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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
John 20

 

 

Verses 1-29

The Seventh Miracle: The Testimony of Our Glorification (The Jesus' Resurrection) ( Matthew 28:1-20, Mark 16:1-18, Luke 24:1-12; Luke 24:36-49) - John 20:1-29 records the seventh and greatest miracle of Jesus earthly ministry, which is the story of His resurrection. This wonderful miracle testifies of our future glorification in which we will also put on immortality. This passage gives us four testimonies of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. The witnesses of Peter & John at the Tomb — John 20:1-10

2. The witness of Mary Magdalene at the Tomb — John 20:11-18

3. The witness of the Disciples — John 20:19-23

4. The witness of Thomas — John 20:24-29

The Climax of the Gospel of Mark - Romans 1:4 tells us that the miracle of the Resurrection was the single most important event that declared the deity of Jesus Christ. It says that He was "declared the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." This means that John's testimony of Jesus' resurrection is the climax to his Gospel, for this single witness proves what John is trying to establish throughout his Gospel, which is undeniable proof of Jesus' deity.

Romans 1:4, "And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:"

John 20:1-10 — Witnesses of Peter and John at the Tomb ( Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12) - John 20:1-10 tells us the story of Peter and John's witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Reason for the Distinction between the Observations of Mary and Peter and John - It is interesting to note that Mary Magdalene did not enter the tomb to examine the burial cloth; but she simply saw the open tomb and assumed the body had been taken ( John 20:1-2). However, Peter and John enter the tomb and come to a different conclusion, believing that Jesus had risen ( John 20:8-10) based upon the shape of the cloth ( John 20:5-7). Perhaps this is the reason the apostle John takes time to comment on how the head cloth was laid separate from the body cloth. Perhaps the cloth was still wrapped the way it was shaped around Jesus' body. In other words, a thief would have unwrapped the cloth and thrown the cloth down in haste. This cloth was probably wrapped in the same manner as it was when it enclosed the body, and Peter and John observed this difference.

John 20:1 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.

John 20:1Comments - Biblical scholars hold two views as to the time and day when the women first visited the empty tomb, stating they either arrived Saturday evening or Sunday morning. Mark and Luke clearly state that the women discovered the empty tomb early Sunday morning ( Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1). However, statements made by Matthew and John are not so clear, leaving room for debate ( Matthew 28:1, John 20:1). Thus, scholars use the accounts of Matthew and John as the basis for an argument of a Saturday evening discovery of the empty tomb, although the Sunday morning view is generally preferred by scholars.

Matthew 28:1, "In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre."

Mark 16:2, "And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun."

Luke 24:1, "Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them."

John 20:1, "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."

Modern English versions offer translations that reflect both views, translating the Greek phrase ὀψὲ δὲ σαββάτων in Matthew 28:1 as "after the Sabbath day" (NIV, RSV), or "towards the end of the Sabbath day" (ASV, AV, YLT). 291]

291] A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (New York: Hodder and Stoughton, n.d.), 645-646.

Alfred Edersheim says the Jewish day begins at evening ( p.m.) instead of midnight, as is used in the modern Western civilization. 292] Thus, if we understand the women to be making their way to the tomb before 6:00 p.m. Saturday evening, then they would have arrived as "the end of the Sabbath day" ( Matthew 28:1), while it was still Saturday, so that the first day of the week "began to dawn" at 6:00 p.m. on our Saturday evening. This is how Rotherham brings out his translation:

292] Alfred Edersheim says, "It is noteworthy that in Genesis 1we always read, ‘And the evening and the morning were the first day,' or second, or third day, etc. Hence the Jews calculate the day from evening to evening, that Isaiah , from the first appearance of the stars in the evening to the first appearance of stars next evening, and not, as we do, from midnight to midnight." See Alfred Edersheim, The Bible History Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eedmann Publishing Company, c 1876-1887, 1984) 19.

Rotherham, "And, late in the week, when it was on the point of dawning into the first of the week, came Mary the Magdalene, and the other Mary, to view the sepulchre."

However, the NIV interprets Matthew 28:1 to mean the dawning of the following Sunday morning after the Sabbath. This is generally the preferred interpretation, that the women went to the tomb early Sunday morning as daylight began to dawn.

NIV, "After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb."

