It is Perfectly Finished, part II

[On 05/08/17 an addendum was appended (9:25pm). See part I]

28 After this, knowing that now everything was completed, Jesus said—so that Scripture might be perfected—“I’m thirsty.” 29 A container was lying there full of wine vinegar; so, affixing a sponge soaked with the wine vinegar to some hyssop, they brought it to His mouth. 30 After Jesus received the wine vinegar He said, “It is finished.” Then He bowed His head and handed over His the spirit (John 19:28-30)

He Handed Over His Spirit

Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh’s Social Science Commentary on the Gospel of John has some relevant insights into Jesus’ final human act:

Simultaneous with these words [“It is finished”], Jesus bows his head and gives up his spirit . . . literally “he handed over the spirit” . . . Yet for those who believe in Jesus, something quite other happened. When human beings die, while struggling for life to the end, they stop breathing and then their head drops. But here Jesus first bows his head, and only then does he give up his spirit. As a king who was lifted up, he “gives the nod.” The act of sanctioning by a king was indicated by movement of the head; approbation is declared by a sign of the god’s head . . . “Zeus gave a sign with his head and ratified his wish” (Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, 222).

After thus ratifying that his purpose has been fully accomplished, Jesus hands over his spirit to those around the cross—the community of those who believe in him their leader, the beloved disciple and the witnessing women.33

In order to fully analyze their words, a few points of grammar need to be addressed. First, it can be argued that “It is finished” precedes the bowing of His head. The Greek word in between the two—kai—is a conjunction, a connective, with a host of meanings such as and, also, but, and yet, then, even, among others. It seems more likely that Jesus would utter His final words using the remaining strength He possessed before He’d breathe no longer, bowing His head in death—though this is, admittedly, only one possible interpretation.

The verb for bowed, is a participle (aorist active), which is part of a dependent clause (bowed His head), the main clause on which it depends being He handed over His the spirit.34 In Greek, the participle is known as a ‘verbal adjective’, with characteristics of both a verb and an adjective. Like a finite verb, it encodes tense and voice (active, passive, or middle-passive). Like an adjective, it encodes gender, number, and case. Unlike the Greek finite verb, however, the participle does not denote mood or person—these are to be found in the main verb in the clause on which it relies. The Greek participle may function in a variety of ways; it is more diverse than the English participle.35

In the present instance, the participial phrase is acting adverbially.36 While the verbal action of the participial clause (bowed His head) could (a) antecede the final sentence (He handed over His the spirit), the action may well (b) coincide with it. The sense of the two options would be: (a) After bowing His head, He handed over His the spirit; or, (b) Bowing His head, He [simultaneously] handed over His the spirit. Statistically, when a participle precedes the main verb, as it does here, its relative time is more likely to antecede that of the main clause;37 however, “like any verb form in Greek, [time] must be determined by the larger context”.38 And since the context here provides no explicit cues, it may be one or the other.

Recent work in Discourse Analysis may be of assistance here, as, recognizing that all participles rely on the main verb with which they are associated, this subservient nature of the participle typically “has the effect of backgrounding the action of the participle, indicating that it is less important than the main verbal action”.39 In other words ‘handing over His spirit’ is more important than ‘bowing His head’. But this still does not provide a definitive answer; the translator must make an exegetical decision, or leave it sufficiently ambiguous for the interpreter (such as bowing His head, He handed over His the Spirit, or He bowed His head and handed over His the spirit).

In any case, if we accept the Malina-Rohrbaugh sequence—“It is finished” [at the same time as] He bowed His head [and after that] He handed over His the spirit—then their insight of a kingly/godly act depicted here is plausible. And it is certainly possible that the Gospel writer had contemporaneous Greco-Roman literature in mind as a background here—not to appeal to as authoritative literature, of course, but to provide yet another backdrop—assuming, perhaps, that the audience might understand this connection. This motif could also provide a point of connection with John 10:34-38.

While I agree with their translation ‘handed over his spirit’ “handed over the spirit” (the verb is in the active rather than passive voice),40 the question of who Jesus hands it over to must be addressed. However, before that can be adequately answered, “spirit”, pneuma, must be identified. In this context, is it Jesus’ human spirit, or is it the Holy Spirit, as the authors imply above?41

Brown finds it plausible that “Jesus handed over the (Holy) Spirit to those at the foot of the cross” as “a symbolic reference to the giving of the Spirit” understood proleptically, that is, prefiguring 20:22 and Pentecost (Acts 2).42 However, against Brown and Malina-Rohrbaugh, it may be best to simply understand the recipient of the pneuma as the Father (as in the Synoptic parallel in Luke 23:46), to whom the Son willingly obeyed, ‘laying down His life’ (10:17), and to whom the Son hands over His human spirit. But how does one decide which is correct?

Which Pneuma?

Comfort notes that an early Greek manuscript (P66, ca. late 2nd to 3rd  century) expresses pneuma in 19:30 as a nomen sacrum—a contraction of the word using its first, second, and last letters, with an overline atop all three (Π͞Ν͞Α)—usually a method to signify the Holy Spirit.43 Nomina sacra (plural of nomen sacrum) were also used for God, Son of God, Son of Man, Christ, Jesus, etc. in apparent reverence, this practice having begun in early antiquity.44 This indicates that the scribe either copied the nomen sacrum directly from his exemplar (the copy from which he was copying), or that he made a conscious exegetical choice to amend his document, “perhaps denoting that he considered Jesus to have been handing over the divine Spirit.”45 However, even if this particular scribe made an editorial decision to change the text, we cannot presuppose his theological motivation. Even still, this is merely one extant manuscript with this designation.

A Scriptural examination of the Gospel’s use of pneuma may be instructive.46 The term is used twenty-four times in John’s Gospel, with the overwhelming majority (17 times) in reference to the Holy Spirit (1:32, 1:33{x2}, 3:5, 3:6{contrasted with human spirit spirit in a general sense}, 3:8{x2—first occurrence a double entendre of wind/Spirit}, 3:34, 6:63{x2}, 7:39{x2}, 14:17, 14:26, 15:26, 16:13, 20:22). Excluding 19:30, the remainder represent: the human spirit in a general sense (3:6—contrasted with the Holy Spirit), Jesus’ human spirit (11:33, 13:21) being unsettled (tarassō), God’s identity/ontology (4:23—pneuma ho theos, “God is spirit”), and the manner in which God is to be worshiped (4:23, 4:24—“in spirit and truth”). It is possible, though, that the first instance in 3:6 could be “spirit” in a general sense, as in: ‘flesh gives birth to flesh, spirit gives birth to spirit’.

One may be inclined to align with the statistical evidence such that, since the referent is most often the Holy Spirit, the referent in 19:30 must be, or is most likely to be, the Holy Spirit—just as one might wish to choose (a) in the previous section in regard to the participle—but this would fall prey to a logical fallacy. In 19:30 the choice is between either the (Holy) Spirit or Jesus’ (human) spirit. Hence, the choice is one out of two, and this is irrespective of the number of other occurrences of one against the other. Essentially, the analysis of pneuma above serves to illustrate that there are two possibilities (the others clearly do not apply). This means we are back to the context—though we will find out below that this exercise was not in vain.

Intertextual clues may be of assistance. Parallel passages seem to suggest that pneuma could be construed as Jesus’ human spirit. Matthew 27:50 contains language similar to John here, using a synonymous verb, also in the active voice: “He gave up His pneuma.” However, note that the Suffering Servant passage of Isaiah 53:12 (LXX) uses psychē (soul, life)—rather than pneuma—though with the same verb as John’s Gospel (paradidōmi, “handed over”) but in the passive voice: “His psychē was handed over to death.” Could this be harmonized such that when Jesus, of His own volition (10:18: “No one takes it [psychē] from Me”), handed over His pneuma this necessarily corresponded with His psychē being handed over to death?

