The allusions to Psalm 22 in the Gospel accounts of Jesus' crucifixion are well-known and have been discussed on BH.SE on several occasions. I recently ran across the claim (e.g. in a blog and a JETS paper) that the word τετέλεσται ('[it] is finished/accompished') in John 19:30 alludes to עָשָׂה in Psalm 22:32 ('he has done [it]', Rahlfs LXX: 'ἐποίησεν ὁ κύριος'). The JETS paper by Richard Patterson points out that the forms of עשה√ are elsewhere in the LXX translated using a passive form of τελέω.

Thus Nehemiah (6:16) reports that his enemies “lost their self-confidence because they realized that this work had been done [HB, נֶעֶשְׂתָה / lxx, τελειωθῆναι] by the help of our God.” The Lord declared through Isaiah (55:11) that his spoken word would “accomplish [HB, עָשָׂה / lxx, τελεσθῇ] what I desire, and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” 1

Neither is a perfect parallel. Nehemiah 6:16 translates a Hebrew nifal (passive), and Isaiah 55:11 reads συντελεσθῇ in Rahlfs (as the author notes).

  • Is an allusion to the Psalm intended in John 19:30?2

1. The following sentence Thus Jesus did not do violence to the range of meanings inherent in the Hebrew verbal root assumes that Jesus was speaking Greek, which seems to me odd, but for the purpose of this question we shall ignore the distinction between Jesus, John, or someone else who might have done the translation.

2. Interestingly, while googling this question, I ran across an answer on another Q&A on this site that made this claim, still unsubstantiated despite my comment requesting references.

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    It would be interesting although of minimal importance to know how the Peshitta translated the Greek into Syriac
    – user862
    Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 22:55
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    The Peshitta has הָא משַלַם which is translated in The Aramaic English NT as "Behold, it is finished". I think this is of more than minimal importance, since it was likely the exact words the Lord spoke, subsequently translated into the Greek.
    – C. Kelly
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 4:33

3 Answers 3


"It is finished"

The finished in v.28 "all was now finished", is the same Gr. telein as in v.30. Acc. to R.E. Brown1, this "has the connotation of completion as well as that of simple ending." He adds, "Occasionally it has sacrificial overtones." He also relates this telein to the telos of John 13:1 "he now loved them to the end", and to Acts 13:29, "…when they had accomplished all that was written of him."

Still commenting on v.28 he adds,

Finally, because of the frequent parallelism between Jesus and Moses in the Fourth Gospel, we may call attention to the Exod xl 33: "So Moses completed the work"–a reference to the completion of the Tabernacle.

In light of these connections: As to a possible allusion to Psalm 22:31, "…that He has done this." , we needn't split hairs over the differences between "done" and "finished". The two words connote completion, which is all that should be required for allusion, I should think. The allusion is, in my opinion, a weak one.

A much stronger allusion is made to Daniel 9:24, which J.C. Ryle references in his Expository Thoughts on John2,

To finish the transgression,
To make an end of sins,
To make reconciliation for iniquity,
To bring in everlasting righteousness,
To seal up vision and prophecy,
And to anoint the Most Holy.

And, I would add that this cry "It is finished", with the same connotation of completion of the work of salvation, is alluded to twice in Revelation:

Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” [Rev 16:17]

And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. [Rev 21:6]

1 Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John, pp.907-908. (New York: Doubleday), in The Anchor Bible Commentary.

2J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, vol. 3, p. 236 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth).

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    Thanks, this is helpful, particularly the reference in Daniel. (Somehow I missed this when it was originally posted.) Of note, the Revelation text is different (γέγοναν).
    – Susan
    Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 2:25

Without questioning any of what others have said, one other observation might be relevant. The strongest reason for thinking that Jesus' words "It is finished" were recorded by the Gospel writers as a deliberate allusion to Psalm 22 would be that there are other more explicit allusions to that Psalm in the same pericope.

Both Matthew (27:46) and Mark (15:34) record Jesus crying out from the cross “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” -- which is an obvious reference to the beginning of Psalm 22. But neither of those Gospels refer to Jesus saying "It is finished".

