Mark 15
ICC New Testament Commentary
And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate.

15:1-15. The Sanhedrim have found in Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah a basis of procedure against him under Jewish law. The claim they judged to be blasphemy. It appears now that they made use of the same before Pilate. For the first question that Pilate asks is whether Jesus is king of the Jews, evidently reflecting in this the charge on which Jesus has been brought to him. Jesus assents to this, but Pilate is well enough informed about the affairs of his province to know that the claim as made by Jesus does not amount to treason, and involves no harm to the state. Otherwise, the case would have been complete. The chief priests, seeing that it is not, proceed to make various charges, to which Jesus makes no reply. Just how the next step is brought about we are not told, but probably it is a device of Pilate’s to use the sympathy of the people against the malice of the authorities, and so justify himself in releasing Jesus. In a case like this, it would be the policy of the empire not only to decide the question on its merits, but to conciliate the people. At any rate, the question of releasing to the people a political prisoner being brought up, he asks them if he shall release to them the king of the Jews. But the chief priests, knowing that the hope of the people had been for a political Messiah, and that Jesus had disappointed that hope, found it easy to stir up the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas, who had been in a political plot, and even the crucifixion of Jesus. And Pilate following the Roman policy, acceded to their demand.

1. Καὶ εὐθὺς πρωῒ συμβούλιον ἑτοιμάσαντες—And immediately in the morning, having made ready a concerted plan of action. It is evident that their formal procedure had been the night before, resulting in the condemnation of Jesus, 14:64. On the contrary, this morning meeting was an informal gathering to decide on a plan of action before Pilate. συμβούλιον with ἑτοιμάζειν denotes not a consultation, but the result of the consultation, a concerted plan of action.1 This is the reverse of Jewish legal process, which would have allowed the informal gathering at night, but a judicial procedure only during the day.2 Lk. makes this trial in the morning to be the one in which they extract from Jesus the confession that he is the Messiah. In fact, in Mt. and Mk. the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrim is at night, in Lk., on the contrary, it is in the morning.3 κ. ὅλον τὸ συνέδριον—The AV. translates here so as to make these words a part of those dependent on μετὰ, with. But they belong with οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς. The RV. translates properly; The chief priests with the elders and scribes, and all the council. τῷ Πιλάτῳ—this is the first time that Pilate has been mentioned in Mt. or Mk. Lk. tells us that he was procurator of Judæa at the time that John the Baptist began his work,4 and we know from other sources that he had been procurator for three years at that time. Judæa had been a part of the Roman province of Syria since a.d. 6, and was governed by a Roman procurator, whose residence was Cæsarea. Pilate was sixth in the line of these. His presence at Jerusalem was on account of the Passover, and the danger of disturbance owing to the influx of Jews at the feast.

Omit ἐπὶ τὸ before πρωῒ, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCDL 46, mss. Lat. Vet. Egyptt. ἑτοιμάσαντες, instead of ποιήσαντες, Tisch. WH. marg. א CL. Internal evidence favors this more difficult reading.

2. σὺ εἶ ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων;—Art thou the king of the Jews? The pronoun is emphatic, and probably disdainful. Pilate ridicules the charge. Σὺ λέγεις—Thou sayest. A Jewish form of assent. In Luke 22:70, Luke 22:71, this formula is treated by the Sanhedrim as assenting to their questions. And in Mark 14:62, ἐγώ εἰμι is given as the equivalent of σὺ εἶπας in Matthew 26:64. Nevertheless, the ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι of Luke 22:70, and John 18:37, ὅτι βασιλεύς εἰμι, show that it is not the same as if he had merely assented, that the form of assent is such as to admit of adjuncts inappropriate to mere ordinary assent. On the other hand, it does not seem in any of the N.T. passages quoted to differ essentially from assent.5 Here, as in the trial before the Sanhedrim, this is the one question that Jesus answers. It is the only question on which his own testimony is important, and absolutely necessary. Left to the testimony of others, and of his own life, this essential thing, which is the key to the whole situation, would be subject to the ridicule with which Pilate treats it. In spite of all appearances to the contrary, he says, I am King. It is another and entirely different question, whether his kingship interfered with the State, and so made him amenable to its law. And just because that question would have to receive a negative answer, and so would seem to deny kingship in any accepted sense, he had to affirm that claim.

αὐτῷ λέγει, instead of εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCD Memph. 1, 127, 209, 258, read λέγει αὐτῷ.

