I have been researching for a long time John 19:30, more specifically the word Tetelestai (τετελεσται) in the Greek. But recently came across the topic of the Hebrew Gospels (possible late translations) and is fascinating.

  1. What did Jesus really say in John 19:30, assuming he spoke Aramaic or Hebrew?
  2. Or what will be the best translation to Hebrew, or the best Hebrew equivalent words for Tetelestai coming from the Jewish mindset?

7 Answers 7


Note: I am not disputing how the English translations translate Τετέλεσται, but pointing out the secondary meaning of the word Jesus probably used.

The Hebrew word that Τετέλεσται (it is finished) best translates is שָׁלֵם, which is how the Syriac Peshitta* and modern Hebrew** translations translate Τετέλεσται in John 19:30.

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While שָׁלֵם in the context of translating Τετέλεσται in John 19:30 has the meaning, “It is finished,” שָׁלֵם in the Torah has the meaning to make restitution. Thus, in the Jewish mind this word also brings up the thought of to pay or make restitution, to restore or make peace, to make whole.

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The fact is Jesus’ words having a secondary meaning often more important than the primary is not foreign in the Gospel of John. Here Jesus’ own words seem to point his disciples to Jesus’ sacrificial death and atonement. Thus, this method of looking for the historic Jesus using Jesus’ words points to the same Jesus portrayed in the New Testament.

[Charts made with Logos Bible Software 8.]

See also In John 20:17 does Jesus intent ἀναβέβηκα to have a secondary meaning related to sacrifice?

* ܡܫܰܠܱܡ (shlm) in Kiraz, G. A. (Ed.). (2002). The Peshitta (Jn 19:30). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. [5th century]

** נִשְׁלַם in ha-Berit ha-ḥadashah. (2000). (Jn 19:30). Israel: The Bible Society in Israel.

** נִשְׁלָם in Franz Julius Delitzsch [1813-1890]. (n.d.). Delitzsch Hebrew New Testament (Jn 19:30). 1930 edition.

  • outstanding, thank you
    – ACME
    Commented Mar 24, 2022 at 18:50

Another word often used in place of shalem is "tam/tammim" Both mean a sense of peace and completeness and perfection. A lack of wanting.


Another thought to express the infinitive is in this article: https://www.chaimbentorah.com/2017/08/word-study-it-is-finished/

Using an initial 'mem' as משׁלמ it is stated that it renders 'mashelem' the Pael infinitive in Aramaic.

Other authors propose that the statement was a formalism used by the priest after finishing the sacrifice of the pesach lamb. In that case, it would almost certainly have been uttered in Hebrew.

  • Thanks, I didn't take it that far, to go from the root to the grammatic structure.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Jan 14, 2021 at 10:13

I have been looking at a (rather severe) criticism of the TPT version with specific regard to John 19:30, and found online that the Peshitta for "finished" is M'SheLeM and in order the better to argue on behalf of Pr. Simmons' efforts I went to my 1923 Berlin edition of Franz Delitzsch and found KuLaH. See the photo here (from a more recent edition that was easier to access.enter image description here

  • This page is copied from The Hebrew-English New Testament. ISBN 0-9826200-0-4, edited with notes by Dr. K. Daniel Fried, Hope of Israel Publications, ((P.O. Box 1700 Powder Springs, GA 30127) hopeofisrael.net p. 232. Commented Mar 31, 2022 at 18:17
  • 19:30 וַיִּקַּח יֵשׁוּעַ אֶת־הַחֹמֶץ וַיֹּאמֶר נִשְׁלָם וַיֵּט אֶת־רֹאשׁוֹ וַיַּפְקֵד אֶת־רוּחוֹ׃ Franz Julius Delitzsch. (n.d.). Delitzsch Hebrew New Testament (Jn 19:30). Thus, the 1930 edition is different.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 12:14

Another answer inferred that the actual word spoken by Jesus might have been the Aramaic word shlm, based on how the Peshitta translated the Greek text.

A different conclusion might be reached by looking where τετέλεσται is used in the Septuagint, which corresponds with the Aramaic word gemǎr, meaning be complete, perfected, finished.

τετέλεσται is the perfect passive indicative of the verb τελέω.

The only place where this verb appears in the Old Testament (Septuagint) in exactly the same form is Esdras B 7:12 (Ezra 7:12 in translations of the Masoretic Text):

Αρθασασθα βασιλεὺς βασιλέων Εσδρα γραμματεῖ νόμου τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, τετέλεσται ὁ λόγος καὶ ἡ ἀπόκρισις

Arthasastha, king of kings, to Esdras, the scribe of the law of the Lord God of heaven, Let the order and the answer be accomplished (Brenton).

According to Tov's Parallel Aligned Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Texts of Jewish Scripture, τετέλεσται is translating the Hebrew גמר (gmr) which which could support the Masoretic vocalization גְּמַר (gemǎr), which according to other sources2 is an Aramaic word meaning "be complete", "perfected", "finished".1

1 Swanson, A Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old Testament). An alternate vocalization here would be גֹּמֶר (Gomer) - the place - which doesn't fit the context.
2 e.g. Strong's Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek New Testament and the Hebrew Bible


πάντα τελεσθήσεται Daniel 4:33 LXX equals the term סָ֣פַת Daniel 4:30 HEBREW.

Verb peal perfect, 3rd. fem. סֶָ֫פַת Bauer-Leander ** to be fulfilled** , vide Daniel 2:44 aphel imperfect.

Theodotion replaces the term τελεσθήσεται (Daniel 4:33 LXX) with συνετελέσθη.

Explaining better the definition of the word סָ֣פַת

When Solomon had finished constructing the LORD's temple, he put the holy items that belonged to his father David (the silver, gold, and all the other articles) in the treasuries of God's temple. 2 Chronicles 5:1 NET

The entire assembly worshiped, as the singers sang and the trumpeters played. They continued until the burnt sacrifice was completed. 2 Chronicles 29:28 NET

The holocaust was complete and ended.


The meaning "it is paid" is what Jesus meant. His sacrifice paid the debt for sin "in full" meaning we are free from this debt by His Blood! It is often misunderstood to mean "it is finished" as in His time here is done, it is over, etc. Truth is Jesus is far more spiritual than this. His concerns were not for His very short and severe suffering but for something far greater, our SOUL! The debt has been paid. The wages of sin is death, not death of the body but death OF THE SOUL! Thus Jesus gave us everlasting life with His final blood sacrifice. He IS The Lamb of God after all!

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