Tired of seeing ads while studying? Now you can enjoy an "Ads Free" version of the site for as little as 10¢ a day and support a great cause!
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

John 20

Verse 1

John 20:1 . Εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον ) unto the sepulchre . τὸν λίθον , the stone ) which had been rolled to the mouth of it, according to custom: ch. John 11:38 [Lazarus’ tomb, which was “a cave”].

Verse 2

John 20:2 . Καὶ πρὸς , and to ) From the preposition being repeated before both, it may be inferred that both disciples were not together. Yet they went forth together, after that one had sought out the other. It is not said that Mary Magdalene brought the tidings also to the mother of Jesus. The latter confined herself to the house. ἐφίλει , esteemed [‘diligebat’]) In other passages the word used is ἠγάπα , loved . [397] Comp. note on ch. John 21:15 . ΤῸΝ ΚΎΡΙΟΝ , the Lord ) She retains her exalted estimation of Jesus: John 20:15 , “My Lord.” οὐκ οἴδαμεν , we know not ) She speaks in the name of the other women also, or in that of the disciples, whom she knew to be distressed on the same account. [She perhaps was conjecturing that Joseph had laid the body of Jesus only for a time in his own sepulchre, until he should find another place for it. V. g.]

[397] ‘Amabat.’ But Trench reverses the words, making φιλεῖν answer to ‘amare;’ and ἀγαπᾶν to ‘diligere.’ The Vulgate mostly supports Trench’s view, giving also at times ‘osculari’ for. φιλεῖν . Here, however, some MSS. of Vulg. have ‘amabat,’ others ‘diligebat,’ as Bengel gives it. E. and T.

Verse 3

John 20:3 . Ἐξῆλθεν , went forth ) from the city.

Verse 4

John 20:4 . Προέδραμε , did run before ) Here there may be sweetly observed the distinguishing characteristics of the two disciples: faith in Peter, and love in John. τάχιον , more quickly ) Greater speed was appropriate in John, the younger of the two; greater gravity (sedateness) was appropriate in Peter, the elder. Neither, in his movements, has regard to the other; the regard of both is directed to the thing itself.

Verse 5

John 20:5 . Οὐ μέντοι εἰσῆλθεν , he did not however go in ) and on this account did not see the napkin (sudarium), etc. He seems to have been kept back through fear.

Verse 6

John 20:6 . Τὰ ὀθόνια κείμενα , the linen clothes lying ) Κείμενα , lying , is put before τὰ ὀθόνια in John 20:5 ; but τὰ ὀθόνια , the linen clothes , is put first in this passage, in antithesis to the napkin . The same participle, employed thrice, signifies, that these were not in a confused and hasty manner cast away. The angels without doubt ministered to Him at His resurrection; and one of them laid in order the linen clothes , the other the napkin . Comp. John 20:12 , “One angel at the head (where the sudarium had been), the other at the feet .” For it is probable that the angels had already been there, although Peter and John had not seen them. Comp. Matthew 28:2 , “The angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it” [which must have been before any disciple came to the tomb].

Verse 8

John 20:8 . Εἶδε , καὶ ἐπίστευσεν , saw, and believed ) He saw that the body of Jesus was not there, and he believed that it had been removed elsewhere, as Mary Magdalene had said, John 20:2 , [not, he believed in the resurrection of Jesus ]: comp. the following verse, “For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that He must rise again.”

Verse 10

John 20:10 . Ἀπῆλθον ) went away ; as if nothing more remained now to be done in this business. πάλιν , again ) as before. Comp. ch. John 16:32 , “Ye shall be scattered every man to his own;” Matthew 26:56 . πρὸς ἑαυτοὺς , to their own homes ) John 20:2 , “She cometh to Simon Peter,” i.e. to his house . Comp. “ Wolfii Curae” on this passage. οἱ μαθηταὶ , the disciples ) viz. Peter and John, being about to bring the tidings to the rest.

Verse 11

John 20:11 . Εἱστήκει , had stood ) with greater perseverance. πρὸς τῷ ) The Dative: John 20:12 , “ At the ( πρὸς τῇ ) head at the ( πρὸς τοῖς ) feet” ἔξω , without ) This denotes her deep feeling of affectionate piety; for usually persons weeping avail themselves of solitude, when they can.

