As no created eye beheld what was deepest in the cross of Christ, so it was not for man to look on the Lord rising from among the dead. This was as it should be. Darkness veiled Him giving Himself for us in atonement. Man saw not that infinite work in His death; yet was it not only to glorify God thereby, but that our sins might be borne away righteously. We have seen the activity of the world, and especially of the Jew, in crucifying Him; high and low, religious and profane, all played their part; even one Apostle denied Him, as another betrayed Him, to the murderous priests and elders. But Jehovah laid on Him the iniquity of us all; Jehovah bruised and put Him to grief; Jehovah made His soul an offering for sin; (Isa. 53:10.) and as this was Godward, so was it invisible to human eyes, and God alone could rightly bear witness, by whom He would, of the eternal redemption thus obtained, which left Divine love free to act even in a lost and ungodly world.
So with the Resurrection of Christ. He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father; God raised up Jesus, Whom the Jews slew and hanged on a tree; He had laid down His life that He might take it again, in three days raising the temple of His body which they destroyed. But if no man was given to see the act of His rising from the dead, it was to be testified in all the world as well as His atoning death. “Preach the Gospel,” said He risen, “to every creatures.” (Mark 16:15.) And assuredly he who withholds His resurrection maims the glad tidings of its triumphant proof and character, and compromises the believer’s liberty and introduction into the new creation, as he immensely clouds the Lord’s glory: even as the denial of resurrection virtually charges God’s witnesses with falsehood, and makes faith vain. So the Apostle insists in 1 Cor. 15. Had death held the Saviour fast, all were lost; had it been only His Spirit winning its way into the presence of God, would it be even a half-deliverance? His Resurrection is, in truth, a complete deliverance, of which the Holy Spirit is to us the seal.
Hence we find it is the grand foundation truth of the Gospel. To be a witness of His Resurrection was the main requirement for an Apostle (Acts 1); and that God had raised up Jesus Whom the Jews had crucified was the truth most pressed by Peter (Acts 2). So it was urged by him in Solomon’s porch subsequently (Acts 3), and before the Jewish council once and again (Acts 4, 5). Just so it was in preaching to the Gentiles (Acts 10); and by Paul yet more than by Peter (Acts 13). This witness especially grieved the Sadducean chiefs (Acts 4); this is what rouses the undying scorn or opposition of unbelief all the world over. And no wonder; for if the Resurrection be the spring of joy and ground of assured salvation to the believer, if it be the secret of his holy walk as the expression of the life he has in Christ risen, and the power of a living hope, it is also the measure of the real estate of man as dead in sins; as it is the present, fixed, and constant pledge that judgment hangs over the habitable earth, for God has raised from among the dead as its appointed Judge the Man Whom the world slew. (Acts 17:31.) The Resurrection, therefore, is as repulsive to man as it is apt to be slighted by the fleshly mind even of Christians who seek earthly things.
As the Resurrection is thus manifestly a truth of capital moment, the Spirit of God has taken care that the testimony to it should be as precise as it is full. Hence Matthew, who from the design of his Gospel omits the Ascension, does not fail to bring out the proof of Christ’s Resurrection most clearly; and so does Mark; and Luke, with more detail than either, shows us the Lord in resurrection with all His loving interest in His own. He is a man as truly as ever, with flesh and bones, capable of eating with them, but risen. John, as usual, presents the conscious Son of God, the Word become flesh, but now in resurrection. Here the proofs are characteristically inward and personal, where the others as fittingly present what was outward, but no less necessary.
As a bulwark against philosophic scepticism the Resurrection stands firm and impregnable; for it resists and refutes unanswerably the sophistry which ignores God and reduces the idea of causes to an invariable antecedence of constantly observed phenomena as in sequence-a theory quietly assumed and diligently instilled, so as to set aside the very possibility of Divine intervention whether in grace or judgment, in miracles or prophecy, or in any relationship beyond nature with God. With God did I say? Why, according to this system logically carried out, He is, and must be, unknown; but if unknown, who can tell if He exist? or, if all do not end in a mere deification of Nature? Now, the Resurrection of Christ rests, as has been often shown, on far fuller evidence and surer and better grounds than any event in history; and this because it was sifted at the time by friends and foes as nothing else ever was, and because God Himself gave a multiplicity of testimony, proportioned to its incalculable moment, not to us merely, but to His own glory. Now, as a fact without argumentation, it overthrows of itself and instantly every opposition to the truth of science or knowledge falsely so called; for it would be the depth of absurdity to suppose that the death of Jesus was the cause of His resurrection. What, then, was its cause? Of what antecedent was it the sequence? If anything points to the power of God, it is resurrection no less than creation.
The truth is that the effort to reduce cause and effect to a mere antecedent and consequent springs from the desire to get rid of God altogether; for cause really implies will, design, and power in activity, though we must distinguish between the causa causans and the causae causatae. These causes are in nature by God’s constitution, but He lives, wills, acts. Hence the Resurrection of Christ stands in the midst of this world’s history to judge all unbelief, viewed now as a simple fact most fully proved. We may see its consequences, as far as our chapter presents them, later on. The Lord had distinctly and often spoken of His death and resurrection during His life. He had died and was buried; and here we learn that no power or precaution prevailed against His word. The grave had lost its inmate; and this was all Mary’s heart took in-the loss of the dead body of the Lord. Deplorable forgetfulness, but of a heart absorbed in that one sad treasure here below, and it was gone!
Thus, even here the proof was in the wisdom of God gradual, and the growth of the Apostles themselves slow in the truth. There was afforded the most evident demonstration that, as the power in itself was of Him only and immediately, above the entire course of Nature and human experience, so those who were afterwards its most competent, strenuous, and suffering witnesses only yielded to its certainty by such degrees as let us see that no men were more surprised than the Apostles. Even the enemies of the Lord had an undefined dread or uneasiness, which led to Pilate’s allowance of a military guard with the seal of the great stone to make the sepulchre sure. Not a disciple, so far as we know, looked for His rising.
Nevertheless, Christ did rise the third day according to the Scriptures. In this very thing-the teaching of God’s word-were the disciples weak; not the uninstructed Magdalene only, but all, as we shall see, senseless and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets spoke; all as quick to forget the plain words in which the Lord Himself repeatedly announced not only His death, but His resurrection, on the third day.
