Page images
PDF
EPUB

24. dáxwer. This use of layxávw is rare, if not unique. Its proper meaning is to obtain by lot' (Luke i. 9; Acts i. 17; 1 Pet. i. 1).

(va o ypačń. See on ii. 22 and xii. 38. It was in order that the Divine purpose, already declared by the Psalmist, might be accomplished, that this twofold assignment of Christ's garments took place. S. John quotes the LXX. verbatim, although there the difference, which both he and the original Hebrew mark between the upper and under garment, is obliterated. It is from this passage that the reference to Ps. xxii. 18 has been inserted in Matt. xxvii. 35; none of the Synoptists refer to the Psalm. By oi uèv oův otp. T. ém. S. John emphasizes the fact that this prophecy was most literally fulfilled by men who were utterly ignorant of it.

25. clotnk. 6é. But there were standing. The dé answers to the previous mév, and these two particles mark the contrast between the two groups. On the one hand, the four plundering soldiers with the centurion; on the other, the four ministering women with the beloved disciple. It is not improbable that the women had provided (Matt. xvii. 55; Luke viii. 2, 3), the very clothing which the soldiers had taken away.

ý đS. T. M. av., M. 1.7. K. We are left in doubt whether we here have two women or one, whether altogether there are four women or three. The former is much the more probable alternative. (1) It avoids the very improbable supposition of two sisters having the same

(2) S. John is fond of parallel expressions; ‘His mother and His mother's sister, Mary of Clopas and Mary Magdalene' are two pairs set one against the other. (3) S. Mark (xv. 40) mentions Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less, and Salome. Mary Magdalene is common to both narratives, ‘Mary the mother of James the Less' is the same as ‘Mary of Clopas:' the natural inference is that Salome is the same as ‘His mother's sister,' If this is correct, (4) S. John's silence about the name of ‘His mother's sister' is explained : she was his own mother, and he is habitually reserved about all closely connected with himself. We have seen already that he never mentions either his own name, or his brother's, or the Virgin's. (5) The very ancient Peshito or Syriac Version adopts this view by inserting and' before ‘Mary the (wife) of Clopas.' 'H toù Klota may mean the daughter, mother, or even sister of Clopas; but the wife is more probable: comp. ék tñs toll Ovpiou (Matt. i. 6); TÀU ulkvolwvos (Arist. Eccles. 46); Verania Pisonis (Plin. Ep. 11. 20). There is no reason for identifying Clopas here with Cleopas in Luke xxiv. 18: Clopas is Aramaic, Cleopas is Greek. The spelling Cleophas is a mistake derived from Latin MSS. All Greek authorities have Cleopas. If ‘wife’ is rightly inserted, and she is the mother of James the Less, Clopas is the same as Alphaeus (Matt. x. 3 ; comp. xxvii. 56). It is said that Clopas and Alphaeus may be different forms of the same Aramaic name. For Mapla ń Mayd. see on vi. 67; Matt. xxvii. 56; Luke viii. 2.

26. óv nyára. See on xiii. 23: it is no mere periphrasis to avoid

name.

naming him, still less a boastful insertion. It explains why Jesus committed him to His Mother and His Mother to him.

γύναι, ίδε ο υιός σου. See on ii. 4. The act is one of filial care for the soul-pierced Mother (Luke ii. 35), who perhaps was thus spared the agony of seeing her Son die. If S. John took her home at once, this accounts for his omitting the third and fourth Words (Appendix C), which would be uttered during his absence. He who had just asked God's forgiveness for His murderers and promised Paradise to His fellow-sufferer, now gives another son to His Mother, another mother to His friend. If S. John was the Virgin's nephew, and if Christ's brethren' were the sons of Joseph by a former marriage, the fact that Christ committed His Mother to her nephew and His own beloved disciple rather than to her step-sons requires no explanation. Even if His óbrethren' were the sons of Joseph and Mary, their not believing on Him (vii. 5) would account for their being set aside ; and we have no evidence that they believed till after the Resurrection (Acts i. 14).

els ta lela. See on i. 11 and xvi. 32. Although the commendation was double, each being given to the other, yet (as was natural) S. John assumes the care of Mary rather than she of him. This shews the untenability of the view that not only S. John, but in him all the Apostles, were committed by Christ to the guardianship of Mary. That S. John was known to the high-priest (xviii. 15) and that his family had hired servants (Mark i. 20) would seem to imply that he was a man of some position and substance, 28—30. THE TWO WORDS FROM THE CROSS, 'I THIRST,' 'IT IS

FINISHED.' 28. Hetà roûto eidus. See on v. 38, iii. 22, xiii. 1. The identity between teté Oral here and in v. 30 must be preserved in translation; are now finished. The construction that follows is amphibolous. In order to avoid the apparent contradiction between all things being already finished and something still remaining to be accomplished, many critics make ένα τελειωθή depend upon τετέλεσται. But this is awkward. It is better to connect iva tel. with Néyel, especially as Ps. lxix. speaks so plainly of the thirst. The seeming contradiction disappears when we consider that the thirst had been felt before it was expressed. All things were finished, including the thirst; but Jesus alone knew this. In order that the Scripture might be accomplished and made perfect, it was necessary that He should make known His thirst. He could have borne His drought: He could not bear the Scripture not fulfilled” (Bishop Hall). Teleców in this sense is remarkable and very unusual.

