Were the guards at Jesus' Tomb Roman Soldiers or Temple Guards?

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If you’ve watched a film of the death and resurrection of Christ you will probably have seen Roman soldiers protecting the tomb, like the excellent film Risen which I’d highly recommend. But were the guards actually Romans?

The text doesn’t say they were Roman soldiers* and some of the details put this in question.

(* By Roman Soldiers, this includes the local auxiliary troops for the Empire not just Italian born Legionnaires)

The tomb guards are only featured in Matthew’s gospel. This is the section, with emboldened text on the relevant parts. Matthew 27:62-28:15

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.


While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’  If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

Reasons to think they may be Romans

Roman Auxiliary

Roman Auxiliary

The request for the tomb to be guarded goes to Pilate, he agrees and gives the order for it to be guarded. (27:62-66)

The tomb is sealed and it is assumed that this is an imperial seal, which would be applied by the Romans. (27:66)

They are called ‘soldiers’ (στρατιώταις) not just ‘the guard’ (κουστωδίας)

Reasons to think they may be Temple Guards

Temple Guard

Temple Guard

When Jesus is resurrected the guards report first to the chief priests and not to Pilate (28:11)

The chief priest bribe the guards to lie. While it’s possible they may have bribed Roman soldiers, bribing your own employees to lie to the Roman Governor is more likely that bribing a Roman soldier to betray his own officer to benefit the priests. Particularly if we consider the punishment that would likely be attached to such a betrayal (28:12-13)

The chief priests say they will intercede for the guards if the governor does find out. If they were Roman soldiers caught lying to their Roman officers/governor how would the priest have any sway in the matter. (28:14)

When Pilate gives the order to secure the tomb he says “You have a guard. Go, make it as secure as you can.” which is ambiguous as to whether he is saying to them they they have their own resources and have permission to get on with it, or if he is saying “you now have a guard.” (Matt 27:65)

We know from Roman sources that a roman soldier who fell asleep on duty could be sentenced to death. Considering the lie to be told is that the people they were posted to protect against came while we were asleep on duty and stole the very thing they were there to protect, it seems likely this would be the case. So receiving gold for this lie doesn’t seem very compelling, for a Roman if a death sentence would be the result. If they were Temple guards however, the Governor would be annoyed but not automatically have the authority to sentence them to death.

In other sources

Head of helmeted Roman auxiliary, AD113

Head of helmeted Roman auxiliary, AD113

In the extra-canonical Gospel of Peter, which is not to be held in the same status as the biblical text but an early historical source none the less, dated to around the early second century the guards are clearly Roman:

But Pilate gave over to them Petronius the centurion with soldiers to safeguard the sepulcher. And with these the elders and scribes came to the burial place. And having rolled a large stone, all who were there, together with the centurion and the soldiers, placed it against the door of the burial place. And they marked it with seven wax seals; and having pitched a tent there, they safeguarded it. (Apocryphal Gospel of Peter verse 31 and 32)

What do you think?

This is normally where one would find a conclusion, but it seems uncertain. I am keen to hear your thoughts on the matter. What is clear though is that the assumption that the night watch men were Roman troops is not so cut and dry. This is not a matter of deep spiritual significance, of course, but as we have to draw them in the Word for Word Bible Comic it’s a matter we need to consider.
You can probably tell that I’m leaning more towards the Temple guards interpretation but can you shade any more light on the situation or let me know what your opinion on the matter is?

How long is the journey from Babylon to Bethlehem? How old was Jesus when they got there?


I'm trying to figure out roughly how old was Jesus when the Magi arrived? One of the key factors could be considered to be that they saw the star of his birth and then travelled to Jerusalem, where they tell Herod about it (Matt 2:7) and then went on to Bethlehem.

The Magi came from the East, it is believed from Babylon, so how long does it take to travel the distance. From Google Maps you can see the distance is about 1,150km.

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In Ezra 7:9 we learn, Ezra's entourage (probably included children and elderly people) took four months to travel from Babylon to Jerusalem.

It's likely the Magi's caravan would have taken a little less time but they may have had to delay a while to prepare for the journey, so a few months certainly gives us a good idea.

This actually ties in with the fact that Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem for at least 40 days, until the end of Mary's 'purification'. (Luke 2:22). It seems that the couple stayed on a Bethlehem for a while, surrounded, as they would have been, by Joseph's family.

The other factor is that after discovering the time the Magi saw the star, King Herod orders children under 2 to be killed in and around Bethlehem. (Matt 2:16)

So, it seems from this baby Jesus would have been between a minimum or about 4 months and a maximum of 2 years old.

