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- Is there an allusion to Psalm 22 in John 19:30, ‘It is finished’?

NKJV, John 19:30 - So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished (Τετέλεσται, interlinear)!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

Is there anything in Scripture that indicates what "was finished" (Τετέλεσται)?

Does this carry the same sense as "fulfilled", or "accomplished" in the prophetic sense, or in "fulfillment of the law"?

How did the Early Church interpret this passage?


6 Answers 6


The word "finish" appears in Daniel 9:24, in the context of the Messiah's' atoning sacrifice, which appears in verse 26.

“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish, (συντελεσθῆναι, Greek Septuagint : LXX-Th, OG) the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place . . . the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary."

Wouldn't it make sense for Jesus to refer to this promise as he died?

  • Thank you, elika kohen. Of course I approve! Because I'm completely new here, I don't know how much supporting detail to go into, and I'm puzzled by some of the voting. What I'm hoping for is more constructive responses such as Michael King's below, which is a wonderful insight!
    – Dieter
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 23:39

The phrase actually translates one word in Greek, tetelestai, from the root tele­ō, which means "to finish, fulfill."

Significantly, this specific form of the verb, tetelestai, is only found twice in the entire New Testament, both times in John 19.

In fact, the two occurrences of tetelestai are found within three verses of each other: "After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), 'I thirst.' . . . When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, 'It is finished,' and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit" (John 19:28, 30).

Do you see that? Although the verb tele­ō occurs 28 times in the New Testament, the form tetelestai is found only twice, and those two occurrences are in the same context, right next to each other, making the meaning perfectly clear.

Jesus was saying, "Mission accomplished! Everything that had to be done has been done! It is finished!"

  • 1
    Michael : +1 Are you saying that "Everything that had to be done" is a reference to Prophetic obligations that Jesus had to fulfill, and were therefore "fulfilled"? Commented May 27, 2017 at 17:45
  • +1 answer. Jesus was saying the Plan of redemption that he came to execute was executed! Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 13:08

The first uses in the LXX are in Numbers 25 describing the incident at Shittim:

And Israel was initiated to Beel-Phegor, and the Lord was angry with wrath against Israel. (v 3) (NET)

και ετελεσθη ισραηλ τω βεελφεγωρ και ωργισθη θυμω κυριος τω ισραηλ (LXX)

And Moses said to the tribes of Israel, "Each of you kill his family-member who has been initiated to Beel-Phegor." (v 5)

και ειπεν μωυσης ταις φυλαις ισραηλ αποκτεινατε εκαστος τον οικειον αυτου τον τετελεσμενον τω βεελφεγωρ

Following the LXX, Τετέλεσται indicates that which begins or is initiated, either the New Covenant or to Jesus (following the OT pattern of being initiated to Beel-Phegor).


49 I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? 50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened συνέχομαι till it be accomplished! τελεσθῇ
51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: 52 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. 53 The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
-- Luke 12:49-53 (KJV)

The cross was the baptism that Jesus was waiting to be baptized with, and he was being "straightened" συνέχομαι (συνέχω - Strong's G4912 - synechō), constrained/afflicted/pressed on all sides, till it was accomplished τελεσθῇ (τελέω - Strong's G5055 - teleō) finished/completed/brought to an end.

Why did he feel so pressed?

Because, before that baptism, he was tasked with the recruitment and preparation of those who would publish his Gospel in all the world. And this task taxed him greatly.

  • a tax on his body:

    From Matthew and Luke:

    34 And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.
    -- Matthew 14:34-36 (KJV)

    And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.
    -- Luke 6:19 (KJV)

    "Virtue" (δύναμις - Strong's G1411 - dynamis, power) went out of Jesus and healed the multitude of people that touched him. How long could that be sustained? Little wonder Jesus told people earlier in his ministry not to broadcast what he had done for them.

  • a tax on his mind:

    • From Luke:
      The account of a man who called out to Jesus from the crowd, explaining that he had brought his son to the disciples, but they couldn't heal him. Jesus answered:

      41O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? ...
      44 Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.
      45 But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.
      -- Luke 9:41,44-45 (KJV)

      Here, Jesus expresses his frustration with the slowness of the disciples' uptake. And they felt it, "fearing" to ask what he meant.

    • From Matthew:

      5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. 6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. 7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.
      8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?
      -- Matthew 16:5-8 (KJV)

      Jesus explained what he was talking about, and then the penny dropped:

      12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
      -- Matthew 16:12 (KJV)

    • Again, from Matthew:

      13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
      -- Matthew 23:13 (KJV)

      The religious leaders were supposed to administer the Law such that their nation would be an advertisement for the goodness of God (Deuteronomy 4:5-8), but they never understood that mission.

      And this from John:

      1 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. 2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. 3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.
      -- John 16:1-3 (KJV)

      Instead of fulfilling their ordained purpose, they became a tool of the adversary, content to think that their constant attempts: to corner Jesus on doctrinal issues; attribute his works to the Devil; and plot his demise; were somehow all for the service of God.

