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8) John 19:28–30: The apostle John wrote, “Jesus, knowing that already all had been completed, in order to complete the Scripture said, ‘I thirst.’” (Ps 69:21).[1]

Significantly, John used the verbal root teleō twice to indicate completion,[2] rather than the word plēroō employed in the usual formula “to fulfill the Scripture” (John 12:38; John 13:18; John 19:24)[3]

In fact, the apostle recorded teleō only three times in his gospel, all in this passage.[4]



Nevertheless, Jesus did experience real thirst. After being scourged and left bleeding, he became extremely dehydrated (John 19:1).[5]

How ironic that the source of living water thirsted (John 6:35).[6]

Unlike the drugged wine Christ had earlier refused, this cheap sour wine vinegar offered by the soldiers should have prolonged his life and, consequently, his pain (cf. Matt 27: 33–34, 48).[7]

Indeed, in Ps 69:13–21, that drink comprised part of the torment inflicted upon the righteous sufferer.[8]

While on the brink of death, Christ wanted the crowd to hear him, so he called for a drink to moisten his dry mouth.[9]

After sipping the wine from a sponge, Jesus uttered his last word of triumph, “It has been accomplished!” (tetelestai, the perfect tense of teleō).[10]

In the Greek of that era, a verb in the perfect tense denoted a past action which results in a state of being which continues into the present without an end point.[11]

Christ had completed his mission,[12] purchasing our salvation through the cross.[13]

Some ancient Greek receipts included the word tetelestai to indicate that the amount of tax due had been “paid in full.”[14] Visitors can see an example of this on shards of pottery in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer noted, “Christ and Christ’s adversary the devil are mutually exclusive opponents, but in such a way that even the devil, unwillingly, must serve Christ, and, willing evil, must ever again do good, so that the kingdom of the devil is always only under the feet of Christ.”[15]



In describing Jesus’s death, John used a term (klinō) associated with going to sleep,[16] indicating that he voluntarily bowed his head.[17]

Then, he “handed over” (paradidōmi) his spirit, a phrase which typically refers to giving something to a successor. Thus, at his death, Christ bestowed his ministry to the Holy Spirit (John 14:16–23).[18]

Since Jesus retained the authority to lay down his life, no one took it from him (John 10:17–18).[19]

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Read John 19:28–30. Why do you think the Apostle John chose to use the verb for completion, rather than for fulfillment, in this passage? What are the implications of Jesus’s last utterances for us? How did the serpent unwittingly serve the cause of Christ? Why did Jesus hand over his spirit? How does that delegation to the Holy Spirit impact your calling?






Go to God Rends the Barrier (Matt 27:50–51)

[Related posts include The First Good News (Gen 3:15); Satan Tempts Christ (Matt 4:1–4); A Second Temptation (Matt 4:5–7); The Third Temptation (Matt 4:8–11); A Most Cruel and Ignominious Punishment (Matt 27:26–37); Set Free from Sin’s Dominion (Rom 8:1–14); Blessings from the Father (Eph 1:3–4); Adopted as Sons (Eph 1:5–6); Redemption through Christ’s Blood (Eph 1:7–8); The Summing up of All Things (Eph 1:9–11); Equality with God (Phil 2:5–6); A Summary of Trinitarian Creeds (Appendix to Phil 2:5–6); Taking the Form of a Slave (Phil 2:7); Obedient to the Point of Death (Phil 2:8); and The Name Above Every Name (Phil 2:9–11)]

[Click here to go to Chapter 7: The Seed of the Serpent and the Seed of the Woman (Genesis 3:14–15)]


[1]Danker, et al., “τελεω” (teleō), BDAG, 997–9, 997.

[2] Carson, The Gospel According to John, 620.

[3]Danker, et al., “τελεω” (teleō), BDAG, 997.

[4]Result of Logos 7 word studies of plēroō and teleō.

[5] Carson, The Gospel According to John, 618–9.

[6] Burge, John, 530.

[7] Carson, The Gospel According to John, 620.

[8] Beasley-Murray, John, 351.

[9] Morris, The Gospel According to John, 720.

[10] Beasley-Murray, John, 352. This is teleō in the third person singular perfect tense.

[11]Robert Crellin, “The Semantics of the Perfect in the Greek of the New Testament,” in The Greek Verb Revisited: A Fresh Approach for Biblical Exegesis (ed. Steven E. Runge and Christopher J. Fresch; Bellingham, WA: Lexham, 2016), 450.

[12] Burge, John, 529.

[13]Gerhard Delling, “τελεω” (teleō), TDNT 8:57–61, 59.

[14] Wilkins, Matthew, 904. Please note that recent scholarship questions this interpretation.

[15]Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Clifford J. Green, ed., Reinhard Krauss, et al., Ethics (DBW; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2005), 65.

[16] Morris, The Gospel According to John, 720–1.

[17]Danker, et al., “κλινω” (klinō), BDAG, 549.

[18] Burge, John, 530.

[19] Carson, The Gospel According to John, 621.