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Bible Commentaries
John 19

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary

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Introduction

John 19:0

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

UBS4NKJVNRSVTEVNJB
Jesus Sentenced to DieThe Soldiers Mock Jesus Jesus is Sentenced to DieJesus Before Pilate
(John 18:38-16a) (John 18:38-7)(John 18:38-16)(John 18:28-11)
John 18:38-7 John 18:38-7 John 18:33-3
John 18:40-3
John 19:1-4
Pilate's Decision John 19:4-5John 19:4-7
John 19:5-16
John 19:6a
John 19:6b
John 19:7
John 19:8-12 John 19:8-12John 19:8-9aJohn 19:8-11
John 19:9-10
John 19:11
John 19:12Jesus is Condemned to Death
John 19:12-16a
John 19:13-16a John 19:13-16aJohn 19:13-14
John 19:15a
John 19:15b
John 19:15c
John 19:16a
The Crucifixion of JesusThe King on a Cross Jesus Is CrucifiedThe Crucifixion
John 19:16-22 John 19:16-25aJohn 19:16-21John 19:16-22
John 19:17-24
John 19:22Jesus' Garments Divided
John 19:23-27 John 19:23-24John 19:23-24
Behold Your Mother Jesus and His Mother
John 19:25-27John 19:25-27John 19:25-26John 19:25-27
John 19:27
The Death of JesusIt Is Finished The Death of JesusThe Death of Jesus
John 19:28-30John 19:28-30John 19:28-30John 19:28John 19:28
John 19:29-30aJohn 19:29-30
John 19:30b
The Piercing of Jesus' SideJesus' Side is Pierced Jesus' Side is PiercedThe Pierced Side
John 19:31-37John 19:31-37John 19:31-37John 19:31-37John 19:31-37
The Burial of JesusJesus Buried in Joseph's Tomb The Burial of JesusThe Burial
John 19:38-42John 19:38-42John 19:38-42John 19:38-42John 19:38-42

READING CYCLE THREE

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five modern translations. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why did the soldiers flog and mock Jesus?

2. What is the significance of Pilate's repeated attempt to let Jesus go free?

3. Why is the statement of the Jewish Priest in verse John 19:15 so astonishing?

4. Why are the details of the crucifixion different from Gospel to Gospel?

5. How does Deuteronomy 21:23 relate to Jesus' crucifixion?

Verses 1-7

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: John 19:1-7 1Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him. 2And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; 3and they began to come up to Him and say, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and to give Him slaps in the face. 4Pilate came out again and said to them, "Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him." 5Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, "Behold, the Man!" 6So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, "Crucify, crucify!" Pilate said to them, "Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him." 7The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God."

John 19:1 "Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him" The time sequence and number of floggings is uncertain. All prisoners who were condemned to crucifixion were flogged. It was such a brutal experience that many people died from it. However, in context, Pilate seems to have flogged Jesus to gain sympathy for the purpose of having Him released (cf. Luke 23:16, Luke 23:22; John 19:12). This may be a prophetic fulfillment of Isaiah 53:5.

Roman flogging was a terribly painful, brutal punishment reserved for non-Romans. A whip of leather thongs with pieces of bone or metal tied to the ends was used to beat a person bent over with their hands tied to a low stake. The number of blows was not dictated. It was regularly done before crucifixion (cf. Livy XXXIII:36).

The Gospels use different words to describe the beatings at the hands of the Romans.

John 19:1. Matthew 27:26; Mark 15:15 - phragelloô, to whip or scourge

John 19:2. Luke 23:16, Luke 23:22 - paideuô, originally of child discipline (cf. Hebrews 12:6-7, Hebrews 12:10), but here, as in 2 Corinthians 6:9, of a beating

John 19:3. John 19:1 - mastigoô, originally the name of the whip, Matthew 10:17; Matthew 20:19; Matthew 23:34; Acts 22:24-25; Hebrews 11:36

They may all be synonymous or they may denote two beatings

a. a lesser beating by Pilate

b. a scourging before crucifixion

John 19:2 "the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head" This was a mode of torture whereby the thorns were pressed into Jesus' brow. However, it is quite possible that it represented a radiant crown made of palm leaves, which was another way of mocking Jesus as a king (cf. Matthew 27:27-31; Mark 15:15-20).

The Greek term "crown" (stephanos) was used of an athletic victory garland or a laurel wreath worn by the Emperor.

