John 20:19
Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
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(19) For this appearance to the disciples (John 20:19-25) comp. Mark 16:14 and Luke 24:36-43. Between the last verse and this we must suppose to occur the bribing of the guard (Matthew 28:11-15), and the conversation on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35; see also Mark 16:12-13, and comp. Chronological Harmony of the Gospels, p. 37)

When the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled . . .—This fact is noted here and in John 20:26, and the obvious intention is to point out that the appearance was preternatural. The body of the risen Lord was indeed the body of His human life, but it was not subject to the ordinary conditions of human life. The power that had upheld it as He walked upon the Sea of Galilee (John 6:16-21) made it during those forty days independent of laws of gravitation and of material resistance. (Comp. Notes on Luke 24:15-16; Luke 24:31; Luke 24:39.) The supposition that the doors were shut, and were miraculously opened (comp. Acts 12:10), is opposed to the general impression of the context, and the incident is one which would probably have been mentioned.

The “fear of the Jews” naturally followed the Crucifixion. The Shepherd was struck, and the flock was scattered. They would remember, too, His own words, which foretold persecution for them (John 15:18 et seq.), and there may have been definite charges against some of them. Peter, e.g., had drawn upon himself the hostility of the high priest’s household, and John was known to be among the disciples. (Comp. John 18:8; John 18:25 et seq.)

Peace be unto you.—The salutation is given also in Luke 24:36. (Comp., in this Gospel, Note on John 14:27.) The well-known words of greeting would come to them now, as her own name came to Mary (John 20:16), bringing, as the familiar tones fell upon the ear, the assurance of the Master’s presence in their midst. But the words would also have the fuller meaning of a message from the spirit-world to them. It is a voice from the darkness beyond the grave into which the living have tried in vain to see, and that voice is one of peace. It is the message of the conqueror of death to man who has conquered in and through Him, declaring that the victory is won. It is the message of atonement, declaring the peace which flows from pardoned sin and reconciliation with God to the disciples themselves, and through them-as the apostles of peace, to all mankind.



Matthew 28:9
. - John 20:19.

So did our Lord greet His sad followers. The first of these salutations was addressed to the women as they hurried in the morning from the empty tomb bewildered; the second to the disciples assembled in the upper room in the evening of the same day. Both are ordinary greetings. The first is that usual in Greek, and literally means ‘Rejoice’; the second is that common in Hebrew. The divergence between the two may be owing to the Evangelist Matthew having rendered the words which our Lord actually did speak, in the tongue familiar to His time, into their equivalent Greek. But whatever account may be given of the divergence does not materially affect the significance which I find in the salutations. And I desire to turn to them for a few moments now, because I think that, if we ponder them, we may gain some precious lessons from these Easter greetings of the Lord Himself.

I. First, then, notice their strange and majestic simplicity.

He meets His followers after Calvary and the Tomb and the Resurrection, with the same words with which two casual acquaintances, after some slight absence, might salute one another by the way. Their very simplicity is their sublimity here. For think of what tremendous experiences He had passed through since they saw Him last, and of what a rush of rapture and disturbance of joy shook the minds of the disciples, and then estimate the calm and calming power of that matter-of-fact and simple greeting. It bears upon its very front the mark of truth. Would anybody have imagined the scene so? There have been one or two great poets who might conceivably have risen to the height of putting such words under such circumstances into the mouths of creatures of their own imagination. Analogous instances of the utmost simplicity of expression in moments of intense feeling may be quoted from Ƴchylus or Shakespeare, and are regarded as the high-water marks of genius. But does any one suppose that these evangelists were exceptionally gifted souls of that sort, or that they could have imagined anything like this-so strange in its calm, so unnatural at first sight, and yet vindicating itself as so profoundly natural and sublime-unless for the simple reason that they had heard it themselves, or been told it by credible witnesses? Neither the delicate pencil of the great dramatic genius nor the coarser brush of legend can have drawn such an incident as this, and it seems to me that the only reasonable explanation of it is that these greetings are what He really did say.

