Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 18:36

Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Church;   Gospel;   Jesus, the Christ;   Kingdom of Heaven;   Pilate, Pontius;   Prisoners;   Thompson Chain Reference - Courts;   Kingdom;   Kingdom, Spiritual;   Spiritual;   The Topic Concordance - Kingdom of God;   World;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Christ, the King;   Prophecies Respecting Christ;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Kingdom of Heaven;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Confession;   Government;   King;   Kingdom of god;   Messiah;   Rome;   Ruler;   War;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Citizenship;   Fulfillment;   King, Christ as;   Persecution;   Promise;   World;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Church;   CARM Theological Dictionary - Kingdom of god;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Agony;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Daniel, the Book of;   Paul;   Holman Bible Dictionary - King, Christ as;   People of God;   Trial of Jesus;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Devil;   John, Theology of;   Kingdom of God;   Parable;   Pilate;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Announcements of Death;   Attributes of Christ;   Authority in Religion;   Confession;   Dominion (2);   Happiness;   Hindrance;   Israel, Israelite;   King;   Minister, Ministration;   Mission;   Monotheism;   Names and Titles of Christ;   Officer (2);   Pilate;   Pleasure;   Poet;   Popularity ;   Power;   Redemption (2);   Religion (2);   Rufus;   Truth (2);   Worldliness (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Servant;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Kingdom of christ;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Kingdom;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Christ, Offices of;   Church Government;   Jesus Christ, the Arrest and Trial of;   King, Christ as;   Pilate, Pontius;   Salvation;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Kingdom of God;  
Devotionals:
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for November 23;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

My kingdom is not of this world - It is purely spiritual and Divine. If it had been of a secular nature, then my servants would have contended - they would have opposed force with force, as the kingdoms of this world do in their wars; but as my kingdom as not of this world, therefore no resistance has been made. Eusebius relates, Hist. Eccles. lib. iii. c. 20, that "The relatives of our Lord were brought before Domitian, and interrogated whether they were of the family of David; and what sort the kingdom of Christ was, and where it would appear? They answered, that this kingdom was neither of this world, nor of an earthly nature; that it was altogether heavenly and angelical; and that it would not take place till the end of the world."

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 18:36". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-18.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

My kingdom … - The charge on which Jesus was arraigned was that of laying claim to the office of a king. He here substantially admits that he did claim to be a king, but not in the sense in which the Jews understood it. They charged him with attempting to set up an earthly kingdom, and of exciting sedition against Caesar. In reply to this, Jesus says that his kingdom is not of this world - that is, it is not of the same nature as earthly kingdoms. It was not originated for the same purpose, or conducted on the same plan. He immediately adds a circumstance in which they differ. The kingdoms of the world are defended by arms; they maintain armies and engage in wars. If the kingdom of Jesus had been of this kind, he would have excited the multitudes that followed him to prepare for battle. He would have armed the hosts that attended him to Jerusalem. He would not have been alone and unarmed in the garden of Gethsemane. But though he was a king, yet his dominion was over the heart, subduing evil passions and corrupt desires, and bringing the soul to the love of peace and unity.

Not from hence - That is, not from this world.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 18:36". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/john-18.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

This persuasive answer concerning the spiritual and other-worldly nature of Jesus' kingdom convinced Pilate of the falsity of the Pharisees' charges; and, in the light of that knowledge, he made at least seven efforts to procure Jesus' release - only with the final reservation that he would not incur any political risk to release him.

Then would my servants fight ... The word of Jesus' non-resistance against the sword was already known to Pilate, and the disclaimer in Jesus' words was proof enough that Jesus was not any kind of threat to the secular throne of the Caesars.

However, Jesus' mention of a "kingdom" aroused Pilate's curiosity. Such a kingdom as Jesus meant had never been heard of by such a man as Pilate. Manson said of it:

He meant that it is not, as all the other world Empires are, the product of human skill, or courage, or ingenuity, or wickedness. It is not a human institution at all, but a divine gift.[7]

ENDNOTE:

[7] T. W. Manson, On Paul and John (London: SCM Press. 1963), p. 153.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 18:36". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/john-18.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Jesus answered, my kingdom is not of this world,.... By saying which, he tacitly owns he was a king: as such he was set up, and anointed by his Father from everlasting; was prophesied of in the Old Testament; declared by the angel, both when he brought the news of his conception, and of his birth; was owned by many, who knew him to be so in the days of his flesh; and since his resurrection, ascension, and session at God's right hand, more manifestly appears to be one: he also hereby declares, that he had a kingdom; by which he means, not his natural and universal kingdom, as God, and the Creator and Governor of all things; but his mediatorial kingdom, administered both in the days of his flesh, and after his resurrection; which includes the whole Gospel dispensation, Christ's visible church state on earth, and the whole election of grace; it takes in that which will be at the close of time, in the latter day, which will be more spiritual, and in which Christ will reign before his ancients gloriously; and also the kingdom of God, or of heaven, even the ultimate glory: the whole of which is not of this world; the subjects of Christ's kingdom are not of the world, they are chosen and called out of it; the kingdom itself does not appear in worldly pomp and splendour, nor is it supported by worldly force, nor administered by worldly laws; nor does it so much regard the outward, as the inward estates of men; it promises no worldly emoluments, or temporal rewards. Christ does not say it is not "in" this world, but it is not of it; and therefore will not fail, when this world does, and the kingdoms thereof. Every thing that is carnal, sensual, and worldly, must be removed from our conceptions of Christ's kingdom, here or hereafter: and to this agrees what some Jewish writers say of the Messiah, and his affairs;

"the Messiah (they sayF15R. Juda Bezaleel Nizeach Israel, fol. 48. ) is separated from the world, because he is absolutely intellectual; but the world is corporeal; how then should the Messiah be in this world, when the world is corporeal, and ענין המשיח הוא אלהי לא גשמי, "the business of the Messiah is divine, and not corporeal?"'