"put a purple robe on Him" Purple (porphyros) was a sign of royalty, the dye was very expensive, as it was made from a mollusk shell. Scarlet was the color of Roman officers' robes (Mark 15:17, Mark 15:20). Scarlet dye was made from the scale of an insect found on oak trees. This robe was an allusion to a royal purple kingly robe, but in reality it was probably a faded scarlet Roman officer's cloak (cf. Matthew 27:28).

John 19:3

NASB"and they began to come up to Him and say" NKJV"then they said" NRSV"They kept coming up to him, saying" TEV"and came to him and said" NJB"They kept coming up to him and saying"

These are imperfect tenses. Apparently the soldiers did this one after another. This mocking was more contempt for the Jews in general than Jesus in particular. Possibly Pilate wanted this to cause sympathy for Jesus, but it did not work.

Again in John's writings prophetic statements are often put into the mouths of opponents. These soldiers said more than they realized.

"and to give Him slaps in the face" This word originally meant "beat with rods," but it came to be used for simply "slapping with the open hand." This may have been a mocking gesture of a royal salute more than a brutal facial beating.

John 19:4

NASB"I find no guilt in Him" NKJV"I find no fault in Him" NRSV"I find no case against him" TEV"I cannot find any reason to condemn him" NJB"I find no case against him"

One of John's purposes was to show that Christianity was not a threat to the Roman government or its officials. John records that Pilate tried to release Jesus several times (cf. John 18:38; John 19:6; Luke 23:4, Luke 23:14, Luke 23:22).

John 19:5

NASB, NKJV"Behold, the Man!" TEV, NET"look! Here is the man!" NRSV, NJB, REB"Here is the man!"

There have been several ways to understand this phrase.

1. Jesus dressed as mock king

2. Jesus beaten to invoke sympathy

3. an allusion to Zechariah 6:12 (Messianic referent "the Branch")

4. a later affirmation of Jesus' humanity (i.e., counter to the Gnosticism of John's day)

5. related to the Aramaic "son of man," bar nashâ (another veiled Messianic referent)

John 19:6 "they cried out, 'Crucify! Crucify!'" The reason the Jewish leaders wanted Jesus crucified was so that the curse of Deuteronomy 21:23 would become effective. This is one reason why Paul probably had such great doubts about Jesus of Nazareth being God's Messiah. However, we learn from Galatians 3:13 that Jesus bore our curse on the cross (cf. Colossians 2:14).

"I find no guilt in Him" Pilate says this three times (cf. John 18:38; John 19:4).

John 19:7 "He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God" Jesus did claim to be one with God, His very Son. The Jews, who heard His statements and understood their intent, had no doubts He was claiming to be divine (cf. John 5:18; John 8:53-59; John 10:33). The real Jewish charge against Jesus was blasphemy (cf Matthew 9:3; Matthew 26:65; Mark 2:7; Mark 14:64; Luke 5:21; John 10:33, John 10:36). The charge of blasphemy was punishable by stoning (cf. Leviticus 24:16). If Jesus is not incarnated, pre-existent Deity, He should be stoned!

Verses 8-12

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: John 19:8-12 8Therefore when Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid; 9and he entered into the Praetorium again and said to Jesus, "Where are You from?" But Jesus gave him no answer. 10So Pilate said to Him, "You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?" 11Jesus answered, "You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin." 12As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, "If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar."

John 19:8 "when Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid" Pilate's wife had already warned him about Jesus (cf. Matthew 27:19), and now the Jewish leaders were claiming that He had asserted that He was the Son of God. Pilate, being superstitious, became afraid. It was quite common for the gods of the Greek and Roman pantheon to visit humanity in human form.

John 19:9

NASB, NKJV, NRSV"Where are You from" TEV, NJB, NIV"Where do you come from"

Pilate is not asking about Jesus' hometown but His origin. Pilate is beginning to sense the significance of the person before him. Jesus knew from his comments in John 18:38 that Pilate was not interested in the truth but rather political expediency, so He did not respond.

Pilate joins a number of people who marvel at Jesus but do not understand His origin (cf. John 4:12; John 6:42; John 7:27-28, John 7:41-42; John 8:14; John 9:29-30). This is part of John's vertical dualism. Jesus is from above and no one below can know/understand/see/hear without the Father's touch (i.e., John 6:44, John 6:65; John 10:29).

"Jesus gave him no answer" Pilate must have remembered Jesus' answer (cf. John 18:37)! Some see this as fulfillment of Isaiah 53:7.

