John 20 - IVP New Testament Commentaries

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Jesus Appears to His Disciples

In his resurrection appearances Jesus continues to reveal the glory of God by manifesting the grace and love that characterize God. This love is seen in the gentleness, care and humility with which he deals with his disciples. This section contains a series of encounters with Christ that show him overcoming a variety of barriers to faith, including ignorance, grief, fear and doubt (Westcott 1908:2:334, 336-37). Five occasions of faith are mentioned, forming a chiasm. In the first and last, Jesus himself is not seen. In the first, the Beloved Disciple' faith is based on the evidence of the grave clothes; in the last, Jesus says future believers will have the witness of those who did see him (cf. vv. 30-31). The other three occasions are actual sightings of the resurrected Jesus. Mary sees both angels and Jesus but only believes when she hears him call her name. Thomas also requires something more than sight to believe--to touch Jesus' wounds. Between these two individuals, at the center of the chiasm, is Jesus' appearance to the disciples as a group, who recognize him by seeing his wounds and in whose presence Jesus imparts the Holy Spirit.

This chiastic structure makes it clear that John has chosen his material and arranged it with care, as have the other Evangelists. A comparative study of the different Gospel accounts yields valuable insight (cf. Osborne 1984), though coordinating the details is difficult (but see J. Wenham 1992; Westcott 1908:2:335-36). Only occasional reference will be made in what follows to the Synoptic accounts, and even fewer references will be made to the issues of composition and sources (see surveys in Brown 1970:966-78; Schnackenburg 1982:300-307; Beasley-Murray 1987:367-70; Carson 1991:631-34). The philosophical issues raised by the resurrection will also be left to others (for an introduction see Craig 1995).

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The Climax of the Glorification Continues: Jesus Is Raised and Meets with His Disciples

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Mary Magdalene and Two Disciples Visit the Tomb

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