Sunday, April 17, 2022

Releasing and Retaining Brokenness

Below is a rough translation and some initial comments regarding John 20:19-31, the lectionary gospel reading for the second Sunday of Easter. There are two pericopes here, the first appearance, with its repetitious proclamations of peace and the second appearance with the intriguing struggle of Thomas and doubt. I like to see the Thomas story as an instance of the early church community, empowered by the spirit to ‘release and retain’ brokenness. I hope that makes sense from the comments below. 
For an essay on this text, you can click here

19 Οὔσης οὖν ὀψίας τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ τῇ μιᾷ σαββάτων, καὶ τῶν θυρῶν 
κεκλεισμένων ὅπου ἦσαν οἱ μαθηταὶ διὰ τὸν φόβον τῶν Ἰουδαίων,ἦλθεν ὁ 
Ἰησοῦς καὶ ἔστη εἰς τὸ μέσον καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς, Εἰρήνη ὑμῖν. 
Then - being evening on that first day of Sabbaths, and the doors having been shut, where the disciples were for fear of the Judeans - Jesus came and stood in the midst and says to them, “Peace to you.”
Οὔσης: PAPart gfs, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
κεκλεισμένων: PerfPPart gfp, κλείω, 1) to shut, shut up
ἦσαν: IAI 3p, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
ἦλθεν: AAI 3s, ἔρχομαι, 1) to come 
ἔστη: AAI 3s, ἵστημι, 1) to cause or make to stand, to place, put, set
λέγει: PAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
1. Re: “first day of Sabbaths,” see the comment on last week’s text, as this phrase is repeated from v.1 and shows up in every gospel account of the resurrection (Mk. 16:2, Mt.28:1, Lk.24:1).
2. The verb is supplied in the common translation of Jesus’ words as “Peace be with you.”

20 καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν ἔδειξεν τὰς χεῖρας καὶ τὴν πλευρὰν αὐτοῖς. ἐχάρησαν οὖν 
οἱ μαθηταὶ ἰδόντες τὸν κύριον. 
And having said this he showed the hands and side to them.  Then, the disciples were overjoyed having seen the Lord.
εἰπὼν:  AAPart nms, λέγω, to say, to speak 
ἔδειξεν: AAI 3s, δεικνύω, to show, exhibit
ἐχάρησαν: API 3p, χαίρω, 1) to rejoice, be glad  2) to rejoice exceedingly  3) to be well, thrive  4) in salutations, hail!  5) at the beginning of letters: to give one greeting, salute
ἰδόντες: AAPart nmp, ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes  2) to see with the mind, to perceive, know
1. Jesus shows the disciples his scars and it moves them from φόβον (v.19, fear) to χαίρω (rejoice). This is a key moment, not only with respect to what follows with Thomas, but with respect to the key role that ‘seeing’ plays in John’s story. One example is the story that immediately precedes this story, when the Beloved Disciple went into the tomb and saw and believed (καὶ εἶδεν καὶ ἐπίστευσεν, v.8).
2. I consider it one of the gifts of the Christian tradition that every gospel account of the resurrection includes Jesus’ scars. Perhaps one role of the scars is to rebut docetic arguments that Jesus did not really suffer and die on the cross, but only appeared to do so. For me, it is less a matter of “proof” and more a matter of telling the story with authenticity and hope – Friday really did happen, but there is more.

21 εἶπεν οὖν αὐτοῖς [ὁ Ἰησοῦς] πάλιν, Εἰρήνη ὑμῖν: καθὼς ἀπέσταλκέν με  
πατήρ, κἀγὼ πέμπω ὑμᾶς.  
Then [Jesus] said to them again, “Peace to you; just as the father has sent me, I also send you.” 
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, to say, to speak 
ἀπέσταλκέν: PerfAI, 3sg ἀποστέλλω to order (one) to go to a place appointed  
πέμπω: PAI, 1sg ἀποστέλλω to order (one) to go to a place appointed
1. There are numerous references throughout John’s gospel to Jesus having been “sent” by God. Most notably it is repeated in Jesus’ prayer in c.17.  

