|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
18:28-32 It was unjust to put one to death who had done so much good, therefore the Jews were willing to save themselves from reproach. Many fear the scandal of an ill thing, more than the sin of it. Christ had said he should be delivered to the Gentiles, and they should put him to death; hereby that saying was fulfilled. He had said that he should be crucified, lifted up. If the Jews had judged him by their law, he had been stoned; crucifying never was used among the Jews. It is determined concerning us, though not discovered to us, what death we shall die: this should free us from disquiet about that matter. Lord, what, when, and how, thou hast appointed.
Verse 28 - John 19:16. -
(3) The Roman trial, presupposing the decision of the Sanhedrin. Verses 28-32. - (a) [Without the Praetorium.] Pilate extorts the malign intention of the Jews, and dares them to disobey Roman law. Verse 28. - Then they lead Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the Praetorium - to the imperial palace of the Roman governor. The word is used primarily for the general's tent in the Roman camps, and for the legal residence of the chief of a province. Now, the ordinary residence of the Roman governors was at Caesarea, but at the time of the great feasts they were in the habit of going up to Jerusalem, and at a later time than this (Josephus, 'Bell. Jud.,' 2:14. 8; 15:5) the governors utilized for this purpose the former palace of Herod, a gorgeous residence in the upper city. It is, however, more probable that Pilate occupied the palace of the Castle of Antonia, overlooking the northwest corner of the temple area, and having means of direct communication with it. Edersheim inclines to the palace of Herod. From the high-priestly palace to the castle they led Jesus. And it was early. [In Matthew 14:25 and Mark 13:35 πρωῖ´ is equivalent to the fourth watch of the night, between three and six o'clock. The breadth of the phrase would cover the period of the hurried council (see Matthew 27; Mark 15.) and the session of Pilate. The Roman judgments were often conducted in early morning (Seneca, 'De Ira,' 2:7) - prima luce.] The council having in their indecent haste conveyed Jesus to the Praetorium, while (and) they themselves went not into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled (μιαίνω, the solemn word for "profane" in Plato, Sophocles, and the LXX.). This defilement by entrance into the house of a Gentile was not an enactment of the Law, but was a purely rabbinic observance (Delitzsch, 'Talmudische Studien,' 14. (1874); 'Zeitschrift fur die gesammte Luth. Theol.'). We find it operative in Acts 10:28, and thus a hint given not merely of the author's knowledge of the inner life of Judaism, but of his quiet recognition of the stupendous spectacle of malicious ritualism, and of unscrupulous antagonism to the Holiest One, busying itself about attention to the letter of that which was only a rabbinic legislation. But might eat the Passover. Here in this passage we come once more face to face with the persistent puzzle occasioned by the divergent intimations of John and the synoptists as to the day of our Lord's death. In Matthew 26:17 and Mark 14:12-14 this very phrase is used for the preparation of that Paschal supper which our Lord celebrated with his disciples (see Introduction, pp. 93, etc.). So that we have at any rate a discordant verbal usage, however the problem be solved. The day is breaking, which constitutes, according to John (prima facie), the 14th of Nisan, in the evening of which and commencement of the 15th the Passover would be killed. According to the synoptists, that Passover meal was already over, and the first great day of the feast had commenced - the day of convocation, with sabbatic functions and duties. The statements are apparently in hopeless variance. Many emphasize, exaggerate, and declare insoluble the contradiction, repudiating either the authority of John or that of the synoptists. Meyer and Lucke give their verdict with John, the eye-witness, as against the synoptic tradition. Strauss and Keim, who also hold the invincible discrepancy, lift the synoptic account to a comparatively high state of historic validity, and thereby discredit the authenticity of the Fourth Gospel. We have two methods of reconciling the difficulty:
(1) An endeavor to show that the synoptic narrative itself is inconsistent with the idea that the night of the Passion was the night of the general Passover.
