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Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible - New Testament

Gospel of Matthew 28 (Chapter XXVIII Study)

 

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In the foregoing chapters, we saw the Captain of our salvation engaged with the powers of darkness, attacked by them, and vigorously attacking them; victory seemed to hover between the combatants; nay, at length, it inclined to the enemies' side, and our Champion fell before them; behold, God has delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemies' hand. Christ in the grave is like the ark in Dagon's temple; the powers of darkness seemed to ride masters, but then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine, Ps. lxxviii. 61, 65. The prince of our peace is in this chapter rallying again, coming out of the grave, a Conqueror, yea, more than a conqueror, leading captivity captive; though the ark be a prisoner, Dagon falls before it, and it proves that none is able to stand before the holy Lord God. Now the resurrection of Christ being one of the main foundations of our religion, it is requisite that we should have infallible proofs of it; four of which proofs we have in this chapter, which are but a few of many, for Luke and John give a larger account of the proofs of Christ's resurrection than Matthew and Mark do. Here is, I. The testimony of the angel to Christ's resurrection, ver. 1-8. II. His appearance himself to the women, ver. 9, 10. III. The confession of the adversaries that were upon the guard, ver. 11-15. IV. Christ's appearance to the disciples in Galilee, and the commission he gave them, ver. 16-20.

The Resurrection.

1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. " alt="St-Takla.org Image: "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28: 18-19) - "And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen" (Mark 16: 15-20) - "So Jesus said to them again, Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." (John 20: 21-23) - Matthew, Bible illustrations by James Padgett (1931-2009), published by Sweet Media صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: "فتقدم يسوع وكلمهم قائلا: دفع إلي كل سلطان في السماء وعلى الأرض، فاذهبوا وتلمذوا جميع الأمم وعمدوهم باسم الآب والابن والروح القدس. وعلموهم أن يحفظوا جميع ما أوصيتكم به. وها أنا معكم كل الأيام إلى انقضاء الدهر. آمين" (متى 28: 18-19) - "وقال لهم: اذهبوا إلى العالم أجمع واكرزوا بالإنجيل للخليقة كلها. من آمن واعتمد خلص، ومن لم يؤمن يدن. وهذه الآيات تتبع المؤمنين: يخرجون الشياطين باسمي، ويتكلمون بألسنة جديدة. يحملون حيات، وإن شربوا شيئا مميتا لا يضرهم، ويضعون أيديهم على المرضى فيبرأون. ثم إن الرب بعدما كلمهم ارتفع إلى السماء، وجلس عن يمين الله. وأما هم فخرجوا وكرزوا في كل مكان، والرب يعمل معهم ويثبت الكلام بالآيات التابعة. آمين" (مرقس 16: 15-20) - "فقال لهم يسوع أيضا: سلام لكم! كما أرسلني الآب أرسلكم أنا. ولما قال هذا نفخ وقال لهم: اقبلوا الروح القدس. من غفرتم خطاياه تغفر له، ومن أمسكتم خطاياه أمسكت" (يوحنا 20: 21-23) - صور إنجيل متى، رسم جيمز بادجيت (1931-2009)، إصدار شركة سويت ميديا" width="640" height="468">

St-Takla.org Image: "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28: 18-19) - "And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen" (Mark 16: 15-20) - "So Jesus said to them again, Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." (John 20: 21-23) - Matthew, Bible illustrations by James Padgett (1931-2009), published by Sweet Media

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: "فتقدم يسوع وكلمهم قائلا: دفع إلي كل سلطان في السماء وعلى الأرض، فاذهبوا وتلمذوا جميع الأمم وعمدوهم باسم الآب والابن والروح القدس. وعلموهم أن يحفظوا جميع ما أوصيتكم به. وها أنا معكم كل الأيام إلى انقضاء الدهر. آمين" (متى 28: 18-19) - "وقال لهم: اذهبوا إلى العالم أجمع واكرزوا بالإنجيل للخليقة كلها. من آمن واعتمد خلص، ومن لم يؤمن يدن. وهذه الآيات تتبع المؤمنين: يخرجون الشياطين باسمي، ويتكلمون بألسنة جديدة. يحملون حيات، وإن شربوا شيئا مميتا لا يضرهم، ويضعون أيديهم على المرضى فيبرأون. ثم إن الرب بعدما كلمهم ارتفع إلى السماء، وجلس عن يمين الله. وأما هم فخرجوا وكرزوا في كل مكان، والرب يعمل معهم ويثبت الكلام بالآيات التابعة. آمين" (مرقس 16: 15-20) - "فقال لهم يسوع أيضا: سلام لكم! كما أرسلني الآب أرسلكم أنا. ولما قال هذا نفخ وقال لهم: اقبلوا الروح القدس. من غفرتم خطاياه تغفر له، ومن أمسكتم خطاياه أمسكت" (يوحنا 20: 21-23) - صور إنجيل متى، رسم جيمز بادجيت (1931-2009)، إصدار شركة سويت ميديا

