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or no there was any such honorary title as Amicus Caesaris, like our ‘Queen's Counsel,' it is unlikely that the Jews allude to it here: they simply mean loyal to Caesar.' For eauTÓv Tolâv see on viii. 53.
avtıléyel 7. K. Setteth himself against Caesar; ipso facto declares himself a rebel: thus the rebellion of Korah is called avriloyla (Jude 11). For a Roman governor to protect such a person would be high treason (majestas). The Jews scarcely knew how powerful their weapon was. Pilate's patron Sejanus (executed A.D. 31) was losing his hold over Tiberius, even if he had not already fallen.' Pilate had already thrice nearly driven the Jews to revolt, and his character therefore would not stand high with an Emperor who justly prided himself on the good government of the provinces. Above all, the terrible Lex Majestatis was by this time worked in such a way that prosecution under it was almost certain death. Atrocissime exercebat leges majestatis (Suetonius).
13. Pilate's mind seems to have been made up at once: without replying he prepares to pass sentence. The fatal moment has come, and as in the case of the arrest (xviii. 1—4) the Evangelist gives minute particulars.
ñyayev t£w. Sentence must be pronounced in public. Thus we find that Pilate, in giving judgment about the standards, which had been brought into Jerusalem, has his tribunal in the great circus at Caesarea, and Florus erects his in front of the palace (Josephus, B. J. II. ix. 3, xiv. 8).
ékábloey may be either transitive, as in 1 Cor. vi. 4; Eph. i. 20, or intransitive, as in Matt. xix. 28, xxv. 31. If it is transitive here, the meaning will be, 'placed him on a seat,' as an illustration of his mocking exclamation, 'Behold your King!'- i.e. "There He sits enthroned!' But (viii. 2;] xii. 14; Rev. iii. 21, xx. 4, the only places where S. John uses the word, and Acts xii. 21, xxv. 6, 17, where we have the same phrase as here, are against the transitive meaning in this place. The absence of the article before Bhuatos perhaps indicates that the Bema was temporary and not the usual one; everywhere else in N. T. Bäua has the article. With the pregnant use of eis comp. xx. 19, (xxi. 4).
ALO6otputov: Josephus (Ant. v. v. 2) says that the Temple-Mount, on part of which the fortress of Antonia stood, was covered with a tesselated pavement. This fact and the Aramaic name tend to shew that the portable mosaic which Imperators sometimes carried about for their tribunals is not meant here. But Gab Baitha is no equivalent of Aldootpwtov, though it indicates the same place: it means 'the ridge of the House,' i.e. the Temple-Mound. For‘Espaïoti see on y. 2.
14. ήν δε π. τ. π., ώρα ήν ως έκτη. In two abrupt sentences 9. John calls special attention to the day and hour; now it was the eve of the Passover: it was about the sixth hour. It is difficult to believe that he can be utterly mistaken about both. The question of the day is discussed in Appendix A; the question as to the hour remains.
We have seen already (i. 39, iv. 6, 52, xi. 9), that whatever view we may take of the balance of probability in each case, there is nothing thus far which is conclusively in favour of the antecedently improbable view, that S. John reckons the hours of the day as we do, from midnight to noon and noon to midnight.
The modern method is sometimes spoken of as the Roman method. This is misleading, as it seems to imply that the Romans counted their hours as we do. If this were so, it would not surprise us so much to find that S. John, living away from Palestine and in the capital of a Roman province, had adopted the Roman reckoning. But the Romans and Greeks, as well as the Jews, counted their hours from sunrise. Martial, who goes through the day hour by hour (Iv. viii.), places the Roman method beyond a doubt. The difference between the Romans and the Jews was not as to the mode of counting the hours, but as to the limits of each individual day. The Jews placed the boundary at sunset, the Romans (as we do) at midnight. (Pliny, Nat. Hist. II. lxxvii.) The “this day' of Pilate’s wife (Matt. xxvii. 19) proves nothing; it would fit either the Roman or the Jewish method; and some suppose her to have been a proselyte. In this particular S. John does seem to have a dopted the Roman method; for (xx. 19) he speaks of the evening of Easter Day as the same day at evening' (comp. Luke xxiv. 29, 33)This must be admitted as against the explanation that 'yesterday'in iv. 54 was spoken before midnight and refers to the time before sunset: but the servants may have met their master after midnight.
Yet there is some evidence of a custom of reckoning from midnight in Asia Minor. Polycarp was martyred 'at the eighth hour' (Mart. Pol. XXI.), Pionius at the tenth hour' (Acta Mart. p. 137); both at Smyrna. Such exhibitions commonly took place in the morning (Philo ii. 529); so that 8.0 and 10.0 A.M. are more probable than 2.0 and 4.0 P.M.