  • a tax on his spirit:

    • From Luke:

      32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, ...
      36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! 37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?
      -- John 11:32-33,36-37 (KJV)

      Jesus went on to raise Lazarus from the grave, foreshadowing what he would do for himself, and then for everyone of faith who would follow.

      The statement by one of the Jews, "Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?" has been echoed again and again throughout history, and is possibly the greatest reason for the anguish of the Spirit of God.

      "Why did God take my son?" or "How can God allow suffering?" or "How could God destroy all those innocent souls in the Flood, in Sodom and Gomorrah, in Canaan?" Well, God will raise them from the dead, won't he. Just as he did for Lazarus. Just as he did for himself. Just as he will do for all those who believe in his name.

      37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. 38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.
      -- John 10:37-38 (KJV)

      One only needs the faith of a mustard seed to move a mountain. What greater mountain could there possibly be, than that which hides the way to the kingdom of God.

    • Again, from Luke:

      41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, 42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. 43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
      -- Luke 22:41-44 (KJV)

      In this moment, in the night hours of the day of his final ordeal (his baptism, as it were), the anguish and affliction of his heart, mind and body are obvious to all.

Jesus' death on the cross -- the baptism he was to be baptized with -- the ordeal that was the culmination of such a taxing sojourn on earth, one that so pressed his body, mind and spirit -- was done. So, he cried out, "It is finished!"

The figure of baptism is clearly seen in his death: he was tried as a sinner, soiled with the accumulated sin of mankind; he was judged, and sentenced to the cross; he was plunged beneath the waters of death; and he raised himself up, victorious over it all, glorified, to sit at the right hand of the Father.

When Jesus said to the Pharisees, "ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.", he knew that task now complete, would open the doors wide to kingdom of God:

9 Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the LORD thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee.
10 And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee. 11 Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought.
-- Isaiah 60:9-11 (KJV)

It is finished! The work of opening the gates of the kingdom, so that every person who sees and/or hears of what Jesus endured to throw them open, and responds to it, can walk right through them into a realm where God dwells, and Jesus reigns as king, according to heavenly governance.

  • Enegue : +1 Are you saying that "It is finished", is a reference to "Suffering", (all of Jesus' hardships during the Passion Narrative - and possibly all of the events leading up to it)? Commented May 27, 2017 at 17:46
  • @elikakohen Yes. The finish of what he had to suffer in order to prepare and empower those who would be left to publish the Gospel, and to advertise in an unmistakable way, throughout all of history, that the gates of his kingdom, and the arms of his Father are wide open for all his prodigal sons and daughters who recognize they have frittered away their inheritance, and want to enter in, to enter in. And once they enter in, they will find peace and rest for themselves, to be able to go out again (while they still sojourning here), to be occupied in the work of the kingdom.
    – enegue
    Commented May 27, 2017 at 21:47

In John 19:30, it is written,

30 Therefore, when Jesus took the wine, he said, “It is finished,” and after he reclined his head, he delivered [his] Spirit [to God].

Λʹ ὅτε οὖν ἔλαβεν τὸ ὄξος ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν Τετέλεσται καὶ κλίνας τὴν κεφαλὴν παρέδωκεν τὸ πνεῦμα TR, 1550

The Greek verb τελέω occurs only twice in the Gospel of John: here and in John 19:28 wherein it is written,

28 After this, Jesus knowing that everything is now finished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, says, “I thirst.”

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

Thus, we see in the span of two verses that the same conjugation of τελέω is used, viz. τετέλεσται. This is hardly coincidental, and it suggests that what “is finished” in v. 30 is the same thing that “is finished” in v. 28: πάντα. That is to say, everything that Jesus came to do on earth—all the works that the Father had given him to do1—is finished, and they all culminated in his death, the final work of his first advent. Bengel remarked, “This word [τετέλεσται] was in Jesus’ heart in versus 28. Now it is uttered by the mouth.”2


1 John 5:36
2 p. 404: “Hoc verbum in corde Jesu erat versu 28. nunc ore profertur.


Bengel, Johann Albrecht. Gnomon Novi Testamenti. Ed. Steudel, Johann Christian Friedrich. 3rd ed. Tubingae: Ludov, 1855.


Jesus Christ, The Son of Jehovah, had completed his earthly assignment to make a faithful stand for Jehovah's universal sovereignty as a Man on earth and prove Satan The Devil a liar and prove Jehovah only has the Right to rule The Earth. He was an obedient Son unlike Adam who was disobedient.

It was said of Jesus ("He" = Jesus):-

NWT 1 Timothy 3:16 "Indeed, the sacred secret of this godly devotion is admittedly great: ‘He was made manifest in flesh, was declared righteous in spirit, appeared to angels, was preached about among nations, was believed upon in the world, was received up in glory."

  • How does this answer the question Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 13:14

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