Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 14 January 2017; Revised 29 March 2017
Scripture Text: The Scripture text of John used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Besekh (New Testament), Torah (Law), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ). I use the title "The Testimony of John" because that is how John describes his book (John 21:24). See the article Witnesses of the Good News for background information on this book.
Methodology: For an explanation of abbreviations, acronyms, terminology, spelling conventions, and other information on organization of the commentary see my Commentary Writing Philosophy.
Primary Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Unless otherwise indicated the following primary sources are used:
• Different Bible versions may be cited for Scripture quotations. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Messianic Jewish versions are CJB, DHE, GNC, HNV, MW, OJB, & TLV.
• The Septuagint (LXX) is the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid–2nd century BC. The LXX with English translation may be found here.
• Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
• The meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009). See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. Definitions of Hebrew words are from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), given as "BDB." The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
• Dates are from Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings (1992). Online.
Friday, Nisan 15, A.D. 30; 7 April (Julian)
John now transitions his narrative to the events of Yeshua's final hours. The time is late Thursday evening (already Friday by Jewish reckoning from sundown), nearing midnight, which would begin the day on the Roman calendar. As in the other apostolic narratives the description of Yeshua's trials, crucifixion and resurrection form the climax of the whole book. John's perspective is unique in many respects since he is the only apostle to witness all the trials and the crucifixion. In all these circumstances we see Yeshua firmly in control of the situation. He is not a victim, but the divine Savior come to redeem Israel.
Betrayal in the Garden, 18:1-11
Hearing before Annas, 18:12-14
Trial of Peter, 18:15-18
Hearing before Annas (cont.), 18:19-23
Hearing before Caiaphas, 18:24
Trial of Peter (cont.), 18:25-27
Hearing before Pilate, 18:28-40
Betrayal in the Garden, 18:1-12
1 Having said these things Yeshua went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley, where there was an olive grove, into which he and his disciples entered.
Having said: Grk. legō, aor. part., to make a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing, often used to introduce quoted material. The focus of the verb may be declarative, interrogative or imperative; answer, ask, declare, enjoin, order, say, speak, tell, told, refer to, talk about. these things: Grk. houtos, n. pl., demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes its use or follows it; this, these. The opening phrase points to the conclusion of the high priestly prayer of chapter seventeen.
Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). The English rendering of "Jesus" originated with the Mace New Testament in 1729. By virtue of His incarnation and Jewish mother, Yeshua must still be a Jew. For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his identity, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua?
went out: Grk. exerchomai, aor., to move away from a place or position, to go or come out. The verb is appropriate for leaving the building where the last supper took place, although Morris suggests it is not impossible that it means "went out of the city." with: Grk. sun, prep. used to denote association or connection, used here to denote accompaniment, along with. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used here possessively. disciples: Grk. mathētēs (from manthanō, to learn), m. pl., one who learns through instruction from a teacher. In the Besekh the noun occurs only in the apostolic narratives and corresponds to the Heb. talmid (SH-8527, scholar or pupil), the student of a Torah scholar (Heb. rabbi). For more background information see the note on John 1:35.
Being a disciple of Yeshua required four particular qualities. First, to be a disciple required sacrifice. Traveling the country meant leaving behind family, security and living under austere conditions. This was not a life of luxury. Simon Peter alluded to his sacrifice when he spoke of leaving everything to follow Yeshua (Matt 19:27). The rich young ruler was not willing to pay this price to be a disciple (Matt 19:21-22). Second, to be a disciple required commitment. Devotion to the rabbi came before all other obligations (Luke 9:57-61; 14:26). Once the commitment was made turning back would have been equivalent to rebellion against God (Luke 9:62). The disciple left behind his ordinary life and embraced an extraordinary life with his rabbi.
Third, to be a disciple required humility. A disciple came to the rabbi with an inquiring mind, a desire to know. He did not have answers, but he sought answers about God and spiritual things. He knew the rabbi had the answers (John 6:68). This humility is illustrated by the rabbinic saying "Let your home be a meeting-house for the sages, and cover yourself in the dust of their feet, and drink in their words thirstily" (Avot 1:4; translation by Bivin 12). Miriam, sister of Martha, demonstrated this humility when she sat at the feet of Yeshua (Luke 10:39). Fourth, to be a disciple required obedience (Matt 28:19). The rabbi's will became the disciple's will. The rabbi directed, the disciple obeyed. The only authority greater in the disciple's life would be God.
across: Grk. peran, adv., on the other side. the Kidron: Grk. Kedrōn, (a transliteration of Heb. Qidrôn, perhaps meaning "turbid, dusky, gloomy"), a place name for the deep ravine beside Jerusalem separating the Temple mount and the city of David on the west from the Mount of Olives on the east. valley: Grk. cheimarros, a natural open channel through which water flows only during the rainy season; wadi, valley, ravine. The term appears only here in the Besekh. where: Grk. hopou, adv. of place; where. there was: Grk. eimi, impf., to be, exist; a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG).
a garden: Grk. kēpos, a place planted with trees and herbs, garden. In Greek literature the word is used for an orchard or plantation (LSJ). In the LXX kēpos occurs about twenty times and translates four different Hebrew words for land planted with fruit-bearing trees, herbs, or vegetables, sometimes belonging to the king and enclosed with walls (e.g., Deut 11:10; 1Kgs 21:2; 2Kgs 21:18; Esth 7:7, 8; Neh 3:15; Eccl 2:5; Isa 1:29; 58:11; Jer 29:28; 39:4; 52:7; Ezek 36:35). The Synoptic Narratives identify the location (Grk. chōrion, a confined piece of ground) as Gethsemane (Matt 26:36; Mark 14:32). Luke simply identifies the location as the Mount of Olives (Luke 22:39). Only John says it was a garden.
into: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to a direction toward a goal or place and consequent arrival; into, to, towards. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to specify or give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. he and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). his disciples: Grk. mathētēs. The term refers to the eleven, but could include Mark who according to tradition followed the eleven and later escaped without his clothes (Mark 14:51-52). entered: Grk. eiserchomai, aor., to go or enter into a geographical area, manufactured structure or other place defined in the context. The verb implies that the area was defined by some kind of border.
2 Now Judas also, the one betraying him, knew the place, because Yeshua often gathered together there with his disciples.
Now: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The second meaning applies here. Judas: Grk. Ioudas, a transliteration of Heb. Y'hudah ("Judah") meaning "praise YHVH." The proper name Judas was very common in the time of Yeshua because it was not only the Greek form of one of the twelve patriarchs, but it was also made popular by the Jewish hero Judas Maccabaeus who led the nation in their fight for independence from Syria in 166 BC. The Besekh mentions seven men named Judas. The betrayer is distinguished as being the son of Simon Iscariot (John 6:71; 13:2, 26).
also: Grk. kai, conj. the one: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. betraying: Grk. paradidōmi, pres. part., to convey from one position to another, in general "to hand over," in this case a reference to subjecting Yeshua to arrest and a judicial process with the connotation of disloyalty and treachery. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. knew: Grk. oida, plperf., to have seen or perceived, hence to know. The pluperfect tense refers to action in the past that is complete and the results of the action in existence at some point in past time as indicated by the context. The verb is used for experiential knowledge. In the LXX oida occurs frequently to render Heb. yada (SH-3045), to know, (e.g., Gen 3:5; 4:1), which in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, primarily by experience but also by learning (DNTT 2:395).
the place: Grk. topos, a spatial area, here of a geographical terrain; place. because: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, whether (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introducing a direct quotation and functioning as quotation marks; or (4) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. The fourth usage applies here. Yeshua often: Grk. pollakis, adv., frequently, often, many times. gathered together: Grk. sunagō, aor. pass., to bring together in a collective manner; gather. there: Grk. ekei, adv., in that place.
with: Grk. meta, prep., may be used as (1) a marker of association or accompaniment; 'amid,' among,' 'with,' or 'in company with'; or (2) a sequential or positional marker; after, behind. The first usage applies here. his: Grk. autos. disciples: Grk. mathētēs. See the previous verse. Yeshua had delivered his end-times discourse on the Mount of Olives, probably this garden (Matt 24:3). The location was an ideal teaching venue, and John concurs with Luke that the garden was a frequent resort for the group (Luke 22:39), probably during festivals held in Jerusalem.
3 So Judas, having received the Roman cohort and officers of the chief priests and from the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons.
John's testimony concurs with the Synoptic Narratives on the location of Yeshua's arrest but he omits the account of Yeshua's agony in the garden. Commentators have speculated on the reason, but John's reasons remain unknown. In one respect he had already told of Yeshua's agony in 12:27 and alludes to it in verse 11 below. So: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which may (1) indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, 'so, therefore, consequently, then;' (2) indicate that one takes account of something in the narrative immediately preceding, 'then;' or (3) simply indicate a stage in the narrative, 'so, then.' The first application fits here.
Judas having received: Grk. lambanō, aor. part. The verb marks the transit of something from a position to another person who is the agent with the latter being also the receptor; to take (in the active sense) or receive (in the passive sense). This description implies a prior arrangement with the high priest and he had agreed to show the authorities where Yeshua was located. the Roman cohort: Grk. speira, had two uses: (1) anything wound up or coiled, such as a rope, hair or a snake; and (2) a military tactical unit, originally translating the Latin manipulus, a Roman unit of two centuries and later translating the Latin cohors (English "cohort") (LSJ). The cohort consisted of six centuries totaling at least 480 men not counting officers, the tenth part of a Roman legion. A century had 80 men commanded by a centurion. For a detailed description of ancient Roman military organization see the article at UNRV.
Danker suggests that in view of the relatively close quarters described in this narrative probably only a small portion of the cohort is intended, thus he suggests the translation of "detachment." However, a large portion of the cohort is implied by the presence of the cohort commander (verse 12 below). The Romans could use a large force to transport one prisoner (cf. Acts 23:23-24). They might have sent a large force since they were going to arrest a man accompanied by eleven men who might resist arrest and then a host of excited Galileans might join them. These soldiers were available because as Josephus says,
"a Roman cohort stood over the cloisters of the temple, for they always were armed, and kept guard at the festivals, to prevent any innovation which the multitude thus gathered together might make." (Wars, II, 12:1).
Morris notes that the Judean authorities may have called on the Romans for help since the temple guards had failed previously when they were sent to arrest Yeshua (John 7:44-46).
and officers: Grk. hupēretēs, m. pl., one who renders service, a term applied to various official and assigned capacities. In the Besekh the term is used variously of officers and attendants of magistrates, attendants of a king, the servants or officers of the Sanhedrin, the attendant of a synagogue, or anyone ministering or rendering service. In this verse the men were probably members of the Levitical Temple police (Jeremias 210). of: Grk. ek, prep. with the root meaning of "out of, from within" (DM 102), denoting origin; from among. the chief priests: Grk. archiereus, m. pl., a high or chief priest. The "chief priest" would be Caiaphas, the high priest, but the plural noun would include retired high priests and active holders of the priestly offices of higher rank in the Temple, altogether some fifteen to twenty persons.
From Acts 4:1; 5:17 and Josephus (Ant. XX, 9:1) we know that the chief priests were generally Sadducees and ex–officio members of the Sanhedrin (Jeremias 179, 197, 230). The active chief priests held a variety of administrative posts and as a group wielded considerable power in the city. Under the anointed high priest was a deputy high priest who had permanent oversight over all Temple activities and of all officiating priests (see Acts 4:1; 5:24). The deputy high priest also served as the chief of police in the Temple area and as such had arrest authority. He was next in rank to the high priest and could step in to fulfill his duties if necessary. In this situation there at least two chief priests present, no doubt including the deputy high priest and perhaps the supervisor of the temple guards.
and from: Grk. ek. the Pharisees: Grk. Pharisaios, m. pl., a transliteration of the Heb. P'rushim, meaning "separatists." The title was born of the fact that they separated themselves from the common people for religious devotion. The Pharisees traced their roots to the Hasidim ("pious ones") organized in the time of Ezra, but are known as an organized group from the 2nd c. BC (Jeremias 247). The book of John uses the term 20 times and only in the plural, generally to substitute for the term "elders" found in the Synoptic Narratives, a faction of the Sanhedrin. Membership in the Sanhedrin consisted of chief priests, elders and scribes (Matt 16:21; 26:57; 27:41). Yeshua described the scribes and Pharisees as having "seated themselves in the chair of Moses" (Matt 23:2), probably an allusion to the fact that members of the Sanhedrin sat on chairs. For more information on the Pharisee party see my comment on John 1:24.
came: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid., to come, come back, return or appear and in a few instances, to go. The verb generally depicts physical movement, mostly with implication of a position from which action or movement takes place, but it also may focus on the goal for movement. When used of persons erchomai often indicates traveling or a journey. there: Grk. ekei, adv. See the previous verse. The time was after midnight. with: Grk. meta, prep. lanterns: Grk. phanos, m. pl., a torch or lantern; a bright light. The term occurs only here in the Besekh. The term refers to a terracotta vessel with an opening on one sight to insert a household lamp with wick and oil. Ancient lamps usually burned olive oil or fat (NIBD 628).
and torches: Grk. lampas, f. pl., a device for illumination, used in reference to a torch. The term denotes a torch made of resinous strips of wood fastened together (Morris). Since this night had a full moon the use of lights might indicate either the sky was cloudy or they thought Yeshua might hide in the dark recesses of the garden, probably the latter since it was cold (verse 18 below). and weapons: Grk. hoplon, n. pl., a military weapon, not specified here. The Roman soldiers' equipment included body armor, a sword or javelin and a dagger.
4 Then Yeshua, knowing all things that were coming upon him, went forth and said to them, "Whom are you seeking?"
Then: Grk. oun, conj. Yeshua knowing: Grk. oida, perf. part. See verse 2 above. all things: Grk. pas, adj., n. pl., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. that were coming: Grk. erchomai, pres. pass. part. See the previous verse. upon: Grk. epi, prep. used primarily as a marker of position or location; 'at, in, on, upon, over.' him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Yeshua was not caught by surprise nor did he orchestrate his arrest. The time had come for him to fulfill his divine mission, but he knew that much had to be endured before the final victory was won. went forth: Grk. exerchomai, aor. See verse 1 above. and said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 1 above. to them: Grk. autos, m. pl.
Whom: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. are you seeking: Grk. zēteō, pres., may mean (1) be on the search for in order to find someone or something one has difficulty in locating; (2) search for ways to satisfy an interest; (3) have an interest in; or (4) press for. The phrase could be translated "you are seeking, who?" The first meaning applies here. Yeshua makes no effort to hide himself as on other occasions when his enemies sought to kill him (John 8:59; 10:39). Instead he approaches his enemies and asks an innocuous question as if trying to help someone who is lost. John omits any mention of the kiss of Judas, which in the Synoptic Narratives is the physical sign of betrayal (Matt 26:49; Mark 14:45; Luke 22:47).
5 They answered him, "Yeshua of Nazareth." He said to them, "I AM." Now Judas also, the one betraying him, was standing with them.
They answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass., to answer or reply to someone, whether to a question, request, exhortation, command, etc. (BAG). In the LXX apokrinomai renders Heb. anah, to answer or respond to something said in conversation; to respond to an occasion and speak in view of circumstances or to testify or respond as a witness in a legal proceeding (BDB 772). him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. It is interesting that the soldiers do not immediately lay hands on Yeshua. Instead, they chose to respond to the question.
Yeshua of Nazareth: Grk. Nazōraios, a rough transliteration of the place name Nazaret, Nazareth. Yeshua is frequently identified by his hometown. Nazareth was located about seventy miles northeast of Jerusalem in lower Galilee about halfway between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea. It lay in the hill country north of the Plain of Esdraelon. The hills formed a natural basin with three sides, but open toward the south. The city was on the slopes of the basin, facing east and southeast. A Roman road from Capernaum westward to the coast passed near Nazareth, over which Roman legions frequently traveled. The small town does not appear in the Tanakh at all and only came to prominence because of its association with Yeshua.
When the disciple Nathanael is first introduced in John's narrative he asks, "Can anything good be of Nazareth?" (John 1:46). The question gives the impression that Nazareth did not possess a good reputation. Some scholars believe that such lack of respect may have been due to an unpolished dialect, a lack of culture, or a measure of irreligion and moral laxity (so Tenney; "Nazareth," HBD; NIBD). The proximity to passing Roman legions gave excuse to the later slander of unbelieving Jews and Gnostics that Yeshua was the son of Panthera, a Roman soldier (see Sanh. 67b, fn 12; Origen, Contra Celsum I:69).
However, Morris rightly points out that nothing is actually known pejorative of Nazareth (165). "It was not a famous city, but we have no reason for thinking it was infamous." Just as likely is that Nathanael just couldn't imagine the Messiah coming from such an insignificant place. Even the Jewish rulers would later discount Yeshua's Messiahship on the basis of his hometown, because the Messiah was supposed to come from Bethlehem (John 7:42). They apparently didn't know of Yeshua's birth in Bethlehem. Another possibility is that since Nathanael came from Cana his remark might reflect the sort of rivalry that exists among small towns not far from one another.
