Matthew 27:11
And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Are you the King of the Jews? And Jesus said to him, You say.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) And Jesus stood before the governor.—We may infer from the greater fulness with which St. John relates what passed between our Lord and Pilate, that here, too, his acquaintance with the high priest gave him access to knowledge which others did not possess. We learn from him (1) that in his first conversation with the accusers, Pilate endeavoured to throw the onus of judging upon them, and was met by the ostentatious disavowal of any power to execute judgment (John 18:28-32); (2) that the single question which St. Matthew records was followed by a conversation in which our Lord declared that, though He was a King, it was not after the manner of the kingdoms of the world (John 18:33-38). The impression thus made on the mind of the Governor explains the desire which he felt to effect, in some way or other, the release of the accused.

Matthew 27:11. And Jesus stood before the governor — As a prisoner before the judge. “Little did the governor imagine,” says Bishop Porteus, “who it was that then stood before him. Little did he suspect that he himself must one day stand before the tribunal of that very person whom he was then about to judge as a criminal.” Observe, reader, we could not have stood before God because of our sins, nor have lifted up our face in his presence, if Christ had not thus been judged and condemned, and thereby made a sin- offering for us. He was arraigned that we might be discharged. For a more full account of our Lord’s appearance before Pilate, see John 18:29, &c., and Luke 23:2, &c. And the governor asked him, Art thou the king of the Jews? — From Pilate’s asking our Lord this question, we must suppose that the priests explained their accusation by telling him that Jesus had travelled continually through the country, and everywhere had given himself out for the Messiah; and that even during his trial before them, he had been so presumptuous as to assume that dignity in open court. Without some information of this kind, the governor would hardly have put such a question to Jesus, no prisoner being obliged to accuse himself. And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest — That is, according to the Hebrew idiom, It is as thou sayest. John tells us that our Lord added, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? that is, Dost thou ask this question of thine own accord, because thou thinkest that I have affected regal power, or, dost thou ask it according to the information of the priests, who affirm that I have acknowledged myself to be a king? Jesus undoubtedly knew what had happened, but he spake to the governor after this manner, because, not being present when the priests accused him, he had not heard what they said. Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? dost thou think that I am acquainted with the religious opinions, expectations, and disputes of the Jews? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me, as a seditious person. What hast thou done to merit such a charge? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world. See on John 18:35.27:11-25 Having no malice against Jesus, Pilate urged him to clear himself, and laboured to get him discharged. The message from his wife was a warning. God has many ways of giving checks to sinners, in their sinful pursuits, and it is a great mercy to have such checks from Providence, from faithful friends, and from our own consciences. O do not this abominable thing which the Lord hates! is what we may hear said to us, when we are entering into temptation, if we will but regard it. Being overruled by the priests, the people made choice of Barabbas. Multitudes who choose the world, rather than God, for their ruler and portion, thus choose their own delusions. The Jews were so bent upon the death of Christ, that Pilate thought it would be dangerous to refuse. And this struggle shows the power of conscience even on the worst men. Yet all was so ordered to make it evident that Christ suffered for no fault of his own, but for the sins of his people. How vain for Pilate to expect to free himself from the guilt of the innocent blood of a righteous person, whom he was by his office bound to protect! The Jews' curse upon themselves has been awfully answered in the sufferings of their nation. None could bear the sin of others, except Him that had no sin of his own to answer for. And are we not all concerned? Is not Barabbas preferred to Jesus, when sinners reject salvation that they may retain their darling sins, which rob God of his glory, and murder their souls? The blood of Christ is now upon us for good, through mercy, by the Jews' rejection of it. O let us flee to it for refuge!And Jesus stood before the governor - Many things are omitted by Matthew, in the account of this trial, which are recorded by the other evangelists. A much more full account is found in John 18:28-40.

