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John 19:38--20:18

Context
Jesus’ Burial

19:38 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus (but secretly, because he feared the Jewish leaders 1 ), 2  asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. Pilate 3  gave him permission, so he went and took the body away. 4  19:39 Nicodemus, the man who had previously come to Jesus 5  at night, 6  accompanied Joseph, 7  carrying a mixture of myrrh and aloes 8  weighing about seventy-five pounds. 9  19:40 Then they took Jesus’ body and wrapped it, with the aromatic spices, 10  in strips of linen cloth 11  according to Jewish burial customs. 12  19:41 Now at the place where Jesus 13  was crucified 14  there was a garden, 15  and in the garden 16  was a new tomb where no one had yet been buried. 17  19:42 And so, because it was the Jewish day of preparation 18  and the tomb was nearby, 19  they placed Jesus’ body there.

The Resurrection

20:1 Now very early on the first day of the week, 20  while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene 21  came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been moved away from the entrance. 22  20:2 So she went running 23  to Simon Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” 20:3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out to go to the tomb. 24  20:4 The two were running together, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter 25  and reached the tomb first. 26  20:5 He bent down 27  and saw the strips of linen cloth lying there, 28  but he did not go in. 20:6 Then Simon Peter, who had been following him, arrived and went right into the tomb. He saw 29  the strips of linen cloth lying there, 20:7 and the face cloth, 30  which had been around Jesus’ head, not lying with the strips of linen cloth but rolled up in a place by itself. 31  20:8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, came in, and he saw and believed. 32  20:9 (For they did not yet understand 33  the scripture that Jesus 34  must rise from the dead.) 35 

Jesus’ Appearance to Mary Magdalene

20:10 So the disciples went back to their homes. 20:11 But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she bent down and looked into the tomb. 20:12 And she saw two angels in white sitting where Jesus’ body had been lying, one at the head and one at the feet. 20:13 They said 36  to her, “Woman, 37  why are you weeping?” Mary replied, 38  “They have taken my Lord away, and I do not know where they have put him!” 20:14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, 39  but she did not know that it was Jesus.

20:15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” Because she 40  thought he was the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will take him.” 20:16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She 41  turned and said to him in Aramaic, 42 Rabboni 43  (which means Teacher). 44  20:17 Jesus replied, 45  “Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 20:18 Mary Magdalene came and informed the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them 46  what 47  Jesus 48  had said to her. 49 

1 tn Or “the Jewish authorities”; Grk “the Jews.” Here the phrase refers to the Jewish leaders, especially the Pharisees (see John 12:42). See also the note on the phrase “Jewish leaders” in v. 7.

2 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.

3 tn Grk “And Pilate.” The conjunction καί (kai, “and”) has not been translated here in keeping with the tendency of contemporary English style to use shorter sentences.

4 tn Grk “took away his body.”

5 tn Grk “him”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

6 sn See John 3:1-21.

7 tn Grk “came”; the words “accompanied Joseph” are not in the Greek text but are supplied for clarity.

8 sn Aloes refers to an aromatic resin from a plant similar to a lily, used for embalming a corpse.

9 sn The Roman pound (λίτρα, litra) weighed twelve ounces or 325 grams. Thus 100 Roman pounds would be about 32.5 kilograms or 75 pounds.

10 tn On this term see BDAG 140-41 s.v. ἄρωμα. The Jews did not practice embalming, so these materials were used to cover the stench of decay and slow decomposition.

11 tn The Fourth Gospel uses ὀθονίοις (oqonioi") to describe the wrappings, and this has caused a good deal of debate, since it appears to contradict the synoptic accounts which mention a σινδών (sindwn), a large single piece of linen cloth. If one understands ὀθονίοις to refer to smaller strips of cloth, like bandages, there would be a difference, but diminutive forms have often lost their diminutive force in Koine Greek (BDF §111.3), so there may not be any difference.

12 tn Grk “cloth as is the custom of the Jews to prepare for burial.”

13 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

14 sn See the note on Crucify in 19:6.

15 tn Or “an orchard.”

16 tn Or “orchard.”

17 tn Grk “been placed.”

18 sn The day of preparation was the day before the Sabbath when everything had to be prepared for it, as no work could be done on the Sabbath.

19 sn The tomb was nearby. The Passover and the Sabbath would begin at 6 p.m., so those who had come to prepare and bury the body could not afford to waste time.

20 sn The first day of the week would be early Sunday morning. The Sabbath (and in this year the Passover) would have lasted from 6 p.m. Friday until 6 p.m. Saturday. Sunday would thus mark the first day of the following week.

21 sn John does not mention that Mary Magdalene was accompanied by any of the other women who had been among Jesus’ followers. The synoptic accounts all mention other women who accompanied her (although Mary Magdalene is always mentioned first). Why John does not mention the other women is not clear, but Mary probably becomes the focus of the author’s attention because it was she who came and found Peter and the beloved disciple and informed them of the empty tomb (20:2). Mary’s use of the plural in v. 2 indicates there were others present, in indirect agreement with the synoptic accounts.

22 tn Grk “from the tomb.”

23 tn Grk “So she ran and came.”

24 tn Grk “went out and were coming to the tomb.”

25 sn The other disciple (the ‘beloved disciple’) ran on ahead more quickly than Peter, so he arrived at the tomb first. This verse has been a chief factor in depictions of John as a young man (especially combined with traditions that he wrote last of all the gospel authors and lived into the reign of Domitian). But the verse does not actually say anything about John’s age, nor is age always directly correlated with running speed.

