Bible Commentaries
John 18

Vincent's Word StudiesVincent's Studies

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Verse 1

Brook [χειμαρρου] . From ceima, winter, and rJew, to flow. Properly, a winter torrent. Only here in the New Testament. Rev., in margin, ravine. In classical Greek it occurs in Demosthenes in the sense of a drain or conduit. It may be taken as equivalent to the Arabic wady, which means a stream and its bed, or properly, the valley of a stream even when the stream is dry.

Kidron [κεδρων] . Which might also be rendered of the cedars, which some editors prefer. There is some uncertainty as to the exact meaning of the word cedar, which occurs frequently, some supposing it to be a general name for the pine family. A tree of dark foliage is mentioned in the Talmud by the name of cedrum. The ravine of Kidron separated the Mount of Olives from the Temple - Mount. Westcott cites from Derenbourg (" On the History and Geography of Palestine ") a passage of the Talmud to the effect that on the Mount of Olives there were two cedars, under one of which were four shops for the sale of objects legally pure; and that in one of them pigeons enough were sold for the sacrifices of all Israel. He adds : "Even the mention of Kidron by the secondary and popular name of 'the ravine of the cedars' may contain an allusion to a scandal felt as a grievous burden at the time when the priests gained wealth by the sale of victims by the two cedars." The Kidron is the brook over which David passed, barefoot and weeping, when fleeing from Absalom (2 Samuel 14:23-30). There King Asa burned the obscene idol of his mother (1 Kings 14:13). It was the receptacle for the impurities and abominations of idol - worship, when removed from the temple by the adherents of Jehovah (2 Chronicles 29:16); and, in the time of Josiah, was the common cemetery of the city (2 Kings 23:6). In the vision of Ezekiel (xlvii. 5, 6, 7) he goes round to the eastern gate of the temple, overhanging the defile of Kidron, and sees the waters rushing down into the valley until the stream becomes a mighty river.

A garden. Neither John nor Luke give the name Gethsemane.

2 - 12. Compare Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 16:43-52; Luke 22:47-53.

Verse 2

Which betrayed [ο παραδιδους] . The present participle, marking the betrayal as in progress. Literally, who is betraying.

Resorted [συνηχθη] . Literally, assembled. The items of this verse are peculiar to John.

Verse 3

A band (thn speiran). Properly, the band. See on Mark 14:16; also on centurion, Luke 7:2; and Acts 21:31. The band, or cohort, was from the Roman garrison in the tower of Antonia.

Officers [υπηρετας] . See on Matthew 5:25. Sent from the Sanhedrim. The temple police. The Synoptists speak of the body which arrested Jesus as oclov, a multitude or rabble; but both Matthew and Mark mention the band [σπειρα] later in the narrative (Matthew 27:27; Mark 14:16).

Lanterns [φανων] . Only here in the New Testament. A detail peculiar to John. Though it was full moon, it was feared that Jesus might hide and escape.

Verse 4

That should come [τα ερχομενα] . Literally, that are coming. The details in 4 - 9 are peculiar to John.

Verse 5

Of Nazareth [τον ναζωραιον] . Literally, the Nazarene.

Stood [ειστηκει] . Imperfect tense. Rev., correctly, was standing.

Verse 8

These. The disciples.

Go their way [υπαγειν] . Withdraw.

Verse 10

Simon Peter. The names of Simon Peter and Malchus are mentioned only by John in connection with this incident. The incident itself is related by all the Evangelists.

A sword. Contrary to the rule which forbade the carrying of weapons on a feast - day.

The high priest 's servant. See on Matthew 26:51.

Right ear. Luke and John. The others do not specify which ear. For ear John and Mark have wjtarion, a diminutive; Luke, oujv, and Matthew, wjtion, a diminutive in form, but not in force. See on Matthew 26:51.

Verse 11

Thy sword. Omit thy, and read, the sword.

Sheath [θηκην] . Only here in the New Testament. From tiqhmi, to put. That into which the sword is put.

The cup. Compare Matthew 26:39; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42. Peculiar to John.

Verse 12

The captain [χιλιαρχος] . See on Mark 6:21, and on centurion, Luke 7:2.

Took [συνελαβον] . Rev., better, seized. It is the technical word for arresting. Literally, took with them, of which there is a suggestion in the modern policeman's phrase, go along with me. Compare Luke 22:54.

