Matthew 28

In this final chapter, we see the resurrection of Jesus, the guards’ false report about a stolen body, and the Great Commission.

As I write in the introduction to every chapter:

This translation and commentary is offered for free, gratis, across the worldwide web to Christians in oppressive (persecuting) or developing countries, who cannot afford printed commentaries or Study Bibles, though everyone can use the commentary and entire website, of course.

The translation is mine. I wrote it to learn what the Greek text really says. The translation tends to be literal, but complete literalism and readability are impossible, so adjustments had to be made. If readers don’t read Greek, they can ignore the left side of the tables. I include the language to check my work and for Greek readers, who can also check my translation.

Readers can go to and use the interlinear link to look up every Greek word, and then the links go to every occurrence of the word. They can also visit for many translations.

The commentary has a practical application (GrowApp) at the end of each section, for discipleship.

Links are provided for further study.

Let’s begin.

Jesus Has Risen (Matt. 28:1-10)

1 Ὀψὲ δὲ σαββάτων τῇ ἐπιφωσκούσῃ εἰς μίαν σαββάτων ἦλθεν Μαριὰμ ἡ Μαγδαληνὴ καὶ ἡ ἄλλη Μαρία θεωρῆσαι τὸν τάφον. 2 καὶ ἰδοὺ σεισμὸς ἐγένετο μέγας· ἄγγελος γὰρ κυρίου καταβὰς ἐξ οὐρανοῦ καὶ προσελθὼν ἀπεκύλισεν τὸν λίθον καὶ ἐκάθητο ἐπάνω αὐτοῦ. 3 ἦν δὲ ἡ εἰδέα αὐτοῦ ὡς ἀστραπὴ καὶ τὸ ἔνδυμα αὐτοῦ λευκὸν ὡς χιών. 4 ἀπὸ δὲ τοῦ φόβου αὐτοῦ ἐσείσθησαν οἱ τηροῦντες καὶ ἐγενήθησαν ὡς νεκροί.

5 Ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ ἄγγελος εἶπεν ταῖς γυναιξίν· μὴ φοβεῖσθε ὑμεῖς, οἶδα γὰρ ὅτι Ἰησοῦν τὸν ἐσταυρωμένον ζητεῖτε· 6 οὐκ ἔστιν ὧδε, ἠγέρθη γὰρ καθὼς εἶπεν· δεῦτε ἴδετε τὸν τόπον ὅπου ἔκειτο.

7 καὶ ταχὺ πορευθεῖσαι εἴπατε τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ ὅτι ἠγέρθη ἀπὸ τῶν νεκρῶν, καὶ ἰδοὺ προάγει ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν, ἐκεῖ αὐτὸν ὄψεσθε· ἰδοὺ εἶπον ὑμῖν. 8 Καὶ ἀπελθοῦσαι ταχὺ ἀπὸ τοῦ μνημείου μετὰ φόβου καὶ χαρᾶς μεγάλης ἔδραμον ἀπαγγεῖλαι τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ. 9 καὶ ἰδοὺ Ἰησοῦς ὑπήντησεν αὐταῖς λέγων· χαίρετε. αἱ δὲ προσελθοῦσαι ἐκράτησαν αὐτοῦ τοὺς πόδας καὶ προσεκύνησαν αὐτῷ. 10 τότε λέγει αὐταῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς· μὴ φοβεῖσθε· ὑπάγετε ἀπαγγείλατε τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς μου ἵνα ἀπέλθωσιν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν, κἀκεῖ με ὄψονται.

1 After the Sabbath, when the light was dawning on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2 And look! A strong earthquake took place, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached and rolled away the stone and sat on top of it. 3 His appearance was like bright lightning, and his clothing was white like snow. 4 Out of fear of him those on guard were shaken and became as dead men.

5 Answering their fear, the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he was raised, as he said. Come and see the place where he was lying.

7 Then quickly go and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead. And pay attention! He is going ahead of you into Galilee; you will see him there. Pay attention! I have spoken to you!” 8 And they quickly left the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to announce this to his disciples. 9 And look! Jesus met them, saying, “Greetings!” They came up to him and clasped his feet and bowed before him. 10 At that time Jesus said to them, “Do not fear! Go, announce to my brothers and sisters that they should depart for Galilee, and they will see me there.”



Osborne compiled the material about the appearances and counts eleven (p. 1054, slightly edited):

1.. Mary Magdalene (John 20:14-18

2.. A group of women (Mark 16:5-7; Matt. 28:9)

3.. Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5)

4.. Two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35)

5.. The disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 24:36-43; John 24:13-35)

6.. Thomas and the others, eight days later (John 20:26-29)

7.. Seven disciples on the Lake of Galilee (John 21:1-23)

8.. The Great Commission appearance on mountain in Galilee (Matt. 28:16-20)

9.. Five hundred believers at one time (1 Cor. 15:6)

10.. James (1 Cor. 15:7)

11.. The disciples at the ascension (Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:1-12)

Further, here is a supplemental table of the resurrection appearances. I hope it clarifies the main passages:

Resurrection Appearances

Appearance Place Time Scriptures
The Empty Tomb Jerusalem Resurrection Sunday Mt. 28:1-10; Mk. 16:1-8; Lk. 24:1-12; Jn. 20:1-9
Mary Magdalene In a garden in Jerusalem Resurrection Sunday Mk. 16:9-11; Jn. 11-18
Other women Jerusalem Resurrection Sunday Mt. 28:9-10
Two men on Road to Emmaus Emmaus seven miles from Jerusalem Resurrection Sunday Mk. 16:12-13; Lk. 24:13-32
Peter Jerusalem Resurrection Sunday Lk. 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5
Ten disciples in upper room Jerusalem Resurrection Sunday Lk. 24:36-43; Jn. 20:19-25
Eleven disciples in upper room Jerusalem Following Sunday Mk. 16:14; Jn. 20:26-31; 1 Cor. 15:5
Seven disciples Sea of Galilee Some time later Jn. 21:1-23
Eleven disciples on mountain Galilee Some time later Mt. 28:16-20; Mk. 16:15-18
More than five hundred Unknown Some time later 1 Cor. 15:6
James Unknown Some time later 1 Cor. 15:7
His disciples at his ascension Mount of Olives Forty days after resurrection Lk. 24:44-49; Ac. 1:3-8
Paul Damascus Several years later Ac. 9:1-9, 22:3-16, 26:9-18; 1 Cor. 9:1
Adapted from NIV Study Bible, p. 1754.

Also see:

14. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Appeared to His Disciples

This is the great resurrection passage in Matthew’s Gospel. I have nicknamed him Matthew the Trimmer, and this version is definitely the short and streamlined version, compared to Luke and John. Yet Matthew’s version is still powerful and clear. There is beauty and power in simplicity.

