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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
John 18

 

 

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Verse 1

1. τῶν κέδρων] This is evidently a Greek corruption of the Hebrew ( קִדְרוֹן); and coincides with the LXX in ref. and 3 Kings John 15:13, where however (239) (not (240)) has τοῦ κέδρων. If there were cedars in the ravine, the corruption would be easily accounted for. Suidas, under ἰαβίν, quotes Ps. 82:9 thus, ἰαβὶν ἐν τῷ χειμάῤῥῳ τῶν κισσῶν. Instances of the practice of changing foreign names into other words bearing sense in the new language are common in all countries. This being so, it is perhaps safer to follow the best MSS., even against our own conviction, that St. John can hardly have written τῶν κέδρων. Josephus calls it χειμ. κεδρῶνος, or φάραγξ κεδρῶνος. Antt. viii. 1. 5; ix. 7. 3: see 2 Kings 23:6; 2 Kings 23:12.

The ravine in the bottom of which flows the Kidron, is to the East of Jerusalem, between the city and the Mount of Olives.

κῆπος] Lücke suggests that the owner of this garden may have been friendly to (or a disciple of?) Jesus. It was called Gethsemane,—Matt., Mark.

Traditions as to its site are, as usual, various. A square plot of ground in the depth of the ravine is now usually pointed out, and seems to have been fixed on at the time when the empress Helena visited Jerusalem, A.D. 326. Euseb. says Gethsemane was at the Mount of Olives: Jerome, at the foot of the mount. The language of Luke 21:37 leads to a belief that it may have been higher up the mount. Robinson, i. 346.


Verses 1-3

1–3.] Matthew 26:30-47. Mark 14:26-43. Luke 22:39-53. On the omission by John of the conflict of the Redeemer’s soul in Gethsemane, I would remind the reader of what has been said in the Prolegomena on the character of this Gospel. The attempt to find in this omission a discrepancy between the setting forth of the Redeemer by John and the synoptic Gospels, is, as usual, unsuccessful. John presents us with most striking instances of the troubling of the human soul of Christ by the suffering which was before Him: see ch. John 12:23-27; John 13:21. Compare notes on Matthew 26:36, and throughout the section.


Verses 1-11

1–11.] His betrayal and apprehension.


Verse 2

2.] often,—see Luke 21:37 [ch. John 8:1]. These accurate notices of our Evangelist are especially found in this last portion of his Gospel: cf. John 18:13; John 18:24; John 18:28; ch. John 19:14; John 19:20; John 19:41, &c.


Verse 3

3.] See, on this band of men, note on Matthew 26:47. Lücke refers to Dion. Hal. ix. ( ἐξέτρεχον ἅπαντες ἐκ τῶν σκηνῶν ἀθρόοι, φανοὺς ἔχοντες κ. λαμπάδας) to shew that lanterns and torches were part of the utensils of military on a night march.

φανοί appear to be strictly torches,—any blazing substance held in the hand;—and λαμπάδες, lights, fed with oil.

The weapons were swords and staves,—Matt., Mark. The fact of its being full moon did not make the lights unnecessary, as, in searching for a prisoner, they might have to enter dark places.


Verse 4

4.] On εἰδὼς πάντα τὰ ἐρχ. see Matthew 26:45.

ἐξῆλθεν—probably, from the shade of the trees into the moonlight;—hardly, as De Wette and Lücke suggest, from some building in the garden.

τίνα ζητ., spoken,—as was the saying ἐφʼ ὃ πάρει, Matthew 26:50,—to carry reproof to the conscience of those addressed: and also to obtain for so solemn an act as the delivering Himself up to them, the formal declaration of their intention to take Him. “When men sought Him to make Him a king, He fled: now that they seek Him to put Him to death, He goes forth to meet them.” Stier, vi. 252, edn. 2.


Verses 4-11

4–11.] Matthew 26:48-56. Mark 14:44-52. Luke 22:48-53.


Verse 5

5.] Some among them knew Him (Matthew 26:55), others probably not. This answer may have been given by some one in authority among the Roman soldiers, who had it in command ‘to apprehend Jesus of Nazareth.’

