Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be to you: as my Father has sent me, even so send I you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you.—These words may be here a solemn repetition of the greeting in John 20:19, by which our Lord’s own message of peace is immediately connected with that which the Apostles were to deliver to the world. It is, however, more natural to understand the words in John 20:19 as those of greeting, and these as words of farewell. (Comp. John 14:27.) Other words had intervened, as we know from St. Luke’s narrative. He is now about to withdraw the evidence of His presence from them, and does so with the customary “Shalōm;” but with this He reminds them of the apostleship to which He has called them, gives them an earnest of the Presence which will never leave them, but always qualify them for it (John 20:22), and places before them the greatness of the work to which He sends them (John 20:23).
As my (better, the) Father hath sent me, even so send I you.—Comp. Note on John 17:18, where the words occur in prayer to the Father. As spoken here to the disciples ‘they are the identification of them with Himself in His mediatorial work. He is the great Apostle (Hebrews 3:1); they are ambassadors for Christ, to whom He commits the ministry of reconciliation (2Corinthians 5:18 et seq.). He stands in the same relation to the Father as that in which they stand to Him. He declares to them, and they in His name are to declare to the world, the fulness of the Father’s love, and the peace between man and God, witnessed to in His life and death. He and they stand also in the same relation to the world. At this very moment they are assembled with shut doors, for fear of the Jews, who are triumphing over Him as dead. But to that world, which will hate, persecute, and kill them, as it had hated, persecuted, and killed Him, they are sent as He was sent; they are to declare forgiveness, mercy, love, peace, as He had declared them, to every heart that does not harden itself against them; and they are to find in His presence, as He had ever found in the Father’s presence, the support which will ever bring peace to their own hearts (John 14:27).
And when he had said this, he breathed on them.—The word rendered “breathed” occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, but was familiar from its use in the Greek (LXX.) of Genesis 2:7. St. John uses to describe this act of the risen Lord the striking word which had been used to describe the act by which God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life. He writes as one who remembered how the influence of that moment on their future lives was a new spiritual creation, by which they were called, as it were, out of death into life. It was the first step in that great moral change which passed over the disciples after the Crucifixion, and of which the day of Pentecost witnessed the accomplishment.
And saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.—These words are not, on the one hand, to be understood as simply a promise of the future gift of the Holy Ghost, for they are a definite imperative, referring to the moment when they were spoken; nor are they, on the other hand, to be taken as the promised advent of the Paraclete (John 14:16 et seq.), for the gift of the Holy Ghost was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified (John 7:39; John 16:7 et seq.). The meaning is that He then gave to them a sign, which was itself to faithful hearts as the firstfruits of that which was to come. His act was sacramental, and with the outer and visible sign there was the inward and spiritual grace. The very word used was that used when He said to them, “Take (receive ye), eat; this is My body” (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22). It would come to them now with a fulness of sacred meaning. The Risen Body is present with them. The constant spiritual Presence in the person of the Paraclete is promised to them. They again hear the words “Receive ye,” and the very command implies the power to obey. (Comp. Excursus C: The Sacramental Teaching of St. John’s Gospel, p. 556.)
THE RISEN LORD’S CHARGE AND GIFT
John 20:21 - John 20:23.
The day of the Resurrection had been full of strange rumours, and of growing excitement. As evening fell, some of the disciples, at any rate, gathered together, probably in the upper room. They were brave, for in spite of the Jews they dared to assemble; they were timid, for they barred themselves in ‘for fear of the Jews.’ No doubt in little groups they were eagerly discussing what had happened that day. Fuel was added to the fire by the return of the two from Emmaus. And then, at once, the buzz of conversation ceased, for ‘He Himself, with His human air,’ stood there in the midst, with the quiet greeting on His lips, which might have come from any casual stranger, and minimised the separation that was now ending: ‘Peace be unto you!’