Let me now cover some of my translation.

First, Matthew goes back to Mariam, instead of Maria. Names were fluid back then. You can use both Maria or Mariam / Miriam.

The fact that Matthew writes of women being the first visitors to the tomb and the first witnesses to the effect of the resurrection—the empty tomb—has the ring of truth to it. If Matthew were making it up to impress outsiders to the Jewish Christian movement, we would expect him to say men were the first witnesses.

First day of the week is our Sunday—the Sabbath was over on our Saturday evening, at sunset.

“Look” and “Pay attention” are translated in the older versions as “behold.” It means that something startling is about to happen. A new development in the plot is happening or a serious announcement is now delivered. I believe my translations fit the context

The stone was rolled away, not to let Jesus escape from the tomb. No! It was rolled away as a witness to the visitors to the tomb.

In v. 4, Osborne quotes from another commentator (Hagner): “The irony is not to be missed: the ones assigned to guard the dead themselves appear dead while the dead now have been made alive” (Osborne, comment on 28:4).

In v. 5 “answering their fear” is implied. The verb “answer” or “respond” exists, but the context says that the angel saw their fear and responded to it. He saw the guard fallen as dead men, but he did not help them. He left them as they were. Instead, he lifted up the women with his words and urged them to go ahead and look in the tomb.

In v. 6 we find the most famous of all words in the pericope (pronounced puh-RIH-koh-pea) or section of Scripture. “He is not here! He is risen!” Commentators call the second verb the divine passive. That is, God is not named, but he is the one who raised Jesus from the dead. He is behind the scene at work, invisible, except for those who have eyes to see. It could be translated as “He has been raised up!”

“brothers and sisters”: Many women followed Jesus from Galilee (27:55), so it is easy to imagine that they too needed to hear the good news of the resurrection.

“bowed”: this verb could be translated as “worship.” It is the verb proskuneō (pronounced pros-koo-neh-oh), and it literally means “kiss toward” (kun– means to “fall” or “kneel,” and even more primitively “kus” or “kiss”; pros means “towards,” among other things). Further, it can mean, depending on the context, “(fall down and) worship, do obeisance to, prostrate oneself before, do reverence to, welcome respectfully.” Here it is worship, because one would not greet the Lord casually. He was resurrected. This is, again, high Christology in Matthew. Jesus told Satan that only God is to be worshipped (4:9-10). Here he accepts their worship. The logic is simple. He is God in the flesh—now with a resurrected body.

Bible Basics about Praise and Worship

Word Study on Praise and Worship

Renewalists believe that angels appear today, just like they did back in biblical times. God is the Lord, we are not. He can work miracles as he sees fit. He will accomplish his plans, and in this case the angel was a messenger to tell them of the resurrection. People who really see angels have the similar reaction of fear. People who are casual at the first encounter with an angel are not reliable. After they recover from the sense of awe, they can then listen respectfully.

Here is a multi-part study of angels in the area of systematic theology, but first, here is a summary list of the basics:


(a) Are messengers (in Hebrew mal’ak and in Greek angelos);

(b) Are created spirit beings;

(c) Have a beginning at their creation (not eternal);

(d) Have a beginning, but they are immortal (deathless).

(e) Have moral judgment;

(f) Have a certain measure of free will;

(g) Have high intelligence;

(h) Do not have physical bodies;

(i) But can manifest with immortal bodies before humans;

(j) They can show the emotion of joy.

Bible Basics about Angels

Angels: Questions and Answers

Angels: Their Duties and Missions

Angels: Their Names and Ranks and Heavenly Existence

Angels: Their Origins, Abilities, and Nature

Now let’s turn to the sequence of the passage.

The plotline is fast-flowing. Twice “quickly” is spoken. Go quickly! Don’t delay! Do it now! Obey now! And the word translated “look!” and “pay attention!” appears four times in vv. 1-10 and once in v. 11 and once in v. 20.

The sequence of events is compressed. It seems to work out like this: (1) Early in the morning when the light was breaking, the women go to the tomb. (2) Just before or just as they arrived, an angel appeared and an earthquake happened. (3) The angel rolled away the stone and sat on top of it. Sitting on top indicates triumph, like David standing over Goliath’s body (1 Sam. 17:51). (4) Jesus was already raised before the stone was rolled away, which teach us that a resurrected body is not blocked by rock. (5) The guard fell as though dead. (6) The women also reacted with fear. (7) The angel instructs them to go and announce to Jesus’s disciples. (8) On their way, Jesus meets them. (9) They clasp his feet. (10) At that moment he tells them in effect to get up and don’t clasp. This agrees with John 20:17, when Jesus told Mary Magdalene not to cling to him. (11) Jesus orders them to go and announce the resurrection to his brothers and sister and to tell them to meet him in Galilee.

The pericope ends.

Many websites and youtube videos try to reconcile the sequence of events in the four Gospels. You can look them up. Just remember that Matthew is a trimmer, and God inspired him to trim his narrative or account to its barest elements.

Someone could object that Jonah spent three day and three nights in the belly of the fish (Jonah 1:17), and Jesus referred to this miraculous incident, also saying three days and three nights (Matt. 12:40).

Matthew 12

In reply, however, in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus refers to Jonah but never mentions the three days and three nights (11:30, 32), so this omission now opens the door to other nonprecise interpretations. In Luke 9:22, he says he would rise on the third day, without saying seventy-two hours exactly. He did not say, “Count the hours, and if they do not add up to seventy-two hours, then ignore my resurrection!” Back in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus was simply making the general point that he was a sign to this generation as Jonah was to his, when Jesus spent time in the heart of the earth. Such a demand for precision would have been distracting and beside the point, as Jesus was speaking to the teachers of the law and the Pharisees who were demanding a sign, probably like the ones Moses performed. Jesus replied that the only sign this evil generation would get is that of Jonah in the fish, in other words his burial and resurrection. It was the acceptable rhetoric of a teacher, not the speech of a mathematician. When ultra-literalists or unfriendly postmodern critics interpret stories, they too often go wrong. Today, anyone requiring seventy-two hours precisely is also missing the point of Jesus’s rising on the third day and especially the victory that it offers. Just go to and look up the phrase “third day.” It is amazing how significant it is in so many contexts.

Why Galilee? Osborne: “… While Matthew (and Mark) do not have a symbolic meaning of Galilee in this way, Jesus probably does choose to emphasize the Galilee appearance both in the prediction of 26:32 and in the fulfillment of 28:7, 10, 16 because Galilee was the place the disciples were trained and spent most of their ministry. Furthermore, for Matthew there is another nuance, ‘Galilee of the Gentiles’ (4:15) is a major theme of the great commission (28:19) and sums up the Gentile mission in Matthew (see 1:5, 6; 2:1-12; 4:4-16, 25; 8:5-13, 28-34; 10:18; 12:21, 42, 13:38; 15:21-28, 29-31; 24:14, 31; 25:31-46; 28:10” (comment on 28:10).

