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Bible Commentaries

Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospels
John 18

 

 


Other Authors
Verse 1-2

When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. 2. And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus often resorted there with his disciples.

AUG. The discourse, which our Lord had with His disciples after supper, and the prayer which followed, being now ended, the Evangelist begins the account of His Passion. When Jesus had spoken these words, He came forth with His disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into which He entered, and His disciples. But this did not take place immediately after the prayer was ended; there was an interval containing some things, which John omits, but which are mentioned by the other Evangelists.

AUG. A contention took place between them, which of them was the greater, as Luke relates. He also said to Peter, as Luke adds in the same place, Behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he might sift you as wheat, &c. And according to Matthew and Mark, they sang a hymn, and then went to Mount Olivet. Matthew lastly brings the two narratives together: Then went Jesus with His disciples to a place which is called Gethsemane. That is the place which John mentions here, Where there was a garden, into the which He entered, and His disciples.

AUG. When Jesus had spoken these words, shows that He did not enter before He had finished speaking.

CHRYS. But why does not John say, When He had prayed, He entered? Because His prayer was a speaking for His disciples" sake. It is now night time; He goes and crosses the brook, and hastens to the place which was known to the traitor; thus giving no trouble to those who were lying in wait for Him, and strewing His disciples that He went voluntarily to die.

ALCUIN. Over the brook Cedron, i.e. of cedars. It is the genitive in the Greek. He goes over the brook, i.e. drinks of the brook of His Passion. Where there was a garden, that the sin which was committed in a garden, He might blot out in a garden. Paradise signifies garden of delights.

CHRYS. That it might not be thought that He went into a garden to hide Himself, it is added, But Judas who betrayed Him knew the place: for Jesus of often resorted there with; His disciples.

AUG. There the wolf in sheep"s clothing permitted by the deep counsel of the Master of the flock to go among the sheep, learned in what way to disperse the flock, and ensnare the Shepherd.

CHRYS. Jesus had often met and talked alone with His disciples there, on essential doctrines, such as it was lawful for others to hear. He does this on mountains, and in gardens, to be out of reach of noise and tumult. Judas, however went there, because Christ had often passed the night there in the open air. He would have gone to His house, if he had thought he should find Him sleeping there.

THEOPHYL. Judas knew that at the feast time our Lord was accustomed to teach His disciples high and mysterious doctrines, and that He taught in places like this. And as it was then a solemn season, he thought He would be found there, teaching His disciples things relating to the feast.


Verses 3-9

Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, comes there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said to them, Whom do you seek?5. They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus says to them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. 6. As soon then as he said to them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. 7. Then asked he them again, Whom do you seek? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. 8. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore you seek me, let these go their way:9. That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spoke, Of them which you gave me have I lost none

GLOSS. The Evangelist had strewn how Judas had found, out the place where Christ was, now he relates how he went there. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, comes there with lanterns and torched and weapons.

AUG. It was a band not of Jews, but of soldiers, granted, we must understand, by the Governor, with legal authority to take the criminal, as He was considered, and crush any opposition that might be made.

CHRYS. But how could they persuade the band? By hiring them; for being soldiers, they were ready to do anything for money.

THEOPHYL. They carry torches and lanterns, to guard against Christ escaping in the dark.

CHRYS. They had often sent elsewhere to take Him, but had not been able. Whence it is evident that He gave Himself up voluntarily; as it follows, Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon Him, went forth, and said to them, Whom do you seek?

THEOPHYL. He asks not because He needed to know, for He knew all things that should come upon Him; but because He wished to show, that though present, they could not see or distinguish Him: Jesus says to them, I am He.

CHRYS. He Himself had blinded their eyes. For that darkness was not the reason is clear, because the Evangelist says that they had lanterns. Though they had not lanterns, however, they should at least have recognized Him by His voice. And if they did not know Him, yet how was it that Judas, who had been with Him constantly also, did not know Him? And Judas also which betrayed Him stood with them. Jesus did all this to show that they could not have taken Him, or even seen Him when He was in the midst of them, had He not permitted it.

AUG. As soon then as He said To them, I am He, they went backward. Where now is the band of soldiers, where the terror and defence of arms? Without a blow, one word struck, drove back, prostrated a crowd fierce with hatred, terrible with arms. For God was hid in the flesh, and the eternal day was so obscured by His human body, that He was sought for with lanterns and torches, to be slain in the darkness. What shall He do when He comes to judge, Who did thus when He was going to be judged? And now even at the present time Christ says by the Gospel, I am He, and an Antichrist is expected by the Jews: to the end that they may go backward, and fall to the ground; because that forsaking heavenly, they desire earthly things.

