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Bible Commentaries

International Critical Commentary NT

John 19

Verses 1-99

Jesus is Scourged and Mocked by the Soldiers (19:1-5). Pilate Makes Another Unavailing Attempt to Save Him (vv. 6, 7)

19:1. Pilate went back into the palace, where Jesus was, and ordered Him to be scourged, in the hope (apparently) that this sufficiently terrible punishment would satisfy the chief priests (cf. Luke 23:16). Mark 15:15, Matthew 27:26 connect the scourging and the mock coronation with the death sentence (see on v. 16 below), but Jn.’s narrative is very explicit and is to be followed here. The “Pillar of the Scourging” is now shown in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but in the fourth century it was shown to the Bordeaux Pilgrim in the traditional house of Caiaphas. The original pillar to which the Lord was bound was, no doubt, inside the Prætorium. Cf. Matthew 20:19, Luke 18:33.

2. In the account of the mockery of Jesus by the soldiers of Pilate, Jn. follows Mark 15:17, or, at any rate, uses phrases which recall Mk. There is no probability that he uses Mt. Luke 23:11 ascribes this cruel indignity to the soldiers of Herod. The soldiers were amused by the idea that the poor prisoner claimed to be a king, and their rough jests were directed rather against the Jews than against Jesus personally. “This, then, is the King of the Jews!”

πλέξαντες στέφανον ἐξ�Matthew 27:28; Mark 15:17 has πλέξαντες�

The soldiers plaited the twigs of some thorny plant into a crown or wreath (cf. ὁ στέφανος … ὁ πλεκείς, Isaiah 28:5).

ἐπέθηκαν αὐτοῦ τῇ κεφαλῇ. This phrase, too, might be thought to come from Matthew 27:29 ἐπέθηκαν ἐπὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ, for Mark 15:17 has only περιτιθέασιν αὐτῷ. But Jn. says nothing of the mock sceptre which Mt. mentions, a detail which is not in Mk. It would be precarious to infer that Jn. is using Mt.’s narrative.

καὶ ἱμάτιον πορφυροῦν περιέβαλον αὐτόν. This is reminiscent of Mark 15:17, ἐνδύουσιν αὐτὸν πορφύραν, rather than of Matthew 27:28 or Luke 23:11 (where, however, we find περιβαλὼν αὐτὸν ἐσθῆτα λαμπράν).1 The substitute for the regal purple (cf. 1 Macc. 8:14, etc.) may have been the scarlet cloak of one of the legionaries (χλαμύδα κοκκίνην, Matthew 27:28). Jesus had first been stripped of His own outer clothing (ἐκδύσαντες αὐτόν, Matthew 27:28). For ἱμάτιον, see on v. 23.


3. καὶ ἤρχοντο πρὸς αὐτόν. This clause is omitted in the rec. text, following ADsuppΓΔ, but is retained in אBLNWΘ. It is descriptive of the soldiers approaching Jesus with mock reverence. Philo has a story of the mock coronation of a halfwitted man called Carabas by the mob at Alexandria, which illustrates this. “They approached, some as if to salute him, others as if pleading a cause, others as though making petition about public matters” (in Flacc. 6).

καὶ ἔλεγον χαῖρε, ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων. This is verbally identical with the pretended salutation as given in Matthew 27:29. The soldiers cried Ave! as they would to Cæsar. The art. ὁ before βασιλεὺς τ. Ἰ. suggests their derision.


καὶ ἐδίδοσαν αὐτῷ ῥαπίσματα. “They slapped Him” with the palms of their hands. See on 18:22 for ῥάπισμα. ἐδίδοσαν (אBLNW) is to be preferred to the rec. ἐδίδουν (ADsuppΓΔΘ). They gave Him some slaps in the face, during their cruel horse-play, but this was not a continuous form of insult, like the shouting of Ave.

4. Pilate had gone into the Prætorium to order the scourging, and he now comes out again to make another appeal to the pity of the Jews The exact reading is not certain. ABL give καὶ ἐξῆλθεν, אDsuppΓ omit καί; and NWΘ have ἐξῆλθεν οὖν (as at 18:29: see 18:38 and cf. v. 5).

Pilate says to the Jews that He is bringing Jesus out to them, that they may understand that, as he said before (18:38), he can find no fault in Him. Up to this Jesus had been inside the Prætorium, and the scourging and mockery were probably not visible to the waiting Jews.

Ἴδε, a favourite word in Jn.; see on 1:29.

ὅτι οὐδεμίαν αἰτίαν εὑρίσκω ἐν αὐτῷ. א* has the shorter form ὅτι αἰτίαν οὐκ εὑρίσκω. The phrase has occurred 18:38, and appears again 19:6, in slightly different forms.

5. Jesus was brought out, no doubt weak and faint after the scourging, still wearing the mocking insignia of royalty. These He probably continued to wear until He was brought out for the last time for formal sentence (v. 15; cf. Matthew 27:31).

φορῶν. This is the regular word for “wearing” clothes; cf. Matthew 11:8, James 2:3.

καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς (sc. Pilate) Ἰδοὺ ὁ ἄνθρωπος. For ἰδού (אBL), the rec. has Jn.’s favourite ἴδε (cf. vv. 4, 14). In this verse B omits ὁ before Ἰησοῦς (see on 1:29), and also before ἄνθρωπος (cf. Zechariah 6:12 ἰδοὺ�

Ἰδοὺ ὁ ἄνθρωπος, Ecce homo! This, on Pilate’s lips, meant, “See the poor fellow!” ὁ ἄνθρωπος, expressing pity. This is a classical use (cf. Dem. de falsa leg. 402, § 198, and Meid. 543, § 91); see also Matthew 26:74. Pilate thought to move the priests to compassion by exhibiting Jesus to them, who had been scourged by his orders, and whom the soldiers had treated as an object of mockery and rude jesting.


Jn. may mean to represent Pilate, like Caiaphas (11:51), as an unconscious prophet, his words, “Behold the Man!” pointing to the Ideal Man of all succeeding Christian generations. Abbott (Diat. 1960c) recalls some passages from Epictetus, in which ὁ ἄνθρωπος is thus used of the ideal of humanity. But such an interpretation of Pilate’s famous words is probably a Christian afterthought.

The whole clause λέγει … ἄνθρωπος is omitted in the O.L. texts a e ff2 r, and also by the Coptic Q, an interesting combination.

6. ὅτε οὖν ἴδον αὐτὸν οἱ�Matthew 27:22.


For ἴδον (אADsuppLNW) the rec. with BΘ has εἶδον. After ἐκραύγασαν (cf. 18:40), the rec. adds λέγοντες with ABDsuppNWΘ (cf. 7:37); but om. א. Again, after σταύρωσον bis אABDsuppNΘ add αὐτόν (as at v. 15); but om. BL.

Λάβετε αὐτὸν ὑμεῖς καί κτλ. “Take Him yourselves, etc.” Pilate repeats this suggestion, which had disconcerted the priests when he made it before (18:31, where see note). He now adds “and crucify Him,” although he and they both knew that the Sanhedrim could not legally do this. He also says for the third time that he can find no just cause for a death sentence (cf. 18:38 and v. 4). Jn., like Lk. (23:4, 14, 22), is careful to record that Pilate three times affirmed his conviction of Jesus’ innocence.

7. The chief priests, however, make an unexpected rejoinder. They tell Pilate that, according to Jewish law, Jesus ought to be put to death as a blasphemer, and they warn him by implication that he must not set aside their law in such a matter. It was the Roman practice to respect the laws and customs of Judæa, as of other distant provinces of the empire; and of this the accusers of Jesus remind Pilate.

Ἡμεῖς νόμον ἔχομεν, viz. Leviticus 24:16, which enacted that a blasphemer should be stoned to death. The chief priests knew that this could not be put into operation (see on 18:31). In any case, the witnesses had to cast the first stone (Deuteronomy 17:7), and those who bore witness as to the blasphemy of Jesus were not in agreement with each other (Mark 14:56). The Sanhedrim, therefore, were content, in this particular case, that the responsibility lay with Pilate.


κατὰ τὸν νόμον (the rec. adds ἡμῶν with AΓΔΘ, but om. אBDsuppLNWΔ) ὀφείλει�

ὅτι υἱὸν θεοῦ ἑαυτὸν ἐποίησεν. This charge was better founded than the charge of treason, alleged to be inherent in Jesus’ claim to be a king. “Son of God” was a recognised title of Messiah (see on 1:34); and in his examination before the chief priests Jesus had admitted that He was the Messiah (Mark 14:62, Matthew 26:64, Luke 22:70, in the last passage the phrase ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ. being explicitly used). But He had been suspected of, and charged with, blasphemy on several occasions before this, according to Jn. See 5:18, 10:33, 36. To the question τίνα σεαυτὸν σὺ ποιεῖς; (8:53), the Jews had good ground for believing that υἱὸς θεοῦ would be His answer.

The omission of the def. articles in υἱὸς θεοῦ is probably due to the tendency to drop the article before familiar titles rather than to the phrase being used in any sense less exalted than the highest, as may be the case at Matthew 14:33. But in this, the Messianic sense, Pilate could not have understood it, any more than the centurion at the Cross (Matthew 27:54). It must have suggested to Pilate a vague, mysterious claim on the part of Jesus to be more than human; and hearing of it awakened in his mind a superstitious fear. υἱὸς θεοῦ is frequently used in inscriptions as a title of the Emperor.1


The Second Examination of Jesus by Pilate (vv. 8-11)

8. ὅτε οὖν ἤκουσεν ὁ Πειλᾶτος τοῦτον τὸν λόγον κτλ. Observe that�

Pilate’s question, Πόθεν εἶ σύ; is no formal interrogatory as to the birthplace or domicile of Jesus. He had learnt already that He was of Galilee (Luke 23:6, Luke 23:7). But Pilate has been moved by the dignified bearing of the prisoner, and is uneasy because of the strange claim which He was said to have made for Himself, that He was υἱὸς θεοῦ (v. 7). The question recalls the similar question Σὺ τίς εἶ; which was put by the Jews who were impressed, despite their incredulity, by His words (8:25).

ὁ δὲ Ἰη.�Luke 2:47, Luke 20:26) οὐκ ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ. The silence of Jesus under cross-examination is mentioned in all the Gospels. Mark 14:61, Matthew 26:63 note His silence before the high priest; Luke 23:9 says that He did not answer Herod at all; Mark 15:5, Matthew 27:14 state that He would not reply to the accusations which the Sanhedrim put before Pilate; and in the present passage His silence is irritating to the dignity of Pilate, who in this repeated inquiry was trying to elicit something that would save Him. Salmon suggested1 that the silence of Jesus is sufficiently explained by bodily fatigue and exhaustion; and so far as this last examination by Pilate is concerned, it may well be that His exhaustion after being scourged was such that speech was difficult for Him. After the scourging Jn. ascribes only one sentence to Jesus (v. 11) before He was crucified. But bodily fatigue would not, by itself, explain His silence when cross-examined by the high priest (Mark 14:61) or before Herod (Luke 23:9); and His refusal to answer questions which were not asked in sincerity, but out of mere curiosity or with intent to betray Him into some dangerous admission, is explicable on moral grounds. Indeed, the dignity of His silence before His accusers does not need exposition. He was moving to a predestined end, and He knew it.

Many commentators, following Chrysostom and Augustine, find in the silence of Jesus before His judges a fulfilment of Isaiah 53:7.


10. Pilate’s dignity is offended by receiving no answer to his question. The silence of Jesus amounts to contempt of court. Ἐμοὶ οὐ λαλεῖς; “Do you not speak to me?” ἐμοί being placed first for emphasis. “I have power (ἐξουσία) to release you, and I have power to crucify you” (the rec. text interchanges the order of these clauses).

ἐξουσία (see on 1:12) is “authority,” rather than “power.” Pilate had both, but he is reminded by Jesus that his authority, like all human authority, is delegated; its source is Divine, and therefore it is not arbitrary power which can be exercised capriciously without moral blame.

11.�

εἰ μὴ ἦν δεδομένον σοι ἄνωθεν. This doctrine of authority is expressed by Paul in other words (Romans 13:1, Romans 13:2). For ἄνωθεν, see on 3:3. It must mean “from God”; the suggestion that it means “from the ecclesiastical authority” is untenable. Pilate’s ἐξουσία was not, in fact, delegated to him by the Sanhedrim.