John 19:10 "and I have the authority to crucify You" Pilate asserts that he has political authority of life and death, yet in the face of an unruly mob he relinquished this right to their will. Pilate's question grammatically expected a "yes" answer.

John 19:11 "you would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above" This is a second class conditional sentence which is called "contrary to fact." Jesus was not intimidated by Pilate. He knew who He was and why He had come! The Bible asserts that God is behind all human authority (cf. Romans 13:1-7).

"he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin" At first reading this seems to refer to Judas Iscariot (cf. John 6:64, John 6:71; John 13:11) but most commentators believe it refers to Caiaphas, who officially handed Jesus over to the Romans. This phrase can be understood collectively as referring to (1) the illegal Jewish leaders or (2) Jewish people as a whole (cf. Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19; Romans 9-11).

John 19:12 "Pilate made efforts to release Him" This is an imperfect tense which means repeated action in past time. He had tried several times.

"If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar" This is a third class conditional sentence which meant potential action. The Jewish leaders were threatening to report Pilate to his superiors in Rome if he did not follow through on their wishes and condemn Jesus to death. The phrase "friend of Caesar" was an idiom reflecting an honorific title bestowed by the Roman Emperor (starting with either Augustus or Vespasian).

Caesar was a title for the Roman Emperor. It came from Julius Caesar and it was adopted by Augustus.

Verses 13-16

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: John 19:13-16 13Therefore when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, "Behold, your King!" 15So they cried out, "Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." 16So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified.

John 19:13 "when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat" The text is ambiguous as to who sits on the judgement bench. Both the Williams and Goodspeed translations assert that it was Jesus, Himself, placed there in a mocking way as the King of the Jews. However, the context implies Pilate, who was about to pass judgement.

NASB, NKJV, NJB"called The Pavement but in Hebrew, Gabbatha" NRSV"called the Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha" TEV"called 'The Stone Pavement' (in Hebrew the name is 'Gabbatha')"

The use of Hebrew/Aramaic words with their definitions show that John's target audience for his Gospel was Gentiles (cf. John 19:17). This stone pavement was the site of Roman legal pronouncements. The Aramaic term Gabbatha means "raised stones" or "elevated place."

John 19:14 "it was the day of preparation for the Passover" There is an obvious discrepancy between the dating of the Synoptic Gospels and the dating of John. In the Synoptics, Jesus observed the Passover meal with the disciples before His arrest (cf. Mark 15:42), but in John the meal took place on Preparation Day before the Feast. See full note at John 18:28.

"it was about the sixth hour" The chronology of Jesus' trial before Pilate and His crucifixion is:

MatthewMarkLukeJohn
Pilate's Verdict6th HourJohn 19:14
Crucifixion 3rd HourJohn 15:25
Darkness Fell6th-9th Hour27:456th-9th Hour15:336th-9th Hour23:44
Jesus Cried Out9th Hour27:469th Hour15:34

When these time designations are compared, two interpretive options arise.

1. they are the same. John used Roman time, counting from John 12:0 a.m. (cf. Gleason L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, p. 364), and the Synoptics use Jewish time, counting from John 6:0 a.m.

2. John is asserting a later time for Jesus' crucifixion which would be another example of the differences between the Synoptics and John

It seems from John 1:39 and John 4:6 that he uses Jewish time and not Roman time (cf. M. R. Vincent, Word Studies, Vol. 1, p. 403).

The time designations may be symbolic in all the Gospels for they relate to

1. time of daily sacrifices in the Temple (9 a.m. and 3 p.m. cf. Acts 2:15; Acts 3:1)

2. just after noon was the traditional time to kill the Passover Lamb on the afternoon of Nisan 14

The Bible, being an ancient eastern book, does not focus on chronology, as do modern western historical accounts.

"Behold, your King" As verse John 19:5 may be an allusion to Zechariah 6:12, this phrase may be an allusion to Zechariah 9:9 (see F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions, p. 72).

John 19:14 The first sentence is another editorial comment.

John 19:15 "Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!'" This phrase has three aorist active imperatives. The root word "to crucify" meant "to raise" or "to exalt"; this may be one of John's double entendres (cf. John 3:14; John 8:28; John 12:32).

"The chief priests answered, 'We have no king but Caesar'" The irony is stunning. These Jewish leaders were guilty of blasphemy, the very charge of which they accused Jesus. In the OT only God is King of His people (cf. 1 Samuel 8:0).

John 19:16 "them" In Matthew 27:26-27 and Mark 15:15-16 the pronoun refers to the Roman soldiers. In John the inference may be that Pilate handed Jesus over to the wishes of the Jewish leaders and the mob.

