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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

John 19

Verse 1

Took and scourged (ελαβεν κα εμαστιγωσεν). First aorist active indicative of λαμβανω and μαστιγοω (from μαστιξ, whip). For this redundant use of λαμβανω see also verse John 19:6. It is the causative use of μαστιγοω, for Pilate did not actually scourge Jesus. He simply ordered it done, perhaps to see if the mob would be satisfied with this penalty on the alleged pretender to royalty (Luke 23:22) whom Pilate had pronounced innocent (John 18:38), an illegal act therefore. It was a preliminary to crucifixion, but Jesus was not yet condemned. The Sanhedrin had previously mocked Jesus (Mark 14:65; Matthew 26:67; Luke 22:63) as the soldiers will do later (Mark 15:16-19; Matthew 27:27-30). This later mock coronation (Mark and Matthew) was after the condemnation.

Plaited a crown of thorns (πλεξαντες στεφανον εξ ακανθων). Old verb πλεκω, to weave, in the N.T. only here, Mark 15:17; Matthew 27:19. Not impossible for the mock coronation to be repeated.

Arrayed him (περιεβαλον αυτον). "Placed around him" (second aorist active indicative of περιβαλλω).

In a purple garment (ιματιον πορφυρουν). Old adjective πορφυρεος from πορφυρα, purple cloth (Mark 15:17; Mark 15:20), dyed in purple, in the N.T. only here and Revelation 18:16. Jesus had been stripped of his outer garment ιματιον (Matthew 27:28) and the scarlet cloak of one of the soldiers may have been put on him (Matthew 27:28).

Verse 3

They came (ηρχοντο). Imperfect middle of repeated action, "they kept coming and saying" (ελεγον) in derision and mock reverence with Αςε (χαιρε, Hail!) as if to Caesar. Note ο βασιλευς (the king) in address.

They struck him with their hands (εδιδοσαν αυτω ραπισματα). Imperfect of διδωμ, repetition, "they kept on giving him slaps with their hands." See on John 18:22 for this use of ραπισμα.

Verse 4

I bring him out to you (αγω υμιν αυτον εξω). Vividly pictures Pilate leading Jesus out of the palace before the mob in front.

That ye may know (ινα γνωτε). Final clause with ινα and the second aorist active subjunctive of γινωσκω, "that ye may come to know," by this mockery the sincerity of Pilate's decision that Jesus is innocent (John 18:38). It is a travesty on justice and dignity, but Pilate is trying by a bit of humour to turn the mob from the grip of the Sanhedrin.

Verse 5

Wearing (φορων). Present active participle of φορεω, an early frequentative of φερω, denoting a continual wearing, though not true here (only temporary). Jesus bore the mockery with kingly dignity as part of the shame of the Cross (Hebrews 12:2).

Behold, the man (Ιδου ο ανθρωπος). Ecce Homo! by Pilate. This exclamatory introduction of Jesus in mock coronation robes to the mob was clearly intended to excite pity and to show how absurd the charge of the Sanhedrin was that such a pitiable figure should be guilty of treason. Pilate failed utterly in this effort and did not dream that he was calling attention to the greatest figure of history, the Man of the ages.

Verse 6

Crucify him, crucify him (σταυρωσον, σταυρωσον). First aorist active imperative of σταυροω for which verb see Matthew 29:19, etc. Here the note of urgency (aorist imperative) with no word for "him," as they were led by the chief priests and the temple police till the whole mob takes it up (Matthew 27:22).

For I find no crime in him (εγω γαρ ουχ ευρισκω). This is the third time Pilate has rendered his opinion of Christ's innocence (John 18:38; John 19:4). And here he surrenders in a fret to the mob and gives as his reason (γαρ, for) for his surrender the innocence of Jesus (the strangest judicial decision ever rendered). Perhaps Pilate was only franker than some judges!