A quick investigation of psychē in John’s Gospel seems to confirm this. Psychē is found ten times, with four in reference to Jesus laying down His life (10:11, 10:15, 10:17, 15:13), two referring to Peter’s claim that he’d lay down his life for Jesus (13:37, 13:38), two refer to life in a general sense (12:25{x2}), one for the Jews’ plea to Jesus to make His Messianic identity known (10:24), and the final one references Jesus’ psychē being unsettled (12:27). This last instance uses the same verb (tarassō) as employed in combination with pneuma in 11:33 and 13:21, thus providing a direct connection. In other words, John records Jesus’ use of psychē in 12:27 in perfect synonymous parallel with pneuma in 11:33 and 13:21. Stated yet another way, pneuma and psychē are interchangeable when referring to Jesus’ humanity, His spirit/soul (at least when used in combination with the verb tarassō), in John’s Gospel.

With this point of connection between pneuma and psychē established, compare 19:30 to Gen. 2:7 (LXX), in which God breathed the “pnoē of life”, “breath of life” (pnoē being a cognate of pneuma), into Adam, after which he became a “living psychē.” In other words, taking all this together, in 19:30 when Jesus volitionally handed over His pneuma (the pnoē of life) this coincided with His psychē being handed over to death, His psychē now devoid of the pnoē of life. This would be in harmony with Jesus’ words in 10:17: “I lay down my psychē”. In other words, handing over His pneuma is tantamount to laying down His psychē.

See also Mark 15:37 and Luke 23:46 in which the verb ekpneō (“breathe out”) is used in the active voice. Ekpneō is a compound word, with the verb pneō (breathe) prefixed by the preposition ek, (out of, from), the word meaning breathe one’s last, expire.47 Pneō is the verb form of the noun pnoē, both cognates of pneuma. Thus, in the Markan and Lukan parallels, if this analysis is correct, the authors depict Gen. 2:7 ‘in reverse’, so to speak, being more direct than John or Matthew. That is, Mark’s and Luke’s ekpneō more pointedly express that Jesus was now devoid of the pnoē of life, having “breathed out” God’s “breath of life” which had been bestowed at conception.48 This verb is only found three times in the entire NT, the remaining instance in the immediate context of Mark’s account (15:39).

Excursus on Psychē in John 10:24

A brief excursus is in order regarding the use of psychē in 10:24. Here John likely employs a play on words, in using a rather humorous idiomatic phrase, not found anywhere else in Scripture. The words rendered in most translations “How long will you keep us in suspense?” are more literally How long will you take up our psychē? (heōs pote tēn psychēn hēmōn aireis?).49 The verb here (airō) has a range of meanings, such as take away, lift up, carry away, remove, withdraw, depart.50 While the idiom is clearly not meant to be taken literally, Brown opines that the biblical author may intend a double meaning in that, though Jesus lays down His psychē for His followers, He brings judgment against His foes, ironically taking away the psychē of those rejecting Him.51 To clarify, the biblical author had just used this same verb in 10:18 in the context of Jesus’ statement that “no one takes (airō) it [psychē] from Me”, so the astute reader could make the connection.

My own opinion—a variation on the above—is that John is being quite purposeful here: though the Jews (hoi Ioudaioi) are using a metaphorical expression, at the same time their literal intent is to take away (airō) Jesus’ psychē, but Jesus himself ironically takes that goal away from them by ‘laying down His own psychē’ (10:17), because “no one takes (airō) it [psychē] from Me” (10:18). Furthermore (in agreement with Brown, though rephrasing a bit), subsequently, their own psychēs will be taken away from them in their eschatological judgment as a result of their unbelief in Jesus, in the aftermath of His death and resurrection.


In some philosophical circles of the time the Greek word nous, which means mind, thought, etc., is a part of the psychē, soul. In Scripture nous is used mostly by Paul, it is found once in Luke’s Gospel (24:45), while John the Revelator employs it twice (Rev. 13:18; 17:9). John’s Gospel does not utilize the term; however, nous could be conceived as subsumed under psychē in both 12:27 and in the idiom in 10:24. Would this change the analyses?

As regards 10:24, this would strengthen the word play, making it more overtly a pun. That is, the idiom would be understood “How long will you ‘take up’ the psychē [mind]?” which would then be juxtaposed with Jesus’ words “I lay down my psychē [life]…no one takes it from Me”. This would constitute an instance of paronomasia—a linguistic device the Gospel writer employs somewhat frequently—in which the quote by “the Jews” can be construed as either mind, or life, the latter in view of its meaning in 10:17-18. Not explicitly stated earlier, it is also possible that the verb airō in the idiomatic phrase intends something different than the meaning of the same verb in 10:17-18; if that is the case, it would further strengthen the paronomasia.

The understanding of psychē as mind appears to have no effect on 12:27. For this understanding to go against the analysis above, one would have to argue that “mind” is not as all-encompassing as psychē, and from this contend that the context of 12:27 indicates a less intensive ‘troubling’ than the respective contexts of 11:33 and 13:21, the latter two verses referring to the Holy Spirit rather than Jesus’ human spirit. In assessing the contexts, that argument would be difficult to sustain, for 11:33 is most likely referring to Jesus’ human emotions, not the Holy Spirit, as He subsequently weeps. More damaging—though the analysis above did not explicate this—the contexts of 12:27 and 13:21 both refer to Jesus’ ‘troubling’ regarding His impending death. Could one relate to Jesus’ human seat of emotions with the other to the move of the Spirit? That is possible, though improbable, as it would appear difficult to explain why this would be so.


33 (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1998), p 271. The bracketed editorial note “It is finished” is in place of the authors’ questionable translation “has been fully accomplished” (as seen in the second paragraph of the quotation). More on this below.

34 This is stated as somewhat of a concession to English, as the Greek participle should not be viewed as a dependent clause per se; see Stanley E. Porter, Idioms of the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. ((Biblical Languages: Greek 2), Sheffield, England: JSOT Press, 1994), pp 190-191.

35 See Porter, Idioms, pp 181-193.

36 But it also functions adjectivally, as it modifies the subject encoded in the main verb paradidōmi and implied by the context (Jesus).

37 Stanley E. Porter, Jeffrey T. Reed, and Matthew Brook O’Donnell, Fundamentals of New Testament Greek (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010), p 110. This generality only applies to adverbial participles, as in the present example.

38 Ibid. Decker recognizes this (Rodney J. Decker, Reading Koine Greek: An Introduction and Integrated Workbook [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2014], p 397), though he stresses that one should “[t]ake all such claims [regarding word order] with caution”, for “context is a more reliable guide than any rule” (p 397).

39 Stephen E. Runge, Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, © 2010 Logos Bible Software), p 249; cf. pp 249-268.

40 The passive voice of this same verb (paradidōmi) is used in describing the death of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53:12: “His soul [psychē] was handed over to death . . . .” See Andreas J. Köstenberger, John, BECNT (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2004), p 551 nt 60.

41 Malina-Rohrbaugh (Social-Science Commentary, p 271) do not capitalize “spirit”; however, the context makes it plain that the authors intend the Holy Spirit.

42 Brown, John XIII-XXI, p 931.

43 Comfort, New Testament Text, pp 319-320. Though most date this manuscript late 2nd to 3rd century, Brent Nongbri suggests a later date, based on his own findings (“The Limits of Palaeographic Dating of Literary Papyri: Some Observations on the Date and Provenance of P.Bodmer II [P66],” Museum Helveticum 71 [2014], p 1-35.)

44 This practice may be in imitation of the use of YHWH (the tetragrammaton) for the Divine Name in the OT, though there are notable differences between the Jewish and Christian traditions. See Larry W. Hurtado, Destroyer of the Gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World, (Waco, TX: Baylor UP, 2016), pp 138-141 (and related footnotes).

