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Jehovah’s Witnesses

English
New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)

According to John 20:1-31

20  On the first day of the week, Mary Magʹda·lene came to the tomb early,+ while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone had already been taken away from the tomb.+  So she came running to Simon Peter and to the other disciple, for whom Jesus had affection,+ and she said to them: “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb,+ and we do not know where they have laid him.”  Then Peter and the other disciple set out for the tomb.  The two of them began running together, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and reached the tomb first.  Stooping forward, he saw the linen cloths lying there,+ but he did not go in.  Then Simon Peter also came, following him, and he went into the tomb. And he saw the linen cloths lying there.  The cloth that had been on his head was not lying with the other cloth bands but was rolled up in a place by itself.  Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed.  For they did not yet understand the scripture that he must rise from the dead.+ 10  So the disciples went back to their homes. 11  Mary, however, kept standing outside near the tomb, weeping. While she was weeping, she stooped forward to look into the tomb, 12  and she saw two angels+ in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and one at the feet. 13  And they said to her: “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them: “They have taken my Lord away, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14  After saying this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.+ 15  Jesus said to her: “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She, thinking it was the gardener, said to him: “Sir, if you have carried him off, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16  Jesus said to her: “Mary!” On turning around, she said to him in Hebrew: “Rab·boʹni!” (which means “Teacher!”) 17  Jesus said to her: “Stop clinging to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers+ and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father+ and your Father and to my God+ and your God.’” 18  Mary Magʹda·lene came and brought the news to the disciples: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them what he had said to her.+ 19  When it was late that day, the first day of the week, and the doors were locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them: “May you have peace.”+ 20  After saying this, he showed them his hands and his side.+ Then the disciples rejoiced at seeing the Lord.+ 21  Jesus said to them again: “May you have peace.+ Just as the Father has sent me,+ I also am sending you.”+ 22  After saying this he blew on them and said to them: “Receive holy spirit.+ 23  If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you retain those of anyone, they are retained.” 24  But Thomas,+ one of the Twelve,+ who was called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25  So the other disciples were telling him: “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them: “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails and stick my finger into the print* of the nails and stick my hand into his side,+ I will never believe it.”+ 26  Well, eight days later his disciples were again indoors, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and he stood in their midst and said: “May you have peace.”+ 27  Next he said to Thomas: “Put your finger here, and see my hands, and take your hand and stick it into my side, and stop doubting* but believe.” 28  In answer Thomas said to him: “My Lord and my God!”+ 29  Jesus said to him: “Because you have seen me, have you believed? Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.”+ 30  To be sure, Jesus also performed many other signs before the disciples, which are not written down in this scroll.+ 31  But these have been written down so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and because of believing, you may have life by means of his name.+

Footnotes

Or “mark.”
Lit., “do not be unbelieving.”

Study Notes

tomb: Or “memorial tomb.”—See Glossary, “Memorial tomb.”

the scripture: Probably referring to Ps 16:10 or Isa 53:10. Certain prophecies about the Messiah were not yet understood, even by Jesus’ disciples. This was particularly true about those prophecies dealing with the Messiah’s rejection, suffering, death, and resurrection.—Isa 53:3, 5, 12; Mt 16:21-23; 17:22, 23; Lu 24:21; Joh 12:34.

Hebrew: In the Christian Greek Scriptures, inspired Bible writers used the term “Hebrew” in designating the language spoken by the Jews (Joh 19:13, 17, 20; Ac 21:40; 22:2; Re 9:11; 16:16), as well as the language in which the resurrected and glorified Jesus addressed Saul of Tarsus (Ac 26:14, 15). At Ac 6:1, “Hebrew-speaking Jews” are distinguished from “Greek-speaking Jews.” While some scholars hold that the term “Hebrew” in these references should instead be rendered “Aramaic,” there is good reason to believe that the term actually applies to the Hebrew language. When the physician Luke says that Paul spoke to the people of Jerusalem “in the Hebrew language,” Paul was addressing those whose life revolved around studying the Law of Moses in Hebrew. Also, of the great number of fragments and manuscripts comprising the Dead Sea Scrolls, the majority of Biblical and non-Biblical texts are written in Hebrew, showing that the language was in daily use. The smaller number of Aramaic fragments found shows that both languages were used. So it seems highly unlikely that when Bible writers used the word “Hebrew,” they actually meant the Aramaic or Syrian language. (Ac 21:40; 22:2; compare Ac 26:14.) The Hebrew Scriptures earlier distinguished between “Aramaic” and “the language of the Jews” (2Ki 18:26), and first-century Jewish historian Josephus, considering this passage of the Bible, speaks of “Aramaic” and “Hebrew” as distinct tongues. (Jewish Antiquities, X, 8 [i, 2]) It is true that there are some terms that are quite similar in both Aramaic and Hebrew and possibly other terms that were adopted into Hebrew from Aramaic. However, there seems to be no reason for the writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures to have said Hebrew if they meant Aramaic.