And the governor asked him ... - This question was asked On account of the "charge" which the Jews brought against Jesus, "of perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar," Luke 23:2. It was on this charge that, after consultation, they had agreed to arraign him before Pilate. See the notes at Matthew 27:1. "They" had condemned him for "blasphemy," but they well knew that Pilate would altogether disregard an accusation of that kind. They therefore attempted to substitute a totally different accusation from that on which they had professed to find him guilty, to excite the jealousy of the Roman governor, and to procure his death on a charge of treason against the Roman emperor.

Thou sayest - That is, thou sayest right, or thou sayest the truth. We may wonder why the Jews, if they heard this confession, did not press it upon the attention of Pilate as a full confession of his guilt. It was what they had accused him of. But it might be doubtful whether, in the confusion, they heard the confession; or, if they did, Jesus took away all occasion of triumph by explaining to Pilate the "nature" of his kingdom, John 18:36. Though he acknowledged that he was a king, yet he stated fully that "his kingdom was not of this world," and that therefore it could not be alleged against him as treason against the Roman emperor. This was done "in the palace," apart from the Jews, and fully satisfied Pilate of his innocence, John 18:23.

Mt 27:11-26. Jesus Again before Pilate—He Seeks to Release Him but at Length Delivers Him to Be Crucified. ( = Mr 15:1-15; Lu 23:1-25; Joh 18:28-40).

For the exposition, see on [1372]Lu 23:1-25; [1373]Joh 18:28-40.

Mark hath the same, Mark 15:2; so hath Luke, Luke 23:3. John relates it more distinctly, John 18:29-32: Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee. Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.

The other evangelists seem to have given us the story of this our Saviour’s first appearance before Pilate summarily. John seems to have given us it more orderly and particularly. It is the course of all judicatures to require the accusers to speak first. Pilate therefore asketh what accusation they had brought against him. Their answer was very malapert, If he had not been a malefactor, &c. What was this to the purpose? Suppose him never so great a malefactor, must it not appear he is so before a judge condemns him? These accusers (as it seemeth) were of the same mind that the papists are, that the civil magistrate is to be executioner to the church; and when the ecclesiastical power hath condemned a man for heresy or blasphemy, the civil magistrate hath nothing to do, but without his own hearing the cause to put the person to death. But they met with a more equal judge, though he were a heathen. Say ye so, saith he, Take him, then, and judge him according to your law. This he either speaks as deriding them, and scorning what they would have put him upon; or else not thinking he had deserved any thing worthy of death, knowing they might without him scourge him, or inflict some lighter punishments. They reply, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death. It is very questionable in what sense they spake this. Those that affirm that the power of judging and determining in capital causes was before this time taken from the Jews, must affirm that Stephen was put to death in a popular tumult, for he was after this stoned to death by the Jews, Acts 7:59; which is not probable, considering what we read of him, Acts 6:13,15, called before the council, and witnesses used against him, and have no record of any notice the civil magistrate took of the fact as a disorder. I therefore rather think their meaning was, This is with us a feast day, on which it is not lawful for us to put any to death without thy consent. Or, it is not lawful for us to put any to death for any civil cause, for saying he is our king; for it is manifest by the question which Pilate first put to him upon his second coming into the hall, mentioned John 18:33, in which all the other three evangelists agree, that they had charged him with saying, that he was the King of the Jews; to which all that he replied, which is recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, is, Thou sayest it. I am not bound to accuse myself; who witnesses this against me? But John saith that our Saviour said, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: 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. Our Saviour, by this answer to Pilate’s question, seems to vindicate his right not to be condemned without witness, which, if others had told Pilate this, they were bound to have produced. Pilate tells him, he had it not of himself, he was no Jew, but they were those of his own nation who had delivered him to him; and therefore asketh him what he had done. Then our Saviour openeth himself, not denying that he was the King of the Jews, but telling him he was no king of this world; his kingdom was a spiritual kingdom, and he might know what King he was by his retinue, and those who took his part; for if he had laid claim to any secular kingdom, he should have had some appearing to take his part, and to fight for him to deliver him from his enemies, but he saw he had none. Pilate laying hold of his words, replies, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? Our Saviour still useth prudence, and keeps himself upon a close guard. It had been dangerous for him directly to have owned himself a king. He therefore only tells Pilate, that he said he was a king, and that he came into the world to bear testimony to the truth; and further adds, that every one who was of the truth did hear his voice. This poses Pilate, who had no notion of that truth which Christ spake of; he goes out as it were deriding him, saying, What is truth? Presently he goeth out to the Jews, Matthew 27:38, and tells them he found in him no fault at all, and offers to release him; but this we shall meet with in our evangelist by and by: the passages hereto mentioned are only related by John; excepting only the question,