29. S. John's exact knowledge appears again. The Synoptists do not mention the okeùos, but he had stood beside it. The obos was either the posca or sour wine for the soldiers during their long watch, or something prepared for the sufferers. The sponge and the stalk of hyssop being ready at hand is in favour of the latter. Criminals sometimes lived a day or two on the cross. Vinegar is degenerate wine, and may symbolize the fallen nature of those who offered it. Hyssop cannot be identified with certainty. The caper-plant, which is as likely as any, has stalks which run to two or three feet, and this would suffice. It is not probable that Christ's feet were on a level with the spectators' heads, as pictures represent: this would have involved needless trouble and expense. Moreover the mockery of the soldiers recorded by S. Luke (see on xxiii. 36) is more intelligible if we suppose that they could almost put a vessel to His lips. S. John alone mentions the hyssop; another mark of exact knowledge. Did he see in it a coincidence with Exod. xii. 22?

περιθέντες προσήνεγκαν. Very graphic; περιθ. expresses the placing of the sponge round the stalk (Matt. xxi. 33, xxvii. 28, 48), a pooñv. the offering (xvi. 2) and applying (Mark x. 13) to His lips. The actors and their motive are left doubtful. Probably they were soldiers and acted in compassion rather than in mockery; or in compassion under cover of mockery (Mark xv. 36; Ps. lxix. 22).

30. Maßev. He had refused the stupefying draught (Matt. xxvii. 34; Mark xv. 23), which would have clouded His faculties : He accepts what will revive them for the effort of a willing surrender of His life.

TETÉEOTal. Just as the thirst was there before he expressed it, so the consciousness that His work was finished was there (v. 28) before He declared it. The Messiah's work of redemption was accomplished ; His Father's commandment had been obeyed ; types and prophecies had been fulfilled ; His life had been lived, and His teaching completed; His last earthly tie had been severed (vv. 26, 27); and the end had come. The final wages of sin’alone remained to be paid.

κλίνας τ. κεφαλήν. Another detail peculiar to the Evangelist who witnessed it.

παρέδωκεν τ. πν. The two Apostles mark with special clearness that the Messiah's death was entirely voluntary. S. Matthew says, 'He let go His spirit' (ảomker); S. John, 'He gave up His spirit.'None of the four says 'He died. The other two have ¢£ÉTVEVO EV; and S. Luke shews clearly that the surrender of life was a willing one by giving the words of surrender, 'Father, into Thy hands I coromend My spirit.'• No one taketh'it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself.' It was the one thing which Christ claimed to do 'of Himself' (x. 18). Contrast v. 30, vii. 28, viii. 28, 42. Thus the spirit which He surrendered, and the water and the blood (v. 34), bear witness to his Messiahship.

For the seven words from the cross' see Appendix C and notes on Luke xxiii. 34; Mark xv. 34; Matt. xxvii. 48. Between the two words recorded in these verses (28—30) there is again a marked contrast. 'I thirst' is an expression of suffering; the only one during the Passion. It is finished' is a cry of triumph; and the therefore' in v. 30 shews how the expression of suffering led on to the cry of triumph. S. John omits the loud voice' which all the Synoptists give as immediately preceding Christ's death. It proved that His end was voluntary and not the necessary result of exhaustion. Quis ita dormit quando voluerit, sicut Jesus mortuus est quando voluit? Quis ita vestem ponit quando voluerit, sicut se carne exuit quando voluit? Quis ita cum voluerit abit, quomodo cum voluit obiit ? (S. Augustine). 31–42. THE PETITION OF THE JEWS AND THE PETITION OF JOSEPH.

31. As in xviii. 23, the Jews shew themselves to be among those 'who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.' In the midst of deliberate judicial murder they are scrupulous about ceremonial observances. The oův, as in v. 23, probably does not refer to what immediately precedes: it looks back to vv. 20, 21. The Jews still continue their relentless hostility. They do not know whether any one of the three sufferers is dead or not; their request shews that; so that therefore' cannot mean in consequence of Jesus' death. In order to save the Sabbath, and perhaps also to inflict still further suffering, they ask Pilate for this terrible addition to the punishment of crucifixion. Certainly the lesson 'I will have mercy and not sacrifice, of which Christ had twice reminded them, and once in connexion with the Sabbath (Matt. xii. 7, ix, 13), had taken no hold on them.

