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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
John 18

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 18

John 18:1. The Recepta τῶν κέδρων has the preponderance of testimony, Griesb. Scholz, Lachm., following A. S. δ. Verss. Hier. Ambr. have τοῦ κεδρών; Tisch., following D. א. 2 Cod. of It. Sah. Copt.: τοῦ κέδρου. The reading τοῦ κεδρών is to be preferred, since we cannot suppose that John somehow connected the name קדרון with κέδρος or κέδριν, as was done in 2 Samuel 15:23 and 1 Kings 15:13, LXX.

John 18:4. ἐξελθὼν εἶπεν] B. C.* D. Curss. Verss. Or. Syr. Chrys. Aug.: ἐξῆλθεν καὶ λέγει. So Lachm. and Tisch. Rightly; the Recepta is an alteration after John 18:1, which was made, because what was intended by ἐξῆλθεν was not distinguished from that expressed by it in John 18:1.

John 18:6. ὅτι] which, though deleted by Lachm. and Tisch., has very important witnesses for and against it; yet how readily would it come to be omitted after John 18:5!

John 18:10. ὠτίον] Tisch.: ὠτάριον, after B. C.* L. X. א., which (comp. also on Mark 14:47) is all the more to be preferred, that the better known ὠτίον is found in Matt.

John 18:11. After μάχαιρ. Elz. has σου, against decisive witnesses, from Matthew 26:52.

John 18:13. αὐτόν] has against it witnesses of such importance, that Lachm. has bracketed, Tisch. deleted it. But, unnecessary in itself, how readily might it be passed over after the similar final sound of the preceding word!

John 18:14. ἀπολέσθαι] Lachm. Tisch.: ἀποθανεῖν. The witnesses are very much divided. ἀποθ. is from John 11:50.

John 18:15. ἄλλος] Elz. Griesb. Scholz, Tisch.: ἄλλος. The article is wanting in A. B. D. א. Curss., but retains, notwithstanding, a great weight of testimony, and might readily come to be omitted, since it appeared to have no reference here.

John 18:20. Instead of the first ἐλάλησα, λελάληκα (Lachm. Tisch.) is so decisively attested, that the Aor. appears to have been introduced in conformity with the following aorists.

The article before συναγ is decidedly condemned by the evidence (against Elz.).

Instead of the second πάντοτε, Griesb. Lachm. Tisch. have πάντες, which is to be preferred, on account of preponderant testimony, and because πάντοτε might readily be mechanically repeated from the preceding πάντοτε; πάντοθεν (Elz.) rests on conjecture (Beza) and Curss.

John 18:21. ἐπερωτ.; ἐπερώτ.] The simple forms (Lachm. Tisch.) are preponderantly attested. The compound forms were readily introduced through the concurrence of the two E’s ( μεερωτ.), in recollection of John 18:7.

John 18:22. Read with Lachm. Tisch., according to B. א. It. Vulg. Cyr. εἷς παρεστ τῶν ὑπ. Various transpositions in the Codd.

John 18:24. After ἀπέστ., Elz. Lachm. Tisch. have οὖν, which has important witnesses for and against it. Since, however, other Codd. read δέ, and several Verss. express καί, any particle is to he regarded as a later connective addition.

The same various connective particles are found inserted in Codd. and Verss., after ἠρνήσατο, John 18:25.

John 18:28. πρωΐ] Elz. Scholz: πρωΐα, against decisive testimony. But how readily might the quite unnecessary ἵνα disappear!

John 18:29. After πιλάτος Lachm. and Tisch. have ἔξω (B. C.* L. X. א. Curss. Verss.), which other witnesses first place after αὐτούς. This different position, and the importance of the omitting witnesses, show it to be an interpolation, with a view to greater definiteness of designation.

κατά] is deleted by Tisch., according to B. א.* alone. Being unnecessary, it was passed over.

John 18:34. αὐτῷ after ἀπεκρ. in Elz. is decisively condemned by the witnesses.

John 18:37. ἐγώ. ʼεγώ] The omission of one ἐγώ (Lachm. has bracketed the second, Tisch. has deleted the first) is not sufficiently justified by B. D. L. Y. א. Curss. Verss. Fathers, since the omission was so readily suggested in copying, if the weight of the repeated ἐγώ was not observed.


Verse 1-2

John 18:1-2. ʼεξῆλθε] from Jerusalem, where the meal, John 13:2, had been held. The ἄγωμεν ἐντεῦθεν, John 16:31, was now first carried out; see in loc.: πέραν νοῦ χειμ,. then expresses: whither He went; see on John 6:1.

τοῦ κεδρών] Genit. of apposition (2 Peter 2:6, comp. πόλις ʼαθηνῶν and the like). On this torrent dry in summer ( χείμαῤῥος, Hom. Il. xi. 493; Soph. Ant. 708; Plat. Legg. v. p. 736 A Joseph. Antt. viii. 1. 5), קִדְרוֹן, i.e. niger, black stream, flowing eastward from the city through the valley of the same name, see Robinson, II. p. 31 ff.; Ritter, Erdk. XV. 1, p. 598 ff. As to the name, comp. the very frequent Greek name of rivers ΄έλας (Herod. vii. 58. 198; Strabo, viii. p. 386, et al.).

κῆπος] According to Matthew 26:36, a garden of the estate of Gethsemane. The owner must be conceived as being friendly to Jesus.

ὅτι πολλάκις, κ. τ. λ.] points back to earlier festal visits, and is a more exact statement of detail, of which John has many in the history of the passion. We see from the contents that Jesus offered Himself with conscious freedom to the final crisis. Comp. John 18:4.

Typological references (Luthardt, after older expositors: to David, who, when betrayed by Ahithophel, had gone the same way, 2 Samuel 15:23; Lampe, Hengstenberg, following the Fathers: to Adam, who in the garden incurred the penalty of death) are without any indication in the text.


Verse 3

John 18:3. The σπεῖρα is the Roman cohort (see Matthew 27:27; Acts 21:31; Polyb. xi. 23, i. 6, xiv. 3 ff.; Valckenaer, Schol. I. p. 458 f.), designated by the article as the well-known band, namely, because serving as the garrison of the fort Antonia, distinguished by what follows from the company of officers of justice appointed on the part of the Sanhedrim, and not to be explained of the Levitical temple-watch (Michaelis, Kuinoel, Gurlitt, Lect. in N. T. Spec. IV. 1805, B. Crusius, Baeumlein). That Judas arrived with the whole σπεῖρα is, as being disproportionate to the immediate object (against Hengstenberg), not probable; but a division, ordered for the present service, especially as the chiliarch himself was there (John 18:12), represented the cohort.(207) Of this co-operation of the Roman military, for which the Sanhedrim had made requisition, the Synoptics say nothing, although Hengstenberg takes pains to find indications of it in their narrative. John’s account is more complete.

φανῶν κ. λαμπ.] with torches and lamps (the latter in lanterns; Matthew 25:1 ff.). Comp. Dion. H. xi. 40. Extreme precaution renders this preparation conceivable even at the time of full moon. The arms are understood to have been, as a matter of course, carried by the soldiers, but not by the ὑπηρέται, and are mentioned as helping to complete the representation.

The καί’s are not accumulated (Luthardt), not one of them is unnecessary.