13 - 18. Compare Matthew 26:57, Matthew 26:58; 69 - 75; Mark 14:53, Mark 14:54; 66 - 72; Luke 22:54-62.

Verse 13

Annas first. This supplies the detail of an examination preliminary to that before the high - priest, which is omitted by the Synoptists.

Father - in - law [πενθερος] . Only here in the New Testament.

That same year. See on 11 49.

Verse 15

Followed [ηκολουθει] . Imperfect, was following.

The other disciple. The correct reading omits the article. Another. Probably John himself.

Palace [αυλην] . Not palace, but court, as Rev. See on Matthew 26:3; Luke 11:21.

Verse 16

Stood. Properly, was standing.

Door. The door opening from the street into the court.

Her that kept the door [τη θυρωρω] . See on 10 3.

Verse 17

The damsel [η παιδισκη] . See on Acts 12:13.

Art thou [μη συ] . The question is put in a negative form, as if expecting a negative answer : thou art not, art thou?

Also. Showing that she recognized John as a disciple.

Verse 18

Stood. It is discouraging to see how the A. V. habitually ignores the imperfect tense, and thus detracts from the liveliness of the narrative. Render, as Rev., were standing.

Fire of coals [ανθρακιαν] . Only here and John 21:9. Matthew does not mention the fire. Mark has to fwv, strictly, the light of the fire. Luke says they had kindled a fire [πυρ] .

Warmed. Rev., correctly, were warming. So, ver. 25, was standing and was warming, for stood and warmed.

19 - 24. Compare Matthew 26:59-68; Mark 14:55-65; Luke 22:63-71.

Verse 19

Asked [ηρωτησεν] . Or, questioned.

Doctrine [διδαχης] . Rev., better, teaching.

Verse 20

In the synagogue [εν τη συναγωγη] . The best texts omit the article. Render, in synagogue : when the people were assembled. Like our phrase, in church.

Always resort [παντοτε συνερχονται] . For pantote always, read pantev all. Sunercontai is rather come together, assemble. Rev., where all the Jews come together.

Verse 22

Struck - with the palm of his hand [εδωκε ραπισμα] . Literally, gave a blow. Interpreters differ as to whether it was a blow with a rod, or with the hand. The kindred verb rJapizw, from rJapiv, a rod, is etymologically related to rJabdizw, from rJabdov, a rod, and occurs Matthew 5:39, of smiting on the cheek, and Matthew 26:67, where it is distinguished from kolafizw, to strike with the fist. This latter passage, however, leaves the question open, since, if the meaning to smite with a rod can be defended, there is nothing to prevent its being understood there in that sense. The earlier meaning of the word was, undoubtedly, according to its etymology, to smite with a rod. So Herodotus of Xerxes. "It is certain that he commanded those who scourged [ραπι. ζοντας] the waters (of the Hellespont) to utter, as they lashed them, these barbarian and wicked words" (vii. 35). And again : "The Corinthian captain, Adeimantus, observed, 'Themistocles, at the games they who start too soon are scourged [ραπιζονται] '" (viii. 59). It passes, in classical Greek, from this meaning to that of a light blow with the hand. The grammarian Phrynichus (A. D. 180) condemns the use of the word in the sense of striking with the hand, or slapping, as not according to good Attic usage, and says that the proper expression for a blow on the cheek with the open hand is ejpi korrhv pataxai. This shows that the un - Attic phrase had crept into use. In the Septuagint the word is clearly used in the sense of a blow with the hand. See Isaiah 50:6 : "I gave my cheeks to blows [εις ραπι. σματα] . Hosea 11:4," As a man that smiteth [ραπιζων] upon his cheeks "(A. V. and Rev., that take off the yoke on their jaws). In 1 Kings 22:24, we read," Zedekiah - smote Micaiah on the cheek [επαταξε επι την σιαγονα] . "The word in ver. 23, dereiv, literally, flayest, hence, do beat or thrash (compare Luke 12:47), seems better to suit the meaning strike with a rod; yet in 2 Corinthians 11:20, that verb is used of smiting in the face [εις προσωπον δερει] , and in 1 Corinthians 9:27, where Paul is using the figure of a boxer, he says," So fight I (pukteuw, of boxing, or fighting with the fists), not as one that beateth [δερων] the air. " These examples practically destroy the force of the argument from dereiv. It is impossible to settle the point conclusively; but, on the whole, it seems as well to retain the rendering of the A. V. and Rev. 52

