Bible Commentaries
Matthew 28

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary

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Matthew 28:0


The Resurrection of JesusHe Is RisenThe First EasterThe ResurrectionThe Empty Tomb; The Angel's Message
Matthew 28:1-10Matthew 28:1-8Matthew 28:1-10Matthew 28:1-4Matthew 28:1-8
Matthew 28:5-7
Matthew 28:8
The Women Worship the Risen Lord Appearance to the Women
Matthew 28:9-10 Matthew 28:9-10Matthew 28:9-10
The Report of the GuardThe Soldiers are BribedBribing the GuardThe Report of the GuardPrecautions Taken by the Leaders of the People
Matthew 28:11-15Matthew 28:11-15Matthew 28:11-15Matthew 28:11-14Matthew 28:11-15
Matthew 28:15
The Commissioning of the DisciplesThe Great CommissionJesus' Commission to His DisciplesJesus Appears to His DisciplesAppearance in Galilee; The Mission to the World
Matthew 28:16-20Matthew 28:16-20Matthew 28:16-20Matthew 28:16-20Matthew 28:16-20

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. Why do the accounts of the events of the resurrection differ so greatly between the four Gospels?

2. Why did God move the boulder when Jesus was already gone?

3. Why did the women visit the tomb? How many times? How many women?

4. Why did Jesus meet with His disciples in Galilee?

5. What is the implication that the Great Commission was given to the church as a whole, not the leadership?

Verses 1-7

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 28:1-7 1Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. 2And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. 3And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. 5The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. 6He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where he was lying. 7Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you."

Matthew 28:1 "after the Sabbath" This Greek phrase refers to sundown on Saturday (cf. Vulgate "on the Sabbath evening"). In Mark the Greek phrase refers to sunrise on Sunday. There is much confusion in the chronology of the last week of Jesus' life, especially events surrounding the resurrection. It is the mentioning of the term "dawning" that causes one to think that the reference may be to Roman time, not Jewish time. There are instances of both being used in the Gospels.

"Mary of Magdalene and the other Mary" Both Mark 16:1 and Luke 24:10 mention other women, while John 20:1 mentions Mary of Magdalene alone.

Matthew 28:2 "a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone" This is unique to Matthew. Two explanations for how the stone was removed are given side by side. There must have been two earthquakes (1) one at Jesus' death in Matthew 27:54, and (2) another to remove the stone and allow Jesus' followers inside the empty tomb. See note on "an angel of the Lord" at Matthew 1:20.

Matthew 28:3 "and His appearance was like lightning" This is a reference to the angel who was wearing white linen cloth, a symbol of purity. Luke 24:4 and John 20:12 record two angels. This variation between one or two persons or angels is common among the Gospels, but the number is reversed, usually it is Matthew's Gospel that has "two." Other examples are: (1) the Gadarene demoniac (Mark 5:1; Luke 8:26) and the two demoniacs (Matthew 8:28); and (2) the blind man (Mark 10:46; Luke 18:35) and two blind men (Matthew 20:30).

Matthew 28:5 "Do not be afraid" This is exactly what Jesus told them in verse Matthew 28:10. It was the common statement when the supernatural realm broke into the natural.

1. Jesus' words in Matthew 14:27; Matthew 17:7; Matthew 28:10; Mark 6:50; Luke 5:10; Luke 12:32; John 6:20; Revelation 1:17

2. angels in Matthew 28:5; Luke 1:13, Luke 1:30; Luke 2:10

Matthew 28:6 "He has risen" In this context the Father's acceptance and approval of the Son's words and works are expressed in two great events.

1. Jesus' resurrection from the dead

2. Jesus' ascension to the Father's right hand

See SPECIAL TOPIC: GLORY (DOXA) at Mark 10:37b.

Matthew 28:7 "He is going ahead of you into Galilee" Jesus had told them He would meet them on a mountain in Galilee (cf. Matthew 26:32, Matthew 26:28:7, Matthew 26:10; 1 Corinthians 15:6). This was a way to assert His resurrection and give them hope. He had a final message for them (cf. Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8).

Verses 8-10

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 28:8-10 8And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. 9And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. 10Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me."

Matthew 28:8 Fear and great joy characterize the first resurrection encounters. The spiritual realm breaking into physical reality also caused fear (which was to cease, cf. Matthew 28:10, but the great joy would continue), but this time it was the message of the risen Christ which brought "great joy" and still does!

They ran to report it. This is the same thrust as Matthew 28:19-20. The followers must go and tell!

Matthew 28:9

NASB"and greeted them" NKJV"rejoice" NRSV, NJB"Greetings" TEV"Peace be to you"

This was Jesus' common greeting. It came from a word that meant "rejoice."


"they" Characteristically, Mark and Luke named one women, while Matthew named two.

"took hold of His feet" John 20:17 records only Mary taking hold of Jesus' feet. This was the oriental way of showing submission, respect, and even worship.

Matthew 28:10 "My brethren" What a designation for these fearful disciples (cf. Matthew 12:15)!

Verses 11-15

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 28:11-15 11Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. 12And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13and said, " You are to say, 'His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.'14And if this should come to the governor's ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble." 15And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.

Matthew 28:11 It is surprising that Roman guards reported to Jewish priests! Some of these must have told Matthew!

Matthew 28:12 "they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers" What these soldiers must have thought, knowing the truth and telling a lie!