Verse 4-5

John 18:4-5. This advance of Judas occasioned ( οὖν) Jesus to come forth, since He knew all that was about to come upon Him, and consequently was far removed from any intention of withdrawing Himself from His destiny, of which He was fully and clearly conscious.

ἔρχεσθαι, of destinies, happy (Matthew 10:13) and unhappy (Matthew 23:35; Aesch. Pers. 436, 439; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 686 f.), in the classics more frequently with the dative (Thuc. viii. 96. 1) than with ἐπί.

ἐξῆλθεν (see the critical notes): from the garden, John 18:1, Nonnus: κῆπον ἐάσας. The context yields no other meaning, and John 18:26 is not opposed to it. Hence not: from the garden-house (Rosenmüller, Ewald), or from the depth of the garden (Tholuck, Maier, De Wette, Luthardt), or from the circle of disciples (Schweizer, Lange, Hengstenberg).

εἱστήκει δὲ καὶ ἰούδας, κ. τ. λ.] Tragic moment in the descriptive picture of this scene, without any further special purpose in view. Tholuck arbitrarily remarks: John wished to indicate the effrontery of Judas; and Hengstenberg: he wished to guard against the false opinion that the ἐγώ εἰμι was intended to convey to the officers something unknown to them. This he could surely have been able to express in few words.

The kiss of Judas (Matthew 26:47 ff.), instead of which John gives the above personal statement (as Strauss indeed thinks: in order to the glorification of Jesus), is not thereby excluded, is too characteristic and too well attested to be ascribed to tradition, and cannot have followed (Ewald) the question of Jesus (John 18:4), but, inasmuch as the immediate effect of the ἐγώ εἰμι did not permit of the interruption of the kiss, must have preceded, so that immediately on the exit of Jesus from the garden, Judas stepped forward, kissed Him, and then again fell back to the band. Accordingly, John, after the one factor of the betrayal, namely the kiss, had been already generally disseminated in tradition, brings into prominence the other also, the personal statement; hence this latter is not to be ascribed merely to the Johannean Jesus (Hilgenfeld, Scholten).


Verse 6

John 18:6. They gave way,—drew back (see on John 6:66), and fell to the earth ( χαμαί = χαμᾶζε, very frequently in the classics also); this was regarded, first by Oeder in his Miscell. sacr. p. 503 ff., and recently by most expositors (including Lücke, Tholuck, Olshausen, De Wette, B. Crusius, Ewald, Baeumlein), as a natural consequence of terror and of sudden awe, in support of which reference is made to the (weaker) analogies from the history of M. Antonius (Val. Max. viii. 9. 2), and of Marius (Velleius Paterc. ii. 19. 3), even of Coligny; whilst Brückner would conceive of the effect at least as “scarcely as purely human.” Lange, however, likewise deduces it from terror of conscience, and finds the miracle only in the fact that it was not unexpected by the Lord, and not undesigned by Him. But, presumptively, the falling to the ground of itself, and the circumstance that the text designates those who fell down generally and without an exception, so that even the Roman soldiers are to be understood along with the rest, justifies the view of the ancient commentators, also adopted by Strauss (who, however, as also Scholten, views the matter as unhistorical), Ebrard, Maier, Luthardt, Hengstenberg, Godet, that it was a miraculous result of the power of Christ (Nonnus: οἰστρηθέντες ἀτευχέϊ λαίλαπι φωνῆς). Christ wished, before His surrender, to make known His might over His foes, and thus to show the voluntariness of His surrender. He could remain free, but He is willing to surrender Himself, because He knows His hour is come, John 17:1.


Verse 8-9

John 18:8-9. Jesus was apprehensive of the seizure at the same time of the disciples. That hands had already been laid on them (Bengel, B. Crusius, and several others), the text does not say. He should and would suffer alone.

ἵνα πληρ., κ. τ. λ.] Divinely-determined object of ἀπεκρίθη, in reference to the words εἰ οὖν, κ. τ. λ. John discovers in the saying, John 17:12 (the quoting of which, without verbal exactness, should be noted as an instance of the free mode of citation in the N. T.), a prophetic reference to the preservation of the disciples from their being also taken prisoners along with Him, so far, that is, as the Lord, in virtue of this protection, brought none of them into destruction, namely, by occasioning the apostasy into which many a one would have fallen had he also been taken prisoner. This prophetic reference (against Schweizer’s and Scholten’s severe judgment) is justified by the fact that Jesus, in John 17:12, delivers a closing avowal of His activity on the disciples’ behalf; consequently, that which is still further to be done on their behalf must be conformable to that saying, and appear as the fulfilment, as the actual completion of what was therein expressed.


Verse 10-11

John 18:10-11. Comp. Matthew 26:51 ff., and parall.

οὖν] In consequence of this danger, which he now saw for Jesus. On its position between σίμ. and πέτρ., comp. John 21:7.

Only John here names Peter, and also Malchus.(208) Personal considerations, which may have kept the names so far away from the earliest tradition, that they are not adduced even by Luke, could now no longer have influence.

δοῦλον] slave, therefore none of the officials of the court of justice, John 18:3, but also not the guide of the temple-watch (Ewald). The slave had accompanied the rest, and had pressed forward.

τὸ ὠτάριον] not purposely (Hengstenberg), but the blow which was aimed at the head missed.

Cast the sword into the sheath! certainly more original than the calmer and more circumstantial words in Matt. On θήκη, sheath, see Poll. x. 144. In the classics, κολεός. Comp. Hom. Od. x. 333: κολεῷ μὲν ἄορ θέο.

τὸ ποτήρ.] Comp. Matthew 20:22; Matthew 26:39. The suffering of death which He must now, after He has become clearly conscious of God’s will and object (John 3:14-15, John 6:51), approach, is the cup to be drunk, which the Father has already given to Him (into His hand), δέδωκε.

αὐτό, as in John 15:2.


Verses 12-14

John 18:12-14. οὖν] Since no further attempt at resistance dared be made. In the complete statement: the cohort and the tribune ( χιλίαρχος τῆς σπείρης, Acts 21:31), and the servants, any special design (Luthardt: the previous occurrence, John 18:6, had for its result that now all helped, in order to secure Him) is not to be supposed, since σπείρα, κ. τ. λ., is the subject not merely of συνέλαβον and ἔδησαν, but also of ἀπήγαγον. Tholuck’s remark, however, is erroneous: that the soldiers had now first again (?) united with the Jewish watch.

συνέλαβον, κ. τ. λ.] A non-essential variation from Matthew 26:50, where the capture takes place before the attempt at defence made on Peter’s part. For ἔδησαν, see on Matthew 27:2.

On Annas, see on Luke 3:1-2. To him, which circumstance the Synoptics pass over, Jesus was at first ( πρῶτον) brought, before He was conducted to the actual high priest, Caiaphas (John 18:24). An extrajudicial preliminary examination had first to be gone through. And Annas had been selected for this purpose because he was father-in-law of the actual high priest ( ἦν γὰρ πενθερὸς, κ. τ. λ.); thus they believed it to be most certain that he would act beforehand(209) for his son-in-law, who then had to conduct the proper judicial process in the Sanhedrin, with sufficient care for the object in view. Ewald’s assumption (Gesch. Chr. p. 562), that Annas was at that time invested with the office of superior judicial examiner ( דִּין אבי בית), does not correspond to the fundamental statement of John, which merely adduces the relation of father-in-law; and therefore, also, we are not to say with Wieseler and others (see also Lichtenstein, p. 418 f.), that Annas was president, Caiaphas vice-president of the Sanhedrin; or that the former still passed as the proper and legitimate high priest (Lange); or even that John conceived of an annual exchange of office between Annas and Caiaphas (Scholten; comp. on John 11:49). Quite arbitrarily, further, do others suppose: the house of Annas lay near to the gate (Augustine, Grotius, and many), or: Jesus was led, as in triumph, first to Annas (Chrysostom, Theophylact, and several others).

