Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 23 February 2017; Revised 29 July 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 continues his narrative of Yeshua's final hours. The time is early Friday morning. Even though Yeshua walks through the valley of the shadow of death, we see him still firmly in control of the situation. He is set on his mission to bring salvation to Israel.
1 Therefore, Pilate then took and flogged Yeshua.
Parallel Passage: Matthew 27:26
Therefore: 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. 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. For more information on Pilate see my note on 18:29. then: Grk. tote, temporal adv. that focuses on a time or circumstance that is closely associated with what precedes in the narrative; at that time, then, thereupon.
took: Grk. lambanō, aor. 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). 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). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). The excessive use of conjunctions is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek.
flogged: Grk. mastigoō, aor., to administer a severe whipping, to scourge or flog. The syntax of the verse does not mean that Pilate personally conducted the flogging, but it was done by his authority. About half the versions translate the verb as "scourged" and the other half have "flogged." Yeshua's prophecy of being punished found in Matthew (20:19) and Mark (10:34) uses mastigoō. Yet the actual narrative of the Roman scourging uses Grk. phragelloō (Matt 27:26; Mark 15:15), which means to inflict punishment after sentencing with a specially designed whip, to flog or to scourge. In any event, the beating fulfilled the Messianic prophecy, "The plowmen plowed on my back; wounding me with long furrows" (Ps 129:3 CJB).
John's narrative of the corporal punishment of Yeshua seems to appear earlier than the Synoptic Narratives, which describe the scourging as immediately preceding the crucifixion (cf. Matt 27:26; Mark 15:15). Luke's report seems to agree with John (cf. Luke 23:16), which describes the mistreatment of Yeshua being inflicted by soldiers of Herod Antipas. It's not likely that Yeshua would have been scourged twice, but he could have been given a light whipping as reported by John and then severely scourged later as reported by Matthew and Mark. None of the apostolic narratives enumerate the number of blows Yeshua suffered, and Pilate had no wish to kill Yeshua by scourging.
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 of Yeshua, his identity, and the translation of his name see my web article Who is Yeshua?
Additional Note on Scourging
According to Luke, Pilate made an offer to the chief priests to have Yeshua "chastised" (Grk. paideuō, discipline or chastise with blows; Luke 23:16). This verb depicts a lighter punishment than mastigoō. The chief priests weren't interested in having Yeshua merely flogged. They wanted him dead. In his first letter Peter describes the results of the beating of Yeshua with the word mōlōps (1Pet 2:24), a bruise or stripe left on the body from scourging, which occurs in the Besekh only in that verse. Peter likely had in mind the prophecy of Isaiah 53:5, "by his stripes we are healed" (TLV).
The Torah set the number of blows at forty (Deut 25:3), although Rabbinic authorities reduced the number to thirty-nine so as not to exceed the prescribed number. The regulations for conducting floggings is found in the Tractate Makkot. There were to be thirteen stokes on the chest and twenty-six on the back (Makk. 22b). However, prior to crucifixion Yeshua was scourged by Roman soldiers at the order of Pilate.
Roman scourging or inflicting "stripes" (Latin verbera) was a legal preliminary to every execution, and only women and Roman senators or soldiers (except in cases of desertion) were exempt. The usual instrument was a short whip (Latin flagrum) with several single or braided leather thongs of variable lengths, in which small iron balls or sharp pieces of sheep bones were tied at intervals. For scourging, the man was stripped of his clothing, and his hands were tied to an upright post. The back, buttocks, and legs were flogged either by two soldiers or by one who alternated positions. The severity of the scourging depended on the disposition of the soldiers and was intended to weaken the victim to a state just short of collapse or death. See a depiction here.
2 And the soldiers having twisted together a crown of thorns put it on his head, and cast around him a purple robe;
Parallel Passage: Matthew 27:27-30; Mark 15:16-19
And: Grk. kai, conj. the soldiers: Grk. stratiōtēs, m. pl., soldier in the military sense. The Greek term is somewhat broad in scope and would include ranks below Centurion. The basic Roman soldier was called a milites. having twisted together: Grk. plekō, aor. part., to plait, used of making a wreath to serve as a crown. The verb occurs only three times in the Besekh, all in this context (Matt 27:29; Mark 15:17). a crown: Grk. stephanos referred to a wreath or crown, often made from palm branches and a symbol of distinction. In the Besekh the term is used of a literal crown (as here), a winning athlete’s wreath (1Cor 9:25) and a crown worn by the overcomers in Revelation 3:11. In the LXX stephanos translates the Heb. atarah, the royal crown and corresponding figurative uses (e.g., 2Sam 12:30; 1Chr 20:2; SS 3:11) (DNTT 1:405).
of thorns: Grk. akantha, a thorn-plant. There are several species to choose from, and the narrative is not clear about what the soldiers used. The point is that this was a growing plant that was cut to form into a wreath. The soldiers did not pluck thorns off a plant to make the wreath. put it on: Grk. epitithēmi, aor., to put, place or lay upon. his head: Grk. kephalē, the head as an anatomical term. and cast around: Grk. periballō, aor., to cover around, i.e., to throw an article of clothing around one's self; put on. The verb alludes to the robe-like design of ancient clothing. him a purple: Grk. porphurous (from porphura) the color purple. robe: Grk. himation, a covering for the body, generally refers to clothing or apparel, but in this context it means an outer garment.
In the LXX himation rendered the Heb. beged, meaning both the outer garment and the clothes as a whole (DNTT 1:316). In the Tanakh beged meant garment, clothing, raiment, or robe of any kind, from the filthy clothing of the leper to the holy robes of the High Priest, the simplest covering of the poor as well as the costly raiment of the rich and noble (BDB 94). Matthew identifies the color of the robe as kokkinos (crimson, scarlet) (Matt 27:28). Mark uses the Grk. porphura (purple), which is based on the name of the purple fish (a shell-fish, murex) from which a dye was obtained for use in cloth (BAG 100).
The Synoptic Narratives are not contradictory in the color description because there were three familiar shades of purple in the ancient world: deep violet, deep scarlet (or crimson), and deep blue (HELPS). Rienecker suggests that the garment was the cloak of one of the soldiers, possibly a castoff and faded rag, but with color enough left in it to suggest the royal purple (1:132). Luke does not identify the color (Luke 23:11), but simply calls it lampros (shining, magnificent, bright, splendid).
3 and they were coming to him and saying, "Greetings, King of the Jews!" and they were giving him slaps.
and: Grk. kai, conj. they were coming: Grk. erchomai, impf. mid., 3p-pl., 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. In this case the imperfect tense indicates the soldiers kept coming toward Yeshua, mimicking the kind of homage paid to royalty. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used in all persons, genders, and numbers to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. Here the pronoun is masc. third person.
and saying: Grk. legō, impf. mid., 3p-pl., to make a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing, often used to introduce quoted material (as here). The focus of the verb may be declarative, interrogative or imperative; answer, ask, declare, enjoin, order, say, speak, tell, told, refer to, talk about. Hail: Grk. chairō, pres. mid., has two usages: (1) to be in a state marked by good feeling about an event or circumstance; be happy, glad, delighted, rejoice; and (2) an expression of greeting that is normally tantamount to assuring the other of one's good will, a kind of introductory social ointment; greetings, hail. The second usage is intended here, but no doubt with a mocking tone.
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: 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. In the LXX Ioudaios translates Heb. Yehudi (pl Yehudim). Yehudi was derived from Yehudah, the name given to Jacob’s son (Gen 29:35) and thereafter his tribal descendants (Ex 31:2). Josephus, the Jewish historian, uses Ioudaios to distinguish Jews from other people groups (e.g., Apion 1:1, 5, 8, 13, 19, 22, 26-27, 32-35).
The term is not used here in a pejorative sense, but simply as an ethnic identification. For more discussion on the background of Ioudaios and John's usage of it see my comment on John 1:19. and they were giving: Grk. didōmi, impf., to give, used in a wide variety of situations, often with the focus on generosity and the context determining whether the focus is on generosity or some other rationale for the giving. 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). him: Grk. autos. slaps: Grk. rhapisma, n. pl., 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 personal cruelty.
4 Pilate came again outside and said to them, "Behold, I am bringing him outside to you so that you might know that I find no guilt in him."
Pilate came: Grk. exerchomai, aor., to move away from a place or position, to go or come out. The verb is appropriate for leaving the interior of the building. again: Grk. palin, adv. that may focus (1) on a repetitive occurrence; once more, again; or (2) reversion; back. The first meaning applies here. 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. The place reference would be to the colonnaded porch. and said: Grk. legō, pres. See the previous verse. to them: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, m. pl. See the previous verse. Behold: Grk. ide, aor. imp. of eidon, to see, but functions as an attention–getter without regard to number of persons addressed, behold! look!
I am bringing: Grk. agō, pres., to cause movement by taking the lead; lead, bring, carry, take. him: Grk. autos. outside: Grk. exō. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. so that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed, in order that, so that, that. you might know: Grk. ginōskō, aor. subj., to know, but has a variety of meanings, including (1) to be in receipt of information; (2) form a judgment or draw a conclusion; or (3) have a personal relationship involving recognition of another's identity or value. The first meaning dominates the thought here with a nuance of the second. In the LXX ginōskō renders Heb. yada (SH-3045, 'yaw-dah'), which has a similar wide range of meaning (e.g. Gen 3:5; 4:1, 9), but in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge (DNTT 2:395).
that: 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 second usage applies here. 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 repeats to the Judean authorities what he said to them in 18:38.
Morris suggests that in making Yeshua appear before his people having been flogged, maltreated and mocked may have been a way to appeal to the pity of the Judean authorities. If that didn't work, then looking on his helplessness they would surely conclude that he could not possibly be a king. If this was Pilate's motivation he made a serious miscalculation.
5 Then Yeshua came outside, wearing the thorny crown and the purple robe, and he said to them, "Behold, the man!"
Then: Grk. oun, conj. See verse 1 above. Yeshua came: Grk. exerchomai, aor. See the previous verse. outside: Grk. exō, adv. See the previous verse. Yeshua would have been brought outside by soldiers. wearing: Grk. phoreō, pres. part., to bear or carry, to have something closely and constantly associated with one's person. the thorny: Grk. akanthinos, adj., having thorns, thorny. crown: Grk. stephanos. See verse 2 above. and the purple: Grk. porphurous. See verse 2 above. robe: Grk. himation. See verse 2 above. and he said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 3 above. The subject of the verb is Pilate, so many versions insert his name. to them: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, m. pl. See verse 3 above.
Behold: Grk. idou, aor. imp. See the note on "behold" in the previous verse. the 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).
Morris notes that in classical literature the phrase "behold the man" means "look at the poor man" or "poor creature." He is an object to be pitied. He's really a nobody. The reality is that Pilate swerved into profound truth without realizing it. Since the Greek word anthrōpos translates "Adam" it's worth considering that "Adam was created by God to be a king over the whole created world; all creation was to be ruled by a son of man" (Alan Richardson, The Gospel of John, quoted by Morris 793). Yeshua is the new Adam, the Messianic King. The declaration of Pilate also serves to rebut the later heresy of Docetism that denied the humanity of Yeshua.
6 So when the chief priests and the officers saw him, they shouted saying, "Crucify, crucify!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him."
So: Grk. oun, conj. See verse 1 above. when: Grk. hote, temporal adv., when, at which time. 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 in the temple organization and as a group wielded considerable power in the city of Jerusalem.
and the 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). saw: Grk. horaō, aor., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience extraordinary mental or inward perception. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, masc. See verse 3 above. they shouted: Grk. kraugazō, aor., 3p-pl., (from kraugē, shout, outcry) to utter a loud sound, cry (out), shout. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 3 above.
Crucify: Grk. stauroō, aor. imp., cause to undergo physical crucifixion; crucify. In the LXX the verb occurs only in Esther 7:9 to render Heb. talah (SH-8518), to hang, used in reference to the execution of Haman. The connection to Haman is repeated in the apocryphal work Additions to Esther 8:7, 30. The verb is also found in Josephus (Ant. II, 5:3-4; XVII, 10:10). In the Torah the preferred means of execution was stoning (Ex 21:28; Lev 20:27; 24:14, 16, 23; Num 15:35; Deut 13:10; 17:5; 21:21; 22:21, 24), but in some cases God also prescribed shooting with arrows (Ex 19:13), burning (Lev 20:14) and hanging by rope from a tree (Deut 21:22). The Mishnah specified four modes of capital punishment: stoning, burning, slaying with the sword and strangulation (Sanh. 7:1).
crucify: Grk. stauroō, aor. imp. For a description of crucifixion see my note on Mark 15:13. Both uses of the verb are second person singular so the intent is "You, Pilate, crucify him." Some Messianic Jewish versions prefer not the use the word "crucify" because of church related associations, but instead offer a functional translation. The Complete Jewish Bible has, "Put him to death on the stake." The Orthodox Jewish Bible has, "Hang him on HaEts [the tree]!" The use of the Hebrew word "haets" is an allusion to Deuteronomy 21:22. The Messianic Writings has, "Hang him on the deathstake!" and the Tree of Life Version has simply, "Execute him!" As an exception the Messianic versions Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels and the Hebrew Names Version have "Crucify!"
Pilate said: Grk. legō, pres. to them: Grk. autos, m. pl. Take: Grk. lambanō, aor. imp. See verse 1 above. him: Grk. autos. yourselves: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. and crucify him: Grk. stauroō, aor. imp. 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." I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. find: Grk. heuriskō, pres. See verse 4 above. no: Grk. ouch, the inflected form of ou, a particle used in denial or negation; no, 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 strong denial of an alleged fact (DM 264f). guilt: Grk. aitia. See verse 4 above. in: Grk. en, prep. him: Grk. autos. This is the third time Pilate has informed the chief priests of his finding of fact. Ordinarily that would have been enough to settle the matter.
