Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 15 March 2017; Revised 23 January 2023
Scripture Text: The Scripture text of John used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Besekh (New Testament), Torah (Law), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ). I use the title "The Testimony of John" because that is how John describes his book (John 21:24). See the article Witnesses of the Good News for background information on this book.
Methodology: For an explanation of abbreviations, acronyms, terminology, spelling conventions, and other information on organization of the commentary see my Commentary Writing Philosophy.
Primary Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Unless otherwise indicated the following primary sources are used:
• Different Bible versions may be cited for Scripture quotations. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Messianic Jewish versions are CJB, DHE, GNC, HNV, MW, OJB, & TLV.
• The Septuagint (LXX) is the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid–2nd century BC. The LXX with English translation may be found here.
• Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
• The meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009). See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. Definitions of Hebrew words are from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), given as "BDB." The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
• Dates are from Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings (1992). Online.
Sunday, Nisan 17, A.D. 30; 9 April (Julian)
John's narrative now transitions to the report of Yeshua's victory over death. The time is early Sunday morning.
Discovery of the Empty Tomb, 20:1-10
Manifestation to Miriam of Magdala, 20:11-18
Manifestation to the Disciples, 20:19-25
Manifestation to Thomas, 20:26-29
John's Purpose in Writing, 20:30-31
Discovery of the Empty Tomb, 20:1-10
Parallel: Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-12
1 Now on the first day of the week Miriam of Magdala came early to the tomb, it being still dark, and saw the stone having been removed from the tomb.
Now: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The second meaning applies here. on the first: Grk. mia, f. of heis (for Heb. echad), the cardinal number one. day: The Greek text does not have the word for "day" (Grk. hēmera), and neither is it found in the Synoptic parallels. Names for the days of the week were not assigned until the fourth century A.D. of the week: Grk. sabbaton, n. pl., a transliteration of Heb. shabbath (SH-4521), first in Exodus 16:23. The noun is derived from the verb shabath, "cease, desist, pause, rest," (DNTT 3:405).
Sabbaton occurs 68 times in the Besekh, generally of the seventh day Sabbath. However, the plural form used here, denotes seven days or a week. The meaning "week" would derive from the interval between Sabbath and Sabbath. The commandment of remembering the Sabbath includes the centrality of the Sabbath to the whole week. The Jewish idiom occurs seven times in the Besekh (Matt 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:19; Acts 20:7; 1Cor 16:2). In Talmudic literature the Jewish days of the week are numbered from the Sabbath as (1) echad Shabbat, first day of the week; (2) teren Shabbat, second day of the week; (3) shelishi Shabbat, third day of the week; (4) b'rebii Shabbat, fourth day of the week; (5) chamishi shabbat, fifth day of the week; (6) erev Shabbat, the eve of the Sabbath (Lightfoot 2:375-376).
In Second Temple Judaism each of the days of the week held significance in Jerusalem and among Jews generally. Marriage feasts began on Sunday and consummation of marriage occurred on Wednesday. Court sessions were held on Monday and Thursday. Clothes washing occurred on Thursday. Preparation for the Sabbath occurred on Friday. (See also Baba Kama 82a for a description of daily activities.)
Miriam: Grk. Maria, fem. name, which is intended to stand for Heb. Miryam ("Miriam" in English). The meaning of the name is not known for certain, although Thayer's lexicon suggests the name means "rebelliousness or obstinacy," a theory favored in Christianity. The first Miriam in Scripture is the sister of Aaron (Ex 15:20) and with such a negative meaning it's unlikely that the parents would have given this name to their daughter at birth. The best interpretation may be found at BehindtheName.com which says that Miriam "was originally an Egyptian name, perhaps derived in part from mry "beloved" or mr "love."
There are seven women identified as "Miriam" in the Besekh. Besides the Miriam mentioned here there is (1) Miriam of Bethany (John 12:3), (2) Miriam of Nazareth, the mother of Yeshua (Matt 1:16), (3) Miriam, the mother of Jacob the Less and Joseph (Matt 27:56), (4) Miriam, the wife of Clopas (John 19:25), (5) Miriam, the mother of Mark (Acts 12:12), and (6) Miriam of Rome (Rom 16:6). (NOTE: most scholars think #3 and #4 refer to the same person.)
of Magdala: Grk. Magdalēnē, a woman of Magdala. This Miriam is consistently distinguished from other women named Miriam by identifying her place of origin. Traditionally, this has been interpreted to mean that she was from Magdala, a town thought to have been on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. The Synoptic Narratives report that Miriam was one whom Yeshua had delivered from seven demons (Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2). For more information about this godly woman see my web article Miriam of Magdala. See the further note concerning Miriam of Magdala in verse 16 below.
came: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid., to come, come back, return or appear and in a few instances, to go. The verb generally depicts physical movement, mostly with implication of a position from which action or movement takes place, but it also may focus on the goal for movement. early: Grk. prōi, adv., early in the morning, which was often used to refer to the fourth watch of the night, 3–6 a.m. (cf. Mark 13:35). Mark also uses this adverb to identify the time of day (Mark 16:2). Lightfoot suggests that the Greek word stands for a Hebrew expression meaning "when the east begins to lighten" (2:476).
to the tomb: Grk. mnēmeion, a place for depositing remains of a deceased person held in memory, burial place, grave or tomb. Decent burial was regarded to be of great importance in ancient Israel. In Bible times corpses were typically placed in natural caves, other above-ground tombs cut into soft rock, or in the ground. The burial places would be outside but near the town where the person lived. The rock tombs sometimes contained chambers or a single room with shelves on three sides of the chamber, the entrance being closed by a large flat stone rolled or pushed into position. This tomb belonged to Joseph of Arimathea, which he had hewn out of rock (Matt 27:60). The tomb had never been used, but he donated it for Yeshua's body.
it being: Grk. eimi, pres. part., to be, exist; a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). still: Grk. eti, adv. expressing either (1) continuance of an action or circumstances; or (2) expressing addition. The first meaning applies here. dark: Grk. skotia, condition prevailing when it is night, darkness. The Synoptic Narratives give slightly different descriptions of the timing of Miriam's visit. Matthew says that it "began to dawn" (Matt 28:1), Mark says the "sun had risen" (Mark 16:2) and Luke says it was "very early dawn" (Luke 24:1).
Morris suggests that the difference in the narratives could be the result of John referring to when Miriam departed her house and Mark referring to her arrival. With the hilly terrain of Jerusalem there would be areas in deep shadow as the sun began to rise above the horizon. Another possibility is that Mark's comment was actually an allusion to Malachi 4:2 LXX, which says, "the Sun of righteousness will arise with healing in his wings" (Lane 586). The point of Mark's time reference, then, was that the Sun (Son) had risen, though the world was still in darkness. Thus, Mark's report is in harmony with John.
and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). The excessive use of conjunctions is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek.
saw: Grk. blepō, pres., may mean (1) possess the physical ability to see; (2) use one's eyes to take note of an object; see, look at, observe; (3) to have inward or mental sight, perceive; or (4) be looking in a certain direction. The second meaning applies here. The present tense would indicate that she "saw and kept looking." the stone: Grk. lithos was a generic word for stone of various types, whether construction materials, millstones, grave stones, precious stones, tablets or small rocks. Joseph of Arimathea had placed the stone to cover the tomb entrance (Mark 15:46). The stone was round and lay in a groove or track to expedite rolling.
having been removed: Grk. airō, perf. pass. part., may mean (1) to cause to move upward; raise up, lift; or (2) move by lifting or taking from one position to another; take away, remove, carry off. The second meaning applies here. from: Grk. ek, prep. with the root meaning of "out of, from within" (DM 102), used here to indicate point of origin. the tomb: Grk. mnēmeion. Miriam knew the location of the tomb because she and the other women who were at the cross (John 19:25) had followed Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus and saw where they laid the body (Luke 23:55-56). Matthew informs us of the sealing of the tomb and the posting of the guard, of which Miriam apparently knew nothing (cf. Matt 27:62-66).
The Synoptic Narratives report that other women from Galilee besides Miriam of Magdala were witnesses of the empty tomb. Morris does not believe that a woman would have ventured outside the city alone at such an hour with Jerusalem crowded with visitors for the festival who could be camped anywhere and some of whom of uncertain character. However, such a risk might have existed the previous evening, but at this time of the morning the risk was probably minimal. In any event the women brought spices to anoint the body of Yeshua. Besides Miriam of Magdala the other women who came to the tomb are identified as Miriam the mother of Jacob the Less and Joseph, Salome (the mother of the sons of Zebedee) and Johanna. There were also at least two unidentified women in the group (Matt 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10).
En route the women had discussed among themselves finding someone to help roll away the stone (Mark 16:3). The women rightly assumed that the stone would be too heavy for them to move. To their surprise the women discovered upon arrival that the entrance to the tomb was open. At first glance it might seem as if John's narrative contradicts the chronology of the Synoptic Narratives. John does not mention the other women but instead highlights Miriam, perhaps because of her personal meeting with Yeshua (verse 11-18 below) or perhaps because she was the only woman of the group that he saw. Harmonizing all the apostolic narratives, the following sequence of events may be deduced:
Before Arrival of the Women
1. At least by the fourth watch (3—6 a.m.) Yeshua's body is given life by the Father and he disappears from the tomb. With his transformed body he could walk through walls (verse 19 below).
2. An angel descends from heaven, causes an earthquake that moves the stone away from the entrance. The opening is for the benefit of Yeshua's disciples. The angel sits on top of the stone.
3. The temple guards at the tomb witnessed the opening (but not the resurrection) and shook with fear at the sight of the angel. The guards then fled the scene and reported the incident to the chief priests (Matt 28:11-15).
Arrival of the Women
1. Miriam of Magdala was the first to arrive at the tomb while it was still dark in the company of "the other Miriam" (Matt 28:1). Clarke and Gill identify her as Miriam, the wife of Clopas and mother of Jacob the Less. They found the tomb empty and Miriam left immediately to inform the two leading disciples. No angel appeared to them at that point. (The Synoptic Narratives do not describe all six women traveling in company to the tomb. They only list the women that saw the empty tomb.)
2. The other women listed above arrived shortly after the departure of Miriam of Magdala and before full sunrise. They see the stone moved away from the entrance.
3. The other women see two young men in dazzling apparel that they assume to be angels. The angels invite the women to inspect the empty tomb. The angels then reminded them of Yeshua's prophecy they heard in Galilee that he must be crucified and then rise from the dead. The angels also commission the women to go to the eleven disciples and inform them of the resurrection.
Report of the Women
1. Miriam of Magdala went to the lodging of Peter and John. The narrative of John that follows completes the chronology of the morning.
2. The other women left the tomb and went to the apostles (nine as it turned out) as instructed. The women obviously split up to carry out their task. They also informed other interested persons (Luke 24:9), including two disciples who left for Emmaus (Luke 24:22). The women were probably disappointed when the apostles did not believe their report.
2 Therefore she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Yeshua loved, and said to them, "They have removed the Lord from the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him."
Therefore: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which may (1) indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, 'so, therefore, consequently, then;' (2) indicate that one takes account of something in the narrative immediately preceding, 'then;' or (3) simply indicate a stage in the narrative, 'so, then.' The first application fits here. she ran: Grk. trechō, pres., move forward rapidly, generally of physical motion of running. and: Grk. kai, conj. came: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. See the previous verse. John does not clarify the location of the house to which Miriam went in Jerusalem, but she obviously had knowledge of where the apostles were staying. to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" (DM 110). Since the adjective following is in the accusative case, pros would denote direction; to, towards and depicts a face-to-face meeting.
Simon: Grk. Simōn, which almost transliterates the Hebrew name Shimôn ("Shee-mown"), meaning "he has heard." There are nine men in the Besekh with the name "Simōn," but this name does not occur in the LXX at all. In the Tanakh the Heb. name Shimôn appears for the first time as the second son of Jacob and Leah (Gen 29:33) and then the tribe descended from him (Num 1:22-23). His name is translated in the LXX as Sumeōn and in English "Simeon." The apostle may well have been named in honor of the patriarch. Little considered by commentators is Simon's ancestry. The name of Simon's father is given in John 1:42 and 21:15-17 as "John" (Grk. Iōannēs; Heb. Yochanan). Yet, Yeshua addressed him as "Simon Barjona" (Heb. bar Yona) (Matt 16:17), which means that Simon's family descended from the prophet Jonah. Simon's name probably is given first since he was the perceived leader of the apostles, despite his denials.
