Apostles to the Apostles: Matthew 28:5–7

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c) Matt 28:5–7: Ignoring the guards,[1] the angel of the Lord directed his attention to a selective audience (Matt 28:1–4).[2]

Matthew reported, “The angel said to the women, ‘Do not you be afraid, for I know that you are seeking Jesus, the crucified one. He is not here, for he has been raised, even as he said. Come! See the place where he was lying.’”

Due to the soldiers’ reactions, the angel made an emphatic statement,[3] adding the grammatically unnecessary word “you” (plural of su).[4]

Heavenly messengers typically found it necessary to reassure the people they visited (Cf. Luke 1:13, 30; Luke 2:10).[5]

No doubt the women initially responded with the same terror the guards experienced.[6]

In Koine Greek, the perfect tense denotes a past action which has ongoing consequences. For example, “I had been in the Air Force” implies that one’s past military service influences life today and into the future.

By calling Jesus “the one who had been crucified” (estaurōmenon)—a term which appears as a perfect participle—the angel announced that the past effect of Christ’s sacrifice would continue in the future (Gal 3:13; Phil 2:5–11).[7]

When an enormous boulder falls upon the soft sands of the seabed, the resounding thud reverberates in all directions, making ripples in the sand. When Jesus rose from the dead, that momentous event affected everything in the cosmos. Both the past and the future, including the era in which we live, have been forever changed (Exod 3:13–14; John 8:56–59).[8]



Although the women had seen Jesus buried in the tomb, the angel triumphantly revealed that he no longer there resided there in death (Matt 27:57–61).[9]

The passive verb “has been raised” (ēgerthē from egeirō) indicates that God himself physically resurrected his son from death.[10] The tomb remains empty.[11]

Just as Jesus predicted, the Son of Man spent three days and three nights “in the heart of the earth” (Matt 12:40; Matt 16:21; Matt 17:22–23; Matt 20:17–19).[12]

The Jewish reckoning of a “day” (yom) began at twilight and lasted until the following evening (Gen 1:5; Lev 23:5, 32).[13]

Even a portion of a day counted. Christ died at approximately 3:00 pm on Friday, remained in the grave on Saturday, and was raised from the dead early on Sunday morning, fulfilling his prophecies (Matt 27:45–50; John 19:30–31).[14]

Ironically, Jesus’s enemies recognized the implications of what Christ had taught, while his own followers did not (Matt 27:62–66; John 20:19).[15]

By raising Jesus from the dead, God thoroughly affirmed his claims of deity and vindicated him of any wrongdoing (Dan 7:13–14; Matt 9:27–34; Matt 26:59–67; Matt 28:16–20).

As people who put our trust in Christ’s sacrificial death on our behalf, we all look forward to receiving resurrected bodies in the age to come (1 Cor 15:20–23, 50–55).[16]



The angel invited the women to enter the tomb to verify his claim for themselves.[17]

Then, he charged them, “Now, quickly go, say to his disciples that he has been raised from the dead, and behold, he is going before you into Galilee. There you will see him. Behold, I told you.”

In that era, Greco-Roman and Jewish authorities regarded the testimony of women with suspicion.[18]

Concerning one Vestal Virgin, the Greco-Roman philosopher Plutarch (46–122 AD) noted, “Now Tarquinia was a holy virgin, one of the Vestals, and received great honors for this act, among which was this, that of all women her testimony alone should be received.[19]

In general, men in those societies considered females easily-deceived.[20]

For example, Philo (ca. 20 BC–40 AD) called women “by nature light-minded.”[21]

The Jewish historian Josephus (37–100 AD) promoted this view: “But let not a single witness be credited, but three, or two at the least, and those such whose testimony is confirmed by their good lives. But let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex.”[22]

Had the apostles fabricated the events of Easter morning, they would have chosen very different messengers to deliver the news that Jesus had risen.[23]



On the other hand, the gospel authors delivered a powerful theological statement by preserving these accounts (Mark 16:1–8; Luke 24:1–10).[24]

God selected the same group of women who witnessed Jesus’s death and burial to proclaim his resurrection (Matt 27:55–61; Mark 15:40–47).[25]

In this new era of God’s kingdom, the gospel overcomes traditional gender and social limitations (Gal 3:28; Acts 1:14; Acts 2:1–4, 16–21; Rom 16:1–12).[26]

An “apostle” (apostolos) consists of a person formally sent to convey a specific message with the full authority of the sender.[27]

This made the women who received the angel’s proclamation and saw the empty tomb apostles to the apostles (Cf. Luke 24:9–10).

Concerning Mary Magdalene, Thomas Aquinas (1224/6–1274) wrote this:

Notice the three privileges given to Mary Magdalene. First, she had the privilege of being a prophet because she was worthy enough to see the angels, for a prophet is an intermediary between angels and the people.

Secondly, she had the dignity or rank of an angel insofar as she looked upon Christ, on whom the angels desire to look.

Thirdly, she had the office of an apostle; indeed, she was an apostle to the apostles insofar as it was her task to announce our Lord’s resurrection to the disciples.