22 καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν ἐνεφύσησεν καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς, Λάβετε πνεῦμα ἅγιον: 
And having said this, he breathed and says to them, “Receive a holy spirit.”
εἰπὼν: AAPart, nms λέγω, to say, to speak 
ἐνεφύσησεν: AAI 3sg, ἐμφυσάω, to blow or breathe upon
λέγει: PAI 3s, λέγω, to say, to speak 
Λάβετε: AAImpv 2p, λαμβάνω, 1) to take  
1. The lexicons and the Zondervan Analytical Greek Lexicon say that ἐνεφύσησεν is rooted in the verb ἐμφυσάω, which, says, “[has] in view the primary meaning of the words רוּחַ and πνεῦμα.” I’ll have to take that as true, but the aorist singular form here, ἐνεφύσησεν, looks like the root could be νεφύσ, which sounds like a transliteration of the Hebrew nephesh, the word for soul/mind. Would one of you Hebrew scholars help me make this connection or disabuse me of it?
2. If this word is etymologically related to πνεῦμα, then it would be consistent to make Jesus’ words, “Receive a holy breath.” “Breath” is always a possible choice for πνεῦμα.
3. Regarding the spirit, see John 7:38-39: “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.' Now he said this about the spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” In our pericope, Jesus has been “glorified” and breathes the spirit to them. To get a fuller sense of what John means by “glorify,” see the stories of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet in c.13 and Jesus’ prayer in c.17, both of which have repeated references to it. In the next chapter, Jesus speaks of how Simon Peter will “glorify” God through his death.
4. Here is an interesting pattern:
19: “Peace to you”
20: “Having said this, …”
21: “Peace to you”
22: “Having said this, …”

23 ἄν τινων ἀφῆτε τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἀφέωνται αὐτοῖς, ἄν τινων κρατῆτε 
If you would release the sins of any, they are released to them; if you would retain, they are retained.   
ἀφῆτε: AASubj 2p, ἀφίημι, 1) to send away  1a) to bid going away or depart  1a1) of a husband divorcing his wife  1b) to send forth, yield up, to expire  1c) to let go, let alone, let be  1c1) to disregard  1c2) to leave, not to discuss now, (a topic)  1c21) of teachers, writers and speakers  1c3) to omit, neglect  1d) to let go, give up a debt, forgive, to remit
ἀφέωνται: PerfPI 3p, ἀφίημι (see above)
κρατῆτε: PASubj 2p, κρατέω, 1) to have power, be powerful  1a) to be chief, be master of, to rule  2) to get possession of  2a) to become master of, to obtain  2b) to take hold of  2c) to take hold of, take, seize
κεκράτηνται: PerfPI 3p κρατέω (see above)
1. The word ἀφίημι is often translated “forgive,” especially when it is used in relation to “sin” (ἁμαρτία). But, as one can see above, the potential definitions are quite varied and ‘forgive’ is not among the first choices. It may be that in the Christian church we have a more moralistic understanding of ‘sin’ than in the first century. What if ἁμαρτία means “brokenness,” rather than some kind of moral failing, often associated with ‘sin’? What would be the meaning of Jesus’ gathered followers having the spirit and power to “release” or “retain” brokenness?
2. This seems to be the whole point of receiving the holy breath/spirit from Jesus – to release or to retain ἁμαρτία. Is this John’s version of the church’s commission? It is certainly not in the imperative voice, implying that the church is sent to go and release sins or to retain sins. It is in the subjunctive mood – “if you do this, this happens; if you do that, that happens.” It may be less of a commissioning and more of a statement, even a warning – “This holy breath empowers you to do this, or to do that.”