Peter: Grk. Petros, personal name meaning 'a stone' (BAG, Mounce), although Thayer says the name signifies a stone, a rock, a ledge or a cliff, and Danker defines the name as "rockman." Petros translates the Aramaic name Kêpha ("rock"), a loanword in Hebrew (SH-3710; BDB 495). The name was given to him by Yeshua (John 1:42). Peter was married (Mark 1:30; 1Cor 9:5) and had a home in Capernaum (Mark 1:21, 29). Together with Andrew they engaged in a business of fishing from the Sea of Galilee (Luke 5:2-3; John 21:3), including working in partnership with the sons of Zebedee (Luke 5:10). We should note that even though Yeshua gave Simon another name he only used "Simon" in directly addressing him (Luke 7:40; 22:31; Mark 14:37; and John 21:15-17).
The combination name "Simon Peter" occurs twenty times in the Besekh, all but three (Matt 16:16; Luke 5:8; 1Pet 1:1) in the book of John. The frequent use by John is noteworthy and must be significant even though he never explains his purpose. We might draw a parallel between the facts that in the original allotment of land in Israel the tribe of Simeon was located wholly within the borders of Judah (Josh 19:1) and that Yeshua was of the tribe of Judah. Simon's life was circumscribed by devotion to the Messiah from Judah. Then, Yeshua's choice of naming Simon "Kêpha" indicated confidence in his ability to be a prominent leader and pillar of the Body of Messiah. Using the combination name conveyed John's respect for his fellow apostle who would become a powerful spokesman for Yeshua.
and: Grk. kai, conj. to: Grk. pros, prep. The repetition of the preposition is striking and reflects her intention to notify the two most important apostles. the other: Grk. ho allos, adj., used to distinguish from one or more other entities; other (of two), another. disciple: Grk. mathētēs (from manthanō, to learn), one who learns through instruction from a teacher; adherent, learner, pupil, disciple. In the Besekh the noun occurs only in the apostolic narratives and corresponds to the Heb. talmid (SH-8527), a student of a Jewish Sage or Torah scholar (Heb. rabbi). The term is used especially for followers of Yeshua, those who not only believed in Yeshua but sought to obey his instructions (Matt 28:20). See my article Disciples of Yeshua. The "other disciple" is presumptively John.
whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to specify or give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. Yeshua: Grk. ho Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("YHVH is salvation," BDB 221); "Jesus" in Christian Bibles. The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). By virtue of His incarnation and Jewish mother, Yeshua must still be a Jew. For more information on the meaning of Yeshua, his identity, and the translation of his name see my web article Who is Yeshua?
loved: Grk. phileō, impf., to manifest some act of kindness or affection toward someone, to love or regard with affection, to kiss, to like or be fond of, or to cherish inordinately. The verb conveys an emotional content. In the LXX phileō translates Heb. aheb some 30 times, but aheb is a far more comprehensive word than phileō (DNTT 2:547). and: Grk. kai. said: Grk. legō, pres., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form; say, tell, declare. The Greek verb "say" functions as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation. to them: Grk. autos, m. pl., personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same.
Ironically, Miriam does not repeat what the angels directed the women to report (Matt 28:5-7; Mark 16:6-7; Luke 24:5-7). They have removed: Grk. airō, aor., 3p-pl. See the previous verse. the Lord: Grk. ho kurios may mean either (1) one in control through possession, and therefore owner or master; or (2) one esteemed for authority or high status, thus lord or master. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, the great majority of times to replace Heb. YHVH. Kurios also occurs a number of times to identify men of higher rank to whom respect is owed (DNTT 2:511). Kurios is the principal title by which disciples and others addressed Yeshua during his earthly ministry, over twice as many times as any other title. In this personal usage kurios would be the equivalent of the Heb. adōn ("lord, master"). For more information on the use of kurios see the note on John 1:23.
from: Grk. ek, prep. the tomb: Grk. ho mnēmeion. See the previous verse. This statement affirms that Miriam had looked into the tomb after noticing the open entrance. and: Grk. kai. we do not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in denial or negation, typically an unqualified strong denial of an alleged fact; no, not (DM 264f). know: Grk. oida, perf., to have seen or perceived, hence to know. The verb is used for experiential knowledge. In the LXX oida occurs frequently to render Heb. yada (SH-3045), to know, (e.g., Gen 3:5; 4:1), which in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, primarily by experience but also by learning (DNTT 2:395). The perfect tense depicts knowledge that was complete and certain in the past and a present reality. The verb is first person plural, which alludes to the woman who accompanied Miriam and witnessed the empty tomb.
where: Grk. pou, adv. of place; where, at which place. they have laid: Grk. tithēmi, aor., 3p-pl, to arrange for association with a site; place, put, set out, serve, lay down. him: Grk. autos. Miriam apparently was a little like Thomas and did not believe the angels. To her they were just men, the bright clothing notwithstanding. She concluded that enemies of Yeshua had removed his body, perhaps the chief priests or other members of the Sanhedrin. Her supposition is not impossible given that the Judean authorities lied to Pilate by claiming that the disciples of Yeshua might steal the body and claim he had been raised (Matt 27:64). The leaders might have stolen the body in retaliation for Joseph and Nicodemus publicly displaying their loyalty to Yeshua. Then they left two men at the tomb to mislead anyone who might come there.
3 So Peter went out, and the other disciple, and came to the tomb.
So: Grk. oun, conj. Peter: Grk. ho Petros. See the previous verse. The definite article probably signifies "the one called." went out: Grk. exerchomai, aor., to move away from a place or position, to go or come out. The verb is appropriate for leaving the interior of the building. In terms of sequence Peter was the first out of the door. and: Grk. kai, conj. the other: Grk. allos, adj. See the previous verse. disciple: Grk. mathētēs. See the previous verse. The "other disciple" is John. and: Grk. kai. came: Grk. erchomai, impf. mid. See verse 1 above.
to: Grk. eis, prep., with the root meaning of "in, within" (DM 103), generally focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to a direction toward a goal or place and consequent arrival; into, to, towards. the tomb: Grk. ho mnēmeion. See verse 1 above. Peter and John wasted no time in leaving to investigate the report.
4 Now the two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter, and came first to the tomb;
Now: Grk. de, conj. the two: Grk. ho duo, adj., the numeral two. were running: Grk. trechō, impf. See verse 2 above. together: Grk. homou, adv. in sharing experience, at the same place and time; together. and: Grk. kai, conj. the other: Grk. allos, adj. disciple: See verse 2 above. The "other disciple" is a reference to John. ran ahead: Grk. protrechō, aor., to run on ahead, outrun. Although Peter was the first to leave the house running John quickly caught up to him and then surpassed him. faster: Grk. tachion, adj., putting into effect with rapidity; more quickly. than Peter: Grk. ho Petros. See verse 2 above. Running must have winded the apostle.
and: Grk. kai. came: Grk. erchomai, aor. See verse 1 above. first: Grk. prōtos, adj., having primary position in sequence; first, earlier, earliest. to: Grk. eis, prep. the tomb: Grk. ho mnēmeion. See verse 1 above. John knew the location of the tomb because of having witnessed the burial (19:38-42). It's very likely that Peter did not know the exact location, so John led the way.
5 and having bent over he noticed the linen cloths lying; but he did not enter.
and: Grk. kai, conj. having bent over: Grk. parakuptō, aor. part., to bend over or stoop down to see something better. he noticed: Grk. blepō, pres. See verse 1 above. the linen cloths: Grk. othonion, n. pl., linen cloth. The noun occurs five times in the apostolic narratives in reference to linen wrappings for a corpse. lying: Grk. keimai, pres. mid. part., be set in a position; lie, set. Based on the description in verse 12 below the burial clothes were apparently lying on some sort of table in the middle of the tomb rather than a shelf cut into the wall.
The mention of the linen cloths is significant and alludes to a requirement of the High Priest on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). The High Priest was required to enter the Holy Place garbed in linen clothes, not the usual golden priestly robe. When he completed the sacred offerings he was to remove the linen clothes and hide them in the Holy Place (Lev 16:23). The Sages determined that this action was necessary to prevent their being used again, or their being used for any less sacred purpose (Yoma 12b). For Yeshua to leave the linen cloths behind when he departed the tomb in his resurrected body signified the completion of his atonement work.
however: Grk. mentoi, conj. with a focus on reaction to a preceding narrative detail; yet, however, nevertheless. BAG adds 'though, to be sure, despite that.' he did not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in denial or negation, typically an unqualified strong denial of an alleged fact; no, not (DM 264f). enter: Grk. eiserchomai, aor., to go or enter into a geographical area, manufactured structure or other place defined in the context. This passage is one that along with John 18:15 that supports the thesis that John came from a family of priests.
John hesitated before entering the tomb because according to Jewish law, he would have been defiling himself had he entered a room where there was a dead body (Moseley 24). Priests could not defile themselves for a dead person, except for a near blood relative, such as father, mother, brother, sister, son, or daughter (Lev 21:1-4). Yeshua was a relation of John, since Salome, John's mother, was a sister of Miriam (cf. Mark 15:40; John 19:25), the mother of Yeshua. Since John was not a close blood relative the law to avoid contact with the dead would have applied to him, if the corpse was still inside.
6 Then Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered into the tomb and observed the linen cloths lying,
Then: Grk. oun, conj. Simon Peter also: Grk. kai, conj. came: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. See verse 1 above. following: Grk. akoloutheō, pres. part., to be in motion in sequence behind someone; follow. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. and entered: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. See the previous verse. into: Grk. eis, prep. the tomb: Grk. mnēmeion. See verse 1 above. and observed: Grk. theōreō, pres., may mean (1) pay attention to; look at, observe, watch, behold; (2) conclude on the basis of personal experience; consider, infer, see; or (3) have awareness in depth; perceive, experience. The first meaning has primary application here. The present tense emphasizes that Peter looked and kept on looking, trying to make sense of what he saw. the linen cloths: pl. of Grk. othonion. See the previous verse. lying: Grk. keimai, pres. mid. part. See the previous verse.
7 and the cloth that had been upon his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but having been rolled up in one place by itself.
and the cloth: Grk. soudarion, a personal article of cloth. BAG defines the term as a face-cloth, which in Greek literature was used for wiping perspiration, corresponding somewhat to our handkerchief. BAG, Danker and Thayer identify soudarion as a Latin loanword sundarium, which LSJ defines as "a towel or napkin." Mounce defines soudarion as a handkerchief or napkin. A few versions translate soudarion here with "handkerchief" (Darby, ISV, Phillips, NKJV) and others with "napkin" (ASV, BRG, DRA, JUB, KJV, Moffatt, NEB, NTE, RSV, RV, YLT), which is misleading for the context. The translation of "napkin" has led to the urban legend of a supposed Jewish custom of a man using a napkin when eating.
"If the man was done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his beard, and would wad up that napkin and toss it onto the table. His servant would then know to clear the table. For in those days, the wadded napkin meant, 'I'm done.' But if the man got up from the table, folded his napkin, and laid it beside his plate, his servant would not touch the table because the servant knew that the folded napkin meant, 'I'm not finished yet.' The folded napkin meant, 'I’m coming back!'
This scenario has no basis in historical fact. Rabbinic instructions required washing of the hands before eating (Mark 7:2-3), but there is no evidence that Jews used a table napkin in the first century, just as they did not use utensils for eating. If Yeshua had used a table napkin, he would have left it in the upper room. He would not have carried it with him to Gethsemane. The soldiers had taken all of Yeshua's personal articles and the linen cloths for wrapping Yeshua's body had been provided by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. The idea that these men would decide to include a table napkin in the burial wrappings is too ludicrous for words.
BAG does help us understand the true meaning of soudarion in this context by saying it is also a loanword in the Mishnah and Talmud. In Jewish literature it would be a loanword from Aramaic, not Latin. Certainly John the writer was aware of Latin (John 19:20), but the assumption that he chose a word the Romans used for a towel does not ring true. John would have chosen a word more fitting to Jewish culture. Jastrow (962) gives the Talmudic word as sudarion, the pl. form of sudar, a scarf wound around the head, which appears in the Targums for the turban worn by the high priest.