εἱστήκει μετʼ αὐτῶν] I believe these words to be the description of an eyewitness;—John detected Judas standing among them, and notices the detail, as is his constant habit, by way of enhancing the tragic character of the history. The synoptic narrative related the kiss which presently took place: but this self-tradition of our Lord was not related in it. John therefore adds this touch of exactness, to shew that the answer ἰησοῦν τ. ν. was not given because they were ignorant of His Person, so as not to be able to say ‘Thee;’—but because they feared to say it.


Verse 6

6.] The question on the miraculous nature of this incident is not whether it were a miracle at all (for it is evident that it must be regarded as one), but whether it were an act specially intended by our Lord, or a result of the superhuman dignity of His person and the majestic calmness of His reply. I believe the latter alternative to be the right one. Commentators cite various instances of the confusion of the enemies of innocent men before the calmness and dignity of their victims, how much more was this likely to be the case when He in whom was no sin, and who spake as never man spake, came forth to meet His implacable foes as the self-sacrificing Lamb of God. So that I regard it rather as a miracle consequent upon that which Christ said and did, and the state of mind in which His enemies were,—than as one, in the strict sense, wrought by Him: bearing however always in mind, that to Him nothing was unexpected, or a mere result, but every thing foreknown. With this view what follows is also consistent, rather than with the other.

The distinction is an important one, as the view which we take of our Lord’s mind towards His captors must enter, as an element, into our understanding of the whole of this scene, and indeed of the solemn occurrences which follow. Such incidents as this are not related by the Evangelists, and least of all by St. John, as mere astounding facts, but as grounds on which we are to enquire, and determine for ourselves, as to the “glory, full of grace and truth,” which was in Him, whom, not having seen, we love.


Verse 8

8.] Bengel strikingly says of this ἐγώ εἰμιTertio dicet olim.” And Augustine, “Quid judicature faciet, qui judicandus hoc fecit? Quid regnaturus poterit, qui moriturus hoc potuit?” Tract. cxii. 3.

ἄφετε τούτους, “quos illi cæci adoriebantur.” Bengel. This saying was sufficient to shew Peter and the rest what was the appointed course for them;—the ἄφ. τούτ. ὑπάγειν to the band, is ὑπάγετε ὑμεῖς to the Apostles.


Verse 9

9.] See ch. John 17:12. An unquestionable proof, if any were wanted, that the words of ch. 17 are no mere description of the mind of our Lord at the time, nor free arrangement of His words, but his very words themselves. This is recognized even by De Wette.

On the application of the saying, we may remark that the words unquestionably had a much deeper meaning than any belonging to this occasion; but that the remarks so often made in this commentary on the fulfilment of prophecies must be borne in mind;—that to ‘fulfil’ a prophecy is not to exhaust its capability of being again and again fulfilled:—that the words of the Lord have many stages of unfolding;—and that the temporal deliverance of the Apostles now, doubtless was but a part in the great spiritual safe-keeping which the Lord asserted by anticipation in these words.


Verse 10

10.] At this time took place the kiss of Judas, in accordance with the agreement entered into, and to assure the captors that the person thus offering Himself was indeed Jesus of Nazareth, and no substitute for him: see note on Matthew 26:49. The other view, that the kiss took place first, before the incidents of our John 18:4-9 (Friedlieb, Archäologie der Leidensgeschichte, p. 68), is to me quite inconceivable.

On Peter’s act, see Matthew 26:51. The names of Peter and Malchus are only found here:τὸ δεξιόν only here and in Luke.

The (external) ear, though severed, was apparently still hanging on the cheek;—for our Lord is said in Luke 22:51, to have touched τοῦ ὠτίου αὐτοῦ in performing the healing.


Verse 11

11.] τὴν θήκ. = τὸν τόπ. αὐτῆς, Matt., where see notes.

τὸ ποτ.] A striking allusion to the prayer in Gethsemane; for the image does not elsewhere occur in our Evangelist. See Matthew 20:22 and (241).

