Biblical Concept: TETELESTAI


The following verses contain the only two Biblical uses of the word tetelestai / tete,lestai.  The indicative perfect passive form of the verb teleo / tele,w: finish, complete.


John 19:28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, "I am thirsty." (“had been accomplished” = tetelestai)


“After this,” in John’s chapter 19 Gospel account of the Cross, included personal actions of Pilate, Roman soldiers, religious Jews, Jesus Himself, His mother, and Apostle John.  “After this” in Mark’s Gospel account, included the three hours of sin bearing by Jesus on the Cross.  See Biblical Concept: Christ and the Cup.

The “had been accomplished” inflection can be expressively translated as: “it is having been finished” or “it stands as having been finished.”  This is because of the perfect tense inflection--the tense of completed action, with existing results, in present time. Jesus’ work on the Cross spiritually completed everything!


“Having been” reflects an interesting use of the passive voice.  Why a passive voice? (Passive voice, the subject receives the action of the verb.) Perhaps the passive voice notes the Father’s plan for the Cross—and all that that denotes?

John 19:30 When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit. (“it is finished” = tetelestai)


“It is finished” with an indicative perfect passive inflection means: “it is having been finished with existing results.”  The following Bible passages declare the finished existing results of Jesus’ work on the Cross:


NAS Acts 2:23 this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. (Recall the passive voice comment from above.)


NAS Hebrews 9:26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (“It is finished” and “consummation of the ages”—Nice! No wonder Apostle John used an indicative perfect passive with “it is finished!)


NAS John 17:4 "I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do. (Recall the passive voice comment from above.)


NAS Hebrews 2:14 Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; (“It is finished” and “render powerless … the devil.”  Powerful existing spiritual results in the conflict between God and Satan. Tetelestai!)


NAS Colossians 1:20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. (“It is finished” extends to heaven!)


NAS Colossians 2:13 And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. (Recall the passive voice comment from above.) (“It is finished” includes the defeat of any authority arrayed against God!)


See Biblical Concept: Christ the Sacrificial Offering.

Conclusion: “It is finished.”  The volitional creature can add nothing to it.  The volitional creature can only believe or not believe in the Cross of Christ.  Nothing more, nothing less. “It is finished.”