And since this was the case, Caesar, or any civil government, had no reason to be uneasy on account of his being a king, and having a kingdom; since his kingdom and interests did not in the least break in upon, or injure any others: and that this was the nature of his kingdom, he proves by the following reason;

if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight that I should not be delivered to the Jews: if Christ's kingdom had been a worldly one, set up on worldly views, and governed with worldly policy, and was to answer some worldly ends, Christ would have had servants enough among the Jews, who would have declared for him, and took up arms in his favour against the Romans; his own disciples would not have suffered him to have been betrayed into the hands of the Jews by Judas; nor would he have hindered them from attempting his rescue, as he did Peter; nor would they suffer him now to be delivered by Pilate into their hands, to put him to death; since they had such a Prince at the head of them, who, was he to make use of his power, was able to drive all the Roman forces before them out of the nation, and oblige a general submission among the Jews, to the sceptre of his kingdom:

but now is my kingdom not from hence; it does not rise out of, nor proceed upon, nor is it supported by worldly principles, wherefore none of the above methods are made use of.

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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 18:36". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-18.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

11 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

(11) Christ affirms his spiritual kingdom, but rejects a worldly one.
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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on John 18:36". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/john-18.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world — He does not say “not over,” but “not of this world” - that is, in its origin and nature; therefore “no such kingdom as need give thee or thy master the least alarm.”

if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews — “A very convincing argument; for if His servants did not fight to prevent their King from being delivered up to His enemies, much less would they use force for the establishment of His kingdom” [Webster and Wilkinson].

but now — but the fact is.

is my kingdom not from hence — Our Lord only says whence His kingdom is not - first simply affirming it, next giving proof of it, then reaffirming it. This was all that Pilate had to do with. The positive nature of His kingdom He would not obtrude upon one who was as little able to comprehend it, as entitled officially to information about it. (It is worthy of notice that the “MY,” which occurs four times in this one verse - thrice of His kingdom, and once of His servants - is put in the emphatic form).

Copyright Statement
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.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 18:36". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/john-18.html. 1871-8.

People's New Testament

My kingdom is not of this world. It would be hard for Pilate to form any conception of a kingdom not of this world, a kingdom of which the subjects did not fight with carnal weapons to defend its king, or to extend its borders. He was a soldier and the representative of a monarch whose power rested on the sword. But such a kingdom was Christ's. It was not of this world, did not spring from it, was heavenly in its origin, and hence his servants would not fight that he should not be delivered to the Jews. (1) Christ's kingdom is supernatural, not of human origin. It is in the world, but not worldly. (2) It is maintained, not by carnal weapons, but by spiritual and moral means.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on John 18:36". "People's New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pnt/john-18.html. 1891.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

My kingdom (η βασιλεια η εμηhē basileia hē emē). Christ claims to be king to Pilate, but of a peculiar kingdom. For “world” (κοσμουkosmou) see John 17:13-18.

My servants (οι υπηρεται οι εμοιhoi hupēretai hoi emoi). For the word see John 18:3 where it means the temple police or guards (literally, under-rowers). In the lxx always (Prov 14:35; Isaiah 32:5; Dan 3:46) officers of a king as here. Christ then had only a small band of despised followers who could not fight against Caesar. Was he alluding also to legions of angels on his side? (Matthew 26:56).

Would fight
(ηγωνιζοντο ανēgōnizonto an). Imperfect middle of αγωνιζομαιagōnizomai common verb (only here in John, but see 1 Corinthians 9:25) from αγωνagōn (contest) with ανan a conclusion of the second-class condition (assumed as untrue). Christians should never forget the profound truth stated here by Jesus.

That I should not be delivered
(ινα μη παραδοτωhina mē paradothō). Negative final clause with ινα μηhina mē and first aorist passive subjunctive of παραδιδωμιparadidōmi (see John 18:28, John 18:36). Jesus expects Pilate to surrender to the Jews.

But now
(νυν δεnun de). In contrast to the condition already stated as in John 8:40; John 9:41; John 15:22, John 15:24.

Copyright Statement
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)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 18:36". "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

Servants ( ὑπηρέται )

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

Fight ( ἠγωνίζοντο )

The imperfect tense, denoting action in progress: would now be striving.

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Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 18:36". "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.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

My kingdom is not of this world — Is not an external, but a spiritual kingdom; that I might not be delivered to the Jews - Which Pilate had already attempted to do, John 18:31, and afterward actually did, John 19:16.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on John 18:36". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/john-18.html. 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world1: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

  1. My kingdom is not of this world. Jesus answers Pilate's question indirectly. He had done something to incur the enmity of the rulers, and that was to have authority with and exercise influence over the people (John 12:19). They objected to his kingly claims (Matthew 21:15,16; Luke 19:38,39), but Jesus shows Pilate that these kingly claims, however distasteful to the Jews, were no offense or menace against the authority of Rome. Further than this, Jesus did not define his kingdom for Pilate had no concern in it beyond this. It was sufficient to inform him that it made no use of physical power even for purposes of defense. Such a kingdom could cause no trouble to Rome, and the bare fact stated by Jesus proved that it was indeed such a kingdom.