Verses 17-22

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: John 19:17-22 17They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. 18There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between. 19Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, "Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews." 20Therefore many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin and in Greek. 21So the chief priests of the Jews were saying to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews'; but that He said, 'I am King of the Jews.'" 22Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written."

John 19:17 " bearing His own cross" The shape of the cross in first century Palestine is uncertain; it could have been a capital T, a small t, or an X. Sometimes several prisoners were crucified on one scaffolding. Whatever the shape the condemned prisoner, who had just been scourged, had to carry part of the wooden apparatus to the crucifixion site (cf. Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 14:27; Luke 23:26).

"the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha" The exact meaning of this phrase is uncertain. The Hebrew/Aramaic term did not refer to a hill that looked like a full skull, but to a low bald hill situated on a major thoroughfare into Jerusalem. The Romans crucified as a deterrent to rebellion. Modern archaeology is uncertain as to the exact location of the ancient walls of the city. Jesus was killed outside the city's wall in a well known public place of executions!

John 19:18 "There they crucified Him" None of the Gospels goes into the physical details of Roman crucifixion. The Romans learned it from the Carthaginians, who learned it from the Persians. Even the exact shape of the cross is uncertain. We know, however, that it was a brutal, lingering death! It had been developed to keep a person alive and in pain for several days. Death usually occurred by asphyxiation. It was meant to be a deterrent to rebellion against Rome.

"two other men" This fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 53:9, recorded in Matthew 27:38; Mark 15:27; and Luke 23:33.

John 19:19 "Pilate also wrote an inscription" Pilate may have hand-written this title (titlon) which someone else wrote on a wooden placard. Matthew calls it "the charge" (aitian, cf. Matthew 27:37), while Mark and Luke call it the inscription (epigraphç, cf. Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38).

John 19:20 "and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and in Greek" "Hebrew" refers to Aramaic (cf. John 5:2; John 19:13, John 19:17; John 20:16; Josephus, Antiq. 2.13.1). It is interesting to note the variety among the Gospels as to the exact wording of the charge placed over Jesus' head on the cross.

John 19:1. Matthew 27:37 - "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews"

John 19:2. Mark 15:26 - "The King of the Jews"

John 19:3. Luke 23:38 - "This is the King of the Jews"

John 19:4. John 19:19 - "Jesus, the Nazarene, the King of the Jews"

Each one is different, but basically the same. This is true of most of the variety of historical detail among the Gospels. Each writer recorded his memories in slightly different ways, but they are still the same eye witness accounts.

Pilate meant to irritate the Jewish leaders by putting the very title they feared on Jesus' cross (cf. John 19:21-22).

John 19:22 "What I have written , I have written" These are two perfect tense verbs which emphasize the completion and finality of what had been written.

Verses 23-25

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: John 19:23-25a 23Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. 24So they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be"; this was to fulfill the Scripture:, "They divided My outer garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots." 25Therefore the soldiers did these things.

John 19:23 "made four parts, a part to every soldier" The soldiers gambled for Jesus' clothes. This refers to His outer garments only. It is uncertain how Jesus' clothes could be divided in four ways. This must refer to His shoes, prayer shawl (tallith), waist band, and outer garment(s). It is uncertain whether Jesus wore a turban. The Jews would have been offended by total nakedness. This is another fulfilled prophecy quoted in John 19:24 (cf. Psalms 22:18).

"the tunic" Jesus' outer garment is referred to by the plural term himatia. His long undergarment, worn next to the skin, was the tunic (chitôn). The distinction between these can be seen in Matthew 5:40 and Luke 6:29. Dorcas made both of these items of clothing (cf. Acts 9:39). First-century Jews apparently wore an additional piece of underwear called a loin cloth. Jesus was not completely disrobed.

The last phrase of John 19:23 is another editorial comment from one who lived with Jesus.

"now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece" This may have theological significance. A tunic like this was unusual and may have been expensive. It seems out of character for Jesus to have an unusually expensive piece of clothing. From Josephus (Antiq. 3.7.4), we know that the High Priest wore a robe like this ,as rabbinical tradition asserts that Moses did. Could this be a reference to Jesus as

1. the High Priest (cf. Hebrews)

2. the new law giver

Double meanings are always possible in John's Gospel, but interpreters must be diligent not to allegorize all the details!

John 19:24 "this was fulfilled Scripture" Psalms 22:0 formed the OT background to the crucifixion.

