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Bible Commentaries
John 20

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

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Verse 1

Joh 20:1

John 20:1

Now on the first day of the week—The body of Jesus had been hastily buried on Friday evening to avoid breaking the Sabbath. The care in embalming him had not been as care­fully done as the women who followed him desired. They had bought perfumes on Friday afternoon. (Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1). The approach of the Sabbath caused them to delay the completion of their kind offices until Sunday morn­ing. With the first dawn of the morning they appeared with the spices to complete the work. [This was our Sunday, here called “The first day of the week.” The Sabbath ended at sunset so that Jesus had been dead and buried Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday morning, beginning at the previous sunset, three days according to Jewish reckoning. (1 Samuel 30:12-13; 2 Chronicles 10:5; 2 Chronicles 10:12).]

cometh Mary Magdalene early, while it was yet dark, unto the tomb,—John mentions only Mary Magdalene; Matthew 28:2 and Mark 16:1 mentions also Mary the mother of Jesus, and Salome. John gives prominence to Mary Mag­dalene. She had been possessed of seven demons, most likely quite a sinner. The demons had been cast out of her, her many sins forgiven her, and she loved much—was much de­voted to her Lord. For this devotion special mention is made of her service. [They had prepared spices to anoint and embalm the body.]

and seeth the stone taken away from the tomb.—They had anticipated difficulty in rolling away the stone from the door of the vault that they might enter. They found it rolled away, saw the angels and empty tomb, and went and told the disciples. (Matthew 28:2-4).

Verses 1-9

Joh 20:1-9

The Empty Tomb - John 20:1-9

Open It

1. What is one dark moment of your life that ended happily?

2. *Why do people visit the grave sites of close friends and family members?

3. About what sort of news would you get excited right now?

Explore It

4. *What did Mary Magdalene discover when she went to Jesus’ tomb? (John 20:1)

5. What did Mary Magdalene tell Peter? When? (John 20:2)

6. Who responded to the news Mary brought? (John 20:3)

7. *How did Peter respond to what Mary told him? (John 20:3)

8. Who examined Jesus’ tomb? (John 20:4-5)

9. What did John discover when he arrived at the tomb? (John 20:4-5)

10. What did Peter discover when he arrived at the tomb? (John 20:6-7)

11. What did John do after he looked in the tomb? (John 20:8)

12. *How did John respond to what he found in the tomb? (John 20:8)

13. What did Peter and John not understand even after they visited Jesus’ empty tomb? (John 20:9)

Get It

14. Why do you think Mary went to the tomb?

15. *If you had been either Mary, Peter, or John, what thoughts would have run through your mind when you discovered the empty tomb?

16. When have you made an exciting, unexpected discovery?

17. How do you usually respond to life’s unexpected events?

18. *What motivates us to share our surprises (both pleasant and unpleasant) with other people?

19. When has a positive happening in your life appeared at first to be a confusing, unfortunate, or tragic event?

Apply It

20. What truths of the gospel do you want to investigate more closely over the next few weeks? How can you?

21. *Whom do you need to tell about the empty tomb of Christ? How?

22. How can you celebrate the resurrection of Christ?

Verse 2

Joh 20:2

John 20:2

She runneth therefore, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved,—They find Peter and John and tell the strange discovery. No thought of a resur­rection seems to have entered the minds of either of the apos­tles or the women, notwithstanding Jesus had so often told them he would rise. The women were not led by faith, but by love, to the tomb to perform the last rites of respect and love for one who had been their true friend and helper while alive. [Mary Magdalene left the other women and ran to carry this news to the apostles. The others walked on and had the experience described in Matthew 28:5-8; Mark 16:5-8; Luke 24:3-9 and left the tomb.]

and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we know not where they have laid him.—The only thought that came to their minds was that he had been taken away and they knew not where to find his body. This shows how difficult it is to see and accept things that are contrary to our fixed convictions and desires. [She had jumped at this conclusion from the sight of the open sep­ulchre, for none were expecting a resurrection.]

Verse 3

Joh 20:3

John 20:3

Peter therefore went forth and the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb.—Peter seems to have led in the start with his characteristic promptness. John first reached the tomb, but went not in. His timidity likely caused him to pause at the entrance, but he looked in and saw the cloths lying.

Verse 4

Joh 20:4

John 20:4

And they ran both together: and the other disciple out­ran Peter, and came first to the tomb;—[Their emotion would not allow them to walk.]