ὁ παραδούς μέ σοι κτλ. So אBΔΘ; the rec., with ADsuppLNW, has παραδιδούς. Judas is repeatedly described in Jn. as the person who was to deliver Jesus up (cf. 6:64, 71, 12:4, 13:2, 21, 18:2, 5), but he is not indicated in this passage. He did not deliver Jesus up to Pilate; and he disappears from the Johannine narrative after the scene of the betrayal in the garden (18:5). In Matthew 27:3f. he is represented as repenting, after the priests brought Jesus before Pilate; but the other evangelists say nothing as to this. It is remarkable that it is not told anywhere that Judas bore “witness” to what Jesus had said or done. His part was finished when he identified Jesus at Gethsemane.

Those who delivered Jesus to Pilate were the members of the Sanhedrim (18:30, 35; cf. Matthew 27:2, Acts 3:13), with Caiaphas as their official chief. ὁ παραδούς μέ σοι is Caiaphas, as representing those who were ultimately responsible for the guilt of putting Jesus to death.


μείζονα ἁμαρτίαν ἔχει. These words are commonly taken to mean “has greater sin” than you; i.e. that Caiaphas was more guilty than Pilate; and this was, no doubt, true. But such an interpretation will not suit the context, or explain διὰ τοῦτο at the beginning of the sentence. “Your power and authority are delegated to you from God, therefore Caiaphas, who brought me before you for sentence, is more guilty than you.” That is not easy to understand; for the ἐξουσία of Caiaphas was a trust from God, equally with that of Pilate. Wetstein suggested a better explanation: “Your power and authority are delegated to you from God, therefore Caiaphas is more guilty than he would be if you were only an irresponsible executioner, for he has used this God-given authority of yours to further his own wicked projects.” μείζονα ἁμαρτίαν ἔχει, “he has greater sin,” not than you (which is not in question), but than he would have had if Pilate had not been a power ordained of God. “Therefore his sin is the greater” is the meaning.

For the Johannine phrase ἔχειν ἁμαρτίαν, cf. 9:41.

Pilate Again Fails to Obtain the Consent of the Jews to Acquit Jesus; And Pronounces the Formal Sentence of Death by Crucifixion (vv. 12-16)

12. ἐκ τούτου, “thenceforth.” See on 6:66.

οἱ δὲ Ἰουδαῖοι ἐκραύγασαν λέγοντες κτλ. ἐκραύγασαν (BDsupp) represents the yell of fury with which the Jews received Pilate’s last attempt to set Jesus free. The rec., with אc, has ἔκραζον, and ALNΘ have ἐκραύγαζον, but the impf. does not represent the meaning so well as the aor. does. Matthew 27:24f. relates that after Pilate’s failure to persuade the Jews he ostentatiously washed his hands, thereby endeavouring to shift his responsibility.


The last argument which the chief priests used, and which was effective, although their former overtures to Pilate (18:30, 19:7) had failed, was an appeal to his fears. “If you release Him, you are no friend of Cæsar.” There is no need to limit the term φίλος τοῦ Καίσαρος, as if it were an official title (cf. 15:15); the expression is used generally. The official title is probably not found before Vespasian.

πᾶς ὁ βασιλέα ἑαυτὸν ποιῶν κτλ., “every one who makes himself a king,” which was the charge brought in the first instance against Jesus (see on 18:33),�

ἐκάθισεν ἐπὶ βήματος must be rendered “he sat down on the judgment seat,” i.e. Pilate sat down, the examination being over, intending now to give judgment with full dignity. Before he finally passed sentence, he gave the priests another opportunity of claiming, or acquiescing in, the release of Jesus. This (intransitive) rendering of ἐκάθισεν agrees with Mt.’s report καθημένου δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τοῦ βήματος (Matthew 27:19), as well as with the only other place where ἐκάθισεν occurs in Jn. (12:14). We have καθίσας ἐπὶ τοῦ βήματος used of Herod and of Festus in Acts 12:21, Acts 12:25:6, Acts 12:17.

καθίζειν, however, is used transitively in 1 Corinthians 6:4, Ephesians 1:20 (cf. Hermas, Vis. III. ii. 4), and Archbishop Whately maintained1 that ἐκάθισεν should be rendered transitively here, the meaning being that Pilate did not sit on the Βήμα himself, but set Jesus on it in derision. It is worthy of note that there was a tradition current in the second century that Jesus had thus been placed by the Jews on the judgment seat. It appears in the Gospel of Peter (§ 3): ἐκάθισαν αὐτὸν ἐπὶ καθέδραν κρίσεως, λέγοντες, Δικαίως κρῖνε, βασιλεῦ τοῦ Ἰσραήλ Justin (whencesoever he obtained the tradition) has it also: διασύροντες αὐτὸν (referring to Isaiah 58:2) ἐκάθισαν ἐπὶ βήματος, καὶ εἶπον Κρῖνον ἡμῖν (Apol. i. 35). Perhaps it came from a misunderstanding of John 19:13, attributing this derisive action to Pilate, not to the Jews. But a misunderstanding it must be, for, apart from the intransitive use of καθίζειν being always found elsewhere in the Gospels, it is inconceivable that a Roman procurator should be so regardless of his dignity, when about to pronounce sentence of death, as to make a jest of the matter.2


ἐπὶ βήματος, “upon a judgment seat,” sc. perhaps upon one improvised for the occasion, as the Jews would not enter the Prætorium, and judgment had to be given in public.

The rec. text has ἐπὶ τοῦ βήματος, but τοῦ is omitted by אABDsuppLN, and it probably came in from such passages as Acts 12:21, Acts 12:25:6, Acts 12:17.


Josephus (Bell. Jud. II. ix. 3), when telling of another sentence pronounced by Pilate, has ὁ Πιλᾶτος καθίσας ἐπὶ βήματος ἐν τῷ μεγάλῳ σταδίῳ, judgment in this case also being delivered in the open air. Here we have ἐπὶ βήματος εἰς τόπον κτλ., instead of ἐν τόπῳ. Perhaps εἰς is used because of the verb at the beginning of the sentence (see on 9:7); but it is possible that it is used for ἐν here, as it often is in Mar_3 and in Lk. and Acts. See on 1:18, 9:7

εἰς τόπον λεγόμενον Λιθόστρωτον, Ἑβραϊστὶ (see on 5:2) δὲ Γαββαθά. Λιθόστρωτον is not the interpretation of the name Gabbatha (see on 4:25); Jn. gives the two names, Greek and Aramaic, of distinct derivation, by which the place was known. The word Λιθόστρωτον does not occur again in the N.T., and in the LXX it is found only at Esther 1:6, Song of Solomon 3:10, 2 Chronicles 7:3; in the last-mentioned passage being applied to the pavement of Solomon’s temple. (cf. Josephus, Antt. VIII. iii. 2).


The situation of the Prætorium has been already discussed (see on 18:28), and we have identified it with Herod’s Palace, which was to the south of the Temple area. But the name Gabbatha is not known elsewhere. Its derivation is probably from the root גבה “to be high,” so that נַּבְּתָא would mean “an elevated place.”1 G. A. Smith (Jerusalem, ii. 575) suggests that it is derived from גבב, “to pack closely,” so that Gabbatha would be equivalent to “a mosaic.”

It was customary to place the βῆμα or judgment seat on a dais of tesselated or mosaic pavement, in order that the judge might be seen and heard conveniently; and Julius Cæsar is said to have carried about with him tessellata et sectilia pavimenta, to be laid down wherever he encamped (Suet. Jul. 46). A portable dais of this kind could not, however, have given its name to a locality; Λιθόστρωτον was probably one of the names by which the elevated place of judgment came to be known, because of the mosaic pavement which was laid down for the sake of dignity

14. ἦν δὲ Παρασκευὴ τοῦ πάσχα, i.e. “Friday of the Passover week.” Elsewhere (Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54, Matthew 27:62, and John 19:31) παρασκευή means the day of preparation for the Sabbath, as here (see on 19:42 for a possible exception). Thus Josephus has ἐν σάββασιν ἤ τῇ πρὸ αὐτῆς παρασκευῇ (Antt. xvi. 6. 2); and in the Didache (§ 8) παρασκευή again means Friday (cf. Clem. Alex. Strom., § 75).


In the year of the Passion, the Passover, i.e. Nisan 14, fell on a Friday (v. 31). Had the meaning of παρασκευὴ τοῦ πάσχα here meant “It was the Preparation day of the Passover, ” i.e. the day before the Passover, we should have had ἡ παρασκευή with the def. article. See on v. 42.

ὥρα ἦν ὡς ἓκτη. So אABNW and vss. For ἓκτη, אcDsuppLΔ read τρίτη, thus harmonising the text with Mark 15:25. Eusebius (as quoted by Severus) explains the variant by ascribing it to the confusion between Γ (3) and F (6).1 But the textual evidence for ἕκτη is overwhelming.

In Mark 15:25 Jesus is said to have been crucified at “the third hour,” the darkness beginning at “the sixth hour” and continuing until “the ninth hour,” when He died. This is corrected by Jn.,2 who tells that the Crucifixion did not begin until after “the sixth hour,” i.e. after noon. The hypothesis that Jn.’s method of reckoning time was different from that of the Synoptists is inadmissible (see on 1:39). That a discrepancy should exist as to the actual hour will not surprise any one who reflects on the loose way in which time intervals are often reported by quite honest witnesses.3 Jn. is specially careful to fix the time at which things happened, and he is here followed by the Acts of John (§ 97), in which it is distinctly said “at the sixth hour.” Indeed it is difficult to believe that all that happened on the day of the Passion before Jesus was actually crucified was over by 9 a.m., as Mk.’s report indicates.


For ἴδε “behold,” a favourite word with Jn., see on 1:29; and cf. v. 14 above for the derisive Ἴδε, ὁ βασιλεὺς ὑμῶν. The sarcasm of Pilate is directed against the Jews, not against Jesus.

15. ἐκραύγασαν οὖν ἐκεῖνοι. So אcBL, ἐκεῖνοι being emphatic: the rec. text has οἱ δὲ ἐκραύγασαν. W has ἔλεγον. For κραυγάζειν, see on 11:43 (cf. v. 6).

Ἆρον ἆρον. Cf. Luke 23:18 αἶρε τούτον, and Acts 21:36. Moulton-Milligan illustrate this usage of αἴρω from a second-century papyrus letter in which a mother says of her son: “He upsets me; away with him!” (ἄρρον αὐτόν).


Τὸν βασιλέα ὑμῶν σταυρώσω; Pilate’s ironical question is made specially incisive by the prominence in the sentence of τ. βασιλέα ὑμ.

οἱ�1 Samuel 12:12). Implicitly, they denied the ideal of the Messianic King, in order to conciliate a heathen power; and thus, by saying “We have no king but Cæsar,” they abandoned that which was most distinctive of the religion of Judaism. In words, they not only rejected Jesus; they repudiated the claims of the Christ, to whose Advent they professed to look forward. So, at least, the Johannine narrative implies.


To be sure, they did not mean as much as this; they were so anxious to gain their point that they did not measure their words. By the time the Fourth Gospel was written, the Jewish state had been overthrown by Titus; and some of those who avowed before Pilate their unreserved loyalty to Cæsar had doubtless fallen, fighting against Cæsar’s legions.

16. τότε οὖν παρέδωκεν κτλ. Pilate’s efforts to save Jesus had failed. The people had taken up the cry, “Crucify Him!” The priests had just announced their loyalty to Cæsar in extravagant terms, and Pilate was afraid of their innuendo (v. 12) that he was not overzealous in Cæsar’s cause. Therefore, afraid of the popular clamour, and not specially interested in the fate of an unpopular fanatic (as he deemed Jesus to be), “he delivered Him to them,” i.e. to the Jews (cf. 18:36 ἳνα μὴ παραδοθῶ τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις), “that He might be crucified.”