3. Καὶ κατηγόρουν αὐτοῦ οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς πολλά—And the chief priests brought many accusations against him. This was evidently because Pilate was not convinced by their statement that he claimed to be a king. Under the Roman system, the governor of a province was supposed to keep the central government informed of whatever was going on in his jurisdiction, and this system was so perfected that there would be little chance for a work like that of Jesus to go on without the cognizance of the Roman deputies. Pilate’s whole attitude shows that he understood the case, so that he was not alarmed by a charge, which in any other circumstances he could not have treated so cavalierly. Lk. tells us something about these charges.1 Of course, the principal one was his claim to be a king, the Messianic King, which Jesus admits. To this they added that he stirs up the people, and forbids to pay tribute to Cæsar. This is what is needed to give a treasonable character to the main charge. If these acts could be proved, they would be overt acts of treason. And the fact that Pilate pays so little attention to them, and does not treat Jesus’ silence in face of them as an evidence of guilt, proves conclusively that he understood the facts.

4. ἐπηρώτα αὐτόν, (λέγων) … πόσα σου κατηγοροῦσιν—asked him, (saying) … how many charges they bring against you.

ἐπηρώτα, instead of -τησεν, Tisch. Treg. WH. BU 13, 33, 69, 124, two mss. Lat. Vet. Harcl. marg. Omit λέγων, Tisch. (WH.) א* 1, 209, one ms. Lat. Vet. Theb. κατηγοροῦσιν, instead of καταμαρτυροῦσιν, bear witness against, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אBCD 1, Latt. Memph.

οὐκέτι οὐδὲν ἀπεκρίθη—no longer answered anything; viz. after the first question. Jesus’ silence is due to the fact that his life is a sufficient answer to these charges. The fact of his kingship would seem to men to be denied or rendered doubtful by the events of his life, and to that, therefore, he needed to testify. But as to these questions, involving the interference of his kingdom with the State the facts were enough. And Jesus knew, moreover, that Pilate was cognizant of these facts. As to stirring up the people, he had done just the opposite, he had repressed them, and one of the significant facts given to us in the Synoptists is his wise silence in regard to his Messianic claim, lest the people should be stirred up by false hopes. And as to forbidding the payment of tribute to Cæsar, he had, instead, commanded it. That is, he had used his authority to enforce that of the State, not to overthrow it. Pilate’s course throughout shows that he appreciated the situation, and that at no time in the trial did he consider the charges against Jesus of any weight whatever. θαυμάζειν—No wonder that Pilate wondered. It is one of the places where the heavenly way seems not only unaccountable to men, but also somehow admirable. The Sanhedrim, knowing that they were weak on the side of facts, added to these protestations and clamor, and wily personal appeal, intent only on carrying their point. Jesus, strong in his innocence, brings no pressure to bear, beyond that of simply the facts, which he allows to do all the talking for him. There is no doubt which method secures immediate ends in this world. Jesus says about the men who use the worldly way, Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But neither is there any doubt which secures large ends, and wins in the long run. It is not only the truth, but the method of truth that prevails at last.1

6. Κατὰ δὲ ἑορτὴν ἀπέλυεν—Now at the Feast he was in the habit of releasing. The AV. obscures everything here. This custom is quite probable, and is in line with what we know of Roman policy. It was a part of the Roman administration of conquered provinces, a policy of conciliation. But there is no mention of it elsewhere.

ὃν παρῃτοῦντο, instead of ὅνπερ ᾐτοῦντο, Tisch. Treg. marg. WH. RV. א* AB*

7. στασιαστῶν … στάσει—insurgents … insurrection. These words tell the story of Barabbas. He was just what the Jews accused Jesus of being, a man who had raised a revolt against the Roman power. He was a political prisoner, and it was only such that the Jews would be interested to have released to them. Their interests and those of Rome were opposed, and a man who revolted against Rome was regarded as a patriot. The fact that they asked for Barabbas shows that they were insincere in bringing charges against Jesus.

στασιαστῶν, instead of συστασιαστῶν, fellow-insurgents, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCDK 1, 13, 69, Theb.

8. καὶ ἀναβὰς ὁ ὄχλος ἤρξατο αἰτεῖσθαι, καθὼς ἐποίει αὐτοῖς—and the crowd, having come up, began to ask (him to do) as he was wont to do for them.

ἀναβὰς, instead of ἀναβοήσας, having cried out, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BD, mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg. Egyptt. Omit ἀεὶ, always, Tisch. WH. RV. א B Δ Egyptt.

9. θέλετε ἀπολύσω ὑμῖν τὸν βασιλέα τῶν Ἰουδαίων—Do you wish me to release to you the king of the Jews? Pilate has been informed evidently by the chief priests, that it is the people themselves who have invested Jesus with this title, on his entry into Jerusalem. And he uses the term here, expecting their sympathy.1

10. διὰ φθόνον—on account of envy. He knew that it was the popularity of Jesus with the multitudes that had aroused the jealousy of the rulers against him, and he hoped that he could make use of that now to secure his release.