For, as I have remarked, unnatural as it seems at first sight, if we think for a moment, the very simplicity and calm, and, I was going to say, the matter-of-factness, of such a greeting, as the first that escaped from lips that had passed through death and yet were red and vocal, is congruous with the deepest truths of His nature. He has come from that tremendous conflict, and He reappears, not flushed with triumph, nor bearing any trace of effort, but surrounded as by a nimbus with that strange tranquillity which evermore enwrapped Him. So small does the awful scene which He has passed through seem to this divine-human Man, and so utterly are the old ties and bonds unaffected by it, that when He meets His followers, all He has to say to them as His first greeting is, ‘Peace be unto you!’-the well-worn salutation that was bandied to and fro in every market-place and scene where men were wont to meet. Thus He indicates the divine tranquillity of His nature; thus He minimises the fact of death; thus He reduces it to its true insignificance as a parenthesis across which may pass unaffected all sweet familiarities and loving friendships; thus He reknits the broken ties, and, though the form of their intercourse is hereafter to be profoundly modified, the substance of it remains, whereof He giveth assurance unto them in these His first words from the dead. So, as to a man standing on some mountain plateau, the deep gorges which seam it become invisible, and the unbroken level runs right on. So, there are a marvellous proof of the majesty and tranquillity of the divine Man, a glorious manifestation of His superiority over death; a blessed assurance of the reknitting of all ancient ties, after it as before it, coming to us from pondering on the trivial words-trivial from other lips, but profoundly significant on His-wherewith He greeted His servants when He rose again from the dead.

II. Then note, secondly, the universal destination of the greetings of the risen Lord.

I have said that it is possibly a mere accident that we should have the two forms of salutation preserved for us here; and that it is quite conceivable that our Lord really spoke but one, which has been preserved unaltered from its Hebrew or Aramaic original in John, and rendered by its Greek equivalent by the Evangelist Matthew.

But be that as it may, I cannot help feeling that in this fact, that the one salutation is the common greeting among Greek-speaking peoples, and the other the common greeting amongst Easterns, we may permissibly find the thought of the universal aspect of the gifts and greetings of the risen Christ. He comes to all men, and each man hears Him, ‘in his own tongue wherein he was born,’ breathing forth to him greetings which are promises, and promises which are gifts. Just as the mocking inscription on the Cross proclaimed, in ‘Hebrew and Greek and Latin,’ the three tongues known to its readers, the one kingdom of the crucified King-so in the greetings from the grave, the one declares that, to all the desires of eager, ardent, sensuous, joy-loving Westerns, and all the aspirations of repose-loving Easterns, who had had bitter experience of the pangs and pains of a state of warfare, Jesus Christ is ready to respond and to bring answering gifts. Whatsoever any community or individual has conceived as its highest ideal of blessedness and of good, that the risen Christ hath in His hands to bestow. He takes men’s ideals of blessedness, and deepens and purifies and refines them.

The Greek notion of joy as being the good to be most wished for those dear to us, is but a shallow one. They had to learn, and their philosophy and their poetry and their art came to corruption because they would not learn, that the corn of wheat must be cast into the ground and die before it bring forth fruit. They knew little of the blessing and meaning of sorrow, and therefore the false glitter passed away, and the pursuit of the ideal became gross and foul and sensuous. And, on the other hand, the Jew, with his longing for peace, had an equally shallow and unworthy conception of what it meant, and what was needed to produce it. If he had only external concord with men, and a competency of outward good within his reach without too much trouble, he thought that because he ‘had much goods laid up for many years’ he might ‘take his ease; and eat, and drink, and be merry.’ But Jesus Christ comes to satisfy both aspirations by contradicting both, and to reveal to Greek and Jew how much deeper and diviner was his desire than he dreamed it to be; and, therefore, how impossible it was to find the joy that would last, in the dancing fireflies of external satisfactions or the delights of art and beauty; and how impossible it was to find the repose that ennobled and was wedded to action, in anything short of union with God.

The Lord Christ comes out of the grave in which He lay for every man, and brings to each man’s door, in a dialect intelligible to the man himself, the satisfaction of the single soul’s aspirations and ideals, as well as of the national desires. His gifts and greetings are of universal destination, meant for us all and adapted for us each.

III. Then, thirdly, notice the unfailing efficacy of the Lord’s greetings.

Look at these people to whom He spoke. Remember what they were between the Friday and the Sunday morning; utterly cowed and beaten, the women, in accordance with the feminine nature, apparently more deeply touched by the personal loss of the Friend and Comforter; and the men apparently, whilst sharing that sorrow, also touched by despair at the going to water of all the hopes that they had been building upon His official character and position. ‘We trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel,’ they said, ‘as they walked and were sad.’ They were on the point of parting. The Keystone withdrawn, the stones were ready to fall apart. Then came something-let us leave a blank for a moment-then came something; and those who had been cowards, dissolved in sorrow and relaxed by despair, in eight-and-forty hours became heroes. From that time, when, by all reasonable logic and common sense applied to men’s motives, the Crucifixion should have crushed their dreams and dissolved their society, a precisely opposite effect ensues, and not only did the Church continue, but the men changed their characters, and became, somehow or other, full of these very two things which Christ wished for them-namely, joy and peace.