45 Comfort, New Testament Text, p 320.

46 The impetus to perform this particular investigation came from Jaime Clark-Soles’ essay “‘I Will Raise [Whom?] Up on the Last Day’: Anthropology as a Feature of Johannine Eschatology” in New Currents through John: A Global Perspective, eds. Francisco Lozada, Jr. & Tom Thatcher (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2006), pp 29-53. However, I depart from some of the author’s conclusions. E.g., she asserts that pneuma is “[c]learly . . .  not a natural, normal part of a person’s constitution” (p 36) in John’s Gospel, but I’m not so sure can one make such a definitive claim. Moreover, the author doesn’t expand on the interrelationship of 11:33 and 13:21 and their relationship with 12:27 (see below).

In 3:6 I see the two instances of pneuma as possibly distinct from one another: the first could be the Holy Spirit, while the second could be either the human spirit or spirit in a general sense. Of course, the Holy Spirit clearly does not beget Holy Spirit offspring! The Johannine Jesus employs word play here. The point of the statement in 3:6 is to define what it means to be born anōthen (3:3; 3:7), this latter term possessing the dual meaning of “from above” and/or “again”—in other words a spiritual rebirth for humans (3:5; 3:8). With this in mind, I understand 3:6 to possibly mean ‘the Spirit “gennaō” (“begets”) spirit’ in a figurative sense (cf. 1:13). But what does that entail? Other Scriptures indicate that the Holy Spirit will be (figuratively?) deposited (2 Cor. 1:21-22; Eph. 1:13-14; cf. Ezek. 36:2627). Ezekiel 36:26-27 does not necessarily imply that the existing human spirit is to be supplanted. Applying this to John’s Gospel, does this potentially indicate a relationship between the Holy Spirit and one’s human spirit—if there is a literal human spirit separate from the body in John’s Gospel?  Assuming humans do possess a human spirit, this does not mean I would see a sharp dichotomy (a la Gnosticism) between flesh (sarx, this term used wholistically yet non-specifically in John at times—cf. 1:14; 3:6; 17:2) and spirit. It is plausible that John portrays Jesus’ spirit as an integral though ultimately ‘detachable’ ‘part’ of his flesh (though see analysis below). In this Gospel sōma only refers to Jesus, specifically to His dead body (19:31, 19:38, 19:40, 20:12) or to His body generally (2:21). Hence, if one interprets that Jesus has ‘detachable pneuma’, and that this spirit was ‘handed over’ in 19:30, one could state this mathematically (In John’s Gospel) as: sarxpneuma = sōma. Consequently, assuming this implicitly applies equally to all humans, then it could follow that the Holy Spirit ‘unites’ with the human spirit upon belief, i.e., being born anōthen.

Comfort, NT Text and Translation, notes that the P66 scribe differentiated between the two instances in John 3:6 by use of the nomen sacrum in the first instance (in English translation) but not the second (p 263).

47 Danker, Concise Lexicon, p 119.

48 One must be cautious not to read too much into this in one’s philosophical musings.

49 Barrett (According to St. John), notes a similarity to Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex 914 and Euripedes’ Hecuba 69f. (p 380).

50 BDAG, p 29.

51 Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John I-XII, The Anchor Yale Bible; (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974), p 403.


68 Responses to It is Perfectly Finished, part II

  1. Pingback: It is Perfectly Finished, part I | CrossWise

  2. Jim says:

    Hi Craig. There are certain translations that would agree with your conclusion and state that after Jesus bowed his head, he ‘breathed his last’, which is the physiological reality of the somewhat poetic ‘handed over his spirit’.

    Personally, I see a strong connection between God breathing on Adam and imparting physical life into him (and into subsequent humanity as a principle – reverse being James 2:26), and Jesus breathing on his disciples in John 20:22 imparting spiritual life (receive the Holy Spirit). One breath at a physical level; another breath spiritual. This would tally with John 3:6, but I’m not so sure the two references of spirit are the Holy and the human.

    It seems Jesus is explaining to an incredulous Nicodemus the difference between a physical and spiritual birth. A baby of flesh is made by two humans of flesh, but a new connection with God, which is like a birth, can only be imparted by God, who is S/spirit. Consequently, I would not concur entirely with your footnote 46 because I don’t think Jesus is saying that a human spirit is reborn, or brought to life, in any such gnostic fashion.

    That notion does have a definite dichotomy, although you steer clear by saying that a ‘pneuma’ is part of the ‘sarx’, or flesh. I actually think the scriptures agree with that anthropology, and would be interested in your more detailed thoughts.


    • Craig says:


      Thanks for commenting. I appreciate you taking the time to read the footnotes and then engage on here. I thought you might comment, given our last exchange.

      As regards your first paragraph, I left my translation a bit ambiguous, such that one could read the final two clauses as either a sequence or coincident events.

      You should find that work referenced and read Clark-Soles’ essay. I see her analysis going awry in not putting enough emphasis on John’s use of Jesus’ use of pneuma and psychē interchangeably, and, subsequently, not recognizing that psychē applied to all humans (including Jesus), as well. This, in my opinion, caused her to see the second pneuma in John 3:6 as applying to the Holy Spirit (God’s Spirit)–since her assumption is that pneuma never applied to humans. If you read Gen. 2:7 in the LXX closely, you’ll find that the “breath of life” made Adam a “living psychē“–couldn’t this imply that he was a ‘dormant, non-living’ psychē before God bestowed the “breath of life”? If so, this would mean that to actually be living one must of necessity have pneuma, i.e., God’s initial life-bringing pneuma–the pnoē of life.

      Given that we are to worship in ‘spirit and truth’, I’d think this implies we worship with our spirit (as opposed to our sarx). With this in mind, it takes a renewed/reborn spirit—which can only come by the Spirit—to worship in this manner. I don’t think my statements in this regard should be seen as a gnostic dichotomy. Since you brought up James 2:26 parenthetically, I decided to check Davids’ NIGTC on James (Grand Rapids, MI; Eerdmans, 1982) (I’d not read this before):

      …[T]he σωμα-πνευματος example assumes a typical Jewish Christian anthropology. The author likely refers to the concept rooted in the creation narrative of Gn. 2:7—the person is composed of body and breath (which could equally well be termed soul or spirit). The separation of the two produces not the longed for release of the immortal soul from the prison of the body, but the simple consequence of death (Jn. 19:30; Lk. 23:46; Ec. 3:21; 8:8; 9:5; cf. 2 Cor. 5:1-10, where Paul longs for resurrection rather than a disembodied state). Neither soul nor body is desirable alone; a body without its life-force is simply a rotting corpse…(pp 133-134).

      I’m curious to see how you interpret spiritual (re)birth. How would you describe it anthropologically?

      I’d recommend Oliver D. Crisp’s Divinity and Humanity, as he delves into human and Jesus’ anthropology comparing ‘concrete-nature’ views with ‘abstract-nature’ views. I may have to re-read it myself (chapter 2).


  3. Jim says:

    I’ll try and dig out the Clark-Soles essay and Crisp’s work. I found Cosmology and Self in the Apostle Paul: The Material Spirit by Troels Engberg-Pedersen quite instructive in the whole understanding of what pneuma means. I think it’s safe to conclude that we can’t necessarily tie down that term to only one definition. There are conceptual shades of grey around pneuma depending on the context.

    I like your quote from Davids NIGTC although it doesn’t quite close off what a soul is, giving the impression it is the life-giving ‘force’ animating a body, interchangeable with the spirit. Rather, as you stated, Gen 2:7 would indicate a soul is an animated body, and not so much the gift of animation that is from God and ‘returns’ to him on death as per Ecc 12:7. That said, Matt 10:28 appears to say body and soul are separate entities and can be destroyed. But I would still wrap that verse in the broader eschatological scriptures that, I believe, say the wicked dead are only resurrected to hear their final fate – permanent destruction. So, Matt 10:28 effectively says, ‘Don’t worry about man who can only take your natural life. God is the giver of true eternal life and if you get on the wrong side of him, you’ll be destroyed forever with no hope of another resurrection.’