11. οἱ δὲ ἀρχιερεῖς ἀνέσεισαν τὸν ὄχλον, ἵνα μᾶλλον τὸν Βαραββᾶν ἀπολύσῃ αὐτοῖς—but the chief priests stirred up the multitude, that he should rather release Barabbas to them. This was the first time in the life of Jesus that the people had turned against him. And while, of course, the fickleness of the crowd is always to be taken into account, there were other elements at work here, which made the people especially pliable. It was a case of regulars against an irregular, of priests against prophet, and popular preference is always evenly balanced between these. But the great thing was the cruel disappointment of the people after the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. He had raised their hopes to the highest pitch then, only to dash them to the ground again by his subsequent inaction and powerlessness. It was no use for them to ask for the release of a king who had just abdicated.

12. ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς, Τί οὖν (θέλετε) ποιήσω (ὃν) λέγετε τὸν βασιλέα τῶν Ἰουδαίων;—said to them, What then shall I do (do you wish me to do) with him whom you call the king of the Jews? Or, What then do you tell me to do with the king of the Jews? The reading ὃν λέγετε τ. βασιλέα τ. Ἰουδαίων so evidently preserves to us an element of the situation, which a copyist would not think of, that it is to be retained. The fact that it was the people themselves who had invested Jesus with this title Pilate would be certain to use here, so that the ὃν λέγετε evidently belongs to this transaction. But it is just the thing that a copyist would lose sight of, as out of harmony with the present hostile attitude of the people. It is because Pilate remembered this, that he still hoped that he might find in the people, if not a demand for the release of Jesus, at least some manifestation of indifference that would show him that the cry for his death was not a popular demand, and then he could afford to go against the rulers. He was evidently determined to yield to nothing except popular pressure, and that he hoped Jesus’ previous popularity might avert.

ἔλεγεν, instead of εἶπεν, Tisch. Treg. WH. א BC Harcl. Omit θέλετε, WH. RV. א BCD 1, 13, 33, 69, Egyptt. Omit ὃν before λέγετε, WH. B Omit ὃν λέγετε, Treg. (Treg. marg.) AD 1, 13, 69, 118, Latt. Theb.

13. Σταύρωσον αὐτόν—Crucify him. An extreme probably to which they would not have gone except for the instigation of the priests. But having lost their confidence in Jesus, they were ready to follow their accustomed leaders.

14. Τί γὰρ ἐποίησεν κακόν;—Why, what evil did he do?1 Pilate still hoped that by this unanswerable question he might confuse the people, and stop their clamor. περισσῶς ἔκραξαν—they cried vehemently. The previous statement is, they cried. Now, the cry becomes vehement. Pilate’s endeavor to check it only adds vehemence to it.

περισσῶς, instead of περισσοτέρως, more vehemently, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א ABCDGHKM ΔΠ

This verse defines exactly the state of the case. Pilate insists so far that the people shall give him some ground for proceeding against Jesus, and even hints that he does not think that there is any good reason for it. That is, up to this point, he acts as the judge. The people, on the other hand, confess judgment by their refusal to answer Pilate’s question, implying that they have no case. And they fall back on popular clamor, simply reiterating their demand that Jesus be put to death.

15. βουλόμενος τῷ ὄχλῳ τὸ ἱκανὸν ποιῆσαι—wishing to satisfy the multitude. The AV., willing to content the people, is weak, especially in its translation of βουλόμενος. φραγελλώσας2—having scourged him. This was a part of the procedure in case of crucifixion, and whether its object was merciful or not, its effect was certainly to mitigate the slow torture of crucifixion, by hastening death.3

This statement of Pilate’s reason is again a reflection of the Roman policy in dealing with the provinces. As a matter of policy,—and this would be the Roman method of dealing with suchs a case,—there would be no reason against the crucifixion of Jesus, now that the people had joined hands with the rulers against him; whereas, the popular clamor would constitute a reason of state which Pilate, under the Roman policy, would be obliged to consider. Pilate, that is to say, lays aside judicial considerations, and deals with it as a matter of imperial policy. So, substantially, Mt. and Lk. According to J. the Jews returned to the political charge, and insisted on the treasonable nature of Jesus’ claim to be a king.1 The two accounts are inconsistent. According to one, the charges are given up. According to the other, while the attempt to prove them is given up, the political effect of them is insisted on, and it is this which turns the scale against Jesus.


16-21. Jesus is delivered up to the Roman soldiers for the execution of the sentence against him. They have learned the nature of the charge against him, and proceed to make sport of it. For this purpose they take him to the palace, and gather the whole cohort on duty in the city at the time. There they clothe him in mock purple, and put a crown made of the twigs of the thorn bush on his head, and pay him mock homage, saying “Hail, King of the Jews.” Then they put on him his own garments, and lead him out to the place of crucifixion. As Jesus has been exhausted by the scourging, they press into the service one Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus,—probably names that afterwards became familiar in the circle of disciples,—and make him carry the cross.

