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Meaning of Christ's 'it is finished' (John 19.30)


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#1 Duane

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 07:23 PM

Those 3 famous last words from Jesus on the cross...."it is finished."

What does the Orthodox Church teach regarding the "It" that Jesus refers to?

When I was a protestant, I was taught that “It is finished” (Tetelestai) could be interpreted as "Paid in full."

#2 Father David Moser

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 08:03 PM

Those 3 famous last words from Jesus on the cross...."it is finished."

What does the Orthodox Church teach regarding the "It" that Jesus refers to?

When I was a protestant, I was taught that “It is finished” (Tetelestai) could be interpreted as "Paid in full."


I think that our Lord's words are really quite plain - "It is finished" means simply that "This earthly life is finished" for it was right after this that He died. This is given to us to confirm that He did indeed die (as was the proof of the blood and water which flowed from His side) and that He did so voluntarily.

Fr David Moser

#3 Nina

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 08:08 PM

Those 3 famous last words from Jesus on the cross...."it is finished."
What does the Orthodox Church teach regarding the "It" that Jesus refers to?


The meaning of "it is finished" is connected not only with the fulfillment of all the prophecies, but with the end of the redemptive work and the salvation of man. This is the peak of Christ's redemptive sacrifice. Here we are at the great height of the kenosis of the Son and Word of God, and we could even better say that we are confronted with the great depth of God's humility. He was not content with teaching, but He reached "the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Phil. 2,8).

Those words are spoken triumphantly. Mark the Evangelist says: "And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed his last" (Mk. 15, 37). The fact that shortly before his soul left his body Christ said in a loud voice "It is finished" shows that He had great authority and power. Christ invited death, He Himself died when He wanted, He did not fade away, as usually happens with those ready to die. Usually a person has no strength before his death and he gradually passes away. However, this did not happen with Christ. On the Cross He acted as Godman.

(pp. 228-229) Feasts of the Lord by Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos

The author continues with many quotes from the Holy Fathers, to elaborate on the meaning and the significance and the theology of the last saying of Christ on the Holy Cross.

#4 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 11:04 PM

I had heard that the root of the Aramaic could also be translated as:

"It is perfected"

Something to think about...

#5 Antonios

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Posted 07 September 2007 - 07:56 AM

I had heard that the root of the Aramaic could also be translated as:

"It is perfected"

Something to think about...



Thank you Herman. I was not aware of this. It is a stunning thought to think of Jesus saying this with His last breath. Especially, if He cried it out. Thanks for the post.

#6 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 07 September 2007 - 08:35 AM

This might be of interest to some:

Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary of St John's Gospel, book 12, on John 19.30: When this indignity had been added to the rest, the Saviour exclaimed, It is finished; meaning that the measure of the iniquity of the Jews, and of their furious rage against Him, was completed. For what had the Jews left untried, and what extremity of atrocity had they not practised against Him? For what kind of insult was omitted, and what crowning act of outrage do they seem to have left undone? Therefore rightly did He exclaim, It is finished, the hour already summoning Him to preach to the spirits in hell. For He visited them, that He might be Lord both of the living and the dead; and for our sake encountered death itself, and underwent the common lot of all humanity, that is, according to the flesh, though being as God by Nature Life, that He might despoil hell, and render return to life possible to human nature; being thus proved the firstfruits of them that are asleep, and the firstborn from the dead, according to the Scriptures. He bowed His head, therefore; for as this generally befalls the dying, through the slackening of the sinews of the flesh, when the spirit or soul that united and sustained it is fled, the Evangelist made use of this expression. The expression also, He gave up His Spirit, does not differ from language usually employed, for the vulgar use it as equivalent to "his life was extinguished, and he died." But it is probable that it was of set purpose, and advisedly, that the holy Evangelist, instead of saying simply, He died, said, He gave up His Spirit; gave it up, that is, into the hands of God the Father, according to the saying that He spake: Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit; and for us, also, the meaning of the expression lays down a beginning and foundation of firm hope. For, I think, we ought to believe, and for this belief there is much ground, that the souls of Saints, when they quit their earthly bodies, are, by the bountiful mercy of God, almost, as it were, consigned into the hands of a most loving Father, and do not, as some infidels have pretended, haunt their sepulchres, waiting for funeral libations; nor yet are they, like the souls of sinful men, conveyed to the place of endless torment, that is, to hell. Rather, do they hasten into the hands of the Father of all, by the new way which our Saviour Christ has prepared for us; for He consigned His Soul into the hands of His Father, that we also, making it our anchor, and being firmly rooted and grounded in this belief, might entertain the bright hope that when we undergo the death of the body, we shall be in God's hands; yea, in a far better condition than when we were in the flesh. Therefore, also, the wise Paul assures us that it is better to depart, and be with Christ.