We have two accounts of that evening’s interview which remarkably supplement each other. They deal with two different parts of it. John begins where Luke ends. The latter Evangelist dwells mainly on the disciples’ fears that it was some ghostly appearance that they saw, and on the removal of these by the sight, and perhaps the touch, of the hands and the feet. John says nothing of the terror, but Luke’s account explains John’s statement that ‘He showed them His hands and His side,’ and that, ‘Then were the disciples glad,’ the joy expelling the fear. Luke’s account also, by dwelling on the first part of the interview, explains what else is unexplained in John’s narrative, viz. the repetition of the salutation, ‘Peace be unto you!’ Our Lord thereby marked off the previous portion of the conversation as being separate, and a whole in itself. Their doubts were dissipated, and now something else was to begin. They who were sure of the risen Lord, and had had communion with Him, were capable of receiving a deeper peace, and so ‘Jesus said to them again, Peace be unto you!’ and thereby inaugurated the second part of the interview.
Luke’s account also helps us in another and very important way. John simply says that ‘the disciples were gathered together,’ and that might mean the Eleven only. Luke is more specific, and tells us what is of prime importance for understanding the whole incident, that ‘the Eleven. . . and they that were with them’ were assembled. This interview, the crown of the appearances on Easter Day, is marked as being an interview with the assembled body of disciples, whom the Lord, having scattered their doubts, and laid the deep benediction of His peace upon their hearts, then goes on to invest with a sacred mission, ‘As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you’; to equip them with the needed power, ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost’; and to unfold to them the solemn issues of their work, ‘Whose sins ye remit they are remitted; and whose sins ye retain they are retained.’ The message of that Easter evening is for us all; and so I ask you to look at these three points.
I. The Christian Mission.
I have already said that the clear understanding of the persons to whom the words were spoken, goes far to interpret the significance of the words. Here we have at the very beginning, the great thought that every Christian man and woman is sent by Jesus. The possession of what preceded this charge is the thing, and the only thing, that fits a man to receive it, and whoever possesses these is thereby despatched into the world as being Christ’s envoy and representative. And what are these preceding experiences? The vision of the risen Christ, the touch of His hands, the peace that He breathed over believing souls, the gladness that sprang like a sunny fountain in the hearts that had been so dry and dark. Those things constituted the disciples’ qualification for being sent, and these things were themselves-even apart from the Master’s words-their sending out on their future life’s-work. Thus, whoever-and thank God I am addressing many who come under the category!-whoever has seen the Lord, has been in touch with Him, and has felt his heart filled with gladness, is the recipient of this great commission. There is no question here of the prerogative of a class, nor of the functions of an order; it is a question of the universal aspect of the Christian life in its relation to the Master who sends, and the world into which it is sent.
We Nonconformists pride ourselves upon our freedom from what we call ‘sacerdotalism.’ Ay! and we Nonconformists are quite willing to assert our priesthood in opposition to the claims of a class, and are as willing to forget it, should the question of the duties of the priest come into view. You do not believe in priests, but a great many of you believe that it is ministers that are ‘sent,’ and that you have no charge. Officialism is the dry-rot of all the Churches, and is found as rampant amongst democratic Nonconformists as amongst the more hierarchical communities. Brethren! you are included in Christ’s words of sending on this errand, if you are included in this greeting of ‘Peace be unto you!’ ‘I send,’ not the clerical order, not the priest, but ‘you,’ because you have seen the Lord, and been glad, and heard the low whisper of His benediction creeping into your hearts.