Verse 12

John 20:12 . Καθεζομένους , sitting ) as if after having performed some service, and waiting for some one whom they might instruct.

Verse 13

John 20:13 . Γύναι , woman ) They address her respectfully, as if she were unknown to them. So John 20:15 , γύναι , woman ; a title of respect, answering to the Κύριε , Sir or Lord , in her reply. Comp. with this John 20:16 , Μαρία , Mary! τί κλαίεις ; why weepest thou? ) She ought rather to have wept, if she had found His dead body. [Her not finding it was really cause for joy, as implying that He had risen again.]

Verse 14

John 20:14 . Εἰποῦσα ἐστράφη , having said thus, she turned ) She does not attend to what one might speak, or who might speak it, in the sepulchre. It is Jesus that she is seeking.

Verse 15

John 20:15 . Ὁ κηπουρὸς ) The article indicates that the garden was a large one, such a one as could not be kept without a gardener . Κυριε , Sir, Lord ) Since she addresses with this title a gardener) dresser of herbs), she herself seems to have been in an humble position of life. αὐτὸν , Him ) She supposes that it must be evident at once to the gardener, who it is that she wants. ἀρῶ , I will take Him away ) out of the garden. She was ready to seek for a new sepulchre.

Verse 16

John 20:16 . Λέγει , saith ) with His wonted expression of countenance and accent. [A voice which, as we may suppose, poured such a flood of sweetness on her pious soul! V. g.] ἐκείνη , she ) believing at once.

Verse 17

John 20:17 . Μὴ μου ἅπτου , touch Me not ) She was wishing to do so in the way of adoration; but Jesus forbids it: For, 1) there was no need to touch Him, since she already believed: 2) there was close at hand, simultaneously with His ascension, the approaching state of a more elevated kind of faith, which required no touching to assure it: 3) the tidings were to be given without delay to the disciples; comp. Luke 10:4 , “Salute no man by the way” [the charge to the Seventy to avoid delay, as their business was urgent and Oriental salutations tedious]. οὔπω , not yet ) By this particle the Lord indicates, that the Ascension was immediately at hand, and that the disciples ought to make haste: for that it is for their sake that He delays, when He might immediately ascend. γὰρ , for ) The Ætiology [Assigning of a reason. See Append.]: do not touch Me: for thou oughtest to go away quickly to announce the tidings: afterwards thou, and those to whom thou shalt have announced them, shall be able both to see and to touch Me. δὲ , but ) The antithesis is between, I have not yet ascended , and, I ascend . ἀδελφούς μου , My brethren ) See on Matthew 25:40 . [At first He called them disciples ; then friends , John 15:15 ; and once, speaking of the cross, little sons ( τεκνία ): after the resurrection, παιδία , little children , ch. John 21:5 , and brethren .] [The words in Mat 12:50 rest on another and different principle, “Whosoever shall do the will of My Father in heaven, the same is My brother .” V. g.] He calls them brethren : for His Father is also at the same time their Father; and by the appellation of Brethren , He intimates His favourable (propitious) feeling towards them, though by their flight and denial of Him they had become unworthy of all their former position and grade, and He offers to them all the fruit of His resurrection: being presently after about also to renew their commission (the sending of them forth), nay, more, about to enlarge it: John 20:21 . ἀναβαίνω , I ascend ) This goes still further. He does not say, I have risen again ; nor, I will ascend ; but, I ascend . This time of the ascension is already regarded as present . Luke 9:51 , note “The time that He should be received up.” [Jesus all along from the first looked on to the goal, His assumption into heaven, and regarded the forty days after His resurrection, nay, even the events preceding, as only a kind of παρασκευή or Preparation for the one great day of His Ascension]. So the mention of His glorious coming is immediately connected with His ascension. See Acts 1:11 , “This same Jesus, winch is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” Wherein once it is said, He shall come ; afterwards it is always, He cometh , in the present. Hence the disciples of themselves were about to infer, that they must make haste, in order that they might see Jesus. He had often spoken of this ascension as close at hand, by employing the word ὑπάγω , I go away . πρὸς τὸν πατέρα μου καὶ πατέρα ὑμῶν , καὶ Θεόν μου καὶ Θεὸν ὑμῶν , to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God ) Christ called God His God thrice; on the cross, Matthew 27:46 , “ My God, My God ” etc.; after His resurrection, in this passage, and in the Apocalypse, ch. Revelation 2:7 , note. [398] Ordinarily and elsewhere, He is wont to call God by the title of His Father . He joins together both appellations, for the first time , in this place: He calls Him Father , since He derives His Origination from Him; He calls Him God (never, His Lord ), since He has Him for His End; and thus shows that He has every kind of tie binding Him to the God. Moreover, He freely bestows on His brethren a similar tie of relationship with the Father and God. He does not, however, say Our , but “ My Father and your Father,” etc. We have our relationship to God through Him: He has His in a manner altogether peculiar to Himself and primarily. Here, too, the saying holds good: God is the God (and Father), not of the dead, but of the living; comp. ch. John 14:19 , “Because I live, ye shall live also.”

