Jesus and Thomas (Jn 20:27-20:27)

“Then Jesus

Said to Thomas.

‘Bring your finger here!

See my hands!

Reach out

Your hand!

Put it in my side!

Do not doubt!

But Believe!’”

εἶτα λέγει τῷ Θωμᾷ Φέρε τὸν δάκτυλόν σου ὧδε καὶ ἴδε τὰς χεῖράς μου, καὶ φέρε τὴν χεῖρά σου καὶ βάλε εἰς τὴν πλευράν μου, καὶ μὴ γίνου ἄπιστος ἀλλὰ πιστός.

John uniquely said that Jesus said to Thomas (εἶτα λέγει τῷ Θωμᾷ) to bring his finger there (Φέρε τὸν δάκτυλόν σου ὧδε).  He was to see his hands (καὶ ἴδε τὰς χεῖράς μου).  Jesus wanted Thomas to reach out his hand (καὶ φέρε τὴν χεῖρά σου) to put it into his side (καὶ βάλε εἰς τὴν πλευράν μου).  He told Thomas not to be a doubter (καὶ μὴ γίνου ἄπιστος), but a believer (ἀλλὰ πιστός).  Jesus challenged Thomas to bring his hands and fingers to put into his hands and his side.  Thus, he could become believing Thomas instead of doubting Thomas.  How do you resolve your doubts?

Eight days later (Jn 20:26-20:26)

“A week later,

His disciples were again

Inside the same house.

Thomas

Was with them.

The doors were shut,

But Jesus came again.

He stood among them.

He said.

‘Peace be with you!’”

Καὶ μεθ’ ἡμέρας ὀκτὼ πάλιν ἦσαν ἔσω οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ, καὶ Θωμᾶς μετ’ αὐτῶν. ἔρχεται ὁ Ἰησοῦς τῶν θυρῶν κεκλεισμένων, καὶ ἔστη εἰς τὸ μέσον καὶ εἶπεν Εἰρήνη ὑμῖν.

John uniquely indicated that a week later, or eight days later (Καὶ μεθ’ ἡμέρας ὀκτὼ), Jesus’ disciples (οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ) were again gathered inside (ἦσαν ἔσω) in the one house.  This time, Thomas was with them (καὶ Θωμᾶς μετ’ αὐτῶν).  The doors were shut (τῶν θυρῶν κεκλεισμένων), but Jesus came (ἔρχεται ὁ Ἰησοῦς) again.  He stood among them in their midst (καὶ ἔστη εἰς τὸ μέσον).  He uttered (καὶ εἶπεν) his post-resurrection greeting, “Peace be with you (Εἰρήνη ὑμῖν)!”  A week later, Jesus showed up and greeted his disciples with the peace greeting.  This time, the second Sunday since the resurrection of Jesus, Thomas was with them, but the doors were locked, as in the situation a week earlier.  Jesus continued to bring them peace with his greeting.  Do you live a peaceful life?

We have seen the Lord! (Jn 20:25-20:25)

“Thus,

The other disciples

Told Thomas.

‘We have seen the Lord.’

But he said to them.

‘Unless I see

The mark

Of the nails,

In his hands

And put my finger

In the mark

Of the nails,

And put my hand

Into his side,

I will not believe.’”

ἔλεγον οὖν αὐτῷ οἱ ἄλλοι μαθηταί Ἑωράκαμεν τὸν Κύριον. ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Ἐὰν μὴ ἴδω ἐν ταῖς χερσὶν αὐτοῦ τὸν τύπον τῶν ἥλων καὶ βάλω τὸν δάκτυλόν μου εἰς τὸν τόπον τῶν ἥλων καὶ βάλω μου τὴν χεῖρα εἰς τὴν πλευρὰν αὐτοῦ, οὐ μὴ πιστεύσω.

