In John 19:28, it is written,

28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. KJV, 1769

ΚΗʹ Μετὰ τοῦτο εἰδὼς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι πάντα ἤδη τετέλεσται ἵνα τελειωθῇ ἡ γραφή λέγει Διψῶ TR, 1550

In his commentary on John 19:28, Rudolf Ewald Stier remarks,1

Stier, Vol. 8, p. 3, John 19:28

Did the Lord Jesus Christ deliberately2 say “I thirst” in order to fulfill scripture, or did he say “I thirst” without pre-meditation and only happened to fulfill scripture as a consequence?


1 p. 3
2 i.e., designedly, intentionally, purposefully


Stier, Rudolf Ewald. The Words of the Lord Jesus. Trans. Pope, William B. Vol. 8. Philadelphia: Smith, 1860.


2 Answers 2


John of Damascus wrote:

That which is comprehended in place or time or apprehension is circumscribed: while that which is contained by none of these is uncircumscribed. Wherefore the Deity alone is uncircumscribed, being without beginning and without end, and containing all things, and in no wise apprehended. For He alone is incomprehensible and unbounded

The Deity, then, is quite unchangeable and invariable. For all things which are not in our hands He hath predetermined by His foreknowledge, each in its own proper and peculiar time and place (An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, I.13).

When we consider a statement like "Christ did ... in order that Scripture might be fulfilled", it necessarily suggests that he arrived linearly to some point in time where He had to make a decision whether to fulfill the Scripture or not.

I am struggling with your question a little bit because as a man, Christ did allow himself to be circumscribed by our chronological time. As God, however, He is unbound with time and, in a sense, everything in Scripture already has occurred, is occurring, and will occur - all at once.

Since the exchange rules compel me to give an answer, I guess I would have to say that He said what He did both with and without premeditation: with premeditation as a man, perhaps; and without as God.


The reference to scripture appears to be an allusion to Psalm 69:21:

Psalm 69:21: They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

If Jesus had this allusion specifically in mind, it would have been too obscure to have any meaning to the onlookers, which raises the question as to what purpose he could have had in saying those words (other than that he was thirsty). Nothing in what Jesus said on the cross tells us Jesus said those two words in order to fulfil scripture, which makes the author especially intuitive in grasping Jesus' meaning so well, without any verbal clue from Jesus.

In this case, we should consider another alternative, which is that we should ascribe these words to the author of John's Gospel, rather than to Jesus. The author explains the reason for Jesus' words so perfectly for the context, as the Roman response was to give Jesus vinegar to drink, that it is easy to envisage him attributing the words "I thirst" to Jesus in order to draw a parallel to a psalm of lament. On this view, the words are certainly deliberate and intended to show fulfilment of scripture, but they are the words of John not of Jesus.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.