John 18:14 points back to John 11:50, on account of the prophetic nature of the saying, which had now come so near its fulfilment. Hence also the significant τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ ἐκείνου is repeated.


Verse 15

John 18:15. ἠκολούθει] correlative to the ἀπήγαγον, κ. τ. λ., John 18:13, and the imperfect is descriptive.

ἄλλ. μαθ.] The other disciple known to the reader, whom I do not name. Self-designation; not a citizen of Jerusalem (Grotius), not Judas Iscariot (Heumann), not some unknown person (Augustine, Calovius, Calvin, Gurlitt). Only the first rendering corresponds to the article, and to the peculiarity of John’s manner. A tendency to elevate John above Peter is here as little to be found as in John 20:2-3 (Weizsäcker would conclude from this passage that a scholar of John was the writer); it is a simple reproduction of the contents of the history.

γνωστός] whence and how is undetermined. Nonnus: ἰχθυβόλου παρὰ τέχνης; Ewald: because he was related to the priestly stock (see Introd. § 1); Hengstenberg: from earlier religious necessities. γνωστός does not mean related.

τῷ ἀρχιερεῖ, and then τοῦ ἀρχιερέως, cannot, after ἀπήγ. αὐτ. πρὸς ἀνναν, John 18:13, and ἠκολούθει, κ. τ. λ., John 18:15, refer to Caiaphas, but, as Ewald also assumes, though Baeumlein groundlessly disputes it, only to Annas, as the high priest (he had been so, and still enjoyed the title, see Luke 3:2; Acts 4:5), to whom Jesus was brought. The observation on the acting ἀρχιερ. Caiaphas ( ὃς ἦν, John 18:13-14) was indeed only an intermediate observation, which the reference demanded by the course of the history of ἀρχιερ. to Annas cannot alter. Accordingly, both the following denial of Peter (John 18:16-18) and the examination (John 18:19-21), and the maltreatment (John 18:22-23), took place in the dwelling of Annas. Of the synoptic examination before Caiaphas, John gives no account, and only briefly indicates in John 18:24 that Jesus was sent away to Caiaphas; a step which followed after the examination before Annas, presupposing as well known the trial before Caiaphas, which took place after this sending away. On the second and third denials, which are likewise to be placed in the court of Annas, see on John 18:25. This exegetic result, according to which John does not give any account of the hearing in the presence of Caiaphas,(210) but indicates as the locality of the three denials the court of Annas (see on Matt., note after Matthew 26:75), is opposed to the older and modern system of harmonizing (Cyril, Erasmus, Luther, Beza, Calvin, Grotius, Wolf, Bengel, and many others, including Lücke, Tholuck, Klee, De Wette, Maier, Baeumlein(211)), according to which, if one common court be not assigned to the dwellings of the two high priests (so again Hengstenberg in particular; comp. on John 18:24), the leading away to Caiaphas is already presupposed in John 18:15, and then John 18:24 is disposed of with forced arbitrariness, partly on critical, partly on exegetical grounds; see on John 18:24. The above exegetic conclusion is confirmed even on harmonistic principles, namely, from the side of the examination, by the fact that John 18:19-21 present no resemblance at all to the Synoptic examination before Caiaphas, as also that there is no trace in John of judicial proceedings before the Sanhedrim. Further, we are not to conclude, from the silence of the Synoptics as to the examination before Annas, that they knew nothing of it (Schweizer); but because it was no judicial examination, it might easily fall into the background in the circle of tradition followed by them. On the other side, the credibility of John (against Weisse) must turn the scale as well in favour of the historical character of the above examination as of the occurrence of the three denials in the court of Annas, without granting that the Synoptic and Johannean denials are to be counted together as so many different ones, beyond the number of three (Paulus). But when Baur takes the account of the examination in Annas’ presence to proceed from the design of strengthening the testimony of the unbelief of the Jews by the condemnatory judgment of the two high priests, and (see in the Theol. Jahrb. 1854, p. 285) of bringing into prominence the surrender of Jesus by the Jewish authority into the hands of the Roman, as brought about by both high priests, this is opposed by the fact, setting aside the entirely incidental manner in which Caiaphas is mentioned, John 18:24, and the arbitrary character of such inventions generally, that John as little mentions a sentence delivered by Annas as by Caiaphas, which nevertheless suggested itself so naturally in John 18:24, and the place of which is by no means supplied, as respects Caiaphas, by John 11:50.


Verses 16-18

John 18:16-18. Peter, who had no acquaintance in the house, had not been admitted into the court ( αὐλή, John 18:15), but stood, after John had gone in with the procession, outside at the door;(212) hence John obtains, by means of the portress (Joseph. Antt. vii. 2. 1; Acts 12:13), permission to introduce him. The εἰσήγαγε refers to John; by Erasmus, Grotius, Ewald, and several others, it is referred to the portress, but in that way would give an unnecessary change of subject. The portress at the gate within the court asks of Peter, when admitted: “But art not thou also,” etc.? The καί carries the presupposition that John, whom she had notwithstanding also admitted for acquaintance’ sake, was a disciple of Jesus; the negative question rests on the feeling that probably she ought not otherwise to have admitted him.

τοῦ ἀνθρ. τούτου] contemptuously, not compassionately (Chrysostom, Theophylact, and several others).

After the denial, Peter, whom, notwithstanding, his love to the Lord still detains at least in the open place, finds himself among the slaves (of Annas) and the officers of justice (the soldiers, John 18:3, appear to have gone with Jesus into the building as an escort), with whom he stands at the fire of coals in the court, and warms himself. Holding aloof, he would have been seized. John, probably by help of his acquaintanceship, pressed with others into the interior of the house, not exactly into the audience-chamber.


Verses 19-21

John 18:19-21. οὖν] Again connecting the narrative with John 18:13-14, after the episode of Peter.

περὶ τ. μαθητ. αὐτ. κ. π. τ. διδαχ. αὐτοῦ] Annas(213) then put general questions, in keeping with a private hearing of the kind, but well planned, so as to connect something further according to the eventual reply.

Jesus, as far as possible, not to inculpate His disciples (John 18:8-9), replies, in the first instance (and further questioning was broken off, John 18:22), only to the second point of the interrogation, and that by putting it aside as something entirely aimless, appealing to the publicity of His life.

ἐγὼ παρρησίᾳ, κ. τ. λ.] I, on my part, have frankly and freely (comp. John 7:4, John 11:54) spoken to the world; παρρησ. is to be taken subjectively, without reserve, not: openly, which it does not mean, and which is first contained in τῷ κόσ΄ῳ. The κόσ΄ος is the whole public, as in John 7:4, John 12:19.