GREG. Why is this, that the Elect fall on their faces, the reprobate backward? Because every one who falls back, sees not where he falls, whereas he who falls forward, sees where he falls. The wicked when they suffer loss in invisible things, are said to fall backward, because they do not see what is behind them: but the righteous, who of their own accord cast themselves down in temporal things, in order that they may rise in spiritual, fall as it were upon their faces, when with fear and repentance they humble themselves with their eyes open.

CHRYS. Lastly, lest any should say that He had encouraged the Jews to kill Him, in delivering Himself into their hands, He says every thing that is possible to reclaim them. But when they persisted in their malice, and showed themselves inexcusable then He gave Himself up into their hands: Then asked He them again, Whom do you seek? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am He.

AUG. They had heard at the first, I am He, but had not understood it; because He who could do whatever He would, willed not that they should. But had He never permitted Himself to be taken by them, they would not have done indeed what they came to do; but neither would He what He came to do. So now having strewn His power to them when they wished to take Him and could not, He lets them seize Him, that they might be unconscious agent, of His will; If you seek Me, let these go their way.

CHRYS. As if to say, Though you seek Me, you have nothing to do with these: lo, I give Myself up: thus even to the last hour does He show His love for His own.

AUG. He commands His enemies, and they do what He commands; they permit them to go away, whom He would not have design

CHRYS. The Evangelist, to show that it was not their design to do this, but that His power did it, adds, That the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, Of them which you have given Me, have I lost none. He had said this with reference not to temporal, but to eternal death: the Evangelist however understands the word of temporal death also.

AUG. But were the disciples never to die? Why then would He lose them, even if they died then? Because they did not yet believe in Him in a saving way.


Verse 10-11

Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest"s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant"s name was Malchus. 11. Then said Jesus to Peter, Put up your sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?

CHRYS. Peter trusting to these last words of our Lord"s, and to what He had just done, assaults those who came to take Him: Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest"s servant. But how, commanded as he had been to have neither scrip, nor two garments, had he a sword? Perhaps he had foreseen this occasion, and provided one.

THEOPHYL. Or, he had got one for sacrificing the lamb, and carried it away with him from the Supper.

CHRYS. But how could he, who had been forbidden ever to strike on the cheek, be a murderer? Because what he had been forbidden to do was to avenge himself, but here he was not avenging himself, but his Master. They were not however yet perfect: afterwards you shall see Peter beaten with stripes, and bearing it humbly. And cut off his right ear: this seems to show the impetuosity of the Apostle; that he struck at the head itself.

AUG. The servant"s name was Malchus; John is the only Evangelist who mentions the servant"s name; as Luke is the only one who mentions that our Lord touched the ear and healed him.

CHRYS. He wrought this miracle both to teach us, that we ought to do good to those who suffer and to manifest His power. The Evangelist gives the name, that those who then read it might have the opportunity of inquiring into the truth of the account. And he mentions that he was the servant of the high priest, because in addition to the miracle of the cure itself, this shows that it was performed upon one of those who came to take Him, and who shortly after struck Him on the face.

AUG. The name Malchus signifies, about to reign. What then does the ear cut off for our Lord, and healed by our Lord denote, but the abolition of the old, and the creating of a new, hearing in the newness of the Spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter? To whomsoever this is given, who can doubt that he will reign with Christ? But he was a servant too, has reference to that oldness, which generated to bondage: the cure figures liberty.

THEOPHYL. Or, the cutting off of the high priest"s servant"s right ear is a type of the people"s deafness, of which the chief priests partook most strongly: the restoration of the ear, of ultimate reenlightenment of the understanding of the Jews, at the coming of Elias.

AUG. Our Lord condemned Peter"s act, and forbade him proceeding further: Then said Jesus to Peter, Put up your sword into the sheath. He was to be admonished to have patience: and this was written for our learning.

CHRYS. He not only restrained Him however by threats, but consoled him also at the same time: The cup that My Father gives Me, shall I not drink it? Whereby He shows that it was not by their power, but by His permission, that this had been done, and that He did not oppose God, but was obedient even to death.

THEOPHYL. In that He calls it a cup, He shows how pleasing and acceptable death for the salvation of men was to Him.

AUG. The cup being given Him by the Father, is the same with what the Apostle says, Who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all. But the Giver of this cup and the Drinker of it are the same, as the same Apostle says, Christ loved us, and gave Himself for us.


Verses 12-14

Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him,13. And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. 14. Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.

THEOPHYL. Every thing having been done that could be to dissuade the Jews, and they refusing to take warning, He suffered Himself to be delivered into their hands: Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus.