He said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 1 above. to them: Grk. autos, m. pl. I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. AM: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. The great majority of versions translate the pronoun-verb phrase as "I am he." Two versions have "I am" (CEB, TLV), but three others capitalize the response as I have (CJB, JUB, NAB). Yeshua uses the expression egō eimi frequently, often as a way of identifying himself to his disciples and others (Matt 14:27; Mark 6:50; John 6:20; 8:24, 28, 58; 18:5, 6, 8; Acts 9:5; 22:8; 26:15). However, in John's narrative Yeshua often says "I am" to assert special truth about his identity (John 6:35, 48, 51; 8:12; 9:15; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5). In the LXX egō eimi is used most often in passages spoken by the God of Israel, identified as YHVH, in reference to Himself, such as "I am who I am" (Ex 3:14; also in Isa 41:4; 43:10, 25; 46:4; 47:8, 10; 48:12; 51:12; 52:6).
Given the response of the group described in the next verse there must be something more to Yeshua's declaration than him saying in a conversational tone, "it's me." Santala suggests that what Yeshua said in Hebrew was the self-revelation of God ani-hu, which Rabbis prohibited Jews to speak (220). Ani is the first person pronoun "I" (BDB 58) and hu is the third person singular fem. pronoun, which may be rendered as "he" or "she" (BDB 214). When spoken by God ani-hu is translated as "I am He" and in the LXX rendered as egō eimi. Ani-hu as an emphatic predicate of God is found only a few times in the Tanakh, primarily in Isaiah (Deut 32:39; Isa 41:4; 43:10, 13; 46:4; 48:12). In each case the assertion of God reminds Israel either that He is the only God or the eternal God. By using this distinctive phrase Yeshua identified himself with the eternal God, the first and the last (Isa 41:4; 48:12; Rev 1:17; 2:8; 22:13).
Now: Grk. de, conj. Judas also: Grk. kai, conj. the one: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. betraying: Grk. paradidōmi, pres. part. See verse 2 above. Many versions translate the verb as past tense, but the present tense emphasizes a continuing action. him: Grk. autos. was standing: Grk. histēmi, plperf., may mean (1) cause to be in a place or position; (2) to be in an upright position, used of bodily posture; (3) to set or place in a balance; (4) fig. to stand ready, to be of a steadfast mind. The pluperfect tense expresses action in the past that is complete and the results of the action in existence at some point in past time as indicated by the context. The verb was not chosen to simply say that Judas was physically standing, but that he had taken a stand of principle opposed to Yeshua at some time in the past and he still held to that position. with: Grk. meta, prep. them: Grk. autos, m. pl. The phrase "with them" is significant, for it indicates just whose side Judas had chosen.
6 So when he said to them, "I AM," they drew towards the back and fell to the ground.
So: Grk. oun, conj. when: Grk. hōs, adv. that connects narrative components and used here in a temporal sense; when, after. he said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 1 above. to them: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; the crowd mentioned in verse 3 above. I AM: See the previous verse. Yeshua did not cower in fear, but advanced on his adversaries. He spoke in a forceful manner and acted in such a way as to elicit awe. Perhaps he spoke as he did when he taught the multitudes. they drew: Grk. aperchomai, aor., to be in movement from a position with or without mention of a destination, here in the sense of drawing back a short distance. towards: Grk. eis, prep. the back: Grk. opisō, adv. of place and time; back, behind, after. The term denotes that the movement described was backward.
and fell: Grk. piptō, aor., to drop from a relatively high position to a lower position. to the ground: Grk. chamai, the earth or ground as the objective of movement. The word is found only twice in the Besekh (also John 9:6). None of the other apostolic narratives mention this detail. It's not clear from the narrative just how many of the arresting party fell down. Morris suggests it was the soldiers who reacted, being temporarily unnerved by Yeshua's commanding presence. Yet, the deputy high priest and Levitical police, understanding Hebrew, would be more strongly impacted. In any event, falling to the ground was a common reaction of people in Scripture when confronted with the word of God (e.g. Judg 13:20; 1Sam 28:20; Dan 10:9; cf. Matt 17:6; Acts 9:4).
7 Therefore he asked them again, "Whom are you seeking?" And they said, "Yeshua of Nazareth."
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. he asked: Grk. eperōtaō, aor., may mean (1) to put a question to, ask or (2) make a request, as for. The first meaning applies here. them: Grk. autos. again: Grk. palin, adv. that may focus (1) on a repetitive occurrence; once more, again; or (2) reversion; back. The first meaning applies here. Whom are you seeking: Yeshua repeats the question verbatim from verse 4. The repetition of the question may seem superfluous, but it represents an opening gambit in negotiation. He wants the intention of his adversaries on the record. And: Grk. de, conj. they said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 1 above. Yeshua of Nazareth: The identification is repeated as in verse 5 above.
The repetition of Yeshua's name associated with his hometown is especially significant. The chief priests would have used the label to imply that Yeshua was an imposter. Everyone knew the Messiah would come from Bethlehem (cf. John 7:42). Yet, for Gentile readers the label is a reminder that Yeshua grew up on a Jewish home, submissive to Joseph and Miriam, and as a child was taught the Scriptures and so increased in wisdom (Luke 2:52). It was also the place where he went in the beginning of his Galilean ministry (Luke 4:16-30) and proclaimed his Messianic identity by reading Isaiah 61:1 and saying it had been fulfilled. Unfortunately, he was met with unbelief and hostility.
8 Yeshua answered, "I said to you that I AM; so if you are seeking me, allow these to leave,"
Yeshua answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. See verse 5 above. I said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 1 above. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 2 above. The conjunction is used here to introduce a direct quotation. I AM: Grk. egō eimi. See verse 5 above. so: Grk. oun, conj. if: Grk. ei, a contingency marker used here to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument. you are seeking: Grk. zēteō, pres. See verse 4 above. me: Grk. egō. Yeshua accepts the concentration of attention on him.
allow: Grk. aphiēmi, aor. mid., to release or let go, here in the permissive sense of let go or allow. these: Grk. houtos, m. pl., demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes its use or follows it; this, these. The pronoun is used in reference to his disciples. to leave: Grk. hupagō, pres. inf., to proceed from a position, sometimes (1) with the focus on the departure point; go away, leave; or (2) with the focus on an objective or destination; go, be on one's way. The first usage applies here. Yeshua's request reveals the intent of his question in the previous verse and reflects his continuing purpose of protecting his disciples as he prayed earlier (John 17:12, 15).
9 so that the word which he had spoken might be fulfilled, that, "Of those whom You have given me I lost not one."
so that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed, in order that, so that, that. the word: Grk. logos, vocalized expression, word, discourse, statement, message or speech. In the LXX logos stands principally for Heb. dabar, which has a range of meaning "speech, word, report, command, advice, counsel, thing, matter" (Gen 29:13; BDB 182) (DNTT 3:1087). Logos is used here of a statement Yeshua made on a previous occasion, most likely during the last supper. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 1 above. he had spoken: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 1 above. might be fulfilled: Grk. plēroō, aor. pass. subj., may mean (1) cause to abound in content to a maximum, fill; or (2) to bring to fruition or completion, complete, fulfill, fill up, carry out. The second meaning has application here.
that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 2 above. Hoti is used here to introduce a quotation of something Yeshua previously said (cf. John 6:39; 17:12). Of: Grk. ek, prep. those: Grk. autos, m. pl., personal pronoun; an allusion to his disciples. whom: Grk. hos. You have given: Grk. didōmi, perf., to give, often with the focus on generosity. In the LXX didōmi generally renders Heb. natan, to give, used in one of three settings (1) by men one to another; (2) by men to God; and (3) by God to men (DNTT 2:41). Yeshua had said previously that his disciples were given to him by the Father (John 6:37, 39, 65; 10:29; 17:6, 24). me: Grk. egō. I lost: Grk. apollumi, aor., may mean (1) cause severe damage; destroy, kill, ruin; or (2) experience disconnection or separation; lose, perish, die. The verb depicts a situation that threatens the very existence of an individual or group.
not one: Grk. oudeis, adj. used here as a noun to indicate negation of a person or thing as actually existing at a given place or moment; no one, not one, nobody, none. The adjective admits no exceptions other than what is stated. Yeshua's statement might imply that the Father had not given him Judas, but typical of Hebrew thought the verb "given" likely express a result and not an intention. It was the Father's will for Judas to follow Yeshua, but the fact that the eleven remained faithful meant they had been given.
10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the servant of the chief priest, and cut off his right ear. Now, the name of the servant was Malchus.
Then: Grk. oun, conj. Simon: Grk. Simōn, which almost transliterates the Hebrew name Shimôn ("Shee-mown"), meaning "he has heard." There are nine men in the Besekh with the name "Simōn," but this name does not occur in the LXX at all. In the Tanakh the Heb. name Shimôn appears for the first time as the second son of Jacob and Leah (Gen 29:33) and then the tribe the descended from him (Num 1:22-23). His name is translated in the LXX as Sumeōn and in English "Simeon." The apostle may well have been named in honor of the patriarch. Little considered by commentators is Simon's ancestry. The name of Simon's father is given in John 1:42 and 21:15-17 as "John" (Grk. Iōannēs; Heb. Yochanan). Yet, Yeshua addressed him as "Simon Barjona" (Heb. bar Yona) (Matt 16:17), which means that Simon's family descended from the prophet Jonah.
Peter: Grk. Petros, personal name meaning 'a stone' (BAG, Mounce), although Thayer says the name signifies a stone, a rock, a ledge or a cliff, and Danker defines the name as "rockman." Petros translates the Aramaic name Kêpha ("rock"), a loanword in Hebrew (SH-3710; BDB 495). The name was given to him by Yeshua (John 1:42). Peter was married (Mark 1:30; 1Cor 9:5) and had a home in Capernaum (Mark 1:21, 29). Together with Andrew they engaged in a business of fishing from the Sea of Galilee (Luke 5:2-3; John 21:3), including working in partnership with the sons of Zebedee (Luke 5:10). We should note that even though Yeshua gave Simon another name he only used "Simon" in directly addressing him (Luke 7:40; 22:31; Mark 14:37; and John 21:15-17).
The combination name "Simon Peter" occurs twenty times in the Besekh, all but three (Matt 16:16; Luke 5:8; 1Pet 1:1) in the book of John. The frequent use by John is noteworthy and must be significant even though he never explains his purpose. We might draw a parallel between the facts that in the original allotment of land in Israel the tribe of Simeon was located wholly within the borders of Judah (Josh 19:1) and that Yeshua was of the tribe of Judah. Simon's life was circumscribed by devotion to the Messiah from Judah. Then, Yeshua's choice of naming Simon "Kêpha" indicated confidence in his ability to be a prominent leader and pillar of the Body of Messiah. Using the combination name conveyed John's respect for his fellow apostle who would become a powerful spokesman for Yeshua.
having: Grk. echō, pres. part., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. a sword: Grk. machaira refers to a relatively short weapon with a sharp blade. The term is used for a dagger and the Roman short sword. drew: Grk. helkō, aor., cause to move toward, draw, as of a pulling motion. it: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. and struck: Grk. paiō, aor., attack with a relatively strong blow; strike, hit. the servant: Grk. doulos can mean either slave or servant, and in Greek and Roman culture viewed as owned property totally and unquestioningly at the behest of the owner. In the LXX doulos translates the Heb. ebed, which did include the meaning of doulos but with a much broader application. In the Tanakh ebed is especially used of household servants, those who worked for the King and those who served God, especially service in the temple (DNTT 3:593).
of the chief priest: Grk. archiereus. See verse 3 above. The mention of a specific chief priest probably denotes the deputy high priest. and cut off: Grk. apokoptō, aor., to cut off in reference to physically severing. his right: Grk. dexios, right as of a bodily member or a location. ear: Grk. ōtarion, the outer ear. Now: Grk. de, conj. the name: Grk. onoma is used in its central sense of identifying someone with a proper name. In Hebrew literature "name" also carries the extended sense of qualities, powers, attributes or reputation. of the servant: Grk. doulos. The presence of the definite article in both mentions of "servant" may indicate some prominence. was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. Malchus: Grk. Malchos, derived from the Hebrew word melek (SH-4429, "king"). There was a man named Melek (English "Melech") in the Tanakh, a descendant of King Saul (2Chr 8:35).
Malchus may have been a member of the temple police that carried weapons. Barker suggests that Malchus may have been overly aggressive in carrying out his orders and provoked Peter (225). The Synoptic Narratives give slightly different details about the incident (Matt 26:51-54; Mark 14:47; Luke 22:49-51). Only John identifies Peter as the one who struck the servant, as well as the name of the servant, probably as a result of acquaintance with the high-priestly household (Geldenhuys 582). Both Luke and John say the right ear was cut off, but Luke is the only one who tells us that Yeshua healed the servant, and this action probably prevented Peter's arrest.
Matthew reports perhaps the most severe rebuke of Peter in which Yeshua claims the availability of legions of angels if he wanted them. Wounding the servant in this limited fashion may be due to ineptitude in Peter's skill or the effort of the servant to evade the blow. In any event it could have been much worse. The point of contact suggests an overhand strike, evidence of a lack of experience. A Roman soldier would have aimed his sword at an opponent's mid-section, which would provide greater assurance of lethality. In any event the account of Peter's use of a sword does raise a question about why he had it in the first place.
Luke's narrative provides the background. After predicting Peter's denial after the rooster crowing, the narrative continues with this interchange.
"He said to them, "When I sent you out without wallet, pack or shoes, were you ever short of anything?" "Not a thing," they answered. 36 "But now," he said, if you have a wallet or a pack, take it; and if you don't have a sword, sell your robe to buy one. 37 For I tell you this: the passage from the Tanakh that says, "He was counted with transgressors," has to be fulfilled in me; since what is happening to me has a purpose." 38 They said, "Look, Lord, there are two swords right here!" "Enough!" he replied." (Luke 22:35-38 CJB)
The instruction in Luke 22:36 to buy a sword is a hard saying because it seems to contradict other teaching on a non-violent response to evil (e.g. Matt 5:39) and Yeshua's own teaching about giving his life as an atoning sacrifice (Matt 20:28; John 6:51; 12:32-33). He also set the example by not carrying a sword. Some commentators have interpreted Luke's narrative as meaning it was illegal to carry arms during Passover based on a reading of the Mishnah (Shabbath 6:4), which says, "A man must not go out with a sword, bow, shield, lance, or spear, and if he does go out, he incurs a sin-offering." (Actually, this argument is used to deny that the last supper was the Passover Seder.) However, the Mishnah passage indicates that there was a divergence of opinion. Another Sage declared such carrying as an "ornament" and therefore legal.
Other Sages said such carrying was merely "shameful." Edersheim (845) believes that the Galilean disciples had provided themselves with swords after the custom of their countrymen to be ready for self-defense (Josephus, Wars III, 3:2). In addition, when Essenes went on a journey they carried weapons to protect themselves against bandits (Josephus, Wars II, 8:4). Yeshua's rationale seems to imply that the disciples carrying swords would cause him to be "numbered with transgressors" (Isa 53:12). However, this quotation of Scripture referred to the two thieves with whom Yeshua would be crucified. The disciples were not to be the transgressors. The disciples apparently did not follow the irony of his reasoning and when two swords were presented he said "enough."
Yeshua did not say "It is enough" (as found in most versions) in the sense of "that will be enough to defend us all." After all, two swords could not possibly defend the group against Roman soldiers and there was no possibility of buying more swords before arrival at the garden. The common translation sounds like Yeshua is giving his approval on possession of the swords, but he was actually saying "enough" as a rebuke (e.g. 2Cor 2:6). However, Peter expected a fight (cf. John 13:37) and he was ready. Bruce suggests that Yeshua's intention may have been for the future when the disciples would travel fleeing persecution (241). Nothing in the Torah or Yeshua's own instruction proscribes reasonable self-defense. As events played out in the garden it is obvious that Yeshua had no intention of his disciples defending him with swords.
