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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 19:22

Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written."

Adam Clarke Commentary

What I have written, I have written - That is, I will not alter what I have written. The Roman laws forbad the sentence to be altered when once pronounced; and as this inscription was considered as the sentence pronounced against our Lord, therefore, it could not be changed: but this form of speech is common in the Jewish writings, and means simply, what is done shall continue. Pilate seems to speak prophetically. This is the king of the Jews: they shall have no other Messiah for ever.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 19:22". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-19.html. 1832.

The Biblical Illustrator

John 19:22

Pilate answered, What I have written I have written

The ineffaceable record

Men often speak wiser than they know.
During Christ’s trial Pilate had made for himself a record of ineffaceable infamy. We, too, are making up a record irreversible, ineffaceable.

I. WE ARE WRITING UPON THE TABLETS OF OUR OWN SOULS. The fossiliferous rocks bear traces of rain-drops and foot-prints of birds made long ago, and destined to last to the end of time. More sensitive and susceptible is the human soul, upon which every thought, feeling, volition, action makes an impression, and the sum of these impressions makes character. The solemn thing about these impressions is that they are ineradicable. What we have written once we have written for ever. The impressions may have faded out in the long lapse of years, and yet little things--a name, a face, a strain of song--will bring up the buried past and make us live it over again. We never quite forget, and the severest torture of the damned will be that which comes from memory.

II. WE ARE WRITING, TOO, UPON THE TABLETS OF OTHER HUMAN SOULS. It may be on the tender susceptibility of a little child, every unkind act or reproach makes a wound which will leave an ugly scar that will be carried to the grave. The like is true of the tender tracery of love. An old preacher long ago had among his hearers a fair-haired boy whom he tenderly loved, and for whose salvation he longed. The preacher went to heaven; the boy found a home far away in this Western world. One day, with his hands on the plough, that boy, now a man of sixty years, paused in the furrow, and as he paused there came to him the echo of the voice of that preacher to whom he had listened in early youth. And so let the patient mother whose love seems lost upon her wayward boy, take heart and hope.

III. AND SO WE ARE WRITING ON THE TABLETS OF ETERNITY AS WELL. Every man is an author, and the book he is writing is his autobiography. Authors commonly have a chance to revise what they write; but of this life record there shall be no revision. And this is the book that shall be opened, and out of this the dead shall be judged. We come to-day (last day in the year) to the close of another chapter of this book. We cannot revise it, but we may review it. In the review it would possibly appear that it resembles many a copy-book whose opening lines give evidences of painstaking, but whose later writing is sadly blurred. Let us humbly hope that some deeds of love have been recorded and some words of cheer for struggling souls set opposite our names. Yet how little the record shows, we fear, of holy endeavour and heroic sacrifice. But not a sentence can we efface, for what we have written we have written. And yet there is a ray of hope and a voice of comfort for those who mourn over their miserable record. A poor wretch, burdened with a sense-of sin, dreamed that the demon of darkness held up before him all the long, black catalogue of his crimes, The devil thought to drive him to despair, but while he looked and trembled, lo! One appeared who was like unto the Son of Man, and he looked and saw that His hands were pierced, and from those precious hands some drops of blood were trickling. The hands were laid upon the dreadful page, and with His blood He wiped it out. This is our consolation and our hope. And, again, there is another hope. It is the Book of Life, and in it are recorded all the names of God’s saints. Let us humbly rejoice that our names are written there. (P. S. Henson, D. D.)

Life an inscription on a cross

I. MAN’S LIFE IS AN INSCRIPTION ON A CROSS.

1. It is evident that to Pilate the hour had come when he must reveal the spirit of his life by one great act of decision, and that decision was before the Cross. In that tremendous moment when Christ stood at his bar, the influences of two great worlds appealed to his soul--the everlasting world of Truth--Right--God; and the world of self-interest and wrong. He might crucify self or Christ; but whichever course he might adopt, he must announce his life-purpose for the world to read. By deciding for the worldly, he wrote the inscription, “I crucify Christ--truth--conscience; and enthrone self and the world in my soul,”

2. When a man chooses anything before Christ, he virtually crucifies Christ. To choose anything in preference to Christ’s truth is to crucify that truth. Christ asks for the absolute surrender of man’s heart in the name of eternal love; to refuse this surrender is to trample on that love, and to scorn its appeals. There is no middle ground. “He that is not with Me, is against Me.” Therefore, whenever Christ is felt claiming man, and the claim is passed by, the man stands in the position of Pilate of old.

II. THAT INSCRIPTION IS WRITTEN IRREVOCABLY: “What I have written I have written.” Pilate felt that the deed was done--Jesus crucified; his own struggle miserably ended, the past was beyond his recall. The inscription of man’s life is written on two tablets.