To me, Herod's paranoia is likely the element making this net wider rather than the Magi's delay in coming. This and the fact that in the chronology of Jesus' birth, Herod being alive is a factor that already moves the birth date back into what we call BC years. If Herod is alive not only for the birth but 2 years later for the 'massacre of the innocents', it would push the date of Jesus' birth back another 2 years.

So in conclusion, in the comic I believe I will draw Jesus looking about 6-9 months old.

Please feel free to comment if you have any insight or wisdom on the topic. Thanks

June Newsletter

(If you’d like to get this update as a monthly email sign up here: http://eepurl.com/bzpR9f )

Sneak peek at the Book of Esther

In this image, we look down into the Apadana (great hall) of the Palace of Susa. The columns of which stand over 70 feet tall!

Watch this YouTube video below for more information about the Apadana area, although their 3D model is not in the correct colours and more developed research has discovered they were likely this terracotta/red colour.

Video Documentary on Iranian history.
(Set to play at the point where they discuss the Apadana).

New Reddit 

If you like Reddit, you can now find us there and join the community! It will include info about us but also historical references, Bible discussion and more (like the Facebook group, but with some different stuff for Reddit fans). So join us invite your friends and get commenting, Patreon backers even get a cool badge when they comment. 


Patreon growing...

The Patreon has continued to grow. We are now 8th highest listing on a search for "Bible" (just 7 more patrons to get to 7th) and if we had just 3 more patrons we could be listed on the first page of a search for "comic"! 

Can you join us for just $1 a month (or more)? Even with $1 you get great two pages a month of the book in development, you are credited as a patron in the book, you are invited to the quarterly video conferencing (our second one is only a few weeks away) and it helps bump up our rating! 

We'd love you consider becoming a monthly patron of the comic and help us make it to March 2020 without a Kickstarter.


What is Patreon? (Video explaining Patreon in general) 


Big Church Day Out 

BCDO was a really great event for us, short and sweet, lots of people and a great atmosphere. I even got to see Rend Collective perform in the evening. Here's a couple of images from the rare moments I got away from the stall. I met many of you there, so welcome to the newsletter!


The Gathering CVM

At the end of this month, I'll be in a field near Swindon with a couple of thousand blokes. This is one of my favourite events and if you'd like to come you still can, you can also help steward for a very cheap ticket. I'm going to try and get in on the sword fighting and axe throwing workshops this year. 


Progress and Prayer

The book is complete, all the extra pages are done and the colours are done too! I am just trying to get an official offer from Zondervan to use the NIV in the USA, this is the last huddle if they agree we'll go ahead with the NIV, if not we may have to carry on with the World English for a while. Please pray that they will agree very soon or if it is not the Lord will to use the NIV, then it gets shut down clearly and quickly soon too.  

Also, please continue to pray for God's provision to meet our needs financially in order to keep progressing well with this project, and that we can continue to build his Kingdom with the work. 

If you’d like to get this update as a monthly email sign up here: http://eepurl.com/bzpR9f

HAVE YOUR SAY: Cover Design for Esther

Please have a look through these few rough cover designs and tell me which you like the best and why? Any suggestions for different elements to combine, and if you dislike any elements that shouldn’t be included.

Despite the book being 2,500 years old, I don’t really want spoilers on the cover as the idea is that people who don’t know the story will be reading it. That’s why I thought having Esther as a silhouette or not a queen would be a good option.


APRIL: Prospects, Palace, Patreon and Progress.

This month is prospects, palace, Patreon and Progress.

Prospect and Prayer 

Tomorrow (Wednesday 3rd) I have a big meeting with a large Christian charity about the prospect of partnering up on the Word for Word Bible Comic. We are not sure how it's going to go but it has great potential! Please pray that God would come alongside us there so that we can work out a way for this to be truly beneficial to both parties and ultimately allow us to combine forces to get the Bible in the hands of more and more adults, young adults and teens! 

Please continue to pray about this over the next few weeks as it will likely take a little while to work out whatever happens. 

Palace: Sneak peek at the Book of Esther

The Palace of Darius at Susa. Below you can see a couple of archaeological floor plans of the palace too. 

Palace of Darius and Xerxes at Susa shush Shushan Word for Word bible Comic

Find a whole host of images on our Pinterest board on the Palace of Susa

In this video, you can learn all about this Palace and King Ahasuerus

View the first Esther Patreon Video as an example of what you receive at the $5+ levels.

Patreon Push!

We are over half way through our 15-day Patreon promotional drive! During the week we've had Live videos, an interview, cross-promotion with other Patreon projects and more info on the benefits for patrons!