11 So Yeshua said to Peter, "Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given me, should I not drink it?"
So: Grk. oun, conj. Yeshua: See verse 1 above. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 1 above. to Peter: See the previous verse. Put: Grk. ballō, aor. imp., cause movement toward a position, which may be used of a vigorous action and be translated as "cast, throw or hurl," or of a more subdued action and be translated as "put, place, lay or bring" (BAG). The second usage applies here. the sword: Grk. machaira. See the previous verse. into: Grk. eis, prep. the sheath: Grk. thēkē, a receptacle or case, here used to hold a sword; sheath, scabbard. The noun is used only here in the Besekh. Yeshua strongly forbids swordplay. Only by divine providence did Peter escape being cut down by a Roman soldier.
the cup: Grk. potērion (for Heb. kos), a domestic item used for drinking cup, with both literal and figurative uses. The noun occurs only here in the book of John. In this passage the "cup" refers to exposure to suffering or hardship as fulfillment of one's destiny (Danker). In the Tanakh drinking from a "cup" often has associations with suffering and the wrath of God (Ps 75:8; Isa 51:17, 22; Jer 25:15; Ezek 23:31-33), but also of grace (Ps 116:13; Isa 55:1) (DNTT 2:274-275). The cup used in the last supper for the New Covenant ritual portended suffering, yet with meritorious effect (Luke 22:20).
which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. the Father: Grk. patēr, normally of a male biological parent or ancestor, but frequently in reference to God, which emphasizes His activity as creator, ruler and sustainer (BAG). In the LXX patēr renders ab ("av"), which occurs about 1180 times, generally in the human sense, but also of God as father (DNTT 1:616f). In the Hebrew vernacular Yeshua and the apostles would have used the Heb. word aba, as occurs in (Mark 14:36; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6). In the Tanakh God's identity as a parent is first mentioned in reference to His covenantal relationship with Israel (Deut 1:31; 8:5; 32:6; Ps 103:13; Isa 43:6; 63:16; 64:8; Jer 3:19; 31:9; Hos 1:10: Mal 1:6). Israel is specifically identified as God's son (Ex 4:22; Hos 11:1). Only in late Jewish apocryphal writings is God called the Father of the pious Jew as an individual (Sir 23:1, 4; Tob 13:4; Wsd 2:16; 14:3; 3Macc 5:7).
Yeshua is the only individual in Scripture to say "my Father." While Jews recognized the God of Israel as the "father" of mankind in the sense of creator (Acts 17:28; Josephus, Ant. IV, 8:24), the capitalized "Father" in the Besekh continues the meaning found in the Tanakh. Unfortunately the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed removed the association with Israel and presented the Father as only the "Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth." Yeshua acknowledged this covenantal relationship when he taught his Jewish disciples to pray "our Father" (Matt 6:9). Yeshua also spoke to his Jewish disciples of "your Father" (Matt 5:45, 48; 6:14, 26, 32; Mark 7:11; Luke 6:36). Thus, for the Body of Messiah the God of Israel becomes "our Father" (Rom 1:7; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Php 1:2; Col 1:2).
has given: Grk. didōmi, perf. See verse 9 above. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. should I not: Grk. ou mē, lit. "not, never." The combination of negative particles is the strongest manner of expressing negation and makes for a powerful emotional response. drink: Grk. pinō, aor. subj., to take in a liquid, to drink, usually of water or wine, used here in a figurative sense. it: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The question of Yeshua, which echoes his resolve from the garden prayer (Matt 26:39), alludes to the narrative of when John and Jacob, the sons of Zebedee, asked Yeshua for the privilege of sitting to his right and left in the Kingdom. Yeshua had responded with the question, "Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?" (Matt 20:22; Mark 10:38). They didn't understand that the cup represented death.
Hearing before Annas, 18:12-14
12 Then the Roman cohort and the commander and the officers of the Judean authorities, arrested Yeshua and bound him,
Then: Grk. oun, conj. the Roman cohort: Grk. speira. See verse 3 above. and the commander: Grk. chiliarchos, used for the Latin tribunus, tribune, the commander of a cohort. The mention of the tribune and not a centurion implies a sizable force. and the officers: Grk. hupēretēs, m. pl. See verse 3 above. of the Judean authorities: Grk. Ioudaios, m. pl., Judean, Jew, Jewish or Jewess (BAG) and is used in the book of John to mean not only the biological descendants of Jacob, but adherents of the Judean religion. Christian versions are divided in translating the noun in this verse as "Jews" or as an adj. with "Jewish." Messianic versions have "Jewish authorities" (MW), and "Judeans" (CJB, TLV). In this verse John uses the term as he does frequently for members of the Sanhedrin, identified in verse 3 above as chief priests and Pharisees. For more discussion on the background of Ioudaios and John's usage of it see my comment on John 1:19.
arrested: Grk. sullambanō, aor., to take possession of by capture, here in the legal sense of seizing or apprehending. Yeshua: See verse 1 above. and bound: Grk. deō, aor., to tie or bind for physical restraint, probably with chains (cf. Acts 12:6; 21:33). him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. John omits mentioning as the Synoptic Narratives that almost all the disciples deserted Yeshua and ran away (Matt 26:56; Mark 14:50), except Peter who followed at a distance (Matt 26:58; Mark 14:54). The narrative below (verses 15-16) implies that John also followed, or possibly even accompanied the arresting party, because he became an eyewitness to the trials.
13 and they brought him first to Annas; for he was father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.
Parallel: Luke 22:54
and they brought: Grk. agō, aor., to cause movement by taking the lead; lead, bring, carry, take. him first: Grk. prōton, having to do with beforeness, with resultant meanings of (1) having a primary position in sequence and (2) standing out in significance or importance. The first meaning has application here. The series of three hearings to which Yeshua was subjected before being taken to Pilate was a carefully choreographed play to give the appearance of compliance with the law while totally disregarding it. The first scene took place in the house of Annas. The palace of the high priest was an extensive complex, originally built by Annas. Within that complex the houses of Annas and Caiaphas faced each other and were connected by a large garden (Santala 219).
to Annas: Grk. Annas (for Heb. Hananyah, merciful), was appointed to the high priesthood about A.D. 6 by Quirinius, governor of Syria. He was deposed in A.D. 15 by Valerius Gratus, the Roman prefect who ruled Judaea (15-26 A.D.). Nevertheless, by Jewish law the title of "high priest" continued for life. As an emeritus high priest he continued to exercise considerable influence and retained membership on the Sanhedrin. Many members of his family became high priests after him, including five of his sons as well as his son-in-law.
Annas could be considered the godfather of the temple crime family. Yeshua twice cleared the temple of commercial activity by which they profited enormously (John 2:14-17; Mark 11:15-17). Their agents charged exorbitant fees to exchange Roman currency into the Jewish shekel to pay the annual temple tax, which itself was contrary to Torah. Priests under the supervision of Annas operated markets to sell sacrificial animals. Since they controlled the determination of fitness of any animal for sacrifice they could force pilgrims who could not bring their own animals to pay high prices. The commercial sacrificial organization under the control of Annas gave a whole different meaning to "bought with a price" (1Cor 6:20).
for: Grk. gar, conj., is generally accepted as a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that." Gar often functions to connect statements in narratives with preceding statements and is normally translated "for." he was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. father-in-law: Grk. pentheros, a wife's father. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. of Caiaphas: Grk. Kaiaphas, (from Heb. Kaipha), a personal name meaning "rock" or "depression." (HBD). His given name was Joseph (Josephus, Ant. XVIII, 2:2; 4:3). Lightfoot suggests that the mention of the relationship between Annas and Caiaphas explains why Yeshua was taken to Annas first (3:415). Annas, being older, would have been more experienced and skillful in the law. Caiaphas would then be directed by the counsel of Annas.
who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. was: Grk. eimi, impf. high priest: Grk. archiereus. See verse 3 above. The singular noun identifies the current ruling high priest. In the LXX archiereus occurs only two times in the canonical books, but 41 times in the Apocrypha (DNTT 3:35). In Leviticus 4:3 archiereus renders Heb. Hakohen Hamaschiach, "the anointed priest" and inserted in Joshua 24:33 without Heb. equivalent to describe Aaron. The Hebrew title Hakohen Hagadol, 'the high [or great] priest,' occurs 11 times in the Tanakh (Lev 21:10; Num 35:25, 28; Josh 20:6; 2Kgs 12:10; 22:4, 8; 23:4; 2Chr 34:9; Neh 3:1, 20), but in all of these passages the title is translated in the LXX by Grk. ho hierus ho megas, 'the great priest.'
The office of high priest was established by God in His instructions to Moses at Mt. Sinai. The first high priest was Aaron, brother of Moses, and all priests after him were to descend from his sons (Ex 27:21; 30:30). The high priest was the chief executive officer over all the priests. Only he could enter the holy of holies on Yom Kippur to offer an atoning sacrifice for the nation and complete the other sacrificial requirements specified for that day (Lev 16). The high priest also shared with the priests the duties of conducting the regular meal offering (Lev 6:14-15), caring for the lamp that burned continually (Ex 27:21) and arranging the shewbread (Ex 25:30).
More significantly the high priest carried the breastplate with the names of the tribes inscribed and acted as mediator between Israel and God (Ex 28:29). He alone could consult the Urim and Thummim before God, and according to his decision Israel must obey (Num 27:21). In addition to his priestly duties, the high priest filled the role of president of the Sanhedrin, which had been formed in the Hellenistic Period. He presided over its deliberations and only voted to break a tie of its 70 members (Josephus, Ant. IV, 8:14; XX, 10). The Sanhedrin was patterned after the original seventy men that God directed Moses to choose from the "elders" of the people (Num 11:24).
that: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun, typically used to refer to a noun (person or thing) immediately preceding in the Greek text; that, that one there. year: Grk. eniautos, a cycle of time, a year. The Torah does not prescribe a term of office for the high priest, but the lack of any required retirement age meant his service could last as long as he wished and remained physically qualified. Caiaphas was appointed to that office by Valerius Gratus, in A.D. 18 and removed in A.D. 36 by Vitellius, governor of Syria. Morris comments that the phrase "that year" should not be taken to signify that John thought the tenure of the high priest was only twelve months. Rather it surely means "at that time," "that fateful year," or "that year of all years."
Josephus says that twenty-eight high priests held the office from the days of Herod until the day when Titus destroyed Jerusalem (Ant. XX, 10:1), a period of 107 years, making the average term of office four years. However, the count of high priests does not mean that the succession was unbroken. The tenure of the high priest is mentioned in Yoma 8b, "money was being paid for the purpose of obtaining the position of high priest and the [high priests] were changed every twelve months." Apparently, the payments had been going on since the time of the Hasmonean kings (fn 12, Yoma 8b). The Talmud also treats this number as an average, not a prescribed term of office (fn 14, Yoma 8b). One Talmud MS reads: 'They were changed by Heaven,' i.e., they did not survive the twelve months. Other MSS read: ‘They were removed by the king when a higher price was offered him for the priesthood.’
Having been arrested Yeshua faced the next stage in his journey to redeem his people, that of being rejected by his nation's leaders (Mark 8:31). Yeshua would face a total of three hearings before Judean authorities before being finally turned over the Pilate. Only John describes the conduct of this irregular hearing. This meeting was not a trial as defined by law. Stern notes that as a powerful behind-the-scenes figure the advice of Annas on how to deal with Yeshua was sought first.
14 Now Caiaphas was the one having advised the Judean authorities that "it is advantageous for one man to die on behalf of the people."
Now: Grk. de, conj. Caiaphas was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. the one: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having advised: Grk. sumbouleuō, aor. part., may mean (1) to offer counsel; advise, counsel, exhort; or (2) discuss a course of action with focus on hostile intention. The first meaning applies here. Of interest is that the verb is used with the second meaning of the Judean authorities plotting to seize for the purposes of killing, first Yeshua (Matt 26:4) and then Paul (Acts 9:23). the Judean authorities: Grk. Ioudaios, m. pl. See verse 12 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 2 above. The conjunction is used here to introduce a quotation, and John quotes from his narrative in 11:50. it is advantageous: Grk. sumpherō, pres., bring together to result in a benefit; be useful or profitable, be of advantage. Mounce and Thayer add "expedient," which is found in many versions.
for one: Grk. heis, the numeral one. man: Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man, or mankind. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words: (1) adam, SH-444, used for a human male or generically for man and woman and as a contrast to animals (e.g., Gen 1:26, 27; 2:5); (2) ish, SH-376, adult male or husband (Gen 2:23, 24) and (3) enosh, SH-582, man or mankind, often signifying the aspect of weakness and mortality (Ps 8:4-5) (DNTT 2:564). to die: Grk. apothnēskō, aor. inf., to die, generally used of physical death. The verb is formed with apo, "away from," which intensifies thnēskō, "to die." – properly, die off (away from). The verb stresses the significance of ending of what is "former," namely life, to bring what (naturally) follows (HELPS).
on behalf of: Grk. huper, prep., lit. "over, above," used to express a stance of concern or interest relating to someone or something, here emphasizing a supportive aspect; for, in behalf of, in the interest of. the people: Grk. laos, a group of humans, understood geographically or ethnically and in Scripture often viewed in contrast with the ruling class. The term corresponds to the Heb. am-ha'aretz, "people of the land," i.e., the people of Israel. In the mind of Caiaphas the death of Yeshua would accomplish a substitutionary purpose to prevent more death. Not in his wildest dreams could he conceive that the substitution would bring atonement. John omits the last part of the quotation of Caiaphas, "and not the whole nation perish." John's reminder is also indicative of the fact that Caiaphas was the chief conspirator in coordinating the arrest and trial of Yeshua. It could not happen without his approval.
Trial of Peter, 18:15-18
15 But Simon Peter was following Yeshua, and another disciple. Moreover, that disciple was known to the high priest, and entered with Yeshua into the inner courtyard of the high priest,
But: Grk. de, conj. Simon Peter: See verse 10 above. was following: Grk. akoloutheō, impf., to be in motion in sequence behind someone; follow. Two of the Synoptic Narratives indicate that after the arrest of Yeshua the disciples fled (Matt 26:56; Mark 14:50), although those passages clarify that those "having forsaken" him fled. Peter did not forsake Yeshua, but instead followed the arresting party. All the Synoptic Narratives mention that Peter followed at a distance (Matt 26:58; Mark 14:54; Luke 22:54). Yeshua: See verse 1 above. and another: Grk. allos, adj. used to distinguish from one or more other entities; other (of two), another. disciple: Grk. mathētēs. See verse 1 above. The narrative makes clear that the eyewitness to the hearing described is a disciple and someone known to Peter.
Moreover: Grk. de, conj. that: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun; "that one." See verse 13 above. The pronoun is used here to distinguish John from Peter. disciple: Grk. mathētēs. was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. known: Grk. gnōstos, adj. (from ginōskō, to know), perceived, understood, known, which may be used to mean (1) known, such as being known to someone; or (2) that which can be known or what can be known about something. The first usage applies here. Morris quotes the eminent scholar C.H. Dodd as saying, "It is now generally recognized that gnōstos implies something more than mere acquaintance. It means that the person so described was a member of the High Priest's circle, possibly a kinsman and himself of priestly birth, or at any rate one who stood in intimate relations with the governing high priestly family" (fn30, 752).
to the high priest: Grk. archiereus. See verse 3 above. The title is used here of Caiaphas. Since the "other disciple" is not identified some have suggested he was Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathea. Of the two only Joseph is identified as a disciple (Matt 27:57). However, neither of these two men, who were members of the Sanhedrin, fit the scenario, since the conspiracy against Yeshua left out his supporters. The second disciple is presumptively one of the eleven apostles. and entered with: Grk. suneiserchomai, aor., to enter in along with, used of entry into some kind of manufactured structure. Yeshua into: Grk. eis, prep. the inner courtyard: Grk. aulē, an enclosed open space or a dwelling place. In the LXX the term translates Heb. chatser (SH-2691), a court or courtyard of the tabernacle (Ex 27:9) or temple (1Kgs 7:12), or a prison (Jer 32:2) or a private house (2Sam 17:18; Neh 8:16) or the residence of the king (Jer 36:20; Esth 1:5; Dan 2:49).
of the high priest: Grk. archiereus, i.e. Caiaphas. John concurs with Luke that the house to which Yeshua was taken belonged to the palace of the high priest (Luke 22:54), which in the Synoptic Narratives is Caiaphas. The complex would have had a gate from the street, leading to a courtyard, which would have been surrounded by several connected buildings including residences for Annas and Caiaphas. Josephus noted that the High Priest's residence was in the upper city where the ruling class lived (Wars, II, 17:6). Go here for pictures of the suggested site. The residence of the high priest would have been a natural place for informal meetings of the Sanhedrin.
The personal acquaintance of the "other disciple" with Caiaphas and his family is one of the intriguing elements of John's narrative, which certainly reflects first-hand experience. Early church fathers identified the "other disciple" as John. Morris notes that Polycrates (130-196 A.D.), Bishop of Ephesus, wrote in a letter that John was a priest who wore the sacerdotal plate (Grk. petalon) of the high priest (Eusebius, Church History, Book III, 31:3). The Greek term occurs in the LXX of Torah passages (first in Ex 28:36) as the technical term for the gold ornament (Heb. tsiyt, SH-6731) that symbolized the office of the high priest. Against the patristic opinion some scholars note the fact that the identity of the "other disciple" is not declared, and it seems unlikely that the son of Zebedee would gain a position of such importance.
However, the fact that John does not identify himself as the "other disciple" is not a problem. "Unlike the Greek, the Jew had no personal pride in authorship, probably because he so often felt himself the vehicle of something before which his own personality sank into insignificance" (Tarn & Griffith 229). Also the expression "allos mathētēs" is used later in this narrative of the beloved disciple (20:2, 3, 4, 8), who is universally assumed to be John. Barclay presents an alternative thesis of some scholars that the reason of John being known to the high priest is because John's family supplied salt fish to his household (6:229). If so, John would be well-known to Caiaphas and his servants. Against this theory is the fact that as a tradesman he would hardly be admitted in to observe the interrogation of Yeshua.
