8 Then that other disciple also went in, who came first to the sepulchre: and he saw, and believed. 9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.
Theophylact: Peter is practical and prompt, John contemplative and intelligent, and learned in divine things. Now the contemplative man is generally beforehand in knowledge and intelligence, but the practical by his fervor and activity gets the advance of the other’s perception, and sees first into the divine mystery.
Gregory: By John, the younger of the two, the synagogue; by Peter, the elder, the Gentile Church is represented: for though the synagogue was before the Gentile Church as regards the worship of God, as regards time the Gentile world was before the synagogue.
They ran together, because the Gentile world ran side by side with the synagogue from first to last, in respect of purity and community of life, though a purity and community of understanding they had not.
The synagogue came first to the sepulchre, but entered not: it knew the commandments of the law, and had heard the prophecies of our Lord’s incarnation and death, but would not believe in Him who died.
Then cometh Simon Peter, and entered into the sepulchre: the Gentile Church both knew Jesus Christ as dead man, and believed in Him as living God.
The napkin about our Lord’s head is not found with the linen clothes, i.e. God, the Head of Christ, and the incomprehensible mysteries of the Godhead are removed from our poor knowledge; His power transcends the nature of the creature. And it is found not only apart, but also wrapped together; because of the linen wrapped together, neither beginning nor end is seen; and the height of the Divine nature had neither beginning nor end. And it is into one place: for where there is division, God is not; and they merit His grace, who do not occasion scandal by dividing themselves into sects.
But as a napkin is what is used in laboring to wipe the sweat of the brow, by the napkin here we may understand the labor of God: which napkin is found apart, because the suffering of our Redeemer is far removed from ours; inasmuch as He suffered innocently, that which we suffer justly; He submitted Himself to death voluntarily, we by necessity.
But after Peter entered, John entered too; for at the end of the world even Judea shall be gathered in to the true faith.
Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. IV (London: Rivington, 1845).