Hebrew: See study note on Joh 5:2.

Rabboni!: A Semitic word meaning “My Teacher.” Some think that originally “Rabboni” was a more respectful title or that it conveyed more warmth than the form “Rabbi.” However, here and at Joh 1:38, John simply translated both titles as Teacher. Perhaps the first person suffix (“-i” meaning “my”) added in the title “Rabboni” had lost its special significance by the time John wrote his Gospel.

Stop clinging to me: The Greek verb haʹpto·mai can mean either “to touch” or “to cling to; to hang on to.” Some translations render Jesus’ words: “Do not touch me.” However, Jesus was not objecting to Mary Magdalene’s merely touching him, since he did not object when other women who saw him after he was resurrected “took hold of his feet.” (Mt 28:9) It appears that Mary Magdalene feared that Jesus was about to ascend to heaven. Moved by her strong desire to be with her Lord, she was holding fast to Jesus, not letting him go. To assure her that he was not yet leaving, Jesus instructed Mary to stop clinging to him and, instead, to go to his disciples and declare the news of his resurrection.

my God and your God: This conversation between Jesus and Mary Magdalene on Nisan 16, 33 C.E., shows that the resurrected Jesus viewed the Father as his God, just as the Father was God to Mary Magdalene. Two days earlier, when on the torture stake, Jesus had cried out: “My God, my God,” fulfilling the prophecy found at Ps 22:1 and acknowledging his Father as his God. (Mt 27:46; Mr 15:34; Lu 23:46) In the book of Revelation, Jesus also speaks of his Father as “my God.” (Re 3:2, 12) These passages confirm that the resurrected, glorified Jesus Christ worships the heavenly Father as his God, just as Jesus’ disciples do.

the Jews: As used in the Gospel of John, this term conveys different meanings, depending on the context. In addition to referring to Jewish or Judean people in general or to those living in or near Jerusalem, the term may also refer more specifically to Jews who zealously adhered to human traditions connected with the Mosaic Law, which were often contrary to the spirit of that Law. (Mt 15:3-6) Foremost among these “Jews” were the Jewish authorities or religious leaders who were hostile to Jesus. In this passage and in some of the other occurrences of this term in John chapter 7, the context indicates that the Jewish authorities or religious leaders are referred to.—Joh 7:13, 15, 35a.

the Jews: Apparently referring to the Jewish authorities or religious leaders.—See study note on Joh 7:1.

Thomas: This Greek name comes from an Aramaic word meaning “Twin.” The apostle Thomas was known by another Greek name, Diʹdy·mos (in some English Bibles rendered “Didymus”), which also means Twin.

the Twin: See study note on Joh 11:16.

my God and your God: This conversation between Jesus and Mary Magdalene on Nisan 16, 33 C.E., shows that the resurrected Jesus viewed the Father as his God, just as the Father was God to Mary Magdalene. Two days earlier, when on the torture stake, Jesus had cried out: “My God, my God,” fulfilling the prophecy found at Ps 22:1 and acknowledging his Father as his God. (Mt 27:46; Mr 15:34; Lu 23:46) In the book of Revelation, Jesus also speaks of his Father as “my God.” (Re 3:2, 12) These passages confirm that the resurrected, glorified Jesus Christ worships the heavenly Father as his God, just as Jesus’ disciples do.