Tapaokeun. The eve of the Sabbath ; and the Sabbath on this occasion coincided with the 15th Nisan, the first day of the Passover. This first day ranked as a Sabbath (Exod. xii. 16; Lev. xxiii. 7); so that the day was doubly holy. Comp. vii. 37.

κατεαγώσιν. The σκελοκοπία or crurifragium, like crucifixion, was a punishment commonly reserved for slaves. The two were sometimes combined, as here. Lactantius (iv. xxvi.) says, “His executioners did not think it necessary to break His bones, as was their prevailing custom;' which seems to imply that to Jewish crucifixions this horror was commonly added, perhaps to hasten death. For even without a Sabbath to make matters more urgent, corpses ought to be removed before nightfall (Deut. xxi. 23); whereas the Roman custom was to leave them to putrefy on the cross, like our obsolete custom of hanging in chains. The plural verb (contrast neivy just before) emphasizes the separate acts: comp. à émeploo evo av (vi. 13). Winer, p. 645.

34. évučev. Pricked or stabbed, a milder word than efekévtno av (v. 37) All ancient Versions mark the difference between the two verbs. The Vulgate (aperuit) and Philox. Syriac indicate a reading nvolsev. The object of the vÚTTELV was to make sure that He was dead. The word occurs here only in N. T.

asua k. übwp. There has been very much discussion as to the physical cause of Christ's death ; and those who investigate this try to frame an hypothesis which will at the same time account for the effusion of blood and water. Two or three such hypotheses have been put forward. But it may be doubted whether they are not altogether out of place. It has been seen (v. 30) how the Evangelists insist on the fact that the Lord's death was a voluntary surrender of life, not a result forced upon Him. Of course it may be that the voluntariness consisted in welcoming causes which must prove fatal. But it is more simple to believe that He delivered up His life before natural causes became fatal. No one,' neither Jew nor Roman, took it from Him' by any means whatever: He lays it down of Himself' (x. 18). And if we decline to investigate the physical cause of the Lord's death, we need not ask for a physical explanation of what is recorded here. S. John assures us that he'saw it with his own eyes, and he records it that we may believe: i.e. he regards it as a 'sign’ that the corpse was no ordinary one, but a Body that even in death was Divine.

We can scarcely be wrong in supposing that the blood and water are symbolical. The order confirms this. Blood symbolizes the work of redemption which had just been completed by His death; and water symbolizes the birth from above,' with its cleansing from sin, which was the result of His death, and is the means by which we appropriate it. Thus the great Sacraments are represented. Some Fathers see in the double effusion the two baptisms, of blood (in martyrdom) and of water. Others see the Church, the Spouse of Christ, issuing in the Sacraments from the side of the sleeping Second Adam, as Eve from the side of the first Adam.

35. ó éwpakws K.T.d. He that hath seen hath borne witness and his witness is true (comp. i. 19, 32, 34, viii. 13, 14, xii. 17). The use of the perfect participle rather than the aorist is evidence that the writer himself is the person who saw. If he were appealing to the witness of another person he would almost certainly have written, as the A. V., ‘he that saw.' The inference that the author is the person who saw becomes still more clear if we omit the centre of the verse, which is somewhat parenthetical: 'He that hath seen hath borne witness, in order that ye also may believe.' The natural sense of this statement is that the narrator is appealing to his own experience. Thus the Apostolic authorship of the Gospel is again confirmed. (See Westcott, Introduction, p. xxvii.) 'Alnový means not simply truthful, but genuine, perfect: it fulfils the conditions of sufficient evidence. (See on i. 9 and comp. viii. 16, vii. 28.) On the other hand álnon means things that are true. There is no tautology, as in the A. V. S. John first says that his evidence is adequate; he then adds that the contents of it are true. Testimony may be sufficient (e.g. of a competent eyewitness) but false : or it may be insufficient (e.g. of half-witted child) but true. S. John declares that his testimony is both sufficient and true.

ίνα και υμείς π. . That ye also may believe; as well as the witness who saw for himself.

Why does S. John attest thus earnestly the trustworthiness of his narrative at this particular point? Four reasons may be assigned. This incident tended to shew (1) the reality of Christ's humanity against Docetic views; and these verses therefore are evidence against the theory that the Fourth Gospel is the work of a Docetic Gnostic (see on i. 14, vi. 21, vii. 10): (2) the reality of Christ's Divinity, against Ebionite views; while His human form was no mere phantom, but flesh and blood, yet He was not therefore a mere man, but the Son of God: (3) the reality of Christ's death, and therefore of His Resurrection, against Jewish insinuations of trickery (comp. Matt. xxviii.

« PreviousContinue »