is increased by the fact that there were several, who would not all be likely to sleep at the same time, or to sleep during the noise of opening the tomb and removing the body. 3d, The severity of the Roman military discipline, which made it death for a soldier to be sleeping on his post, would keep them awake. 4th, They testified to what took place during their sleep, when they could have witnessed nothing. 5th, Had the body been lost through their negligence, they would have been the last persons to confess it. 6th, If we now turn from the soldiers to the disciples, we shall see that it
would have answered no purpose to have got possession of the body by violent means. 7th, They were too poor to bribe the soldiers. 8th, As the tomb was in the vicinity of Jerusalem, and it was now the time of the passover, full moon, they I would have been observed and detected by others, even if they had eluded, or bribed, or destroyed, the soldiers. 9th, The state of confusion and fear into which the death of Jesus plunged them would incapacitate them for forming and executing so daring a plan. 10th, If the Jewish story were true, the disciples must have been either the confederates or dupes of Jesus, and they would therefore have been either enraged or overwhelmed by his death, so as to be disqualified for taking such a step. 11th, The disciples, in common with the rest of the Jews, expected a temporal Messiah. But the raising of Christ from the tomb would not further that end in the least. To assert that he had been raised up, when he had not been in reality, would have been a gratuitous, useless, yet dangerous fiction. 12th, If the Jewish tale were true, would neither the disciples have suffered for their theft, nor the soldiers for permitting but all parties have escaped punishment? It is incredible.
14,15. If this come to the governor's ears. Or, if this come to a hearing or trial before the governor.-We will persuade him. Rather, appease or conciliate him.-Secure you, i. e. insure you against harm, set you at rest about the matter.-This saying, i. e. that the disciples had stolen
this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. 16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain, 17 where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they 18 worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying: All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
the body of Jesus while the soldiers slept.-Until this day, i. e. the time when the Evangelist wrote the account, which, according to Dr. Lardner, was about 30 years after. The credulity and prejudices of the Jews were easily satisfied with this barefaced imposition. They wished to believe it, and they took no pains to ascertain the truth.
16. The accounts of the appearance of Jesus to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, and to Peter, Luke xxiv. 13–34, 1 Cor. xv. 5, and twice to the Apostles at Jerusalem, and also to some of them at the Lake of Galilee, John xx. 19— 30, xxi. 1-23, are omitted by Matthew.-Then the eleven disciples went, &c. This verse is connected with the tenth, and what intervenes may be regarded as in some measure parenthetical. Although only eleven disciples are here mentioned, yet it is very probable that many more went to see Jesus; perhaps the five hundred spoken of by Paul, 1 Cor. xv. 6. The reason of holding the interview in Galilee was that they would not be exposed to the animosity of the Jews, John xx. 19, and because in Galilee he chiefly passed the time of his ministry, and gathered the most of his disciples. A mountain was chosen, as more free from interruption, and perhaps better accommodated to a large multitude.
17. They worshipped him, i. e. did him obeisance, see note on verse 9. -But some doubted. Since more than eleven were present, it is likely that some of them, perhaps at a distance from Jesus, on account of the
greatness of the crowd, doubted whether it was indeed he; but from the following verse it would appear that Jesus approached them, and then, of course, their doubts would be dissipated, and they would be satisfied of his identity. The frankness with which the narrator states that some doubted, without giving one word of explanation, reveals his guileless, fearless honesty, and unhesitating confidence in the candid and reasonable construction of his readers. The fact, that some of those who saw Jesus after his resurrection doubted, is of value, as showing that they did not receive things without examination, nor believe without sufficient evidence. As an old writer has said, "they doubted, that we might not doubt."