Creating a comic page: 'Facebook-Live' recording.

Blog about why your patronage is so important

Live Hangout! 

Become a patron today and join us on this Thursday (4th) at 9pm GMT for the first Patreon exclusive hangout, it will be like a conference call using Zoom.us software. 

Why even $1/month is a great help! 

Firstly, of course, every little helps. Secondly, as a patron you are able to see some of the work before anyone else and can give valuable feedback and comments, even join the live patron hangout quarterly. Thirdly, on Patreon the search function is ranked by 'number of patrons', so your backing raises our profile and will help us be discovered by other people browsing for interesting projects to support. If we can get to 55 backers we will be one of the highest Patreons on the search "Bible" and one the first results page for "Comic". I'm quite pleased that we have passed "Drunken Bible study" on the rankings already. 

If even 2% of those on our mailing list did so we could easily reach this target. 


List of all the benefits...


Surprisingly work on drawing the pages of Esther is nearing completion! The pie chart shows all the pages including the covers, introduction and notes which should take too long to finish.  We are now working hard to get all the pages coloured quickly to have the book printed and out to Kickstarter backers asap. 

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In trying to ensure the colouring on Esther is completed on time I have brought in a third colourist to help us out on this book...

New Colourist for The Book of Esther - Dr. Chris! 



I met Chris McAuley (aka Dr. Chris) through a connection at Geek Syndicate (the podcast/website/geek hub) when he reviewed The Gospel of Mark comic last year. He's been developing his colourist portfolio recently and I asked him if he'd like to help us by doing a dozen or so of the pages. Here's a summary Chris wrote about some of the stuff he's doing at the moment...

"I'm a video game designer / Programmer for Digiplay, consultant for Bioware in Edmonton and Technical specialist for Utomik (a subscription-based gaming company).  I've recently flatted for Marvel (Hulkverines, Deadpool) and 2000AD(Judge Dredd and Roy of the Rovers)  I am the chief colourist for a Scottish project called The Lang Walk Hame - which is up for an arts award and I've been helping Warner Bros with Batman: Hush." 

Upcoming Events

Swansea Comic Con 6th April

This Saturday, I will have a stand at Swansea Comic Con! It's another event I haven't done before so I'm hoping it will go well and meet lots of new people. 

Portsmouth Comic Con May 4th and 5th. 

Plymouth Comic Con May 12th

Elim Leadership Conference May 14th-15th (Harrogate) 

Big Church Day Out May 25th- 26th (West Sussex) 


In this blog I'm going to talk a bit about why we want to use Patreon to help fund the Word for Word Bible Comic. 
Firstly lets share our vision for the Word for Word Bible Comic, we believe that through presenting the unabridged bible in a graphic novel format will open up the word of God to those who might never have looked inside a standard bible. Our hope is that in doing this many will come to a better understanding of God’s word and therefore a more open heart.
Our hearts are all for this mission and we celebrate that we get to work on this project everyday however we need funds to keep the project going and there are a number of way that we can do that.
We manage the money we get from the Kickstarters extremely carefully, but there's no slack, for example, there's not enough money to hire in an admin person to fulfil orders or handle social media, so it comes down to us, (that’s me, the artist, and my wonderful wife and sometimes even our two young boys).
With regular funds through a platform like Patreon it can take some of the pressure off. A regular and reliable income means we can plan. We could hire an extra colourist to help complete new books faster. We could pay for some advertising to reach people who don’t even know these books exist yet, which in turn would lead to more sales and so the effect snowballs. We could book into more events (conferences and comic cons) and talk to people about the books face to face.
As an example of this, we'd love to run an advert in the handbook at UK's biggest youth and youth leaders event, but it costs £900 ($1,200) and so we just don't have the breathing space to put the investment in, even if it would lead to long-term gain. 
At this time the business is growing at a healthy rate. We are gradually getting more and more followers and sales through new channels that are opening up all the time, like suppliers for book shops and greater reach on platforms Amazon, Kindle and Comichaus etc.
We have been so blessed with the patrons and supporters we have, and we sense that we are at a tipping point where we could grow the business greatly with a little more investment here and there, which could bring exponential growth. 

If you have been following our posts on social media over the last week or so you will know that Patreon, in a similar way to Kickstarter, offers rewards and privileges so we hope that there is something that might interest you. Also for every Patreon who wants it, your name will be listed as a supporter in the books! 