AUG. They took Him Whom they did not draw nigh to; nor understood that which is written in the Psalms, Draw nigh to Him, and be you lightened. For had they thus drawn nigh to Him, they would have taken Him, not to kill Him, but to be in their hearts. But now that they take Him the way they do, they go backward. It follows, and bound Him, Him by Whom they ought to have wished to be loosed. And perhaps there were among them some who, afterwards delivered by Him, exclaimed, you have broken My chains asunder.

But after that they had bound Jesus, it then appears most clearly that Judas had betrayed Him not for a good, but a most wicked purpose: And led Him away to Annas first.

CHRYS. In exultation, to show what they had done, as if they were raising a trophy.

AUG. Why they did so, he tells us immediately after: For he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. Matthew, in order to shorten the narrative, says that He was led to Caiaphas; because He was led to Annas first, as being the father in law of Caiaphas. So that we must understand that Annas wished to act Caiaphas"s part.

BEDE. In order that, while our Lord was condemned by his colleague, he might not be guiltless, though his crime was less. Or perhaps his house lay in the way, and they were obliged to pass by it. Or it was the design of Providence, that they who were allied in blood, should be associated in guilt. That Caiaphas however was high priest for that year sounds contrary to the law, which ordained that there be only one high priest, and made the office hereditary. But the pontificate had now been abandoned to ambitious men.

ALCUIN. Josephus relates that this Caiaphas bought the high priesthood for this year. No wonder then if a wicked high priest judged wickedly. A man who was advanced to the priesthood by avarice would keep himself there by injustice.

CHRYS. That no one however might be disturbed at the sound of the chains, the Evangelist reminds them of the prophecy that His death would be the salvation of the world: Now Caiaphas was he which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people. Such is the overpowering force of truth, that even its enemies echo it.


Verses 15-18

And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known to the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. 16. But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known to the high priest, and spoke to her that kept the door, and brought in Peter. 17. Then says the damsel that kept the door to Peter, Are not you also one of this man"s disciples? He said, I am not. 18. And the servants and officers stood there, who a made a fire of coals, for it was cold: and who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.

AUG. The temptation of Peter, which took place in the midst of the contumelies offered to our Lord, is not placed by all in the same order. Matthew and Mark put the contumelies first, the temptation of Peter afterwards; Luke the temptation first, the contumelies after. John begins with the temptation: And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple.

ALCUIN. He followed his Master out of devotion, though afar off, on account of fear.

AUG. Who that other disciple was we cannot hastily decide, as his name is not told us. John however is accustomed to signify himself by this expression, with the addition of, whom Jesus loved. Perhaps therefore he is the one.

CHRYS. He omits his own name out of humility: though he is relating an act of great virtue, how that he followed when the rest fled. He puts Peter before himself, and then mentions himself, in order to show that he was inside the hall, and therefore related what took place there with more certainty than the other Evangelists could. That disciple was known to the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. This he mentions not as a boast, but in order to diminish his own merit, in having been the only one who entered with Jesus. It is accounting for the act in another way, than merely by greatness of mind. Peter"s love took him as far as the palace, but his fear prevented him entering in: But Peter stood at the door without.

ALCUIN. He stood without, as being about to deny his Lord. He was not in Christ, who dared not confess Christ.

CHRYS. But that Peter would have entered the palace, if he had been permitted, appears by what immediately follows: Then went out that other disciple who was known to the high priest, and spoke to her who kept the doors, and brought in Peter.

He did not bring him in himself, because he kept near Christ. It follows: Then says the damsel that kept the door to Peter, Are not you also one of this Man"s s disciples? He says, I am not. What say you, O Peter? Did you not say before, I will lay down my life for your sake? What then had happened, that you give way even when the damsel asks you? It was not a soldier who asked you, but a mean porteress. Nor said she, Are you this Deceiver"s disciple, but, this Man"s: an expression of pity. Are not you also, she says, because John was inside.

AUG. But what wonder, if God foretold truly, man presumed falsely. Respecting this denial of Peter we should remark, that Christ is not only denied by him, who denies that He is Christ, but by him also who denies himself to be a Christian. For the Lord did not say to Peter, you shall deny that you art My disciple, but, you shall deny Me. He denied Him then, when he denied that he was His disciple. And what was this but to deny that he was a Christian? How many afterwards, even boys and girls, were able to despise death, confess Christ, and enter courageously into the kingdom of heaven; which he who received the keys of the kingdom, was now unable to do? Wherein we see the reason for His saying above, Let these go their way, for of those which you hast given Me, have I lost none. If Peter had gone out of this world immediately after denying Christ, He must have been lost.