    As an aside, on reading your comment about Adam and Gen 2:7, I suddenly pictured a totally new and different concept of that moment. Up until then I assumed Adam was almost like a statue or corpse that God brought to life. But your line prompted an alternative – what if he was alive in the physical sense, but breathed on by God to impart spiritual life, as Jesus did in John 20:22. I understand the Sepuagint uses the same Greek word for breath in these two verses. It would kind of undo my logic of God’s breath/pneuma imparting natural life, then another breath of spiritual life when we trust in Jesus. I’ll consider the implications more deeply.

    Anyway, you asked about anthropological spiritual (re)birth. My context is towards the physicalist end of the spectrum, so I tend towards man as a holistic unity who is a soul and through natural physiological means expresses an inner being/mind/heart (in the cognitive sense)/spirit/character/immaterial side. These are unique amongst God’s creative order and allow us to recognise our creator in a way no other creature can do. When we do reach out to him through the gospel, his unique additional gift on top of natural life, is his presence/Spirit/ mind/character. This indwelling is a deposit and guarantee of the fullness to come at resurrection. We get a taste of the coming glory, but in jars of clay. We are still a psychikos anthropos, but with the indwelling Christ our minds have access to what we will become at resurrection – a pneumatikos anthropos.

    So, our rebirth is simply a metaphor for what the resurrection is all about: a body animated entirely by the Spirit with no recourse to natural means of living through blood and oxygen. We don’t have that fullness now, but can look forward to it as our blessed hope. So we worship in spirit (having our minds or inner being opened in a two way connection to God by Christ in us, rather than worshipping through rituals and laws) and in truth (the gospel and revelation of who we worship). Thanks for letting me comment here again, Craig.


    • Craig says:


      I’ll respond further to your comment in a bit. For now, I wanted to clarify something. In footnote 46 I see that I wasn’t exactly clear, and I think it’s this lack of clarity that brought forth your line of thought. When I stated that the pneuma[/psychē] is ‘part’ (note the quotes) of the flesh, I meant that we shouldn’t think of the Gnostic understanding that the pneuma was entrapped in the ‘evil’ flesh–that kind of dichotomy. I’ll have to rewrite that for the sake of clarity, as I see how it can be misconstrued. What I meant is that they’re integrated; I think some contexts can be understood such that sarx is referring to the entire person: body (physical flesh) and pneuma/psychē (or the latter two as separate entities depending on Biblical author?).


    • Craig says:

      I’d also briefly considered the idea that Gen 2:7 could refer to God ‘breathing in’ spiritual life. I’d not worked out all the potential ramifications, but I rejected the idea because it didn’t seem to fit the context, as God also breathed life into animals (Gen 1:30).

      I agree that Davids did not complete the idea of what a psychē is, which I think was on purpose. John’s gospel, e.g., seems to use psychē and pneuma interchangeably in at least one instance (as this article points out).

      As regards anthropology, my position is that upon being born from above/reborn the Holy Spirit ‘resides’ where the human spirit is (pneuma/psychē)–wherever that is exactly–since it appears the sōma lacks the pnoē of life upon death. This is why I see the distinction between Spirit and spirit in John 3:6.


  4. Jim says:

    I do think they are integrated and, consequently, inseparable. Isn’t the physical body ‘soma’? I thought ‘sarx’ was generally describing sinfulness or unspiritual, selfish behaviour.


    • Craig says:


      The meaning of sarx in John’s Gospel seems to refer to the entire person [ED: added the following prepositional phrase:] in a non-specific way. See 1:14 (the Word became sarx) and the Bread of Life discourse especially, plus 17:2. Interestingly, in checking very quickly (I may have missed something), only 8:15 seems to denote sinful, human nature, and, of course, it’s in that ‘woman caught in adultery’ (7:53-8:11) passage that’s missing in the earliest manuscripts and assumed by many to be non-Johannine. Interestingly, on quick search, soma only seems to refer to Jesus’ dead body.


  5. Jim says:

    That might be the case from John’s gospel, Craig, but Paul’s letters, especially Galatians, give sarx the added element of man’s fallen nature as well as simply the bodily casing on man and animals. He often contrasts actions done according to the sarx with those done in or according to the P/pneuma.


    • Craig says:

      Yes, that’s true. But this is why it’s important to take each writer’s words within the context of their work. Each author had their own unique vocabulary, though each wrote under inspiration of the Spirit.

      Did you see the addendum?


  6. Jim says:

    Just read it – nicely put. Nous and psuche are definitely closely related.

    I’ve been reflecting on my earlier comment that Adam could have been alive when God breathed on him and it probably goes against the natural sense of Gen 2. God created both man and animals (each are nephesh or souls) from the earth, but only man could access the Tree of Life. I conceive of that first breath from God almost like jump starting a car – lungs filing and blood flowing.

    Also, there seems to be a deliberate play on words from Jesus in explaining the work of God as spirit in John 3:8. Ruach and pneuma being a blast of air or breath. Much of what can’t be seen in the physical human domain is labelled ‘spirit’ with a variety of contextual meanings.


    • Craig says:

      Yes, I like John’s play on words in 3:3-8. I like your analogy of the breath of life akin to jump starting a car (of course it can’t be pressed too strongly, as God isn’t re-giving life in Gen 2:7, as jump starting a car implies starting a vehicle that was previously ‘dead’).

      I’m working on rewriting footnote 46.


  7. Jim says:

    Read 5.32am after posting and it seems to align with your Gen 2 conclusion.

    When you say ‘the Holy Spirit resides’, how does that work exactly? How is infinite immateriality confined by finite material? Any more than how are disembodied souls contained in some underground furnace. It’s confusing. Tripartism is confusing. It all gets a bit too like Greek mythology.

    If God is omni-present, how does a small part (it’s not the entire Holy Spirit I assume) ‘reside’ inside a human body? Moreover, lacking a pnoe on death is surely functional rather than physical or presentational in nature, I would have thought.


    • Craig says:

      Ah, but the Holy Spirit is clearly not confined within any spiritually reborn human, since the Spirit is omnipresent. So, “resides” should have been written ‘resides’ instead (I’ll amend that comment). Yet, just as clearly the individual human spirit is confined to the individual person.

      Yes, the pnoē of life is functional, not physical.


  8. Jim says:

    sarx – pneuma = sōma

    More often, I think the bible demonstrates soma + pneuma = psuche


    • Craig says:

      I’m specifically addressing the anthropology in the Gospel of John only. Paul does describe it differently (though I’ve not specifically analyzed it).

      John seems to imply that when one is born, one has sarx, which consists of soma + pneuma. (Psychē is somewhat ambiguous.) One can then obtain Pneuma, through belief that Jesus is the Christ.


    • Craig says:

      Here’s what Clark-Soles says about psychē in John:

      In every instance save one (12:25) psychē can be taken to refer to something like the post-Homeric expanded psychē that combines elements of the free-soul and body-soul (Bremmer 2002, 1-10). It represents the individual personality (Jesus and Peter declare it their own), the seat of emotions (Jesus’ soul is troubled), and that which “endows the body with life and consciousness, but does not stand for the part of the person that survives after death” (Bremmer 2002, 2). One could argue, however, that the Fourth Evangelist has been influenced primarily by the LXX, which renders the Hebrew nepes as psychē, thus making any discussion of the pagan literature superfluous at this point (p 38).


  9. Jim says:

    In your footnote Craig, you wrote, ‘then it would follow that the Holy Spirit ‘unites’ with the human spirit such that at the eschaton the ‘reborn’ spirit, reunited with the sōma, will rise to life, while those spirits without the Spirit, reunited with the sōma, will rise to condemnation.’