Accordingly, the opening verses have for their object to show us how the truth first began to dawn on any heart. Not only was there no collusion in feigning the Resurrection of their Master, there was not so much as a hopeful anticipation in a single heart of which one can speak. The gloom of the cross had shrouded every heart; the fear of man pressed on the men yet more than on the women. Even where the fact should have been patent, she who saw the fact misunderstood its import, and was more distressed than ever.356
Matt. 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-11 Luke 24:1 -12.
“Now, on the first (day) of the week Mary of Magdala cometh early while it was yet dark unto the tomb, and seeth the stone taken away from the tomb.357 She runneth, therefore, and cometh unto Simon Peter and unto the other disciple whom Jesus dearly loved (
ἐφ.), and saith to them, They took away the Lord out of the tomb, and we know not where they laid Him” (verses 1, 2).
Mary of Magdala seems to be alone on the first day; certainly, if other women were with or near her, as other testimonies may imply358 (not to speak of the plural form here, “we know,” which may be merely general), she alone attracts the notice of the Spirit of God. He portrays a heart, first attracted irresistibly to a scene so overwhelming and withal sacred by her love to Him Whose body had been laid in the tomb; then at length met and blessed by the Lord when the best resources among the saints had failed, as will come before us in due time.
Before His death Mary, the sister of Lazarus, had anointed the Lord, His head and His feet, out of the fulness of her affection, which lavished what she had most precious on Him, just at that time when she instinctively felt danger impending, and hears, in answer to heartless indifference only thence hurrying on to the deadliest ungodliness, the vindication of His love which gave a meaning to her act beyond her thoughts. Oh, how satisfying to her heart till with Himself! It was a deep and true affection met by the affection of Jesus, not perfect only, but Divine.
And here, too, it was not in vain that Mary of Magdala was drawn thus early, dark as it was, to the grave, the empty grave, of Jesus. She had been there, though not alone, after Sabbath had closed, when it was growing dark (not “dawning,” though the word applies to either) toward the first day of the week, for this is the true meaning of Matt. 28. With this compare Mark 16; as Luke 23:54 shows they had been on the preceding evening when Friday was closing and Sabbath was drawing on.
It is remarkable that this Mary runs to tell the fact of the stone’s removal, and what she inferred as to the Lord’s body, not to John only, but to Peter also. The latter had notoriously and grievously dishonoured the Lord just before His death; but doubtless his repentance was well known to the saints at least. Still, there is the record of her unhesitating appeal. Mary’s heart judged who among the disciples would most heartily answer to the anxious inquiry which filled her own soul. For assuredly it was not lack of love but of self-judgment which had exposed that ardent disciple to deny his Master. On the contrary, it was confidence in his own love for Him with utter ignorance of himself, and without due dependence on God, in the face of a hostile world with the shadow of death before his eyes. And the Master in the next chapter manifests His own grace toward His servant to the utmost, even while laying bare the sinful root which had betrayed him to such shameful failure. In fact, Mary was far more justified in reckoning on the sympathy of Peter and John in that which troubled her than in the ignorance which concluded that men had carried off the Lord’s body on the resurrection-day. Even the warmest love cannot without the word conceive a right thought of Him Who died for us. Her notion was wholly unworthy of Christ or of God’s care for Him. But unbelief in the saint is no better than in the sinner; and the very strength of her love to the Lord only brings out the more into evidence how faith is needed in order rightly to understand in Divine things. He, however, “giveth more grace.”
As to the accounts of the Resurrection, let none believe that it is fruitless to compare them, any more than to accept the perfect accuracy of each one. Whether one attempt or despise a harmony, the result must be utterly wrong if he start with interpreting Matt. 28 of the dawn of Sunday morning instead of the dusk of Sabbath evening, which last to the Jew (and Matthew, above all, has the Jews in view) was, and is, the true beginning of the first day, however Western prejudice may incline to the Gentile sense of the day. This error must vitiate all right understanding for the student as much as for the harmonist. Let us read as believers.
It has been said to be impossible that so astounding an event coming upon various portions of the body of disciples from various quarters and in various forms, should not have been related, by four independent witnesses, in the “scattered and fragmentary” way in which we now find it. Certainly it would be impossible if there were no God securing perfect truth by all His chosen witnesses, and in each of their accounts. The remark is, therefore, mere unbelief, and quite unworthy of any intelligent Christian. “Scattered and fragmentary” is not the way of the Holy Ghost, Who does not employ the four like men giving evidence in a court of justice, each of what he saw and heard. Not only is this inapplicable to Mark and Luke, but it does not fall in with the facts in John and Matthew For He leads each of them to omit what both saw and heard, and to insert only such a selection as illustrates the scope and design of each particular Gospel. Was not Matthew a riveted spectator of the Lord in the midst of the disciples at Jerusalem on the evening of the day He rose from the dead? Was not John with the rest at the appointed mountain in Galilee?
It is not merely true, then, that in the depth beneath their varied surface of narrative the great central fact of the Resurrection itself rests unmoved and immoveable (for this might be in merely human accounts of facts), but that every one of the four had a special object or aim in the mind of the inspiring Spirit, which is carried out unerringly in general plan and in minute detail. The objection admits the honesty of the Christian witnesses, but leaves God out of their writing, which is the essence of infidelity: the more painful, as the objector [Alford, “Prolegomena,” Sect. v.] is really a believer, but with a wholly inadequate and dangerous theory of inspiration. The fact is that no man, who had the material, or knew what each Evangelist had before him, would ever have written as any one of them did; and that nothing accounts for their peculiar form but God giving a testimony in perfect keeping with each Gospel, so as by them all to furnish a complete whole. Where men of God only are seen, with nothing more than such guidance of the Spirit as in ordinary preaching or the like, what a blight such unbelief entails! Calling it inspiration only adds to the delusion. Are they God’s word?
Confessedly the Resurrection was that, above all other things, to which the Apostles bore their testimony; but it is, as we have seen, and might show yet more fully, neglect of the evidence to suppose that each elaborated faithfully into narrative those particular facts which came under his own eye, or were reported to himself by those concerned. This is a poor and misleading à priori hypothesis. Their diversity springs not from human infirmity, but from Divine wisdom.