Verse 7

Because he made himself the Son of God (οτ υιον θεου εαυτον εποιησεν). Here at last the Sanhedrin give the real ground for their hostility to Jesus, one of long standing for probably three years (John 5:18) and the one on which the Sanhedrin voted the condemnation of Jesus (Mark 14:61-64; Matthew 27:23-66), but even now they do not mention their own decision to Pilate, for they had no legal right to vote Christ's death before Pilate's consent which they now have secured.

Verse 8

He was the more afraid (μαλλον εφοβηθη). First aorist passive indicative of φοβεομα. He was already afraid because of his wife's message (Matthew 27:19). The claim of Jesus to deity excited Pilate's superstitious fears.

Verse 9

Whence art thou? (ποθεν ε συ;). Pilate knew that Jesus was from Galilee (Luke 23:6). He is really alarmed. See a like question by the Jews in John 8:25.

Gave him no answer (αποκρισιν ουκ εδωκεν αυτω). See same idiom in John 1:22. Αποκρισις (old word from αποκρινομα) occurs also in Luke 2:47; Luke 20:26. The silence of Jesus, like that before Caiaphas (Mark 14:61; Matthew 26:63) and Herod (Luke 23:9), irritates the dignity of Pilate in spite of his fears.

Verse 10

Unto me (εμο). Emphatic position for this dative. It amounted to contempt of court with all of Pilate's real "authority" (εξουσια), better here than "power."

Verse 11

Thou wouldest have (ουκ ειχες). Imperfect active indicative without αν, but apodosis of second-class condition as in John 15:22; John 15:24.

Except it were given thee (ε μη ην δεδομενον). Periphrastic past perfect indicative of διδωμ (a permanent possession).

From above (ανωθεν). From God (cf. John 3:3), the same doctrine of government stated by Paul in Romans 13:1. Pilate did not get his "authority" from the Sanhedrin, but from Caesar. Jesus makes God the source of all real "authority."

Hath greater sin (μειζονα αμαρτιαν εχε). The same idiom in John 9:41. Caiaphas has his authority from God also and has used Pilate for his own base end.

Verse 12

Sought (εζητε). Imperfect active, "kept on seeking," "made renewed efforts to release him." He was afraid to act boldly against the will of the Jews.

If thou release this man (εαν τουτον απολυσηις). Condition of third class, a direct threat to Pilate. He knew all the time that the Sanhedrin might tell Caesar on him.

Thou art not Caesar's friend (ουκ ε φιλος του καισαρος). Later to Vespasian this was an official title, here simply a daring threat to Pilate.

Speaketh against Caesar (αντιλεγε τω καισαρ). Caesar brooks no rival. Jesus had allowed himself to be acclaimed king of Israel in the Triumphal Entry (John 12:13; Mark 11:10; Luke 19:38). The Sanhedrin have caught Pilate in their toils.

Verse 13

Sat down on the judgement seat (εκαθισεν επ βηματος). "Took his seat upon the βημα" (the raised platform for the judge outside the palace as in Acts 7:5). The examination is over and Pilate is now ready for the final stage.

The Pavement (Λιθοστρωτον). Late compound from λιθος, stone, and the verbal adjective στρωτος form στρωννυμ, to speak, a mosaic or tesselated pavement, spread with stones, in 2 Chronicles 7:3, Josephus, Epictetus, papyri. The Chaldean name Γαββαθα, an elevation, was apparently given because of the shape.

Verse 14

The Preparation of the passover (παρασκευη του πασχα). That is, Friday of passover week, the preparation day before the Sabbath of passover week (or feast). See also verses John 19:31; John 19:42; Mark 15:42; Matthew 27:62; Luke 23:54 for this same use of παρασκευη for Friday. It is the name for Friday today in Greece.