1. The tablet of the eternal past.

2. The tablet of the immortal memory. We can forget nothing. Memory may sleep, but it cannot perish. Within the soul is the everlasting picture of all our life; and it only needs the light of conscience to waken it into awful brilliancy.

III. THAT INSCRIPTION IS READ BY GOD. (E. L. Hull, B. A.)


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "John 19:22". The Biblical Illustrator. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/john-19.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Pilate answered, what I have written I have written,.... He seems to say this, as one angry and displeased with them; either because they would not consent to release Jesus, which he was desirous of, but pressed him so very hard to crucify him; or at their insolence, in directing him in what form to put the superscription, which he determines shall stand unaltered, as he had wrote it. This he said, either because he could not alter it after it was written, for it is saidF23Apulei Florid. c. 9. , that

"a proconsul's table is his sentence, which being once read, not one letter can either be increased or diminished; but as it is recited, so it is related in the instrument of the province;'

or if he could have altered it, he was not suffered by God to do it; but was so directed, and over ruled by divine providence, as to write, so to persist in, and abide by what he had wrote inviolably; which is the sense of his words. Dr. Lightfoot has given several instances out of the Talmud, showing that this is a common way of speaking with the Rabbins; and that words thus doubled signify that what is spoken of stands good, and is irrevocable: so a widow taking any of the moveable goods of her husband deceased for her maintenance, it is saidF24T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 96. 1. , מה שתפסה תפסה, "what she takes, she takes"; that is, she may lawfully do it, and retain it: it continues in her hands, and cannot be taken away from her; and so the gloss explains it, "they do not take it from her"; and in the same way MaimonidesF25Hilchot Ishot, c. 18. sect. 10. interprets it: so of a man that binds himself to offer an oblation one way, and he offers it another way, מה שהביא הביא, "what he has offered, he has offeredF26T. Bab. Menachot, fol. 3. 1. "; what he has offered is right, it stands good, and is not to be rejected: and again, among the rites used by a deceased brother's wife, towards him that refuses to marry her, if one thing is done before the other, it matters not, מה שעשוי עשוי, "what is done, is doneF1T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 106. 2. "; and is not to be undone, or done over again in another way; it stands firm and good, and not to be objected to: and the same writer observes, that this is a sort of prophecy of Pilate, and which should continue, and for ever obtain, that the Jews should have no other King Messiah than Jesus of Nazareth; nor have they had any other; all that have risen up have proved false Messiahs; nor will they have any other; nor indeed any king, until they seek the Lord their God, and David their king, Hosea 3:5 that is, the son of David, as they will do in the latter day; when they shall be converted, and when they shall own him as their king, their ancestors at this time were ashamed 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 Rightes 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

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on John 19:22". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-19.html. 1999.

John Lightfoot's Commentary on the Gospels

22. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.

[What I have written I have written.] this was a common way of speaking amongst the Rabbins. "A widow if she take" [or occupy] "the moveables" of her husband deceased for her own maintenance, What she takes she takes; i.e. that which she hath done stands good, and the moveables go to her.

"If any one shall say, I bind myself to offer an oblation out of the frying pan, and offers indeed something from a gridiron, and so on the contrary; that which he hath offered he hath offered." That is (and indeed it is frequently used amongst them), that which is done is done, and cannot be recalled.

"If the putting off the shoe of the husband's brother be before the spitting in his face, or the spitting in his face before the putting off the shoe, that which is done is done," and it stands good.

Pilate doth almost act the prophet as well as Caiaphas. What I have written [Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews] I have written, and it shall stand and obtain; nor shall they have any other king Messiah than this for ever.


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Bibliography
Lightfoot, John. "Commentary on John 19:22". "John Lightfoot Commentary on the Gospels". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jlc/john-19.html. 1675.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

What I have written I have written (ο γεγραπα γεγραπαho gegrapha gegrapha). With emphasis on the permanence of the accusation on the board. Pilate has a sudden spirit of stubbornness in this detail to the surprise of the chief priests. Technically he was correct, for he had condemned Jesus on this charge made by the chief priests.


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)

Bibliography
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 19:22". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/john-19.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.

What I have written, I have written — That shall stand.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on John 19:22". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/john-19.html. 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

The chief priests of the Jews therefore said to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews1.
    John 19:21,22

  1. Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. The rulers smarted under this title which Pilate had tauntingly written. They had insisted that Jesus' kingship was dangerous enough to justify his crucifixion; but now (if politically and temporally interpreted) they admit that his kingship was an idle claim, a mere matter of words.


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.