Verse 5

Joh 20:5

John 20:5

and stooping and looking in, he seeth the linen cloths lying; yet entered he not in.—[He was too timid to enter the tomb immediately. He went close enough to see the linen in which Jesus had been wrapped.]

Verse 6

Joh 20:6

John 20:6

Simon Peter therefore also cometh, following him, and entered into the tomb; and he beholdeth the linen cloths lying,—[How characteristic this is of Peter who twice plunged into the sea to meet Jesus. He hesitates not a moment, like the timid John, but springs at once into the tomb.]

Verse 7

Joh 20:7

John 20:7

and the napkin, that was upon his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but rolled up in a place by itself.—Peter, coming up without hesitation, entered the tomb and found the cloths folded carefully, showing deliberation and care in disposing of them. [This napkin doubtless held the mouth closed. Its position and condition shows a calm preparation to leave the tomb instead of a hasty removal of the body.]

Verse 8

Joh 20:8

John 20:8

Then entered in therefore the other disciple also, who came first to the tomb, and he saw, and believed.—[Doubt­less believed that Jesus had risen from the grave.] John, after Peter had entered, also entered, saw and believed. It is not clear as to the extent of his belief. As yet they had not understood what he meant when he said he would rise from the dead. Now the truth began to dawn on their minds that he had been made alive and had risen from the dead.

Verse 9

Joh 20:9

John 20:9

For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.—[Scriptures mentioned include Psalms 16:10; Isaiah 53:10-11. John desires to emphasize the fact that his faith was founded on what he witnessed with no pre­vious expectations founded on scripture.]

Verse 10

Joh 20:10

John 20:10

So the disciples went away again unto their own home.—Finding the tomb empty, the body gone, these two disci­ples went away to their places of abode in Jerusalem.

Verses 10-18

Joh 20:10-18

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene - John 20:10-18

Open It

1. How has someone recently surprised you with what he or she did or said?

2. *What is the most exciting news you’ve heard this week?

Explore It

3. What did Mary and the disciples do after seeing that Jesus’ body was gone? (John 20:10-11)

4. What did Mary see where Jesus’ body had been? (John 20:12)

5. *What did the angels ask Mary? (John 20:13)

6. How did Mary answer the angels’ question? (John 20:13)

7. Who tried to comfort Mary? (John 20:14-15)

8. What question did Jesus ask Mary? (John 20:15)

9. How did Mary respond to Jesus’ question? (John 20:15)

10. *What happened when Mary realized who was talking to her? (John 20:16)

11. Why did Jesus tell Mary not to hold on to Him? (John 20:17)

12. *What did Jesus tell Mary to tell His brothers? (John 20:17)

13. What did Mary do? (John 20:18)

Get It

14. How would you respond if you met someone you had presumed to be dead?

15. What would you do if you saw an angel?

16. Over what loss have you recently shed tears?

17. How do you think Mary felt when she realized she was talking to Jesus?

18. When is it tempting to hold on to something good rather than share it with others?

19. *If you had been one of the disciples who had heard Mary’s exciting news, how do you think you would have reacted?

20. *When have you been exceptionally thrilled about your relationship with Christ?

21. How can you demonstrate your devotion to Jesus?

Apply It

22. Who is someone you want to tell about the news of Jesus’ resurrection? How can you?

23. *How can you celebrate your relationship with the living Christ this week?

Verse 11

Joh 20:11

John 20:11

But Mary was standing without at the tomb weeping: so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb;—Mary, with her feelings wrought up, disappointed and sup­posing that some one had moved his body to a permanent resting place, lingered near the grave and relieved her over­burdened feelings by weeping. She again stooped down and looked into the sepulchre. [Jesus had been everything to Mary in a spiritual way. He had freed her from the influence of seven devils. Around him all her hopes had centered, and now to be deprived of the privilege of embalming his body, the last sad rite of affection to his lacerated body seemed to be greater than she could bear.]

Verse 12

Joh 20:12

John 20:12

and she beholdeth two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.—[Two angels known by their bright attire sat, one at the head, the other at the feet, of where Jesus had lain.]

Verse 13

Joh 20:13

John 20:13

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.—They ask the question doubtless to open the way to say unto them: “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen; remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying that the Son of man must be delivered up into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” (Luke 24:5-7). “Go quickly, and tell his disciples, He is risen from the dead; and lo, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.” (Matthew 28:7).