About the sixth hour (ως εκτη). Roman time, about 6 A.M. (a little after 6 no doubt) when Pilate rendered his final decision. Mark (Mark 15:25) notes that it was the third hour (Jewish time), which is 9 A.M. Roman time, when the crucifixion began. Why should John give Jewish time writing at the close of the first century when Jerusalem and the Jewish state passed away in A.D. 70? He is writing for Greek and Roman readers.

Behold your king (Ιδε ο βασιλευς υμων). Ιδε is here an exclamation with no effect on the case of βασιλευς just as in John 1:29. The sarcasm of Pilate is aimed at the Jews, not at Jesus.

Verse 15

Away with him, away with him (αρον, αρον). First aorist active imperative of αιρω. See αιρε in Luke 23:18. This thing has gotten on the nerves of the crowd. Note the repetition. In a second-century papyrus letter (Moulton and Milligan's Vocabulary) a nervous mother cries "He upsets me; away with him" (αρρον αυτον). Pilate weakly repeats his sarcasm: " Your king shall I crucify? (Τον βασιλεα υμων σταυρωσω;).

But Caesar (ε μη καισαρα). The chief priests (ο αρχιερεις) were Sadducees, who had no Messianic hope like that of the Pharisees. So to carry their point against Jesus they renounce the principle of the theocracy that God was their King (1 Samuel 12:12).

Verse 16

He delivered (παρεδωκεν). Kappa aorist active of παραδιδωμ, the very verb used of the Sanhedrin when they handed Jesus over to Pilate (John 18:30; John 18:35). Now Pilate hands Jesus back to the Sanhedrin with full consent for his death (Luke 23:25).

To be crucified (ινα σταυρωθη). Purpose clause with ινα and the first aorist passive subjunctive of σταυροω. John does not give the dramatic episode in Matthew 27:24 when Pilate washed his hands and the Jews took Christ's blood on themselves and their children. But it is on Pilate also.

Verse 17

They took (παρελαβον). Second aorist active indicative of παραλαμβανω, they took Jesus from Pilate. Cf. John 1:11; John 14:3. This is after the shameful scourging between 6 A.M. and 9 A.M. when the soldiers insult Jesus ad libitum (Mark 15:16-19; Matthew 27:27-30).

Bearing the cross for himself (βασταζων αυτω τον σταυρον). Cf. Luke 14:27 for this very picture in the words of Jesus. The dative case of the reflexive pronoun αυτω "for himself" is in strict accord with Roman custom. "A criminal condemned to be crucified was required to carry his own cross" (Bernard). But apparently Jesus under the strain of the night before and the anguish of heart within him gave out so that Simon of Cyrene was impressed to carry it for Jesus (Mark 15:21; Matthew 27:32; Luke 23:26). See Mark 15:22; Matthew 27:33; Luke 23:33 for the meaning of "place of a skull" or Calvary and Golgotha in Hebrew (Aramaic). Luke has simply Κρανιον (Skull), a skull-looking place.

Verse 18

They crucified (εσταυρωσαν). The soldiers just as in Acts 22:24; the scourging of Paul was to be done by the soldiers.

And Jesus in the midst (μεσον δε τον Ιησουν). Predicate adjective μεσον. A robber (ληιστης, not a thief, κλεπτης) was on each side of Jesus (Mark 15:27; Matthew 27:38) like Barabbas (John 18:40) and probably members of his band, malefactors (κακουργο) Luke terms them (Luke 23:32).

Verse 19

Pilate wrote a title also (εγραψεν κα τιτλον ο Πειλατος). Only John tells us that Pilate himself wrote it and John alone uses the technical Latin word titlon (several times in inscriptions), for the board with the name of the criminal and the crime in which he is condemned; Mark (Mark 15:26) and Luke (Luke 23:28) use επιγραφη (superscription). Matthew (Matthew 27:37) has simply αιτιαν (accusation). The inscription in John is the fullest of the four and has all in any of them save the words "this is" (ουτος εστιν) in Matthew 27:37.