[398] There seems some mistake here. The passage in which Jesus calls the Father My God , is ch. Revelation 3:12 ; not ch. Revelation 2:7 , “I will write upon Him the name of My God , and the name of the city of My God , new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God . E. and T.

Verse 19

John 20:19 . [ Τῇ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων , on the first day of the week ) It was not the Sabbath, but the day of the Resurrection, Sunday. V. g.] διὰ , on account of ) This assigns the reason why the disciples were met together, and why the doors were shut. ῆλθεν , came ) when the disciples were not thinking of Him, much less opening the doors. Εἰρήνη ὑμῖν , peace be unto you ) A most appropriate and seasonable salutation, whereby their fear of the guilt which they had incurred by their flight, was removed; and the offence [their stumbling at Him because of the cross] was healed. A usual formula, of extraordinary power. [Thrice the same formula is repeated, John 20:19 ; John 20:21 ; John 20:26 . The choice and peculiar gifts of the true Passover were, Peace, the mission, the Holy Spirit, remission of sins. When about to go away, He had left and had given peace to them, ch. John 14:27 , “Peace I leave unto you; My peace I give unto you;” ch. John 16:33 , “That in Me ye might have peace.” He now imparts peace to them. V. g.]

Verse 20

John 20:20 . Ἔδειξεν , He showed ) forthwith. ἐχάρησαν , they were glad ) The style of John has a delicate refinement in it. For their joy was great. ἴδοντες , at having seen ) John 20:18 . τὸν Κύριον , the Lord ) and that too, restored to life.

Verse 21

John 20:21 . Πάλιν , again ) They had not yet altogether comprehended the force of His former salutation: therefore it is repeated, and so is enlarged by additional words. εἰρήνη , peace ) This constitutes the foundation of the mission of the ministers of the Gospel: 2 Corinthians 4:1 , “Seeing we have this ministry , as we have received mercy , we faint not.” καθὼς , even as ) Christ is “the Apostle” of the Father, Hebrews 3:1 : Peter and the others were apostles of Christ. He does not discuss at large the subject of His resurrection, but takes for granted the evidence for it, and gives further instructions. ἀπέσταλκε · πέμπω ) These two verbs differ: in ἀποστέλλω the will of the Sender, and of Him who is sent, is had respect to; in πέμπω , the will of the Sender, as distinguished from the will of the person sent. πέμπω , I send ) Both this, and what goes before and what follows, are parallel to Isaiah 61:1 , “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings He hath sent Me,” etc.

Verse 22

John 20:22 . Καὶ ) and forthwith. ἐνεφύσησε , He breathed upon them) infusing into them a new vigour of life. This was more removed from them, than had he kissed them, and yet it was altogether efficacious. After His resurrection He did not touch mortals, although He allowed His disciples to handle His person. So Ezekiel 37:9 , ἐλθὲ τὸ πνεῦμα , καὶ ἐμφύσησον εἰς τοὺς νεκροὺς τούτους , καὶ ζησάτωσαν , “Come thou breath, and breathe upon these dead, and let them live. καὶ λέγει , and He saith ) Even as ye receive the breath (afflatus) from My mouth, saith He, so from My fulness, receive ye the Holy Spirit. [Which no doubt they had had previously: but which they received afterwards in larger measure. The breathing upon them in this place stands midway between both bestowals of the Spirit. V. g.] πνεῦμα ἅγιον , the Holy Spirit ) under Whose guidance ye may discharge the duties of your mission: Acts 13:9 , “Saul (who also is Paul) filled with the Holy Ghost.” This was an earnest of Pentecost.