24 Θωμᾶς δὲ εἷς ἐκ τῶν δώδεκα,  λεγόμενος Δίδυμος, οὐκ ἦν μετ' αὐτῶν ὅτε 
ἦλθεν Ἰησοῦς. 
But Thomas, one out of the twelve, who is called the twin, was not being with them when Jesus came. 
λεγόμενος: PPPart nsm, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain  1b) to teach  1c) to exhort, advise, to command, direct  1d) to point out with words, intend, mean, mean to say  1e) to call by name, to call, name 
ἦν: IAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
ἦλθεν: AAI 3s, ἔρχομαι, 1) to come 
1. This verse begins, in my view, the second story in our pericope.
2. One commentator suggests that, if we did not know Matthew and Luke, it would appear that Thomas is Jesus’ twin. I’m feeling a sequel to The Da Vinci Code coming.

25 ἔλεγον οὖν αὐτῷ οἱ ἄλλοι μαθηταί, Ἑωράκαμεν τὸν κύριον.  δὲ εἶπεν 
αὐτοῖς, Ἐὰν μὴ ἴδω ἐν ταῖς χερσὶν αὐτοῦ τὸν τύπον τῶν ἥλων καὶ βάλω τὸν δάκτυλόν μου εἰς τὸν τύπον τῶν ἥλων καὶ βάλω μου τὴν χεῖρα εἰς τὴν 
πλευρὰν αὐτοῦ, οὐ μὴ πιστεύσω. 
Then the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord.”  But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails and insert my finger into the mark of the nails and insert my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 
ἔλεγον: IAI 3p, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
Ἑωράκαμεν: PerfAI 1p ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes  2) to see with the mind, to perceive, know
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
ἴδω: AASubj 1s, ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes  2) to see with the mind, to perceive, know
βάλω: AASubj 1s, βάλλω, 1) to throw or let go of a thing without caring where it falls  ...  2) to put into, insert
πιστεύσω: AASubj 1s, πιστεύω, 1) to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place  confidence in  1a) of the thing believe
1. Just to be clear, Mary had already told the disciples “I have seen the Lord” but they are overjoyed when they see the hands and side. In this story, the disciples say “We have seen the Lord,” but Thomas cannot accept it until he, too, sees the hands and side. To me, the point of this story is not that Thomas is the disbelieving holdout because he needs to see evidence before he believes. I think there is more to Thomas’ “doubt” than a lack of evidence.
2. I’m curious about the use of the imperfect form of ‘to be’ (with a negative particle οὐκ ἦν, “was not being”) in v.24 and the imperfect form of ‘to say’ (ἔλεγον, “was saying”) in v.25. It would have been easy to use the aorist tense to say that Thomas was not with them, right at the moment that Jesus first arrived. But, by using the imperfect tense, John may be saying that Thomas was no longer with them when Jesus came the first time, as if he had given up on following Christ, with them, after the crucifixion. Likewise, if they had only said to Thomas, “While you were out getting bagels one day, Jesus came,” the aorist tense would suffice. But, the imperfect, “were saying” implies ongoing past action. Perhaps they were trying over and over to convince Thomas to return. Finally, Thomas threw down the gauntlet, “I’ll come back, but unless I see and touch, etc., I won’t believe it.” I guess I’m seeing the possibility that this was an extended conversation about Thomas’ participation in the community, and not just that Thomas happened to miss out on the first visit. 
2. Thomas makes seeing and touching prerequisites for believing. This pair of verbs returns in v. 29.
3. The term βάλλω is a bit more than ‘to place’ something. It is the world that is used to throw, toss, and to cast, as in casting out demons.

