The handkerchief of Christ

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Lee | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Apr 4 2015 5:17 AM

I am looking into the meaning of the folded handkerchief of Christ Jesus Resurrection morning.

How can search my Logos library for this?  John 20:7

Thanks Lee

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Graham Criddle | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 4 2015 5:36 AM


I am looking into the meaning of the folded handkerchief of Christ Jesus Resurrection morning.

How can search my Logos library for this?  John 20:7

Does something like the search below help?

Posts 1814
Kenneth Neighoff | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 4 2015 6:51 AM

I am not sure what resources you have in your library.  This resource has, Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered, has a few words about the urban legend of the folded napkin in this

What Is the Significance of the Folded Napkin in Christ’s Tomb after the Resurrection?

The story of the folded napkin is found in the account of Jesus’ resurrection in John 20:7, “… and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself” (KJV). Different respected translations of the Bible handle this verse differently. Three of them translate the cloth as a “napkin” (KJV, AS, RSV). Others translate it as a “burial cloth” (NIV), a “handkerchief” (NKJV), or “face-cloth” (NASB). The Greek word is saudarion, which comes from a Latin word for “sweat.” It connotes, for example, a towel for wiping sweat from one’s face. It is used in the Greek for a towel or cloth, but not specifically a table napkin.

The other key word is “folded.” Was the burial cloth or napkin left folded in the tomb? Two of the translations used the word “folded” (NIV, NKJV). Others translate the word as “rolled up” (NASB, ASV, RSV), or “wrapped together” (KJV). The Greek word is entulisso,” which is from words that may mean to twist or to entwine. The bottom line is that there is no agreement that it was a table napkin and no agreement that it was neatly folded in any meaningful way. The primary meaning of John 20:7 is that the cloth, which was placed over Jesus head or face at burial, was separate from the rest of his grave clothes. The significance of that, if there is any, is unknown.

It has been rumored that folding the napkin at the table is a Jewish custom that means the person folding the napkin intends to return. Numerous Bible study sources have been checked, but there is nothing about this alleged Jewish custom of the folded napkins. The only references to this story seem to be from internet postings and emails that appear to have originated in 2007.

Many Bible commentators and authors have used this creative illustration to make specific application to the resurrection and return of Jesus Christ. The truth is that table napkins, such as we use today, were not used in Jesus’ day. Jews would do an after-meal hand washing as part of the eating ritual. Washing of the hands before a meal was mandatory according to rabbinic injunction, but after washing their hands, did people dry them with a cloth? Apparently, there is no early rabbinic source that discusses how the hands were dried after washing them. The folding of the napkin as a sign that a dinner guest was finished may be good European custom, but it appears this custom was unknown in the land of Israel in the time of Jesus.

Got Questions Ministries, Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010). article. 

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 4 2015 5:30 PM

from ESV Study Bible:


The reference to the face cloth being folded up in a place by itself suggests that Jesus himself had taken it off and folded it neatly.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Brian Losabia | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 4 2015 6:32 PM

Hi Lee, if you perform a Basic search against "All Resources" for <Jn 20:7>, you'll find all citations of that verse within your library.  (It's amazing!  Imagine standing before a bookshelf full of hundreds (or thousands) of books, and being able to instantly find all the references to a particular verse of Scripture.)  You will probably have to sort through a number of results, although you may recognize favorite authors from your library and start with those results.  I found this in a Steve Ray commentary on the Gospel of St. John:

“Observe the posture in which he found things in the sepulchre. Christ had left his grave-clothes behind him there; what clothes he appeared in to his disciples we are not told, but he never appeared in his grave-clothes, as ghosts are supposed to do; no, he laid them aside, First, because he arose to die no more; death was to have no more dominion over him, Rom. 6:9. Lazarus came out with his grave-clothes on, for he was to use them again; but Christ, rising to an immortal life, came out free from those encumbrances. Secondly, because he was going to be clothed with the robes of glory, therefore he lays aside these rags; in the heavenly paradise there will be no more occasion for clothes than there was in the earthly. The ascending prophet dropped his mantle. Thirdly, when we arise from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, we must leave our grave-clothes behind us, must put off all our corruptions. Fourthly, Christ left those in the grave, as it were, for our use if the grave be a bed to the saints, thus he hath sheeted that bed, and made it ready for them; and the napkin by itself is of use for the mourning survivors to wipe away their tears. The grave-clothes were found in very good order, which serves for an evidence that his body was not stolen away while men slept. Robbers of tombs have been known to take away the clothes and leave the body; but none [prior to the practices of modern resurrectionists] ever took away the body and left the clothes, especially when it was fine linen and new, Mk. 15:46. Any one would rather choose to carry a dead body in its clothes than naked. Or, if those that were supposed to have stolen it would have left the grave-clothes behind, yet it cannot be supposed they should find leisure to fold up the linen.”