The word sudar also occurs in Jewish literature of a cloth used for various purposes: (1) an instrument of strangulation (Targum Jonathan Leviticus 20:10; Sanhedrin 7:2); (2) a flag in festival assemblies to signal the people to say 'amen' (Sukkah 51b); (3) a headdress worn by a scholar (Pesachim 111b); and (4) a cloth spread over the head to offer a blessing, such as done by R. Assi (Berachot 51a). Jastrow points out that the Latin sudarium is purely a phonetic coincidence with the Hebrew word. Of interest is that Delitzsch in his Hebrew translation of this verse uses sudar to translate the Greek word. The term soudarion is used here as part of the burial wrappings, just as it was used in relation to Lazarus (John 11:44).
that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. had been: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. upon: Grk. epi, prep., used primarily as a marker of position or location; 'at, in, on, upon, over.' his head: Grk. kephalē, the head as an anatomical term. The CJB translates the phrase as "around his head." The cloth had been used to wrap the head separate from the rest of the cloths used to wrap the torso and limbs. not: Grk. ou, adv. lying: Grk. keimai, pres. mid. part. See verse 5 above. with: Grk. meta, prep., may be used as (1) a marker of association or accompaniment; 'amid,' among,' 'with,' or 'in company with'; or (2) a sequential or positional marker; after, behind. The first usage applies here. the linen cloths: pl. of Grk. othonion. See verse 5 above. but: Grk. alla, conj. used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand.
having been rolled up: Grk. entulissō, perf. pass. part., to wrap up or roll or fold together (Mounce). into: Grk. eis, prep. one: Grk. heis, the cardinal number one. place: Grk. topos, a spatial area or 'place,' which may be geographical terrain, a named locality, a location for some object or activity or a manufactured structure as indicated in the context. The term is used of the cloth's place on the table, thereby indicating the position of the head. by itself: Grk. chōris, prep., in a condition or circumstance not including; without, apart from. The position of the burial wrappings indicated that Yeshua's body once transformed rose through the wrappings without disturbing them. The scene was orderly and proof that Yeshua's body was not stolen. Thieves would have taken the body, cloths and all, or they might have removed the cloths and left them scattered.
8 So then the other disciple having come first to the tomb also entered, and he saw and believed.
So: Grk. oun, conj. then: Grk. tote, temporal adv. that focuses on a time or circumstance that is closely associated with what precedes in the narrative; at that time, then, thereupon. the other disciple: See verse 2 above; i.e., John. having come: Grk. erchomai, aor. part. See verse 1 above. first: Grk. prōtos. See verse 4 above. to the tomb: Grk. mnēmeion. See verse 1 above. also: Grk. kai, conj. entered: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. See verse 5 above. Based on Peter's entry John accepted that there was no corpse in the tomb and felt at liberty to enter. and he saw: Grk. horaō, aor., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience extraordinary mental or inward perception. Both meanings have application here. This is the third different verb used for "see" in this chapter (cf. v. 1 and v. 6 above), which may reflect John's desire to give nuance to the narrative.
and believed: Grk. pisteuō, aor. (derived from pistis, trust, faithfulness), to have confidence or faith in the reliability or trustworthiness of some thing or someone. In the Besekh the verb often has the sense of a personal trust in God's power and His nearness to help. In the LXX pisteuō renders Heb. aman, to confirm or support, first used in Gen 15:6 where it describes Abraham's response to God. The Hebrew verb also means to be true, reliable or faithful, and to stand firm or trust (BDB 52). Subject to the caveat of the next verse the description of John's belief or trust does not mean belief in Yeshua being raised, but Miriam's report of the empty tomb.
Taking in the scene of the undisturbed burial clothes he might have even believed something miraculous had happened. Based on what Yeshua had said to the thief (Luke 23:43), John might have wondered if Yeshua's body had been translated to heaven. After all, Enoch (Gen 5:24) and Elijah (2Kgs 2:1) had been taken bodily to heaven.
For: Grk. gar, conj., is generally accepted as a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that." Gar often functions to connect statements in narratives with preceding statements and is normally translated "for." they did not yet: Grk. oudepō, neg. adv. excluding any action up to the narrative moment; not yet, as yet. understand: Grk. oida, plperf. See verse 2 above. The pluperfect tense denotes action in the past that is complete and the results of the action in existence at some point in past time. In other words, the apostles had never understood this truth, down to the present moment. However, the qualification implies that eventually they would understand.
the Scripture: Grk. graphē, writing, and in the Jewish context and apostolic usage meaning the sacred Hebrew Bible (24 books) referred to by the acronym "Tanakh," corresponding to the Protestant Old Testament (39 books) and its translation into Greek, the Septuagint. The term "Scripture," which occurs over 50 times in the Besekh, summarizes the body of literature containing God's inspired, infallible, inerrant words penned by over 25 writers, from Moses to Malachi. This is the only Bible Yeshua and the apostles knew and as Scripture they upheld its authority over the traditions of men. Having the definite article points to a particular passage of Scripture.
that: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, whether (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introducing a direct quotation and functioning as quotation marks; or (4) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. The second usage applies here in relation to the verb "understand." it behooves: Grk. dei, pres., impersonal verb from deō ('lack, stand in need of') and thus conveys the idea of something that's necessary, something that must or needs to happen. The verb emphasizes that chance was not a factor in fulfilling Scripture. Most versions translate the verb as "must." him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Many versions make the pronoun the subject of the clause with "he must," but the pronoun is in the case of a direct object.
to be resurrected: Grk. anistēmi, aor. inf., to rise, stand up or get up and in its ordinary use refers to the physical motion of transition from a sitting or recumbent position or simply standing. The infinitive is used to express purpose. In the LXX anistēmi occurs in a few passages to refer to the dead coming back to life. In Job 14:12 anistēmi renders Heb. qum (SH-6965, to arise, stand up, stand), where Job questions the possibility of life after death. Then in Job 19:26 anistēmi occurs without Heb. equivalent to translate "in my flesh" where Job affirms his expectation of seeing God. The verb anistēmi also renders Heb. amad (SH-5975), "to take one's stand, to stand," in Daniel 12:13 where it is used of the last days' resurrection.
In the Besekh the verb anistēmi is used 31 times (out of 108) in an idiomatic sense of restoring to life after death, mostly of Yeshua's own resurrection, and nine times of the resurrection at the end of the present age. A number of versions render the verb here with "rise again" (AMPC, ASV, DRA, JUB, KJV, NASB, NKJV, NLV, NTE, RV, YLT), which is a non sequitur. "Again" means another incident that follows a previous incident. Yeshua had not risen on a previous occasion. The only ones who can "rise again" are the few Bible characters who died and were raised by a prophet or Yeshua, only later to die, again. The majority of versions translate the verb simply as "rise," implying an upward motion.
from: Grk. ek, prep. The preposition denotes "out from among." death: Grk. nekros may be used as (1) a noun, corpse or (2) adj., without life in the physical sense, being dead. Note the lack of a definite article. The term, of course, applies to Yeshua's body not his spirit. Several people in Bible history were brought back to life from death, such as the Shunammite’s son (2Kgs 4:34-36) and the man thrown into Elisha’s grave (2Kgs 13:20-21). Paul states that in former times many unnamed people were brought back from the dead (Heb 11:35). Yeshua himself raised the widow's son (Luke 7:14-15) and Lazarus (John 11:38-44). Also, during the crucifixion of Yeshua a number of dead persons came out of tombs alive (Matt 27:52-53).
The common translation of "rise from the dead" may be misleading. John does not mean "from a place," implying that Yeshua was raised from Hades as declared in the Apostles' Creed. (For this unbiblical claim see my article Is the Apostles' Creed Apostolic?) The phrase "resurrected from death" does not mean that Yeshua was in Hades from Friday afternoon to the time of his resurrection. In fact, Yeshua went to heaven before sundown on Friday because he had promised the thief "Today you will be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43) and with his dying breath said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (Luke 23:46). Hint: The Father is in heaven.
John means "death" as the state of Yeshua's body in the tomb. Several versions render nekros here as "death" (ERV, GNB, ICB, NMB, WE). Unlike previously resurrected people who had to die again, Yeshua was given victory over death so that he could never die again. The phrase "resurrected from death" signifies that the dead body of Yeshua was transformed into an immortal body with his spirit returned from heaven and enabled to assume an erect position so that he could leave the tomb.
John's description of the lack of understanding by the apostles of Messianic prophecy does not mean they did not believe in the resurrection. Yeshua himself had predicted that he would be resurrected on the third day (Matt 16:21; 17:23; 20:19), but they could not grasp the idea that Yeshua would be killed, let alone resurrected shortly afterward. At a later meeting with the disciples Yeshua will explain that his resurrection on the third day was predicted in the Scriptures (Luke 24:44-46). Paul also said that Yeshua was raised on the third day according to Scripture (1Cor 15:4).
Prophecies of Messiah's resurrection may be found in Psalm 2:7; 16:10-11; 68:18; 110:1; and Isaiah 53:10. But, where in the Tanakh does it prophesy the resurrection of the Messiah on the third day? The most likely passages John and Paul had in mind were Genesis 22:1-5; Hosea 6:2 and Jonah 1:17. Paul notes that the rescue of Isaac from death on the third day was a type (Heb 11:19), but which he meant a type of the Messiah. Resurrection of the Messiah is inferred from Hosea because he is so identified with the people of Israel who are raised on the third day. Yeshua himself made the connection with Jonah (Matt 12:40).
From Jonah's point of view being inside the fish amounted to death. When the sailors threw him overboard they expected his death and pled for God's mercy (Jon 1:14). Jonah cried for help "from the depth of Sheol" (Jon 2:1), and in verse 6 he speaks of the Pit. The mention of "three days and three nights" in 1:17 should not be taken literalistically. For Jews this time reference included one whole natural day, consisting of twenty four hours, and part of two others; the Jews had no other way of expressing a natural day but by "day and night." Thus, by Jewish reckoning part of a day counted as a whole. After all, the first mention of "day" in the Bible is for a period of light (Gen 1:5).
For example, in 1Samuel 30:12-13 David catches up with an Egyptian servant who served in the Amalekite army but had taken sick and was abandoned "three days and three nights" ago, and in the Hebrew text of verse 13 the Egyptian says this is "the third day." Also, Esther proclaimed a fast lasting three days and nights (Esth 4:16) and yet on the third day Esther went before the king (Esth 5:1). Finally, the manner of counting days inclusively is confirmed in Luke 13:32 where Yeshua says, "today and tomorrow, and the third day."
10 So the disciples went back to their homes.
So: Grk. oun, conj. the disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 2 above. The plural noun refers to Peter and John. went: Grk. aperchomai, aor., to be in movement from a position with or without mention of a destination; to go away, depart or leave. back: Grk. palin, adv. that may focus (1) on a repetitive occurrence; once more, again; or (2) reversion; back. The second meaning applies here. to: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 2 above. their homes: pl. of Grk. autos. See verse 2 above. Almost all versions translate the pronoun as "home(s)" even though the Greek word for "house" is absent from the text.
The plural pronoun is possessive and alludes to what belonged to the disciples and presumptively their places of lodging where Miriam found them in verse 2 above. Morris notes that Josephus uses the Greek phrase pros autous in just this sense (Ant. VIII, 4:6). The plural form of the pronoun indicates that the apostles did not go to the same place, but each to his own home or place of lodging. Luke echoes John's report, saying that Peter returned to his place (Grk. pros auton, m. sing.), "marveling at what had happened" (Luke 24:12).
Manifestation to Miriam of Magdala, 20:11-18
Parallel: Mark 16:9-11
11 Now Miriam stood outside at the tomb weeping; therefore, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb;
Now: Grk. de, conj. See verse 1 above. Miriam stood: Grk. histēmi, plperf., may mean (1) cause to be in a place or position; (2) to be in an upright position, used of bodily posture; (3) to set or place in a balance; (4) fig. to stand ready, to be of a steadfast mind. The second meaning applies here. The pluperfect tense expresses action in the past that is complete and the results of the action in existence at some point in past time as indicated by the context. The verb was not chosen to simply say that Miriam was physically standing, but that she had taken a stand of principle to support Yeshua at some time in the past and still held to that position. Miriam was present out of loyalty to her master.
outside: Grk. exō, adv. of place, outside, used of a position that beyond a limit or boundary. In the LXX exō renders Heb. chuts, the outside, often in reference to the out of doors in relation to a structure. at: Grk. pros, prep. used here to emphasize physical position. the tomb: Grk. mnēmeion. See verse 1 above. weeping: Grk. klaiō, pres. part., express grief or sorrow aloud, to cry, sob or weep. This verb does not express a silent dropping of tears, but a vocal cry, a loud demonstrative form of mourning, a wailing. In the LXX klaiō is used mostly to translate Heb. bakah, weep, cry aloud (DNTT 2:416). The verb bakah expresses profound grief (1Sam 1:7; Lam 1:16), and also deep sorrow in mourning for the dead (Gen 50:1).
therefore: Grk. oun, conj. as: Grk. hōs, adv. that connects narrative components and used here for comparison purposes. she wept: Grk. klaiō, impf. she stooped and looked: Grk. parakuptō, aor. See verse 5 above, where the verb is used of John. into: Grk. eis, prep. the tomb: Grk. mnēmeion. Miriam had seen earlier that the tomb was empty, but now something caught her attention and she looked inside again.