Verse 20

Read (ανεγνωσαν). Second aorist active indicative of αναγινωσκω. It was meant to be read. Latin was the legal and official language; Aramaic (Hebrew) was for the benefit of the people of Jerusalem; Greek was for everybody who passed by who did not know Aramaic. Many of the Jews mocked as they read the accusation. This item alone in John.

Verse 21

But that he said (αλλ' οτ εκεινος ειπεν). The chief priests were uneasy for fear that the joke in the mock title was on them instead of on Jesus. They were right in their fear.

Verse 22

What I have written I have written (ο γεγραφα γεγραφα). With emphasis on the permanence of the accusation on the board. Pilate has a sudden spirit of stubbornness in this detail to the surprise of the chief priests. Technically he was correct, for he had condemned Jesus on this charge made by the chief priests.

Verse 23

Four parts (τεσσερα μερη). There were four soldiers, the usual quaternion (τετραδιον, Acts 12:9) besides the centurion (Mark 15:39; Matthew 27:54; Luke 23:47). The clothes (ιματια, outer clothes) of the criminal were removed before the crucifixion and belonged to the soldiers. Luke (Luke 23:34) mentions the division of the garments, but not the number four. The four pieces would be the head gear, the sandals, the girdle, the ταλλιθ (outer garment with fringes).

The coat was without seam (ο χιτων αραφος). For χιτων (the inner garment) see Matthew 5:40. Αραφος is compound of α privative and ραπτω, to sew together, and so seamless (unsewed together), only here in N.T. It occurs elsewhere in Josephus, Ant. III. 6, 4.

Woven (υφαντος). Verbal (old word) from υφαινω (some MSS. in Luke 12:27), only here in N.T.

Verse 24

Let us not rend it (μη σχισωμεν αυτον). Μη with first aorist active volitive subjunctive of σχιζω, to split. It was too valuable to ruin.

Cast lots (λαχωμεν). Second aorist active volitive subjunctive of λαγχανω. The usual meaning is to obtain by lot (Luke 1:9; Acts 1:17). Field (Ot. Norv. 72) holds that no example has been found where it means "cast lots" as here, but Thayer cites Isocrates, p. 144b and Diod. 4, 63. John here quotes with the usual formula Psalms 22:18 (LXX verbatim) and finds a fulfilment here. The enemies of the Lord's Anointed treated him as already dead (Westcott) and so cast lots (ελαβον κληρον, the common phrase as in Matthew 27:35).

Verse 25

Were standing by the cross of Jesus (ιστηκεισαν παρα τω σταυρω του Ιησου). Perfect of ιστημ, to place, used as imperfect (intransitive) with παρα (beside) and the locative case. Vivid contrast this to the rude gambling of the soldiers. This group of four (or three) women interests us more. Matt. (Matthew 27:55) spoke of women beholding from afar and names three (Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee). Mark also (Mark 15:40) names three (Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome). They have clearly drawn near the Cross by now. John alone mentions the mother of Jesus in the group. It is not clear whether the sister of the mother of Jesus is Salome the mother of the sons of Zebedee or the wife of Clopas. If so, two sisters have the name Mary and James and John are cousins of Jesus. The point cannot be settled with our present knowledge.

Verse 26

His mother (την μητερα). Common Greek idiom, the article as possessive.

Standing by (παρεστωτα). Perfect active (intransitive) participle of παριστημ, vivid and picturesque scene. The dying Saviour thinks of the comfort of his mother.

Whom he loved (ον ηγαπα). Imperfect active. Surely John is justified in inserting this phrase here. If John were his cousin, that helps explain why Jesus turns the care of his mother over to him. But the brothers of Jesus are not present and disbelieved his claims. John is the only one of the apostles with courage enough to take his stand with the women by the Cross. There is no disrespect in the use of "Woman" (Γυνα) here as there was not in John 2:4. This trust is to John, though Salome, John's own mother, was standing there.