CHRYS. Therefore did Divine Providence permit Peter first to fall, in order that he might be less severe to sinners from the remembrance of his own fall. Peter, the teacher and master of the whole world, sinned, and obtained pardon. that judges might thereafter have that rule to go by in dispensing pardon. For this reason I suppose the priesthood was not given to Angels; because, being without sin themselves, they would punish sinners without pity. Passible man is placed over man, in order that remembering his own weakness, he may be merciful to others.

THEOPHYL. Some however foolishly favor Peter, so far as to say that he denied Christ, because he did not wish to be away from Christ, and he knew, they say, that if he confessed that he was one of Christ"s disciples, he would be separated from Him, and would no longer have the liberty of following and seeing his beloved Lord; and therefore pretended to be one of the servants, that his sad countenance might not be perceived, and so exclude him: And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals, and warmed themselves; and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself

AUG. It was not winter, and yet it was cold, as it often is at the vernal equinox.

GREG. The fire of love was smothered in Peter"s breast, and he was warming himself before the coals of the persecutors, i.e. with the love of this present life, whereby his weakness was increased.


Verses 19-21

The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. 20. Jesus answered him, I spoke openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, where the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. 21. Why do you ask me? ask them which heard me, what I have said to them: behold, they know what I said.

CHRYS. As they could bring no charge against Christ, they asked Him of His disciples: The high priest then asked Jesus of His disciples; perhaps where they were, and on what account He had collected them, he wished to prove that he was a seditious and factious person whom no one attended to, except His own disciples.

THEOPHYL. He asks Him moreover of His doctrine, what it was, whether opposed to Moses an the law, that he might take occasion thereby to put Him to death as an enemy of God.

ALCUIN. He does not ask in order to know the truth, but to find out some charge against Him, on which to deliver Him to the Roman Governor to be condemned. But our Lord so tempers His answer, as neither to conceal the truth, nor yet to appear to defend Himself: Jesus answered him, I spoke openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, where the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.

AUG. There is a difficulty here not to be passed over: if He did not speak openly even to His disciples, but only promised that He would do so at some time, how was it that He spoke openly to the world? He spoke more openly to His disciples afterwards, when they had withdrawn from the crowd; for He then explained His parables, the meaning of which He concealed from the others. When He says then, I spoke openly to the world, He must be understood to mean, w within the hearing of many. So in one sense He spoke openly, i.e. in that many heard Him; in another sense not openly, i.e. in that they did not understand Him. His speaking apart with His disciples was not speaking in secret; for how could He speak in secret before the multitude, especially when that small number of His disciples were to make known what He said to a much larger?

THEOPHYL. He refers here to the prophecy of Esaias; I have not spoken in, secret, in a dark place of the earth.

CHRYS. Or, He spoke in secret, but not, as these thought, from fear, or to excite sedition; but only when what He said was above the understanding of the many.

To establish the matter, however, upon superabundant evidence, He adds, Why ask you Me? ask them which heard Me what I said to them; behold, they know what I said to them: as if He said, you ask Me of My disciples; ask My enemies, who lie in wait for Me. These are the words of one who was confident of the truth of what He said: for it is incontrovertible evidence, when enemies are called in as witnesses.

AUG. For what they had beard and not understood was not of such a kind, as that they could justly turn it against Him. And as often as they tried by questioning to find out some charge against Him, He so replied as to blunt all their stratagems, and refute their calumnies.


Verses 22-24

And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answer you the high priest so?23. Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smite you me?24. Now Annas had sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

THEOPHYL. When Jesus had appealed to the testimony of the people by, an officer, wishing to clear himself, and show that he was not one of those who admired our Lord, struck Him: And when He had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answer you the high priest so?

AUG. This shows that Annas was the high priest, for this was before He was sent to Caiaphas. And Luke in the beginning of his Gospel says, that Annas and Caiaphas were both high priests.

ALCUIN. Here is fulfilled the prophecy, I gave my cheek to the smiters. Jesus, though struck unjustly, replied gently: Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smite you Me?

THEOPHYL. As if to say, If you have any fault to find with what I have said, show it; if you have not, why do you rage? Or thus: If I taught any thing unadvisedly, when I taught in the synagogues, give proof of it to the high priest I but if taught aright, so that even you officers admired, why smite you Me, Whom before you admired?