Copyright Statement
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.
Bibliographical Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on John 18:36". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/john-18.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

The argument used here by the Savior is that though he might have called himself a king, yet the whole tenor of his life, and the peaceable demeanor of his followers, showed that his kingdom was a spiritual kingdom; that is, that he claimed to be a king only in a figurative sense.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on John 18:36". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/john-18.html. 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Царство Мое. Христос признается в том, что Он – Царь. Но одновременно для доказательства Своей невинности, Он опровергает возводимую клевету. Он отрицает, что Его Царство как то противоречит общественному порядку. Христос как бы говорит: Меня обвиняют ложно, словно Я пытался поднять волнение или что-то изменить в общественном устройстве. Я говорил о царстве Божием, но оно – духовно. Посему у тебя нет причин подозревать Меня во властолюбивых желаниях. Такова была защита Христа. И тот же самый способ защиты полезен для всех благочестивых до скончания века. Если бы царство Христово было земным, оно было бы тленным и непрочным. Ведь образ мира сего проходит. Ныне же оно зовется небесным, и отсюда выводится Его вечность. Если весь мир земной поколеблется, среди волнений и смут, среди руин и погибели наша совесть останется неколебимой, лишь бы взирала она на царство Христово. Если нечестивые тиранически мучают нас, наше спасение пребывает невредимым в Христовом царстве, не подверженном человеческим хотениям. Итак, хотя мир кипит бесчисленными смутами, в нем нет царства Христова, в котором нам и следует искать успокоение. Кроме того, нас учат, какова природа этого царства. Если бы оно делало нас счастливыми по плоти, приносило бы нам богатство и все желанное для настоящей жизни, то пахло бы миром и чем-то земным. Ныне же, хотя по виду положение наше несчастно, в нас все же пребывает незыблемая радость. Отсюда мы узнаем, кто принадлежит к этому царству. Те, кто, будучи обновлен Духом Божиим, размышляет о небесной жизни в святости и праведности. Хотя одновременно отметим: нельзя отрицать, что Царство Христово находится и в этом мире. Мы знаем, что Его престол пребывает в наших душах, подобно тому, как Сам Он говорит в другом месте: Царство Божие внутри вас есть (Лк.17:21). Так что, по сути, царство Божие, пребывая в нас, странствует в этом мире. В мире, где имеет совершенно иной статус.

Служители Мои подвизались бы. Христос доказывает, что не думает о земном царстве. Ведь никто не восстает ради Него, никто не берется за оружие. Если бы частное лицо присвоило себе царство, оно пользовалось бы силами своих сторонников. Во Христе же ничего этого нет. Отсюда следует, что Он – не земной Царь. Но спрашивается: разве не позволительно защищать царство Христово силой. Когда князьям велят приветствовать Сына Божия, им велят не только покориться Его власти как частным лицам, но и прилагать все усилия для защиты Церкви и поддержания благочестия. Отвечаю: плохо и невежественно поступают те, кто делает следующий вывод: Евангельское учение и чистое богопочитание не следует защищать с помощью оружия, поскольку тогда Христос не потребовал Себе защиты. Христос говорит лишь о том, что клевета на Него иудеев необоснованна. Кроме того, если благочестивые цари продвигают Царство Христово с помощью меча, это происходит не так, как обычно защищают земные царства. Ибо Царство Христово, будучи духовным, должно основываться на учении и силе Духа. И так же происходит его созидание. Ни законы людей, ни их эдикты, ни налагаемые наказания не доходят до людской совести. Но это не мешает князьям в нужные моменты защищать Христово царство. Частично они делают это, устанавливая внешнюю дисциплину, частично – защищая Церковь от нечестивых. Но извращенность мира приводит к тому, что царство Христово больше утверждается кровью мучеников, чем силой оружия.

 

 

 

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 18:36". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-18.html. 1840-57.

Scofield's Reference Notes

of this Gk. ek, out of, or according to.

world kosmos = world-system. 1 Corinthians 1:20; John 7:7. (See Scofield "Revelation 13:8").

Copyright Statement
These files are considered public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available in the Online Bible Software Library.
Bibliographical Information
Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on John 18:36". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/john-18.html. 1917.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

NOT IF THIS WORLD

‘My kingdom is not of this world.’

John 18:36

It is time that defenders of the Christian Faith gave up apologising for it. If Christians are to conquer, it will be in the sign of the Cross; not by adopting the principles of their adversaries, but by the compelling audacity with which they display their own.

I. The reproach of other-worldliness is inevitable.—It is natural for writers like George Eliot or Cotter Morrison, whose horizon is limited by death, to be distressed when they see some of the best men occupied in matters which appear, and must appear, to them as futile—in prayer, which they must deem elaborate triviality, or in preaching a repentance which is only by fits and starts socially beneficent. It is not, of course, the worse but the better Christians whom altruists grudge to the service of God. ‘Other-worldliness’ may mean worldliness of the worst kind. You may talk of the value of treasure in heaven when you merely mean that you do not desire to be disturbed in the enjoyment of your treasure on earth. It is mere hypocrisy to say that suffering is a means of grace and comfort does not matter, when you mean that it does matter to you, and does not to those who have to endure the results of your selfishness. If our critics force us to the question, how far the Cross is anything real to us, or how we fulfil the duty of brotherhood, we ought only to thank them in deep penitence.

II. Still, though the reproach may be true in detail, taken as a whole it has no grounds.—Christianity is other-worldly. It is not merely a system of thought, or a moral code, or a philanthropy, or a romance, or all of these added together, that render it a mystery so ‘rich and strange.’ It is something unique. It attracts alike and repels men because it is itself, and not anything else. Alike in basis and nature, in motive and method, in ideal and result, the Christian Faith differs from all its rivals far more than it resembles them. This is the very reason why it always eludes and yet evokes their criticism. From the non-Christian standpoint we are bound to appear irrational, quixotic, futile, silly. If we do not appear so, it is because we have lowered the flag, and are striving to fight the world with its own weapons—a course which nothing could redeem from insincerity save its inherent stupidity. For the children of this world are, in their generation, wiser—very much wiser—than the children of light.