Now for the commissioning of the women.

As noted, above, by a short introduction, Women were the first to the tomb. They were hopeful and keen to find out the rest of the story. Their hope drove them to be first at the tomb.

An angel himself told them to go and announce. “Pay attention! I have spoken to you!” Or “I have told you!” This looks like the pronouncements of the prophets: “The Lord has spoken” (Is. 1:2; 25:8; Joel 3:8 and so on) or “I, the Lord, has spoken!” (Num. 14:35; Ezek. 5:15, 17 and so on). The women were told to announce the resurrection. They were commissioned to be evangelists and reporters. Their ministry of being a witness is remarkable, in a culture that did not value the testimony of womankind. God through an angel was breaking down this barrier. He is lifting women up. Jesus also commissioned them. So this double commissioning was extremely important. Women can be evangelists, speaking both to women and men. (Note the wording: I am not yet addressing the office of elder; that issue is another post for another day.) Let’s not diminish their evangelistic role.

Keener writes of the women’s commissioning:

The initial dependence of the men on the testimony of the women reflects the gospel’s power to transcend gender restrictions … When the women met Jesus, they worshiped (28:9)—finally responding as the wise Gentiles had (2:2, 11), yet—again with an ironic touch—before the male disciples did (28:17. Nevertheless, Jesus does not cast off the male disciples here; he identifies the disciples to whom he is sending them as his brothers (12:50:25:40 …) (pp. 702-03)

Let’s turn to the main point of this passage: the resurrection.

The resurrection changes everything. Here is what it means:

(1) It constituted a declaration of the Father that the last enemy had been vanquished, the penalty paid, and the condition on which life was promised [was] met. (2) It symbolized what was destined to happen to the members of Christ’s mystical body in their justification, spiritual birth and future blessed resurrection (Rom. 6:4, 5, 9, 8:11; 1 Cor. 6:14, 15:20-22; 2 Cor. 4:10, 11, 14; Col. 2:12; 1 Thess. 4:14. (3) It also connected instrumentally with their justification, regeneration, and final resurrection (Rom. 4:25, 5:10; Eph. 1:20; Phil. 3:10; 1 Pet. 1:3).

Source: 13. Do I Really Know Jesus? His Resurrection Changes Everything

Later in his life, here’s what Peter wrote about the resurrection:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Pet. 1:3, NIV)

We are born again or experience new birth through the resurrection. Peter grew up from his initial reaction!

Let’s dig deeper into the meaning of the resurrection. We do this by quoting from the epistles, because these writers were inspired and have the benefit of looking back on the resurrection and interpreting it for the church and our Christian lives.

First, the resurrection is essential to the core of the gospel:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Cor. 15:3-8, NIV)

Numerous scholars believe that those above verses contain a very early creed.

Second, if Christ was not raised from the dead, then the early apostolic preaching has been useless and so is our faith: “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Cor. 15:14, NIV).

Note that Jesus appeared to five hundred at one time. Where?  Either in or around Jerusalem or in Galilee.

Third, the implication for us and the dead is massive if Christ is not raised from the dead:

More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Cor. 15:15-19, NIV)

Fourth, here are the benefits when Christ has been raised from the dead, as indeed he has:

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (1 Cor. 15:20-23, NIV).

Christ being the firstfruits means that we are next. His resurrection guarantees our own. He was first, and we follow him.

Fifth, his resurrection reveals what our bodies will be like:

42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (1 Cor. 15:42-44, NIV)

When we are reunited with our bodies at the Second Coming, they will be transformed and glorified. They will be immortal and imperishable.

Ten Biblical Truths about Your New Body

To sum up, his resurrection changes everything. It ratifies the plan of salvation. It seals the promise that he will return to put all things right, for he is the God of justice. He can now send the Spirit into our hearts, sealing them for his second coming and our secure place in heaven. He has been restored to the glory he had before he was incarnated to a man. Now we relate to the heavenly Jesus. He can now have an intimate relationship with each of the seven billion people on the planet. That includes you.


11. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Was Resurrected from the Dead

For further inquiries into what he did between his death and resurrection (or between his death and ascension), please click on this post:

10. Do I Really Know Jesus? Did He Descend into Hades to Preach?

David L. Turner has a magnificent section in his commentary on “Without the resurrection” (pp. 683-84), which I modify here:

Without the resurrection…

Jesus’s redemptive act of dying for sinners would not have divine endorsement. The Father would not declare that Jesus’s death was victorious and the blood shed on the cross to initiate the new covenant would be effective (Rom. 4:25).

His promise that he would rise from the dead (12:40; 16:21; 17:9; 20:19; 26:32) would be empty, and his death would be scorned or pitied, but not believed or obeyed (1 Cor. 15:16-19)

Jesus could not save people from their sins, just as the angel had promised (1:21), for he would be cursed with infamy because he hanged on a tree or wooden pole (Deut. 21:22-23; Gal. 3:13).

There would be no apostolic foundation of the church (16:18), since the apostles deserted him at his arrest and death. Yet his resurrection turned them back and restored them and made them into disciples (26:27-29; 28:7, 10, 16-20).

There would be no complete model of sacrificial living. By dying to self, you gain your soul. Genuinely abundant living occurs when one gives up one’s own life, but without the resurrection the new orientation is short-circuited (10:38-39; 16:24-26; 20:26-28; 23:12; cf. Rom. 6:1-11).

There would be no eschatological shalom to rectify all earthly wrongs and renew the world (19:28). Shalom means peace and prosperity and wellbeing, and this will happen at the end of the age. But it would not happen without the resurrection.

The martyrs whose blood cries out from the ground would experience no justice or vindication (23:35; Rev. 6:9-11). Those who commit violence would not be held accountable without an ultimate reckoning (13:37-42; Dan. 12:2). “Satan would win the cosmic battle.”

People could not hope for their own resurrection and reward (13:43; 16:27; 25:31-40; 27:51-52). Jesus’s ethical teaching said that there would be judgment and reward in the coming kingdom (4:17; 5:12; 7:1-2, 21). What would become of the thrones of the twelve apostles and the rewards Jesus promised to all his disciples (6:9-21; 13:43; 19:27-29; cf. Dan. 12:3; Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21)?

The kingdom would never come to earth and be implemented fully, as it is in heaven (6:10, 33).