12 and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Yeshua had been lying.
and: Grk. kai, conj. she saw: Grk. theōreō, pres. See verse 6 above. two: Grk. duo, the cardinal number two. angels: Grk. angelos, m. pl., means one sent, a messenger, whether human or heavenly (BAG). In the LXX angelos renders Heb. malak, which means messenger, representative, courier or angel (DNTT 1:101f). The decision to translate malak or angelos as angel or messenger (of a human) relies primarily on the context. The term in this context is clearly intended to mean heavenly messengers. There are over a dozen appearances of an angel to humans mentioned in the Tanakh and even more in the Besekh. Angels figure prominently in Scripture as ministering spirits (Mark 1:13; Heb 1:14). They are far different from popular assumptions about angels.
Angels are not glorified humans that earn status in heaven by doing good works on earth. In Scripture angels have masculine descriptions (Jdg 13:6; Dan 9:21; Mark 16:5; Luke 24:4), contrary to art and media, which sometimes depicts them as female. In addition, only a special group of heavenly beings are mentioned in Scripture as having wings (Ex 37:9; Isa 6:2; Ezek 10:5; Rev 4:8), and these beings may not be angels at all. Matthew and Mark speak only of one angel (Matt 28:2; Mark 16:5), although their narratives do not exclude the presence of the second angel. Luke mentions two angels that were seen by the other women earlier (Luke 24:4). There is no reason not to accept this report as genuine.
in: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position with the root meaning of "within," and may be rendered "in, on, at, among, or within" as appropriate to the context (DM 105). white: Grk. leukos, adj., of quality expressing impressive brightness, bright, gleaming, shining or of a color shade ranging from white to grey. In the LXX leukos translates Heb. laban, white, though white in the Tanakh may include half-yellow (DNTT 1:204) (e.g., Gen 30:37; 31:8; 49:12). The brightness was a manifestation of the angel's glory. sitting: Grk. kathezomai, pres. mid. part., to seat oneself. one: Grk. heis, the number one. at: Grk. pros, prep. The preposition denotes close proximity (Morris). the head: Grk. kephalē. See verse 7 above.
and one: Grk. heis. at: Grk. pros. the feet: Grk. pous, m. pl., , the body part that is used for walking or running; the foot. where: Grk. hopou, adv. of place; where, in what place. the body: Grk. sōma, a structured physical unit in contrast to its parts, body of human or animal, whether living or dead, but normally of a human body. of Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See verse 2 above. had been lying: Grk. keimai, impf. See verse 5 above. Earlier the other women had seen the angels outside the tomb. Their presence inside the tomb would signal that there was no risk of becoming unclean by entering. Seeing the angels aroused Miriam's curiosity and they wanted to give her a revelation. What better place to deliver their message than where Yeshua had been.
Yet, there may be a hidden meaning in the position of the angels. They could have been imitating the cherubim of the atonement cover to the ark in the holy of holies (Ex 25:17-22). One cherub was situated at one end and the second cherub at the other end. YHVH promised that He would meet the high priest there in the holy of holies and speak to him. In this holy place YHVH dwelled among His people (Ex 25:8). In John's narrative Yeshua is presented as YHVH (8:58). Thus, The resurrection of Yeshua had made the tomb a holy place.
13 And they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him."
And: Grk. kai, conj. they said: Grk. legō, pres., 3p-pl. See verse 2 above. to her: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Woman: Grk. gunē, voc. case, is an adult female person, without respect to age, marital or social status except as defined in the context. In the LXX gunē renders the Heb. ishshah, "woman" (first in Gen 2:22). The Greek and Hebrew nouns generally refer to a married woman, but there is no indication of Miriam being married. This greeting is not as cold or rude as it sounds in English. Rather, "Woman" in Jewish culture was treated as title of respect, because "Woman" is the name Adam gave the female that God had created from his own body (Gen 2:23). The direct address of "Woman" is found nine times, and generally followed by a revelation or instruction to the woman (Matt 15:28; Luke 13:12; 22:57; John 2:4; 4:21; 8:10; 19:26; 20:13, 15).
why: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. are you weeping: Grk. klaiō, pres. See verse 11 above. There is no evidence that angels are omniscient. We also do not know anything of emotions that angels might experience or just how much they understand human emotion. There are other accounts of angels asking questions of humans whom they query to understand human behavior (Gen 16:7-8; 19:12; 21:17; 32:29; Num 22:32; Jdg 13:18; 1Kgs 19:9; Dan 10:20). Miriam may not have been present to hear to message of the angels to the other women, but surely the fact of the empty tomb and orderly arrangement of the burial clothes should be sufficient evidence. She had also heard the same promise the other women from Galilee had heard from Yeshua that he would rise from the dead.
She said: Grk. legō, pres. to them: pl. of Grk. autos. While Miriam replied she apparently remained outside the tomb. Because: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 9 above. The conjunction indicates causality here. they have taken away: Grk. airō, aor. See verse 1 above on "removed." my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 2 above. When Miriam spoke to the apostles she said "the Lord," but now she personalizes the title. In Miriam's mind she belongs totally to Yeshua. He is her master. and I know: Grk. oida, perf. See verse 2 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. The declaration of "know not" points back to the discovery of the empty tomb. where: Grk. pou, adv. See verse 2 above. they have laid: Grk. tithēmi, aor. See verse 2 above. him: Grk. autos.
Miriam repeats to the angels what she told Peter and John. Her declaration is evidence that she was not with the other women when they encountered the angels. The entire scene of Miriam meeting the two angels is surreal. The narrative does not actually say that Miriam recognized the two figures as angels and she did not respond in reverence as the other women did earlier (Luke 24:5). She also doesn't ask the obvious question: "Who are you and what are you doing sitting nonchalantly in this tomb? Have you no respect?" Then when she answers their question, she does not follow up with the next obvious question: "Do you know where Yeshua has been laid?" Of course, Miriam with her eyes blurred with weeping and grieving was not thinking clearly.
14 Having said these things, she turned towards her back, and saw Yeshua standing, but she knew not that it was Yeshua.
Having said: Grk. legō, aor. part. See verse 2 above. these things: Grk. houtos, n. pl., demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes its use or follows it; this, these. The plural pronoun points back to the two statements made by Miriam. she turned: Grk. strephō, aor. pass., to redirect a position; turn. In the LXX strephō is used to translate shuv (SH-7725), turn back or return (DNTT 1:354). The verb is used of physical action and fig. of behavior. towards: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 6 above. her: Grk. ho, definite article, but used as a demonstrative pronoun. back: Grk. opisō, adv. of place and time; back, behind, after, backwards. The term often denotes backward movement, but here of turning around and facing the direction that had been behind her. There is no indication of why Miriam turned around, unless it was simply to leave or possibly she heard or felt something behind her.
and saw: Grk. theōreō, pres. See verse 6 above. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See verse 2 above. standing: Grk. histēmi, perf. part. See verse 11 above. but: Grk. kai, conj. See verse 1 above. The conjunction is used for contrast here. she knew: Grk. oida, plperf. See verse 2 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 2 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. it was: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. It's not immediately clear why Miriam did not recognize her master. Perhaps there was something markedly different about the risen Messiah. Miriam certainly did not expect to see Yeshua alive and it could be that her tears interfered with her vision. However, the disciples on the Emmaus road were prevented from recognizing him (Luke 24:16) and later when many disciples met the risen Messiah in Galilee, "some doubted" (Matt 28 :17).
15 Yeshua said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" She, supposing that it was the gardener, said to him, "Sir, if you have removed him, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away."
Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See verse 2 above. said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 2 above. to her: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Woman: Grk. gunē, voc. case. See verse 13 above. why: Grk. tís, n. sing., interrogative pronoun. See verse 13 above. are you weeping: Grk. klaiō, pres. See verse 11 above. Yeshua would surely have known the angels had asked this question, but perhaps he was tenderly trying to get Miriam to respond to the situation with her mind rather than her emotions.
Whom: Grk. tís, m. sing. Morris comments that it is noteworthy that Yeshua asks "whom" and not "what." She was looking for a corpse when she should have been looking for a living person. are you seeking: Grk. zēteō, pres., may mean (1) be on the search for in order to find someone or something one has difficulty in locating; (2) search for ways to satisfy an interest; (3) have an interest in; or (4) press for. The first meaning has application here. The second question seeks to engage the mind even more and lead Miriam to the answer.
She: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun typically used to refer to a noun (person or thing) immediately preceding in the Greek text; that, that one there. supposing: Grk. dokeō, pres. part., the basic idea of receptivity and hence attractiveness to the intellect appears throughout the verb's usage, which may mean to entertain an idea or form an opinion about something on the basis of what appears to support a specific conclusion; think, opine, regard, suppose what seems to be. that: Grk. hoti, conj. it was: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. the gardener: Grk. kēpouros, a keeper of or watchman over a garden. The term occurs only here in the Besekh.
Stern observes that gardening is the oldest profession since Adam was assigned to tend a garden (Gen 2:15). There must have been a gardener in residence for Miriam to make the mistake. Who else would be there that early and question her concerning what she was doing. said: Grk. legō, pres. to him: Grk. autos. Sir: Grk. kurios, voc. case. See verse 2 above. Since she did not recognize Yeshua she addressed him in the customary manner of showing respect. if: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker used here to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument. you have removed: Grk. bastazō, aor., may mean (1) take up something from a position; lift; (2) sustain a burden; bear, carry; (3) remove from a position; remove, pilfer, steal. The third meaning applies here.
him: Grk. autos. Miriam theorizes that the gardener was responsible for the missing corpse. tell: Grk. legō, aor. imp. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. where: Grk. pou, adv. See verse 2 above. you have laid: Grk. tithēmi, aor. See verse 2 above. him: Grk. autos. and I: Grk. kagō, conj. formed from combining kai and egō and serves to link in parallel a personal affirmation by way of addition to or confirmation of a preceding statement. will take him away: Grk. airō, fut. See verse 1 above. Miriam was speaking out of her grief rather than reality of the labor involved in moving a corpse. She does not say what she would do with the corpse, but giving it a decent burial seems implied.
16 Yeshua said to her, "Miriam!" Having turned she said to him in Hebrew, "Rabboni," that is to say "Teacher."
Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See verse 2 above. said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 2 above. to her: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Miriam: Grk. Mariam. See verse 1 above. Thayer notes that the spelling of Mariam is an exact transliteration of Aramaic Mariam, which is used in the Targums and may explain its presence in the apostolic writings. The Greek texts of the apostolic narratives present a puzzling use of the name. The Grk. name Maria (used in verse 1 above) occurs 27 times and Grk. Mariam also appears 27 times. Maria is used of six of the seven women whereas Mariam is used of three of the seven women.
In John's narrative Maria occurs 5 times, but Mariam occurs 10 times, mostly in reference to Miriam of Bethany. The use of Grk. Maria in the Besekh is inexplicable since it does not appear in any ancient Jewish writings. The Latin Vulgate (405) translated both Mariam and Maria with Mariae. The use of the English "Mary" in Christian Bibles began with the Tyndale New Testament (1525) and Christians have called these Jewish women by this name ever since. The choice to use "Mary" instead of the Hebrew name "Miriam" can only be to minimize her Jewish identity.
Morris observes that when the Good Shepherd calls his sheep they know his voice (John 10:3f). Hearing her name startled Miriam into reality. Having turned: Grk. strephō, aor. pass. part. See verse 14 above. she said: Grk. legō, pres. to him: Grk. autos. in Hebrew: Grk. Hebraisti, in the Hebrew language used by Jews and translated into Greek for a Gentile audience. Hebraisti is derived from Grk. Hebrais ("Hebrew"), which itself is the fem. adj. form of Grk. Hebraios ("Hebrew"). Lexicons define Hebraisti as "in Hebrew or Aramaic." Some versions translate Hebraisti here as "Aramaic" (CEB, CEV, ESV, LEB, NET, NIRV, NIV, and TLV), but the overwhelming majority of versions translate the word as "Hebrew." Hebrew and Aramaic have many common features, but they are clearly different languages.
Suggesting that the Hebraios word-group could mean "Aramaic" reflects an old bias among Christian scholars that Hebrew was not widely spoken outside of rabbinic circles. According to David Flusser, Orthodox Jewish scholar at Hebrew University in Israel, Hebrew was both the daily language and the language of study among Jews in the first century (11). (See my web article The Jewish New Testament for more discussion of this subject.) Generally ignored by scholars is that the LXX uses Suristi (Syrian) to mean "Aramaic" (2Kgs 18:26, 28; Ezra 4:7; Isa 36:11; Dan 2:4). The Greek word for Aramaic, Suristi, does not occur in the Besekh at all.