ἐν συναγ. κ. ἐν τ. ἱερῷ] in synagogue (see on John 6:59) and in the temple. He appeals to His work of teaching not merely in Jerusalem, but as He has always carried it on, though He does not mean by πάντοτε to deny His public discourses in other places (in the open air, etc.), but only to express that He never, in the course of His teaching, withdrew Himself from synagogues and from the temple.

ὅπου πάντες, κ. τ. λ.] refers to the temple.

καὶ ἐν κρυπτῷ ἐλάλ. οὐδέν] By which, of course, the private instructions given to His disciples (comp. also Matthew 10:27) are not denied, since it is the ministry of the Teacher of the people that is here in question; and besides, those private instructions do not fall under the category of that which is secret.

τί-g0- με-g0- ἐρωτ-g0-.] For what object dost thou, ask me? μέ does not bear the emphasis; otherwise ἐ΄έ would have been used.

The second τί, quid, depends on ἐρώτησον.

ἐρώτ. τ. ἀκηκ.] “Hoc jubet lex, a testibus incipi,” Grotius.

οὔτοι] The ἀκηκοότες, not pointing to John and Peter (Ewald).


Verse 22-23

John 18:22-23. Whether ῥάπισμα is a blow on the face, box on the ear (so usually), or stroke with a rod (Beza, Bengel, Godet), cannot be decided. Comp. on Matthew 26:67. But the former, because the blow was wont to be the chastisement for an impudent speech (comp. Acts 23:2), is the more probable, and δέρεις is not opposed to it (2 Corinthians 11:20). That which here one of the officers of justice, who stood in waiting (see the critical notes), takes upon himself for the honour of his master (“fortis percussor et mollis adulator,” Rupert.), can hardly be conceived as taking place in an orderly sitting of the Sanhedrim before the acting high priest (in Acts 23:2 it is done at the command of the latter), but rather at an extra-judicial sitting.

οὕτως] So unbecomingly (Fritzsche, ad Marc. p. 150 f.; Bremi, ad Lys. et Aesch. p. 124, 355); comp. on 1 Corinthians 5:3.

John 18:23. Important for the ethical idea expressed in Matthew 5:39.(214) Comp. the note on Matthew 5:41.

μαρτύρησον] bear witness. He must, in truth, have been an ear-witness.


Verse 24

John 18:24. By the incident John 18:22-23, the conversation of Annas with Jesus was broken off, and the former now sent Him bound (as He was since John 18:12) to Caiaphas,—therefore now for the first time, not already before John 18:15. In order to place the scene of the denials in Caiaphas’ presence, it has been discovered, although John gives not the slightest indication of it, that Annas and Caiaphas inhabited one house with a court in common (Euth. Zigabenus, Casaubon, Ebrard, Lange, Lichtenstein, Riggenbach, Hengstenberg, Godet). In order, also, to assign the hearing of 19–21 to Caiaphas, some have taken critical liberties, and placed John 18:24 after John 18:14 (so Cyril, who, however, also reads it, consequently, a second time in the present passage, which Beza admits),(215) or have moved it up so as to follow John 18:13 (a few unimportant critical witnesses, approved by Rinck); some also have employed exegetical violence. John 18:24, that is, was regarded either as a supplemental historical statement in order to prevent misunderstanding; so Erasmus, Castalio, Calvin, Vatablus, Calovius, Cornelius a Lapide, Jansen, and several others, including Lücke, Tholuck, Krabbe, De Wette, Maier, Baeumlein; or the emphasis was laid on δεδεμένον, to which word Grotius ascribed a force explanatory of the following denial, but Bengel one explanatory of the previous maltreatment. These exegetic attempts coincide in this, that ἀπέστειλεν is understood in a pluperfect sense: miserat, and is regarded as supplying an omission.(216) The aorist, in order to adduce this as a supplemental addition, would rather be: Annas sent Him. But when the Aor. actually stands, making a supplemental statement, the context itself incontestably shows it (the pluperfect usage of the aorist in relative clauses, Kühner, II. p. 79; Winer, p. 258 [E. T. p. 343], is not relevant here), as in Matthew 14:3-4 (not Matthew 16:5; Matthew 26:48; Matthew 27:27, nor John 1:24; John 1:28; John 6:59). Here, however, this is altogether not the case (see rather the progress of the history, John 18:13; John 18:24; John 18:28), and it is only a harmonistic interest which has compelled the interpretation, which is least of all justified in the case of John. John had the pluperfect at command just as much as the aorist, and by the choice of the latter in the sense of the former he would, since the reader has nothing in the context to set him right, have expressed himself so as greatly to mislead, while he would have given, by the whole supplemental observations, the stamp of the greatest clumsiness to his narrative, which had flowed on from John 18:15 down to the present point. The expedients of Grotius and Bengel are, however, the more inappropriate, the more manifest it is that δεδεμένον simply looks back to John 18:12, ἔδησον αὐτόν. The sole historical sequence that is true to the words is given already by Chrysostom: εἶτα, ΄ηδὲ οὑτὼς εὑρίσκοντές τι πλέον, πέ΄πουσιν αὐτὸν δεδε΄ένον πρὸς καιάφαν.


Verses 25-27

John 18:25-27. When Jesus was sent to Caiaphas, Peter was still on the spot mentioned in John 18:18, standing and warming himself. There follow his second and third denials, which, therefore, according to the brief and accurate narrative of John, who relates the denials generally with more precision, took place likewise in the court of Annas. The text gives no indication that Peter followed Jesus into the house of Caiaphas. Comp. Olshausen, Baur, Bleek. For the agreement of Luke with John in the locality of the denials, but not in the more minute determination of time, see on Luke 22:54-62.

εἶπον] Those standing there with him, John 18:18.

The individual, John 18:26, assails him with his own eye-witness.

ἐγώ] I, for my part.

ἐν τῷ κήπῳ] sc. ὄντα. The slave outside the garden (for, see on John 18:4) has been able, over the fence or through the door of the garden, to see Peter in the garden with Jesus. When the blow with the sword was struck, he cannot (in the confusion of the seizure of Jesus) have had his eye upon him, otherwise he would have certainly reproached him with this act.

ἀλέκτωρ] a cock. See on Matthew 26:74. The contrition of Peter, John does not here relate in his concise account; but all the more thoughtfully and touchingly does this universally known psychological fact receive historical expression in the appendix, chap. 21.(217)


Verse 28

John 18:28. εἰς τὸ πραιτώριον] into the praetorium, where the procurator dwelt, whether it was the palace of Herod (so usually), or, more probably, a building in the tower of Antonia (so Ewald). Comp. on Matthew 27:27 : Mark 15:16.

πρωΐ] i.e. in the fourth watch of the night (see on Matthew 14:25), therefore toward daybreak. Pilate might expect them so early, since he had in fact ordered the σπεῖρα, John 18:3, on duty.

αὐτοί] They themselves did not go in, but caused Jesus only to be brought in by the soldiers, John 18:3.

ἵνα μὴ μιανθῶσιν, ἀλλʼ ἵνα φάγ. τὸ πάσχα] On the emphatic repetition of the ἵνα, comp. Revelation 9:5; Xen. Mem. i. 2. 48. The entrance into the pagan house, not purified from the corrupt leaven, would have made them levitically impure ( μιαίνω, the solemn word of profanation, Plat. Legg. ix. p. 868 A Tim. p. 69 D Soph. Ant. 1031, LXX. in Schleusner, III. p. 559), and have thereby prevented them from eating the Passover on the legal day (they would have been bound, according to the analogy of Numbers 9:6 ff., to defer it till the 14th of the following month). Since φαγεῖν τὸ πάσχα throughout the N. T. (Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:12; Mark 14:14; Luke 22:11; Luke 22:15; comp. ἑτοιμάζειν τὸ πάσχα, Matthew 26:19; Mark 14:16; Luke 22:8; θύειν τὸ πάσχα, 1 Corinthians 5:7; Luke 22:7; Mark 14:12; see also Exodus 12:21; 2 Chronicles 35:13) denotes nothing else than to eat the paschal meal, as אָכַל הַפֶּסח, 2 Chronicles 30:18, comp. 3 Esr. John 1:6; John 1:12, John 7:12, it is thus clear that on the day, in the early part of which Jesus was brought to the procurator, the paschal lamb had not yet been eaten, but was to be eaten, and that consequently Jesus was crucified on the day before the feast. This result of the Johannean account is undoubtedly confirmed by John 13:1, according to which πρὸ τῆς ἑορτῆς gives the authoritative standard for the whole history of the passion, and that in such wise that the Jewish Passover feast was necessarily still future, when Jesus held His last meal with the disciples, with which latter, then, the seizure, condemnation, and execution stood in unbroken connection; further, by John 13:29, according to which the Johannean last supper cannot have been the paschal meal; finally, by John 19:14; John 19:31 (see on those passages), as, moreover, the view that the murdered Jesus was the antitype of the slaughtered paschal lamb (John 19:36), is appropriate only to that day as the day of His death, on which the paschal lamb was slaughtered, i.e. on the 14th Nisan.(218) Since, however, as according to the Synoptics, so also according to John (John 19:31), Jesus died on the Friday, after He had, on the evening preceding, held His last meal, John 13, there results the variation that, according to the Synoptics, the feast begins on Thursday evening, and Jesus holds the actual Jewish paschal meal, but is crucified on the first feast-day (Friday); in opposition to which, according to John, the feast begins on Friday evening, the last supper of Jesus (Thursday evening) is an ordinary meal (see Winer, Progr.: δεῖπνον, de quo Joh. xiii., etc., Leips. 1847), and His death follows on the day before the feast (Friday). According to the Synoptics, the Friday of the death of Jesus was thus the 15th Nisan; but according to John, the 14th Nisan. We can scarcely conceive a more indubitable result of exegesis, recognised also by Lücke, ed. 2 and 3, Neander, Krabbe, Theile, Sieffert, Usteri, Ideler, Bleek, De Wette, Brückner, Ebrard, Krit. d. Evang. Gesch., ed. 2 (not in Olshausen, Leidensgesch., p. 43 f.), Ewald, Baur, Hilgenfeld, Hase, Weisse, Rückert, Abendm. p. 28 ff., Steitz, J. Müller, Koessing (Catholic), de suprema Chr. coena, 1858, p. 57 ff., Kahnis, Dogm. I. p. 417, Pressensé, Keim, and several others. Nevertheless, harmonistic attempts have been made as far as possible to prove the agreement, either of the Synoptics with John (so mostly the older harmonists, see Weitzel, Passahfeier, p. 305 f.; recently, especially Movers in the Zeitschrift f. Phil. u. Kathol. Theol., 1833, vii. p. 58 ff., viii. p. 62 ff., Maier, Aechth. d. Ev. Joh., 1854, p. 429 ff., Weitzel, Isenberg, d. Todestag des Herrn, 1868, p. 31 ff., and several others), or of John with the Synoptics (so most later harmonists).(219) Attempts of the first kind break down at once before this consideration, that in the Synoptics the last meal is the regular(220) and legal one of the 14th Nisan, with the Passover lamb, slaughtered of necessity on the selfsame day between the two evenings in the forecourt (comp. Lightfoot, p. 470 f., 651), but not a paschal meal anticipated by Jesus contrary to the law (abrogating, in fact, the legal appointment, see Weitzel), as Grotius, Hammond, Clericus, and several others thought, also Kahnis, Abendm. p. 14, Krafft, p. 130, Godet, p. 629 ff., who appeals specially again to Matthew 26:17-18, Märcker, Uebereinst. d. Matth. und Joh. p. 20 ff., who thinks the non-legal character of the meal is passed over in silence by the Synoptics. Those attempts, however, according to which John’s account is made to be the same as that of the Synoptics (Bynaeus, de morte J. Ch. III. p. 13 ff., Lightfoot, p. 1121 ff., Reland, Bengel, and several others; latterly, especially Tholuck, Guericke, Olshausen, B. Crusius, Hengstenberg in loc., and in the Evang. K.-Zeit. 1838, Nr. 98 ff., Wieseler, Synopse, p. 333 ff., and in Herzog’s Encyklop. XXI. p. 550 ff., Luthardt, Wichelhaus, Hofmann in the Zeitschr. f. Prot. u. Kirche, 1853, p. 260 ff., Lichtenstein and Friedlieb, Gesch. d. Lebens J. Chr. p. 140 ff., Lange, Riggenbach, von Gumpach, Röpe, d. Mahl. d. Fusswaschens, Hamb. 1856, Ebrard on Olshausen, Baeumlein, Langen, Letzte Lebenstage Jesu, 1864, p. 136), are rendered void by the correct explanation of John 13:1; John 13:29, John 19:14; John 19:31, and, in respect of the present passage, by the following observations: (a) τὸ πάσχα cannot be understood of the sacrificial food of the feast to the exclusion of the lamb, particularly not of the Chagiga ( חֲגִיגָה the freewill passover offerings, consisting of small cattle and oxen, according to Deuteronomy 16:2, on which sacrificial meals were held; see Lightfoot), as is here assumed by the current harmonists,(221) since rather by φαγεῖν is the Passover lamb constantly designated (comp. generally Gesenius, Thes. II. p. 1115), also in Josephus and in the Talmud ( אכל הפסח), and consequently no reader could attach any other meaning to it;(222) in Deuteronomy 16:2-3, however, פסח does not mean “as a passover” (Hengstenberg, comp. Schultz on Deut. p. 471), but likewise nothing else than agnus paschalis, from which, then, צאֹן וּבָקר are distinguished as other sacrifices and sacrificial animals (comp. John 18:6-7), whereby with עליו, John 18:3, we are referred back to the whole of the eating at the feast. 2 Chronicles 35:7-9 also (comp. rather John 18:11; John 18:13) contributes as little to prove the assumed reference of πάσχα to the Passover sacrifices generally, as Exodus 12:48 for the view that to eat the Passover signifies the celebration of the feast in general; since, certainly, in the passage in question, the general ποιῆσαι τὸ π. (prepare) is by no means equivalent to the special ἔδεται ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ.(223) (b) The objection, that entering the Gentile house would only have produced pollution for the same day ( טִבּוּל יוֹם),(224) which might have been removed by washing before evening, and therefore before the beginning of the new day, and that consequently the Jews would have still been able to eat the Passover lamb, which was to be first partaken of in the evening (see especially Hengstenberg, Wieseler, and Wichelhaus, following Bynaeus and Lightfoot), cannot be proved from Maimonides (Pesach. iii. 1, vi. 1), must rather, in view of the great sacredness of the Passover feast (comp. John 11:55), be regarded as quite unsupported by the present passage (at all events in reference to the time of Jesus), irrespective also of this, that such a pollution would have been a hindrance to the personal slaughtering of the lamb, and certainly was, most of all, avoided precisely by the hierarchs, 2 Chronicles 30:17-18. (c) On the whole of the inadmissible plea, which has been raised from the history of the Easter controversies against this, that John places the death of Jesus on the 14th Nisan, see Introd. § 2. (d) It has even been asserted, in order to make the account of John apply to the synoptic determination of time, that the time of the Passover meal was not the evening of the 14th Nisan at all, but the evening of the 13th Nisan (consequently the beginning of the 14th); so, after Frisch, recently Rauch in the Stud. u. Krit. 1832, p. 537 ff., according to which our φαγεῖν τ. πάσχα was understood of the eating of the ἄζυ΄α. But the evening of the 14th (consequently the beginning of the 15th) stands so unassailably firm on the foundation of the law, according to Jewish tradition, and according to Josephus (see De Wette in the Stud. u. Krit. 1834, 4; Lücke, II. p. 727 ff.), that the above attempt is simply to be noted as a piece of history, as also that of Schneckenburger (Beitr. p. 4 ff.), which is based on the error that John 19:14 is the παρασκευή for the Feast of Sheaves. (e) Had John conceived the last Supper to be the Passover meal, there would certainly not have been wanting in the farewell discourses significant references to the Passover;(225) they are, however, entirely wanting, and, moreover, the general designation of the Supper itself, δείπνου γινομένου, John 12:2 (comp. John 12:2), agrees therewith, to remove from the mind of the unprejudiced reader the thought of the festival meal.

