Some have argued that Jesus yielding his πνεῦμα in Matthew 27:50 is an anthropological indirect reference to Jesus’ life. Nevertheless, a close study of the words, grammar, and syntax of the passage suggests that is a direct reference to the Spirit of God. In fact, the baptism, the tearing of the curtain, the earthquake, and the raising of the saints are all framed by Matthew as pneumatological imagery which demonstrates the intersection of the ages in the Matthean Gospel-narrative’s context (cf. 27:50; 4:5).
The reference to τὸ πνεῦμα released by Jesus in Matthew 27:50 links the death-resurrection scene in Matthew’s Gospel narrative with the τὸ πνεῦμα that descended upon him at his baptism in Matthew 3:16. On these grounds, it is evident that Matthew is describing the “letting go” of that same Spirit at the moment of Jesus’ death.
In this paper, I seek to demonstrate that the signs surrounding the crucifixion scene are linked with the baptismal narrative by the reference τὸ πνεῦμα in Matthew 27:50. This is strengthened by the reference to the phrase εἰς τὴν ἁγίαν πόλιν in both Matthew 4:5 and 27:53. Additionally, this paper will shed light upon Matthew’s depiction of the Spirit being linked with the revelatory signs surrounding both the birth and death of Jesus. The Spirit conceives Jesus in Mary’s womb (Matt 1:20); the Spirit descends and rests on Jesus at his baptism (Matt 3:16); Jesus yields the Spirit at his death (Matt 27:50). Thus, the yielding of the Spirit in Matthew 27:50 causes the signs in Matthew 27:51-54. And, therefore, by way of implication, Christ’s departure indicates the departure of the Spirit in judgment (cf. Ezek 10).