“They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” Psalms 69:21
“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24
It is finished: the vinegar and the sword
We are told in the Gospels that Jesus was given vinegar when He was on the cross and then He proclaimed, “It is finished”. I have often wondered what the significance of this vinegar is according to the Gospel accounts. We do know that this was a prophecy that was fulfilled according to Psalms 69 and we do know vinegar itself has a lot of ‘healing’ qualities to it. I have been drinking apple cider vinegar and it has in fact stopped my headaches and helped me in other ways. I can personally say that vinegar does work. But, what was the connection between vinegar and Jesus if there was any? Let’s dig a little and see what we can find. But before we start, I do want to say that we will go through some scriptures that you might not think that will pertain to this study but in fact they do.
We can see that vinegar has a lot of good uses for it in this day and age. It helps headaches, acid reflux, detoxing your body and there are many house hold uses for it. We also know that you can make wine with it and it can also be used with food and as a preservative/pickling agent. Civilizations over thousands of years have used vinegar in one way or another. “During biblical times, vinegar was used to flavor foods, drunk as an energizing drink, and used as a medicine. It’s mentioned in both the old and new testaments. In the Book of Ruth (Ruth 2:14), after working hard gleaning barley in the fields, Ruth was invited by Boaz to eat bread and dip it in vinegar” (http://www.enzyme-facts.com/vinegar-history.html). As you can see, there were and are a lot of uses for vinegar but what was the point of vinegar in the Gospel accounts? Was it just there to fulfill Psalms 69:21 or does it have more significance prophetically than we think?
Let’s take a look at the verse that mentions vinegar in the New Testament in light of this study. John 19:29 says “Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.” I often wondered where this vessel of vinegar came from, who brought it and what was its intended use? Some scholars say it was for the centurions who were watching over the crucifixion for whatever reason. That may be true to some, but when reading the Gospels you will see that the story isn’t portrayed like we have seen it in movies. The Sanhedrin were some of the key players at the crucifixion along with the Roman soldiers. The Roman soldiers were not only to watch over the crucifixion but were also to be the ones to administer it. Jesus was in judgement before the Sanhedrin for blasphemy because they claimed He was leading the nation of Israel astray and into apostasy. Pontius Pilate found no fault in Him.
In the Geneva Commentary on John 19:29 says “Galatinus witnesses out of the book called Sanhedrin that the Jews often gave those who were executed vinegar mixed with frankincense to drink, to make them somewhat delirious: so the Jews provided charitably for the poor men’s conscience who were executed.” We can see from the writing’s of the Sanhedrin that they were the ones to bring the vinegar to the place of judgement. The site where they proclaimed judgement upon a criminal or law breaker was in Bath Pagi located on the Mount of Olives. I personally believe Jesus was crucified on the Mount of Olives and not on the “skull mountain” that is northwest of the temple mount area like some believe. According to the writings of the Sanhedrin, we can see that their meeting place, council chambers and proclamations of judgement were located in the town of Bathpage (or Beth Pagi). This “outside the camp” or “outside the gate” was still recognized in Jesus’ day to be a part of Jerusalem proper or within the city limits.
In the case of this vessel, some scholars have suggested that Joseph of Arimathaea was the one who brought the filled vessel of vinegar. We do know Joseph (along with Nicodemus) were members of the Sanhedrin. Joseph “being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus” (John 19:38) so that they could bury His body in his new tomb. When reading that this vessel could have belonged to Joseph (and this is just pure speculation), it made me wonder if it may have had something to do with “the manner of the Jews is to bury” (John 19:40) custom. I researched it and came across how Jews (presently and in the past) embalm their dead according to their customs. They still do this to this very day. Rabbi Elochonon Zohn states “”There are some chevras that use a mixture of egg white and vinegar, applied to the forehead, which was an old way of identifying the body of a Jew, when a body had to be transported and sometimes switched by non-Jews to perpetuate a blood libel. The vinegar has a strong smell, and the egg is sticky, so by either feel or smell, Jews could tell if the body was switched.” (http://www.shemayisrael.co.il/burial/bodysoul.htm) He is speaking about when a Jew is blown up and they need to recognize their body just in case it becomes misplaced. The smell of the vinegar in this case is used to recognize their body. Other civilizations have also used vinegar in the embalming method for whatever reasons, mainly for preserving. The point is, vinegar has been associated with the burial of the dead even if this wasn’t used in the burial of Jesus. Either way, the Scriptures don’t say if it was or if it wasn’t.