John 19:1. Psalms 22:1-2 - Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34

John 19:2. Psalms 22:7-8 - Matthew 27:39, Matthew 27:43; Mark 15:29; Luke 23:35

John 19:3. Psalms 22:15 - Matthew 27:48; Mark 15:36; Luke 23:36; John 19:28, John 19:29

John 19:4. Psalms 22:16 - Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; John 20:25

John 19:5. Psalms 22:18 - Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:34; John 19:24

6. Psalms 22:27-28 - Matthew 27:54; Mark 15:39; Luke 23:47; (John 20:31; Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8)

Verses 25-27

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: John 19:25-27 25bBut standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" 27Then He said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.

John 19:25 "standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene" There is much discussion about whether there are four names here or three names. It is probable that there are four names because there would not be two sisters named Mary. Mary's sister, Salome, is named in Mark 15:40 and John 16:1. If this is true, then it would mean James, John, and Jesus were cousins. A second-century tradition (Hegesippus) says that Clopas was Joseph's brother. Mary Magdala was the one out of whom Jesus cast seven devils, and the first one to whom He chose to appear after His resurrection (cf. John 20:1-2, John 20:11-18; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1-10).

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE WOMEN WHO FOLLOWED JESUS

John 19:26 "the disciple whom He loved" Since John is not mentioned by name in the Gospel, many assume this was his way of identifying himself (cf. John 13:23; John 19:26; John 21:7, John 21:20). In each of these he uses the term agapaô, but in John 20:2 he uses the same phrase but with phileô. These terms are synonymous in John; compare John 3:35, agapaô and John 5:20, phileô, where they both refer to the Father's love for the Son.

John 19:27 "From that hour, the disciple took her into his own household" This does not necessarily mean that John immediately took Mary to his house, although this may be implied by the fact that she is not listed with the other women in Matthew 27:56 and Mark 15:40. Tradition says that John cared for Mary until her death and then he moved to Asia Minor (especially Ephesus) where he had a long and successful ministry. It is at the urging of the Ephesian elders that John, as an old man, wrote his memories of the life of Jesus (i.e., the Gospel of John).

Verses 28-30

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: John 19:28-30 28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, "I am thirsty." 29A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. 30Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

John 19:28 "Jesus knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, 'I am thirsty'" It is syntactically ambiguous whether the Scripture mentioned refers to the phrase "I am thirsty" or "all things had already been accomplished." If it is taken in the traditional way, then "I am thirsty" is a reference to Psalms 69:21.

John 19:29 "A jar full of sour wine was standing there" This was a cheap wine, a sour wine. It would have been both for the soldiers and for the crucified. They were given small amounts of liquids in order to make the crucifixion last longer.

"sour wine" This is literally "vinegar." This was the drink of the poor people. Notice that Jesus did not take the drugged wine that the women of Jerusalem offered Him (cf. Mark 15:23; Matthew 27:34). Possibly the reason He accepted this drink was to fulfill Psalms 22:15. He was too parched to speak and He had one more thing to say.

"upon a branch of hyssop" Some see this as a symbolic use of the special plant that was used in the Passover service (cf. Exodus 12:22). Others believe that there has been an ancient scribal corruption of the term and that originally it meant "spear," "javelin," or "stick" (cf. NEB but REB reverts to hyssop). Matthew 27:48 and Mark 15:36 have "reed."

The reason many see a scribal change here is because the hyssop plant did not have a very long stem (only 2 Timothy 4:0 feet), but it must be remembered that the crosses were not raised that high above the ground. Our traditional pictures of a high cross may be our misunderstanding of John 3:14. Jesus' feet may have been within a foot or two of the ground.

John 19:30 "It is finished!" This is a perfect passive indicative. From the Synoptic Gospels we learned that He shouted this with a loud cry (cf. Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46; Matthew 27:50). This refers to the finished work of redemption. This form of the term (telos) in the Egyptian papyri (Moulton and Milligan) was a commercial idiom for "paid in full."

"He bowed His head and gave up His spirit" The phrase "bowed His head" was idiomatic of "going to sleep." Jesus' death was a calm moment for Him. The inference is that in death the spiritual aspect of a person is separated from the physical. This seems to demand a disembodied state for believers between death and resurrection day (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:0; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, see William Hendriksen, The Bible On the Life Hereafter).

The Gospel parallels in Mark 15:37 and Luke 23:46 have "He breathed His last." The Hebrew word for "spirit" and "breathe" are the same. His last breath was viewed as His spirit leaving the body (cf. Genesis 2:7).

