Vincent Word Studies - John 19:34 - 19:34

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Vincent Word Studies - John 19:34 - 19:34

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

With a spear (λόγχῃ)

Only here in the New Testament. Properly, the head of a spear. So Herodotus, of the Arabians: “They also had spears (αἰχμὰς) tipped with an antelope's horn sharpened like a spear-point (λόγχης)” (vii., 96). Used also, as here, for the spear itself.

Pierced (ἔνυξεν)

Only here in the New Testament. The question has been raised whether the Evangelist means to describe a gash or a prick. Another verb is rendered pierced in Joh 19:37, the quotation from Zec 12:10, ἐξεκέντησαν, which occurs also at Rev 1:7, with reference to Christ's crucifixion, and is used in classical Greek of putting out the eyes, or stabbing, and in the Septuagint of Saul's request to his armor-bearer: “Draw thy sword and thrust me through therewith” (1Ch 10:4). The verb used here, however, νύσσω, is also used to describe severe and deadly wounds, as in Homer:

“As he sprang

Into his car, Idomeneus, expert

To wield the ponderous javelin, thrust (νύξ) its blade

Through his right shoulder. From the car he fell,

And the dark night of death came over him.”

“Iliad,” v. 45-47.

It has been suggested that the body was merely pricked with the spear to ascertain if it were yet alive. There seems, on the whole, no reason for departing from the ordinary understanding of the narrative, that the soldier inflicted a deep thrust on the side of Jesus (compare Joh 20:25, Joh 20:27); nor is it quite apparent why, as Mr. Field urges, a distinction should be kept up between the two verbs in Joh 19:34 and Joh 19:37.

Blood and water

It has been argued very plausibly that this was a natural phenomenon, the result of a rupture of the heart which, it is assumed, was the immediate cause of death, and which was followed by an effusion of blood into the pericardium. This blood, separated into its thicker and more liquid parts, flowed forth when the pericardium was pierced by the spear. I think, however, with Meyer, that John evidently intends to describe the incident as something entirely unexpected and marvelous, and that this explanation better suits the solemn asseveration of Joh 19:35. That the fact had a symbolic meaning to the Evangelist is evident from 1Jo 5:6.