But we turn for a few moments more to the effect of the empty tomb on those who first noticed it. And certainly one cannot speak of spiritual intelligence in Mary of Magdala; but she clung in deep affection to the Lord’s Person; and He was not unmindful of it. She was the first, as we shall see, to have joy in Him, and He puts honour on her. Yet what could be less worthy of Christ than her hasty conclusion from the empty tomb! “They took away the Lord out of the tomb, and we know not where they laid Him.” She can think of Him only as under the power of death. She judges by the sight of her eyes; and to her mind as yet man has the upper hand. His assurance of resurrection had left no trace, as if on the barren sand. Who can glory in man thus overwhelmed before the undiscerned yet glorious power of God which had already raised Him from among the dead? Nevertheless, her heart was true to Him, and she shows it, if only now by her visit to such a scene while it was yet dark, and by her extreme agitation when she saw the stone taken away, and the body gone from the tomb. What can she do but run with the news to break it to congenial hearts?
“Peter, therefore, went forth, and the other disciple, and were coming unto the tomb. And the two were running together, and the other disciple ran forward more quickly than Peter, and came first unto the tomb, and, stooping down, seeth the linen clothes as they lay; nevertheless, he went not in. Simon Peter, therefore, cometh following him, and entered into the tomb, and beholdeth the linen clothes lying, and the handkerchief which was upon His head, not lying with the linen clothes, but folded up in a place apart. Then entered, therefore, also the other disciple that came first unto the tomb, and he saw [
εἶδεν] and believed; for as yet they knew not the Scripture that He must rise from (the) dead. The disciples, therefore, went away again unto their own (home).” (verses 3-10).
It was not John only who went forth at the tidings of Mary. Love, roused by words which sounded strange to their ears, led Peter to run along with John,359 with no less desire, if not so fast. He had slumbered, when he ought to have watched and prayed; and, when the crisis came, he had denied his Master with no small aggravation after His solemn warning. But he was not a Judas: very far indeed from it. He loved the Lord Who Himself knew that he loved Him; and therefore, notwithstanding his deep and shameful sin, his heart was moved by the news so unaccountable to him of the disappearance of the body from the tomb. So the two disciples (who were for other reasons often seen together) strove which should reach the spot soonest. Not the most distant hope of what the fact was had as yet crossed their minds; yet were they as far as possible from indifference to any little circumstance which concerned even His body. That it was no longer where it had been laid, especially with such a safeguard against conceivable hazards, is enough to stir both deeply; and they are on the scene forthwith, John outrunning Peter. And as he came first to the tomb, so did he stoop down360 and see the linen clothes as they lay;396 yet went he not in. Peter, though less agile, went farther when he reached the place, for he went into the tomb, and inspected the linen clothes as they lay, and the napkin which was on His head, not lying with them, but wrapped up in one place by itself.
So also reports Luke (24:12), though not in such detail as John does, who describes not only the twofold examination on his own part, but an added feature in Peter’s intent gaze [
θεωρεῖ], observing the peculiarity of the napkin wrapt up by itself. What clear presumptive proof that the body had not been taken away by enemies any more than by friends! for why should either leave the linen swathes behind? Who but one arising from sleep would dispose of the habiliments in this calm and orderly fashion? It must be His own doing as He rose from among the dead,361 and laid aside what was unsuited to, as well as needless for, His new estate.362 For here we may contrast the very different way in which Lazarus appeared when raised by the Lord, indicative of the different character of the Resurrection. Still, there was no depth in the conviction Peter could not but form; for he returned home, the true rendering, wondering at what had come to pass. Wonder is in no way the expression of the intelligence which faith gives; it implies rather the distinct lack of it. It does seem surprising that such men as Bengel and Stier should follow Erasmus and Grotius in the idea that John merely went as far as Mary’s idea in verse 2.
“Then entered, therefore, also the other disciple that came first unto the tomb, and he saw362a and believed.” It was faith, but founded on evidence, not on the written word. Mary’s inference was upset by the indications John as well as Peter observed. Theirs was a sound conclusion, based on a reasonable judgment of the facts observed; but this in itself is only a human deduction, however right in itself, instead of being the subjection of the heart to the testimony of God. And it is John himself who, here as elsewhere, teaches us to draw this most momentous distinction. But Peter seems, though amazed, to have taken in the import of what he observed as well as John. They both went beyond Mary of Magdala and inferred that Ho must have risen; not that either Joseph and Nicodemus on the one hand, nor that the Jews or Romans on the other, had taken away the Lord’s body362b. On ground of the apparent facts, they rightly accounted for the disappearance of His body. But in neither was there that character of faith in His resurrection which springs from laying hold of God’s word. The former was human, the latter Divine, because in this alone is God believed, which gives Him His true place and puts us in ours. Thus is the soul purged by virtue of the word, which is no less needful than cleansing by blood; and hence repentance ever accompanies faith. We could not be made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light did we not know experimentally the washing of water by the word as well as cleansing from our sins by Christ’s blood.
Now it is not too much to say that, as far as the truth of Resurrection, soon to be the characteristic testimony of the Apostles John or Peter, it was not yet taught them of God. They did not as yet with the fact connect God’s testimony in the Law, the Psalms, or the Prophets, nor even the plain and recent words of our Lord Jesus. So little is there of truth in Lampe’s judgment that from this moment in the very darkness of the tomb the mind of John was enlightened with the saving faith of the Resurrection of Jesus as with a certain new ray of the risen “Sun of Righteousness.” There is nothing in Divine things beautiful which is not true; and this is not only not true, but the reversal of the truth inculcated by John himself in his inspired comment on the fact. They both believed in Christ, on the ground, not of facts only, but of God’s word; they neither of them believed in His resurrection beyond the seen facts that so it must be. “For as yet they knew not the Scripture that He must rise from363 (the) dead.”
We have had a fair sample of Protestant (I do not say Reformation) theology, which shows their loose and human idea of faith. Romanist, and perhaps one might add Catholic, views are no better. Hence the Tridentine depreciation of faith; hence the effort to bring in love and obedience and holiness in order to justification. They feel that there must be a moral element, and their reducing faith to an intellectual reception of propositions excludes it; so that they are driven to add other things to faith in order to satisfy themselves. All this turns on the great fundamental error that the thoroughgoing Papist makes faith in the Church the resting-place of his soul and the rule of faith, not the Scriptures, nor God revealed in Christ by them. If they carried out the error to its results, no Romanist could be saved; for he believes not God’s word on God’s authority, but Scripture and tradition on the Church’s word. By his own principle he excludes faith in God, and could not truly believe unto life at all. Only through grace men may be better than their principle, as many, alas! are worse when the principle is of God. Believing Scripture as God’s word, believing God in it, is of vital moment.363a
Facts are of high interest and real importance; and as the Israelite could point to them as the basis of his religion, to the call of Abram by God, and the deliverance of the chosen people from Egypt and through the desert and into Canaan, so can the Christian to the incomparably deeper and more enduring ones of the Incarnation, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of the Son of God, with the consequent presence of the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. But faith to have moral value, to deal with the conscience, to purify and draw out the heart, is not the pure and simple acceptance of facts on reasonable grounds, but the heart’s welcoming God’s testimony in His word. This tests the soul beyond all else, as spiritual intelligence consists in the growing up to Christ in an increasing perception and enjoyment of all that God’s word has revealed, which separates the saint practically to Himself and His will in judgment of self and the world. One has put off the old man and put on the new, being renewed into full knowledge according to the image of Him that created him.