Before we get into this study I want to point out that I was curious as to what kind of vinegar this was inside this vessel. “1000 BC… In ancient Rome different types of vinegar were made from wine, dates, figs and other fruits and placed in bowls for the dunking of bread” (http://www.enzyme-facts.com/vinegar-history.html). We can find an example of dunking the bread in vinegar in Ruth 2. I also find it interesting that the Romans used figs and dates to make vinegar. So what is so interesting about this? We already know that the Roman guards were present as a security measure and this site was at Beth Pagi. Bethpage is called the “house of Figs”. Was this vinegar made of figs? I can only speculate but it is interesting. Now let’s take an in depth look into the Gospel of John’s account in Chapter 29.
In John 19:29, the KJV says “Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar”. The word vessel in the Greek is ‘skeuos’. A vessel could represent a person’s body according to Paul. Strong’s definition says, “a vessel to contain liquid; a vessel of mercy or wrath; any instrument by which anything is done”. He defines this vessel as not only something that contains liquid, but as a symbol of ‘a vessel of mercy or wrath’. I suggest the latter was alluded to in the crucifixion account of this vessel. That this vessel was not only literally filled with a liquid, but was symbolic of the wrath that Jesus was to drink. And this particular wrath (orge), was the wrath that we all deserve starting from Adam until now. Let me point out one other thing that Strong’s says in regards to the word ‘skeuos’. He says “a vessel, implement, equipment or apparatus (literally or figuratively [specifically a wife as contributing to the usefulness of the husband]).” He attributes a ‘skeuos/vessel’ to a wife that contributes something that is useful to her husband. This reminds of when Eve was created from Adam’s rib to be his helpmate. She wasn’t to be his slave (as some would think) but was to assist him in life as a wife is supposed to do. And this also makes me think about the Bride that Jesus is coming back for. She is to be white as snow when He returns and we are to be His helpmate while we await His return for us. At Golgotha Jesus took this vessel full of the sin of the world that had started with Adam, so that we as the Bride of Christ, could be redeemed through His blood.
I also want to point out that the word for ‘vessel’ in Hebrew is ‘keliy’. This word can be used for ‘an article, vessel, implement, utensil’. The root for ‘keliy’ is ‘kalah’. Strong’s definition is “to end, whether intransitively (to cease, be finished, perish) or transitively (to complete, prepare, consume).” Brown-Driver-Briggs says “to accomplish, cease, consume, determine, end, fail, finish, be complete, be accomplished, be ended, be at an end, be finished, be spent.” And the Complete WordStudy Dictionary states “Its primary meaning is to consummate or to bring to completion. This occasionally occurs in a positive sense as in the awesome goodness of God’s perfected and finished creation (Gen_2:1-2). However, kālāh is more often used with a negative connotation. The verb also describes the transitory reality of fallen human nature. We finish our years like a sigh (Psa_90:9), passing away like an exhausted cloud (Job_7:9).” It’s interesting that this word ‘kalah’ means ‘to end, finish or accomplish’. And here is what is so cool. This root word from where this Hebrew vessel comes from is associated with the transitory (not permanent or temporary) reality of our fallen human nature that began with the first man Adam. And in a more positive light, it represents a consummation or the ending of something. A marriage is finalized after the ceremony when it is consummated. We see the ending as a consummation when Jesus comes back for His bride for the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9). We also see in Daniel 9:27, the “abominations he shall make desolate, even until the consummation”. This desolation doesn’t stop until Jesus comes back, this is the end. Later we will see the connection to this root word for vessel in Hebrew and how it ties into Jesus on the cross when He says “it is finished!”
Mark 11 and the vessel
“And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.”
