Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 18:40

So they cried out again, saying, "Not this Man, but Barabbas." Now Barabbas was a robber.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Barabbas;   Demagogism;   Jesus, the Christ;   Pilate, Pontius;   Prisoners;   Thompson Chain Reference - Barabbas;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Denial of Christ;   Roman Empire, the;  
Dictionaries:
Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Persecution;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Barabbas;   Robbery;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Barabbas;   Robbery;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Jewish Parties in the New Testament;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Barabbas;   Pilate;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Acceptance (2);   Barabbas ;   Insurrection ;   Murder (2);   Prisoner;   Robber ;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Barabbas ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Barabbas;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Barab'bas;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Barabbas;   Cry, Crying;   Pilate, Pontius;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Barabbas;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Barabbas was a robber - See Matthew 27:16. The later Syriac has in the margin, αρχιλῃστης, a chief robber, a captain of banditti, and it is probable that this was the case. He was not only a person who lived by plunder, but shed the blood of many of those whom he and his gang robbed, and rose up against the Roman government, as we learn from Luke 23:19. There never existed a more perfidious, cruel, and murderous people than these Jews; and no wonder they preferred a murderer to the Prince of peace. Christ himself had said, If ye were of the world, the world would love its own. Like cleaves to like: hence we need not be surprised to find the vilest things still preferred to Christ, his kingdom, and his salvation.

  1. It is not easy to give the character of Pilate. From the manner of his conduct, we scarcely can tell when he is in jest or in earnest. He appears to have been fully convinced of the innocence of Christ; and that the Jews, through envy and malice, desired his destruction. On this ground he should have released him; but he was afraid to offend the Jews. He knew they were an uneasy, factious, and seditious people; and he was afraid to irritate them. Fiat justitia, ruat caelum! was no motto of his. For fear of the clamors of this bad people, he permitted all the forms and requisitions of justice to be outraged, and abandoned the most innocent Jesus to their rage and malice. In this case he knew what was truth, but did not follow its dictates; and he as hastily abandoned the author of it as he did the question he had asked concerning it. Pilate, it is true, was disposed to pity - the Jews were full of malice and cruelty. They both, however, joined in the murder of our Lord. The most that we can say for Pilate is, that he was disposed to justice, but was not inclined to hazard his comfort or safety in doing it. He was an easy, pliable man, who had no objection to do a right thing if it should cost him no trouble; but he felt no disposition to make any sacrifice, even in behalf of innocence, righteousness, and truth. In all the business Pilate showed that he was not a good man; and the Jews proved that they were of their father, the devil. See John 19:8.
  • As Dr. Lightfoot has entered into a regular examination of when and how the Jews lost the power of life and death in criminal cases, it may be necessary to lay before the reader a copious abstract of his researches on this subject, founded on John 18:31.
  • "It cannot be denied that all capital judgment, or sentence upon life, had been taken from the Jews for above forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem, as they oftentimes themselves confess. But how came this to pass? It is commonly received that the Romans, at this time the Jews' lords and masters, had taken from all their courts a power and capacity of judging the capital matters. Let us superadd a few things here. Rabh Cahna saith, When R. Ismael bar Jose lay sick, they sent to him, saying, Pray, sir, tell us two or three things which thou didst once tell us in the name of thy Father. He saith to them, A hundred and fourscore years before the destruction of the temple, the wicked kingdom (the Roman empire) reigned over Israel, fourscore years before the destruction of the temple, they (the fathers of the Sanhedrin) determined about the uncleanness of the heathen land, and about glass vessels. Forty years before the destruction of the temple, the Sanhedrin removed and sat in the Taberne. What is the meaning of this tradition? Rabbi Isaac bar Abdimi saith, They did not judge judgments of mulcts. The gloss is, Those are the judgments about fining any that offered violence, that entice a maid, and the price of a servant. When, therefore, they did not sit in the room Gazith, they did not judge about these things, and so those judgments about mulcts or fines ceased. Avodoh Zarah. fol. 82. Here we have one part of their judiciary power lost; not taken away from them by the Romans, but falling of itself, as it were, out of the hands of the Sanhedrin. Nor did the Romans indeed take away their power of judging in capital matters; but they, by their own oscitancy, supine and unreasonable lenity, lost it themselves, for so the Gemara goes on: Rabh Hachman bar Isaac saith, Let him not say that they did not judge judgments of mulcts, for they did not judge capital judgments either. And whence comes this? When they saw that so many murders and homicides multiplied upon them that they could not well judge and call them to account, they said, It is better for us that we remove from place to place; for how can we otherwise (sitting here and not punishing them) not contract guilt upon ourselves?

