Matthew 28




The Resurrection (28:1-8)

(Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8; John 20:1)

1-8  See Mark 16:1-8 and comment.


Jesus Appears to the Women (28:9-10)

9-10 The first people to whom Jesus appeared after His resurrection were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, the same women who had watched Jesus on the cross (see Mark 15:40 and comment). He appeared to them suddenly. Imagine their surprise and joy! Here was Jesus Himself. He was not dead: He had overcome death!

Jesus instructed the women to go and tell the disciples to go to Galilee, where He would meet them. Thus the promise Jesus made to His disciples at the last supper would soon be fulfilled (see Mark 14:28). The women did as they were commanded and went at once and told the disciples (see John 20:10-18 and comment).


The Guards’ Report (28:11-15)

11 The soldiers sent to guard the tomb saw the angel of the Lord roll back the stone from the mouth of the tomb (verses 2-3). Then they trembled and became like dead men—that is, they fainted (verse 4). When they came to their senses they went and reported to the chief priests what had happened.

12-13 The Jewish priests and elders decided to pay the soldiers to tell a lie, the lie that Jesus’ disciples stole the body while the soldiers slept (see Matthew 27:63-64 and comment). It was a poor lie: if they were asleep, how could they have told what had happened?

14  To sleep on duty was a great crime for a guard to commit. Guards who neglected their duty in this way could receive the death sentence (Acts 12:19). If the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb said that they had been sleeping, they would be in great danger from Pilate. This explains why the soldiers went first to the Jewish chief priests. The Jewish leaders promised to defend them if Pilate should hear of the matter. It was a false promise; the Jews could have done very little to protect Roman soldiers.

15  However, because of the money they were offered, the soldiers were willing to take the risk of being punished. So they went about and spread the rumor that they had fallen asleep, and that Jesus’ disciples had come and stolen the body. Many people believed that story. They still believed it at the time Matthew wrote his Gospel.


The Great Commission (28:16-20)

16  When the disciples learned from the women that Jesus had risen, they did not immediately go to Galilee. First, Peter and John went to the tomb to see if the women’s report was true (Luke 24:9-12; John 20:13). But even though they found the tomb empty as the women had said, the disciples continued to remain in hiding in Jerusalem for fear of the Jews (John 20:10,19). There Jesus appeared to them at least twice (Luke 24:36; John 20:19,26). Only after that did the eleven disciples depart for the mountain in Galilee where Jesus had told them to go.

17  When the eleven disciples saw Him, they worshiped Him. But some doubted. These doubters were probably other disciples and followers of Jesus who had not yet seen Christ since His death and resurrection. Paul wrote that Jesus appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time (1 Corinthians 15:6). Some of these five hundred may have doubted initially. Like the disciples themselves at first, they may have thought they were seeing a ghost (Luke 24:37).

18  Then Jesus came to them, and He said one of the most amazing things ever spoken: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” No ordinary man could ever have said that. Only God’s own Son could make such a statement.

The devil had once offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4:8-9). But now, having been obedient to His Father, Jesus had received not only authority over all the earth but also over the heavens as well, authority over the entire universe (see Ephesians 1:20-22; Philippians 2:9-11 and comments).

In the beginning, before He came to earth, all the authority in heaven and earth belonged to Jesus. But even though He was in very nature God… [He] made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness (Philippians 2:6-7). In other words, Jesus gave up His authority temporarily while He was here on earth. Now, after His resurrection, He received it back again.

19 Therefore—that is, because Jesus has all authority—He told His followers to make disciples of all nations.74 Because Jesus is Lord of the universe, we must go and establish His rule in every corner of the earth. He is the Lord of all nations; therefore, we must go to all nations.

Jesus told us to go and make disciples. He told us not only to teach and preach, but to make disciples. In fact, in verses 18-20, the main verb in the original Greek text is the verb make. The other verbs—baptizing and teaching—are auxiliary verbs. From this we can understand that the most important element in this “Great Commission” is the making of disciples. We must confirm individual believers in the faith. We must help them grow into mature Christians. In this way we shall be able to build up the church, so that it will be strong and faithful to its Lord.