John uniquely indicated that the other disciples (οἱ ἄλλοι μαθηταί) told Thomas (ἔλεγον οὖν αὐτῷ) that they had seen the Lord (Ἑωράκαμεν τὸν Κύριον).  However, Thomas said to them (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) that unless he saw (Ἐὰν μὴ ἴδω) the mark (τὸν τύπον) of the nails (τῶν ἥλων) in his hands (ἐν ταῖς χερσὶν αὐτοῦ), and put his finger (καὶ βάλω τὸν δάκτυλόν μου) into the mark (εἰς τὸν τύπον) of those nails (τῶν ἥλων), as well as put his hand (καὶ βάλω μου τὴν χεῖρα) into his side (εἰς τὴν πλευρὰν αὐτοῦ), he would not believe it (οὐ μὴ πιστεύσω).  John was the only canonical gospel writer who used this word τύπον, that means typically, a stamp, a figure; a copy, an image, a pattern, a model, or a type.  As well as the term ἥλων that means nails.  Thus, the title of doubting Thomas was placed on this apostle Thomas, the Twin, because of this statement.  He wanted to see and put his fingers into the nail marks of Jesus’ hand.  He also wanted to put his hand into Jesus’ side.  If he was able to do these things, then he would believe in the resurrected Lord Jesus.  Otherwise, he would remain the doubting Thomas.  Have you ever doubted what other people have told you?

Thomas was not there (Jn 20:24-20:24)

“Now Thomas,

One of the twelve,

Called the Twin,

Was not with them

When Jesus came.”

Θωμᾶς δὲ εἷς ἐκ τῶν δώδεκα, ὁ λεγόμενος Δίδυμος, οὐκ ἦν μετ’ αὐτῶν ὅτε ἦλθεν Ἰησοῦς.

John uniquely indicated that Thomas (Θωμᾶς), one of the twelve (δὲ εἷς ἐκ τῶν δώδεκα), called the Twin (ὁ λεγόμενος Δίδυμος), was not with them (οὐκ ἦν μετ’ αὐτῶν) when Jesus came (ὅτε ἦλθεν Ἰησοῦς) at this appearance on the first day of the week, after the death of Jesus.  Thomas had appeared twice earlier in this gospel with the same description.  In chapter 11:16, Thomas (Θωμᾶς), the one who was called Didymus or the Twin (ὁ λεγόμενος Δίδυμος), now said (εἶπεν οὖν) to his fellow disciples (τοῖς συνμαθηταῖς) that they should all go (Ἄγωμεν καὶ ἡμεῖς) to die (ἵνα ἀποθάνωμεν) with Jesus (μετ’ αὐτοῦ).  He appeared again in chapter 14:5, where Thomas (Θωμᾶς) spoke to Jesus (Λέγει αὐτῷ), calling him Lord (Κύριε).  He said that they did not know (οὐκ οἴδαμεν) where he was going (ποῦ ὑπάγεις).  How then could they know the way or path (πῶς οἴδαμεν τὴν ὁδὸν) there.  He said that he had no idea where Jesus was going, so how could they find their way there if they were not sure where he was going to end up.  Thomas seemed very forthright.  Although he was explicitly mentioned in the three synoptic lists of the twelve apostles in Matthew, chapter 10:3, Mark, chapter 3:18, and Luke, chapter 6:15, he never said anything in those synoptic gospel stories.  However, he had three speaking roles here, as he played a bigger role in this Gospel of John.  A series of apocryphal works from the second and third century CE bare his name, the Gospel of Thomas, the Acts of Thomas, and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas.  He was considered the apostle to India, where he died around 70 CE.  Do you consider yourself a doubting Thomas?

Forgiving sins (Jn 20:23-20:23)

“If you forgive

The sins

Of anyone,

They are forgiven.

If you retain

The sins

Of anyone,

They are retained.”

ἄν τινων ἀφῆτε τὰς ἁμαρτίας, ἀφέωνται αὐτοῖς· ἄν τινων κρατῆτε, κεκράτηνται.

