Devotional Readings

Matthew 27 – Reflections on Raising the Dead…

It seems strange that these verses are here in the text, would we feel more comfortable with just waiting for a future resurrection?

Remember Jesus had already called Lazarus from the grave.
Paul will later write….this come the cornerstone of the gospel.

1Co 15:1  Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

1Co 15:2  By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

1Co 15:3  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

1Co 15:4  And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

1Co 15:5  And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

1Co 15:6  After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

1Co 15:7  After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

1Co 15:8  And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

Mat 27:50  Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

Mat 27:51  And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

Mat 27:52  And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,

Mat 27:53  And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

Mat 27:54  Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.


1Co 15:12  Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

1Co 15:13  But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

1Co 15:14  And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.


John Gill provides some useful clarity to these verses.

Matthew 27:52

And the graves were opened,…. Which were near the city of Jerusalem: this was a proof of Christ’s power over death and the grave, by dying; when he through death, destroyed him that had the power of it, and abolished death itself; and became the plague of death and the destruction of the grave, taking into his hands the keys of hell and death:

and many bodies of saints which slept, arose: not that they arose at the time of Christ’s death: the graves were opened then, when the earth quaked, and the rocks were rent; but the bodies of the saints did not arise, till after Christ was risen, as appears from the following verse; but because the other event now happened, they are both recorded here: these were saints, and such as slept in Jesus; and of whom he is the first fruits that now rose; and not all, but many of them, as pledges of the future resurrection, and for the confirmation of Christ’s, and the accomplishment of a prophecy in Isa 26:19

Isa 26:19  Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.


And they rose in the same bodies in which they before lived, otherwise they could not be called their bodies, or known by those to whom they appeared: but who they were is not to be known; some have thought them to be the ancient patriarchs, as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, &c. In the Septuagint on Job 42:17, Job is said to be one of them, and a tradition is there recorded, which runs thus:

“it is written, that he rose with whom the Lord rose.

But it should seem rather, that they were some later saints, such as Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, John the Baptist himself, good old Simeon, Joseph the husband of Mary, and others, well known to persons now alive. Some think they were such, as had been martyrs in the cause of religion; and so the Persic version renders the words, “and the bodies of many saints who suffered martyrdom, rose out of the graves”.

Matthew 27:53

And came out of the graves after his resurrection,…. The resurrection of Christ; for he rose as the first fruits, as the first begotten of the dead, and the firstborn from the dead; for he was the first that was raised to an immortal life; for though others were raised before him, by himself, and in the times of the prophets, yet to a mortal life; but these saints came forth to the resurrection of life, and therefore it was necessary that Christ the first fruits, should rise first. The Arabic version indeed reads, “after their own resurrection”; and the Ethiopic version, “after they were raised”; both wrong, and scarcely sense:

and went into the holy city; the city of Jerusalem, which though now a very wicked city, was so called, because of the temple, and the worship of God, and his residence in it: the burying places of the Jews were without the city (a), and therefore these risen saints, are said to go into it:

and appeared unto many; of their friends and acquaintance, who had personally known them, and conversed with them in their lifetime. These saints, I apprehend, continued on earth until our Lord’s ascension, and then joining the retinue of angels, went triumphantly with him to heaven, as trophies of his victory over sin, Satan, death, and the grave,

(a) Vid. Gloss. in T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 80. 2. & Maimon. Hilch. Shemitta veyobel, c. 13. sect. 3.

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