To “see and believe,” therefore, is wholly short of what the operation of God gives; as traditional faith or evidence answers to it now in Christendom. It is human, and leaves the conscience unpurged and the heart without communion. It may be found in him who is in no way born of God (compare John 2:23-25), but also in the believer as here: if so, it is not what the Spirit seals, and it in no way delivers from present things. And this it seems to be the Divine object to let us know in the account before us. Faith, to be of value and have power, rests not on sight or inference, but on Scripture.363b Thus, as the disciples show the most treacherous memory as to the words of the Lord till He was raised up from the dead (John 2:22), so were they insensible to the force and application of the written word: after that they believed both, they entered into abiding and enlarging blessing from above. This, as Peter tells us in his First Epistle (1 Peter 1:8), is characteristically the faith of a Christian, who, having not seen Christ, loves Him; and on Whom, though not now seeing Him, but believing, he exults with joy unspeakable and full of glory. The faith that is founded on evidences may strengthen against Deism, Pantheism, or Atheism; but it never gave remission of sins, never led one to cry, “Abba, Father,” never filled the heart with His grace and glory Who is the object of God’s everlasting satisfaction and delight.
Here, also, we have the further and marked testimony of its powerlessness; for we are told (verse 10), “The disciples, therefore, went away again unto their own (home).” The fact was known on grounds indisputable to their minds, but not yet appreciated in God’s sight as revealed in His word; and hence they return to their old unbroken associations.
Mary did not, could not, take things so quietly as the two disciples. What was “home” now to her? What was the world? Nothing but an empty tomb where Jesus had lain. Others might depart again to their own home. For her heart it was impossible.
“But Mary stood at the tomb without weeping. While, then, she was weeping, she stooped into the tomb, and beholdeth two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where had lain the body of Jesus. And they say to her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith to them, Because they took away my Lord, and I know not where they laid Him. Having said thus, she turned back, and beholdeth Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith to her, Woman, why weepest thou? Whom dost thou seek? She, thinking that it was the gardener, saith to Him, Sir, if thou didst carry Him off, tell me where thou laidest Him, and I will take Him away. Jesus saith to her, Mary. She, turning, saith to Him in Hebrew,397 Rabboni, which meaneth (or, is to say) Teacher” (verses 11-16).364
The sorrow of love for Jesus, that which mourns His absence, or which feels wrong done to Him in any way, is far different from the sorrow of the world that worketh death. It soon passes into life and peace through the grace of Jesus. Mary’s sorrow was not fruitless, nor was it long. Other servants of the Lord, and the Lord Himself, Whom she saw not, looked upon her. While she wept outside, she stooped into the tomb and beheld two angels in white. But He was not there; they were sitting one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had lain. Yet we hear of no alarm, no amazement on her part: so absorbed was her heart with that one Person, to all appearance lost to her, even His body gone so that she could not weep over it. Nor does she speak to them, but they say to her, “Woman, why weepest thou?” They were in the secret. She had not read as yet aright the signs of the grave. Her sorrowing heart would ere long receive better and clearer tidings still. Meanwhile she explains to them why she wept: “Because they took away my Lord, and I know not365 where they laid Him.” She wholly overlooks the strangeness of the angelic apparition within the tomb, and takes for granted that every one must know Who He was Whose body was gone. But not even yet has the thought of His resurrection crossed her mind. The Lord was her Lord; she loved Him exceedingly, but to her apprehension men had taken Him and laid Him where she knew not. A soul may love the Lord, yet be dark indeed as to His risen glory, as we cannot fail to read here.
Grace would now intervene. “On saying this, she turned round366 and beholdeth Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.” How often the like may be for our dull hearts! But He never acts beneath His name, and speaks that we may know Him. “Jesus saith to her, Woman, why weepest thou? Whom dost thou seek?” This last was a leading question. Till He is known, however, there is still darkness, though there may be love. “She, thinking that He was the gardener, saith to Him, Sir, if thou didst carry Him off, tell me where thou laidest Him, and I will take Him away.” One word dispels all the difficulty and doubt, the expression, not of our love to Him, but of His love to us. “Jesus saith to her, Mary.” The work was done, the great discovery made. He had died, He was now risen, and He appeared first to Mary of Magdala. She that had sown in tears reaps now in joy. The Lord appreciated her abiding at the tomb in sorrow, even though but an empty tomb. Her heart was now filled with joy; and, as we shall see, the joy would run over to gladden other hearts, the hearts of all that believed.
It was the Good Shepherd calling His own sheep by name. She was the same to Him as ever; He stood in resurrection power; but His love was the same to her, certainly no less than when He cast seven demons out of her. Doubtless there was a sameness in the expression of her name which went straight home to her heart and recalled her from her dream about His Person, once dead but now in truth alive again for evermore. Soon she would learn that, as He lived, so did she also, alive to God in Jesus Christ her Lord. But for the moment to know Himself alive, Himself uttering her name with unutterable love, was the fruit of Divine grace that touched and best satisfied her heart.
Mary had known Christ according to the flesh, and evidently thought that she was thus to know Him still. But it is not so. Henceforth we know none after this sort. Christ was dead and risen, and about to take His place in heaven according to the counsels of God. The Christian is called to know Him as man in heaven. always the Son, but now Man glorified on high. Hence the force of that which follows. Mary must learn to regard the Lord in an entirely new light, not in bodily presence here below, but for an object of faith as received up in glory. She is thus delivered from all her former associations, and is the given ensample of the Jewish remnant henceforward to become Christian.
“Jesus saith to her, Touch Me not, for I have not yet ascended367 unto the (or, My)398 Father; but go unto My brethren and say to them, I ascend unto My Father and your Father, and My God and your God. Mary of Magdala cometh, bringing word to the disciples, I have seen399 the Lord, and that He said these things to her” (verses 17, 18).