(2.) The women are sent to tell it to them, and so are made, as it were, the apostles of the apostles. This was an honour put upon them, and a recompence for their constant affectionate adherence to him, at the cross, and in the grave, and a rebuke to the disciples who forsook him. Still God chooses the weak things of the world, to confound the mighty, and puts the treasure, not only into earthen vessels, but here into the weaker vessels; as the woman, being deceived by the suggestions of an evil angel, was first in the transgression (1 Tim. ii. 14), so these women, being duly informed by the instructions of a good angel, were first in the belief of the redemption from transgression by Christ's resurrection, that that reproach of their sex might be rolled away, by putting this in the balance against it, which is their perpetual praise.

(3.) They were bid to go quickly upon this errand. Why, what haste was there? Would not the news keep cold, and be welcome to them at any time? Yes, but they were now overwhelmed with grief, and Christ would have this cordial hastened to them; when Daniel was humbling himself before God for sin, the angel Gabriel was caused to fly swiftly with a message of comfort, Dan. ix. 21. We must always be ready and forward; [1.] To obey the commands of God, Ps. cxix. 60. [2.] To do good to our brethren, and to carry comfort to them, as those that felt from their afflictions; Say not, Go, and come again, and to-morrow I will give; but now quickly.

(4.) They were directed to appoint the disciples to meet him in Galilee. There were other appearances of Christ to them before that in Galilee, which were sudden and surprising; but he would have one to be solemn and public, and gave them notice of it before. Now this general rendezvous was appointed in Galilee, eighty or a hundred miles from Jerusalem; [1.] In kindness to those of his disciples that remained in Galilee, and did not (perhaps they could not) come up to Jerusalem; into that country therefore he would go, to manifest himself to his friends there. I know thy works, and where thou dwellest. Christ knows where his disciples dwell, and will visit there. Note, The exaltation of Christ doth not make him forget the meaner and poorer sort of his disciples, but even to them that are at a distance from the plenty of the means of grave he will graciously manifest himself. [2.] In consideration of the weakness of his disciples that were now at Jerusalem, who as yet were afraid of the Jews, and durst not appear publicly, and therefore this meeting was adjourned to Galilee. Christ knows our fears, and considers our frame, and made his appointment where there was least danger of disturbance.

Lastly, The angel solemnly affirms upon his word the truth of what he had related to them; "Lo, I have told you, you may be assured of it, and depend upon it; I have told you, who dare not tell a lie." The word spoken by angels was stedfast, Heb. ii. 2. God had been wont formerly to make known his mind to his people by the ministration of angels, as at the giving of the law; but as he intended in gospel times to lay aside that way of communication (for unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, nor appointed them to be the preachers of the gospel), this angel was now sent to certify the resurrection of Christ to the disciples, and so leave it in their hands to be published to the world, 2 Cor. iv. 7. In saying, Lo, I have told you, he doth, as it were, discharge himself from the blame of their unbelief, if they should not receive this record, and throw it upon them; "I have done my errand, I have faithfully delivered my message, now look you to it, believe it at your peril; whether you will hear or whether you will forbear, I have told you." Note, Those messengers from God, that discharge their trust faithfully, may take the comfort of that, whatever the success be, Acts xx. 26, 27.

IV. The women's departure from the sepulchre, to bring notice to the disciples, v. 8. And observe,

1. What frame and temper of spirit they were in; They departed with fear and great joy; a strange mixture, fear and joy at the same time, in the same soul. To hear that Christ was risen, was matter of joy; but to be led into his grave, and to see an angel, and talk with him about it, could not but cause fear. It was good news, but they were afraid that it was too good to be true. But observe, it is said of their joy, I was great joy; it is not said so of their fear. Note, (1.) Holy fear has joy attending it. They that serve the Lord with reverence, serve him with gladness. (2.) Spiritual joy is mixed with trembling, Ps. ii. 11. It is only perfect love and joy that will cast out all fear.

2. What haste they made; They did run. The fear and joy together quickened their pace, and added wings to their motion; the angel bid them go quickly, and they ran. Those that are sent on God's errand must not loiter, or lose time; where the heart is enlarged with the glad tidings of the gospel, the feet will run the way of God's commandments.

3. What errand they went upon; They ran, to bring his disciples word. Not doubting but it would be joyful news to them, they ran, to comfort them with the same comforts wherewith they themselves were comforted of God. Note, The disciples of Christ should be forward to communicate to each other their experiences of sweet communion with heaven; should tell others what God has done for their souls, and spoken to them. Joy in Christ Jesus, like the ointment of the right hand, will betray itself, and fill all places within the lines of its communication with its odours. When Samson found honey, he brought it to his parents.