18. Jesus came and spake unto them. He approaches them, and those who doubted would then be satisfied that it was indeed he.—All power is given unto me, &c. i. e. all authority necessary for the establishment of his spiritual kingdom both over the Jewish and Gentile world, for so the expressions, in heaven and in earth, sometimes signify in sacred phraseology. This language of Jesus may be illustrated by a reference to John v. 22, xvii. 2, Acts ii. 36, v. 31, Eph. i. 20-22, Col. i. 18, where it is said that all judgment is committed unto the Son, that power is given him over all flesh, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, exalted him to be a Prince and a Saviour, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, and put all things under his feet, and given him to be
Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of 19
head over all things to the church. The general terms of the Bible are always to be limited and interpreted by the connexion in which they stand, and the subject to which they apply. All power, in this verse, cannot signify omnipotence, for that cannot be communicated from one being to another, but is the attribute of One alone. Is given, therefore, restricts the meaning of the clause, and proves that what was bestowed on Jesus was not an infinite attribute, for that would be an absurdity, but such an extensive authority as was necessary for the promotion of his religion. So that the very words that have been used to prove that Jesus was God, when fairly construed, prove directly the reverse, by showing, what he incessantly declared, that his power was not innate, or self-derived, but delegated. His words were the words of the Father, his works the works of the Father, his life, his spirit, his power, were given him by the Father; to the Father he was responsible for his conduct and character, his mission and ministry; and as if foreseeing, with prophetic eye, that his followers would confound him with God, and deify him, he said, "My Father is greater than I," without the least intimation that he possessed two natures, only one of which was inferior to the Father. See John iii. 34, 35, v. 36, xvii. 4, 8, 12, 18, Heb. v. 8, 1 Cor. iii. 23.
19. Therefore, i. e. since I am endowed with all authority, I give you this commission.-Teach all nations. Or, more exactly, according to the original, make disciples of, or in, all nations. A declaration that his religion was to be universal. As we should now say, Christianize the whole world. The word teach in
this verse is a different one in the Greek from that translated teaching in the next verse, and ought to be rendered differently. One means to make disciples of, the other to instruct in the doctrines and duties of religion. One expresses an incipient act, the other a more advanced one.-. -Baptizing them in the name. Rather, into the name, i. e. into the profession of. Name is redundant. The sense is, baptizing them into the Father, &c. Infant baptism is not here mentioned, but, as it was a prevalent custom to baptize the children of proselytes to the Jewish religion, and as Christ makes no prohibition of their being baptized, the easy and natural inference is, that, in going forth to baptize all nations, as a token of their profession of Christianity, the Apostles were to baptize both young and old. The initiatory rite of circumcision under Judaism also furnishes an argument from general analogy in vindication of the baptism of children. It is observable that no specification is made either as to the quantity of water, or the mode of performing the rite. Of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Or, Holy Spirit. They were to baptize their disciples into a profession of the Father of all, with whom the Gospel originated, and of his Son, whom he sent to preach it and to live it, and of the Holy Spirit, by which it was miraculously confirmed, and with whose influences and blessings it was ever to be accompanied. This form of words was designed by Christ to imbody the great elements of his religion. The belief and worship of the Father was to supersede both Jewish peculiarities and heathen superstitions. The partition wall between
20 the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to
Jews and Gentiles was to be thrown down by the acknowledgment of one God and Father of all. His Son and Messenger was to be recognized in his Divine authority, as the revealer of the new religion. The miraculous agency by which it was originally established, and the Divine influences from on high with which it would always be attended, were to be objects of faith to the Christian convert. For the Jews in particular had rejected the Son as the Messenger of God, and attributed the agency of the Holy Spirit to demons. Every part, accordingly, of this comprehensive formulary aimed a death blow at some monstrous error or corruption predominant either in the Jewish or Gentile world. It gathered up into itself the leading essentials of Christianity, and impressed them upon the new disciple under the solemn rite of baptism.