Mark, too, how our Lord reveals much of Himself, as well as of our position, when He thus speaks. For He assumes here the royal tone, and claims to possess as absolute authority over the lives and work of all Christian people as the Father exercised when He sent the Son. But we must further ask ourselves the question, what is the parallel that our Lord here draws, not only between His action in sending us, and the Father’s action in sending Him, but also between the attitude of the Son who was sent, and of the disciples whom He sends? And the answer is this-the work of Jesus Christ is continued by, prolonged in, and carried on henceforward through, the work that He lays upon His servants. Mark the exact expression that our Lord here uses. ‘As My Father hath sent,’ that is a past action, continuing its consequences in the present. It is not ‘as My Father did send once,’ but as ‘My Father hath sent,’ which means ‘is also at present sending,’ and continues to send. Which being translated into less technical phraseology is just this, that we here have our Lord presenting to us the thought that, though in a new form, His work continues during the ages, and is now being wrought through His servants. What He does by another, He does by Himself. We Christian men and women do not understand our function in the world, unless we have realised this: ‘Now, then, we are ambassadors for Christ’ and His interests and His work are entrusted to our hands.
How shall the servants continue and carry on the work of the Master? The chief way to do it is by proclaiming everywhere that finished work on which the world’s hopes depend. But note,-’as My Father hath sent Me, so send I you,’-then we are not only to carry on His work in the world, but if one might venture to say so, we are to reproduce His attitude towards God and the world. He was sent to be ‘the Light of the world’; and so are we. He was sent to ‘seek and to save that which was lost’; so are we. He was sent not to do His own will, but the will of the Father that sent Him; so are we. He took upon Himself with all cheerfulness the office to which He was appointed, and said, ‘My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me,-and to finish His work’; and that must be our voice too. He was sent to pity, to look upon the multitudes with compassion, to carry to them the healing of His touch, and the sympathy of His heart; so must we. We are the representatives of Jesus Christ, and if I might dare to use such a phrase, He is to be incarnated again in the hearts, and manifested again in the lives, of His servants. Many weak eyes, that would be dazzled and hurt if they were to gaze on the sun, may look at the clouds cradled by its side, and dyed with its lustre, and learn something of the radiance and the glory of the illuminating light from the illuminated vapour. And thus, ‘as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.’
Now let us turn to
II. The Christian Equipment.
‘He breathed on them, and said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost!’ The symbolical action reminds us of the Creation story, when into the nostrils was breathed ‘the breath of life, and man became a living soul.’ The symbol is but a symbol, but what it teaches us is that every Christian man who has passed through the experiences which make him Christ’s envoy, receives the equipment of a new life, and that that life is the gift of the risen Lord. This Prometheus came from the dead with the spark of life guarded in His pierced hands, and He bestowed it upon us; for the Spirit of life, which is the Spirit of Christ, is granted to all Christian men. Dear brethren! we have not lived up to the realities of our Christian confession, unless into our death has come, and there abides, this life derived from Jesus Himself, the communication of which goes along with all faith in Him.
But the gift which Jesus brought to that group of timid disciples in the upper room did not make superfluous the further gift on the day of Pentecost. The communication of the divine Spirit to men runs parallel with, depends on, and follows, the revelation of divine truth, so the ascended Lord gave more of that life to the disciples, who had been made capable of more of it by the fact of beholding His ascension, than the risen Lord could give on that Easter Day. But whilst thus there are measures and degrees, the life is given to every believer in correspondence with the clearness and the contents of his faith.
It is the power that will fit any of us for the work for which we are sent into the world. If we are here to represent Jesus Christ, and if it is true of us that ‘as He is, so are we, in this world,’ that likeness can only come about by our receiving into our spirits a kindred life which will effloresce and manifest itself to men in kindred beauty of foliage and of fruit. If we are to be ‘the lights of the world,’ our lamps must be fed with oil. If we are to be Christ’s representatives, we must have Christ’s life in us. Here, too, is the only source of strength and life to us Christian people, when we look at the difficulties of our task and measure our own feebleness against the work that lies before us. I suppose no man has ever tried honestly to be what Christ wished him to be amidst his fellows, whether as preacher or teacher or guide in any fashion, who has not hundreds of times clasped his hands in all but despair, and said, ‘Who is sufficient for these things?’ That is the temper into which the power will come. The rivers run in the valleys, and it is the lowly sense of our own unfitness for the task which yet presses upon us, and imperatively demands to be done, that makes us capable of receiving that divine gift.