AUG. What can be truer, gentler, kinder, than this answer? He Who received the blow on the face neither wished for him who struck it that fire from heaven should consume him, or the earth open its month and swallow him; or a devil seize him; or any other yet more horrible kind of punishment. Yet had not He, by Whom the world was made, power to cause any one of these things to take place, but that He preferred teaching us that patience why which the world is overcome? Some one will ask here, why He did not do what He Himself commanded, i.e. not make this answer, but give the other cheek to the smiter? But what if He did both, both answered gently, and gave, not His check only to the smiter, but His whole body to be nailed to the Cross? And herein He shows, that those precepts of patience are to be performed not by posture of the body, but by preparation of the heart: for it is possible that a man might give his cheek outwardly, and yet be angry at the same time. How much better is it to answer truly, yet gently, and be ready to bear even harder usage patiently.

CHRYS. What should they do then but either disprove, or admit, what He said? Yet this they do not do: it is not a trial they are carrying on, but a faction, a tyranny. Not knowing what to do further, they send Him to Caiaphas: Now Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

THEOPHYL. Thinking that as he was more cunning, he might find out something against Him worthy of death.

AUG. He was the one to whom they were taking Him from the first, as Matthew says; he being the high priest of this year. We must understand that the pontificate was taken between them year by year alternately, and that it was by Caiaphas"s consent that they led Him first to Annas; or that their houses were so situated, that they could not but pass straight by that of Annas.

BEDE. Sent Him bound, not that He was bound now for the first time, for they bound Him when they took Him. They sent Him bound as they had brought Him. Or perhaps He may have been loosed from His bonds for that hour, in order to be examined, after which He was bound again, and sent to Caiaphas.


Verses 25-27

And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore to him, Are not you also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not. 26. One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, said, Did not I see you in the garden with him?27. Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crowed.

AUG. After the Evangelist has said that they sent Jesus bound from Annas to Caiaphas, he returns to Peter and his three denials, which took place in the house of Annas: And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. He repeats what he had said before.

CHRYS. Or, He means that the once fervid disciple was now too torpid, to move even when our Lord was carried away: strewing thereby how weak man"s nature is, when God forsakes him. Asked again, he again denies: They said therefore to him, Are not you also one of His disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not.

AUG. Here we find Peter not at the gate, but at the fire, when he denies the second time: so that he must have returned after he had gone out of doors, where Matthew says he was. He did not go out, and another damsel see him on the outside, but another damsel saw him as he was rising to go out, and remarked him, and told those who were by, i.e. those who were standing with her at the fire inside the hall, This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth. He heard this outside, and returned, and swore, I do not know the man. Then John continues: They said therefore to him, Are not you also one of His disciples? which words we suppose to have been said to him when he had come back, and was standing at the fire. And this explanation is confirmed by the fact, that besides the other damsel mentioned by Matthew and Mark in the second denial, there was another person, mentioned by Luke, w ho also questioned him. So John uses the plural. They said therefore to him.

And then follows the third denial: One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, says, Did not I see you in the garden with Him? That Matthew and Mark speak of the party who here question Peter in the plural number, whereas Luke mentions only one, and John also, adding that that one was the kinsman of him whose ear Peter cut off, is easily explained by supposing that Matthew and Mark used the plural number by a common form of speech for the singular; or that one who had observed him most strictly put the question first, and others followed it up, and pressed Peter with more.

CHRYS. But neither did the garden bring back to his memory what he had then said, and the great professions of love he had made: Peter then denied again, and immediately the cock crew.

AUG. Lo, the prophecy of the Physician is fulfilled, the presumption of the sick man demonstrated. That which Peter had said he would do, he had not done. I will lay down my life for your sake, but what our Lord had foretold had come to pass, you shall deny Me thrice.

CHRYS. The Evangelists have all given the same account of the denials of Peter, not with any intention of throwing blame upon him, but to teach us how hurtful it is to trust in self, and not ascribe all to God.

BEDE. Mystically, by the first denial of Peter are denoted those who before our Lord"s Passion denied that He was God, by the second, those who did so after His resurrection. So by the first crowing of the cock His resurrection is signified; by the second, the general resurrection at the end of the world. By the first damsel, who obliged Peter to deny, is denoted lust, by the second, carnal delight: by one or more servants, the devils who persuade men to deny Christ.


Verses 28-32

Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas to the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the Passover. 29. Pilate then went out to them, and said, What accusation bring you against this man?30. They answered and said to him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up to you. 31. Then said Pilate to them, Take you him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said to him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death. 32. That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spoke, signifying what death he should die.

AUG. The Evangelist returns to the part where he had left off, in order to relate Peter"s denial: Then led they Jesus to Caiaphas to the hall of judgment: to Caiaphas from his colleague and father in law Annas, as has been said. But If to Caiaphas, how to the praetorium, which was the place where the governor Pilate resided;

BEDE. The praetorium is the place where the praetor sat. Praetors were called prefects and preceptors, because they issue decrees.AUG. Where then for some urgent reason Caiaphas proceeded from the house of Annas, where both had been sitting, to the praetorium of the governor, and left Jesus to the hearing of his father in law: or Pilate had established the praetorium in the house of Caiaphas, which was large enough to afford a separate lodging to its owner, and the governor at the same time.