26 Καὶ μεθ' ἡμέρας ὀκτὼ πάλιν ἦσαν ἔσω οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ Θωμᾶς μετ' 
αὐτῶν. ἔρχεται  Ἰησοῦς τῶν θυρῶν κεκλεισμένων, καὶ ἔστη εἰς τὸ μέσον 
καὶ εἶπεν, Εἰρήνη ὑμῖν. 
And on the eighth day again his disciples were inside and Thomas being with them.  Jesus enters the locked doors and stood in the midst and said, “Peace to you.” 
ἦσαν: IAI 3p, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
ἔρχεται: PMI 3s, ἔρχομαι 1) to come  1a) of persons  1a1) to come from one place to another, and used both of  persons arriving and of those returning
κεκλεισμένων: PerfPassPart, gfpl, to lock, close up, shut
ἔστη: AAI 3s, ἵστημι, 1) to cause or make to stand, to place, put, set  1a) to bid to stand by, [set up]  1a1) in the presence of others,
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
1. I am translating ἔρχομαι as ‘enters’ instead of ‘comes’ because it is in the middle voice.
2. “and Thomas with them.” Thomas has been reconciled to the community. Perhaps the business of receiving the spirit for releasing and retaining is all about reconciling others to the community.  

27 εἶτα λέγει τῷ Θωμᾷ, Φέρε τὸν δάκτυλόν σου ὧδε καὶ ἴδε τὰς χεῖράς μου, 
καὶ φέρε τὴν χεῖρά σου καὶ βάλε εἰς τὴν πλευράν μου, καὶ μὴ γίνου ἄπιστος 
ἀλλὰ πιστός. 
Then he says to Thomas, “Place your finger here and see my hand, and place your hand here and insert [it] onto my side, and do not become unbelieving but believing.” [or “do not be/become an unbeliever but a believer.”] 
λέγει: PAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
Φέρε: PAImp 2s, φέρω, 1) to carry   1a) to carry some burden   1a1) to bear with one's self   1b) to move by bearing; move or, to be conveyed or borne, with   the suggestion of force or speed
βάλε: AAImpv, 2s, βάλλω, 1) to throw or let go of a thing without caring where it falls ...  2) to put into, insert
γίνου: PMImp 2s, γίνομαι, 1) to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being  2) to become, i.e. to come to pass, happen
1. I strongly disagree with the NIV’s translation of Jesus last phrase as a separate sentence that reads, “Stop doubting and believe.” The words ἄπιστος  and πιστός are not verbs; they are adjectives, modifying the verb γίνομαι. (Or, they could be predicates. They are in the nominative case because because the verb γίνομαι can take a nominative predicate.) The verb γίνομαι is in the middle/passive voice, which is not uncommon in John’s gospel. Its primary meaning is ‘to become’ but it can simply mean ‘to be’ or it can take on many shades of meaning. This is the verb that the KJV often translates “it came to pass,” because it points to a state of being, rather than a particular action performed by a particular person. I don’t think γίνομαι really fits into our typical patterns of ‘active’ v. ‘passive’ v. ‘middle’ verbs, where the actor and action are clearly identified. In this case, however, γίνομαι is in the imperative mood, which we customarily see as a very direct demand of the actor/action. How do we reconcile the imperative mood with the nature of the verb γίνομαι and the middle/passive voice? I’m not entirely sure, but I do feel the NIV’s translation skips over the thickness of the words and grammar in order to present this as a dual command. Simply commanding someone to be in a state of faith or doubt sounds to me like commanding someone to “Be happy!” Faith and doubt are more complex than that.

28 ἀπεκρίθη Θωμᾶς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ,Ὁ κύριός μου καὶ  θεός μου. 
Thomas answered and said to him, “My lord and my God.” 
ἀπεκρίθη: API 3s, ἀποκρίνομαι, 1) to give an answer to a question proposed, to answer
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
1. The term “lord” seems to be a term that is often used to show respect, like “Señor” in Spanish. But, to declare Jesus “my Lord” might be Thomas’ way of declaring Jesus to be his ultimate ruler, as opposed to Caesar, for whom this term was often used. Moreover, to call Jesus “my God” would be blasphemous for a Jew. This is no small declaration. No wonder Thomas needed to work this through. If Thomas had left the community, this declaration could be his becoming (again) a disciple.

