Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume IX/Origen on John/Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of John/Book II/Chapter 27

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Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. IX, Origen on John, Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of John, Book II by Origen, translated by Allan Menzies
Chapter 27

27.  Significance of the Names of John and of His Parents.

The force that is in names may be applied in many matters, and it may be worth our while to ask at this point what is the significance of the names John and Zacharias.  The relatives wish, as the giving of a name is a thing not to be lightly disposed of, to call the child Zacharias, and are surprised that Elisabeth should want him to be called John.  Zacharias then writes, “His name is John,” and is at once freed from his troublesome silence.  On examining the names, then, we find “Joannes” to be “Joa” without the “nes.”  The New Testament gives Hebrew names a Greek form and treats them as Greek words; Jacob is changed into Jacobus, Symeon into Simon, and Joannes is the same as Joa.  Zacharias is said to be memory, and Elisabeth “oath of my God,” or “strength of my God.”  John then came into the world from grace of God (=Joa=Joannes), and his parents were Memory (about God) and the Oath of our God, about the fathers.  Thus was he born to make ready for the Lord a people fit for Him, at the end of the Covenant now grown old, which is the end of the Sabbatic period.  Hence it is not possible that the rest after the Sabbath should have come into existence from the seventh of our God; on the contrary, it is our Saviour who, after the pattern of His own rest, caused us to be made in the likeness of His death, and hence also of His resurrection.[1]


  1. Origen appears to be pointing to the fact that the Christian rest which is connected in its origin with the resurrection of Christ is not held as the Jewish Sabbath rest on the seventh but on the first day of the week.  John marking the end of the old period is the son of Elisabeth the oath, or seventh, of God, and is thus connected with the seventh day; but not so Jesus.