Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 18:30

They answered and said to him, "If this Man were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him to you."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Accusation, False;   Indictments;   Jesus, the Christ;   Persecution;   Pilate, Pontius;   Priest;   Prisoners;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Rome;   Sanhedrin;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Persecution;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Trial of Jesus;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Pilate;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Malefactor;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Aceldama;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Malefactor;   Pilate, Pontius;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

If he were not a malefactor - So they did not wish to make Pilate the judge, but the executor of the sentence which they had already illegally passed.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 18:30". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-18.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

If he were not a malefactor - A violator of the law. If we had not determined that he was such, and was worthy of death, Matthew 26:66. From this it appears that they did not deliver him up to be tried, but hoped that Pilate would at once, give sentence that he should be executed according to their request. It is probable that in ordinary cases the Roman governor was not accustomed to make very strict inquiry into the justice of the sentence. The Jewish Sanhedrin tried causes and pronounced sentence, and the sentence was usually approved by the governor; but in this case Pilate, evidently contrary to their expectations, proceeded himself to rehear and retry the cause. He had doubtless heard of the miracles of Jesus. He seems to have been strongly pre-possessed with the belief of his innocence. He knew that they had delivered him from mere envy Matthew 27:18, and hence, he inquired of them the nature of the case, and the kind of charge which they expected to substantiate against him.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 18:30". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/john-18.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

They answered and said unto him,.... Offended at the question put to them, and filled with indignation that they should be so interrogated, with an air of haughtiness and insolence reply to him:

if he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee; insinuating, that he was guilty of some very wicked action; not merely of a breach of some of their laws peculiar to them; for then they would have tried and judged him according to them, and not have brought him before him; but they suggest, that he was guilty of some crimes recognizable by Caesar's court; and which they did not care to mention expressly, lest they should not succeed, not having it may be as yet, their witnesses ready; and hoped he would have took their own word for it, without any further proof, they being men of such rank and dignity, and of so much knowledge, learning, and religion; and therefore took it ill of him, that he should ask such persons as they were, so famous for their prudence, integrity, and sanctity, such a question: however, they own themselves to be the betrayers and deliverers up of our Lord, which Christ had before foretold, and which Stephen afterwards charged them with.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on John 18:30". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-18.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee — They were conscious they had no case of which Pilate could take cognizance, and therefore insinuate that they had already found Him worthy of death by their own law; but not having the power, under the Roman government, to carry their sentence into execution, they had come merely for his sanction.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 18:30". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/john-18.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

If this man were not an evil-doer (ει μη ην ουτος κακον ποιωνei mē ēn houtos kakon poiōn). Condition (negative) of second class (periphrastic imperfect indicative), assumed to be untrue, with the usual apodosis (ανan and aorist indicative, first aorist plural with κk). This is a pious pose of infallibility not in the Synoptics. They then proceeded to make the charges (Luke 23:2) as indeed John implies (John 18:31, John 18:33). Some MSS. here read κακοποιοςkakopoios (malefactor) as in 1 Peter 2:12, 1 Peter 2:14, with which compare Luke‘s κακουργοςkakourgos (Luke 23:32.; so also 2 Timothy 2:9), both meaning evil-doer. Here the periphrastic present participle ποιωνpoiōn with κακονkakon emphasizes the idea that Jesus was a habitual evil-doer (Abbott). It was an insolent reply to Pilate (Bernard).

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 18:30". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/john-18.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Malefactor ( κακοποιὸς )

Rev., evil-doer. From κακὸν , evil, and ποιέω , to do. Luke uses a different word, κακοῦργος , from κακὸν , evil, and ἔργω , to work. See on 1 Peter 2:12.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 18:30". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/john-18.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

The Fourfold Gospel

They answered and said unto him, If this man were not an evildoer, we should not have delivered him up unto thee1.

  1. If this man were not an evildoer, we should not have delivered him up unto thee. The Jewish rulers first attempt to induce Pilate to accept their verdict and condemn Jesus upon it, and execute him without a trial. If they had succeeded in this, Jesus would have been put to death as a blasphemer. But as Pilate had insisted upon trying Jesus, and as blasphemy was not a capital offense under the Roman law, Jesus was condemned and executed as the King of the Jews.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
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J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on John 18:30". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/john-18.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

30 They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.

Ver. 30. If he were not a malefactor] Why? what evil had he done them? Might he not have said to them, as Themistocles to his Athenians, Are ye weary of receiving so many benefits by one man?

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 18:30". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-18.html. 1865-1868.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

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.”

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 18:30". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/john-18.html. 1863-1878.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

John 18:30. εἰ μὴ, if not) It is a monstrous calumny to treat the cause of an innocent person as if it were a case of notorious criminality. They wish to relieve Pilate of the labour of investigation, so as that he should not trouble himself about their law, but only inflict the punishment.— οὗτος, this man) Answering to, against this man, in John 18:29.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 18:30". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/john-18.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

They had in their sanhedrim before judged him guilty of blasphemy, Matthew 26:65, but this they durst not mention, lest Pilate should have rejected them, as being not concerned in questions of their law; they therefore only exclaimed against him in the general as a great malefactor, but of what kind they do not say. It should seem they would have had Pilate have added his civil authority to confirm and execute their ecclesiastical censure, without so much as hearing any thing of the cause (as at this day frequent in popish countries); but they met with a more equal judge.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 18:30". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/john-18.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Malefactor; an evil-doer, violater of law.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on John 18:30". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/john-18.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

30.If’ not a malefactor—Uttered in a sarcastic tone, this reply would be of a very irritating character. Uttered, however, in a tone of courteous sauvity, it apologizes for troubling Pilate, assuring him that nothing but the fact that they had a malefactor could have brought them there.