Verse 14

Joh 20:14

John 20:14

When she had thus said, she turned herself back, and beholdeth Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.—Jesus was standing near and as she turned from speaking to the angels she beholdeth him. She was so troubled in spirit that she did not look with care and did not discern that it was Jesus.

Verse 15

Joh 20:15

John 20:15

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.—When Jesus spoke to her she still did not recognize him, but took for granted it was the keeper of the garden who would know of the removal and so asked if he had removed it to let her know and she would take charge of the body. [Observe the realistic touch in the use of the pronoun “him” as though she knew that the gardener understood who she meant. In her intense love for, and grief of the body, she seems to forget womanly physical weakness, and proposes doing the work of men.]

Verse 16

Joh 20:16

John 20:16

Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turneth herself, and saith unto him in Hebrew, Rabboni; which is to say, Teacher.—Jesus, in a tone of tender reproach for not recognizing him, spoke her name with emphasis in a tone she well knew. She recognized the voice, and turned and called him, Rabboni.

[All the former richness of tone of Jesus who spake as never man spake was in that single name that she had heard so often from his lips, and she recognized him immediately and addressed him as Teacher.]

Verse 17

Joh 20:17

John 20:17

Jesus saith to her, Touch me not;—She ran to him, prostrated herself at his feet, and as Matthew 28:9 says “took hold of his feet, and worshipped him.” They did touch him as he afterwards had Thomas to do.

for I am not yet ascended unto the Father:—It is difficult to determine what is meant here. Was this done before the final ascension? Some interpret it to “cling to” instead of “touch,” and that he meant to tell them not to cling to him, for he would not leave them immediately, but go and tell his disciples that he would meet them in Galilee. This was an assurance that the time had not yet come for him to leave them.

but go unto my brethren, and say to them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and my God and your God.—[Why did he not say our Father and our God since he included both himself and them? For the reason he is not our Father, our God in the same sense that he is his Father and God.]

Verse 18

Joh 20:18

John 20:18

Mary Magdalene cometh and telleth the disciples, I have seen the Lord; and that he had said these things unto her.—Mary went to make his resurrection known to his disci­ples and to deliver his message to them. Peter and John had seen the empty tomb and were prepared somewhat for the information of his appearance, but Mark 16:11 says, “And they, when they heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, disbelieved.” [John does not mention their unbelief because he himself believed (John 20:8), and he could not men­tion their unbelief without an invidious distinction. Mary Magdalene was the first to tell the story of the resurrection.]

Verse 19

Joh 20:19

John 20:19

When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disci­ples were, for fear of the Jews,—The crucifixion of Jesus filled his disciples with fear as to their fate. So at evening they were met together to discuss the wondrous reports they had heard during the day. They did it within closed doors lest they should attract the attention and incur the hostility of the Jews.

Jesus came and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.—[He suddenly appeared among them. How he did it, by miracle, or otherwise, it is useless for any one to discuss, since it is an untaught question. It is enough for us to know and accept the fact.]

Verses 19-23

Joh 20:19-23

Jesus Appears to His Disciples - John 20:19-23

Open It

1. Where is it dangerous to openly follow Christ today?

2. What hideaways did you have when you were growing up?

3. *What friend or relative that you haven’t seen for a while would you be overjoyed to see again?

Explore It

4. What day of the week was it when the disciples were together? (John 20:19)

5. Why did the disciples have the doors locked? (John 20:19)

6. Who surprised the disciples in their hideaway? (John 20:19)

7. *What did Jesus say to the disciples? When? (John 20:19)

8. What did Jesus show His disciples? Why? (John 20:20)

9. *How did the disciples respond to seeing Jesus? (John 20:20)

10. What greeting did Jesus repeat? (John 20:21)

11. What did Jesus tell His disciples about their future? (John 20:21)

12. Why did Jesus breathe on His disciples? (John 20:22)

13. What did Jesus tell the disciples to receive? (John 20:22)

14. *What did Jesus tell His disciples about forgiving sins? (John 20:23)

Get It

15. When have you been afraid to follow Jesus openly?

16. *If you had been in that room with the disciples, how might you have reacted when Jesus appeared?

17. *When have you been overjoyed to see someone?

18. To whom has Jesus sent us?

19. To whom has Jesus sent you?

20. Why is it important for us to forgive others?

21. When is it most difficult for you to forgive?

22. What can we do to become forgiving of others?

Apply It

23. Whom do you need to forgive?

24. Whose forgiveness do you need to seek? How can you?

25. *With whom do you want to share your joy in Christ?