Jesus’s “climatic saving act of dying for sinners by crucifixion would lack interpretation and proof of divine acceptance.” The preaching of the cross (Gal. 6:14; 1 Cor. 18-25; 1 Pet. 1:19; Heb. 2:9, 14; 9:12-14; Rev. 5:6-9) would be insignificant and meaningless.

To sum up, the gospel must include the cross and the resurrection, side by side. The gospel must be communicated with the saving power of the cross, and the proof of the saving power of the cross comes through the resurrection. “Any ‘gospel’ that does not place Jesus’s resurrection alongside Jesus’s death is not the authentic message of Jesus and the apostles.”

Scriptures for the resurrection:

Acts 2:32; 3:15, 26; 4:2, 10, 33; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30-37; 17:18, 31; 23:6; 24:21; 25:19; 26:8, 23

Rom. 1:4; 4:25; 6:4-5; 8:11; 10:9

1 Cor. 15:3-8, 12-23, 32, 42.

2 Cor. 4:10, 14; 13:4

Gal. 1:1

Eph. 1:20; 2:5; 4:10

Phil. 2:8-9

Col. 2:12; 3:1-4

1 Thess. 4:14

1 Tim. 3:16

Heb. 1:3; 10:12; 12:1

1 Pet. 1:21; 3:18-22

Rev. 1:5, 18; 2:8; 5:6-10

Thus, the apostolic community, some of whom were infallibly inspired to write the NT, believed that the resurrection was the foundation of their faith. So it should be the foundation of our faith too. Are we better than their generation?

GrowApp for Matt. 28:1-10

A.. He is risen! Hallelujah! An angel and Jesus commissioned the women to report the resurrection. How do you communicate what the risen Lord has done in your heart?

B.. Study 1 Cor. 15:17. How crucial is the resurrection for your faith?

C.. Study Eph. 2:1-6. How have you been personally “resurrected” from the dead?

The Report of the Guard (Matt. 28:11-15)

11 Πορευομένων δὲ αὐτῶν ἰδού τινες τῆς κουστωδίας ἐλθόντες εἰς τὴν πόλιν ἀπήγγειλαν τοῖς ἀρχιερεῦσιν ἅπαντα τὰ γενόμενα. 12 καὶ συναχθέντες μετὰ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων συμβούλιόν τε λαβόντες ἀργύρια ἱκανὰ ἔδωκαν τοῖς στρατιώταις 13 λέγοντες· εἴπατε ὅτι οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ νυκτὸς ἐλθόντες ἔκλεψαν αὐτὸν ἡμῶν κοιμωμένων. 14 καὶ ἐὰν ἀκουσθῇ τοῦτο ἐπὶ τοῦ ἡγεμόνος, ἡμεῖς πείσομεν [αὐτὸν] καὶ ὑμᾶς ἀμερίμνους ποιήσομεν. 15 οἱ δὲ λαβόντες τὰ ἀργύρια ἐποίησαν ὡς ἐδιδάχθησαν. καὶ διεφημίσθη ὁ λόγος οὗτος παρὰ Ἰουδαίοις μέχρι τῆς σήμερον [ἡμέρας]. 11 As the women were going, look! Some of the guard went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that happened. 12 And after they gathered together with the elders and hatched a plan, they gave a large amount of money to the soldiers 13 saying, “Say: ‘His disciples, coming at night, stole him while we were sleeping.’ 14 And if this is heard by the governor, we will persuade him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 When they got the money, they did as they were instructed. And this account was spread among the Jews until this day.



It seems that Matthew included this pericope because of the report that the disciples stole the body, a report that was spread around to that day. This is Matthew’s attempt at stifling the false rumor, his attempt at a little apologetics (defense or explanation of the faith).

This episode or scene piles improbability on top of humor. How can the guards report accurately what happened while they were sleeping? How would they know what happened? They could look at the broken seal, but how much noise would it make when the disciples stripped off or melted the wax? How much noise would they make in rolling away the stone?

Could they say they were intoxicated, so they didn’t hear the noise? Not likely.

On the other hand, if the chief priests had told the guard to say that the disciples overpowered the guards, how ineffective would they be? The guards had swords. They could have fought the disciples and raised the hue and cry. Surely other guards would have come running and track down the disciples if they had successfully stolen the body.

In short, the guards and chief priests and elders were in a losing position. A bribe to “persuade” or “satisfy” Pilate was their only solution.

One other thing: eventually the disciples all died for their faith. It is difficult to keep a lie together among eleven disciples, not to mention the “many” women who followed Jesus from Galilee, and a long list of other disciples. It is likely that under pressure of persecution someone would have told the authorities where the body was and confessed that they threw it to the bottom of the Lake of Galilee. But no one broke the large “conspiracy” under pressure and produced a body. They all remained true because they actually believed Jesus was resurrected and were willing to die for their belief. It is difficult, psychologically, to die for a known lie.

Therefore, it is not irrational to believe that Jesus really was resurrected from the dead. Miracles can happen, and many of us have seen them, particularly in the developing nations. Western nations need to take a back seat here and learn from more open-minded people who radically depend on God.

GrowApp for Matt. 28:11-15

A.. The guards and their bosses hatched a false plan to explain away the miraculous resurrection. Have you ever discussed your born-again experience—a kind of resurrection—and been doubted and insulted for it? How did you respond?

The Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20)

16 Οἱ δὲ ἕνδεκα μαθηταὶ ἐπορεύθησαν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν εἰς τὸ ὄρος οὗ ἐτάξατο αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς, 17 καὶ ἰδόντες αὐτὸν προσεκύνησαν, οἱ δὲ ἐδίστασαν.

18 καὶ προσελθὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐλάλησεν αὐτοῖς λέγων· ἐδόθη μοι πᾶσα ἐξουσία ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ [τῆς] γῆς. 19 πορευθέντες οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος, 20 διδάσκοντες αὐτοὺς τηρεῖν πάντα ὅσα ἐνετειλάμην ὑμῖν· καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ μεθ’ ὑμῶν εἰμι πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας ἕως τῆς συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος.

16 The eleven disciples went into Galilee to the mountain where Jesus directed them. 17 And when they saw him, they worshiped, but some hesitated.

18 Jesus came up to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore, as you go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything that I commanded you. And remember this: I am with you every day, until the end of the age.”


The word all figures in this pericope: all authority (28:18); disciples are to go into all nations (28:19); these disciples are to obey all (everything) that Jesus commanded (28:20); Jesus will be with the disciples all the days (every day) until the end of the age (28:20).


Jesus had told them where to meet him and on which mountain. Matthew the Trimmer (my nickname for him) did not include this tidbit in his account. We are simply to assume it.