the Word was a god: Or “the Word was divine [or, “a godlike one”].” This statement by John describes a quality or characteristic of “the Word” (Greek, ho loʹgos; see study note on the Word in this verse), that is, Jesus Christ. The Word’s preeminent position as the firstborn Son of God through whom God created all other things is a basis for describing him as “a god; a godlike one; divine; a divine being.” Many translators favor the rendering “the Word was God,” equating him with God Almighty. However, there are good reasons for saying that John did not mean that “the Word” was the same as Almighty God. First, the preceding clause and the following clause both clearly state that “the Word” was “with God.” Also, the Greek word the·osʹ occurs three times in verses 1 and 2. In the first and third occurrences, the·osʹ is preceded by the definite article in Greek; in the second occurrence, there is no article. Many scholars agree that the absence of the definite article before the second the·osʹ is significant. When the article is used in this context, the·osʹ refers to God Almighty. On the other hand, the absence of the article in this grammatical construction makes the·osʹ qualitative in meaning and describes a characteristic of “the Word.” Therefore, a number of Bible translations in English, French, and German render the text in a way similar to the New World Translation, conveying the idea that “the Word” was “a god; divine; a divine being; of divine kind; godlike.” Supporting this view, ancient translations of John’s Gospel into the Sahidic and the Bohairic dialects of the Coptic language, probably produced in the third and fourth centuries C.E., handle the first occurrence of the·osʹ at Joh 1:1 differently from the second occurrence. These renderings highlight a quality of “the Word,” that his nature was like that of God, but they do not equate him with his Father, the almighty God. In harmony with this verse, Col 2:9 describes Christ as having “all the fullness of the divine quality.” And according to 2Pe 1:4, even Christ’s joint heirs would “become sharers in divine nature.” Additionally, in the Septuagint translation, the Greek word the·osʹ is the usual equivalent of the Hebrew words rendered “God,” ʼel and ʼelo·himʹ, which are thought to convey the basic meaning “Mighty One; Strong One.” These Hebrew words are used with reference to the almighty God, other gods, and humans. (See study note on Joh 10:34.) Calling the Word “a god,” or “a mighty one,” would be in line with the prophecy at Isa 9:6, foretelling that the Messiah would be called “Mighty God” (not “Almighty God”) and that he would be the “Eternal Father” of all those privileged to live as his subjects. The zeal of his own Father, “Jehovah of armies,” would accomplish this.—Isa 9:7.

My Lord and my God!: Lit., “The Lord of me and the God [ho the·osʹ] of me!” Some scholars view this expression as an exclamation of astonishment spoken to Jesus but actually directed to God, his Father. Others claim that the original Greek requires that the words be viewed as being directed to Jesus. Even if this is so, the intent of the expression “my Lord and my God” is best understood in the context of the rest of the inspired Scriptures. Since the record shows that Jesus had previously sent his disciples the message, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father and to my God and your God,” there is no reason to believe that Thomas thought that Jesus was the almighty God. (See study note on Joh 20:17.) Thomas had heard Jesus pray to his “Father,” calling him “the only true God.” (Joh 17:1-3) So Thomas may have addressed Jesus as “my God” for the following reasons: He viewed Jesus as being “a god” though not the almighty God. (See study note on Joh 1:1.) Or he may have addressed Jesus in a manner similar to the way that servants of God addressed angelic messengers of Jehovah, as recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures. Thomas would have been familiar with accounts in which individuals, or at times the Bible writer of the account, responded to or spoke of an angelic messenger as though he were Jehovah God. (Compare Ge 16:7-11, 13; 18:1-5, 22-33; 32:24-30; Jg 6:11-15; 13:20-22.) Therefore, Thomas may have called Jesus “my God” in this sense, acknowledging Jesus as the representative and spokesman of the true God.

Some argue that the use of the Greek definite article before the words for “lord” and “god” indicates that these words refer to the almighty God. However, in this context the use of the article may simply reflect Greek grammar. Cases where a nominative noun with the definite article is used as vocative in Greek can be illustrated by a literal translation of such scriptures as Lu 12:32 (lit., “the little flock”) and Col 3:18–4:1 (“lit., “the wives”; “the husbands”; “the children”; “the fathers”; “the slaves”; “the masters”). In a similar way, a literal translation of 1Pe 3:7 would read: “The husbands.” So the use of the article here may not be of significance in determining what Thomas had in mind when he made his statement.

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