Now let’s take a look at Mark 11 and see what it says about this vessel. We can see this literal vessel ‘skeuos’ in Mark 11:15-16, “And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And would not suffer (ēphien) that any man should carry (dienenkē) any vessel (skeuos) through the temple.” We can see the negative connotations of this vessel being used in the temple, turning it into a sort of market place and a den of thieves. The variation of this word for ‘suffer’ is ἤφιεν (ēphien). It was used twice and can be translated as ‘permit or allowed’. In the only other account of this word, it is used in Mark 1:34 for Jesus not allowing the devils to speak because they knew who He was. I assume that this is because He had just started His ministry and He had many things that needed to be accomplished. This verse in Mark 1:34 also tells us Jesus has complete authority over these devils. Jesus would not suffer us or allow us or permit us to carry anything that is not of Him i.e. sin, in our bodily vessel.
The Greek word that is used for the phrase “should carry” is διενέγκῃ (dienenkē). It was used just this one time but the root word that dienenkē comes from is diaphérō. HELP’S Word Studies says this about diaphérō, “(from 1223 /diá, “through,” intensifying 5342 /phérō, “carry”) – properly, take all the way through (i.e. to the end); (figuratively) to distinguish fully to show what is better (superior).” It is used a total of 13 times and we find it in Matthew 10:31 when Jesus asks if we aren’t of more value than sparrows. In the context of the 4 Gospel accounts of this word diaphérō, it is used for people who are better or of more value than sheep or birds. Is Jesus saying that the vessels that these men were carrying through the temple were of no value because of what they contained? Was this to be taken literally or symbolically? I think we can see it both ways. Let’s take a look and see what Jesus may have been saying prophetically in a symbolic sense. “And would not suffer (allow/permit) that any man should carry (denotes something that should be of value (something that is superior) but there was no value in what they had, and they were to carry this to the very end) any vessel (something sinful and of no value) through the temple (body).”
If we look at this verse in Mark 11 in a spiritual sense, are we seeing Jesus going into our temples (our bodies) and cleaning house? Do we think we are to carry (anything that isn’t of value) and have a full vessel (sin) in our own temples (bodies)? We are to get rid of those things that are of no need for us anymore. Is this verse also symbolic of the separation of the sheep and the goats by casting out those that buy and sell (remember Revelation) and rebuking those who are more in love with making money off of their spiritual gifts and selling them? Let’s also take notice that before Jesus goes into Jerusalem i.e. the Temple, He was on the Mount of Olives coming from Bethpage and this is when He mentioned the fig tree “No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it. “(Mark 11:16 and Matthew 21:19). We can see a connection from this account with this vessel and the fig tree prior to Jesus going into the temple. The significance of this vessel according to Mark has a very negative connotation that tells us not to carry sin in our own temples. Don’t you know that we are the Temple of God?
Now back to John 19:29. “Now there was set (ekeito) a vessel full (meston) of vinegar”. The phrase ‘there was set’ or ‘had been set (there)’ is ‘ekeito’. This is used just four times. Once in Matthew 28:6, John 20:12 and Revelation 4:2. In the two Gospel accounts, it was used for the body of Jesus that was lying in the tomb after He had risen. It was translated as ‘was set’ in Revelation for Jesus sitting on the throne ruling and reigning. So we can see it used at the time when Jesus was in the grave for three days and three nights and when He had ascended to the throne at the right hand of God. In context of these scriptures we can clearly see this word ‘ekeito’ was used for before (pre-death), during (bodily death) and after (post-resurrection) concerning His body. This vessel that ‘was set’ was used in three different settings. Now let’s take a look at the word used for ‘full’. The word used for ‘full’ in the Greek is ‘meston’. It was used only three times, twice in John 19:29 and once in John 21:11. John 21:11 is when Peter cast out his net and caught the 153 fish in his net. This miracle was signifying that they are now fishers of men, not just fisherman. Notice how they were specific with the 153 fish and counting every single last fish in the net. I personally believe the outer layer of this text is the miracle of the 153 fush. But I think we can find a little more meaning just by doing a little digging and peeling the layers.