    I think that any notion of a reunion at the resurrection is misleading. The most direct passage on what will happen is in John 6. All Jesus states is that ‘on the last day’ he ‘will raise them up’. The idea of a reunification of reborn pneuma and soma is not even implicit. If a person dies with the seal or deposit of the Holy Spirit, having been marked as one of God’s own, whose name is in the book of life, then we have to believe that the dead rising will be our soma + God’s Pneuma = eternal zoe. The miracle being that the pneumatikos anthropos will not have the same kind of material nature as psychikos since it will take after Jesus (our first fruit) who was ‘flesh and bone’, yet fully functioning after his resurrection.

    Your footnote suggests the human spirit is in limbo (or perhaps heaven?) awaiting a reunion with its body. To me that is definitely a Greek-based dichotomy, and I would argue, not properly substantiated from John or other NT writers.


    • Craig says:

      Regarding your first paragraph @ 3:12 pm, check out Rev. 6:9-11.

      In John 5:24-25 Jesus states that upon belief one possesses eternal zoē = realized eschatology. John 5:24-25 is realized eschatology, while 5:28-29 is ‘finalized’ eschatology, with physical bodies being raised.


  10. Jim says:

    I have no problem with your Clark-Soles quote on psyche. Reading one of her shorter essays on the afterlife, she comes across as very sympathetic to universalism. Not that I’d thrown out any babies because of that.


  11. Jim says:

    Understood Craig. From my perspective, John 5 illustrates the common scriptural theme of salvation and eternal zoe being a now/not yet tension. In other words the present hope of a future reality.

    I think I’ve been around the buoys of Rev 6 and 2 Cor 5 in some detail previously, so I won’t repeat myself. Suffice to say that Paul is not seeking his premature death in 2 Cor 5, but the return of Jesus and resurrection life. Rev 6 speaks of souls, not spirits; notwithstanding, I wouldn’t take Rev as a clear indicator of the afterlife, otherwise the consistent apocalyptic and pictorial language would also have to be taken literally, which sets up considerable difficulties. Think 4 horsemen and death walking along for starters.


    • Craig says:

      I might be inclined to agree with you regarding now/not yet tension, if it were not for the explicit “now” and “eternal zoe” in 5:24-25 as compared to “a time is coming” in 5:28-29. You’ll have to factor in Luke 16:19-31–The Rich Man and Lazarus–as well, I’d think.

      I noted that psychē is somewhat ambiguous in John, with an overlap with pneuma in at least one context. However, at times it seems to be the whole person (as in like sōma + pneuma = psychē). Note that Jesus claimed He’d “lay down His psychē” (10:17-18), yet in 19:30 He ‘hands over’ His pneuma, coinciding in His death, with His sōma (dead body; cf 2:19, 20:12) remaining (19:31, 19:38, 19:40), which, to me, corresponds with His claim in 10:17-18. How does that harmonize with Rev 6:9-11? I’m not sure we can state definitively; however, I don’t see a conflict either.


  12. Jim says:

    I read John 5:24-29 as a descriptive whole and not compartmentalised into the ‘now’ of Jesus speaking (and any present day meaning) and a future eschatology. Nor does the ‘now’, to me, mean that when we believe something happens that causes us not to die. He was trying, as he did throughout his preaching, to convey that he was the actual way, truth and life (eternal) not a legal system, and that in him believers could taste the real glory to come – namely resurrected bodies. So, in v25, he says that a time is coming (future resurrection) and has now come (‘I AM the way, the truth and the life. That hope of which I speak is standing in front of you NOW’).

    In fact, he references this in v24 stating when eternal life will be bestowed: after the judgement, and since believers have crossed over from (eternal) death to (eternal) life now, that judgement will not affect them. v28-9 reiterates what will happen on that day, for scripture is very clear that there is an actual time for judgement and not an individual reckoning just after death.

    Therefore, I can’t attribute the ‘now’ in v25 to qualify some sort of after death existence.

    The rich man and Lazarus would take a while to fully demonstrate that it is not a snapshot of the underworld and the disembodied (yet somehow fully functioning) dead, but a well-known Hellenized Jewish fable used as a vehicle to have another go at the Pharisees’ lack of faith.


    • Craig says:

      But then you must square that with John 11:25, …whoever lives and believes in me will never die…. As our physical bodies rot away in the grave, does our spirit reside with it? What happens to individuals who are cremated?


    • Craig says:

      BTW, did you see my new profile pic? It’s Trinitarian!


  13. Jim says:

    Very good! I’ll have to find two overlapping circles.


  14. Jim says:

    Interestingly, in the lead up to John 11:25, Martha summarises her (and one can assume Jesus’s) understanding of the afterlife – resurrection from the grave. Not a hint of spirit reunified with body. No inferences even of disembodied paradise, then bodily rising. Just plain, simple, dead bodies (or whatever they were atomically composed of) being revived to non-decaying eternal life.

    With that in mind, Jesus doesn’t then ‘comfort’ Martha by saying Lazarus is actually in Abraham’s bosom, or ‘with God’, or in paradise. They both know he is in the grave, awaiting a supernatural waking. In v25, Jesus points back to himself again, that the resurrection and subsequent eternal life, is only found in him. He states that believers still die, and in v26 says that they will never die. He isn’t inferring that after death there is some sort of existence. Rather, he is reinforcing the resurrection as the sole path to the life that is only found through faith in him. He clearly says that whoever lives (by being resurrected) will never die (again). To encourage believers he, and other NT writers, often state that by believing in Jesus, the future hope is a present reality and source of ‘life’, joy, peace etc. The now/not yet paradigm.

    In fact, Paul’s words of comfort to those in Thessalonica (1 Thess 4:13-18) who were grieving dead loved ones and wondering what would happen to them closely mirror Jesus’s words to Martha. The dead in Christ rise first, are brought to earth with the returning Christ to meet transformed living believers. That’s the true comfort of scripture, not a disembodied afterlife (if such existed). Paul calls that state being naked in 2 Cor 5:3 and wishes for his mortality to be swallowed up by resurrection life before death as the most desired option.

    Paul and Jesus both know that the dead are unaware of the passage of time. After death, the next sentient moment will seem like an instant encounter with the returning Jesus. To us locked in time, they ‘sleep’, awaiting that day, at rest, in peace, considered blessed by the living that their future hope will be realised one day. Peter knew that was the case concerning David in Acts 2:29-34.


    • Craig says:


      The Pharisees believed in the resurrection; so, I’d think Jesus’ ‘parable’ of the Rich Man and Lazarus is based upon a well-known belief (yes, I know the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection), and that Jesus was pointing towards a truth. That truth was that there was no chance of redemption should one die unrepentant (John 11:25—everyone dies), but the believer in Christ “never dies” (John 11:26; cf Rev. 20:4-5—“first resurrection”), i.e. their eternal life is not just secured in this life, their ‘death’ is, figuratively, similar to Lazarus’ (the Lazarus in John 11), is as ‘sleeping’ (John 11:11). One could construe Lazarus’ ‘sleeping’ as “soul sleep”, however, one must wonder what the ‘second resurrection’ is—the one implied by John the Revelator’s “first resurrection” of Rev. 20:5. With this, one must take seriously Rev. 6:9-11. That is, no matter how one conceives of the Apocalypse/Revelation, clearly some things cannot be seen as strictly metaphorical, and this passage begs for a literal understanding.

      Then you must reconcile Jesus’ ‘handing over His pneuma’, as opposed to His psychē, along with the fact that sōma consistently means “dead body” in John’s Gospel, implying sōma = psychēpneuma.


  15. Jim says:

    ‘does our spirit reside with it’ (a rotting corpse)?

    That would be a valid question if you think our spirit is an entity that cannot be extinguished. More important though, in my opinion, is what spirit does, not what it is. Firstly it is a gift from God, and ‘returns’ to him on death. That’s not to say it is an object, but simply is a poetic phrase used in Eccl 12 much like ‘breathed his last’ = ‘gave up his spirit’. God gives life and he knows when life ends.

