John 20 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of John 20)

Verse 3

[3] Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.

Peter went out — Of the city.

Verse 6

[6] Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,

Peter seeth the linen clothes lie — and the napkin folded up - The angels who ministered to him when he rose, undoubtedly folded up the napkin and linen clothes.

Verse 8

[8] Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.

He saw — That the body was not there, and believed - That they had taken it away as Mary said.

Verse 9

[9] For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.

For as yet — They had no thought of his rising again.

Verse 10

[10] Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.

They went home — Not seeing what they could do farther.

Verse 11

[11] But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,

But Mary stood — With more constancy. Mark 16:9.

Verse 16

[16] Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

Jesus saith to her, Mary — With his usual voice and accent.

Verse 17

[17] Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Touch me not — Or rather, Do not cling to me (for she held him by the feet,) Matthew 28:9. Detain me not now. You will have other opportunities of conversing with me. For I am not ascended to my Father - I have not yet left the world. But go immediately to my brethren - Thus does he intimate in the strongest manner the forgiveness of their fault, even without ever mentioning it. These exquisite touches, which every where abound in the evangelical writings, show how perfectly Christ knew our frame.

I ascend — He anticipates it in his thoughts, and so speaks of it as a thing already present. To my Father and your Father, to my God and your God - This uncommon expression shows that the only - begotten Son has all kind of fellowship with God. And a fellowship with God the Father, some way resembling his own, he bestows upon his brethren. Yet he does not say, Our God: for no creature can be raised to an equality with him: but my God and your God: intimating that the Father is his in a singular and incommunicable manner; and ours through him, in such a kind as a creature is capable of.

Verse 19

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

Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36.

Verse 21

[21] Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

Peace be unto you — This is the foundation of the mission of a true Gospel minister, peace in his own soul, 2 Corinthians 4:1.

As the Father hath sent me, so send I you — Christ was the apostle of the Father, Hebrews 3:1. Peter and the rest, the apostles of Christ.

Verse 22

[22] And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

He breathed on them — New life and vigour, and saith, as ye receive this breath out of my mouth, so receive ye the Spirit out of my fulness: the Holy Ghost influencing you in a peculiar manner, to fit you for your great embassy. This was an earnest of pentecost.

Verse 23

[23] Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

Whose soever sins ye remit — (According to the tenor of the Gospel, that is, supposing them to repent and believe) they are remitted, and whose soever sins ye retain (supposing them to remain impenitent) they are retained. So far is plain. But here arises a difficulty. Are not the sins of one who truly repents, and unfeignedly believes in Christ, remitted, without sacerdotal absolution? And are not the sins of one who does not repent or believe, retained even with it? What then does this commission imply? Can it imply any more than, 1. A power of declaring with authority the Christian terms of pardon; whose sins are remitted and whose retained? As in our daily form of absolution; and 2. A power of inflicting and remitting ecclesiastical censures? That is, of excluding from, and re-admitting into, a Christian congregation.

Verse 26

[26] And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

After eight days — On the next Sunday.

Verse 28

[28] And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

And Thomas said, My Lord and my God — The disciples had said, We have seen the Lord. Thomas now not only acknowledges him to be the Lord, as he had done before, and to be risen, as his fellow disciples had affirmed, but also confesses his Godhead, and that more explicitly than any other had yet done. And all this he did without putting his hand upon his side.

Verse 30

[30] And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:

Jesus wrought many miracles, which are not written in this book — Of St. John, nor indeed of the other evangelists.

Verse 31

[31] But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

But these things are written that ye may believe — That ye may be confirmed in believing. Faith cometh sometimes by reading; though ordinarily by hearing.