V. Christ's appearing to the women, to confirm the testimony of the angel, v. 9, 10. These zealous good women not only heard the first tidings of him, but had the first sight of him, after his resurrection. The angel directed those that would see him, to go to Galilee, but before that time came, even here also, they looked after him that lives, and sees them. Note, Jesus Christ is often better than his word, but never worse; often anticipates, but never frustrates, the believing expectations of his people.

Here is, 1. Christ's surprising appearance to the women; As they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them. Note, God's gracious visits usually meet us in the way of duty, and to those who use what they have for others' benefit, more shall be given. This interview with Christ was unexpected, or ever they were aware, Cant. vi. 12. Note, Christ is nearer to his people than they imagine. They needed not descend into the deep, to fetch Christ thence; he was not there, he was risen; nor go up to heaven, for he was not yet ascended: but Christ was high them, and still in the word is nigh us.

2. The salutation wherewith he accosted them; All hailchairete. We use the old English form of salutation, wishing all health to those we meet; for so All hail signifies, and is expressive of the Greek form of salutation here used, answering to that of the Hebrew, Peace be unto you. And it bespeaks, (1.) The good-will of Christ to us and our happiness, even since he entered upon his state of exaltation. Though he is advanced, he wishes us as well as ever, and is as much concerned for our comfort. (2.) The freedom and holy familiarity which he used in his fellowship with his disciples; for he called them friends. But the Greek word signifies, Rejoice ye. They were affected both with fear and joy; what he said to them tended to encourage their joy (v. 9), Rejoice ye, and to silence their fear (v. 10), Be not afraid. Note, It is the will of Christ that his people should be a cheerful joyful people, and his resurrection furnishes them with abundant matter for joy.

3. The affectionate respect they paid him; They came, and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Thus they expressed, (1.) The reverence and honour they had for him; they threw themselves at his feet, put themselves into a posture of adoration, and worshipped him with humility and godly fear, as the Son of God, and now exalted. (2.) The love and affection they had to him; they held him, and would not let him go, Cant. iii. 4. How beautiful were the feet of the Lord Jesus to them! Isa. lii. 7. (3.) The transport of joy they were in, now that they had this further assurance of his resurrection; they welcomed it with both arms. Thus we must embrace Jesus Christ offered us in the gospel, with reverence cast ourselves at his feet, by faith take hold of him, and with love and joy lay him near our hearts.

4. The encouraging words Christ said to them, v. 10. We do not find that they said any thing to him, their affectionate embraces and adorations spoke plainly enough; and what he said to them was no more than what the angel had said (v. 5, 7); for he will confirm the word of his messengers (Isa. xliv. 26); and his way of comforting his people, is, by his Spirit to speak over again to their hearts the same that they had heard before from his angels, the ministers. Now observe here,

(1.) How he rebukes their fear; Be not afraid. They must not fear being imposed upon by these repeated notices of his resurrection, nor fear any hurt from the appearance of one from the dead; for the news, though strange, was both true and good. Note, Christ arose from the dead, to silence his people's fears, and there is enough in that to silence them.

(2.) How he repeats their message; "Go, tell my brethren, that they must prepare for a journey into Galilee, and there they shall see me." If there be any communion between our souls and Christ, it is he that appoints the meeting, and he will observe the appointment. Jerusalem had forfeited the honour of Christ's presence, it was a tumultuous city, therefore he adjourns the meeting to Galilee. Come, my beloved, let us go forth, Cant. vii. 11. But that which is especially observable here, is, that he calls his disciples his brethren. Go, tell my brethren, not only those of them that were akin to him, but all the rest, for they are all his brethren (ch. xii. 50), but he never called them so till after his resurrection, here and John xx. 17. Being by the resurrection himself declared to be the Son of God with power, all the children of God were thereby declared to be his brethren. Being the First-begotten from the dead, he is become the First-born among many brethren, even of all that are planted together in the likeness of his resurrection. Christ did not now converse so constantly and familiarly with his disciples as he had done before his death; but, lest they should think him grown strange to them, he gives them this endearing title, Go to my brethren, that the scripture might be fulfilled, which, speaking of his entrance upon his exalted state, saith, I will declare thy name unto my brethren. They had shamefully deserted him in his sufferings; but, to show that he could forgive and forget, and to teach us to do so, he not only continues his purpose to meet them, but calls them brethren. Being all his brethren, they were brethren one to another, and must love as brethren. His owning them for his brethren put a great honour upon them, but withal gave them an example of humility in the midst of that honour.

The Resurrection.