Thus, just as it was a woman who was the first to announce the words of death, so it was a woman who would be the first to announce the words of life.[28]

The women’s testimony of Christ’s resurrection comprises the cornerstone of the Christian faith (Acts 2:22–36; 1 Cor 15:1–8; Rom 10:9–13).[29]



Finally, the angel delivered instructions for the remaining disciples to return to Galilee, where Jesus had lived and often ministered (Matt 2:19–23; Matt 3:13; Matt 4:12–25; Matt 19:1–2).[30]

Except for John, the eleven disciples had fled when the Jewish leaders arrested Jesus (Matt 26:56; John 19:25–27).

There the risen Christ would meet them. Once they arrived, Jesus spent forty days preparing them for their crucial role in spreading the good news of the kingdom of God (Matt 28:16–20; John 21; Acts 1:1–3).[31]

In contrast, these faithful women who remained with Jesus to the end would not have to wait to see the risen Lord (Matt 27:55–61; Matt 28:8–10).[32]

Image via Wikimedia Commons


Read Matt 28:5–7. Why did the angel emphasize that the women should not be afraid? How does Greek grammar indicate that the effects of Christ’s crucifixion continue even today? Why do we say that Jesus was in the grave for three days, when it was less than 48 hours? What did Jesus’s enemies understand about his predictions that even Christ’s disciples missed? How did God upend gender limitations by having the angel deliver his message to the apostles via these women? What credibility does that act give to the resurrection accounts?







Go to From Terror to Adoration (Matt 28:8–9)

[Related posts include A Most Cruel and Ignominious Punishment (Matt 27:26–37); Forsaken (Matt 27:38–49); The Death of God (John 19:28–30); God Rends the Barrier (Matt 27:50–51); Conversion of an Executioner (Matt 27:54); A New Dawn (Matt 28:1); Rolling Away the Stone (Matt 28:2–4); From Terror to Adoration (Matt 28:8–9); A Restoration of Status (Matt 28:10); Let There Be Light (Gen 1:3–5); The Spirit Descends (Acts 2:1–3); Speaking Other Tongues (Acts 2:4); Effects of the Fall Reversed (Rom 5:12–21 and Rom 16:1–12); Confession and Belief (Rom 10:8–10); Future Vindication (Rom 10:11–12); Salvation for All Who Call (Rom 10:13); Dead in Adam but Alive in Christ (1 Cor 15:20–23); Perishable Flesh and Blood (1 Cor 15:50); We Shall Be Changed (1 Cor 15:51–52); Victory over Death (1 Cor 15:53–55); Equality with God (Phil 2:5–6); A Summary of Trinitarian Creeds (Appendix to Phil 2:5–6); Taking the Form of a Slave (Phil 2:7); Obedient to the Point of Death (Phil 2:8); and The Name Above Every Name (Phil 2:9–11)]

[Click here to go to Chapter 7: The Seed of the Serpent and the Seed of the Woman (Genesis 3:14–15)]

[Click here to return to Women and Marriage Throughout Redemptive History]


[1]France, The Gospel of Matthew, 1100.

[2]Keener, The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, 702.

[3]Hagner, Matthew 14–28, 869.

[4]William D. Mounce, Basics of Biblical Greek, 3rd Ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 0209), 135.

[5]Hagner, Matthew 14–28, 869.

[6]Osborne, Matthew, 1066.

[7]Wilkins, Matthew, 938.

[8]Oakes, “The Apologetics of Beauty,” in The Beauty of God: Theology and the Arts, 220.

[9]Hagner, Matthew 14–28, 869.

[10]Wilkins, Matthew, 939.

[11]Hagner, Matthew 14–28, 870.

[12]France, The Gospel of Matthew, 1098.

[13]W. Von Soden, J. Bergman, and M. Sæbø, “יוֹם” (yom), TDOT 6:7–32, 23–4.

[14]Wilkins, Matthew, 936.

[15]Osborne, Matthew, 1067.

[16]Wilkins, Matthew, 939.

[17]Hagner, Matthew 14–28, 870.

[18]Keener, The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, 698–9.

[19]Plutarch, “Publicola,” in Plutarch’s Lives, Vol 1. (trans. Bernadotte Perrin; Cambridge, MA; London: Harvard University Press; Heinemann, 1914), 8.4, 523, https://archive.org/details/plutarchslives01plut2/page/522.

[20]Keener, The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, 698 note 283.

[21]Philo, “That Every Good Person is Free,” in The Works of Philo Judaeus, Vol. 3 (trans. Charles Duke Yonge; London: Bohn, 1855), 18, 532, https://archive.org/details/theworksofphiloj03yonguoft/page/532.

[22]Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, 4.8.15, http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0146%3Abook%3D4%3Awhiston%20chapter%3D8%3Awhiston%20section%3D15.

[23]Osborne, Matthew, 1067.

[24]Keener, The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, 699.

[25]Wilkins, Matthew, 939–40.

[26]Keener, The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, 698, 702.

[27]Karl Heinrich Rengstorf, “ἀποστολος” (apostolos), TDNT 1:407–44, 421.

[28]Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Gospel of St. John (trans. Fabian L. Larcher; Albany, NY: Magi Books, 1998), John 20, 2519, https://dhspriory.org/thomas/english/John20.htm.

[29]Hagner, Matthew 14–28, 870.

[30]Sean Freyne, “Galilee: Hellenistic/Roman Galilee” ABD 2:895–9, 899.

[31]Wilkins, Matthew, 939–40.

[32]France, The Gospel of Matthew, 1098.