Accessibility setting


Select language

Skip to secondary menu

Skip to table of contents

Skip to content

Jehovah’s Witnesses

New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)

Matthew 28:1-20

28  After the Sabbath, when it was growing light on the first day of the week, Mary Magʹda·lene and the other Mary+ came to view the grave.+  And look! a great earthquake had taken place, for Jehovah’s angel had descended from heaven and had come and rolled away the stone, and he was sitting on it.+  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow.+  Yes, out of their fear of him, the watchmen trembled and became as dead men.  But the angel said to the women: “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus who was executed on the stake.+  He is not here, for he was raised up, just as he said.+ Come, see the place where he was lying.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he was raised up from the dead, for look! he is going ahead of you into Galʹi·lee.+ You will see him there. Look! I have told you.”+  So, quickly leaving the memorial tomb, with fear and great joy, they ran to report to his disciples.+  And look! Jesus met them and said: “Good day!” They approached and took hold of his feet and did obeisance to him. 10  Then Jesus said to them: “Have no fear! Go, report to my brothers so that they may go to Galʹi·lee, and there they will see me.” 11  While they were on their way, some of the guards+ went into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. 12  And after these had gathered with the elders and had consulted together, they gave a considerable number of silver pieces to the soldiers 13  and said: “Say, ‘His disciples came in the night and stole him while we were sleeping.’+ 14  And if this gets to the governor’s ears, we will explain the matter to* him and you will not need to worry.” 15  So they took the silver pieces and did as they were instructed, and this story has been spread abroad among the Jews up to this very day. 16  However, the 11 disciples went to Galʹi·lee+ to the mountain where Jesus had arranged for them to meet.+ 17  When they saw him, they did obeisance, but some doubted. 18  Jesus approached and spoke to them, saying: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.+ 19  Go, therefore, and make disciples of people of all the nations,+ baptizing them+ in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, 20  teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.+ And look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”+


Lit., “persuade.”

Sabbath: Lit., “Sabbaths.” In this verse, the plural form of the Greek word sabʹba·ton occurs twice. In the first instance, it refers to a single Sabbath day, the seventh day of the week, and it is rendered “the Sabbath.” In the second instance, where it refers to a period of seven days, it is rendered of the week. The Sabbath day (Nisan 15) ended at sunset. Although some have understood Matthew’s account to refer to a time at dusk “after the Sabbath,” the other Gospel accounts clearly show that the women came to view the grave “early” in the morning on Nisan 16, “when the sun had risen.”Mr 16:1, 2; Lu 24:1; Joh 20:1; see also Glossary and App. B12.

the first day of the week: That is, Nisan 16. For the Jews, the day immediately after the Sabbath was the first day of the week.

Jehovah’s angel: This expression occurs many times in the Hebrew Scriptures, starting at Ge 16:7. When it occurs in early copies of the Septuagint, the Greek word agʹge·los (angel; messenger) is followed by the divine name written in Hebrew characters. That is how the expression is handled at Zec 3:5, 6 in a copy of the Septuagint found in Nahal Hever, Israel, dated between 50 B.C.E. and 50 C.E. (See App. C.) A number of Bible translations retain the divine name when rendering the expression “Jehovah’s angel” in this verse.—See App. A5 and App. C.

Jehovah’s angel: See study note on Mt 1:20 and App. C.

tell his disciples that he was raised up: These women are not only the first disciples to be told of Jesus’ resurrection but also the ones instructed to inform the other disciples. (Mt 28:2, 5, 7) According to unscriptural Jewish tradition, a woman’s testimony was not permissible in a court of law. By contrast, Jehovah’s angel dignifies the women by giving them this joyful assignment.

look!: The Greek word i·douʹ, here rendered “look!,” is often used to focus attention on what follows, encouraging the reader to visualize the scene or to take note of a detail in a narrative. It is also used to add emphasis or to introduce something new or surprising. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the term occurs most frequently in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and in the book of Revelation. A corresponding expression is often used in the Hebrew Scriptures.

did obeisance to him: Or “bowed down to him; honored him.” People mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures also bowed down when meeting prophets, kings, or other representatives of God. (1Sa 25:23, 24; 2Sa 14:4-7; 1Ki 1:16; 2Ki 4:36, 37) This man evidently recognized that he was talking to a representative of God who had power to heal people. It was appropriate to bow down to show respect for Jehovah’s King-Designate.Mt 9:18; for more information on the Greek word used here, see study note on Mt 2:2.

did obeisance to him: Or “bowed down to him; paid him homage.” These people recognized Jesus as God’s representative. They rendered obeisance to him, not as to a god or a deity, but as to “God’s Son.”—See study notes on Mt 2:2; 8:2; 18:26.

did obeisance to him: Or “bowed down to him; paid him homage.” By calling Jesus “Son of David” (Mt 15:22), this non-Jewish woman evidently recognizes him as the promised Messiah. She renders obeisance to him, not as to a god or a deity, but as to a representative of God.—See study notes on Mt 2:2; 8:2; 14:33; 18:26.

did obeisance to him: Or “bowed down to him; prostrated themselves to him; paid him homage.”—See study notes on Mt 8:2; 14:33; 15:25.

my brothers: Here Jesus calls his disciples “brothers” because of the spiritual relationship they enjoy.—See Mt 28:16; compare Mt 25:40; Joh 20:17; Heb 2:10-12.

