Lectionary Year B
April 27, 2003
John 20:19-31

Initial Acquaintance/Rough Translation


19 Therefore while being late (gen. abs.) on that first day (dat. of time when) of the sabbaths and while the doors were being shut (gen abs.) where the disciples were on account of the fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood into the midst and says to them, "Peace to you (pl.)." 20 and having said this thing he showed the hands and the side to them; therefore, the disciples rejoiced having seen the Lord. 21 Therefore [Jesus] said to them again, "Peace to you (pl.). Just as the Father commission-sent (Gr. "apostello") me I also send forth (Gr. "pempo") you (pl.). 22 And having said this thing he breathed on (Gr. "emphusao") and says to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 Of whomever you might forgive the sins they are forgiven to them, of whomever you (pl.) hold fast, they are/have been held fast.

24 And Thomas one out of the twelve, the one being called Didymus, was not there with them when Jesus came. 25 Therefore the other disciples were saying to him, "we have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "If I do not see in his hands the visible mark of the nails and cast my finger into the visible mark of the nails and cast my hand into his side I shall not ever believe. 26 And after eight days again his disciples were inside and Thomas is/was with them. Jesus comes while the doors were being shut (gen. abs.) and he stood into the midst and said, "Peace to you (pl.)." 27 Then he says to Thomas, "Lift your finger here and see my hands and lift your hand and cast into my side and do not become faithless (Gr. "apistos") but faithful (Gr. "pistos"). 28 Having answered Thomas also said to him, "My Lord and my God." 29 Jesus says to him, "Because you have seen me you have believed? Blessed (divine passive?) are the ones not having seen and believing."

30 Therefore on the one hand many things and other signs Jesus did before his disciples, which things are not having been written in this book. 31 And these things have been written in order that you (pl.) might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and in order that having believed you might have life in his name.

In comparing four translations (RSV, NIV, NKJV, Green's Pocket Interlinear, and Amplified) I found no textual variations of significance. My Greek being loose and my schedule being tight I have not labored on a Greek translation especially after having found no major variations in the comparisons I did. However, at least one potentially pregnant variation in the Greek did arise in verse 21. The word there used for being sent varied between Jesus and the disciples. Jesus was sent ("apostello") by the Father and is now sending ("pempo") us. In the gospel of John, the word "pempo" is used(2x) in connection with messengers while the word "apostello" is used (15x) in connection with God having sent Jesus.

I'm confused as to what the author is doing with these words after having reviewed each instance of the word "sent" in the NIV translation and finding its Greek equivalent. Two interesting verses include John 9:7 in which the "pool of Siloam" - where the blind man washes (Baptism allusion?) - is described as meaning the pool of "apostello." The second interesting verse is John 17:18 where "apostello" is used both to describe Jesus as "sent" from the Father as well as the disciples who Jesus "sent" into the world.

(SrSer) For further reflection the TDNT has a 44 page article on "apostelein and pempo" in volume 1 at page 398. A significant excerpt would be found at 405:

"At first sight this usage is extremely odd. It is to be explained as follows. In John's Gospel "apostellein" is used by Jesus when His concern is to ground His authority in that of God as the One who is responsible for His words and works and who guarantees their right and truth. On the other hand, He uses the formula "ho pempsas me" to affirm the participation of God in His work in in His work in the actio of His sending. This explanation is in full accord with the Johannine view of Jesus as the One whose 'work originates in God's work' and by whom 'God's work...reaches its goal.'...We are not to say, however, that the terms themselves have helped to shape Johannine Christology...They are rather taken out to their ordinary meaning by the specific context in which they are used -- very forcibly in this Gospel -- and filled with religious significance."

Also note that there is a book called A Sense of Mission: Guidance from the Gospel of John which was written by Albert Curry Winn on this subject for use at the Caldwell Lectures of Louisville Seminary in 1980.

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