It is for lack of it that so much of so-called ‘Christian effort’ comes to nothing. The priests may pile the wood upon the altar, and compass it all day long with vain cries, and nothing happens. It is not till the fire comes down from heaven that sacrifice and altar and wood and water in the trench, are licked up and converted into fiery light. So, dear brethren! it is because the Christian Church as a whole, and we as individual members of it, so imperfectly realise the A B C of our faith, our absolute dependence on the inbreathed life of Jesus Christ, to fit us for any of our work, that so much of our work is ploughing the sands, and so often we labour for vanity and spend our strength for nought. What is the use of a mill full of spindles and looms until the fire-born impulse comes rushing through the pipes? Then they begin to move.
Let me remind you, too, that the words which our Lord here employs about these great gifts, when accurately examined, do lead us to the thought that we, even we, are not altogether passive in the reception of that gift. For the expression, ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost’ might, with more completeness of signification, be rendered, ‘take ye the Holy Ghost.’ True, the outstretched hand is nothing, unless the giving hand is stretched out too. True, the open palm and the clutching fingers remain empty, unless the open palm above drops the gift. But also true, things in the spiritual realm that are given have to be asked for, because asking opens the heart for their entrance. True, that gift was given once for all, and continuously, but the appropriation and the continual possession of it largely depend upon ourselves. There must be desire before there can be possession. If a man does not take his pitcher to the fountain the pitcher remains empty, though the fountain never ceases to spring. There must be taking by patient waiting. The old Friends had a lovely phrase when they spoke about ‘waiting for the springing of the life.’ If we hold out a tremulous hand, and our cup is not kept steady, the falling water will not enter it, and much will be spilt upon the ground. Wait on the Lord, and the life will rise like a tide in the heart. There must be a taking by the faithful use of what we possess. ‘To him that hath shall be given.’ There must be a taking by careful avoidance of what would hinder. In the winter weather the water supply sometimes fails in a house. Why? Because there is a plug of ice in the service-pipe. Some of us have a plug of ice, and so the water has not come,
‘Take the Holy Spirit!’
Now, lastly, we have here
III. The Christian power over sin.
I am not going to enter upon controversy. The words which close our Lord’s great charge here have been much misunderstood by being restricted. It is eminently necessary to remember here that they were spoken to the whole community of Christian souls. The harm that has been done by their restriction to the so-called priestly function of absolution has been, not only the monstrous claims which have been thereon founded, but quite as much the obscuration of the large effects that follow from the Christian discharge by all believers of the office of representing Jesus Christ.
We must interpret these words in harmony with the two preceding points, the Christian mission and the Christian equipment. So interpreted, they lead us to a very plain thought which I may put thus. This same Apostle tells us in his letter that ‘Jesus Christ was manifested to take away sin.’ His work in this world, which we are to continue, was ‘to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.’ We continue that work when,-as we have all, if Christians, the right to do-we lift up our voices with triumphant confidence, and call upon our brethren to ‘behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world!’ The proclamation has a twofold effect, according as it is received or rejected; to him who receives it his sins melt away, and the preacher of forgiveness through Christ has the right to say to his brother, ‘Thy sins are forgiven because thou believest on Him.’ The rejecter or the neglecter binds his sin upon himself by his rejection or neglect. The same message is, as the Apostle puts it, ‘a savour of life unto life, or of death unto death.’ These words are the best commentary on this part of my text. The same heat, as the old Fathers used to say, ‘softens wax and hardens clay.’ The message of the word will either couch a blind eye, and let in the light, or draw another film of obscuration over the visual orb.