Now I want to know-what bridges that gulf? How do you get the Peter of the Acts of the Apostles out of the Peter of the Gospels? Is there any way of explaining that revolution of character, whilst yet its broad outlines remain identical, which befell him and all of them, except the old-fashioned one that the something which came in between was the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the consequent gift of joy and peace in Him, a joy that no troubles or persecutions could shake, a peace that no conflicts could for a moment disturb? It seems to me that every theory of Christianity which boggles at accepting the Resurrection of Jesus Christ as a plain fact, is shattered to pieces on the sharp-pointed rock of this one demand-’Very well! If it is not a fact, account for the existence of the Church, and for the change in the characters of its members.’ You may wriggle as you like, but you will never get a reasonable theory of these two undeniable facts until you believe that He rose from the dead. In His right hand He carried peace, and in His left joy. He gave these to them, and therefore ‘out of weakness they were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens,’ and when the time came, ‘were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.’ There is omnipotent efficacy in Christ’s greetings.

The one instance opens up the general law, that His wishes are gifts, that all His words are acts, that He speaks and it is done, and that when He desires for us joy, it is a deed of conveyance and gift, and invests us with the joy that He desires if we observe the conditions.

Christ’s wishes are omnipotent, ours are powerless. We wish for our friends many good things, and the event turns wishes to mockery, and the garlands which we prepared for their birthdays have sometimes to be hung on their tombs. The limitations of human friendship and of our deepest and sincerest wishes, like a dark background, enhance the boundless efficacy of the greetings of the Master, which are not only wishes but bestowments of the thing wished, and therein given, by Him.

IV. So, lastly, notice our share in this twofold greeting.

When it was first heard, I suppose that the disciples and the women apprehended the salutation only in its most outward form, and that all other thoughts were lost in the mere rapture of the sudden change from the desolate sense of loss to the glad consciousness of renewed possession. When the women clung to His feet on that Easter morning, they had no thought of anything but-’we clasp Thee again, O Soul of our souls.’ But then, as time went on, the meaning and blessedness and far-reaching issues of the Resurrection became more plain to them. And I think we can see traces of the process, in the development of Christian teaching as presented in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles. Peter in his early sermons dwells on the Resurrection all but exclusively from one point of view-viz., as being the great proof of Christ’s Messiahship. Then there came by degrees, as is represented in the same Peter’s letter, and abundantly in the Apostle Paul’s, the recognition of the light which the Resurrection of Jesus Christ threw upon immortality; as a prophecy and a pattern thereof. Then, when the historical fact had become fully accepted and universally diffused, and its bearings upon men’s future had been as fully apprehended as is possible here, there came, finally, the thought that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was the symbol of the new life, which from that risen Lord passed into all those who loved and trusted Him.

Now, in all these three aspects-as proof of Messiahship, as the pattern and prophecy of immortality, and as the symbol of the better life which is accessible for us, here and now-the Resurrection of Jesus Christ stands for us even more truly than for the rapturous women who caught His feet, or for the thankful men who looked upon Him in the upper chamber, as the source of peace and of joy.

For, dear brethren, therein is set forth for us the Christ whose work is thereby declared to be finished and acceptable to God, and all sorrow of sin, all guilt, all disturbance of heart and mind by reason of evil passions and burning memories of former iniquity, and all disturbance of our concord with God, are at once and for ever swept away. If Jesus Christ was ‘declared to be the Son of God with power by His Resurrection from the dead,’ and if in that Resurrection, as is most surely the case, the broad seal of the divine acceptance is set to the charter of our forgiveness and sonship by the blood of the Cross, then joy and peace come to us from Him and from it.

Again, the resurrection of Jesus Christ sets Him forth before us as the pattern and the prophecy of immortal life. This Samson has taken the gates of the prison-house on His broad shoulders and carried them away, and now no man is kept imprisoned evermore in that darkness. The earthquake has opened the doors and loosened every man’s bonds. Jesus Christ hath risen from the dead, and therein not only demonstrated the certainty that life subsists through death, and that a bodily life is possible thereafter, but hath set before all those who give the keeping of their souls into His hands the glorious belief that ‘the body of their humiliation shall be’ ‘changed into the likeness of the body of His glory, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.’ Therefore the sorrows of death, for ourselves and for our dear ones, the agitation which it causes, and all its darkness into which we shrink from passing, are swept away when He comes forth from the grave, serene, radiant, and victorious, to die no more, but to dispense amongst us His peace and His joy.

And, again, the risen Christ is the source of a new life drawn from Him and received into the heart by faith in His sacrifice and Resurrection and glory. And if I have, deep-seated in my soul, though it may be in imperfect maturity, that life which is hid with Christ in God, an inward fountain of gladness, far better than the effervescent, and therefore soon flat, waters of Greek or earthly joy, is mine; and in my inmost being dwells a depth of calm peace which no outward disturbance can touch, any more than the winds that rave along the surface of the ocean affect its unmoved and unsounded abysses. Jesus Christ comes to thee, my brother, weary, distracted, care-laden, sin-laden, sorrowful and fearful. And He says to each of us from the throne what He said in the upper room before the Cross, and on leaving the grave after it, ‘My joy will remain in you, and your joy shall be full. My peace I leave to you, My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you.’