John 21 and the full net
“Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.” – John 21:11
In John 21 we see Jesus on the shore already cooking fish on a hot fire, when He tells Peter to bring the miraculous catch to him. Peter was out at sea which symbolically can represent the nations in the Bible (and on a side note: according to Rabbinical writings, the sea represents the spiritual and the land represents the physical). Remember, at this point Jesus is also in His resurrected body. I see this as a type of the end time harvest where Jesus has already started the separation of the wheat and tares (of those “fish” that will burn in the fire). Peter (a type of the church) is out being a fisher of men and is collecting those who are ready for the harvest. We can see here that the Holy Spirit had the writer of the Gospel of John use the word ‘drew’ when talking about how Peter brought the net to land. Here is something interesting. This word drew – helkuo’ (ειλκυσεν) was also used one other time, in this variation in the New Testament, and it happens to be in John 18:10. “Then Simon Peter having a sword drew (ειλκυσεν ) it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.” I know Peter wasn’t evangelizing to Malchus here because we know the context of what is going on. That’s obvious. But with that said, I personally see two different Peters here in these two different verses. Prior to Jesus going to the cross and Peter not having that resurrected life through Christ yet, we see Peter like I can sometimes get. Instead of drawing men and leading them to Christ like John 21, we tend to beat up on people, Christian and non-Christian alike. I have caught myself wanting to cut off the ears (figuratively speaking) of those who won’t or don’t want to listen to the Good News. This is completely contradicting on how we need to treat people.
One other thing I want to bring up in John 21 is the 153 fish. The amount of fish that were held in the net was a miracle in itself. But, I have read where these 153 fish can represent many different things. In Hebrew gemetria, the phrases “Sons of God – bene ha Elohim”, “the Passover – ha Pesach” and Zola Levitt states “I Am GOD – Ani Elohim” all adds up to 153. There is only one word in Hebrew that does add up to 153, the word Mitzvah (commandment). I have also read that the 153 fish represented every known species of fish at the time and not only that, the 153 represented every known person/ethnicity at that time. You can also find that there were exactly 153 people in the Gospels that were either blessed or healed in one way or another that came into contact with Jesus. And Jerome in his Commentary of Ezekiel 47:10 also linked the 153 fish to Ezekiel’s vision of a river of life flowing out from the Messianic Temple when Jesus returns. I won’t get into this so you will need to read Jerome’s commentary to get a better understanding of what he is saying.
One thing that immediately caught my attention was that these 153 fish are equal to 5 months. We see 5 months in Revelation 9 where the locusts are not to harm those who are sealed by God. I have read that this 5 months or 153 days can be looked at as the final 5 months before Jesus comes back. I also want to point out Genesis 7:24 and 8:3. “And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days” and “And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated”. This is obviously 3 days short of the 153 but we can see that this is the time of judgement during the flood. The time when anything living would cease to live after the 150 days or 5 months. Most scholars believe Jesus could come back during the fall feasts to fulfill prophecy, since He fulfilled the first four feasts in the final week of His life here on earth. Now as far as Revelation 9 is concerned, I do know this. These real locusts tend to ravage and destroy crops from May to September in Israel and this all happens at the 5th Trumpet. According to what I just mentioned, the timing of these locusts ends right when the fall feasts starts. And just for the record, I personally believe that these locusts represents demonic spirits or entities.
Now if we are to look at this 153 fish as an end time harvest, I am reminded by what Paul says in 1st Thessalonians 4:15-17. “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” Some scholars look at the word ‘remain’ in these verses and believe that it could be interpreted as ‘remnant’. The word perileipomenoi (περιλειπομενοι) can mean ‘left behind (with the implication of continuing to exist), to survive or remain’. To put it plainly, “Those who are “alive and remain” will be those who have survived the persecution of the antichrist when the Lord returns”(http://www.pbministries.org/Eschatology/william_arnold3/5_ptr.htm).
This Greek word for ‘remain’ is the same as ‘shawar’ in Hebrew. This root word ‘shawar’ literally means to “swell up” and can carry the meaning ‘remaining, to reserve or remnant’. The Complete WordStudy Dictionary says this about ‘Shawar’. “The term maintains a narrow semantic range throughout Old Testament literature. The verb and the nouns that derive from it (see še’ār [H7605] and še ’ēriyṯ [H7611]) play a key role in the development of the remnant theme that unfolds and evolves over the course of Old Testament history. From the early beginnings of salvation history in Genesis and all the way through to the end of the Old Testament and beyond, God has sovereignly acted to preserve for Himself a remnant of people who will worship Him alone”. We can see that the words for remnant come from this root word exclusively and we can see this connection when Paul mentions those who “remain” to those in Thessalonica. Those who are alive and remain that survive till the very end, can only be one group of people…the remnant of GOD. Is this the same group of those that are sealed in Revelation 9?
Now here is a big hypothetical what if? But…could it be possible that these 5 months (153 days) of Revelation 9 at the 5th Trumpet may be a type of the harvest right before Jesus comes back? Is this the outpouring of the end time new wine that Joel talks about? We can see one side of the coin of where those who take the mark of the beast are tormented and want to die but they can’t. Then we have the other side of the coin where we have those who have the seal of God and they can’t be harmed. During these 5 months they are literally being refined by fire and going through tribulation. Are these 153 fish connected to the 5 months of Revelation 9 in turn connected to the end time harvest remnant? Are those that are sealed in Rev. 9 sealed the same way someone is sealed when they accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior? Is this the same sealing? I would think so. So, this brings me to John 4:34-38. “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.” We can see Jesus referring to the end of a harvest and there were still four months left. But He says that they were already being made white and were ready at that point. Does this correlate with the 5 months of Revelation 9? I can’t be dogmatic about it but I can say there does seem to be some sort of connection as far as I’m concerned.
Vinegar and the vow
So we have already looked at a verse that can be seen symbolically as a vessel (that is representing a person’s body) that was full (filled to the rim) with vinegar (sin) that was set (the risen Lord in His resurrected body) there for a purpose. But can we be sure vinegar represents sin? The word vinegar is ὄξους (oxous) in Greek and is used 4 times. In each instance it is used in relation to Jesus on the cross being given the vinegar. The other word in the New Testament that is used for wine is ‘oinos’ and it is used for the wine that the harlot drinks. These are two different wines and the vinegar that we are talking about is also not to be confused with the vinegar that was mixed with gall that He was offered in Matthew 27:34, 48. He refused this as we can see in scriptures because this had a numbing or pain killing effect to it. Oxous is translated in the Septuagint in Ruth 2:14 and Numbers 6:3. The Numbers reference is to the Nazarite Vow where they were to stay away from anything fermented.
“In the order of the Nazirite there is not only the concept of separation and consecration of an individual to God but also the concept of ministerial service, and perhaps a link to the royal priesthood as found in the High Priest’s vow of service. The Hebrew word nezer, from the same root as the word nazir , which also means “consecrated” is inscribed on the holy crown worn on the mitre of the High Priest [Exodus 29:6; 39:30; Leviticus 8:9], on the “crown” of the holy anointing oil used to sanctify people and objects to Yahweh [Leviticus 21:12], and later in the days of the monarchy the term is applied to the royal crown of the Kings of Israel [see 2 Samuel 1:10; 2 Kings 11:12; Zechariah 9:16]…. Abstaining from wine and all products of the vine separate him or her from normal social occasions and the lure of temporal luxury and excess and is perhaps a reminder of the “fruit” that led man into sin in the Garden of Eden. The abstention from fermented drink signified that the Nazirite’s acceptance of a life of service as opposed to a life of ease [see Jeremiah 35:5-8].” (http://www.agapebiblestudy.com/documents/The%20Nazirite%20Vow.htm) (The big debate is if Jesus took the Nazarite vow that Paul, John the Baptist and Sampson took or if He didn’t. I won’t get into that here but I will say this. If you do a simple Hebrew word study on Nazarite and Nazareth/Nazarene, you will find out that they are two completely different words that have no relation. Jesus was the Branch. You can find a good starting point on this subject here: http://www.seedofabraham.net/naz.html)
Notice that the article above refers to the original sin in the Garden of Eden when eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I am one to believe that this tree was in fact a fig tree according to the leaves that Adam and Eve covered themselves with. Another strong point is that Jesus also cursed the fig tree and it withered and died. Tradition also states that this tree of knowledge of good and evil was located on the mount of Olives, the same place Jesus cursed the fig tree before He entered the Temple to overturn the tables. So this could be a reminder according to the Nazarite vow that they were to stay away from sin and were to consecrate themselves the same way the High Priest would. This brings us to what vinegar could represent. I believe the bitterness of it could represent sin. Although it has medicinal aspects to it, the symbology of it fits well with sin. This word for vinegar is ‘chomets’ in Hebrew and comes from the root word ‘chamets’. Chamets means ‘to be leavened, be sour, to be red’. ‘Chamets’ was used in Exodus 12:34 & 39 when talking about unleavened bread. Leaven always represented sin or in some cases in the New Testament was alluded to false doctrine.
We can see this in Galations 5:9 “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump”, in 1st Corinthians 5:6-8 “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”. We can see that these verses represents sin. Now take note of the last meaning, ‘to be red’. We can find this word in Isaiah 63:1 “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed (chamets) garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” This is referring to Jesus coming from Bozrah, Edom after He has treaded the wine press at His second coming. If we are to take this literal, then it looks like Jesus’ garments are literally dipped in blood from His judgment at the winepress. I believe this to be true, literally and symbolically. Remember this judgement that He has performed in Edom, because it will all make sense in a little bit.
Vinegar and the sharp twoedged sword
Let’s get back to the Greek word ‘oxous’ (vinegar) for a minute. This word comes from ‘oxus’ which means ‘sharp, swift or eager’. We can find this word in Revelation 1:16 “And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp (oxus) twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength” and in Revelation 19:15 “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp (oxus) sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.” This is also used in Revelation 14:14, 17, 18 when talking about the sharp sickle that treads the winepress in judgement. Remember Bozrah and the dyed (chamets) garments? We can see a connection here with the Hebrew word for vinegar and the sickle that treads the winepress in judgement. So we can see that this is mentioning judgement when Jesus comes back. Here is the cool thing about this word. Jesus takes the vinegar (oxous) and ingests it on the cross and says “It is finished”. He who was without sin was taking our sin for us so we could have redemption through the work of the cross. He took the oxous (vinegar) which was symbolic of our sins (I would go out on a limb and even say the original sin with Adam) and when He returns, He will come with the sharp (oxus) sword of judgement that will precede out of His mouth. Do you see the connection? He ingested one for us on the Mount of Olives where we obtained our redemption and it will proceed out of His mouth in the future on the Mount of Olives in judgment.
Let’s look at the rest of what John 19:29 says, “and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.” We can also see a connection with the word ‘mouth’ in John 19:29 and this sword of judgement. Luke 21:24 says “And they shall fall by the edge (stomati) of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” We find this same word in John 19:29 “Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth (stomati).” We also see this same word in Revelation 10:9-10 “And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth (stomati) sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth (stomati) sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.” There is also a connection to bitterness and a sharp twoedged sword in Proverbs 5:4 “But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword.” You can find Wormwood in Revelation 8. We can see another connection with bitterness, the mouth and the twoedged sword that are all connecting the dots back to vinegar i.e. sin and judgment.
We see in the Matthew 27:48 account where one of them ran and got the vinegar to give to Jesus. “And straightway one of them ran (dramon), and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.” The word used for ran is ‘dramon’ and it is also used in the Mark account and in Luke 15:20 with the prodigal son returning home. “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran (dramon), and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” I believe whoever ran and did this at the cross, it was strictly out of compassion and love for Jesus. This was all done in humility as the Father welcomed the prodigal son back into His arms. Did he know he was fulfilling prophecy of Psalms 69:21 when Jesus proclaimed “I thirst”? I wonder who this was that did this? Was it Joseph of Aramathea or Nicodemus or some unnamed person in the Gospel account like Lazarus? We will never know. We can only speculate. Also notice in John’s account that they ‘put or brought’ the vinegar to His mouth. This word is προσήνεγκαν (prosēnenkan) and is used 7 times and they are all in the gospels. The first time it is used is in Matthew 2:11 when the magi brought Him gifts when He was a toddler. In Matthew 4:24, 8:16, 9:32 and 14:35 this is translated as ‘brought’ when the people were bringing Jesus those that were possessed with demons and those that were sick. With the vinegar being brought to His mouth, we can see that this is symbolic of the final work on the cross that brought us redemption and salvation. Not only was this putting the vinegar to His mouth a gift for us (like in the story of the magi) but He bore our sins that we brought to Him at the cross.
Let’s talk about the hyssop mentioned in Matthew for a second.I will be brief on this hyssop. The most interesting thing about the hyssop is that it was used in the Passover in Exodus 12:22. It was dipped in the bason full of the blood of the lamb and put on both sides of the door and at the top. This vinegar given to Jesus on the cross was symbolic of Him being the final Passover Lamb slain for the sins of the world. In John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible he makes a mention of the ‘hyssop’. He states “The Arabic and Persic versions render it, “a reed”, as in the other evangelists; and the Ethiopic version has both, “they filled a sponge with vinegar, and it was set round with hyssop, and they bound it upon a reed”; and so some have thought that a bunch of hyssop was stuck round about the sponge of vinegar, which was fastened to the top of a reed; and the words will bear to be rendered; “setting it about with hyssop”: this they might have out of the gardens, which were near this place, or it might grow upon the mountain itself; for we are told (z), it grew in great plenty upon the mountains about Jerusalem, and that its branches were almost a cubit long. Josephus (a) makes mention of a village beyond Jordan called Bethezob, which, as he says, signifies the house of hyssop; perhaps so called from the large quantity of hyssop that grew near it:”
We see this reed that the hyssop was on mentioned in Mark’s account in Mark 15:36 and in Matthew’s account in Matthew 27:48. This word in the Greek is καλάμῳ (kalamō) and was used 2 other times. Once in Mark 15:19 when Jesus was spat on and hit in the head with a reed and in Revelation 21:16 when the angel had the reed that he used to measure the New Jerusalem. A variation of this same word was used in Revelation 11:1 when John was told to take the reed and measure “the temple of God, and the altar and them that worship therein”. JFB Commentary says this about the reed. “The reed, the canon of Scripture, the measuring reed of the Church, our rule of faith, speaks. So in Rev_16:7 the altar is personified as speaking (compare Note, see on Rev_16:7). The Spirit speaks in the canon of Scripture (the word canon is derived from Hebrew, “kaneh,” “a reed,” the word here used; and John it was who completed the canon).” It was to be the perfect measuring “stick” for truth. Not only truth but was also used as a form of judgement in the Old Testament.And in this case, was this reed used to fulfill prophecy in a literal and symbolic sense?
John 19:30 “When Jesus therefore had received (elaben) the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” The word received here can be translated as took and it is ἔλαβεν (elaben) in the Greek. We find this word first used in Matthew 8:17 when Jesus is fulfilling Isaiah 53:4. “Himself took (elaben) our infirmities and bare our sicknesses.” Remember John 10:17-18? “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” Jesus took it on His own behalf because He knew He had the power raise up His vessel again..and He did! I like the translation of John 19:30 when it reads He TOOK it other than received it. We have already seen the word ‘put’ when referring to the vinegar being ‘put or brought’ to the mouth of Jesus in the previous verse of John 19:29 was used when the people were bringing the sick to be healed and those that were possessed to be delivered. Now we see in the next verse that Jesus taking the vinegar is fulfilling what was being brought to Him.
It is finished
Now we come to when Jesus said “It was finished”. This word is τετέλεσται (tetelestai) and this form of this word was only used twice. The other time is in John 19:28 “After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished (tetelestai), that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.” Jesus knew that the work of redemption on the cross was finished and all that needed to be done was to drink the vinegar and fulfill Psalms 69:21. The last thing that Jesus did was take the original sin (vinegar) from Adam at that tree and place himself on that tree for us, and put that sin to His mouth and drank of that cup. Symbolically speaking, He also did this literally! It’s amazing that the last thing that touched His mouth was the vinegar that represented our sin and transgressions so that all things would be accomplished! Remember the word for vessel (keliy) in Hebrew? The word ‘keliy’ that comes from the root word for ‘kalah’, is the same word used for ‘tetelestai’ when translated from the Greek to the Hebrew. Can you believe that?! The word vessel in Hebrew comes from the root word that means “to accomplish or be complete” and when translated into Greek, it is this same word that means “accomplished or finished” – teleo (root word for ‘tetelestai)’. Jesus knew “It is finished” before it was finished. The final thing that He needed to do was to take the vinegar from this vessel at the place of His crucifixion and transfer that vessel full of symbolic sin and place the literal sin from creation upon His body. But I want to point out something. What was finished? The work of the cross was finished that we will never have to taste the sting of death. That those who believe upon His name will be saved and will be with Him forever. Remember when Jesus rose from the tomb? Peter and the unnamed person that was with him, ran to the tomb to only find out He was gone. And the one thing they found was His face cloth/napkin folded neatly? This is very significant. Let’s see why.
Here is something I had read on a Facebook post from Rk Ralf Kelleter about the napkin that was folded inside the empty tomb. “The Gospel of John (20:7) tells us that the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the grave clothes. The Bible takes an entire verse to tell us that the napkin was neatly folded, and was placed separate from the grave clothes. In order to understand the significance of the folded napkin, you have to understand a little bit about Hebrew tradition of that day. The folded napkin had to do with the Master and Servant, and every Jewish boy knew this tradition. When the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure that it was exactly the way the master wanted it.. The table was furnished perfectly, and then the servant would wait, just out of sight, until the master had finished eating, and the servant would not dare touch that table, until the master was finished. Now, if the master were done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his beard, and would wad up that napkin and toss it onto the table. The servant would then know to clear the table. For in those days, the wadded napkin meant, ‘I’m done’. But if the master got up from the table, and folded his napkin, and laid it beside his plate, the servant would not dare touch the table, because……….. The folded napkin meant, ‘I’m coming back!’”
From this study of the napkin in John 20:7 we can see symbolically Jesus was saying that in fact He wasn’t finished. He would be back a second time. The work on the cross was in fact finished before Jesus put the vinegar (which was represented as the original sin) to His mouth. This is what you can call the icing on the cake in terms of His final redemption for mankind and creation. ‘Tetelestai’ or ‘it was finished or accomplished’ was in fact FINISHED except for one thing. He is coming back for us. The folded napkin signifies this.
So with all that said, I know that I took you down a few rabbit holes but I felt like I needed to in order to show you how these Greek words were used in context of John 19:29. We have seen a connection with the vinegar that was put to the mouth of Jesus and the sword that comes from His mouth when He returns. A speculative, but possible connection with figs and the vinegar at the place of crucifixion. The vessel that is connected to something that is sinful and of no use, and this vessel that is represented as a body. The vessel also being tied to the phrase “it is finished”. We have seen the word full as being connected to an end time harvest that can only be made through Jesus and what He did on the cross. Taking our sins so we could be saved. We have seen the 153 fish (symbolically) connected to the 5 months of Revelation 9 that is connected to the end time harvest remnant that is in fact tied right back into the cross. And we finally see that this vinegar is represented as sin in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. The Hebrew word for vinegar is also connected to Jesus treading the winepress which represents the end time judgment at the time of His Second Coming. With knowing all of these things, it’s hard to think that this vinegar was just vinegar He drank. We can see that it was symbolically much more than that.
One final thing I will leave you with is something that caught my eye as far as the English word vinegar goes. This is from etymology online in regards to where the word vinegar comes from. This definition and origin is no surprise. This is from etymonline.com, “early 14c., from Old French vinaigre “vinegar,” from vin “wine” (from Latin vinum; see wine (n.)) + aigre “sour” (see eager). In Latin, it was vinum acetum “wine turned sour;” compare Greek oxos “wine vinegar,” which is related to oxys “sharp”. (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=vinegar)
But then I was curious to just look at the word vinegar in two separate words – vine and gar. A vine is “plant that which bears the grapes from which the wine is made” and “in reference to any plant with a long slender stem that trails or winds around”. I think vine is obvious to its definition. The word gar is “the fish so called for its long sharp snout”. It comes from an Old English word that means “spear”. Interesting right? Well, according to Merriam-Webster the word Gar is a “euphemism for God”.
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