And so, Christian men and women have to feel that to them is entrusted a solemn message, that they walk in the world charged with a mighty power, that by the preaching of the Word, and by their own utterance of the forgiving mercy of the Lord Jesus, they may ‘remit’ or ‘retain’ not only the punishment of sin, but sin itself. How tender, how diligent, how reverent, how-not bowed down, but-erect under the weight of our obligations, we should be, if we realised that solemn thought!John 20:21-23. Then said Jesus again, Peace be unto you — This is the foundation of the mission of a true gospel minister; peace in his own soul, in consequence of his having received pardoning mercy from God through Christ, 2 Corinthians 4:1. As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you — Christ was the apostle of the Father, Hebrews 3:1 : Peter and the rest the apostles of Christ. And when he had said this, he breathed on them — In a solemn manner, communicating unto them new life and vigour; and saith unto them — As ye receive this breath out of my mouth, so receive ye — That is, ye shall receive; the Holy Ghost — Out of my fulness, in his various graces and gifts, influencing your minds and hearts in a peculiar manner, and fitting you for your great and important embassy. He refers chiefly to those extraordinary influences of the Spirit which they were to receive at the following pentecost. Whose soever sins ye remit — According to the tenor of the gospel; that is, supposing them to repent and believe; they are remitted; and whose soever sins ye retain — Supposing them to remain impenitent and unbelieving; they are retained — So far is plain: but here arises a difficulty. Are not the sins of one who truly repents and unfeignedly believes in Christ, remitted without the absolution by Christ’s ministers here spoken of? And are not the sins of one who does not repent and believe, retained even with it? What then does this commission imply? Can it imply any more than, 1st, A power of declaring with authority the Christian terms of pardon, whose sins are remitted and whose retained? as is done in the form of absolution contained in our church service: and, 2d, A power of inflicting and remitting ecclesiastical censures? that is, of excluding from, and readmitting into, a Christian congregation? See note on Matthew 16:19. Some, indeed, are of opinion, that something further than this is intended in this commission, as given to the apostles, namely, the gift of discerning the spirits of men in such perfection, as to be able to declare with certainty to particular persons in question whether or not they were in a state of pardon and acceptance with God; and it must be acknowledged that such a gift was doubtless conferred in certain cases on some, if not on many, of the first ministers of Christ, 1 Corinthians 12:10.
Peace be unto you. As my Father hath sent me, so send I you—(See on Joh 17:18).Peace be unto you; the repeating of this salutation speaketh it more than an ordinary compliment, or form of salutation. It signifieth his reconciliation to them, notwithstanding their error in forsaking him, and fleeing; it prepared their attention for the great things that he was now about to speak to them; it also signified, that he was about to preach the gospel of peace to all nations.
As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you; I have now fulfilled my ministry, and am now going to my Father who sent me: now by the same authority that I am sent, I send you, to gather, instruct, and govern my church; I send, or I will send, you clothed with the same authority with which I am clothed, and for the same ends in part for which I was sent.
peace be unto you; which he repeated, to put them out of their fright, by reason of which they returned him no answer; and to raise and engage their attention to what he was about to say; and to pacify their consciences, distressed with a sense of their conduct towards him; and with a view to the Gospel of peace, he was now going to send them to preach:
as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you; Christ's mission of his disciples, supposes power in him, honour done to them, authority put upon them, qualifications given them, and hence success attended them; what they were sent to do, was to preach the Gospel, convert sinners, build up saints, plant churches, and administer ordinances. The pattern of their mission, is the mission of Christ by his Father, which was into this world, to do his will, preach the Gospel, work miracles, and obtain eternal redemption for his people; and which mission does not suppose inferiority in his divine person, nor change of place, but harmony and agreement between the Father and Son: the likeness of these missions lies in these things; their authority is both divine; they are both sent into the same place, the world; and in much the same condition, mean, despicable, hated and persecuted; and in part for the same end, to preach the Gospel, and work miracles, for the confirmation of it; but not to obtain redemption, that being a work done solely by Christ; in which he has no partner, and to whom the glory must be only ascribed.Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 20:21-22. οὖν] For now, after the joyful recognition, He could carry out that which He had in view in this His appearance. Hence He began once again, repeated His greeting, and then pursued His further address. The repetition of εἰρήνη ὑμῖν is not a taking leave, as Kuinoel, Lücke, B. Crusius, and several others, without any indication in the text, still think, which brings out a strange and sudden change from greeting to departure, but emphatic and elevated repetition of the greeting, after the preliminary act of self-demonstration, John 20:20, had intervened. Hengstenberg makes an arbitrary separation: the first εἰρ. ὑμῖν refers to the disciples, the second to the apostles as such.