The usual form of sentence in such cases was “ibis ad crucem,” but the Gospels do not record that it was formally pronounced. This may have been done, but in any case Pilate’s attitude was rather that he acquiesced in the capital penalty being inflicted than that he approved it. According to Roman custom, after the death sentence was pronounced, the criminal was first scourged, and then led off to execution without delay. So Josephus says of crucifixions under the procurator Florus: μαστιγῶσαί τε πρὸ τοῦ βήματος καὶ σταυρῷ προσηλῶσαι (Bell. Jud. ii. 14. 9). Mk. (followed by Mt.) represents the scourging of Jesus as taking place at this point, that is, after His sentence. According to Jn. (19:1), He had already been scourged by Pilate’s order, in the hope that the Jews would be satisfied with this sufficiently terrible punishment (cf. Luke 23:22). It is probable that Jn.’s report is the more accurate here; and it is not likely that Pilate would have permitted a second scourging.


The Crucifixion and the Title on the Cross (vv. 17-22)

17. παρέλαβον οὖν τὸν Ἰη., “So they received Jesus,” sc. at the hands of Pilate (cf. 1:11, 14:3, the only other places where Jn. used παραλαμβάνειν).

AW add καὶ�Mark 15:20 Luke 23:26, Matthew 27:31, from a reminiscence of which passages�


βαστάζων ἑαυτῷ τὸν σταυρόν. So א; the rec. has βαστάζων τὸν στ. αὐτοῦ. B has αὐτῳ. For βαστάζειν, see on 12:6.

A criminal condemned to be crucified was required to carry his own cross; cf. Plutarch (de sera numinis vindicta, 9), ἕκαστος κακούργων ἐκφέρει τὸν αὑτοῦ σταυρόν, and Artemidorus (Oneir. ii. 56), ὁ μέλλων σταυρῷ προσηλοῦσθαι πρότερον αὐτὸν βαστάζει, a custom which gives special point to the exhortation, Mark 8:34. The Synoptists speak of the Cross being borne by Simon of Cyrene, and do not mention that Jesus carried it Himself; however, the ancient explanation is sufficient, viz. that Jesus carried it as they were leaving the Prætorium, but that when He was found to be overborne by its weight, Simon was compelled to carry it for Him. The patristic idea that Jesus bearing His Cross was typified by Isaac, upon whom τὰ ξύλα (Genesis 22:6) were laid, as he went to the place of sacrifice, goes back to Melito1 and Tertullian.2 See on 18:12.


ἐξῆλθεν, “He went out,” for executions were not allowed within the city walls. See on v. 20.

εἰς τὸν λεγ. κρανίου τόπον κτλ. Γολγοθά is the transliteration of the Aramaic גּוּלְגַֹּלְתָּא, Hebrew גֻּלְגּוֹלֶת which is transl. by κρανίον in Judges 9:53, 2 Kings 9:35. For Ἑβραϊστί, see on 5:2; and for Jn.’s habit of giving Aramaic names with their Greek equivalents, see on 1:38. Mark 15:22 and Matthew 27:33 give the Greek name as Κρανίου, Luke 23:33 giving Κρανίον, while Mt. and Mk. as well as Jn. supply also the Aramaic designation.

We do not know why this place was called “the Place of a Skull” (Calvaria). Origen is the first to mention a tradition, afterwards widely prevalent, that Adam was believed to be buried on this site (Comm. in Matthew 27:33); but no evidence has been found to show that this was a pre-Christian tradition, and the idea may have grown out of a passage like 1 Corinthians 15:22. It has been suggested in modern times that this place-name was given because of the shape of the knoll or little hill where the Crucifixion was carried out. But there is no tradition whatever in favour of this, nor is there any evidence in the Gospel narratives to support the popular idea that Calvary was on a hill or rising ground. Yet another explanation of the name “Golgotha” is that it means “the place of skulls,” i.e. a public place of execution, where the bodies of the victims were left. This would require κρανίων not κρανίου, not to speak of the facts that bodies were never left unburied in this way near a town, and that Joseph of Arimathea’s “new tomb” (19:41) would certainly not have been built near a place so abhorrent to a Jew The tradition reproduced by Origen may be pre-Christian; and if so it gives an explanation of the name Golgotha, but no other explanation is, in any case, forthcoming. See on v. 20.


18. ὅπου αὐτὸν ἐσταύρωσαν, “where they crucified Him,” i.e. the soldiers1 (see v. 23), who were told off for the purpose.

μετʼ αὐτοῦ ἄλλους δύο. Mt. and Mk. call them λῃσταί (such as Barabbas was, 18:40); Lk. says κακοῦργοι; Jn. does not apply any epithet to them. All the evangelists note that the Cross of Jesus was placed between the other two. Mediæval fancy gave names to the robbers, Dismas or Titus or πιστός to the penitent (who is generally represented as on the right side of the Cross of Jesus), Gestas or Dumachus or θεομάχος being the impenitent one.

ἐντεῦθεν καὶ ἐντεῦθεν. Cf. Daniel 12:5 (Theodotion); the LXX has the more usual ἔνθεν καὶ ἔνθεν: cf. 1 Macc. 6:38, 9:45.


19. τίτλον. The title or titulus, the technical name for the board bearing the name of the condemned or his crime or both, is only so called by Jn. In Mk. it is called ἡ ἐπιγραφή. Also it is only Jn. who tells that Pilate wrote it. As it appears in Jn. it included both the Name (Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος; see 18:5) and an indication of the crime, conveyed in words of mockery (ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων. In Mk. and Lk. only the αἰτία is given, the name being absent, while Mt. has οὗτός ἐστιν Ἰησοῦς ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ιʼουδαίων.2 It is not possible to determine which form is verbally correct, but probably it was considered sufficient to give the αἰτία only. In Suetonius (Domit. 10) the terms of a similar titulus are preserved: “impie locutus parmularius,” i.e. “a parmularian (the name by which the adherents of a gladiatorial party were known) who has spoken impiously.”

ἔθηκεν ἐπὶ τοῦ σταυροῦ: in Matthew 27:37 we have ἐπέθηκαν ἐπάνω τῆς κεφαλῆς αὐτοῦ, which suggests that the cross was of the shape called crux immissa, with a cross-bar for the arms, as painters have generally represented it to be.


20. το͂τον ὀ͂ν τὸν τίτλον κτλ. “This title, then (οὖν being a favourite conjunction with Jn.; see on 1:22), many of the Jews read,” as they would have opportunity of doing, the place being near the city, and as they would be able to do, because it was written in Aramaic as well as in Latin (the official language) and Greek (a detail peculiar to Jn.). That “many of the Jews” read the title placed in mockery above the cross, “the King of the Jews,” is not explicitly stated by any other evangelist, and Jn. makes no comment on it. But the irony of the statement is plain enough, and it is probably intentional. See on 1:45.

ἐγγὺς ἦν κτλ. We may translate this either by “the place where Jesus was crucified was near to the city,” or “the place of the city where Jesus was crucified was near”; but the former rendering is to be preferred. He suffered, not within the city walls, but “without the gate” (Hebrews 13:12); cf. Matthew 27:32, Numbers 15:35, Acts 7:58. The traditional site of Golgotha may not be the true one, but it has better claims to recognition than any other.1 Although within the present walls of Jerusalem, it may have been outside the walls as they existed in the first century,


21. οἱ�

To the form of expression, “What I have written, I have written,” Lightfoot (Hor. Hebr. iii. 432) gives some Rabbinic parallels (cf. also Genesis 43:14, Esther 4:16); but they are hardly apposite, as Pilate was not a Jew. Cf., however, ὅσα ἐστήσαμεν πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἕστηκεν (1 Macc. 13:38). The perf. tense γέγραφα marks the permanence and abiding character of his act. Jn. uses the perfect as distinct from the aorist, with strict linguistic propriety.


The Distribution Among the Soldiers of Jesus’ Garments (vv. 23, 24)

23. ἔλαβον τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ. Nothing is said of the clothes of the crucified robbers. It was customary to remove the clothes before a condemned person was nailed to the cross, and by Roman law they were the perquisites of the soldiers who acted as executioners.1 But, presumably, the clothes of the malefactors were not worth anything, and so are not mentioned.

Of the soldiers there was the usual quaternion (τετράδιον, Acts 12:4); and according to the Synoptists (Mark 15:39, Matthew 27:54, Luke 23:47) a centurion was also present. The Synoptists do not give any detailed account of the doings of the soldiers; they merely say, paraphrasing the words of Psalms 22:18 (which was no doubt in their minds), that the soldiers divided the clothes, casting lots. But throughout the Johannine account of the Crucifixion (vv. 23-37), the fuller testimony of an eye-witness (see v. 35) reveals itself. This account is due to one who was near the Cross all the time. And so Jn. tells that it was for the χίτων or long cassock-shaped coat (as distinguished from the ἱμάτιον or outer cloak: cf. v. 2 and Matthew 5:40, Luke 6:29), which was woven in one piece, that lots were cast; and he adds that this was ἵνα ἡ γραφὴ πληρωθῇ, quoting Psalms 22:18 from the LXX:


διεμερίσαντο τὰ ἱμάτιά μου ἑαυτοῖς

καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν ἱματισμόν μου ἔβαλον κλῆρον.2

In this verse ἱμάτια and ἱματισμός represent distinct Hebrew words, בֶּנֶד and לְבוֹּשׁ, but it is not always possible to distinguish the meanings of these. In the original context, we have the ordinary parallelism of Hebrew poetry; but Jn. finds in the words an inspired forecast of that which was witnessed at the Crucifixion, viz. the division of some garments, and the drawing of lots for one in particular. “These things, therefore, the soldiers did.” Jn. sees in all the incidents of the Passion the fulfilment of the Divine purpose disclosed in the O.T., and so he says that these things happened ἵνα ἡ γραφὴ πληρωθῇ.1

The χίτων was ἄρραφος (this word does not occur elsewhere in the Greek Bible), “without seam,” as was the robe of the high priest’s ephod (a long garment, ὑποδύτης ποδήρης, Exodus 28:32). Josephus (Ant. III. vii. 4) calls this robe of the high priest a χίτων, and (following the directions given in Exodus) he explains elaborately that it was woven in one piece.2 But this is only a verbal coincidence; the idea of a high-priestly robe does not enter here.3 χίτων is the ordinary word for the long coat worn in the East under the cloak. It was of some value, and Jn. records that the soldiers said (the witness was near enough to hear the words) Μὴ σχίσωμεν αὐτόν.�

Field (in loc.) urges that λαγχάνειν is unprecedented in the sense of “to cast lots,” its usual meaning being “to obtain by lot.” But Symmachus translated יַפִּילוּ גוֹרָל in Psalms 22:18 by ἐλάγχανον.

The account of this incident in the second-century Gospel of Peter is as follows: τεθεικότες τὰ ἐνδύματα ἔμπροσθεν αὐτοῦ διεμερίσαντο, καὶ λαχμὸν ἔβαλον ἐπʼ αὐτοῖς, “having set His garments before Him, they parted them among them and cast a lot for them.” It is not stated by Pseudo-Peter that this was the act of the soldiers, who appear a little later as a body of eight men, with a centurion, guarding the tomb, while Jn. is explicit that there were only four: τέσσερα μέρη, ἑκάστῳ στρατιώτῃ μέρος. The unusual word λαχμός, for κλῆρος, in Pseudo-Peter may have been suggested by Jn.’s λάχωμεν. It is reproduced by Justin (Tryph. 97), who quotes Psalms 22:15-18 from the LXX, and adds: ὅτε γὰρ ἐσταύρωσαν αὐτόν, ἐμπήσσοντες τοὺς ἥλους τὰς χεῖρας καὶ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ ὤρυξαν, καὶ οἱ σταυρώσαντες αὐτὸν ἐμέρισαν τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ ἑαυτοῖς, λαχμὸν βάλλοντες ἕκαστος κατὰ τὴν τοῦ κλήρου ἐπιβολὴν ὃ ἐκλέξεσθαι ἐβεβούλητο.


οἱ μὲν οὖν στρατ. κτλ. μέν, recalling what the soldiers did, corresponds to δέ in v. 25 introducing the fact that the women were present. μὲν οὖν occurs again in Jn. only at 20:30, where also it is followed by a corresponding δέ.

