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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies
John 20



Verse 1

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.

Verse 2

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.

Verse 3

Came to ( ἤρχοντο εἰς )

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

Verse 4

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.

Verse 5

Stooping down ( παρακύψας )

See on James 1:25, and compare 1 Peter 1:12. See also Song of Solomon, Song of Solomon 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.

Verse 7

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.

Verse 8


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.

Verse 9

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.

Verse 11


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

Verse 12

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.

Verse 13

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.

Verse 14

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.

Verse 16

Saith unto Him, Rabboni

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

Verse 17

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.

Verse 18

Came and told ( ἔρχεται ἀγγέλλουσα )

Literally, cometh telling.

Verse 19



Verse 21

Hath sent ( ἀπέσταλκεν )

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

Verse 22

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.

Verse 23

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.).

Verse 25

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.

Verse 26

Then came Jesus

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

Verse 27

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.

Verse 29



Verse 31

Are written ( γέγραπται )

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


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 20:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

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Friday, December 4th, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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