John 20:19-20. Then the same day at evening — The day on which he arose from the dead; being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut — And fastened on the inside; where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews — In this translation the arrangement of the sentence, as Dr. Campbell observes, is not proper, as it either suggests a false meaning, or at least renders the true meaning obscure. “The disciples assembled, but surely not for fear of the Jews; for, as they did not intend by violence to oppose violence, if any should be offered them, they could not but know that to assemble themselves would more expose them to danger than any other measure they could take. The plain matter is, they assembled for mutual advice and comfort, and being assembled, the doors were shut for fear of the Jews; as they were well aware of the consequence of being discovered at such a time in consultation together. Further, the words do not necessarily imply, that while the doors continued shut our Lord entered miraculously. The word κεκλεισμενων is even more literally rendered, having been shut, than, being shut, or, when they were shut: as it is the preterperfect, not the present, or imperfect participle. They may, therefore, for aught related by the evangelists, have been made by a miracle to open and give him access.” The reading of the sentence, therefore, ought to be, Jesus came where the disciples were assembled, the doors having been shut for fear of the Jews. This circumstance of the doors being shut is very happily mentioned by John, because it suggests the reason why the disciples took Jesus for a spirit, as Luke tells us they did, Luke 24:37, notwithstanding that the greatest part of them believed he was risen. Jesus stood in the midst, and saith, Peace be unto you — See the note on Luke 24:36-43. When he had so said, he showed them his hands — And his feet, (Luke 24:39,) with the prints of the nails in them; and his side — Containing the mark which the spear had left in it. Thus giving them infallible proofs, that he had the very identical body which had been nailed to the cross and pierced. Then were the disciples glad — As it might reasonably be expected they should be, when they thus saw the Lord, and were assured by such infallible tokens that he was really alive.

20:19-25 This was the first day of the week, and this day is afterwards often mentioned by the sacred writers; for it was evidently set apart as the Christian sabbath, in remembrance of Christ's resurrection. The disciples had shut the doors for fear of the Jews; and when they had no such expectation, Jesus himself came and stood in the midst of them, having miraculously, though silently, opened the doors. It is a comfort to Christ's disciples, when their assemblies can only be held in private, that no doors can shut out Christ's presence. When He manifests his love to believers by the comforts of his Spirit, he assures them that because he lives, they shall live also. A sight of Christ will gladden the heart of a disciple at any time; and the more we see of Jesus, the more we shall rejoice. He said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost, thus showing that their spiritual life, as well as all their ability for their work, would be derived from him, and depended upon him. Every word of Christ which is received in the heart by faith, comes accompanied by this Divine breathing; and without this there is neither light nor life. Nothing is seen, known, discerned, or felt of God, but through this. After this, Christ directed the apostles to declare the only method by which sin would be forgiven. This power did not exist at all in the apostles as a power to give judgment, but only as a power to declare the character of those whom God would accept or reject in the day of judgment. They have clearly laid down the marks whereby a child of God may be discerned and be distinguished from a false professor; and according to what they have declared shall every case be decided in the day of judgment. When we assemble in Christ's name, especially on his holy day, he will meet with us, and speak peace to us. The disciples of Christ should endeavour to build up one another in their most holy faith, both by repeating what they have heard to those that were absent, and by making known what they have experienced. Thomas limited the Holy One of Israel, when he would be convinced by his own method or not at all. He might justly have been left in his unbelief, after rejecting such abundant proofs. The fears and sorrows of the disciples are often lengthened, to punish their negligence.The same day at evening - On the first day of the week, the day of the resurrection of Christ.

When the doors were shut - This does not mean that the doors were fastened, though that might have been the case, but only that they were closed. Jesus had been taken from them, and it was natural that they should apprehend that the Jews would next attempt to wreak their vengeance on his followers. Hence, they met in the evening, and with closed doors, lest the Jews should bring against them the same charge of sedition that they had against the Lord Jesus. It is not certainly said what was the object of their assembling, but it is not unreasonable to suppose that it was to talk over the events which had just occurred, to deliberate about their condition, and to engage in acts of worship. Their minds were doubtless much agitated. They had seen their Master taken away and put to death; but a part of their number also had affirmed that they had seen him alive. In this state of things they naturally came together in a time and place of safety. It was not uncommon for the early Christians to hold their meetings for worship in the night. In times of persecution they were forbidden to assemble during the day, and hence, they were compelled to meet in the night. Pliny the younger, writing to Trajan, the Roman emperor, and giving an account of Christians, says that "they were accustomed to meet together on a stated day before it was light, and sing among themselves alternately a hymn to Christ as God." True Christians will love to meet together for worship. Nothing will prevent this; and one of the evidences of piety is a desire to assemble to hear the Word of God, and to offer to him prayer and praise. It is worthy of remark that this is the first assembly that was convened for worship on the Lord's Day, and in that assembly Jesus was present. Since that time, the day has been observed in the church as the Christian Sabbath, particularly to commemorate the resurrection of Christ.

