John 10:18 (ESV): No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I received from my Father.

Possible considerations:

  1. "labein" is translated "take" but earlier in John 10:18 "airei" is translated "takes". How do these compare? What extra meaning does "labein" have that "airei" is not repeated?

  2. 3 out of 28 of the Bible Hub versions of this verse do not put "take" but put "receive". e.g. Aramaic B in P.E. puts "to receive it again". In Mark 8:6 Jesus "took" [ESV] the loaves and fishes. As I understand it He took them as the authority driving the situation and to receive would have been to have something bestowed upon Him.

  3. How does Jesus taking up His life not contradict Acts 2:24 where ho theos [the father/God] raised Him up?

  4. Is "take" really a better word than "receive" in this verse? [Compare e.g. with "receive" in John 3:27?].

5 Answers 5


There are several things going on in John 10:18 but let me dispose of one of the questions (#3) first as this is easiest. The verb used there for "raise up" in Acts 2:24 is ἀνίστημι (anistémi) which is always "raise up" and is quite distinct from any of the verbs in John 10:18.

Now let me provide a literal translation (BLB) of John 10:18 to better show the original words:

"No one takes [αἴρω] it from Me, but I lay it down [τίθημι] of Myself.

I have authority to lay it down [τίθημι], and I have authority to take/receive [λαμβάνω] it again.

This commandment I received [λαμβάνω] from My Father."

Thus, there are three verbs involved here which I list below with their BDAG meaning:

αἴρω (airo)

  1. to raise to a higher position
  2. to lift up and remove from one place to another
  3. to take away, remove or seize control without suggestion of lifting up, eg, John 10:18
  4. to make a withdrawal in a commercial sense
  5. to keep in a state of uncertainty about an outcome
  6. to raise a ships anchor for departure

τίθημι (themi)

  1. to put in a particular location (including, to take off or give up)
  2. to lay aside/deposit money
  3. to assign some task or function
  4. to bring about an arrangement
  5. to cause to undergo a change in experience or condition

λαμβάνω (lambano)

BDAG lists 10 basic meanings for this word of which I list the appropriate one here. (See BDAG for all the other shades of meanings and sub-meanings such as the difference bewteen John 3:27 and 10:18).

  1. to take into one's possession, eg, John 10:18

This simply reveals that Greek was a rich language with synonyms.

Now, the ressurection of Jesus is regularly spoken about in the NT and here are the relevant facts:

  • Acts 2:24, 3:15, 4:10, 5:30, 10:40, 13:30, 17:31, Rom 4:24, 1 Cor 15:15, Col 2:20, Heb 13:20, 1 Peter 1:3, 1 Thess 1:10 simply say that “God” raised Jesus without specifying any specific member of the Godhead
  • Rom 6:4, Gal 1:1, Eph 1:17-20 say that the Father raised Jesus from the dead.
  • John 2:19-21 and 10:17, 18 both say that Jesus resurrected Himself. Further, John 1:4, 5:26 says that the Son has “life in Himself”, that is, He is not dependent on the Father for His existence. Compare 1 John 5:11 & 1:1, 2.

The safest conclusion here is that the entire Godhead acted to raise Jesus.

  • 1
    I would have thought that John 2:19 "I will raise it up" could be short for, I will raise it up by exercising the authority to receive it given by the commandment of the Father. In other words total dependence upon the Father.
    – C. Stroud
    Sep 11, 2020 at 17:07
  • 1
    @C.Stroud Yes, but only if you torture the text. When Jesus says "I will put my life and take it back", in "put" nobody doubts that He does it out of His own consent and authority, and since "take back" is said in the same sentence with a parallel power, then why on earth one should torture the text and introduce there a meaning that at all evidence cannot be there, for He does both out of His own Sovereign authority which the Logos eternally has from and shares with the Father, of course. Sep 15, 2020 at 17:50
  • @Levan Gigineishvili Are you saying/suggesting that Jesus' authority is not 100% under the authority of the Father?
    – C. Stroud
    Sep 16, 2020 at 13:17
  • 1
    @C.Stroud "under" is not a right word, for Their (Father's and Son's) authority is the same and Son's is not subjected to the Father's any more than Father's to the Son's - Both are on a parallel dimension of eternity, sharing the same Godhead and, ergo, the same authority; not that Father is above the Son, They are equal. Sep 16, 2020 at 13:28
  • 2
    @C.Stroud Their divine action is one and the same action (John 5:17), thus Father cannot, is ontologically unable, to exert His authority, i.e. to work/to act, unless the Son co-acting and co-exerting the authority with Him. E.g. Father has an authority to create the world, which He is perfectly impotent to do without His Logos. Sep 16, 2020 at 13:45

The word αἴρω (airō) means take in the sense of remove. It is the word used, for example, in Matthew 9:6

Rise, pick up [ἆρόν] your bed and go home.

Λαμβάνω (lambanō) on the other hand means take as in take hold of or collect. Hence receive would also fit many contexts, but it also appears in Matthew 10:38 as

And whoever does not take [λαμβάνει] his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

With this in mind, I think John 10:18 could also have been translated something like, No man takes it away from me without my laying it down [willingly]. I have the power to lay it down, but I also have the power to collect it again.

