God Rends the Barrier: Matthew 27:50–51

God rends barrier (2)

For a printable copy of this chapter (7) click here: 8.5×11″; A4 paper

Click here for a pdf of Genesis 13 in Redemptive History: 8.5×11″; A4 paper


9) Matt 27:50–51: For several chapters of Matthew’s gospel, God the Father has seemed aloof. However, upon Christ’s death, he immediately began to vindicate his son with a series of astonishing miracles.[1]

This signaled his approval of Jesus and his indignation with those behind Christ’s execution.[2]

Most likely the curtain of the temple which tore was the inner curtain which separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place, rather than the outer curtain which covered the temple’s entrance (Exod 26:1–3, 31–33; Heb 6:19–20).[3]

This inner curtain, embroidered with lions and eagles,[4] measured sixty feet high by thirty feet wide.[5]

Women had woven it from seventy-two twisted plaits of twenty-four threads,[6] making its destruction a formidable task.



The verb indicating that the curtain “was torn (schizō) from top to bottom” appears in the passive tense.[7] Furthermore, the rending of the veil from above points to an act of God.[8]

Matthew employed the same verb for the “tearing” of the curtain and the “splitting” (schizō) of the rocks,[9] so perhaps the Lord used the divine judgment of the earthquake to rend the veil (Amos 8:8–10).

Ironically, this event occurred shortly after those who saw Christ on the cross mocked him for having predicted that he would destroy the temple and then rebuild it in three days (John 2:19–22; Matt 27:39–40).[10]

Since the Most Holy Place could be entered only by the high priest once a year on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:2, 34), this rupture signified that the sacrificial system had reached its end.[11]

It also portended God’s judgment upon Israel’s priests.[12] By this one act, God simultaneously foreshadowed the destruction of the entire temple in 70 AD and expressed that access to God comes through Jesus.[13]

Now all the Lord’s people can enjoy bold, unrestricted access into God’s presence (Heb 10:19–22).[14]

Image via Wikimedia Commons


a) Read Matt 27:50–51. What does the tearing of the temple’s curtain from top to bottom signify? How does the passage in Amos add to our understanding of the earthquake? What difference does the destruction of the veil make in your life?




Go to The Resurrection of the Righteous (Matt 27:51–53)

[Related posts include The First Good News (Gen 3:15); Betrayed (Luke 22:1–6); Blood Given for You (Matt 26:26‒28); A Most Cruel and Ignominious Punishment (Matt 27:26–37); The Death of God (John 19:28–30); The Resurrection of the Righteous (Matt 27:51–53); Conversion of an Executioner (Matt 27:54); Blessings from the Father (Eph 1:3–4); Adopted as Sons (Eph 1:5–6); Redemption through Christ’s Blood (Eph 1:7–8); The Summing up of All Things (Eph 1:9–11); 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); The Name Above Every Name (Phil 2:9–11); Our Great High Priest (Heb 2:14–18); and Obtaining Eternal Redemption (Heb 9:11–14)]

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


[1] Davies and Allison, Matthew 19–28, 629.

[2] Keener, The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, 684.

[3] Hagner, Matthew 14–28, 848–9.

[4] Wise, Michael O., “Temple,” DJG 813–7, 813.

[5] Wilkins, Matthew, 905.

[6] Wilkins, Matthew, 905.

[7] Hagner, Matthew 14–28, 849.

[8] France, The Gospel of Matthew, 1080.

[9]Danker, et al., “σχιζω” (schizō), BDAG, 981.

[10] Davies and Allison, Matthew 19–28, 630.

[11] Hagner, Matthew 14–28, 849.

[12] Wilkins, Matthew, 905.

[13] France, The Gospel of Matthew, 1080–1.

[14] Hagner, Matthew 14–28, 849.