Alfred Edersheim argues persuasively for John's priestly lineage (Temple 106). The fact that the family of Zebedee engaged in fishing does not preclude priestly lineage, either through his father or mother. Consider the fact that Miriam, mother of Yeshua, was a blood relative of Elizabeth, a priest's wife descended from Aaron (Luke 1:5, 36), and thereby John through his mother Salome, sister of Miriam, would have had priestly connections. Edersheim goes on to point out that the numerous allusions to the Temple in the narrative of John and his Revelation account imply special knowledge, the kind of knowledge only an insider could have.
Though residing in Galilee, the house of "his own" to which John took the mother of Yeshua (John 19:27) was probably at Jerusalem, like that of other priests, and where Miriam of Magdala found John and Peter together on the morning of the resurrection (John 20:2). Moseley also believes that John came from a family of priests, pointing out that in John 20:5 Peter rushed into the tomb while John hesitated outside (24). According to Jewish law, he would have been defiling himself had he entered a room where there was a dead body. So, the accumulated evidence points to John as the "other disciple."
16 but Peter was standing at the door outside. So the other disciple, the one known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the doorkeeper, and brought in Peter.
but: Grk. de, conj. Peter was standing: Grk. histēmi, plperf. See verse 5 above. Just as Judas "was standing" in the garden in opposition to Yeshua, Peter is now standing in support of Yeshua. at: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" (DM 110). Since the noun following is in the dative case, pros would denote close local proximity; at, near, or close by. the door: Grk. thura, a device for opening and closing an entranceway; door, gate. outside: Grk. exō, adv. of place, outside, used of a position that beyond a limit or boundary. In the LXX exō renders Heb. chuts, the outside, often in reference to the out of doors in relation to a structure. So: Grk. oun, conj. the other: Grk. allos, adj. See the previous verse. disciple: Grk. mathētēs. See verse 1 above and the previous verse.
the one: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. known: Grk. gnōstos, adj. See the previous verse. "The one known" gives distinction to this disciples out of the eleven. to the high priest: Grk. archiereus. See verse 3 above. The noun refers back to Caiaphas. went out: Grk. exerchomai, aor. See verse 1 above. and spoke: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 1 above. to the doorkeeper: Grk. thurōros, a doorkeeper or gatekeeper. and brought in: Grk. eisagō, aor., cause to enter into an area; bring or lead in. The subject of the singular verb is uncertain and might be masculine or feminine, but the next verse settles the matter. Peter: The admittance of Peter into the courtyard through the mediation of John is another significant detail not found in the Synoptic Narratives.
17 Then the maidservant, the doorkeeper, said to Peter, "You are not also of the disciples of this man?" He said, "I am not."
Parallel: Matthew 26:69-70; Mark 14:66-68; Luke 22:56-57
Then: Grk. oun, conj. the maidservant: Grk. paidiskē, a female slave or servant, with focus on obligations or work within a family context. The Greek term can mean "servant-girl" as found in many versions, but this servant is clearly an adult as may be deduced by both the level of responsibility and Peter's address to her. the doorkeeper: Grk. thurōros. See the previous verse. John clarifies that the doorkeeper was female. Such an assignment may seem unusual, but a female servant has this role in Acts 12:13. said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 1 above. to Peter: See verse 10 above.
You: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. not: Grk. mē, adv., a particle of qualified negation, subjective in nature, involving will and thought; not. We only know that the servant is asking a question because the negative particle introduces the statement in the Greek text. When used with interrogative effect the particle mē expects a negative answer (Thayer). also: Grk. kai, conj. of: Grk. ek, prep. the disciples: Grk. mathētēs., m. pl. See verse 1 above. of this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. man: Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 14 above. Many versions add "are you?" at the end to convey the expected answer. All four apostolic narratives agree that the challenge to Peter came from a female servant.
The indirect question probably represented confusion. The maidservant was likely trying to figure out why John had wanted Peter's admittance. Whether she knew John was a disciple is left unstated. In any event, Peter was probably ready for an interrogation by an official, but was caught off guard by the innocent question of a young woman. He said: Grk. legō, pres. Luke records that Peter addressed the servant as "woman" (Grk. gunē), which indicates an adult female. Addressing the servant in this manner is not as cold or rude as it sounds in English. Rather, "woman" in Jewish culture was treated as title of respect, because "Woman" is the name Adam gave the female that God had created from his own body (Gen 2:23).
I am: Grk. eimi, pres. not: Grk. ouk, the inflected form of ou, a particle used in denial or negation; not. This particle differs from the negative particle, mē, in that mē is subjective and conditional for a supposition, whereas ou is objective and unqualified, a denial of an alleged fact (DM 264f). Why Peter should respond as he did to this young woman who was not an agent of legal authorities conducting an investigation is puzzling. Maybe with his focus on his Master being interrogated he was annoyed with the pestering question and answering "no" would cut short any further conversation on the matter. Little did he realize at that moment that he had made an irretrievable choice with serious consequences.
18 Now the servants and the officers were standing there, having made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were warming themselves; moreover, Peter was also with them, standing and warming himself.
Now: Grk. de, conj. the servants: Grk. doulos, m. pl. See verse 10 above. and the officers: Grk. hupēretēs, m. pl. See verse 3 above. were standing: Grk. histēmi, plperf. See verse 5 above. there: There is no adverb of location in the Greek text, but "there" seems appropriate for completeness of thought. having made: Grk. poieō, perf. part., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, produce, create; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition; do, act, perform, work. The first meaning applies here. The perfect tense seems a little strange, but it may indicate a period of some duration. a charcoal fire: Grk. anthrakia, a mass or heap of live coals (Mounce). BAG and Danker have "charcoal-fire." The text does not specify who made the fire, but it would be the responsibility of a servant.
because: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 2 above. it was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. cold: Grk. psuchos, condition of coldness. Tenney notes that Jerusalem is twenty-six hundred feet above sea level, and on a spring night the air is chilly. and they were warming themselves: Grk. thermainō, impf. mid., to warm oneself. moreover: Grk. de. Peter was: Grk. eimi, impf. also: Grk. kai, conj. with: Grk. meta, prep. them: Grk. autos, m. pl., personal pronoun. standing: Grk. histēmi, perf. part. and warming himself: Grk. thermainō, pres. mid. part. Morris comments that Peter may have joined the group so as not to be conspicuous by remaining alone. Of course, he may have joined them simply because he was cold.
Hearing before Annas (cont.), 18:19-23
19 Then the high priest questioned Yeshua concerning his disciples, and concerning his instruction.
Then: Grk. oun, conj. the high priest: Grk. archiereus. See verse 3 above. The title is used of Annas here. questioned: Grk. erōtaō, aor., can mean (1) to ask with the focus on seeking information; ask, inquire; or (2) to ask in the sense of making a request for something or someone, sometimes in the form of an earnest plea; ask, request, beg, beseech. The first meaning applies here. Yeshua: His name means salvation; Son of God and Son of Man. See verse 1 above. The interrogation of Yeshua did not constitute a legal trial. No accused was to be called upon to incriminate himself. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; in behalf of, about, concerning.
his disciples: Grk. mathētēs, m. pl. See verse 1 above. Annas may have been seeking knowledge as to the number of followers as well as names that could be subject to the ban instituted in 9:22. This question Yeshua rightly refused to answer, being determined to protect his disciples as he promised. and concerning: Grk. peri, prep. his instruction: Grk. didachē, derived from the verb didaskō ("teach"), means instruction or doctrine imparted by teaching. The term occurs 30 times in the Besekh, usually in the sense of the content of public teaching by Yeshua (John 7:16f), the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt 16:12), and the apostles (Acts 2:42; Rom 16:17). One who teaches is known as Grk. didaskalos (Heb. moreh or rhabbi), teacher or instructor (Matt 10:24; Luke 6:40; John 1:38; Rom 2:20).
Such didachē is often the exposition and application of Torah, which came originally from the Father. In the LXX didachē is found only in the superscription of Psalm 60:1 to render the Piel inf. of Heb. lamad, "to exercise in, to learn" (BDB 540), an action attributed to David (DNTT 3:767). According to Klaus Wegenast the Hebrew equivalent of didachē would in fact be talmud (which is derived from lamad), as found in Avot 6:2, "you find no free man but he that occupies himself with the study of Torah" (DNTT 3:769). John does not reveal what Annas specifically asked about Yeshua's instruction, and again Yeshua declined to offer any information.
20 Yeshua answered him, "I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogue and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret.
Yeshua answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. See verse 5 above. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Annas. I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. The use of the pronoun is emphatic. While the apostles had taught on occasion (Matt 10:5-7; Luke 10:1, 9), Yeshua keeps the focus solely on himself. have spoken: Grk. laleō, perf., is used in the Besekh primarily to mean making an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter. openly: Grk. parrēsia may mean (1) of plain and direct speech; plain speech or adverbially 'plainly, openly;' (2) freeness in speech, as opposed to being under constraint to watch one's words; straightforwardness, candor, unguardedness; or (3) openness to the public, here of seeking to be in the public eye for recognition. All three meanings can have application here.
to the world: Grk. kosmos has a variety of uses in the Besekh and other Jewish literature, including (1) the orderly universe; (2) the earth as the place of habitation; (3) the world as mankind, sometimes in reference to a segment of population; (4) the world as the scene of earthly joys, possessions, cares and sufferings; and (5) representative of people and values opposed to God (BAG). In the LXX kosmos occurs five times for Heb. tsaba, the "hosts of heaven and earth," i.e., the stars (Gen 2:1; Deut 4:19). The third meaning is intended here in the sense of the Jewish world. I: Grk. egō. The repetition is purposeful, focusing attention on himself in contrast to the interest of Annas in his disciples. always: Grk. pantote, adv., always, at all times.
taught: Grk. didaskō, aor., to teach or instruct, a verb used frequently of Yeshua. In the LXX didaskō occurs about 100 times and is used primarily to render nine different Hebrew verbs, which mean variously to learn, teach, cause to know, point out, direct, or instruct (DNTT 3:760). In contrast with Greek education Jewish teaching since the time of Moses has been more concerned with communicating God's ethical demands than imparting information (DNTT 3:766). in: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position with the root meaning of "within," and may be rendered "in, on, at, among, or within" as appropriate to the context (DM 105).
synagogue: Grk. sunagōgē means a gathering-place or place of assembly. The Grk. word lacks the definite article so "in synagogue" means "in the synagogues generally" (Morris). In the Besekh the term refers to the place at which Jews gathered for worship and learning, including Jewish followers of Yeshua (Acts 6:9; 9:2; Jas 2:2). The term does not necessarily mean a manufactured structure as the word "church" can mean (cf. Acts 16:13). The origin of the word sunagōgē dates from the 5th century BC and in non-Jewish culture was used to refer to any collection of things or people. In the LXX sunagōgē occurs 225 times and is generally used to translate the Heb. words edah (SH-5712), congregation (Ex 12:3) and qahal (SH-6951), assembly, convocation, or congregation (Ex 16:3) (DNTT 1:292ff).
The origin of the Jewish synagogue is not known for certain, but scholars generally date its beginning during the Babylonian exile (NIBD 1019). Pious Jews, far from their native land, without the ministry of the temple, no doubt felt the necessity to gather on the Sabbath in order to listen to the word of God and engage in prayer (cf. Ps 137; Jer 29:7; Ezek 14:1; 20:1). Eventually meetings came also to be held on other days, and at the same hours as the morning and evening services in the temple. According to Philo, the Jewish philosopher (20 B.C.─A.D. 50), synagogues were houses of prayer and schools of wisdom (On the Life of Moses II, 39).
By the first century, synagogues emerged as the central institution of Jewish life as a place where study, worship, celebration, and various other kinds of meetings took place. The Talmud says that, at the time of the destruction of the second temple, there were 394 synagogues in Jerusalem alone (Ket. 105a; TJ Sot. 7:7, 8; Yom. 7:1). As Jews emigrated west synagogues followed. In any community where at least ten Jewish men lived, the Jews would meet together for study and prayer and eventually build a sanctuary for their meetings. In Israel where the Sadducees exercised supervision over the temple, Pharisees supervised the learning of Torah in the synagogue. Yeshua taught on the Sabbath in synagogues throughout Galilee and Judea (Matt 4:23; 9:35; 12:9; 13:54; Luke 4:14-15, 44; 6:6; 13:10; John 6:59).
and in: Grk. en. the temple: Grk. hieron, sanctuary, temple (subst. neut. of the adj. hieros, 'sacred, holy'). When used of the temple in Jerusalem hieron applies to the entire temple complex with all its courts in contrast to naos, which refers to the sanctuary proper where priests offered sacrifices. For a description of the construction and characteristics of the temple see my comment on Mark 11:11. The apostolic record indicates that Yeshua taught at various points within the temple (Matt 21:23; Mark 12:35; Luke 21:37; John 7:14; 8:20). In fact, during his final week before his arrest Yeshua taught every day in the Temple (Luke 19:47).
where: Grk. hopou, adv. See verse 1 above. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. the Jews: Grk. Ioudaios, m. pl. See verse 12 above. Stern comments that since the Temple was the religious center for the whole Jewish people, "Jews" seems a more appropriate rendering than "Judeans." come together: Grk. sunerchomai, pres. mid., to come together as a collection of persons. Yeshua's point is that his teaching in the temple generally occurred in the context of pilgrim festivals. Yeshua omits mention of his teaching in rural areas (Matt 5:1-2), by the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:1) and in the Decapolis (Mark 7:31). He mentions synagogues and the Temple because these were locations where the Sanhedrin had their observers and where witnesses could be easily obtained.
and I spoke: Grk. laleō, aor., to make an vocal utterance and in the Besekh always to exercise the faculty of speech; address, declare, reveal, say, speak, talk about, utter (Mounce). nothing: Grk. oudeis, adj. See verse 9 above. in: Grk. en. secret: Grk. kruptos, adj., not open to or recognizable by the public; hidden, secret, private. Yeshua does not mean that he never spoke anything in private to his disciples, but that the content of his Kingdom teaching was quite public. Yeshua perhaps thought back to the words of his brothers who at one time urged him, "Go into Judea, that your disciples will also see your works you are doing. For no one does anything in secret, but he seeks to be in the open. If you are doing these things, reveal yourself to the world." (John 7:3-4).
21 Why are you questioning me? Question the ones having heard what I spoke to them; behold, they know what I said."
Why: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 4 above. are you questioning: Grk. erōtaō, pres. See the previous verse. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. His retort is entirely appropriate. Annas might be a member of the Sanhedrin, but he had no authority to engage in a private interrogation with legal implications. Yeshua knew why Annas was conducting this interrogation and was not going to give him the satisfaction. Yeshua then reminds Annas of the rights of an accused person under the law. Question: Grk. erōtaō, aor. imp. While the imperative mood can be used as an entreaty, Yeshua probably said it as a command. the ones: Grk. ho, m. pl., definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun.
having heard: Grk. akouō, perf. part., may mean (1) to hear, with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said; (2) hear with comprehension, understand; or (3) receive information aurally, hear, hear about. Possibly all three meanings have relevance in this context. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173). Morris adds that the verb implies retention of what had been heard. what: Grk. tís. The pronoun is used here as an adj., what, which. I spoke: Grk. laleō, aor. See the previous verse. to them: Grk. autos, personal pronoun.
behold: Grk. ide, aor. imp. of eidon, to see, but functions as an attention–getter without regard to number of persons addressed, behold! The verb could also have the sense of "go and look." they know: Grk. oida, perf. See verse 2 above. The verb is used here of certain knowledge. what: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. I said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 1 above. An accused man was presumed innocent and not even on trial until the evidence of witnesses had been heard first and confirmed. Yeshua's teaching was public property and witnesses could be easily found. Yeshua could have remained completely silent as he did when interrogated later by Herod Antipas (Luke 23:9), but Annas as an anointed high priest needed to be reminded that he was not above the law or God.
22 Now he having said these things, one of the officers standing nearby gave a slap to Yeshua saying, "Thus you answer the high priest?"