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We are super keen for fans to become patrons even at the lowest level. Here are a few reasons that even a $1 monthly pledge can be a big help to us. Firstly, of course, every little helps. Secondly, as a patron you are able to see some of the work before anyone else and can give valuable feedback and comments, even join the patron hangout quarterly. Thirdly, on Patreon the search function is ranked by 'number of patrons', so your backing raises our profile and will help us be discovered by other people browsing for interesting projects to support. If we can get to 55 backers we will be the sixth highest Patreon on the seach "Bible" and one the first page of "Comic". I'm quite pleased that we have passed "Drunken Bible study" on the rankings already. 

If even 2% of those on our mailing list did so we could easily reach this target. 

Check out the page for all the options!


Other ways to support 

Now I know that for a lot of people even a $1 patronage would be unviable but there are still a number of ways to support the project. 

1) Add a review to the books on Amazon and Good Reads. A massive help for ranking and customer confidence. 



2) Follow us on social media and regularly like and comment on posts to help them get more prominence. 

Facebook Page- https://www.facebook.com/wordforwordbiblecomic 
Twitter - https://twitter.com/WforWBibleComic
Pinterest - https://uk.pinterest.com/wforwbiblecomic/
YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/c/wordforwordbiblecomic
Tumblr - http://wordforwordbiblecomic.tumblr.com/
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/wordforwordbiblecomic/
Reddit - https://www.reddit.com/user/Word4WordBibleComic

3) Pray! Please do keep us in your prayers, please pray for our provision and guidance into making the comic as accurate as possible. 

March: cons, patrons and your opinions  

Sneak peek at the Book of Esther

In this image (now in colour), we can see some of the Greek troops who fight against Xerxes at Thermopylae, which features as a brief cut scene in the book of Esther. 

KICKSTARTER BACKER NOTE: All backers who are due to receive digital copies of Esther as it progresses, will be getting the first instalment sent through very soon!

thermopylae word for word bible comic

This image and the rest of the page was released to our patrons recently.


In order to make it to March 2020 without a Kickstarter, we need your help and so we'd love you consider becoming a monthly patron of the comic! 

Aside from supporting us, you will get access to pages before anyone, be part of the creative process from just $1 a month!

Have your Say: What book do you want to see? 

I am currently running poll on Facebook for you to give your opinions on which book you think we should do after we've completed Esther and then done another Gospel. We'd love you to vote and to leave comments about which you think would be the best and why. 


ICE Brighton

This weekend I went to the International Comic Expo in Brighton. I met an artist whose comics I've been reading for years, read about that below... 



Swansea Comic Con

On the 6th of April, I will have a stand at Swansea Comic Con! It's another event I haven't done before so I'm hoping it will go well and meet lots of new people. 


Progress and Prayer

The artwork has been progressing steadily and the colouring is coming along. Page 45, that I have just been working on, is the start if Chapter 6 in the book. 

progress Esther


Firstly, please pray for Ryan the colourist who has injured his wrist and is currently unable to colour. Pray he recovers well. Please also pray for Leslie, the other colourist who has applied for another day job which will hopefully have her more time to work on pages for the comic. 

Lastly, please continue to pray for God's provision to meet our needs financially in order to keep progressing well with this project, and that we can continue to build his Kingdom with the work. 

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Meeting your heroes: Glenn Fabry artist of Sláine and more.

Slaine+by+Glenn+Fabry he didn't think it too many

On Saturday I was at ICE (International Comics Expo) in Brighton. One of the guests was old school legend Glenn Fabry (cover artist for Preacher and Constantine and classic Sláine artist). I realised that one of the classic Sláine comics I had done a little homage to within my own Book of Judges was drawn by him! So later I got a chance to show him. Here hit is...

Shamgar son of Anath Word for Word Bible Comic

He liked that I’d done an homage to his wrk and he told me a funny anecdote about that short comic. He said he’d been drawing Sláine day and night so much, at the time, that he’d started dreaming about it too. When he told Pat Mills (his editor) about this he asked him what the dream was. Glenn told him the premise that it starts with a fly sat on an open eye, it pans out and there are several bodies, it pans out more and there’s a pile of them, panning across there are thousands of bodies lying in mountains, then at the end it pans onto Sláine just standing with his axe. And Pat Mill just said “great you should do it”. 

Glenn fabry Slaine mountain of bodies - he didnt think it too many.

Glenn said that he did so and was really pleased as when it came out he’d also be credited as the writer for it too. But then, at the least minute, Pat’s wife, Angie Mills, said “At the end it should say ‘He didn’t think it too many’” and as a result she got credited as the “writer”, and Glenn was like, “It was my £#€<ing dream!”. 

Here’s a picture of him with my book, he was really pleased…honest.


Anyway. Great bloke and I was very pleased he let me take this picture and told me this tale :) 

You can buy a copy of the comic here :