Verse 20

Joh 20:20

John 20:20

And when he had said this, he showed unto them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord.—While his wounds did not now create the suffering and pain that such wounds would in other persons, else he could not have been able to walk around as he did, still the gaping wounds were there into which they could thrust their fingers and these he showed to his disciples to produce perfect assurance that he was the same Jesus that they had seen nailed to the cross. The effect was to fill their hearts with gladness to see their Lord. [Seven days later Jesus shows his wounds to Thomas. The resurrected body still carried these proofs of his suffering and love. Sixty years later, when the apostle at Patmos saw the Lion of the tribe of Judah, he beheld “a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain.” Whether our Lord in glory will continue to bear the marks of the cross and whether these will forever, as we live with him in glory, remind us of the story of our redemp­tion, I shall not discuss. Suffice it to say, that when the apostles saw Jesus they were glad.]

Verse 21

Joh 20:21

John 20:21

Jesus therefore said to them again, Peace be unto you:—He again pronounces the benediction of peace upon them and announces

as the Father hath sent me, even so send I you.—For the same purpose and end. He was sent by the Father. By the same authority Jesus sends them. The authority of the Father and of the Son was to be present with the apostles. [The apostles are the executors of the New Testament that comes into force after the testator dies (Hebrews 9:15-17) and are to be sent forth to declare its provisions to a lost world. This is the first development of the Great Commission, which is more fully developed in Galilee a little later, and finally com­pleted on Mount Olivet, just before he ascended.]

Verse 22

Joh 20:22

John 20:22

And when he had said this, he breathed on them,—This verse presents difficulties. Does it mean he blew his breath on his eleven disciples here assembled and that they were at once authorized to forgive or retain sins, to proclaim terms of pardon to the world. This would not be in harmony with his telling them to tarry at Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high. (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:7).

and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit:—Meaning when the Spirit should come. They showed no indication of having received the Spirit until received on the day of Pen­tecost. [Breath is the symbol of life. When God created man, he breathed into him the breath of life. (Genesis 2:7).]

Verse 23

Joh 20:23

John 20:23

whose soever sins ye forgive, they are forgiven unto them; whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.—It was a promise that the Holy Spirit would come to them and when he came they would be authorized to lay down the conditions on which they could be forgiven. God alone forgives sin, and the apostles proclaimed the conditions as he gave them on which sins could be forgiven and which they could not be forgiven.

Verse 24

Joh 20:24

John 20:24

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.—Thomas always appears incredulous and slow to believe, given to looking on the dark side. He was not present when Jesus appeared to the dis­ciples at night, nor any of the appearances of Jesus on the day of his resurrection. When told that they had seen Jesus, he firmly protested that he would not believe.

Verses 24-31

Joh 20:24-31

Jesus Appears to Thomas - John 20:24-31

Open It

1. Why do people write books?

2. *What book (besides the Bible) have you enjoyed most?

3. When have you doubted a story from a reliable source?

Explore It

4. What disciple was not with the others when Jesus appeared to them? (John 20:24)

5. What had the other disciples told Thomas? (John 20:24)

6. *What did Thomas say he needed in order to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead? (John 20:25)

7. How did Jesus restore Thomas’s faith? (John 20:26)

8. *What did Jesus say to Thomas? (John 20:27)

9. What did Thomas say in response to Jesus’ words? (John 20:28)

10. *What did Jesus say about seeing and believing? (John 20:29)

11. What did John leave out of his Gospel? (John 20:30)

12. Why was the book of John written? (John 20:31)

13. What results from believing that Jesus is the Son of God? (John 20:31)

Get It

21. When have you had doubts about your faith in Christ?

22. How should we deal with our doubts about Christianity?

23. *Why is it difficult to believe in Christ?

24. In what ways do we need to trust Christ?

25. On what evidence do you rely for your belief that Jesus rose from the dead?

26. *What sort of evidence for the truth of Christianity has John given us?

Apply It

27. What doubts concerning your faith in Christ do you want to discuss with a knowledgeable believer?

28. How can you use the Gospel of John to tell others about Jesus?

Verse 25

Joh 20:25

John 20:25

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 put my hand into his side, I will not believe.—When told by the other disciples that they had seen Jesus, he protested that he would not believe either them or his own senses. In addition to seeing and hearing him he should put his fingers in the nail-prints and thrust his hand into the pierced side.