III. Christianity is not in its basis of this world.—It is no mere system of thought based upon reflection. It is a life rooted in faith. Thus a supernatural grace, a gift from beyond, is its foundation; for faith is more than an intellectual conviction. It is, of course, arguable that we are under a delusion in claiming this high prerogative; it is not arguable that having made the claim we are free to discuss the creed, as though it rested on some foundation other than faith, such as reasoning or historical criticism. The Creed may well find illumination in many different philosophies, which will vary with the temper of the time and the temperament of the individual. But it can never be identified with any one of them without ceasing to be itself.

IV. It is God we are seeking for.—The other world, which alone can give reality to this, alone can invest duty with enduring meaning, can find for beneficence a certain value, for knowledge an ordered place, and flash upon the shows of earthly beauty some hint at least of the eternal. Men bid us limit our aims and hopes to this life, and turn from the dazzling mirage of the other. Our answer is that we cannot. We may try, try hard, try—as a race—for generations, for centuries; but we cannot do it. God is calling us. In all ages He calls men to their home. More than ever are the signs of His call apparent in the restless, childish, pathetically eager world in which we live. ‘For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.’ It is not so much impious or sinful to seek to chain to earth beings born to give gladness to angels, or to treat as things of this world only spirits who may be the friends of God, as it is futile. It is impossible. It may not be. ‘For God created man to be immortal, and made him an image of His own eternity.’

—Rev. J. Neville Figgis.

Illustration

‘The Christian is gay. Was there ever a more unconventionally joyful spirit than St. Paul, or any schoolboy so playful as St. Francis? Not peace nor unison, not joy, not strength nor earnestness is the cachet of the Christian, but gaiety. He is ever shocking worldly men, strenuous moralists, by some play of the spirit which seems sacrilegious. This gaiety is other-worldly in origin—it comes from the love of One unseen; it is grounded on the belief that nothing really matters if all this works together for good to them that love God, and it is nurtured by the daily denial and sacrifice which is the inevitable and invariable consequence of love. There is no true love, earthly or heavenly, which does not issue in sacrifice and giving. And the suffering inherent is its glory and its crown, and the Cross its symbol. It is this eternal romanticism, this paradox of the Crucifix, that makes Christians incomprehensible to every one else—now as ever, to the Jews a stumblingblock, to the Greeks foolishness. Like the poet whose heart dances with the daffodils, the Christian delights in the world of things and events with a sense of their inner glory, that seems all but blasphemous to the serious moralist, and the educated worldling, who associate gaiety with the frivolous and are staggered by a religion so light-hearted and full of colour, so passionate and reckless.’

(SECOND OUTLINE)

THE CHURCH AND THE STATE

This text is frequently persistently and mischievously misquoted and misapplied.

I. It is alleged that in and by these words our Lord condemned any union between Church and State.—Neither in the words of our Lord, nor in the circumstances which called them forth, nor in the objects which He appears to have had in view, nor in the false charge made against our Lord which His words were intended to meet and refute, was there anything to show that when our Lord spake these words He intended to condemn any union between Church and State, or that when He spake them, He had any possible future relations of Church and State in His mind. Yet these words of our Lord are quoted, and have been traditionally quoted, as if He had uttered them as condemnatory of what are called ‘Established Churches,’ or as if they were expressive of some fundamental principle incompatible with any settled arrangement or alliance between the spiritual and civil powers. For all this neither in the text nor context is there an atom of foundation. Our Lord was accused of trying to make Himself a king, and of endeavouring to set up a kingdom in opposition to Cæsar. His answer was thus: He did not deny that He was a King. He did not disclaim the idea of His purpose to set up a kingdom. But He affirmed that His kingdom was of such a nature that Cæsar had no reason to fear competition or rivalry for earthly dominion from Him, because His Kingdom was ‘not of this world.’ It is only a slavish parrot-like repetition of the traditional misinterpretation and misquotation of this passage that could find in it any logical reference to the relations between Church and State.

II. So far as the Church of England is concerned, as a Church having some relations with the State, we have never understood her in any way to say or claim anything contrary to these words of our Lord. She claims to be—and is primarily as her distinguishing characteristic—a purely spiritual and ecclesiastical body. As to her spiritual authority for her orders, faith, and essential principles of worship and government, she is certainly ‘not of this world.’ All these are of Divine origin. Much that is human may mingle with them, and so far defects and abuses may manifest themselves as human excrescences adhering to things of Divine origin; but these do not alter the foundations on which the Church is built, nor the source whence she sprang, nor her essentially spiritual character.

III. It is impossible for anything in the shape of an institution, however Divine it may be, having for its members imperfect men and women, not to have human relations, and not to exhibit some imperfections in these relations. It is beyond the reach of possibility for any religious society, whether it is what is called established, or unestablished, or disestablished, if it claims the protection of the State in which it exists, and if the State grants such protection, not to be to some extent in one way or another recognised by the State, privileged by the State, regulated by the State, and controlled by the State. Hence, of necessity, at once some kind of relation or union between such a society and the State is immediately established. The question then is what kind of relation or union is it to be? It is not a mere question of relation or no relation, or union, or non-union between Church and State, for relation and union of some kind there must be.

The question is, what form shall this union or mere relation assume? There may be some things, or indeed many things, in the long existing and gradually extending relations between the Church and the State in this country which it is not only expedient but necessary that we should revise, modify, and readjust; but there is nothing in the requirements of our Lord’s teaching to render an absolute abolition of the relations between Church and State necessary, nor is such an abolition as is regarded as freeing the Church from State control in matters of religion possible.

Rev. Thomas Moore.

Illustration

‘Let us never be ashamed to maintain that no Government can expect to prosper which refuses to recognise religion, which deals with its subjects as if they had no souls, and cares not whether they serve God, or Baal, or no God at all. Such a Government will find, sooner or later, that its line of policy is suicidal, and damaging to its best interests. No doubt the kings of this world cannot make men Christians by laws and statutes. But they can encourage and support Christianity, and they will do so if they are wise. The kingdom where there is the most industry, temperance, truthfulness, and honesty, will always be the most prosperous of kingdoms. The king who wants to see these things abound among his subjects, should do all that lies in his power to help Christianity and to discourage irreligion.’

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on John 18:36". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/john-18.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

Ver. 36. My kingdom is not of this world] Christ could not be received as a God into the Pantheon at Rome, for he lacked worshippers, preached poverty, and chose mean men for his disciples. Domitian the emperor, after he had banished John into Patmos, and Domicillia Flavia, his own sister’s daughter, with many more, into Pontus, and put various to death for that they were Christians, he commanded all such Jews as he could find to be put to death, that were of the stock of David. Among whom, meeting with some Christians also, that were allied to Christ, and understanding that they were poor harmless people, he dismissed them, and by proclamation forbade any more to be martyred. {Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, l. 3. c. 19,20. 1:237,239}

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 18:36". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-18.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

John 18:36

I. Consider the nature of Christ's kingdom, "My kingdom is not of this world." It is spiritual. In other words, the emphatic mark of the rule of Christ which He was about to set up seems to be that of its perfect spirituality, of its utter unlikeness to those shifting earthly sovereignties which are founded in arms, which are maintained by policy, which are passed by death from one hand to another; or to that rude and turbulent anarchy which has often cast down and destroyed nations. He goes on to say, "If My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight." The points at issue between us would have to be decided by the broad tests of earthly warfare, strength measured against strength, and skill against skill, till one of the opposing forces should give way. But, as we see throughout our Lord's ministrations, He never would employ force at all. From the first, the Saviour was careful to impress on all who should come after Him that the weapons of the Christian warfare are not carnal, that the wrath of man could never work the righteousness of God, and that, when undertaking any work for Him, if we could not accomplish it by the power of loving suasion, gentleness and meekness, we should never accomplish it in any other way.

II. Consider how Christ establishes and maintains His dominion in our own hearts: (1) The means by which His subjects are brought into the kingdom are not of this world. He uses no force, employs no bribes, has recourse to no deceit or guile. The agency which works in the heart is the power of love; the hidden strength of Gospel bonds; the remnants of a better nature appealed to to say whether such a Saviour should be slighted by anybody with a heart at all. (2) There are laws and statutes by which the spiritual government is carried on. These are not like those which belong to a kingdom of this world, not like them in regard to the seat and limits of their jurisdiction. The empire of Christ is over the heart, and is satisfied with nothing but the casting down of heart-pride, and the rooting out of heart-sin, and the maintaining in all its subjects of heart-allegiance and duty. (3) The chastisements and the rewards of Christ's kingdom are not of the world. The attribute of spirituality marks all His dealings. Not of this world is our kingdom, not of this world is our hope. We look for a kingdom which shall not be moved, and whose King is both the first-begotten from the dead and the Prince of the kings of the earth.

D. Moore, Penny Pulpit, No. 3122.

References: John 18:36.—A. Mursell, Christian World Pulpit, vol. iv., p. 225; E. de Pressensé, Ibid., vol. xvi., p. 122; Homiletic Magazine, vol. xii., p. 193; Parker, Cavendish Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 205; S. A. Brooke, Sermons, p. 180; J. H. Evans, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. xv., pp. 249, 261, 273, 285; D. Swing, American Pulpit of the Day, p. 241. John 18:36-38.—Homilist, 3rd series, vol. i., p. 206.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on John 18:36". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/john-18.html.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

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).

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 18:36". 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 18:36. βασιλεία, kingdom) Thrice Jesus names His kingdom.— οὐκ, not) Jesus merely says from whence His kingdom is not, namely, not of this world; but does not express whence it is, namely, from heaven. However He intimates it, when He says, that “He came into the world,” John 18:37.— ἐκ) The particle of or from is to be marked. See note on Revelation 11:15, “The seventh angel sounded, and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever.” For ἐν and ἐκ differ: above, ch. John 17:11; John 17:14, “I am no longer in ( ἐν) the world;” “I am not of ( ἐκ) the world.” ἐκ denotes precisely the origin, as presently after ἐντεῦθεν, from hence. [Comp. Erklär. Offenb. p. 553.—V. g.]— κόσμου τούτου, of this world) On this account Christ did not stay long in this life.— εἰ ἐκ, if of) Of this world is emphatically put in the beginning of the clause [not βασιλεία ἐμὴ ἦν ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου, but ἐκ τ. κοσμ. is put first]. The world defends its kingdoms by force of arms.— ὑπηρέται, My servants, ministers) who are not from or of this world.— ἠγωνίζοντο, would fight) Each kind of agent acts in its own sphere.— παραδοθῶ, that I should not be delivered) Pilate was already contemplating this, John 18:31.— νῦν, now, as it is) The particle is adversative, not a particle of time.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 18:36". 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

