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Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent, [1886], at

John Chapter 20

John 20:1

joh 20:1

First day of the week (τῇ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάατον)

The Hebrew idiom, day one of the week. See on Luk 4:31; see on Act 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 Luk 24:1.

Taken away (ἠρμένον ἐκ)

Lifted out of. All the Synoptists have rolled.

John 20:2

joh 20:2

Loved (ἐφίλει)

The word for personal affection. In Joh 13:23; Joh 21:7, Joh 21:20, ἠγάπα is used. See on Joh 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.

John 20:3

joh 20:3

Came to (ἤρχοντο εἰς)

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

John 20:4

joh 20:4

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.

John 20:5

joh 20:5

Stooping down (παρακύψας)

See on Jam 1:25, and compare Pe1 1:12. See also Song of Solomon, Sol 2:9 (Sept.). "He looketh forth (παρακύπτων) at the windows."

Seeth (βλέπει)

Simple sight. Compare the intent gaze of Peter (θεωρεῖ), Joh 20:6, which discovered the napkin, not seen by John.

John 20:7

joh 20:7

Napkin (σουδάριον)

See on Luk 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.

John 20:8

joh 20:8


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 Joh 2:24.

John 20:9

joh 20:9

The scripture (τὴν γραφὴν)

The passage of scripture. See on Joh 5:47. The reference may be to Psa 16:10.


On this necessity attaching in the divine counsel to the sufferings, death, and resurrection of Jesus, see Mat 26:54; Mar 8:31; Luk 9:22; Luk 17:25; Luk 22:37; Luk 24:7, Luk 24:26, Luk 24:44; Joh 3:14; Joh 12:34; Act 1:16.

John 20:11

joh 20:11


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

John 20:12

joh 20:12

Seeth (θεωρεῖ)

Rev., beholdeth. See on Joh 20:5.


Angels are rarely mentioned in John's narrative. See Joh 1:51; Joh 12:29; Joh 20:12.

John 20:13

joh 20:13

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.

John 20:14

joh 20:14

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.

John 20:16

joh 20:16

Saith unto Him, Rabboni

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

John 20:17

joh 20:17

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 Joh 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 (Joh 7:3, Joh 7:5, Joh 7:10), but not the phrase my brethren, which follows from my Father and your Father. Compare Mat 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.

John 20:18

joh 20:18

Came and told (ἔρχεται ἀγγέλλουσα)

Literally, cometh telling.

John 20:19

joh 20:19



John 20:21

joh 20:21

Hath sent (ἀπέσταλκεν)

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

John 20:22

joh 20:22

Breathed on them (ἐνεφύσησεν)

Only here in the New Testament. The act was symbolic, after the manner of the Hebrew prophets. Compare Eze 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.

John 20:23

joh 20:23

Remit (ἀφῆτε)

Only here in this Gospel in connection with sins. Often in the Synoptists (Mat 6:12; Mat 9:5; Mar 2:5; Luk 5:23, etc.).

John 20:25

joh 20:25

Print (τύπον)

See on Pe1 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.

John 20:26

joh 20:26

Then came Jesus

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

John 20:27

joh 20:27

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.

John 20:29

joh 20:29



John 20:31

joh 20:31

Are written (γέγραπται)

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

Next: John Chapter 21