Now: Grk. de, conj. See verse 2 above. he: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. having said: Grk. legō, aor. part. See verse 1 above. Many versions translate the participle as an adverbial clause "when he said." John is not merely giving a statement of chronology, but uses the participle to draw attention to the character of the one who just spoke. John implies "having said the truth." these things: Grk. houtos, n. pl., demonstrative pronoun. See verse 8 above. The pl. pronoun refers to the comments of Yeshua in the two previous verses. one: Grk. heis, the numeral one. of the officers: Grk. hupēretēs, m. pl. See verse 3 above. standing nearby: Grk. paristēmi, perf. part., may mean (1) to place beside, as of positioning or presenting an object; or (2) be in a position beside, stand near/by. The second meaning applies here.
gave: Grk. didōmi, aor. See verse 9 above. a slap: Grk. rhapisma, a blow with the palm of the hand (Mounce). Morris notes that the word originally meant a blow with a rod, but later came to mean a hand-slap. Here is a clear case of police brutality. to Yeshua saying: Grk. legō, aor. part. Thus: Grk. houtōs, adv. used to introduce the manner or way in which something has been done or to be done; thus, in this manner, way or fashion, so. you answer: Grk. apokrinomai, pres. mid. See verse 5 above. the high priest: Grk. archiereus. See verse 3 and 13 above. Stern notes that Yeshua was not answering disrespectfully but pointing out that even though this late night meeting was most irregular, normal legal procedure requires the obtaining of independent witnesses. Yeshua was willing to trust public reports of his public behavior, as is clear from the next verse.
23 Yeshua answered him, "If I spoke improperly, testify concerning the wrong; but if appropriately, why do you strike me?"
Yeshua answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. Se verse 5 above. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. If: Grk. ei, conj. See verse 8 above. I spoke: Grk. laleō, aor. improperly: Grk. kakōs, adv., badly or ill, used here in a moral sense; improperly, wrongly (Thayer). testify: Grk. martureō, aor. mid., to attest to a fact or truth, often in a legal context; testify, attest. The verb points not to relating opinion or hearsay, but what is objective truth. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. See verse 19 above. the wrong: Grk. kakos, may mean (1) morally or socially reprehensible; bad, wrong; or (2) causing harm, with focus on personal or physical injury; harmful, bad. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX kakos is used to render Heb. ra (SH-7451), which has the same dual meaning (DNTT 1:562).
but: Grk. de, conj. if: Grk. ei. appropriately: Grk. kalōs, adv., in an effective manner, often with the focus on meeting expectations; well, effectively, accurately, correctly, appropriately. why: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 4 above. do you hit: Grk. derō, pres., mistreat or punish in a violent manner; hit, strike. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. Yeshua could have called upon Annas to invoke the so-called lex talionis, law of retaliation (Ex 21:23-25; Lev 19:19-20; Deut 19:21). The Torah did not command or authorize personal revenge, but provided a guideline for judicial authority as a limit on punishment or damages imposed in a court hearing. The offender is to be punished to the same degree, but not more, as he has inflicted on the victim. In jurisprudence this is the principle of proportionality.
Yeshua treats the officer as someone knowledgeable concerning Jewish law. Rabbinic law required that damages for personal injuries be based on five different aspects of the injury: damage, pain, healing, loss of time from work, and insult (Baba Kama 8:1). Insult or "degradation" would normally result in a heavy fine (B.K. 84b). Yeshua's response to the slap is according to his own teaching of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:39). This kind of response to adverse behavior is an example of what's called "principled negotiation." Yeshua did not criticize the officer or respond in kind but asked a reasonable question to invite the officer to conduct self-examination and consider what was actually happening in the hearing.
There are two other biblical examples of a godly man being struck on the face. In 1Kings 22 King Jehoshaphat of Judah and King Ahab of Israel discussed an alliance to fight against Aram. The prophet Micaiah counseled against war and prophesied defeat. In the confrontation between prophet and king one of Ahab's officers struck Micaiah on the cheek for calling Ahab’s advisors deceivers (1Kgs 22:24). Micaiah responded by saying that the proof of God’s word would be in the fulfillment. In Acts 23 Paul found himself under arrest and facing the high priest Ananias. When the high priest ordered Paul to be struck with the fist, he was even more confrontational, "God is going to strike you on the mouth, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit judging me according to the Torah, and yet in violation of the Torah you order me to be struck?" (Acts 23:3 TLV).
Yeshua's ethic of turning the cheek alludes to is not returning evil behavior with evil behavior. Peter cites the example of Yeshua before Annas as the basis for ethical guidance (1Pet 2:21-23). What should be noticed is that Yeshua, like the other biblical cases, refrained from a physical response to the abuse suffered, but instead verbally confronted the behavior to point out the injustice. The Torah actually requires that evil behavior by a neighbor be confronted (Lev 19:17-18). The biblical examples indicate that the slapping occurs because of speaking the truth. None of these cases indicate actually offering the other cheek to be hit. Rather Yeshua's command appears to be an idiomatic expression for confronting with words. The hitting occurred because of speaking and the disciple should not allow physical abuse to silence the word of God.
Some Christians have attempted to apply Yeshua's standard literalistically to communities and nations, effectively nullifying the duty God gave to governments to punish the wicked (Gen 9:6; Rom 13:1-4). Yeshua clearly gave this commandment to his disciples as a guideline for responding to personal mistreatment. Conversely, in history the Church enlisted the aid of the government to not only promote its interests but also enforce its edicts, including coerced conversions at the point of a sword. However, as someone once said, Yeshua intended that his Body receive blows rather than inflict them. (See my web article The Error of Pacifism.)
Hearing before Caiaphas, 18:24
Parallel Passage: Matthew 26:57-68; Mark 14:53-65
24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Then Annas sent: Grk. apostellō, aor., to cause to move from one position to another; send, send away/out/off. him bound: Grk. deō, perf. pass. part. See verse 12 above. The perfect tense emphasizes the fact that Yeshua had already been bound in the Garden. Ordinarily a prisoner's hands would be freed while being examined, but Yeshua was not accorded this right. to Caiaphas the high priest: See verse 13 above. Yeshua was taken across the courtyard to the house of Caiaphas where he awaited to commence the second scene in the choreographed play. Caiaphas may have met with Yeshua on a terrace because Yeshua had a clear line of sight with Peter (Luke 22:61).
John succinctly mentions the role of Caiaphas in the Jewish condemnation of Yeshua without providing any further information, perhaps because these hearings were reported in the Synoptic Narratives. Two hearings were conducted by Caiaphas. The first hearing before Caiaphas was attended by various chief priests, scribes and elders. The hearing included false testimony by witnesses. Yeshua kept silent. Yeshua was asked pointedly about his identity and he finally made a Messianic declaration. Those attending the meeting agreed unanimously that Yeshua deserved death. Yeshua was spit on and slapped and then held for a formal hearing.
Trial of Peter (cont.), 18:25-27
25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, "You are not also one of the disciples of him?" He denied, and said, "I am not."
Parallel: Matthew 26:71-72; Mark 14:69-70; Luke 22:58
Now: Grk. de, conj. Simon Peter: See verse 10 above. was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. standing: Grk. histēmi, perf. part. See verse 5 above. and warming himself: Grk. thermainō, pres. mid. part. See verse 18 above. John resumes his narrative of Peter's trial, which occurred concurrently with the interrogation of Annas and Caiaphas; "meanwhile over by the fire." So: Grk. oun, conj. they said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 1 above. The speakers are not identified, but the Synoptic Narratives indicate "they" were servants. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. You: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. not: Grk. mē, adv. While the negative particle normally expects a negative answer, the repetition of the question adds a degree of certainty. also: Grk. kai, conj. of: Grk. ek, prep.
the disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 1 above. of him: Grk. autos. The position of the pronoun in the Greek text indicates identification of Yeshua, as if someone pointed toward him. In verse 17 the question identifies Yeshua as "this man." He: Grk. ekeinos, masc. demonstrative pronoun. See verse 13 above. denied: Grk. arneomai, aor. mid., to give a negative answer; say no, deny. The verb can mean at least to contradict a statement and at worst to disown or repudiate. and said: Grk. legō, aor. I am: Grk. eimi, pres. not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 17 above. This statement represents a strong denial of relationship, which those around the fire knew to be a bald-faced lie.
26 One of the servants of the high priest, being a relative of whom Peter cut off the ear, said, "Was it not you I saw in the garden with him?"
Parallel: Matthew 26:73-74; Mark 14:70-71; Luke 22:59-60
One: Grk. heis, the numeral one. of: Grk. ek, prep. the servants: Grk. doulos., m. pl. See verse 10 above. of the high priest: Grk. archiereus. See verse 3 above. This man was likely more than a household servant, but a personal attendant. being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. See verse 1 above. a relative: Grk. sungenēs, connected by lineage, relative. of whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. Peter cut off: Grk. apokoptō, aor. See verse 10 above. the ear: Grk. ōtarion. See verse 10 above. Only John identifies the third question coming from a relative of the man Peter wounded. Matthew and Mark simply identify him as a bystander, and Luke identifies the questioner as a man. This man likely spoke with the attitude of a personal grievance. If Yeshua hadn't healed the wounded man his family would have sought revenge.
said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 1 above. Was it not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 17 above. you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. I saw: Grk. horaō, aor., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience extraordinary mental or inward perception. in: Grk. en, prep. the garden: Grk. kēpos. See verse 1 above. with: Grk. meta, prep., in the company of. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Yeshua. The questioner identifies himself as belonging to the arresting party, but there is no explanation as to why he was there.
27 Peter then denied again, and immediately a rooster crowed.
Peter then: Grk. oun, conj. denied: Grk. arneomai, aor. mid. See verse 25 above. again: Grk. palin, adv. See verse 7 above. and immediately: Grk. eutheōs, adv. (derived from euthus, 'immediately'), immediately, forthwith, or right away. The adverb is a dramatic device that energizes the narrative, often shifting the reader's attention to another scene. In this case the adverb calls to mind the prophecy of Yeshua during the last supper (Matt 26:34; Mark 14:30; Luke 22:34; John 13:38). a rooster: Grk. alektōr, a cock or rooster, a male chicken. The term "rooster" originated in the United States. The rooster is polygamous and guards the general area where his hens are nesting. During the daytime, he usually sits on a high perch, usually 3–5 feet off the ground to serve as a lookout for his flock. He will sound a distinctive alarm call if predators are nearby.
crowed: Grk. phōneō, aor., may mean either (1) to utter a sound designed to attracted attention, cry out or proclaim with emphasis; (2) call to oneself; summon, call for, or invite; or (3) to identify in personal address. The first meaning applies here. The rooster is often portrayed as crowing at the break of dawn but cocks or roosters can crow any time of the day. John likely alluded to the third watch of the night (Midnight to 3 am) called "cock-crowing." It was the peculiar habit of cock crowing with comparative regularity in Jerusalem, at three times during the period between midnight and 3:00 am that accounts for the designation of the third watch of the night as cock-crow (Mark 13:35; Lane 543).
John does not record the fact of Yeshua looking at Peter upon the rooster crowing the third time (Luke 22:61), Peter's sudden awareness of Yeshua's prophecy being fulfilled, his departure from the courtyard and his weeping in deepest regret (Matt 26:75; Mark 14:72; Luke 22:62). Peter does not appear again in John's narrative until chapter twenty and thus does not witness the third hearing before the Jewish leaders.
Hearing before Pilate, 18:28-40
28 Then they led Yeshua from Caiaphas to the Praetorium. Now, it was early in the morning, but they entered not into the Praetorium so that they should not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.
Then: Grk. oun, conj. they led: Grk. agō, aor. See verse 13 above. While the subject of the verb is unnamed, it was chief priests who performed this action (verse 35 below), as well as the other members of the group that had passed judgment (Mark 15:1; Luke 23:1). Yeshua: See verse 1 above. from: Grk. apo, prep. with the root meaning of "off, away from" (DM 101), generally used to denote separation, and here indicates a point of origin; from. Caiaphas: See verse 13 above. Caiaphas stands in for the Jewish elders who condemned Yeshua. See my commentary on Mark 14:53-65 and Mark 15:1 for the hearings chaired by Caiaphas. Caiaphas could have prevented or even stopped the judicial farce at any time, thus in John's mind, Caiaphas deserves the blame for what happened.
Combining the four apostolic narratives depicts three distinct meetings, first involving Annas, second Caiaphas with a small group of conspirators and finally Caiaphas with a larger group. The second hearing before Caiaphas (Matt 27:1; Mark 15:1a; Luke 22:66-71) was held in a council chamber of his house. The same persons of the previous hearing conducted an executive session on behalf of the full Sanhedrin. Yeshua was asked formally to repeat what he said in the previous hearing, whereupon the members concurred with the verdict of blasphemy.
While John gives the record of the first hearing and Matthew and Mark give the report of the second hearing, only Luke provides the transcript of the third hearing.
"When it became daylight, the assembly of elders of the people were gathered together, both chief priests and scribes, and they led him into their council chamber, saying, 67 "If You are the Messiah, tell us." But he said to them, "If I should tell you, you would not believe; 68 moreover if I should question you, you would not answer. 69 But from now the Son of Man will be sitting at the right hand of the power of God." 70 And they all said, "Are you then the Son of God?" And he said to them, "You are saying that, 'I am.'" 71 And they said, "What more need have we of testimony? For we have heard from his own mouth." (Luke 22:66-71 mine)
The added detail in Luke's account of the third hearing indicates that no judgment was pronounced until the panel determined that Yeshua claimed to be the Messiah. The narrative of the third hearing (Matt 27:1; Mark 15:1; Luke 22:66-71) presents some important elements. First, they all agree on the time of the meeting as after sunrise. Second, they agree substantially on who was present. Third, there were no witnesses heard as in the second hearing. Fourth, there is no vote mentioned or "calling for the question" as in the second hearing.
Additional Note on the Jewish Trials
The Jewish court system at this time consisted of three types of courts: (1) Court of Three, which handled civil matters and a few criminal matters; (2) Court of Twenty-Three ("Small Sanhedrin"), which handled civil, criminal and religious matters. This court could be found in large towns. Two Small Sanhedrins met at the Temple in Jerusalem (Sanh. 10:4; 88b); and (3) Court of Seventy-One ("Great Sanhedrin"), which handled all the matters of the lower courts plus some special issues. The Great Sanhedrin held its meetings at the Temple in Jerusalem. The official meeting place for the Great Sanhedrin was a room called the Hall of Hewn Stones (Heb. Gazith), located on the south side of the Temple (Sanh. 10:4; 88b), also known as the Cell of the Counselors (Yoma 1:1). The functions of the courts are given in Sanh. 1:1. For an overview of the Jewish judicial system see my web article Jewish Jurisprudence.
Although often characterized as trials these hearings of Yeshua before Annas and Caiaphas and his henchmen were little more than inquisitions. The chief priests wanted Yeshua dead and they would only do what was necessary to give the appearance of due process. There is a question of whether the group meeting chaired by Caiaphas was the entire Great Sanhedrin. None of the apostolic narratives gives any indication of the numbers present, which in itself seems strange given the mention of chief priests, elders, Pharisees and scribes in the various accounts of the arrest and trial. At least two members of the Sanhedrin were secret supporters of Yeshua (Nicodemus, John 3:1; 7:50-51; and Joseph of Arimathea, Mark 15:43). Since all those present condemned Yeshua (Mark 14:64) these two men could not have been in attendance.
Brad Young doubts whether Yeshua ever appeared before the Great Sanhedrin (231). He contends that leaders like Gamaliel would never have allowed such unfair proceedings in a trial (cf. Acts 5:34-39). For Young the Council must be a committee of Sadducean priests. David Flusser flatly asserts that the "Sanhedrin" here was not the Court of Seventy-One, but the Temple ruling committee, which consisted of the chief priests, elders of the Temple and the Temple secretaries who were scribes (142). Flusser's suggestion has support from Luke who identified the judicial group that conducted the third hearing as the "assembly of elders of the people," consisting of chief priests and scribes (Luke 22:66).
While Flusser, being a non-Messianic Jewish scholar, may have desired to absolve the Great Sanhedrin of the death of Yeshua, his suggestion would make the trial even more illegal. It would also explain why certain Mishnah regulations were not followed:
1. According to Jewish tradition, it was customary to give 40 days in which to allow for possible pleas on the defendant's behalf before he could be sentenced (Sanh. 43a). In fact, if the accused left the Beth Din guilty, and someone said: 'I have a statement to make in his favor,' he was to be brought back and the witness heard (Sanh. 33b).
2. Yeshua was not buried in either of the two graves reserved for those executed by order of the supreme council (Sanh. 6:7).
3. In a unanimous decision the Council is required to wait another day to consider his innocence. "If the Sanhedrin unanimously find [the accused] guilty, he is acquitted. Why? Because we have learned by tradition that sentence must be postponed till the morrow in hope of finding new points in favor of the defense. But this cannot be anticipated in this case" (Sanh. 17a).
Support for the interpretation of Flusser and Young may also be deduced from the omission of the terms "Court of Seventy-One" "Great Sanhedrin," and "Beth din" ("house of judgment") used throughout the Tractate Sanhedrin for the Supreme Court. The apostles would certainly have been acquainted with these terms and yet they are not used in any of the narratives of Yeshua's trials. Luke's narrative of the third hearing helps to clarify the matter: "and they led him into the council [Grk. sunedrion]" (Luke 22:66). The combination of the verb "they led" and the preposition eis ("into"), denoting physical movement indicates transition to the third hearing. The Greek word sunedrion, while often used of the Jewish Supreme Court, can also mean a council chamber or a meeting of a council.