29 λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Οτι ἑώρακάς με πεπίστευκας; μακάριοι οἱ μὴ ἰδόντες καὶ πιστεύσαντες.
Jesus says to him, “You have seen me you have believed.  Blessed those who have not seen and who have believed.” 
λέγει: PAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
ἑώρακάς: PerfAI, 2sg ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes  2) to see with the mind, to perceive, know
πεπίστευκας: PerfAI, 2sg πιστεύω, 1) to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place  confidence in  1a) of the thing believed
ἰδόντες: AAPart npm, ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes  2) to see with the mind, to perceive, know
πιστεύσαντες: AAPart npm, πιστεύω, 1) to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in 1a) of the thing believed
1. Somewhere in the transmission of the Greek text, someone decided that the word ὁτι (“that” or “because”) should be capitalized and set off with a comma. That is not part of the original text, but an interpretive judgment that was made along the way. Likewise, the question mark is someone’s judgment that this is a question followed by a statement. However, ὁτι is often used as a way of setting up a quote and can go un-translated. If that were the case here, Jesus’ words could read as two statements: “You have seen me and have believed. Blessed those who have not seen and believed.” The reason I want to offer this possibility is to say that Thomas’ path may be one way of embracing Jesus, while the path facing John’s readers may be the other. By placing two statements side-by-side, perhaps the gospel is simply acknowledging that there are two authentic ways of embracing faith – one is through seeing and the other is through not seeing. In fact, the “blessing” that is conferred on those who will never see and touch Jesus’ body may be a way of assuring them that their path of not seeing or touching is as valid as Thomas’ path of seeing and touching. (One could argue that the “blessed” suggests the path of not seeing or touching is more valid. If, however, the question asked by John’s readership is whether belief is possible at all without seeing or touching, then the “blessed” may not be privileging their path but assuring them that their path is equally valid.)
2. There is no main verb in the latter part of this verse. Perhaps the verb ‘to be’ (“are”) is implied, because the οἱ follows the μακάριοι, making μακάριοι the subject and οἱ the predicate nominative. I guess. In any case, the οἱ is the definite article for “who have not seen and who believe.”  
3. This sentence is set up as a chiasm. But, a true chiasm would posit seeing and believing against not seeing and not believing. This one has seeing and believing, then not seeing and yet believing. I believe this is a dramatic ending to John, summarizing all that Jesus has said before about “seeing and believing,” both positive and negative.
4. On this point, see the article, “The Faith of the Beloved Disciple and the Community of John 20”, by Brendan Byrne (Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Feb., 1985, p.89). One comment in particular sums up Byrne’s point, I think: “'Sign' faith is, of course, variously evaluated in John's Gospel. But where such faith is negatively rated (e.g., 2.23-24; 3.2-3; 4.45-48; 6.14-15; 7.3-7) the problem is not so much that a sign initiates the process of faith as that the preoccupation with the sign proceeds from purely human categories and needs in a way that obscures rather than serves the divine revelation in Jesus.” 

30 Πολλὰ μὲν οὖν καὶ ἄλλα σημεῖα ἐποίησεν  Ἰησοῦς ἐνώπιον τῶν μαθητῶν [αὐτοῦ],  οὐκ ἔστιν γεγραμμένα ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τούτῳ: 

Indeed Jesus made many other signs in the presence of the disciples [of his], which are not having been written in this book;

ἐποίησεν: AAI 3s, ποιέω, 1) to make  1a) with the names of things made, to produce, construct,  form, fashion, etc

ἔστιν: PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present

γεγραμμένα: PerfPPart npm, γράφω, 1) to write, with reference to the form of the letters  1a) to delineate (or form) letters on a tablet, parchment,  paper, or other material

1. I wonder if this is an acknowledgement of other gospel texts. I’ve often felt that whoever wrote this gospel knew the Gospel of Mark to some extent.