Their real purpose, under either meaning, is to precipitate Pilate into the slaying of Jesus. They first wished to do this, if possible, by making Pilate execute him in implicit compliance with their judgment. Or, failing in that, they will accuse Jesus of treason, and induce Pilate to condemn and crucify. And failing in that, they will boldly threaten Pilate himself, and compel him to execute whether he condemn or not. Pilate, after availing himself of every possible subterfuge, finally yields to their last master-stroke.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 18:30". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-18.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The spokesmen for the Jews eventually evaded Pilate"s question. Luke recorded that they initially charged Jesus with misleading Israel, with forbidding the Jews to pay their taxes to Caesar, and with claiming to be Israel"s king ( Luke 23:2). However they could not impress Pilate with those charges sufficiently.

They hesitated to bring the charge of blasphemy against Jesus because Pilate might dismiss it as unworthy of his consideration (cf. Acts 18:12-16). They evidently did not accuse Him of treason because this too would have incited His many followers, and they would have had difficulty proving it. Consequently they did not name the charge but assumed that it was serious and implied that Pilate should trust them and "rubber stamp" their decision. Perhaps the fact that Pilate had provided troops to arrest Jesus encouraged them to think that he had already judged Jesus guilty. They did not appreciate Pilate"s question since it suggested that they would have to go through a formal trial from beginning to end.

"It is possible that they were taken by surprise at Pilate"s indication that he would try the case himself. They had had his cooperation in making the arrest; now they apparently expected that he would take their word for it that the man the Romans had helped to arrest was dangerous and should be executed." [Note: Ibid, p676.]

Pilate realized that the Jewish leaders had determined to do away with Jesus (cf. Matthew 27:18), but he had no evidence that Jesus had done anything worthy of death.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 18:30". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/john-18.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

John 18:30. They answered and said unto him, If this man were not an evil-doer, we should not have delivered him up unto thee. There is pride in the reply, a lofty sense of their own importance and dignity,—that importance and dignity which they are so soon to sacrifice. The person whom we bring before thee is a malefactor: is it not enough that we say so, and that we deliver him up to thee?

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 18:30". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/john-18.html. 1879-90.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

malefactor = evildoer. Greek. kakopoios. Only here and 1 Peter 2:12, 1 Peter 2:14; 1 Peter 3:16; 1 Peter 4:15. Compare Luke 23:32. They expected Pilate to take their word for it, and condemn Him unheard. See Acts 25:16.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 18:30". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/john-18.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.

They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee - a very lame reply. But they were conscious they had no case of which Pilate could take cognizance and inferring death, or any punishment at all, according to the Roman law. They therefore simply insinuate that the case must have been bad enough before they would have come to him with it, and that having found him worthy of death by their own law, they merely wished him to sanction the execution.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 18:30". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-18.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(30) If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.—They take the position that the Roman is the executive, and their own the judicial power. They bring no legal charge against Jesus, but assert, in effect that they themselves, who understood and had investigated the whole matter, had condemned Him to death, and that the fact that they had done so was in itself sufficient proof that He was worthy of death. They use the vague word “malefactor,” “evil-doer,” though in the trial before Caiaphas they had not sought to prove any evil deed, and they expect that upon this assertion Pilate will pronounce on Him, as on other malefactors, the sentence of death.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 18:30". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-18.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.
If
19:12; Mark 15:3; Luke 20:19-26; 23:2-5
delivered
Mark 10:33; Luke 24:7; Acts 3:13
Reciprocal: Psalm 64:6 - search;  Jeremiah 26:11 - saying;  Luke 18:32 - delivered;  John 9:24 - we know;  Acts 21:33 - and demanded;  Acts 25:5 - if

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 18:30". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-18.html.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Ver. 30. "They answered and said unto him. If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee."

The Jews demand of Pilate that he should make of his judicial dignity a merely formal use, relying on their integrity, and mindful of the fact, that a short time before the power of life and death was still in their hands. On κακοποιός Beza says: "Guilty, not of a vulgar crime; but what kind of crime, that is, blasphemy, for which they condemned Him, they do not say." Together with blasphemy, they have in their eye the assumption of royal dignity: comp. Luke 23:2. On παρεδώκαμεν, comp. Matthew 27:2.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on John 18:30". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/john-18.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

30.If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him to thee. They indirectly complain of Pilate, that he has not a proper reliance on their integrity. “Why do you not, without further concerns” say they, “hold it to be certain, that the person whom we prosecute deserves to die?” Such is the manner in which wicked men, whom God has raised to a high degree of honor, blinded as it were by their own greatness, allow themselves to do whatever they choose. Such, too, is the intoxicating nature of pride. (151) They wish that Christ should be reckoned a malefactor, and for no other reason (152) but because they accuse him. But if we come to the truth of the matter, what deeds of a malefactor shall we find in him, except that he has cured every kind of diseases, has driven the devils out of men, has made the paralytics and the lame to walk, has restored sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and life to the dead? Such were the real facts, and those men knew them well; but, as I said a little ago, when men are intoxicated with pride, nothing is more difficult than to arouse them to form a sound and correct judgment.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 18:30". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-18.html. 1840-57.