If John had intended to say "Aramaic" he would have used Suristi, not Hebraisti. It's as simple as that. Hebrew is very likely the oldest language known to mankind and the language spoken by the entire human population before God created the many languages as a judgment for idolatry at Babel (Gen 11:1-9). Hebrew is certainly older than the 15th century B.C. when Moses wrote the Torah (Pentateuch) in Hebrew. Moreover, Hebrew is the only language in Scripture that God used to speak audibly (cf. Acts 26:14). To learn about the history of the Hebrew language see the articles at Ancient Hebrew Research Center.
Rabboni: Grk. Rhabbouni, voc. case, a transliteration of the Heb. Rabbuni, the emphatic form of Heb. Rabbi, lit. "my lord, my master." HELPS says that Rhabbouni means essentially "high-rabbi" and refers to the top religious leader in Judaism, like the president of the Great Sanhedrin who functioned as the religious leader of the nation. The Grk. Rhabbi or the Hebrew Rabbi does not occur in the Tanakh, LXX, or DSS. However, both Rabbuni and Rabboni appear in the Targums (Thayer). Both words are spelled with the same letters, but the pointing makes the difference in pronunciation. Targums were written in Aramaic, which influenced scholars to translate Hebraisti here as "Aramaic."
However, John affirms that Rhabbouni (Rabbuni) had been incorporated into the Hebrew language, thus making it Hebrew. In reality the whole conversation would have been in Hebrew, but John makes a point of saying that Miriam addressed Yeshua by a particular Hebrew title. On most occasions the title of "Rabbi" is used to address Yeshua by a present or future disciple. In the first century Rhabbi was a title of respect exclusively used for Torah scholars by everyone, even those of the same or higher rank (Stern 68). The title of Rabbi did not become associated with the congregational leader of a local synagogue until Medieval times ("Rabbi," JVL).
In the first century notable rabbis were formally ordained and had pupils or disciples who studied their expositions and were duty bound to obey their instructions. Yeshua, of course, never sought such official recognition, but like other rabbis of his time Yeshua gathered and taught disciples, expecting them to change and conform to his will. Unlike other rabbis Yeshua taught as one possessing independent authority (Matt 7:29; Mark 1:22). He did not need to speak in the name of one of the Sages or one of the two prominent authorities of the day, Hillel and Shammai. Yeshua never appealed to any other authority other than his Father or the Scriptures.
that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. is to say: Grk. legō, pres. pass. Teacher: Grk. didaskalos, teacher or instructor who regularly engaged in the imparting of knowledge or skills, a vocation of special status among the Israelites. In the LXX didaskalos occurs only twice: in Esther 6:1 for Heb. qara (SH-7121), "one who reads," and in 2Maccabees 1:10 to denote Aristobulus, the head of the Egyptian Jewish community. Scholars speculate that the reason didaskalos does not occur more often in the LXX is that in Greek education teaching was concerned with imparting knowledge or technical skills, but Hebrew education is more concerned with ethical instruction and obedience. Elsewhere didaskalos is used interchangeably with rhabbi (Matt 23:8; John 1:38; 3:2), but John points out for Gentile readers that didaskalos serves to translate Rhabbouni.
17 Yeshua said to her, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Now go to my brothers, and say to them, 'I will ascend to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God.'"
Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See verse 2 above. said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 2 above. to her: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Do not: Grk. mē, adv., a particle of qualified negation, subjective in nature, involving will and thought; not. hold on to: Grk. haptō, pres. mid. imp., lit. "make contact with or fasten to." The verb may mean (1) cause to be in a burning state by touching with fire or (2) make contact with, touch, adhere to, take hold of, grasp. The imperative mood signals a tender entreaty, not a harsh command and the present tense with the negative particle would indicate "do not continue to hold on." A few versions have "stop clinging" (CJB, NAB, NASB, TLV), but there is no Greek word in the text for "stop," and the use of "stop" sounds abrupt and rude. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person.
Yeshua is not implying there was any fragility about his post-resurrection physical state. He had a mission to complete. Miriam was apparently so overcome with joy that she disregarded social restrictions (cf. John 4:27) and hugged Yeshua. Since Yeshua delivered Miriam from occult oppression, she had followed and served him faithfully. He had become her life. Yet, now she had to accept the fact that he would not continue to be a physical presence in her life. Miriam's personal reaction to Yeshua may be contrasted with the fact that the other women who went to the tomb encountered Yeshua at some point and they took hold of (Grk. krateō, seize, grasp) his feet and worshipped him (Matt 28:9).
for: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 9 above. I have not yet: Grk. oupō, adv., a negative particle indicating than an activity, circumstance, or condition is in abeyance or suspension; not yet. ascended: Grk. anabainō, perf., to proceed in a direction that is up, go up. Generally the verb refers to traversing hilly terrain, but here Yeshua offers a significant prophecy. When Yeshua died on the cross his spirit ascended to Paradise (Luke 23:43, 46; John 19:30), but now he speaks of a bodily ascension. to: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 2 above. the Father: Grk. patēr, normally of a male biological parent or ancestor, but frequently in reference to God, which emphasizes His activity as creator, ruler and sustainer (BAG).
In the LXX patēr renders ab (pronounced "av"), used generally in the human sense, but also of God as father (DNTT 1:616f). In the Hebrew vernacular Yeshua and the apostles would have used the Heb. word aba, as occurs in (Mark 14:36; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6). In the Tanakh God's identity as a parent is first mentioned in reference to His covenantal relationship with Israel (Deut 1:31; 8:5; 32:6; Ps 103:13; Isa 43:6; 63:16; 64:8; Jer 3:19; 31:9; Hos 1:10: Mal 1:6). Israel is specifically identified as God's son (Ex 4:22; Hos 11:1). Yeshua acknowledged this covenantal relationship when he taught his Jewish disciples to pray "our Father" (Matt 6:9).
Now: Grk. de, conj. See verse 1 above. go: Grk. poreuomai, pres. mid., may mean (1) to move from one area to another, to go or to make one's way or (2) in an ethical sense, to conduct oneself, live, walk. The verb is also used fig. of going to one's death (Luke 22:33). In the LXX poreuomai renders mainly Heb. halak (SH-1980), to go, come, walk, first occurring in Genesis 3:14 (DNTT 3:946). The verb often has the literal sense of going, journeying or traveling (e.g., Gen 12:4). In contrast to LXX usage poreuomai in the Besekh seldom mentions the physical act of walking. to: Grk. pros, prep. my: Grk. egō. brothers: Grk. adelphos, m. pl., lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant a male sibling; brother.
In the apostolic narratives adelphos primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites who are of the same blood by virtue of descent from Jacob. In the LXX adelphos is used for the Heb. ach, meaning (1) brother, a male sibling born of the same mother and father (Gen 4:2); (2) half-siblings (Gen 20:5); and (3) indefinite of relative, of the same tribe, of the same people (Gen 13:18). Here adelphos refers to Yeshua's half-brothers of whom he had four: Jacob, Judah, Joseph and Simon (Matt 13:55). The brothers would have come to Jerusalem for Passover and likely were still in the city or camped nearby. The other women in the resurrection story were told to inform the eleven disciples (Matt 28:7; Luke 24:9), but Miriam receives a special commission to share the good news with Yeshua's brothers.
and say: Grk. legō, aor. imp. to them: pl. of Grk. autos. I will ascend: Grk. anabainō, pres. The present tense has several uses, including describing an anticipated future event or an action purposed. The miraculous event would take place forty days later. to: Grk. pros. my: Grk. egō. Father: Grk. patēr. Even though God prophesied through Jeremiah that Israel would call God "My Father" (Jer 3:19), Yeshua is the only individual in Scripture to do so. There are 44 verses in the apostolic narratives in which Yeshua refers to the God of Israel as "My Father," more than half of which are in John. Yet, Yeshua's use of "Father" in this personal sense was predicted. God informed David,
"When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me." (2Sam 7:12-14 NASB)
In a Messianic psalm Ethan the Ezrahite prophesied that the son of David would declare, "You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation" (Ps 89:26). Yeshua's usage of My Father, then, is perfectly in accord with prophecy. and your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. Father: Grk. patēr. Referring to God as the Father of the pious Jew as an individual appears first in late Jewish apocryphal writings (Sir 23:1, 4; Tob 13:4; Wsd 2:16; 14:3; 3Macc 5:7). Yeshua also spoke to his disciples of "your Father" (Matt 5:45, 48; 6:14, 26, 32; Mark 7:11; Luke 6:36), but he wants his brothers to know that they can have a personal relationship with the Father. and my: Grk. egō. God: Grk. theos, God or god, which must be determined from the context.
In secular Greek writings a number of deities, always represented in anthropomorphic form, were called theos. In the LXX theos primarily renders the name of the Creator God Elohim (2568 times), but sometimes YHVH (300 times) (DNTT 2:67-70). Given the plural nature of Elohim the full triunity of God must be represented in theos. As with many other Greek words the LXX infused all of the Jewish understanding of God's nature into theos. The only God in existence is the God who created the heavens and the earth out of nothing (Gen 1:1) and who chose Israel out of all the nations on the earth for a covenantal relationship (Ex 19:5; Isa 44:6; 45:5-6, 14, 18, 21; 46:9). In the Besekh theos is used overwhelmingly for the God of Israel. The God of Israel is the only God there is. The deities of all other religions and cults are the product of Satan-inspired imagination.
For Yeshua to say "my God" is not a denial of his own divinity. In the Besekh the Yeshua's possession of divine attributes and the oneness of the God of Israel are always carefully differentiated. Indeed, whenever either "Messiah" or "Yeshua" and "God" are mentioned together in the same verse they are clearly distinguished. There is no equivocation in the Besekh that Yeshua is the image of the invisible God and agent of creation (2Cor 4:4; Col 1:15-17; Heb 1:2-3), but no verse says, "God is Yeshua." Such a statement might confuse the Son with the Father, even though they are one (John 10:30; 17:11, 21). The enigma of unity of the Son and Father is captured in Philippians 2:6, "although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped."
and your: Grk. humeis. God: Grk. theos. Yeshua hints at an important distinction here. Yeshua's relationship to God as Son is one of nature and right. Yet, for Yeshua's brothers in the flesh and indeed all disciples, the personal relationship with God is only by adoption and grace. Thus, the God of Israel becomes "our God" (Acts 2:39; 1Th 1:3; 2Th 1:12; 2Pet 1:1; Rev 5:10).
18 Miriam of Magdala came, reporting to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and the things he said to her.
Miriam of Magdala: See verse 1 above. came: Grk. erchomai, pres. See verse 1 above. reporting: Grk. apangellō, pres. part., may mean (1) to report back in response to a directive ; or (2) to relate as the result of personal experience, observation or other source of information; relate, report, declare. The second meaning applies here. to the disciples: Grk. mathētēs. See verse 2 above. The term refers at least to the eleven, but also others (cf. Luke 24:9). I have seen: Grk. horaō, perf. See verse 8 above. the Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 2 above. and the things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 14 above. he said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 2 above. to her: Grk. autos, personal pronoun.
The fact that Miriam went to the disciples does not mean that she failed to carry out Yeshua's commission to inform his brothers. It would be contrary to her devotion to disobey her Lord. Rather, in her joy she could not limit her good news to a few, but she had to spread the word to many.
Manifestation to the Disciples, 20:19-25
Parallel: Mark 16:14; Luke 24:33-48
19 Therefore it being evening, that day, the first day of the week, and the doors having been shut where the disciples were because of fear of the Judean authorities, Yeshua came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace to you."
