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The Fourfold Gospel

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Chapter 19
 
 
 
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18:1  When Jesus had spoken these words1, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Kidron, where was a garden, into which he entered, himself and his disciples.

    GOING TO GETHSEMANE, AND AGONY THEREIN. (A garden between the brook Kidron and the Mount of Olives. Late Thursday night.) Matthew 26:30,36-46; Mark 14:26,32-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1

  1. When Jesus had spoken these words. The words contained in John chapters 14-17.

18:2  Now Judas also, who betrayed him, knew the place1: for Jesus oft-times resorted thither with his disciples.

    JESUS BETRAYED, ARRESTED, AND FORSAKEN. (Gethsemane. Friday, several hours before dawn.) Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-11

  1. Now Judas also, who betrayed him, knew the place. See Luke 21:37; Luke 22:39.

18:3  Judas then, having received the band [of soldiers], and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees1, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons2.

  1. Judas then, having received the band [of soldiers], and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees. See Mark 14:43.

  2. Cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. They were well supplied with lights, for while the Passover is always held when the moon is full, the moon at this time of night would be near setting, and the valley of the Kidron, in which Gethsemane lay, would be darkened by the shadow of the adjoining mountain.

18:4  Jesus therefore, knowing all the things that were coming upon him1, went forth, and saith unto them, Whom seek ye2?

  1. Jesus therefore, knowing all the things that were coming upon him,
  2. went forth. John mentions the foreknowledge of Jesus to remind us that he could have avoided the arrest had he chosen to do so. Even the foreknowledge of Elisha was difficult to deal with (2 Kings 6:8-12).

  3. And saith unto them, Whom seek ye? Jesus asked this question: (1) to openly and manfully declare his identity; (2) to make the Jewish rulers fully conscious that they were arresting him, an innocent man; (3) to confine the arrest to himself and thus deliver his disciples.

18:6  When therefore he said unto them, I am [he], they went backward, and fell to the ground1.

  1. They went backward, and fell to the ground. The older commentators regard the falling to the ground as a miracle, but modern scholars look upon it as a result of sudden fear. Jesus merely manifested his dignity and majesty, and the prostration followed as a natural result.

18:9  that the word might be fulfilled which he spake, Of those whom thou hast given me I lost not one1.

  1. That the word might be fulfilled which he spake, Of those whom thou hast given me I lost not one. See John 17:12.

18:10  Simon Peter therefore having a sword drew it, and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear1. Now the servant's name was Malchus2.

  1. Simon Peter therefore having a sword drew it, and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. See Mark 14:47.

  2. Now the servant's name was Malchus. John knew the household of the high priest (John 18:16). He knew Malchus by name, and he also knew his kindred (John 18:26).

18:11  Jesus therefore said unto Peter, Put up the sword into the sheath: the cup which the Father hath given me, shall I not drink it1?

  1. The cup which the Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? By using the word "cup" John gives us an echo of the agony in Gethsemane, which suggests that he expects his readers to be conversant with the other Gospels. See Matthew 26:39; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42. The other Evangelists, having shown that Jesus was fully resolved to drink the cup, do not regard it necessary to repeat these words.

18:12  So the band and the chief captain, and the officers of the Jews, seized Jesus and bound him,

    FIRST STAGE OF JEWISH TRIAL. EXAMINATION BY ANNAS. (Friday before dawn.) John 18:12-14,19-23

18:13  and led him to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas1, who was high priest that year.

  1. And led him to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas,
  2. who was high priest that year. For confusion in the priesthood, see Luke 3:2 and see John 11:49.

18:14  Now Caiaphas was he that gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people1.

  1. Now Caiaphas was he that gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people. See John 11:49. John restates this fact to remind the reader that Jesus was about to be tried by those who had prejudged him and decided upon his death.

18:15  And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and [so did] another disciple2. Now that disciple was known unto the high priest3, and entered in with Jesus into the court of the high priest;

    PETER THRICE DENIES THE LORD. (Court of the high priest's residence. Friday before and about dawn.) Matthew 26:58,69-75; Mark 14:54,66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:15-18,25-27

  1. Now Simon Peter followed Jesus. See Mark 14:54.

  2. And [so did] another disciple. Evidently the apostle John, who thus speaks of himself impersonally.

  3. Now that disciple was known unto the high priest. John's acquaintanceship appears to have been with the household as well as with the high priest personally, for we find that it is used as a permit at the doorway. It is likely that the high priest knew John rather in a business way (Acts 4:13).

18:16  but Peter was standing at the door without. So the other disciple, who was known unto the high priest, went out and spake unto her that kept the door1, and brought in Peter2.

  1. And spake unto her that kept the door. It is still customary to have female porters at the houses of the great and rich. See Acts 12:13.

  2. And brought in Peter. John would have shown a truer kindness to Peter had he let him stay out.

18:17  The maid therefore that kept the door saith unto Peter, Art thou also [one] of this man's disciples? He saith, I am not2.

  1. Art not thou also [one] of this man's disciples? The doorkeeper evidently recognized John as a disciple, and was therefore suspicious of Peter.

  2. He saith, I am not. The cowardly "I am not" of Peter is a sad contrast to the strong "I am" of Jesus (John 18:8).

18:18  Now the servants and the officers were standing [there], having made a fire of coals; for it was cold; and they were warming themselves: and Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself1.

  1. And Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself. See Mark 14:54.

18:19  The high priest1 therefore asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his teaching2.

  1. The high priest. We should note that John calls Annas high priest. The high priesthood was a life office. According to Moses, Annas was high priest, but the Romans had given the office to Caiaphas, so that Annas was high priest de jure, but Caiaphas was so de facto. As high priest, therefore, and as head of the Sadducean party, the people looked to Annas before Caiaphas, taking Jesus to him first. The influence of Annas is shown by the fact that he made five of his sons and sons-in-law high priests. Annas is said to have been about sixty years old at this time.

  2. Therefore asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his teaching. Annas questioned Jesus for the purpose of obtaining, if possible, some material out of which to frame an actual accusation.

18:20  Jesus answered him, I have spoken openly to the world; I ever taught in synagogues1, and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and in secret spake I nothing2.

  1. I ever taught in synagogues. See Mark 1:39.

  2. And in secret spake I nothing. Jesus indeed spoke some things privately (Matthew 13:10,11), but he did not do so for the purposes of concealment (Matthew 10:27). Jesus was the light of the world; addressing his teachings to all flesh, he chose the most public places to utter them--places, however, dedicated to the worship of the true God.

18:21  Why askest thou me1? Ask them that have heard [me], what I spake unto them2: behold, these know the things which I said3.

  1. Why askest thou me? He who had said that heaven and earth would pass away, but that his word would not pass away (Luke 21:33), did not suffer his teaching to be held in contempt; he did not permit it to be made matter for cross examination.

  2. Ask them that have heard [me], what I spake unto them. On the contrary, it was to be taken cognizance of among the things universally known and understood.

  3. Behold, these know the things which I said. The very officers who had arrested him could tell about it (John 7:45,46).

18:23  Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil1: but if well, why smitest thou me2?

  1. If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil. Jesus was then under arrest, and as the trial had not yet opened there was ample time to add new matter to the charges against him. If, in addressing the high priest, he had just spoken words worthy of punishment, the officer who struck him should, instead, have preferred charges against him in a legal manner.

  2. But if well, why smitest thou me? If the officer could not do this (and the point is that he could not), he was doubly wrong in striking him. Thus the Lord calmly rebuked the wrong-doer. Compare his conduct with that of Paul under somewhat similar circumstances (Acts 23:1-3). Jesus exemplified his teaching at Matthew 5:39. Says Luther,

    "Christ forbids self-defense with the hand, not with the tongue."

18:24  Annas therefore sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest1.

    SECOND STAGE OF JEWISH TRIAL. JESUS CONDEMNED BY CAIAPHAS AND THE SANHEDRIN. (Palace of Caiaphas. Friday.) Matthew 26:57,59-68; Mark 14:53,55-65; Luke 22:54,63-65; John 18:24

  1. Annas therefore sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest. Foiled in his attempted examination of Jesus, Annas sends him to trial.

18:28  They lead Jesus therefore from Caiaphas into the Praetorium1: and it was early; and they themselves entered not into the Praetorium, that they might not be defiled, but might eat the passover2.

    THIRD STAGE OF JEWISH TRIAL. JESUS FORMALLY CONDEMNED BY THE SANHEDRIN AND LED TO PILATE. (Jerusalem. Friday after dawn.) Matthew 27:1,2; Mark 15:1; Luke 22:66-23:1; John 18:28

  1. They lead Jesus therefore from Caiaphas into the Praetorium. See Mark 15:1.

    FIRST STAGE OF THE ROMAN TRIAL. JESUS BEFORE PILATE FOR THE FIRST TIME. (Jerusalem. Early Friday morning.) Matthew 27:11-14; Mark 15:2-5; Luke 23:2-5; John 18:28-38

  2. And they themselves entered not into the Praetorium, that they might not be defiled, but might eat the passover. See Mark 14:1.

18:30  They answered and said unto him, If this man were not an evildoer, we should not have delivered him up unto thee1.

  1. If this man were not an evildoer, we should not have delivered him up unto thee. The Jewish rulers first attempt to induce Pilate to accept their verdict and condemn Jesus upon it, and execute him without a trial. If they had succeeded in this, Jesus would have been put to death as a blasphemer. But as Pilate had insisted upon trying Jesus, and as blasphemy was not a capital offense under the Roman law, Jesus was condemned and executed as the King of the Jews.

18:31  Pilate therefore said unto them, Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law1. The Jews said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death2:

  1. Pilate therefore said unto them, Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law. As the Jews insisted on their own verdict, Pilate bade them pronounce their own sentence, declining to mix jurisdictions by pronouncing a Roman sentence on a Sanhedrin verdict.

  2. The Jews said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death. The Jews responded that it is not in their power to pronounce the sentence for which their verdict called, since they could not put to death. Jesus could only be sentenced to death by the Roman court, and crucifixion was the mode by which its death sentence was executed.

18:32  that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake1, signifying by what manner of death he should die.

  1. That the word of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake,
  2. signifying by what manner of death he should die. Jesus had predicted all this in the simple statement in the simple statement that he should die by crucifixion (John 12:33,34), but he also gave the details of his trial (Matthew 20:18,19; Mark 10:33,34).

18:33  Pilate therefore entered again into the Praetorium, and called Jesus1, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews2?

  1. Pilate therefore entered again into the Praetorium, and called Jesus. See Matthew 27:11.

  2. And said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? See Mark 15:2.

18:34  Jesus answered, Sayest thou this of thyself, or did others tell it thee concerning me1?

  1. Sayest thou this of thyself, or did others tell it thee concerning me? Jesus asks a question which forms the strongest negation that he is a king in the sense contained in the Jewish accusation. Had he been a king in that sense, Pilate would have been the one most likely to know it. The question also, by an indirect query as to the accuser, reveals to Pilate's mind that no Roman had accused him. He was accused of the Jews, and when he had that restless, rebellious people ever found fault with a man who sought to free them from the galling Roman yoke?

18:35  Pilate answered, Am I a Jew1? Thine own nation and the chief priests delivered thee unto me2: what hast thou done3?

  1. Am I a Jew? The strong, practical mind of the Roman at once caught the drift of Christ's question, and perceived that the title "King of the Jews" had in it a double meaning, so that it might be construed in some unpolitical sense. What this sense was he could not tell, for he was not a Jews. The mysteries of that nation were of no interest to him, save where his office compelled him to understand them.

  2. Thine own nation and the chief priests delivered thee unto me. Pilate concedes that the accusation against Jesus comes from an unexpected and suspicious source.

  3. What hast thou done? Pilate asks Jesus to tell him plainly by what means he had incurred the enmity of the leaders of his people.

18:36  Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world1: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

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

18:37  Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king1. To this end have I been born, and to this end am I come into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth2. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

  1. Thou sayest that I am a king. See Mark 14:62.

  2. To this end have I been born, and to this end am I come into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Jesus here enlightens Pilate as to the nature of his kingdom. He, the King, was the incarnation of truth, and all those who derive the inspiration of their life from truth were his subjects. For the purpose of thus bearing witness to and revealing truth Jesus had been born, thus entering a new state of being, and he had come into the world in this changed condition, thus entering a new sphere of action. The words clearly imply the pre-existence of Christ and no doubt aroused that state of uneasiness or fear which was increased by the words of the Jewish rulers (John 19:7,8).

18:38  Pilate saith unto him, What is truth1? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find no crime in him2.

  1. What is truth? This question has been regarded as an earnest inquiry (Chrysostom), the inquiry of one who despaired (Olshausen), a scoffing question (Alford), etc. But is evident that Pilate asked it intending to investigate the case of Jesus further, but, suddenly concluding that he already knew enough to answer his purpose as a judge, he stifles his curiosity as a human being and proceeds with the trial of Jesus, leaving the question unanswered.

  2. I find no crime in him. See Luke 23:4.

18:39  But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover1: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?

    THIRD STAGE OF THE ROMAN TRIAL. PILATE RELUCTANTLY SENTENCES HIM TO CRUCIFIXION. (Friday. Toward sunrise.) Matthew 27:15-30; Mark 15:6-19; Luke 23:13-25; John 18:39-19:16

  1. But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover. See Mark 15:8.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.

Bibliography Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on John 18". "The Fourfold Gospel". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/tfg/view.cgi?book=joh&chapter=018>. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.  

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