καθὼς ἀπέσταλκε, κ.τ.λ.] Comp. John 17:18. Now, however, and in fact designated a second time, according to its connection with the proper divine delegation, the mission of the disciples is formally and solemnly ratified, and how significantly at the very first meeting after the resurrection, to be witnesses of which was the fundamental task of the apostles! (Acts 1:22; Acts 2:32; Acts 4:2, et al.) ἐνεφύσησε] To interpret it merely as a symbol of the impartation of the Holy Spirit, according to the relationship of breath and spirit (comp. Ezekiel 37:5 ff.; Genesis 2:7) (Augustine, De trin. iv. 29, and many others: “demonstratio per congruam significationem”), neither satisfies the preceding πέμπω ὑμᾶς, nor the following λάβετε, κ.τ.λ.; for, in connection with both, the breathing on the disciples could only be taken as medians of the impartation of the Spirit, i.e. as vehicle for the reception, which was to take place by means of the breathing, especially as λάβετε (let the imperat. and the aor. be noted) cannot at all promise the reception which is first in the future (Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Grotius, Kuinoel, Neander, Baeumlein, and several others), but expresses the present actual reception. So substantially Origen, Cyril, Melanchthon, Calvin, Calovius, and several others, including Tholuck, Lange, Brückner (in answer to De Wette’s symbolical interpretation), Hengstenberg, Godet, Ewald, and several others; whilst Baur considers the whole occurrence as being already the fulfilment of the promise of the Paraclete, which is an anticipation, and inapplicable to the idea of the mission of the Paraclete. The later and full outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, by which Christ returned in the Paraclete, remains untouched thereby; moreover, we are not to understand merely the in-breathing of a χάρις δεκτική for the later reception of the Spirit (Euth. Zigabenus). An actual ἈΠΑΡΧΉ of the Holy Spirit is imparted to the disciples on account of a special aim belonging to their mission. Bengel well says: “arrha pentecostes.” It belongs to the peculiarities of the miraculous intermediate condition, in which Jesus at that time was, that He, the Bearer of the Spirit (John 3:34), could already impart such a special ἀπαρχή, whilst the full and proper outpouring, the fulfilment of the Messianic baptism of the Spirit, remained attached to His exaltation, John 7:39, John 16:7. The article needed as little to stand with πνεῦμα ἅγ. as in John 1:33, John 7:39; Acts 1:2; Acts 1:5, and many other passages. This in answer to Luthardt, who lays the emphasis on ἍΓΙΟΝ; it was a holy spirit which the disciples received, something, that is, different from the Spirit of God, which dwells in man by nature; the breath of Jesus’ mouth was now holy spirit (comp. also Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 522 f.; Gess, Pers. Chr. p. 251; Weiss, Lchrbegr. p. 289), but this is not yet the spirit of the world-mighty Jesus; it is not as yet τὸ πνεῦμα ἅγιον, but nevertheless already the basis of it, and stands intermediately between the word of Jesus on earth and the Spirit of Pentecost. Such a sacred intermediate thing, which is holy spirit and yet not the Holy Spirit, the new living breath of the Lord, but yet only of like kind to the Spirit of God (Hofmann), cannot be established from the N. T., in which rather πνεῦμα ἅγιον with and without the article is ever the Holy Spirit in the ordinary Biblical dogmatic sense. Comp. on Romans 8:4; Galatians 5:16. The conceivableness of the above intermediate Spirit may therefore remain undetermined; it lies outside of Scripture.