7 The Judean authorities answered him, "We have a law, and according to the law he ought to die because he made himself Son of God."
The Judean authorities: Grk. Ioudaios, m. pl. See verse 3 above. 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. We: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. The pronoun is emphatic, "we the Sanhedrin." have: Grk. echō, pres., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. a 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 and ordinances decreed by God for Israel, but also customs 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). Nomos is also sometimes 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; Acts 18:15; 23:29; 25:8), which is likely the intent here.
and according to: Grk. kata, prep., the root meaning is down, but the resultant meaning with the principal noun in the accusative case (as here) is 'along,' 'at,' or 'according to' (DM 107). the law: Grk. nomos, i.e., the law that requires the death penalty. he ought: Grk. opheilō, pres., to be under a prescribed obligation, to have a duty or to owe someone. to die: Grk. apothnēskō, aor. inf., to die, generally used of physical death of humans without regard to cause. Stern notes that the law of which the chief priests spoke is one that specifies death for blasphemy, which was the conclusion of the hearing before Caiaphas and his collaborators (Matt 26:65; Mark 13:64; cf. John 10:33).
because: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 4 above. he made: Grk. poieō, aor., 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 second meaning applies here. himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun of the third person to denote that the agent and the person acted on are the same. Son: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben ("son," "son of"), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity; (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor; or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of, and this too applies here.
of God: Grk. theos, God or god, which must be determined from the context. In secular Greek writings a number of deities, always represented in anthropomorphic form, were called theos. In the LXX theos primarily renders the general names of God, including YHVH (DNTT 2:67-70). In the Besekh theos is used overwhelmingly for the God of Israel. The God of Israel is the only God there is. The deities of all other religions and cults are the product of Satan-inspired imagination. The title "Son of God" occurs 42 times in the Besekh in reference to Yeshua. Christianity has traditionally restricted the meaning of the title "Son of God" to deity, the second person of the triune Godhead. Unbelieving Jews typically object to the concept of God having a divine son and can rightly claim that before the advent of Christianity "Son of God' had a very human meaning.
Adam was the first son of God (Luke 3:38). Then God declared that the nation of Israel was His son (Ex 4:22; Isa 63:16; 64:8; Jer 31:9; Hos 11:1; 18:13) and by extension applied to all righteous Israelites (Ps 82:6; Rom 9:4; 2Cor 6:18). The disciples of Yeshua would later be described as "sons of God" (Matt 5:9, 45; Rom 8:14-15, 19, 23; 9:26; Gal 3:26; 4:6-7; Eph 1:5; Heb 12:7-8). Yet, there are verses in the Tanakh that mention God having a unique Son in a very personal sense (2Sam 7:12-14; Ps 2:6-7, 11-12; 89:26-30; Prov 30:4; Isa 9:6).
For Jews in the first century "Son of God" was used as a title for a human descendant of King David, the Messiah, who would establish the promised Kingdom (Luke 1:32). "Son of God" was a title of the Davidic king inasmuch as the king functioned as God's regent on earth and was vested with God's authority. The angel announced to Miriam,
"Behold, you will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you shall call His name Yeshua. 32 He will be great and will be called Ben-Elyon. Adonai Elohim will give Him the throne of David, His father. 33 He shall reign over the house of Jacob for all eternity, and His kingdom will be without end." (Luke 1:31-33 TLV)
So, "Son of God" is the old title for the King of Israel of the House of David and Messiah of Israel, just as Yochanan the Immerser announced (John 1:34). Nathanael made the meaning of Son of God clear when he declared to Yeshua, "You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" (John 1:49 mine). Martha likewise spoke to Yeshua, "Yes, Lord. I have believed that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the One coming into the world" (John 11:27 mine).
8 Therefore when Pilate heard this statement, he was more afraid;
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. when: Grk. hote, adv. Pilate heard: Grk. akouō, aor., 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). this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes its use or follows it; this, these.
statement: 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 the statement made by the chief priests in the previous verse. he was more: Grk. mallon, adv. of increase or additive to some aspect of activity, situation, or condition; (much) more. afraid: Grk. phobeō, aor. pass., to fear. The verb has two basic meanings that are opposite: (1) to be in a state of apprehension, with emotions ranging from anxiety to terror; and (2) to have special respect or reverence for, i.e., deep respect. The first meaning applies here.
The description of Pilate's reaction may suggest that he was already in a bit of awe concerning Yeshua. This is a situation of what someone meant is not what was heard. The chief priests claimed that Yeshua asserted Davidic royalty with the title "Son of God" and what Pilate heard was a "son of the gods." Among pagan Gentiles there were myths of "sons of god" or heavenly beings that watched over the affairs of human beings and intervened in human affairs (cf. Dan 3:25; 4:13; Acts 14:11). Gill suggests that Pilate's fear may have been the result of several factors. First, he had received a message from his wife in the midst of these proceedings, "Have nothing to do with that righteous man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of him" (Matt 27:19 NASB).
Second, he was convinced of Yeshua's innocence and thus he was acting against his own conscience. Third, there was a charge under Jewish law that he did not fully understand, and if he disregarded the insistence of the Sanhedrin a riot might result. Jewish leaders had complained to Caesar on a prior occasion for his unilateral actions and he had been reprimanded. Fourth, if Yeshua really was one of the gods come down in the likeness of man or some demi-god at least, or so nearly related to deity, then it would be dangerous to have anything to do with him. Pilate may have even heard of miracles performed by Yeshua that would give credence to his suspicion. After all, Yeshua had said his kingdom was not of this world and he had come into the world to bear witness to the truth.
9 and he entered into the Praetorium again and said to Yeshua, "From where are you?" But Yeshua gave not an answer to him.
and: Grk. kai, conj. he entered: Grk. eiserchomai, aor., to go or enter into a geographical area, manufactured structure or other place defined in the context. 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. 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 (Acts 23:33-35; 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. According to Josephus the headquarters of the procurator in Jerusalem 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). This view of the situation would greatly modify the traditional claims of the point of departure for the route to Golgotha.
again: Grk. palin, adv. See verse 4 above. and said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 3 above. to Yeshua: the one whose name means salvation for the world. Pilate then gave voice to his fear. From where: Grk. pothen, interrogative adv. of direction; from where, from which, whence, used in direct and indirect questions (BAG). Two forms of usage may be noted: (1) locally in the sense of "from what place? or fig. "from what state" (Rev 2:5); and (2) of origin, from what source? brought about or given by whom? born of whom? Pilate probably had the second usage in mind. are: Grk. eimi, pres., 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).
you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. But: 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 first meaning applies here. Yeshua gave: Grk. didōmi, aor. See verse 3 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 6 above. an answer: Grk. apokrisis, an answer or reply to a statement or query. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Pilate already had the answer; he only needed to listen. Therefore Yeshua saw no need to repeat himself.
10 So Pilate said to him, "You are not speaking to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you, and I have authority to crucify you?"
So: Grk. oun, conj. Pilate said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 3 above. to him: Grk. autos. You are not: Grk. ou, adv. speaking: Grk. laleō, pres., 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. to me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. Do you not: Grk. ou. know: Grk. oida, perf., to have seen or perceived, hence to know. 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 perfect tense depicts knowledge that was complete in the past with continuing results to the present.
that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 4 above. I have: Grk. echō, pres. See verse 7 above. authority: Grk. exousia, the right to speak or act in a situation without looking or waiting for approval; authority, right, jurisdiction. to release: Grk. apoluō, aor. inf., 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. you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. and I have: Grk. echō, pres. authority: Grk. exousia. to crucify: Grk. stauroō, aor. inf. See verse 6 above. you: Grk. su. Pilate's question is not intended to treat Yeshua as ignorant of the law, but as a reminder that he could exercise some choice in the situation. From Pilate's point of view silence does not help a condemned man.
11 Yeshua answered, "You have no authority against me, none, except it were given to you from above; because of this the one having delivered me to you has greater sin."
Yeshua answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. See verse 7 above. Following are the final words of Yeshua to Pilate. You have: Grk. echō, impf. See verse 7 above. The imperfect tense seems strange since it depicts continuous action in past time. Some versions qualify the verb with "would" (CEB, CJB, ESV, HCSB, NAB, NASB, NET, NIRV, NIV, NLT, NRSV, RSV), perhaps influenced by the use of "except." However, Yeshua makes a plain statement of fact. no: Grk. ou, adv. authority: Grk. exousia. See the previous verse. against: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 7 above. With the following pronoun in the genitive case the meaning is 'against,' 'with regard to' (Thayer). me: Grk. egō. none: Grk. oudeis, adj. See verse 4 above. Most versions do not translate the negative term, but Yeshua's redundancy is a powerful statement.
except: Grk. ei mē, lit. "if not." it were: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 9 above. given: Grk. didōmi, perf. pass. part. See verse 3 above. to you: Grk. su. from above: Grk. anōthen, adv., from above or from a higher place, here as an idiomatic expression for heaven or God. Yeshua does not refer to authority delegated from Rome, but he alludes generally to the sovereignty of God that dictates the appointment of human rulers (cf. Gen 50:20; Job 12:18; Ps 75:6-7; Prov 8:15; Dan 2:21; 4:17, 32; Acts 13:22; Rom 13:1). Yet, Yeshua also implies that while Pilate as governor would naturally have judicial authority to order capital punishment, in his own case no harm could be brought against the Messiah of Israel except by the permission of God.
because of: Grk. dia, prep. The root meaning of dia is two, but with the following pronoun in the accusative case dia represents the ground or reason on account of which something is or is not done, thus "because of" (Thayer). this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. the one: Grk. ho, definite article but used as a demonstrative pronoun. The singular pronoun represents an individual rather than the corporate singular of the Sanhedrin. having delivered: Grk. paradidōmi, aor. 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. me: Grk. egō. to you: Grk. su., i.e., Pilate. has: Grk. echō, pres. greater: Grk. megas, adj., exceeding a standard and therefore impressive; great. The adj. is used here in a comparative sense, thus "greater."
sin: Grk. hamartia, may refer to (1) a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness; (2) the result of sinning or the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. Hamartia is the dominant word for sin in the Besekh. In Greek culture hamartia meant to fail and could mean anything from stupidity to law-breaking, anything that did not conform to the community ethic (DNTT 3:577). In the LXX hamartia translates a range of Hebrew words for guilt and sin, particularly Heb. chata (miss, go wrong, lapse, sin; Gen 20:6; 39:9) and avon (iniquity, guilt, punishment for iniquity; Gen 15:16).
Throughout Scripture sin as a behavior is a violation of God's written commandments. The degree of intentionality is not a factor in defining sinful behavior, only whether the express requirements or prohibitions of Torah commandments have been violated. Intentionality is only relevant to the degree and manner of punishment. Contrary to popular Christian thinking hamartia in Scripture does not include the imperfections that separate humanity from divinity, "falling short of the glory" (Rom 3:23). As Morris observes that a "greater sin" implies a "lesser sin" of which Pilate is guilty. Pilate failed to act according to his own conscience and the requirements of Roman law. He became an accessory to the death of an innocent man.
Stern interprets "the one having delivered" as alluding to Judas. It's really questionable whether Pilate even knew about the betrayal of Judas, and in any event Pilate never dealt with Judas. When Pilate heard Yeshua's comparative statement he would have been reminded of his own statement in 18:35, "Your people and the chief priests delivered you to me." However, in Yeshua's statement here and John's historical viewpoint Caiaphas deserves the blame. Caiaphas is the one made the prophetic statement that anticipated (and planned for) Yeshua's death, orchestrated his arrest and then delivered him to Pilate. For centuries Christianity blamed and persecuted all Jews for the death of Yeshua, when in reality it was one Jew. To make all Jews pay for his crime has been a monstrous injustice.
12 From this point Pilate sought to release him, but the Judean authorities shouted saying, "If you should release this one, you are not a friend of Caesar. Everyone making himself a king opposes Caesar."
From: Grk. ek, prep. with the root meaning of "out of, from within" (DM 102), used here with a time reference. this point: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 8 above. Pilate sought: Grk. zēteō, impf., 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 fourth meaning has application here with a hint of the second. to release: Grk. apoluō, aor. inf. See verse 10 above. him: Grk. autos. but: Grk. de, conj. the Judean authorities: Grk. Ioudaios, masc. pl. See verse 3 above. shouted: Grk. kraugazō, aor. See verse 6 above. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 3 above.
If: Grk. ean, conj. that serves as a conditional particle and produces an aspect of tentativeness by introducing a possible circumstance that determines the realization of some other circumstance. you should release: Grk. apoluō, aor. subj. this one: Grk. houtos. Note that the leaders will not even speak Yeshua's name. you are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 9 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. a friend: Grk. philos, in a close relationship with another, as opposed to a casual acquaintanceship; friend. of Caesar: Grk. Kaisar was originally the family name of Julius, the first emperor. In time it became a title of the Roman head of state. The Caesar in power at this time was Tiberius (14-37 A.D.). The phrase "friend of Caesar" was a technical term sometimes used as a title of honor for provincial governors and here as a sign of loyalty (Stern).
Everyone: Grk. pas, m. adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. making: Grk. poieō, pres. part. See verse 7 above. himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun. See verse 7 above. a king: Grk. basileus. See verse 3 above. opposes: Grk. antilegō, pres., may mean (1) to speak in an adversarial manner; contradict, argue against, speak against; or (2) by extension take a position in opposition to; oppose, refuse. The second meaning applies here. Caesar: Grk. Kaisar. The accusation against Yeshua was important because no man of a conquered people could officially claim the royal title except by permission of Caesar.
