with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.”—John 19:33, 34.
Though John’s account is quite plain, the question posed might come up because of reading Matthew 27:49, 50. It says there: “But the rest of them said: ‘Let him be! Let us see whether Elijah comes to save him.’ Another man took a spear and pierced his side, and blood and water came out. Again Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and yielded up his breath.” The sentence put in italics is what causes the difficulty; it might lead one to conclude that Jesus was alive when speared.
Many Bible translations, including The Jerusalem Bible in French and English, Elberfelder and Aschaffenburger in German, and Moderna, Valera and Nácar-Colunga in Spanish, omit that italicized sentence. Other translations include the words, but put them in brackets or provide an explanatory footnote. For example, in the original edition of the New World Translation a footnote explains that the sentence is contained in some important manuscripts, such as the Sinaitic and Vatican No. 1209, but not in others. Many scholars feel that a copyist mistakenly put in Matthew 27:49 words belonging at John 19:34.
The Greek Scripture portion of the New World Translation is based primarily on the master text by Westcott and Hort. This respected master text contains the sentence in the main body at Matthew 27:49, but puts it in double brackets. In explanation it says that the sentence “must lie under strong presumption of having been introduced by scribes.” Possibly in the future we will have more manuscript evidence regarding Matthew 27:49.
Nonetheless, it is evident from the plain presentation at John 19:31-37 that Jesus was already dead when he was speared. So the account in Matthew must be understood in the light of this. Matthew does not say exactly when the spearing of Jesus’ side took place; it simply lists it as one of the occurrences at the time of Jesus’ impalement. But John’s account does give clear indication of the time element. In view of this, one’s understanding of Matthew’s account must be influenced by what John wrote. When this is done, there is really no contradiction.
DOES BELIEVING MAKE IT SO?
Does general acceptance make an idea right? Countless mistaken beliefs of the past answer No. What, then, of the current, popular view of man’s origin, the doctrine of evolution? Have you ever examined it carefully and analytically? Have you ever critically considered the evidences advanced in its favor? Or have you always accepted it in the belief there is no other explanation of man’s origin? There is another side to the question, an extremely factual and reasonable one. You owe it to yourself to investigate. Read the 192-page, hardbound book Did Man Get Here by Evolution or by Creation? You will be glad you did. Send only 25c.
True worship has never been popular. The Bible shows that the true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ would be hated by all nations. (Matt. 24:9) Hence faithful Christians need to answer the challenge to true worship raised by the forces of nationalism. The early Christians answered the challenge by preaching despite opposition; they said: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) Jehovah’s witnesses answer the challenge to true worship in the same manner: They steadfastly preach the good news of God’s kingdom, obeying God as ruler. To announce Jehovah’s kingdom during March, these Christian witnesses will be offering this fine Bible-study aid, The Watchtower, on a subscription basis, for a year, for just $1.
“WATCHTOWER” STUDIES FOR THE WEEKS
April 6: What Influences Decisions in Your Life? Page 168. Songs to Be Used: 3, 112.
April 13: Living Up to Your Decisions. Page 174. Songs to Be Used: 18, 82.