Art thou the King of the Jews? and our Saviour’s answer,

Thou sayest it, which is reported by all. And Jesus stood before the governor,.... Pilate who sat; for so was the custom for the judge to sit, and those that were judged, to stand, especially whilst witness was bore against them (f).

"Says R. Bo, in the name of Rab Hona, the witnesses ought to stand whilst they bear witness. Says R. Jeremiah, in the name of R. Abhu, also , "those that are judged ought to stand", whilst they receive their witness.''

And again (g),

"how do they judge? the judges sit, , and "they that are judged stand".''

Think what a sight was here, the eternal Son of God in human nature, the Lord of life and glory, the Prince of the kings of the earth, standing before an Heathen governor! he before whom Pilate must stand, and even all men, small and great, another day; all must appear, and stand before the judgment seat of Christ; he himself stands at the bar of men! the reason of this was, because he stood in the legal place, and stead of his people: he became their substitute from everlasting, was made under the law in time, and was subject to its precept, and its penalty: and though he had no crimes of his own to answer for, he had the sins of his people on him; on account of which he stood before the governor, to receive the sentence of condemnation on himself; that so sin being condemned in his flesh, the whole righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in them: he stood here, that they might stand before God, and at the throne of his grace with boldness and intrepidity; a new, and living way to it being opened for them, through his blood and sacrifice; and that they might stand before him, the judge of all the earth, with confidence, and not be ashamed at his coming.

And the governor asked him, saying, art thou the king of the Jews? for the Jews had suggested to Pilate, that Jesus had given out that he was Christ a king; and he being Caesar's procurator, it became him strictly to inquire into this matter, lest there should be any encroachment made on his master's dignity, authority, and dominions, and he himself should suffer blame; wherefore, he does not ask Jesus, whether he said he was the king of the Jews, or others said so of him, but whether he was their king: he knew he was not in fact; but his question was, whether he was so in right; or if he thought he was, what claim he made, and what he did to support it:

and Jesus said unto him; thou sayest; which is all one as if he had said, "I am"; see Matthew 26:25, compared with Mark 14:62, and that this was the sense of his answer is clear from John 18:36, though, at the same time, he let him know that his kingdom was not of this world; that he was not a temporal king, nor did he lay any claim to any earthly dominions; and therefore neither he, nor his master Caesar, had anything to fear from him: he was only a king in a spiritual sense, over the Israel of God; such as received him, as the Messiah, and believed in his name.

(f) T. Hieros. Yoma, fol. 43. 2, 3.((g) Ib. Sanhedrin, fol. 21. 2.

{2} And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.

(2) Christ holds his peace when he is accused in order that we may not be accused: acknowledging our guiltiness, and at the same time his own innocence.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 27:11 f. Continuation, after the episode in Matthew 27:3-10, of the narrative introduced at Matthew 27:2. The accusation preferred by the Jews, though not expressly mentioned, may readily be inferred from the procurator’s question. See Luke 23:2. In appearing before Pilate, they craftily give prominence to the political aspect of the Messianic pretensions of Jesus.

σὺ λέγεις] There is nothing ambiguous in such a reply (which was not so framed that it might be taken either as an affirmative or as equivalent to ἐγὼ μὲν τοῦτο οὐ λέγω, σὺ δὲ λέγεις, Theophylact), but such a decided affirmative as the terms of the question: Art thou, etc., were calculated to elicit, John 18:37. Comp. Matthew 26:64.

