What does Jesus mean by finished?
The word “finished” is being translated* from the Greek word, τελέω (teleō), which can mean, “to bring to a close, to finish, to end.” But it can also mean, according to the lexicon, “to perform, execute, complete, fulfill, (so that the thing done corresponds to what has been said, the order, command etc.) with special reference to the subject matter, to carry out the contents of a command.”
Thus we find a deeper meaning in Jesus’ statement, rather than just that his physical body was finished. He is speaking of his service to the Supreme Being being completed as instructed by the Supreme Being:
“I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” (John 14:31)Furthermore, Jesus said this as he left his physical body.
How do we know that?
The text states it very clearly:
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)What does it mean to give up ones spirit?
The Greek word translated to spirit is πνεῦμα (pneuma). According to the lexicon, this means, "the vital principal by which the body is animated." The lexicon goes further, stating:
"a spirit, i.e. a simple essence, devoid of all or at least all grosser matter, and possessed of the power of knowing, desiring, deciding, and acting... a life giving spirit... a human soul that has left the body."
This is describing the essential person - the person who occupies the physical body for some time and then leaves it at the time of death.
Yes, this is what happens when each of us dies:
We give up our spirit at the time of death
We are separated from the body, and upon the separation of the person from the body, the body no longer functions. Then the body begins to decompose.
This is stated clearly in the phrase above, "the vital principal by which the body is animated."
When the person - who is spirit in essence - is occupying the physical body, the body is animated. When that person leaves the body, the body dies.
This separation of the person with the body has been proven in over 100,000 case studies of clinical death. Clinical death occurs when a person's body clinically dies (i.e., their heart, breathing and brain waves stop) and then is resuscitated. After they are resuscitated they describe separating from the body and looking down upon it, looking at their unconscious body laying on the hospital bed or operating table.
Thousands of these cases have been authenticated by the patient accurately describing what took place in the room - and sometimes elsewhere in the hospital - while they were unconscious.
What about the rapture?
Today we find so many laughable interpretations of the rapture - the apocalypse - even though none of these words are actually used in the scriptures.
Some of these fictitious interpretations describe how beams of light will capture people's bodies and pull them up to heaven, while beasts devour the bodies of those who are not believers at some point in the future.
When is this supposed to happen? Despite continual warnings from fanatical sectarian teachers, we find that over and over they have lied to their followers. Consider, for example, the following list of predictions for the end of the world, or rapture, over the centuries:
Hilary of Poitiers: 365 AD (the date the end of the world was predicted)
Saint Martin of Tours: 375 to 400 AD
Sextus Julius Africanus: 500 AD
Gerard of Poehlde: 1147 AD
John of Toledo: 1179 AD
Joachim of Fiore: 1205 AD
Pope Innocent III: 1284 AD
Melchior Hoffman: 1533 AD
Benjamin Keach (Baptist): 1689 AD
William Whitson: 1736 AD
The Shakers (Ann Lee): 1792 AD
Charles Wesley (Methodist): 1794 AD
Margaret McDonald: 1830 AD
Joseph Smith (Mormon): 1832 and 1891 AD
William Miller (Millerites): 1843 and 1844 AD
Ellen White (Seven Day Adventists): 1850, 1856 and "early 1900s" AD
Mother Shipton: 1881 AD
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah's Witnesses): 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975, 1994 and others more recent.
Why were they all wrong? They have misinterpreted the scriptures because they misunderstood its mode of narration. The "mode of narration" is the position of the reader. The narration mode either uses a "participant" or "nonparticipant" to tell the story. The reader may or may not take on the position of the narrator, depending upon the work. For some writings, the narration is omniscient or semi-omniscient and for others, the narration is in the first person. In scriptures, it is completely different.
What about the Book of Revelations?
The assumption of speculative translators, interpreters and readers of the Book of Revelations is the reader is put in the role of omniscience. They may be reading John's first-person description, but they are confusing their position with the position of the Supreme Being. In other words, they are viewing the events of Revelations taking place as if they are watching from above.
But this is not how the scriptures are to be read. The scriptures are written for those who see themselves humbly and want to receive information as it is. For those who look outward from within. Not for those who look down from above - thinking themselves omniscient. Hence, the scriptures can only be read in a state of humility, and with guidance.
Should the reader read the Book of Revelations in a humble state of mind and with guidance, they can know that it is not describing events of some distant future (from the time it was written). Let's look at the first three verses of Revelations in this respect (inclusive of translation errors):
The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. (Revelations 1:1-3)We can see here that the writer, John, sees himself and his readers as servants. The information is being revealed to him and he is sharing it with others.
Working backward to forwards, in the phrase "the time is near" the word "near" is taken from the Greek word ἐγγύς (eggys), which means, according to the lexicon, "near, of place and position."
And the word "time" is being translated from καιρός (kairos), which means, "due measure" according to the lexicon. If oriented with time, it doesn't actually mean "time," but means, "a definite time" or "a limited period of time."
So the correct translation of this phrase would be something to the effect of "your limited time is upon you" or "your time will be upon you."
The point is that John is not stating that the end of the world is almost here. If he was saying that, he would be categorically wrong, because, after almost 2,000 years, the apocalypse still has not occurred - at least in the respect of those speculative "omniscient" readers have portrayed over the centuries.
But if we look at the first sentence, it describes the revelation, "which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place"
John is writing about the time of death.
This is "what must soon take place" for each of us, individually, at our appointed time of death - the moment each of us leaves the physical body.
But for those ("his servants") for which this is being described, John states that Jesus will appear: "Behold he is coming with the clouds." (Rev. 1:7) What does this mean? It is being mistranslated. The word "coming" is being translated from ἔρχομαι (erchomai), which means "to appear, make one's appearance" or "being present." And the word "clouds" is translated from νεφέλη (nephelē) which can mean "cloud" if taken literally, but it can also mean, "a large dense multitude, a throng used to denote a great shapeless collection of vapour obscuring the heavens as opposed to a particular and definite masses of vapour with some form or shape."
This is not describing a literal cloud. What is being described is the spiritual realm, which can be reached should one be prepared to rise after the death of the physical body. And Jesus will be present in the spiritual realm, and appearing to his loving servants at the time of death.
This is the nature of leaving the physical body - one leaves the physical dimension, and assuming a person has re-established their loving-service relationship with God, the spiritual dimension, with Jesus' invitation, begins to appear to them.
In other words, it is describing the moments following the time of death for those who have followed Jesus' teachings - at which time Jesus will appear and escort his followers back to the spiritual realm.
Then John has a vision of the Supreme Being, who gives the instruction:
"I hold the keys of death and Hades. Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later." (Rev. 1:18-19)Then Revelations begins to describe the fate of different types of people. What is the point? This is their respective fates after the death of their physical body.
What is the purpose? To illustrate to us our options and the results of our choices in life. We can certainly use these verses to hold judgment over others, trying to determine who these people were. But that is not the message. The message is that each of us will leave our physical bodies, and where we go will be determined by our desires and how we chose to live our lives.
Consider for example, this verse in Revelations:
And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. (Revelations 20:4)What is John describing? Those who already left their physical bodies: "who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God..."
They made certain choices in their lives - to follow Jesus and God's teachings. And since they were beheaded, their physical bodies were no longer alive according to John's description. Or is he saying they were headless? Don't be ridiculous. They had left their physical bodies behind and this is confirmed with the word "souls" - ψυχή (psychē) - which means according to the lexicon, "the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing."
Now let's compare the word "souls" - ψυχή (psychē) with the word used to describe πνεῦμα (pneuma) - Jesus' "spirit" that left Jesus' body. again, πνεῦμα (pneuma) means, "the vital principal by which the body is animated."
So we have "the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing" and "the vital principal by which the body is animated." What we see here are synonyms. Two words are describing the same thing. They both relate to "the vital principle" or "vital force" animating the physical body. Notice that "principal" is not "principle" - it means this is the central element - or force - the living force or being that animates the physical body.
Yes, this is who we each are. We are each the "vital force" or "vital principle" residing within the physical body. We are not these bodies.
And we each will, as Jesus did, "give up our spirit" - in other words, we will leave our physical body behind at the time of death.
As described in the Book of Revelation, each of us meets our time of death according to how we lived our lives. Those who used their lives to grow their spiritual relationship with the Supreme Being go in one direction, back to the spiritual realm, and those who lived their lives rejecting and ignoring the Supreme Being while chasing self-centered dreams go in another direction. And this later direction is described metaphorically with "beasts" and so on. Why?
Because those who live self-centered lives while rejecting the Supreme Being take on physical bodies in the "beastly" kingdom - the world of animals. They have - as metaphorically described in Revelations - taken on the "mark of the beast."
So what is the "mark of the beast"?
Where is the "beastly" kingdom? And where is hell?
It is right here, all around us. Take a look at a snake. Who is animating the body of the snake? It is the same "vital force" that inhabits human forms. Just as humans feel pain, snakes feel pain. Yes, a living being is inhabiting the physical body of a snake, just as a living being inhabits the snake body.
And what is a snake experiencing? Constant fear, involved in a vicious game of survival every moment of their lives. This is hell.
This and the so many other physical organisms comprise the beastly kingdom. And depending on our course, this is the hell that is being described in Revelations and elsewhere in the scriptures. This is the place we will end up in if we miss our opportunity to grow spiritually. This is where animalistic desires and activities take the living being after the death of the body: To the animalistic world. The beastly world. So the "mark of the beast" is metaphorically describing such a person's determined destination at the time of death.
Yes, the rapture is the time of death. The time of death is our personal apocalypse.
How so? At the time of death, everything and everyone we knew and were attached to in the physical world is completely blown away. In the eyes of the person who is leaving their body, it is, quite certainly, the end of the world.
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Mark 13:32)At the time of death we lose everything. We lose our physical body. We lose our name. We lose our reputation. We lose our money. We lose our family. We lose our house, our car, our clothing, our dog, our career, our accomplishments. Everything is swept away in one final swoop.
What is left is only our decision: Do we want to re-kindle our relationship with the Supreme Being? Or do we want to ignore Him and refuse to accept that He is our Best Friend and Soul Mate? Whatever we decide, it is our choice. But there are consequences to every decision. This is the universal law of the physical world.
But there was no uncertainty about Jesus as he left his physical body. Jesus was God's representative and loving servant. So when Jesus left his physical body he eventually returned to the Supreme Being, not in his physical body as so many imagine - but in his πνεῦμα (pneuma) - his spiritual form:
“Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” (John 20:17)
*Here is the translation of this verse from the Gospels of Jesus:
Then when Jesus had received the vinegar he said, “It has been accomplished!” And he bowed his head and released his spirit. (John 19:30)