Is, however, the difference between John and the Synoptics incapable of being adjusted, the question then arises, On which side historical accuracy lies? Those who dispute the authenticity of the Gospel could not be in doubt on this point But it is otherwise from the standpoint of this authenticity, and that not of mediate authenticity at second hand (assuming which, Weizsäcker gives the preference to the synoptic account), but of that which is immediate and apostolical. If, that is to say, in the case of irreconcilable departures from the synoptic tradition, the first rank is in general, à priori, to be conceded to John, as the sole direct witness, whose writing has been preserved unaltered; if, further, the representation also by the Apostle Paul of Christ as the Passover Lamb applies only to the Johannean determination of the day of His death (see on 1 Corinthians 5:7); and if, along with this, Paul’s account of the institution of the Lord’s Supper does not run counter (in answer to Keim) to this Johannean determination; if, further, even the statement of the Judaism, which was outside the church, that Jesus was executed vespera paschatis ( ערב הפסח), i.e. on the 14th Nisan, supports the account of John (see Sanhedr. 6. 2 f., 43. 1, in Lightfoot, ad Act. i. 3), where the fabulous element in the Talmudic quotation of the circumstances attending the execution does not affect the simple date of time; if the conducting of a criminal trial(226) and execution on the first feast-day, even after the most recent attempts to show their admissibility (see especially Wieseler, p. 361 ff.), is at least highly improbable (see Bleek, p. 139 ff.; Ewald, Alterth. p. 415), and is opposed by Acts 12:25 ff., and in the case before us would be regarded as an exception from the rule,(227) in fact, imprudent and irreconcilable with the great danger which was well known to the Sanhedrin (Matthew 26:5); if, generally, the 15th Nisan, with its Sabbatic character, and as the legal day of the festive gathering in the temple, is altogether unsuitable to all the undertakings, processions, and parades which were set on foot by the hierarchs and by the people on the day of Jesus’ death, as well as to the taking down from the cross and the burial; if, on the other hand, the custom of setting at liberty a prisoner (John 18:39) most naturally corresponds to the idea, and therewith to the day of the paschal lamb, to the idea and to the day of forgiveness; if, finally, even in the Synoptics themselves, traces still exist of the true historical relation, according to which the day of Jesus’ death must have been no first day of the feast, but a day of traffic and labour (Matthew 26:59-60; Mark 15:21; Mark 15:42; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:26; Luke 23:54; Luke 23:56), as, moreover, the opinion of the Sanhedrin, Matthew 26:5, Mark 14:1 : μὴ ἐν τῇ ἑορτῇ! corresponds to the Johannean account, and to the haste with which, according to the latter, the affair was despatched, actually still before the feast,—then all these moments are just so many reasons, the collective weight of which is decisive in favour of John,(228) without the further necessity of making an uncertain appeal to the present calendar of the feast, according to which the 15th Nisan may not fall on a Friday (see against his application to that period, Wieseler, p. 437 f.), and to the prohibition, Exodus 12:22, against quitting house and town after the Passover meal (see on Matthew 26:30, and Wetstein on Mark 14:26).

The question how the correct relation of time in the synoptic tradition could be altered by a day, withdraws itself from any solution that is demonstrable from history. Most naturally, however, the institution of the Lord’s Supper suggests the point of connection, both by the references, which Jesus Himself in His discourses connected therewith gave to the Supper in its bearing on the Passover meal, by the idea of which He was moved (Luke 22:15), as also by the view of the Supper as the antitypical Passover meal, which view must necessarily have been developed from the apostolic apprehension of Christ as the Paschal Lamb (John 19:36; 1 Corinthians 5:7), so far as He in the Supper had given Himself to be partaken of, Himself the perfected Passover Lamb, which He, simply by His death, was on the point of becoming. Thus the day of institution of the Supper became, in the anti-typical mode of regarding it, an ideal 14th Nisan, and in the tradition, in virtue of the reflective operation of the idea upon it, gradually became an actual one, and consequently the παρασκευή, which was firmly established as the day of death, became, instead of the preparation of the Passover (14th Nisan), as John has again fixed it, the preparation of the Sabbath,(229) this Sabbath, however, regarded, not as the first day of the feast, as in John, consequently not as the 15th Nisan, but as the second day of the feast (16th Nisan).

Further, the deviation of John from the Synoptics is the less to be employed as a reason for doubting the genuineness of the former, the more improbable it is in itself that a later inventor, who nevertheless sought apostolic authority, would have run the risk of entering into conflict with the prevailing tradition in so extremely important a determination, and, in subservience to the idea of Christ as the perfected Passover Lamb (see especially Baur, p. 272 ff., and in the Theol. Jahrb. 1854, p. 267 f.; Hilgenfeld, Pascha streit d. alten K. p. 221 ff.; Schenkel, p. 362 f.; Keim, Gesch. J. I. p. 132; Scholten, p. 282 ff.), to date back by a day the execution of Christ. Were the Johannean history, in so far substantially unhistorical, a production resulting from the idea of the Passover lamb, then certainly this idea would itself stand forth with far more of purpose and expression than it does (especially, for instance, in the farewell discourses), and would have been indicated, not merely on the occasion of the wound in the side, John 19:36, in the light of a single token; in that case one might believe oneself justified, with Weisse, Evangelienfrage, p. 130, in laying to the charge of the writer of the Gospel that he had, in conformity with certain presuppositions, put together the sequence of events for himself partly in an accidental and partly in an arbitrary manner.


