John 20:17
Jesus said to her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brothers, and say to them, I ascend to my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTeedTTBVWSWESTSK
EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.—The probable explanation of these words is to be found in the fact that she had cast herself at His feet with the customary reverential embrace of the knees, and perhaps to make doubly sure the fact that it was the Lord’s body, and that His words are meant to prevent this. The words themselves must be carefully considered. “Touch” represents a Greek word which means to “cling to,” to “fasten on,” to “grasp” an object. The tense is present, and the prohibition is, therefore, not of an individual act, but of a continuance of the act, of the habit, “Do not continue clinging to Me.” Her act supposed a condition which had not yet been accomplished. He had not returned to earth to abide permanently with His disciples in the presence of the Paraclete (comp. John 14:18), for He had not yet ascended to the Father. There should come a permanent closeness of union in His presence in the soul; but then the spirit which her act was manifesting was one which would prevent this presence. The coming of the Paraclete depended upon His going to the Father (comp. John 16:7), but she would cling to a visible presence, and has not learnt the truth so hard to learn, “It is expedient for you that I go away” (John 16:7.)

But go to my brethren, and say unto them.—Comp. Notes on Matthew 28:10, and on John 15:15. There is a special force in the word “brethren” as spoken by the risen Lord, in that it declares the continuance of His human nature. (See Hebrews 2:11.)

I ascend unto my Father, and your Father.—The present is used of the future, which He regards as immediately at hand. The message to the brethren is an assurance that the going to the Father, of which He had so often spoken to them, was about to be realised. The victory over death has been accomplished. This appearance on earth is an earnest of the return to heaven. “Unto My Father,” He now says, “and your Father.” It is a more emphatic expression than “our Father” would have been. “I ascend unto My Father. Because He is My Father, He is also your Father, and you are My brethren. My victory over death was the victory of man, whose nature has in Me conquered death. My ascension into heaven will be the ascension of human nature, which in Me goes to the Father.”

My God, and your God.—This phrase contains the same fulness of meaning, and adds the special thought of the continuity of the human nature of our Lord, which has already appeared in the word “brethren.” (See Note above.)

20:11-18 We are likely to seek and find, when we seek with affection, and seek in tears. But many believers complain of the clouds and darkness they are under, which are methods of grace for humbling their souls, mortifying their sins, and endearing Christ to them. A sight of angels and their smiles, will not suffice, without a sight of Jesus, and God's smiles in him. None know, but those who have tasted it, the sorrows of a deserted soul, which has had comfortable evidences of the love of God in Christ, and hopes of heaven, but has now lost them, and walks in darkness; such a wounded spirit who can bear? Christ, in manifesting himself to those that seek him, often outdoes their expectations. See how Mary's heart was in earnest to find Jesus. Christ's way of making himself known to his people is by his word; his word applied to their souls, speaking to them in particular. It might be read, Is it my Master? See with what pleasure those who love Jesus speak of his authority over them. He forbids her to expect that his bodily presence look further, than the present state of things. Observe the relation to God, from union with Christ. We, partaking of a Divine nature, Christ's Father is our Father; and he, partaking of the human nature, our God is his God. Christ's ascension into heaven, there to plead for us, is likewise an unspeakable comfort. Let them not think this earth is to be their home and rest; their eye and aim, and earnest desires, must be upon another world, and this ever upon their hearts, I ascend, therefore I must seek the things which are above. And let those who know the word of Christ, endeavour that others should get good from their knowledge.Touch me not ... - This passage has given rise to a variety of interpretations. Jesus required Thomas to touch him John 20:27, and it has been difficult to ascertain why he forbade this now to Mary. The reason why he directed Thomas to do this was, that he doubted whether he had been restored to life. Mary did not doubt that. The reason why he forbade her to touch him now is to be sought in the circumstances of the case. Mary, filled with joy and gratitude, was about to prostrate herself at his feet, disposed to remain with him, and offer him there her homage as her risen Lord. This is probably included in the word touch in this place; and the language of Jesus may mean this: "Do not approach me now for this purpose. Do not delay here. Other opportunities will yet be afforded to see me. I have not yet ascended - that is, I am not about to ascend immediately, but shall remain yet on earth to afford opportunity to my disciples to enjoy my presence." From Matthew 28:9, it appears that the women, when they met Jesus, held him by the feet and worshipped him. This species of adoration it was probably the intention of Mary to offer, and this, at that time, Jesus forbade, and directed her to go at once and give his disciples notice that he had risen.

My brethren - See John 15:15.

My Father and your Father ... - Nothing was better fitted to afford them consolation than this assurance that this God was theirs; and that, though he had been slain, they were still indissolubly united in attachment to the same Father and God.

17. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father—Old familiarities must now give place to new and more awful yet sweeter approaches; but for these the time has not come yet. This seems the spirit, at least, of these mysterious words, on which much difference of opinion has obtained, and not much that is satisfactory said.

but go to my brethren—(Compare Mt 28:10; Heb 2:11, 17). That He had still our Humanity, and therefore "is not ashamed to call us brethren," is indeed grandly evidenced by these words. But it is worthy of most reverential notice, that we nowhere read of anyone who presumed to call Him Brother. "My brethren: Blessed Jesus, who are these? Were they not Thy followers? yea, Thy forsakers? How dost Thou raise these titles with Thyself! At first they were Thy servants; then disciples; a little before Thy death, they were Thy friends; now, after Thy resurrection, they were Thy brethren. But oh, mercy without measure! how wilt Thou, how canst Thou call them brethren whom, in Thy last parting, Thou foundest fugitives? Did they not run from Thee? Did not one of them rather leave his inmost coat behind him than not be quit of Thee? And yet Thou sayest, 'Go, tell My brethren! It is not in the power of the sins of our infirmity to unbrother us'" [Bishop Hall].

I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God—words of incomparable glory! Jesus had called God habitually His Father, and on one occasion, in His darkest moment, His God. But both are here united, expressing that full-orbed relationship which embraces in its vast sweep at once Himself and His redeemed. Yet, note well, He says not, Our Father and our God. All the deepest of the Church fathers were wont to call attention to this, as expressly designed to distinguish between what God is to Him and to us—His Father essentially, ours not so: our God essentially, His not so: His God only in connection with us: our God only in connection with Him.

There are in this verse two no mean difficulties: the one about the sense of the prohibition, when our Saviour forbade this woman to touch him; when after his resurrection {Matthew 28:9} he suffered the women to hold him by the feet, and himself {John 20:27} called Thomas to thrust his hand into the hole of his side. There are many opinions about it: the best seems to be the opinion of those who think that our Saviour saw Mary too fond, and too much in the embraces of her Lord, as if she thought he had been raised up to such a converse with them as he had before his death; and this error is all which he tasks her of, not forbidding her any kind of touching him, so far as to satisfy herself that he was truly risen from the dead, but restraining any such gross conception. The other difficulty, What force of a reason there could be for her not touching him because he had not yet ascended? is much solved by that answer to the former; reminding Mary that he was to ascend to his Father, though he had not yet ascended, and therefore not to be enjoyed by them with so much freedom and familiarity as before. But (saith he) go and tell

my brethren, that is, my disciples; whom the apostle tells us he is not ashamed to call brethren, Hebrews 2:11,12; that I ascend, that is, I shall shortly ascend,

to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God: though I shall very suddenly leave them, yet I shall go but to my Father and my God, and to their Father and their God. Jesus saith unto her, touch me not,.... Not that his body was an aerial one, or a mere "phantom", which could not be touched; the prohibition itself shows the contrary; and besides, Christ's body was afterwards presented to Thomas, to be touched by him, and to be handled by all the disciples; and his feet were held by the women, which is what Mary would have now done: upon the discovery of him, she threw herself at his feet, and was going to embrace and kiss them, to testify her affection and joy, when she is forbid; not as unworthy of the favour, because she sought him among the dead, for which the angels reproved her and the rest; but either because he was not to be conversed with, as before his death, his body being raised immortal and glorious; or rather, because he had an errand to send her on to his disciples, which required haste; nor need she stay now to show her respect to him, since she would have opportunity enough to do that, before his ascension; which though it was to be quickly, yet not directly and immediately; and this seems to be the sense of our Lord's reason:

for I am not yet ascended to my Father; nor shall I immediately go to him; I shall make some stay upon earth; as he did, forty days before his ascension; when he intimates, she might see him again, and familiarly converse with him; at present he would have her stay no longer with him:

but go to my brethren; this he says, to show that their carriage to him, being denied by one of them, and forsaken by them all, and the glory he was raised unto, as all this made no alteration in their relation to him, so neither in his affection to them: Mary was a very proper person to be sent unto them, since she had lately been with them, and knew where they were all assembled together:

and say unto them; as from himself, representing him as it were:

I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God; God was his Father, not by creation, as he is to angels, and the souls of men, and therefore is called the Father of spirits; nor by adoption, as he is to the saints; nor with respect to the incarnation of Christ, for, as man, he had no father; or with regard to his office as Mediator, for as such he was a servant, and not a Son; but he was his Father by nature, or with regard to his divine person, being begotten of him, and so his own proper Son, and he his own proper Father; which hold forth the natural and eternal sonship of Christ, his equality with him, and distinction from him: and God was the Father of his disciples by adopting grace, in virtue of the covenant of grace made with Christ, and through their spiritual relation to him, as the natural and eternal Son of God: God the Father is the God of Christ as man, who prepared, formed, anointed, supported, and glorified his human nature; and in which nature, he prayed to him as his God, believed in him, loved and obeyed him as such; wherefore the Jew (o) very wrongly infers from hence, that he is not God, because the God of Israel was his God; since this is spoken of him as he is man: and he was the God of his disciples, in and by the covenant of grace made with Christ, as their head and representative; so that their interest in God, as their covenant God and Father, was founded upon his being the God and Father of Christ, and their relation to, and concern with him; and which therefore must be firm and lasting, and will hold as long as God is the God and Father of Christ: this was good news to be brought to his disciples; which, as it carried the strongest marks of affection, and expressions of nearness of relation; and implied, that he was now risen from the dead; so it signified, that he should ascend to God, who stood in the same relation to them, as to him; when he should use all his interest and influence on their behalf, whilst they were on earth; and when the proper time was come for a remove, that they might be with him, and with his God and Father and theirs, where they would be to all eternity.

(o) R. Isaac Chizzuk Emuna, par. 2. c. 58. p. 446.

{4} Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my {d} brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto {e} my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

(4) Christ, who is risen, is not to be sought in this world according to the flesh, but in heaven by faith where he has gone before us.

(d) By his brethren he means his disciples, for in the following verse it is said that Mary told his disciples.

(e) He calls God his Father because he is naturally his Father in the Godhead, and he says your Father because he is our Father by grace through the adoption of the sons of God: that is, by taking us by his free grace to be his sons; Epiphanius.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 20:17-18. Mary sees: it is the Lord. But affected and transported in the highest degree by His miraculous appearance, she knows not: is it He bodily, actually come forth out of the grave,—again become corporeally alive and risen? Or is it, on the other hand, His glorified spirit, which has been already raised up to God, and which again has descended to appear to her, so that He has only the bodily form, not the corporeal substance? Therefore, to have the certainty which her love-filled heart needed in this moment of sudden, profoundest emotion, she would take hold of, handle Him, in order by feeling to obtain the conviction which the eye alone, in presence of this marvellous happiness, could not give her. This, however, Jesus prevents: touch me not! and gazing into her soul, gives her, by His own assurance, the certainty which she seeks, adding, as a reason for that repulse: for I am not yet ascended to the Father, therefore, as yet, no glorified spirit who has again come down from heaven whither he had ascended.