11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. 12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, 13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. 14 And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. 15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

For the further proof of the resurrection of Christ, we have here the confession of the adversaries that were upon the guard; and there are two things which strengthen this testimonythat they were eye-witnesses, and did themselves see the glory of the resurrection, which none else didand that they were enemies, set there to oppose and obstruct his resurrection. Now observe here,

I. How this testimony was given in to the chief priests (v. 11); when the women were going to bring that news to the disciples, which would fill their hearts with joy, the soldiers went to bring the same news to the chief priests, which would fill their faces with shame. Some of the watch, probably those of them that commanded in chief, came into the city, and brought to those who employed them, the report of their disappointment. They showed to the chief priests all the things that were done; told them of the earthquake, the descent of the angel, the rolling of the stone away, and the coming of the body of Jesus alive out of the grave. Thus the sign of the prophet Jonas was brought to the chief priests with the most clear and incontestable evidence that could be; and so the utmost means of conviction were afforded them; we may well imagine what a mortification it was to them, and that, like the enemies of the Jews, they were much cast down in their own eyes, Neh. vi. 16. It might justly have been expected that they should now have believed in Christ, and repented their putting him to death; but they were obstinate in their infidelity, and therefore sealed up under it.

II. How it was baffled and stifled by them. They called an assembly, and considered what was to be done. For their own parts, they were resolved not to believe that Jesus was risen; but their care was, to keep others from believing, and themselves from being quite ashamed from their disbelief of it. They had put him to death, and there was no way of standing to what they had done, but by confronting the evidence of his resurrection. Thus they who have sold themselves to work wickedness, find that one sin draws on another, and that they have plunged themselves into a wretched necessity of adding iniquity to iniquity, which is part of the curse of Christ's persecutors, Ps. lxix. 27.

The result of their debate was, that those soldiers must by all means be bribed off, and hired not to tell tales.

1. They put money into their hands; and what wickedness is it which men will not be brought to by the love of money? They gave large money, probably a great deal more than they gave to Judas, unto the soldiers. These chief priests loved their money as well as most people did, and were as loth to part with it; and yet, to carry on a malicious design against the gospel of Christ, they were very prodigal of it; they gave the soldiers, it is likely, as much as they asked, and they knew how to improve their advantages. Here was large money given for the advancing of that which they knew to be a lie, yet many grudge a little money for the advancement of that which they know to be the truth, though they have a promise of being reimbursed in the resurrection of the just. Let us never starve a good cause, when we see a bad one so liberally supported.

2. They put a lie into their mouths (v. 13); Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept; a sorry shift is better than none, but this is a sorry one indeed. (1.) The sham was ridiculous, and carried along with it its own confutation. If they slept, how could they know any thing of the matter, or say who came? If any one of them was awake to observe it, no doubt, he would awake them all to oppose it; for that was the only thing they had in charge. It was altogether improbable that a company of poor, weak, cowardly, dispirited men should expose themselves for so inconsiderable an achievement as the rescue of the dead body. Why were not the houses where they lodged diligently searched, and other means used to discover the dead body; but this was so thin a lie as one might easily see through. But had it been ever so plausible, (2.) It was a wicked thing for these priests and elders to hire those soldiers to tell a deliberate lie (if it had been in a matter of ever so small importance), against their consciences. Those know not what they do, who draw others to commit one wilful sin; for that may debauch conscience, and be an inlet to many. But, (3.) Considering this as intended to overthrow the great doctrine of Christ's resurrection, this was a sin against the last remedy, and was, in effect, a blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, imputing that to the roguery of the disciples, which was done by the power of the Holy Ghost.

But lest the soldiers should object the penalty they incurred by the Roman law for sleeping upon the guard, which was very severe (Acts xii. 19), they promised to interpose with the governor; "We will persuade him, and secure you. We will use our own interest in him, to get him not to take notice of it;" and they had lately found how easily they could manage him. If really these soldiers had slept, and so suffered the disciples to steal him away, as they would have the world believe, the priests and elders would certainly have been the forwardest to solicit the governor to punish them for their treachery; so that their care for the soldiers' safety plainly gives the lie to the story. They undertook to secure them from the sword of Pilate's justice, but could not secure them from the sword of God's justice, which hangs over the head of those that love and make a lie. They promise more than they can perform who undertake to save a man harmless in the commission of a wilful sin.

Well, thus was the plot laid; now what success had it?

[1.] Those that were willing to deceive, took the money, and did as they were taught. They cared as little for Christ and his religion as the chief priests and elders did; and men that have no religion at all, can be very well pleased to see Christianity run down, and lend a hand to it, if need be, to serve a turn. They took the money; that was it they aimed at, and nothing else. Note, Money is a bait for the blackest temptation; mercenary tongues will sell the truth for it.

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 had; they saw the angel descend from heaven, saw the stone rolled away, saw the body of Christ come out of the grave, unless the consternation they felt hindered them; and yet they were so far from being convinced by it themselves, that they were hired to belie him, and to hinder others from believing in him. Note, The most sensible evidence will not convince men, without the concurring operation of the Holy Spirit.