Verse 24

Annas had sent [απεστειλεν ο αννας] . The best texts insert oun, therefore. The rendering of the aorist by the pluperfect here is inadmissible, and is a device to bring this examination of Jesus into harmony with that described in Matthew 26:56-68, and to escape the apparent inconsistency between the mention of the high - priest [χαιαπηασ] as conducting this examination and the statement of ver. 13, which implies that this was merely a preliminary examination before Annas. Render, Annas therefore sent him.

Bound. Probably He had been unbound during His examination.

Verse 27

The cock crew. The Greek has not the definite article. See on Matthew 26:34. The use of the article would seem to mark the time, cock - crowing, rather than the incident.

28 - 38. Compare Matthew 27:1, Matthew 27:2; 11 - 14; Mark 14:1-6; Luke 23:1-5.

Verse 28

Led [αγουσιν] . Present tense, lead.

Hall of judgment [πραιτωριον] . A Latin word, proetorium, transcribed. Originally, the general's tent. In the Roman provinces it was the name for the official residence of the Roman governor, as here. Compare Acts 23:35. It came to be applied to any spacious villa or palace. So Juvenal : "To their crimes they are indebted for their gardens, palaces [προετορια] , etc." (" Sat., " 1 75). In Rome the term was applied to the proetorian guard, or imperial bodyguard. See on Philippians 1:13. Rev., palace.

Early [πρωι] . Used technically of the fourth watch, 3 - 6 A. M. See Mark 13:35. The Sanhedrim could not hold a legal meeting, especially in capital cases, before sunrise; and in such cases judicial proceedings must be conducted and terminated by day. A condemnation to death, at night, was technically illegal. In capital cases, sentence of condemnation could not be legally pronounced on the day of trial. If the night proceedings were merely preliminary to a formal trial, they would have no validity; if formal, they were, inso facto, illegal. In either case was the law observed in reference to the second council. According to the Hebrew computation of time, it was held on the same day.

Be defiled (mianqwsin). Originally, to stain, as with color. So Homer : "Tinges [μιηνη] the white ivory with purple." Not necessarily, therefore, in a bad sense, like moluvw, to besmear or besmirch with filth (1 Corinthians 8:7; Revelation 3:4). In classical Greek, miainw, the verb here used, is the standing word for profaning or unhallowing. So Sophocles :

"Not even fearing this pollution [μιασμα] dire, Will I consent to burial. Well I know That man is powerless to pollute [μιαινειν] the gods."

"Antigone," 1042 - 1044.

And Plato : "And if a homicide... without purification pollutes the agora, or the games, or the temples," etc. (" Laws, " 868). See on 1 Peter 1:4. The defilement in the present case was apprehended from entering a house from which all leaven had not been removed.

Eat the Passover. The purpose of this work forbids our entering upon the much - vexed question of the apparent inconsistency between John and the Synoptists as to the time of celebrating the Passover.

Verse 29

Pilate. Note the abruptness with which he is introduced as one well known. Two derivations of the name are given. Pilatus, one armed with the pilum or javelin, like Torquatus, one adorned with a collar [τορθυεσ] . Or, a contraction from Pileatus, wearing the pileus or cap, which was the badge of manumitted slaves. Hence some have supposed that he was a freedman. Tacitus refers to him as connected with Christ 's death. "The author of that name (Christian), or sect, was Christ, who was capitally punished in the reign of Tiberius, by Pontius Pilate" (" Annals, " 14 44). He was the sixth Roman procurator of Judea.

What accusation. Not implying Pilate 's ignorance of the charge, but his demand for the formal accusation.

Verse 30

Malefactor [κακοποιος] . Rev., evil - doer. From kakon, evil, and poiew, to do. Luke uses a different word, kakourgov, from kakon, evil, and ergw, to work. See on 1 Peter 2:12.

Verse 31

Take ye him [λαβετε αυτον υμεις] . The A. V. obscures the emphatic force of uJmeiv, you. Pilate 's words display great practical shrewdness in forcing the Jews to commit themselves to the admission that they desired Christ 's death. "Take him yourselves (so Rev.), and judge him according to your law." " By our law, "reply the Jews," he ought to die. "But this penalty they could not inflict." It is not lawful, " etc.