We must baptize new disciples in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God, not three gods. God is triune. He has three forms or modes of existence. He is the Almighty Creator, maker of heaven and earth. He is the Son, Jesus, the one true incarnation of God, who came to earth to save us from our sins and to show us the way to salvation. And third, He is the Holy Spirit, who lives in the hearts of believers and gives them new life, eternal spiritual life that will never end. This is the Triune God whom we worship. And to be baptized in His name means to belong to Him. When we are baptized in His name, we say to the world: “I am God’s. I am Christ’s” (see 2 Corinthians 13:14).

Jesus in the beginning preached and healed mainly among the Jews (see Matthew 10:5-6; 15:24 and comments). Now having risen from the dead and obtained authority over all the universe, He told His disciples to go to all nations. At first, however, they continued to work mainly among the Jews. The disciples themselves were Jews. It took them time to realize that Christ’s church really was to be established among all nations, all peoples. God had to send Peter a special vision before he would agree to preach in a Gentile’s house (Acts 10:9-20). But step by step, they spread the Gospel of Christ into all the world. Jesus told them, “… you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). And so it came to pass (see Mark 16:15-18 and comment).

20 What is the main job of a disciple? To obey. Jesus said to His followers, “Make disciples, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” A disciple who does not obey is no disciple at all.

This “Great Commission” was given not only to the eleven disciples but to every follower of Jesus right down to the present time. Jesus told those first eleven disciples to teach all the new disciples they made to obey everything I have commanded you—and that, of course, includes the Great Commission itself. Every Christian must obey Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations. The reason there are so many non-Christians in the world today is because so many Christians have failed to obey this last great command of our Lord (see General Article: Purpose of the Church).

Finally, after giving His disciples their last assignment, Jesus gave them a promise: “I will be with you always.” Earlier Jesus had said to His disciples: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. … Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” (John 14:18-20). Jesus is not only with us; He is also in us. His Holy Spirit lives in us (John 14:17). His Holy Spirit gives us the power to be His disciples, to be His witnesses (see Acts 1:8 and comment). If Jesus is in us, His authority is also in us. Friends, all the power and authority in the universe is ours in Christ! As we go out into the world, Christ goes with us also; we shall never be alone. “Surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.


1 Aramaic was the most common language spoken in Israel in Jesus’ time. It was the language spoken by Jesus Himself.

2 The Greek language was spoken by most of the educated people living throughout the Middle East and southern Europe during New Testament times. The New Testament books were originally written in the Greek language. Most of the earliest New Testament manuscripts that still exist today are copies of those original manuscripts (see General Article: How We Got Our Bible).

3 Antioch was one of the leading cities of the Middle East in New Testament times.

4 In the Greek language, the word Christ means “anointed one.” “Messiah” is the Jewish or Hebrew word for Christ.

5 The word “Adam” means man.

6 This is why there is no discrepancy between Matthew and Luke’s genealogy during the period before David.

7 Jewish genealogies were extremely complicated. Many adopted children were included in the genealogies, and thus the genealogies of different families became intermixed. Sometimes members of the same family married each other. (This is the reason that Shealtiel and Zerubbabel are mentioned in both Joseph’s and Mary’s genealogies.)

8 In Jesus’ time, Jerusalem was the capital of Judea, the southern province of the Jewish nation of Israel. Today Jerusalem is one of the major cities of modern Israel.

9 The Roman Empire was the most powerful empire in the world during New Testament times. It had extended its authority over most of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Its capital city was Rome, which is today the capital of the modern nation of Italy in southern Europe. For further discussion, see Word List: Roman Empire.

10 Matthew does not give an exact quotation from Micah’s prophecy here. He is really making a comment on Micah 5:2.

11 Jews from other parts of Israel looked down on Jews from Galilee. Galileans were generally less educated and cultured than other Jews.

12 Here the expression “to fall into temptation” means “to succumb to temptation”; that is, it means to sin.

13 The Sinai Desert lies between Egypt and Israel. After God freed the Jews (the nation of Israel) from bondage in Egypt, the Jews wandered for forty years in the desert before arriving in the land that God had prepared for them. Today that land is the modern nation of Israel.

14 Bread is the main staple food of the Middle East.

15 A well-known example of quoting Scripture incorrectly is found in Psalm 14:1, where the following words are written: There is no God. However, the lull sentence reads: The fool says in his heart, “There Ls no God.” Thus the partial quotation gives a meaning that is opposite to the true meaning of the verse.

16 In Luke’s account of Jesus’ temptations, the second and third temptations are reversed (see Luke 4:5-12).

17 To tempt or test God in this context means to put Him to the test, or to test Him out in a demanding way in order to gain something from Him.