McClellan adds another argument. “The phraseology of our present passage is unique in the Gospels. The hour is mentioned in conjunction with the day. To cite the words of St Augustine, but with the correct rendering of Paraskeuê, 'S. John does not say, It was about the sixth hour of the day, nor merely, It was about the sixth hour, but It was the FRIDAY of the Passover; it was about the Sixth hour.' Hence in the straightforward sense of the words, the sixth hour that he means is the sixth hour of the Friday; and so it is rendered in the Thebaic Version. But Friday in S. John is the name of the whole Roman civil day, and the Roman civil days are reckoned from midnight." New Test. 1. p. 742.
This solution may therefore be adopted, not as certain, but as less unsatisfactory than the conjecture of a false reading either here or in Mark xv. 25, or the various forced interpretations which have been given of S. John's words. The reading tpirn in some MSS. here is evidently a harmonizing correction. If, however, the mode of reckoning in both Gospels be the same, the preference in point of accuracy must be given to the Evangelist who stood by the cross.
Se o Bas. úpôv._Like the title on the cross, these words are spoken in bitter irony. This Man in His mock insignia is a fit sovereign for the miserable Jews. Perhaps Pilate would also taunt them with their own glorification of Him on Palm Sunday. To the Christian the words are another unconscious prophecy.
ékelvol. The pronoun indicates their opposition. The four aorists are all appropriate: ékpavyaoav, they shouted out once for all; while the three aorists imperative shew their impatience to have their will. Stavpáow is either Shall I or Must I. Note the emphatic position of T. Bao. 'uw: Must I crucify your King?' Pilate begins (xviii. 33) and ends with the same idea, the one dangerous item in the indictment, the claim of Jesus to be King of the Jews. This explains the length at which S. John describes the scenes with Pilate: see introductory note on xviii. 12—27.
oi ápxcepcís. This depth of degradation is reserved for them. “The official organs of the theocracy themselves proclaim that they have abandoned the faith by which the nation had lived.” Sooner than acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah they proclaim that a heathen Emperor is their King. And their baseness is at once followed by Pilate's: sooner than meet a dangerous charge he condemns the Innocent to death. To rid themselves of Jesus they commit political suicide; to free himself from danger he commits a judicial murder.
16. τότε ούν π. In none of the Gospels does it appear that Pilate pronounced sentence on Jesus; he perhaps purposely avoided doing so. But in delivering Him over to the priests he does not allow them to act for themselves : 'he delivered Him to them that He might be crucified' by Roman soldiers; not that they might crucify Him themselves.
17—42. THE DEATH AND BURIAL. For what is peculiar to S. John's narrative in this section see the introductory note to chap. xviii. Besides this, the title on the cross, the Jews' criticism of it, and the conduct of the four soldiers, are given with more exactness by S. John than by the Synoptists.
The section falls into four double parts, all four of which contain a marked dramatic contrast, such as S. John loves to point out (see on vv. 18 and 30) :
(1) The Crucifixion and the title on the cross (17—22).
17—22. THE CRUCIFIXION AND THE TITLE ON THE CROSS. 17. apłaßov oủv. They took Jesus therefore, or they received, as in i. 11, xiv. 3. The verb means 'to accept what is offered, receive from the hands of another.' A comparison of the three texts is instructive. The eternal Son is given by the Father, comes to His own inheritance, and His own people received Him not (i. 11). The Incarnate Son is given up by Pilate to His own people, and they received Him to crucify Him (xix. 16). The glorified Son comes again to His own people, to receive them unto Himself (xiv. 3).
βαστ. αυτο τ. στ. εξήλθεν. Bearing the cross for Himself went forth. s. John omits the help which Simon the Cyrenian was soon compelled to render, as also (what seems to be implied by Mark xv. 22) that at last they were obliged to carry Jesus Himself. Comp. the Lesson for Good Friday morning, Gen. xxii., especially v. 6. "The place of public execution appears to have been situated north of the city. It was outside the gate (Heb. xiii. 12) and yet ‘nigh unto the city' (v. 20). In the Mishna it is placed outside the city by a reference to Lev. xxiv. 14. It is said to have been 'two men high' (Sanh. vi. 1). The Jews still point out the site at the cliff, north of the Damascus gate, where is a cave now called · Jeremiah's Grotto.' This site has therefore some claim to be considered as that of the Crucifixion. It was within 200 yards of the wall of Agrippa, but was certainly outside the ancient city. It was also close to the gardens and the tombs of the old city, which stretch northwards from the cliff ; and it was close to the main north road, in a conspicuous position, such as might naturally be selected for a place of public execution.” Conder, Handbook to the Bible, pp. 356, 7. Kpavlou Tónov refers to the shape of the ground. To leave skulls unburied would violate Jewish law; and this would require κρανίων τόπον. For “Εβραϊστί see on v. 2.
