a 11 Now while they were going [while Joanna and the group of women with her were on their way to tell the apostles that they had seen Jesus], behold, some of the guard [not all] came into the city, and told unto the chief priests all the things that were come to pass. [Esteeming it folly to guard an empty tomb, the soldiers went to their barracks, while their officers returned to those who had placed them on guard to report what had happened. They rightly judged that the plain truth was their best defense. They could not be expected to contend against earthquakes and angels. Their report implies that they saw Jesus leave the tomb, and after the angel opened it.*]
night, and stole him away while we slept. [This was evidently not a full, but a select, council of the Sanhedrin hastily summoned. They willfully shut their eyes to the fact that Jesus had risen, and proceed to purchase a lie to subvert the truth. Unrepentant, despite the many evidences that they had done wrong, they proceed to further invoke the wrath of God. Their lie is doubly apparent upon its face. 1. It would have been practically impossible for men to have rifled such a tomb without waking a guard set to protect it. 2. It is absolutely impossible for men to have known what had occurred while they were asleep.]
14 And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and rid you of care. [It was a capital offense for a Roman soldier to sleep while on guard; therefore, if Pilate heard that they had done this thing, it would require "persuasion" to make him overlook the offense. Possibly the Jews thought that Pilate was sufficiently involved with them to be ready to aid them to hush the story of the resurrection, especially if they confessed to him that they themselves had invented the lie which the soldiers told.]
15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught [the lesson was short and simple; the reward, large and desirable]: and this saying was spread abroad among the Jews, and continueth until this day. [The words seem to indicate that it was published more largely than simply within the walls of Jerusalem. In his dialogue with Trypho, which was written about A. D. 170, Justin Martyr says that the Jews dispersed the story by means of special messengers sent to every country. The fear which they expressed to Pilate ( Matthew 27:64 ), lends credibility to this statement.]
* NOTE.--We fail to see any such implication. In our opinion Jesus had already departed from the tomb when the angel came. The tomb was not opened to let the Lord out, but to let the disciples in, that they might see as soon as possible one of the chief evidences of his resurrection ( John 20:8 ; Matthew 28:6 ). Jesus did not need that one open doors for him ( John 20:19 John 20:26 ), but the disciples had such a need ( Mark 16:3 ). But it seems to us contrary to Scripture precedent that these unbelieving soldiers should see the risen Christ, for he did not appear to the unbelieving so far as the record shows, and the implication is that the same principle which made Jesus refuse the testimony of demons made him also decline to let unbelievers become witnesses to his resurrection ( Acts 10:40 Acts 10:41 ).--P. Y. P.