Three Sayings of Jesus from the Cross, Before His Death (vv. 25-30)

25. εἱστήκεισαν δὲ παρὰ τῷ σταυρῷ κτλ. From the Synoptic parallels (Mark 15:40, Matthew 27:56; cf. Luke 24:10) we gather that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and Salome the wife of Zebedee and mother of the apostles James and John, were present at the Cross. Jn. enumerates Mary the mother of Jesus (whose presence the Synoptists do not mention), her sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene, i.e. four persons and not three as one reading of the text might suggest. Not only does the Peshitta make this clear by putting “and” before “Mary the wife of Clopas”; but the balance of the sentence, if four persons are indicated, is thoroughly Johannine. If we compare this with the Synoptic parallels we reach two important conclusions: (1) Salome was the sister of Mary the mother of Jesus, and therefore John the son of Zebedee and Salome was a maternal cousin of Jesus. (2) Mary the wife of Clopas is the same person as Mary the mother of James and Joseph (cf. Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40, Mark 15:47, Mark 15:16:1, Luke 24:10). It would be impossible to equate the Synoptic “Mary, the mother of James and Joseph” with the Lord’s mother, for no one can suppose that the Synoptists, when telling the names of the women at the Cross, would have described the mother of Jesus in so circuitous a manner. This James is called by Mk. ὁ Ἰακώβος ὁ μικρός or “James the Little,” the adjective not relating to his dignity, but to his stature. Of him we know nothing more.

Attempts have been made to identify Clopas with Alphæus, who was father of one of the Twelve (James the son of Alphæus, Mark 3:18, Matthew 10:3, Luke 6:15, Acts 1:13); but philological considerations will not permit us to reduce Clopas and Alphœus to the same Hebrew original.1 The N.T. tells us no more of Clopas (Cleopas of Luke 24:18 is a different name); but Hegesippus2 (fl. circa 150 a.d.), states that he was the brother of Joseph, the Lord’s foster-father, and so “the Lord’s uncle.” Hegesippus also says that he had a son, Symeon or Simon, who became second bishop of Jerusalem, “being a cousin of the Lord,” succeeding James the Just, “the Lord’s brother,” who was the first bishop. See, further, Additional Note on 2:12.


The MSS. vary as to the spelling of Mary Magdalene’s name (Μαριάμ or Μαρία), but Mary of Clopas seems to be always Μαρία. As we have seen (on 11:2, 20), B 33 always describe Mary of Bethany as Μαριάμ, while א always has Μαρία. But when Mary Magdalene (whom we take to be the same person) is mentioned the usage is different. In 19:25, 20:1, 11 B gives Μαρία, and א 33 give Μαριάμ. At 20:16, 18 אB 33 agree in reading Μαριάμ. Probably the Hebrew form Μαριάμ should be adopted throughout (this is the spelling in Pseudo-Peter).3

26. Ἰησοῦς κτλ. For the omission the article before Ἰησοῦς when followed by οὖν, see on 6:15.

τῇ μητρί. So אBL. ADsuppNLΓΔΘ, some O.L. texts, and the Coptic Q add αὐτοῦ, as in the rec. text.

The true reading, both here and in v. 27, seems to be ἴδε (a favourite word with Jn.; see on 1:29), and not ἰδού which occurs only 16:32, 19:5. In v 26 אAΘ give ἰδού, but BDsuppN have ἴδε. In v. 27 ἰδού is read by ADsupp, ἴδε being read by אBLNΘ.

The Coptic Q and the O.L. e omit the introductory γύναι, perhaps feeling it to be harsh.

The reasons for identifying “the disciple whom Jesus loved” with John the son of Zebedee and Salome, the maternal cousin of Jesus, have been given in the Introduction, p. xxxvif. We now find John at the Cross, with the women, including the Virgin Mother and his own mother Salome.

It was natural that the Virgin should be commended to his care, rather than to the care of “the brethren,” James and Simon and Joseph and Jude, with whom she had been so intimately associated in the past, and whose home she had probably shared (see on 2:12), because they were not yet disciples; they had not accepted the claims of Jesus or believed in His mission. As we have seen, John was nephew to Mary, and in sympathy he was nearer to her than these stepsons. And so Jesus bade His mother look to John, His beloved friend and cousin, to be her “son.” He is going from her, but John will take His place in such measure as is possible

The words “Woman, behold thy son … behold thy mother” are more than a mere commendation1 or suggestion from a dying friend. They convey a command from Him who was, to Mary, as well as to John, Master and Lord. He did not address her as “Mother,” even while He shows tender solicitude for her future. “Mother,” as a title of address by Jesus, was abandoned long since, and for it “Woman,” a usual title of respect, has been substituted. See on 2:4.

When Jesus said to John “Behold thy mother,” John’s own mother, Salome, was present and may have overheard the words. But the Virgin was her sister, broken-hearted and desolate, with whom she was in complete sympathy, for she too had accepted Jesus as Master. She was not necessarily set aside or superseded by the charge to her son to regard her sister Mary as a second mother, and treat her with filial care.

The place which this farewell charge occupies among the Words from the Cross is noteworthy, as will be seen if they are read in their probable sequence.

Additional Note on the Words From the Cross

The evangelical narratives of the Passion reflect at least three distinct lines of tradition. The Marcan tradition (which according to Papias goes back to Peter, whose disciple Mark was) is followed with amplifications of a later date by Matthew. It is also followed by Luke, who seems, however, to have had some additional source of information. His account of the trial before Herod (23:8-12), e.g., has no parallel in the other Gospels; and it has been often observed that Luke alone mentions Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, as one of the women who accompanied Jesus in His public ministry (Luke 8:3) and were present at the Crucifixion (Luke 23:49) and heralds of the Resurrection (Luke 23:55, Luke 24:10). To this Joanna, Luke’s special information as to the Passion may possibly be due. The third distinct tradition of the Passion is that of Jn., which goes back for details to the personal witness of the Beloved Disciple (19:35).


The Marcan tradition reports one Word from the Cross, the Lucan tradition three, and the Johannine tradition yet another three. There is nothing surprising in this variation. Independent witnesses may honestly and truthfully give different, although not inconsistent, reports of the same events. They report only what they have personally observed, and only such part of that as has specially impressed them or is suitable for the purposes of their narrative, if they are writing one. It may not be possible to harmonise precisely the various accounts of the Passion, or to place the Words from the Cross in exact chronological sequence. But there is no critical objection to the order which has generally commended itself to students of the Gospels, as being suggested by the sacred text. It may be set out as follows:

1. Πάτερ, ἄφες αὐτοῖς· οὐ γὰρ οἴδασιν τί ποιοῦσιν (Luke 23:34). This comes in the Lucan narrative, according to the received text, immediately after the statement that Jesus had been crucified between the two thieves. But that it is part of the original text of Lk. is uncertain; it is omitted by אaBD* and other authorities, and Westcott-Hort “cannot doubt that it comes from an extraneous source.”1 Wherever it comes from, whether the knowledge of it came to Lk. from some eye-witness, such as Joanna, or whether it found its way into the text of Lk., after his narrative was completed, it has an unmistakable note of genuineness.

2. Ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, σήμερον μετʼ ἐμοῦ ἔσῃ ἐν τῷ παραδείσῳ (Luke 23:43). This was addressed to the penitent thief, and, like the First Word, must have been said at the beginning of the awful scene. “It was now about the sixth hour,” is Lk.’s comment (Luke 23:44); i.e. it was about noon. See on John 19:14. The report of this saying must have come from some one who stood near the Cross, and so was able to hear what was said.

3. Γύναι, ἴδε ὁ υἱός σου … Ἴδε ἡ μήτηρ σου (John 19:26, John 19:27). There is no difficulty in understanding why this saying should have been specially treasured in memory by the Beloved Disciple, and thus recorded at last in the Fourth Gospel. It was specially addressed to him, and to her whom he was to cherish henceforth as a mother; there is no reason to suppose that other bystanders were unable to hear the words.


If we examine the sequence of these first three Words from the Cross, in the order seemingly suggested in the Gospel texts, we cannot fail to notice the narrowing of the circle of interest, as death draws near. That always happens. When death is at a distance, men are still concerned with the wider interests of life; then it draws closer, and it is only the nearer and more intimate interests that appeal; and the time comes when the energies of thought are taxed to the full by the messages of farewell to those who have been best beloved. So it was with the Son of Man. In the hour of death, the first movement of the heart of Jesus is towards those who had brought Him to the Cross. “Father, forgive them.” His mission of Redemption is still in His thoughts. Then, as strength ebbs away, the cry of the penitent thief by His side reaches Him, and the response to the individual pleading does not fail. “This day shalt thou be with me.” But the circle is narrowing fast. His dying eyes are fixed upon those who have been dearest. The forgiveness of enemies; the consolation of the fellow-sufferer; these give place to the thought of mother and of friend. “Behold thy son … behold thy mother.” These are the stages of the approach of death, for the Perfect Man.

4. Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? θεέ μου, θεέ μου, ἱνατί με ἐγκατέλιπες; (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34). This is the only Word from the Cross which rests upon the Marcan tradition, and may be taken as due to Peter. It was uttered “with a loud voice,” and so could be heard even by those standing at a distance, as Peter probably was. (Cf. Matthew 27:55, ἦσαν δὲ ἐκεῖ γυναῖκες πολλαὶ�Mark 15:35) which shows that we have here to do with words actually used, and not with words afterwards placed in the mouth of Jesus, being thought appropriate as the opening phrase of a Messianic Psalm (Psalms 22:1). Indeed, the difficulty that interpreters have always felt in explaining these words of seeming despair as spoken by One who was Himself Divine, proves that they are not likely to have been the invention of pious fancy dwelling afterwards on the Agony of Calvary. They were reproduced later in a Docetic form in the apocryphal Gospel of Peter: Ἡ δύναμίς μου, ἡ δύναμις, κατέλειψάς με. Why they are not recorded by Lk. or Jn. it is idle to conjecture.

5. Διψῶ (John 19:28). This was spoken near the end. Although the actual word διψῶ is recorded only by Jn., yet the incident of the Lord’s thirst being assuaged is given in Mark 15:36 (Matthew 27:48). “I thirst” would naturally have been said in a low voice, so that it could be heard only by those near the Cross.

That Jn. should have specially recorded this word is in keeping with the emphasis laid, throughout the Fourth Gospel, on the humanity of Jesus. As He asked the Samaritan woman for water when He was thirsty (4:7), so now. Jn. is anxious to expel Docetic doctrine (1 John 4:2), and both here and at 19:34 he brings out recollections of the Beloved Disciple which forbid any theory of Christ’s Person that does not recognise His manhood. Jesus was thirsty at the Cross.

6. Τετέλεσται (John 19:30). That after He had assuaged His thirst, Jesus uttered a loud cry, just before the end, is recorded Mark 15:37, Matthew 27:50; cf. also Luke 23:46. But the spectator upon whose testimony Jn. is dependent not only heard the cry, but identified the word spoken. This, for Jn., who sees all through the Passion the predestined march of events to the fulfilment of God’s purposes,1 is the Great Word. Everything had happened as it did happen, in order that the Divine purpose, as foreshadowed in the O.T., might be accomplished (τελειωθῇ 19:28). And τετέλεσται marks this Consummation.

7. Πάτερ, εἰς χεῖράς σου παρατίθεμαι τὸ πνεῦμά μου (Luke 23:46). Lk. specially notes that this was after the Great Cry (φωνήσας φωνῇ μεγάλῃ), and that this was the last word spoken. To the utterance of faithful confidence from the ancient Psalm (31:5), the one word “Father” was prefixed, which charged it for future generations with a deeper meaning. In the Psalm, it is the trustful prayer of life; on the lips of Jesus (and thereafter; cf. Acts 7:59), it became a prayer of the dying. It is noteworthy that the two personal cries of Jesus from the Cross (Nos. 4 and 7) are old and familiar verses from the Psalter.

Jn. does not record this, but we cannot know his reason. If it was indeed the last word spoken, the Beloved Disciple must have heard it, as well as the witness, Joanna or another, from whom it was transmitted to Lk. It is just possible that the words of John 19:30, παρέδωκεν τὸ πνεῦμα, contain a reminiscence of Lk.’s παρατίθεμαι τὸ πνεῦμά μου. But in any case Jn. never attempts to tell all that had happened, or all that he knew; his method is to select and arrange the sayings and acts of Jesus which best bring out the main thesis of his Gospel (20:31). And τετέλεσται is, in his scheme, the final word of the Cross.


Of other arrangements of the Seven Words, that of Tatian, our earliest harmonist, is the most noteworthy. It differs in one particular only from that which has been set out here. Tatian in his Diatessaron puts “Father, forgive them …” immediately before “Father, into thy hands …”; thus contradicting the order in which Lk. (who alone records them both) places the two sayings, “Father, forgive them” and “This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” Bishop Andrewes in his Litania places our No. 3 before our No. 2, an arrangement adopted also in some German hymns. Certainty cannot be reached, but a clearer insight into the significance of these Words is gained by any honest attempt to reach the order in which they were spoken.