ΑὐΤΟῖς] belongs to ἘΝΗΦΎΣΗΣΕ. Comp. Job 4:21.
 Comp. Hilgenfeld in his ZeitsChr. 1868, p. 438, according to whom here, as in ver. 17 the ascension, the feast of Pentecost should be taken up into the history of the Resurrection. The originally apostolic idea of apostles is, so soon as Paul is called by the Risen One, “adjusted” according to the Pauline.John 20:21. When they recognised Him and composed themselves, He naturally repeated His greeting, εἰρήνη ὑμῖν, but now adds, καθὼς … ὑμᾶς. “As the Father hath sent me, so send I you.” In these words (cf. John 17:18) He gives them their commission as His representatives. And in confirmation of it, (John 20:22) τοῦτο εἰπὼν … Ἅγιον. “He breathed on them,” ἐνεφύσησε; the same word is used in Genesis 2:7 to describe the distinction between Adam’s “living soul,” breathed into him by God, and the life principle of the other animals. The breathing upon them was meant to convey the impression that His own very Spirit was imparted to them.21. Then said Jesus] Jesus therefore said; because now they were ready to receive it. Their alarm was dispelled and they knew that He was the Lord. He repeats His message of ‘Peace.’
as my Father, &c.] Better, As the Father hath sent Me. Christ’s mission is sometimes spoken of in the aorist tense, as having taken place at a definite point in history (John 3:17; John 3:34, John 5:38, John 6:29; John 6:57, John 7:29, John 8:42, John 10:36, John 11:42, John 17:3; John 17:8; John 17:18; John 17:21; John 17:23; John 17:25), in which case the fact of the Incarnation is the prominent idea. Sometimes, though much less often, it is spoken of, as here, in the perfect tense, as a fact which continues in its results (John 5:36; 1 John 4:9; 1 John 4:14), in which case the present and permanent effects of the mission are the prominent idea. Christ’s mission is henceforth to be carried on by His disciples.
The Greek for ‘send’ is not the same in both clauses; in the first, ‘hath sent,’ it is apostellein; in the second, ‘send,’ it is pempein. The latter is the most general word for ‘send,’ implying no special relation between sender and sent; the former adds the notion of a delegated authority constituting the person sent the envoy or representative of the Sender. Both verbs are used both of the mission of Christ and of the mission of the disciples. Apostellein is used of the mission of Christ in all the passages quoted above: it is used of the mission of the disciples, John 4:38, John 17:18. (Comp. John 1:6; John 1:19; John 1:24, John 3:28, John 5:33, John 7:32, John 11:3.) Pempein is used of Christ’s mission only in the aorist participle (John 4:34, John 5:23-24; John 5:30; John 5:37, John 6:38-40; John 6:44, John 7:16; John 7:18; John 7:28; John 7:33, John 8:16; John 8:18; John 8:26; John 8:29, John 9:4; and in all the passages in chaps. 12–16); the aorist participle of apostellein is not used by S. John, although the Synoptists use it in this very sense (Matthew 10:40; Mark 9:37; Luke 9:48; Luke 10:16). Pempein is used of disciples here and in John 13:20 (of the Spirit, John 14:26, John 16:7).