Another matter to consider is that the Sadducean chief priests are prominent in every list of persons involved in the plot against Yeshua. Matthew and Mark point out the conspiracy to kill Yeshua just two days before Passover, but in John's narrative it's evident that the chief priests had wanted to kill Yeshua for over a year (John 5:18; 7:1, 19; 8:37; 11:53). If they had submitted the matter to the Great Sanhedrin it would have meant following all the rules of jurisprudence and hearing the voice of dissidents, such as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, and other disciples. The chief priests would not be above preempting the Supreme Court's jurisdiction. The Talmud records an incident in which a priest who had performed his duties while unclean was taken out of the temple court by young priests who broke his skull with clubs instead of taking him before a Beth Din (Sanh. 82b).
Although Stern believes that Yeshua faced the full Great Sanhedrin, he acknowledges that some scholars believe this particular council was not the official one at all. He goes on to say that "there seems to be little doubt that this body, whoever it consisted of, included important establishment figures and in condemning Yeshua carried out an action which expressed the desire of many Pharisees and Sadducees" (100). In an official trial of a capital case a quorum of 23 was required, which Caiaphas would easily have had with the number of chief priests and the adversarial Pharisees. Caiaphas could have regarded his first hearing as the equivalent of a grand jury and if he could gather sufficient evidence then he could take Yeshua before the executive session and avoid a protracted trial. In this Caiaphas succeeded better than he hoped.
to: Grk. eis, prep. the Praetorium: Grk. Praitōrion, the residence of the Roman procurator in Jerusalem. The official residence of the Roman governors of Judea was actually at Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast (Josephus, Wars, II, 9:2). While some standard versions render the noun as "Praetorium" (ASV, NAB, NASB, NKJV, RSV), other versions opt for different words, such as "judgment hall," "headquarters," "palace" or "residence." In this context Praetorium represents the building functioning as the place where the governor conducted official business. The traditional view is that this headquarters/residence was in the Fortress of Antonia on the northwest side of the Temple (cf. Acts 21:32-35). Morris says this view may be right, but it is difficult to find evidence to support it.
E.W.G. Masterman in the ISBE article Praetorium says that Josephus makes it almost certain that the headquarters of the procurator were at the palace of Herod located on the southwest hill called Zion (Wars, I, 21:1; V, 4:4). Philo reports an incident in which Pilate set up gilded shields in Herod's palace (Embassy to Gaius, XXXVIII), which conforms to the report of Josephus that Pilate had introduced images of Caesar on ensigns into Jerusalem (Ant. XVIII, 3:1). Some years later the last procurator Florus (AD 64-66) lodged in the same palace (Wars, II, 14:8; 15:5). Masterman points out how greatly this view of the situation of the Praetorium would modify the traditional claims of the "Via Dolorosa," the whole course of which depends on theory that the "Way of Sorrow" began at the Antonia, the Praetorium of late Christian tradition.
Now: Grk. de, conj. it was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. early in the morning: Grk. prōi, early in the morning (BAG). Morris suggests the time as the first hour of the day, 6 am to 7 am. Taking Yeshua to Pilate at such an early hour was necessary. The working day of a Roman official began at the earliest hour of daylight and legal trials in the Roman forum were customarily held shortly after sunrise (Lane 549). If the chief priests had delayed until later in the morning they would have found Pilate to be unavailable for the meeting. but: Grk. kai, conj. they: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The subject is not further defined, but considering the narrative that follows "they" were probably chief priests.
entered: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. See verse 1 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 17 above. into: Grk. eis. John clarifies the second use of the preposition. the Praetorium so that: Grk. hina, conj. they should not: Grk. mē, adv. See verse 17 above. be defiled: Grk. miainō, aor. pass. subj., to stain, contaminate, pollute, or defile, here in a religious sense (cf. 2Chr 30:17). The principal concern of the priests was to avoid contracting uncleanness, which would have barred them from participation in the festival (Lev 22:3). At this time Jews believed that entering the house of a Gentile would make one unclean, as Peter would later say (Acts 10:28). The Torah has no specific prohibition, but the Mishnah specifies that "the dwelling-places of heathens are unclean" (Oholoth 18:7; Tohoroth 7:3).
The priests remained outside because "colonnades are not subject to the laws of heathen dwelling places" (Ohol. 18:9). Uncleanness in most circumstances only lasted until evening when it could be removed by bathing (e.g. Lev 11:24; 14:46; 15:5-10). However, a Talmudic commentator points out that the houses of Gentiles were thought to be unclean because of the practice of burying abortions in their houses (fn47 on Ohol. 18:7). Morris states the problem as throwing abortions down the drain (763). In any event, uncleanness from contact with the dead would last seven days (Num 19:11), and force the priests to wait thirty days to observe Passover (Num 9:10-11). Normally "contact" meant touching the corpse (Num 19:11), but contact also included merely being inside a tent with a corpse (Num 19:14). Thus, the priests applied the rule of the tent to the dwelling of Pilate.
but: Grk. alla, conj. used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. might eat: Grk. phagō, aor. subj. (used as an alternative of esthiō, to eat, in certain tenses), to take in one's mouth, to partake of food. the Passover: Grk. pascha, the Passover. In the LXX pascha renders Heb. pesakh (derived from a verb pasach meaning to pass or spring over, BDB 820). In its first usage Heb. pesakh refers to the meal eaten on the evening of Nisan 14 (which begins Nisan 15) consisting of lamb, unleavened bread and bitter herbs (Ex 12:11). The second usage of Heb. pesakh is strictly of the lamb slaughtered on Nisan 14 for the evening meal (Ex 12:21). The third usage of Heb. pesakh is of the Israelite festival, Nisan 14–21, including the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Ex 34:25; Lev 23:5-6).
The third usage extends the meaning of pesakh to include the festival sacrifices (Heb. chagigah) on Nisan 15–21 (cf. Num 28:16–25; Deut 16:1–3; 2Chr 30:24). This unity can be seen in the celebration of Passover in the time of King Josiah when offerings for the eight–day festival included both lambs, goats and bulls (2Chr 35:1–9). In the apostolic narratives Grk. pascha refers to (1) the entire festival (Matt 26:2; Mark 14:1; Luke 2:41; 22:1; John 2:23; 6:4; 11:55; 12:1; 13:1; 18:39; Acts 12:4); (2) the evening meal of Nisan 14-15 (Matt 26:17-19; Mark 14:14, 16; Luke 22:8, 11, 13, 15; Heb 11:28); (3) the lamb slaughtered on Nisan 14 (Mark 14:12); and (4) the festival sacrifices of Nisan 15 (John 18:28; 19:14; 1Cor 5:7).
The detailed instructions for observing Passover may be found in the Talmud Tractate Pesachim and the instructions for festival sacrifices are found in Tractate Hagigah. The Passover has been celebrated by Jews since God commanded the observance and gave instructions to Moses (Ex 12:1—13:16). The first Passover was the means of deliverance from a plague of death on the firstborn. Thereafter, Passover would celebrate God’s great work of redemption (Ex 23:14–15; Lev 23:4–8; Num 28:16–25; Deut 16:1–8). The Passover deliverance made salvation distinctly national in scope and truly set Israel apart as a special people.
God expressly commanded the Israelites to celebrate the feast of Passover annually in perpetuity, that is, forever (Ex 12:14). Failing to observe Passover would be a sin (Num 9:13). Josephus summarized the schedule and reason for the continued observance:
"In the month of Xanthicus, which is by us called Nisan, and is the beginning of our year, on the fourteenth day of the lunar month, when the sun is in Aries, (for in this month it was that we were delivered from bondage under the Egyptians,) the law ordained that we should every year slay that sacrifice which I before told you we slew when we came out of Egypt, and which was called the Passover" (Ant. III, 10:5).
Slaves and resident aliens (Gentiles) were allowed to share the meal as long as they were circumcised (Ex 12:48). This simple provision demonstrated that God’s plan of salvation for Gentiles has always been based on inclusion in Israel (cf. Eph 2:11–13). For a detailed description of Passover observance in biblical times see my web article The Messianic Meal.
The phrase "eat the Passover" has been viewed by some interpreters as a reference to the Passover Seder, which would contradict the Synoptic account of Yeshua's last meal with his disciples. When the words of the priests are combined with John's words in 13:1, "before the Passover," some scholars have concluded that Yeshua did not eat a Passover meal and was subsequently crucified during the time that lambs were being slaughtered for the Seder. See my article The Last Supper of Yeshua where I rebut this faulty idea. Also, see my commentary on Mark Chapter 14, and John Chapter 13. Many solutions have been offered to reconcile the narratives, but the simple solution is generally ignored.
The church father Eusebius suggested that the chief priests had been so busy plotting the arrest and execution of Yeshua that they had not taken the time to enjoy the Seder (Geldenhuys 653). This is not so impossible as it may sound. The Passover meal with its three required foods was obligatory on the first night of the festival and voluntary for the remaining days of the festival (M. Pes. 10:1; Pes. 91b; 120a). More likely in my view is that they enjoyed the meal at the same time as Yeshua, but ended it early due to the arrival of Judas. The customary elements of the Seder would not have taken more than a couple of hours. While Rabbinic Judaism developed the 14-part Seder, the formal service plan (Haggadah, lit. "telling") cannot be dated any earlier than the third century A.D. and not in any written form before the 10th century A.D.
Considering the meaning of the word pascha in Scripture the priests either meant the festival in general or specifically the chagigah sacrifices offered on Nisan 15 and the remaining days of the festival (so Geldenhuys 663; Lane 498). Given the time of day the chief priests were especially concerned, as Stern notes, to eat the festival sacrifice, which was consumed with great joy and celebration on the afternoon following the Seder. This is the Pesach meal which the Judeans gathered outside Pilate's palace would have been unable to eat had they entered, because their defilement would have lasted till sundown. If "the Pesach" meant the Passover lamb, defilement in the morning might not have been a problem, since the Seder meal took place after sundown.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. Pilate: Grk. Pilatos. Pontius Pilate was the fifth governor of Judaea from the time that Archelaus was deposed in A.D. 6. As a Roman province Judaea included the territories of Idumea, Judea and Samaria. Pilate ruled A.D. 26 to 36 and therefore the judge in the trial of Yeshua. An inscription with his name on it has been found in Caesarea, on the coast between Tel Aviv and Haifa. His official title was Prefect (Latin Praefectus) and he was answerable to Emperor Tiberius. So far as criminal and political jurisdiction he possessed the power similar to a senatorial proconsul and imperial legate (Lane 549). According to Jona Lendering the Roman prefect had four primary responsibilities:
1. As the emperor's personal financial agent, he was responsible for the collection of taxes. To facilitate things, a governor could mint coins and negotiate with wealthy institutions (like the Temple in Jerusalem) that could advance the money.
2. He was an accountant: he inspected the books and supervised large scale building projects.
3. The governor was the province's supreme judge. Appeal was not impossible, but the voyage to Rome was expensive. The Roman governor was supposed to travel through the three main districts -Samaria, Judea and Idumea- to administer justice in the assize towns.
4. He commanded an army. In the more important provinces, this could consist of legions; but Pilate had only auxiliary troops. Two cohorts had their barracks in Jerusalem (at the old palace and at the fortress Antonia); a third cohort guarded the capitol of Judaea, Caesarea; and two cohorts of infantry and one cavalry regiment were on duty throughout the province.
Jewish sources relate that Pilate despised the Jewish people and their religious sensitivities. In the matter of the shields Pilate set up in Herod's Palace some of the Jewish people appealed to the sons of Herod the Great to intercede. Pilate refused the petition, so one of the kings went a step further and wrote a letter to Caesar Tiberius. This may have been Herod Antipas, which would explain the animosity between the two men in Luke 23:12. Tiberius responded favorably and rebuked Pilate harshly for violating Jewish law, and commanded him immediately to remove the shields to the temple of Augustus at Caesarea.
Josephus also reported that Pilate robbed the Temple treasury to build an aqueduct to bring water into Jerusalem with the origin of the stream two hundred furlongs (25 miles) away (Ant. XVIII, 3:1). In response "many ten thousands of the people" came together to protest and to demand that he cease and desist on his project. Pilate had soldiers infiltrate the great crowd wearing ordinary clothes and at his signal they began attacking the Jews. A great number was killed and many others were wounded. The Jews whose blood Pilate shed on this occasion were likely the Galilean Jews, "whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices" (Luke 13:1 NASB).
went out: Grk. exerchomai, aor. See verse 1 above. outside: Grk. exō, adv. See verse 16 above. As Morris notes, the adverb is redundant, but its use makes an important point. Pilate accommodated his visitors by leaving the interior of the building and walking out to the colonnaded porch. to: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 16 above. The preposition emphasizes that Pilate and the visitors were face to face. them: pl. Grk. autos, personal pronoun, used of the chief priests (verse 35 below). and said: Grk. phēmi, pres., convey one's thinking through verbal communications; say. HELPS explains the verb as derived from phaō, "shine," and properly means bring to light by asserting one statement (point of view) over another; to speak comparatively, i.e. making effective contrasts which illuminate.
What: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 4 above. accusation: Grk. katēgoria, accusation or charge in the legal sense. are you bringing: Grk. pherō, pres., may mean (1) to move an entity from one position to another by physical transport or guidance; or (2) direct something that is of a cognitive nature. The second meaning applies here in the sense of bringing a complaint. against: Grk. kata, prep., the root meaning is "down," but with the noun following being in the genitive case, the resultant meaning is 'against' or 'down upon' (DM 107). this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. man: Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 14 above. Pilate's comment indirectly affirms the full humanity of Yeshua.
30 They answered and said to him, "If he were not doing wrong, we would not have delivered him to you."
They answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. See verse 5 above. and said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 1 above. The use of "answered and said" is typical Hebraic way of advancing the narrative of dialog (e.g., Gen 27:39; 40:18; Josh 24:16; Jdg 20:4; 1Sam 1:17). The verb "answered" emphasizes that a verbal response was made and "said" introduces the quotation. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Pilate. If: Grk. ei, conj. See verse 8 above. he: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun; lit. "this one." were: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. not: Grk. mē, adv. doing: Grk. poieō, pres. part. See verse 18 above. The present tense emphasizes the continuity of habitual behavior. wrong: Grk. kakos, adj. See verse 23 above.
we would: Grk. an, disjunctive particle that nuances a verb with contingency or generalization; would, ever, might. not: Grk. ou, adv. have delivered: Grk. paradidōmi, aor. See verse 2 above. him: Grk. autos. to you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. According to John's narrative the chief priests did not immediately answer Pilate's question, but instead requested summary judgment. They probably hoped to avoid a debate over the merits of their case and simply wanted Pilate to kill Yeshua because they wished it. After all, Pilate had already killed many Jews (Luke 13:1), what would be one more?
31 Then Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law." The Judean authorities said to him, "It is not permitted for us to execute no one,"
Apparently Pilate insisted on hearing the actual charge, which is preserved in Luke's narrative: "We found this One perverting our nation and forbidding payment of taxes to Caesar and saying himself to be Messiah, a King" (Luke 23:2 mine). With the accusation plainly stated Pilate responded as law and logic demanded.
Then: Grk. oun, conj. Pilate said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 1 above. to them: Grk. autos, m. pl., personal pronoun. Take: Grk. lambanō, aor. imp. See verse 3 above. him: Grk. autos. yourselves: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. and judge: Grk. krinō, aor. imp., to subject to scrutiny and evaluation of behavior, to judge, whether in a personal, congregational or legal context. A continuum of judgment may be defined: observe, distinguish, evaluate, analyze, and decide, with the result being positive or negative. In the LXX krinō is used mainly to translate three different Heb. words: din, rib and shaphat, all of which have application in the legal sense (DNTT 2:363). him: Grk. autos. according to: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 29 above. With the principal noun following (nomos) representing a standard for conformity, the meaning is 'as respects,' 'with regard to,' 'according to' (Thayer).
your: Grk. humeis. law: Grk. nomos may mean either (1) a principle or standard relating to behavior or (2) codified legislation, i.e. law. In the LXX nomos translates torah, but in the Tanakh torah not only refers to commandments, statutes and ordinances decreed by God and given to Israel through Moses, but also customs or manners of man, e.g. direction given by priests (Deut 24:8; 33:10). In the Besekh nomos can refer to (1) specific commandments given to Israel (Matt 12:5; Luke 2:22; John 8:5), (2) that plus the entire Pentateuch (John 1:45), (3) that plus the Prophets (Matt 5:17; John 1:45; 1Cor 14:21), (4) that plus the Writings (Luke 24:24; John 10:34), (5) as a synonym for Scripture (Matt 5:18; Luke 16:17; John 12:34; 15:25), and (6) universal principles derived from Scripture (Matt 22:36-40; 23:23).