These Jewish leaders (i.e., Sanhedrin) would do anything to destroy Jesus. They

1. used betrayal to find and arrest Jesus

2. held an illegal night trial to accuse Him

3. used lying witnesses to charge Him

4. then used bribery to silence witnesses

Matthew 28:13 "His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep" If they were sleeping, how did they know the disciples stole His body? However, this account does emphasize that by the report of the Roman guards, the women, and the disciples, the tomb is empty.

Matthew 28:14 "keep you out of trouble" Roman guards falling asleep at their posts was a grave offense, sometimes punishable by death.

Matthew 28:15 "this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day" Remember that Matthew was written for a Jewish audience. A similar account was given in Justin Martyr's (A.D. 114-115) Dialogue with Trytho (i.e., 108). It was the Sadducees and Romans who were to prevent the body of Jesus from being stolen.

Verses 16-20

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 28:16-20 16But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Matthew 28:16 "But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated" Jesus had told the disciples earlier (cf. Matthew 26:32; Matthew 27:7, Matthew 27:10) that He would meet them there. If they had listened closely they would have expected the resurrection, but they did not. This was not the mount of Ascension. Jesus' ascension took place on the Mount of Olives forty days after the resurrection (cf. Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:4-11).

Matthew 28:17

NASB"but some were doubtful" NKJV, NRSV"but some doubted" TEV"some of them doubted" NJB"some hesitated"

This could not refer to the 120 disciples who had seen Him three times in Jerusalem in the Upper Room. Possibly it refers to the larger number of followers (upward of 500) that Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:6. Apparently Jesus appeared at a distance and walked closer to them. There was some physical difference in Jesus' appearance after the resurrection (cf. John 20:14; John 21:4; Luke 24:13, Luke 24:31).

The significance of this is that the Great Commission was not given to the Apostles alone, not even the hundred and twenty disciples of the Upper Room, but to the whole church. It is for all Christians, not just the church's leadership! It was given on at least three different occasions.

1. upper room, resurrection evening (cf. Luke 24:46-47; John 20:21)

2. on a mountain in Galilee (cf. Matthew 28:0)

3. on the Mount of Olives just before the ascension (cf. Acts 1:8).

Matthew 28:18 "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth" What a tremendous statement (cf. Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:22; John 3:35; John 13:3; Ephesians 1:20-22; Colossians 1:16-19; Colossians 2:10; 1 Peter 3:22)! Jesus must have been either the Messiah or a liar. His resurrection confirmed His claims!

Matthew 28:19 "Go" This is an aorist passive (deponent)participle used as an imperative. This should not be interpreted "as you are going" because this would translate a present imperative, not an aorist. "Going" may be the most accurate option. All Christians are commanded to be lifestyle witnesses (cf. 1 Peter 3:15 and possibly Colossians 4:2-6). It is a priority. This is the Great Commission-not the Great Option.

"make disciples" This is an aorist active imperative. The term "disciples" meant "learners." The Bible does not emphasize decisions, but lifestyle faith. The key to evangelism is discipleship. However, discipleship must start with a repentant faith profession and continue in the same way unto obedience and perseverance.

"of all the nations" This must have been a shocking statement to the Jews, but it follows Daniel 7:14 which speaks of a universal, eternal kingdom (cf. Revelation 5:0). This is a reversal of Jesus' previous orders (cf. Matthew 10:5-6). Notice the number of times that the inclusive "all" appears in this paragraph.


"baptizing" This is a present active participle used as an imperative. This is balanced with "teach" (v. Matthew 28:20). The two purposes of the Church are evangelism and discipleship. They are two sides of one coin. They cannot and must not be separated!


"in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" This three-Person formula may reflect Isaiah 42:1. Notice "in the name" is singular. The name of God is Triune (cf. Matthew 3:16-17; John 14:26; Acts 2:32-33, Acts 2:38-39; Romans 1:4-5; Romans 5:1, Romans 5:5; Romans 8:1-4, Romans 8:8-10; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6; 2 Corinthians 1:21; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Galatians 4:4-6; Ephesians 1:3-14, Ephesians 1:17; Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:14-17; Ephesians 4:4-6; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Titus 3:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2; Jude 1:20-21). See Special Topics: The Trinity at Matthew 3:17 and The Personhood of the Spirit at Matthew 12:31.

The baptismal formula of Acts 2:38, "in Jesus' name," cannot be exclusive to this formula in the Great Commission. Salvation is a series of acts both initial and continual: repentance, faith, obedience, and perseverance. It is not a liturgical formula or sacramental procedure. It is an intimate, daily, growing, personal relationship with God. This was/is the purpose of creation.

Matthew 28:20 "teaching them" This is a present active participle used as an imperative. Notice that "what we teach" is not simply facts about Jesus, but obedience to all of His teachings. Christian maturity involves

1. a repentant faith profession

2. a life of Christlike living

3. a growing doctrinal understanding

"I am with you always" This is emphatic. The personal presence of Jesus is always with believers. Emmanuel came (cf. Matthew 1:23) and remains! There is a real fluidity between the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the indwelling Son (cf. Romans 8:9-10; 2 Corinthians 3:17; Galatians 4:6; Philippians 1:19; Colossians 1:27). In John 14:23 both the Father and the Son indwell believers. In reality all three persons of the divine essence participate in all redemptive events. The One who has "all authority" and who is "with us always" has commanded us to evangelize and disciple all nations (note the four uses of "all" in the Great commission). With His presence and power we can to it!

"to the end of the age" This refers to the two Jewish ages and was a reference to the Second Coming or consummation of the Kingdom of God. See SPECIAL TOPIC: THIS AGE AND THE AGE TO COME at Matthew 12:31.

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Matthew 28". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". 2021.