#7 Anthony

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Posted 07 September 2007 - 08:52 AM

I had heard that the root of the Aramaic could also be translated as:

"It is perfected"

Something to think about...


I believe this is true also of the Greek (cf. Hebrews 12:23).

#8 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 07 September 2007 - 11:54 AM

The Greek word used is from the verb τελεω which Liddell & Scott give as meaning, 'to complete, fulfil, accomplish'.

#9 Anthony

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Posted 07 September 2007 - 12:16 PM

Right, I seem to have confused it. Please ignore me.

#10 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 07 September 2007 - 12:32 PM

Dear friends,

Just a note on terminology. A selection from four recent posts:

I had heard that the root of the Aramaic could also be translated as:

"It is perfected"

Something to think about...


I believe this is true also of the Greek (cf. Hebrews 12:23).


The Greek word used is from the verb τελεω which Liddell & Scott give as meaning, 'to complete, fulfil, accomplish'.


Right, I seem to have confused it. Please ignore me.


Actually, Anthony, you did not confuse it at all. The Greek τελεω is the standard verb used for 'to perfect' in ecclesiastical writing, and is related to the term teleiotes, 'perfect', 'perfection'. Both come from the root telos, as 'end' or 'fulfilment'.

This is, for example, the word St Irenaeus uses many times to refer to the 'perfection' of humankind.

The term 'perfection' in Greek denotes not so much that something has come to its end, but to its fulfilment.

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#11 Athanasius Abdullah

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Posted 07 September 2007 - 02:11 PM

Dear all,

It may be of interest for some to know that the verb in question was commonly used on financial receipts in the first century A.D. to indicate that a thing was "fully paid." I also recall reading somewhere that the exact expression was posted on the prison door of a debtor to indicate that their debt had been "fully paid".

In IC XC
Athanasius

#12 Nina

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Posted 07 September 2007 - 04:04 PM

Dear friends,

Actually, Anthony, you did not confuse it at all. The Greek τελεω is the standard verb used for 'to perfect' in ecclesiastical writing, and is related to the term teleiotes, 'perfect', 'perfection'. Both come from the root telos, as 'end' or 'fulfilment'.

This is, for example, the word St Irenaeus uses many times to refer to the 'perfection' of humankind.

The term 'perfection' in Greek denotes not so much that something has come to its end, but to its fulfilment.

INXC, Dcn Matthew


Exactly.
Even in modern Greek the word has preserved the same meaning τέλειος = perfect.

#13 Andrew

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 07:26 PM

It seems to me that Christ was calling out that the dominion of death over His creation was finished, as He was the last to die under it's dominion. He then descended to Hell, liberated the captives, and instituted the Eternal Pascha of His reign over all creation... He overthrew the false king of Death, Sin, and Corruption.

#14 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 04 July 2016 - 02:13 PM

This topic arose in a recent conversation, and I see that in the OED, 'finished' had the meaning of 'accomplished' or 'fulfilled' at the time the King James Bible was being written.






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