In the apostolic narratives nomos refers primarily to the written words of Moses, but sometimes it is used to mean religious instruction of the sages (John 7:49; Acts 22:3) or laws and regulations enacted by Jewish authorities (e.g., John 8:17; 19:7; Acts 18:15; 23:29; 25:8), which is the intent here. The Romans generally respected the laws and customs of conquered peoples and allowed considerable latitude in their administration of justice (Morris). This practice was reflected in the fact that Roman authorities did not normally set up a bureaucracy in conquered countries. The governor had enough assistants to help him with matters related to his principal responsibilities.
The Judean authorities: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 12 above. The term is clearly used here of the chief priests, members of the Sanhedrin. A few versions translate the word with "they" (CEV, ICB, NIRV, NIV, TLB), perhaps in an attempt to avoid the perception of prejudice. said: Grk. legō, aor. to him: Grk. autos. It is not: Grk. ou, adv. permitted: Grk. exesti, pres., it is allowable, permitted, right, or possible. Some standard versions translate the verb as "it is lawful" (DRA, ESV, KJV, NKJV), no doubt influenced by Pilate's use of the word "law." The NLV has "it is against our Law," which is patently incorrect. for us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person.
to execute: Grk. apokteinō, aor. inf., put an end by force to existence of someone; kill. Relevant to the verb choice is that both Greek and Hebrew have two words for taking a human life. The word for intentional murder or assassination in Hebrew is ratzach (BDB 953) and in Greek phoneuō. For accidental killing, manslaughter, killing in war or court-ordered execution the Hebrew word is harag (BDB 246) and the Greek word is apokteinō. no one: Grk. oudeis, adj. See verse 9 above. The verb "permitted" is used to evade Pilate's expectation. The Torah and Jewish law as represented in the tractate Sanhedrin do in fact permit capital punishment and require it for certain offenses. Instead the chief priests allude to the fact that under Roman law the Sanhedrin was prohibited from imposing a death sentence.
Capital punishment was reserved for Rome. However, the priests were really being disingenuous, since their concern was avoiding an assumed violent backlash from Yeshua's supporters (Mark 14:2). After all, Jewish leaders had been quite ready to stone a woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-5) and to stone Yeshua on three prior occasions (John 8:59; 10:31; 11:8) and would later stone Stephen (Acts 7:54-58). In reality the Romans could care less if Jews killed Jews, as long as it didn't create a civil disturbance. Circumstances had changed. From the perspective of the chief priests it would be better for the Jewish people to hate the Romans rather than hate their own leaders. Just as Pilate would later do, the priests wanted to "wash their hands" of any involvement in Yeshua's execution.
32 so that the word of Yeshua might be fulfilled which he spoke, explaining 'what sort of death was he intended to die?'
so that: Grk. hina, conj. the word: Grk. logos. See verse 9 above. of Yeshua: See verse 1 above. The phrase "word of Yeshua" refers to his prophecy of being "lifted up" (John 3:14, 8:28 12:32). might be fulfilled: Grk. plēroō, aor. pass. subj. See verse 9 above. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. he spoke: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 1 above. explaining: Grk. sēmainō, pres. part. may mean (1) to make known, report or communicate something to someone; or (2) in relation to the future indicate beforehand, foretell (BAG). In the LXX sēmainō occurs 16 times, translating eight different verbs, and is used five times without Hebrew equivalent. In a few of those passages sēmainō is used of a character explaining something (Ex 18:20; Esth 2:22). The second meaning applies here since it is followed with an indirect question.
what sort: Grk. poios, interrogative pronoun, used (1) in reference to a class, sort or species, of what kind?; or (2) equivalent to the interrogative pronoun tís, which? what? All Bible versions treat the question posed here as a declarative statement. of death: Grk. thanatos, death in the natural physical sense, extinction of life. was he intended: Grk. mellō, impf., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, generally meaning be in the offing, be about to, be going to. However, the verb can also have the connotation of a design or certain outcome, as well as something intended or planned. to die: Grk. apothnēskō, pres. inf., to die, generally used of physical death of humans. John poses the question no one dared ask out loud. If "lifted up" means to die, then what sort of death does that verb signify?
The answer is that the Messiah was prophesied to die by crucifixion, not stoning (cf. Num 21:6–9; Ps 22:16; Zech 12:10). Since Yeshua is the Messiah then he must die by this horrific method. John's use of "what kind of death" carries a deeper meaning than just the means of death. Yeshua's death would have a redemptive effect. Yeshua is the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). So Yeshua's death would make him a sin offering (1Cor 5:7; 2Cor 5:21; 1Pet 3:18). He retained this character in his body even after the resurrection, because he still bore the execution marks (John 20:25). When John sees Yeshua many years later in his visionary experience in Heaven, Yeshua is depicted as a slain lamb (Rev 5:6, 12; 7:14; 12:11; 13:8).
33 Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Yeshua and said to him, "So, you are the King of the Jews."
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. Pilate: See verse 29 above. entered: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. See verse 1 above. back: Grk. palin, adv. See verse 7 above. There is no previous mention of Pilate's entering the Praetorium, so "back" is appropriate. into: Grk. eis, prep. the Praetorium: See verse 28 above. The noun is used of the place where Pilate conducted official business. and summoned: Grk. phōneō, aor. See verse 27 above. Yeshua: See verse 1 above. and said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 1 above. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. It would be interesting to know whether Pilate spoke Aramaic or used Greek, the common language of the Roman Empire, or whether the entire hearing was conducted through an interpreter. Pilate was likely multi-lingual, but there is no reason why Yeshua would not have understood Greek.
So: This word is not in the Greek text, but seemed appropriate to Pilate's statement that follows. you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. the King: Grk. basileus, king or chief ruler. In the LXX basileus appears frequently to translate Heb. melek (SH-4428). In the Tanakh the title "king" was not associated with the size of territory governed (often a city), but the authority wielded. The executive and judicial functions (and sometimes legislative) of government were vested in one person.
of the Jews: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 12 above. Given the choices of how the proper noun could be translated, "Jews" seems appropriate as a reference to all the people with whom Yeshua shares blood kinship. Almost all Bible versions phrase the sentence as a straight-forward question to confirm the charge: "Are you the King of the Jews?" I have translated Pilate's words according to the word order of the Greek text. There are no interrogative pronouns. However, as a straight-forward statement with a hint of incredulous condescension Pilate would convey the attitude of "So, you're the king of the Jews. They can't be serious!" Of course, with a slight rise in vocal tone on the word "Jews," the statement could sound like a scoffing question. Two versions have "Thou art King of the Jews?" (DARBY, YLT). Moffatt has "Then, you are King of the Jews?"
Tenney suggests that Pilate may have been expressing his surprise that Yeshua did not look like a pretender to the vacant throne of the Jewish people and seemed much less assertive than such persons usually are. Pilate had expected to meet a sullen or belligerent rebel and met instead the calm majesty of confident superiority. He could not reconcile the character of the prisoner with the charge brought against him. In any event Pilate sought confirmation of the original charge brought by the chief priests. The matter was important because no man of a conquered people could officially have the royal title except by permission of Caesar. Upon his father's death Herod Antipas went to Rome to seek approval as "king of the Jews," but it was denied him by Caesar Augustus (Josephus, Ant. XVII, 9:4; 11:4). Herod's continual pursuit of the title would eventually lead to his dismissal and exile to Gaul in AD 39 under Caligula (Ant. XVIII, 7:2).
34 Yeshua answered, "You are saying this of yourself, or others have spoken to you concerning me?"
Yeshua answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. See verse 5 above. There are no interrogative pronouns in the verse, so Yeshua's response is a statement rather than a formal question. However, tonal inflection would make it sound like a question. You: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. are saying: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 1 above. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. of yourself: Grk. seautou, reflexive pronoun of the second person. or: Grk. ē, conj. used to denote an alternative. others: pl. of Grk. allos, adj. See verse 15 above. have spoken: Grk. legō, aor. to you: Grk. su. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person.
Yeshua's response was a clever way to examine his examiner and to open the door to revelation. Yeshua does not respond to the charges brought by the chief priests but endeavors to determine what Pilate may have learned and deduced about him on his own or through his own spies. We should not assume that the Sanhedrin was the only authority that kept watch for a Messianic claimant.
35 Pilate answered, "Not a Jew, am I? Your people and the chief priests delivered you to me. What have you done?"
Pilate answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. See verse 5 above. Not: Grk. mēti, interrogative particle used to elicit a negative answer. a Jew: Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 12 above. am: Grk. eimi, pres. I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. Morris suggests the question reflects a contemptuous response. Pilate's contempt would have been born of his antisemitism. Your: Grk. sos, possessive pronoun and emphatic form of the second person pronoun su, meaning "your very own." people: Grk. ethnos, humans belonging to a people group. In the LXX ethnos generally renders Heb. goy (SH-1471; pl. goyim), "nation, people" (DNTT 2:790). The term is first used in Genesis 10 to describe the list of seventy nations, then of descendants of Abraham (Gen 12:2) and then even more specifically of Israel (Ex 19:6; Deut 4:6; Ps 106:5; Isa 9:1).
In the Besekh ethnos in the singular may refer generally to any people distinguished by language and culture (Matt 24:7; Acts 10:35; Rev 5:9), including Israel (Luke 23:2; Acts 24:2, 10; 28:19; 1Cor 10:18; Php 3:5), or to Jews of a specific locality and religious viewpoint, such as Samaria (Acts 8:9) or Judea (Acts 10:22; 24:17; 26:4). Pilate uses ethnos here to emphasize the distinction between Jews and Romans. and the chief priests: Grk. archiereus, m. pl. See verse 3 above. In other words, the leaders of your people. delivered: Grk. paradidōmi, aor. See verse 2 above. you: Grk. su. to me: Grk. egō. What: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. have you done: Grk. poieō, aor. See verse 18 above.
Pilate's question seems to imply that he is not prepared to accept the accusations of the chief priests at face value. Roman law, like Jewish law, required evidence for conviction. Yeshua has obviously done something that aroused the hostility of the Jewish leaders, but Pilate's concern is to determine whether there has been an actual breach of Roman law.
36 Yeshua answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting so that I might not be delivered to the Judean authorities; but now, my kingdom is not from here."
Yeshua answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. See verse 5 above. My: Grk. emos, possessive pronoun of the first person. kingdom: Grk. basileia may mean (1) as abstract 'act of ruling' and thus 'kingship, royal power, royal rule, or kingdom; (2) a territory ruled over by a king; kingdom; or (3) the royal reign of God or kingdom of God as a chiefly eschatological concept (BAG). In the LXX basileia renders Hebrew noun derivatives of the verb malak (SH-4427, become a king; reign) (DNTT 2:373). It's important to note that the Hebrew words are used primarily for the reign of earthly rulers and only secondarily of the God of Israel ruling as King.
The hope that God would establish his reign as King over all the earth, with all idolatry banished, is expressed frequently in Scripture (e.g., Ex 15:18; Ps 22:28; 29:10; 93-99; 103:19; 145:10-13; Isa 34:23; 52:7; Dan 2:44; 4:3; 7:27; Micah 4:7; and Zech 14:9). Ancient Jewish prayer liturgy, such as Aleinu and Kaddish, include the phrase that "God may establish His Kingdom speedily" It was even laid down by the Sages that no blessing would be effective without reference to the Kingdom (Berachot 12a). In the covenant with Israel God expressed His will for a kingdom, "you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Ex 19:6). Of interest is that the LXX conveys the meaning of the Hebrew word for "kingdom" with an adjective meaning "kingly" or "royal," thereby signifying that as priests they would have the dignity and character of kings.
Yochanan the Immerser prepared the way for the Kingdom of God (cf. Matt 11:12; Luke 16:16). The Kingdom of God in the present age is the reign of God in human hearts (Luke 17:21). Yet, Yeshua also spoke of the kingdom to come in his Olivet Discourse (Matt 24:14; 25:1; Luke 21:31) and during the last supper (Mark 14:25). Stern says, "The concept of the Kingdom of God …refers neither to a place or time, but to a condition in which the rulership of God is acknowledged by humankind, a condition in which God’s promises of a restored universe free from sin and death are, or begin to be fulfilled" (16).
is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. of: Grk. ek, prep. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. world: Grk. kosmos. See verse 20 above. Christian commentators generally interpret Yeshua's words to mean his kingdom is only spiritual and divine. Morris says Yeshua's kingdom is not basically concerned with this world. Clarke quotes a patristic source to buttress this argument. Eusebius (d. 339) relates that the grandchildren of Jude (Yeshua's half-brother) were brought before Caesar Domitian (81-96 A.D.), "and interrogated concerning Christ and his kingdom, of what sort it was and where and when it was to appear. They answered that it was not a temporal nor an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly and angelic one, which would appear at the end of the world, when he should come in glory to judge the quick and the dead, and to give unto every one according to his works." (Church History, Book III, Chap. 20).
However, the pronouncement of Jude's grandchildren does not support the basic premise of unconcern for the world, but is in line with Yeshua's declaration that the mission of his kingdom is not overthrowing governments in the present age. Rather Yeshua meant that his kingdom does not operate on values of the world, but of God and His Torah instruction given to Israel. This is plainly illustrated in the ethics proclaimed in the Sermon on the Mount and high priestly prayer that the Father not take his disciples out of the world (John 17:15). Yeshua's followers are to live in this present world as subjects of the King of Kings.
If: Grk. ei, conj. See verse 8 above. my: Grk. emos. kingdom: Grk. basileia. Yeshua's declaration of "my kingdom," expressing personal ownership, occurs only three times, the other time when he promised his apostles that they would sit on thrones over the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke 22:30). His declaration is in line with the fact that God's rule is only presented in Scripture in connection with the Israelite monarchy. God had promised David that his descendant would establish an eternal kingdom (2Sam 7:12-13). Even in the eschatological kingdom the ruler will be a descendant of David (Jer 23:5; 33:15; Ezek 34:23-24; 37:24-25; Hos 3:5; Zech 12:7-10). In the nativity narrative the angel told Miriam that her son would sit on the throne of David (Luke 1:32; cf. John 7:42). So, when Yeshua began his public ministry he declared that the Kingdom had arrived in his person (Mark 1:15; Luke 10:9, 11).
were: Grk. eimi, impf. of this: Grk. houtos. world: Grk. kosmos. my: Grk. emos. servants: pl. of Grk. hupēretēs. See verse 3 above. The plural would refer to devoted disciples. would: Grk. an, disjunctive particle. See verse 30 above. have been fighting: Grk. agōnizomai, impf. mid., may mean to be engaged in a struggle, a word picture drawn from athletic games or to take up someone's cause and fight. The continuous nature of the imperfect tense is significant. so that: Grk. hina, conj. I might not: Grk. ou. be delivered: Grk. paradidōmi, aor. subj. See verse 2 above. to the Judean authorities: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 12 above. In other words, if Yeshua's kingdom were of the world his followers would not have allowed him to be betrayed and arrested.
Pilate well knew that previous rebellions in the first century had had been instigated by Galileans, such as Theudas and Judas (Acts 5:36-37). In fact, Galileans were much more commonly associated in raising rebellions, both against the Herod dynasty and the Romans, than people of Judea and Jerusalem, as may be learned from the history of Archelaus (Ant. XVII, 9:3; 10:2, 9). Judas of Galilee is mentioned by Josephus (Ant. XVIII, 1:1). Yeshua knew that he would have had enough devoted followers who would have declared fanatical loyalty for him, and took up arms on his behalf against the Romans. If his kingdom followed the values of the world his own disciples would have prevented the betrayal by Judas. He would not have hindered them from attempting his rescue, as he did Peter. They would certainly have prevented him from being delivered to Pilate to be put him to death.
but: Grk. de, conj. now: Grk. nun, adv. of time in the present, 'now' or more emphatically 'right now.' my: Grk. emos. kingdom: Grk. basileia. is: Grk. eimi, pres. not: Grk. ou. from here: Grk. enteuthen, adv. of place akin to enthen (from here); from this place, from here. In the LXX enteuthen translates Heb. mizzeh (SH-2088), this, here, from here, side. The adverb is used in reference to a point of departure (Gen 37:17) and to the side of a physical structure (Num 22:24).
When Yeshua said "from here" he may well have glanced around him, standing as he was in the palace of Herod in the part devoted to the headquarters of the Roman governor. Yeshua made two points in saying what his kingdom was not. First, his kingdom was not militaristic and he had no intention during the present age of imposing his kingdom on the world by military force as the Church later did. Second, his kingdom was not political in terms of how power is obtained and exercised as the Church later viewed the secular government as the instrument of enforcement for ecclesiastical decrees. Just as the King of Israel is a servant, so his kingdom is a servant kingdom, as was manifest in Yeshua's instructions for the first apostolic mission (Matt 10:7-8).
Indeed Yeshua called his followers to engage in what Judaism calls tikkun-ha'olam, repairing the world (Stern 204). Tikkun-ha'olam is deeply embedded in the Jewish ethic; for this reason even secular Jews usually find themselves concerned with bettering society. Believers in Yeshua the Messiah are to act like yeast causing the world's dough to rise (Luke 13:21), caring for those in need, imprisoned or sick (Matt 25:34-36), especially widows and orphans while remaining unspotted through participation in the world's sins (Jas 1:27), not being conquered by evil but conquering it with good (Rom 12:21).