οὐ μὴ πίω] am I not to drink it?non vis ut bibam?” Vulg. Sixt. “Huc enim tendebat pugna Petri.” Bengel.


Verse 12

12.] See Acts 21:31 alli(242). The ὑπηρ. τ. . were the officers sent by the Sanhedrim. Luthardt remarks: “He before whose aspect, and ἐγώ εἰμι, the whole band had been terrified and cast to the ground, now suffers himself to be taken, bound, and led away. This contrast the Evangelist has in mind here. To apprehend and bind ONE, all gave their help: the cohort, the chiliarch, and the Jewish officers. This the Evangelist brings prominently forward, to shew how deep the impression of that previous incident still was: only by the help of all did they feel themselves secure. And thus it was ordered, that the disciples might escape with the more safety.”


Verses 12-24

12–24.] Jesus before the Jewish High Priests.—Peculiar to John. See below.


Verse 13

13.] On Annas, see note Luke 3:2. The influence of Annas appears to have been very great, and Acts 4:6, he is called the High Priest, in the year following this. The whole matter is discussed in Friedlieb, Arch. der Leid. § 22. He ends by saying that the narrative evidently rests upon some arrangement with regard to the High Priesthood now unknown to us, but accountable enough by foreign influence and the deterioration of the priestly class through bribes and intrigues, to which Josephus and the Talmud sufficiently testify. This hearing is entirely distinct from that in the other Gospels. There, no questions are asked of Jesus about His disciples or doctrine (John 18:19): there witnesses are produced, and the whole proceedings are after a legal form. That hearing was in a public court of justice, before the assembled Sanhedrim; this was a private and informal questioning. That Annas should be so often called ‘the High Priest,’ is no objection to this view: see on Luke as above: see also note on John 18:24. The two hearings are maintained to be one and the same by Luther, Grot., Bengel, Lampe, Tholuck, Lücke, De Wette, Friedlieb, Wordsworth, &c.;—the view here taken is maintained by Chrys., Aug(243), Euthym(244), Olsh., Neander, Baumgarten-Crusius, Meyer, Ebrard, Wieseler, Hase, Lange, Hess, von Meyer, von Gerlach, Luthardt, and Stier (vi. 284, edn. 2).


Verse 14

14.] See ch. John 11:49-52 and notes; also on τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ ἐκείνου, John 18:13.


Verse 15

15.] [ ] ἄλλος μαθ. is here mentioned for the first time. There is no reason to doubt the universal persuasion that by this name John intends himself, and refers to the mention in ch. John 13:23 of a disciple whom Jesus loved. The idea that it was Judeas Iscariot (Heumann), is surely too absurd to need confutation. The [ ] ἄλλος, συνεις. τῷ ἰησ., ἦν γνωστὸς τῷ ἀρχ. (as a matter of individual notice), and the whole character of the incident, will prevent any real student of St. John’s style and manner from entertaining such a supposition for a moment. How John was known to the High Priest we have no means of forming a conjecture.

The palace of the High Priest was probably the dwelling of both Annas and Caiaphas.


Verse 16

16. τῇ θυρ.] It was not unexampled to have female porters among the Jews: see reff.


Verse 17

17.] See the whole subject of Peter’s denials Mark 14:69-72.

This first denial was to all appearance rashly and almost inadvertently made, from a mere feeling of shame. Lücke suggests that Peter may have set himself among the servants of the High Priest to bear out his denial. The μὴ καὶ σύ (John 18:25), as Luthardt remarks, implies that the other disciple had already been recognized as a follower of Jesus, and had escaped annoyance.


Verses 18-20

18–20.] FINAL MANIFESTATION OF JESUS AS THE LORD, IN REFERENCE TO THE NOW ACCOMPLISHED REJECTION OF HIM BY THE UNBELIEF OF ISRAEL, AND THE SORELY TRIED BUT EVENTUALLY CONFIRMED FAITH OF HIS OWN. And herein John 18:1 to John 19:16.] His voluntary submission of Himself to His enemies and to the unbelief of Israel.