    "They thought themselves obliged to punish murderers while they sat in the room Gazith, for the place itself engaged them to it. They are the words of the Gemarists, upon which the gloss. The room Gazith was half of it within, and half of it without, the holy place. The reason of which was, that it was requisite that the council should sit near the Divine Majesty. Hence it is that they say, Whoever constitutes an unfit judge is as if he planted a grove by the altar of the Lord, as it is written, Judges and officers shalt thou make thee; and it follows presently after, Thou shalt not plant thee a grove near the altar of the Lord thy God, Deuteronomy 16:18, Deuteronomy 16:21. They removed therefore from Gazith, and sat in the Taberne; now though the Taberne were upon the mountain of the temple, yet they did not sit so near the Divine Majesty there as they did when they sat in the room Gazith.

    "Let us now in order put the whole matter together.

    "I. The Sanhedrin were most stupidly and unreasonably remiss in their punishment of capital offenders; going upon this reason especially, that they counted it so horrible a thing to put an Israelite to death. Forsooth, he is of the seed of Abraham, of the blood and stock of Israel, and you must have a care how you touch such a one!

    "R. Eliezer bar Simeon had laid hold on some thieves. R. Joshua bar Korchah sent to him, saying, O thou vinegar, the son of good wine! (i.e. O thou wicked son of a good father!) how long wilt thou deliver the people of God to the slaughter! He answered and said, I root the thorns out of the vineyard. To whom the other: Let the Lord of the vineyard come and root them out himself. Bava Meziah, fol. 83, 2. It is worth noting, that the very thieves of Israel are the people of God; and they must not be touched by any man, but referred to the judgment of God himself!

    "When R. Ismael bar R. Jose was constituted a magistrate by the king, there happened some such thing to him; for Elias himself rebuked him, saying, How long wilt thou deliver over the people of God to slaughter! Ibid. fol. 64, 1. Hence that which we alleged elsewhere: The Sanhedrin that happens to sentence any one to death within the space of seven years, is termed a destroyer. R. Eliezer ben Azariah saith it is so, if they should but condemn one within seventy years. Maccoth, fol. 7, 1.

    "II. It is obvious to any one how this foolish remissness, and letting loose the reins of judgment, would soon increase the numbers of robbers, murderers, and all kinds of wickedness; and indeed they did so abundantly multiply that the Sanhedrin neither could nor durst, as it ought, call the criminals to account. The law slept, while wickedness was in the height of its revels; and punitive justice was so out of countenance that as to uncertain murders they made no search, and against certain ones they framed no judgement. Since the time that homicides multiplied, the beheading the heifer ceased. Sotoh, fol. 47, 1. And in the place before quoted in Avodah: When they saw the numbers of murderers so greatly increase that they could not sit in judgment upon them, they said, Let us remove, etc., fol. 8, 2. So in the case of adultery, which we also observed in our notes on John 8:3-11. Since the time that adultery so openly advanced, under the second temple, they left off trying the adultress by the bitter water, etc. Mainaon. in Sotoh, cap. 3.

    "So that, we see, the liberty of judging in capital matters was no more taken from the Jews by the Romans than the beheading of the heifer, or the trial of the suspected wife by the bitter waters, was taken away by them, which no one will affirm. It is a tradition of R. Chaia, from the day wherein the temple was destroyed, though the Sanhedrin ceased, yet the four kinds of death (which were wont to be inflicted by the Sanhedrin) did not cease. For he that had deserved to be stoned to death, either fell off from some house, or some wild beast tore and devoured him. He that had deserved burning, either fell into some fire, or some serpent bit him. He that had deserved to be slain (i.e. with the sword) was either delivered into the hands of some heathen king, or was murdered by robbers. He that had deserved strangling, was either drowned in some river, or choked by a squinancy.

    "This must be observed from the evangelists, that when they had Christ in examination in the palace of the high priest all night, in the morning the whole Sanhedrin met that they might pass sentence of death upon him. Where then was this that they met? Questionless in the room Gazith - at least if they adhered to their own rules and constitutions: Thither they betook themselves sometimes upon urgent necessity. The gloss before quoted excepts only the case of murder, with which, amongst all their false accusations, they never charged Christ.