John is the only Gospel that does record "It is finished", and John makes no reference to “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” Granted, John does draw attention to the parallel between Psalm 22:18 and the Roman soldiers casting lots for Jesus' clothes, but that is not a reference to anything Jesus was thinking at the time.

If either Matthew or Mark had mentioned "It is finished", or if John had mentioned “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”, then I would think they were deliberately associating Jesus' dying words to the final verse of Psalm 22. But since the two phrases are not linked in any one Gospel, I find it unlikely that there is an intentional allusion to Psalm 22:32.


There are a few words that carry the meaning of work

  • עבד (serve)
  • עשה (make/perform)
  • מלא (complete)

Of these three, the only word that carries the meaning of "finished, complete, fulfilled, done" is [מלא].

Another word of interest is "complete, everything" [כלה].

Genesis 2.

ויכלו השמים והארץ
וכל צבאם

And will be complete all of heavens and earth
and all of their hosts/forces/vectors

ויכל אלהים ביום השביעי
מלאכתו אשר עשה
וישבת ביום השביעי
מכל מלאכתו אשר עשה

And will complete-all G'd on the 7th day
His fulfilling-work which He did
And He will rest on the 7th day
from all His fulfilling-work which He did.

There are opinions the word translated as "angel" [מלאך] is due to YATST (yet another typographic-shift theory). I see such horrid ruinous attitude of translators at work again, as in Psalm 8, and in Hosea 2:16.

But I shall violate their attitude and say that the [מלאך] associated with G'd Himself in Genesis 2 is the same [מלאך] as found anywhere else in the Bible.

[מלאך] is translated as "angel", but there is no such thing as "angel" between the books of Genesis to Malakhi. In fact, the word "angel" or its Greek άγγελος should be banned from our lips, simply because it is of ancient Persian and Greek pagan origin, depicting horse-mounted messenger demigods.

[מלאך] is G'd's fulfilling/completing work. And therefore [מלאך] should not be contaminated with the pagan imagery/idolatry of "άγγελος/angel". [מלאך] is the [צבא] (agents/forces/vectors) going forth to fulfill G'd's work.

There is no way that [עשה] means complete or fulfilled. It means having performed an activity which may not be complete. It is the word [מלאך] with [עשה] that connotes complete/fulfilling work.

Genesis 2 summarising words:
עשה יכלו מלאכתו
Did completely-everything of His fulfilling work.


I don't know if the Christian Greek original scripts use the term "angel/άγγελος". If so, my condolences to ya'll for having used such an idolatrous and contaminating term. Such usage would therefore further separate us and your claim to heritage from Jewish scriptures.

It is already bad, that most Jews do not realise that our English-based theology has been contaminated by using the term "angel". If you are Jewish, I urge you to no longer use this term. Expunge it from all our English translations.

Incidentally, the last chronological book of my Bible is [מלאכי] - signifying the scriptures they are complete. There is no need for, and there shouldn't be, any more books to the Bible after Malakhi.

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    Were you responding to the appropriate question? If so...what?
    – user862
    Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 23:30
  • The answer is to refute that [עשה] has anything to do with the meaning of "complete". Quite obviously. Such that, if Susan wants to find a word meaning "complete", I have shown her the words she needs to focus on. Did you downvote for religiously offended, or because you did not understand the answer being relevant to the question?
    – Cynthia
    Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 23:45
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    Maybe delete the unnecessary rants and the extraneous and irrelevant information regarding מלאך. ?
    – user862
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 0:13
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    Although I know you’re not interested in the LXX, it does provide a reasonable starting point for Greek-Hebrew equivalences in the 1st century Jewish mind (and hard to avoid if we’re starting with Christian texts, as here), and your point that מלא is a much more common correspondent of τελειόω holds up there. Forms of תמם come up quite a bit as well, and occasionally כלה, but rarely עשה. I agree that there’s a lot of extraneous information here (none of it particularly offensive), but this provides a valuable viewpoint.
    – Susan
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 0:31
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    Susan, my regrettable aversion to the Greek documents is they are created out of motivations to equivalize Hebrew scriptures to Hellenism, by using hellenistic attitudes and pagan mythical imagery as an attempt to speak to an audience familiar with such pagan allegories. Exactly opposite to what we need to do, to expunge those influences from the Bible.
    – Cynthia
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 0:40

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