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Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

New Defender's Study Bible Notes

27:51 veil of the temple. This veil was a heavy curtain separating the Holy Place in the temple from the Holy of Holies, behind which the glory of God met with the high priest just once each year on the Day of Atonement. For it to be torn in two, especially from top to bottom, even in an earthquake, would seem to require a miracle, possibly by an unseen angelic hand. Symbolically, this tearing of the veil would mean that Christ had now opened the way for all to enter directly into the presence of God. We now may have “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh” (Hebrews 10:19-20).

27:52 saints which slept arose. Not only had “the light of the world gone out” but also the earth’s great foundation Rock had been smitten (Exodus 17:6). The veil had been rent and the graves of the saints were opened. The saints whose bodies were raised could only have been the men and women who had died in faith before the first coming of Christ. Until Christ set them free, their souls had been resting in that division of Hades called “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22). However, when “He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive” after He had “descended first into the lower parts of the earth” (Ephesians 4:8-9).

27:53 after his resurrection. The Old Testament saints could only receive their glorified resurrection bodies after Christ had been raised, for Christ must “become the firstfruits of them that slept” (I Corinthians 15:20). Although this is apparently the only specific reference to the resurrection of these pre-Christian-era believers, no other interpretation seems plausible. Evidently their new bodies were seen by people on the earth during the brief period between Christ’s resurrection and His initial ascent to heaven (John 20:17).

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