AUG. According to Matthew, When the morning came, they led Him away, and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate. But He was to have been led to Caiaphas at first. How is it then that He was brought to him so late? The truth is, now He was going as it were a committed criminal, Caiaphas having already determined on His death. And He was to be given up to Pilate immediately. And it was early.

CHRYS. He was led to Caiaphas before the cock crowed, but early in the morning to Pilate. Whereby the Evangelist shows, that all that night of examination, ended in proving nothing against Him; and that He was sent to Pilate in consequence. But leaving what passed then to the other Evangelists, he goes to what followed.

AUG. And they themselves entered not into the judgment hall: i.e. into that part of the house which Pilate occupied, supposing it to be the house of Caiaphas. Why they did not enter is next explained: Lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover.

CHRYS For the Jews were then celebrating the passover; He Himself celebrated it one day before, reserving His own death for the sixth day; on which day the old passover was kept. Or, perhaps, the passover means the whole season.

AUG. The days of unleavened breed were beginning; during which time it was defilement to enter the house of a stranger.

ALCUIN. The passover was strictly the fourteenth day of the month, the day on which the lamb was killed in the evening: the seven days following were called the days of unleavened bread, in which nothing leavened ought to be found in their houses. Yet we find the day of the passover reckoned among the days of unleavened bread: Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, Where will you that we prepare for you to eat the passover?

And here also in like manner: That they might eat the passover; the passover here signifying not the sacrifice of the lamb, which took place the fourteenth day at evening, but the great festival which was celebrated on the fifteenth day, after the sacrifice of the lamb. Our Lord, like the rest of the Jews, kept the passover on the fourteenth day: on the fifteenth day, when the great festival was held, He was crucified. His immolation however began on the fourteenth day, from the time that He was taken in the garden.

AUG. O impious blindness! They feared to be defiled by the judgment hall of a foreign prefect, to shed the blood of an innocent brother they feared not. For that He Whom they killed was the Lord and Giver of life, their blindness saved them from knowing

THEOPHYL. Pilate however proceeds in a more gentle way: Pilate then went out to them.

BEDE. It was the custom of the Jews when they condemned any one to death, to notify it to the governor, by delivering the man bound.

CHRYS. Pilate however seeing Him bound, and such numbers conducting Him, supposed that they had not unquestionable evidence against Him, so proceeds to ask the question : And said, What accusation bring you against this Man? For it was absurd, he said, to take the trial out of his hands, and yet give him the punishment.

They in reply bring forward no positive charge but only their own conjectures: They answered and said to him, If He were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up to you.

AUG. Ask the freed from unclean spirits, the blind who saw, the dead who came to life again, and, what is greater than all, the fools who were made wise, and let them answer, whether Jesus was a malefactor. But they spoke, of whom He had Himself prophesied in the Psalms, They rewarded Me evil for good.

AUG. But is not this account contradictory to Luke"s, who mentions certain positive charges: And they began to accuse Him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ a King. According to John, the Jews seem to have been unwilling to bring actual charges, in order that Pilate might condemn Him simply on their authority, asking no questions, but taking it for granted that if He was delivered up to him, He was certainly guilty. Both accounts are however compatible. Each Evangelist only inserts what he thinks sufficient.

And John"s account implies that some charges had been made, when it comes to Pilate"s answer: Then said Pilate to them, Take you Him, and judge Him according to your law.

THEOPHYL. As if to say, Since you will only have such a trial as will suit you, and are proud, as if you never did any thing profane, take you Him, and condemn Him; I will not be made a judge for such a purpose.

ALCUIN. Or as if he said, you who have the law, know what the law judges concerning such: do what you know to be just. The Jews therefore said to him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.

AUG. But did not the law command not to spare malefactors, especially deceivers such as they thought Him? We must understand them however to mean, that the holiness of the day which the" were beginning to celebrate, made it unlawful to put any man to death. Have you then so lost your understanding by your wickedness, that you think yourselves free from the pollution of innocent blood, because you e deliver it to be shed by another?

CHRYS. Or, they were not allowed by the Roman law to put Him to death themselves. Or, Pilate having said, Judge Him according to your law, they reply, It is not lawful for us: His sin is not a Jewish one, He has not sinned according to our law: His offense is political, He calls Himself a King. Or they wished to have Him crucified, to add infamy to death: they not being allowed to put to death in this way themselves.