37 Therefore Pilate said to him, "So then, you are a king." Yeshua answered, "You are saying that 'I am a king.' For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, so that I might testify to the truth. Everyone being of the truth hears my voice."
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. Pilate said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 1 above. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. So then: Grk. oukoun, neg. adv., lit. "not therefore." Thayer says since a speaker often introduces in this way his own opinion, the negative particle is used affirmatively, "therefore, then," the force of the negative disappearing. Pilate then makes a deduction from the words of Yeshua. It's possible that with a slight rise in intonation on the last word the statement could sound like a question. you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. a king: Grk. basileus. See verse 33 above. Yeshua answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. See verse 5 above. You: Grk. su. are saying: Grk. legō, pres. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 2 above. The conjunction is used here to introduce a quotation.
I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. am: Grk. eimi, pres. a king: Grk. basileus. For: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." Here the preposition expresses purpose. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. I have been born: Grk. gennaō, perf. pass., to father, beget or procreate. In the LXX gennaō is used chiefly for Heb. yalad (SH-3205), to bear, bring forth, to beget, to father (first use in Gen 4:18), which can refer to either the male or female role in conception and birth (DNTT 1:176). The Greek verb gennaō may refer to the female role in bearing and giving birth (Luke 1:13, 57; 23:29; Heb 11:23), but most often the verb emphasizes the male role. The verb has special significance in genealogical narratives (e.g., Gen 4, 5, 6, 9, 10; Matt 1) and in particular the begetting and birth Yeshua (Matt 1:16; 2:1; Luke 1:35; John 18:37; Acts 13:33).
and for: Grk. eis, again expressing purpose. this: Grk. houtos. I have come: Grk. erchomai, perf. See verse 3 above. into: Grk. eis. the world: Grk. kosmos. See verse 20 above. The noun could be intended in a general sense of earth in contrast to heaven or more specifically of the Jewish world in the land of Israel. so that: Grk. hina, conj. I might testify: Grk. martureō, aor. subj. See verse 23 above. to the truth: Grk. alētheia may mean (1) truthfulness, dependability, uprightness in thought and deed, (2) truth as opposed to what is false, or (3) reality as opposed to mere appearance (BAG). The first meaning applies here. In the LXX alētheia regularly translates the Heb. emet ("firmness, faithfulness, truth," BDB 54), although Christian Bibles sometimes render it as "truth" and sometimes as "faithfulness" (DNTT 3:877). Emet is often used for truthfulness in God and piety in man.
Yeshua defined the purpose of his incarnation through birth and his ministry in the world differently for this Gentile than he did for Jewish audiences. He said he came to bear witness to the truth. What truth does he mean? The angels who announced his birth spoke of God's purpose, first to Miriam that Yeshua would sit on the throne of David reign over the house of Jacob (Luke 1:32-33), and second to Joseph that Yeshua would save his people from their sins (Matt 1:21). When Yeshua told people what he came to do he amplified the angelic proclamation.
He came to fulfill the Torah and Prophets (Matt 5:17).
He came to proclaim to the good news of God (Mark 1:14, 38).
He came to do the Father's will (John 6:38).
He came to give his life as a ransom (atoning sacrifice) for many (Mark 10:45).
He came so that those who are blind may see (John 9:39).
He came to give abundant life (John 10:10).
He came to save the world (Luke 19:10; John 12:47).
Everyone: Grk. pas, adj. The use of "everyone" here is comparable to the "whoever will" of Romans 10:13. being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. with the definite article. The participle points to something of the character of the person being mentioned. of: Grk. ek, prep. the truth: Grk. alētheia. hears: Grk. akouō, pres. See verse 21 above. my: Grk. egō. voice: Grk. phōnē can mean (1) an auditory impression, sound, noise defined in the context; (2) the faculty of producing speech, voice; or (3) a system of communication, language. The word often is used in the Besekh of articulated sound from a human mouth, whether weeping (Matt 2:18), proclaiming (Matt 3:3), quarreling (Matt 12:19), greeting (Luke 1:44), pleading (Luke 17:13) or rejoicing (Luke 17:15). Here the noun refers to the public teaching of Yeshua.
The phrase "the one being of the truth" is further defined as one who hears (i.e., heeds) the voice of Yeshua. Yeshua's statement here echoes things he has said previously: "He who is of God hears the words of God" (John 8:47). "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them" (John 10:27). Yeshua presents a theological conundrum similar to John's midrash in 3:21, "the one doing the truth comes to the Light." "Doing the truth" and "being of the truth" imply that someone could have good character before coming to Yeshua. Christian theology prefers to think of life in two stages, as in Paul's testimony, "I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy" (1Tim 1:13).
After all, if unregenerate man is totally depraved as Christian theology says, how can he "do truth" or "be of truth?" Yeshua's description, like that of John, illustrates the Hebrew concept of the Two Ways found in many Psalms. The apostles identified people considered righteous in God's sight: Joseph (Matt 1:19), Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1:6), Miriam (Luke 1:47-48), Simeon (Luke 2:25), and Joseph of Arimathea (Luke 23:50). But, two Roman centurions are also singled out for faithfulness to the God of Israel, one in Capernaum (Matt 8:10) and one in Caesarea (Acts 10:22). These people were not "saved" by common Christian definition, but they were "truth-seekers." From a Wesleyan perspective the disposition of wanting and seeking the truth of God is evidence of His prevenient grace.
38 Pilate said to him, "What is truth?" And having said this, he went out again to the Judean authorities and said to them, "I find no guilt in him.
Pilate said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 1 above. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. What: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. truth: Grk. alētheia. See the previous verse. Stern suggests that Pilate shrugs off him who is the Truth (14:6) with a flippant question, to which he is uninterested in knowing the answer. On the other hand Tenney comments, "It is difficult to interpret. Was it facetious, scornful, impatient, despairing, or sincere? Even from the context it is not possible to be sure what he meant." From Pilate's words to the chief priests we may deduce that truth, as far as facts and evidence mattered, to him, but his question recognizes that there was a deep philosophical meaning to Yeshua's words that he did not grasp. As a practical man the debates of philosophers probably did not matter to him.
And having said: Grk. legō, aor. part. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. he went out: Grk. exerchomai, aor. See verse 1 above. again: Grk. palin, adv. See verse 7 above. to: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 16 above. the Judean authorities: Grk. Ioudaios, m. pl. See verse 12 above. and said: Grk. legō, pres. to them: Grk. autos, m. pl. I find: Grk. heuriskō, pres., to come upon by seeking; find, locate, discover, acquire, obtain. no: Grk. oudeis, adj., not one, none, nothing. Oudeis categorically excludes, declaring as a fact that no valid example exists (HELPS). guilt: Grk. aitia, the basis for something; reason, cause, and by extension guilt or blame. in: Grk. en, prep. with the meaning of "within" or "inside." him: Grk. autos. Pilate declares that he has no legal cause for an indictment under Roman law.
39 But it is a custom with you that I should release one to you at the Passover. So, you are wishing I should release to you the King of the Jews?"
But: Grk. de, conj. it is: Grk. eimi, pres. a custom: Grk. sunētheia, traditional community experience; custom, habit. Mounce has 'an established practice.' with you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. that: Grk. hina, conj. I should release: Grk. apoluō, aor. subj., may mean (1) to set free from a condition or obligation, to release or to free; or (2) to cause to depart from a place, to send off or dismiss. The first meaning applies here. one: Grk. heis, the numeral one. to you: Grk. humeis. at: Grk. en, prep. the Passover: Grk. pascha. See verse 28 above. Morris comments that the custom of releasing a prisoner at Passover is not attested elsewhere. The Synoptic Narratives mention the festival, but Passover is obviously intended (Matt 27:15; Mark 16:6; Luke 23:17).
As the account of Mark indicates the governor did not select the prisoner. This was an amazing accommodation for the Romans to make with a subject nation, but it was probably done to avoid a festival becoming a lightning rod for rebellion. The three pilgrim festivals brought hundreds of thousands of Jews to Jerusalem and due to their historic character helped to motivate the national spirit. Kasdan says that because Pesach is a festival of freedom for all Jews, it is not surprising that the Mishnah specifies that a Passover sacrifice could be offered "for prisoner who has the assurance of a release" (Pes. 8:7) (364). The allowance is based on the assumption that the release would occur in time for him to share in the paschal animal slaughtered on Nisan 14. Since the lamb killed for the Seder was a type of peace offering it could be eaten the day after the slaughter (Lev 7:15-16; 19:5-6).
The Mishnah rule occurs in a lengthy instruction regarding special circumstances and does not specifically mention the Roman acceptance of the custom, but Kasdan and Lane (553) believe the Mishnah provision implies the Roman amnesty at Passover. The Gemara goes on to clarify the instruction depending on whether the prisoner is in Israelite custody or heathen custody (Pes. 91a).
"Rabbah son of R. Huna said in R. Johanan's name: They learned this only of a heathen prison; but [if he is incarcerated in] an Israelite prison, one slaughters for him separately; since he was promised, he will [definitely] be released, as it is written, The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies. R. Hisda observed: As to what you say, [If he is in] a heathen prison [one may] not [kill on his behalf alone]; that was said only [when the prison is] without the walls of Beth Pagi; but [if it is] within the walls of Beth Pagi, one slaughters on his behalf alone. What is the reason? It is possible to convey it [the flesh] to him and he will eat it."
Pilate then makes a statement that with a slight rise in tone at the end of the sentence will make it a leading question. He does not wish to be drawn into a Jewish philosophical debate, so he is ready to release Yeshua. So: Grk. oun, conj. you are wishing: Grk. boulomai, pres. mid., 2p-pl., may mean (1) have in one's mind; wish, want, desire; or (2) reach a decision upon deliberation; intend, decide, plan, will. The first meaning applies here. I should release: Grk. apoluō, aor. subj. to you: Grk. humeis. the King: Grk. basileus. See verse 33 above. of the Jews: Grk. Ioudaios, m. pl. See verse 12 above. Morris notes that the use of the full title might be expected to sway the people in Yeshua's favor.
40 Then they shouted again, saying, "Not this one, but Barabbas." Now Barabbas was a robber.
Then: Grk. oun, conj. they shouted: Grk. kraugazō, aor., 3p-pl., (from kraugē, shout, outcry) to utter a loud sound, cry (out), shout. again: Grk. palin, adv. See verse 7 above. The use of "again" does not refer to a prior occasion when they "shouted," but that the multiple accusers were shouting with the effect of "again and again." saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 1 above. Not: Grk. mē, adv. See verse 17 above. this one: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 8 above. The accusers could not bring themselves to utter the name of Yeshua. but: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 28 above.
Barabbas: Grk. Barabbas, a transliteration of Heb. Bar-Abba, "son of a father." In Greek the sigma letter is added to the end to make the name masculine. Matthew's narrative records his full name as Iēsous Barabbas, or "Yeshua Barabbas" (Matt 27:16-17). Barabbas seems a strange name to give a baby since names normally reflected some wish of the parent. Children were typically named after relatives within the clan and tribe (Luke 1:61) based the original tribal organization (Num 2:2). The continuance of a family's name in Israel was extremely important (Deut 25:6; Ruth 4:5, 10). There is no human personality anywhere in Scripture named "Abba," so the choice of the name may suggest that the mother was unwed and she could not or would not identify the father.
The name Barabbas is drawn from "bar," an Aramaic term for "son of," and "abba," a Hebrew term for father. Stern, as other commentators, states that the entire name is Aramaic (83). However, in Jewish correspondence of the time there are examples of where the Aramaic bar is used in Hebrew correspondence and, likewise, Hebrew ben is sometimes used in Aramaic correspondence, and both of these occasionally appear in Greek (Hamp 19). Thus, the connection of bar with a name (e.g., Bar-abbas, Bar-tholomew, Bar-Jesus, Bar-Jona, Bar-nabas, Bar-sabas, Bar-timaeus) says nothing about the ethnicity or language of the person or in this case the parents who gave the name.
Now: Grk. de, conj. Barabbas was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. a robber: Grk. lēstēs, one who engages in forceful and illicit seizure of property; robber, bandit. The word is also used of one who engages in violent activity against the established social order; revolutionary, insurrectionist. Robbers were a constant menace to society as Scripture attests (Job 24:1-14; Luke 10:30; 2Cor 11:26). In the LXX lēstēs occurs only a few times and translates three different words, all associated with violence: Heb. gedud, (SH-1416), raider or band of raiders (Jer 18:22; Hos 7:1); Heb. parits (SH-6530), robber, violent one (Jer 7:11); and Heb. shôded (SH-7703), plunderer, destroyer, robber (Ob 1:5).
Nothing more is known of Barabbas other than what is related in the four apostolic narratives. Matthew says that Barabbas was notorious (Matt 27:16). Mark and Luke add that Barabbas had been imprisoned with insurrectionists who had committed murder (Mark 15:7; Luke 23:19). Jeremias suggests that Barabbas belonged to the anti-Roman party of the Sicarii (52). The Sicarii (lit. "dagger-men) were contract assassins and a splinter group of the Jewish Zealots. Perhaps Barabbas was of the tribe of Levi, which had a history of zealous violence (Ex 32:25-28; Num 25:7; 2Chr 23:7, 14-15).
The two men named "Yeshua" are thus starkly contrasted. Stern finds in the double name of Yeshua Barabbas mentioned in the context of the trial of Yeshua ben Adonai as a paradoxical irony. The narrative presents two men named Yeshua: one the son of a human father (unknown), the other the Son of God the Father (Stern 83). One was released and the other condemned. Barabbas was a murderer, a spiritual kin of Satan who was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). Yeshua was the sinless Savior, the one who would soon provide atonement for Barabbas. Morris notes the irony of the fact that the chief priests asked for the release of a man who was guilty of the very crime for which they accused Yeshua.
Matthew inserts a fascinating footnote to the discussion between Pilate and the chief priests about Barabbas: "While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him" (Matt 27:19 NIV). While the Bible does not tell us name of Pilate's wife, the Apocryphal book, The Gospel of Nicodemus, identifies her as Claudia Procula. She may have had an interest in the Jewish religion, but in any event she knew about Yeshua. Her dream may well have been a divine warning that judgment would fall on Pilate's ultimate decision to crucify Yeshua. The degree of influence Pilate's wife may have had with him in his legal judgments is unknown, but in this case her concern was disregarded.
BAG: Walter Bauer (1877-1960), A Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Barclay: William Barclay (1907-1978), The Daily Study Bible Series. Revised Ed., 16 Vols. The Westminster Press, 1975-76.
Barker: William P. Barker, Everyone In the Bible. Fleming H. Revell Co., 1966.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981. Online.
Bruce: F.F. Bruce, The Hard Sayings of Jesus. InterVarsity Press, 1983.
Clarke: Adam Clarke (1762–1832), Commentary on the Holy Bible. 6 vols. Online.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology. 3 Vols., ed. Colin Brown. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.
Flusser: David Flusser, The Sage from Galilee: Rediscovering Jesus' Genius. 4th ed. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2007.
Geldenhuys: Norval Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1951. [New International Commentary on the New Testament]
GNT: The Greek New Testament, eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Bruce M. Metzger, & Allen Wiegren. American Bible Society, 1966.
Hamp: Douglas Hamp, Discovering the Language of Jesus: Hebrew or Aramaic? CreateSpace, 2005.
HBD: Holman Bible Dictionary. ed. Trent C. Butler. Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1991. Online.
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
ISBE: International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Edited by James Orr. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1939. Online, 2011.
Jeremias: Joichim Jeremias (1900-1979), Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Fortress Press, 1975.
Kasdan: Barney Kasdan, Matthew Presents Yeshua, King Messiah: A Messianic Commentary. Lederer Books, 2011.
Lane: William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1974. [New International Commentary on the New Testament]
Lendering: Jona Lendering, Pontius Pilate, nd. Livius.org, 1995-2016.
Lightfoot: John Lightfoot (1602–1675), A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1859 ed.), 4 Vols. Hendrickson Pub., 1989. Online.
LSJ: Henry George Liddell (1811-1898) and Robert Scott (1811-1887), A Greek-English Lexicon. rev. ed. Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online.
Metzger: Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. German Bible Society, 1994.
Morris: Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1971. [New International Commentary on the New Testament]
Moseley: Ron Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Yeshua and the Original Church. Lederer Books, 1996.
Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek–English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
NIBD: Nelson's Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible. Herbert Lockyer, ed. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986.
Santala: Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings. Trans. William Kinnaird. Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1992. Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Temple: Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), The Temple: It's Ministry and Services (1874). New Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1994. Online.
Tenney: Merrill C. Tenney (1904-1985), John, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 9. Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989–1999.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer (1828-1901), Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889.
Young: Brad H. Young, Jesus: The Jewish Theologian. Hendrickson Pub., 1995.
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