(a) That the entire proceeding of the trial was inconsistent with the feast-day;
(b) that Simon the Cyrenian could not bear the cross on that day;
(c) the circumstance that that Friday evening was the preparation of the Passover; and
(d) that the reckonings of the weeks till the Pentecost Sunday are all made to show that the synoptic narrative itself admits that the Crucifixion took place before the Passover meal. So also does the decision of the priests, that they would put Jesus to death μὴ ἐν τῆ ἑορτῆ (Matthew 26:5; Mark 14:2). On this understanding the passage before us is interpreted in its natural sense; the Jews were unwilling to contract ceremonial defilement, because they were about to eat the Passover, and so with respect to the other references in John's Gospel, which all, prima facto, suggest the same chronological arrangement.
(2) A very powerful argument has been constructed, however, which brings John's account here, as well as elsewhere, into harmony with the supposed assertion of a synoptic narrative, that the Paschal meal preceded the trial of Jesus. It is said by Hengstenberg, M'Clellan, Edersheim, and others that this unwillingness to defile themselves was because they were anticipating their midday meal, at which sacrificial offerings and thank offerings, also called chagigah, were regarded as "eating the Passover" (Deuteronomy 16:2, 3; 2 Chronicles 30:22; 2 Chronicles 35:7-9). It is argued that, if the Jews were thinking of a meal which would not come off till sundown, their fear of defilement was illusory. But examination of these passages shows that there is a distinction drawn between the Paschal lamb and the cattle which might form part of the general sacrificial feasting of the following days, and that the term "Passover" is strictly limited to the Paschal lamb. Moreover, the duration of the defilement thus contracted would certainly have prevented them from any participation in the slaying of the Paschal lamb "between the evenings" of the 14th and 15th of Nisan. Dr. Moulton has made the ingenious suggestion that John's statement here is brought into harmony with the synoptic narrative, by the supposition that the chief priests had been disturbed in their Passover preparations, and were intending to complete their meal as soon as the decision of the Roman governor had been given. This very supposition reveals the exceeding unlikelihood that all the hierarchs and chief scribes, Pharisees, and elders of the people had consented to forego the due solemnization of their national rite on that previous evening. This supposition involves a much greater violation of Passover regulation than that Jesus and the twelve should have anticipated the ceremony by a few hours. If the day is the 14th of Nisan, all, so far as John's account is concerned, is obvious. I am therefore disposed to agree with Meyer, Keim, De Pressense, Baur, Neander, De Wette, Ebrard, Ewald, Westcott, Godet, and Lucke, against Hengstenberg, Wieseler, Tholuck, Luthardt, M'Clellan, and many others. The full interpretation of the synoptic narrative is discussed elsewhere (Introduction, p. 92.). Certainly John makes no reference to the Passover in his account of the Last Supper, neither does he refer to the institution of the Lord's Supper. It will not be just to say, with Renan, that John has substituted the foot-washing for the sacramental least. (On the principle of his omissions, see Introduction, pp. 100-105.)
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas,.... When Peter had denied him, one of the officers had smote him, the high priest had examined him, and they thought they had enough, out of his own mouth, to condemn him; they, the chief priests, elders, Scribes, and the whole multitude, led him bound as he was, from Caiaphas's house,
unto the hall of judgment; or the "praetorium"; the place where the Roman governor, who was now Pontius Pilate, used to hear and try causes in; the Romans now having matters and causes relating to life and death, in their hands:
and it was early; the morning indeed was come; but it was as soon as it was day; they had been all night in taking and examining Jesus, and consulting what to do with him; and as soon as they could expect the governor to be up, they hurry him away to him, eagerly thirsting after his blood, and fearing lest he should be rescued out of their hands:
and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; that is, the Jews, only the band of Roman soldiers went in; the reason of this was, because it was the house of a Gentile, and with them, , "the dwelling houses of Gentiles", or idolaters, "are unclean" (t); yea, if they were the houses of Israelites, and Gentiles were admitted to dwell in them, they were defiled, and all that were in them; for so they say (u),
"if the collectors for the government enter into a house to dwell in, all in the house are defiled.''