[261] She would touch the Lord, as Thomas did subsequently, not, however, from unbelief, but because her faith strives after a definiteness with which her love cannot dispense. Only this interpretation, which is followed also by Baeumlein, strictly corresponds to the words generally, especially also to the ΓΆΡ, which assigns a reason, and imports no scenic accompaniments into the incident which are not in the passage; for ἍΠΤΟΥ leaves the reader to suppose nothing else that Mary desired to do, save simply the mere ἍΠΤΕΣΘΑΙ, therefore no embracing and the like. But scenic accompaniments are imported, and go far beyond the simple ἍΠΤΟΥ, if it is assumed that Mary clasped the knees of Jesus (comp. the frequent ἅπτεσθαι γούνων in Homer, Od. α. 512, Ο. 76, Φ. 65, Ω. 357, et al.), and desired, as supplex, to manifest her προσκύνησις to Him, as to a Being already glorified and returned from God (my first edition), or as venerabunda (so Lücke, Maier, Lange, Hilgenfeld, comp. Ewald). This could not be expected to be gathered by the reader from the mere noli me tangere; John must, in that case, have said, μὴ ἅπτου μου γονάτων, or ΜῊ ΓΟΝΥΠΕΤΕῖ ΜΕ,, or ΜῊ ΠΡΟΣΚΎΝΗΣΌΝ ΜΟΙ, or the like, or have previously related what Mary desired,[262] to which it may be added, that Jesus elsewhere does not refuse the ΠΡΟΣΚΎΝΗΣΙς; comp. especially Matthew 28:9. He does not, indeed, according to Luke 24:39, repel even the handling, but invites thereto; but in that instance, irrespective of the doubtfulness of the account, in a historical point of view, it should be noted (1) that Jesus, in Luke, loc. cit. (comp. John 20:24 ff.), has to do with the direct doubt of His disciples in the reality of His bodily appearance, which doubt he must expressly censure; (2) that in the present passage, a woman, and one belonging to the narrower circle of His loving fellowship, is alone with Him, to whom He might be disposed, from considerations of sacred decorum, not to permit the ἅπτεσθαι desired in the midst of overflowing excitement. How entirely different was the situation with the sinning woman, Luke 7:37 (in answer to Brückner’s objection)! Along with the correct interpretation of ἍΠΤΕΣΘΑΙ, in itself, others have missed the further determination of the sense of the expression, either in this way: Jesus forbade the handling, because His wounds still pained Him (Paulus)! or: because His new, even corporeally glorified life was still so delicate, that He was bound to keep at a distance from anything that would disturb it (so Olshausen, following Schleiermacher, Festpred. V. p. 303); or: because He was still bodiless, and first after His return to the Father was again to obtain a body (Weisse). There is thus imported what is certainly not contained in the words (Paulus), what is a thoroughly arbitrary presupposition (Paulus, Olshausen), and what is in complete contradiction to the N. T. idea of the risen Christ (Weisse). Others take the saying as an urging to hasten on with that which is immediately necessary;[263] she is not to detain herself with the ἅπτεσθαι, since she can see and touch Him still at a later period (so, with a different explanation in other respects of ἍΠΤΕΣΘΑΙ itself, Beza, Vatablus, Calovius, Cornelius a Lapide, Bengel, and several others); by which, however, an arbitrarily adopted sense, and one not in keeping with the subsequent ἈΝΑΒΑΊΝΩ, Κ.Τ.Λ., would be introduced into the confirmatory clause, nay, the prospect opened up, in reference to the future tangere, would be inappropriate. Others, that Jesus demands a greater proffer of honour; for as His body has already become divine, the ordinary touching of feet and mode of intercourse is no longer applicable (Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, Erasmus, Jansen, and several others). How inept in itself, and illogical in reference to the following οὔπω γὰρ, κ.τ.λ.! Others: it was a refusal of the enjoyment now sought in His appearance, which as yet is untimely, and is to take place not “terrestri contactu,” but spirituali (Melanchthon, Calvin, Aretius, Grotius, and several others; substantially also, but under various modifications, Neander, De Wette, Tholuck, Luthardt, Lange, Baumgarten, Hengstenberg, Godet),[264] by which, however, the proper contents, constituting the essence of the supposed sense, is arbitrarily read between the lines. Others still differently, as e.g. Ammon: Jesus desired to spare Mary the touch of one levitically unclean! and Hilgenfeld, Evang. p. 318: the refusal of the reverential touch was made by Jesus, for the reason that He was not yet the man again united with the Logos, but at present only the Man raised again from His grave.[265] Both interpretations are entirely foreign to the meaning. Scholten’s view (p. 172) is also an impossibility, as if Jesus had said οὔπω μὲν γὰρ, κ.τ.λ., as one already glorified. Conjectures even have been attempted; Vogel: μὴ σὺ πτόου, Gersdorf and Schulthess: ΜΟΥ ἍΠΤΟΥ, or ΣΎ ΜΟΥ ἍΠΤΥ.