16. τοῦ ἡγεμόνος—the procurator. Properly, it is the title of the “legatus Cæsaris,” the governor of an imperial province. But in the N.T., it is used of the procurator, Grk. ἐπίτροπος, διοικητής, a subordinate officer of the province, who became practically the governor of the district of the larger province to which he was attached. Judæa, being part of the province of Syria, Pilate was properly procurator, or ἐπίτροπος, but the N.T. gives him the title ἡγεμών, which belongs strictly to the governor of the whole province.1

ἔσω τῆς αὐλῆς—within the palace, which is the residence of the procurator during his stay in Jerusalem. The explanatory clause, which is the prœtorium, i.e. the residence of the Roman governor, makes that meaning certain here.2 σπεῖραν—this word is used exactly for the Roman cohort, or tenth part of a legion, numbering six hundred men. It accords with this, that χιλίαρχος, tribune, is used in the N.T. to denote the commander of the σπεῖρα.

17. ἐνδιδύσκουσιν—they put on.3 πορφύραν—Mt. says χλαμύδα κοκκίνην—a scarlet cloak, and this is probably the more correct account, owing to the military use of the chlamys.4 πορφύραν represents the spirit of the act, to invest Jesus with the mock semblance of royalty: χλαμύδα tells us what they used for the purpose. ἀκάνθινον—made of the twigs of the thorn bush, not of the thorns themselves exclusively.

ἐνδιδύσκουσιν, instead of ἐνδύουσιν, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCDF Δ, 1,13, 69.

18. ἀσπάζεσθαι—to salute. This word, in itself, does not contain the idea of homage, but of greeting. It depends on circumstances what the greeting is. Here, they greeted him with a Hail, King of the Jews.

19. They varied their abuse, sometimes paying him mock homage, and sometimes marks of scorn and abuse. προσεκύνουν αὐτῳ—they did him homage. They paid him mock homage as a king, not mock worship as a God.

20. Καὶ ὅτε ἐνέπαιξαν αὐτῷ—And when they had mocked him.5 τὰ (ἴδια) ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ—his (own) garments.

αὐτοῦ, instead of τὰ ἴδια, WH. RV. BC Δ. τὰ ἴδια ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ, Tisch. א (282, without αὐτοῦ). σταυρώσουσιν, instead of -σωσιν, Tisch. Treg. ACDLNP Δ 33, 69, 245, 252 Omit αὐτόν, Tisch. א D 122 ** two mss. Lat. Vet.

ἀγγαρεύουσι—they impress.6 Κυρηναῖον—Cyrene is the city in the north of Africa, opposite Greece, on the Mediterranean. There was a numerous colony of Jews there, and the name Simon shows this man to have been a Jew. It adds nothing to our knowledge of him to call him the father of Alexander and Rufus, except to indicate that these were names known to the early church. It is the height of foolish conjecture to identify this Rufus with the one in Romans 16:13, and especially to take Paul’s τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ κ. ἐμοῦ as literal, and so make him the brother of Paul. The criminal carried his own cross to the place of execution, but in this case, Jesus was probably so weakened already by his sufferings, as to be unable to carry it himself.


21-41. Arrived at the place of crucifixion, called Golgotha, they gave Jesus wine flavored with myrrh to drink, which he refused. The wine was probably given as a stimulant in his exhausted condition. After the Roman custom, his garments were distributed by lot among the four executioners. The crucifixion took place at nine o’clock in the morning. An inscription, “The King of the Jews,” was placed upon the cross as a statement of the charge against him. Two robbers were crucified with him, one on each side, and joined the crowd and the rulers in taunting him. The people wagged their heads derisively, and challenged him, who was going to destroy and rebuild the temple, to save himself. The rulers taunted him with his miracles, bidding him who had saved others to save himself, and to prove his Messianic claim by coming down from the cross. At twelve o’clock, darkness fell over the land until three o’clock, when Jesus cried, “My God, why didst thou forsake me?” The resemblance of the Heb. My God to Elijah led certain to think that he was calling upon Elijah, and one man, having filled a sponge with sour wine which he gave Jesus at the end of a reed, cried out, “Let us see if Elijah comes to take him down.” Jesus expired with a great cry, and the vail of the temple, which separates between the holy place and the holy of holies, was rent in twain. The centurion in charge of the crucifying party, seeing the portents accompanying his death, said, “Truly this was a son of God.” The account ends with a statement of the women at the cross.

22. τὸν Γολγοθᾶν τόπον—the place Golgotha. The Hebrew word means, a skull, not the place of a skull. The name probably comes from the shape of the place.