This issue over how to translate Matthew 28:1 is not a new one, but dates back to the early Church fathers. Eusebius gives an alternative explanation to these verses. Williams and Caffin quote Eusebius (A.D 260 to 340) on his comparison of Matthew 28:1 and John 20:1 by saying,

"The expression, ‘on the eve of the Sabbath', is due to the translator of the Scripture; for the Evangelist Matthew published his Gospel in the Hebrew tongue; but the person who rendered it into the Greek language changed it and called the hour of dawning on the Lord's Day." (Quaestionum ad Marinum 21) 293]

293] A. Lukyn Williams and Benjamin C. Caffin. Matthew , in The Pulpit Commentary, eds. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1950), in Ages Digital Library, v 10 [CD-ROM] (Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc, 2001), "Introduction: 4What Was the Original Language of the Gospel." The Greek text of this passage is found in PG 22col 941a.

John 20:3Comments- We know that the Jews believed that a matter was confirmed in the mouth of two or three witnesses. Therefore, in a court of law, at least two witnesses were needed to prove that a matter was true. This is very likely why the Lord sent two angels to testify to the disciples of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This may help explain why Peter and John went to the tomb together to verify the resurrection.

John 20:5 Comments- Note it was probably still a little dark at this time.

John 20:11-18 — The Witness of Mary Magdalene at the Tomb ( Mark 16:9-11) - This passage of Scripture which tells us of Mary Magdalene's experience at the empty tomb of Jesus makes three references to the fact that she wept. Also within this short passage are the accounts of her having two divine visions. I believe that our tears have a tremendous impact upon the heart of God. I believe that it was Mary's tears that allowed her to be the recipient of the first appearance of the resurrected Savior. Note that the first words of the two angels and of Jesus to Mary were, "Woman, why are you weeping?" This tells us that her tears were foremost in their thoughts. It is as if her tears compelled Jesus to have a premature appearance before He was actually ascended to the Father to present His blood at the heavenly mercy seat; for later in John's Gospel Jesus will ask Thomas to touch Him.

Illustration- My mother is a woman of tears. Seldom do we talk without her shedding tears over spiritual matters in the lives of people. I believe that Mary received this special attention from Heaven because of her weeping.

John 20:15Comments- Isaiah 52:14 says that Jesus' visage was marred more than any man; yet after His resurrection this does not seem to be the case, except for the nail prints and hole in His side. Thus with our resurrection bodies we will be made whole.

Isaiah 52:14, "As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any Prayer of Manasseh , and his form more than the sons of men:"

John 20:19-23 — The Witness of the Disciples ( Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:14-18, Luke 24:36-49) - John 20:19-23 tells us the testimony of the rest of the disciples when Jesus appeared to them. In this passage of Scripture Jesus showed to them His pierced hands and His side ( John 20:20). This event would have showed the disciples that the redemption that Jesus provided came at a great cost and with much suffering. He then told the disciples that He was sending them forth in the same manner in which the Father sent Him ( John 20:21). Within the context of this meeting, the disciples would have understood that they too were to carry their cross. The next verse says that Jesus Christ breathed upon them and they received the Holy Spirit ( John 20:22). This would now empower the disciples to suffer for His name's sake.

John 20:19 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.

John 20:20 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.

John 20:20Comments - The scars left in the hands and side of Jesus Christ left no doubt whatsoever that this was the risen Lord. Had there been no scars, there may have been a small measure of doubt by some of the disciples.

John 20:21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

John 20:21 — "as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you" - Comments- Note how Jesus sent His disciples out.

Matthew 10:8, "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give."

Matthew 28:18-20, "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Song of Solomon , and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."

Luke 4:18-19, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord."

Luke 10:19, "Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you."

John 20:22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

John 20:22 — "Receive ye the Holy Ghost" - Comments- This is when the disciples received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as a part of the born-again experience. They were baptized with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost ( Acts 2:1-4), which brings a greater anointing. All born-again Christians have the Holy Spirit ( Romans 8:9), but not all have the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:9, "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."

1 Corinthians 3:16, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"

1 Corinthians 6:19, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?"

Illustration- Ezekiel 37:5; Ezekiel 37:9; Ezekiel 37:14 - The valley of dry bones.

Scripture Reference- See also:

Genesis 2:7, "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."

John 20:22Comments- Benny Hinn refers to John 20:22 to explain that when Jesus breathed upon His disciples they received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, in the same way that every new believer receives the Holy Spirit to live inside them. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon them and anointed them. He explains that the Spirit comes upon us for a season and for a reason, while the Holy Spirit lives inside us forever; that Isaiah , He never departs. 294] We see the Holy Spirit coming upon many people under the Old Covenant for a season to empower them for a particular task. This will continue under the New Covenant. However, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit did not take place under the Old Covenant; for man's sins had not been paid and man's spirit could not yet be born from above. Under the New Covenant, the Spirit lives in us and communicates with us the Father's will for our daily lives. He is in us to comfort us, guide us and intercede through us.