It is the more striking if we compare Matt. 28:9 with the Lord’s prohibition of Mary in our Gospel. Both incidents happened very nearly about the same time. Yet the Lord permitted the other women to come and hold Him by the feet, and pay Him homage, whereas only a very little while before He forbade Mary of Magdala to touch Him. We know that He was divinely perfect on both occasions, as, indeed, always, that though man and the Son of man it was not His to repent, for He is the truth. But we may be permitted, and I think ought, to inquire why ways so different and so rapidly following one another could be each absolutely right in its own place. The difference of design in the two Gospels helps much to clear the matter.
In Matthew the risen Lord resumes His relations with the Jewish remnant, and gives these women, as a sample of that remnant, to enjoy His presence on earth. For this reason, too, there is not only no ascension scene in the end of Matthew, but no allusion to the fact there; indeed, it would mar the perfection of the picture, which shows us the Lord present with His own until the consummation of the age. In John, on the other hand, Jewish feeling is immediately corrected; new relations are announced, and ascension to the Father takes the place of all expectations for the nations on the earth with the Jews as the Lord’s centre and witnesses. “Touch Me not,” says Jesus to Mary, “for I have not yet ascended unto the Father.” Henceforth the Lord is to be known characteristically by the Christian as in heaven. The Jew had looked for Him on earth, and rightly so; as by-and-by the Jew will have Him reigning over the earth, when He comes again in power and great glory. Between the broken and restored hopes of Israel, we find our place as Christians. We are baptised unto His death, and we show forth His death until He come, remembering Him in the breaking of the bread; but we know Him above, no longer dead, but risen and glorified.
Yea, though we had known Christ according to flesh, yet now we know Him thus no more. Indeed, without boasting, in sober truth, but all-surpassing grace, we can say, and as believers are bound to say, that we are in Him. “In that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you.” “that day” of the N.T. is this day, being already come, the day of grace to the world in the Gospel; the day of grace to the saints in their union with Christ. “So if anyone be in Christ, it is a new creation; the old things have passed away, behold, all things are become new; and all things are of the God Who reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 5:17f.) Such is Christianity; and this undeveloped was implied in our Lord’s dealing and words with Mary of Magdala. “Touch Me not” was a saying of eminent significance, and still more when interpreted by the words that accompany it. It is not, as in Col. 2:21,
μὴ ἅψῃ (a single transient action), but
μή μου ἅπτου , “Do not go on touching Me”; it is a general and continuous prohibition, and this to represent the remnant taken out of their associations as Jews and put into new relations, not only with Christ in heaven, but through Him with His Father and God; as contra-distinguished from those who represent the remnant allowed to lay hold of Him as a sign of His return in bodily presence for the kingdom.
But there is more. “Go unto My brethren.” He is not ashamed to call the disciples His brethren. He had prepared the way for this; He had said on Israel’s rebellious rejection of their Messiah, “Whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother.” (Matt. 12:50.) Now, on the accomplishment of His atoning work He acknowledges definitely this blessed fruit of it, not only sins forgiven to faith by virtue of His shed blood, but believers in the most intimate way related to Himself, the risen Man and Son of God. They are His brethren; to whom, according to Ps. 22:22, He proceeds to make known the name, not merely of Jehovah, but of the Father. For now they were not quickened only, but quickened with Christ. They stood in Him risen from the dead, forgiven all trespasses. And they learn that thus related to Christ in His new place as in the condition of Man according to Divine counsels for eternity, all question of sin being closed triumphantly on the cross, not for Him Who had no need, but for the believer who had all possible need in guilt and an evil nature and an accusing enemy and a holy, righteous Judge, they enter into His own blessed and everlasting relationship with His Father and God. “And say to them, I ascend unto My Father and your Father, My God and your God.”
It was a moment of unequalled depth: the Son risen again after having borne the judgment of our sins in His own body on the tree and glorified God in respect, not of obedience in life only, but up to death for sin, on the resurrection morning sending, through one from whom He had formerly expelled seven demons to His disciples (desponding through unbelief), a message of the new and incomparable blessedness He had acquired for them by His death and resurrection. Doubtless He is the risen Messiah of the seed of David, and the mercies of David are made sure by His resurrection, as will be proved in the kingdom restored to Israel in due time. But this must be postponed in God’s wisdom and yield to the far deeper purpose meanwhile coming into evidence, the calling out of God’s children, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, into the knowledge and enjoyment and testimony of Himself and His Son by the Holy Ghost, which is usually styled “Christianity.” It could not be before, nor only because He had relations after flesh and by promise with Israel, until they had thoroughly despised and rejected deliberately through unbelief, but guiltily and inexcusably, their infinitely blessed King; but because solely on the ground of redemption by His death could God be free to form and gather into one those children of His freed from their sins and quickened together with Him, whether Jew or Gentile. Now, having died, He could bear much fruit; and here He announces the fact as worthy of Himself as of the God Who sent Him in love beyond all thought of man. “I ascend unto My Father and your Father, My God and your God.”
How poor and pale are the dreams of men even in their highest aspirations, compared with the simple truth spoken by the Lord and sent to His own! Yet nothing less could satisfy His love, which must demonstrate its power, first by going down with our sins to suffer for them from God, and next by ascending into glory and giving us as far as possible His own position as sons and saints, with all evil and guilt for ever gone before God, purged worshippers having no more conscience of sins. This was not merely a hope to be made good when He comes again to receive us to Himself, but the truth of a really existing relationship announced now on the resurrection day, sent to His disciples that they might know and enjoy it to the full, as pledged in His own ascension to the presence of the Father in heaven. It is for all saints till He come again: would that all knew it as their only true place in Him! Still, grace has given the truth fresh power in our day, though by messengers who have no more reason to boast than Mary of Magdala that came then with the tidings to the disciples (verse 18), I have seen the Lord; or, as it is more commonly read, that she had seen the Lord, and He had spoken these things to her. But we may and ought to glory in our risen Lord, and of such a place for the believer in Him. “Of such a one will I glory,” said a greater than any of us; “yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.” (2 Cor. 12:5.) Of a man in Christ it is well to glory, only we cannot expect those to do so who do not even conceive what it means, and who are so depraved by a jargon of Jewish and Gentile notions, commonly called systematic divinity, that they are slow indeed to learn. If we know the truth may we have grace not only to walk in it, but to wait on such as know it not, if peradventure grace and truth may at length win their way and the saints learn their true blessedness in Christ.