Verse 23

John 20:23 . Ἄν τινων ) if of certain persons [“Whosesoever”]. ἀφῆτε · κρατῆτε , ye remit ye retain ) See note on Matthew 16:19 , “The binding and loosing ,” and “the keys ,” are given to Peter alone . [Comp. Matthew 18:18 , ‘Loose,’ and ‘bind,’ where subsequently , after the transfiguration, (1) the binding and (2) loosing are given also to the disciples in common ; the loosing to be exercised chiefly by prayer in the name of Christ (John 20:0 ). Now, after the resurrection, the order is reversed since the gate of salvation is opened, and the power is given (1) to remit, (2) to retain. See Hos 13:12 ]. ἀφίενται κεκράτηνται , are remitted have been retained ) The former is present: the latter, preterite [a distinction lost in the Engl. Vers.] The world IS under sin; comp. ch. John 3:18 ; John 3:36 , “He that believeth not is condemned already :” “The wrath of God abideth on him;” John 15:6 , “If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth and withered [viz. already , ἐβλήθη , ἐξηράνθη ; not merely, he shall be ]. No prophet of the Old Testament ever received so comprehensive a power as the apostles received in this place. [These latter, on account of their profound power of searching into minds, and on account of the extraordinary measure of that power imparted to them, there being added besides manifest miracles, and these such miracles as strike the senses, were able in a manner altogether peculiar to themselves either to remit or to retain . Nor, however, is power of this kind not applicable to (nor does it not belong to) all , who are endued with the Holy Spirit , whether they discharge the public duty of the ministry of the word, or do not. Nay, but the word of the Gospel can be available for the remission of sins to those who yield themselves up to the influence of the Holy Spirit, even though it be not applied by the mediation of ministers : Mark 16:16 , “He that believeth and is baptized , shall be saved, but he that believeth not , shall be damned;” and Luke 24:47 , “That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name,” are parallel to this passage. [399] V. g.]

[399] Which therefore is not to be interpreted of sacerdotal absolution and penance. E. and T.

Verse 24

John 20:24 . Ὁ λεγόμενος , who is called ) A formula of explaining or translating, similar to that in John 20:16 , which is to say . Among the Greeks Thomas was better known by his Greek name [ Δίδυμος , a twin , answering to the Heb. Thomas ]. οὐκ ἦν μετʼ αὐτῶν , had not been with them ) because perhaps he had his dwelling at a greater distance, and had been late in hearing of the resurrection. Afterwards however he became partaker of the gift which is mentioned, John 20:21-23 . For neither time, nor place, excludes the Spirit’s operation. Numbers 11:29 [Eldad and Medad in the camp, “the Spirit rested upon them, but they went not out unto the tabernacle,” where the rest of the seventy elders received the Spirit.]

Verse 25

John 20:25 . Ἔλεγον , the other disciples said ) He seems to have come a little while after. ἑωράκαμεν , we have seen ) Without doubt they spake to him also concerning the marks in the Lord’s hands and side. ἐάν μὴ , unless ) Professed and avowed unbelief. He demands that he should both see and touch; that he must have the evidence of the two distinct senses; [He refuses to be inferior at least to the other disciples ( i.e . he requires to have at least as much evidence given him as was given to them) John 20:20 , “He showed unto them His hands and His side .” V. g.]; and he does not say, If I shall see, I will believe, but only, “Unless I shall see, I will not believe.” Nor does he think that he shall see, even though the others say that they have seen. Without doubt he seemed to himself to be entertaining and expressing sentiments altogether judicious: but unbelief, whilst it attributes defect in judgment to others, often itself cherishes and betrays hardness of heart, and in that hardness slowness of belief. Mark 16:14 , “He upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart , because they believed not them that had seen Him after He was risen;” Luke 24:25 , “O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” ἐν ταῖς χερσὶν αὐτοῦ , in His hands ) He uses the words of the disciples. Comp. John 20:20 .

