What does John 20:5 mean?
ESV: And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in.
NIV: He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.
NASB: and he stooped to look in, and *saw the linen wrappings lying there; however he did not go in.
CSB: Stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in.
NLT: He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in.
KJV: And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.
NKJV: And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in.
Verse Commentary:
John has rushed to Jesus' grave (John 20:1–4). He has come thanks to Mary Magdalene's report that the tomb has been opened and the body is no longer there. Along with Peter, he arrives at the grave site, though John is faster and gets there first. John does not include details about the Roman security team (Matthew 27:62–66), but the men might already be gone (Matthew 28:11).

Rather than going in, John crouches down to look inside. Whether this is out of fear, or respect, we're not sure. What he sees inside will not make sense at first. From outside, John can see the strips of linen which were used to wrap Jesus' body (John 19:40). This is likely a confusing sight: John would likely wonder why the grave clothes were left behind, but the body taken away. It won't be until John notices another detail, described in the next verse, that his mind snaps to the truth: Jesus is alive (John 20:7–8).
Verse Context:
John 20:1–10 includes the first moments in which Jesus' followers realize He has been resurrected. Mary Magdalene brings Peter and John to the grave after finding it open. John sees the empty grave wrappings and realizes what has happened. Mary will remain behind and encounter a pair of angels, as well as Jesus, soon after. John's chosen details complement those found in Matthew 28:1–10, Mark 16:1–8, and 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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