[2.] Those that were willing to be deceived, not only credited, but propagated, the story; This saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. The sham took well enough, and answered the end. The Jews, who persisted in their infidelity, when they were pressed with the argument of Christ's resurrection, had this still ready to reply, His disciples came, and stole him away. To this purport was the solemn narrative, which (as Justin Martyr relates in his dialogue with Typho the Jew) the great sanhedrim sent to all the Jews of the dispersion concerning this affair, exciting them to a vigorous resistance of Christianitythat, when they had crucified, and buried him, the disciples came by night, and stole him out of the sepulchre, designing thereby not only to overthrow the truth of Christ's resurrection, but to render his disciples odious to the world, as the greatest villains in nature. When once a lie is raised, none knows how far it will spread, nor how long it will last, nor what mischief it will do. Some give another sense of this passage, This saying is commonly reported, that is, "Notwithstanding the artifice of the chief priests, thus to impose upon the people, the collusion that was between them and the soldiers, and the money that was given to support the cheat, were commonly reported and whispered among the Jews;" for one way or other truth will out.

The Apostolic Commission.

16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

This evangelist passes over several other appearances of Christ, recorded by Luke and John, and hastens to this, which was of all other the most solemn, as being promised and appointed again and again before his death, and after his resurrection. Observe,

I. How the disciples attended his appearance, according to the appointment (v. 16); They went into Galilee, a long journey to go for one sight of Christ, but it was worth while. They had seen him several times at Jerusalem, and yet they went into Galilee, to see him there.

1. Because he appointed them to do so. Though it seemed a needless thing to go into Galilee, to see him whom they might see at Jerusalem, especially when they must so soon come back again to Jerusalem, before his ascension, yet they had learned to obey Christ's commands and not object against them. Note, Those who would maintain communion with Christ, must attend him there where he has appointed. Those who have met him in one ordinance, must attend him in another; those who have seen him at Jerusalem, must go to Galilee.

2. Because that was to be a public and general meeting. They had seen him themselves, and conversed with him in private, but that should not excuse their attendance in a solemn assembly, where many were to be gathered together to see him. Note, Our communion with God in secret must not supersede our attendance on public worship, as we have opportunity; for God loves the gates of Zion, and so must we. The place was a mountain in Galilee, probably the same mountain on which he was transfigured. There they met, for privacy, and perhaps to signify the exalted state into which he was entered, and his advances toward the upper world.

II. How they were affected with the appearance of Christ to them, v. 17. Now was the time that he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once, 1 Cor. xv. 6. Some think that they saw him, at first, at some distance, above in the air, ephthe epanoHe was seen above, of five hundred brethren (so they read it); which gave occasion to some to doubt, till he came nearer (v. 18), and then they were satisfied. We are told,

1. That they worshipped him; many of them did so, nay, it should seem, they all did that, they gave divine honour to him, which was signified by some outward expressions of adoration. Note, All that see the Lord Jesus with an eye of faith are obliged to worship him.

2. But some doubted, some of those that were then present. Note, Even among those that worship there are some that doubt. The faith of those that are sincere, may yet be very weak and wavering. They doubted, edistasanthey hung in suspense, as the scales of the balance, when it is hard to say which preponderates. These doubts were afterward removed, and their faith grew up to a full assurance, and it tended much to the honour of Christ, that the disciples doubted before they believed; so that they cannot be said to be credulous, and willing to be imposed upon; for they first questioned, and proved all things, and then held fast that which was true, and which they found to be so.

III. What Jesus Christ said to them (v. 18-20); Jesus came, and spoke unto them. Though there were those that doubted, yet, he did not therefore reject them; for he will not break the bruised reed. He did not stand at a distance, but came near, and gave them such convincing proofs of his resurrection, as turned the wavering scale, and made their faith to triumph over their doubts. He came, and spoke familiarly to them, as one friend speaks to another, that they might be fully satisfied in the commission he was about to give them. He that drew near to God, to speak for us to him, draws near to us, to speak from him to us. Christ now delivered to his apostles the great charter of his kingdom in the world, was sending them out as his ambassadors, and here gives them their credentials.

In opening this great charter, we may observe two things.