τὸν Γολγοθᾶν τόπον, instead of Γολγοθᾶ τόπον, Tisch. WH. (τὸν) Γολγοθὰ, Treg. τὸν, א BC2 FLN Δ, 13, 33, 69, 124, 127, 131, 346. Γολγοθὰν, א BFGKLMNSUV ΓΔ.

23. Καὶ ἐδίδουν αὐτῳ ἐσμυρμισμένον οἶνον—And they gave him wine flavored with myrrh.

Omit πιεῖν, to drink, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BC* L Δ, one ms. Lat. Vet. Memph.

ἐσμυρμισμένον—mingled with myrrh. Mt. says, with gall. Myrrh seems to have been used by Greek and Roman women to remove its intoxicating quality. But that could not have been its intention here. The common account seems to be that the myrrh was used as a stupefying drug, but no evidence for this appears. The wine was evidently used as a stimulant, and the myrrh adds to this effect, bracing and warming the system.1

24. Καὶ σταυροῦσιν αὐτόν, καὶ διαμερίζονται—And they crucify him, and divide.

σταυροῦσιν αὐτόν, καὶ, instead of σταυρώσαντες αὐτόν, having crucified him, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. BL, mss. Lat. Vet. Egyptt. διαμερίζονται, instead of διεμέριζον, divided, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א ABCDLPX ΓΔΠ

On the method of crucifixion, see B.D. The cross was generally just high enough to raise the feet above the ground. In this case it must have been higher. See v. 36. The victim was placed upon it before the cross was elevated, his hands and feet being fastened to it by nails, and his body being supported by a peg fastened into the wood between his legs. The dividing of the garments among the soldiers who acted as executioners was customary. J. 19:23, 24 tells the story of the lot differently. According to that, it was only the inner garment, the χιτών, over which they cast lots, instead of dividing it, as they did the other garments.

25. ἦν δὲ ὥρα τρίτη, καὶ ἐσταύρωσαν αὐτόν—and it was the third hour, and they crucified him.2 ὥρα τρίτη—9 O’ clock. Mk. is the only one who gives this hour of the crucifixion.

26. ἐπιγράφη … ἐπιγεγραμμένη—the inscription was inscribed. The prep. does not denote the position of this over his head, but its inscription on the tablet. The EV. conveys a wrong idea, not of the fact, but of the meaning of the words. Ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων—The king of the Jews. Verse 14 shows that Pilate’s verdict was that Jesus was innocent of any crime, and that he only yielded finally to the clamor of the people in sentencing him. But v. 2, 9, 12, 18 show that this claim to be king was the charge on which the authorities asked for sentence. It was, that is to say, a charge of treason.

27. λῃστάς—robbers, not thieves, AV. Men who plundered by violence, not by stealth.

28. Omit. The quotation is from Isaiah 53:12. Such quotations are not after Mk.’s manner.

Omit v. 28, Tisch. WH. RV. (Treg.) א ABC* and 3 DX, one ms. Lat. Vet. Theb.

29, 30. These taunts that follow have all the single point that now is the time to test all of Jesus’ pretensions, especially to supernatural power and aid, and that his powerlessness now at this supreme moment makes these pretensions absurd. Οὐα,1 ὁ καταλύων τὸν ναόν, καὶ οἰκοδομῶν (ἐν) τρισὶν ἡμέραις, σῶσον σεαυτόν, καταβὰς ἀπὸ τοῦ σταυροῦ—Ha, you that destroy the temple, and build it in three days,2 save yourself by coming down from the cross. The part. καταβὰς denotes the manner of σῶσον. The populace seize on this claim, the only one that Jesus ever made of the same kind, and match its seeming pretentiousness against his powerlessness now.

καταβὰς, instead of καὶ κατάβα, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א ABDgr. LΔ, one mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg. Memph.

31. Ὁμοίως καὶ οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς ἐμπαίζοντες πρὸς ἀλλήλους—Likewise also the chief priests mocking to each other. RV. among themselves. The prep. denotes how the mocking was passed from one to another.

Omit δὲ, and, after ὁμοίως, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א ABC*, LPX ΓΔΠ, one ms. Lat. Vet. Vulg. Memph. Harcl.