294] Benny Hinn, This is Your Day (Irving, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

John 20:23 — "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them" - Comments- Frances J. Roberts gives insight into this verse by saying a believer extends forgiveness of sins to all who will receive the message of the Cross. Note:

"O My child, come to Me - I want to give you a new gift. I want you to see all people as being under the shed sacrifice of the blood of Christ. He has died for all. His forgiveness encompasseth all. Tell them. It is the Good News. They will accept it even as they have received eagerly and joyfully the message of My love. It is the confidence in thine own heart that will engender faith to receive within the hearts of others. Freely forgive all, even as ye have freely loved all. Those to whom ye extend My forgiveness shall come to experience it for themselves even as ye would extend a helping hand to lift another across a brook.…..Whosesoever sins ye remit shall be remitted. Those who receive no ministry may never find their way through to the light, knowing not the path. To you has been committed and entrusted the mysteries of the Kingdom. Keep them not stored away in hidden vaults. Scatter them along thy way and place the jewel in the empty hands of those ye encounter on the road of life." 295]

295] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 155-6.

Thus, John 20:23 has an evangelistic meaning, so that all who receive Jesus Christ through the preaching of the minister will be forgiven, or remitted. All who reject the message of salvation will have their sins retained.

John 20:24-29The Witness of Thomas - John 20:24-29 tells us the testimony of Thomas when he first met the risen Lord. Note how Jesus addressed Thomas' confession of faith to see nail prints in hand and thrust hand in side. Jesus met him at his point of faith.

John 20:25Comments - In John 20:25 Thomas makes an emphatic declaration of requiring absolute proof before he would be convinced of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus will appear to the disciples afte eight days and address this declaration from Thomas by inviting him to touch His nail scarred hands and side ( John 20:26-27). Here we see Thomas in his struggle to believe the words of his fellow disciples, just as he did upon hearing Jesus tell of the coming resurrection of Lazarus. Note:

John 11:16, "Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him."

John 20:27 — "and be not faithless, but believing" - Comments- Jesus says here that when a person requires tangible evidence in order to believe, this is not genuine faith in God.

Man has five gates to receive information, the five senses. These five gates can only bring sense knowledge. However, faith in God comes from the heart, and not from the five senses.

Thomas wanted sense knowledge to confirm the Word of God. But, this did not please God.

John 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

John 20:29Comments (1) - After Thomas touched Jesus and believed in Him, Jesus explained that the greater blessing belongs to those who have not seen, yet believe. Faith in God's Word alone without the manifestation of confirmations is the greatest level of walking in the Christian life. Sometimes Christians need a "jump start" with a manifestation from God to get them into a level of faith to receive a miracle from the Lord. For example, an atmosphere for healing can be created in healing crusades for the purpose creating faith in the heart of those who need a miracle from the Lord. However, the greatest results in the Christian life come from those who learn to simply believe and obey the Word of God when no manifestations are seen. As a person walks by the Word of God on a daily basis, his faith grows to its greatest level, far beyond those who require a sign or manifestation in order to believe, as was the case with Thomas.

Those family and friends who had grown up with Jesus and lived with Him had a difficult time accepting as the Messiah, while the rest of Galilee received Him gladly. Andrew Wommack quotes this proverb, "Familiarity breeds contempt." 296] In other words, when we become too familiar with someone, we generally are less likely to praise his gifts, and more likely to condemn his weaknesses. The writings of the New Testament reveal that Paul the apostle had a greater revelation of who Jesus Christ was than did the Twelve who walked with Him for three and a half years. This is because Paul only knew Jesus as the Resurrected Christ. He did not have to lay aside his experience of walking with Jesus as flesh and blood. It is easier for us to understand the revelation of the deity of Jesus Christ than it was for those who walked with Him on earth because we can only view Him by the Word of God through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Thus, Jesus said, "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." ( John 20:29) There is a greater blessing in believing for those who have not seen Him because it is easier to take hold of the Word of God through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.

296] Andrew Wommack, "Familiarity Breeds Contempt," in One Year With Jesus: February 16th, [on-line]; accessed 17 February 2012; available from http://www.awmi.net/devotion/jesus/feb 16; Internet.

John 20:29Comments (2) - Within each of the six feast sections is found a miracle that testifies of Jesus' deity. We find six of these miracles ending with a statement that many believed in Him because of these miracles ( John 2:11, John 4:53, John 5:15, John 6:14, John 9:38, John 11:45). The seventh miracle ends with a similar statement ( John 20:29).