“The general result … seems to be, that in this charge the Lord presents His own Mission as the one abiding Mission of the Father; this He fulfils through His Church. His disciples receive no new commission, but carry out His.” Westcott in loco.
send I you] Or, am I sending you; their mission has already begun (comp. John 20:17, John 17:9); and the first and main part of it was to be the proclamation of the truth just brought home to themselves—the Resurrection (Acts 1:22; Acts 2:24; Acts 4:2; Acts 4:33, &c.).John 20:21. Πάλιν, again) They had not yet altogether comprehended the force of His former salutation: therefore it is repeated, and so is enlarged by additional words.—εἰρήνη, peace) This constitutes the foundation of the mission of the ministers of the Gospel: 2 Corinthians 4:1, “Seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not.”—καθὼς, even as) Christ is “the Apostle” of the Father, Hebrews 3:1 : Peter and the others were apostles of Christ. He does not discuss at large the subject of His resurrection, but takes for granted the evidence for it, and gives further instructions.—ἀπέσταλκε· πέμπω) These two verbs differ: in ἀποστέλλω the will of the Sender, and of Him who is sent, is had respect to; in πέμπω, the will of the Sender, as distinguished from the will of the person sent.—πέμπω, I send) Both this, and what goes before and what follows, are parallel to Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings—He hath sent Me,” etc.Verses 21-23. -
(4) Peace, spiration of the Holy Spirit, and conference of power to remit or retain sin. Verse 21. - Therefore [Jesus] said unto them again, Peace be unto you. With added emphasis, and in obvious reference to his valedictory discourse, he gave to them the essence of his own sublime repose, the blending of an infinite joy with a measureless sorrow; the equilibrium that springs from the spirit mastering the flesh. Not an ecstatic rapture, nor a joy that would make their life on earth insupportable by its contrast with their abiding frame of mind; but peace - "the peace of God, which passeth understanding." The first "peace" gave to all who were assembled a new revelation; the second "peace," a summons to service. The Lord added the memorable words, As the Father hath sent me (ἀπέσταλκε, hath sent me on a special commission), I also send you (πέμπω, charge you to go forth and accomplish this commission of mine); see Westcott's excursus on the New Testament usage of the two verbs, which does much to justify these shades of meaning. Both verbs are used of both the mission of the Son and the mission of believers, but in the two senses,
(1) that sometimes the special service on which he or they are sent is emphasized by the use of ἀποστέλλω; and
(2) that at other times the simple mission or sending forth is the dominant idea when πέμπω is employed. Thus in John 4:38 the Lord says, "I sent (ἀπέστειλα) you to reap that on which ye bestowed no labor;" and John 17:18 (see note) the same word is appropriately used twice - for the Lord's own commission, and also for the commission of the disciples. Then it seems to point back to an event in their history and the work done already and before Christ's death for the world. Now the disciples have a new conception of Christ and of his work, and they must go forth to fulfill it. This usage of ἀποστέλλω is more or less conspicuous in John 1:6; John 3:28; John 5:33; John 18:24. Πέμπω is used often to describe the Father's mission of the Son, the mission of the Comforter, and the mission of the disciples (John 13:20; John 14:26; John 16:7). Moulton says, " Ἀροστέλλω means 'commission' and πέπμω 'mission.' With the first word our thoughts turn to the 'special embassy;' with the second, to the authority of the ' ambassador' and the obedience of the sent." Another peculiarity of this passage is that the Lord uses the perfect tense, ἀπέσταλκε, rather than the aorist used elsewhere, suggesting a complete commission on his own side, whose meaning and effects are still in operation. Those who have received this revelation are to become at once witnesses to the fact of his resurrection, agents and organs of his Spirit. Moulton suggests that τέμπω is used in order to enforce the physical separation between the Lord and his disciples; and that we cannot overlook in the similarity of the ideas the difference in the manner of the sending, by the Savior of the disciples, from the manner in which the Son had been sent by the Father. Christ came forth from the eternal companionship of the Father, in the fact of his incarnation, taking humanity up into his eternal substance. The disciples were sent forth by the risen Lord, who had called them by grace into fellowship with himself, and who equipped them for his service. The difference in these two methods of sending is as conspicuous as the resemblance.
Note the distinction between this verb and that applied to the sending of the disciples (πέμπω). See on John 1:6.
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