Verse 29-30

John 18:29-30. In the prudent concessive spirit of Roman policy towards the Jews in the matter of religion, Pilate(230) comes forth to them, and demands first of all, in accordance with regular procedure, a definite accusation, although he knew it, John 18:33; “sed se scire dissimulabat,” Ruperti. The defiance of the hierarchy, however, uttered in an evil conscience, demands of him, contrary to all forms of legal procedure, that he should assume the delivering-up of the prisoner itself as a warrant of crime. Him who is not a mis-doer, they reply, they would not have delivered up to the procurator. They had in truth themselves sufficient power to punish, although not extending to execution. If, therefore, the offence exceeds this power of theirs to punish, so that the surrender to the procurator takes place, this surrender is sufficient proof that the person is a criminal. The kind and manner of the crime (Tholuck: criminal offence against the citizens) is not yet defined by their words. The idea: “one hand washes the other” (Lange), lies entirely remote.

κατὰ τοῦ ἀνθρ. τούτου] is, further, uttered with a feeling of indifference, not: “against such a pious and renowned a man,” Luther.


Verse 31

John 18:31. Since they bring forward no definite charge, Pilate refers them to their own tribunal (the Sanhedrim). As he, without such an accusation, from which his competency to act must first arise, could take no other course than at once refer the matter to the regular Jewish authority, he also incurred no danger in taking that course; because if the κρίνειν, i.e. the judicial procedure against Jesus, should terminate in assigning the punishment of death, they must nevertheless come back to him, while it was at the same time a prudent course ( φθόνον ὀξὺ νοήσας, Nonnus); because if they did not wish to withdraw with their business unfinished, they would, it might be presumed, be under the necessity of laying aside their insolence, and of still coming out with an accusation. If κρίνειν, which, according to this view, is by no means of doubtful signification (Hengstenberg), be understood as meaning to condemn, or even to execute (Lücke, de Wette, who, as already Calvin and several others, finds therein a sneer), which, however, it does not in itself denote, and which sense it cannot acquire by means of the following ἀποκτεῖναι, something of a very anticipatory and relatively impertinent character is put in the procurator’s mouth.

ὑμεῖς] With emphasis.

The answer of the Jews rests on the thought that this κρίνειν was, on their part, already an accomplished fact, and led up to the sentence for execution, which they, however, were not competent to carry out. They therefore understood the κρίνειν not as equivalent to ἀποκτεῖναι, but regarded the latter as the established result of the former. Any limitation, however, of ἡμῖν οὐκ ἔξεστιν, κ. τ. λ. (to the punishment of the cross, as Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, Calovius, and several others think; or to the feast day, as Semler and Kuinoel suppose; or to political crimes, so Krebs), is imported into the words; the Jews had, since the domination of the Romans (according to the Talmud, forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem; see Lightfoot, p. 455, 1133 ff.), lost the jus vitae et necis generally; they could, indeed, sentence to death, but the confirmation and execution belonged to the superior Roman authority. See generally Iken, Diss. II. p. 517 ff.; Friedlieb, Archäol. p. 96 f. The stoning of Stephen, as also at a later period that of James, the Lord’s brother (Josephus, Antt. xx. 9. 1), was a tumultuary act. Comp. also Keil, Archäol. II. p. 259.


Verse 32

John 18:32. The aim ordained in the divine purpose, why the Jews, in consequence of having lost the right of life and death, were obliged to answer “ ἡμῖν οὐκ ἔξεστιν, κ. τ. λ.” Otherwise, Jesus, as a false prophet and blasphemer of God, would have been stoned (like Stephen, and comp. John 8:59, John 10:31), but would not have been visited with the Roman punishment of crucifixion, namely, as one guilty of high treason, as He, with His pretensions as Messiah, could not but appear to be before the Roman courts; and the word of Jesus, John 12:32, would have remained unfulfilled.


Verse 33-34

John 18:33-34. Pilate does not, indeed, enter at present into further discussion with the Jews, but, because he quite perceived that they had set their minds on the punishment of death, he returns into the praetorium, into which Jesus, John 18:28, was led, and causes Him to be summoned before him, in order personally to examine him; taking a sufficiently inconsistent course, instead of simply persisting in his refusal on account of the want of a definite ground of accusation, and waiting first for some further step on the part of the Jews. His question: Thou art the king of the Jews? which, moreover, carries with it a contemptuous sound of unbelief (he does not ask, for example, σὺ λέγεις, κ. τ. λ., or the like), is explained, even without a κατηγορία on the part of the Jews, from the fact that the arrest, because made with the help of the σπεῖρα, John 18:3, could not have taken place without previous intimation to and approval by Pilate, who therefore must also have been acquainted with its reason,—hence all the less, with Ewald, is the presentment of a written accusation to be presumed, or, as is ordinarily done, need it be suggested that the Jews, even after John 18:31, had come forward with the κατηγορία. This agrees with Luke 23:2, but is not indicated by a single word in John, who could not have passed over so essential a point as a matter of course, and how easily and briefly could he have done so! By his counter-question, John 18:34, Jesus does not desire, as Olshausen, Meander, Godet, Ewald, and several others suppose, to gather the more exact sense of the question,—whether, namely, it is intended in a Jewish and theocratic or in a Roman and political sense (for such a separation of the ideas concerning the Nessiah was neither to be presumed in Pilate, nor to be suggested by this question of Jesus),—but He simply claims the right to know the author of the accusation, which was contained in the words of Pilate; to know, therefore, whether Pilate put to Him the above question at his own instance, and without foreign prompting; or, on the other hand, at the prompting of others. That the latter was the case, He indeed knew; the ἄλλοι stood, in fact, before the door; but Pilate ought to speak out and set forth clearly the status causae. It was that which Jesus could demand, and with all the intrepidity of innocence did demand, without exactly intending to evoke a movement of conscience (Hengstenberg), which He could not at this point expect in the cold man of the world; or to call his attention to the suspicious source of the accusation (Luthardt, Tholuck, Brückner), to which the ἄλλοι, which is altogether without bias, is not appropriate.


Verse 35-36

John 18:35-36. The answer of the procurator, irritated and haughty, gives in μήτιεἰμι an indirect denial of the first question, and therewith also an affirmation of the second.

μήτι ἐγὼ ἰουδαῖός εἰμι] ʼεγώ, with proud emphasis: you do not surely suppose that I, I your procurator, am a Jew? How should I of myself think of trying thee as a Jew and as king of the Jews? The emphasis of ἐγώ, Nonnus denotes by: μὴ γὰρ ἰουδαῖος κἀγὼ πέλον;—the opposite of that: Thine own nation ( τὸ ἔθνος τὸ σόν), and especially ( καί) the high priests, have delivered thee to me; what hast thou done? No further ceremony!

Jesus now confesses His kingship,(231) but, in the first instance, only negatively (positively: John 18:37): “The kingdom which is mine does not arise (like other kingdoms) out of this world (which endures only until the establishment of my kingdom); if the kingdom which is mine proceeded out of this world, the servants whom I ( οἱ ἐμοί) have would assuredly fight that I should not be delivered (which is done, John 19:16) to the Jews (the hierarchical opposition); but as it is (since they do not fight for me), my kingdom is not from thence” ( ἐντεῦθεν = ἐκ τοῦ κόσμ. τούτου).

