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Bizarrities in the Bible

One of the all-time strangest passing references in the Bible occurs during the description of the crucifixion. I share it with you now as food for thought for Easter weekend.

“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
                                              Matthew 27:50-53

The italicized portion has always been one of the strangest passages for me. It just slips it in there with some detail, but no explanation, no resolution. Which saints? Were their bodies laying exposed to the world from the moment of Christ’s death until the Resurrection, or did they wake up sometime before, just chillin’ until Christ was raised? What happened to them next? Did they get carried up to heaven? This passage has always made me scratch my head.

A quick Google search for commentaries produced the following interesting links:
It is most striking to note that many commentaries simply gloss over this part of the passage, and the first link even indicates that one commentary advises its readers to just ignore the passage! Think of that! A Bible commentary telling us to ignore part of the Bible! Astounding!

Even though He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, God never wastes papyrus. The passage is there for a reason. That doesn’t make it any easier to understand, but it seems to be one of those quirky things that strangely seems to add validity to a story. It references an event in such an offhand manner that it assumes the reader knows the significance, history, and outcome already.

Let me in on the secret, huh?


  1. I just stumbled upon this old article via an unrelated Google search. Nevertheless, I'd be happy to share my thoughts.

    I know not why this treated in such a cursory manner by Matthew - it does seem like a pretty momentous event! Nevertheless, it seems to me that its meaning is relatively clear. The Bible consistently teaches that the punishment for sin is death (e.g. Romans 6:23a). Conversely, resurrection to life is seen as vindication (Daniel 12:1-2; John 5:25-29; Romans 4:25).

    The "saints" of Matthew 27 are not "Saints" in the tradition of Roman Catholicism, but simply those who are made holy, set apart for God (shown by the Greek root word and its use throughout the New Testament: e.g. Acts 9:13; Acts 9:32; Acts 26:10; 1 Corinthians 16:1; Ephesians 1:1; Ephesians 3:8; Ephesians 5:3). I believe, therefore, that "saints" in Matthew 27 refers to faithful believers, either Jewish or Christian - it's unclear from the text.

    Thus, what does the text mean? It indicates that God allowed some faithful believers to enjoy a foretaste of the general resurrection to come (Daniel 12 and John 5, above). God resurrected some of the people who had faith in him. He did this as an indication of what Christ has accomplished: By dying on the cross for sin and rising to life again, he has defeated death for all of us (1 Corinthians 15:57; 1 Peter 1:3; 1 Peter 3:18), securing our justification (Romans 3:21-26; Romans 4, above) both in the present and at the general resurrection on the last day.