1. The commission which our Lord Jesus received himself from the Father. Being about to authorize his apostles, if any ask by what authority he doeth it, and who gave him that authority, here he tells us, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth; a very great word, and which none but he could say. Hereby he asserts his universal dominion as Mediator, which is the great foundation of the Christian religion. He has all power. Observe, (1.) Whence he hath this power. He did not assume it, or usurp it, but it was given him, he was legally entitled to it, and invested in it, by a grant from him who is the Fountain of all being, and consequently of all power. God set him King (Ps. ii. 6), inaugurated and enthroned him, Luke i. 32. As God, equal with the Father, all power was originally and essentially his; but as Mediator, as God-man, all power was given him; partly in recompence of his work (because he humbled himself, therefore God thus exalted him), and partly in pursuance of his design; he had this power given him over all flesh, that he might give eternal life to as many as were given him (John xvii. 2), for the more effectual carrying on and completing our salvation. This power he was now more signally invested in, upon his resurrection, Acts xiii. 3. He had power before, power to forgive sins (ch. ix. 6); but now all power is given him. He is now going to receive for himself a kingdom (Luke xix. 12), to sit down at the right hand, Ps. cx. 1. Having purchased it, nothing remains but to take possession; it is his own for ever. (2.) Where he has this power; in heaven and earth, comprehending the universe. Christ is the sole universal Monarch, he is Lord of all, Acts x. 36. He has all power in heaven. He has power of dominion over the angels, they are all his humble servants, Eph. i. 20, 21. He has power of intercession with his Father, in the virtue of his satisfaction and atonement; he intercedes, not as a suppliant, but as a demandant; Father, I will. He has all power on earth too; having prevailed with God, by the sacrifice of atonement, he prevails with men, and deals with them as one having authority, by the ministry of reconciliation. He is indeed, in all causes and over all persons, supreme Moderator and Governor. By him kings reign. All souls are his, and to him every heart and knee must bow, and every tongue confess him to be the Lord. This our Lord Jesus tells them, not only to satisfy them of the authority he had to commission them, and to bring them out in the execution of their commission, but to take off the offence of the cross; they had no reason to be ashamed of Christ crucified, when they saw him thus glorified.

2. The commission he gives to those whom he sent forth; Go ye therefore. This commission is given, (1.) To the apostles primarily, the chief ministers of state in Christ's kingdom, the architects that laid the foundation of the church. Now those that had followed Christ in the regeneration, were set on thrones (Luke xxii. 30); Go ye. It is not only a word of command, like that, Son, go work, but a word of encouragement, Go, and fear not, have I not sent you? Go, and make a business of this work. They must not take state, and issue out summons to the nations to attend upon them; but they must go, and bring the gospel to their doors, Go ye. They had doted on Christ's bodily presence, and hung upon that, and built all their joys and hopes upon that; but now Christ discharges them from further attendance on his person, and sends them abroad about other work. As an eagle stirs up her nest, flutters over her young, to excite them to fly (Deut. xxxii. 11), so Christ stirs up his disciples, to disperse themselves over all the world. (2.) It is given to their successors, the ministers of the gospel, whose business it is to transmit the gospel from age to age, to the end of the world in time, as it was theirs to transmit it from nation to nation, to the end of the world in place, and no less necessary. The Old-Testament promise of a gospel ministry is made to a succession (Isa. lix. 21); and this must be so understood, otherwise how could Christ be with them always to the consummation of the world? Christ, at his ascension, gave not only apostles and prophets, but pastors and teachers, Eph. iv. 11. Now observe,

[1.] How far his commission is extended; to all nations. Go, and disciples all nations. Not that they must go all together into every place, but by consent disperse themselves in such manner as might best diffuse the light of the gospel. Now this plainly signifies it to be the will of Christ, First, That the covenant of peculiarity, made with the Jews, should now be cancelled and disannulled. This word broke down the middle wall of partition, which had so long excluded the Gentiles from a visible church-state; and whereas the apostles, when first sent out, were forbidden to go into the way of the Gentiles, now they were sent to all nations. Secondly, That salvation by Christ should be offered to all, and none excluded that did not by their unbelief and impenitence exclude themselves. The salvation they were to preach is a common salvation; whoever will, let him come, and take the benefit of the act of indemnity; for there is no difference of Jew or Greek in Christ Jesus. Thirdly, That Christianity should be twisted in with national constitutions, that the kingdoms of the world should become Christ's kingdoms, and their kings the church's nursing-fathers.

[2.] What is the principal intention of this commission; to disciple all nations. Matheteusate"Admit them disciples; do your utmost to make the nations Christian nations;" not, "Go to the nations, and denounce the judgments of God against them, as Jonah against Nineveh, and as the other Old-Testament prophets" (though they had reason enough to expect it for their wickedness), "but go, and disciple them." Christ the Mediator is setting up a kingdom in the world, bring the nations to be his subjects; setting up a school, bring the nations to be his scholars; raising an army for the carrying on of the war against the powers of darkness, enlist the nations of the earth under his banner. The work which the apostles had to do, was, to set up the Christian religion in all places, and it was honourable work; the achievements of the mighty heroes of the world were nothing to it. They conquered the nations for themselves, and made them miserable; the apostles conquered them for Christ, and made them happy.

[3.] Their instructions for executing this commission.

First, They must admit disciples by the sacred rite of baptism; "Go into all nations, preach the gospel to them, work miracles among them, and persuade them to come in themselves, and bring their children with them, into the church of Christ, and then admit them and theirs into the church, by washing them with water;" either dipping them in the water, or pouring or sprinkling water upon them, which seems the more proper, because the thing is most frequently expressed so, as Isa. xliv. 3, I will pour my Spirit on thy seed. And, Tit. iii. 5, 6, Which he shed on us abundantly. And, Ezek. xxxvi. 25, I will sprinkle clean water upon you. And, Isa. lii. 15, So shall he sprinkle many nations; which seems a prophecy of this commission to baptize the nations.