These mocking priests and scribes were touching here upon what to all his contemporaries was the great mystery in the life of Jesus, but was really its crowning glory. The great obstacle in the way of human obedience to Divine law is the sacrifice which it involves, especially in a world where everything works the other way. And on the other hand, the value and importance of obedience are enhanced by this sacrifice. But our Lord’s sacrifice for righteousness’ sake is magnified again by the contrast stated here. His miracles were a standing proof of his power to save others and himself. But while he used that power in the behalf of others, when the crisis of his own fate came, he was apparently powerless. Evidently, there was no limitation of the power, and so, there must have been a restraint imposed upon himself. He not only would not compromise with evil, he would not resist evil by opposing force to force. The taunt of his enemies meant that here was the final test of his miraculous power, and the proof of its unreality. When that test came, it showed, as they thought, that God was not on his side, else how could his enemies triumph over him? Whereas, everything pointed the other way. His miracles were real, God was on his side, and yet neither he nor God would lift a hand to save him. And the evident reason was that he would not cheapen his righteousness by making it safe. If he lived the righteous life, but did not incur the risks of other men in such living, his righteousness would lose the power to produce righteousness in other men which he sought. And, instead of revealing and furthering God’s ways among men, it would obstruct them by introducing an alien principle at cross purposes with them. God’s way is to establish righteousness by the self-sacrifice of righteous men, and for the one unique and absolute saint to avoid that sacrifice would destroy the self propagating power of his righteousness.

32. ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἰσραήλ. These titles were intended to bring out the contrast between his claims and his situation, and the certainty that if his claims were real, he would be saved from the incongruity and absurdity of that situation. A crucified Messiah, forsooth! Let us hear no more of it. If he is really the Messianic King, let him use his Messianic power, and deliver himself from his ridiculous position by coming down from the cross. He wants us to believe in him, and here is an easy way to bring that about. They could see the apparent absurdity of Jesus’ position, but not the foolishness of their idea that an act of power is going to change a Pharisee, a narrow-minded, formal, and hypocritical legalist, into a spiritual man, in sympathy with Christ’s principles and purposes. Here was the irreconcilable opposition; on the one hand, that power can create the Kingdom of God; and on the other, that power is absolutely powerless to do anything but hinder spiritual ends. Καὶ οἱ συνεσταυρωμένοι σὺν αὐτῷ …—And those crucified with him reviled him. So Mt. Lk., however, 23:39-43, says that only one took part in this railing, while the other by his confession of Jesus on the cross performed the most notable act of faith of that generation.1

Insert σὺν before αὐτῷ, Tisch. WH. א BL.

33. Καὶ γενομένης ὥρας ἕκτης, σκότος ἐγένετο—And the sixth hour having come, darkness came. This darkness was not an eclipse, since it was full moon, but like the earthquake and the rending of the vail of the temple, a supernatural manifestation of the sympathy of nature with these events in the spiritual realm. All the Synoptists relate this darkness.

Καὶ γενομένης, instead of γενομένης δὲ, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BDGLMS Δ 1, 28, 33, 69, mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg. Memph. Pesh.

34. Καὶ τῇ ἐνάτῃ ὥρᾳ ἐβόησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς φωνῇ μεγάλῃ Ἐλωΐ, Ἐλωΐ, λαμὰ σαβαχθανεί;2—And at the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? The historical meaning of σαβαχθανεί is not to leave alone, but to leave helpless, denoting, not the withdrawal of God himself, but of his help, so that the Psalmist is delivered over into the hands of his enemies. So that, while it is possible to suppose that Jesus is uttering a cry over God’s withdrawal of himself, it is certainly unnecessary. Such a desertion, or even the momentary unconsciousness of the Divine presence on the part of Jesus, makes an insoluble mystery in the midst of what is otherwise profound, but not obscure. Interpreted in the spirit of the original, of the withholding of the Divine help, so that his enemies had their will of him, it falls in with the prayer in Gethsemane, “remove this cup from me,” and becomes a question, while the cup is at his lips, why it was not removed.

Omit λέγων, saying, before Ἐλωΐ, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BDL, mss. Lat. Vet. Memph.

35. Ἴδε, Ἠλείαν φωνεῖ—See, he is calling Elijah. Ἴδε is used here as an interjection, calling attention to what is going on. As Jesus used Aramaic, and as Elijah was unknown to them, this cannot have been the soldiers, but some of the bystanders. And the misunderstanding was impossible, if they heard anything more than merely the name, or even that in any but the most indistinct fashion. The prophetic association of Elijah with the day of the Lord would help this misunderstanding.1

36. Δραμὼν δέ τις, γεμίσας σπόγγον ὄξους, περιθεὶς καλάμῳ, ἐπότιζεν αὐτόν, λέγων, Ἄφετε, etc.—And one ran, and filled a sponge with sour wine,2 which he put on a reed, and gave him drink, saying, Let be; etc. This is evidently a merciful act, and the Ἄφετε indicates that there was some opposition to it offered or expected, which this supposed call upon Elijah gave the man a pretext for setting aside. He said virtually, Let me give him this, and so prolong his life, and then we shall get an opportunity to see whether Elijah comes to help him or not. As Mt. tells it,3 these are probably the words with which the bystanders try to restrain his gracious act. They say virtually, Don’t interfere; let Elijah help him.