    "But, however, suppose it were granted that the great council met either in the Taberne, or some other place, (which yet agreed by no means with their own tradition), did they deal truly, and as the matter really and indeed was, with Pilate, when they tell him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death? He had said to them, Take ye him and judge him according to your laws. We have indeed judged and condemned him, but we cannot put any one to death. Was this that they said in fact true? How came they then to stone the proto-martyr Stephen? How came they to stone Ben Sarda at Lydda? Hieros. Sanhed. fol. 25, 4. How came they to burn the priest's daughter alive that was taken in adultery? Bab. Sanhed. fol. 52, 1, and 51, 1. It is probable that they had not put any one to death as yet, since the time that they had removed out of Gazith, and so might the easier persuade Pilate in that case. But their great design was to throw off the odium of Christ's death from themselves; at least among the vulgar crowd; fearing them, if the council should have decreed his execution. They seek this evasion, therefore, which did not altogether want some color and pretext of truth; and it succeeded according to what they desired. Divine Providence so ordering it as the evangelist intimates, John 18:32, That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake signifying what death he should die: that is, be crucified according to the custom of the Romans. While I am upon this thought, I cannot but reflect upon that passage, than which nothing is more worthy observation in the whole description of the Roman beast in the Revelation, Revelation 13:4. The dragon which gave power to the beast. We cannot say this of the Assyrian, Babylonish, or any other monarchy; for the Holy Scriptures do not say it. But reason dictates, and the event itself tells us, that there was something acted by the Roman empire in behalf of the dragon, which was not compatible with any other, that is, the putting of the Son of God to death. Which thing we must remember as often as we recite that article of our creed, 'He suffered under Pontius Pilate,' that is, was put to death by the Roman empire,"

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    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 18:40". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-18.html. 1832.

    John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

    Then cried they all again,.... For it seems that Pilate had made this proposal once before, and that this was the second time, though not mentioned; yet some copies, and the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions, leave out the word "again": they all, priests and people, in a very clamorous manner, cried out as one man, with one united voice, all at once;

    saying, not this man, but Barabbas; now Barabbas was a robber; who was an emblem of God's elect in a state of nature, released and set free when Christ was condemned. These, as he, many of them at least, are notorious sinners, the chief of sinners, robbers and murderers; who have robbed God of his glory, and destroyed themselves; are prisoners, concluded in sin and unbelief, and shut up in the law, and in a pit, wherein is no water, in their natural state; and were, as this man, worthy of death, and by nature children of wrath; and yet children of God by adopting grace, as his name Bar Abba signifies, "the son of the father": these, though such criminals, and so deserving of punishment, were let go free, when Christ was taken, condemned, and died; and which was according to the wise and secret counsel of Jehovah, and is a large discovery of divine grace; and what lays those who are released under the greatest obligations to live to him, who suffered for them, in their room and stead.

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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.
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    Bibliographical Information
    Gill, John. "Commentary on John 18:40". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-18.html. 1999.

    Geneva Study Bible

    Then e cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.

    (e) Literally, "made a great and foul voice".
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    Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on John 18:40". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/john-18.html. 1599-1645.

    Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

    Cried out (εκραυγασανekraugasan). First aorist active of κραυγαζωkraugazō old and rare verb from κραυγηkraugē outcry (Matthew 25:6), as in Matthew 12:19.

    Not this man (μη τουτονmē touton). Contemptuous use of ουτοςhoutos The priests put the crowd up to this choice (Mark 15:11) and Pilate offered the alternative (Matthew 27:17, one MS. actually gives Jesus as the name of Barabbas also). The name αραββαςBarabbas in Aramaic simply means son of a father.

    A robber
    (ληιστηςlēistēs). Old word from ληιζομαιlēizomai to plunder, and so a brigand and possibly the leader of the band to which the two robbers belonged who were crucified with Jesus. Luke terms him an insurgent and murderer (Luke 23:19, Luke 23:25). They chose Barabbas in preference to Jesus and apparently Jesus died on the very cross planned for Barabbas.

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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)
    Bibliographical Information
    Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 18:40". "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

    Cried ( ἐκραύγασαν )

    Peculiarly of a loud, importunate cry; a shout. Plato uses it of the howling of a dog: “The yelping hound, howling ( κραυγάζουσα ) at her Lord” (“Republic,” 607). Others, of the cries of spectators in the theaters and of the croak of a raven. See on Matthew 15:22.

    Again

    Assuming John's recollection of a previous “crying out,” which he has not recorded.

    Robber ( λῃστής )

    See on Matthew 26:55; see on Mark 11:17; see on Luke 10:30. Matthew calls him a “notable prisoner” (Matthew 27:16). Mark states that he had made insurrection, and had committed murder (Mark 15:7), speaking of the insurrection as a well-known event. Luke says, “for some insurrection ( στάσιν τινὰ ) that had arisen in the city, and for murder” (Luke 23:19). Writing for Gentiles, Luke would not refer to the event as something familiar. Bandits of this kind were numerous in the neighborhood of Jerusalem under the Roman dominion. Their leaders were well known. Josephus describes them by the same word which Matthew uses, ἐπίσημοι , notable. Their depredations were often committed under patriotic pretenses, so that Barabbas might have had influential friends among the people.

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    Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 18:40". "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.

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

    40 Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.

    Ver. 40. Now Barabbas was a robber] And a murderer too, Acts 3:14, yet preferred before Christ, who was also crucified in the midst of two thieves, as the worst of the three. Thus he was peccatorum maximus, greatest of sinners, both by imputation, for he bore our sins, which were all made to meet upon him, Isaiah 53:6, and by reputation, for he was "numbered with the transgressors," Isaiah 53:12, and made "his grave with the wicked," Isaiah 53:9.

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    Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 18:40". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-18.html. 1865-1868.

    Sermon Bible Commentary

    John 18:40

    The narrative of Jesus' arraignment before the civil power in Jerusalem affords the most vivid illustration in the New Testament of just two great moral lessons. Pilate's behaviour shows the wicked wrong of indecision; and the chief priests' choice of Barabbas' release shows the utter ruin of a wrong decision.

    I. The moral of this scene turns upon the wilful choice made between these two leaders—the real and the pretended Christ. The whole history is often repeated even in these modern times. It will be well to bear in mind that the decision is offered and made between Jesus and Barabbas whenever the Lord of Glory is represented in a principle, in an institution, in a truth, in a person. The secret of the absurd choice published that day so vociferously, when the miscreant impostor came to the front, is found in the fact that the people did not choose for Him at all, but chose against Christ. They would not have this Man to reign over them. It is not true always that men love the evil they seem to clamour for; in many instances the explanation of their apparent preference is found in simple hatred of the truth which confronts them.

    II. Our two lessons now appear plainly. (1) We see the wicked wrong of indecision. We are agreed that Pilate wished to let Jesus go. But when he gave Him up to the spite of His murderers he himself shared the crime. His name is put in the Apostles' Creed that all Christendom might hold it in "everlasting fame" of infamy; wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this that this man hath done be told for a memorial of him. (2) We see, finally, the utter ruin of a wrong decision. Goethe commences the fifth book of his autobiography with these somewhat discouraging words: "Every bird has its decoy, and every man is led and misled in a way peculiar to himself." We need not pause to discuss here the width of application such a statement might have. It was true of Pontius Pilate; it was true of that infuriated crowd clamouring for Barabbas before Christ.

    C. S. Robinson, Sermons on Neglected Texts, p. 11.


    References: John 18:40.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. x., No. 595; Homiletic Magazine, vol. xvii., p. 100; C. Stanford, The Evening of our Lord's Ministry, p. 273; Contemporary Pulpit, vol. vi., p. 145. John 18, John 19—W. Sanday, The Fourth Gospel, p. 239. John 19:1.—Contemporary Pulpit, vol. viii., p. 103; Parker, Christian Commonwealth, vol. vi., p. 623. John 19:1-6.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. xiv., p. 149. John 19:1-37.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. ii., p. 208. John 19:2.—Ibid., vol. ix., p. 190. John 19:4.—Parker, Hidden Springs, p. 350. John 19:5.—Parsons, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. xi., p. 269; C. Stanford, Evening of our Lord's Ministry, p. 289; H. Batchelor, The Incarnation of God, p. 319; Homiletic Magazine, vol. ix., p. 140; vol. x., p. 208; R. Davey, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xi., p. 222; F. Wagstaff, Ibid., vol. xv., p. 371; R. Balgarnie, Ibid., vol. xxviii.; E. Paxton Hood, Catholic Sermons, pp. 99, 172; Bishop Magee, Sermons at Bath, p. 136; H. I. Wilmot-Buxton, Literary Churchman Sermons, p. 102.; F. King, Church of England Pulpit, vol. xiii., p. 193.



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    Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on John 18:40". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/john-18.html.

    Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

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

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

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    Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 18:40". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/john-18.html. 1863-1878.

    Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

    REFLECTIONS

    Oh! Gethsemane! sacred, hallowed spot! Did Jesus oft-times resort thither with his disciples? And wilt thou now, O Lord, by thy sweet Spirit, aid my meditations, that I may take the wing of faith, and often traverse over the solemn ground? It was a garden in which the first Adam began to break through the fence of God's holy plantation. And in a garden the second Adam, so called, shall begin the soul-travail of sorrow, to do away the effects of it. And, oh! what humiliation, what agonies, what conflicts in the arduous work? Oh! how vast the glory, when smiting to the earth his enemies, the Lord Jesus proved his Godhead by the breath of his mouth! Sweetly do I see thee, Lord, by faith, going forth a willing sacrifice. Lo! I come! said Jesus. So come, Lord, now, by grace!

    Hail, thou King of Zion, for thou hast here most blessedly borne testimony to this glorious truth. Then as a King do thou reign and rule over thy Church, thy people, both in heaven and earth. And let my soul continually discover the goings of my God and King, in his sanctuary. Surely, dear Lord, it is thine, both by nature, providence, grace, and glory, to maintain and order, to regulate and appoint, to establish and confirm thy royal laws, and the government of thy kingdom, in the hearts and minds of all thy people, whom thou hast made willing in the day of thy power! Reign thou, and rule in me, the Lord of life and glory! Amen.

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    Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on John 18:40". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/john-18.html. 1828.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    But such was the malice of his adversaries, that though Barabbas was one that had committed murder in an insurrection, yet they choose him rather than Christ.

    See Poole on "Matthew 27:15", and following verses to Matthew 27:18.

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    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 18:40". 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

    Варавва же был разбойник Слово «разбойник» означает «человек, производящий грабеж» и может описывать не только грабителя, но и террориста или партизана, принимавшего участие в кровавом восстании (см. Мк. 15:7).

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    MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on John 18:40". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/john-18.html.

    Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

    Not this man, but Barabbas; Pilate had asked them which they would have him set at liberty, Barabbas or Christ. Matthew 27:17. Barabbas was guilty of sedition, the crime which they wrongfully charged upon Jesus; he was also a robber and a murderer. Yet they preferred him to the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. Mark 15:7; Luke 23:19; Luke 23:25.

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    Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on John 18:40". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/john-18.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

    Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

    ‘They therefore cried out again, saying, “Not this man but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a brigand.’

    Pilate’s desperate attempt had failed, as it had to. How could he even think that the leaders would allow the people to call for the freedom of the man they were determined to see die. He was clearly in a bemused state.

    So they cried for Barabbas instead. And John says firmly and succintly, ‘now Barabbas was a brigand’. This did not exclude the fact that he was a revolutionary. Revolutionaries often also act as brigands. The main stress is on the fact that his behaviour was such that it was outside the law, and violent.

    John has summarised the matter very quickly. His concern has been to show that an innocent peaceful Jesus was unfairly treated by the justice of Rome, by a man who had later himself been deposed from office by Rome itself. And that He was in fact totally innocent, and acknowledged by the judge as being so. And that His conviction was unfair. That indeed He was more than innocent. That he was the bringer of truth from God. And that the one they had chosen was in contrast, a brigand, a murdering, thieving no-good who would continue to be so.

    As we will continue to see in the following chapter it is Jesus’ innocence that is being stressed. The main reason for this is in order to demonstrate that He was the unblemished Lamb (Exodus 12:5 and often). But a secondary purpose may well have been to assure readers, and indeed the Roman Empire itself, that Jesus was no enemy of Rome and was not guilty of any criminal offence, and that the Romans had no need to be afraid of Christians.

    It was surely in God’s purpose that the brigand had the name that he had. Bar-abbas means ‘son of Abba’, ‘son of a father’. John’s Gospel knows two fathers. One the Father, the other ‘your father the devil’. They asked for the release of the son of the devil and demanded death for the Son of the Father. How better could they show which side they were on?

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    Pett, Peter. "Commentary on John 18:40". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/john-18.html. 2013.

    Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

    John described Barabbas as a robber (Gr. lestes, lit. one who seizes plunder). However, Barabbas seems also to have participated in bloody insurrection as a terrorist and guerrilla fighter (cf. Mark 15:7). The chief priests normally had nothing to do with Zealots and other freedom fighters who sought to overthrow the Roman yoke violently. However here they preferred such an individual to Jesus who had not actively opposed Rome but whom they regarded as a threat to their security. The irony of their decision is obvious to the reader and must also have been obvious to Pilate. Evidently Barabbas had a popular following among the people, as Jesus did, but for different reasons.

    The release of a proven enemy of Rome, which John did not record, showed Pilate"s poor judgment. This decision would not have stood him in good stead with his superiors. Evidently it was the pressure of the Jewish mob that encouraged him to act against his own as well as Jesus" interests.

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    Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 18:40". "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 18:40. They cried out therefore again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. The word ‘again’ is here peculiarly worthy of notice. No previous cry of the Jews had been mentioned by the Evangelist; and, had his story been constructed merely to illustrate an idea, he certainly would not have spoken of a second cry when he had said nothing of a first. The word can only be a historical reminiscence in the writer’s own mind. He knew that the Jews had cried out before, although he had not thought it necessary to mention it. Now, therefore, when a cry was to be spoken of, which he remembers was a second one, an indication that it was so comes naturally from his pen, ‘They cried out therefore again.’ The cry was, ‘Not this man but Barabbas;’ and the guilty nature of the cry is immediately intensified by a brief but emphatic statement, designed far more to bring out this guilt than to make us acquainted with a fact of history.

    Now Barabbas was a robber. A robber! and yet they preferred him to the holy Jesus, to the Only-Begotten of the Father, to their King!

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    Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 18:40". "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

    cried = cried aloud, shouted. Greek kraugazo. Compare John 19:6, John 19:15. Acts 22:23.

    this Man = this fellow. Compare John 7:27; John 9:29.

    Barabbas. Aramaic. App-94.

    robber = bandit, highway robber. Greek. Mates. Compare Mark 11:17; Mark 14:48; Mark 15:27. Not kleptes. thief. The two words together in John 10:1, John 10:8. They chose the robber, and the robber has ruled over them to this day.

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    Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 18:40". "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

    Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.

    Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.

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    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 18:40". "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

    (40) Then cried they all again.—St. John has not recorded any clamour before, but implies that of Mark 15:8, and Luke 23:5-10.

    Now Barabbas was a robber.—Comp. Note on John 10:1. The word includes the meaning of unrestrained violence, which often leads to bloodshed (Mark 15:7; Luke 23:19), and is thus used in a striking parallel in Sophocles:—

    “And him, so rumour runs, a robber band

    Of aliens slew.”—

    (Œdipus Rex., 724. Plumptre’s Translation.)

    There is a solemn emphasis given to the context by the abrupt brevity of the sentence. (Comp. John 11:35; John 13:30; see also Acts 3:14.)

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    Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 18:40". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-18.html. 1905.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.
    Matthew 27:16,26; Mark 15:7,15; Luke 23:18,19,25; Acts 3:13,14 Reciprocal: Isaiah 49:7 - to him whom man despiseth;  Isaiah 53:2 - he hath no;  Ezekiel 18:10 - that is;  Micah 3:2 - love;  Matthew 23:24 - GeneralMatthew 27:20 - should;  Mark 15:6 - GeneralMark 15:11 - GeneralActs 7:35 - Moses

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    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 18:40". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-18.html.

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

    Ver. 40. "Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber."

    The word "again" is of no small moment in regard to St John's relations with his predecessors. No earlier cry is mentioned by St John, nor does he give us the antecedents for any such cry. We cannot admit De Wette's observation: "It may be referred to vers. 30 seq., where indeed no crying is mentioned, but where it may be supposed." For there Pilate had to do only with the rulers: the people are not introduced until the transaction connected with the release of the prisoner. St John refers here specifically to St Mark: the "again" stands in a similar connection with the "again" of Mark 15:13, "They cried again, Crucify him," and, like this, points back to Mark 15:8, the only passage where mention had been made of any loud cry of the people, "And the multitude, crying aloud, began," etc. (Fritzsche: πάλιν belongs to the clamour raised in ver. 8, not to the words pronounced with a loud voice.)

    The πάντες of St John (comp. μαμπληθεί in St Luke, ver. 18) serves as a confirmation of the statement of St Matthew, that Pilate placed Barabbas with Jesus before the people for their choice, with the supposition that the decision would be in favour of the light, when they saw opposed to Him the utter blackness of the other. They certainly would not have been so unanimous in favour of Barabbas; the voices would have been very discordant, if this alternative had not been simply set before them. Barabbas, according to the accounts of the Evangelists, had nothing in him that could recommend him particularly to the people. Such a wretched representative of their national hope they would not have chosen, if their choice had been entirely free.

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    Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on John 18:40". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/john-18.html.