ΠΡῸς ΤΟῪς ἈΔΕΛΦ. ΜΟΥ] This designation of the disciples as His beloved associates in the filial relation to God, through His now fulfilled earthly work (comp. πρὸς τ. πατέρα, κ.τ.λ.), is not at all intended to serve the purpose of tranquillizing them on account of their flight (Bengel, Luthardt, comp. Luther). Of this the text contains no indication, all the less that the expression is found only in the address to Mary, but not as to be communicated to the disciples. Rather has the designation its reference to Mary herself, who is to gather from it, that the loving fellowship of the Lord with His own, far removed from being dissolved by the new conditions of this miraculous manifestation, rather continues, indeed, now first (comp. John 15:15) has its completion. Note the like expression in Matthew 28:10, where, however (see in loc.), the pointing to Galilce is an essential variation in the tradition; against which Luthardt, without reason, objects that Matthew 28:10 refers to the promise, Matthew 26:32. Certainly; but this promise already has, as its historical presupposition, the appearance of the Lord before the disciples, which was to be expected in Galilee, as the same also, Matthew 28:16 ff., is actually set forth as the first and only one in Matthew.

ἀναβαίνω, κ.τ.λ.] The near and certain future. To announce this consequence of His resurrection to the disciples, must be all the more on His heart, since He so frequently designates His death as His departure to the Father, and had associated with it the personal hope of the disciples. That should not be different through His resurrection; it was only the passage from death to the heavenly glory. As to the mode and way of the ascension ἀναβ. contains nothing. The added κ. πατέρα ὑμῶν and Κ. ΘΕῸΝ ὙΜῶΝ was, however, intended to confirm the hope of the disciples in respect of their own ΣΥΝΔΟΞΑΣῆΝΑΙ, since in truth, in virtue of their fellowship with Christ, the Father of Christ was also become their Father, the God of Christ (to whom Christ solely belongs and serves, comp. Matthew 27:47, and see, in detail, on Ephesians 1:17) also their God (comp. on Romans 1:8); that is now, after the execution of the redemptive work, entirely accomplished, and will one day have also the fellowship in δόξα as its final result, comp. Romans 8:17; Romans 8:29. Note in ΠΡῸς ΤῸΝ ΠΑΤΈΡΑ, Κ.Τ.Λ., that the article does not recur, but embraces all in the unity of the Person. To understand the pres. ἈΝΑΒ., however, of that which ensues forthwith and immediately, and in the following way (Baur, p. 222 ff., and Neutest. Theol. p. 381, Hilgenfeld, and others), that already the appearance that follows is to be placed after the ascension (comp. Ewald, who understands the pres. of the ascension as already impending), is decisively opposed by the fact of the later appearance, John 20:26-27, if this is not given up as actual history, or if the extravagant notion of many ascensions is not, with Kinkel, laid hold of.

[261] In οὔπω γὰρ, κ.τ.λ., is expressed, therefore, not “the dread of permitting a contact, and that which was thereby intended, before the ascension to the Father should be accomplished” (Brückner); but Jesus means thereby to say that Mary with her ἅπτεσθαι already presupposed in Him a condition which had not yet commenced, because it must have been preceded by His ascension to the Father.

[262] This also in answer to Baur, who thinks that Jesus was precisely on the point of ascending (see on ver. 18), and therefore did not wish to allow Himself to be detained by Mary falling at His feet. Comp. Köstlin, p. 190; Kinkel in the Stud. u. Krit. 1841, p. 597 ff.—Among the ancient interpreters I find the strict verbal rendering of ἅπτεσθαι most fully preserved in Nonnus, who even refers it only to the clothing: Mary had approached her right hand to His garment; then Jesus says: ἐμῶν μὴ ψαῦε χιτώνων.

[263] At this conclusion Hofmann also arrives, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 524: Mary is not, in her joy at again having Jesus, to approach and hang upon Him, as if He had appeared in order to remain, but was to carry to the disciples the joyful message, etc. But even with this turn the words do not apply, and the thought, especially that He had appeared not to remain, would be so enigmatically expressed by οὔπω γὰρ, κ.τ.λ., that it could only be discovered by the way, in nowise indicated, of an indirect conclusion. That ἅπτεοθαι may denote attach oneself, fasten oneself on (comp. Godet: “s’attacher à”), is well known; but just as frequently, and in the N. T. throughout, it means take hold of, touch, handle, also in 1 Corinthians 7:1; 1 John 5:18.

[264] Melanchthon: “Reprehenditur mulier, quod desiderio humano expetit complexum Christi et somniat eum revixisse ut rursus inter amicos vivat ut antea …; nondum scit, fide praesentiam invisibilis Christi deinceps agnoscendam esse.” So substantially also Luther. According to Luthardt, Mary would grasp, seize, hold Jesus fast, in order to enjoy His fellowship and satisfy her love. This Jesus denies to her, because at present it was not yet time for that; abiding fellowship as hitherto will first again commence when He shall have ascended, consequently shall have returned in the Paraclete; it will not then be brought about corporeally, but the fellowship will be in the Spirit. According to Baumgarten, a renewed bodily fellowship is promised to Mary, but completely freed from sin, and sanctified by Christ’s blood. According to Hengstenberg, Mary would embrace Jesus in the opinion that now the wall of separation between Him and her has fallen; but the Lord repels her, for as yet His glorification is not completed, the wall of separation still in part subsists, etc. Godet: “It is not yet the moment for thee to attach thyself to me, as if I were already restored to you. For I am not as yet arrived at the state in which I shall be able to contract with my disciples the superior relation which I have promised to you;” thus substantially like Luthardt.