Secondly, This baptism must be administered in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. That is, 1. By authority from heaven, and not of man; for his ministers act by authority from the three persons in the Godhead, who all concur, as to our creation, so to our redemption; they have their commission under the great seal of heaven, which puts an honour upon the ordinance, though to a carnal eye, like him that instituted it, it has no form or comeliness. 2. Calling upon the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Every thing is sanctified by prayer, and particularly the waters of baptism. The prayer of faith obtains the presence of God with the ordinance, which is its lustre and beauty, its life and efficacy. But, 3. It is into the name (eis to onoma) of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; this was intended as the summary of the first principles of the Christian religion, and of the new covenant, and according to it the ancient creeds were drawn up. By our being baptized, we solemnly profess, (1.) Our assent to the scripture-revelation concerning God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. We confess our belief that there is a God, that there is but one God, that in the Godhead there is a Father that begets, a Son that is begotten, and a Holy Spirit of both. We are baptized, not into the names, but into the name, of Father, Son, and Spirit, which plainly intimates that these three are one, and their name one. The distinct mentioning of the three persons in the Trinity, both in the Christian baptism here, and in the Christian blessing (2 Cor. xiii. 14), as it is a full proof of the doctrine of the Trinity, so it has done much towards preserving it pure and entire through all ages of the church; for nothing is more great and awful in Christian assemblies than these two. (2.) Our consent to a covenant-relation to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Baptism is a sacrament, that is, it is an oath; super sacramentum dicere, is to say upon oath. It is an oath of abjuration, by which we renounce the world and the flesh, as rivals with God for the throne in our hearts; and an oath of allegiance, by which we resign and give up ourselves to God, to be his, our own selves, our whole selves, body, soul, and spirit, to be governed by his will, and made happy in his favour; we become his men, so the form of homage in our law runs. Therefore baptism is applied to the person, as livery and seisin is given of the premises, because it is the person that is dedicated to God. [1.] It is into the name of the Father, believing him to be the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (for that is principally intended here), by eternal generation, and our Father, as our Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor, to whom therefore we resign ourselves, as our absolute owner and proprietor, to actuate us, and dispose of us; as our supreme rector and governor, to rule us, as free agents, by his law; and as our chief good, and highest end. [2.] It is into the name of the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and correlate to the Father. Baptism was in a particular manner administered in the name of the Lord Jesus, Acts viii. 16; xix. 5. In baptism we assent, as Peter did, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God (ch. xvi. 16), and consent, as Thomas did, My Lord, and my God, John xx. 28. We take Christ to be our Prophet, Priest, and King, and give up ourselves to be taught, and saved, and ruled, by him. [3.] It is into the name of the Holy Ghost. Believing the Godhead of the Holy Spirit, and his agency in carrying on our redemption, we give up ourselves to his conduct and operation, as our sanctifier, teacher, guide, and comforter.

Thirdly, Those that are thus baptized, and enrolled among the disciples of Christ, must be taught (v. 20); Teaching them to observe all thing, whatsoever I have commanded you. This denotes two things.

1. The duty of disciples, of all baptized Christians; they must observe all things whatsoever Christ has commanded, and, in order to that, must submit to the teaching of those whom he sends. Our admission into the visible church is in order to something further; when Christ hath discipled us, he hath not done with us; he enlist soldiers that he may train them up for his service.

All that are baptized, are thereby obliged, (1.) To make the command of Christ their rule. There is a law of faith, and we are said to be under the law to Christ; we are by baptism bound, and must obey. (2.) To observe what Christ has commanded. Due obedience to the commands of Christ requires a diligent observation; we are in danger of missing, if we take not good heed: and in all our obedience, we must have an eye to the command, and do what we do as unto the Lord. (3.) To observe all things, that he has commanded, without exception; all the moral duties, and all the instituted ordinances. Our obedience to the laws of Christ is not sincere, if it be not universal; we must stand complete in his whole will. (4.) To confine themselves to the commands of Christ, and as not to diminish from them, so not to add to them. (5.) To learn their duty according to the law of Christ, from those whom he has appointed to be teachers in his school, for therefore we were entered into his school.

2. The duty of the apostles of Christ, and his ministers; and that is, to beach the commands of Christ, to expound them to his disciples, to press upon them the necessity of obedience, and to assist them in applying the general commands of Christ to particular cases, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. They must teach them, not their own inventions, but the institutions of Christ; to them they must religiously adhere, and in the knowledge of them Christians must be trained up. A standing ministry is hereby settled in the church, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the perfect man, Eph. iv. 11-13. The heirs of heaven, till they come to age, must be under tutors and governors.