18. Mérov Sè r. 'I. Dramatic contrast; the Christ between two criminals. It is the place of honour mockingly given to Him as King. The two were robbers or bandits, as S. Matthew and S. Mark call them, probably guilty of the same crimes as Barabbas. In the Acta Pilati They are named Dysmas and Gestas. Jesus suffers with them under a similar charge of sedition. Whether this was mere convenience, or a device of the Romans to insult the Jews, is uncertain. The latter is probable. Omnium par poena, sed dispar causa (S. Augustine). The whole of humanity was represented there: the sinless Saviour, the saved penitent, the condemned impenitent.
19. kai titlov. A title also: the meaning of the Kal is not clear; perhaps it looks back to v. 16, or to uérov t. ’Inooûv, as being Pilate's doing: he placed Jesus between two criminals, and also insulted the Jews by a mocking inscription. Titlos is titulus Graecized. It was common to put on the cross the name and crime of the person executed, after making him carry the inscription round his neck to the place of execution. S. Matthew (xxvii. 37) has t. aitlav aŭtoù, S. Mark (xv. 26) η επιγραφή τ. αιτίας αυτού, S. Luke (xxiii. 38) επιγραφή. For yiv yeypap., there was written, see on ii. 17. The title is given differently in all four Gospels, and possibly varied in the three languages. Its object was to insult the Jews, not Jesus: all variations contain the offensive words “ The King of the Jews.”
20. éyyús. S. John's exact topographical knowledge appears again here. Pictures of the Crucifixion mislead in placing the city a
mile or two off in the background. Tŷs mólews with évyús (xi. 18), not after ở TÓTOS: "the place of the city was near' is scarcely sense.
'EBp., 'Pwp., 'EX. This is the order in the better authorities. The national and official languages would naturally be placed before Greek,—and for different reasons either Hebrew or Latin might be placed first. In Luke xxiii. 38 the order is Greek, Latin, Hebrew; but the clause is of very doubtful authority. In any case the three representative languages of the world at that time, the languages of religion, of empire, and of intellect, were employed. Thus did they "tell it out among the heathen that the Lord is king,' or (according to a remarkable reading of the LXX. in Ps. xcvi. 10) “that the Lord reigned from the tree.'
21. o ápx. T. 'Iov. Now that they have wrung what they wanted out of Pilate they see that in granting it he has insulted them publicly before the thousands present at the Passover, and in a way not easy to resent. The addition of the Jews' is remarkable, and it occurs nowhere else in N. T. It probably refers to the title: these chief priests of the Jews' objected to His being called “the King of the Jews.'
Pilate's answer illustrates the mixture of obstinacy and relentlessness, which Philo says was characteristic of him. His own interests are not at stake, so he will have his way: where he had anything to fear or to gain he could be supple enough. A shrewd, practical man of the world, with all a Roman official's contemptuous impartiality and severity, and all the disbelief in truth and disinterestedness which the age had taught him, he seems to have been one of the many with whom self-interest is stronger than their convictions, and who can walk uprightly when to do so is easy, but fail in the presence of serious difficulty and danger.
23—27. THE FOUR ENEMIES AND THE FOUR FRIENDS. 23. Tà fuátia. The upper garment, girdle, sandals, &c. The iuátlov was large enough to be worth dividing. By the law De bonis damnatorum the clothes of executed criminals were the perquisite of the soldiers on duty. The réocepa shews accurate knowledge: a quaternion has charge of the prisoner, as in Acts xii. 4; but there the prisoner has to be kept a long time, so four quaternions mount guard in turn, one for each watch. Here there was probably a quaternion to each cross. The danger of a popular outbreak (xviii. 3) is at an end, and a small force suffices.
ápados. Josephus (Ant. III. vii. 4) tells us that the high-priest's tunic was seamless, whereas in other cases this garment was commonly made of two pieces. Possibly S. John regards it as a symbol of Christ's Priesthood. The xit 6v was a shirt, reaching from the neck to the knees or ancles. “It is noted by one of the Fathers, that Christ's coat indeed had no seam, but the Church's vesture was 'of divers colours;' whereupon he saith, In veste varietas sit, scissura non sit: they be two things, unity and uniformity” (Bacon, Essay III.).