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Bible Commentaries

People's New Testament

John 20



SUMMARY.--The Women at the Sepulcher. Peter and John See the Empty Tomb. Mary Magdalene Seeth Jesus. The Lord Appeareth to the Disciples. After Eight Days Appeareth to the Eleven. The Confession of Thomas. Why "These Things" Were Written.

Verses 1-18
See notes on Matthew 28:1-8. Compare Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-11.

Cometh Mary Magdalene. She was not alone. Mary, the mother of James and Joses, and Salome were with her. Their object was to place spices about the body of Jesus.

She runneth. To Peter and John to tell that the tomb is empty.

Simon Peter... went in. John looked in, but Peter went in. The grave clothes were carefully folded and laid aside.

Mary stood without... as she wept. She still supposed that the body was stolen, until the angels were seen.

Saw Jesus standing. The first sight of the risen Lord. The first to see him was the loving Mary.

Touch me not. She was probably about to clasp his feet. She is told to discharge a higher duty: to go to the brethren with the glad story.

Verse 19

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week. John particularly marks the time of this important event. It is the third or fourth appearance of the Savior upon this memorable day, and the first one to the apostolic body. By a comparison with Mark 16:14-16 and Luke 24:36, we learn that at the moment of his appearance they were discussing the story of the resurrection of which many refused to be convinced, so incredulous were they.

Verse 20

He shewed unto them his hands and his side. The Lord showed his wounds to convince them beyond a doubt that it was not a fantasy or an apparition. A week later he shows his wounds to Thomas. The resurrected body still bore these proofs of his suffering and love. Sixty years later, when John, at Patmos, saw the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, he beheld "a Lamb as it had been slain." Perhaps our Lord in glory continues to bear the marks of the cross. Perhaps these will forever, as we gaze in glory, remind us of the story of our redemption.

Verse 21

Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. This is the Great Commission, more fully developed in Galilee a little later, and finally completed on Mt. Olivet, just before the Lord ascended. The Lord had trained the apostles for three years in order to fit them for this important work.

Verse 23

Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them, etc. It will be seen at once, by a comparison with Matthew 16:19, that the keys then promised to Peter are now given to all the apostles, and all have similar power to open and shut, to remit sin, and to bind. The meaning is plain when we consider, first, the charge that the Savior was making, and, secondly, look forward and see how that charge was carried out; or, in other words, observe the apostles "remitting sins" and retaining them. It is the Great Commission to preach the gospel that the Savior gives for the first time in John 20:21. It is with reference to carrying out that Commission that he speaks in John 20:23. It was in order that they might present the terms of that Commission infallibly to the world that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was imparted, of which there is a foreshadowing in John 20:22. The great end of that Commission was to declare to men "repentance and remission of sins" in the name of Christ. The following facts are manifest: (1) The Savior gave to his apostles his Commission that they might make known his will. (2) He bade them preach "remission of sins." (3) He gave them a measure of the Holy Spirit, and bade them wait until "endued with power from on high" by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. (4) When the Holy Spirit fell, they spoke as it "gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4). (5) They then declared, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, the terms on which "sins could be remitted." To anxious sinners they answer, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, {for the remission of sins}." Here, then, they, directed by the Holy Spirit, "remit" and "retain" sins by declaring the terms on which Christ will pardon. Thus, also, they do in their preaching recorded through the Acts of the Apostles the very thing that the Savior gave them power to do. This power was not imparted to a hierarchy, nor to any ecclesiastical body, but to the apostles, and was fulfilled by them in declaring to the world the conditions of pardon and condemnation under the Commission of our Lord.

Verse 24

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them. Didymus, which means the Twin, is the Greek for the Hebrew name, Thomas. He was one of the twelve.

Verse 25

He said unto them,... I will not believe. At some time during the week they meet him and tell their joyful story, but he meets it with skepticism.

Verse 26

After eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. It was on the second Sunday after the resurrection; the second Lord's day in the history of the world.

Verse 27

Reach hither thy finger. Turning to the skeptical Thomas, he asks him to apply the tests that he had declared would be necessary before he could believe. His compassion for the unbelief of Thomas shows the patient tenderness of the Savior with the difficulties of an honest seeker.

Verse 29

Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. Thomas "saw" (he did not need to handle) and believed. We have not seen, but nevertheless believe upon the same Lord. Upon us he pronounces a special blessedness, because we walk by faith instead of sight.

Verse 30

Many other signs truly did Jesus. Not near all that occurred, either before or after the resurrection, is recorded. Each of the evangelists records some features that the others omit, and they each reveal the fact that they only outline the wonderful story.

Verse 31

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, etc. This is the object of all the gospel histories. They aim to so reveal Christ as to produce faith in him. He is the one object of belief. He is the Christian's creed. Faith in him, a faith that takes him as the Christ, saves the soul. All who have such faith wrought by the word of God will "have life through his name."


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.

Bibliography Information
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on John 20:4". "People's New Testament". 1891.

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