Biblical Studies/New Testament Commentaries/The Gospel of Matthew/Chapter 27

All bible passages were taken from unless mentioned otherwise.

Overview Edit

This passage is used as a historical account of an amazing incident. It tells the story of how an innocent man gave up his life. He could have been saved by God but chose to endure the pain of mockery and torture for the sake of those around him. He and many others knew he was innocent yet he did nothing to stop them; the others that knew he was innocent tried to fight his death for him.

This is also a fulfillment of the Old Testament law. The passage was written so that the stories of a God coming to save his people would be fulfilled. Also it talks about the fulfillment of Judas betraying Jesus.

It talks about the other characters in the story. Some were mockers until they saw the ground split and the holy people resurrected. Others wept because they knew that Jesus was innocent and gave up his life for them. They also wept because they had to give up a loved one for the others around them.

One must keep in mind with this passage that the story of Judas hanging himself as a fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy may come from a long line of oral tradition.

Breakdown of Matthew 27 Edit

vv. 1-2: Jesus Delivered to Pilate
vv. 3-10: Judas Hangs Himself
vv. 11-14: Jesus Before Pilate
vv. 15-23: The Crowd Chooses Barnabas
vv. 24-26: Pilate Delivers Jesus to be Crucified
vv. 27-31: Jesus is Mocked
vv. 32-44: The Suffering
vv. 45-56: The Death of Christ
vv. 57-66: Christ's Burial

Matthew 27 (Paraphrase) Edit

Matthew 27: (Original Paraphrase)

Jesus Delivered to Pilate

1In the morning the chief priests and elders decided to kill Jesus. 2 So they bound him up and gave him to Pilate.

Judas Hangs Himself

3Judas knew that what he did was wrong and returned the money to the elders. 4 He told them that he had sinned by turning in a sinless man. They replied with “That is your responsibility.” 5 Because of this he threw down the money, fled the temple and hung himself. 6 The chief priests talked and decided that since the money was used for Judas to betray Jesus they could no longer put it in the treasury. 7So they bought the potter’s field to bury strangers. 8It is now called Field of Blood. 9This fulfilled Jeremiah’s prophecy that they would take thirty pieces of silver that was the price of the One set by some of Israel 10and buy the potter’s field as the Lord directed.

Jesus Before Pilate

11Pilate asked Jesus “Are you the king of the Jews” Jesus replied, “You said so” 12 When the chief priests asked him he did not answer them. 13 Pilate asked him “Do you know what they are saying about you?” 14Again Jesus didn’t answer.

The Crowd Chooses Barnabas

15It was tradition that at the Passover a prisoner was let free. 16 Barnabas was a famous prisoner at this time. 17Pilate asked the crowd, “Who do you want set free Jesus or Barnabas?” 18It was out of jealousy that Jesus was turned in.19 While Pilate was sitting on his throne his wife told him that she had a dream about Jesus and that Pilate should have nothing to do with him. 20 But they chief priests convinced the crowd to kill Jesus. 21 Pilate asked them again who to release and they said Barnabas. 22 Pilate asked them what to do with Jesus and they yelled “KILL HIM!” 23Pilate asked them what Jesus had done to die and they only responded with “KILL HIM”

Pilate Delivers Jesus to be Crucified

24Pilate was getting nowhere in defending Jesus and so washed his hands in front of the rioting crowd and said, “I will have nothing to do with his death. Take care of it yourself.” 25The people said, “We will take the blame!” 26 So Barnabas was released and Jesus was taken and beaten.

Jesus is Mocked

27Then they took Jesus to the governors quarters and all of the company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put him in a scarlet robe. 29The made a crown of thorns and jammed it on his head. They gave him a staff and knelt in front of him saying “Hail king Jesus” 30They took the staff and beat him with it. 31They teased him then stripped him of the robe and redressed him in his clothes then took him to be killed.

The Suffering

32On the way to Christ’s suffering they came across Simon of Cyrene and made him carry the cross. 33They made their way to Golgotha. 34They offered Jesus wine and bile but he refused to drink it. 35 When the put him on the cross to die they divided up his clothes. 36 They sat down and watched him. 37 They placed a sign over Jesus’ head that said “This Is Jesus, King of the Jews”. 38 There were two robbers on either side of him being killed too. 39Those who would walk by made fun of him. 40 They made fun of him by saying things like “You’re going to tear down the temple and rebuild it in three days?” and “If you’re the son of God come down from the cross.”41The elders and most respected people in the city mocked him too. 42 They said, “He can save others but not himself? If you come down I will believe you are the son of God. 43Let God deliver him if is the son of God like he says he is.” 44The mockers next to him also laughed at him.

