John 20
Vincent's Word Studies
The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
First day of the week (τῇ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάατον)

The Hebrew idiom, day one of the week. See on Luke 4:31; see on Acts 20:7.


Matthew says, as it began to dawn; Mark, when the sun was risen; Luke, very early in the morning, or at deep dawn; see on Luke 24:1.

Taken away (ἠρμένον ἐκ)

Lifted out of. All the Synoptists have rolled.

Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.
Loved (ἐφίλει)

The word for personal affection. In John 13:23; John 21:7, John 21:20, ἠγάπα is used. See on John 5:20.

We know not

The plural indicates that Mary was not alone, though she alone is mentioned as coming to the tomb. She may have preceded the others.

Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.
Came to (ἤρχοντο εἰς)

Wrong. The tense is the imperfect; they were coming. Rev., they went toward.

So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.
They ran (ἔτρεχον)

Still the imperfect, they were running. How much the A.V. loses by its persistent ignoring of the force of this tense.

Did outrun (προέδραμε τάχιον)

Literally, ran on in front more quickly. Dante, addressing the spirit of John in Paradise says:

"O holy father, spirit who beholdest

What thou believedst so that thou o'ercamest,

Toward the sepulchre, more youthful feet."

"Paradise," xxiv., 124-126.

And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.
Stooping down (παρακύψας)

See on James 1:25, and compare 1 Peter 1:12. See also Song of Solomon, Sol 2:9 (Sept.). "He looketh forth (παρακύπτων) at the windows."

Seeth (βλέπει)

Simple sight. Compare the intent gaze of Peter (θεωρεῖ), John 20:6, which discovered the napkin, not seen by John.

Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,
And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.
Napkin (σουδάριον)

See on Luke 19:20.

Wrapped together (ἐντετυλιγμένον)

Rev., much better, rolled up. The orderly arrangement of everything in the tomb marks the absence of haste and precipitation in the awakening and rising from the dead.

Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.

This word is explained by what follows. He believed (at length) that Jesus was risen; for up to this time (οὐδέπω) he, with his fellow-disciple (plural, ᾔδεισαν) knew not, etc. The singular number, he believed, as Meyer profoundly remarks, "only satisfies the never-to-be-forgotten personal experience of that moment, though it does not exclude the contemporaneous faith of Peter also." On knew (ᾔδεισαν), see on John 2:24.

For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.
The scripture (τὴν γραφὴν)

The passage of scripture. See on John 5:47. The reference may be to Psalm 16:10.


On this necessity attaching in the divine counsel to the sufferings, death, and resurrection of Jesus, see Matthew 26:54; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22; Luke 17:25; Luke 22:37; Luke 24:7, Luke 24:26, Luke 24:44; John 3:14; John 12:34; Acts 1:16.

Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.
But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,

Imperfect, was standing, or continued standing, after the two apostles had gone away.

And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
Seeth (θεωρεῖ)

Rev., beholdeth. See on John 20:5.


Angels are rarely mentioned in John's narrative. See John 1:51; John 12:29; John 20:12.

And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.
She saith

She is so absorbed in her grief and love that she is not appalled by the supernatural manifestation which, under ordinary circumstances, would have terrified her, but enters into conversation as if addressed by a human being.

And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
Turned herself back

Canon Westcott, with that beautiful subtilty of perception which so eminently characterizes him, remarks: "We can imagine also that she became conscious of another Presence, as we often feel the approach of a visitor without distinctly seeing or hearing him. It may be, too, that the angels, looking toward the Lord, showed some sign of His coming."

Saw (θεωρεῖ)

Present tense. Rev., beholdeth. She looks at Him steadfastly and inquiringly as at a stranger. The observance of these distinctions between verbs of seeing, is very important to the perception of the more delicate shading of the narrative.

Knew not (ᾔδει)

Indicating a knowledge based on spiritual fellowship and affinity, an inward, conscious, sure conviction of His identity.

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
Saith unto Him, Rabboni

Insert, as Rev., after Him, in Hebrew.

Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
Touch me not (μή μοῦ ἅπτου)

The verb, primarily, means to fasten to. Hence it implies here, not a mere momentary touch, but a clinging to. Mary thought that the old relations between her Lord and herself were to be renewed; that the old intercourse, by means of sight, sound, and touch, would go on as before. Christ says, "the time for this kind of intercourse is over. Henceforth your communion with me will be by faith through the Spirit. This communion will become possible through my ascending to the Father."

My Father

The best texts omit the pronoun and read the Father. See on John 12:26. This expression, emphasizing the relation of God to humanity rather than to Christ himself, is explained by what follows - "my Father and your Father."

My brethren

The word brethren, applied to the disciples, occurs before (John 7:3, John 7:5, John 7:10), but not the phrase my brethren, which follows from my Father and your Father. Compare Matthew 28:10.

I ascend (ἀναβαίνω)

The present tense is used, not in the sense of the near future, but implying that He had already entered upon that new stage of being which the actual ascension formally inaugurated. The resurrection was really the beginning of the ascension.

Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.
Came and told (ἔρχεται ἀγγέλλουσα)

Literally, cometh telling.

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.


And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.
Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
Hath sent (ἀπέσταλκεν)

Note the distinction between this verb and that applied to the sending of the disciples (πέμπω). See on John 1:6.

And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
Breathed on them (ἐνεφύσησεν)

Only here in the New Testament. The act was symbolic, after the manner of the Hebrew prophets. Compare Ezekiel 37:5.

The Holy Ghost

The article is wanting. The gift bestowed was not that of the personal Holy Spirit, but rather an earnest of that gift; an effusion of the Spirit.

Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
Remit (ἀφῆτε)

Only here in this Gospel in connection with sins. Often in the Synoptists (Matthew 6:12; Matthew 9:5; Mark 2:5; Luke 5:23, etc.).

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
Print (τύπον)

See on 1 Peter 5:3.

Put - thrust (βάλω)

The same verb in both cases. Hence better, as Rev., put for thrust.

I will not (οὐ μὴ)

Double negative: in nowise.

And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
Then came Jesus

There is no connecting particle, then, and the verb is in the present tense. The abrupt Jesus cometh is more graphic.

Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
Be not (μὴ γίνου)

Literally, become not. Thomas was in a fair way to become unbelieving, through his doubt of the resurrection.

Faithless - believing (ἄπιστος - πιστός)

There is a correspondence of the words here, to which, perhaps, the nearest approach in English is unbelieving, believing.

And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.


And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
Are written (γέγραπται)

Have been or stand written. The perfect tense. John's intent was to write a gospel rather than a biography.

Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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