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. it being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. See verse 1 above. evening: Grk. opsios, adj., the period between daylight and darkness, evening. By itself "evening" is not a definite clock time. Jews reckoned a day (Heb. yom) in two ways. First, a day was "evening and morning," i.e., it began at sundown the day before and ended at sundown (Gen 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 31). This method had relevance to fixing the calendar. Second, a day was "morning and evening" (e.g. Ex 18:14; 1Sam 17:16; Acts 28:23). In other words from sunrise until "high noon" all was morning; after that to sundown all was evening (Clarke, comment on Ex 12:6). This especially pertained to the morning and evening Temple sacrifices specified in the Torah (Ex 29:38-41). In the first century the morning and evening sacrifices were conducted in the 3rd hour and 9th hour respectively (Edersheim-Temple 108; Josephus, Ant. XIV, 4:3).
that: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 15 above. day: Grk. hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period, such as a timeframe for accomplishing something or a time of life or activity (BAG). The first meaning applies here, so it was not yet sundown. the first day of the week: See verse 1 above. and the doors: Grk. thura, f. pl., a device for opening and closing an entranceway; door, gate. The plural noun implies at least two doors, probably the outer door of the house and an inner room door. having been shut: Grk. kleiō, perf. pass. part., closed to prevent entry; locked, shut. where: Grk. hopou, adv. See verse 12 above.
the disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 2 above. As indicated by verse 24 below only ten of the apostles were present. However, the two disciples Yeshua met on the road to Emmaus were also present, as well as others (cf. Luke 24:33), which might imply family members and other followers. Mark records that Yeshua found his disciples "reclining at table" (Mark 16:14), i.e., eating a festival meal. were: Grk. eimi, impf. because of: Grk. dia, prep. The root meaning of dia is two, but with the following pronoun in the accusative case dia represents the ground or reason on account of which something is or is not done, thus "because of" (Thayer). fear: Grk. phobos may mean (1) the feeling of need to escape from or avoid a threat; fear; (2) feeling of respect; reverence, awe; or (3) the process of causing in someone a feeling of need to escape from a situation; intimidation. The first meaning applies here.
of the Judean authorities: Grk. Ioudaios, m. pl., Judean, Jew, Jewish or Jewess (BAG). The noun is used in the book of John to mean not only the biological descendants of Jacob, but adherents of the Judean religion. The term is clearly used here of the chief priests, members of the Sanhedrin. For more discussion on the background of Ioudaios and John's usage of it see my comment on John 1:19. The fear of the disciples seems strange, since Yeshua had arranged their release when he was arrested. From the combined apostolic narratives there appears to be no actual basis for their fear, but grief and loneliness had begun to take a toll on their emotions. Unfortunately, the good news reported by the women did little to reduce their fear. Into this anxious meeting hope and revelation entered.
Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See verse 2 above. came: Grk. erchomai, aor. See verse 1 above. and stood: Grk. histēmi, aor. See verse 11 above. in: Grk. eis, prep. the midst: Grk. mesos, adj., at a point near the center, midst, middle, in the midst of, among, between. Yeshua did not knock on the door to gain entrance. John describes a miraculous appearance without clarifying its manner. Yeshua could have walked through the wall of the room or suddenly appeared in the middle of the room, the latter being more likely. and said: Gr. legō, pres. See verse 2 above. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun.
Peace: Grk. eirēnē, peace, which may refer to either (1) a state of harmony as a result from cessation of hostilities, whether in political or personal relationships; or (2) a state of well-being, a characteristic of the Messianic age and divine favor. In the LXX eirēnē renders Heb. shalom (SH-7965), completeness, soundness, welfare, or peace (BDB 1022). to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. In Jewish culture shalom is never peace in the negative sense, the absence of conflict, but the possession of everything that makes for man's highest good. The biblical word "peace" is primarily relational in scope and does not necessarily depict an emotional state. Stern comments that Yeshua's greeting in Hebrew would be "Shalom aleikhem."
Luke also records the greeting (Luke 24:36), but goes on to say that the disciples were startled and frightened by Yeshua's sudden appearance. The significance of the greeting was then indicated by Yeshua asking them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?" (Luke 24:37 NASB).
20 And having said this, he showed to them his hands and his side. Therefore the disciples rejoiced having seen the Lord.
And: Grk. kai conj. having said: Grk. legō, aor. part. See verse 2 above. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. he showed: Grk. deiknumi, aor., may mean to show (1) so as to be observed by another, point out, make known; or (2) or so as to be understood by another, explain, demonstrate. The first usage applies here. to them: Grk. autos, m. pl., personal pronoun. The "show and tell" was intended to convince the disciples that he was not a collective vision. his hands: pl. of Grk. cheir, an anatomical term of the body part with fingers. The hands were evidence of being nailed to the cross-beam (Acts 2:23). John makes no mention of the feet.
and his side: Grk. pleura, the side of a person's body. Yeshua's side was the site of being pierced by the Roman spear (John 19:34). Showing the wounds on his body was meant to reassure the disciples that he was the same person they had followed and that John and the women saw crucified. Yeshua would not have been naked so he would have raised or opened his clothing to reveal his side. No mention is made in Yeshua's post-resurrection appearances of his clothing, but it would have been a culturally accepted form. Yeshua's resurrection clothing is often depicted in art and film as white like the angels, but if there had been anything remarkable about his clothing the apostles would have said something.
According to Luke's account, Yeshua showed the disciples his hands and feet and invited them to touch him to confirm that he was flesh and bones (Luke 24:39-40). They still had difficulty believing Yeshua was really in their midst and he then asked them if they had anything to eat (Luke 24:41). Since Mark says the disciples were eating a meal (Mark 16:14), then Yeshua meant, "Do you have anything left over I can eat?" They gave him some broiled fish, which he ate in front of them (Luke 24:42-43). So, touching him and seeing him eat at last convinced them of his resurrection. In this regard they really weren't so different from Thomas.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. The conjunction serves to inform the reader that the "showing" was effective (Morris). the disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 2 above. rejoiced: Grk. chairō, aor. pass., has two usages: (1) to be in a state marked by good feeling about an event or circumstance; be happy, glad, delighted, rejoice; and (2) an expression of greeting that is normally tantamount to assuring the other of one's good will, a kind of introductory social ointment; greetings, hail. The first usage is intended here. The fact of rejoicing, perhaps with shouting, fulfilled Yeshua's prophecy in 16:20-22 of their sorrow being turned into joy. having seen: Grk. horaō, aor. part. See verse 8 above. the Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 2 above. There is no indication that any of the disciples physically touched Yeshua during this meeting, but such an exuberant response by the disciples must have involved some contact with Yeshua.
Then: Grk. oun, conj. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See verse 2 above. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 2 above. to them: pl. of Grk. autos. again: Grk. palin, adv. See verse 10 above. Peace: Grk. eirēnē. See verse 19 above. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The second expression of peace is much more than a greeting, but a wish that the apostles would complete their mission in the shalom of God. According to Luke's account, Yeshua then explained the prophecies of his sufferings and resurrection contained in the Torah, Prophets and Writings, i.e., the entire Tanakh (Luke 24:44-46). just as: Grk. kathōs, adv. emphasizing similarity, conformity, proportion or manner; as, just as. the Father: Grk. patēr. See verse 17 above.
has sent: Grk. apostellō, perf., to cause to move from one position to another, but often to send as an authoritative personal representative. In the LXX apostellō translated Heb. shalach ("to stretch out or to send"), often in contexts of commissioning and empowering a messenger (DNTT 1:128). me: Grk. egō. "Sending" is a key activity of the Father, and in the past His emissaries included angels (Gen 19:13; 2Chr 32:21), Joseph (Gen 45:5), Moses and Aaron (Ex 3:15; 1Sam 12:8), and all the prophets (1Sam 15:1; 2Sam 12:1; 2Kgs 2:2; Isa 6:8; Jer 26:5; Ezek 2:3). The verb is also used of the sending of the apostles (Matt 10:5; Rom 10:15; 1Cor 1:17). In this context in reference to Yeshua the verb would include the concept of incarnation as well as mission. The sending of Yeshua by the Father is an often repeated refrain in John's testimony (also 1Jn 4:9-10, 14).
I also: Grk. kagō, conj. See verse 15 above. am sending: Grk. pempō, pres., to dispatch someone as an agent, usually to convey a message or accomplish a task; send. In the LXX pempō occurs only five times but is also used to translate Heb. shalach, all of which are situations of a human sending a human (Gen 27:42; Ezra 4:14; 5:17; Neh 2:5; Esth 8:5). In other passages Yeshua uses pempō to refer to himself as sent by the Father (John 4:34; 5:23-24, 30, 37; 6:38-39, 44; 7:16, 28, 33; 8:16, 18, 26, 29; 9:4; 12:44-45, 49; 13:20; 14:24; 15:21; 16:5). you: Grk. humeis. The implied goal of the sending is at the very least to fellow Jews.
Speaking in Hebrew Yeshua likely used the same Hebrew word shalach for the two mentions of "sent." Yet, John's use of two different Greek words for "sent" seems deliberate. The distinction John intends is likely that apostellō incorporates the idea of authority (see verse 23 below). The focus of pempō is on the task to be accomplished. According to Luke the apostles would be messengers of Yeshua to declare the good news of repentance for forgiveness of sins (Luke 24:47-48). They were to declare this message along with their witness of Yeshua's resurrection to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
22 And having said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
And: Grk. kai, conj. having said: Grk. legō, aor. part. See verse 2 above. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. The pronoun alludes to Yeshua's words in the previous verse. he breathed on them: Grk. emphusaō, pres., to blow upon, breathe into or upon. The act of blowing his breath, apparently toward the apostles, was a symbolic act reminiscent of the creation account of God breathing into Adam. It served as an acted out parable of divine empowerment. and said: Grk. legō, pres. to them: Grk. autos, m. pl., personal pronoun. Receive: Grk. lambanō, aor. imp. The verb marks the transit of something from a position to another person who is the agent with the latter being also the receptor; to take (in the active sense) or receive (in the passive sense).
the Holy: Grk. hagios has two distinctive uses in Scripture: (1) as an adj. of things dedicated to God (e.g., the temple, Jerusalem), of persons consecrated to God (e.g., prophets), then of angels, of Messiah, and of God (Lev 19:2); (2) as a pure substantive used of the name of God (Luke 1:44), and then of what is set apart for God to be exclusively His, e.g., the temple, the holy land, Jerusalem, sacrifices, angels and human persons. In the LXX hagios translates Heb. qadosh (SH-6918), which means separate, sacred, holy. Qadosh is first used of God in Lev 11:44.
Spirit: Grk. pneuma (for Heb. ruach), wind, breath or spirit as the animating force for bodily movement (Luke 8:55). Pneuma is used frequently for transcendent beings (Matt 8:16; Heb 1:14), particularly the Holy Spirit as God's self-expression (Gen 1:2; Mark 1:10). The noun "Spirit" is not the title of a separate being, because God is Spirit (pneuma ho theos, John 4:24), just as God is the Word (John 1:1). In Scripture "holy" is only used as an adjective of "spirit" to refer to the Holy Spirit, a name or face of God. The specific name "Holy Spirit" occurs only three times in the Tanakh (Ps 51:11; Isa 63:10, 11) given as Ruach Qodesh. The Holy Spirit is identified by three other forms in the Tanakh (Ruach Elohim, Gen 1:2; Ruach YHVH, Judg 3:10; and Ruach Adonai YHVH, Isa 61:1). The full name of "Holy Spirit" indicates that the Holy Spirit is divine, not less or other than God.
The command to receive the Holy Spirit does not imply an immediate reception, but is a command for readiness to receive. Luke gives a parallel version by Yeshua saying that he would be sending the Holy Spirit to empower his disciples (Luke 24:49). In addition, reception of the Holy Spirit implies a readiness for the Holy Spirit to carry out His complete ministry of cleansing, teaching, reminding, convicting, guiding, revealing and empowering, as Yeshua previously described (John 7:37-39; 14:16-17, 26; 15:26-27; 16:5-14). The next verse sets forth an important function in the governance of the Body of Messiah for which the apostles will need the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
23 "If you might forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven for them; if you might hold fast of any, they are held fast."
