As a follow-up to ‘Is Christ the End-ing of the Law?‘, the Romans 10:4 study, I wanted to focus on another verse that has unfortunately been misinterpreted by some, creating dogma based on a similar error in reasoning.
John 19:30 contains the famous proclamation by Jesus seconds before His death that’s translated into English most commonly as “it is finished” ~
John 19:30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
The three English words “it is finished” are one word in the Greek; τετέλεσται/tetelestai, which is the Perfect Passive Indicative 3rd Person Singular verb of the root word G5055 τελέω/teleo. Teleo is defined as: to finish, to complete, or to conclude an operation; to finish a circuit, to fulfill, or to carry out into full operation; to pay dues; passive – to be fulfilled, to be realized, to perform, execute, complete, or accomplish.
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines τετέλεσται/tetelestai as it “specifically” applies to John 19:30 as: “(it is finished) everything has been accomplished which by the appointment of the Father ‘as revealed in the Scriptures’ I must do and bear, John 19:30“. Keep that last underlined part in the back of your mind for later.
Many claim and believe that in this verse Jesus is ‘somehow‘ declaring that the Law of Moses (or part of it at least) is now abolished, nullified, revoked or “finished and done away with” (even though it doesn’t say that).
If “tetelestai/it is finished” of John 19:30 means to abolish, to cancel, to nullify, to revoke or to void then the following verses that use the same Greek root verb of G5055, should make perfect sense if we substitute the current English word with “abolished”, “canceled”, “voided”, “revoked” or “nullified” ~
Matthew 11:1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had voidedG5055 commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.
Matthew 13:53 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had abolishedG5055 these parables, he departed thence
Matthew 17:24 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master nullifiedG5055 tribute?
Luke 18:31 Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be revokedG5055
Romans 13:6 For because of this you also abolishG5055 taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.
2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have canceledG5055 the race, I have kept the faith.
Revelation 11:7 And when they have voidedG5055 their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them,
As you can see they don’t make any sense, and that’s because the verb Teleo does not mean what many Christian congregations have been taught regarding the use of this word.
Therefore, G5055Teleo the verb means ‘to fulfill the final purpose‘, ‘to fully perform the intended objective‘, and ‘to accomplish the ultimate goal‘.
The Holy-Spirit-inspired John informs us in verse 28 exactly what the actual context is that Jesus is about to declare in verse 30.
What does the text say?
John 19:28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said to fulfill the Scripture, “I thirst.”
The word “finished” here in verse 28 is the exact same verb, τετέλεσται/tetelestai, as in verse 30. In about half of the translations tetelestai in verse 28 is more accurately rendered “accomplished”.
Being God, Jesus knew that “all” was about to be finished or accomplished, but “it” was not the Law of Moses as many errantly assume. The word “all” is πάντα/panta in the Greek, Strong’s G3956. It is Neuter Plural and according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon it means: all things; α. of a certain definite totality or sum of things, the context showing what things are meant.
The context of verses 28-30 has Jesus “knowing” that He was about to die any second. So, He does one last thing to fulfill one last prophecy from the Scriptures before He dies; He asks for the sour wine, as per Psalm 69:21.
‘Fulfillment of Prophecy’ is the “context” of these three verses. Specifically, the prophecies regarding the preordained Messianic-mission that culminates with Jesus’ death, which He was about to successfully “finish” or “accomplish”!
A simple cross reference listed in Luke 18:31 reveals the same context ~
What does the text say?
Luke 18:31 Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.
This verse was listed before as well, showing that the English word “accomplished” is the same Greek word as “finished” in John 19:30. The context of this verse is also same; i.e. that which was written by the prophets (the Scriptures) regarding the Son of Man (Jesus) will be carried out, accomplished and fulfilled.
If you remember, earlier I asked you to keep in the back of your mind a portion of the Lexicons definition of the word ‘Tetelestai’. Well, as stated in Thayer’s Lexicon, this “exact” word that’s used in John 19:30 is referring to everything that had to take place in the life and death of Jesus ‘as revealed in the Scriptures’.
Therefore, anything that you want to include in the “it is finished” quote of verse 30 must be found in the Law, the Prophets or the Writings; i.e. ‘the Scriptures’.
Never in the ‘the Scriptures’ (the Law, the Prophets, the Writings) will you find any writing or prophecy that any of the Law of Moses would ever become ‘canceled’, ‘voided’, ‘rescinded’, ‘abolished’, ‘annulled’, ‘revoked’ or ‘done away with’; Never.
On the contrary, the Scriptures proclaim they are forever; see more than 60 of these “forever verses” listed at the bottom of this page. Please also read ‘Examining the Scriptures’, ‘Forever Means Forever‘ and ‘Paul Commands Us to Uphold the Law‘ to test the Scriptures against what is taught by today’s mainstream teachers.
In conclusion then, any teaching on John 19:30 that has Jesus somehow declaring that “the Law of God given through Moses” is ‘finished’ is unscriptural and pure eisegesis.
Final Thought: I would like to point out that the verb G5055, teleó, also means “to pay”. I personally don’t think this is a coincidence, and it throws a revealing light on verse 30 if we use this definition for Jesus’ proclamation ~
John 19:30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is paid,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Consider, if you will, that Jesus is our “Redeemer”. His blood was the payment needed to ‘redeem‘ us, to pay our ransom so that we could finally be freed from our bondage to sin; please see ‘Freed from the law of Sin and Death’.
It puts everything in perspective doesn’t it?
- For further study of Paul’s teachings, as well as the original Greek, please see the blog posts at the bottom of this page. Be a Berean, and test Paul’s doctrines to the “Scriptures”. Please ‘share’ this study, and thank you for your time!