Verse 19

19.] This preliminary enquiry seems to have had for its object to induce the prisoner to criminate himself, and furnish matter of accusation before the Sanhedrim.

τῶν μαθ., His party, or adherents, as the High Priest would understand His disciples to be; how many, and who they were, and with what object gathered together;—and what His customary teaching of them had been. Of these, Jesus says nothing: compare John 18:8-9. But He substitutes for them ὁ κόσμος, to which He had spoken plainly.


Verse 20

20.] ἐγώ, emphatic: q. d. I am one, who …

παῤῥησίᾳ, plainly (subjective): not openly, in an objective sense, which the word will not bear (Mey(245).).

ὁ κόσμος here = πάντες οἱ ἰουδ., or perhaps rather, all who were there to hear.

By the omission of the art. before συναγ., the distinction is made between synagogues, of which there were many, and τὸ ἱερόν, which was but one.

ἐν κρ. ἐλ. οὐδ.] Stier thinks there was an allusion in these words to Isaiah 45:19; Isaiah 48:16,—in the last of which places the Messiah is speaking.


Verse 21

21.] See ch. John 5:31, which appears to have been a legal maxim.

οὗτοι, demonstrative: “videtur innuere quod digito extenso ad circumstantes provocaverit.” Bengel. The ὑπηρέται of ch. John 7:46 may have been present: see next verse.


Verse 22

22.] See Acts 23:2.

εἷς παρεστ. τ. ὑπ. was probably one of the band who took Jesus (cf. ὑπηρέται, John 18:12), and had brought Him hither.

ῥάπισμα—uncertain whether with the hand or a staff. ῥαπίσαι, ῥαβδῷ πλῆξαι ἢ ἀλοῆσαι, Hesych(246);— πατάξαι τὴν γνάθον ἁπλῇ τῇ χειρί, Suidas: see Matthew 5:39. ῥάπισμα is not good Greek: see Phryn. p. 175, and Lobeck’s note. They had staves, and perhaps thus used them: see note on Matthew 26:67. This blow was a signal for the indignities which followed.


Verse 23

23.] μαρτύρ. in a legal way.

εἰ δέ “vim habet affirmandi,” Bengel. It has been often and well observed, that our Lord here gives us the best interpretation of Matthew 5:39—that it does not exclude the remonstrating against unjust oppression, provided it be done calmly and patiently.


Verse 24

24.] From what has been above said, it will be seen that I cannot acquiesce in the pluperfect rendering of ἀπέστειλεν, to bring about which the οὖν has apparently been omitted. I believe the verse simply to describe what followed on the preceding:—Annas therefore sent Him bound to Caiaphas the High Priest. εἶτα, μηδὲ οὕτως εὑρίσκοντές τι πλέον, πέμπουσιν αὐτὸν δεδεμένον πρὸς καϊάφαν, Chrys. There is no real difficulty in this rendering, if Annas and Caiaphas lived in one palace, or at all events transacted public affairs in one and the same. They would naturally have different apartments, and thus the sending from one to the other would be very possible; as also would the incident related by Luke 22:61; see the extract from Robinson, Matthew 26:69, note. “The Evangelist had no need to relate the hearing before Caiaphas, for he has related ch. John 11:47 ff.: and we have ere this been familiarized with the habit of our Evangelist not to narrate any further the outward process, where he has already by anticipation substantially given us its result.” Luthardt.


Verses 25-27

25–27.] Matthew 26:71-74. Mark 14:69-72. Luke 22:58-61 :—see note on Matthew 26:69.

Peter was in the court-yard of the house—the αὐλή.


Verse 26

26.] This was about an hour after the former,—Luke 22:59. Notice the emphatic ἐγώ: as we say, with my own eyes.


Verse 28

28. κ. αὐτοὶ οὐκ εἰσῆλθ.] I have already discussed the difficulties attending the subject of our Lord’s last Passover, in the note on Matthew 26:17-19. I will add here some remarks of Friedlieb’s, Arch. der Leid. § 30. “The Jews would not enter the Prætorium that they might not be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. For the entrance of a Jew into the house of a Gentile made him unclean till the evening. It is surprising, that according to this declaration of the Holy Evangelist, the Jews had yet to eat the Passover, whereas Jesus and His disciples had already eaten it in the previous night. And it is no less surprising, that the Jews in the early morning should have been afraid of rendering themselves unclean for the Passover,—since the Passover could not be kept till evening, i.e. on the next day, and the uncleanness which they dreaded did not, by the law, last till the next day. For this reason, the passage in John labours under no small exegetic difficulties, which we cannot altogether solve, from want of accurate knowledge of the customs of the time. Possibly the law concerning Levitical defilements and purifications had in that age been made more stringent or otherwise modified; possibly, they called some other meal, besides the actual Passover, by its name. This last we certainly, with our present knowledge of Hebrew antiquities, must assume; for the law respecting uncleanness will not allow us to interpret this passage of the proper Passover on the evening of the 14th of Nisan, nor indeed of any evening meal at all.”

The whole depends on this: can φαγεῖν τὸ πάσχα mean any thing else besides eating the paschal lamb in the strict sense? This is a question which in our day we have no power of answering; and, as De Wette has shewn (in loc.), none of the instances cited on the affirmative side are applicable. See note on ch. John 19:14.

Mr. Wratislaw, in his little volume of Sermons and Dissertations (Lond. J. W. Parker, 1859), has proposed a solution of the difficulties which is at least very ingenious. Its chief point is, that the Jews, reckoning their days from evening to evening, and also holding two evenings, the former beginning at 3 P.M., the other at sunset, the space between the evenings, during which the passover was to be sacrificed (Exodus 12:6), might be reckoned indifferently, sometimes as part of the preceding, sometimes as part of the following day. Then he thinks that in order to avoid any mistake, they considered the 14th Nisan to begin at 3 P.M. on Thursday, and to end at sunset on Good Friday, thus extending the day to its utmost possible limit. He instances similar confusion between the 14th and 15th Nisan, or rather Abib, in Exodus 12:18 and Leviticus 23:6, arising from the space between the evenings being reckoned in the one case as belonging to the former, and in the other as belonging to the latter day; and suggests that the same ambiguity will account for Josephus’s statement that the Jews kept the feast of unleavened bread for eight days.

Thus, he says, any time after 3 P.M. on Thursday might be called by St. Mark “the first day of unleavened bread, when they sacrificed the passover,” and by St. Luke, “the day of unleavened bread, when the Passover must be killed,” it being killed after the first and before the second evening on Friday, and thus, loosely speaking, within the day, which commenced at 3 o’clock, and, strictly speaking, within that which commenced at sunset on Thursday. Similarly any time after 3 or sunset on the Thursday might be called the παρασκευή or preparation of the passover, which was to be eaten at some time after sunset on the Friday.

Then he understands, that the disciples made all preparations on Thursday afternoon for the passover, which was to be killed the next afternoon, and eaten the following night: and that the passover of which our Lord so earnestly desired to partake, was that which was thus prepared, but of which He knew He was not Himself destined to partake. This he supports by the true reading (omitting the οὐκέτι) in Luke 22:16.

“If this view,” he adds, “be accepted, there is no longer any question, as far as the passover is concerned, about reconciling St. John with the synoptical Gospels. The eucharist will thus have been instituted at an ordinary meal, eaten the evening before the paschal feast in the same room in which it was intended afterwards to celebrate the passover.” See this more fully illustrated in the vol. above alluded to, pp. 168–175.

The main objections to it seem to me to be, 1) the total absence of any trace of such an usage, of eating a preliminary solemn meal in the passover-chamber; 2) the plain and undeniable impression on the mind of every unbiassed reader of the synoptic Gospels, that the meal of our Lord and the Twelve was a passover, and that His ἐπιθυμίᾳ ἐπεθύμησα describes, not that which He desired to do, owing however to His predetermined course would not do,—but that which He was then doing in the fulfilment of that His earnest desire.

So that I am afraid Mr. Wratislaw’s ingenious solution leaves us, for all essentials of the question, where we were before: merely, by suggesting the introduction of possible new elements of confusion, giving us an additional warning not to be rash in assuming a discrepancy between the Evangelists, where computations of time may have been so vague and various.


Verses 28-40

28–40.] Pilate’s first attempt to deliver Him.


Verse 28

28–19:16.] Jesus before the Gentile governor. Matthew 27:2; Matthew 27:11-30. Mark 15:1-19. Luke 23:1-25. Before this comes in the section of Luke 22:66-71, containing the close of the examination before the Sanhedrim, which did not happen till the morning. This undesigned agreement between Luke and John further confirms the justice of the view respecting the two hearings maintained above: see note on Luke, as above.


Verse 29

29.] Though Pilate, having granted the service of the σπεῖρα to the Sanhedrim, must have been aware of the circumstances under which Jesus was brought before him, he demanded a formal accusation on which legally to proceed: “se scire dissimulabat,” Rupert, in Meyer.


Verse 30

30.] They do not mention the charge of blasphemy brought against Him by the Sanhedrim, for fear of the entire rejection of their cause, as by Gallio, Acts 18:16. The Procurators in such cases had a discretionary power. On what they did say, Grot. observes, “Quod probationibus deerat, id supplere volunt sua auctoritate.”


Verse 31

31.] This answer is best regarded as an ironical reproach founded on their apparently proud assertion in John 18:30—and amounting to this:—‘If you suppose I am to have such implicit confidence in your judgment concerning this prisoner as to take his guilt on your word, take him and put him to death (for κρίνατε must be thus understood,—see below) according to your law;’ reminding them that the same Roman power which had reserved capital cases for his jurisdiction, also expected proper cognizance to be taken of them, and not that he should be the mere executioner of the Sanhedrim.

ἡμ. οὐκ ἔξ.] From the time when Archelaus was deposed (A.D. 6 or 7), and Judæa became a Roman province, it would follow by the Roman law that the Jews lost the power of life and death. Josephus tells us, Antt. xx. 9. 1, that οὐκ ἔξον ἦν χωρὶς τῆς ἐκείνου (the Procurator’s) γνώμης καθίσαι συνέδριον,—i.e. to hold a court of judgment in capital cases. Some have thought that this power was reserved to them in religious matters, as of blasphemy and sacrilege; but no proof has been adduced of this; the passages commonly alleged—Jos. Antt. xiv. 10. 2: B. J. vi. 2. 4, and Acts 7:58, not applying (see note on Acts ut supra). The Talmud relates that this had taken place forty years (or more, see Lücke, ii. 737 note) before the destruction of Jerusalem.

Biscoe, on the Acts, pp. 134–167, argues at great length that the Jews had this power; and that the words here merely mean that they could not put to death on the Sabbath, which, according to the usual custom of executing the next day after judgment, would now have been the case. But this treatment of the word is unjustifiable. Can we suppose for a moment that this can have been meant, when there is not a word in the text to imply it? We may hope that the day for such forced interpretations is fast passing away.

Friedlieb (§ 31) gives the most consistent account of the matter. In the Roman provinces generally the Proprætor or Proconsul conducted judicial proceedings. But Judæa, which belonged to the province of Syria, was an exception. There was a Procurator cum potestate, who exercised the right of judicial cognizance. Jerusalem however possessed the privilege of judging all lighter causes before the three-and-twenty, and heavier causes, with the sole exception of judicia de capite, before the great Sanhedrim: so that none but these reserved cases remained for the Procurator. Pilate seems to have judged these cases at his visits during the festivals; which would fall conveniently for the purpose, it being the custom in Jerusalem, to execute great criminals at the Feasts. In other provinces the governors made circuits and held assizes throughout their jurisdictions. See on this subject Lücke’s note, ii. 736.


Verse 32

32.] See Matthew 20:19 alli(247).: ch. John 12:32-33. Had the Jews taken Him and judged Him, He would have been stoned, not crucified. And this whole section, John 18:28-32, serves to shew how the divine purpose was accomplished.