They put to death in another way, as we see in the stoning of Stephen: That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which He spoke, signifying what death He should die. Which was fulfilled in that He was crucified, or in that He was put to death by Gentiles as well as Jews.

AUG. As we read in Mark, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered to the chief priests, and to the scribes; and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles. Pilate again was a Roman, and was sent to the government of Judea, from Rome. That this saying of Jesus then might be fulfilled, i.e. that He might be delivered to and killed by the Gentiles, they would not accept Pilate"s offer, but said, If is not lawful for us to put any man to death.


Verses 33-38

Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said to him, Are you the King of the Jews?34. Jesus answered him, Say you this thing of yourself, or did others tell it you of me?35. Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you to me: what have you done?36. Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from here. 37. Pilate therefore said to him, Are you a king then? Jesus answered, you say that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice. 38. Pilate says to him, What is truth?

CHRYS. Pilate, wishing to rescue Him from the hatred of the c Jews, protracted the trial a long time. Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall, and called Jesus.

THEOPHYL. i.e. Apart, because he had a strong suspicion that He was innocent, and thought he could examine Him more accurately, away from the crowd: and said to Him, Are you the King of the Jews?

ALCUIN. Wherein Pilate shows that the Jews had charged Him with calling Himself King of the Jews.

CHRYS. Or Pilate had heard this by report; and as the Jews had no charge to bring forward, began to examine Him himself with respect to the things commonly reported of Him. Jesus answered him, Say you this thing of yourself, or did others tell it you of Me?

THEOPHYL. He intimates here that Pilate was judging blindly and indiscreetly: If you say this thing of yourself, He says, bring forward proofs of My rebellion; if you have heard it from others, make regular inquiry into it.

AUG. Our Lord knew indeed both what He Himself asked, and what Pilate would answer; but He wished it to be written down n for our sakes.

CHRYS. He asks not in ignorance, but in order to draw from Pilate himself an accusation against the Jews: Pilate answered Bred, Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you to me.

AUG. He rejects the imputation that He could have said it of Himself; Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you to me: adding, what have you done? Whereby he shows that this charge had been brought against Him, for it is as much as to say, If you deny that you are a King, what have you done to be delivered up to me? As if it were no wonder that He should be delivered up, if He called Himself a King.

CHRYS. He then tries to bring round the mind of Pilate, not a very bad man, by proving to him, that He is not a mere man, but God, and the Son of God; and overthrowing all suspicion of His having aimed at a tyranny, which Pilate was afraid of, Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world.

AUG. This is what the good Master wished to teach us. But first it was necessary to show the falsity of the notions of both Jews and Gentiles as to His kingdom, which Pilate had heard of; as if it meant that He aimed at unlawful power; a crime punishable with death, and this kingdom were a subject of jealousy to the ruling power, and to be guarded against as likely to be hostile either to the Romans or Jews. Now if our Lord had answered immediately Pilate"s question, He would have seemed to have been answering not the Jews, but the Gentiles only. But after Pilate"s answer, what He says is an answer to both Gentiles and Jews: as if He said, Men, i.e. Jews and Gentiles, I hinder not your dominion in this world. What more would you have? Come by faith to the kingdom which is not of this world. For what is His kingdom, but they that believe in Him, of whom He says, you are not of the world: although He wished that they should be in the world. In the same way, here He does not say, My kingdom is not in this world; but, is not of this world. Of the world are all men, who created by God are born of the corrupt race of Adam. All that are born again in Christ, are made a kingdom not of this world. Thus hath God taken us out of the power of darkness, and translated us to the kingdom of His dear Son.

CHRYS. Or He means that He does not derive His kingdom from the same source that earthly kings do; but that He has his sovereignty from above; inasmuch as He is not mere man, but far greater and more glorious than man: If My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews. Here He shows the weakness of an earthly kingdom, has its strength from its servants, whereas that higher kingdom is sufficient to itself, and wanting in nothing. And if His kingdom was thus the greater of the two, it follows that He was taken of His own will, and delivered up Himself.

AUG, After showing that His kingdom was not of this world, He adds, But now My kingdom is not from here. He does not say, Not here, for His kingdom is here to the end of the world, having within it the tares mixed with the wheat until the harvest. But yet it is not from here, since it is a stranger in the world.

THEOPHYL, Or He says, from here, not, here; because He reigns in the world, and carries on the government of it, and disposes all things according to His will; but His kingdom is not from below, but from above, and before all ages.

CHRYS. Heretics infer from these words that our Lord is a different person from the Creator of the world. But when He says, My kingdom is not from here, He does not deprive the world of His government and superintendence, but only shows that His government is not human and corruptible. Pilate therefore said to Him, Are you a King then? Jesus answered, you say that I am a King.