The Lord’s message was not in vain. The disciples gathered on that resurrection-day with the world shut out; and Jesus stood in the midst. It is the beautiful anticipative picture of the assembly, as may be seen more fully when details are entered into.
Mark 16:14-18 Luke 24:36-49.
“When it was evening then, on that day which was the first of the week,368 and the doors were shut where the disciples369 were by reason of the fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood [took His stand] in the midst, and saith to them, Peace to you. And having said this, He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. He (or, Jesus)400 said, therefore, to them again, Peace to you: according as the Father hath sent Me forth, I also send you. And having said this, He breathed into and saith to them, Receive the Holy Spirit: whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted to them; whose soever ye retain, they are retained.”
How many things of spiritual weight were here brought into the smallest compass and conveyed in the simplest form! That day which in due time was to receive its appropriate designation of “the Lord’s day” (Rev. 1:10), as characteristic of the Christian as the Sabbath of the Jew, was marked off, not only by the gathering together of the saints, but by the presence of the Lord in their midst. So it was at the beginning of the following week (verse 26); and so afterwards does the Holy Spirit distinguish it as the day when the breaking of the bread is observed (Acts 20:7), and the wants of the holy poor rise up in remembrance before Him and them (1 Cor. 16:2). It was indeed Divine guidance, though it did not take the shape of a command; but none the less precious or obligatory on all who value His special presence in communion with His own and the showing forth of His death till He come. It was the day, not of creation rest nor of law imposed, but of resurrection and of the grace which associated the believer with its rich and enduring results; on which all thus blessed come together to enjoy in common that death of the Lord which is the righteous ground of these privileges and of all others.
On that day the Lord gave the assembled disciples a signal witness of the power of life in resurrection; for where they were, the doors having been shut for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst. Weakness attaches to the natural body, which, unless a miracle be wrought, is stopped by a wall or a closed door or a chain or a thousand other checks. Not so the body which is raised in power, as the Lord here silently shows them. It appears to be the object of the statement here, and again lower down, to intimate that the risen body can thus enter, not by miracle (however wonderful it may seem to us, who view and measure things by the actual condition of this life), but normally as in the power of resurrection, wherein all indeed is supernatural. There is no ground here to suppose, but rather the contrary, that the doors were caused to open of themselves. So it was (Acts 5:19), when the angel led the Apostles Peter and John out of prison; so, again, when Peter was a second time set free (Acts 12:10), and the iron gate opened of itself, not to let in the angel, who needed it not, but to let Peter out. It is no question of omnipotence, but of the risen body, which has no more need of an open door than an angel. The ancients seem to have had far simpler faith as to this than most moderns who betray the growing materialism401 of the day. To talk of philosophical difficulties is puerile pretension: what does philosophy know of the Resurrection? It is a question of God and His Son, not of mere causes and effects, still less of experience. The Christian believes the word, and knows what God reveals. Let philosophy confess, not boast of, its nescience: if dumb before creation, resurrection is to it still more confounding.
Jesus then and thus came and stood in the midst, saying to the disciples, “Peace to you.” This He had left as His legacy before the cross; now alive again from the dead He announces it to His own: how sweet the sound in a world at war with God! Doubly so where earnest souls have striven ineffectually to make it for themselves with God, whatever their sighs and tears and groans, whatever their prayers, yearnings, and agony, whatever their-efforts to eschew the evil and cleave to the good. For such best know that conscience and heart can find no solid peace in self-judgment or in self-denial, in contemplation of God or in labours for Him; on the contrary, the more sincere, the less have they peace. They are on a wholly wrong road. Peace for a sinful man can only be made by the blood of Christ’s cross, which faith receives on His word. And so the Lord spoke it to the disciples that day, the mighty work on which it is grounded being finished and accepted of God, as His resurrection declares. “And having said this He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord.”
Some have conceived that the second “Peace to you “ was a sort of farewell or valete, as the first a salvete.402 As the former was far otherwise, even the deep blessing which characterises those who are justified by faith, and ever recurring in one form or another throughout the New Testament, so the second is in connection with the mission the Lord proceeds to confer on the disciples. They first received peace for themselves; they are next charged to go forth with the gospel of peace to others. “According as the Father hath sent (
ἀπέστ) Me forth, I also send (
π.) you.” These are Christ’s true legates à latere: others are but thieves and robbers whom the sheep do well not to hear. Strangers to peace themselves, as their own tongue cannot but confess, how can they tell others of a peace which poor sinners might trust with assurance?
But the Lord next proceeds to another highly significant token of new and lasting privilege. “And having said this, He breathed into and saith to them, Receive (the) Holy Spirit:403 whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted to them; whose soever ye retain, they are retained.” It was He Who before He took flesh had breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life; and now He breathed into the disciples the breath of a better and everlasting life, His own life, as being both now-that is, Jehovah-God and the risen second Man-in one Person. Never had He so done before.370 The right moment was come. He had been delivered for their offences, and was raised for their justification. The risen life is deliverance from the law of sin and death, as well as the bright witness of a complete remission of sins; and this not as an abstract truth for all believers, but intended to be known and enjoyed by each. “There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath delivered me from the law of sin and death.” (Rom. 8:16.) In Rom. 7: before, from verse 7, we read how tried and sifted and wretched the “I” was, till it dropped self to find grace in Christ, not only for the past, but for the present, and, of course, for ever.
What can be more intensely personal than this deliverance from misery? and what more evident, also, that it was not only a new and Divine life, but this after judgment of sin and the curse of the law had fallen on Christ, and He risen victoriously dispensing a life beyond sin, law, or judgment, and this as having borne all and borne all away for the believer righteously? Of this His in-breathing was the sign; and He says: “Receive (the) Holy Spirit”: not yet the Spirit sent down from the ascended Lord and Christ to baptise into one body and to give power and testimony, but the energy of His own risen life. For the Spirit ever in the closest way takes His part in every blessing; and as for the kingdom of God every one is born of water and Spirit, and none else can see or enter that kingdom, so here with life in resurrection to deal with souls that heard and believed the Gospel.