Came Jesus ... - There is no evidence that he came into their assembly in any miraculous manner. For anything that appears to the contrary, Jesus entered in the usual way and manner, though his sudden appearance alarmed them.

Peace be unto you - The sudden manner of his appearance, and the fact that most of them had not before seen him since his resurrection, tended to alarm them. Hence, he addressed them in the usual form of salutation to allay their fears, and to assure them that it was their own Saviour and Friend.

Joh 20:19-23. Jesus Appears to the Assembled Disciples.

19-23. the same day at evening, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus—plainly not by the ordinary way of entrance.

and saith unto them Peace be unto you—not the mere wish that even His own exalted peace might be theirs (Joh 14:27), but conveying it into their hearts, even as He "opened their understandings to understand the scriptures" (Lu 24:45).

Luke expounds this verse, Luke 24:29, where the two disciples told Christ it was towards evening, and the day was far spent; for the Jews called the afternoon evening, as well as the time after sunset; and John tells us expressly, it was yet the first day of the week. This appearance is unquestionably the same mentioned in Luke, Luke 24:36. For it is said, the two disciples went immediately to Jerusalem, where they found the eleven gathered together, and discoursed of the Lord’s appearance to them; and while they spake, Jesus came and stood in the midst of them, and said unto them, ( as here), Peace be unto you. The disciples had shut the doors of the place where they met, for fear of the Jews. Here is a great question between the Lutherans and Calvinists, how Christ came in amongst them when the doors were shut? Whether he went through the doors remaining shut? Which the Lutherans stiffly maintain, as a strong proof of the possibility of the real presence of the body of Christ in, with, or under the elements of the Lord’s supper; though we object, that this is to destroy the nature of Christ’s body, and to assign him a body which indeed is no body, being not obvious to the sense, nor confined to a place; and which must pierce another body, which is contrary to the nature of a body according to our notion of bodies. The Lutherans object:

1. That here is a plain mention of the doors being shut.

2. No mention of the opening of them.

3. Nor of Christ’s entrance upon opening any doors, windows, roof, or by any ordinary way, as men use to enter into houses.

4. Nor, had he so entered, would there have been any occasion for the disciples taking him for a spirit, as it is plain they did, Luke 24:37.

The Calvinists on the other side object,

1. That it is not said that he went through the doors.

2. That if he had gone through the doors, he would not presently have called to them to have seen him, and handled him; by which he evidenced that his body had such dimensions as our bodies have, and so could not go through a door shut.

In the Lutherans’ reason, the fourth is only considerable, the three first have no force, because all circumstances of actions are not recorded in holy writ. Nor is there much force in the fourth, for the doors by his miraculous power opened and shut, and he showed himself in the midst of them, and used to them the usual salutation amongst the Jews, Peace be unto you.

Then the same day at evening,.... The same day Christ rose from the dead, and appeared to Mary; at the evening of that day, after he had been with the two disciples to Emmaus, about eight miles from Jerusalem, and they had returned again to the rest; and after there had been such a bustle all day in Jerusalem, about the body of Jesus; the soldiers that watched the sepulchre, giving out, by the direction of the elders, that the disciples of Christ had stolen away the body, while they slept:

being the first day of the week; as is said in John 20:1 and here repeated, to prevent any mistake; and that it might be clear what day it was the disciples were assembled together, and Christ appeared to them:

when the doors were shut; the doors of the house where they were, which it is plain was in Jerusalem, Luke 24:33 but whether it was the house where Christ and his disciples ate the passover together, or whether it was John's home or house, to which he took the mother of Christ, since he and Peter, and the rest, seem to be afterwards together in one place, is not certain: however, the doors were shut; which is not merely expressive of the time of night, when this was usually done; but signifies that they were really locked and bolted, and barred, for which a reason is given as follows:

where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews; after their scattering abroad upon the taking of Christ, and after his crucifixion was over; and especially after the report of his body being took away, they gathered together, and made fast the doors of the place, lest the Jews should come in upon them, and surprise them; for they might fear, that since they had took away their master's life, theirs must go next; and especially since it was rumoured abroad that they had stole away his body, they might be under the greater fear, that search would be made after them, and they be apprehended and brought into trouble on that account:

came Jesus and stood in the midst of them; on a sudden, at once, and when they had no thought or fear of anyone's coming upon them, without some previous notice; but he being the Almighty God, did, by his omnipotent power, cause the bars and bolts, and doors, in the most secret and unobserved manner, to give way to him, and let him in at once among them: when as a presage and pledge of the accomplishment of his promise to be with, and in the midst of his, when met together, either in private or public, he stood and presented himself in the midst of them: and to let them know at once he was no enemy,

he saith unto them, peace be unto you: , "peace be unto you", is an usual form of salutation among the Jews; see Genesis 43:23 expressive of all prosperity in soul and body, inward and outward, spiritual and temporal; and here may have a special regard to that peace he said he gave unto them, and left with them, upon his departure from them; and which he had obtained by the blood of his cross, and now preached unto them.

{5} Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the {f} doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

(5) Christ, in that he presents himself before his disciples suddenly through his divine power, when the gates were shut, fully assures them both of his resurrection, and also of their apostleship, inspiring them with the Holy Spirit who is the director of the ministry of the Gospel.

(f) Either the doors opened to him of their own accord, or the very walls themselves were a passage to him.

John 20:19-20. Comp. Luke 24:36 ff., where, however, the handling and the eating is already added from tradition. The account in Mark 16:14 is different. Schweizer’s reasons against the Johannean origin of John 20:19-29 amount to this, that, according to John, the resurrection of Jesus was no external one on this side of the grave, and that consequently the appearances could only be visionary. Against this John 2:21-22, John 10:17-18 are already decisive, as well as the faith and the testimony of the entire apostolic Church.

τ. θυρῶν κεκλεισμ.] can all the less be without essential significance, since it is repeated in John 20:26 also, and that without διὰ τὸν φόβον τ. Ἰουδ. It points to a miraculous appearance, which did not require open doors, and which took place while they were closed. The how does not and cannot appear; in any case, however, the ἄφαντος ἐγένετο, Luke 24:31, is the correlate of this immediate appearance in the closed place; and the constitution of His body, changed, brought nearer to the glorified state, although not immaterial, is the condition for such a liberation of the Risen One from the limitations of space that apply to ordinary corporeity. Euth. Zigabenus: ὡς λεπτοῦ ἤδη καὶ κούφου καὶ ἀκηράτου γενομένου τοῦ σώματος αὐτοῦ. More minute information concerning this change withdraws itself from more definite judgment; hence, also, the passage can offer no proof of the Lutheran doctrine of ubiquity, especially as the body of Jesus is not yet that which is glorified in δόξα. According to B. Crusius, and already Beza and several others (comp. also Thenius, Evangel. der Evangelien, p. 45), the doors must have suddenly opened of themselves. But in this way precisely the essential point would be passed over in silence. According to Baeumlein, nothing further is expressed than that the disciples were assembled in a closed room.[266] But how easily would John have known how actually to express this! As he has expressed himself, τ. θυρῶν κεκλεισμ. is the definite relation, under which the ἦλθεν, κ.τ.λ. took place, although it is not said that He passed ΔΙᾺ Τ. ΘΥΡ. ΚΕΚΛ., as many Fathers, Calovius and others, represent the matter.

ΕἸς ΤῸ ΜΈΣΟΝ] into the midst, after ἔστη, as in Herod. iii. 130, and frequently. Comp. on John 20:7; John 21:3.

ΕἸΡΉΝΗ ὙΜῖΝ] The usual greeting on entrance: Peace to you! This first greeting of the risen Lord in the circle of disciples still resounded deeply and vividly enough in the heart of the aged John to lead him to relate it (in answer to Tholuck); there is therefore no reason for importing the wish for the peace of reconciliation (comp. εἰρήνη ἡ ἐμή, John 14:27).

ἜΔΕΙΞΕΝ ΑὐΤΟῖς, Κ.Τ.Λ.] In proof of the corporeal identity of His Person; for on the hands and on the side they must see the wounds. This was sufficient; it was not also required to exhibit the feet. Variation from Luke 24:40, when the feet are shown instead of the side, the piercing of which is not related by the Synoptics. All the more groundlessly is the present passage employed against the nailing of the feet (see generally on Matthew 27:35); the more groundless also is the opinion that the σάρξ of Christ was only the already laid-aside earthly envelope of the Logos (Baur). Comp. on John 1:14.

ΟὖΝ] In consequence of this evidence of identity. Terror and doubt, certainly the first impression of miraculous appearance, now gave way to joy. And from out their joyful thoughts comes the utterance of John: ἰδόντες τὸν κύριον.

[266] Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 474, does not make the room at all, but only the house to be closed, and says there “may also have been somebody who had been appointed to open.” Schenkel, to whom the Risen One is “the Spirit of the Church,” can, of course, only allow the entrance through closed doors to pass as an emblem. Scholten, who considers the appearances of the Risen One to be ecstatic contemplations of the glorified One, employs the closed doors also for this purpose.