If: Grk. an, particle that nuances a verb with contingency or generalization; would, ever, might. The particle expresses possibility, based on a preexisting condition, stipulation or prerequisite. At the beginning of a clause it is another form of ean, "if" (Mounce). you might forgive: Grk. aphiēmi, aor. subj., 2p-pl., to release or send away with a range of meaning: (1) release from one's presence; (2) release from an obligation, cancel, forgive; (3) let remain behind; (4) leave standing or lying; and (5) permissive sense of let, let go, allow or tolerate. The second meaning applies here. We should note that the verb is not a command. The subjunctive mood looks toward what is potential; it is the mood of probability. Yeshua implies there will be occasions in the future when his apostles will have to determine the appropriateness of forgiveness.
the sins: Grk. hamartia, f. pl., may refer to (1) a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness; (2) the result of sinning or the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX hamartia translates a range of Hebrew words for guilt and sin, particularly Heb. chata (miss, go wrong, lapse, sin; Gen 20:6) and avôn (iniquity, guilt; Gen 15:16). Throughout Scripture sin as a behavior is a violation of God's written commandments. The degree of intentionality is not a factor in defining sinful behavior, only whether God's specified requirements or prohibitions have been violated. Intentionality is only relevant to the degree and manner of punishment. Also, in Scripture hamartia does not include the imperfections that separate humanity from divinity, "falling short of the glory" (Rom 3:23).
of any: pl. of Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun, a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. The pronoun refers to people needing forgiveness. they are forgiven: Grk. aphiēmi, perf. pass. The perfect tense, referring to completed action in past time with continuing results in the present, likely implies a record of forgiveness by God. for them: Grk. autos, m. pl., personal pronoun. The pronoun refers to the sins forgiven. In Luke's narrative of this instruction Yeshua explains the mission for the apostles in terms of proclaiming repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 24:47). Christian interpretation of this verse has differed sharply between assuming either Yeshua granted a special ministry of absolution to his apostles and their successors or to congregational priests, or that Yeshua granted this authority to a congregation as a whole (cf. Matt 18:17-18). Yet, forgiveness is an obligation of every disciple (Matt 18:21-22; Mark 11:25; Eph 4:32; Col 3:13).
if: Grk. an. you might hold fast: Grk. krateō, pres. subj., may mean (1) gain control of; secure, arrest, seize; or (2) have firm hold on; take hold of, hold fast, hold to. The second meaning applies here. Many versions translate the verb with "retain," which essentially means "to hold on to." of any: pl. of Grk. tis. they are held fast: Grk. krateō, perf. pass. Some versions translate krateō to mean withholding forgiveness (GW, MRINT, NCV, NIRV, NIV, NLT, NOG, TEV). However, if such had been Yeshua's intention surely he would have used aphiēmi with a negative particle. "If you do not forgive, they are not forgiven." Yet, this construction would be contrary to Yeshua's teaching in the Sermon on the Mount when he instructed his disciples, "But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions" (Matt 6:15; cf. Mark 11:25).
"Holding fast" does not mean holding on to resentment and unforgiveness. It is more likely Yeshua meant "if you want to wait until there is genuine repentance, then do so." In point of fact, forgiveness should only be offered in response to repentance (Luke 17:1). In a setting of congregational discipline Yeshua's instruction could have the meaning that forgiveness for sins against God would be offered freely without preconditions. However, for sins against neighbor, especially where there is some claim of harm, then forgiveness would not be granted until there was repentance, restitution and satisfaction.
Yeshua's instruction here is a corollary to two earlier pronouncements in which he gave his apostles authority to make halakhah rulings with the approval of heaven. Halakhah literally means "the path one walks" and refers to interpretation and application of Torah.
"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." (Matt 16:19 NASB)
"Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven." (Matt 18:18-19 NASB)
In these passages the terms "bind" and "loose" were used in first century Judaism to mean "prohibit" and "permit" (Stern 57). In other words, binding meant imposing a requirement and loosing meant freeing from a requirement. In the second scenario Yeshua also gave the body of believers authority to make rulings to decide disputes between disciples. If private efforts fail to resolve the dispute then the congregation may settle the matter upon request of the parties. For more discussion on this subject tee my web articles Biblical Justice and Discipline in the Congregation.
24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, the one called Didymus, was not with them when Yeshua came.
Now: Grk. de, conj. Thomas: Grk. Thōmas, a transliteration of Heb. Toma (from Heb. toam, SH-8420, "twin"). This is the only person in the Bible named Thomas. one: Grk. heis, the cardinal number one. of the twelve: Grk. dōdeka, the cardinal number twelve but used here of the original count of disciples Yeshua called to follow him. the one: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. called: Grk. legō, pres. pass. part. See verse 2 above. The verb is used here in the sense of giving a name to someone. Didymus: Grk. Didumos, double, twin; a name or appellation of Thomas. All that is known of Thomas in the Besekh, besides his inclusion in lists of apostles (Matt 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13), is found in the book of John where his name appears seven times.
Some scholars believe Thomas may have been a twin, possibly of Matthew with whom he is coupled in two of the three lists of the Synoptic narratives, or of Philip with whom he is coupled in Acts 1:13. On the other hand, since "Thomas" is a transliteration of a Hebrew name then "Didymus" may only be a translation of Thomas, much as "Peter" translates "Kêfa" (John 1:42). was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. with: Grk. meta, prep. them: Grk. autos, m. pl., personal pronoun. when: Grk. hote, temporal adv., when, at which time. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See verse 2 above. came: Grk. erchomai, aor. See verse 1 above.
John relates the interesting detail of Thomas being absent when Yeshua first appeared to the disciples. Mark and Luke omit this detail. No explanation is offered of where Thomas had been. It may be that he didn't have the same level of fear as the other disciples (verse 19 above) and left for some personal errand. Morris notes that there is neither praise nor blame for the absence of Thomas.
25 Therefore the other disciples were saying to him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, not ever shall I believe."
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. the other: Grk. allos, adj. See verse 2 above. disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 2 above. The "other disciples" certainly included the ten apostles, but likely also other disciples such as the two Yeshua met on the road to Emmaus. The plural noun could also include the women witnesses of the empty tomb, since women were followers of Yeshua (cf. Mark 15:40-41; Luke 8:1-3; 10:39; Acts 9:36). were saying: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 2 above. The imperfect tense, denoting continuous action in past time, likely alludes to the days since the day of resurrection. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. We have seen: Grk. horaō, perf., 1p-pl. See verse 8 above. So, through the week several fellow disciples were sharing with Thomas what they had seen. the Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 2 above.
But: Grk. de, conj. he said: Grk. legō, aor. to them: pl. of Grk. autos. Unless: Grk. ei mē, lit. "if not." See verse 15 above for ei. Combined with the negative particle mē ("not"), the words introduce a condition required to prove a proposition. I see: Grk. horaō, aor. subj. The subjunctive mood is the mood of mild contingency or probability. For this verb the subjunctive implies a future reference and is qualified by the conditions Thomas names. the mark: Grk. tupos, has several uses and here refers to a mark left by the downward force of a device; imprint, mark. Some versions translate the singular noun as "marks" or "prints" (CEB, CJB, NCV, NIRV, NIV, TLV). The NLT has "wounds."
of the nails: pl. of Grk. hēlos, nail, referring to a slender, typically rod-shaped rigid piece of metal and having one end pointed and the other enlarged and flattened, for hammering into or through wood, or other materials. In the LXX hēlos occurs seven times (ABP) and is used to translate Heb. masmer, nail. The Hebrew term is used for Temple doorway nails (1Chr 22:3; 2Chr 3:9), nails used in idol making (Isa 41:7; Jer 10:4) and a well-driven nail (Eccl 12:11). The Greek term is also used in the LXX without Hebrew equivalent: (1) "nails in your heels" added to afflictions from the nations (Josh 23:13); and (2) included in a list of Temple items made of gold (1Kgs 7:50; 2Kgs 12:13). The translation of "nail" in this passage is misleading since the term normally refers to metal nails of bronze or iron used in construction or decoration. They were usually hand-forged and about the same size as our modern cut nails. However, the nails used in the crucifixion of Yeshua were large iron spikes five to seven inches long (HBD).
in: Grk. en, prep. his: Grk. autos. hands: pl. of Grk. cheir. See verse 20 above. and put: Grk. ballō, aor. subj., cause movement toward a position, which may be used of a vigorous action and be translated as "cast, throw or hurl," or of a more subdued action and be translated as "put, place, lay or bring" (BAG). The second usage applies here. my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. finger: Grk. daktulos, finger as a part of the hand. into: Grk. eis, prep. the mark: Grk. tupos. of the nails: pl. of Grk. hēlos. and put: Grk. ballō, aor. subj. my hand: Grk. cheir. into: Grk. eis. his side: Grk. pleura. See verse 20 above.
The wound from the spear in Yeshua's side would have been large enough to insert the hand. not ever: Grk. ou mē, lit. "not, not." This combination of negative particles is the strongest form of negation in the Greek language. shall I believe: Grk. pisteuō, aor. subj. See verse 8 above. When the verb in the subjunctive mood is used with the negative particles ou mē, then it functions as a subjunctive of emphatic negation (DM 172). The grammatical construction effectively denies any possibility of the action occurring in the future.
my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. finger: Grk. daktulos, finger as a part of the hand. into: Grk. eis, prep. the mark: Grk. tupos. of the nails: pl. of Grk. hēlos. and put: Grk. ballō, aor. subj. my hand: Grk. cheir. into: Grk. eis. his side: Grk. pleura. See verse 20 above. The wound from the spear in Yeshua's side would have been large enough to insert the hand. not ever: Grk. ou mē, lit. "not, not." This combination of negative particles is the strongest form of negation in the Greek language. shall I believe: Grk. pisteuō, aor. subj. See verse 8 above. When the verb in the subjunctive mood is used with the negative particles ou mē, then it functions as a subjunctive of emphatic negation (DM 172). The grammatical construction effectively denies any possibility of the action occurring in the future.
The insistence of Thomas of requiring both visual and tactile proof is generally taken to mean that he possessed a skeptical mind. In reality the report of his fellow disciples who kept telling him what they had seen was not to be believed in spite of the fact that Yeshua had raised Lazarus from death only a few months previously. The witness of his own eyes in the past and the integrity of his fellow apostles was not sufficient to change his mind. Morris observes that Thomas was "so shocked by the tragedy of the crucifixion that he did not find it easy to think of its consequences as being annulled." His preoccupation with the wounds of Yeshua seems to confirm this interpretation.
Sunday, Nisan 24, A.D. 30; 16 April (Julian)
Manifestation to Thomas, 20:26-29
26 And after eight days again his disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Yeshua came, the doors having been shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you."
And: Grk. kai, conj. after: Grk. meta, prep. See verse 7 above. The preposition is used here as a sequential marker. eight: Grk. oktō, the cardinal number eight. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera. See verse 19 above. The calendar reference by Jewish reckoning is inclusive; that is, the first and last days are counted (Stern). Yeshua's last appearance to his disciples was on the first day of the week (our Sunday), so eight days later would also be on Sunday. The Passover festival had concluded two days previously on Nisan 22 (April 14). The disciples would now be in the period of S'firat HaOmer (Counting the Sheaf or Omer) in anticipation of Shavuot (Pentecost). again: Grk. palin, adv. See verse 10 above. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 2 above. were: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. inside: Grk. esō, adv., located within a space; within, inside.
and Thomas: See verse 24 above. with: Grk. meta, prep. The preposition is used here to indicate accompaniment. them: pl. of Grk. autos. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See verse 2 above. came: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. See verse 1 above. the doors: pl. of Grk. thura. See verse 19 above. having been shut: Grk. kleiō, perf. pass. part. See verse 19 above. The verb implies that the disciples were still in fear of the Judean rulers and thus the encounter described here occurred in Jerusalem and not Galilee (cf. Matt 28:7; Mark 16:7). and stood: Grk. histēmi, aor. See verse 11 above. in: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." the midst: Grk. mesos, adj. See verse 19 above. and said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 2 above. Peace to you: See verse 19. Yeshua's greeting occurs for the third time. The second meeting no doubt led to a measure of rejoicing and general comments of greeting from the disciples.
27 Then he said to Thomas, "Bring your finger here, and see my hands; and bring your hand, and put it into my side; and be not unbelieving, but believing."
Then: Grk. eita, adv. introducing what is next in a sequence, 'then,' or 'next.' he said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 2 above. to Thomas: See verse 24 above. Bring: Grk. pherō, pres. imp., may mean (1) to move an entity from one position to another by physical transport or guidance; or (2) direct something that is of a cognitive nature. The first meaning applies here. Morris notes that this is an unusual verb to use for the action intended. Thus many versions translate the verb as "reach" or "reach out." However, it could be that Thomas was not close at hand, but a few steps away. So the command is equivalent to "bring yourself over here." In this case the imperative mood may not have been intended as an unqualified command, but a simple entreaty.
your: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. finger: Grk. daktulos. See verse 25 above. here: Grk. hōde, adv. of place, here or in this place. and: Grk. kai, conj. see: Grk. horaō, aor. imp. See verse 8 above. my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. hands: pl. of Grk. cheir. See verse 20 above. and bring: Grk. pherō, aor. imp. your hand: Grk. cheir. and put it: Grk. ballō, aor. imp. See verse 25 above. into: Grk. eis, prep. my side: Grk. pleura. See verse 20 above. and be: Grk. ginomai, pres. mid. imp., to become, here in reference to undergoing entrance into a particular state or condition of existence. Yeshua challenges Thomas to a change in thinking that will continue into the future.
not: Grk. mē, adv. unbelieving: Grk. apistos, adj., may mean (1) in the passive sense of things not worthy of credence, incredible, far-fetched; or (2) in the active sense of refusing to credence to; without trust, unbelieving, without fidelity. The second meaning is intended here. but: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 7 above. believing: Grk. pistos, adj., may mean (1) characterized by constancy and therefore worthy of trust; or (2) believing or trusting with commitment. Both meanings can have application here, but the second would be primary. Yeshua calls Thomas to assume a state of trust and faithfulness to the living Messiah.
