1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28

Matthew 28 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Matthew 28 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

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.

The author of the SAB asks how many women came to see the sepulcher. But in order to read a discrepancy, he must have the following claims made by the gospel writer:
  1. One writer must claim: only one woman came to sepulcher, no other.
  2. Another writer must claim: more than one woman came to sepulcher, not just a single one.
None of them claim such a thing of course. Some give more names, others less. None claim they give an exact count and all the names.
On the order of arrival, see John 20:1. The women arrived so early that it was before the sun had risen, but it was already light enough to see that the stone has been taken away.

2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

The questions the author of the SAB asks here are completely unintelligible for someone who compares the stories. To arrive at his alleged contradictions the author of the SAB mixes various accounts which happened at different times. For example John clearly tells us that the women, in particular Mary Magdalene arrived, but left (John 20:2) when she saw that the stone was removed. She came back a second time.
But to the first question, it is clear that they saw angels. The angels looked like young men clothed in long white garments. There were perhaps two or three angels of them. Matthew just writes about the angel that spoke to the women. But that doesn't exclude the possibility there were more.
The author of the SAB also asks if the tomb was open when the women arrived. The author of the SAB seems to read this particular verse as having happened right after the women arrived. That is incorrect. Matthew is a more topical writer, he often doesn't give a second by second after this happened that account. When the women arrived at the sepulcher, the stone was removed. This was quite a surprise, as it was a main concern for them as Mark tells us (Mark 16:3). Matthew gives the reason why the stone was removed and why the keepers were gone by recounting what had happened up to the point that the women arrived.
The author of the SAB also asks if the angels were inside or outside the tomb when first seen. When first seen, they were outside. Because they were first seen by the guards, see verse 4. But the author of the SAB is confusing various moments in this story. For example John talks about the angels being inside at a much later moment, after Mary Magdaleinee had left the grave, told what she had seen to Peter, and returned with him, see John 20:2 and John 20:10-11.

3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

(28:4) Spooky Angels "And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men."

5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

(28:6) "He is risen."
Jesus came back to life after being dead for a while.
(28:8) "And they departed quickly ... and did run to bring his disciples word."
Did they immediately tell the disciples?
(28:9) "As they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them.... And they came and held him by the feet."
To whom did Jesus first appear?
Did Mary Magdalene recognize Jesus?
Was it OK to touch the risen Jesus?
Was Mary Magdalene happy or sad when she saw the risen Jesus?
(28:10) "Go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me."
Jesus instructs his disciples to go to Galilee immediately after his resurrection. But in Luke (24:49) and Acts (Acts 1:4) Jesus tells them to tarry in Jerusalem and wait for them to be "empowered with power from on high."
Where did Jesus tell his disciples to meet him?

8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.


9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

The author of the SAB asks to whom Jesus did first appear. In order to answer that question we must ascertain that a particular writer, when discussing this topic, informs us without doubt that he is mentioning the first. For example it is clear that Paul did not intend to precisely tell us (1 Cor. 15:5) in what order Jesus appeared to whom. Mark does (Mark 16:9). He tells us that Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene.
The author of the SAB also asks if Mary Magdaline did first recognize Jesus. She did not as is clear from John 20:14. The appearance of Jesus as told by Matthew in this verse is probably Jesus second appearance. It happened after his appearance to Mary Magdalene. She either lingered behind, while the other women ran to bring the disciples word (verse 8). When Jesus appeared to these women, either Mary Magdalene was not present or had caught up with them. On the “vision of angels”, see Luke 24:23.
The author of the SAB also asks if it was OK to touch the risen Jesus before his ascension. The women clearly do here I note. But on that topic, see John 20:17.

10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

Jesus did not command them to wait in Galilee “to be empowered with power from on high.” These two commands were given at different times. There are about 40 days between Jesus resurrection and his ascension. He commands them here to go to Galilee, which they appear to have done, John 21:1. At his ascension, he tells them to stay in Jerusalem, see Luke 24:49-52. As the disciples were in Jerusalem when they were “empowered with power from on high,” see Acts 2:1, it is clear that they obeyed Jesus command to wait in Jerusalem.

11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed 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.

(28:15) "Until this day"
Once again (see also 27:8), the phrase "until this day" implies that the gospel of Matthew was not written until long after the events supposedly occurred.
(28:17) "But some doubted."
Even some of Jesus' apostles doubted that the allegedly risen Christ was really Jesus. Well if they weren't sure, how could we ever be?
(28:18) "All power is given unto me."
How much power did Jesus have?
(28:19) "Teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
Should the gospel be preached to everyone?
In whose nameis baptism to be performed?

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.

This verse undoubtedly refers to Thomas. See about him John 20:25-29. Note that Thomas believed and said: “My Lord and my God.” But Christ admonishes him and says:

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

Indeed, all power is given unto Christ. The text in chapter 20:23 isn't about the power given to Christ. See also the comment on Mark 6:5.

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:

On the preaching of the gospel see chapter 10:5.
The author of the SAB also asks in whose name we ought to be baptized. But it is not enough to lists a few texts as the author of the SAB does and proclaim a contradiction. We have to examine these texts to see if they discuss the same thing. It is clear that Jesus is teaching his disciples here. In the other texts the author of the SAB mentions, no particular teaching of master to disciple is taking place, see for example Acts 2:38. So we ought to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost as Jesus teaches us here.

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.