John 20:19-29. Manifestations of the risen Lord to the disciples, first without Thomas, then with Thomas.

19–23. The Manifestation to the Ten and others

19. Then the same day, &c.] Rather, When therefore it was evening on that day, the first day of the week. Note the great precision of the expression. ‘That day,’ that memorable day, the ‘day of days.’

Oh! day of days! shall hearts set free

No minstrel rapture find for thee?

Thou art the Sun of other days,

They shine by giving back thy rays.

Keble, Christian Year, Easter Day.

Comp. John 1:39, John 5:9, John 11:49, John 18:13, where ‘that’ has a similar meaning. Evidently the hour is late; the disciples have returned from Emmaus (Luke 24:23), and it was evening when they left Emmaus. At least it must be long after sunset, when the second day of the week, according to the Jewish reckoning, would begin. And S. John speaks of it as still part of the first day. This is a point in favour of S. John’s using the modern method in counting the hours: it has a special bearing on the explanation of ‘the seventh hour’ in John 4:52. See notes there and on John 19:14.

when the doors were shut] This is mentioned both here and John 20:26 to shew that the appearance was miraculous. After the Resurrection Christ’s human form, though still real and corporeal, is not subject to the ordinary conditions of material bodies. Before the Resurrection He was visible, unless He willed it otherwise; after the Resurrection it would seem that He was invisible, unless He willed it otherwise. Comp. Luke 24:31.

where the disciples were] The best authorities all omit ‘assembled.’ S. Luke says more definitely, ‘the eleven and they that were with them’ (Luke 24:33); ‘the eleven’ meaning the Apostolic company, although one was absent. It was natural that the small community of believers should be gathered together, not merely for mutual protection and comfort, but to discuss the reported appearances to the women and to S. Peter.

for fear of the Jews] Literally, because of the (prevailing) fear of the Jews (comp. John 7:13). It was not certain that the Sanhedrin would rest content with having put Jesus to death; all the less so as rumours of His being alive again were spreading.

came Jesus] It is futile to discuss how; that the doors were miraculously opened, as in S. Peter’s release from prison, is neither stated nor implied.

Peace be unto you] The ordinary greeting intensified. His last word to them in their sorrow before His Passion (John 16:33), His first word to them in their terror (Luke 24:37) at His return, is ‘Peace.’ Possibly the place was the same, the large upper room where they had last been all together.

John 20:19. [Τῇ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων, on the first day of the week) It was not the Sabbath, but the day of the Resurrection, Sunday.—V. g.]—διὰ, on account of) This assigns the reason why the disciples were met together, and why the doors were shut.—ῆλθεν, came) when the disciples were not thinking of Him, much less opening the doors.—Εἰρήνη ὑμῖν, peace be unto you) A most appropriate and seasonable salutation, whereby their fear of the guilt which they had incurred by their flight, was removed; and the offence [their stumbling at Him because of the cross] was healed. A usual formula, of extraordinary power. [Thrice the same formula is repeated, John 20:19; John 20:21; John 20:26. The choice and peculiar gifts of the true Passover were, Peace, the mission, the Holy Spirit, remission of sins.—When about to go away, He had left and had given peace to them, ch. John 14:27, “Peace I leave unto you; My peace I give unto you;” ch. John 16:33, “That in Me ye might have peace.” He now imparts peace to them.—V. g.]

Verses 19, 20. -

(3) The manifestation to the ten disciples, corresponding with the second portion of the prayer, and followed by special conference of privilege. Verse 19. - When therefore it was evening, on that day, being the first day of the week; i.e. the close of the day on which the Lord had risen; on "that day" which became so memorable in the history of the Church. Consequently, after most astounding and independent revelations had been made to several individuals, about 8 p.m. there occurred that which John now proceeds to describe. The note of time identifies it with the scene and event described by Luke (Luke 24:36-43); consequently John had the former account before him in the record of his own reminiscences. To understand the full force of the passage we must bring to it the statements of Luke, Mark, and Paul. The disciples had been prepared,

(1) by the reports of the women, that the grave had been opened and was empty, and that angelic appearances had asserted the resurrection of Jesus.

(2) By the impression made on Peter and John when they found it as Mary and the other women had said. The disappearance of the body of Jesus, confirmed by the four independent lines of testimony, is strangely difficult to account for on any hypothesis except that of the Resurrection. The disciples were evidently confounded by the fact. The Pharisees and priestly party were quite aware that such an event would checkmate their supposed victory over a hated rival. The Roman soldiers were pledged in honor and by pride and passion not to allow themselves thus to be reduced to impotence. Hence there is no explanation of the rise or beginning of such a legend (see B. Weiss, 'Life of Jesus,' 3. pp. 390-395), except the historical fact.

