What does John 20:12 mean?
ESV: And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.
NIV: and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
NASB: and she *saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying.
CSB: She saw two angels in white sitting where Jesus's body had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.
NLT: She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying.
KJV: And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
NKJV: And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
Verse Commentary:
Peter and John have come to see Jesus' empty tomb, after Mary Magdalene ran to tell them about it (John 20:1–10). Inside, they saw Jesus' empty grave clothes and a carefully folded face covering. After this, they seem to have left without much discussion, and Mary is alone. When she investigates the crypt, she sees two angels.

Most encounters with angels, in the Bible, strike immediate terror into those who see them (Luke 1:11–13; 2:9–10; Acts 10:3–4). John gives few details, but he makes no mention of Mary's fear. Most likely, these angels are appearing in a nonthreatening form, much as they might have done when visiting Lot in the Old Testament (Genesis 19:1–3). Peter and John probably said nothing to Mary when they left, so she probably assumed these men were sitting inside the tomb when everyone arrived. Her sad, apparently calm response to their question suggests the same idea (John 20:13).
Verse Context:
John 20:11–18 describes a remarkable scene. In an era where women were ignored and often mistrusted, a woman becomes the first person to share her experiences with a risen Jesus. Mary Magdalene encounters two angels outside Jesus' empty tomb, followed by Jesus Himself. She obeys His commands to speak with the disciples. This event is another example of John including certain details, without repeating the exact same points as the other, older gospel writings (Matthew 28:1–10; Mark 16:1–8; Luke 24:1–12).
Chapter Summary:
Peter and John get a report from Mary Magdalene that Jesus' body is gone. They arrive to find an open grave, and empty grave clothes, along with a folded face cloth. When the two men leave, Mary remains and suddenly encounters a resurrected Jesus. Though she tells the others, they resist believing until they see Jesus in person. Thomas is especially stubborn, and Jesus remarks on how blessed they are to have been given so much proof. John points out that his writing is meant to prove that Jesus is the Messiah, arranged to encourage those who read to come to faith.
Chapter Context:
Most of Jesus' disciples scattered and hid when He was arrested (Matthew 26:56). Only John and some women were present to see His death and burial (John 19:26–30, 41–42; Matthew 27:60–61). When Jesus' tomb is seen empty, there is further confusion. Jesus appears to His followers, proving that He is alive, and remarking that they are blessed to have so much proof. John will complete his account in the next chapter with another encounter and more reminders about the nature of his writing.
Book Summary:
The disciple John wrote the gospel of John decades after the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls "signs"— to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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