They did not think it lawful to rent out a house in Judea to an Heathen (w), or to assist in building a Basilica for them; which they explain to be a palace, in which judges sit to judge men (x): hence the reason of their caution, and which they were the more observant of,
that they might eat the passover; pure and undefiled; not the passover lamb, for that they had eaten the night before; but the "Chagigah", or feast on the fifteenth day of the month. Many Christian writers, both ancient and modern, have concluded from hence, that Christ did not keep his last passover, at the same time the Jews did; and many things are said to illustrate this matter, and justify our Lord in it: some observe the distinction of a sacrificial, and commemorative passover; the sacrificial passover is that, in which the lamb was slain, and was fixed to a certain time and place, and there was no altering it; the commemorative passover is that, in which no lamb is slain and eaten, only a commemoration made of the deliverance of the people of Israel out of Egypt; such as is now kept by the Jews, being out of their own land, where sacrifice with them is not lawful; and this it is supposed our Lord kept, and not the former: but it does not appear that there was such a commemorative passover kept by the Jews, in our Lord's time, and whilst the temple stood: and supposing there was such an one allowed, and appointed for those that were at a distance from Jerusalem, and could not come up thither, (which was not the case of Christ and his disciples,) it is reasonable to conclude, that it was to be kept, and was kept at the time the sacrificial passover was, in the room of which it was substituted, as it is by the Jews to this day; so that this will by no means clear the matter, nor solve the difficulty; besides it is very manifest, that the passover our Lord kept was sacrificial; and such an one the disciples proposed to get ready for him, and did, of which he and they are said to eat: "and the first day of unleavened bread, when they KILLED the passover, his disciples said to him, where wilt thou that we go and prepare, that thou mayest EAT the passover?" Mark 14:12 and again, "then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover MUST be KILLED", Luke 22:7. "They made ready the passover", Luke 22:13 "and he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him", Luke 22:14 "and he said unto them, with desire I have desired to eat this passover", Luke 22:15. Others suggest, that this difference of observing the passover by Christ and the Jews arose from fixing the beginning of the month, and so accordingly the feasts in it, by the or appearance of the moon; and that our Lord went according to the true appearance of it, and the Jews according to a false account: but of this, as a fact, there is no proof; besides, though the feasts were regulated and fixed according to the appearance of the moon, yet this was not left to the arbitrary will, pleasure, and judgment of particular persons, to determine as they should think proper; but the sanhedrim, or chief council of the nation sat, at a proper time, to hear and examine witnesses about the appearance of the moon; and accordingly determined, and none might fix but them (y); and as this was doubtless the case at this time, it is not very reasonable to think, that Christ would differ from them: besides, it was either a clear case, or a doubtful one; if the former, then there would be no room nor reason to keep another day; and if it was the latter, then two days were observed, that they might be sure they were right (z); but then both were kept by all the Jews: and that the time of this passover was well known, is clear from various circumstances; such and such facts were done, so many days before it; six days before it, Jesus came to Bethany, John 12:1 and two days before it, he was in the same place, Matthew 26:2 and says to his disciples, "ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover", &c. Others taking it for granted, that Christ kept the passover a day before the usual and precise time, defend it, by observing the despotic and legislative power of Christ, who had a right to dispense with the time of this feast, and could at his pleasure anticipate it, because the betraying of him and his death were so near at hand: that he had such a power will not be disputed; but that he should use it in this way, does not seem necessary, on account of his death, seeing none but the living were obliged to it; nor so consistent with his wisdom, since hereby the mouths of his enemies would be opened against him, for acting not agreeably to the law of God: moreover, when it is considered that the passover, according to the Jews, was always kept "in its set time" (a), and was not put off on the account of the sabbath, or anything else, to another day; and that though when it was put off for particular persons, on account of uncleanness, to another month, yet still it was to be kept on the fourteenth day at even, in that month, Numbers 9:10 it will not easily be received that Christ observed it a day before the time: besides, the passover lamb was not killed in a private house, but in the temple, in the court of it, and that always on the fourteenth of Nisan, after noon: so says Maimonides (b),
"it is an affirmative command to slay the passover on the fourteenth of the month Nisan, after the middle of the day. The passover is not slain but in the court, as the rest of the holy things; even in the time that altars were lawful, they did not offer the passover on a private altar; and whoever offers the passover on a private altar, is to be beaten; as it is said, "thou mayest not sacrifice the passover within any of thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee", Deuteronomy 16:5.''