Verse 32

By what death [ποιω θανατω] . More correctly, by what manner of death. So Rev. Compare John 12:32; Matthew 20:19. Crucifixion was not a Jewish punishment.

Verse 33

Art thou [συ ει] . Thou is emphatic. Thou, the despised malefactor. King of the Jews. The civil title. The theocratic title, king of Israel (i. 49; John 12:13) is addressed to Jesus on the cross (Matthew 27:42; Mark 14:32) in mockery.

Verse 35

Am I a Jew ? As if Jesus ' question implied that Pilate had been taking counsel with the Jews.

Verse 36

Servants [υπηρεται] . Only in this passage in the Gospels, of Christians. Compare Acts 13:5; 1 Corinthians 4:1. Corresponding with Christ as a king.

Fight [ηγωνιζοντο] . The imperfect tense, denoting action in progress : would now be striving.

Verse 37

Art thou then [ουκουν ει συ] . The interrogative particle oujkoun, not therefore, occurs only here in the New Testament. It is ironical. In ver. 33 the emphasis is on thou : here upon king. So then, after all, thou art a king.

Was I born - came I [γεγεννημαι - εληλυθα] . Both perfects. Have I been born - am I come. So Rev. The Greek order is I for this have been born, etc., throwing the emphasis on Christ 's person and destiny. The perfect describes His birth and coming not merely as historical facts, but as abiding in their results. Compare this confession before Pilate (1 Timothy 6:13) with the corresponding confession before the high - priest (Matthew 26:64). "The one, addressed to the Jews, is framed in the language of prophecy; the other, addressed to a Roman, appeals to the universal testimony of conscience. The one speaks of a future manifestation of glory, the other speaking of a present manifestation of truth. The one looks forward to the Return, the other looks backward to the Incarnation" (Westcott).

Of the truth [εκ της αληθειας] . Literally, out of : sprung from : whose life and words issue from the truth. See on 14 6, and compare John 8:47.

Verse 38

Truth. Not with the article as in the previous verse, the truth. Jesus meant the absolute truth : Pilate, truth in any particular case. "Pilate 's exclamation is neither the expression of an ardent thirst for truth, nor that of the despair of a soul which has long sought it in vain; it is the profession of a frivolous skepticism, such as is frequently met with in the man of the world, and especially in the statesman" (Godet).

Fault [αιτιαν] . Properly, cause of accusation. Rev., crime. See on Matthew 27:37, and compare on Matthew 19:10.

39, 40. Compare Matthew 27:15-26; Mark 6:15.

Verse 39

Ye have a custom. The word sunhqeia, custom, originally means intimacy, habitual intercourse, and thence naturally passes into the meaning of habit or custom. Only John puts the statement of this custom into the mouth of Pilate. Matthew and Mark relate it as a fact.

At the Passover [εν τω πασχα] . More specific than Matthew and Mark, where the expression is general, kata eJorthn, at feast - time.

Verse 40

Cried [εκραυγασαν] . Peculiarly of a loud, importunate cry; a shout. Plato uses it of the howling of a dog : "The yelping hound, howling [κραυγαζουσα] at her Lord" (" Republic, " 607). Others, of the cries of spectators in the theaters and of the croak of a raven. See on Matthew 14:22.

Again. Assuming John's recollection of a previous "crying out," which he has not recorded.

Robber [ληστης] . See on Matthew 26:55; Mark 11:17; Luke 10:30. Matt. calls him a "notable prisoner" (xxvii. 16). Mark states that he had made insurrection, and had committed murder (xv. 7), speaking of the insurrection as a well - known event. Luke says, "for some insurrection (stasin tina) that had arisen in the city, and for murder" (xxiii. 19). Writing for Gentiles, Luke would not refer to the event as something familiar. Bandits of this kind were numerous in the neighborhood of Jerusalem under the Roman dominion. Their leaders were well known. Josephus describes them by the same word which Matthew uses, ejpishmoi, notable. Their depredations were often committed under patriotic pretenses, so that Barabas might have had influential friends among the people. ===John 19:0


1 - 3. Compare Matthew 27:26-30; Mark 14:15-19.

Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 18". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.