John Chrysostom's explanation:

Because they often took counsel to kill Him, He tells them, “Except I will, your labor is unavailing”

Let us give heed exactly to what He says, “I have power to lay down My life.” But who doesn't have the power to lay down his life, since it is in the power of any that will, to kill himself. But He doesn't say it this way. “I have in such a way the power to lay it down, that no one can effect this against My will.” And this is a power not belonging to men, for we have no power to lay it down in any other way than by killing ourselves. And if we fall into the hands of men who plot against us and have the power to kill us, we no longer are free to lay it down or not, but even against our will they take it from us. Now this was not the case with Christ, but even when others plotted against Him He had power not to lay it down. Having therefore said that, No man taketh it from Me, He adds, I have power to lay down My life, that is, “I alone can decide as to laying it down,” a thing which doth not rest with us, for many others also are able to take it from us

... And if all this is true, the next point is also certain, that He can take it again when He will. For if the dying was a greater thing than man could do, doubt no more about the other. Since the fact that He alone was able to let go His life shows that He was able by the same power to take it again (Homily LX on John)


1.In the αἴρει Jesus means that His life is not to be stopped by somebody without His own authoritative consent, that He can avoid any murderous intent (cf. Luke 4:30; or Matthew 26:53), and if He undergoes the murder, He does it out of His own will and authority. Actually, this authority is not prophetic (for none of the prophets, nor even the greater than prophets - John the Baptist - had this authority) and thus not human (for prophets are most dignified among the humans) but only divine.

However, in the λαβεῖν met in the same verse He means that He, the immortal and eternal Logos of the Father, can bestow life to His dead body again, and in this sense His dead body will receive (λαμβάνω) life.

Thus the semantics of αἰρέω and λαμβάνω in this passage are different in this way.

  1. I guess the 2 is (more or less) addressed and answered in the 1.

  2. No contradiction whatsoever: God (Father) cannot rise anybody from dead but through His co-eternal Son and Logos, just like God cannot create the world and life-forms of this world without His Logos (cf. John 1:1-3). It is total absurdity to think that Father resurrected Logos' body without Logos being aware of it, for of course They resurrected Logos' body together. Thus, "God resurrected Jesus" does in no way contradict the statement "Jesus resurrected His own body", as He Himself says in John 10:18.

Just fancy: is not it a total absurdity to think that Logos through whom all universe is created and sustained died? Then all creation would have collapsed, for “sustain”, as Descartes aptly writes, requires exactly the same exertion of power as creation, and if Father cannot create but through Logos, neither can He sustain the creation but through the Logos; since creation did not collapse in those three days when Jesus’ body laid in the tomb, then necessarily Logos was at work as ever. Or we fall into mythologies and “old woman’s fairy tales”, if we think that poor Father and even poorer Holy Spirit were left orphaned without company of their coeternal Logos for three days, and then being too bored and mournful they recreated the Logos together with His dead body. But such phantasies belong to another stack exchange site, “Fiction” or “Most bizarre phantasies”, if someone launches such.

  1. "take" is good, better than "receive", which can have a notion of a passivity, while "take" is more indicative of activity and authority on the part of the Logos.

I think this verse has the sense of: No one takes/steals it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to receive/lambano it again. This commission/charge/commandment I received/lambano from the Father.

In other words lambano occurs twice so why not put "receive" also twice?

To me "giving and receiving" make a good pair but "giving and taking up" are a more awkward pair.

The Son receives in two ways:

  1. As the Father raises Him up Acts 2:24.

  2. As the Father gives the Son the authority to receive this raising up.

Both Father and Son are involved with Jesus being raised up, but within the process I think we can see that they have separate roles. The Father is the ultimate authority, the giver of authority-This charge I received from my Father. Jesus is the receiver. It takes two to give and take.

Just as in John 1:12 we need to receive/lambano if we are to be children of God, Jesus also received.

Conclusion: When lambano is consistently translated "receive" it reminds us of the other places it occurs. I can't think of a special reason why "take up" is particularly needed instead of "receive" in John 10:28.


It's clearly and consistently expressed that "God" raised Jesus from the dead (in over 20 places, and a few that mention the Father). The bible is unwavering - Jesus did not raise himself - God, his Father did.

As it was Jesus' mission to live without sin in order for his Messiahship to be valid, he said he could not do this on his own. Apart from not being able to do anything of himself, he prayed the Father to save him from death - not death on the cross, but permanent death should he have failed (sinned) in any way. Hebrews 5:7-9 He was totally dependent on His Father - for everything.

In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. 8 Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. 9 And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation

Jesus accomplished his victory over sin and was thereby granted the reward. Life anew with the Father forever. Immortality was his the moment he died - yet of course he waited on God the Father to raise him at the appointed time. He didn't 'receive' life - as if to imply it was a favour or a gift. No, he earnt the right to be take up life again as 'death could not hold him' Acts 2:24. Jesus was 'legally' entitled to being raised as he had not sinned or earned the death penalty. He was raised to a spirit life, not mortal life as before, but to receive the holy spirit as promised.

Acts 2:33 ‘Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit of God,

Something far grander had taken place than Jesus being given his own life again.

Jesus had 'taken' life back, after Adam lost it, from the adversary who presently rules with sin and death. Dying for all, now he lives for all, and we in him! So we might think of him taking life not just for himself, but in grace and glory to God he has taken it back for all men.

  • 1
    Since Jesus was legally entitled to being raised as he had not sinned or earned the death penalty, can it be said that, if only for the sake of argument, if he had not been crucified or, for that matter, murdered in any way or died in a physical accident, he would have lived forever on earth as a human being? In other words, would Jesus have eventually died of natural causes had he not been crucified?
    – moron
    Sep 19, 2021 at 1:45
  • Frankly the consideration of this hypothetical is pointless and fruitless. Perhaps interesting, but without any benefit in knowing either way.
    – Steve
    Sep 19, 2021 at 2:22

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