John 20:12
And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
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(12) And seeth two angels in white sitting.—Comp. generally on the vision of angels, Notes on Matthew 28:5-7; Mark 16:5-7; Luke 24:4-8. This is to be regarded as a distinct vision to Mary, which, from the fulness with which it is recorded, we must suppose that she herself related to the Evangelist. (Comp. Introduction, p. 379.) It rests, therefore, upon her testimony, and as a vision to her only may seem to be less certainly objective than the other appearances. Great caution is, however, necessary in estimating the truth of that which is wholly beyond the application of our ordinary canons of evidence. If we admit the earlier vision of angels, of which there were several witnesses, there can be no reason for rejecting this; and if the evidence was at the time sufficient to convince the Evangelist, who himself had seen no such vision, but was guided by the Spirit to accept and record this, as seen by Mary, we have a decisive judgment of higher authority than any which criticism can attain.

With the words “in white” we are, of course, to understand raiment. The ellipsis is frequent in the classic, and indeed in all writers.

The one at the head, and the other at the feet.—The idea is apparently that of sitting and watching the body. She had feared that some outrage had been wrought upon the body; but God had given His angels charge concerning Him.

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.The scripture - See Luke 24:26, Luke 24:46. The sense or meaning of the various predictions that foretold his death, as, for example, Psalm 2:7, compare Acts 13:33; Psalm 16:9-10, compare Acts 2:25-32; Psalm 110:1, compare Acts 2:34-35.

For an account of the resurrection of Christ, see the notes at Matthew 28.

12. one at the head, and the other at the feet where the body of Jesus had lain—not merely proclaiming silently the entire charge they had had of the body, of Christ [quoted in Luthardt], but rather, possibly, calling mute attention to the narrow space within which the Lord of glory had contracted Himself; as if they would say, Come, see within what limits, marked off by the interval here between us two, the Lord lay! But she is in tears, and these suit not the scene of so glorious an Exit. They are going to point out to her the incongruity.Ver. 12,13. The other evangelists differing in their accounts of this part of the history, have raised some questions here not easily to be resolved. Matthew reports thus, see Matthew 28:2-9. Mark saith, see Mark 16:2-8. Mark 16:2 Where by the rising of the sun must not be understood its rising above the horizon; but after midnight, (as the learned Casaubon hath noted), when the sun and stars begin to ascend. Luke reports this part of the history thus, see Luke 24:1-12. Concerning the persons that went to the sepulchre, and the time of their going, here is (as we have showed) little difficulty in reconciling the evangelists. The greatest difference seemeth to be about the angels that Mary saw; whether she saw two apparitions of angels, or but one, and one angel, or two; and concerning the time when she saw them, whether before or after that Peter and John had been in the sepulchre. Matthew saith, the stone was rolled away, and the angel sat upon the stone; this must be without the sepulchre. Mark saith, they, entering into the sepulchre, saw (an angel in the shape of) a young man sitting, &c. Luke and John speak of two angels; but seen in the sepulchre, not without it. There is no doubt but the apparition was of two angels; one of which might be seen without first, sitting upon the stone, to let the women know that he had rolled it away: both of them within, sitting one at the head, the other at the feet, of the place where the body of Jesus lay. But the greatest question is, Whether the woman saw the angels before that Peter and John had been at the sepulchre, or after? Some think that it was before, but it is no way probable; for it can hardly be thought but that if they had seen the angel at the first, they would have told the eleven of it, or Peter and John at least; nor would Mary have told Peter and John (as John 20:2) they had taken away her Lord, &c., for the angels told them he was risen. So that although by some of the others’ relation, who say nothing of Peter and John’s coming to the sepulchre, it seems as if the women saw the angel before their coming to satisfy themselves, yet indeed it was after. The women first came, saw the door open, the stone rolled away, &c. In a fright they ran back, and told it the disciples. Peter and John came to see, and being satisfied, return, leaving Mary still standing at the sepulchre weeping; then she stooping down and looking into the sepulchre, both saw the angel sitting on the stone, and also the two angels within the sepulchre, who fully revealed the resurrection to her.

And seeth two angels in white,.... Matthew and Mark speak but of one, but Luke of two, as here; whom he calls men, because they appeared in an human form, and in shining garments, or white apparel; and which appearance is entirely agreeable to the received notion of the Jews, that as evil angels or devils are clothed in black, so good angels, or ministering spirits, , "are clothed in white" (l), expressive of their spotless purity and innocence:

sitting the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain; in what position the body of Christ was laid, whether from west to east, as some, or from north to south, as others, is not certain; since the Jews observed no rule in this matter, as appears from the form of their sepulchres, and the disposition of the graves in them; some lying one way, and some another, in the same vault; See Gill on Luke 24:12.

(l) Gloss. in T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 72. 1.

{2} And seeth two angels in {b} white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

(2) Two angels are made witnesses of the Lord's resurrection.

(b) In white clothing.

12. seeth] Or, beholdeth, as in John 20:6, a long contemplative gaze.

two angels] This is the only place where angels appear in S. John’s narrative. Comp. John 1:51, John 12:29, [John 5:4].

in white] In the Greek ‘white’ is plural, ‘garments’ being understood, as in Revelation 3:4 : in Revelation 3:5; Revelation 3:18; Revelation 4:4 ‘garments’ is expressed. Omit ‘the’ before ‘one’ and for ‘the other’ read ‘one;’ one at the head and one at the feet.

John 20:12. Καθεζομένους, sitting) as if after having performed some service, and waiting for some one whom they might instruct.

John 20:12Seeth (θεωρεῖ)

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


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

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