[265] In his ZeitsChr. 1868, p. 436, Hilgenfeld modifies his interpretation to the extent that Jesus, as the Risen One, did not as yet desire to be the object of the reverence which belonged to Him as Lord of the Church (Php 2:10). This was then first to begin, when, after His ascension, He should appear before His believing ones as Dispenser of the Spirit (John 6:62-63). But even thus the points to be understood are imported from a distance.John 20:17. Μή μου ἅπτου, “noli me tangere,” not because it was indecorous (Luke 7:38); nor because she wished to assure herself by touch that the appearance was real, a test which He did not prevent His disciples from applying; nor because her embrace would disturb the process of glorification through which His body was passing; nor, following Kypke’s note, can we suppose that Jesus forbids Mary to worship Him [although K. proves that ἅπτεσθαι is used of that clinging to the knees or feet which was adopted by suppliants], because He accepts Thomas’ worship even before His ascension; but, as He Himself says, οὔπω γὰρ ἀναβέβηκα πρὸς τὸν πατέρα μου, “for I have not yet ascended to my Father,” implying that this was not His permanent return to visible fellowship with His disciples. Mary, by her eagerness to seize and hold Him, showed that she considered that the μικρόν, the “little time,” of John 16:16, was past, and that now He had returned to be for ever with them. Jesus checks her with the assurance that much had yet to happen before that. His disciples must at once be disabused of that misapprehension. Therefore, πορεύουὑμῶν, “Go to my brothers [ἀδελφούς μου, here for the first time; in anticipation of the latter part of the sentence, cf. Mark 3:35] and tell them, I ascend to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God”. He thus forms a relationship which bound Him to them more closely than His bodily presence. His place by right is with God. But His love binds Him as certainly to His people on earth as His rights carry Him to God. The form of the expression is dictated by His desire to give them assurance. They had no doubt God was His God and Father. He teaches them that, if so, He is their God and Father. ἔρχεταιαὐτῇ, Mary carries forthwith the Lord’s message to the disciples, cf. Mark 16:10; Matthew 28:10; Luke 24:10.17. Touch me not, for, &c.] This is a passage of well-known difficulty. At first sight the reason given for refraining from touching would seem to be more suitable to a permission to touch. It is perhaps needless to enquire whether the ‘for’ refers to the whole of what follows or only to the first sentence, ‘I am not yet ascended to the Father?’ In either case the meaning would be, that the Ascension has not yet taken place, although it soon will do so, whereas Mary’s action assumes that it has taken place. If ‘for’ refers to the first clause only, then the emphasis is thrown on Mary’s mistake; if ‘for’ refers to the whole of what is said, then the emphasis is thrown on the promise that what Mary craves shall be granted in a higher way to both her and others very soon. The translation ‘touch Me not’ is inadequate and gives a false impression. The verb (haptesthai) does not mean to ‘touch’ and ‘handle’ with a view to seeing whether His body was real; this Christ not only allowed but enjoined (John 20:27; Luke 24:39; comp. 1 John 1:1): rather it means to ‘hold on to’ and ‘cling to.’ Moreover it is the present (not aorist) imperative; and the full meaning will therefore be, ‘Do not continue holding Me,’ or simply, hold Me not. The old and often interrupted earthly intercourse is over; the new and continuous intercourse with the Ascended Lord has not yet begun: but that Presence will be granted soon, and there will be no need of straining eyes and clinging ands to realize it. (For a large collection of various interpretations see Meyer.)

to my Father] The better reading gives, to the Father; with this ‘My brethren’ immediately following agrees better. The general relationship applying both to Him and them, is stated first, and then pointedly distinguished in its application to Him and to them.

I ascend] Or, I am ascending. The change has already begun.

my God] The risen and glorified Redeemer is still perfect man. Comp. Revelation 3:12. Thus also S. Paul and S. Peter speak of ‘the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Comp. Ephesians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 11:31; 1 Peter 1:3; and see on Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3, where the expression is blurred in the A. V.John 20:17. Μὴ μου ἅπτου, touch Me not) She was wishing to do so in the way of adoration; but Jesus forbids it: For, 1) there was no need to touch Him, since she already believed: 2) there was close at hand, simultaneously with His ascension, the approaching state of a more elevated kind of faith, which required no touching to assure it: 3) the tidings were to be given without delay to the disciples; comp. Luke 10:4, “Salute no man by the way” [the charge to the Seventy to avoid delay, as their business was urgent and Oriental salutations tedious].—οὔπω, not yet) By this particle the Lord indicates, that the Ascension was immediately at hand, and that the disciples ought to make haste: for that it is for their sake that He delays, when He might immediately ascend.—γὰρ, for) The Ætiology [Assigning of a reason.—See Append.]: do not touch Me: for thou oughtest to go away quickly to announce the tidings: afterwards thou, and those to whom thou shalt have announced them, shall be able both to see and to touch Me.—δὲ, but) The antithesis is between, I have not yet ascended, and, I ascend.—ἀδελφούς μου, My brethren) See on Matthew 25:40. [At first He called them disciples; then friends, John 15:15; and once, speaking of the cross, little sons (τεκνία): after the resurrection, παιδία, little children, ch. John 21:5, and brethren.] [The words in Matthew 12:50 rest on another and different principle, “Whosoever shall do the will of My Father in heaven, the same is My brother.”—V. g.] He calls them brethren: for His Father is also at the same time their Father; and by the appellation of Brethren, He intimates His favourable (propitious) feeling towards them, though by their flight and denial of Him they had become unworthy of all their former position and grade, and He offers to them all the fruit of His resurrection: being presently after about also to renew their commission (the sending of them forth), nay, more, about to enlarge it: John 20:21.—ἀναβαίνω, I ascend) This goes still further. He does not say, I have risen again; nor, I will ascend; but, I ascend. This time of the ascension is already regarded as present. Luke 9:51, note “The time that He should be received up.” [Jesus all along from the first looked on to the goal, His assumption into heaven, and regarded the forty days after His resurrection, nay, even the events preceding, as only a kind of παρασκευή or Preparation for the one great day of His Ascension]. So the mention of His glorious coming is immediately connected with His ascension. See Acts 1:11, “This same Jesus, winch is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” Wherein once it is said, He shall come; afterwards it is always, He cometh, in the present. Hence the disciples of themselves were about to infer, that they must make haste, in order that they might see Jesus. He had often spoken of this ascension as close at hand, by employing the word ὑπάγω, I go away.—πρὸς τὸν πατέρα μου καὶ πατέρα ὑμῶν, καὶ Θεόν μου καὶ Θεὸν ὑμῶν, to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God) Christ called God His God thrice; on the cross, Matthew 27:46, “My God, My God” etc.; after His resurrection, in this passage, and in the Apocalypse, ch. Revelation 2:7, note.[398] Ordinarily and elsewhere, He is wont to call God by the title of His Father. He joins together both appellations, for the first time, in this place: He calls Him Father, since He derives His Origination from Him; He calls Him God (never, His Lord), since He has Him for His End; and thus shows that He has every kind of tie binding Him to the God. Moreover, He freely bestows on His brethren a similar tie of relationship with the Father and God. He does not, however, say Our, but “My Father and your Father,” etc. We have our relationship to God through Him: He has His in a manner altogether peculiar to Himself and primarily. Here, too, the saying holds good: God is the God (and Father), not of the dead, but of the living; comp. ch. John 14:19, “Because I live, ye shall live also.”