27.�

εἰς τὰ ἴδια, “to his own home.” The phrase is used thus Esther 5:10, Esther 5:3 Macc. 6:27, 37, 7:8, Acts 21:6, and it is the most natural meaning. It occurs twice elsewhere in Jn. (1:11, 16:32), where the sense is probably the same, but is not quite so clear as it is here (see note on 1:11). John brought the Virgin Mother to his own lodging1 (see on 20:10), and she lived with him thereafter; but we cannot build on the phrase εἰς τὰ ἴδια a theory which would give him a house of residence at Jerusalem (see on 18:15).

28. μετὰ τοῦτο. The phrase does not convey that the incident of vv. 28-30 immediately followed on that of vv. 25-27. In fact, there was interposed the long interval of darkness and of silence, of which all the Synoptists speak as lasting for some three hours (Mark 15:33, Matthew 27:45, Luke 23:44). But it means, as it does elsewhere in Joh_2 that the second incident was later than the first; whereas the phrase μετὰ ταῦτα does not carry the sense of strict chronological sequence so explicitly.


εἰδὼς ὁ Ἰησοῦς κτλ. The same phrase occurs in 13:1, where in like manner it leads up to the statement that the appointed hour had come. He knew that “all things had now been finished,” ἤδη πάντα τετέλεσται. Jn. never allows his readers to forget that events which he records were eternally fore-ordained, and that Jesus was conscious of this. Primarily ἤδη πάντα τετέλεσται may have reference to the details of the Passion, and the Lord’s word τετέλεσται may be taken to mean that the Passion with its anguish and its sordid accompaniments was now over. And so “that the Scripture might be accomplished, Jesus said, I thirst.”

28, 29, 30. ἵνα τελειωθῇ ἡ γραφή. So ABLNWΓ. אDsuppΘ and fam. 13 have the more usual πληρωθῇ. Some have found a more complete consummation expressed by τελειωθῇ than πληρωθῇ would convey, but this is over subtle. If a reason is sought for the choice of the word τελειωθῇ, it may be found in the preceding τετέλεσται; τελεῖν suggesting τελειοῦν.

ἵνα τελ. ἡ γρ. probably refers to what follows, not to what precedes.1 Jn. held that every incident of the Crucifixion took place as foreshadowed in the O.T. Scriptures, and that the Divine purpose as expressed therein might be accomplished. For him, the thirst of Jesus and its relief were foretold and fore-ordained in Psalms 69:21: εἰς τὴν δίψαν μου ἐπότισάν με ὄξος. That this is the passage in Jn.’s mind appears from the mention of ὄξος after the word διψῶ. The phrasing of the parallel narrative (Mark 15:36), σπόγγον ὄξους περιθεὶς καλάμῳ ἐπότιζεν αὐτόν, shows that Mk. (followed by Matthew 27:48) had the same passage from the Psalter in his thought. The ὄξος, or posca, was the sour wine which was the usual drink of the legionaries, some of which, according to Lk. (23:36), had already been offered by the soldiers to Jesus in mockery, as if it were a coronation cup.

It is not doubtful, however, that Jn. intends τετέλεσται to have a deeper significance than that the various incidents of the Passion were now finished. τετέλεσται is not a cry of relief that all is over; it is a shout of Victory. The mission of Redemption has now been perfected. See on 4:34. According to the Synoptists (see Additional Note on v. 26) τετέλεσται was cried “with a loud voice.” This may have some bearing on the request suggested in the preceding word διψῶ. Jesus may have desired that those who were present, the idle spectators and the soldiers as well as the faithful disciples, should understand that He counted His Death as a Victory. He may have wished to announce this publicly, so that all could hear. But if He was to speak now, after the long torture of the Cross, “with a loud voice,” His parched throat must be cooled. It was necessary that He should ask for drink. And so, ὅτε οὖν ἔλαβεν τὸ ὄξος, “when He had therefore taken the wine,” He cried Τετέλεσται, that all might know that great fact of which He was Himself assured, ἤδη πάντα τετέλεσται. It was this majestic word which seems specially to have impressed the centurion who was there. “When the centurion, which stood by over against Him, saw that He so gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was a Son of God” (Mark 15:39), “Certainly this was a righteous man” (Luke 23:47). At any rate, Jn. regards it as the Final Word, and will add nothing to it.


But whether this connexion between the two words διψῶ and τετέλεσται be suggested by Jn. or no (and it may be thought over subtle), διψῶ must be taken in its plain meaning of physical thirst. This Jesus felt, and a merciful bystander relieved Him.

We are not to confuse this incident with the refusal by Jesus, before He was crucified, of the drugged wine which it was customary to offer criminals who were condemned to the Cross (Mark 15:23, Matthew 27:34). The Talmudists say of this kindly custom “they gave them to drink a little frankincense in a cup of wine … that their understanding might be disordered.”1 This Jesus refused because He willed to endure the Cross with full and unimpaired consciousness. But now all is finished. The work of redemption has been completed. It is no part of Christ’s revelation that the enduring of purposeless pain is meritorious. The pains of thirst were terrible to one exposed to the scorching heat of midday, while hanging naked on the Cross. And so Jesus said, “I thirst,” in His death-agony.


It would seem that some provision had been made for relieving the thirst of the dying men.

σκεῦος ἔκειτο ὄξους μεστόν, “a vessel full of vinegar was set there”; it was quite ready. Some have imagined that this also was a drugged potion, such as that of Matthew 27:34 (οἶνον μετὰ χολῆς), given with the view of hastening the death of the sufferers. But there is no ground for this in the evangelical narratives. Mt., who follows the words of Psalms 69:21, takes the word χολή from thence, this being the only place where χολή is mentioned in the Gospels, viz. in connexion with the draught offered to Jesus before He was crucified. Neither Mt. (see 27:48) nor any other evangelist mentions χολή in connexion with the final draught accepted by Jesus at the end. Barnabas (§ 7) says, indeed, σταυρωθεὶς ἐποτίζετο ὄξει καὶ χολῇ, but he probably had Matthew 27:34 rather than Matthew 27:48 in his mind. In any case, he is a confused writer, as is also the author of the Gospel of Peter who writes thus (§ 5): καί τις αὐτῶν εἶπεν Ποτίσατε αὐτὸν χολὴν μετὰ ὄξους· καὶ κεράσαντες ἐπότισαν. καὶ ἐπλήρωσαν πάντα, καὶ ἐτελείωσαν κατὰ τῆς κεφαλῆς αὐτῶν τὰ ἁμαρτήματα. Nonnus (fifth cent.) suggests that Jesus asked for the draught in order that the end might come more quickly: νοήσας | ὅττι θοῶς τετέλεστο, θοώτερον ἤθελεν εἶναι. But there is no hint of such a motive in the canonical Gospels.

29. σκεῦος ἔκειτο ὄξους μεστόν. So ABLW 33, but the rec., with DsuppNΓΔΘ, adds οὖν after σκεῦος. For the next clause, σπόγγον οὖν μέστον τοῦ ὄξους (אcBLW 33), the rec., with ADsuppNΓΔΘ, substitutes οἱ δὲ πλήσαντες σπόγγον ὄξους, καὶ … Θ fam. 13 interpolate μετὰ χολῆς καὶ ὑσσώπου after ὄξους, and Θ proceeds καὶ περιθέντες καλάμῳ προσήνεγκαν κτλ., these variants in the rec. text being derived from Mark 15:36, Matthew 27:34, Matthew 27:48. The change in Θ of ὑσσώπῳ to καλάμῳ is evidently due to the difficulty felt by the scribe in the words ὑσσώπῳ περιθέντες.

ὐσσώπῳ περιθέντες. This would mean that the sponge filled with vinegar or sour wine was placed “on hyssop” and so conveyed to the mouth of Jesus as He hung on the Cross. But hyssop is not a plant which commonly provides sticks or reeds (if at all); bunches of it were used for sprinkling purposes (Exodus 12:22, Hebrews 9:19), but while a sponge could be attached to a bunch of hyssop, some rod or stick would yet be needed to raise it up to the Cross. The Synoptists say nothing about hyssop, but both in Matthew 27:49 and Mark 15:36 (cf. Luke 23:37) we read σπόγγον ὄξους περιθεὶς καλάμῳ, i.e. they say that a bystander put the sponge on a reed or cane or stick, as it was natural to do.


Now in the eleventh century cursive No. 476 we find ὓσσῳ περιθέντες, the corruption of μχχωπεριθεντεχ into μχχωπωπεριθεντεχ being due to the repetition by the scribe of two letters ωπ. ὕσσος is the Latin pilum, of which each Roman soldier carried two; and the meaning of ὕσσῳ περιθέντες is that the bystanders put the sponge on the end of a soldier’s javelin or pilum, several of which were ready to hand (see on v. 34). This not only brings Jn. into correspondence with the περιθεὶς καλάμῳ of the Synoptists, but it reveals the personal observer. The man behind the story knew, for he had seen, to what kind of a stick the sponge was fastened; it was a ὓσσος, a soldier’s javelin.1

30. κλίνας τήν κεφαλήν, “having bowed His head.” This detail is given only by Jn., and suggests that the account depends on the testimony of an eye-witness. κλίνειν τήν κεφαλήν occurs again in N.T. only at Matthew 8:20, Luke 9:58, “The Son of Man hath not where to lay His head.” The only restingplace for Him was the Cross. Abbott1 argues that Jn. means here to imply that Jesus in death rested His head on the bosom of the Father. But this is to apply the allegorical method of Origen, and is quite unnecessary here.

παρέδωκεν τό πνεῦμα, “He gave up His spirit.” Mark 15:37 and Luke 23:46 have simply ἐξέπνευσεν, while Matthew 27:50 has�

Or, the expression παρέδωκεν τὸ πνεῦμα may carry a reminiscence of the Lord’s last words according to Luke 23:46 παρατίθεμαι τὸ πνεῦμά μου. See Additional Note on p. 636.

Or, we may have here a covert allusion to Isaiah 53:12: “He poured out His soul unto death,” which the LXX turns into the passive form παρεδόθη εἰς θάνατον ἡ ψυχὴ αὐτοῦ, but which would more literally be rendered παρέδωκεν εἰς θάνατον τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ. When it is remembered that the next clause of Isaiah 53:12 is “and He was numbered among the transgressors” (which is quoted as predictive of the Passion in Luke 22:37), it is not improbable that Jn. is here translating directly from the Hebrew of Isaiah 53:12, and that his intention is to describe the death of Jesus in the same words as those used by the prophet of the death of the Servant of Yahweh.2 Isa_53 is for Jn. a Messianic prophecy. See on 12:38.


In any case, the verb παραδιδόναι expresses a voluntary act, and is thus in contrast with the ἐξέπνευσεν of Mk. and Lk.

For the use of πνεῦμα, see on 11:33. It is not legitimate to lay any special emphasis on the employment here of πνεῦμα, as distinct from ψυχή, even if the suggestion made above that Isaiah’s “poured out His soul” suggested Jn.’s παρέδωκεν τὸ πνεῦμα be not adopted. Indeed in the second century Acts of John (§ 115) παρέδωκεν τὸ πνεῦμα is used of Jn.’s own death. So of the death of Agathonice by martyrdom it is said οὕτως�

31. The statement that the “Jews,” i.e. the Sanhedrists who had brought about the condemnation of Jesus, approached Pilate with the request that the death of those who had been crucified should be hastened, and their bodies removed, is peculiar to Jn. (see on v. 38). It has every mark of truth. Criminals crucified on a Friday might linger until the Sabbath, when they could not be buried, so that they would remain hanging on the Cross. But it was contrary to the Deuteronomic law that the dead bodies of criminals should remain on the cross after sunset (cf. Deuteronomy 21:23, Joshua 8:29, Joshua 10:27). Accordingly, Josephus (B.J. IV. v. 2) tells us that the Jews of his time were careful to bury before sundown the bodies of those who had been crucified. Thus it was urgent, from the Sanhedrist’s point of view, that those crucified on a Friday should die on that day, and that their bodies should be removed forthwith. But this could be arranged only by an order from the Roman governor.


