Yochanan Chapter 19

James Trimm’s Nazarene Commentary on Yochanan Chapter 19


30 And after He had taken that sour wine, Yeshua said: Behold, it is finished. And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
(Yochanan 19:30 HRV)

There is a popular teaching that circulates in Messianic and Hebrew Roots circles that when the High Priest sacrificed the Passover Lamb, as part of the ritual, he would declare “It is Finished!” so that when Yeshua declared “It is finished” (Yochanan 19:30) upon his death, he declared “it is finished” at the same moment as the High Priest declared the same words. It is an inspirational and faith building teaching. It is also, using the words of Shakespeare “a tale
told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

I first heard this teaching in the 1980’s, not too long after becoming a believer in Messiah. I have searched over thirty years now, looking for a single authoritative, primary source for this astounding claim. Over the last thirty plus years, I have studied the Mishna, the Talmuds, the Targums, the Midrashim, the Zohar and even the medieval Jewish commentators. I have studied the Dead Sea Scrolls, the writings of Josephus and even Philo of Alexandria. After more than thirty years of study, I am satisfied, at this point, that if I have not been able to find the source after more than thirty years of research, that no such source exists. I am always open to correction, if anyone can document this claim, but so far as I can find, after decades of searching, this is an “old wives tale”.

I cannot tell you how much harm false claims like these make in reaching Jewish people with the Messiah , they discredit the claim that Yeshua is the Messiah.

There is, however, a very beautiful insight about Yeshua’s declaration “It is finished!” that we should be teaching. It is a very deep and meaningful insight, and unlike the false claim above, it is 100% true.

The original Hebrew of this passage has been lost (perhaps it will turn up some day). Sadly the three pages that contained Yochanan 18:31b-19:40 are missing from the Old Syriac Aramaic (we only have two manuscript witnesses of the Old Syriac Gospels, comprising about 95% of the text, but this portion is part of the 5% that is missing. ) However, we do have an Aramaic witness to this text in the Peshitta Aramaic, and here the phrase “it is finished” is a single Aramaic word משלם , which is the passive participle of the root שלם from which we get the words “shlama” in Aramaic, or in Hebrew “shalom”.

And in Mark 15:37 and Luke 23:46 where the KJV says “he gave up the ghost” the Aramaic (both in the Old Syriac and Peshitta) have ושלם (Old Syriac Mark has שלם) meaning “and he finished”, but as we will see, this word שלם means so much more than just “finished”!

The translation “it is finished” is accurate, but woefully inadequate for this word. There is no easy way to express this word in English, certainly not in a single phrase, but maybe with a whole paragraph.

Shalom/Shalama does not just mean “peace” it means so much more than English can express in a single word. The SH-L-M root has to do with being completed, finished, whole, balancing the scales, satisfying debt. It can refer to being paid an earned reward, and in the form SHILUM refers to suffering retribution.

When Yeshua declared משלם he was not just saying “it is finished”, he was making a proclamation of truly cosmic significance! He was declaring that the debt has been paid in full, that the scales of been balanced, and that the universe itself has been made whole!

The cosmic significance of this statement in the Aramaic is far more exciting than the “old wives tale” that circulates about the High Priest at Passover. It also tells us just one example what a terrible loss was suffered, when the Ketuvim Netzarim (The Writings of the Nazarenes, commonly called the “New Testament”) was translated from the closely related Semitic languages of Hebrew and Aramaic into Greek, Latin, English and other European languages. So much has been literally lost in translation, and so much remains to be restored!


37 And again another Scripture that said, They will look at Him whom they pierced.
(Yochanan 19:37 HRV)

Here Yochanan quotes Zech. 12:10 as a Messianic prophecy. See commentary to Zech. 12:10 where this is covered in detail.