Verse 33

33.] This question probably arose out of what Pilate had previously heard, not from any charge to this effect being made between our John 18:31; John 18:34. Had such a charge been made, our Lord’s question John 18:34 would be unnatural.

Pilate summoned Jesus in, who had been as yet outside with the Jews. This was the formal reception of the case before him;—as the Roman soldiers must now have formally taken charge of Jesus, as servants of the Roman authorities: having previously, when granted by Pilate to the Chief Priests, acted as their police.

The judgments of the Romans were always public and sub dio, see ch. John 19:13;—but the enquiries and examinations might be private. In this case Pilate appears to have wished to obtain an account from Jesus apart from the clamours of the chief priests and the mob.


Verse 34

34.] On this whole interview, see note on Luke 23:3-4.

I regard this question ἀπὸ σεαυτ. κ. τ. λ. as intended to distinguish the senses of the word King as applied to Jesus: and of course not (De Wette, Lücke) for the information of Him who asked it, but to bring out this distinction in Pilate’s mind. If he asked of himself, the word could certainly have but one meaning, and that one would be wrongly applied;—if from information derived from the Jews, this very fact would open the way to the true meaning in which He was King of the Jews. Stier and Ebrard think there may be some reference in ἀπὸ σεαυτοῦ to a momentary earnestness in Pilate’s own mind,—a suspicion that his prisoner was what he was charged with being (see ch. John 19:8; John 19:12), from the mention of which he immediately (John 18:35) recoils, and implies the other side of the dilemma.


Verse 35

35.] Pilate at once repudiates the idea of his having any share in Jewish expectations, or taking any personal interest in Jewish matters: all his information he has derived from the public accusation of the people and chief priests. Then in τί ἐπ. is implied, ‘There is no definiteness in their charge: let me have thine own account, thy ex-parte statement, that I may at least know something definite of the case.’


Verse 36

36.] This answer goes to explain the injustice of the charge of διαστρέψαι τὸ ἔθνος (Luke 23:2), and to shew Pilate something of the nature of the kingdom which Jesus really came to establish.

οὐκ ἐκ τοῦ κόσ. τούτου] not belonging to (ch. John 8:23; John 10:16) this world; not springing from, arising out of this world;—and therefore not to be supported by this world’s weapons. There is no denial that His Kingdom is over this world—but that it is to be established by this world’s power.

The words not only deny, they affirm: if not of this world, then of another world. They assert this other world before the representative of those who boasted of their ‘orbis terrarum.’ Notice the solemn repetition of ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου.

οἱ ὑπηρ., certainly not angels (as Stier) nor angels and disciples (as Lampe). This sentence is elliptical, and οἱ ὑπηρ. is included under the supposition introduced by εἰ. ‘If &c.,—I should have had servants, and those servants would have fought.’

παραδοθῶ] This delivering up is referred to ch. John 19:16παρέδωκεν αὐτὸν αὐτοῖς.

The νῦν has been absurdly pressed by the Romanist interpreters to mean that at some time His Kingdom would be ἐντεῦθεν—i.e. ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου—as if its essential character could ever be changed.

νῦν implies, ‘as the case now stands;’—a demonstratio ad oculos from the fact that no servants of His had contended or were contending in his behalf: see similar usages of νῦν, ch. John 8:40; John 9:41; John 15:22; John 15:24 : Romans 7:16-17 alli(248).


Verse 37

37.] It is best to take οὐκοῦν β. εἶ σύ as interrogative, Art Thou then a King? on account of what follows.

σύ, emphatic and sarcastic.

σὺ λέγεις] A formula neither classical nor found in the LXX, but frequent in the Rabbinical writings: see Schöttgen, Hor. Hebr. on Matthew 26:25. It seems best to punctuate at λέγεις, and regard ὅτι as the reason for the affirmation conveyed in σὺ λέγεις. This agrees best with the order of the words, β. εἰμ. [ ἐγώ], and with the continued affirmation which follows. The first ἐγώ, if genuine, refers to Pilate’s σύ.