(3) By an assertion of the Magdalene that she had seen the Lord, and that he had sent a special message to his brethren as to the completion of his glorification in his ascent to the Father.

(4) By the announcement, the details of which are not recited, concerning an appearance to Peter: this fact stands on remarkably strong evidence of Mark, Luke, and Paul.

(5) By the immense excitement of the appearance and disappearance of the Lord at Emmaus. This was evinced by the return of the two disciples to Jerusalem, charged with new ideas of the meaning of the Scriptures and of the will and power of God, and with fundamentally new notions of the very nature of spiritual body - body entirely and absolutely under the power of the spirit. The apostles were prepared for the wonderful manifestation of a new mode of being; but they needed something more convincing than they had yet received. They were still suffering from intellectual blindness and slowness of spirit, and were apparently incapable of accepting mere testimony. Mark's statement (Mark 16:14) embraces the special scene which John describes in much more vivid and instructive manner (vers. 26-29). But Luke expressly implies that far more than the eleven had gathered together, either in the room where the Paschal supper had been celebrated, or where the election of Matthias subsequently took place. Joseph and Nicodemus, the women, and some of the seventy disciples were there; nor can we conceive excluded from their fellowship Mary of Bethany, or Lazarus, or Simon the Cyreman, or the "brothers of the Lord" so designated. We are told that after the arrival of the Emmaus disciples, the doors having been locked (shut) where the disciples were [assembled ] because of the (their) fear of the Jews. This expression is once again repeated (ver. 26), showing that, after the lapse of seven days, fear and precautions against surprise still prevailed. They were on both occasions in ignorance of the purpose or meaning of the Sanhedrin, nor could they tell whether the malice of the world would at once compel them to follow their Lord's example, drink of his cup, and be baptized with his baptism. The doors were closed, when Jesus came, and stood in the midst - a phrase which is here identical with that in Luke's narrative. Now, John, who, consonantly with Luke, has recorded his evidence that the body of Christ was not a phantasmal imagination, but a veritable, visible, and tangible reality (see Luke 24:37-43), identifiable with the very body which had been so cruelly wounded and bruised for them, takes special pains to hint, By a single clause, that the body of Christ was a new creation, and was submitted to laws profoundly different from those which we have generalized from the intimations of the five senses only. John does not say that the doors were opened by some magic process, nor that Christ simply passed through the closed doors, nor that they were miraculously removed; but that he had taken up his position before them by a process which, to the body made of the dust of the earth, would be supremely miraculous. Were we have a revelation made to prepared minds of a new order of existence (see Westcott's 'Revelations of the Risen Lord,' and Milligan's 'Resurrection of Christ,' on the likeness and on the unlikeness of the risen body with that which had died). It is more than possible - nay, it is entirely presumable - that the spiritual body becomes possessed of additional senses, of which we have no conception or experience; and, therefore, the spirit clothed with such body is alive to properties of matter and dimensions of space and active forces all of which would be supernatural to us, "cribbed, cabined, and confined" as we are now and here. Our Lord, before his Passion, gave numerous proofs of the dominance of his spirit over the body: his repeated escapes from his enemies, the power of his voice and glance, his transfiguration-glory, his superiority to gravitation in walking upon the sea and hushing its storms. So that he, on this occasion, is revealing to the world some of the functions of spiritual corporeity. He is manifesting the kind of life which will eventually be the condition of all the redeemed - visible and tangible at will to those who are limited to our present condition and stage of being, but also in its normal state invisible, impalpable, to eye and touch of mortal sense. There can be little doubt that John deeply recognized what Paul described as "the spiritual body." Jesus stood suddenly in their midst, not a phantasm, as the disciples (or some of them) were ready to suggest. His first word, though consisting in form of the common salutation of the East, must have meant immeasurably more to them than it does in ordinary parlance. And Jesus saith unto them, Peace be to you! which, uttered in well-remembered tones, reminded them of how he had discriminated his "peace," and his manner of giving it from the world's "peace," and the world's manner of giving (John 14:27). It meant the hushing of their fear, the expulsion of terrible alarm (see Luke 24:37, 38). This is John's summary of all that he said. Luke, with much detail, records how the Lord proved that he was, not a mere subjective vision, but a veritable man, with flesh, and bones, and voice, and power to take food. Consequently the evangelists labor to make evident the fact that the spiritual resurrection-body, though a continuation of the old life, with signs of its identity, is, nevertheless, emancipated from the ordinary conditions of our material corporeity. This is one of the places where the narrative transcends experience and imagination, and appeals to faith in a higher order of being than crosses the field of scientific vision. John 20:19Assembled


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