Now the usual Roman practice was to leave a corpse on its cross (cf. Horace, Epistles, I. xvi. 48), as in England the bodies of criminals used to be left hanging in chains. But there was no Roman law forbidding burial. Wetstein quotes Quintilian, Declam. vi., “omnes succiduntur, percussos sepeliri carnifex non uetat.” And Philo mentions that he had known of bodies being taken down from the cross and handed over to the relatives of the condemned for burial, on the occasion of the emperor’s birthday or the like (in Flacc. 10). Hence, although Pilate, in ordinary circumstances, might have refused the request of the Sanhedrists, there was nothing to prevent him from granting it if he wished. And, in this case, apart from his evident unwillingness to condemn Jesus, there was the further consideration that Jerusalem, at the moment, was crowded with pilgrims who had come for the Passover, and that it was desirable to avoid a conflict between the Jews and the Roman authorities.3

For Παρασκευή, see on v. 14 above. It was “Preparation” or “Friday,” doubly a day of preparation this year, because the Sabbath day following synchronised with “the first day of unleavened bread,” which was a “great” day. It is called a “holy” day in the LXX of Exodus 12:16, ἡ ἡμέρα ἡ πρώτη κληθήσεται ἁγία.

ἦν γὰρ μεγ. κτλ., “for the day of that sabbath was a great day,” ἐκείνου being emphatic. ADsuppO transfer the words ἐπεὶ παρασκευὴ ἦν to a position after σαββάτῳ, but אBLW fam. 13 support their more natural place at the beginning of the sentence after Ἰουδαῖοι. The Peshitta gives the paraphrase: “Because it was Preparation, they say, these bodies shall not remain on the Cross, because the sabbath dawneth.” ἐπεί is “because,” exactly as in the parallel passage Mark 15:42 ἐπεὶ ἦν παρασκευή.


The crurifragium, or breaking of the limbs, was done by a heavy mallet; and terrible as such blows would be, if inflicted on a man in health and strength, they were merciful if they ended quickly the torture of a lingering death by crucifixion.

32. ἦλθον οὖν οἱ στρ. “Therefore,” sc. in obedience to the orders they received, “the soldiers came,” and broke the legs of the two robbers, who were not yet dead. The Gospel of Peter (which betrays knowledge of the Johannine narrative of the Passion) gives a curious turn to this incident. It represents the Jews as indignant with the penitent thief, because of his defence of Jesus’ innocence (cf. Luke 23:41), and as commanding “that his bones should not be broken to the end that he might die in torment” (§ 4). This is inconsistent with what Pseudo-Peter says in § 3 about the illegality of allowing the bodies to remain on the crosses after sundown; but its interest is that it shows the freedom with which this apocryphal writer treats the Gospel narrative.

33. ὡς εἶδον ἤδη αὐτὸν τεθνηκότα. Jesus died before the robbers did. According to Mark 15:44, Pilate was surprised that He had died so soon; for in the case of a crucified person, death sometimes did not ensue for two or three days. A highly strung nature is less able to endure physical agony than one of coarser fibre; and Jesus was the Perfect Man. See above on v. 10.

34. This verse was introduced into St. Matthew’s Gospel at an early period. אBCLΓ, with some cursives, the Ethiopic vs., and several “mixed” Latin texts of the British and Irish type, supply at the end of Matthew 27:49 the words ἄλλος δὲ λαβὼν λόγχην ἔνυξεν αὐτοῦ τὴν πλευράν, καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ὓδωρ καὶ αἷμα. Mt. represents one of the bystanders (εἷς ἐξ αὐτῶν) as offering Jesus the sponge of vinegar, while others were for waiting to see if Elijah would come to save Him. Then he adds the incident about the piercing of the Lord’s side, the apparent inference being that it was to render fruitless any intervention on the part of Elijah. As the verse occurs in Mt., it represents Jesus as alive, His death following with a loud cry immediately after the piercing. It has been held that Chrysostom supports this view; but an examination of his homily on Matthew 27:49 will show that it is not so, despite some confusion in the order of his comments. For although he mentions the piercing immediately after the giving of the vinegar, he adds: “What could be more brutal than these men, who carried their madness so far as to insult a dead body”; a comment which he briefly repeats on John 19:34. Tatian has also been cited in support of the interpolation at Matthew 27:49, but there is no trace of it in the Diatessaron. The probability is that εἷς ἐξ αὐτῶν of Matthew 27:48 recalled to a copyist εἷς τῶν στρατιωτῶν of John 19:34 and suggested the interpolation. Perhaps Jn.’s�Mat_1 (being omitted by the Syriac and O.L. vss. because of its inconsistency with Jn.), and that Jn. here silently corrects Mt. by placing the incident in its true context, is improbable, for there is no evidence to prove that Jn. knew Mt. at all.2


The rendering of the Latin Vulgate aperuit in this verse depends on a corruption of the Greek text. The true Greek reading is ἔνυξεν “pricked,” which is the basis of most of the O.L. vss., pupugit, perfodit, inseruit, etc. But the O.L. codices f and r have aperuit, which presumably indicates a Greek variant ἤνοιξεν “opened.” This was adopted by Jerome, and is supported by the Peshitta and the Jerusalem Syriac. But for the Greek ἤνοιξεν there is no MS. authority. Cod. 56 has ἤνυξε; Cod. 58 has ἔμυξε (corr. to ἔνυξε by a second hand); Cod. 68, the Evangelisteria 257, 259, and (according to Tischendorf) Cod. 225 have ἔνοιξε, all of which are natural corruptions of ἔνυξε, and it is plain that ἤνοιξεν was another corruption of the same kind.1

εἷς τῶν στρατιωτῶν. Jn.’s general usage is to write εἷς ἐκ τῶν … (see on 1:40), but at 12:4, 18:22 as well as here ἐκ is omitted. Tradition gives the name Longinus to this soldier, probably because of the λόγχη (ἄπ. λεγ. in N.T.) or lancea which he carried.

νύσσειν (ἃπ. λεγ. in N.T.) is “to prod,” and is generally used of a light touch (e.g. Ecclus. 22:19 of pricking the eye, and 3 Macc. 5:14 of “prodding” a sleeping person to awake him). Field quotes a passage from Plutarch (Cleom. 37) where it is used of touching a man with a dagger to ascertain if he were dead, and he suggests that it is used similarly here.

On the other hand, νύσσειν is used of a spear wound which kills a man (e.g. Josephus, Bell. Jud. III. 7:35; cf. Acta Thomœ, § 165), and 20:25 indicates that the wound made in Jesus’ side was a large one. Origen (in Matthew 27:54) seems to say that a lance thrust was sometimes given as a coup de grâce to hasten the death of those who had been crucified. The language of the text suggests that the soldier was determined to make sure that Jesus was dead.


The λόγχῃ was a long slender spear, not so heavy as the ὓσσος (see v. 29) or pilum which was the usual weapon of the Roman legionaries. The ὓσσος had a barbed iron head, which would inflict a wide and deep wound. If we are to press the use of λόγχη here, it would fall in with the idea, which has been put forward, that the soldier’s act was a mere gesture as he passed; that he perceived Jesus to be dead, and so, without any special purpose, prodded the Body with his lance, the touch being possibly a light one.

The Ethiopic version (sæc. vi.) says that it was the right side of the Body that was pierced. This was widely accepted in ancient times (see e.g. Acta Pilati, B. xi.), and the incident is frequently represented thus in art, e.g. in the sixth-century Syriac Evangeliarium of Rabula at Florence.2 The verse John 19:34 is recited at the mixing of the chalice in several Eastern liturgies; and in the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom the rubric preceding its recitation has the words, νύττων δὲ αὐτὸν ἐν τῷ δεξίῳ μέρει μετὰ τῆς λόγχης κτλ.3


ἐξῆλθεν εὐθύς. So אBLNW (cf. 13:30); the rec. has εὐθὺς ἐξῆλθεν. There is emphasis on εὐθύς; the “blood and water” flowed immediately. See on 5:9, and on 1:22.

That there should be a flow of blood from a dead body, when pierced with a spear, is abnormal; and various physical explanations have been offered. W. Stroud1 suggested that the death of Jesus had been caused by rupture of the heart (which explains why it came so soon after His Crucifixion), and that the “blood and water” were the separated clot and serum of the escaped blood in the pericardial sac, which the lance had pierced. This assumes that the wound was on the left side, of which there is no evidence, tradition (whatever it be worth) indicating the right side.

Stroud’s arguments have not approved themselves to all physicians. It is objected, e.g. by Dr. C. Creighton,2 that “the blood escaping into a serum cavity from rupture of a great organ” does not show any tendency to separate into clot and serum, “but remains thick dark-red blood.” Creighton suggests that the stroke of the spear may have been only a light touch (see above), directed to “something on the surface of the body, perhaps a discoloured wheal or exudation, such as the scourging might have left”; and that it “was a thoughtless rather than a brutal act,” Jesus already being dead. “Water not unmixed with blood from some such superficial source is conceivable, but blood and water from an internal source are a mystery.”

We have hardly sufficient data to reach an exact conclusion as to the cause of the gushing forth of blood and water from the wound; or as to the time—possibly a very short interval— which had elapsed since the Death of Jesus; but that blood and water were observed to flow is not doubtful.

It has, however, been frequently urged (e.g. by Westcott and Godet) that we must not expect a complete physical explanation of this incident; inasmuch as, according to the apostolic teaching, the Body of Christ did not suffer corruption after His Death (cf. Acts 2:31). He truly died (see on v. 30), but the physical changes which succeed death in our experience did not necessarily follow in His case. We may not assume that the Death of Christ was exactly like the death of an ordinary human being. This view of the matter was put forward by Origen. In dead bodies, he says, blood is clotted and water does not flow; but from the dead Body of Christ blood and water issued, and here was a miracle.3


The language of Jn. is compatible with this interpretation. In that case, the solemn attestation of v. 35 was added because Jn. regarded the incident as so extraordinary as to be difficult of credence. It had not been narrated by earlier evangelists, and exceptionally good testimony would be necessary if it were to be believed.

But it is more probable that Jn. regards the flow of blood and water from the pierced side of Jesus as a natural phenomenon, which he specially notes because he wishes to refute the Docetic doctrines prevalent when the Gospel was composed.1 Alike in the Gospel and in the First Epistle he is anxious to lay stress on the true humanity of Christ (see on 1:14); and when telling of the Passion he would guard against the Docetism which treated the Body of Jesus as a mere phantom. We know from the second-century Acts of John, as well as from other sources, something of the curious teaching which denied humanity to Christ and explained His Crucifixion as an illusion. In this Docetic work (§ 101), Jesus is actually represented as saying that there was no real flow of blood from His Body; αἷμα ἐξ ἐμοῦ ῥεύσαντα καὶ οὐκ ἔρευσεν. In opposition to teaching of this kind, which goes back to the first century, Jn. is earnest in explaining that the Death of Jesus was a human death; His Body bled when it was pierced; it was no phantom.

In like manner, the language of the First Epistle is strongly anti-Docetic. “Every spirit which confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God,” the spirit which denies this being the spirit of antichrist (1 John 4:2, 1 John 4:3). That the language of 1 John 5:6, “This is He who came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and the blood,” carries a direct allusion to John 19:34 is doubtful. Perhaps the words are sufficiently explained of the historic Baptism of Jesus and of His historic Crucifixion. But the whole passage is strikingly similar to John 19:34, John 19:35 in its insistence on the true humanity of Christ in the circumstances, alike, of His Life and His Death. This was what Jn. was most anxious to teach, viz. that the Man Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (20:31); and the incident recorded in John 19:34 is so apposite in this connexion, as opposed to Docetic mysticism, that he calls attention to it by an emphatic and special attestation (v. 35).

