^A Matt. XXVIII.11-15.
^a 11 Now while they were going [while Joanna and the group of women with her were on their way to tell the apostles that they had seen Jesus], behold, some of the guard [not all] came into the city, and told unto the chief priests all the things that were come to pass. [Esteeming it folly to guard an empty tomb, the soldiers went to their barracks, while their officers returned to those who had placed them on guard to report what had happened. They rightly judged that the plain truth was their best defense. They could not be expected to contend against earthquakes and angels. Their report implies that they saw Jesus leave the tomb, and after the angel opened it. ] 12 And when they [the chief priests] were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave much money unto the soldiers, 13 saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. [This was evidently not a full, but a select, council of the Sanhedrin hastily summoned. They willfully shut their eyes to the fact that Jesus had risen, and proceed to purchase a lie to subvert the truth. Unrepentant, despite the many evidences that they had done wrong, they proceed to further invoke the wrath of God. Their lie is doubly apparent upon its face.1. It would have been practically impossible for men to have rifled such a tomb without waking a guard set to protect it.2. It is absolutely impossible for men to have known what had occurred while they were asleep.] 14 And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and rid you of care. [It was a capital offense for a Roman soldier to sleep while on guard; therefore, if Pilate heard that they had done this thing, it would require |persuasion| to make him overlook the offense. Possibly the Jews thought that Pilate was sufficiently involved with them to be ready to aid them to hush the story of the resurrection, especially if they confessed to him that they themselves had invented the lie which the soldiers told.] 15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught [the lesson was short and simple; the reward, large and desirable]: and this saying was spread abroad among the Jews, and continueth until this day. [The words seem to indicate that it was published more largely than simply within the walls of Jerusalem. In his dialogue with Trypho, which was written about a.d.170, Justin Martyr says that the Jews dispersed the story by means of special messengers sent to every country. The fear which they expressed to Pilate (Matt. xxvii.64), lends credibility to this statement.]