My kingdom is not of this world; that is, I cannot deny but that I am the King of the Jews, but not in the sense they take it, not such a king as they look for in their Messiah; my kingdom is spiritual, over the hearts and minds of men, not earthly and worldly. And of this thou thyself mayest be convinced; for was there ever an earthly prince apprehended and bound for whom none of his subjects would take up arms? There is none of my disciples that takes up arms, or offereth to fight for me; which is a plain evidence, that I pretend to no kingly power in disturbance of the Roman government.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 18:36". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/john-18.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

Царство Мое не от мира сего Этим Иисус хотел сказать, что Его царство не связано с земными политическими и государственными организациями, и оно также не берет начало от греховной мировой системы, воюющей против Бога. Если бы Его царство было от мира сего, то Он бы сражался. Царствования этого мира сохраняют себя тем, что защищаются силой. Царство Мессии берет начало не от человеческих усилий, а от Сына Божьего, Который сильно и решительно побеждает грех в жизни Его людей и однажды покорит греховную мировую систему при Своем Втором пришествии, когда установит Свое земное Царство. Его Царство не угрожало национальной независимости Израиля или политической или военной целостности Рима. Оно будет существовать в духовном измерении до конца веков (Отк. 11:15).

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on John 18:36". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/john-18.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Not of this world; not an earthly kingdom. The kingdom of Jesus Christ is a spiritual kingdom. He reigns by truth and love over the hearts and lives of men. the friends of truth obey his voice, and find in doing it great reward. 2 Corinthians 4:2; Psalms 19:11.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on John 18:36". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/john-18.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

36.My kingdom—Jesus, in words, evades Pilate’s last question, and returns to the topic of his royalty; and yet in so doing he answers Pilate’s question, what he has done. He has performed the part of a heaven-sent king.

Not of this world—My kingdom is not one of the political nations of the earth. It is not an organism like the Roman empire, founded upon physical force, sustained by military establishments, defended by fortifications and entrenched in capitals.

Then would my servants fightAlluding, doubtless, to the scene of his arrest, when he bade Peter put up his sword. Well would it have been if the pretended successors of St. Peter had kept the sword put up.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 18:36". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-18.html. 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘Jesus answered, “My kingship is not of this world. If my kingship were of this world my servants would then be fighting so that I would not be delivered to the Jews. But my kingdom is not now from there”.’

Jesus now made quite clear that He had done nothing to worry Pilate. The very fact that no followers had tried to deliver Him should have demonstrated that. Then He stressed that although in a way He was a king, the kingdom over which He ruled was not of this world. He was not seeking to rule over an earthly kingdom. This was made quite clear. He was not postponing such a kingdom, for He had not come to be the king of an earthly kingdom. He was pointing out that His kingly rule out was outside of the earthly sphere completely. This was a heavenly matter.

‘My kingship is not of this world.’ Those who come under His rule are those who are raised into heavenly places (Ephesians 1:19 to Ephesians 2:6). They walk with Him and share His glory, and the world cannot touch them. It may destroy their bodies but it cannot touch them. For like Him they are above the world. It is a spiritual kingdom. To them the world is not worth fighting for. Neither He nor they are trying to gain any territory or defeat anyone. They are not interested in earthly power or gain.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on John 18:36". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/john-18.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Jesus explained that He was indeed a king, as He claimed. However, His kingdom was not the type of kingdom that would compete with Pilate"s kingdom by waging war. Jesus was not denying that His kingdom was an earthly kingdom. He was not saying it was only the spiritual rule of God over the hearts of His people. He was not saying that His kingdom had nothing to do with this world either. [Note: Beasley-Murray, p331.] This should be clear from Jesus" other references to His kingdom as being an earthly kingdom. His point was that He and His kingdom were not a present threat to Rome (cf18:10-11). The reason was that God had postponed the messianic kingdom due to Israel"s unbelief, though Jesus did not explain this to Pilate.

Jesus" kingdom is "not of this realm" or "from another place" (Gr. ouk enteuthen, lit. not from this place) in another sense. It will come down from heaven to the earth rather than originating from the earth. It will begin when Jesus comes down from heaven to earth at His second coming.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 18:36". "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 18:36. Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants strive, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate had hardly comprehended the charge that Jesus made Himself a King. That Jesus really was so is the great point now to be established,—the point to the confession of which Pilate shall ultimately be brought. Jesus, accordingly, without replying directly to die question, ‘What hast thou done?’ turns to this. It is not His chief aim to explain the distinction between a spiritual and a political kingdom, a distinction which the Roman governor would hardly have been able to appreciate. It is to satisfy Pilate that He may be and is a King, although in a sense different from that in which Pilate understood the word. For the same purpose He adds, ‘Then would my servants strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews:’—where the word ‘servants’ (the same as ‘officers’ in John 18:18) does not point to spiritual disciples of the Lord, but to such as would be His attendants and soldiers if He were a monarch of this world. The mark of an earthly kingdom thus selected is precisely to the purpose of our Lord’s argument as we have understood it. Pilate thought that He could not be a King, else His servants would strive to prevent His present humiliation and fate. That is no argument against My royal claims in their true sense, is the reply, for My kingdom is not one that has its origin in this world. In short, the whole argument is not one of self-defence alone; it is intended to lead Pilate to the acknowledgment that the prisoner before him is a King. Thus also the ‘now’ must be understood as the ‘now’ of the Divine counsels, not of merely present time. The period can never come when other words than those before us may be used of the kingdom of Christ. It is never ‘of this world,’ never ‘from hence.’