Verse 27

Unto his own home (εις τα ιδια). See this same idiom and sense in John 1:11; John 16:32; Acts 21:6. John had a lodging in Jerusalem, whether a house or not, and the mother of Jesus lived with him there.

Verse 28

Are now finished (ηδη τετελεστα). Perfect passive indicative of τελεω. See same form in verse John 19:30. As in John 13:1, where Jesus is fully conscious (knowing, ειδως) of the meaning of his atoning death.

Might be accomplished (τελειωθη). First aorist passive subjunctive of τελειοω rather than the usual πληρωθη (verse John 19:24) with ινα. John sees the thirst of Jesus in Psalms 69:21. Jesus, of course, did not make the outcry in any mechanical way. Thirst is one of the severest agonies of crucifixion. For the "perfecting" of the Messiah by physical suffering see Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 5:7.

Verse 29

Was set (εκειτο). Imperfect middle. John, as eyewitness, had noticed it there.

Of vinegar (οξους). Not vinegar drugged with myrrh (Mark 15:23) and gall (Matthew 27:34) which Jesus had refused just before the crucifixion.

Sponge (σπογγον). Old word, in N.T. only here, Mark 15:36; Matthew 27:48, our "sponge."

They put (περιθεντες). Second aorist active participle of περιτιθημ, to place around.

Upon hyssop (υσσωπω).

A reed (καλαμω) as Mark and Matthew have it. The reed of the hyssop bush was only three or four feet long.

Verse 30

Had received (ελαβεν). Second aorist active indicative of λαμβανω. Jesus took the vinegar (a stimulant), though he had refused the drugged vinegar. It is finished (τετελεστα). Same for as in verse John 19:28. A cry of victory in the hour of defeat like νενικηκα in John 16:33. Jesus knew the relation of his death to redemption for us (Mark 10:45; Matthew 20:28; Matthew 26:28).

Bowed his head (κλινας την κεφαλην). First aorist active participle of κλινω. This vivid detail only in John.

Gave up his spirit (παρεδωκεν το πνευμα). With the quotation of Psalms 31:5 according to Luke 23:46, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit" (the last of the seven sayings of Jesus on the Cross that are preserved for us). Jesus died with the words of this Psalm upon his lips. The apostle John had come back to the Cross.

Verse 31

The Preparation (παρασκευη). Friday. See verse John 19:14.

Might not remain (μη μεινη). Negative final clause with ινα μη and first aorist active (constative) subjunctive of μενω.

A high day (μεγαλη). A "great" day, since "the sabbath day following synchronized with the first day of unleavened bread which was a 'great' day" (Bernard). A double reason therefore for wanting the bodies removed before sunset when the Sabbath began.

That their legs might be broken (ινα κατεαγωσιν αυτον τα σκελη). Purpose clause with ινα and the second aorist passive subjunctive of καταγνυμ with the augment retained in the subjunctive, a "false augment" common in later Greek as in the future in Matthew 12:20 with this verb (Robertson, Grammar, p. 365). This crurifragium was done with a heavy mallet and ended the sufferings of the victim.

Legs (σκελη). Old word, here only in N.T.

Might be taken away (αρθωσιν). First aorist passive subjunctive of αιρω with ινα also.

Verse 32

Which was crucified with him (του συνσταυρωθεντος αυτω). First aorist passive articular participle of συνσταυροω with associative instrumental case. Cf. Paul's Χριστω συνεσταυρωμα (Galatians 2:19).

Verse 33

Already dead (ηδη τεθνηκοτα). Perfect active participle of θνησκω. So then Jesus died before the robbers, died of a broken heart.

They brake not (ου κατεαξαν). The augment is proper here (see John 19:32).

Verse 34

With a spear (λογχη). Instrumental case of this old word, here only in the N.T.