For this is not all. The disciples thus delivered are invested with a blessed privilege and a solemn responsibility as regards others. Those without are now viewed as sinners, the old distinction of Jews and Gentiles for the time disappearing in the true light. But if it be the judgment of the world, it is the day of grace; and the disciples have the administration, the Spirit of life in Christ giving them capacity. Hence the word of the Lord is, “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted; whose soever ye retain, they are retained.” So repentant souls were baptized for the remission of sins, whilst a Simon Magus was pronounced in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity. So the wicked person was put away from among the saints, and the same man after the judgment of his evil and his own deep grief over his sin was to be assured of love by the assembly’s receiving him back, obedient, yet taking the initiative in the act that it might be conscience work and not of bare authority or influence. It was the assembly’s doing. “To whom ye forgive anything, I also; for also what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, (it is) for your sakes in Christ’s person.” (2 Cor. 2:10.) Paul would have nothing forced, but fellowship unbroken in discipline: not he dictating and they blindly or in dread following, as in the church-world; but they following Christ’s authority and He also in a communion truly of the Spirit.571
On the resurrection-day the Apostles were not all present. “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus,372 was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples said [began to say], therefore, to him, We have seen the Lord. But he said to them, Except I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will in nowise believe” (verses 24, 25).
His state of soul coincided with his absence on that day. He resisted the blessed news of the Resurrection, and did not join the gathering of the disciples to share the joy of the Master’s presence in their midst. Slow of heart to believe, he missed the early taste of the blessing, and abode in the darkness of his own unbelief, whilst the rest were filled with gladness. He becomes, therefore, no unmeet type of the Jew, not of the ungodly mass who receive another coming in his own name, but of the poor sorrow-stricken remnant who cleave to the hope of the Messiah in the latter day, and will enter into rest and joy only when they see Him appearing for their deliverance.
“And after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace to you. Then He saith to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and see My hands, and reach thy hand, and put (it) into My side, and be not unbelieving, but believing. Thomas answered and said to Him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith to him, Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed; blessed are those that saw not and believed” (verses 26-29).
It is a blessed picture of the fruit of Christ’s resurrection in the latter day: not the Church, but “the great congregation,” (Ps. 22:25.) brought in infinite grace to know and praise the Lord, when He is no longer hidden but visibly reigning. Those before will have had the good portion, which shall not be taken from them-they saw not, yet believed.373 Israel will see and believe: blest, indeed, but not after the same high measure of blessing. There will be no such revelation of the Father to them, no such association with the Son, no conscious link by His ascension with the heavens. The rejected One will have returned to reign in power and glory; and the heart of Israel, long withered and dark, is to be lighted up at length with the brightness of their hope accomplished in the presence of the Lord to make good every promise, when they on their part boast no more of their own righteousness, but take their stand on the mercy that endureth for ever. They recognise the Judge of Israel that was smitten with a rod upon the cheek, and themselves given up by Him, until the birth of God’s great final purpose in their favour, when He shall be great to the ends of the earth, and they as a dew of blessing from Jehovah in the midst of the nations, and all their enemies shall be cut off. “They shall look upon Me Whom they pierced, and they shall mourn for Him,” in bitterness of self-reproach, but with a spirit of grace and supplication poured upon them. For truly He was wounded in the house of His friends, but wounded (as they learn afterwards) for their transgressions, bruised for their iniquities, stricken for the transgression of Jehovah’s people (see Micah 5, Zech. 12, and Isa. 53).
Hence we hear nothing now of not touching the Lord because of His ascension to His Father, nor of going to His brethren, and saying to them, “I ascend unto My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.” On the contrary, grace will condescend to those who demanded signs and tokens ere they would believe; and they will stand overwhelmed and abashed at the fulness of visible proof when Messiah returns here below. There is peace to them; “for this man shall be the peace” in that day also, whatever the pride and power of the foe. But there will not be the same mission of peace in the power of His risen life; all their iniquities forgiven, all their diseases healed, but not the place of the Church to forgive or retain sins in the name of the Lord.
Accordingly, there is the characteristic exclamation and confession withal of Thomas, “My Lord and my God.”404 So will Israel say in the kingdom. “And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is Jehovah; we have waited for Him, we will be glad, and rejoice in His salvation.” (Isa. 25:9.) It is the truth, and true blessing for Israel to possess and blessedly acknowledge, especially for those who had so long despised Him to their own shame and ruin; but it has not the intimacy of that fellowship into which the Christian is now called. “For truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”(1 John 1:3.) ”We walk by faith, not by sight”; (2 Cor. 5:7.) and having not seen Christ, we love Him; “on Whom, though now we see Him not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” (1 Peter 1:8.)
Here the Evangelist, as on occasion is his manner, interrupts for a moment the thread of the Divine tale to say a few words on the gracious way of the Saviour in the affluence of signs or significant miracles which studded His ministry here below, as well as on the purpose of blessing the Holy Ghost had in view, in selecting from that countless crowd such as were most suitable for permanent testimony to God’s grace. Two objects are set out: first and pre-eminently, the glory of the Lord’s Person, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; secondly, that the believer may have life in His name.
“Many other405 signs, therefore, did Jesus in the presence of the406 disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in His name.”
No doubt this was a fitting moment here to pause and thus to speak. The unbelief of a believer, yea, of an Apostle, furnished the material where the Lord had stooped to meet and receive His erring servant by the visible tokens and the tangible proofs he had insisted on in his folly, and to his hurt irreparable, if grace had not intervened as we have seen. It was a priceless favour to have seen the things the disciples saw. It is better still to believe without seeing. And grace would provide for those who in the nature of things could not see, that they might hear and live. Hence the writing of this precious book. It was to be in witness of Jesus; it was to be known and read of all men. Not that Scripture ever exhausts its wondrous theme, whatever it may be; and here, above all, it is as infinite in the Person described, as the blessing is eternal for those who believe. God graciously selects some signs out of many, in the considerate goodness which knows precisely what we can bear For if Scripture be His word, it is given to man, even to us who believe, to the end of our enjoying that blessing in His Son-indeed, the deepest which He could bestow-the communication of that nature which, as it comes from God, ever goes to Him, yea, yields fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.374
But as the supreme and crucial test now is the Person of Jesus Christ come in flesh (1 John 4:2, 3), so connected with it is the divinely given and guarded testimony to God’s grace and Christ’s glory, by which the family of God, weak as they are, overcome the adverse might of the world and its prince; because greater is He that is in them than he that is in the world. And those who are of God turn a deaf ear to such as are of the world and speak as of the world whom the world hears; but have they none especially to hear? Thanks be to God, they know God and hear those who are of God, His chosen witnesses, whom the Holy Ghost was to lead, and did lead, into all the truth, and who in due time wrote “this book,” as did others no less inspired for the work than John. On the other hand, those who are not of God do not hear the Apostles, preferring the thoughts of themselves or of other men to their irremediable ruin. “By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:6.)