Verse 30-31

Summary: The Author Testifies of All of His Miracles - In John 20:30-31 the author gives us an epilogue to the section which comprises seven feasts and seven miracles. He concludes by telling us that Jesus Christ did many other miracles during His earthly ministry. However, he picked these seven in order that we might believe that Jesus Christ is truly the Christ, the Son of God. Thus, the purpose of these miracles is to serve as infallible proof that Jesus is the Son of God, which reflects the third theme of the Gospel of John. In fact, all four Gospels serve as a testimony to the deity of Jesus Christ.

The Purpose of the Miracles- Rick Joyner tells us that Jesus did not work miracles so that men would believe in His power. He wrought signs and wonders so that men would believe in Him and in His Father"s love. He did not want men to obey him because of their fear of His power, but rather, to obey Him as an act of love and devotion to the Father. Jesus could have spoken to mountains and they would have obeyed Him. He could have called fire down from heaven. But then, men would have served Him out of fear and not out of love. 297]

297] Rick Joyner, The Final Quest (Charlotte, North Carolina: Morning Star Publications, 1977), 142.

John 20:30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:

John 20:30Comments- John's reference to many other signs and miracles of Jesus Christ that he did not record implies that the Gospel of John is a collection of signs testifying to the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. A careful study reveals these signs. The testimony of God the Father ( John 1:1-18) serves as a sign. The testimonies of John the Baptist and his disciples ( John 1:19-51) serve as signs. In the section of John's testimony of the miracles that Jesus performed ( John 2:1 to John 12:11), John chose seven key miracles that served as a testimony to His deity. These signs include the seven miracles are discussed in the introduction of this commentary. Others miracles are recorded in the Synoptic Gospels.

In the passage of John ( John 12:12 to John 20:31), seven events that Jesus fulfilled in Old Testament serve as signs in this Gospel. The final chapter records the miracle of the drought of fishes that serves as a final testimony ( John 21:1-23).

These signs also include the seven "I Am's" when Jesus declares His deity. His discourses that only John records are also "signs" that give proof or testimony of the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Finally, Warren Wiersbe says that there are sixty-seven references in this Gospel to seeing and fifty-eight references to hearing. 298] Thus, John the apostle is giving us a record of Jesus' works and His words prove that He is indeed the Son of God. Therefore, the Gospel of John has signs woven throughout the entire message of his writing.

298] Warren Wiersbe, John , in With the Word (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "Introduction."

John 20:31Comments- The purpose of the Gospel is stated in John 20:31 :

1. That we might know that Jesus is Christ the Son of God.

2. That we might have life thru the name of Jesus.

John 20:31 tells us that the things that John writes in his Gospel have been written as a testimony that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Within this Gospel we have the testimony of God the Father ( John 1:1-18, of John the Baptist ( John 1:19-51), of Jesus' miracles (chpts 2-11) of the Scriptures (chpts 12-20). The reason that he closes with this summary of witnesses and his purpose for writing is because chapter 20 is the ended of this four-fold witness. We will find that chapter 21is the testimony of Jesus Christ Himself telling us to come and follow Him. These testimonies are to convince us that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and this belief will result in our salvation. This is why the Gospel of John frequently makes comments that many people believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God as a result of the five-fold testimony found with this Gospel ( John 2:11; John 2:22; John 4:21; John 4:39; John 4:41-42; John 4:50; John 4:53; John 6:69; John 7:31; John 8:30-31; John 9:38; John 10:42; John 11:27; John 11:45; John 12:11; John 12:42; John 20:8). We find a numerous amount of Scriptures in John's Gospel where Jesus is exhorting the Jews to believe on Him, and many other Scriptures saying that others did not believe upon Him. Thus, John's Gospel is filled with passages about mankind's decision to believe that Jesus is the Son of God or not.

In addition, the Gospel of John reveals Jesus Christ as the Son of God by revealing His character through His divine names. The names of Jesus reveal Him as the Son of God.

1. The Word of God

2. The Only Begotten from the Father

3. The True Light or the Light of the World

4. The Lamb of God

5. The Bread of Life

6. The Living Water (the Holy Spirit)

7. The I Am

8. The Door

9. The Good Shepherd

10. The Son of God

11. Master and Lord

12. The Resurrection and the Life

13. The Way, the Truth and the Life

14. The Vine

15. The King of the Jews

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on John 20:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/john-20.html. 2013.

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