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 18:36". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/john-18.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

John 18:36. But Jesus accepts the allegation of the Jews and proceeds to explain in what sense He is king: . . . My kingdom is not of a worldly nature, nor is it established by worldly means. Had it been so, my servants would have striven to prevent my being surrendered to the Jews. But as things are, , since it is indisputable that no armed resistance or rescue has been attempted, it is put beyond question that my kingdom is not from hence. “The substitution of ‘hence’ for ‘of this world’ in the last clause appears to define the idea of the world by an immediate reference to the representatives of it close at hand.” Westcott. Perhaps this rather limits the reference. Jesus uses as one who has other worlds than this in view.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 18:36". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/john-18.html. 1897-1910.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

servants. Greek huperetes. Same word as "officer", John 18:3.

now. Greek. nun, as in John 17:5.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 18:36". "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

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world, [ Hee (Greek #3588) basileia (Greek #932) hee (Greek #3588) emee (Greek #1699)]. The "My" here is emphatic: q.d., 'This kingdom of Mine.' He does not say it is not 'in' or 'over,' but it is not "of this world" [ ek (Greek #1537) tou (Greek #3588) kosmou (Greek #2889) toutou (Greek #5127)], that is, in its origin and nature; and so, is no such kingdom as need give thee or thy master the least alarm.

If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews - `a very convincing argument,' as Webster and Wilkinson observe; 'for if His servants did not fight to prevent their king from being delivered up to His enemies, much less would they use force for the establishment of His kingdom.'

But now is ('but the fact is') my kingdom not from hence. Our Lord only says whence His kingdom is not-first simply affirming it, next giving proof of it, then re-affirming it. This was all that Pilate had to do with. The positive nature of His kingdom He would not obtrude upon one who was as little able to comprehend it as entitled officially to information about it. It is worthy of notice that the "MY," which occurs four times in this one verse-thrice of His kingdom and once of His servants-is put in the emphatic form.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 18:36". "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

(36) Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world.—The answer of Jesus is two-fold, declaring (1) in this verse, that He is not a King in the political sense; and (2) in John 18:37, that He is a King in the moral sense. By “of this world” we are to understand that the nature and origin of His kingdom are not of this world, not that His kingdom will not extend in this world. (Comp. John 8:23; John 10:16.) In the world’s sense of king and kingdom, in the sense in which the Roman empire claimed to rule the world, He had no kingdom.

Then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews.—Better, then would My servants have been fighting. (Comp. John 19:16.) His “servants” are His disciples, who would be in this relation to Him if He were a temporal king, and the crowds such as those who had sought to make Him king (John 6:15), and had filled Jerusalem with the cry, “Hosanna: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel” (John 12:13). One of His servants had drawn the sword (John 18:10), and, but that His will had checked the popular feeling, neither the Jewish officers nor the Roman cohort could have delivered Him to be crucified.

But now is my kingdom not from hence.—That is, “But, as a matter of fact, My kingdom is not from here.” It was proved by His standing bound in the presence of the procurator. The clause has been strangely pressed into the service of millennial views by interpreting it, “But now My kingdom is not from hence. Hereafter it will be.” For the true sense of “now,” comp. John 8:40; John 9:41; John 15:22; John 15:24.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 18:36". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-18.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
Jesus
1 Timothy 6:13
My kingdom is
6:15; 8:15; Psalms 45:3-7; Isaiah 9:6,7; Daniel 2:44; 7:14; Zechariah 9:9; Luke 12:14; Luke 17:20,21; Romans 14:17; Colossians 1:12-14
then
Reciprocal: 2 Kings 10:3 - fight for;  Jeremiah 30:21 - governor;  Daniel 7:17 - out;  Matthew 12:19 - GeneralMatthew 20:26 - it;  Matthew 26:51 - GeneralMark 10:43 - so;  Luke 12:32 - the kingdom;  Luke 22:38 - It;  Luke 23:2 - that;  John 8:11 - Neither;  John 18:34 - Sayest;  Acts 2:30 - he;  Acts 7:27 - Who;  1 Corinthians 5:12 - what

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 18:36". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-18.html.

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

Ver. 36. "Jesus answered. My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is My kingdom not from hence."

Jesus is not speaking of the nature of His kingdom, but simply and alone of its origin. Augustin: He does not say, But now is not My kingdom here, but hence. Lampe: To be erected indeed in the world, but not of the world. To "of this world" and "hence" is opposed "of heaven:" comp. ch. John 8:23 and James 4:1, where "hence" forms a contrast to "from above," ch. John 3:17; comp. "earthly," ἐπίγειος, James 3:15. Bengel: "Whence it is, that is from heaven, He does not plainly say; but He hints it when He says that He had come into the world." The best comment on the words of Christ is furnished by the original passages of Daniel, on which it rests. The four universal kingdoms of Daniel are followed by a fifth of absolutely heavenly origin, the Messianic kingdom, which, on account of that origin, was all-comprehensive and eternal. It is all the more obvious that we must have recourse to that passage, inasmuch as Jesus ever has it in His eyes when speaking of the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven. We read in Daniel 2:34-35 : "Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together; . . . and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth." Again, ver. 44: "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all" these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever." Finally, ch. John 7:13-14 : "I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him (by the Ancient of days) dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." To the last quoted prophecy our Lord refers also in Matthew 28:18, "All power is given unto Me." There is perhaps no passage of the Old Testament to which the Lord so frequently alludes as this (comp. my Christology, vol. iii.).

The word of Jesus, "My kingdom is not of this world," has often been perverted in the interests of a theory which would sunder the state from the dominion of Christ. Rightly understood, the passage subserves the very opposite purpose. The kingdom that sprang directly from heaven must have absolute authority over all the earth, and it will not submit to be put into obscurity or into a corner. The necessary consequence of the saying, "not of this world, not from here," is what we find written in Revelation 11:15 : "The kingdoms of the world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Anointed; and He shall reign for ever." In the original of Daniel, all peoples are represented as serving this kingdom. It does not occupy, by the side of this world's kingdom, a sphere sundered from it, and not occupied by it; but it breaks that power down under itself. The fact that all the Evangelists so carefully relate the Lord's assumption of His Kingship before human authority, is explained only on the ground that He is, as the Apocalypse styles Him, the King of kings, and that kings and states do not exist with Him, and concurrently with His kingdom, but are absolutely under His authority.

Christ does not say to Pilate, "My kingdom has nothing to do with yours;" but He intimates that His kingdom, not being of earthly origin, could not be contended for or against with earthly resources. Pilate would perfectly understand what was enough. The accusation was of political insurrection, of a course of conduct like that of the Egyptian, Acts 21:38; Theudas, Acts 5:36; and Judas the Galilean, ver. 37. If Jesus kept aloof from all such courses, if He expected the foundation of His kingdom only "from heaven," "without hands," then He was either a harmless enthusiast, or that for which He gave Himself out, in which case all opposition to Him would be blasphemous and vain: the word of Gamaliel would hold good, "But if it be of God, ye cannot overturn it, lest haply ye be found fighting against God."

The reference to Pilate's question, "Art thou the King of the Jews?" exhibits the βασιλεία, the kingdom, not In a passive, but in an active sense: meaning "My kingly power, My dominion." So also "kingdom" is used in Revelation 1:6; Revelation 11:15; Revelation 12:10; Revelation 17:18.

"My servants," not the angels. Matthew 26:53, for these belong to a heavenly region; but here servants, ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου, are spoken of: they are rather the disciples of Christ, who, not reckoning the abortive act of Peter, never did anything of this kind; or the servants whom Christ would have in the future for such a case. The latter is better, as in the Gospels the disciples are described as the ὑπηρέται of Christ. It does not say, "They would have fought," but "they would fight," Vulg. decertarent; for the surrender to the Jews was not yet complete: it was then only perfect when Pilate fulfilled the desires of the Jews, comp. John 19:16.

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Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on John 18:36". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/john-18.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

36.My kingdom is not of this world. By these words he acknowledges that he is a king, but, so far as was necessary to prove his innocence, he clears himself of the calumny; for he declares, that there is no disagreement between his kingdom and political government or order; (154) as if he had said, “I am falsely accused, as if I had attempted to produce a dis-turbanee, or to make a revolution in public affairs. I have preached about the kingdom of God; but that is spiritual, and, therefore, you have no right to suspect me of aspiring to kingly power.” This defense was made by Christ before Pilate, but the same doctrine is useful to believers to the end of the world; for if the kingdom of Christ were earthly, it would be frail and changeable, because

the fashion of this world passeth away,
(
1 Corinthians 7:31;)

but now, since it is pronounced to be heavenly, this assures us of its perpetuity. Thus, should it happen, that the whole world were overturned, provided that our consciences are always directed to the kingdom of Christ, they will, nevertheless, remain firm, not only amidst shakings and convulsions, but even amidst dreadful ruin and destruction. If we are cruelly treated by wicked men, still our salvation is secured by the kingdom of Christ, which is not subject to the caprice of men. In short, thougll there are innumerable storms by which the world is continually agitated, the kingdom of Christ, in which we ought to seek tranquillity, is separated from the world.

We are taught, also, what is the nature of this kingdom; for if it made us happy according to the flesh, and brought us riches, luxuries, and all that is desirable for the use of the present life, it would smell of the earth and of the world; but now, though our condition be apparently wretched, still our true happiness remains unimpaired. We learn from it, also, who they are that belong to this Mngdom; those who, having been renewed by the Spirit of God, contemplate the heavenly life in holiness and righteousness. Yet it deserves our attention, likewise, that it is not said, that the kingdom of Christ is not in this world; for we know that it has its seat in our hearts, as also Christ says elsewhcre, The kingdom of God is within you, (Luke 17:21.) But, strictly speaking, the kingdom of God, while it dwells in us, is a stranger to the world, because its condition is totally different.

My servants would strive. He proves that he did not aim at an earthly kingdom, because no one moves, no one takes arms in his support; for if a private individual lay claim to royal authority, he must gain power by means of seditious men. Nothing of this kind is seen in Christ; and, therefore, it follows that he is not an earthly king.

But here a question arises, Is it not law fill to defend the kingdom of Christ by arms? For when Kings and Princes (155) are commanded to kiss the Son of God, (Psalms 2:10) not only are they enjoined to submit to his authority in their private capacity, but also to employ all the power that they possess, in defending the Church and maintaining godliness. I answer, first, they who draw this conclusion, that the doctrine of the Gospel and the pure worship of God ought not to be defended by arms, are unskillful and ignorant reasoners; for Christ argues only from the facts of the case in hand, how frivolous were the calumnies which the Jews had brought against him. Secondly, though godly kings defend the kingdom of Christ by the sword, still it is done in a different manner from that in which worldly kingdoms are wont to be defended; for the kingdom of Christ, being spiritual, must be founded on the doctrine and power of the Spirit. In the same manner, too, its edification is promoted; for neither the laws and edicts of men, nor the punishments inflicted by them, enter into the consciences. Yet this does not hinder princes from accidentally defending the kingdom of Christ; partly, by appointing external discipline, and partly, by lending their protection to the Church against wicked men. It results, however, from the depravity of the world, that the kingdom of Christ is strengthened more by the blood of the martyrs than by the aid of arms.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 18:36". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-18.html. 1840-57.