elders: Lit., “older men.” In the Bible, the Greek term pre·sbyʹte·ros refers primarily to those who hold a position of authority and responsibility in a community or a nation. Although the term sometimes refers to physical age (as at Lu 15:25; Ac 2:17), it is not limited to those who are elderly. Here it refers to the leaders of the Jewish nation who are often mentioned together with chief priests and scribes. The Sanhedrin was made up of men from these three groups.Mt 21:23; 26:3, 47, 57; 27:1, 41; 28:12; see Glossary, “Elder; Older man.”

this: That is, their lie about having been asleep. Roman soldiers could be put to death if they fell asleep at their post.

the governor’s: The governor here referred to is Pontius Pilate.

to meet: Apparently more than 500 attend this meeting in Galilee.1Co 15:6.

some doubted: In the light of 1Co 15:6, it is likely that those who doubted were not among the apostles; rather, they were disciples in Galilee to whom Jesus had not yet appeared.

all the inhabited earth . . . all the nations: Both expressions emphasize the scope of the preaching work. In a broad sense, the Greek word for “inhabited earth” (oi·kou·meʹne) refers to the earth as the dwelling place of mankind. (Lu 4:5; Ac 17:31; Ro 10:18; Re 12:9; 16:14) In the first century, this term was also used in reference to the vast Roman Empire where the Jews had been dispersed. (Lu 2:1; Ac 24:5) In its general sense, the Greek word for “nation” (eʹthnos) refers to a group of people who are more or less related to one another by blood and who have a common language. Such a national or ethnic group often occupies a defined geographic territory.

because he is a prophet: Lit., “in the name of a prophet.” In this context, the Greek idiom “in the name of” indicates a recognition of the office and work of a prophet.—Compare study note on Mt 28:19.

make disciples: The Greek verb ma·the·teuʹo can be rendered “teach” with the intent of making pupils or disciples. (Compare usage at Mt 13:52, where it is rendered “taught.”) The verbs “baptizing” and “teaching” show what is involved in the command to “make disciples.”

people of all the nations: A literal translation reads “all nations,” but the context indicates that this term refers to individuals out of all nations, since the Greek pronoun “them” in the expression baptizing them is in the masculine gender and refers to people, not to “nations,” which is neuter in Greek. This command to reach “people of all the nations” was new. Prior to Jesus’ ministry, the Scriptures indicate that Gentiles were welcomed to Israel if they came to serve Jehovah. (1Ki 8:41-43) With this command, however, Jesus commissions his disciples to extend the preaching work to people other than natural Jews, emphasizing the worldwide scope of the Christian disciple-making work.Mt 10:1, 5-7; Re 7:9; see study note on Mt 24:14.

in the name of: The Greek term for “name” (oʹno·ma) can refer to more than a personal name. In this context, it involves recognition of authority and position of the Father and the Son as well as the role of the holy spirit. Such recognition results in a new relationship with God.—Compare study note on Mt 10:41.

the Father . . . the Son . . . the holy spirit: Recognition of the Father, Jehovah God, is natural, since he is our Creator and Life-Giver. (Ps 36:7, 9; Re 4:11) However, the Bible also shows that no human can gain salvation without recognizing the role of the Son in God’s purpose. (Joh 14:6; Ac 4:12) It is also vital to recognize the role of God’s holy spirit because, among other things, God uses his active force to give life (Job 33:4), to inspire his message to humans (2Pe 1:21), and to empower them to do his will (Ro 15:19). Although some believe that this enumeration supports the Trinity doctrine, the Bible never indicates that the three are equal in eternity, power, and position. That they are mentioned together in the same verse does not prove that they share divinity, eternity, and equality.Mr 13:32; Col 1:15; 1Ti 5:21.

the holy spirit: Or “the holy active force.” The term “spirit” (neuter in Greek) refers to an impersonal force in action, emanating from God.—See Glossary, “Holy spirit”; “Spirit.”

preaching: The Greek word basically means “to make proclamation as a public messenger.” It stresses the manner of the proclamation: usually an open, public declaration rather than a sermon to a group.

teaching . . . preaching: Teaching differs from preaching in that the teacher does more than proclaim; he instructs, explains, uses persuasive arguments, and offers proof.—See study notes on Mt 3:1; 28:20.

conclusion: Rendered from the Greek word syn·teʹlei·a, meaning “joint end; combination end; ending together.” (Mt 13:39, 40, 49; 28:20; Heb 9:26) This refers to a time period during which a combination of events would lead to the complete “end” mentioned at Mt 24:6, 14, where a different Greek word, teʹlos, is used.—See study notes on Mt 24:6, 14 and Glossary, “Conclusion of the system of things.”

teaching them: The Greek word rendered “to teach” involves instruction, explanation, showing things by argument, and offering proofs. (See study notes on Mt 3:1; 4:23.) Teaching them to observe all the things that Jesus had commanded would be an ongoing process, which would include teaching what he taught, applying his teaching, and following his example.Joh 13:17; Eph 4:21; 1Pe 2:21.

look!: The Greek word i·douʹ, here rendered “look!,” is often used to focus attention on what follows, encouraging the reader to visualize the scene or to take note of a detail in a narrative. It is also used to add emphasis or to introduce something new or surprising. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the term occurs most frequently in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and in the book of Revelation. A corresponding expression is often used in the Hebrew Scriptures.

conclusion: See study note on Mt 24:3 and Glossary, “Conclusion of the system of things.”

system of things: Or “age.”—See Glossary, “System(s) of things.”


Tomb Chamber
Tomb Chamber

The Jews usually buried their dead in caves or vaults cut into the rock. These tombs were customarily located outside the cities, an exception being the tombs of the kings. Jewish tombs that have been found are notable for their simplicity. This was evidently because the Jews’ worship allowed no veneration of the dead and did not foster any ideas of a conscious existence in a spirit world after death.