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John 20:4-6

Context
20:4 The two were running together, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter 1  and reached the tomb first. 2  20:5 He bent down 3  and saw the strips of linen cloth lying there, 4  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 5  the strips of linen cloth lying there,

1 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.

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

3 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.

4 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.

5 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.



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