2. If nothing else, this verse shows that “signs” themselves are not an indication of weak faith. I worry that too many sermons coming out of this pericope imply that wanting or needing some sort of ‘sign’ to retain one’s faith is contrary to the gospel. John has a very layered and sophisticated approach to the relationship between signs and faith.


31ταῦτα δὲ γέγραπται ἵνα πιστεύ[ς]ητε ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἐστιν  Χριστὸς  υἱὸς 
τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ ἵνα πιστεύοντες ζωὴν ἔχητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ. 

yet these things have been written in order that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ the son of God, and in order that while believing you may have life in his name. 

γέγραπται: PeftPI 3p, γράφω, 1) to write, with reference to the form of the letters  1a) to delineate (or form) letters on a tablet, parchment,  paper, or other material

πιστεύ[ς]ητε: AASubj 2p, πιστεύω, 1) to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place  confidence in  1a) of the thing believed

πιστεύοντες: PAPart nmp, πιστεύω, 1) to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place  confidence in  1a) of the thing believed

ἔχητε: PASubj 2p, ἔχω, 1) to have, i.e. to hold  1a) to have (hold) in the hand, in the sense of wearing, to have  (hold) possession of the mind (refers to alarm, agitating  emotions, etc.), to hold fast keep, to have or comprise or  involve, to regard or consider or hold as 

1. The point of vv.30-31 seem to be building on the comment of v.29. The disciples saw signs and believed, but the readers do not have the signs of Jesus’ hands and side. Still, they can believe because they have these writings. Through them, John’s community can believe as authentically as the disciples and can have life just like the disciples.

2. I think this is the original ending of John’s gospel, with c.21 as a later addition.


  1. Hi again,
    Four comments:
    1) thanks, again, for sharing your work. It has blessed me.
    2) I still lean toward the scars being proofs they weren't seeing a ghost. However, your comment made me think about resurrection bodies in general and whether we keep any scars from this manifestation of our lives. If not, then Jesus kept his for proof to the apostles that it had all been real and not a dream or ghost.
    3) The whole sending thing--Father sends Jesus, Jesus sends apostles, apostles send (or not) sins/brokenness. I like your thought about their first act of "releasing" was to get Thomas back. We release to gain and retain to lose. Sounds familiar...did someone say that somewhere?
    4) Thomas wasn't any worse than the others who didn't believe before they saw. He was just dumb enough to say it out loud. But you raise an interesting point as to why he wasn't there with them. Did he get the breathing they got? Inquiring minds want to know!

  2. Priscilla EppingerApril 10, 2015 at 7:07 AM

    Your comment on v.21 supposes that Jesus shows the disciples his scars.
    But the text merely says he showed them his hands and side. Is it conceivable that Jesus showed his *wounds*? After all, a week later the hands and side are open enough for Thomas to insert his hand.

    1. I don't know if we can answer this question textually. One distinction I have in mind between a 'wound' and a 'scar' is how each responds to touch, so perhaps I should save the word "scar" for the encounter with Thomas a week later. Part of how I see Easter is that it is when God changes wounds into scars.
      I'm not sure of the precise point of difference between a wound and a scar. I suppose it has to do with how much new flesh has grown over the wound. But, given that this story is about a body that was dead and is now living, perhaps our customary expectations are beside the point. Hmm..

  3. Priscilla EppingerApril 10, 2015 at 9:27 AM

    Is ἁμαρτία abstract, or does it imply sinning *against* someone?
    I'm playing with your idea of brokenness, and thinking that if sinning is transitive, then the brokenness applies to the relationship; and that if sinning is intransitive, then the brokenness applies to the person/subject, which is what I think you imply.

    1. In this instance, v.23, the emphasis is on "the sins" as a noun, rather than what the nature of the verb 'to sin' is. And in the first clause, the sins are released "to them." I think the emphasis on the releasing/retaining is on the one with the sins, rather than one who may be the aggrieved by the sin. Maybe the noun 'sins' is nicely vague enough to refer to both the transitive and intransitive forms of sin - one's own brokenness or the brokenness that one causes to others.
      Great to hear from you. Hope you are well.