One of the earliest extant comments on John 19:34, is that of Irenæus, who takes this view of the evangelist’s purpose. To show the true humanity of Christ, Irenæus calls attention to His being hungry at the Temptation, to His being tired (John 4:6), to His tears (John 11:35), to His bloody sweat (Luke 22:44), and lastly to the piercing of His side, when blood and water flowed forth. He concludes ταῦτα γὰρ πάντα σύμβολα σαρκός, τῆς�

All later fathers are concerned with the symbolism. Among them may be named Claudius Apollinaris, bishop of Hierapolis about 171, a contemporary of Irenæus. A fragment ascribed to him1 runs as follows: ὁ τὴν ἁγίαν πλευρὰν ἐκκενθεὶς (cf. v. 37), ὁ ἐκχέας ἐκ τῆς πλευρᾶς αὐτοῦ τὰ δύο πάλιν καθάρσια, ὕδωρ καὶ αἷμα, λόγον καὶ πνεῦμα. Here the Water and the Blood seem to correspond respectively to the Word and the Spirit (for it is arbitrary to suppose that the order is to be reversed), as they do in the famous Comma Johanneum about the Three Heavenly Witnesses; and this suggests a doubt as to the genuineness of the alleged quotation from Claudius Apollinaris. In any case, the writer holds that the Water and the Blood at the Crucifixion are “the two things that again purify,”2 πάλιν probably referring to the purifications under the Old Covenant. He may have had in mind the dedication of the Covenant with Israel (Exodus 24:6f.), which in Hebrews 9:19 is said to have been with the blood of the victims and with water (water is not mentioned in Exo_24). The elder Lightfoot3 suggested that this was in the thought of the evangelist here, but there is no hint of anything of the kind in his words.

Tertullian finds in the water and the blood, symbols of the two kinds of baptism, that of the martyr being a baptism with blood (de Pud. 22). In another place, he suggests that there is a prefigurement of the two sacraments, which is the favourite comment of later theologians. The passage (de Bapt. 16) is the first which indicates a connexion with 1 John 5:6, and must therefore be quoted in full: “Venerat enim per aquam et sanguinem, sicut Joannes scripsit, ut aqua tingerentur, sanguine glorificarentur, proinde nos faceret aqua vocatos, sanguine electos. Hos duos baptismos de vulnere perfossi lateris emisit, quatenus qui in sanguinem eius crederent, aqua lavarentur, qui aqua lavissent, etiam sanguinem potarent.”4


We need not pursue the patristic interpretations further.

35. This verse is omitted in e (Cod. Palatinus of the fifth century), nor does it appear in the rearrangement of the Gospel texts called fu (Cod. Fuldensis of the sixth century). From this slender evidence Blass1 concluded that the verse was of doubtful genuineness, and must be treated as a later gloss. But such a conclusion is perverse in the face of the overwhelming mass of MSS and vss. which contain the passage, not to speak of its characteristically Johannine style.

ὁ ἑωρακὼς μεμαρτύρηκεν. Jn. lays much stress on “witness” (see Introd., pp. xc-xciii); and here the witness of the incident that has just been recorded is John the Beloved Disciple, who has been mentioned in v. 26 as having been present at the Cross. This is strictly parallel to 21:24, οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ μαθητὴς ὁ μαρτυρῶν περὶ τούτων, where also the Beloved Disciple is the witness to whom appeal is made.

καὶ�

It has been thought that ἐκεῖνος here designates the actual writer of the Gospel,2 including this verse. ἐκεῖνος is used at John 9:37 by the Speaker of Himself. A closer parallel is provided by Josephus. He writes of his doings in the third person, and says that once he had thoughts of escaping from the city, but that the people begged him to remain: οὐ φθόνῳ τῆς ἐκείνου σωτηρίας, ἔμοιγε δοκεῖν,�John 19:35, although in Josephus it is markedly contrasted with ἐαυτῶν. Nevertheless, such a way of speaking would be curiously indirect here. If the writer is the eye-witness, he has already said of himself that his witness is trustworthy, and he does not strengthen his affirmation by repeating it in so awkward a fashion.


Grammatically, ἐκεῖνος is, indeed, resumptive of αὐτοῦ in the the preceding clause, being used for the sake of emphasis; cf. 7:29 ἐγὼ οἶδα αὐτόν, ὅτι παρʼ αὐτοῦ εἰμι, κἀκεῖνός με�

A quite different explanation of ἐκεῖνος has been held by some critics1 since the days of Erasmus. It is said to apply to Christ Himself, who may be appealed to as the Witness here, ἐκεῖνος being used absolutely of Him as it is in 1 John 3:5, 1 John 3:16, where He has not been named in the immediate context. In 19:35, on this showing, ἐκεῖνος οἶδεν ὅτι�2 Corinthians 11:31). The same may be said of the attempt to refer ἐκεῖνος here to God the Father, as at 1:33, 5:19, 37, 6:29, 8:42, where ἐκεῖνος is undoubtedly used of Him. It might be thought more plausible to hold that ἐκεῖνος οἶδεν was an allusion here to the witness of the Paraclete (of whom ἐκεῖνος is used 14:26, 15:26, 16:13, 14); the words�1 John 5:6, 1 John 5:7. But we have seen already that the exegesis which refers 1 John 5:6, 1 John 5:7 to John 19:34 is improbable.


The fact is that there is nothing distinctive of Deity in the use of ἐκεῖνος by Jn. (see on 1:8). In the Fourth Gospel ἐκεῖνος stands in the same way for John the Baptist (5:35), or Moses (5:46), or the blind man (9:10), or Mary of Bethany (11:29, 20:15, 16), or Peter (18:17, 25), or the Beloved Disciple himself (13:25, 21:7, 23). The pronoun is a favourite one with Jn., and he uses it to express emphasis or for clearness irrespectively of the person to whom it is applied. Here we hold it to refer emphatically to the Beloved Disciple, whom we identify with the son of Zebedee.

ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς πιστεύητε. The rec. omits καί, but ins. אABDsuppLNWΘ Again the rec., with אaADsuppNWΘ, has ἴνα … πιστεύητε, but א*B have ἵνα … πιστεύητε as at 20:31. The witness has borne his testimony about the blood and water, “in order that you also,” sc. the readers of the Gospel, “may believe,” not being misled by Docetic mysticism.

36. ἵνα ἡ γρ. πληρωθῇ … See Introd., pp. cxlix ff., for the significance of this formula, introducing a testimonium from the O.T. Here there is a free quotation of Exodus 12:46, “neither shall ye break a bone thereof”, sc. of the Passover lamb. Cf. also Numbers 9:12. The passage Psalms 34:20, “He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken”, although there are verbal similarities, is not apposite to the context.

The Passover lamb of the ancient ritual was not only slain to provide a commemorative meal; it was an “oblation” (Numbers 9:12), and it was not fitting that it should be mutilated. The offering must be perfect. This, to Jn., was a prophetic ordinance, and pointed forward to the manner of the death of Him who was the true Paschal Lamb. In this identification of Jesus with the Paschal Lamb, Paul is in agreement with Jn. “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7).1


37. καὶ πάλιν ἑτέρα γραφὴ λέγει. ἕτερος “different” does not appear again in Jn.

The manner of the Lord’s death was, according to Jn., in fulfilment both of type and prophecy; negatively, because His legs were not broken as the usual custom was in the case of crucified persons, so that the type of the Paschal Lamb might be fulfilled in Him; and positively, by the piercing of His side, as had been prophesied in Zechariah 12:10 ὄψονται εἰς ὃν ἐξεκέντησαν, “they shall look on Him whom they pierced ”.

The LXX, reading רקדו for דקרו by an erroneous transposition of ר and ד, has the curious κατωρχήσαντο, “they danced insultingly”, instead of ἐξεκέντησαν, “they pierced,” which is the natural rendering of the Hebrew and is followed by Theodotion and Aquila, Symmachus having ἐπεξεκέντησαν. The same rendering is found in Revelation 1:7, where the prophecy is given a different turn and referred to the Second Advent, ὄψεται αὐτὸν πᾶς ὀφθαλμός, καὶ οἵτινες αὐτὸν ἐξεκέντησαν. Justin uses similar words (with ἐκκεντεῖν) of the Second Advent (Apol. i. 52, Tryph. 64), and in Tryph. 32 distinguishes the two Advents, thus: δυὸ παρουσίας αὐτοῦ γενήσεσθαι ἐξηγησάμην, μιὰν μὲν ἐν ᾗ ἐξεκεντήθη ὑφʼ ὑμῶν, δευτέραν δὲ ὅτε ἐπιγνώσεσθε εἰς ὃν ἐξεκεντήσατε.


It is clear that Jn. did not use the LXX here, and while he may have translated independently from the Hebrew, it is more probable that he has adopted a version current in his time.

Abbott (Diat. 2318) suggests that Jn. means the prophecy to apply to the four soldiers (whom he fantastically supposes to represent the four quarters of the globe): “they shall look on Him whom they pierced”. But Zechariah 12:10 refers in its original context to “the inhabitants of Jerusalem”; and it is more natural to take the Jews for the subject of “they shall look.” It was to the Jews that Jesus was delivered to be crucified (v. 16), and the “piercing” was, indirectly, their act.


The Burial of the Body of Jesus (vv. 38-42)

38. μετὰ ταῦτα is the phrase by which Jn. introduces new sections of the narrative. See Introd., p. cviii.

Ἰωσὴφ�1 Samuel 1:1; cf. 1 Macc. 11:34), a place about 13 miles E.N.E. of Lydda, and about 60 miles from Jerusalem. Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrim, εὐσχήμων βουλευτής (Mark 15:43), and rich (according to Matthew 27:57), Luke 23:50 adding the information that he was a good and just man, who had not consented to the proceedings of his colleagues in the condemnation of Jesus. He was a disciple of Jesus, in the wider sense of μαθητής (cf. Matthew 27:57), although a secret one, κεκρυμμένος δὲ διὰ τὸν φόβον τῶν Ἰουδαίων (cf. 7:13, 9:22). Mk. only says of him that he was “looking for the kingdom of God.” Pseudo-Peter alleges that he was “a friend of Pilate and of the Lord.” But he was not a familiar figure among the disciples of Jesus, for the Galilæan women do not seem to have been acquainted with him: they only watched what he and his servants did at the tomb (Mark 15:47). It was only after the Crucifixion that Joseph and Nicodemus avowed their discipleship by their solicitude for reverent treatment of the body of Jesus. Mk. notes that Joseph went to make his request to Pilate, τολμήσας “having plucked up his courage” (Mark 15:43).

Joseph’s request and his subsequent action are narrated in all the Gospels (Matthew 27:57, Mark 15:42, Luke 23:50); in Pseudo-Peter (§ 2) the request is made in advance before the Crucifixion, and is referred to Herod before it is granted.


Turner has suggested1 that Joseph’s petition to Pilate was made at the time when the deputation from the Sanhedrim asked that the death of the crucified persons should be hastened (see above on v. 31); and, although Jn. introduces v. 38 with μετὰ ταῦτα, this is more probable than the alternative that Pilate gave two separate audiences on the subject of the death of Jesus and the subsequent disposal of His body.

At any rate, Pilate acceded to the request of Joseph that the body of Jesus should be given him for burial, and made no difficulty about it. ἐδωρήσατο τὸ πτῶμα is Mk.’s phrase (Mark 15:44): he gave the corpse freely. (Cf. Mark 6:29, Matthew 14:12.)


ἦρεν τὸ σῶμα αὐτοῦ. So אcBL; the rec., with DsuppNΓΔΘ, has τὸ σῶμα τοῦ Ἰησοῦ. W has αὐτόν. Jn. uses the word σῶμα only of a dead body (see Introd., p. clxx). Joseph arrived at the Cross before the soldiers had finished their task; cf.�

The myrrh was a sweet-smelling gum which was mixed with the powdered aromatic wood of aloes. Myrrh and aloes are mentioned together as forming a fragrant mixture or confection several times in the O.T. (Psalms 45:8, Proverbs 7:17, Song of Solomon 4:14). The use of such spices, when a dead body was placed with honour in its sepulchre, is mentioned in connexion with the burial of King Asa (2 Chronicles 16:14). They appear also to have been used for embalming, but nothing is said of such an intention in this case.

There was little time before the Sabbath came on, and no final disposition of the Body in its resting-place was attempted. Pseudo-Peter says that it was washed, which may be only an imaginative addition to the narrative. It was not anointed; the anointing (cf. Mark 14:8, Matthew 26:12) was postponed until the day after the Sabbath, when the women came to do it, having bought spices on their own account (Mark 16:1, Luke 24:1).

40. ἐλαβον οὖν κτλ. “Then they took the body of Jesus,” i.e. Joseph and Nicodemus. Mk., followed by Mt., tells that Mary Magdalene and Mary the wife of Clopas were present at the burial; they had been at the Cross (as Jn. has told already, v. 25), and they waited until the end. Salome was also at the Cross (see on v. 25), but she may have accompanied her sister Mary the Mother of Jesus when she left the scene (v. 27); at any rate, she is not mentioned by name as having been at the burial (cf. Luke 23:55).

