I was asked the other night by one of the singles at church what tetelestai meant in Greek. This is the last word Jesus said in John 19:30, which is usually, "It is finished." After one semester of Greek, of course I have become the Greek scholar, so I told her it meant "It is complete, the debt has been paid." But then I thought I had better look it up.
Tetelestai is the Perfect, Active, Indicative, third person, singular form from the Greek stem Telew, which means I complete, I finish, I pay, I carry out. The stem means that some activity that was started has been completed. It is interesting that Jesus uses the Perfect form of the word. In Perfect tense an activity that was started has come to an end, but with results that continue on. The fact that Jesus used the third person, to me, shows that He continued to give glory and credit to the Father. "He has finished the work, He has paid the debt for all through Me, so that others may live." Christ's life on earth, His work in human form, was finished at that point, but His blood, shed on the cross as the ultimate sacrificial Lamb, became our salvation.
This was the ultimate gift that keeps on giving.