3. Here is the assurance he gives them of his spiritual presence with them in the execution of this commission; And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. This exceeding great and precious promise is ushered in with a behold, to strengthen their faith, and engage their observation of it. "Take notice of this; it is what you may assure yourselves of and venture upon." Observe,

(1.) The favour promised them; I am with you. Not, I will be with you, but I amego eimi. As God sent Moses, so Christ sent his apostles, by this name, I am; for he is God, to whom past, present, and to come, are the same. See Rev. i. 8. He was now about to leave them; his bodily presence was now to be removed from them, and this grieved them; but he assures them of his spiritual presence, which was more expedient for them than his bodily presence could be; I am with you; that is, "My Spirit is with you, the Comforter shall abide with you, John xvi. 7. I am with you, and not against you: with you to take your part, to be on your side, and to hold with you, as Michael our prince is said to do, Dan. x. 21. I am with you, and not absent from you, not at a distance; I am a very present help," Ps. xlvi. 1. Christ was now sending them to set up his kingdom in the world, which was a great undertaking. And then doth he seasonably promise them his presence with them, [1.] To carry them on through the difficulties they were likely to meet with. "I am with you, to bear you up, to plead your cause; with you in all your services, in all your sufferings, to bring you through them with comfort and honour. When you go through the fire or water, I will be with you. In the pulpit, in the prison, lo, I am with you." [2.] To succeed this great undertaking; "Lo, I am with you, to make your ministry effectual for the discipling of the nations, for the pulling down of the strong holds of Satan, and the setting up of stronger for the Lord Jesus." It was an unlikely thing that they should unhinge national constitutions in religion, and turn the stream of so long a usage; that they should establish a doctrine so directly contrary to the genius of the age, and persuade people to become the disciples of a crucified Jesus; but lo, I am with you, and therefore you shall gain your point.

(2.) The continuance of the favour, always, even unto the end of the world.

[1.] They shall have his constant presence; Always, pasas tas hemerasall days, every day. "I will be with you on sabbath days and week days, fair days and foul days, winter days and summer days." There is no day, no hour of the day, in which our Lord Jesus is not present with his churches and with his ministers; if there were, that day, that hour, they were undone. Since his resurrection he had appeared to them now and then, once a week it may be, and scarcely that. But he assures them that they shall have his spiritual presence continued to them without intermission. Wherever we are the word of Christ is nigh us, even in our mouth, and the Spirit of Christ nigh us, even in our hearts. The God of Israel, the Saviour, is sometimes a God that hideth himself (Isa. xlv. 15), but never a God that absenteth himself; sometimes in the dark, but never at a distance.

[2.] They shall have his perpetual presence, even to the end of the world. There is a world before us, that will never have an end, but this is hastening towards its period; and even till then the Christian religion shall, in one part of the world or other, be kept up, and the presence of Christ continued with his ministers. I am with you to the end of the world, not with your persons, they died quickly, but, First, With you and your writings. There is a divine power going along with the scripture of the New Testament, not only preserving them in being, but producing strange effects by them, which will continue to the end of time. Secondly, With you and your successors; with you and all the ministers of the gospel in the several ages of the church; with all to whom this commission extends, with all who, being duly called and sent, thus baptize and thus teach. When the end of the world is come, and the kingdom delivered up to God, even the Father, there will then be no further need of ministers and their ministration; but till then they shall continue, and the great intentions of the institution shall be answered. This is an encouraging word to all the faithful ministers of Christ, that what was said to the apostles, was said to them all, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Two solemn farewells we find our Lord Jesus giving to his church, and his parting word at both of them is very encouraging; one was here, when he closed up his personal converse with them, and then his parting word was, "Lo, I am with you always; I leave you, and yet still I am with you;" the other was, when he closed up the canon of the scripture by the pen of his beloved disciple, and then his parting word was, "Surely, I come quickly. I leave you for awhile, but I will be with you again shortly," Rev. xxii. 20. By this it appears that he did not part in anger, but in love, and that it is his will we should keep up both our communion with him and our expectation of him.

There is one word more remaining, which must not be overlooked, and that is Amen; which is not a cipher, intended only for a concluding word, like finis at the end of a book, but it has its significancy. 1. It bespeaks Christ's confirmation of this promise, Lo, I am with you. It is his Amen, in whom all the promises are Yea and Amen, "Verily I am, and will be, with you; I the Amen, the faithful Witness, do assure you of it." Or, 2. It bespeaks the church's concurrence with it, in their desire, and prayer, and expectation. It is the evangelist's AmenSo be it, blessed Lord. Our Amen to Christ's promises turns them into prayers. Hath Christ promised to be present with his ministers, present in his word, present in the assemblies of his people, though but two or three are gathered together in his name, and this always, even to the end of the world? Let us heartily say Amen to it; believe that it shall be so, and pray that it may be so: Lord, Remember this word unto thy servants, upon which thou hast caused us to hope.

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Other commentaries and interpretations on the Book of Gospel of Matthew:
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