Verse 26

Joh 20:26

John 20:26

And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.—After eight days they were all again assembled and Thomas was present. The doors were shut and Jesus again stood in their midst and again spake peace to them.

Verse 27

Joh 20:27

John 20:27

Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and see my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and put it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.—He at once ad­dressed himself to Thomas and proposed to meet the con­ditions he demanded. He held out his hands and his feet, asked him to place his finger in the nail-prints, and presented

his side, and asked him to thrust his hand into the wound, and believe.

Verse 28

Joh 20:28

John 20:28

Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.—Thomas was not so hard of belief as he had thought. When he saw Jesus he believed without thrusting in his fingers or his hand and exclaimed, "My Lord and my God.” The evidence came, and his conclusion was that he was both Ruler and God.

Verse 29

Joh 20:29

John 20:29

Jesus saith unto him, Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.—While he presented these evidences to the senses of the apostles, he expected the world through all the ages to come to believe in him through the testimony of these apostles and other evidence that God would give to the world. So he reproved the lack of faith of Thomas by pronouncing a blessing on all who should believe without seeing him.

Verse 30

Joh 20:30

John 20:30

Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book:—Jesus did many other miracles after his resurrection beside those mentioned in this book. “This book” means the book written by John. [Much that Jesus did both before and after his resurrection is not recorded. Each historian recorded some features of his work that the others omitted, and each of them reveal the fact that they only outlined his work.]

Verse 31

Joh 20:31

John 20:31

but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;—These mentioned in the book were written to the end that those who read the book may believe.

and that believing ye may have life in his name.—The faith is based on the testimony given in the writings concerning Christ, his work, and teaching. The faith leads to put on Christ, enter into his name, and as a servant of Christ, as a member of the body of Christ, might so act as to attain to eternal life. [Producing faith in Christ is the object of all gospel history. They so reveal Christ as to produce faith in him. “So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17). “Here, with these words, John ends the great argument that he entered upon with the first chapter and which continues with unbroken connection until it reaches its culmination in the remarkable declaration of the purpose which he had written. The chain of argument embraces the testimony of Moses and the prophets, the witness of John the Baptist, whom the Jews acknowledged as a man of God, the wonderful life of Christ, the supernatural wisdom and authority of his teaching, his supernatural works, and last and greatest of all, the fact of his death, burial and resurrection. The last is the crowning argument, and it is after he has established it beyond a doubt, if such a wonder­ful fact can be proven by human testimony, that he closes with the declaration: These are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, etc.”]

Questions on John Chapter Twenty

E.M. Zerr

1. What day is mentioned?

2. What period of the day is mentioned?

3. Who came to the grave?

4. Upon arriving what did she see?

5. Why had this stone been there?

6. To whom did she go?

7. What was the news to them?

8. Upon hearing this what did they do?

9. Who arrived first at the tomb?

10. What did he see?

11. When did he enter?

12. What was observed about the clothes?

13. When did John see and believe?

14. What scripture was still overlooked by them?

15. Where did they go now?

16. Tell who was still standing there.

17. And what was she doing?

18. Whom did she see in the sepulchre?

19. How were they sitting?

20. Repeat their question.

21. What did Mary think had happened?

22. Tell who was standing near her.

23. What was his question to her?

24. Whom did she think him to be?

25. And what did she think he had done?

26. At what did she recognize him?

27. What did she call him?

28. Tell what had not yet taken place.

29. What was she told not to do?

30. But instead, to do what?

31. Did she obey?

32. Who appeared that evening?

33. Why were the doors shut?

34. Tell what he said.

35. He then displayed what to them?

36. How were the disciples made to feel?

37. What was said about the Father?

38. Jesus then bade them receive what?

39. What power over sins did this impart?

40. Which one was not present at first?

41. Tell what this man was called.

42. Repeat the announcement made to him.

43. Did he accept it?

44. Did he deny it?

45. What evidence did he require?

46. How long till the next meeting?

47. Who was present then?

48. Tell who came to them again.

49. Through which door did he enter?

50. What did he say to them?

51. Then what did he tell Thomas to do?

52. He should then be how?

53. Did it turn out so?

54. State the observation Jesus made.

55. Were these the only signs Jesus did?

56. These were written for what purpose?

57. What were they to believe?

58. What would the belief bring?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on John 20". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/john-20.html.
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