[398] There seems some mistake here. The passage in which Jesus calls the Father My God, is ch. Revelation 3:12; not ch. Revelation 2:7, “I will write upon Him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God.—E. and T.Verse 17. - Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for, etc.

(1) Some, Bengal and others, make the γάρ govern the whole clause that follows, and so give the meaning," Stay not to touch me, but haste to my disciples, and say," etc.; but this would render the first clause very obscure, unless the further supposition be made, as by Baur, Bush, Sears, and many others, that our Lord was just on the point of ascending to heaven, i.e. of one (nay, the first) of his many ascensions to the Father, after which the touching, in the sense either of worship or of verification, would be possible and rightful, and also the supposition that an "ascension" intervened between the appearance to the Magdalene and the other women, or at all events before the revelation to the disciples at Emmaus, to Simon Peter, or to the eleven, at all of which both verification of his personality, if net worship at his feet, was permitted or encouraged. This hypothesis is perilously near to an assumption of a succession of illusive visions of that which had nothing but subjective reality.

(2) Olshausen and Schleiermacher give the utterly naturalistic view, that the Lord's spiritual body was so tender that he could not bear a vigorous grasp or physical touch. Still worse,

(3) Paulus supposed that he was still suffering from his cruel wounds, which, of course, would only imply an apparent death on the cross, and is a denial of the Resurrection altogether.

(4) Meyer's view seems to imply that Mary wondered whether he had only a glorified spirit without bodily form, and she wished to verify the latter by handling his Person, and "Jesus gives her by his verbal assurance the certainty she seeks, adding, For I am not yet ascended to the (my) Father; therefore as yet I am not a glorified spirit who has again come down from heaven, whither he had ascended." This is very subtle, and is equivalent to our Lord's saying, "Do not you, Mary, seek that kind of bodily tangible proof;" "I am not yet a glorified spirit, and have not yet the glorified body which you imagined." The difficulty of this interpretation is not what Godet says, "Jesus glorified does not become pure spirit," but that Mary is credited with a breadth and depth of apprehension so far in advance of her apparent despondency and her small amount of faith in the dignity of her Lord.