Verse 26

John 20:26 . Μετὰ ἡμέρας ὀκτὼ , after eight days ) the first day of the week again (Sunday). There had been therefore no appearance vouchsafed during the intervening days. [But for how many periods of eight days, not to say periods of eight years, hast thou cherished unbelief? V. g.] τῶν θυρῶν κεκλεισμένων , the doors having been shut ) Not yet had they altogether ceased to fear. ἐιρήνη , peace ) a third time: John 20:19 ; John 20:21 .

Verse 27

John 20:27 . Τῶ Θωμᾷ , to Thomas ) He had previously believed: on this account he is not even now cast away. φέρε , reach ) apply to. τὶν δάκτυλόν σου , thy finger ) Thomas’ own words are retorted upon him: how must he have been astonished, we may suppose, at the omniscience and goodness of the Saviour! If a Pharisee had spoken thus, unless I shall see , etc., he would have obtained nothing; but to a disciple that has been formerly approved of, there is nothing that is not given. ὧδε , hither ) The Demonstrative. ἴδε ) touch and see . Thomas had said, ἐὰν μὴ ἴδω , unless I shall see . πιστὸς , believing ) He had said, I will not believe .

Verse 28

John 20:28 . Αὐτῷ , unto Him ) Therefore it was Jesus whom he called Lord and God , and that too, his Lord and his God: which is in consonance with the language which is recorded in John 20:17 : nor do these words form a mere exclamation. The disciples had said, τὸν Κύριον , the Lord , John 20:25 : now Thomas, being recalled to faith, not merely acknowledges Jesus to be Lord, as previously he had himself acknowledged, and that He was risen again, as his fellow-disciples were affirming; but even confesses His Godhead in a higher sense than any one had yet confessed. Moreover, the language is abrupt through the suddenness of the feeling excited in him, in this sense, “My Lord and my God,” I believe and acknowledge that Thou art my Lord and my God: and the absolute appellation has the force of an enunciation. A similar Vocative occurs twice in John 20:16 , also in Hosea 2:23 , “I will say, thou, my people, and they shall say, Thou, my God.” Artemonius in Part 1 Chronicles 24:0 , with which comp. the pref. p. 20 and p. d. 2, brings forward a new explanation, whereby Thomas is made to call Jesus Lord , and the Father who exists in Him inseparably, God : but in that case Thomas would not have addressed both titles unto Him ( αὐτῷ ); but would have been addressing the one to Jesus, the other to the Father, by a sudden apostrophe, [When the language is suddenly turned to another person present or absent, differently from what was the intention of the speaker at the beginning. Append.] which by no means accords with the admiring astonishment of Thomas. If this had been the intention of Thomas, John would not have added, αὐτῷ , unto Him . Thomas had not before expressly rejected faith in God the Father, but he had, in the case of Christ: therefore now it is not in the Father that he declares expressly his believing again, but in Christ. [This confession moreover is approved of in the following verse. V. g.]

Verse 29

John 20:29 . Ἑώρακας ) thou hast seen and hast touched Me. πεπίστευκας , thou hast believed ) Thou dost exercise faith. μακάριοι , blessed ) The blessedness of Thomas is not denied, but the rare and richly-favoured lot of those is specially declared, who believe without seeing. For even in the case of the rest of the apostles, it was when they had seen, and not until then that they believed. [There is hardly a doubt but that the apostles accounted the general multitude of believers who had not seen Jesus, as standing higher in that respect than themselves. V. g.]