And seeing therefore a passover lamb was not to be killed at home, but in the court of the priests, in the temple, it does not seem probable, that a single lamb should be suffered to be killed there, for Christ and his disciples, on a day not observed by the Jews, contrary to the sense of the sanhedrim, and of the whole nation: add to this, that the sacred text is express for it, that it was at the exact time of this feast, when it was come according to general computation, that the disciples moved to Christ to prepare the passover for him, and did, and they with him kept it: the account Matthew gives is very full; "now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread"; that is, when that was come in its proper time and course, "the disciples came to Jesus"; saying unto him, where wilt "thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?" He bids them go to the city to such a man, and say, "I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples, and the disciples did as Jesus had appointed, and they made ready the passover; now when the even was come", the time of eating the passover, according to the law of God, "he sat down with the twelve, and as they did eat", &c. Matthew 26:17 and Mark is still more particular, who says, "and the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover"; that is, when the Jews killed the passover, on the very day the lamb was slain, and eaten by them; and then follows much the same account as before, Mark 14:12 and Luke yet more clearly expresses it, "then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed"; according to the law of God, and the common usage of the people of the Jews; yea, he not only observes, that Christ kept the usual day, but the very hour, the precise time of eating it; for he says, "and when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him", Luke 22:7. Nor is there anything in this text, that is an objection to Christ and the Jews keeping the passover at the same time; since by the passover here is meant, the "Chagigah", or feast kept on the fifteenth day of the month, as it is sometimes called: in Deuteronomy 16:2 it is said, "thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover unto the Lord thy God, of the flock and the herd": now the passover of the herd, can never mean the passover lamb, but the passover "Chagigah"; and so the Jewish commentators explain it; "of the herd", says Jarchi, thou shalt sacrifice for the "Chagigah"; and says Aben Ezra, for the peace offerings; so Josiah the king is said to give for the passovers three thousand bullocks, and the priests three hundred oxen, and the Levites five hundred oxen, 2 Chronicles 35:7 which Jarchi interprets of the peace offerings of the "Chagigah", there called passovers; and so in 1 Esdres 1:7-9 mention is made of three thousand calves, besides lambs, that Josias gave for the passover; and three hundred by some other persons, and seven hundred by others: the passage in Deuteronomy, is explained of the "Chagigah", in both Talmuds (c), and in other writings (d); so besides the passover lamb, we read of sacrifices slain, , "in the name of" the passover, or on account of it (e); and particularly of the calf and the young bullock, slain for the sake of the passover (f): and now this is the passover which these men were to eat that day, and therefore were careful not to defile themselves, that so they might not be unfit for it; otherwise had it been the passover lamb in the evening, they might have washed themselves in the evening, according to the rules of , or "the daily washing", and been clean enough to have eat it: besides, it may be observed, that all the seven days were called the passover; and he that ate the unleavened bread, is said by eating that, to eat the passover; and thus they invite their guests daily to eat the bread, saying (g),
"everyone that is hungry, let him come and eat all that he needs, "and keep the passover".''
It is easy to observe the consciences of these men, who were always wont to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel; they scruple going into the judgment hall, which belonged to an Heathen governor, and where was a large number of Heathen soldiers; but they could go along with these into the garden to apprehend Christ, and spend a whole night in consulting to shed innocent blood: no wonder that God should be weary of their sacrifices and ceremonious performances, when, trusting to these, they had no regard to moral precepts: however, this may be teaching to us, in what manner we should keep the feast, and eat of the true passover, Christ; not with malice and wickedness, as these Jews ate theirs, but with sincerity and truth: besides, a sanhedrim, when they had condemned anyone to death, were forbidden to eat anything all that day (h); and so whilst scrupling one thing, they broke through another.
(t) Misn. Oholot, c. 18. sect. 7. (u) Maimon. Mishcab & Mosheb, c. 12. sect. 12. (w) Misn. Avoda Zara, c. 1. sect. 8. (x) Jarchi & Bartenora in ib. sect. 7. (y) Maimon. Kiddush Hachodesh, c. 2. sect. 7, 8. (z) Ib. c. 5. sect. 6, 7, 8. (a) Maimon. in Misn. Pesachim, c. 7. sect. 4. & Bartenora in ib. c. 5. sect. 4. (b) Hilchot Korban Pesacb. c. 1. sect. 1, 3.((c) T. Hieros. Pesacb. fol. 33. 1. T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 70. 2.((d) Maimon. Korban Pesach. c. 10. sect. 12. Moses Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora, pr. neg. 349. (e) Misn. Pesachim, c. 6. sect. 5. (f) T. Bab. Menachot, fol. 3. 1. (g) Haggadah Shel Pesach. p. 4. Ed. Rittangel. (h) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 63. 1. Maimon. Hilch. Sanhedrin, c. 13. sect. 4.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Joh 18:28-40. Jesus before Pilate.