(5) Many take the μὴ μου ἄπτου, "Hold me not fast," as though ἄπτομαι were equal to κρατεῖν, "to hold fast," or to hold for purposes of enjoyment, and imply that Mary rushed to "embrace" our Lord (Hengstenberg and Bruckner), to clasp him by the knees or feet; that Jesus warned and repulsed the effort, implying that he repressed the exuberance of the joy which she manifested, pointing to a much higher and holier contact that would be possible when his glorification would be complete. Augustine ('Tract. in Io.,' 121:3), "' Touch me not,' that is, Believe not thus on me according to thy present notions. For how could it be otherwise than carnally that she still believed on him whom she was weeping over as a man? For I am not yet ascended to my Father.' There shalt thou touch me when thou believest me to be God in no wise unequal to the Father." Leo the Great ('Sermo,' 74. 100. 4, quoted by P. Schaff): "I am unwilling that you should approach me (carnaliter) by any mere physical touch, that you should recognize me by the physical senses (sensu carnis). I am drawing you to sublimer things; I am preparing greater things for you. When I shall have ascended to the Father, then you will handle me more perfectly and truly, being ready, as you then will be, to apprehend what you do not touch, and to believe that which you do not perceive." Many of the most able of modern expositors adopt this view or some modification of it (Calvin, Melancthon, Lampe, De Wette, and Tholuck); Luthardt now sees a difficulty in this interpretation, from the twofold sense thus attributed to the word ἄπτεσθαι, and falls back on the earlier view, "Cling not to me, but go and tell my disciples," etc. Godet, however, puts it thus: "I have not yet reached the state by means of' which I shall be able to live with you in the communion which I promised you;" and many of the ecclesiastical divines discover in the words an allusion to sacramental communion which will be possible in the future, when the dispensation of the Holy Spirit shall have beau inaugurated. The ascension of which he speaks is not of one definitive act, but of a continual state (ἀναβέβηκα, not ἀνέβην), and so the idea of the repeated ascensions is precluded. The difficulty arises from the permission the Lord gave to the eleven to prove by tangible evidence, by visible signs, the reality of his resurrection, showing them by way of identification the marks upon his person of the great agony. But there is no need to suppose that Mary was refused one touch when she seemed wishful to cling to his feet, and thus redouble the conviction already wrought in her by sight and hearing of his new mode of being. Ἄπτεσθαι has this double meaning, "to handle" and "to hold fast." The key of the passage is in the οὔπω, "not yet have I ascended to the Father;" and the reasonable, nay, the imperative, inference is that when he shall have ascended to the Father, there will be ample opportunity for that spiritual communion with him which will make him for ever present with his Church. The goal of all Christ's teaching (as recorded by John) is his return to the Father, and the consequent fullness of his disciples' joy. Because he will be glorified straightway in God himself, he will henceforth be as near to them, as competent to teach and guide and protect them, as in the days of his flesh; nay, more so, for they will do greater works than he wrought before them, because he goes to the Father, ascending up to where he was before (John 14:18-21, 23, 28; John 16:14, 17). He will be "seated at the right hand of the majesty in the heavens," he will pass "through these heavens, that he may fill all things." Because he is "the Lamb in the midst of the throne," he will lead them to the living fountains of water. Because he is on the eternal throne, he can dwell in them and manifest himself to them. But go to my brethren. The new name, dearer than "slaves," than "servants," than "disciples," than "ministers," than "apostles," than "friends;" one that involves in itself an eternal inheritance. Observe that, though our Lord (Matthew 12:48, etc.) had prepared the way for this unspeakable privilege, it is not until he has put on the life eternal, the life of victory over death, that he freely confers this lofty designation upon that timid and dispirited band of special followers who had forsaken him and fled in his great humiliation. Peter especially (Mark 16:7) receives this significant assurance and (Luke 24:34) confirms its realization together with Paul (1 Corinthians 15:5). These eleven men are henceforth his brethren. And say to them, I am ascending; the process of ascension has begun; I am beginning to assume all the prerogatives of spiritual corporeity; I am clothing myself with my eternal form; I have laid down my life, that I might take it again, and use it for the highest blessedness of my brethren. I am ascending to my Father, and to your Father. Let it be observed that he does not say, "to our Father." "He who is Father of Christ and Father of men, is so in different ways. He is Father of Christ by nature and of men by grace" (Westcott). "He saith not 'our Father;' in one sense, therefore, is he mine, in another sense yours; by nature mine, by grace yours" (Augustine). To my God, and your God. The same remark may be made here. Christ does speak of "my God" from the throne of glory (Revelation 3:2, 12). His human consciousness of God has throughout been unique; his eternal consciousness of the Father's love dignified all his human relations with the Father, and became the true inspiration of all consciousness of God possessed by his disciples. "He appears in the presence [before the face] of God for us," and so we have access unto one Father and draw near to God. Nevertheless, he did not say to "our God," any more than to "our Father." 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 John 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 (John 7:3, John 7:5, John 7:10), but not the phrase my brethren, which follows from my Father and your Father. Compare Matthew 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.

Links
John 20:17 Interlinear
John 20:17 Parallel Texts


John 20:17 NIV
John 20:17 NLT
John 20:17 ESV
John 20:17 NASB
John 20:17 KJV

John 20:17 Bible Apps
John 20:17 Parallel
John 20:17 Biblia Paralela
John 20:17 Chinese Bible
John 20:17 French Bible
John 20:17 German Bible

Bible Hub
John 20:16
Top of Page
Top of Page