26 tn Grk “and came first to the tomb.”

27 sn In most instances the entrance to such tombs was less than 3 ft (1 m) high, so that an adult would have to bend down and practically crawl inside.

28 sn Presumably by the time the beloved disciple reached the tomb there was enough light to penetrate the low opening and illuminate the interior of the tomb sufficiently for him to see the strips of linen cloth lying there. The author does not state exactly where the linen wrappings were lying. Sometimes the phrase has been translated “lying on the ground,” but the implication is that the wrappings were lying where the body had been. The most probable configuration for a tomb of this sort would be to have a niche carved in the wall where the body would be laid lengthwise, or a low shelf like a bench running along one side of the tomb, across the back or around all three sides in a U-shape facing the entrance. Thus the graveclothes would have been lying on this shelf or in the niche where the body had been.

29 tn Grk “And he saw.” The conjunction καί (kai, “and”) has not been translated here in keeping with the tendency of contemporary English style to use shorter sentences.

30 sn The word translated face cloth is a Latin loanword (sudarium). It was a small towel used to wipe off perspiration (the way a handkerchief would be used today). This particular item was not mentioned in connection with Jesus’ burial in John 19:40, probably because this was only a brief summary account. A face cloth was mentioned in connection with Lazarus’ burial (John 11:44) and was probably customary. R. E. Brown speculates that it was wrapped under the chin and tied on top of the head to prevent the mouth of the corpse from falling open (John [AB], 2:986), but this is not certain.

31 sn Much dispute and difficulty surrounds the translation of the words not lying with the strips of linen cloth but rolled up in a place by itself. Basically the issue concerns the positioning of the graveclothes as seen by Peter and the other disciple when they entered the tomb. Some have sought to prove that when the disciples saw the graveclothes they were arranged just as they were when around the body, so that when the resurrection took place the resurrected body of Jesus passed through them without rearranging or disturbing them. In this case the reference to the face cloth being rolled up does not refer to its being folded, but collapsed in the shape it had when wrapped around the head. Sometimes in defense of this view the Greek preposition μετά (meta, which normally means “with”) is said to mean “like” so that the comparison with the other graveclothes does not involve the location of the face cloth but rather its condition (rolled up rather than flattened). In spite of the intriguing nature of such speculations, it seems more probable that the phrase describing the face cloth should be understood to mean it was separated from the other graveclothes in a different place inside the tomb. This seems consistent with the different conclusions reached by Peter and the beloved disciple (vv. 8-10). All that the condition of the graveclothes indicated was that the body of Jesus had not been stolen by thieves. Anyone who had come to remove the body (whether the authorities or anyone else) would not have bothered to unwrap it before carrying it off. And even if one could imagine that they had (perhaps in search of valuables such as rings or jewelry still worn by the corpse) they would certainly not have bothered to take time to roll up the face cloth and leave the other wrappings in an orderly fashion.

32 sn What was it that the beloved disciple believed (since v. 7 describes what he saw)? Sometimes it is suggested that what he believed was Mary Magdalene’s report that the body had been stolen. But this could hardly be the case; the way the entire scene is narrated such a trivial conclusion would amount to an anticlimax. It is true that the use of the plural “they” in the following verse applied to both Peter and the beloved disciple, and this appears to be a difficulty if one understands that the beloved disciple believed at this point in Jesus’ resurrection. But it is not an insuperable difficulty, since all it affirms is that at this time neither Peter nor the beloved disciple had understood the scripture concerning the resurrection. Thus it appears the author intends his reader to understand that when the beloved disciple entered the tomb after Peter and saw the state of the graveclothes, he believed in the resurrection, i.e., that Jesus had risen from the dead.

33 tn Or “yet know.”

34 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

35 sn Verse 9 is a parenthetical note by the author. The author does not explicitly mention what OT scripture is involved (neither does Paul in 1 Cor 15:4, for that matter). The resurrection of the Messiah in general terms may have been seen in Isa 53:10-12 and Ps 16:10. Specific references may have been understood in Jonah 1:17 and Hos 6:2 because of the mention of “the third day.” Beyond this it is not possible to be more specific.

36 tn The conjunction καί (kai, “and”) has not been translated here.

37 sn Woman was a polite form of address (see BDAG 208-9 s.v. γυνή 1), similar to “Madam” or “Ma’am” used in English in different regions. This occurs again in v. 15.

38 tn Grk “She said to them.”

39 tn The word “there” is not in the Greek text, but is implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context.

40 tn Grk “that one” (referring to Mary Magdalene).

41 tn Grk “That one.”

42 tn Grk “in Hebrew.”

43 sn The Aramaic Rabboni means “my teacher” (a title of respect).

44 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.

45 tn Grk “Jesus said to her.”

46 tn The words “she told them” are repeated from the first part of the same verse to improve clarity.

47 tn Grk “the things.”

48 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) is specified in the translation for clarity.

49 tn The first part of Mary’s statement, introduced by ὅτι (Joti), is direct discourse (ἑώρακα τὸν κύριον, Jewraka ton kurion), while the second clause switches to indirect discourse (καὶ ταῦτα εἶπεν αὐτῇ, kai tauta eipen auth). This has the effect of heightening the emphasis on the first part of the statement.



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