    A living human (a soul) has many mental attributes, characters, emotions, intellectual capabilities, moods, expressions etc that are attributable to spirit. Having a downcast spirit is not describing a thing in you, but your overall mood and demeanour. A spirited performance is lively. So, a dead person has no spirit or functional capability to act and think in a God-created human way. Being made in God’s image is a unique bestowal not conferred on other creatures, but all creatures have spirit, or breath, or the nature of life; and, just like the animals, that spirit means we are all nepheshes, or souls, or psyches.

    The additional aspect in man is that when he becomes a believer in Jesus, God indwells him and brings his mind, supernatural capabilities, thoughts, illuminated thinking to bear on our natural ones. ‘Spirit to spirit’ if you will, but not as a separate person of the Godhead reviving a dead or dormant human entity, but God and Jesus transforming our minds, thinking and inner person, equipping us and using us for his purposes to develop ever greater Christ-likeness.

    So, to answer your question Craig, a dead person has no living faculty and therefore no ‘spirit’, so the question, in fact, becomes void. Lastly, cremated bodies will be reconstituted in same way that bodies that have totally decomposed. How God does that is his business, but if the sea can give up it’s dead, and those bodies would be part of many long dead fish, he’ll manage it.


    • Craig says:

      Jim, in response to your statement: Being made in God’s image is a unique bestowal not conferred on other creatures, but all creatures have spirit, or breath, or the nature of life; and, just like the animals, that spirit means we are all nepheshes, or souls, or psyches.

      It is precisely because humans have the capacity to receive the Spirit and thereby gain eternal life that provides a distinction between us and all other creatures. The answer to our searching in this case lies in what it means to be “made in God’s image”, as opposed to being made as other creatures. What exactly does that entail? I think Revelation 6:9-11 needs to be explained. I was just reading through David E. Aune’s commentary on Revelation (Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 52B, Revelation 6-16 [Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1998]) on this, and the author states:

      It is theologically significant that here the dead are in some way present in heaven; from the perspective of the OT it is not possible for mortals to go to heaven after their death (Houtman, Himmel, 3-5). Nevertheless, there are several passages in the Pauline letters, and perhaps two in the Fourth Gospel, that suggest that immediately following death believers are ushered into the heavenly presence of God (2 Cor 5:1, Phil 1:23, 1 Thess 3:13 . . . 4:14, 5:9 [sic–should be 5:10]; cf. John 14:2-3, 17:24) (p 403).

      Aune also points to 1 Thess 5:10: “whether we wake or sleep, we might live with him”.


  16. Jim says:

    I don’t quite understand. In what way is the rich man and Lazarus about the resurrection? Aren’t they dead awaiting their judgement (which if the parable is to be taken as true contradicts scripture which teaches a day of judgement, not just after death) or have they been judged?

    Also, are you saying the first resurrection happens at the point of faith, or just after we die, or later? I’m not clear on your view there.

    The first resurrection is for believers in Christ. The dead in Christ rise to rule with Jesus at his physical return on an earth where satan’s activities are bound. The second is later when the remaining dead will hear their fate according to the ‘books’ ie an account of their lives. The righteous will enter eternal life to join the believers, the wicked will enter the lake of fire (second death) for destruction (Rev 20-21).

    Lastly, Jesus handing over his pneuma or breath is his voluntary act of submitting to death (as Paul describes in Phil 2:8). He couldn’t hand over his psyche or soul since it was the pneuma that made him a psyche. Further, soma refers to a body whether dead or alive. It’s just the natural flesh substance we comprise. Sarx is more often a reference to the fleshly, unsaved nature of man, but can mean flesh as in meat.


    • Craig says:

      In Martha’s response (11:24) she assumes a resurrection. Jesus responds to her with a ‘correction’, stating that though believers ‘die’ they ‘live’. This means that though the person dies physically, they do not die spiritually, and this corresponds to those in “Abraham’s bosom”, and those in Rev 6:9-11. Comparatively, the Rich Man went to Hades (Luke 16:23). So, yes, the “first resurrection” occurs at the point of faith and is carried through until the second resurrection at judgment.

      So, yes, in Luke 16 they are all awaiting final judgment, but clearly those in Abraham’s bosom have had some sort of ‘pre-judgment’. The best explanation I’ve come up with is the ‘first installment’ of eternal life had been granted those in Abraham’s bosom (see just below).

      My current view is the following: Every person is ‘born’ “dead” spiritually. The non-believer stays “dead” spiritually, then eventually dies physically (= ‘residence’ in Hades), only to be ‘resurrected’ to condemnation, after which they experience a second (spiritual) death (lake of fire). In contrast, the believer goes from being spiritually “dead” to spiritually alive upon belief (first resurrection = eternal life, first installment), and eventually dies physically (= ‘residence’ in “Abraham’s bosom”/the depiction in Rev 6:9-11), only to be resurrected to “life” (second resurrection = eternal life, second installment, to the full).

      I understand your view, but I don’t think you take Abraham’s bosom and Rev 6:9-11 into proper account.

      As to your third paragraph @ 6:55am, I can’t say I’ve worked out that part of eschatology. When does this reign occur? How long is it (1000 years literally, or ‘a long time’)? I may try to tackle it at some later date.

      I’ve pointed out already that sarx encompasses the whole person in John (though at times only man’s sinful nature). The pnoē of life makes one a “living psychē” (Gen 2:7). Jesus stated He was going to “lay down His psychē“, and He did so by ‘handing over’ His pneuma thereby leaving His sōma, which in John’s Gospel is always Jesus’ dead body, which, with 19:30 implies it was devoid of pneuma. Again, please keep in mind that I’m using the terms as John the Gospel writer uses them.

      As I’m trying to finish up part III of this installment, let’s not get into a discussion on eschatology just yet.

      In any case, getting back to this post (part II), setting aside the particulars regarding anthropology and its effects on the afterlife, do agree with the overall thrust of it?


    • Craig says:


      Taking some away from the computer, and upon further reflection, I’m not happy with my comments re: resurrection @ 8:07AM. They are not well-developed. I should know that I’m not a very good multi-tasker, and I should not try to both write an article and respond to comments on issues I’d not fully thought through to begin with.

      I’m reconsidering my stance on the second instance of pneuma in John 3:6 and the corresponding footnote 46–again. I don’t think that will change the trust of this article, though. And see my comment @ 8:32am.


  17. Jim says:

    ‘It is precisely because humans have the capacity to receive the Spirit and thereby gain eternal life that provides a distinction between us and all other creatures.’ Absolutely.

    Rev 6:9-11 is encouraging hard-pressed Christians that their dead fellow believers did not die in vain and they too should take courage at God’s eventual protection and victory. It’s not a discourse on the afterlife which very clearly is portrayed as proper loss of consciousness.

    The verses Aune quotes are the few put up in support of a disembodied existence, but on close inspection and contextual study don’t mean what most traditionally assume they do. Happy to explain in detail if you’d like.


  18. Jim says:

    Craig, why would we treat the fifth seal in Rev 6 as a true representation of what’s written and not the other five seals? Unless all seals are accurate and literal, none are.


    • Craig says:

      The six seals are all literal truths conveyed metaphorically. For example, the first one speaks about human conquest. So, while we may not understand the particulars in 6:9-11, clearly the ‘dead saints’ (“those who had been slain”) are communicating with the “Sovereign Lord”, and John the Revelator wrote this not just for encouragement, but for informational purposes. There are two many elements to dismiss if you wish to make this entirely allegorical, such as the final part of verse 11: “until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been” (ESV).


      • Craig says:

        I need to add: If Jesus were to have said that He handed over the pnoē of life rather than His pneuma, I’d be more inclined to go along with your view. Scratch this.


        • Craig says:


          I think our major departure stems from my contentions regarding pneuma in 3:6 (the 2nd instance), as well as my understandings of 11:33 and 13:21, and with how psychē in 12:27 relates to the latter two. If you can take the terms as laid out and defined in John’s Gospel (not Pauline material) and harmonize them with the instances in the previous sentence, I’d be willing to concede being wrong on this aspect.