John then uniquely indicated that if they forgave the sins of anyone (ἄν τινων ἀφῆτε τὰς ἁμαρτίας), those sins would be forgiven (ἀφέωνται αὐτοῖς).  However, if they retained the sins of anyone (ἄν τινων κρατῆτε), they would be retained (κεκράτηνται).  The Greek word ἀφῆτε meant to send away, leave alone, permit, let go, release, permit to depart, remit, forgive, or permit.  This has been translated as to forgive.  The Greek word κρατῆτε meant to be strong, rule, mighty, prevail, obtain, take hold of, or hold fast.  This has been translated as retain.  The Gospel of Matthew had Jesus give this power to Peter and his apostles before the crucifixion rather than after his resurrection as here in John.  Matthew, chapter 16:19-20 said that Peter would receive the keys to the kingdom of heaven (δώσω σοι τὰς κλεῖδας τῆς βασιλείας τῶν οὐρανῶν), as the gatekeeper of heaven.  Whatever he did on earth would be bound (καὶ ὃ ἐὰν δήσῃς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται δεδεμένον ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς) or loosed in heaven (καὶ ὃ ἐὰν λύσῃς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται λελυμένον ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς).  Peter was no longer a mere informal leader, but the true man in charge here on earth with heavenly consequences, much like the Israelite high priests.  This of course has led to the so-called Petrine privilege, the power of Peter as handed down via the bishop of Rome.  As the first bishop of Rome, the power of Peter passed on to the bishop successors of Peter in Rome.  Thus, the bishop of Rome became known as the Pope or papa of the Christian Church in later centuries.  Peter had the power to bind and loosen on earth with consequences in heaven.  This power of binding and loosening also had been the authority that rabbis had used to forbid or permit things to happen.  In Matthew, chapter 18:18, with a solemn pronouncement “Truly, I say to you!” (Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν), Jesus granted this authority to bind and loosen to the whole community and not just Peter.  Whatever they bound on earth (ὅσα ἐὰν δήσητε ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς), would be bound in heaven (ἔσται δεδεμένα ἐν οὐρανῷ).  Whatever they loosened on earth (καὶ ὅσα ἐὰν λύσητε ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς) would be loosened in heaven (ἔσται λελυμένα ἐν οὐρανῷ).  Thus, this saying has been the basis for the sacramental concept of Reconciliation, Penance, or Confession.  Here in John, it seems to be given to all the apostles.  What do you think about the power to forgive sins?

Receive the Holy Spirit! (Jn 20:22-20:22)

“When he had said this,

Jesus breathed

On them.

He said to them.

‘Receive the Holy Spirit!’”

καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν ἐνεφύσησεν καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς Λάβετε Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον.

John uniquely indicated that when he had said this about peace (καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν), Jesus breathed on them (ἐνεφύσησεν).  John was the only Greek biblical writer to use this term ἐνεφύσησεν, that means to breathe into or breathe upon.  He said to them (καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς), “Receive the Holy Spirit (Λάβετε Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον)!”  This concept of the breath of God, however, could be found in Genesis, chapter 2:7, when Yahweh formed a human man (Adam) from the dust on the ground (admah) and breathed into his nostrils to give him life.  The prophet Elijah brought back to life the young boy of the widow 1 Kings, chapter 17:21.  The prophet Ezekiel brought people back to life by breathing on them.  Yahweh told Ezekiel, chapter 37:9-10, to prophesize to the Spirit, to tell the Spirit, ruah, to come from the four winds, ruah, and breathe, ruah, on these dead fleshy dry bones.  Thus, they might live.  Then the Spirit of Yahweh, ruah, came to these dried-out bones.  All these dead bones got a new life.  Thus, this great multitude of former dry bones stood on their feet.  Here, this was an explicit statement of Jesus about the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.  There was no ambiguity.  The trinitarian concept of God, the Father, God, the Son, Jesus, and God, the Holy Spirit, was now complete.  The apostles of Jesus would have the Holy Spirit, since this preceded the Pentecost moment in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2:1-4, that came fifty days later.  Have you received the Holy Spirit?

Peace be with you! (Jn 20:21-20:21)

“Jesus

Said to them again.

‘Peace be with you!

As the Father

Has sent me,

Even so I send you.’”

εἶπεν οὖν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς πάλιν Εἰρήνη ὑμῖν· καθὼς ἀπέσταλκέν με ὁ Πατήρ, κἀγὼ πέμπω ὑμᾶς.

John uniquely then had Jesus repeat himself and refer to one of his favorite themes, his relationship to God, the Father.  Jesus (ὁ Ἰησοῦς) said to them (εἶπεν οὖν αὐτοῖς) again (πάλιν), “Peace be with you (Εἰρήνη ὑμῖν)!”  Jesus said that just as (καθὼς) the Father (ὁ Πατήρ) had sent him (ἀπέσταλκέν με), even so he was sending them (κἀγὼ πέμπω ὑμᾶς).  Jesus reiterated his mission of peace.  At the same time, he told them that they were going to be sent out into the world, just as he had been sent by God, the Father, to this world.  Do you like the sign of peace “Peace be with you”?