τις, instead of εἷς, the indef., instead of the numeral one, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BL Δ. Omit καὶ, and, before γεμίσας, WH. RV. BL, one ms. Lat. Vet. Memph. Omit τε after περιθείς, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BDgr. L 33, 67, Memph.

37. ἀφεὶς φωνὴν μεγάλην4—having sent forth, or uttered a great cry. The final cry of his agony, with which he expired.

38. τὸ καταπέτασμα τοῦ ναοῦ—the vail, or curtain of the sanctuary. ναός is the shrine of a temple, and in the Jewish temple, the Holy of Holies, in which was the Ark of the Covenant. The curtain was that which separated this from the Holy Place. The ναός was the place where God manifested himself, into which the High Priest only had access once a year. The rending of the vail would signify therefore the removal of the separation between God and the people, and the access into his presence. It is narrated by all the Synoptists.

39. κεντυρίων5—centurion. οὕτω ἐξέπνευσεν—so expired. The only thing narrated by Mk. to which the οὕτω can refer is the darkness over all the land. So Lk. Mt. adds to this an earthquake. The portent(s) accompanying the death of Jesus convinced the centurion that he was υἱὸς θεοῦ, not the Son of God, but a son of God, a hero after the heathen conception. Lk. says δίκαιος, a righteous man.

Omit κράξας after οὕτω, Tisch. WH. א BL Memph. It changes the statement from he expired with this cry to he so expired. The former would really give no reason for the centurion’s exclamation.

40. ἡ Μαγδαληνή—the Magdalene, the same as we say, the Nazarene. It denotes an inhabitant of Magdala, a town on the W. shore of the Lake of Galilee, three miles north of Tiberias. The only identification of her given in the Gospels is in Luke 8:2, where she is said to be one out of whom Jesus had cast seven devils. There is absolutely no support for the tradition that she was the sinful woman who anointed the feet of Jesus (Luke 7:36 sq.). Μαρία ἡ Ἰακώβου τοῦ μικροῦ κ. Ἰωσῆτος—Mary, the mother of James the little, and of Joses. In the list of the apostles, James is called the son of Alphæus, while in J. 19:25, the name of one of the women standing by the cross is given as Mary, the wife of Clopas. These coincidences have led to the conjecture that Alphæus and Clopas are identical, both being Greek forms of the Aramaic חַלְפַּיִ, and that, therefore, this Mary was the mother of the second James in the list of the apostles. The further conjecture that she was the sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is based on the unnecessary supposition that Μαρία in J. 19:25, is in apposition with ἡ ἀδελφὴ. It involves the further difficulty of two sisters of the same name. It is connected, moreover, with the theory that the brothers of Jesus were cousins, the sons of this Mary, and apostles. This theory has against it, the fact that it is in the interest of the dogma of the perpetual virginity of Mary, the mother of Jesus. It also makes the brothers of Jesus apostles, which is clearly against the record.1 Σαλώμη—the mother of James and John. This is not directly stated, but it is inferred from a comparison of Matthew 27:56 with this passage. A further comparison with J. 19:25 has led to the conjecture that she is the sister of the mother of Jesus mentioned there. This might account for Jesus’ commending his mother to John, but it is conjecture only, and will remain so. James is called ὁ μικρός, the little, to distinguish him from the other “celebrities” of the name. But whether it designates him as less in stature, or in age, or of less importance, there are no data for determining.

Omit ἦν after ἐν αἶς, Tisch. (Treg.) WH. RV. א BL, mss. Vulg. Omit τοῦ before Ἰακώβου, Tisch. Treg. WH. א BCKU ΔΠ* 1, 11. Ἰωσῆτος, instead of Ἰωσῆ, Tisch. Treg. WH. א BDgr. L Δ 13, 33, 69, 346, two mss. Lat. Vet. Memph.

41. αἳ, ὅτε ἦν ἐν τῇ Γαλιλαίᾳ, ἠκολούθουν αὐτῷ—who, when he was in Galilee, followed him. These three had been associated with Jesus in his Galilean ministry, and the διηκόνουν, ministered, shows that they had been the women who attended to his wants, the women of the family-group surrounding him. Besides these, there were others who had attached themselves to him in the same way, when he came up to Jerusalem.

Omit καὶ after αί, Tisch. (Treg.) WH. RV. א B 33, 131, mss. Lat. Vet. Memph. Pesh.


42-47. Jesus died at about three in the afternoon, and as the Sabbath began with the sunset, it was necessary that whatever was done about his burial be accomplished before that time. So Joseph of Arimathea, who is represented in this Gospel, not as a disciple, but as somehow in sympathy with him, summoned up courage to go to Pilate, and beg the body of Jesus. Pilate wondered at the short time which it had taken the usually slow torture of crucifixion to do its work, and asked the centurion if he had been dead any length of time. Having got this information, he gave the body to Joseph. He removed the body from the cross, wrapped it in linen, and placed it in a sepulchre hewn out of the rock. As the women were intending to embalm the body after the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where it was laid.