Bibliography
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on John 19:22". "The Fourfold Gospel". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/john-19.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

What I have written, I have written; that is, I do not choose to alter it.


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Bibliography
Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on John 19:22". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/john-19.html. 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

22.What I have written I have written. Pilate’s firmness must be ascribed to the providence of God; for there can be no doubt that they attempted, in various ways, to change his resolution. Let us know, therefore, that he was held by a Divine hand, so that he remained unmoved. Pilate did not yield to the prayers of the priests, and did not allow himself to be corrupted by them; but God testified, by his mouth, the firmness and stability of the kingdom of his Son. And if, in the writing of Pilate, the kingdom of Christ was shown to be so firm that it could not be shaken by all the attacks of its enemies, what value ought we to attach to the testimonies of the Prophets, whose tongues and hands God consecrated to his service?

The example of Pilate reminds us, also, that it is our duty to remain steady in defending the truth. A heathen refuses to retract what he has justly and properly written concerning Christ, though he did not understand or consider what he was doing. How great, then, will be our dishonor, if, terrified by threatenigs or dangers, we withdraw from the profession of his doctrine, which God hath sealed on our hearts by his Spirit! Besides, it ought to be observed how detestable is the tyranny of the Papists, which prohibits the reading of the Gospel, and of the whole of the Scripture, by the common people. Pilate, though he was a reprobate man, and, in other respects, an instrument of Satan, was nevertheless, by a secret guidance, appointed to be a herald of the Gospel, that he might publish a short summary of it in three languages. What rank, therefore, shall we assign to those who do all that they can to suppress the knowledge of it, since they show that they are worse than Pilate?


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 19:22". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-19.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

22 Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.

Ver. 22. What I have written, I have written] i.e. I am unchangeably resolved it shall stand. So God saith, I am that I am; that is, I am yesterday, and today, and the same for ever. Learn we may of Pilate to be constant to a good cause. {a} Marcellus the pope would not change his name, according to the custom, to show his immutability, that he was no changeling.

{a} Non retractat homo profanus, quod, vere licet, sine mente et consilio de Christo scripsit. Cal.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 19:22". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-19.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

John 19:22

I. Man's life is an inscription on a Cross.

II. That inscription is written irrevocably (1) on the tablet of the eternal past, (2) on the tablet of the immortal memory.

III. That inscription is read by God. This, then, is life: man writing silently, constantly, his life inscription over one of the two crosses which stand in his soul, and the great, silent God reading it all the while. God will make him read it with vain tears hereafter.

E. L. Hull, Sermons, vol. i., p. 106.


References: John 19:22.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. xvi., p. 359.


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Bibliography
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on John 19:22". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/john-19.html.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

John 19:22. γέγραφα, what I have written) Pilate’s thought was to consult for the honour of his own authority: he really hereby subserved the Divine authority. [In the person of the Procurator (Governor) himself something of a prophetical character was in this instance vouchsafed, as in the case of the High Priest, ch. John 11:51, Caiaphas: “One man should die for the people. This spake he not of himself; but being High Priest that year, he prophesied” etc.—V. g.]— γέγραφα, I have written) Ploce [The same word repeated: first used simply, then to express some attribute.—Append.] The second, I have written, is meant to express, I will not write otherwise.


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Bibliography
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 19:22". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/john-19.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

But Pilate refuseth to gratify them, and lets them know he would not be directed by them what to write, nor alter any thing of it.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 19:22". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/john-19.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

John

AN EYE-WITNESS’S ACCOUNT OF THE CRUCIFIXION

THE IRREVOCABLE PAST

John 19:22.

This was a mere piece of obstinacy. Pilate knew that he had prostituted his office in condemning Jesus, and he revenged himself for weak compliance by ill-timed mulishness. A cool-headed governor would have humoured his difficult subjects in such a trifle, as a just one would have been inflexible in a matter of life and death. But this man’s facile yielding and his stiff-necked obstinacy were both misplaced. ‘So I will, so I command. Let my will suffice for a reason,’ was what he meant. He had written his gibe, and not all the Jews in Jewry should make him change.

But his petulant answer to the rulers’ request for the removal of the offensive placard carried in it a deeper meaning, as the Title also did, and as the people’s fierce yell, ‘His blood be on us and on our children,’ did. Possibly the Evangelist had some thought of that sort in recording this saying; but, at all events, I venture to take a liberty with it which I should not do if it were a word of God’s, or if it were given for our instruction. So I take it now as expressing in a vivid way, and irrespective of Pilate’s intention, the thought of the irrevocable past.