18 In Old Testament times, Assyria was a powerful kingdom located to the north of Israel.

19 The synagogue was the Jewish house of worship.

20 The Decapolis was a league of ten cities mainly to the east of Galilee.

21 The Jordan was an important river flowing south from the Sea of Galilee. It forms part of the eastern boundary of present-day Israel.

22 However, from time to time true Christians do fall into sin, and at those times their outward actions can be very wrong. But the true Christian will immediately repent of his sin and be cleansed (1 John 1:9).

23 The lives of some non-believers can appear righteous from a distance: but when one observes them from close up, the fruits of the Spirit cannot be seen in thier lives.

24 Worldly men are those who love the things of the world more than they love God.

25 The Old Testament prophets didn’t only predict the future. They also spoke God’s words to the Jewish people. They acted as God’s mouthpiece; through them God gave His commands and warnings to the people. Thus, in the Bible the word “prophet” means much more than just a “teller of the future.”

26 In New Testament times, salt was used as fertilizer throughout much of the Middle East.

27 The first five books of the Old Testament are called the Law. The law was given to the Jewish people by God. It consisted of ten main commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) and then many other rules. The Jews believed that by following the law they could find salvation. For further discussion, see Word List: Law.

The remainder of the Old Testament consists of the history of the Jewish people and the writings of the Jewish prophets. The entire Old Testament, therefore, is often called the Law and the Prophets.

28 “New covenant” is the real meaning of the words “New Testament.” The New Testament describes the new covenant that God has made with man through Jesus Christ.

29 Notice that it’s not a question of who is at fault or mostly at fault. If you are aware that another person is grieved by you or feels negative toward you, Jesus says you must go and be reconciled to your brother (verse 24).

30 God and Jesus are one (see John 10:30).

31 Sometimes the Holy Spirit will lead us to pray a long time for a special reason. Jesus prayed all night before He chose His twelve disciples (Luke 6:12-13). But in most situations this is not necessary.

32 The New Testament was originally written in the Greek language.

33 We must love our children, but we must love them for their own sakes and not for our sakes. We must not love our children because of the benefit we hope to receive from them. That is a selfish “love.” It is really a form of self-love.

34 In place of the words a single hour to his life, some versions of the Bible say, “a single cubit to his height.” The Greek text of this verse can be translated either way. However, it fits better with the context to say, add a single hour to his life. People worry more about the length of their life than they do about their height.

35 In Jesus’time, only Jews and those Gentiles who followed the Jewish religion believed in the one true God.

36 God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit are one (see General Article: Holy Spirit). The Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit; therefore, the Holy Spirit is also Christ’s Spirit.

37 The Law and the Prophets is another name for the Old Testament. The first five hooks of the Old Testament are called “the law.” For further discussion, see footnote to comment on Matthew 5:17.

38 In John 15:16, the word “fruit” also means new believers. Bearing fruit also means bringing others to Christ through our witness.

39 In Bible times, the Jews despised Gentiles, that is, all non-Jews. Supposing that Jesus was like all other Jews, the centurion was afraid to go to Jesus directly.

40 Notice that in this account of the healing of the centurion’s servant, Matthew does not mention the Jewish elders and friends coming to Jesus, and Luke doesn’t mention that the centurion himself came to Jesus. By joining the two accounts, the full story can be obtained. We must remember that as each of the Gospel writers wrote down their account of Jesus’ life, they did not include every possible detail; one writer would include one detail, and another writer, another (see John 20:30; 21:25).

41 This centurion had deep faith in Jesus’ power. He now needed to take one more step of faith and believe that Jesus was the Son of God, the Savior.

42 In the Bible, the word Israel is most commonly used as a name for the Jewish people. Thus, in this verse, “Israel” means the Jewish people. For further discussion, see Word List: Israel.

43 The Samaritans lived in Samaria, which was a region of Israel that lay between the provinces of Judea and Galilee. They were half-Jews, who had long ago intermarried with foreign women. Thus they were despised by all true Jews (see John 4:8-9 and comment).

44 Jesus called Himself the Son of Man (see Mark 2:10 and comment).

45 The Jews used to call Satan Beelzebub.

46 It is possible for one to become a true believer, but for some time to keep it hidden. At the beginning of one’s Christian life, one’s faith may be weak. But sooner or later, every Christian must become ready to confess his faith openly—or else he will show that his faith was never real to begin with. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus are good examples of so-called “secret believers” (see Mark 15:42-47: John 3:1-2 and comments). But, in time, they too came forward and identified themselves as followers of Jesus.

47 ”Messiah” is the Hebrew word for Christ; it means “anointed one.”

48 In Isaiah 61:1, the word poor can also be translated “afflicted“ or “humble“

49 In place of the words has been forcefully advancing, some versions of the Bible say, “has suffered violence.” The Greek text can be translated either way.

50 Here the Law means the first five books of the Old Testament. The Prophets and the Law together refer to the entire Old Testament.

51 Korazin was a city three miles north of the Sea of Galilee. Bethsaida was nearby. Nothing is known about the miracles Jesus performed at Korazin. From this we can understand that Jesus did many things that are not written in the four Gospels (John 21:25).

52 In Bible times, to wear sackcloth and to apply ashes to the face was a sign of repentance.

53 In Jeremiah 31:34 and Hebrews 8:12, God says: “I will remember their sins no more.” This means that on the day of judgment, those who believe in Christ will not receive condemnation (Romans 8:1). When God judges believers, He will not take into account their sins. It will be as if their sins had been erased, forgotten. But for believers there will be another kind of”judgment,” in which God will reward them for everything they have done on this earth. When God judges what our reward should be, He will examine every work we have ever done and every word we have ever spoken.

54 The heart of the earth here means the abode of the dead, or Hades.

55 Solomon was the son of King David. He was known for his wisdom. He wrote most of the Old Testament book of Proverbs.

56 It is not only parables that we need special spiritual insight to understand; we need help to understand the deeper meaning of the entire Bible. The Holy Spirit gives us this help. Whenever we study the Bible, we must pray that the Holy Spirit will give us spiritual understanding.

57 Not all ancient manuscripts of Matthew contain verse 21. A similar verse is found in Mark 9:29.

58 The drachma was a Greek coin. Four drachmas equaled one “shekel,” a small Jewish coin. In place of the words two-drachma tax, some translations of the Bible say “half-shekel tax.”

59 Not all ancient manuscripts of Matthew contain verse 11. A similar verse is found in Luke 19:10.

60 For example, if our brother knowingly and blatantly persists in sinning against us, or if we see that from his sin harm is going to come either to himself or to the church, then we must take the steps outlined in verses 15-17 to oppose his sin.

61 Their prayer must not be contrary to God’s will as revealed in the Bible; the Holy Spirit never guides in any way that opposes what is written in the Scriptures.

62 In place of the words seventy-seven times, some versions of the Bible say “seven times seventy.” The original Greek text can be translated either way. The point of the teaching is the same in either case.

63 The denarius was a Roman coin in common use during New Testament times.

64 In heaven all believers receive the same salvation, the same eternal life. But they do receive different rewards according to their work on earth (see Matthew 16:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10 and comments).

65 Eternal life is not like a real wage, because eternal life is always a gift. We never earn our eternal life.

66 Not all ancient manuscripts of Matthew contain verse 14. A similar verse is found in Mark 12:40.

67 The father of the Zechariah mentioned in this verse was Jehoiada (2 Chronicles 24:20). Berakiah was the father of another Zechariah (Zechariah 1:1). It is not known if this second Zechariah was killed or not. Therefore, there is some uncertainty as to which Zechariah Matthew means here.

68 When a person dies, for him the world has, in effect, come to an end. After death, there is no longer any chance to repent and become righteous in God’s sight. Those who have died will be judged at the end of the world according to how they have behaved while they were alive.

69 A talent was a weight or measure of money. One talent was worth more than a thousand dollars.

70 A mina was worth three month’s wages.

71 Usually in the New Testament, only Christians are called brothers of Christ. Only Christians are sons of God. But according to the context of this verse, Christ here calls all men “brothers.” We are to show love to all men, not only to Christians (Matthew 5:44; Mark 12:31).

72 The word potter in Zechariah 11:13 can also be translated “treasury.”

73 Preparation Day was the day before the Sabbath; that is, it was the preparation for the Sabbath (Saturday). Preparation Day, therefore, was always on a Friday (see Mark 14:12 and comment).

74 The Greek word for nation that Matthew uses means any group of people of similar culture and outlook. Such groups today are called “people groups.” Within any country, there can be many of these “nations,” or “people groups.”