28 Thomas answered and said to him, "The LORD of me and the God of me!"
Thomas answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass., to answer or reply to someone, whether to a question, request, exhortation, command, etc. (BAG). In the LXX apokrinomai renders Heb. anah, to answer or respond to something said in conversation; to respond to an occasion and speak in view of circumstances or to testify or respond as a witness in a legal proceeding (BDB 772). and said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 2 above. The use of "answered and said" is typical Hebraic way of advancing the narrative of dialog (e.g., Gen 27:39; 40:18; Josh 24:16; Jdg 20:4; 1Sam 1:17). The verb "answered" emphasizes that a verbal response was made and "said" introduces the quotation. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun.
Thomas responded with great conviction to the second instruction. Interpreters are divided over whether Thomas actually touched Yeshua. In the prior meeting with the disciples Luke reported that Yeshua showed the disciples his hands and feet and invited them to touch him to confirm that he was flesh and bones (Luke 24:39-40). Luke says nothing of whether the disciples acted on Yeshua's invitation to examine him. In the present situation Clarke thinks Thomas did touch the wounds since his unbelief was too deeply rooted to be easily cured.
Gill, considering the silence of John on the subject, thinks Thomas did not examine the wounds. He was ashamed of his unbelief. Morris also thinks it improbable that Thomas touched Yeshua for the same reason. Perhaps for Thomas "seeing was believing." The matter will have to remain unresolved. However, we should not assume that the lack of mentioning an examination by Thomas is evidence for or against the proposition. Both Luke and John could have omitted the examination for the sake of discretion. I think it would only be natural among men to touch the wounds out of curiosity. In any event, John records the most important thing Thomas did. He uttered the memorable words.
The: Grk. ho, definite article, voc. which serves to give emphasis to the noun following with the effect of "the only." LORD: Grk. kurios. See verse 2 above. Disciples typically called Yeshua "Lord" (Heb. adôn), but the declaration here indicates a quantum leap forward in his understanding of Yeshua's identity as YHVH. He finally understood what Yeshua meant by all the "I AM" sayings. To make this point Delitzsch translates the Greek word with the Heb. ADONAI, the name Jews use for the sacred name revealed to Moses. of me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. and the: Grk. ho, voc. which also has the effect of "the only." God: Grk. theos. See verse 17 above.
The structure of the grammar makes "God" a synonymous parallelism of "LORD." of me: Grk. egō. Bible versions render the statement as "my Lord and my God," and while that translation would be appropriate in most constructions involving the personal pronoun, it obscures Thomas' point. The actual syntax indicates that Thomas put himself in secondary position. To him God was First. He didn't own Yeshua. Yeshua owned him. Morris notes also that neither "Lord" nor "God" are in the vocative case (direct address). Rather they are statements of fact. Stern observes that the confession of Thomas comes as close as any statement in the Besekh to asserting the deity of Yeshua.
Yet it is not a propositional statement, but an exclamation by a disciple who had just seen with his own eyes the opposite of what he had dared hope for, namely, Yeshua resurrected and God in flesh. While non-Messianic Jews reject the deity of Yeshua, the Tanakh prophesies or hints at the identification of the Messiah with God (Prov 30:4; Isa 9:6–7; Jer 23:5–6; and Micah 5:2). John declared the deity of Yeshua in his prologue (John 1:1). Yeshua had already declared, "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30), and then in his high priestly prayer he said, "You, Father, are in me and I in You" (John 17:21).
29 Yeshua said to him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are the ones not having seen, yet having believed."
Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See verse 2 above. said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 2 above. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Because: Grk. hoti, conj. you have seen: Grk. horaō, perf. See verse 8 above. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. you have believed: Grk. pisteuō, perf. See verse 8 above. Yeshua confirms that Thomas believed by seeing, not by touching. Blessed are: Grk. makarios, adj., enjoying special advantage, blessed, privileged, fortunate or happy. The Grk. word translates Heb. esher, which means happiness, joyfulness, blessedness and fortunate all at the same time (BDB 81). Esher comes from the root word ashar, which means to go (straight), or to walk. The adj. makarios occurs some 50 times in the Besekh, the first use in the Beatitudes (Matt 5:3), but only twice in John (13:17).
the ones: Grk. ho, m. pl., definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. not: Grk. mē, adv. having seen: Grk. horaō, aor. part. yet: Grk. kai, conj. having believed: Grk. pisteuō, aor. part. Morris comments that Yeshua is not making a comparison with Thomas, but simply comments that those believing without seeing have a special blessing. The ones believing without seeing are those who will accept the message of the apostles on Pentecost and in the decades following as the good news was proclaimed in the Diaspora.
John's Purpose in Writing, 20:30-31
30 Therefore Yeshua also performed many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See verse 2 above. also: Grk. kai, conj. performed: Grk. poieō, aor., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, produce, create; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition; do, act, perform, work. The second meaning applies here. many: Grk. polus, extensive in scope, here as an adj. indicating a high number. other: Grk. allos. See verse 2 above. signs: Grk. sēmeion usually refers to an extraordinary phenomenon, a portent or a miracle (Mounce). In the LXX sēmeion is predominately a translation of the Heb. word oth (SH-226), "sign, pledge, token, standard or miracle" (DNTT 2:626).
Most of the usages of "sign" in the Tanakh are related to miraculous wonders that only the Creator could perform, especially the many miracles for Israel's benefit (Ex 4:17; 7:3; Num 17:25; Deut 4:34; 7:19; 11:3; 26:8; Josh 4:6). John's testimony uses sēmeion of seven specific creation-type miracles Yeshua performed that proclaimed his Messianic office and divine power. Since John's history was written after the Synoptic Narratives his comment implies knowledge of the other miracles those works recorded. John's selectivity was purposeful. Many of the miracles were not necessarily unique, but the seven signs John reports were distinctive and original to Yeshua, which effectively revealed the truth of Yeshua's identity.
in the presence of: Grk. enōpion, prep., from a word meaning "facing" with the basic idea of being 'in sight of' or 'in the presence of.' the disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 2 above. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. written: Grk. graphō, perf. pass. part., to write or inscribe as a physical act, generally in reference to a document. in: Grk. en, prep. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. book: Grk. biblion means a book, a scroll or a document. The noun is the diminutive form of biblos, derived from an older form bublos, which originally meant the papyrus plant, or its fibrous stem, that was exported to Greece through the port of Byblos in Syria where the plant was prepared.
In the LXX biblion translates Heb. sēpher, which was used for anything that has been written, such as a scroll, book, writing, letter, diary, or a legal document. Biblion is also used in the LXX for individual books of Scripture (Dan 9:2), but most importantly as a solemn expression for the Torah (Deut 17:18; 28:58; cf. Heb 9:19). In the Besekh biblion, and its root biblos, is used for Matthew's narrative of Yeshua (Matt 1:1), a divorce document (Mark 10:4), the book of Isaiah (Luke 3:4; 4:17, 20), the Torah (Mark 12:26; Gal 3:10; Heb 9:19; 10:7), the book of Psalms (Luke 20:42; Acts 1:20), the book of Amos (Acts 7:42), occult books burned after confessing Yeshua (Acts 19:19), scrolls, probably Scripture (2Tim 4:13), the book of seven seals (Rev 5:2-5, 8-9), and the book of life in heaven (Php 4:3; Rev 3:5; 17:8; 20:12, 15).
In the previous chapter (19:35) John referred to his narrative of Yeshua as a "testimony," but now he calls his writing a book (also John 21:25). Use of the term likely anticipated its publication along with other sacred writings of the apostles. John could reasonably expect his book to be treated as Scripture. This won't be his last book since a number of years later he would be instructed to record his Patmos experience in a book (Rev 1:11).
31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, the Son of God; and so that believing you may have life in his name.
but: Grk. de, conj. these: Grk. houtos, n. pl., demonstrative pronoun. The plural pronoun alludes to the collection of stories about the signs performed by Yeshua. have been written: Grk. graphō, perf. pass. See the previous verse. so that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed, in order that, so that, that. you may believe: Grk. pisteuō, pres. subj., 2p-pl. See verse 8 above. The plural verb no doubt alludes to the Jewish audience for this book. that: Grk. hoti, conj. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See verse 2 above. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. the Messiah: Grk. ho Christos, the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Anointed One or Messiah. The English "Christ" transliterates the Greek title, but does not translate it. In Greek culture christos comes from chriein, to rub lightly, and in its secular use had no religious connotation at all. Christos as an adjective described someone smeared with whitewash, cosmetics or paint (DNTT 2:334).
Jewish translators of the LXX chose Christos to render Heb. Mashiach and in so doing infused new meaning into the Greek word. The title Mashiach means 'anointed one' or 'poured on.' Mashiach was used in the Tanakh for (1) the patriarchs (1Chr 16:16-22; Ps 105:15); (2) the High Priest, Lev 4:5; (3) the King, 1Sam 12:3; 2Sam 22:51; Isa 45:1; and (4) the Messiah, Ps 2:2 and Dan 9:25-26. This last usage defined the term among Jews in the first century A.D. The title of "Anointed One" alludes to a ceremony of pouring olive oil on the head to invest one with the authority of an office (Ex 29:7; Lev 8:12; Ps 133:2). There was no comparable concept in Greek culture. For an expanded discussion on the Jewish title and Jewish expectations of the Messiah see my commentary on Mark 1:1.
the Son: Grk. ho huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben ("son," "son of"), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity; (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor; or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of, and this too applies here. of God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 17 above. For Jews in the first century "Son of God" was used as a title for a human descendant of King David, the Messiah, who would establish the promised Kingdom (Luke 1:32). "Son of God" was a title of the Davidic king inasmuch as the king functioned as God's regent on earth and was vested with God's authority. The angel announced to Miriam,
"Behold, you will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you shall call His name Yeshua. 32 He will be great and will be called Ben-Elyon. Adonai Elohim will give Him the throne of David, His father. 33 He shall reign over the house of Jacob for all eternity, and His kingdom will be without end." (Luke 1:31-33 TLV)
So, "Son of God" is the old title for the King of Israel of the House of David and Messiah of Israel, just as Yochanan the Immerser announced (John 1:34). Nathanael made the meaning of Son of God clear when he declared to Yeshua, "You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" (John 1:49 mine). Martha likewise spoke to Yeshua, "Yes, Lord. I have believed that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the One coming into the world" (John 11:27 mine). and so that: Grk. hina. believing: Grk. pisteuō, pres. part. John probably intends a continuum of behavior, including belief, trust and faithfulness.
you may have: Grk. echō, pres. subj., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. life: Grk. zōē, the state of being alive in contrast with being dead. The Besekh not only uses zōē in its normal meaning of physical existence on planet earth in the presence age, but over forty times for life that continues into the next age and eternity, half of which are in the writings of John. In the LXX zōē renders Heb. chay (SH-2416, alive, living) with both literal and figurative uses. in: Grk. en, prep. his name: Grk. onoma is used in its central sense of identifying someone with a proper name. In Hebrew literature "name" also carries the extended sense of qualities, powers, attributes or reputation. It is the authority of Yeshua that provides eternal life to those who trust in his atonement.
BAG: Walter Bauer (1877-1960), A Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981. Online.
Clarke: Adam Clarke (1762–1832), Commentary on the Holy Bible. 6 vols. Online.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
Delitzsch: Franz Delitzsch (1813-1890), Hebrew New Testament. Leipzig, 1877. Online. (Translation of the Greek New Testament into biblical Hebrew.)
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology. 3 Vols., ed. Colin Brown. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.
Flusser: David Flusser, The Sage from Galilee: Rediscovering Jesus' Genius. 4th ed. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2007.
Gill: John Gill (1697–1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
HBD: Holman Bible Dictionary. ed. Trent C. Butler. Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1991. Online.
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
Jastrow: Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic Literature. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1903, 1926. Online.
Lane: William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1974. [New International Commentary on the New Testament]
Lightfoot: John Lightfoot (1602–1675), A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1859 ed.), 4 Vols. Hendrickson Pub., 1989. Online.
LSJ: Henry George Liddell (1811-1898) and Robert Scott (1811-1887), A Greek-English Lexicon. rev. ed. Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online.
Morris: Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1971. [New International Commentary on the New Testament]
Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek–English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
Santala: Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings. Trans. William Kinnaird. Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1992. Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer (1828-1901), Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889.
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