ἐγὼ τῇ ἀληθείᾳ] Our Lord here preached the Truth of his mission, upholding that side of it best calculated for the doubting philosophic mind of the day, of which Pilate was a partaker. He declares the unity and objectivity of Truth;—and that Truth must come from above, and must come through a Person sent by God, and that that Person was Himself.

ἐγώ, both times emphatic, and majestically set (see above) against the preceding scornful σύ.

εἰς τοῦτο γεγέννημαι implies that He was born a King, and that He was born with a definite purpose. The words are a pregnant proof of an Incarnation of the Son of God. This great truth is further expressed by ἐλήλυθα εἰς τ. κ.: ‘I have been born, but not therein commencing my being—I have come into the world.’ Thus certainly are the words to be understood, and not of his public appearance, his ἀνάδειξις (as Lücke, De Wette), nor as synonymous with γεγέννημαι. It is this saying which began the fear in Pilate, which the charge of the Jews, ch. John 19:7, increased.

τῇ ἀληθείᾳ, not τὴν ἀλήθειαν: not ‘the truth,’ so that what He said should be true,—but to the Truth, in its objective reality: see ch. John 17:17; John 17:19, of which deep saying this is the popular exposition for his present hearer.

The Lord, besides, sets forth here in the depth of these words, the very idea of all kinghood. The King is the representative of the truth: the truth of dealing between man and man;—the truth of that power, which in its inmost truth belongs to the great and only Potentate, the King of Kings.

Again, the Lord, the King of manhood and the world, the second Adam, came to testify to the truth of manhood and the world, which sin and Satan had concealed. This testimony to the Truth is to be the weapon whereby His Kingdom will be spread;—‘every one who is of the truth,’ i.e. here in the most general sense, every one who is a true dealer with his own heart, who has an ear to hear,—‘of such are my subjects composed:—they hear my voice.’ But for the putting this true dealing on its proper and only ground, see ch. John 8:47; John 6:44.


Verse 38

38.] To this number Pilate did not belong. He had no ear for Truth. His celebrated question is perhaps more the result of indifferentism than of scepticism; it expresses, not without scoff and irony, a conviction that truth can never be found: and is an apt representative of the state of the polite Gentile mind at the time of the Lord’s coming. It was rather an inability than an unwillingness to find the truth.

He waits for no answer, nor did the question require any. Nay, it was no real question, any more than τί ἐμοὶ κ. σοί, or any other, behind which a negation lies hid.

ἐγὼ οὐδεμ. αἰτ.…] ἐγώ, opposed to ὑμεῖς, who had found fault in Him. Pilate mocks both—the Witness to the Truth, and the haters of the Truth. His conduct presents a pitiable specimen of the moral weakness of that spirit of worldly power, which reached its culminating point in the Roman empire.


Verse 39

39.] At this place comes in Matthew 26:12-14;—the repeated accusation of Jesus by the chief priests and elders, to which He answered nothing;—and Luke 23:5-16, the sending to Herod, and second proclamation of His innocence by Pilate,—after which he adopts this method of procuring His release (Luke 23:17).

ἔστιν συνήθ.] See note Matthew 27:15, and compare, for an instructive specimen of the variations in the Gospel narratives, the four accounts of this incident.


Verse 40

40.] They have not before cried out in this narrative: so that some circumstances must be pre-supposed which are not here related: unless John 18:30-31 be referred to.

ἦν δὲ ὁ β. λ.,—in Mark 15:7 and Luke 23:19, a rioter;—but doubtless also a robber, as such men are frequently found foremost in civil uproar. There is a solemn irony in these words of the Apostle—a Robber! See the contrast strongly brought out, Acts 3:14. Luthardt (after Krafft) remarks on the parallelism with Leviticus 16:5-10. Thus was Jesus “the goat upon which the Lord’s lot fell, to be offered for a sin-offering.” See the same idea expanded by Mr. Wratislaw, in the first of the sermons in his volume.

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 18:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/john-18.html. 1863-1878.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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