The Death of Christ

45 Then darkness came. 46Jesus cried, “MY GOD MY GOD WHY HAVE YOU ABANDONED ME?” 47Those around him began saying “He is calling to Elijah” 48One of the men filled a sponge with vinegar and gave it to Jesus to drink. 49Everyone else wanted to see if Elijah would come save him. 50Jesus cried out to God again. 51The temple veil was torn open and the ground split. 52 Tombs were reopened and 53the spirits of those in them were released and appeared to many in the town. 54When everyone around them saw what happened they exclaimed “HE WAS THE SON OF GOD!” 55There were many women that Jesus had ministered to that were watching from a distance. 56Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

Christ’s Burial

57In the evening Joseph of Arimathea came to the city. 58He asked Pilate for Jesus’ body and Pilate gave it to him. 59Joseph wrapped Jesus in a clean clothe60 then placed him in his own tomb, and put a large stone in front of it. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary sat on either side of the large stone. 62 The next day the priests went to Pilate. 63 They said, “Sir remember when he was alive and said the temple would rise again in three days? 64 You should give orders that the tomb should be well secured until after the three days are over. Or his disciples may come and steal him then claim that he came back to life.” 65Pilate said “Here is your guard, go and secure the tomb.” 66 So they placed the guard in front of the tomb and sealed it closed so that no one could get in.

Parallels Edit

Questions Edit

1) What is the significance of telling the story of Judas hanging himself? Why does Matthew alone preserve this story?

2) What is the importance of Pilate's wife having a dream? Why does Matthew alone preserve this story?

3) Why do Pilate wash his hands to be innocent of Christ's death?

4) Why would Judas Kill himself?

5) Why would Pilate only put one guard in front of the tomb?[1]

6) Were the Pharisees and priests really that worried about the disciples stealing?

  1. You misunderstand. There were soldierS guarding the tomb. Collectively, the soldiers were called a guard. This is like referring to 1500 students as the student body, not bodies.

Unique to Matthew 27 Edit

Matthew 27:19

-Dreams were highly regarded in the Roman culture. Pilate’s wife had a dream that Jesus was innocent. Thus, she sent an urgent message to her husband to defend Jesus as innocent (Hagner 823; Turner ##). Pilate tried to heed his wife's advice when she told him to have nothing to do with Jesus. He apparently shared views accepting the importance of dreams widely held in that culture (Hare 314).
-Even though Pilate's wife knew of Jesus’ innocence and informed him of this, it did not alter the course God had planned out (Luz 498).

Matthew 27:24

-Washing your hands at that time was a sign of being innocent. Pilate did not want to be the cause of Jesus’ death but he knew with crowd was becoming violent (Hagner).
-Pilate is showing his nonparticipation by washing his hands before releasing Jesus to them (Turner).
-Pilate may have thought to Deuteronomy 21:6-7; Psalms 26:6; and Psalms 73:13 because in Pagan culture washing hands is a sign of innocence. So he was saying that he was innocent in Christ’s death (Hare).

Matthew 27:51b-53

–The earthquake and rocks splitting are signs that God is active there on that day (Hare). God presented himself numerous times throughout history in earthquakes (Luz).
–The saints rising are a sign of the coming resurrection (Hare).
–There is very little explanation for the tombs being opened and the “spirits” of the dead reawakening. One suggestion is that it is referenced so that Christ has no power over death. Meaning that the saints will rise from the dead since they follow God (Hagner).
–Another explanation is that not just their spirits are raised from the dead but their bodies too. Then they will ascend in to heaven in the final ascension into heaven (Turner).
–In verse 53 it is important to note that it says after Jesus’ resurrection, this means that Jesus will be the first to rise again (Hare).
–This is not meant to be a historical event but a sign only (Hare).

Matthew 27:62-66

–This was said to be done so that the disciples could not come and steal the body and claim that Christ had risen again (Hagner, Turner).
–The authorities may not have believed in a resurrection and therefore they wanted to block the tomb (Hagner).
–Typically priests and Pharisees do not get along but here they come together to have a large stone and a guard placed in front of the tomb (Turner). They fear the resurrection of Jesus.
–According to Hare the disciples would have never plotted to steal Jesus’ body. If it were a real threat that they would the authorities would not have waited until Saturday morning to take the body. They would have also places a small unit of temple police outside of it to guard it. Matthew says this as a set up for the women discovering a tomb. Pilate only sends one guard because the Pharisees and priests underestimate the power of God.