Verses 31-37

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: John 19:31-37 31Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; 33but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. 36For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, "Not a bone of Him shall be broken." 37And again another Scripture says, "They shall look on Him whom they pierced."

John 19:31 "that the bodies could not remain on the cross on the Sabbath" The Jews were very concerned about dead bodies ceremonially polluting the land (cf. Deuteronomy 21:23), especially on the High Holy Sabbath of Passover.

"(for the Sabbath was a high day)" This has been interpreted in two ways.

1. the Passover meal and the Sabbath coincided this particular year (Jews used a lunar calendar)

2. the feast of Unleavened Bread coincided with the Sabbath this year

The feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread (cf. Exodus 12:0) had become an eight-day festival.

"that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away" Apparently this situation had happened before. A large mallet was used to break the legs of the crucified persons. Crucifixion usually caused death by asphyxiation. Breaking the legs caused this almost immediately because the person could not push up on his legs to breathe.

John 19:33 "they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs" This may also be fulfilled prophecy going back to Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12 and Psalms 34:20.

John 19:34 "one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear and immediately blood and water came out" This is an eyewitness medical detail showing that He was truly dead and thereby asserting the true humanity of Jesus the Messiah. The Gospel of John, as well as 1 John, were written in the days of a growing Gnosticism which affirmed the Deity of Jesus but denied His humanity.

John 19:35 This verse is a comment by John, who was the only eyewitness to all the events of (1) the night trials; (2) the Roman trial; and (3) the crucifixion. This comment on the death of Jesus is parallel to John 20:30-31, which shows the evangelistic purpose of the Gospel (cf. John 21:24). See SPECIAL TOPIC: WITNESSES TO JESUS at John 1:8.

There is a Greek manuscript variant in the verb of the last clause. Some texts have the present tense and some the aorist tense. If it was originally an aorist, it is focusing on unbelievers, as does John 20:30-31. However, if it is present it is focusing on continuing and developing faith. John's Gospel seems to be directed to both groups.

"true. . .truth" See Special Topics at John 19:5 and 17:3.

John 19:36 This may be an allusion to the Passover Lamb from Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12; or Psalms 34:20. It depends on which phrase is being referred to: (1) pierced or (2) broken. Jesus Himself showed the early church these Scriptures during the 40 days that He stayed on earth after the resurrection (cf. Luke 24:27; Acts 1:2-3). The preaching of the early church (in Acts) reflects these fulfilled OT prophecies which Jesus showed them.

John 19:37 This is a quote from Zechariah 12:10 which is one of the great promises that

1. Israel will one day turn to Jesus, the Messiah, in faith (cf. Revelation 1:7)

2. many Jews who had believed already were there grieving over Jesus' death

3. this refers to the Roman soldiers (cf. Matthew 27:54) representing the Gentile nations (cf. John 12:32)

It is interesting that this quote is obviously from the Masoretic Hebrew Text, not the Septuagint which is usually quoted by the Gospel writers. The Septuagint has "mocked," but the Masoretic Text has "pierced."

Verses 38-42

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: John 19:38-42 38After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body. 39Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. 40So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

John 19:38-39 "Joseph. . .Nicodemus" These two wealthy, influential members of the Sanhedrin were secret disciples of Jesus who went public at this critical and dangerous time.

John 19:39 "bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight" This was the traditional aromatic burial spices of the Jewish people of the first century. The amount is somewhat extravagant; many see this as symbolic of Jesus being buried as a king (cf. 2 Chronicles 16:14). See special topic on anointing at John 11:2.

The Greek word for "mixture" (migma), found in MSS P66, אcfJohn 19:8 i2, A, D, L, and most of the church Fathers and versions, is surprisingly changed to "package" (eligma) in MSS א*, B, W, and some Coptic versions. The UBS4 gives "mixture" a "B" rating (almost certain).

SPECIAL TOPIC: BURIAL SPICES

John 19:40 "So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices" The spices were for two purposes: (1) to kill the odor and (2) to hold the burial wrappings in place.

John 19:41 "Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden" It is crucial that we understand the haste with which Joseph and Nicodemus worked. Jesus died at John 3:0 p.m. and had to be in the grave by John 6:0 p.m., which was the beginning of the Jewish Passover Sabbath.

"a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid" This is a periphrastic perfect passive participle. We learn from Matthew 27:60 that this was Joseph's own tomb. This is a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:9 quoted in Matthew 27:57.

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on John 19". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/john-19.html. 2021.
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