Pierced his side (αυτου την πλευραν ενυξεν). First aorist active indicative of νυσσω, old word to pierce, here only in N.T., and πλευραν (side), another old word, occurs in N.T. only here and John 20:20; John 20:25; John 20:27.

Blood and water (αιμα κα υδωρ). Dr. W. Stroud (Physical Cause of the Death of Christ) argues that this fact proves that the spear pierced the left side of Jesus near the heart and that Jesus had died literally of a broken heart since blood was mixed with water.

Verse 35

He that hath seen (ο εωρακως). Perfect active articular participle of οραω. John the Apostle was there and saw this fact (still sees it, in fact). This personal witness disproves the theory of the Docetic Gnostics that Jesus did not have a real human body.

He knoweth (εκεινος οιδεν). That is John does like John 9:37. It is possible that εκεινος may be a solemn appeal to God as in John 1:33 or Christ as in 1 John 3:5. Bernard argues that the final editor is distinguishing the Beloved Disciple from himself and is endorsing him. But the example of Josephus (War. III. 7, 16) is against this use of εκεινος. John is rather referring to himself as still alive.

Verse 36

Be broken (συντριβησετα). Second future passive of συντριβω, to crush together. A free quotation of Exodus 12:46 about the paschal lamb.

Verse 37

They pierced (εξεκεντησαν). First aorist active of εκκεντεω, late verb, correct translation of the Hebrew of Zechariah 12:10, but not like the LXX, in N.T. only here and Revelation 1:7.

Verse 38

But secretly for fear of the Jews (κεκρυμμενος δε δια τον φοβον των Ιουδαιων). Perfect passive participle of κρυπτω. An example of the rulers described in John 12:41-43 who through cowardice feared to own their faith in Jesus as the Messiah. But it must be put down to the credit of Joseph that he showed courage in this darkest hour when the majority had lost heart.

That he might take away (ινα αρη). Final clause with ινα and the first aorist active subjunctive of αιρω. Else the body of Jesus might have gone to the potter's field. Pilate gladly consented.

Verse 39

Nicodemus also (κα Νικοδημος). The Synoptics tell about Joseph of Arimathea, but only John adds the help that Nicodemus gave him in the burial of Jesus, these two timid disciples, Nicodemus now at last taking an open stand.

At the first (το πρωτον). Adverbial accusative and reference to John 3:1.

Mixture (μιγμα). Late word from μιγνυμ, to mix, only here in the N.T. Many old MSS. have here ελιγμα (roll), from ελισσω (Hebrews 1:12), another late word here only in N.T. It was common to use sweet-smelling spices in the burial (2 Chronicles 16:14).

Pound (λιτρας). Late word for twelve ounces, in N.T. only here and John 12:3. Nicodemus was a rich man and probably covered the entire body with the spices.

Verse 40

In linen cloths (οθονιοις). Late diminutive for the old οθονη, used for ships' sails, in N.T. here and Luke 24:12. Case here either locative or instrumental.

With the spices (μετα των αρωματων). Late word αρωμα for spices, from fumes.

To bury (ενταφιαζειν). Late verb, from ενταφια (εν, ταφος) the burial preparations of all sorts (flowers, perfumes, etc.), in N.T. only here and Matthew 26:12.

Verse 41

A garden (κηπος). See John 18:1; John 18:26.

New (καινον). Fresh, unused.

Was never yet laid (ουδεπω ην τεθειμενος). Periphrastic past perfect passive of τιθημ. It was Joseph's mausoleum, a rock tomb hewn out of the mountain side (Mark 15:56; Matthew 27:60; Luke 23:53), a custom common with the rich then and now. For royal tombs in gardens see 2 Kings 21:18; 2 Kings 21:26; Nehemiah 3:16.

Verse 42

Was nigh at hand (εγγυς ην). This tomb was outside of the city, near a road as the Cross was, and in a garden. The hill looked like a skull and was probably Gordon's Calvary seen from the Mount of Olives today.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 19". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/john-19.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.