Verse 30

John 20:30 . Πολλὰ , many things ) John 2:23 ; John 3:2 ; John 6:2 ; John 7:31 , “When Christ cometh, will He do more miracles than these , which this man doeth?” ἐποίησεν , did ) before His passion, and after His resurrection: for there is added, in the presence of His disciples . The disciples saw His signs (miracles) more than others did, before His passion; [in such a way, however, as that (though not seeing all ) any one of the disciples was spectator of almost all the signs, and therefore a legitimate witness. V. g.]: they alone saw them after the resurrection: Both are treated of in this Gospel; but those last mentioned are especially referred to in this summary [Symperasma. See Append.] which appropriately, immediately after the mention of Thomas’ faith, recommends faith to all, as the scope of the book. τούτῳ , this ) book of John. Add, in the books also of the other Evangelists.

Verse 31

John 20:31 . Ἵνα , that ) The scope of the Gospel. These signs, which have been written, when we join to them those also which Matthew, Mark, and Luke, have written, demonstrate, indeed abundantly, the glory of Christ. Look at the synopsis of the miracles which exhibit the omniscience and omnipotence of Jesus Christ in the Harmony of the Gospels , p. 381, 383 (ed. ii., p. 605, 609). [I propose to give here, as I have done heretofore, the following twofold synopsis, for the sake of some readers. I reserve the proofs of His omniscience to ch. John 21:17 . He gave proofs of His omnipotence when He converted the water into wine, John 2:6 , etc.: Purified the temple, ch. John 2:13 , etc.; Mark 11:15 , etc.: Removed fever, ch. John 4:47 , with which comp John 4:52 ; Matthew 8:14-15 : Cleansed the leper ( Mat 8:2-3 ), nay, even ten lepers at the same time, Luke 17:12 , etc.: Healed those sick of the palsy, Matthew 8:5 , etc., Matthew 9:2 , etc.: Restrained and cast out demons, Mark 1:23-24 ; Matthew 8:28-29 ; Matthew 9:32-33 ; Matthew 12:22 ; Matthew 15:22 , etc.; Mark 9:17 , etc.; Luke 11:14 : Applied His healing power to diseases of years’ continuance, John 12:18 ; John 12:38 ; Matthew 9:20 , etc.; Luke 13:11 , etc.; John 5:5 , etc.: Bestowed sight on the blind (Matthew 9:27-28 ; Mark 8:22-23 ; Mat 20:30-31 ), nay, even on one born blind (John 9:1 , etc.): Restored the withered hand, Matthew 12:10-11 : Commanded the wind and sea (Matthew 8:26 ; Mar 6:51 ), also the fishes, Luke 5:4-5 ; Matthew 17:27 ; John 21:6 : Fed abundantly at one time five, at another time four, thousand with a few loaves, Matthew 14:18-21 ; Matthew 15:34-38 : Raised the dead, Matthew 9:18 , etc.; Luke 7:11 , etc.: John 11:1 , etc.: Gave to the disciples also power to perform miracles, Matthew 10:1 ; Matthew 14:28-29 ; Luke 10:9 ; Luke 10:17 ; Luke 10:19 ; Mark 16:20 . To these are to be added, the cursing of the fig-tree, Matthew 21:18 : The efficacy of His word, I am He let these go their way (His enemies fell to the ground , Joh 20:6 ), John 18:4 , etc.: The healing of Malchus, Luke 22:51 : The miraculous feast, John 21:9 . Very often crowds of sick persons were healed, Matthew 4:23 ; Luke 5:17 ; Matthew 9:35 ; Matthew 12:15 ; Mark 6:5 : Matthew 14:11 ; Mark 6:54 , etc.; Matthew 15:30 ; Matthew 19:2 ; Matthew 21:14 : demoniacs especially, Matthew 4:24-25 ; Matthew 8:16 ; Mark 1:39 , Luke 7:21 ; Luke 8:2 . In general, even at once, immediately after the commencement of His ministry, many miracles are recorded, John 2:23 . In the person of the Saviour Himself altogether, remarkable ones occur: His fasting, Matthew 4:2 : His going forth out of the hands of His enemies, Luke 4:29-30 ; John 8:59 : His walking on the sea, Matthew 14:25 : His transfiguration on the mountain. Matthew 17:1 , etc.: His death, resurrection, appearances, ascension, Matthew 27:0 ; Mark 15:0 ; Luke 23:0 ; John 19:0 , with the following chapters. Therefore Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God . Harm ., l. c.]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 20". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.