          Bear in mind my comment @ 8:17 am that Jesus handed over His pneuma (more accurately, “the pneuma”) rather than the pnoē of life (from Gen 2:7). Scratch this.


        • Craig says:

          Since we’re on a thematically related discussion, and I’ve been listening to this recently, I thought I’d post a ‘video’ of the title piece to Andrew Hill’s excellent Dance With Death:


  19. Jim says:

    I’m just getting an appreciation of this sort of stuff from my son. He is very keen on all things jazz. I’m sure you’ve heard of Snarky Puppy which gets considerable play time in our house!


    • Craig says:

      Glad to hear your son is into jazz! No, I’d never heard of Snarky Puppy. At first I thought ‘yes’, but then I figured my mind was construing it as Skinny Puppy–a whole different ‘animal’. I’ve not kept up with current trends in music in the last 15-20 years for the most part, preferring to acquire music by those I’m already familiar with. And my collecting has dwindled as my collection of books has increased.


  20. Jim says:

    I should probably resist adding to your distraction in completing Part III, but the ship may have sailed on this section if I do.

    From 8.07 am: ‘In any case, getting back to this post (part II), setting aside the particulars regarding anthropology and its effects on the afterlife, do [you] agree with the overall thrust of it?’ Having re-read it all, including footnote 46 – yes, almost totally. Bar the last 5 lines of that footnote, and that ties in with what you said about how to understand John 3:6.

    So, leaving aside eschatological matters on the first and second resurrection for now (although I believe they are very important to understand the sequence of how God will restore man and His creation), I’ll return to John 3:6. I could paraphrase it as: ‘Just as humans create humans through procreation and birth, so God (who is spirit) is the source and creator of spiritual life in humans (which leads to resurrected eternal life after this current existence)’. In fact Jesus is saying that unless you are born from above by God, you cannot recognise all the signs he, the Son of God, is doing (John 3:3). Paul says as much in 1 Cor 2:14.

    Consequently, there is no requirement for the second pneuma to be a thing. Indeed, I don’t view the first P/pneuma as such, but simply as God imparting his presence (breath) within a person, but that will swing us back to trinitarianism again! As to 11.33, the same is read in 38, but without the ‘in spirit’. However, we would conclude Jesus is still moved in the same way – his mental anguish and emotional response was severe. Ditto 13:21. References to psyche and soul in 12:27 would to me be seen more expansively probably than pneuma; in other words, Jesus whole demeanour, physical and mental, his entire countenance was affected as he contemplated his imminent death. ‘My soul’ = all of me, the material and immaterial elements.


    • Craig says:

      Before going further, let me state I’m going to make some amendments to this post, which I’ll do by strikethroughs and new text added in red. I’m going to begin working on that now, and I will post a ‘bridge’ article explaining this fact. That means part III will not be posted until I post the brief one on the correction. That’s fine, as it will provide some more time for me to fully prepare part III. My difficulty is in explaining the perfect tense-form–something I’ve been investigating for about four years. I just received a book yesterday with essays on the Koine Greek perfect tense-form, which I’m looking over. Everything is sketched out, it’s just not fully fleshed out. And I want to be sure I’m not missing anything in my analysis.

      I don’t disagree with the basic thrust of your third paragraph @ 12:03 am–though I wouldn’t add the part about “resurrected eternal life after this current existence” as that’s some interpretation that goes beyond the current text (not necessarily wrong, though). Part of my problem in the original interpretation of 3:6 is that 3:8 does not use “spiritually” in the Greek, but “of the Spirit”. Moreover, John does not use kardia, “heart”, in referring to Jesus’ feelings, as he does for other humans. It’s curious how he uses pneuma and psychē in those three passages rather than kardia.

      As of this moment, I see the second pneuma in 3:6 to be just a general reference, as you note in the first sentence of your fourth paragraph. I’m ambivalent on the first usage, and I’m leaning towards placing “S/spirit” in the text.


    • Craig says:


      Don’t feel like you shouldn’t post any comment at all as I write. I don’t mind.


  21. Jim says:

    I don’t know if that addresses your 8:32 am post. Most of the theologising on this subject is predicated on whether we think there is a component of man (spirit), in-built by God, that survives death and, therefore, must ‘go somewhere’.

    This very much is linked to the two resurrections, the latter of which is a precursor to judgement and its eternal consequences. I read scripture declaring both resurrections as the physical revival of previously dead persons, primarily taken from Rev 20 and 1 Cor 15 which correlate together. Rev 19 appears to describe the return of Christ to earth, and Rev 20 continues the after effects. 1 Thess 4 provides more detail on the sequence of events. Jesus returns, the dead in Christ will rise and be given eternal bodies along with living believers, all meeting Jesus on his triumphal return to earth, most likely Jerusalem.

    1 Cor 15:23-26 is complementary to Rev 20 which says that Christ returns, the dead believers in him, with particular importance attached to those martyred by beheading (cf Rev 6:9-11), will rise to reign with him, then after 1000 years, the remaining dead are raised to hear their judgement. After this period, death is finally defeated and creation handed back to God by Jesus to make all things new after the second death has done its work.

    During Jesus’s earthly rule, people are still being born and die – the mortal existing alongside the immortal. It is this population satan deceives on his release (Rev 20:7-8) and rallies for his final assault. So the second resurrection will include all those who died after Jesus returned and all before his first ministry. Those who lived by faith before his first advent and those who believed in him during his second will receive eternal life. Those found wanting will die a second and permanent time.

    So, for me, there is no spiritual first resurrection, just an indwelling by God at the point of faith that is a seal of the promised resurrection to come. Therefore, being ‘raised up’ to heavenly places (Eph 2:5-6) and ‘made alive who were once dead’ is a future-focused statement of our eventual destiny and not so much a present condition, for we all die, as Jesus noted, but will live again. If death were now merely a portal to eternal life, it would not be God’s enemy, which it still is. So far, death has been defeated by one person only – Jesus. However, those in Christ have a hope that they will follow suit through resurrection, not an immaterial ‘afterlife’.

    Finally, if a part of us survives death it has to go somewhere so logic would dictate. Therefore a judgement at death is an essential criteria of this view otherwise it collapses. Yet at no time do Jesus or the NT writers indicate this happens. Judgement on ‘the last day’ would be rendered pointless if it was the case. There is no reference to a ‘first instalment’ of final judgement, just judgement of the dead long after those in Christ receive their reward for faith in him.


    • Craig says:


      You wrote: 1 Thess 4 provides more detail on the sequence of events. Jesus returns, the dead in Christ will rise and be given eternal bodies along with living believers, all meeting Jesus on his triumphal return to earth, most likely Jerusalem. Do you mean you don’t subscribe to the ‘Rapture’ teaching? Sacrilege! Me neither.

      I have difficulty with the eschatology of a post-Christ’s-return Millennial Kingdom consisting of immortalized humans and mere mortals.

      You wrote: Finally, if a part of us survives death it has to go somewhere so logic would dictate. Therefore a judgement at death is an essential criteria of this view otherwise it collapses. I don’t think that necessarily follows. And this needn’t entail a mere perfunctory future judgment. Also, there appear to be three places from which humans come to the final judgment: “the sea”, as well as “death and Hades” (Rev 20:13). And check out “Sheol” at Wikipedia for the Jewish understanding of it.


  22. Jim says:

    BTW thank you for all your research, time and commitment to this site and your articles which provide such an excellent resource. Definitely a calling.


    • Craig says:

      Thanks for your comment. I just finished making amendments to the body of the text. Only footnote 46 remains.

      I may address your 6:35 am comment in a bit. For now, I’m going to fix [is it broken? – I like idioms] breakfast.