Now which mountain? The mountain where he had delivered the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:1)? If so, then this parallels—but not literally—Mount Sinai, where Moses ascended to receive the law (Exod. 19). Jesus was offering humanity a new way. If so, then this mountain forms an inclusio (two bookends or an envelope or a framework) between the fuller, recorded teaching ministry of Jesus (Matt. 5:1) and his command to the eleven to teach all nations to observe everything he had commanded (Matt. 28:16).

“Galilee”: Jesus launched his ministry in Galilee as a light (Matt. 4:12-16), and now he is about to ascend from here, in the sight of the eleven disciples (minus Judas). This similar region forms a broader inclusio than the mountain.


The Greek verb is distazō (pronounced dee-stah-zoh), and the dis– prefix means “twice” or “double.” Therefore, some of the eleven were of two minds, so they doubted and hesitated. Peter experienced the same doubt when he walked out on the water (Matt. 14:31). He was of two minds, as he looked at the circumstances.

Scholars can’t settle on what “doubt” means in this verse. Does it mean some of the eleven doubted or hesitated, or some outside of the eleven doubted or hesitated? The natural way to read the line is that some of the eleven hesitated or doubted. But it doesn’t really matter because this is Matthew the Trimmer at work again. Just read Luke 23 and 24 and John 20 and 21 for the expanded versions of disciples doubting. This line in Matthew reads almost as an extremely brief reminder of what Matthew’s community already knew. Some of the disciples doubted and hesitated, and Matthew was simply jarring his community’s memory with a short sentence.

Finally, let’s not overlook that Jesus was worthy of being bowed to and worship. It is the verb proskuneō, and see vv. 1-10 for a short word study. There is no way that they would not worship the risen Lord. Jesus accepted it, which indicates he knew that he was deity, just as he accepted worship from the disciples, after he walked on water and calmed the storm (Matt. 14:33).

Matthew 14


Jesus was not put off by some of the eleven hesitating to worship. He came right up to them and informed them forcefully and confidently. In Matt. 11:27, Jesus said his Father entrusted everything to him. Now this truth has been fulfilled at his ascension. I like how he is given all authority—not just some authority—in heaven and on earth. But there is one caveat. Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Spirit, says that the Son will conquer death for everyone, which is the last enemy to be destroyed (1 Cor. 15:26). So right now all authority or the right to rule is given to him, but soon he will come and destroy the last enemy of all. At the same time, he will destroy every rule and every authority and power (1 Cor. 15:24). Therefore, all authority given to Jesus is exercised over time or throughout this age.

This granted authority implies his enthronement. He has been given authority, just like Dan. 7:13-14 says. Jesus is enthroned after his resurrection. As I noted in my comments at 26:64, Jesus told Caiaphas the high priest and the council that from now on they will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.

13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Dan. 7:13-14, NIV)

The Ancient of Days is God. Jesus was about to ascend and be enthroned on high, sitting next to God. And v. 14 closely parallels the Son of Man receiving “all authority” with its wording: “authority, glory and sovereign power.” His dominion is everlasting and his kingdom shall not be destroyed, but, rather, his authority shall destroy all dominions, just as Paul stated and Jesus implied. Therefore, I believe that Jesus ascended up to the throne and received his “all authority” and came back this last time to inform the eleven about it. He needed to give them confidence that they are on the winning, victorious and conquering team, even when they appear to be losing, due to persecution and even martyrdom.

Also see my comments at 10:23, where Jesus also predicted his coming to God with clouds of glory.

Now let me review the word authority, as I have done before in this commentary.

It is the noun exousia (pronounced ex-oo-see-ah), and it means, depending on the context: “right to act,” “freedom of choice,” “power, capability, might, power, authority, absolute power”; “power or authority exercised by rulers by virtue of their offices; official power; domain or jurisdiction, spiritual powers.”

The difference between authority and power is parallel to a policeman’s badge and his gun. The badge symbolizes his right to exercise his power through his gun, if necessary. The gun backs up his authority with power. But the distinction should not be pressed too hard, because exousia can also mean “power.” In any case, God through Jesus can distribute authority to his followers (Matt. 10:1; Luke 10:19; John 1:12).

So do we have the same power and authority that the twelve have in this passage, or are they a special case? Restrictive interpreters say they are special cases with unique callings, while freer interpreters say we too, as disciples of Jesus, can have the same authority. I come down on the freer interpretation.

Jesus will give us authority even over the nations, if we overcome trials and persecution (Rev. 2:26). And he is about to distribute his power in Acts 2. Never forget that you have his authority and power to live a victorious life over your personal flaws and sins and Satan. They no longer have power and authority over you; you have power and authority over them.


Jesus said that we are to go to all the nations, which contrasts his limited mission just to the lost sheep of Israel (Matt. 10:6; 15:24). Jesus had already predicted a global mission (24:14; cf. 26:13).

This launch into all nations does not mean Christians take them over politically and build a new theocracy. Right now, however, Jesus is in the process of destroying worldly ideas, notions, philosophies, and powers that are built up in people’s hearts and mind—destroying them through the power of the gospel and by teaching to the nations everything that he commanded them to keep, observe, and obey. He will annihilate them literally—wiping them off the face of the earth—when he returns a second time in his parousia, just as we saw in Matt. 24. But right now he wins the victory one soul at a time.

How do we win the victory one soul at a time?

First, we make disciples and then disciple them. “Make disciples” is the verb mathēteuō (pronounced mah-they-too-oh), and it means “to be a pupil, with the implication of being an adherent of the teacher. Intransitively (no direct object), it means “be or become a pupil or disciple.” Transitively (with a direct object): “to cause one to be a pupil, teach … to make a disciple of, teach someone” (BDAG). Here in v. 19 it is used transitively. The eleven are to make disciples of all nations (direct object), and these disciples are to make more disciples of everyone in those nations. This disciple-making mission is to carry on down to our day, and then we are to carry on the same mission. All nations of course are not like modern nation states, but people groups. So let’s not overinterpret the word nations, though the idea of discipling entire people groups is appealing to me.

One day, I was channel-surfing on the television, and I watched an interview of an old evangelist (not born and raised in America) and an old film of his large, 1970s evangelistic campaign in Lesotho, South Africa (a small principality within the larger nation of South Africa). The tent was huge. Thousands of people were saved. I was glad. Then I channel-surfed away and landed on a documentary about AIDS in Africa, produced in about 2012 or 2013 (if I recall). They chose a small area of Africa as the testcase for the disease’s rapid spread. Can you guess which small area of Africa they picked? If you guessed Lesotho, then you are correct. I was stunned. I almost dropped the remote. I’m sure the spread was not done only by promiscuous and unhealthy sexual practices. (Virginity before marriage and then monogamy within marriage is the answer.) Some of the open meat markets selling bad food contributed to the spread.

But I had to ask the unpleasant truth: What happened to discipleship?