This verse has been adduced in support of the Trinity, It has been thought that Jesus designed to give a high prominence to that doctrine, by putting it forward in the words by which baptism was to be administered to his disciples. But two remarks may be made here. The first is, that no peculiar importance could have been attached to these identical words, for the Apostles used different ones in performing the sacred ceremony. Acts viii. 16, x. 48, xix. 5. The words of Christ are to be viewed rather as a general model than as an invariable formula to be used on every occasion; in the same manner that the Lord's prayer contains the fundamentals of devotion, yet was not intended to be the sole form in which our supplications should be offered to Heaven. Acts i. 24, 25. The second re
mark is, that the coupling of the Father with the Son and Holy Spirit in the same sentence does not necessarily imply that they possess equality, any more than the expression, in 1 Chron. xxix. 20, worshipped the Lord and the king, shows that the king was equal to the Lord. Is not worship as solemn as baptism? Neither does the joining of the Holy Spirit to the Father and the Son prove that it possesses a distinct personal existence, any more than the connection, in Acts xx. 32, of the word of his grace with God, in the same sentence, evinces, that, because one is a person, or conscious being, the other is also. See also Eph. vi. 10, to the same point. In 1 Cor. x. 2, we read that "all were baptized unto Moses," but no one has ever thought of arguing from that expression, that Moses was God. Why, then, should it be inferred from this formula, that the Son is God, and the Spirit is God, because the disciple is to be baptized into their name, or into a profession of them, if, as has been proved above, there were reasons why they should be introduced in close connection with the Father, as more definitely describing the character of the Gospel? One who did not believe in Christianity, a Grecian sage, a Jewish priest, a Mohammedan, a modern Deist, might be baptized into the Father, for they severally believe in one God. But only a Christian could sincerely espouse the faith of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
20. Teaching them, i. e. giving them instruction in the doctrines and duties communicated and enjoined by Christ.-I am with you alway. Jesus was with his Apostles of that age, in a peculiar manner, and per
observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
sonally appeared more than once after his ascension. He was with thern in spirit, he sent them the Comforter, and was an Advocate for them with the Father. In a figurative sense, he would be with his followers of every land and age, in the spirit and power of the religion which he had lived to exemplify and died to seal, and which exerts a vital energy in saving man, in proportion as it unites his spirit, in a living union, as of the branch with the vine, and the limbs with the trunk, to him the Great Head.-Unto the end of the world. The more approved translation, according to the original, is, unto the end of the age, or the Jewish economy, and the establishment of the Christian religion, after which miracles ceased, and Christ appeared no more personally to his Apostles and disciples as he had done before. Acts vii. 55, 56, ix. 17. 1 Cor. xi. 23.The Amen is rejected by Griesbach as of doubtful authority,
As we study the history of the life, death, and resurrection of our beloved Master, and enter more deeply into the spirit of his Divine instructions, and into sympathy with his beautiful character, we shall find new reasons for the hope that is in us, new revelations of the truths of the spiritual world, and new motives to virtue and holiness. The Gospels can never tire by often read
ing, nor grow insipid by familiarity ; because they are a store-house of spiritual truth and influence, of inexhaustible richness and capacity, and contain the life of the Son of God. They are equal to the highest, rarest experiences of the human soul, and can never be outrun by the wisdom of the wise, nor the virtues of the good. They meet our wants as sinners, animate our hopes, console our sorrows under every condition, and point the way to everlasting life. In them God breathes upon our minds, and impregnates us with his own spirit. In them his Son lives, and teaches and dies to reconcile us to him, to make known the way of forgiveness to the sinner, and to invite and constrain us, by all the motives the universe can supply, or the soul feel, to lay aside every weight and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and to run with patience the race that is set before us, and to be followers and heirs of God as dear children. May they thus draw us up, with divine attractions, from earth and sin, from the darkness of ignorance, the grovellings of lust and passion, and "the Slough of Despond," into the purer air, and the clearer light of a spiritual creation, a new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, and beauty, and truth, and lead us onward to the abodes of everlasting love and blessedness!
END OF VOL. I.