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. Then the eleven went to Galilee to the mountain where Jesus told them to go.
In Matthew’s resurrection account, there are three sections which may seem to be disjointed because of the wording used by the NIV. In the first section (vs 1-10) Jesus is resurrected and speaks with the women near the tomb. In the second section (vs 11-15) we are told that a rumor started discounting the resurrection. In the third section (vs 16-20) Jesus meets the disciples and issues the great commission.
In translating the original, the scholars who put together the NIV examined the Greek and had some choices to make about the wording to be placed in each sentence. The problem is that in the Greek (and Hebrew) certain words can have multiple transitions. For instance, the Hebrew word for that, which, who and where is the same word. Likewise the word for make and do is the same word in the Hebrew. So when scholars come to those words they have to make a choice in which word to chose. Chose the wrong word and the sentence or thought in Scripture can seem disjointed.
I think this is the case in the first word of vs 16 of Matthew 28. In the Greek, the word there is Οἱ δὲ. In the Greek, the word Οἱ δὲ is a weak participle which can be defined as the following: moreover, on the other hand, and, and but. For the NIV translators, they chose to go with a synonym of moreover, which is the word then.
I think that then causes a disjointed feeling in the text. Others have agreed, as evidenced by the American Standard Version and its 1977 revision, Darby Bible Translation, English Revised Version, among others who use the word but instead of the word then.
Re-Read the passage with the word but instead of then: 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. But the eleven went to Galilee to the mountain where Jesus told them to go.
With the word but, the story changes because it would suggest that the two Mary’s told the disciples that Jesus was alive, and that they had heard the rumors about Jesus’ disciples taking the body; however, even though they heard the rumors (knowing they were not true) and probably knowing they were being searched for, the disciples- in faith- went to Galilee having not seen the resurrected Lord.
In other words, even though they were afraid, and they knew the rumors, they trusted the report of the two Marys and went to see Jesus. The word but connects vs 15 to vs 16.
That small change should help us understand that when we come to a section of the Bible story that seems disjointed to use our resources to uncover what that section may be sharing with us.