“baptizing”: it is the verb baptizō (pronounced bahp-tee-zoh), and it means “to dip in or under water”; it can refer to being “soaked in wine” (BDAG). It is related to the verb baptō, which means “to dip in water”; it is related to the Latin verb immergere or immerse. One can dip cloth in dye or a bucket in the well to draw water—those illustrate baptism. It can even be used of a ship that sank (Liddell and Scott). It is immersion. It marks out the disciples as belonging to Christ. They have been dipped in the water = died to their old way. Then they come out of the water = living their new life in Christ. It is worth mentioning that Jesus did not require circumcision.

Basics about Water Baptism

“name”: this noun stands in for the person—a living, real person. In this verse we have three persons contained in the name God (implied).

Let’s develop this thought, so it can apply to you. What’s in a name?

You carry your earthly father’s name. If he is dysfunctional, his name is a disadvantage. If he is functional and impacting society for the better, then his name is an advantage. In Jesus’s case, he has the highest status in the universe, next to the Father (Col. 1:15-20). He is exalted above every principality and power (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-23; Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8). His character is perfection itself. His authority and power are absolute, under the Father. In his name you are seated in the heavenly places with Christ (Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1). Now down here on earth you walk and live as an ambassador in his name, in his stead, for he is no longer living on earth, so you have to represent him down here. We are his ambassadors who stand in for his name (2 Cor. 5:20). The good news is that he did not leave you without power and authority. He gave you his. Now you represent him in his name—his person, power and authority. Therefore under his authority we have his full authority to preach the gospel and set people free from bondages and satanic spirits and heal them of diseases.

This truth of our subservient authority is included in the word “therefore” in v. 19. Jesus is communicating this message: “Since all authority has been given me … therefore go [….]” Jesus will back us up.

This verse contains the trinitarian formula. I won’t go into detail about this wonderful, indispensable doctrine. I’ll just discuss it in this way. Jesus was the Son of the Father eternally, before creation. The Son has no beginning. He and the Father always were, together. The relationship is portrayed in this Father-Son way so we can understand who God is more clearly. Now he relates to us as his sons and daughters. On our repentance and salvation and union with Christ, we are brought into his eternal family.

The Father in his role as the Father guides the whole of creation and the plan of the ages. The Son carries out the plan, notably by being born as a man, humbling himself, taking on the form of a servant (Phil. 3:7-8). He humbled himself so deeply and thoroughly that he died a painful death on the cross, the instrument of the death penalty.

However, the Father and Son are equal in their essence or nature. The Father is fully God and the Son is fully God, in their essence. Phil. 2:6: Jesus did not regard equality with God as something to hold on to, but he surrendered the environment of heaven and took the form of a servant. Look at it this way: a human father and son are equal in their essence. Both have a soul and spirit. But in their roles and family relationship, the Father is over the Son.

Boiled down:

Function or role: the Father is over the Son

In their essence or essential nature: Father and Son are equal.

6. Titles of Jesus: The Son of God

When Did Jesus “Become” the Son of God?

The Trinity: What Are the Basics?

The Trinity: What Are Some Illustrations?

The Trinity: Why Would God Seem So Complicated?

The Trinity: What Does He Mean to Me?

“Holy Spirit”: He is the third person of the Trinity. He is fully God in his essence, but in role or function to the Father, he is sent to glorify the Son (John 16:14). He is sent into the heart of everyone who repents and surrenders to the Lordship of Jesus. He causes them to be born again. During Pentecost, he was sent into the hearts of everyone who repents and confesses Jesus was Lord. He causes these repentant people to be born again. They can also have a subsequent infilling of the Spirit (Acts 2:4, 4:8, 31; Eph. 5:17).

Here are some of my posts on a more formal doctrine of the Spirit (systematic theology):

The Spirit’s Deity and Divine Attributes

The Personhood of the Spirit

Titles of the Holy Spirit

The Spirit in the Life of Christ

The Spirit in the Church and Believers

For Matthew’s high Christology before v. 19, see my comments on Matt. 11:27. Matthew did not just make it up here, out of the blue.

Matthew 11


The final part of our mission is to teach. Teach what? Teaching them to obey or observe or keep everything he has commanded them and now us. Everything includes the Sermon on the Mount and the great chapter on parables: Matt. 13, and any number of other teachings throughout the First Gospel. It is a sad observation, as I watch Christian TV, that teaching is shallow—not every program, but a good many of them. Or some programs obsess over one doctrine, like grace or faith, or two doctrines, grace and faith. They skip over many other biblical truths. I heard two word-of-grace-and-word-of-faith teachers, combining both doctrines and only those two doctrines, say these words: “God doesn’t judge you!” Surprised, I channel-surfed away, just in time to hear the other word-of-grace-and-word-of-faith teacher say, “God is not a judging God.” Both of them are wrong. And that’s just one example.

God’s people are being badly misinformed and noninformed. Paul said he taught the Ephesians the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), not just a favorite, crowd-pleasing and crowd-gathering dessert.

I have noted the Greek word logos. However, this noun is not used here, but it is implied, in the word everything he commanded us.

So by way of final reminder ….

Though certain Renewalists may not like to hear it, there is a rational side to everything Jesus commanded us, and a moment’s thought proves it. The words you’re reading right now are placed in meaningful and logical and rational order. The Bible is also written in that way. If it weren’t, then it would be nonsense and confusing, and we couldn’t understand the gibberish. (Even your prophecies have to make logical and rational sense on some level.) Your Bible studies and Sunday morning sermons have to make sense, also. Jesus’s commands and words also have Bible-based logic and rational argumentation built into it. People need to be ministered to in this way. God gave us minds and brains and expects us to use them. Your preaching cannot always be flashy and shrieky and so outlandishly entertaining that people are not fed in the long term. Movements like that don’t last over the years without the Word. I have observed this from firsthand experience in certain sectors of the Renewal Movement.

People have the deepest need to receive solid teaching. Never become so outlandishly supernatural and entertaining that you neglect the reasonable and rational and logical side of preaching the gospel and teaching the Bible.

On the other side of the words everything I commanded, people get so intellectual that they build up an exclusive Christian caste of intelligentsia that believe they alone can teach and understand the Word. Not true.  Just study Scripture with Bible helps and walk in the Spirit, as they did in Acts. Combining Word and Spirit is the balanced life.

Jesus promises the eleven a great reality for them. He is with them, even to the end of the age.

“end”: it is the noun synteleia (pronounced sin-teh-lay-ah). For Matthew it means the final and ultimate closing or wrapping up the age, at the Second Coming or parousia. Go back to Matt. 24 for a fuller teaching.

Matthew 24

For fuller teachings:

Matthew 24:4-35 Predicts Destruction of Jerusalem and Temple

Matthew 24:36 to 25:46–From Second Coming to New Messianic Age

Also see my post:

What Does ‘Parousia’ Mean?