Ray, S. K. (2002). St. John’s Gospel: A Bible Study Guide and Commentary (p. 370). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Steve is quoting a passage from Matthew Henry's commentary, so not only do I get to read the surrounding insights of Steve himself, I also get to learn about a Logos resource which might be a nice addition to the library one day. 

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Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Apr 5 2015 8:55 PM

MJ. Smith:

from ESV Study Bible:


The reference to the face cloth being folded up in a place by itself suggests that Jesus himself had taken it off and folded it neatly.

I remember Chuck Swindoll at one time claimed it meant folded  as it would have been tied around his head... meaning it was as if Jesus' body simply passed through no longer being bound by our laws of matter (much like he just appeared behind the locked doors).


Posts 233
Brian Losabia | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Apr 5 2015 9:23 PM

Hi Dan,

The Navarre Bible Commentaries also talk about the "deflated" linens:

The whole scene inside the tomb in some way caused them to intuit that the Lord had risen. Some of the words contained in the account need further explanation, so terse is the translation.
“The linen clothes lying there”: the Greek participle translated as “lying there” seems to indicate that the clothes were flattened, deflated, as if they were emptied when the body of Jesus rose and disappeared—as if it had come out of the clothes and bandages without their being unrolled, passing right through them (just as later he entered the Cenacle when the doors were shut). This would explain the clothes being “fallen”, “flat”, “lying”, which is how the Greek literally translates, after Jesus’ body—which had filled them—left them. One can readily understand how this would amaze a witness, how unforgettable the scene would be.
“The napkin … rolled up in a place by itself”: the first point to note is that the napkin, which had been wrapped round the head, was not on top of the clothes, but placed to one side. The second, even more surprising thing is that, like the clothes, it was still rolled up but, unlike the clothes, it still had a certain volume, like a container, possibly due to the stiffness given it by the ointments: this is what the Greek participle, here translated as “rolled”, seems to indicate.

Saint John’s Gospel. (2005). (p. 193). Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers.

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George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 6 2015 8:32 AM

σουδάριον                                                                                                                                                                                             4676

(Lat. sudarium: also naturalized in Aramaic), "a handkerchief" (Lk 19:20, al.). In the marriage contracts CPR I. 277 (a.d. 190) and ib. 2119 (a.d. 230) a σουδάριον is included in the bride’s dowry (cf. Deissmann BS p. 223), and in P Lond 121826 (iii/a.d.) (= I. p. 110) the word occurs in a charm for procuring dreams, ἐντύλισσε τὰ φύλ(λα) ἐν σουδαρίῳ κενῷ (l. καινῷ) καὶ τίθει ὑπὸ τὴν κεφαλήν σου. See also the magic P Osl I. 1289 (iv/a.d.) σουδάριον ὁλόλιτον, "a sudarium of fine linen," with the editor’s note.

ἐντυλίσσω                                                                                                                                                                                              1794

is found in the magic P Lond 121826 (iii/a.d.) (= I. p. 110) ἐντύλισσε τὰ φύλ(λα) ἐν σουδαρίῳ κενῷ (l. καινῷ), a passage which strangely recalls Jn 20:7: cf. also Mt 27:59, Lk 23:53, where ἐντυλίσσω is substituted for the Markan ἐνειλέω (Mk 15:46). Abbott ( p. 346) suggests that "Matthew and Luke may have objected to the word (especially when applied, as by Mark, not to ‘body’ but to ‘him’) as being unseemly, because it is used of fettering prisoners, swathing children hand and foot, holding people fast in a net, entangling them in evil or in debt, and generally in a bad sense." See s.v. ἐνειλέω. In P Lond 402 15 (ii/b.c.) (= II. p. 11) we find mention of an ἐριᾶ (ἐρεᾶ) ἐντύλη, by which the editor understands a woollen wrapper or rug: the word is new to LS8.

Moulton, James Hope, and George Milligan. The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1930.


יְמֵי־שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן

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