Note in this Demonstratio ad oculos the solemn repetition of ἐκ τοῦ κόσμον τ. and of βασιλεία ἐ΄ή, as well as that ἐντεῦθεν, from here, hence, is expressed deictically, as a vivid opposition to that which is coelitus, and, finally, that in ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, not τούτου, which might also have been omitted, but κόσ΄ου bears the emphasis. The ὑπηρέται οἱ ἐ΄οί are not the servants whom He would have in the case supposed (Lücke, Tholuck, Hengstenberg, and several others), but He has His servants, they are His disciples and adherents (not the angels, as Luthardt thinks), John 12:26; 1 Corinthians 4:1; 2 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 11:23; 1 Timothy 4:6; but even not from this world (John 17:16), they also do not fight, etc. Note how also, in the designation of His own by ὑπηρέται, the kingly consciousness expresses itself.


Verse 37

John 18:37. A βασιλεία Jesus had actually ascribed to Himself in John 18:36, which Pilate certainly did not expect; hence he asks, in surprise and not without a flash of haughty scorn: Nonne igitur rex tu es? since thou, that is, speakest of thy βασιλεία. On οὐκοῦν, not elsewhere found in the N. T., see Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. Exc. III. p. 517 ff.; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 198. The sentence is an inference, but asking (is it not then true, that thou art a king?) whether the questioned person agrees.

ὅτι] Confirmation of the assertion expressed by σὺ λέγεις (comp. Matthew 26:25).

ἐγώ] Corresponding to the contemptuously emphasized σύ at the end of Pilate’s question, emphasized with noble self-consciousness, and still more emphatically brought into prominence by the ἐγώ, which immediately begins the next sentence (“potens anadiplosis,” Bengel); the repetition of εἰς τοῦτο twice also adds weight.

γεγένν. and ἐλήλ. εἰς τ. κόσμ.] must, according to Grotius, Lücke, and De Wette, designate the birth and the official appearance; a separation which is not justified by the Johannean ἔρχεσθαι εἰς τ. κόσμ., in which the birth is substantially included (John 3:17, John 9:39, John 11:27, John 12:47, John 16:28, John 1:9). The ἐλήλ. εἰς τ. κόσμ. sets forth the birth once again, but in relation to its specific higher nature, as the entrance of the sent of God into the world, so that the divine ἀποστέλλειν εἰς τὸν κόσμον (John 3:17, John 10:36, John 17:18) is correlative.(232) The coming into the world is related to the conception of being born, as the leaving of the world (John 16:28) and going to the Father to the conception of dying.

ἵνα μαρτυρ. τῇ ἀληθ.] He was to bear testimony on behalf of the divine truth; for He had seen and heard it with God. Comp. John 3:11; John 3:32, John 1:17-18.

ὤν ἐκ τ. ἀληθ.] Genetic designation (comp. on Galatians 3:7) of the adherents of His kingdom; their origin is the divine truth, i.e. their entire spiritual nature is so constituted, that divine truth exercises its formative influence upon them. These are the souls drawn by the Father (John 6:44 ff.), and given to Christ as His own. Comp. John 8:47. Bengel correctly observes: “Esse ex veritate praecedit, audire sequitur.”

ἀκούει μου τ. φωνῆς] hears from me the voice, i.e. (otherwise, John 12:47), he gives ear to that which I speak, follows my call, command, etc. With this Jesus has declared Himself regarding His kingdom, to the effect partly that He is a king, and with what definition He is so, partly as to what subjects He has; and thus He has completely answered the question; in no sense, however, as Hengstenberg thinks, has He omitted to answer it as too difficult for Pilate’s comprehension, and expressed Himself instead concerning His prophetic office. The πᾶς ὢν, κ. τ. λ. belongs essentially to the characteristic of His kingdom; a special design, however, entertained in this point, with reference to Pilate (an appeal to his religious consciousness, Chrysostom, Olshausen, Neander; justification as to why Jesus has not more adherents, Calvin; a reminder for Pilate, how he would have to lay hold upon salvation), lies entirely remote from the sense, equally remote with an appeal “a caecitate Pilati ad captum fidelium,” Bengel, or from the judge to the man (Hengstenberg).


Verse 38

John 18:38. Pilate, now fully convinced that he has before him an innocent and harmless enthusiast, asks, with that air of contemptuous deprecation which is peculiar to the material understanding in regard to the abstract and supersensual sphere, What is truth? A non ens, a phantom, he thus conceives it to be, with which He would found a kingdom; and weary of the matter, and abruptly breaking it off, he goes straightway forth to the Jews, and declares to them that he finds no guilt in Jesus,(233) from which definite declaration it is seen that by the above question he does not mean at all to designate the matter merely as not coming within his jurisdiction (Steinmeyer). Something of good-nature lies in this conduct, but it is the weak and shallow good-nature of the man of the world who is indifferent towards higher things; nothing of the disconsolate tone of the searcher for truth (Olshausen) is to be imported. Against the view of Chrysostom, Theodoras Heracl., Euth. Zigabenus, Aretius, and several others, however, that Pilate had actually become desirous to be acquainted with the truth (Nonnus even thinks: καὶ πιλάτος θάμβησε); it is at once decisive that he immediately turns his back and goes out.

Whence did John learn of this conversation of Pilate with Jesus? He can hardly have been himself an ear-witness of it.(234) But whether the fact be that it was communicated by Pilate in his own circles, and that hence it reached John, or whether it be that some ear-witness of the interview himself brought the information to John, the matter is not inconceivable (in answer to Scholten), and in no case have we the right to ascribe the account merely to the composition of John (Strauss), as Baur especially finds impressed on the declarations of Pilate that he “finds no guilt in Jesus,” only the tendency of the evangelist to roll the guilt as far as possible off Pilate’s shoulders, and place it on those of the Jews, which purpose also the question, What is truth? is intended to serve, in which Baur suggests the sense: how can one make a crime out of truth?


Verse 39-40

John 18:39-40. Instead of stedfastly protecting the innocence of Jesus, he seeks, unwisely enough, in order not to be unpopular, a circuitous way, by which he practically surrenders the innocent one.

ἵνα, κ. τ. λ.] A custom exists amongst you: I ought to release to you, etc. On the thing itself, see on Matthew 27:15.

ἐν τῷ πάσχα] Pilate could thus express himself as well on the 14th (against Hengstenberg), as also on the 15th Nisan, but the releasing itself corresponds most naturally to the sacred significance of the 14th. Comp. on John 18:28. Moreover, it is in itself more probable that the statement of the time of this customary release as one that was legally stationary is expressed even in the strict sense of τὸ πάσχα (Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 28:16).

βούλεσθεἀπολύσω] Do you wish that I should release? Deliberative conjunctive. Comp. on Matthew 13:28; Kühner, II. § 464.

τὸν βασιλ. τ. ἰουδ.] Unwise and scornful bitterness. Hengstenberg imports a serious view of the idea of Messias, which certainly Pilate was not equal to.

πάλιν] presupposes a general clamour already raised in John 18:30-31.

βαραββ.] See on Matthew 27:16.

ἦν δὲ β. λῃστής] Tragical addition. The designation by λῃστής does not exclude the statement in Mark 15:7; Luke 23:19; λῃσταὶ φονεύουσι, Soph. O. R. 719. According to Matthew 27:17, Pilate offered a choice between Barabbas and Jesus; Mark, and also Luke, agree with John.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on John 18:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/john-18.html. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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