Some teachers say that Matthew believed that the Second Coming would happen in his lifetime, so he was wrong. However, Matthew records three parables in which Jesus spoke of a delay of a key person: the Parable of the Faithful and Unfaithful Servant (24:45-51), the Parable of the Ten Maidens (25:1-13), and the Parable of the Talents (25:14-30). In each parable, the delayed key figure is the Son of Man, and the entire context, beginning with 24:36, is about the Second Coming and the synteleia of the age.

Let’s look more closely at the Greek word synteleia. It is used in Matthew’s Gospel five times (13:39, 40, 49; 24:3; 28:20 and once in Heb. 9:26). It has taken on a specialized sense of a brand new age that closes out one age and begins the Messianic Age.

Matt 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 and 17 in Parallel Columns Are Finally Clear

Here’s a flow chart:

________________←  This Age ——–→| Synteleia (Closing) of This Age

First Coming ———————————→  Parousia → Messianic Age / Kingdom Age / Age to Come

In the above, flow chart This Age began with the Fall in Gen. 2-3. The first coming begins the movement towards the Parousia (pronounced pah-roo-SEE-ah or pah-ROO-see-ah) or Second Coming. At the Parousia (Second Coming) the synteleia (closing) of This Age occurs, and subsequently the New Messianic Age or Kingdom Age or The Age to Come (all three describe the same thing) begins in full manifestation. In Matt. 28:20b, Jesus promises the synteleia, the closing out of the age, which is a fitting capstone on Matthew’s Gospel. “And remember this: I am with you every day, until the end [synteleia] of the age” (Matt. 28:20b).

The Messianic Age or Kingdom Age or The Age to Come begins and will last forever. In short: Messianic Age = Kingdom Age = The Age to Come. Just because different terms are used does not mean they are different things. All three terms refer to the same (wonderful) reality.

Let’s go deeper into Matthew’s Gospel, retrospectively.

Now let’s add in one element: the inaugurated kingdom. When Jesus came the first time and was in the process of inaugurating the kingdom of God, the kingdom came subtly and mysteriously. When he comes a second time, his inaugurated kingdom will be fully accomplished or realized.

Here it is in a flow chart:

________________←  This Age –—–→| Synteleia (Closing) of This Age

First Coming → Inaugurated Kingdom Parousia → Messianic Age / Kingdom Age / The Age to Come

3 The Kingdom Is in the Future

4 The Kingdom Is Right Now

5 The Kingdom of God: Already Here, But Not Yet Fully

6 The Mystery of the Kingdom

Before the kingdom is fully realized at his Second Coming, the kingdom is announced and ushered in by Jesus at the launch of his ministry. So there is overlap between This Age and the Kingdom Age.

Now let’s add one more important event. In the Parable of the Wheat and Weeds, particularly 13:39-43; and in the Parable of the Net, particularly 13:49-50; in Matt. 16:27; and in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matt. 25:31-46), when Jesus returns at his Second Coming, there is the final judgment of the redeemed and unredeemed at the same time.

Bible Basics about the Final Judgment

We can depict things in this flow chart:

___________←  This Age ——→| End of This Age

First Coming → Inaugurated Kingdom Second Coming → Judgment → Messianic Age / Kingdom Age /  Age to Come

For simplicity, I have taken out the Greek noun synteleia (close-out of This Age) and put in “End.” And I have inserted the Second Coming instead of the Greek noun Parousia, because the Second Coming is the same thing. The Second Coming (Parousia) stops This Age. Then there is one big judgment, in which the righteous and wicked are judged together. One can even say that the final judgment happens during the Messianic Age / Kingdom Age / The Age to Come. Finally, the Kingdom which Jesus inaugurated at his first coming will have been fully realized and accomplished at his Second Coming (Parousia), after judgment. And so after God sweeps aside the wicked and Satan and demons, the New Messianic or Kingdom Age can begin in true and pure rulership.

Bottom line: All of the New Testament (outside of a few contested verses in the Revelation) fully and clearly and consistently teach this flow chart:

___________←  This Age ———→| End of This Age

First Coming → Inaugurated Kingdom — Second Coming → Judgment → Fully Realized Kingdom Age

To see how consistent Jesus’s teaching is in the above, bottom-line flow chart, please see these posts:

Matthew 13 (scroll down to vv. 36-43)

Matthew 16 (scroll down to vv. 27-28)

Matthew 19 (scroll down to vv. 28-29)

Matthew 22 (scroll down to vv. 29-33)

Matthew 24 (scroll down to Summary and Conclusion)

Matthew 25 (scroll down to Summary and Conclusion)

What about the Church? The Father and the resurrected and ascended Son and the outpoured Spirit, by means of the inaugurated kingdom, created the church at Pentecost (Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:1-4). It exists in This Age and preaches the gospel of the kingdom. It will be snatched up or raptured at the Second Coming, meet Jesus in the air, descend with him, go through judgment, and then finally will last forever in the Fully Realized Kingdom Age.

Let’s explore the overlapping This Age and the Kingdom of God. Until and before the Second Coming, we now live in the conflict and battle between This Age and the Inaugurated Kingdom, proclaimed by Jesus during his ministry. (They are not the same things but are at war with each other!) We are in the process of binding Satan and his demonic hordes, by expelling demons from people’s lives but mainly by preaching the gospel, so people surrender to the Son’s Lordship, and then Satan is pushed back and people experience victory in their lives. The gospel and life in the Spirit, coming after Jesus’s ascension in This Age, but are part of the inaugurated Kingdom, are so powerful that saved and redeemed kingdom citizens can experience victory over the power of sin in their lives in This Age. The presence of sin in their lives is not removed until they get their new resurrected and transformed bodies and minds in The Age to Come. The Second Coming stops This Age, which is replaced and displaced with the fully realized Messianic or Kingdom Age or The Age to Come.

Let’s wander just a little way from Matthew’s Gospel and discuss other eschatological teachings circulating around the Church today, the American Church in particular.

In Jesus’s teaching throughout the Gospel of Matthew, there is no word on a literal thousand-year reign with two comings and “several first” resurrections. And there is no separate rapture that makes the church disappear, before the Second Coming. If Jesus believed in a separate rapture, he would have taught it here; he missed his chance. However, he did not miss his chance and he did not teach it. Therefore, he did not believe in a separate rapture. All of it is too convoluted. Instead, the Gospel and the other three Gospels (and Epistles) present a streamlined picture of salvation history and God’s dealing with his human creation and the return of Christ.