I. Every man is perpetually writing a permanent record of himself.

It is almost impossible to get the average man to think of his life as a whole, or to realise that the fleeting present leaves indelible traces. They seem to fade away wholly. The record appears to be written in water. It is written in ink which is invisible, but as indelible as invisible. Grammarians define the perfect tense as that which expresses an action completed in the past and of which the consequences remain in the present. That is true of all our actions. Our characters, our circumstances, our remembrances, are all permanent. Every day we make entries in our diary.

II. That record, once written, is irrevocable.

We all know what it is to long that some one action should have been otherwise, to have taken some one step which perhaps has coloured years, and which we would give the world not to have taken. But it cannot be. Remorse cannot alter it. Wishes are vain. Repentance is vain. A new line of conduct is vain.

What an awful contrast in this respect between time future and time past! Think of the indefinite possibilities in the one, the rigid fixity of the other. Our present actions are like cements that dry quickly and set hard on exposure to the air-the dirt of the trowel abides on the soft brick for ever. Many cuneiform inscriptions were impressed with a piece of wood on clay, and are legible millenniums after.

We have to write currente calamo, and as soon as written, the MS. is printed and stereotyped, and no revising proofs nor erasures are possible. An action, once done, escapes from us wholly.

How needful, then, to have lofty principles ready at hand! The fresco painter must have a sure touch, and a quick hand, and a full mind.

What a boundless field the future offers us! How much it may be! How much, perhaps, we resolve it shall be! What a shrunken heap the harvest is! Are you satisfied with what you have written?

III. This record, written here, is read yonder.

Our actions carry eternal consequences. These will be read by ourselves. Character remains. Memory remains.

We shall read with all illusions stripped away.

Others will read-God and a universe.

‘We shall all be manifested before the judgment-seat of Christ.’

IV. This record may be blotted out by the blood of Christ.

It cannot be made not to have been, but God’s pardon will be given, and in respect to all personal consequences it is made non-existent. Circumstances may remain, but their pressure is different. Character may be renewed and sanctified, and even made loftier by the evil past. Our dead selves may become ‘stepping-stones to higher things.’

Memory may remain, but its sting is gone, and new hopes, and joys, and work may fill the pages of our record.

‘He took away the handwriting that was against us, nailing it to His Cross.’

Our lives and characters may become a palimpsest. ‘I will write upon him My new name.’ ‘Ye are an epistle of Christ ministered by us.’


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Bibliography
MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on John 19:22". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/john-19.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

I have written; the meaning of this was, that what he had written he would not alter.


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Bibliography
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on John 19:22". "Family Bible New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/john-19.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

22. Pilate’s answer illustrates the mixture of obstinacy and relentlessness, which Philo says was characteristic of him. His own interests are not at stake, so he will have his way: where he had anything to fear or to gain he could be supple enough. A shrewd, practical man of the world, with all a Roman official’s contemptuous impartiality and severity, and all the disbelief in truth and disinterestedness which the age had taught him, he seems to have been one of the many with whom self-interest is stronger than their convictions, and who can walk uprightly when to do so is easy, but fail in the presence of serious difficulty and danger.


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Bibliography
"Commentary on John 19:22". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/john-19.html. 1896.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

22. I have written—In the true style of an imperious Roman. He at once displays his arbitrary authority, maintains an immovable record, and attains a complete triumph over these Jews. And in his declaration there is the force of a prophecy. Christ is King, and no earthly power can obliterate the truth of his eternal royalty.

The parting of his garments, and the lot, 23, 24. Compare Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:33.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 19:22". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-19.html. 1874-1909.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

John 19:22. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written. It is impossible to mistake the feeling of the Evangelist that in all this the finger of God is to be traced. Those who refuse to ‘believe’ shall yet be compelled to own that Jesus is King.


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Bibliography
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 19:22". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/john-19.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

John 19:22. But Pilate, “by nature obstinate and stubborn” (Philo, ii. 589), peremptorily reiused to make any alteration. γέγραφα γέγραφα.


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Bibliography
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 19:22". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/john-19.html. 1897-1910.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

What, &c. Figure of speech Amphibologia. App-6.

I have written. It therefore stands written for ever. Caiaphas as representative of the Jews proclaimed the Lord as Saviour for the world, Pilate fastens upon the Jews the hated name of the Nazarene as their King.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 19:22". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/john-19.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.

Pilate answered, What I have written I have written. And thus, amidst the conflicting passions of men, was proclaimed, in the chief tongues of mankind, from the Cross itself, and in circumstances which threw upon it a lurid yet grand light, the truth which drew the Magi to His manger, and will yet be owned by all the world!


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 19:22". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-19.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.
What
12; Psalms 65:7; 76:10; Proverbs 8:29

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 19:22". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-19.html.

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