    2. Priscilla EppingerApril 11, 2015 at 5:40 PM

      Thanks for your thoughts. Preaching tomorrow . . .

  4. Good evidence for your question of Thomas' continuing as a disciple of the Way: Jesus comes back, apparently to this purpose of getting Thomas onboard!

  5. I wonder if verse 29 is answering some kerfuffle in John's community. Perhaps those who claimed an immediate experience of the resurrection were getting or claiming a superior place in the community based upon that experience.
    And I like linking amartia to the sense of brokeness. That aids me in understanding that releasing and retaining are not opposites, (forgiving/not forgiving) but different actions towards brokeness: setting it free or taking it on.

    Thanks and blessed Easter to you.

    1. Thanks for the note, Scott. I do think there is a tension within John's community between those who were first-hand witnesses and those who did not have that privilege. Maybe it was simple a generational reality, with the first-hand folks dying off. Maybe it was a full-fledged kerfuffle. Either way, this turn to blessing those who have not seen would have been welcomed by the late-coming not-having-seen crowd.
      And I like the 'taking on or setting free' approach.
      Thanks again. Blessings,

  6. Curious as to why you don't use the literal translation of hamartia - missing the mark? Mark? Pun unintentional. Sort of.

    1. I think that literal translation work when harmartia is in the verbal form. It seems not to work so well in the nominal form.
      (And besides, why would anyone miss me? I'm right here.)

  7. What struck me, is that Jesus shows his hands and side, John doesn't tell us they gave that detail to Thomas and (WHAT??!) Thomas wants to see the hands and side...Don't tell me God doesn't know what we need before we ask... :)

  8. εἰρήνη ὑμῖν Pronoun indicating possession, also known as absolute possessives.
    E.g. mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, and theirs (blue letter bible). Could it be an indicative statement, "peace is yours'?

  9. I'm a little curious why the verb ἐνεφύσησεν is translated as 'breathed on' (or, as you have it, simply 'breathed'). The prepositional-prefix can also mean 'in' and I suspect that is what is meant. Similar to G-d breathing into the First Adam and the Adam became a 'living soul'. Many Christians, esp in my Lutheran tradition, are a little afraid of such intimacy - Pandemics enforce the anxiety! Actually, you could almost translate the verb as 'he gave them emphesema' - he took their breath away - and then pumped a clean, holy breath into their lungs = 'receive a holy spirit'

    1. Hi Rick,
      I love the "he gave them emphysema" possibility. Sort of. Well, not that much. Eew. Never mind.
      "Breathed in" does seem like a likelier literal translation. Thanks.

  10. Tradition makes Thomas a fall guy while adopting his confession. Such irony. There is a falling out among the 12. Thomas is willing to die with Jesus and the others flee or deny him. That first they hide in fear. Thomas doubts that they have actually seen Jesus. He doubts their witness. Haven't people doubted your word on occasion?

    When Jesus breathes Spirit into the disciples, he makes possible the healing of the 12. There are those who say the forgiveness saying is an affirmation not a contrast: those whose sins you forgive, you hold fast.

    With this healing Thomas commits the crime of the ultimate confession: my Lord and Savior. But note that the confession comes with the restoration of community.

    1. PS your work is often vital in my reflection and I am deeply grateful for what you offer.

    2. Thanks Russell. I appreciate your words and observations.

  11. ἄν τινων ἀφῆτε τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἀφέωνται αὐτοῖς, ἄν τινων κρατῆτε
    κεκράτηνται. τινων is also 'certain' - so I'm wondering if this is more than letting go of the 'missing of the mark' by others, and also one's own 'missing the mark.' Can we let go of our own racism, classism, imperialism in this freedom of the 'holy breath?' Or hold onto those patterns?


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