Note.—Our Evangelist, having given the interview with Annas, omitted by the other Evangelists, here omits the trial and condemnation before Caiaphas, which the others had recorded. (See on Mr 14:53-65). [The notes broken off there at Mr 14:54 are here concluded].
Mr 14:53-65: Mr 14:61:
The high priest asked Him, Art Thou the Christ, the Son of the blessed?—Matthew says the high priest put Him upon solemn oath, saying, "I adjure Thee by the living God that Thou tell us whether Thou be the Christ, the Son of God" (Mt 26:63). This rendered an answer by our Lord legally necessary (Le 5:1). Accordingly, Mr 14:62:
Jesus said, I am—"Thou hast said" (Mt 26:64). In Lu 22:67, 68, some other words are given, "If I tell you, ye will not believe; and if I also ask you, ye will not answer Me, nor let Me go." This seems to have been uttered before giving His direct answer, as a calm remonstrance and dignified protest against the prejudgment of His case and the unfairness of their mode of procedure.
and ye shall see the Son of man, &c.—This concluding part of our Lord's answer is given somewhat more fully by Matthew and Luke. "Nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter [rather, 'From henceforth'] shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven" (Mt 26:64; Lu 22:69).—that is, I know the scorn with which ye are ready to meet such an avowal: To your eyes, which are but eyes of flesh, there stands at this bar only a mortal like yourselves, and He at the mercy of the ecclesiastical and civil authorities: "Nevertheless," a day is coming when ye shall see another sight: Those eyes, which now gaze on Me with proud disdain, shall see this very prisoner at the right hand of the Majesty on high, and coming in the clouds of heaven: Then shall the judged One be revealed as the Judge, and His judges in this chamber appear at His august tribunal; then shall the unrighteous judges be impartially judged; and while they are wishing that they had never been born, He for whom they now watch as their Victim shall be greeted with the hallelujahs of heaven, and the welcome of Him that sitteth upon the throne! Mr 14:63, 64:
Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy—"of his own mouth" (Lu 22:71); an affectation of religious horror.
What think ye?—"Say, what verdict would ye pronounce."
They all condemned Him to be guilty of death—of a capital crime. (See Le 24:16). Mr 14:65:
And some began to spit on Him—"Then did they spit in His face" (Mt 26:67). See Isa 50:6.
And to cover His face, and to buffet Him, and to say unto Him, Prophesy—or, "divine," "unto us, Thou Christ, who is he that smote Thee?" The sarcasm in styling Him the Christ, and as such demanding of Him the perpetrator of the blows inflicted upon Him, was in them as infamous as to Him it was stinging.
and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands—"And many other things blasphemously spake they against him" (Lu 22:65). This general statement is important, as showing that virulent and varied as were the recorded affronts put upon Him, they are but a small specimen of what He endured on that black occasion.
28. Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas to the hall of judgment—but not till "in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council against Him to put Him to death, and bound Him" (Mt 27:1; and see on Mr 15:1). The word here rendered "hall of judgment" is from the Latin, and denotes "the palace of the governor of a Roman province."
they themselves went not into the judgment hall lest they should be defiled—by contact with ceremonially unclean Gentiles.
but that they might eat the passover—If this refer to the principal part of the festival, the eating of the lamb, the question is, how our Lord and His disciples came to eat it the night before; and, as it was an evening meal, how ceremonial defilement contracted in the morning would unfit them for partaking of it, as after six o'clock it was reckoned a new day. These are questions which have occasioned immense research and learned treatises. But as the usages of the Jews appear to have somewhat varied at different times, and our present knowledge of them is not sufficient to clear up all difficulties, they are among the not very important questions which probably will never be entirely solved.
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