After this brief but worthy and gracious interruption the Evangelist turns to “the third” (John 21:14) of the great manifestations of the risen Jesus which it was his task to describe, before he closes with the respective and peculiar places the Lord would give Peter and John in their service here below. How any men of intelligence could say that our two verses which conclude John 20 are a formal close of the Gospel might have been viewed as inconceivable, if it was not positive fact. Grotius375 seems to have been the first man of mark who gave expression and currency to a supposition irreconcilable with the plain connection of the two first days of the week in chapter 20, and with the scene which follows in chapter 21: irreconcilable just in proportion to one’s real understanding of the Gospel as a whole. Modern Germany took up this and other injurious notions of that learned Dutchman, not only Ewald, Lücke, and Tholuck, but even Meyer, Neander, and Stier. It is painful to add that Alford, Scrivener, Westcott, etc., have yielded to the uncalled-for theory that John 20 originally ended the Gospel, and that John 21 is a later appendix from the Apostle’s own hand, though many go farther and deny it to him altogether.375a
When we enter on the details of the concluding chapter, we may be enabled to show yet more how unfounded is this thought. Meanwhile it suffices here to point out briefly the mistake of regarding as a true end the two verses which have been now occupying us. In fact, they are an instructive comment by the way, not without a glance at the signs wrought by the Lord all through, but with special declaration of God’s aim for the glory of Christ and the blessing of the faithful, suggested by the case of Thomas, yet delicately avoiding any needlessly direct allusion to one so honoured of the Lord. It would, indeed, be as true to say that the Evangelist began more than once in John 1 as to admit more than one ending in John 20, 21. In fact, if men are to reason thus from superficial appearances, it would be more plausible to infer at least two, if not three, supplements to the Epistle to the Romans. Nor is authority wanting which transports the doxology from the end of John 16 to that of John 14. Yet it is to be doubted if the hypothesis there be so unnatural as it would be here to sever the third manifestation of the Lord in resurrection from the two which preceded it, or even to admit the former as a later addition, since it is necessary to the completeness of the picture. It is the true complement. In no way is it, as men have thought, a mere supplement, since it forms an essential part of one organic whole; just as John 2:1-22 pertains as a sequel to John 1, and never could be justly dislocated from it, as an afterthought supplied at a later date even by the same hand.
Mr. J. B. McClellan, in his “New Testament” (I. 744-747), is an honourable exception to the fashion of the day, which subordinates sound criticism to subjective ideas. On the one hand, the external authority is full and unimpeachable; on the other, the peculiarity of the Evangelist’s manner has not been fairly taken into account by any who have indulged in the hypothetical Appendix. John was led of the Spirit to intervene from time to time with the expression of his heart at what affected his Divine Master for good or ill, or at the testimony rendered in His words, in His ways, and in the signs that accompanied all as here. More than this is a spurious inference, which severs chapter 21 from its due place. How discreditable to the self-vaunting “modern critics” that they allow their own thoughts to run away with them in the face of overwhelming authority and consentient witnesses! Nor is this all. For the true internal evidence is conclusive for the continuity of the text as it stands, as it demands the chapter which follows to complete the scope of this Gospel in general, and especially the bearing of what was begun in the latter part of chapter 20.
395 [Cf. “Introductory Lectures,” pp. 563-566.]
396 The careful reader will notice the emphatic place given to the lying of the grave-clothes as seen by John, compared with Peter’s contemplating them as they lay, and the kerchief or napkin for the head, not with them, but apart and wrapped up. I reject the irreverent thought of Wetstein that John shrank from going in “ne pollueretur, Num. 19:16”; for this would have operated to hinder John afterwards (verse 8), as well as Peter’s entrance. It was Peter’s ardour, not burning less now, but more, from the sense of his recent wrong, which impelled him not merely to take a glance, but to enter and survey all more closely.
397 The Text. Rec. [as Blass] omits
στὶ with twelve uncials [AK, etc.], most cursive MSS., and a few versions. But the Sinaitic, the Vatican, Beza’s of Cambridge, the Parisian 62 [L], the Moscow [V] of cent. ix., the Munich or Landshut [X] of a later date, those of St. Gall [
Δ] and of St. Petersburg [
Π], both of the ninth century, with some excellent cursives [as 33], and most of the ancient versions [Syrpesch hier], give the reading [most Edd.].
398 Text. Rec. adds
μου with most uncials, cursives, and versions [Syrsin pesch, etc.], but not BD and some few other authorities [Edd.].
399 The oldest manuscripts give the uncompounded form of the participle and also the direct style, “I have seen,” etc., not as in Text. Rec.
400 Text. Rec. and Lachmann [with Weiss] follow AB and eleven other uncials, most cursives, etc., in reading
ὁ Ἰ., but DLCX and most ancient versions omit [as Tisch. and Blass; W. and H. bracket].
401 Even Calvin was led into misunderstanding of this Scripture, through his dread of Popery and its effort to prove the dogma of a real presence everywhere in the Mass. His faith in, or at least intelligence of, the Resurrection was small.
402 It will hardly be credited that Calvin saw no more than a desire for prosperity in these words of our risen Lord.
403 That character of the Holy Spirit’s action, which consists of life in resurrection, and hence expressed without the article. It was not yet the Holy Spirit given personally, the baptism of the Spirit, as at Pentecost.
404 That Gilbert Wakefield should deny the confession and merge all in a mere exclamation, or rather in two, “O! my Lord! and O! my God!” was to have been expected from his heterodoxy. But such a notion is as inconsistent with the context as it is irreverent, and of course misses all the force of the truth. For it will be observed that the Gospel says, not merely that Thomas said these words, but that they were said to his Master. It is true that, if a mere assertion, the article would be absent, as being simply predicative. The emphatic form of the sentence is due to its combining exclamation in the vocative according to the New Testament usage with confession, and this said to the Lord Jesus; which also accounts for the twofold occurrence of the personal pronoun, the first of which assuredly could not have been used had it been an address to Jehovah as such.
405 It may be that the Authorised Version has led some into, or confirmed in, the mistake of a possible conclusion here. “And many,” etc., is not a quite correct rendering. It is literally the familiar “Many and other signs,” that is, “Many other signs,” etc.
αὐτοῦ, “his,” is added by many copies, but not the oldest or best.