  23. Pingback: Corrections and Amendments on “It is Perfectly Finished” | CrossWise

  24. Jim says:

    Discussion on eschatology provide an almost inexhaustible supply of controversy and counterable opinion. Let’s not go there just yet 😃


  25. Jim says:

    There must be several instances of a particular Greek word being used very rarely, so the use of ekpneo in 3 verses wouldn’t strike me as overly significant. With respect to what might it be significant?

    What I do find interesting is the use of several different Greek words to convey basically the same meaning. We then take each and place a specific, sometimes dogmatic, translation for them and build entire theological frameworks on the English, forgetting that the Greek may have been pretty loose and without absolutes (think 1 Thess 5:23 and tripartism).

    it’s a bit like using house, mansion, dwelling, building, edifice, construction for the same idea of a habitable man-made space. There is the wind/breath family of words; body/flesh words; mind/ thoughts/emotions/heart/inner being collection. Writers in the NT seem to favour some, that others choose to use slightly differently, or not at all. Should we assume they are being strictly instructive on the Greek words for human anthropology, or nature of God?

    Take pneuma. If God is spirit, and Jesus is a life-giving spirit too (1 Cor 15:45), yet Jesus has physicality, but then we assume the Father doesn’t because of his omni-presence (even though he is pictured on a throne), we can get into a world of difficulty if we’re too prescriptive of our definitions and concepts of pneuma.

    I love absolutes as much as the next person, but some of these fundamental concepts from the Greek have to be allowed to morph and change as God leads us deeper into his mind.


    • Craig says:

      I’d not fully thought through my question, so let me back up and rephrase. Forget ekpneō in isolation–as that is the result–and focus on the fact that He “handed over the pneuma“, which coincided with ekpneō, His death . While certainly one cannot make assertions, I think it possible that this phrase “handed over the pneuma” was only used of Jesus because He was the only one capable of actually ‘handing over’ the “Breath of Life” to the Father because He himself, as part of the Godhead, possesses the “Breath of Life” to impart or take away. With the rest of us, God provides the “Breath of Life” then takes it away at the appointed time. In other words, Jesus, while suffering in His humanity, His divine nature took away His own “Breath of Life”, handing it over to the Father. That is, in His final act the divine nature took the life from His human nature. I’ve not found the right words to convey this well, I’m afraid, and I’m not even sure this would be considered “orthodox” (is it Nestorian?).


  26. Jim says:

    It’s certainly an interesting view Craig. Some of the answer depends whether you think the English translation was as inspired as the original Greek. Ekpneo should read breathed out, or breathed his last, but handing over his pneuma or life matches with John’s gospel and chimes with Phil 2. I mentioned what I thought about the handing over aspect earlier. It probably does have significance in that he subordinated his God nature to become voluntarily subject to death.

    Personally, I think it goes beyond the plain meaning to suggest anything more ‘universe shaking’ was happening like the Breath of Life being given back to the Father. The translators capitalised the s in spirit to indicate that a pneuma was the Holy Spirit on occasions, but there was no similar capitalisation of pneo. If he gave up any Breath of Life then it was just a man that hung there dead, just a man that was buried, but I believe it was still the Godly person who was buried and rose.


    • Craig says:

      To be clear, I don’t think any English version is inspired (no apologies to KJV-Os). Try reading my comment as “breath of life” instead of “Breath of Life”. My main point was in the handing over of His spirit. Ekpneō is a necessary consequence of it, yes, but in combination it could possibly be something more. However, against that is the fact that these are not collocated–they’re in different Gospels.

      I didn’t intend that the Son gave the “breath of life” back to the Father. Let me clean up the following sentence:

      from this:

      In other words, Jesus, while suffering in His humanity, His divine nature took away His own “Breath of Life”, handing it over to the Father.

      To this:

      In other words, Jesus, while suffering in His humanity, His divine nature took away His own “Breath of Life”, in handing over His spirit to the Father.

      What I was attempting to convey is that Jesus Himself takes away His own “breath of life” (“No one takes it from Me…”), i.e., His own life, as He handed over His spirit to the Father. In a sense, the Divine (Jesus) was handing over His spirit to the Divine. But that mustn’t be pressed too forcefully, or we’d have two gods instead.

      In pondering my earlier (6:09 am) statement further, it does sound Nestorian. Anything Jesus does the Person of Christ does, whether it emanated from His ‘divine side’ or His ‘human side’. Moreover, anything one Member of the Godhead does, they all do. [Not intended on starting a Trinitarian debate–just stating accepted Christian orthodoxy.]

      I sure didn’t mean to convey anything like in the first two clauses of your very last sentence (before “but”)! No doubt it was the same Godly Person who was buried and rose!


    • Craig says:


      Coincidentally, while running a work errand at lunch today, local Christian radio had a sermon on the afterlife, asserting that we’d be ‘alive’ before judgment, citing Luke 16 and “Abraham’s Bosom”. Not that I’m trying to reopen the discussion, I just thought it interesting.

      On a totally unrelated note, if you’re interested in the newest scholarship on the Koine Greek verbal system, on initial reading I highly recommend The Greek Verb Revisited. From what little I’ve read, I’ve already changed portions of the still-in-process part III.


  27. Jim says:

    Isn’t there a bit of over reading the text here Craig? ‘Handed over’ seems to be being treated in an active sense. Jesus doing something such as choosing that moment to die.

    Rather I think it’s closer to the old English ‘gave up the ghost’ which meant what the compound ekpneo basically references: ‘breathed his last’.

    In a sense Jesus handed over his life in declaring to Pilate that he could call upon thousands of angels to come to his aid but would not take that path. He willingly chose death on the cross. That was an active handing over. What happened on the cross was his death occurring as a natural consequence of being horribly tortured. It’s difficult to conceive of Jesus the man choosing a moment to take his final breath, although he would probably have known when the time was near.


    • Craig says:

      Yes, “handed over” is in the active voice! See footnote 40, then this:

      Intertextual clues may be of assistance. Parallel passages seem to suggest that pneuma could be construed as Jesus’ human spirit. Matthew 27:50 contains language similar to John here, using a synonymous verb, also in the active voice: “He gave up His pneuma.” However, note that the Suffering Servant passage of Isaiah 53:12 (LXX) uses psychē (soul)—rather than pneuma—though with the same verb as John’s Gospel (paradidōmi, “handed over”) but in the passive voice: “His psychē was handed over to death.” Could this be harmonized such that when Jesus, of His own volition (10:18: “No one takes it [psychē] from Me”), handed over His pneuma this necessarily corresponded with His psychē being handed over to death?


  28. Jim says:

    Thanks for the Greek pointer. I found a 300 page book for download called The Greek understanding of Nature (or similar). This will provide some good background too.

    I do recognise the argument for a conscious intermediate state, espiecially calling on Luke 16. However, it has so many flaws and scriptural incongruencies that I can’t take it to supersede all the other references to the dead being in silence and ‘sleeping’. Dualism then becomes a necessity and I think that concept runs counter to Hebraic thought and writings.

    If Jesus told a mythological story to make a point that doesn’t authenticate the story, particularly if it stands alone in its description of ‘life after death’. He used an unethical servant’s business choices to make a point too but wasn’t commending wrong practice.


  29. Jim says:

    Highly likely Pilate never knew what a flogging Jesus took prior to crucifixion. No doubt strong men could hold out for a day or 2. The article illustrates well how the Jewish traditions were influenced by popular notions of the time, including the panoply of afterlife beliefs.

    Sorry, ‘Greek Concept of Nature’ by Gerard Naddaf.

    Maybe ‘handed over his pneuma’ could be conceptually understood as ‘gave permission for life to leave him and, therefore, die’.


  30. Jim says:

    The modestly named may help understand more about Luke 16


  31. IWTT says:

    “BTW, did you see my new profile pic? It’s Trinitarian!” Looks to me like the inner piece for a turn table to fit 45’s on it??? Lol


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: