The Confession Of Peter According To John 6:69 -- By: William R. Domeris

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 44:1 (NA 1993)
Article: The Confession Of Peter According To John 6:69
Author: William R. Domeris


The Confession Of Peter
According To John 6:69

William R. Domeris

Summary

The title found in John 6:69, as the confession of Peter, is ‘the Holy One of God’. The same title is found in Mark and Luke on the lips of a demon possessed man. Scholarship has been divided on the precise meaning of the title, with the most common solution being that it means Messiah. This article refutes that view and suggests instead that the primary meaning of the title is that of representation or agency. For Mark and Luke it is an agency of judgment on the demons while for John, Jesus is also the life-giver.

I. Introduction

The sixth chapter of the Gospel according to John, is filled with dramatic content. The reader is taken from the feeding of the five thousand to an abortive attempt to make Jesus a King (v. 15), then through a lengthy discourse on Jesus as the Bread from Heaven to Jesus’ emphatic pronouncement that believers should eat and drink of the Son of Man (v. 53-6). Dissension breaks out among the disciples (v. 66), and indeed many turn their backs on Jesus. Jesus then inquires of the Twelve, ‘You do not also wish to go away, do you?’ (v. 67 NIV). Peter responds on behalf of the others, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have (the) words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God’ (v. 68-9). In response Jesus refers to his choosing of the Twelve, and the tragedy that one of them is a devil! (v. 70). The Evangelist concludes the chapter by relating this accusation not to Peter (cf. Mk. 8:33), but to Judas.

The title ‘the Holy One of God’ (ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ θεοῦ) here in John 6:69 is well attested by the manuscript evidence and is today the generally accepted reading, while the variants are clearly scribal attempts to bring John into line with the Synoptic confessions of Peter, and in particular Matthew 16:16, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God’. Apparently John’s use of “the Holy One of God”’ caused as many difficulties for the early scribes as it does for contemporary scholarship.

II. The Enigma Of The Holy One

Scholarly opinion on the meaning of the Holy One of God is deeply ...

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