An amillennialist believes that the millennium begins with the Inaugurated Kingdom, but apparently it is quiet and behind the scenes (note, for example, the Parable of the Mustard Seed and its slow growth in Matt. 13:31-32); Satan is not literally bound with chains (as if a spirit being could be), even though Jesus did teach that he bound the strongman (Matt. 12:29; Mark 3:27; Luke 11:21-22). So what this binding means is that Satan cannot now fully stop the advance of the kingdom (as Satan did to the ancient Israelites, except a remnant). Before Jesus came, every nation was bound by satanic  deception. However, after Jesus inaugurated the kingdom, even under Islamic and communist regimes, the gospel has a way of infiltrating societies, even if underground. Satan can no longer deceive the nations as he did before Jesus came. Instead, kingdom citizens, surrendered to the Kingship of the King and following him, are plundering Satan’s domain of This Age and rescuing people out of it and transferring them to the inaugurated kingdom of God. The final victory over Satan will be fully manifested at his Second Coming.

In contrast, based on his interpretation of a few verses in Rev. 20, one chapter in the most symbolic book of the Bible, a premillennialist believes that a literal thousand years of Christ (not shown in flow charts) is ushered in at the Second Coming, where there will be peace and harmony. And Satan is literally bound in chains until the end of the thousand years. During the literal millennium, people will still die, so the last enemy (death) is not defeated after all at the Second Coming (even though Paul said death would be defeated, in 1 Cor. 15:23-26, 51-56). However, the theory of a literal thousand years says that death and Satan are defeated at the end of the millennium, when another resurrection and another judgment will take place.

Never mind, however, that in John 5:28-29 and Matt. 13:41-43 and 25:31-46, Jesus teaches that the wicked and righteous are judged together at the end of This Age, as indicated in the above flow charts. Interpreting literally a deliberately and intentionally symbolic book (Revelation) runs aground quickly. Things soon become convoluted and complicated, in comparison with the nonsymbolic, streamlined Gospel and Epistles.

What Is Pretribulational Premillennialism?

What Is Midtribulational Premillennialism?

What Is Posttribulational Premillennialism?

What Is Amillennialism?

What Is Postmillennialism?

So then where does the rapture fit in? When all peoples are called out of their tombs and those who are alive also respond to Christ descending from heaven at the Second Coming, they will be “caught up” (the rapture) and meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:15-17). Then they will descend with Jesus to a new heaven and new earth, which will have been recreated, renewed, renovated or reconstituted. They will be judged, and the wicked will be sent away to punishment, and the righteous will be welcomed into the Messianic Age / Kingdom Age / The Age to Come (as distinct from This Age). In other words, the rapture and the Second Coming happen at the same time and are the same event.

Please see my post:

Rapture = Second Coming and Happen at Same Time and on Last Day

There is no reason, biblically, to overthink and complicate these verses and insert a separate rapture that happens before the Second Coming. Just because a teaching is popular does not make it right.

Personally, in my study of the Gospels and Epistles, I have now accepted amillennialism because it is streamlined, and I don’t believe the NT teaches convoluted theories. The entire NT fits together if we adopt amillennialism, from Matt. 1 to Rev. 22. I cannot allow, in my own Bible interpretation, a few contested verses in Rev. 20 to confuse the clear teaching of Jesus in the Gospels and the apostolic teaching in the Epistles. That is, I don’t believe we should allow Rev. 20 (the only few verses where one thousand years are mentioned) or the entire book of the Revelation, the most symbolic book of the Bible (after Chapter 3), to guide our interpretation of these clear teachings in the Gospels and the Epistles. Instead, we should allow the clear, straightforward, nonsymbolic teachings in the Gospels and Epistles to guide our interpretations of the most symbolic book in the Bible, in which even the numbers may be symbolic and probably are. To see everything fit together, all we have to do is turn the kaleidoscope one notch or click and adopt amillennialism. I am willing to do that. And I have now done that.

Clarity guides the unclear portions. My main point: keep the plain thing the main thing in hermeneutics (science of interpretation), and let the clear verses guide the unclear ones.

This interpretation enjoys the beauty of simplicity by eliminating all the complications that popular end-time Bible prophecy teachers have been imposing on the Gospels and Epistles for decades—over a century. Since this tradition has deep roots—not to say entrenched—in the conservative sectors of American Evangelicalism (broadly defined to incorporate the Renewal Movements), these teachers won’t give up their interpretation easily. So I hope to reach and teach the younger church generations and all other openminded people of all generations. They need to prepare for tough times ahead. I’m not a pastor, but I can still have a teacher’s pastoral heart.

But in these eschatological (end-time) discussions:

“In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity (love).”

We should not lose fellowship with those with whom we differ in eschatological matters.

One final word.

Jesus said he is with us to the end of the age. Remember that he is also named Immanuel, which means “God with us” (Matt. 1:23). So this important name at the beginning and his promise at the end forms another inclusio, the greatest of them all.

Summary and Conclusion

The resurrection pericope or section was the main event, until the Great Commission and Jesus. Before this time, Jesus said he was sent to the lost sheep of Israel (Matt. 10:6; 15:24). Now he has gone global.

Let me quote some key Scriptures about the mission to Jews and Gentiles.

First, God promises that Abraham will be the father of a multitude of nations, which reaches Gentiles, too.

“Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. (Gen. 17:4-5, ESV)

Next, the important phrase is “one new man,” that is, Jew and Gentile together.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. (Eph. 2:14-17, ESV)

Another key phrase, referencing Is. 52:7 and 57:19, is those who were far off (Gentiles) and those who were near (Jews). One way God did this was to abolish the law of commandments in ordinances.

Finally, the gospel is for Jews first (not “only” Jews) and Greek (Gentiles):

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Rom. 1:16-17, ESV)

So in the Great Commission, Jesus sends forth his eleven disciples (and many others in the other Gospels) to go global and to preach the gospel to all nations, Jew and Gentile.

It is now up to us in our generation to carry on that mission.


Blomberg, Craig L. Matthew: The New American Commentary. Vol. 22 (Broadman, 1992).

Carson, D. A. Matthew: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Rev. Ed. by Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland. Vol. 9. (Zondervan, 2010).

France, R. T. The Gospel of Matthew: New International Commentary on the New Testament. (Eerdmans 2007).

Garland, David E. Reading Matthew: A Literary and Theological Commentary (Smyth and Helways, 2001).

The Greek New Testament. Fifth Revised Edition by Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger (United Bible Society, 2014). The Greek text in the tables comes from the Nestle-Aland 28th ed, available here:

Keener, Craig. A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. (Eerdmans 1999).

Olmstead, Wesley G. Matthew 15-28: A Handbook on the Greek Text. (Baylor UP, 2019).

Osborne, Grant R. Matthew: Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. (Zondervan, 2010).

Turner, David L. Matthew: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Baker Academic, 2008).

Works Cited


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