ἔδησαν αὐτὸ ὀθονίοις μετὰ τῶν�Genesis 50:2 where this word is used of the embalming of Jacob) in this way. Cf. John 11:44 for the “swathes” (κειρίαι) with which Lazarus had been bound.

The word ὀθόνιον “linen cloth,” occurs again only 20:5, 6, 7 and Luke 24:12 (cf. Judges 14:13). The Synoptists in their accounts of the burial have the word σινδών. Milligan (s.v.) cites the use of ὀθόνιον in papyri for burial linen, or for the wrappings of a mummy.

41. ἦν δὲ ἐν τῷ τόπῷ ὅπου ἐσταυρώθη κῆπος. None of the Synoptists mention a garden (see for κῆπος on 18:1) as the place of burial. This, with the detail that it was “in” the place of Crucifixion, is peculiar to Jn. (For the use of the impf. ἦν, see on 11:18.) There was no time to lose, and this garden was near Golgotha. Matthew 27:60 adds that the tomb in the garden belonged to Joseph of Arimathæa, but this is not in Mk., Lk., or Jn., although it may have been the case. Pseudo-Peter explicitly says that the garden bore the name κῆπος Ἰωσήφ. Two instances of royal tombs in gardens are given 2 Kings 21:18, 2 Kings 21:26, and the LXX of Nehemiah 3:16 makes mention of κήπος τάφου Δαυείδ. Milligan (s.v.) cites κηποτάφιον “a tomb in a garden,” from a papyrus of 5 b.c.

ἐν τῷ κηπῷ μνημεῖον καινόν (DsuppN 69 give κενόν), ἐν ᾧ οὐδέπω οὐδεὶς ἦν τεθειμένος. Mark 15:46 has “a tomb which had been hewn out of a rock,” which Matthew 27:60 follows: adding (as Jn. does) that the tomb was καινόν. Lk. also says (23:53) that the tomb was λαξευτόν, adding οὗ οὐκ ἦν οὐδεὶς οὔπω κείμενος. Thus Jn. agrees with Lk. in saying that the tomb had not been used before, and he uses almost the same words, substituting οὐδέπω for οὔπω (cf. 20:9).


42. ἐκεῖ οὖν κτλ., “there then, because the tomb was near, they laid Him.”

διὰ τὴν Παρασκευὴν τῶν Ἰουδαίων. This was the reason that made delay impossible. The “Preparation” was at hand. This may mean either “the Preparation for the Sabbath,” i.e. Friday, or “the Preparation for the Passover.” It has been pointed out on 19:14 that elsewhere in the N.T. παρασκευή always means Friday; and this gives a good sense here. But inasmuch as in this passage the words τῶν Ἰουδαίων follow, an addition which Jn. always makes when speaking of the Passover festivals (see 2:13, 6:4, 11:55), it may be that we are to lay stress on τήν which precedes παρασκευήν (see on 19:14) and understand him here to say “the Preparation of the Passover.” The meaning of the passage is not altered in any case, for both on account of the impending Sabbath and of the impending Passover Feast, it was necessary that the burial should be hastened.

Field rightly calls attention to the solemn and stately cadences of the rendering of this verse in the R.V.: “There then because of the Jews’ Preparation (for the tomb was nigh at hand) they laid Jesus.”

20:1 ff. The narrative in Joh_20 of the appearances of Christ after His Resurrection, like the narrative in Luk_24 and the Marcan Appendix, tells only of appearances in Jerusalem or its immediate neighbourhood. On the other hand, the narrative of Matthew 28:16f. tells of an appearance in Galilee, and in this it probably follows the Lost Conclusion of Mk. The Appendix to Jn. (c. 21) also lays the scene of a manifestation of Christ in Galilee. There are thus two traditions as to the appearances of the Risen Lord: one which places them in Jerusalem, and another which places them in Galilee. It may be impossible, from the evidence at our disposal, to construct a complete table which shall indicate the order in which they occurred; but there is no inherent difficulty in the circumstance that they were not all observed in the same locality. If it be accepted that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, it was as easy for Him to manifest Himself to His disciples in Jerusalem and in Galilee, as in Jerusalem only or in Galilee only. The Jerusalem tradition is followed in c. 20, with the addition of particulars which no other authority gives, and which may plausibly be referred to the eye-witness whose testimony is behind the narrative. In c. 21 we have a version of the Galilæan tradition (see p. 690 f.).










1 Cf. Introd., p. xcviii.

A Alexandrinus (δ 4). British Museum. v. Cc. 6:50-8:52 are missing.

D Bezæ (δ 5). Cambridge. v-vi. Græco-Latin. Cc. 18:14-20:13 are missing in the Greek text, and the gap has been filled by a ninth-century scribe (Dsupp).

Γ̠(ε 70) Oxford and Leningrad. ix-x. Contains Song of Solomon 1:1-13 8:3-15:24 19:6 to end.


Δ̠Sangallensis (ε 76). St. Gall. ix-x. Græco-Latin.

אԠSinaiticus (δ 2). Leningrad. iv.

B Vaticanus (δ 1). Rome. Cent. iv.

L Regius (ε 56). Paris. viii. Cc. 15:2-20 21:15-25 are missing.

N Purpureus Petropolitanus (ε 19). Dispersed through the libraries of Leningrad, Patmos, Rome, Vienna, and British Museum. vi. Some pages are missing. Edited by H. S. Cronin in Cambridge Texts and Studies (1899).

W Freer (ε 014). Washington. iv-vi. Discovered in Egypt in 1906. The Gospels are in the order Mt., Jn., Lk., Mk. Collation in The Washington MS. of the Four Gospels, by H. A. Sanders (1912).

Θ̠Koridethi (ε 050). Tiflis. vii-ix. Discovered at Koridethi, in Russian territory, and edited by Beermann & Gregory (Leipzig, 1913). The text is akin to that of fam. 13, fam. 1, and the cursives 28, 565, 700 See Lake and Blake in Harvard Theol. Review (July 1923) and Streeter, The Four Gospels. Cf. also J.T.S. Oct. 1915, April and July 1925.

Diat. E. A. Abbott’s Diatessarica, including his Johannine Vocabulary and Johannine Grammar, Parts I.-X. (1900-1915).

1 Deissman, Bible Studies, Eng. Tr., 167.

1 Human Element in the Gospels, p. 512; cf. contra, Moffatt, D.C.G. ii. 754.

1 See Salmon, Introd. to N.T., p. 67 n.

2 See Zahn, Einleitung in N.T., § 69, and Abbott, Diat. 2537.

3 See Turner in J.T.S., Oct. 1924, p. 14.

1 See Nestle in Hastings’ D.B., s.v. “Gabbatha,” for the difficulties of the etymology.

1 See E.B., 1773.

2 See Introd., p. cvii f.

3 See D.B., Extr. v. 478.

Moulton-Milligan Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, illustrated from the papyri, by J. H. Moulton and G.Milligan (1914-). This is being completed by Dr. Milligan; it is indispensable.

1 Cf. Routh, Rel. Sacr. i. 122.

2 Respons. ad Iudaeos, x.

1 Le Blant argued that soldiers would not have been put to work of this kind, and that executions were entrusted not to the legionaries, but to civil police or apparitors attached to the court of the procurator. But his arguments are taken from the conditions of a later age. See the art. “Bourreau” in Cabrol’s Dict. d’archéologie chrétienne for a full discussion. Cf. Acts 22:24, Acts 22:25: the scourging of Paul was about to be entrusted to soldiers under the command of a centurion.


2 The Gospel of Peter gives it in the form οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ βασιλεὺς τοῦ Ισραήλ.

1 Cf. Sir C. W. Wilson, Golgotha and the Holy Sepulchre (1907), the fullest and best discussion of the site of Calvary.

1 See art. “Bourreau” cited above.

2 Barnabas (§ 6) quotes from this verse, ἐπὶ τὸν ἱμ. μου ἔβ. κλῆρον, of the Crucifixion in like manner.

1 Cf. Introd., pp. 153 ff.

2 Philo (de Prof. 20) says that the high priest in Leviticus represents the Divine Word, and that he is forbidden to “rend his clothes” (Leviticus 21:10), because the Word is the bond of all things. But this has no bearing on the text here.


3 Ingenious computers have discovered that by applying Gematria, χίτων = 87 = Ἰησοῦς. Cyprian (de unit. 7) found in the seamless robe a symbol of the Unity of the Church.

1 See E.B., s.v. “Clopas,” and Deissmann,Bible Studies, p. 315 n.

2 As reported by Eusebius (H.E. iii. 11, iv. 22).

3 For the spelling, see Westcott-Hort, Appendix, 156.

1 Wetstein cites a parallel from Lucian (Toxaris, 22). The bequest of Eudamidas was, “I leave to Aretæus my mother, to cherish and support in her old age.”

1 Notes on Select Readings, p. 68.

1 Cf. Introd., pp. cliii ff.

1 Latham, The Risen Master, p. 216, suggests that John brought her to Bethany, and thinks that she could not have been in Jerusalem on the day of the Resurrection, or she would have been sent for when the tomb was found empty.

2 Cf. Introd., p. cviii.

1 Abbott (Diat. 2115) connects πάντα τετέλεσται with ἵνα τελειωθῇ ἡ γραφή.

1 Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr. iii. 434, quotes this from Sanhedr. fol. 43. 1.

1 See Field (Notes on the Trans. of the N.T., p. 106), who accepted the emendation (which was a conjecture of Camerarius) while unaware of the actual reading of the cursive 476.

1 Diat. 1456. 2644.

2 Abbott (Paradosis, passim) has much to say about παραδιδόναι is Isaiah 53:12, but his treatment is very speculative and is not followed here.


1 See von Gebhardt’s Ausgewählte Märtyreracten (Berlin, 1902), p. 17.

2 Acta Petri et Pauli, § 83.

3 See C. H. Turner in Ch. Quarterly Review, July, 1912, p. 294.

C Ephræmi (δ 3). Paris. v. Palimpsest. Contains considerable fragments of Jn.

1 Cf. Westcott-Hort, Select Readings, p. 22; Nestle, Textual Criticism, p. 227; Salmon, Human Element in the Gospels, p. 524; Abbott, Diat. 1756; and esp. Tischendorf’s critical note on Matthew 27:49.


2 Cf. Introd., p. xcvi.

1 That the readings of Codd. 56, 58, and 68 are respectively ἤνυξε, ἔνυξε, and ἔνοιξε, I have determined by personal inspection. See “The Vulgate of St. John,” in Hermathena, xxi. 188.

2 This is figured in Cabrol’s Dict. d’archéol. chrétienne, s.v. “Croix.”

3 See Brightman, Eastern Liturgies, p. 357; cf. also pp. 71, 97, 251.

1 Physical Cause of the Death of Christ (1847).

2 See E.B. 960.

3 c. Celsum, ii. 36.

1 Cf. Burkitt, Two Lectures on the Gospels, p. 64.

1 See Routh, Rel. Sacr. i. 161.

2

Cf. Toplady’s hymn, “Rock of Ages”:

“Let the water and the blood,

From Thy riven side which flowed,

Be of sin the double cure,

Cleanse me from its guilt and power.

3 Hor. Hebr. iii. 440.

4 The author of the curious treatise Pistis Sophia (circa 280 a.d.) brings into juxtaposition (c. 141) the Water of John 4:14, the Blood of the New Covenant (Mark 14:24), and the Water and Blood of John 19:34, but he does not say what the connexion is.


1 Theol. St. u. Kritiken (1902), p. 128; cf. also Philology of the Gospels, p. 227, and Blass, Euang. sec. Iohannem, p. liii.

2 Drummond, Character and Authorship, etc., p. 389 f., takes this view.

1 E.g. in our day by Zahn (Einheit. ii. 474), Sanday (Criticism of Fourth Gospel, 78), and Abbott (Diat. 2384, 2731).

1 Cf. Introd., p. clv.

1 Ch. Quarterly Review, July 1912, p. 297.

2 Cf. E.B. 3408, and D.B. iii. 543.

1 See Latham, The Risen Master, p. 36 f., for a suggestive study of what was done.

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Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on John 19". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/john-19.html. 1896-1924.