AUG. He did not fear to confess Himself a King, but so replied as neither to deny that He was, nor yet to confess Himself a King in such sense as that His kingdom should be supposed to be of this w world. He says, you say, meaning, you being carnal say it carnally. He continues, To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that 1 should bear witness to the truth. The pronoun here, in hoc, must not be dwelt long on as if it meant, in hc re, but shortened, as if it stood, ad hoc, natus sum, as the next words are, ad hoc veni in mundum. Wherein it is evident He alludes to His birth in the flesh not to that divine birth which never had beginning.

THEOPHYL. Or, to Pilate"s question whether He w as a King our Lord answers, To this end was I born, i.e. to be a King, That I am born from a King. proves that I am a King.

CHRYS. If then He was a King by birth, He has nothing which He has not received from another. For this I came, that I should bear witness to the truth, i.e. that I should make all men believe it. We must observe how He shows His humility here: when they accused Him as a malefactor, He bore it in silence; but when He is asked of His kingdom, then He talks with Pilate, instructs him, and raises his mind to higher things. That I should bear witness to the truth shows that He had no crafty purpose in what He did.

AUG But when Christ bears witness to the truth, He bears witness to Himself; as He said above, I am the truth. But inasmuch as all men have not faith, He adds, Everyone that is of the truth hears My voice: hears, that is, with the inward ear; obeys My voice, believes Me. Every one that is of the truth, has reference to the grace by which He calls according to His purpose. For as regards the nature in which we are created, since the truth created all, all are of the truth. But it is not all to whom it is given the truth to obey the truth. For had He even said, Everyone one that hears My voice is of the truth, it still would be thought that such were of the truth, because they obeyed the truth But He does not say this, but Everyone that is of the truth hears My voice. A man then is not of the truth, because he hears His voice, but hears His voice because he is of the truth. This grace is conferred upon him by the truth.

CHRYS. These words have an effect upon Pilate, persuade him to become a hearer, and elicit from him the short inquiry, What is truth had almost said to Him, What is truth?

THEOPHYL. For it had almost vanished from the world, and become unknown in consequence of the general unbelief.


Verses 38-40

And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and says to them, I find in him no fault at all. 39. But you have a custom, that I should release to you one at the passover: will you therefore that release to you the King of the Jews?40. Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.

AUG. After Pilate had asked, What is truth? he remembered a custom of the Jews, of releasing one prisoner at the passover, and did not wait for Christ"s answer, for fear to losing this chance of saving Him, which he much wished to do. And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews.

CHRYS. He knew that this question required time to answer, and it was necessary immediately to rescue Him from the fury of the Jews. So he went out.ALCUIN, Or, he did not wait to hear the reply, because he was unworthy to hear. And, says to them, I find no fault in Him.

CHRYS. He did not say, He has sinned and is worthy, of death; yet release Him at the feast; but acquitting Him in the first place, he does more than he need do, and asks it as a favor, our, that, if they are unwilling to let Him go as innocent, they will at any rate allow Him the benefit of the season: But you have a custom, that I should release one to you at the passover.

BEDE. This custom was not commanded in the law, but had been handed down by tradition from the old fathers, viz. that in remembrance of their deliverance out of Egypt, they should release a prisoner at the passover. Pilate tries to persuade them: Will you therefore that I release to you the King of the Jews.

AUG. He could not dismiss the idea from his mind, that Jesus was King of the Jews; as if the Truth itself, whom he had just asked what it was, had inscribed it there as a title.

THEOPHYL. Pilate is judicious in replying that Jesus had done nothing wrong, and that there was no reason to suspect Him of aiming at a kingdom. For they might be sure that if He set Himself up as a King, and a rival of the Roman empire, a Roman prefect would not release Him. When then He says, Will you therefore that I release to you the King of the Jews? he clears Jesus of all guilt, and mocks the Jews, as if to say, Him whom you accuse of thinking Himself a King, the same I bid you release: He does no such thing.

AUG. Upon this they cried out: Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. now Barabbas was a robber. We blame you not, O Jews, for releasing a guilty man at the passover, but for killing an innocent one. Yet unless this were done, it were ere not the true passover.

BEDE. Inasmuch then as they abandoned the Savior, and sought out a robber, to this day the devil practices his robberies upon them.

ALCUIN. The name Barabbas signifies, The son of their master; i.e. the devil; his master in his wickedness, the Jews" in their perfidy.

 


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Bibliography Information
Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on John 18:4". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gcc/john-18.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, October 29th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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