For example, the previous king was Herod the Great. With the sponsorship of Marc Antony the Roman Senate approved Herod as king over Judaea in 40 B.C. (Josephus, Ant. XIV, 13:1; 14:5; XVII, 8:1). King Herod officially reigned from 38 BC to 1 BC. Upon Herod's death his son Antipas went to Rome to seek approval as "king," 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). The chief priests knew they had a winning argument.
13 Therefore Pilate having heard these words, brought Yeshua outside, and sat on a judgment seat at a place called Stone Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. Pilate having heard: Grk. akouō, aor. part. See verse 8 above. these: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, masc. pl. words: Grk. logos, masc. pl. See verse 8 above. brought: Grk. agō, aor. See verse 4 above. Yeshua outside: Grk. exō, adv. See verse 4 above. The scene changes once again with Yeshua being taken from the interior of the Praetorium to the colonnaded porch area. and sat: Grk. kathizō, aor., to sit, to take one's seat. on: Grk. epi, prep. used primarily as a marker of position or location; 'at, in, on, upon, over.'
a judgment seat: Grk. bēma, space covered by a movement of one foot ahead of the other, a step; also a raised platform that requires steps for ascent, such as a speaker's platform; fig. of a judicial tribunal. In the LXX bēma translates Heb. migdal ("elevated stage," "pulpit" BDB 154) used in Nehemiah 8:4 of the platform on which Ezra stood to read the Torah. Morris suggests that the term may signify a temporary judgment seat set up on the Pavement, since the normal bēma would have been inside the Praetorium. at: Grk. eis, prep. a place: Grk. topos, a spatial area or 'place,' which may be geographical terrain, a named locality, a location for some object or activity or a manufactured structure as indicated in the context.
called: Grk. legō, pres. pass. part. See verse 3 above. The verb is used here of giving a name to something. Stone Pavement: Grk. Lithostrōtos, adj., being paved with stones, especially in reference to a decorative motif. but: Grk. de, conj. in Hebrew: Grk. Hebraisti, in the Hebrew language used by Jews and translated into Greek for a Gentile audience. Hebraisti is derived from Grk. Hebrais ("Hebrew"), which itself is the fem. adj. form of Grk. Hebraios ("Hebrew") a transliteration of Heb. Ibri (SH-5680; pl. Ibriyim). Heb. Ibri occurs 31 times in the Tanakh of people descended from Eber, the name of one of Shem’s sons (Gen 10:21; 11:14, 16). Abraham is identified as a descendant of Shem, of Eber’s line (Gen 11:26) and became the first one to be identified as a Hebrew (Gen 14:13).
BAG, Danker, Mounce and Thayer define Hebraisti as "in Hebrew or Aramaic." Some versions translate Hebraisti here as "Aramaic" (CEB, CEV, CJB, ESV, NET, NIRV, NIV, OJB and TLV), but the overwhelming majority of versions translate the word as "Hebrew," including Mounce's own MRINT. Hebrew and Aramaic have many common features, but they are clearly different languages. Suggesting that the Hebraios word-group could mean "Aramaic" reflects an old bias among Christian scholars that Hebrew was not widely spoken outside of rabbinic circles. According to David Flusser, Orthodox Jewish scholar at Hebrew University in Israel, Hebrew was both the daily language and the language of study among Jews in the first century (11). It is unfortunate that a few Messianic versions have uncritically translated Hebraisti here with "Aramaic" while translating Hebraisti in verse 20 below as "Hebrew." (See my web article The Jewish New Testament for more discussion of this subject.)
Generally ignored by scholars is that the LXX uses Suristi (Syrian) to mean "Aramaic" (2Kgs 18:26, 28; Ezra 4:7; Isa 36:11; Dan 2:4). Hebraisti does not occur at all in the canonical books of the LXX, but it does occur in the preface of the Apocryphal work Sirach. However, the LXX uses Grk. Ioudaisti to refer to the language spoken by the people of Judea (2Kgs 18:26, 28; para. 2Chr 32:18; Isa 36:11, 13; also Neh 13:24). That Ioudaisti equates to Hebraisti is confirmed by Josephus in his recounting of the scene in 2 Kings 18:26-28 (para. 2Chr 32:18) and uses Hebraisti as a synonym for Ioudaisti (Ant. X, 1:2). Douglas Hamp (2005) argues persuasively based on etymology, grammar, the Tanakh and the Mishnah, that words in the Besekh commonly thought to be Aramaic are in fact Hebrew. The Greek word for Aramaic, Suristi, does not occur in the Besekh at all. If John had intended to say "Aramaic" he would have used Suristi, not Hebraisti. It's as simple as that.
Hebrew is very likely the oldest language known to mankind and the language spoken by the entire human population before God created the many languages as a judgment for idolatry at Babel (Gen 11:1-9). Hebrew is certainly older than the 15th century B.C. when Moses wrote the Torah (Pentateuch) in Hebrew. Moreover, Hebrew is the only language in Scripture that God used to speak audibly (cf. Acts 26:14). To learn about the history of the Hebrew language see the articles at Ancient Hebrew Research Center.
Gabbatha: The Greek word is a transliteration of Heb. Gabbeta, which means a raised place, an elevation (Thayer). Danker says the word is Aramaic, but BAG identifies the term as "Hebrew." Hebrew translations of the New Testament, such as Delitzsch and the Bible Society in Israel, use Gabbeta to translate the Greek word. It is certainly possible that Gabbatha was originally an Aramaic word, but the point of identifying the term as Hebrew should settle the matter. Assimilation of Gabbatha from Aramaic makes the word Hebrew just as words that were assimilated from French into English became English (such as "pork" and "beef").
14 Now it was preparation day of the Passover festival, the hour was about the sixth. And he said to the Judean authorities, "Behold, your King!"
Now: Grk. de, conj. it was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 9 above. preparation day: Grk. paraskeuē in Greek culture meant lit. "preparation," but in the Besekh the term refers to a definite day, and for Jews it was Friday on which day everything had to be prepared for the Sabbath and no work was permitted (BAG; Lane 498; Geldenhuys 620, Morris 776). This is the meaning of the term in Jewish writings, such as Josephus (Ant. XVI, 6:2) and the Talmud (Shab. 117b); and in later Christian writings as Didache 8 and Martyrdom of Polycarp VII. The noun occurs only twice in the LXX (Ex 35:24; 39:42) where it refers to contributions made for the construction and adornment of the tabernacle. In those two verses paraskeuē renders Heb. avodah, "labor" or "service" in various capacities, especially service of God by priests and Levites (BDB 715).
The noun is derived from the verb paraskeuazō, to prepare, which occurs in a variety of contexts (Acts 10:10; 1Cor 14:8; 2Cor 9:2; 1Pet 2:8; LXX 1Sam 24:3; Prov 15:18; 23:2; 24:27; 29:5; Jer 6:4; 12:5; 46:9; 51:11). Lane contends that paraskeuē in this verse should be translated as "the Friday of Passover week." The term clearly refers to the sixth day of the week where it appears in the Synoptic Narratives (Matt 27:62; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54) and verses 31 and 42 below. In any event, the primary focus of the term in Jewish usage was on the nature of religious and practical preparation activities to observe God's appointed time.
of the Passover festival: 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 fourth 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 erev Nisan 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). 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). For a detailed description of Passover observance in biblical times see my web article The Messianic Meal.
the hour: Grk. hōra may mean (1) a short space of time, the twelfth part of a day; hour; (2) fig. for a period of time in the day; "the hour was already late;" or (3) fig. for a point of time as occasion for action or for an event; time. The first usage applies here. was: Grk. eimi, impf. about: Grk. hōs, adv. that connects narrative components and used generally for comparison purposes, but when occurring before a number it conveys an estimate, used here in reference to time of day (cf. John 1:39; 4:6; Rev 8:1); nearly, close to, about. In the LXX hōs is inserted into various passages mentioning a number or quantity to convey that it is an estimate (e.g., Ruth 1:4; 2:17; 1Sam 13:15; 14:2, 14; 22:2; 23:13), including an estimate of time (2Kgs 4:17; 7:18).
the sixth: Grk. hektos, adj., sixth, the ordinal number from hex, six, here in reference to an hour in the day, corresponding to the middle of the day, calculating from sunrise. Determination of the time was made from an improvised sundial on a Temple stairway (cf. 2Kgs 20:9-11; Isa 38:8). The adverb "about" indicates that the sixth hour had not yet arrived. Morris says that "John speaks of the trial as still not completed at about the sixth hour.'" However, John makes no connection between the trial and the sixth hour. He is saying something about the day of preparation. The sixth hour is significant as the time when the chagigah sacrifice must be completed according to Jewish law:
"MISHNAH. The [afternoon] tamid  is slaughtered at eight and a half hours  and is offered at nine and a half hours . On the eve [afternoon] of Passover  it is slaughtered at seven and a half hours and offered at eight and a half hours, whether it is a weekday or the Sabbath. If the eve of Passover fell, on Sabbath eve [Friday], it is slaughtered at six and a half hours and offered at seven and a half hours, and the Passover offering after it. " (Pes. 5:1). The Talmud editor offers these explanatory notes.
 The daily burnt-offering: one was brought every morning and another every afternoon (Num 28:4).
 The day being counted from sunrise to sunset, i.e., about six a.m. to six p.m.
 The sacrificial ceremonies took an hour.
 The Heb. is in the plural: on the eves of Passovers.
 When the eve of Passover falls on a Friday, time must be left for roasting the Passover offering before the Sabbath commences; hence the earlier hour of the burnt offering.
The nearness of the time for the chagigah sacrifice is one of the reasons for the urgency of the priests to conclude the trial of Yeshua. John's timeline does not dwell on the length of Yeshua's trial. Omitted is the fact that in the midst of the morning Yeshua was conveyed to Herod Antipas for questioning and then returned to Pilate (Luke 23:6-12). By the time John's narrative reaches this point the morning is well advanced.
And he said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 3 above. to the Judean authorities: Grk. Ioudaios, masc. pl. See verse 3 above. Behold: Grk. ide, aor. imp. See verse 4 above. your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. King: Grk. basileus. See verse 3 above. Pilate did not declare the title as an affirmation of Rome's approval of Yeshua's royalty, but rather to confront the culpability of the chief priests. He uses the pronoun "your" precisely because the chief priests had said Yeshua claimed to be a king. The chief priests never said, "we want you to kill our king." Pilate lets them know that Yeshua belongs to the Jews, regardless of their sentiments.
Additional Note on the Time
The time reference here may seem at odds with Mark 15:25, which reads in most versions "it was the third hour when they crucified him." Matthew and Luke do not give a time for the crucifixion. The confusion could be attributed in part to the verse division in Mark's narrative (so A. Mahoney, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, XXVIII, 1966, pp. 292-99, cited by Lane 567 and Morris 800). Thus, Mark's narrative could be literally translated:
"24 And crucifying him, they also divide his garments casting a lot over them, who should take what; now it was the third hour. 25 And they crucified him."
Mahoney thinks that this casting of lots took place at the time of the scourging, before Yeshua was taken to Golgotha. Lane believes his proposal conflicts with 15:20, which speaks of the return of Yeshua's clothing to him following the scourging. Moreover, by Mark's straightforward chronology the gambling took place after arrival at Golgotha (cf. 15:22). Morris allows that the verse division suggestion has merit. To resolve the supposed time conflict between Mark and John we should consider these facts.
1. None of the apostolic narratives say that Yeshua was crucified at the sixth hour. The Synoptic Narratives only say there was darkness from the sixth hour to the ninth hour (Matt 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44), which occurred after Yeshua was already on the cross.
2. The apostles are unanimous that Yeshua was taken to Pilate shortly after sunrise. It seems unlikely that it would take five or six hours for Yeshua's trial before Pilate (and Herod Antipas) to be concluded. The adverb "about" (John 19:14) is a numerical estimate, and as such indicates that the sixth hour had not yet arrived. The insertion of "when" into the translation of Mark 15:25 is interpretation, since the conjunction kai simply means "and."
3. The time reference "third hour" in Mark 15:25 does not strictly mean 9 o'clock as some versions translate (CEV, NAB, NCV, NET, NIRV, NLT, NRSV). "Hour" means sixty minutes. In addition, there were no clocks or watches to tell the actual time, so the "third hour" would be approximately the halfway point between sunrise and high noon. So, the time frame of 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., or even a little later, is when the procedure for crucifixion began to take place.
4. The actual procedure for crucifixion was lengthy. The verb stauroō could arguably include Yeshua carrying the cross-beam to Golgotha.
15 So they shouted, "That one, take away, take away, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Should I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar."
So: Grk. oun, conj. they shouted: Grk. kraugazō, aor. See verse 6 above. Morris says that the aorist tense depicts a great shout rather than a continuing noise, which almost certainly followed (802). That one: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun, typically used to refer to a noun (person or thing) immediately preceding in the Greek text; that, that one there. Again, Yeshua's opponents refuse to say his name. take away: Grk. airō, aor. imp., may mean (1) to cause to move upward; raise up, lift; or (2) move by lifting or taking from one position to another; take away, remove, carry off. The shouters intended the second meaning, but for John the verb could have had a subtle reference to the exaltation of Yeshua (Morris 802). take away: Grk. airō, aor. imp. crucify: Grk. stauroō, aor. imp. See verse 6 above. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun.
Pilate said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 3 above. to them: Grk. autos, masc. pl. Should I crucify: Grk. stauroō, aor. subj. your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. Pilate again emphasizes the connection between Yeshua and his opponents. King: Grk. basileus. See verse 3 above. The chief priests: Grk. archiereus, m. pl. See verse 6 above. answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. See verse 7 above. We have: Grk. echō, pres. See verse 7 above. no: Grk. ou, adv. king: Grk. basileus. but: Grk. ei mē, lit. "if not." Caesar: Grk. kaisar. See verse 12 above. The declaration of the chief priests is incredulous on the face of it, because not only did they reject their Messianic King, but they elevated Caesar as superior over God.
Parallel Passages: Matthew 27:33-44; Mark 15:22-32; Luke 23:33-43
John's narrative of the trip to the Golgotha omits a few elements found in the Synoptic Narratives: (1) the assistance provided by Simon of Cyrene (Matt 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26); (2) Yeshua's exhortation to the weeping women on the way to Golgotha (Luke 23:27-30); and (3) the fact that the two men taken to be crucified along with Yeshua were criminals (Luke 23:32), who were robbers like Barabbas (Matt 27:38).
16 So then he delivered him to them so that he might be crucified.
So: Grk. oun, conj. then: Grk. tote, adv. See verse 1 above. he delivered: Grk. paradidōmi, aor. See verse 11 above. The subject of the verb is Pilate. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Yeshua. to them: Grk. autos, masc. pl. so that: Grk. hina, conj. he might be crucified: Grk. stauroō, aor. pass. subj. See verse 6 above. The narrative refers to the team of Roman soldiers responsible for carrying out crucifixions. The Judean authorities did not personally crucify Yeshua. John offers no detail concerning the logistics of preparing wood to serve as a punishment stake, its storage and its provision at the time of carrying out the governor's order, but he uses economy of words to summarize what happened.
17 Therefore they took Yeshua, and bearing to himself the cross-beam, he went out to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. they took: Grk. paralambanō, aor., may mean (1) to receive to one's side; take, receive; or (2) to cause to go along; take. The second meaning applies here. Yeshua: The opening clause to this verse actually occurs at the end of the Greek text of the previous verse, but Bible versions insert it at the beginning of verse 17 to form the complete sentence. and bearing: Grk. bastazō, pres. part., may mean (1) take up something from a position; lift; (2) sustain a burden; bear, carry; (3) remove from a position; remove, pilfer, steal. The second meaning applies here. to himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun.
the cross-beam: Grk. stauros, a structure used in carrying out a death sentence, cross. The term does not specifically imply the nature of its construction. In early Classical Greek writers (e.g. Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon) the stauros referred to an upright stake, sometimes pointed, by which capital punishment of crucifixion was carried out (BAG, Thayer). Stauros does not occur in the LXX at all (DNTT 1:393). However, Josephus, in referring to Esther 7:9 uses stauros for the Hebrew word ets ('tree,' 'gallows') (Ant. XI, 6:10-11). HELPS says that stauros also referred to just the cross-beam of a Roman cross (Latin, patibulum) placed at the top of the vertical member to form a capital "T." This transverse beam was the one carried by the criminal. The expression "to bear the cross (stauros)" was a typical description of the punishment of slaves.
The DHE translates stauros with "cross," but other Messianic Jewish versions attempt to be more literal, since the English word "cross" can mean a structure in the shape of a "+," an "X," a capital "T," or the Christian symbol (†). The TLV renders the noun as "crossbar," but the CJB and MW have "stake." In his commentary Stern explains his rationale that for centuries Jews were put to death under the sign of the cross by persons claiming to be followers of the Jewish Messiah. Therefore the cross symbolizes persecution of Jews. He says, "As a Messianic Jew, still feeling the pain on behalf of my people, I do not have it in me to represent my New Testament faith by a cross" (41).
he went out: Grk. exerchomai, aor. See verse 4 above. to: Grk. eis, prep. the place called: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 3 above. The verb is used here of giving a name to something. the Place: Grk. topos. See verse 13 above. The noun is used of a specific physical location. of a Skull: Grk. kranion, skull as a term of anatomy. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. is called: Grk. legō, pres. pass. in Hebrew: Grk. Hebraisti. See verse 13 above. Golgotha: Grk. Golgotha. If Golgotha was Aramaic John should have written the definition as – "place of the skull (Grk. tou kraniou)” to insure that both "Golgotha" and "skull" had the definite article according to Aramaic grammar. But since John had already said that the word is Hebrew, then he accurately gives the translation, "place of a skull" (Grk. kraniou topos) (Hamp 46). Golgotha is the name of a place outside of Jerusalem where Yeshua was crucified; so called, apparently, because the shape of the hill resembled a skull.
18 where they crucified him, and with him two others, on this side and on that side, and Yeshua between.
where: Grk. hopou, adv. of place; where, in what place. they crucified: Grk. stauroō, aor., 3p-pl. See verse 6 above. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. and: Grk. kai, conj. 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. him: Grk. autos. two: Grk. duo, the cardinal number two. others: Grk. allos, m. pl., used to distinguish from one or more other entities; other (of two), another. on this side: 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).
and: Grk. kai. on that side: Grk. enteuthen. The repetition of the adverb indicates the other side. and Yeshua between: Grk. mesos, adj., at a point near the center, midst, middle, in the midst of, among, between. John, the only apostle to witness the crucifixion, describes the scene from the vantage point of facing Yeshua on the cross. The other two men crucified were to his side, but there is no implication that the three crosses were in a perfect horizontal line. No information is offered on the distance between crosses but they were close enough for Yeshua to converse with the two men (cf. Luke 23:39-43).
19 Now Pilate also wrote an inscription and put on the cross; and it was written, "Yeshua of Nazareth, the King of the Jews."
Now: Grk. de, conj. Pilate: Grk. Pilatos. See verse 1 above. also: Grk. kai, conj. wrote: Grk. graphō, aor., to write or inscribe as a physical act, generally in reference to a document. an inscription: Grk. titlos, a title or inscription, as a public notice indicating the cause for penal action. The noun occurs only twice in the Besekh, both in John's narrative here. John includes the significant detail of Pilate preparing a sign to be put on the cross (see verse 22 below). It's also possible that Pilate delegated the task to a legal clerk who then passed it on to the military execution squad. and put: Grk. tithēmi, aor., to arrange for association with a site; place, put, set out, serve, lay down. on: Grk. epi, prep. See verse 13 above. the cross: Grk. stauros. See the previous verse. and: Grk. de, conj. it was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 9 above. written: Grk. graphō, perf. pass. part.
Yeshua: See verse 1 above. 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.
The naming convention of identifying persons by place of origin distinguished them from other persons with the same name. Though Yeshua was born in Bethlehem he is identified as associated with Nazareth 19 times in the apostolic narratives. Sometimes the label "Yeshua of Nazareth" uses Nazōraios as here (Matt 2:23; 26:71; Luke 18:37; John 18:5, 7; Acts 2:22; 3:6; 4:10; 6:14; 22:8; 26:9) and sometimes Nazarēnos (Mark 1:24; 10:47; 14:67; 16:6; Luke 4:34; 24:19), and twice "Yeshua from Nazareth" (Matt 21:11; Acts 10:38). The translation of Nazōraios as "Nazarene" in some Christian versions (ASV, CEB, HCSB, LEB, MSG, NASB, NET) is misleading, because the English word could imply membership in a religious group (cf. Acts 24:5). However, for Yeshua the term always represents a connection with the town of Nazareth.
Transliteration of Hebrew (or Aramaic) words into Greek is not always exact. The last letter of Heb. Natzeret was dropped and a masculine adjective suffix added to form the label in Greek, in some instances aios, resulting in Nazōraios, and in other constructions nos, resulting in Nazarēnos. The same Greek construction may be found in other names, such as Miriam of Magdala (Luke 8:2), Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:37), Lucius of Cyrene (Acts 13:1), and Dionysius the Areopagite (Acts 17:34).
the King: Grk. basileus. See verse 3 above. of the Jews: Grk. Ioudaios, m. pl. See verse 3 above. The plural noun is most likely used as an ethnic reference to all blood descendants of Jacob. While the inscription served as a statement of Yeshua's offense in Roman law, it also served as a cruel reminder of the ruthless power of Rome. The Synoptic Narratives agree with John in that all three say a sign was affixed to the cross with the announcement "The King of the Jews." However, Matthew reads "This is Yeshua," omitting "of Nazareth" (Matt 27:37). Mark and Luke omit the name of Yeshua entirely (Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38). In addition, Matthew and Luke note that the sign was placed above Yeshua's head.
20 Therefore many of the Judean authorities read this inscription, for the place where Yeshua was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, in Greek.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. See verse 1 above. many: Grk. polus, m. pl., extensive in scope, here as an adj. indicating a high number. of the Judean authorities: Grk. Ioudaios, m. pl. See verse 3 above. The CJB and TLV translate the noun as "Judeans," which is possible. The term could refer to orthodox Jews who were in Jerusalem for the festival, and came to Golgotha out of curiosity. However, the next verse makes it clear that the ones observing the crucifixion and Pilate's notice in particular were members of the Sanhedrin or at least the Temple ruling body. read: Grk. anaginōskō, aor., to know again, here to recognize written characters, and so 'read.' this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 8 above. inscription: Grk. titlos. See the previous verse.
for: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 4 above. the place: Grk. topos. See verse 13 above. where: Grk. hopou, adv. See verse 18 above. Yeshua was crucified: Grk. stauroō, aor. pass. See verse 6 above. was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 9 above. near: Grk. engus, prep., near or close to, whether in a spatial or temporal sense. the city: Grk. polis, a population center whose size or number of inhabitants could range broadly. The traditional site for Golgotha was outside the walls on the northwest corner of the city. and it was: Grk. eimi, impf. written: Grk. graphō, perf. pass. part. See the previous verse. The sign contained three lines of text, each line in a different language. in Hebrew: Grk. Hebraisti. See verse 13 above. Some versions inaccurately translate the noun as "Aramaic" (CEB, ESV, LEB, NET, NIRV, NIV).
in Latin: Grk. Rhōmaisti, in the language of Rome. The name "Latin" derives from the Italic tribal group named Latini that settled around the 10th century BC in Latium (the region of Rome), and the dialect spoken by these people. Latin is the chief dialect of the Italic, the third oldest branch of the Indo-European group of languages. Old Latin originated about the 7th-6th century B.C. and associated with the founding of the Roman republic. The Latin alphabet was derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets. The Old Latin was standardized into Classical Latin by the 2nd or 1st century B.C. Through the power of the Rome, Latin became the dominant language, initially in Italy and subsequently throughout the Roman Empire. Vulgar Latin developed into the Romance languages, such as Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and French.
in Greek: Grk. Hellēnisti, in Greek mode or in Greek language. The noun occurs only twice in the Besekh (also Acts 21:37). The second oldest language of the Indo-European group of languages, Greek was the native language of the land of Hellas, the ancient name for Greece (DM 2, 6). Greek is the most literary of all the ancient languages, having been used for a considerable body of literature, beginning with Homer about 900 B.C. The classical language was spread throughout the world by the conquest of Alexander the Great and his successors in the 4th-3rd centuries B.C. After the Greek conquest the language was dubbed "Koine" ("common") because of being freely used and understood throughout the world. While Latin was the language of the courts and legal documents in the Roman Empire of the first century, Greek was the language of commerce.
21 So the chief priests of the Judean authorities said to Pilate, "Write not, 'The King of the Jews;' but that he said, 'I am King of the Jews.'"
So: Grk. oun, conj. the chief priests: Grk. archiereus, m. pl., a high or chief priest. See verse 6 above. of the Judean authorities: Grk. Ioudaios, m. pl. See verse 3 above. The chief priests were ex officio members of the Sanhedrin. said: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 3 above. The imperfect tense indicates a repetitive appeal. to Pilate: See verse 1 above. Write: Grk. graphō, pres. imp. See verse 19 above. The imperative mood is used here not as a command but an entreaty. not: Grk. mē, adv. See verse 6 above. The King: Grk. basileus. See verse 3 above. of the Jews: Grk. Ioudaios, m. pl.
but: Grk. alla, conj. used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 2 above. he said: Grk. legō, aor. I am: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 9 above. King of the Jews: The chief priests, led by Caiaphas, were incensed that Pilate had declared Yeshua to be "King of the Jews." There is a certain symmetry in the fact that the narrative of Yeshua's incarnation begins with magi seeking the "King of the Jews" (Matt 2:2) and the close of his human life on earth reaffirms his monarchy over the Jewish people.
22 Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written."
Pilate answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. See verse 7 above. What: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. I have written: Grk. graphō, perf. See verse 19 above. I have written: Grk. graphō, perf. Only John records the entreaty of the chief priests to Pilate. He was not particularly concerned whether Yeshua's accusers were offended. Pilate may have intended the sign merely as mockery, but he nonetheless wrote the truth. Unfortunately, Christianity did its best to divorce Yeshua from the Jews, and Christians (and Jews) today fail to consider the significance of Yeshua's royal standing with respects to the Jewish people. People who attack and persecute Jews greatly offend their King and incur his wrath.
23 Then the soldiers, when they crucified Yeshua, took his garments and made four parts, a part to each soldier, also the tunic. Now the tunic was seamless, woven from the top through the whole.
Then: Grk. oun, conj. the soldiers: Grk. stratiōtēs, m. pl. See verse 2 above. The reference is to Roman soldiers under the command of Pilate. when: Grk. hote, adv. See verse 6 above. they crucified: Grk. stauroō, aor. See verse 6 above. Yeshua: See verse 1 above. took: Grk. lambanō, aor. See verse 1 above. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. garments: Grk. himation, n. pl. See verse 2 above on "robe." In the LXX himation rendered the Heb. beged, meaning both the outer garment and the clothes as a whole (DNTT 1:316). In the Tanakh beged meant garment, clothing, raiment, or robe of any kind, whether worn by the poor or the rich (BDB 94). For Yeshua the beged was a simple rectangular cloak or robe, typically made of wool, that was worn daily.
Morris suggests that the plural noun may not mean a plurality of garments, but in a corporate sense his clothes. Yet, he also says that the normal clothing ensemble consisted of a loin cloth, the inner and outer garments, a belt, a head covering and sandals. and made: Grk. poieō, aor. See verse 7 above. four: Grk. tessares, the cardinal number four. parts: Grk. meros may mean (1) a piece or segment of a whole; part; or (2) participation with or share in the circumstances of another; share, destiny, lot. The second meaning applies here. In the case of Yeshua the outer garment may have been divided at the seams. a part: Grk. meros. to each: Grk. hekastos, adj., in reference to an individual person or thing; each, every, every one. soldier: Grk. stratiōtēs. This fact implies the Roman crucifixion team consisted of four soldiers. also: Grk. kai, conj. the tunic: Grk. chitōn, a garment made of linen and worn next to the skin (Matt 5:40).
Now: Grk. de, conj. the tunic: Grk. chitōn. was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 9 above. seamless: Grk. araphos, adj., without a seam, seamless. woven: Grk. huphantos, adj., from huphainō, to weave. The adj. to the production of a garment by interlacing threads or yarns to form a fabric or material. The word occurs only here in the Besekh. from: Grk. ek, prep. the top: Grk. anōthen, lit. "from above," so idiomatically "the top." throughout: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 11 above. With the adjective following being in the genitive case the meaning is "through," but used adverbially to mean "throughout" (Thayer). the whole: Grk. holos, adj., signifier of a person or thing understood as a complete unit and not necessarily every individual part; all, whole, entire. In an interesting parallel Josephus mentions that the chitōn of the high priest was woven of one piece (Ant. III, 7:4).
24 Therefore they said to one another, "We should not tear it, but cast lots concerning it, whose it will be;" in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, "They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots." Therefore the soldiers did these things.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. they said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" (DM 110). Since the pronoun following is in the accusative case, pros would denote direction; to, towards. one another: Grk. allēlōn, m. pl., reciprocal pronoun; each other, one another. We should not: Grk. mē, adv., negative particle. See verse 6 above. tear: Grk. schizō, aor. subj., to cause to be in parts through force, to tear or rend. it: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. but: Grk. alla, conj. cast lots: Grk. lagchanō, aor. subj., may mean (1) of the end product of casting of lots; obtain by lot, draw; or (2) of the process of casting lots; having a drawing , determine by lot. The second definition is intended here. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; in behalf of, about, concerning. it: Grk. autos.
whose: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. it will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. See verse 9 above. so that: Grk. hina, conj. See verse 4 above. the Scripture: Grk. graphē, writing, and in the Jewish context and apostolic usage meaning the sacred Hebrew Bible (24 books) referred to by the acronym "Tanakh," corresponding to the Protestant Old Testament (39 books) and its translation into Greek, the Septuagint. The term "Scripture," which occurs over 50 times in the Besekh, summarizes the body of literature containing God's inspired, infallible, inerrant words penned by over 25 writers, from Moses to Malachi. This is the only Bible Yeshua and the apostles knew and as Scripture they upheld its authority over the traditions of men. Having the definite article points to a particular passage of Scripture.
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. John then quotes from Psalm 22:18. Stern notes that ten books of the Besekh quote or allude to various portions of Psalm 22; it is one of the most important Messianic Psalms. They divided: Grk. diamerizō, aor. mid., cause to be in parts; divide, distribute, apportion. my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. garments: Grk. himation, n. pl. See the previous verse. among them: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun. See verse 7 above. and for: Grk. epi, prep. my clothing: Grk. himatismos, clothing or apparel. The term is a collective noun incorporating all of Yeshua's clothing and accessories.
they cast: Grk. ballō, aor., 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 first usage applies here. lots: Grk. klēros may mean (1) an object used in sortition (casting of lots) or the practice of deciding by use of a pebble, stick or other object; lot; or (2) specially assigned portion with focus on divinely conferred benefit; share. The first meaning applies here. The singular noun is used in a collective sense. Casting lots (the technical term is sortition) was a method of decision-making in all cultures of ancient times, particularly in the appointment of political and religious figures. The procedure involved objects of unknown shape and material.
The rules governing the procedure were agreed upon in advance. The objects might be cast on the ground or drawn from a receptacle. The advantage of the procedure is that it protects the decision from the whim of the participants. Because of its apparent randomness it does not discriminate. The practice is mentioned many times in Scripture (Lev 16:8; Josh 18:6, 8, 10; 1Sam 14:42; 1Chr 24:31; 25:8; 26:13-14; Neh 10:34; 11:1; Esth 3:7; 9:24; Job 6:27; Isa 34:17; Obad 1:11; Jon 1:7; Nah 3:10; Acts 1:26). For really important decisions people believed that God (or gods in the case of non-Israelites) influenced the outcome of the lots (cf. Prov 16:33). Thus, casting lots was a way of determining the divine prerogative.
Therefore: Grk. oun. the soldiers: Grk. stratiōtēs, m. pl. See verse 2 above. did: Grk. poieō, aor. See verse 7 above. these things: Grk. houtos, n. pl., demonstrative pronoun. See verse 8 above. Some versions inexplicably place this clause as the beginning of the next verse (ASV, AMP, NASB, NLV, NRSV, RSV, TLB).
25 But standing by the cross of Yeshua were his mother, and his mother's sister, Miriam the wife of Clopas, and Miriam of Magdala.
But: Grk. de, conj. 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 these persons were physically standing, but that they had taken a stand of principle to support Yeshua at some time in the past and they still held to that position. by: Grk. para, prep., with the root meaning of beside (DM 108), conveys association between persons, things, or circumstances, which may denote (1) a point of origin, from; or (2) a close association or proximity, with, beside, in the presence of. The second usage applies here.
the cross: Grk. stauros. See verse 17 above. of Yeshua: See verse 1 above. were his mother: Grk. mētēr (=Heb. ima) refers to a biological female parent, although occasionally in the Besekh the word is used as a metaphor (Rom 16:13). and the sister: Grk. adelphē, fem. of adelphos, lit. "of the same womb;" a female sibling. of his mother: Grk. mētēr. The syntax is not clear whether the sister is left unnamed or she should be identified with the "Miriam" that follows. Morris favors the former since it seems unlikely that sisters would both be named "Miriam." It is also probable that "his mother's sister" should be equated with Salome (Mark 15:40), and that she was the "mother of the sons of Zebedee" and present at the cross (Matt 27:56). The fact that John does not give his mother's name is not so unusual since he never gives his own name or the name of his brother. He does mention his father in 21:2.
John might not have mentioned his that the sister of Yeshua's mother was his own mother because she had once asked Yeshua to give her sons a high place in the kingdom (Matt 20:20-21). We should also note that there is significance in the fact that John lists four women observing the crucifixion in contrast with the four soldiers who carried out the crucifixion. The women were Yeshua's disciples and supporters, whereas the soldiers were his enemies. Miriam: Grk. Maria, fem. name, which is intended to stand for Heb. Miryam ("Miriam" in English). The meaning of the name is not known for certain, although Thayer's lexicon suggests the name means "rebelliousness or obstinacy," a theory favored in Christianity. The first Miriam in Scripture is the sister of Aaron (Ex 15:20) and with such a negative meaning its unlikely that the parents would have given this name to their daughter at birth.
The website BehindtheName.com says that Miriam "was originally an Egyptian name, perhaps derived in part from mry "beloved" or mr "love." There are seven women identified as "Miriam" in the Besekh. The Greek texts of the apostolic narratives present a puzzling use of the name. the Grk. name Maria occurs 27 times and Grk. Mariam also appears 27 times. Maria is used of six of the seven women whereas Mariam is used of three of the seven women. In the book of John Maria occurs 5 times, but Mariam occurs 10 times, mostly in reference to Miriam of Bethany. The use of Grk. Maria in the apostolic writings is inexplicable since it does not appear in any ancient Jewish writings. The Latin Vulgate (405) translated both Mariam and Maria with Mariae.
The use of the English "Mary" in Christian Bibles for these women began with the Tyndale New Testament (1525) and Christians have called these Jewish women by this name ever since. The choice of English translators to use "Mary" by dropping the last letter of the Greek name instead of the Hebrew name "Miriam" can only be to minimize their Jewish identity. the wife: Grk. hē, the feminine form of the definite article ho. Strangely the Greek does not have the word for "wife." The feminine article could even mean "mother" or "daughter." Morris notes that a woman of this age with grown-up sons would more likely be known by reference to her husband rather than her father.
of Clopas: Grk. Klōpas, an Israelite whose name appears only here. Some scholars say that Klōpas transliterates the Aramaic name Chlôpe (Morris 811). Clarke and Gill believe that Clopas should be identified with Cleopas (Grk. Kleopas) whom Yeshua encountered on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:18), but their names are clearly different and there is no evidence to support the suggestion. Morris notes that Kleopas is a contraction of Kleopatros whereas Klōpas is a Semitic name. The church father Hegesippus is quoted by Eusebius as saying that Clopas was the brother of Joseph, Yeshua's stepfather (Church History III, 11:2). Some scholars also identify Clopas with Alphaeus (Matt 10:3), and make Alphaeus the father of Jacob the Less. Thus, the "wife of Clopas" would be the mother of Jacob the Less and Joseph, whom Matthew and Mark identify as being at the cross (Matt 27:56; Mark 15:40). This suggestion is possible, but is by no means certain.
and Miriam: Grk. Maria. of Magdala: Grk. Magdalēnē, a woman of Magdala. This Miriam is consistently distinguished from other women named Miriam by identifying her place of origin. Traditionally, this has been interpreted to mean that she was from Magdala, a town thought to have been on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. The Synoptic Narratives report that Miriam was one whom Yeshua had delivered from seven demons (Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2). The narratives of the apostles emphasize that Miriam of Magdala was a devoted disciple. Unfortunately, Miriam has been the victim of vile defamation by Christians and secular sources for centuries, generally depicting her as a woman of loose morals or a harlot. See my web article Miriam of Magdala in which I set the record straight.
Luke does not identify the women at the cross, but they were probably among the women that followed the procession to Golgotha, weeping and lamenting (Luke 23:27).
26 Then Yeshua, having seen his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!"
Then: Grk. oun, conj. Yeshua having seen: Grk. horaō, aor. part. See verse 6 above. his mother: Grk. mētēr. See the previous verse. and the disciple: Grk. mathētēs (from manthanō, to learn), 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. whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. he loved: Grk. agapaō, impf., to have such an interest in another that one wishes to contribute to the other's well-being, even if it means making a personal sacrifice to do so. In the LXX agapaō translates aheb (SH-157), but aheb is a far more comprehensive word than agapaō. The Hebrew word is comparable to the English verb "love," which may be used with a variety of ways.
This is the second mention of the anonymous "beloved disciple" (first in 13:23), but apparently Yeshua's closest disciple and the eyewitness who wrote this book (cf. 20:2; 21:7, 20). While the name of the "beloved disciple" is never stated, the unanimous opinion of commentators is that it refers to John the apostle. There is no implication that Yeshua did not love the rest of his disciples (see 13:1; 15:9, 12; 17:23). There were others of whom it was said that Yeshua loved: Lazarus (11:3) and Miriam and Martha (11:5). 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. he said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 3 above.
to his mother, "Woman: Grk. gunē, voc. case, is an adult female person, without respect to age, marital or social status except as defined in the context. In the LXX gunē renders the Heb. ishshah, "woman" (first in Gen 2:22). The Greek and Hebrew nouns generally refer to a married woman. This is the second time Yeshua addresses his mother with "Woman" (2:4), but this greeting 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). The direct address of "Woman" is found in other passages, and generally followed by a revelation to the woman (Matt 15:28; Luke 13:12; 22:57; John 4:21; 8:10; 20:13, 15).
behold: Grk. ide, aor. imp. See verse 4 above. your son: Grk. huios. See verse 7 above. This saying is the third of seven "words" Yeshua uttered from the cross. Three of the sayings appear exclusively in Luke's narrative and three appear exclusively in John's narrative. The two sayings that preceded this one are:
● "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).
● "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43).
The first three statements were spoken between the third hour and the sixth hour (9:00 a.m.—noon). The action of Yeshua to delegate the care of his mother is rather striking considering that he had half-siblings who could and should provide such care (cf. 1Tim 5:8). Yeshua appeals to his mother first to regard John, the beloved disciple, as her son, perhaps meaning in his place.
27 Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her into his own house.
Then: Grk. oun, conj. he said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 3 above. to the disciple: Grk. mathētēs. See the previous verse. Behold: Grk. ide, aor. imp. See verse 4 above. your mother: Grk. mētēr. See verse 25 above. And: Grk. kai, conj. from: Grk. apo, prep. with the root meaning of "off, away from" (DM 101), generally used to denote separation, and here has a temporal meaning; from. that: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 15 above. hour: Grk. hōra. See verse 14 above. The noun is used here fig. for a point of time as occasion for action. Morris suggests that the use of "hour" might mean no more than from the time of the crucifixion. the disciple took: Grk. lambanō, aor. See verse 1 above. her: Grk. autē, fem. personal pronoun. into: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 9 above. his own house: Grk. idios, adj., n. pl., belonging to oneself, one's own. Many versions translate the noun as "home."
It could well be that since John was of priestly descent he had a house in Jerusalem as other priests. The narrative seems to imply that John took her away from Golgotha so that she would not see her son die, but likely a mother's love would keep her with her son until the end. The fact of John taking Miriam to his house, meant that he accepted full responsibility for her care and effectively made her a part of his household.
28 After this, Yeshua, knowing that already all things had been accomplished, so that Scripture might be fulfilled, said, "I thirst."
After: Grk. meta, prep. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. Yeshua knowing: Grk. oida, perf. part. See verse 10 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. already: Grk. ēdē, adv., with focus on temporal culmination, now, already. all things: Grk. pas, adj., n. pl. had been accomplished: Grk. teleō, perf. pass., to bring to completion in a manner that leaves nothing undone, to achieve fully, fulfill, accomplish, complete. Yeshua had the presence of mind to understand all was coming to pass as had been prophesied. so that: Grk. hina, conj. Scripture: Grk. graphē. See verse 24 above. might be fulfilled: Grk. teleioō, aor. pass. subj., bring to a point at which nothing is missing, and the focus may be (1) carrying out a task or responsibility; complete; (2) bringing something to a designed conclusion; complete; or (3) bringing to the ultimate point of maturation; complete, to perfect. The second focus is in view here.
John omits the fourth saying, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me" (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). See my note on the Markan passage for the meaning of this saying. Instead John explains the meaning of that statement. Yeshua actually quoted from the first verse of Psalm 22, which graphically depicts the crucifixion. In accordance with Jewish practice the citation of the first verse implies the entire Psalm. Perhaps Yeshua even recited the entire Psalm, but the bystanders could not hear Him. (There is an echo of this idea in Hebrews 5:7-9.) Yeshua's statement does not mean that the Father turned away from the Son as commonly believed, but rather he affirmed that all that was prophesied by David had been fulfilled. Christian interpreters further compound error by assuming the Father forsook the Son because he had become sinful.
The source of this mistaken belief is a misunderstanding of Paul's statement in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that Yeshua "became sin" (as found in most versions). However, the word for "sin" in Hebrew also means "sin offering" and this translation is found in several versions (CJB, MRINT, MSG, NJB, NLT, OJB, TLV). Yeshua as the sinless Lamb of God bore our sins as a sin offering (John 1:29). He did not become sinful (cf. 1Cor 5:7; Heb 7:26; 1Pet 1:19; 1Jn 3:5).
said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 3 above. I thirst: Grk. dipsaō, pres., primarily means to be thirsty in a physical sense, but used occasionally in a fig. sense for a deep spiritual longing. The declaration alludes to Psalm 22:15, "my tongue cleaves to my jaws" and Psalm 69:21, "for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink."
29 A vessel full of vinegar was setting there; so having put a sponge full of the vinegar on a branch of hyssop, they brought it to his mouth.
A vessel: Grk. skeuos, something serviceable in carrying out a function, here of a vessel intended to hold a liquid. Many versions translate the noun with "jar." full of: Grk. mestos, adj. used of objects filled with a physical substance. vinegar: Grk. oxos, vinegar wine mixed with water. A sour wine vinegar is mentioned in the Tanakh as a refreshing drink (Num 6:13; Ruth 2:14) and in Greek and Roman literature as well. It was a common beverage appreciated by laborers and soldiers because it relieved thirst more effectively than water and was inexpensive (Lane 573). was setting there: Grk. keimai, impf. pass., be set in a position; lie, set. so: Grk. oun, conj. having put: Grk. peritithēmi, aor. pass., to put or place around or on.
a sponge: Grk. spongos, a sponge, probably derived from the marine animal. full of: Grk. mestos. the vinegar: Grk. oxos. on a branch of hyssop: Grk. hyssōpos, an herb, specifically the small bush known as hyssop with aromatic leaves. Lightfoot says that the term here is of a hyssop that grew into stalks, like canes or reeds (3:436). This hyssop plant was used in the construction of booths for Sukkot (Sukk. 11b). Stern notes that the branches of a hyssop plant are 12–18 inches long. they brought: Grk. prospherō, aor., to cause movement of something or someone to a person or place, to bring or to present. it: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. to his mouth: Grk. stoma, the organ of the mouth. In response to Yeshua saying "I thirst," some bystanders respond to his need with kindness.
This is actually the second time Yeshua was offered something to drink. Matthew and Mark record that when he arrived at Golgotha he was offered wine mixed with an herb (Matt 27:34; Mark 15:23). Matthew calls additive gall and Mark says it was myrrh. According to an old Jewish tradition, respected women of Jerusalem provided a narcotic drink to those condemned to death in order to decrease the pain (Sanh. 43a), based on the instruction of Proverbs 31:6, "Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to him whose life is bitter." Mark does not identify the ones who performed this act of charity, but they may have been the "daughters of Jerusalem" who accompanied Yeshua to his crucifixion (Luke 23:27-29). Nevertheless, Yeshua declined to drink of the cup of wine.
Commentators generally say that Yeshua refused the wine in order to endure with full consciousness the sufferings appointed for him (cf. Mark 10:38; 14:36). There could have been two other factors that motivated Yeshua's decision. First, he had said of the second cup at his Passover, "I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes" (Luke 22:18). If he drunk of this wine he would have violated his own word, making himself a liar. Second, he was the Lamb that would take away the sins of the world, an atoning sacrifice. Not only was he the Lamb, but he was (and is) also the great high priest. The Torah prohibited priests from drinking fermented wine or strong drink when they offered sacrifices in God’s presence (Lev 10:9; Ezek 44:21). Yeshua was faithful to the end in obeying the Torah.
30 Therefore when Yeshua received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished!" And having bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. when: Grk. hote, adv. Yeshua received: Grk. lambanō, aor. See verse 1 above. the vinegar: Gr. oxos. See the previous verse. he said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. It is finished: Grk. teleō, perf. pass. See verse 28 above. And having bowed: Grk. klinō, aor. part., may mean (1) cause to move from a position that is up to one that is lower; (2) cause to turn away; or (3) decline, of the day. The first meaning applies here. his head: Grk. kephalē, the head as an anatomical term. and gave up: Grk. paradidōmi, aor., lit. "hand over." See verse 11 above. his spirit: Grk. pneuma (for Heb. ruach), wind, breath or spirit as the animating force for bodily movement (Luke 8:55). The spirit of man is that which man has in common with God who is Spirit (Gen 1:2; John 4:24). The use of pneuma here affirms that Yeshua was fully human.
John does not report the seventh saying of Yeshua, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (Luke 23:46). The mention of his head being bowed may allude to the saying, and then the action that followed fulfilled the saying. The description simply means that Yeshua died, but in reality Yeshua handed over his spirit into the care of the Father. This was a purposeful act, because Yeshua had to let himself die. His life was the source of life and healing to many others, so he refused to call on that power resident in himself for healing. He let go of life and, as Moses said, his spirit "flew away" (Ps 90:10).
31 Then the Judean authorities, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a great day), requested Pilate so that their legs might be broken, and they might be taken away.
Then: Grk. oun, conj. the Judean authorities: Grk. Ioudaios, m. pl. See verse 3 above. because: Grk. epei, conj. used in a causal sense; since, inasmuch. because. it was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 9 above. the day of preparation: Grk. paraskeuē. See verse 14 above. so that: Grk. hina, conj. the bodies: Grk. sōma, n. pl., a structured physical unit in contrast to its parts, body of human or animal, whether living or dead, but normally of a human body. might not: Grk. mē, negative particle. remain: Grk. menō, aor. subj., to be in a situation for a length of time, to remain or stay. on: Grk. epi, prep. the cross: Grk. stauros. See verse 17 above. on: Grk. en, prep. the Sabbath: Grk. sabbaton, a transliteration of Heb. shabbath (SH-4521), first in Exodus 16:23. The noun is derived from the verb shabath, "cease, desist, pause, rest," (DNTT 3:405).
Sabbaton occurs 68 times in the Besekh, generally of the seventh day Sabbath. We should remember that all the appointed times on the Hebrew calendar, including the first and last days of week-long festivals, were considered sabbaths (Lev 23), because ordinary work was prohibited on those days. The principal Torah instruction for the Sabbath may be found in the following passages: Gen 2:2-3; Ex 20:8-11; 31:13-16; Lev 19:3; 23:3; Num 15:32; Deut 5:12-15. (See my web article Remember the Sabbath.) In the commandments given at Sinai and Moab the instruction to rest is set in contrast to the work that provides one's livelihood.
According to the Torah (Deut 21:23) the corpse of an executed criminal was not to remain all night "upon the tree," but must be buried so as not to defile the land. So the bodies had to be removed from the crosses before sundown. Josephus attests to this Jewish custom: "the Jews used to take so much care of the burial of men, that they took down those that were condemned and crucified, and buried them before the going down of the sun" (Wars IV, 5:2). The Roman custom was to leave the bodies of crucified criminals on their crosses as a warning to others (Morris). Permission had to be granted before the bodies could be taken down.
for: Grk. gar, conj. that: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun. Sabbath was: Grk. eimi, impf. a great: Grk. megas, adj., exceeding a standard and therefore impressive, i.e., important. day: Grk. hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period, such as a timeframe for accomplishing something or a time of life or activity (BAG). The second and third meanings apply here. Stern observes,
"But what is today called Shabbat HaGadol is the Shabbat immediately preceding Passover week, not the one that falls during its seven days, as is the case here; and I am unaware that the terminology was different in Yeshua’s day. Obviously the Shabbat of Pesach week, when millions of Jews were in Jerusalem on pilgrimage, would be an important one. The modern synagogue ritual for this Shabbat calls for reading Ezekiel 37:1–14, the vision of the Valley of Dry Bones, as the haftarah (the concluding Scripture reading, from the Prophets); the passage links Pesach with Messianic times by speaking of a future redemption for Israel just as Passover itself celebrates a past one."
However, there is a simple explanation for John calling the Sabbath of Passover week a "great day." The Torah prescribed that on the Sabbath after Passover sheaves of the barley harvest were to be waved before the Lord in the temple in thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. This ceremony was called Reishit Qatsiyr ("Beginning or First Fruits of Harvest," Lev 23:9-14). Following the "wave offering," the priests were to present a drink offering of wine and a grain offering consisting of fine flour mixed with oil (Lev 23:12-13). Coincidental with Reishit Qatsiyr was the Counting the Omer (Heb. Sfirat Haomer) or beginning the count of fifty days (Lev 23:15-16) until the Feast of Weeks (Heb. Shavuot or Pentecost; Ex 23:16; 34:22; Num 28:26).
requested: 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 second meaning applies here. Pilate so that: Grk. hina. their legs: Grk. skelos, n. pl., leg, the anatomical limb. might be broken: Grk. katagnumi, aor. pass. subj., to rend in pieces, crack apart, break. Death would be hastened by breaking the legs with a heavy mallet. and they might be taken away: Grk. airō, aor. pass. subj. See verse 15 above. No information is provided on who would have taken care of the bodies of the two thieves crucified with Yeshua.
32 So the soldiers came, and indeed broke the legs of the first and of the other having been crucified with him;
So: Grk. oun, conj. the soldiers: Grk. stratiōtēs, m. pl. See verse 2 above. came: Grk. erchomai, aor. See verse 3 above. and indeed: Grk. mén, a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. Most versions do not translate this particle, but it gives added emphasis to the proposition presented. broke: Grk. katagnumi, aor. See the previous verse. the legs: Grk. skelos, n. pl. of the first: Grk. prōtos, adj., having primary position in sequence; first, earlier, earliest. and of the other: Grk. allos, adj. See verse 18 above. The fact of breaking the legs indicates that the criminals were still alive.
having been crucified with: Grk. sustauroō, aor. part., to be crucified along with others. The verb occurs not at all in the LXX, but the root verb stauroō is used in Esther 7:9 in reference to the hanging of Haman. The verb occurs five times in the Besekh, three in reference to the crucifixion of Yeshua (Matt 27:44; Mark 15:32) and twice by Paul applying the imagery to himself (Rom 6:6; Gal 2:20). him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun.
33 but having come to Yeshua, when they saw he was already dead, they did not break his legs.
but: Grk. de, conj. having come: Grk. erchomai, aor. part. See verse 3 above. to: Grk. epi, prep. Yeshua: See verse 1 above. when: Grk. hōs, adv. See verse 14 above. The adv. has a temporal sense here. they saw: Grk. horaō, aor. See verse 6 above. he was already: Grk. ēdē, adv. See verse 28 above. dead: Grk. thnēskō, perf. pass., to die physically. The perfect tense points back to Yeshua breathing his last in verse 30 above. they did not: Grk. ou, adv. break: Grk. katagnumi, aor. See verse 31 above. his legs: Grk. skelos, n. pl. The non-action of the soldiers regarding Yeshua suggests a certain practical attitude about doing their job. They could have broken his legs out of meanness, but breaking legs had a purpose and it did not apply to Yeshua.
34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.
But: Grk. alla, conj. one: Grk. heis, adj., the cardinal number one. of the soldiers: Grk. stratiōtēs, m. pl. See verse 2 above. pierced: Grk. nussō, aor., pierce, of breaking through skin with a sharp point; prick, stab, pierce. his side: Grk. pleura, the side of a person's body. with a spear: Grk. logchē, a shaft with a sharp metal point or the point of the shaft. and immediately: Grk. eutheōs, adv. (derived from euthus, 'immediately'), immediately, forthwith, or right away. The adverb is a dramatic device that energizes the narrative. blood: Grk. haima, the fluid that circulates in the principal vascular system of human beings and other vertebrates. In the LXX haima renders the Heb. dam, the blood of man or animal, which essentially represents life (Gen 9:14; Lev 17:14). and water: Grk. hudōr, the physical element of water. came out: Grk. exerchomai, aor. See verse 4 above.
The flow of "blood and water" has been variously explained by commentators. Tenney notes that ordinarily dead bodies do not bleed because there is no action of the heart to produce arterial pressure. One suggestion is that since the body was erect, the flow was due to gravity and that the crassamentum (the heavy, red corpuscles) and the serum (the yellowish white aqueous part) of the blood had already begun to separate. Another is that either the stomach or the lungs contained water that flowed with the blood. Stern says that according to medical opinion, the "blood and water" are signs that the final cause of death was massive heart failure. The narrative thus affirms that Yeshua was a flesh-and-blood human being (cf. 1Jn 4:2).
Witnessing the flowing blood and water must have had a deep impact on John. In his first letter he makes a pronouncement that seems an interpretation, "Messiah Yeshua is the One who came by water and blood—not by water only, but by water and blood" (1Jn 5:6 TLV). However, in that verse he reversed the elements, probably intending an allusion to the birth and death of Yeshua. Christian theologians have found significant meaning in the mention of blood and water. Some church fathers made the blood an emblem of the Eucharist, and the water an emblem of baptism. Protestants have thought them the emblems of justification, which is through the blood of the Lamb, and sanctification, which is through the washing of regeneration. However, John makes no such theological interpretation.
There is a Jewish perspective worthy of consideration. Lightfoot notes that according to Paul the ratification of the Old Covenant was by blood and water (3:440):
"For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Torah, he took the blood of the calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and he sprinkled both the book itself and all the people." (Heb 9:19 TLV; cf. Ex 24:3-8)
Then Lightfoot suggests there is a connection with the rock in the wilderness, which Moses struck twice, and which, according to the Jewish midrash, Shemoth Rabba, fol. 122, "poured out blood at the first stroke, and water at the second." Now Paul says plainly, "that rock was Messiah" (1Cor 10:4).
35 And the one having seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is speaking truth, so that you also may believe.
And: Grk. kai, conj. the one: Grk. ho, definite article but functioning here as a demonstrative pronoun. having seen: Grk. horaō, perf. part. See verse 6 above. has testified: Grk. martureō, perf., 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. and his testimony: Grk. marturia, attestation of a fact or truth; testimony, witness, especially in a legal context. Christians typically refer to the apostolic narratives as "Gospels," but John identifies his written work as a testimony, which alludes to evidence given at a trial. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 9 above. true: Grk. alēthinos, adj., in accord with what is true; (1) true, in the sense of reliable or dependable; (2) opposite of superficial, real, genuine, authentic; or (3) in accord with fact or circumstance, accurate. All three meanings can apply here.
and he: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun, lit. "that one." See verse 15 above. knows: Grk. oida, pres. See verse 10 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. he is speaking: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 3 above. truth: Grk. alēthēs, unconcealed, and so 'true.' The adjective could be translated as real, genuine, trustworthy, straightforward or honest. There is a saying in the Talmud that "the seal of the Holy One, Blessed Be He, is truth" (Yoma 69b). so that: Grk. hina, conj. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. John uses the pronoun to address his audience. also: Grk. kai. may believe: Grk. pisteuō, aor. subj., in general Greek usage means to have confidence or faith in the reliability or trustworthiness of some thing or someone. In the LXX pisteuō renders Heb. aman, to confirm or support, first used in Gen 15:6 where it describes Abraham's response to God.
The Hebrew verb also means to be true, reliable or faithful, and to stand firm or trust (BDB 52). The translation of "believe" in almost all versions can be misleading to the reader. In the Hebrew culture the verb does not convey a cognitive agreement with a philosophical proposition or a formal creed. The verb describes action of the person, and "trust" stresses both attitude and behavior. If one is truly convinced (Heb 11:6), then one trusts; if one believes and trusts, then one is faithful and produces works of faithfulness (cf. Matt 7:21; Acts 21:20; Jas 2:18-19; 1Jn 3:23-24).
John's redundancy in asserting the reliability of his report is purposeful. Clarke says that John wishes to call the attention of the Jews to this point, in order to show them that this Yeshua was the true Messiah, who was typified by the rock in the wilderness. The death of Yeshua is an essential element in the good news of salvation and John allows no doubt on that point.
36 For these things happened so that the Scripture might be fulfilled, "Not a bone of him will be broken."
For: Grk. gar, conj. these things: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, n. pl. happened: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid., to transfer from one state or condition to another, which may be expressed in one of three ways: (1) come into being birth or natural process; be born or produced; (2) exist through application of will or effort by a person; be made, be performed; or (3) undergo a state of existence, change or development; come to be, become, take place, happen, occur, arise, be, appear, come, arrive. The third meaning applies here. so that: Grk. hina, conj. the Scripture: Grk. graphē. See verse 24 above. might be fulfilled: Grk. plēroō, aor. pass. subj. See verse 24 above. Not: Grk. ou, adv. a bone: Grk. osteon, bone, as of the skeletal structure. of him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. will be broken: Grk. suntribō, fut. pass., to alter the condition of something through force, to break.
John sees in the actions of the soldiers yet another fulfillment of Messianic prophecy, although the quotation is not found anywhere in the Tanakh. Rather he makes a midrashic interpretation. There are two passages that could serve as a basis for the fulfillment. First, God's instructions for Passover prohibited breaking the bones of the lamb (Ex 12:46; Num 9:12). Second, the divine protection of a righteous man guarantees that God "protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken" (Ps 34:20 NIV). The Passover passage seems most fitting to John's point. Yochanan the Immerser had declared Yeshua to be "the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (1:29, 36), and Paul refers to Yeshua as "our Passover who has been sacrificed" (1C 5:7). This linkage with the Passover lamb could not be to the lamb killed for the Seder on Thursday for the evening meal, but the original Passover lamb in the Exodus story that delivered from death.
37 And again another Scripture says, "They will look on the one they pierced."
And: Grk. kai, conj. again: Grk. palin, adv. See verse 4 above. another: Grk. heteros, a distributive pronoun that may (1) distinguish one item from another in a numerical sense, other, another; or (2) express dissimilarity of one item relative to another, whether generically or qualitatively; other, another or different. The first meaning applies here. Scripture: Grk. graphē. See verse 24 above. says: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 9 above. John then quotes from Zechariah 12:10. They will look: Grk. horaō, fut. mid., 3p-pl. See verse 14 above. on: Grk. eis, prep. the one: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. they pierced: Grk. ekkenteō, aor., pierce through. The verb occurs only twice in the Besekh (also Rev 1:7).
In quoting Zechariah, John follows the Hebrew (daqar) rather than the LXX, which softens "pierced" into "mocked." Daqar means "to pierce" or "to thrust through with a spear, lance or sword" (cf. Num 25:7f; Jdg 9:54; 1Sam 31:4; Jer 51:4) and points to the climax of the crucifixion (Baron 448). John takes an eschatological prophecy, announcing the end-time salvation of national Israel, and gives it a contemporary fulfillment.
"I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn." (Zech 12:10 NASB)
In the context the one identified as "me" and who is pierced and mourned over is YHVH, which John identifies as Yeshua. Thus, again Yeshua is equated with YHVH (cf. John 8:58). Stern notes that in the Zechariah passage the plural subject of "they have pierced" refers to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Some non-Messianic Jewish translations into English go back to Zechariah 12:9, where the Hebrew word "goyim" is used, and explicitly substitute "the nations" for the focus of verse 10. In Stern's view this is an instance of a translation designed to mitigate the Messianic Jewish and Christian recognition of this text as a prophecy of Yeshua. However, in the text the subject clearly refers to Judeans. Moreover, at least one Talmudic source regards this passage of Zechariah as being Messianic in application (Sukkah 52a).
In the immediate situation it is the Roman soldiers looking on, and they, representative of Pilate, are responsible. Yet, Caiaphas, having the greater sin (verse 11 above), as well as the Temple ruling authorities, are also responsible for Yeshua being pierced. John does not extend the phrase "they have pierced" beyond the contemporary situation to include all Jews and Gentiles as theologians have done. In fact, the record of Acts keeps the blame squarely on Caiaphas and his collaborators (Acts 2:23, 36; 3:13; 4:10; 7:52).
Parallel Passages: Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56
38 Now after these things Joseph from Arimathea, being a disciple of Yeshua, but a secret one because of fear of the Judean authorities, requested Pilate so that he might take away the body of Yeshua; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away his body.
Now: Grk. de, conj. after: Grk. meta, prep. these things: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, n. pl. Joseph: Grk. Iōsēph, a transliteration of Heb. Yosef, which is explained in Genesis 30:24 and means "he adds, increases." The first Joseph in the Bible was the son of Jacob the patriarch. In the apostolic narratives there are five men named Joseph. from: Grk. apo, prep. The preposition stresses origin, not current residence. Arimathea: Grk. Harimathaia, a place name. The location of Arimathea is not known with certainty. In Luke 23:51, Arimathea is described as a Judean city. Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin and Luke describes him as a good and righteous man looking for the Kingdom of God (Luke 23:50). being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. See verse 9 above. a disciple: Grk. mathētēs. See verse 26 above. of Yeshua: See verse 1 above. Matthew concurs that Joseph was a disciple and that he was rich (Matt 27:57).
but: Grk. de, conj. a secret one: Grk. kruptō, perf. mid. part., to keep from view, to conceal or hide. because of: Grk. dia, prep. fear: Grk. phobos may mean (1) the feeling of need to escape from or avoid a threat; fear; (2) feeling of respect; reverence, awe; or (3) the process of causing in someone a feeling of need to escape from a situation; intimidation. The first meaning applies here. of the Judean authorities: Grk. Ioudaios, m. pl. See verse 3 above. Joseph feared the edict of the Temple authorities that would ban anyone who confessed Yeshua from sacred assemblies (John 9:22). requested: Grk. erōtaō, aor. See verse 31 above. Pilate: See verse 1 above. so that: Grk. hina, conj. he might take away: Grk. airō, aor. subj. See verse 15 above. the body: Grk. sōma. See verse 31 above. of Yeshua.
and Pilate granted permission: Grk. epitrepō, aor., grant opportunity for an activity; permit, allow. Here is another example of Pilate showing deference to Jewish sensibilities. So: Grk. oun, conj. he came: Grk. erchomai, aor. See verse 3 above. and took away: Grk. airō, aor. his body: Grk. sōma, i.e., his corpse. John offers no details of just how the body, affixed with nails, was removed from the cross. It could be that the permission of Pilate extended to assistance provided by the soldiers. Joseph probably would have brought a mat or blanket to carry the body. In the past Joseph was a secret disciple but taking care of Yeshua's body brought his discipleship into public view.
39 Now Nicodemus, the one having come to him by night at the first, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred litras.
Now: Grk. de, conj. Nicodemus: Grk. Nikodēmos, a transliteration of the Heb. Naqdimon ("innocent of blood"). Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin. For more background information on Nicodemus see my note on John 3:1. the one: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having come: Grk. erchomai, aor. part. See verse 3 above. to: Grk. pros, prep. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. by night: Grk. nux, night as a chronological period, sunset to sunrise. at the first: Grk. prōtos, adj., with the definite article. See verse 32 above. The time reference alludes to the beginning of Yeshua's ministry. The visit of Nicodemus is recorded in John 3:1-9.
also: Grk. kai, conj. came: Grk. erchomai, aor. The Synoptic Narratives do not mention the role of Nicodemus in the burial of Yeshua. bringing: Grk. pherō, pres. part., 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 first meaning applies here. a mixture: Grk. migma, that which has been produced by mixing; a mixture. of myrrh: Grk. smurna, an aromatic gum resin having many uses in the Ancient Near East. Myrrh was traded along with spices (Gen 37:25), used as an ingredient in anointing oil (Ex 30:23), applied as perfume (Esth 2:12), placed in clothes to deodorize them (Ps 45:8), and used to anoint bodies for burial (as here) (HBD).
and aloes: Grk. aloē, an aromatic substance apparently derived from what is known as 'eaglewood.' Although singular the noun is usually rendered as plural. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. about: Grk. hōs, adv. See verse 14 above. a hundred: Grk. hekaton, the cardinal number one hundred. litras: Grk. litra, a Roman pound of about 12 ounces. A hundred litras would equal about 75 pounds (U.S. weight). The use of the mixture of myrrh and aloes is explained in the next verse. Morris says the amount of spice is not actually excessive. Large quantities were used in royal burials (cf. 2Chr 16:14).
40 So they took the body of Yeshua and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is a custom among the Jews to prepare for burial.
So: Grk. oun, conj. they took: Grk. lambanō, aor. See verse 1 above. the body: Grk. sōma. See verse 31 above. of Yeshua: absent his spirit. and bound: Grk. deō, aor., to tie or bind for physical restraint. it: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. in linen cloths: Grk. othonion, n. pl., linen cloth. The noun occurs five times in the apostolic narratives in reference to linen wrappings for a corpse. The description of the bindings reflects the practice that after death the body was washed, its eyes were closed and its mouth and other orifices were bound shut (Matthews 239). with: Grk. meta, prep. the spices: Grk. arōma, n. pl., any kind of fragrant herb, salve, oil or spice, especially used in treating the dead for burial. The purpose of the spices was to retard rapid deterioration of the body in a hot climate as well as to act as a deodorant. Dealers in ointments are repeatedly mentioned in rabbinic literature (Jeremias 9).
as: Grk. kathōs, adv. emphasizing similarity, conformity, proportion or manner; as, just as. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 9 above. a custom: Grk. ethos, a way of doing things marked by recurring procedure, custom or practice. among the Jews: Grk. Ioudaios, m. pl. See verse 3 above. Some versions treat the noun as an adjective with "Jewish" (CEB, CEV, GW, MW, NIV, NLT, TEV, TLV) or "Judean" (CJB). to prepare for burial: Grk. entaphiazō, pres. inf., prepare for burial. The verb occurs only twice in the Besekh (also Matt 26:12). Lexicons and commentators say that the spices mentioned were used in embalming, but in modern culture the term "embalm" refers to a surgical process in which bodily fluids are removed and replaced with a chemical solution.
The exact origin of embalming is not known with certainty. The practice existed in antiquity and identified with cultures widely dispersed from one another. Perhaps the greatest skill in embalming was that of ancient Egypt, which developed the process of mummification. Embalming is mentioned twice in Scripture in connection with Jacob and his son Joseph in Egypt. Jacob did not request that his body be embalmed, because he directed that his bones be taken back to Canaan for burial (Gen 50:25). Nevertheless, Joseph had Jacob's body embalmed in accordance with Egyptian custom and later Joseph was also embalmed (Gen 50:2, 26), probably on order of his Egyptian wife. With the release of Israel from Egyptian bondage the Hebrews did not take the science of embalming with them.
41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.
Now: Grk. de, conj. in: Grk. en, prep. the place: Grk. topos. See verse 13 above. where: Grk. hopou, adv. See verse 18 above. he was crucified: Grk. stauroō, aor. pass. See verse 6 above. there was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 9 above. 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. John uses the term in reference to Gethsemane (18:1).
and in: Grk. en. the garden: Grk. kēpos. a new: Grk. kainos, new, has three applications in the Besekh: (1) of recent origin or unused; (2) different and superior in quality relative to something old with no criticism of the old; or (3) different in reaction generated for something not previously present. The first meaning applies here. tomb: Grk. mnēmeion, a place for depositing remains of a deceased person held in memory, burial place, grave or tomb. BAG adds that the word can also mean memorial or monument. It stresses the remembrance of the dead, which is why we still use grave markers. Decent burial was regarded to be of great importance in ancient Israel.
In Bible times corpses were typically placed in natural caves (Gen 23:19; 49:30-31), other above-ground tombs cut into soft rock (Jdg 8:32; Matt 27:60; Acts 2:29), or in the ground (Gen 35:8, 19; 2Kgs 23:6; Jer 26:23; Matt 27:5-10). The burial places would be outside but near the town where the person lived. The rock tombs sometimes contained chambers or a single room with shelves cut into the walls on three sides of the chamber (cf. Luke 23:53), the entrance being closed by a large flat stone rolled or pushed into position. As generations of the same family used the tomb, skeletons and grave goods might be heaped up along the sides or put into a side chamber to make room for new burials.
in: Grk. en. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. no 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. had yet: Grk. oudepō, neg. adv. excluding any action up to the narrative moment; not yet. been: Grk. eimi, impf. laid: Grk. tithēmi, perf. pass. See verse 19 above. Luke also mentions the lack of prior use of the tomb (Luke 23:53). Matthew clarifies ownership by saying the tomb belonged to Joseph of Arimathea (Matt 27:60).
Stern notes that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in the Old City of Jerusalem, has been venerated as Yeshua's burial location at least since the early fourth century, when it was found by Helen, the mother of Roman Emperor Constantine, in A.D. 326 as she investigated local traditions. It was outside the "first" and "second" walls surrounding Jerusalem in Yeshua's day, but inside the "third" wall; it is inside the present-day wall built by sultan Suleiman I "the Great," who ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1520 to 1566. Some identify Yeshua's burial location with a spot outside today's walls called the Garden Tomb. It was not advocated as a possible site until the nineteenth century, by the British Colonel Gordon; few archeologists are convinced. The place has been made into a garden and is open to tourists; it does have a tomb, perhaps from the first century and probably much like the one in which Yeshua was buried, which one can enter and see.
42 Therefore, because of the day of preparation of the Jews, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Yeshua there.
John notes two factors that determined the burial of Yeshua. Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. because of: Grk. dia, prep. the day of preparation: Grk. paraskeuē; i.e. "Friday." See verse 14 above. of the Jews: Grk. Ioudaios, m. pl. See verse 3 above. The Synoptic Narratives indicate that Yeshua died sometime in the 9th hour (i.e., 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm). Joseph and Nicodemus thus had two or possibly three hours to obtain burial permission from Pilate, obtain the corpse, prepare the corpse and complete the burial before sundown. since: Grk. hoti, conj. the tomb: Grk. mnēmeion. See the previous verse. was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 9 above. nearby: Grk. engus. See verse 20 above. they laid: Grk. tithēmi, aor. See verse 19 above. Yeshua there: Grk. ekei, adv., in that place. The convenience of Joseph's tomb can only have been providential.
Coincidental with burial of Yeshua representatives of the Sanhedrin went into fields nearby to harvest barley to be used in an important ceremony called Reishit Qatsiyr ("Beginning or First Fruits of Harvest," Lev 23:9-14) on the next day. Preparation actually began on the day before the festival began when messengers of the Sanhedrin would go to a local field and tie the unreaped corn in bunches to make it the easier to reap. On the evening of Nisan 15 nearing sunset nearby residents would come to watch the harvest, which itself was accomplished with much ceremony. The actual cutting was done when night fell and the produce brought to the temple where it was threshed, parched, spread on the courtyard floor to be dried by the wind, milled, and sifted. The procedures for the harvest and preparation for the grain offering are detailed in the tractate Menachoth 6:1-4.
Saturday, Nisan 16, A.D. 30; 8 April (Julian)
Yeshua had promised the thief on the cross, "Today you will be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43; cf. Acts 2:27, 31; Col 2:15). "Today" was Friday. Scripture offers no other definitive information on the location of Yeshua's spirit between his death and resurrection. However, the Apostles Creed reads that after dying Yeshua descended into "hell," although "Hades" is used in contemporary versions of the Creed as much more accurate in reference to the place of the dead. "Hell" should be identified with the lake of fire in Revelation since it is the final destination of the unrepentant. Both Paul (Eph 4:9) and Peter (1Pet 3:19) are generally cited to support this Creedal statement. Yet, Scripture does not say anywhere that Yeshua descended into Hell, much less Hades, which is also a place of torment and punishment (cf. Luke 10:15; 16:23; 2Pet 2:4).
Regarding Paul's statement that Yeshua descended into the "lower parts of the earth" (Eph 4:9), there is another explanation. Paul is trying to show that the passage he has just before quoted, Psalm 67:19 (in verse 7), must be understood of Yeshua, not of God, because 'an ascent into heaven' necessarily presupposes a descent to earth (which was made by Yeshua in the incarnation), whereas God does not leave His abode in heaven. Accordingly, the Greek phrase "lower parts of the earth" denotes the lower parts of the universe, which the earth constitutes (Thayer). Stern concurs saying, "The Messiah was a pre-existent being, the Word, co-equal with God, who, for the sake of mankind, came to earth as a man (John 1:1, 14; Php 2: 5–8) (590).
To understand Peter's statement we need to consider the whole context.
"For the Messiah himself died for sins, once and for all, a righteous person on behalf of unrighteous people, so that he might bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh but brought to life by the Spirit; and in this form he went and made a proclamation to the imprisoned spirits, to those who were disobedient long ago, in the days of Noach, when God waited patiently during the building of the ark, in which a few people - to be specific, eight - were delivered by means of water." (1Pet 3:18-20 CJB)
As Gill points out in his commentary on this passage the plain sense is that Yeshua, by his Spirit, went in the ministry of Noah and proclaimed both by words and righteous deeds, by the personal ministry of Noah, and by the building of the ark, to that generation; and who being disobedient, and continuing so, a flood was brought upon them which destroyed them all; and whose spirits were then in the prison of Hades. So Yeshua neither went into this prison, nor proclaimed to the spirits then in it, but to persons alive in the days of Noah. From this statement we learn that Yeshua existed in his divine nature before he was incarnate and before Abraham in the days of Noah.
Stern offers an alternative interpretation (754), taking the "imprisoned spirits" as the angels who fell in the beginning (Job 4:18; 2Pet 2:4; Jude 1:6). Yeshua's proclamation to angels, then, was not a salvation message, for these angels God has "kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for the Judgment of the Great Day" (Jude 1:6). Rather, the proclamation must have been Yeshua's announcement of his victory as Paul said, "Stripping the [evil angelic] rulers and authorities [that is, the ones still at large] of their power, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by means of the stake" (Col 2:15 CJB).
In any event, the Creedal statement gives the impression that Yeshua remained in Hades until his resurrection, a contradiction of Scripture which says that Yeshua was not "abandoned to Hades" nor his flesh allowed to decay (Acts 2:27, 31).
Matthew informs us that sometime on the Sabbath, probably very early in the morning, the chief priests appealed to Pilate to ensure the security of the tomb.
"Now on the next day [Saturday], the day after the preparation [Friday], the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, 63 and said, "Sir, we remember that when he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I am to rise again.' 64 "Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead,' and the last deception will be worse than the first." (Matt 27:62-64 NASB)
Pilate had little regard for the concern of the chief priests. Pilate answered, "you have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how" (Matt 27:65). It is generally assumed that Pilate referred to a standing guard of Roman soldiers at the temple and that Pilate told them to make use of this group of soldiers. However, Pilate does not say "take the Roman guard I've posted at the Temple." Matthew's burial narrative is the only place where the term "guard" (Grk. koustōdia) appears in the Besekh and does not necessarily indicate Roman soldiers. Pilate was not going to take any further responsibility for Yeshua. The declaration "you have a guard," not the mistranslation of "take a guard" in some versions (MOUNCE, NCV, NET, NIRV, NIV, NLV, NLT, TEV), clearly refers to the Temple police. These guards came from the Levites, not the Romans. The chief priests posted their guard and also set a seal in place that would testify to any observer whether there had been any tampering with the door of the tomb.
The apostles say nothing of the whereabouts or activities of the Eleven on the Sabbath following Yeshua's crucifixion. After Yeshua's arrest the disciples had secluded themselves behind locked doors for fear of the Judean authorities (John 20:19) and fasted (Mark 2:20) while the festival of Passover continued in the city. The apostles no doubt observed the day of rest (cf. Luke 23:56), yet filled with grief. Perhaps they used the upper room where they had met for the Passover Seder. Even though Yeshua had protected them from arrest, his death left them uncertain about their future. In contrast Yeshua rested in heaven, having made atonement for sin (cf. Heb. 1:3; 4:10; 10:12).
In the temple this was a momentous day. The priests went about their daily duties of offering morning and evening sacrifices, including a lamb burnt offering, drink offering and grain offering as required by Torah (Ex 29:38-42). The high priest also burned incense in the holy place every morning and evening and insured that the lamps were trimmed and kept burning (Ex 30:7-8). This day was also the occasion for a significant ritual symbolic of Yeshua's ministry.
The Torah prescribed that on the Sabbath after Passover sheaves of the barley harvest were to be waved before the Lord in the temple in thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. This ceremony was called Reishit Qatsiyr ("Beginning or First Fruits of Harvest," Lev 23:9-14). Following the "wave offering," the priests were to present a drink offering of wine and a grain offering consisting of fine flour mixed with oil (Lev 23:12-13). So, Yeshua's emphasis on the bread and cup at his last Seder pointed to this ceremony.
The Pharisees and Sadducees differed over the scheduling of this ritual. The Sadducees held that the expression 'the morrow after the Sabbath' (Lev 23:11), must be taken in its literal sense, the day following the first Saturday in the festival of unleavened bread. The Pharisees, on the other hand, taught that the offering, apart from the day on which the Sabbath falls, had always to be brought on the second day of the feast (Nisan 16), since the first day of the feast was regarded as a Sabbath in the religious sense (Lev 23:7). Accordingly the 'omer was to be offered on the second day of the Festival [Nisan 16], and the reaping of the barley on the night preceding, at the conclusion of the first day of the Festival. (fn1, Menachot 6:3).
Coincidental with Reishit Qatsiyr was the Counting the Omer (Heb. Sfirat Haomer) or beginning the count of fifty days (Lev 23:15-16) until the Feast of Weeks (Heb. Shavuot or Pentecost; Ex 23:16; 34:22; Num 28:26). The determination of the date for these ceremonies impacted the scheduling of Shavuot (Pentecost), which occurs seven weeks and 50 days after Passover (Lev 23:15-16). The Reishit Qatsiyr ritual was also called Sfirat Haomer (Counting the Omer) because it began the practice of counting the days until Shavuot. The Pharisees could appeal to the actions of the Israelites in the time of Joshua after they defeated Jericho. Following their victory they observed the Passover.
"While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho. 11 On the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain." (Josh 5:10-11 NASB)
In other words, the Israelites ate the Passover meal at its proper time during the evening of Nisan 14, which actually began Nisan 15, and then on Nisan 16 the first Reishit Qatsiyr was held to fulfill the instruction of Leviticus 23:10. The Pharisaic calculation of the date of Shavuot seems to be supported by the LXX of Leviticus 23:11. The LXX reads of the waving of the sheaf "And he shall offer the sheaf before the Lord accepted for you. On the next day of the first the priest shall offer it" (ABP). The complete calendar, especially the feast of Shavuot, was determined according to Pharisaic reckoning (Jeremias 264). Both Philo (The Special Laws II, XXIX, 162, 176; The Decalogue XXX, 160) and Josephus (Ant. III, 10:5-6; XVIII, 1:3), testify to the preference of the Pharisaic method of fixing the date of Shavuot.
In any event the Sadducee and Pharisee methods of determining the date for Reishit Qatsiyr in this year converged on the same day. Just as Pesach symbolized the death of Yeshua whose sacrifice assured deliverance from eternal death and cleansing from sin, the Feast of First Fruits of Harvest symbolized and anticipated the resurrection of Yeshua, the "first fruits" of those who believe (1Cor. 15:20-23).
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.
Baron: David Baron, Zechariah: A Commentary on His Vision and Prophecies. Kregel Publications, 1918.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981. Online.
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]
Gill: John Gill (1697–1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
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)
Jeremias: Joichim Jeremias (1900-1979), Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Fortress Press, 1975.
Lane: William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1974. [New International Commentary on the New Testament]
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.
Matthews: Victor H. Matthews, Manners and Customs in the Bible. Rev. ed. Hendrickson Publishers, 1991.
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]
Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek–English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker (1897-1965), A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, 2 Vols. Zondervan Pub. House, 1976, 1980.
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.
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.
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