οὐδὲν ἀπεκρ.] Comp. on Matthew 26:62. The calm and dignified silence of the true king.Matthew 27:11-26. Jesus before Pilate (Mark 15:2-15, Luke 23:2-7; Luke 23:13-25).11. the governor] The Evangelist uses a general word instead of the more exact term “Procurator.”

Art thou the King of the Jews?] The answer of Jesus to this question, and His explanation to Pilate of the Kingdom of God are given at length, John 18:33-37; observe especially that the servants of the kingdom would fight, if they fought at all, not against Rome but against Israel who had rejected the Messiah: “If my Kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight that I should not be delivered to the Jews.”

Thou sayest] See note ch. Matthew 26:25.

11–26. The Trial before Pontius Pilate

St Mark 15:2-15; St Luke 23:2-7; Luke 23:13-24; St John 18:29 to John 19:16St Luke states the threefold charge most clearly: “We found this [fellow] (1) perverting the nation; (2) and forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar; (3) saying that he himself is Christ a King.”

Pilate, true to the Roman sense of justice, refused merely to confirm the sentence of the Sanhedrin. “He asked, what accusation bring ye against this man?” (John 18:29), being determined to try the case. This accusation amounted to a charge of treason—the greatest crime known to Roman law. Of the three points of accusation, (2) was utterly false; (1) and (3) though in a sense true, were not true in the sense intended. The answer or defence of Jesus is that He is a King, but that His “kingdom is not of this world,” therefore (it is inferred) the “perversion of the people” was not a rebellion that threatened the Roman government; see note Matthew 27:11. The defence was complete, as Pilate admits: “I find no fault in him.”Matthew 27:11. Ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων, the King of the Jews) Jesus before Caiaphas confesses Himself to be Christ, before Pilate, King.—σὺ λέγεις, thou sayest) An open and holy confession.[1180] Jesus shows that His subsequent silence would not be from want of freedom of speech, and immediately answers Pilate, after having previously informed the Jews when adjured by Caiaphas. St Mark and St Luke also record the expression, “Thou sayest;” and this is clearly the sum of all that St John records to have been said by our Lord to Pilate in ch. John 18:34; John 18:36-37.[1181]

[1180] Cf. 1 Timothy 4:13.—E. B.

[1181] Matthew 27:12. οὐδὲν ἀπεκρίνατο, answered nothing) As the accusers brought forward nothing new, the silence of Jesus was a subsequent confirmation of those things which He had already said.—Harm., p. 547.Verses 11-14. - Jesus examined by Pilate. (Mark 15:2-5; Luke 23:2-5; John 18:29-38.) Verse 11. - Jesus stood before the governor. St. Matthew omits here many details which the other evangelists, and especially St. John, supply. Pilate from the first had shown much reluctance to proceed, not being satisfied with the vague accusation that Jesus was a malefactor, and proposing that the Sanhedrists should try him according to Jewish Law, as if the question was merely a religious one. This treatment forced the priests to formulate a charge of which the roman authorities must take cognizance. They therefore stated unblushingly that Jesus had said that he was himself Christ a King (Luke 23:2). At this point St. Matthew's account steps in. Art thou (σὺ εϊ) the King of the Jews? This examination took place within the Praetorium, where Christ was detained in the custody of some guards. The accusation of the Jews had been made outside, as they had scruples about entering the building. Jesus had never actually (so far as recorded) called himself King, though the appellation had been applied to him by Nathanael (John 1:49), and the hosannahs of the multitudes had virtually so greeted him. His accusers had added the charge that he perverted the nation, and forbade to give tribute to Caesar. There is scorn and surprise, mingled with some awe, in Pilate's interrogation, "Thou - such a one as thou - art the King of the Jews?" Thou sayest. What thou sayest is true. A strong affirmation. Christ accepts in its fullest sense that which the governor puts as a question (comp. Matthew 26:25, 64). St. Paul alludes to this scene in 1 Timothy 6:13, "Christ Jesus, who before Pilate witnessed the good confession."
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