Judas Hangs Himself: an indepth look behind the story Edit

Matthew 27:3-10

-The story of Judas hanging himself is unique to Matthew in the gospels. It is also mentioned in the story of Acts but is portrayed differently. The only thing in common with the story is the “Field of blood” purchased with the betrayal money (Hagner, Hare).[1] This is the Potter's field that was purchased with the blood money Judas received from the priests.
-It was said that the author of Matthew wrote this in as fulfillment of prophesy in the book of Zechariah. It documents the traditions of those days (Hagner, Hare).
-It also tells us about the sovereignty of God (Hagner).
-The only other account of this is in Acts 1:15-20 (Hagner)
-Judas is experiencing regret and remorse and tried to return the money because of it (Hagner, Hare).
-The process of innocent blood being sold had gone too far that the authorities could not reverse it so they had no use for the blood money and it could not be returned. Because the process could not be reversed Judas felt guilt. He gave the money back to the temple then went and hanged himself. According to a Greco-Roman perspective suicide is the most honorable deed to do when one betrays another (Hagner). [[1]]
-Because the money was blood money it could not be used for God (Hagner).
-since the money could not be used for church money they bought a plot of land with the 30 silver pieces and called it the “field of blood” because it was bought with “innocent blood” or “blood money” (Hagner, Hare, Turner,).[[2]]
-This story is written for the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah; but it is found in the book of Zechariah (Hagner, Turner).
-Judas hanged himself out of guilt for betraying Jesus (Turner).
-This [what? Judas' suicide?] is placed here as a foreshadowing of what Pilate and the priests are going to do to Jesus (Hare).
-This is also places here for the symbolism with Peter’s betrayal. The difference between Peters betrayal and Judas’s betrayal is that Peter is truly repentant for his betrayal; whereas Judas is so filled with remorse that instead of repenting he kills himself. Peter receives God’s grace where as Judas ruins his own faith (Hanes).
-Matthew may have tweaked the prophesy of the Potters Field in from Zechariah to make it apply more to the context of the situation (Luz).
-Those that are the most responsible for the death of Jesus do not take any of the guilt or blame for the death of an innocent man (Luz).
-The field of blood was not purchased as a sign of Judas’ guilt but the guilt of the Pharisees and priests. Thus, making them the evil ones (Luz).
-This passage as a fulfillment of the prophesy is just another sign that God is with them through the entire Passion narrative (Luz).

Judas hung himself because he realizes that he made a mistake in turning Jesus into the authorities. Unlike Peter being remorseful and repenting after denying Christ, Judas is remorseful and kills himself. However in those cultures it was somewhat respectable for one to kill themselves after betraying innocent blood. The purchase of the field was prophesied by Jeremiah.

The details on whether it was a 30 pieces of silver exactly or if it was 17[2] pieces of sliver that was used to pay for the field. It is suggested that it was 17 pieces and that Matthew changed the number to keep with the prophecy. The real number of silver is still to be determined. What is important in this passage it that Judas had so much regret for what he had done that he killed himself for it.

Also, the chief priest and Pharisees could do nothing with the money because it was used to buy someone off. So keeping with the prophesy in Zechariah they bough a field to bury 'strangers' in. It is not known whether or not the 'strangers' are Gentiles or if they are foreigners.

  1. You need to identify the source of this.
  2. Where do you get this number?

Word Study Edit

Crucify/Crucifixion (Freedman)



1) Sacrifice to the Gods

2) torture or execution

3) remain unfaithful to Jewish law

4) punishment for slaves, idolaters, blasphemers, or violent Criminals


1) most extreme form of execution

2) it is the easiest form of execution

3) it is the form of execution that can be used as a public spectacle

4) generally limited to foreigners and lower class

5) "most cruel and disgusting penalty (1208)"

process of Crucifixion

1) flogging before

2) usually the cross are a 'T' shape or in the shape of a traditional cross

3) usually the crucifixion happened while the person was alive

4) the cross bar was usually carried on the back of those being crucified

5) they were beat, stripped, and nailed to the beam then raised upright then the feet were nailed to the cross

6) the person dying died a slow painful death.

Jesus' Crucifixion

1) nailed to the cross by his hands

2) had a sign over his head saying "king of the Jews"

Theological Implication= Edit

- Jesus did not deny any of the charges against him even though he was innocent. In a sense saying that he was taking the sins of others.
- Barnabas[1] was the worst of the worst as far as criminals are concerned. Jesus took his place willingly. By doing this he is dying for the sins of even the worst people.

  1. ??

Life Application Edit

- As Christians we need not be like Judas and let Satan control our lives.
- Unlike the Pharisees and chief priests we should take responsibility for our actions.
- Like Jesus before Pilate we need to claim who we are.
- Like Pilate's wife we must take notice of our dreams. God has always used dreams to speak to people so more than likely he is still speaking through them.
- Like Pilate we need to not allow 'innocent blood' to be on our hands. If we know someone is innocent we should not be a part of their 'death'
- By Jesus dying for '''Barnabas''' he died for the worst of the worst. We as humans are not as bad as Barnabas so Jesus can save us too.
- Jesus' followers were mocking him not too long after they were praising him. Sometimes we tend to switch sides when things do not go the way we want them to. We need to remember that Christ came to die for us.
- We need to have faith that Jesus will rise again without his disciples stealing his body. The Pharisees and chief priests did not have a faith strong enough to bring Christ back from the dead. We must not have that little of faith.

References Edit

Hare, Douglas R. A. Matthew. Interpretation. Louisville: John Knox, 1993.

Luz, Ulrich. Matthew 21--28. Hermeneia. Translated by James E. Crouch. Edited by Helmut Koester. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005.

Freedman, David Noel (1992). The Anchor Bible Dictionary. Volume 1 A-C (pp. 1207-1210). New York: Doubleday.

Hagner, D. A. (1995). Word Biblical Commentary. In D. A. Hagner, Matthew 14-28 (pp. 808-864). Dallas: Word Book.

Turner, D. L. (2008). Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. In D. L. Turner, Matthew (pp. 638-651). Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.

commentary by Tabitha McLaren, NNU religion student