42. ἐπεὶ ἦν παρασκευή—since it was preparation day (for the Sabbath). This gives the reason why Joseph took this step at this time. The removal of the body would have been unlawful on the Sabbath. ὅ ἐστι προσάββατον1—which is the day before the Sabbath. We are told by Josephus that this preparation for the Sabbath began on the ninth hour of the sixth day. It is not mentioned in the O.T.

43. ἐλθὼν Ἰωσὴφ ὁ ἀπὸ Ἀριμαθαίας—Joseph of Arimathea, having come. Arimathea, the Heb. Ramah, was the name of several places in Palestine. Probably, this was the one mentioned in the O.T. as the birthplace of Samuel in Mt. Ephraim.2 Mt. tells us about this Joseph that he was rich, and a disciple of Jesus. Lk., that he was a righteous man, and not implicated in the plot of the Jews against Jesus, and that he was expecting the kingdom of God. J., that he was a secret disciple. εὐσχήμων3 βουλευτής—an honorable member of the council (Sanhedrim). τολμήσας—having gathered courage. Having laid aside the fear of the odium which would attach to his act. ὃς καὶ αὐτὸς προσδεχόμενος τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ—This language is inconsistent with the supposition that this account regards him as a disciple of Jesus. It evidently means that he was in sympathy with the disciples in this element of their faith. He was not a follower of Jesus, but in common with him he was awaiting the kingdom of God, and wished to do honor to one who had suffered in its behalf.

ἐλθὼν, instead of ἦλθεν, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א ABCKLMU ΓΔΠ, Memph. Insert τὸν before Πειλᾶτον, Tisch. Treg. WH. א BL Δ 33. Πειλᾶτον, instead of Πιλάτον, Tisch. WH. א AB* D.

44. ὁ δὲ Πειλᾶτος ἐθαύμαζεν (-σεν) εἰ ἤδη τέθνηκε· καὶ … ἐπηρώτησεν εἰ πάλαι (ἤδη) ἀπέθανε—And Pilate was wondering (wondered) if he is already dead, and … asked him if it is any while since he died. Generally, death was more lingering, the great cruelty of crucifixion being in its slow torture. The question which Pilate asked of the centurion who had charge of the execution was intended to remove the doubt by showing that sufficient time had elapsed to establish the fact of Jesus’ death.

Πειλᾶτος, instead of Πιλᾶτος, same authorities as in v. 43. ἐθαύμαζεν, instead of -σεν, Tisch. א D mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg. The impf. is more in Mk.’s manner, the aor. more common. ἤδη, instead of πάλαι, Treg. WH. RV.marg. BD Memph. Hier. πάλαι is the more difficult reading to account for, if not in the original.

45. Καὶ γνοὺς ἀπὸ τοῦ κεντυρίωνος, ἐδωρήσατο τὸ πτῶμα1 τῷ Ἰωσήφ—And having found out from the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. The information that he obtained from the centurion was the official confirmation of Jesus’ death, necessary before the body could be taken down.

πτῶμα, instead of σῶμα, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BDL.

46. Καὶ ἀγοράσας σινδόνα, καθελὼν αὐτόν, ἐνείλησε τῇ σινδόνι, καὶ ἔθηκεν αὐτὸν ἐν μνήματι—And having bought a linen cloth, he took him down, wrapped him in the linen cloth, and put him in a tomb. There was no time before the Sabbath for any further preparation of the body for burial.2 J., however, says that he was embalmed at this time.3 The synoptical account is evidently correct.

Omit καὶ before καθελὼν, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BDL Memph. ἔθηκεν, instead of κατέθηκεν, Treg. WH. RV. א BC2 DL. μνήματι, instead of μνημείῳ, Tisch. WH. א B.

47. Ἡ δὲ Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνὴ καὶ Μαρία Ἰωσῆτος ἐθεώρουν ποῦ τέθειται—And Mary (the) Magdalene, and Mary the mother of Joses, were observing where he was laid. Beheld, EV., is inadequate to translate the verb here, as it leaves out the idea of purpose. It is evident that they constituted themselves a party of observation.

τέθειται, instead of τίθεται, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אc ABCDL ΔΠ 33, 69, 131, 229, 238.

1 See Holtzmann.

2 See Edersheim, Life of Jesus, 2 Chronicles 13:3.

3Luke 22:66-71.

AV. Authorised Version.

RV. Revised Version.

4Luke 3:1.

Tisch. Tischendorf.

Treg. Tregelles.

WH. Westcott and Hort.

אԠCodex Sinaiticus.

B Codex Vaticanus.

C Codex Bezae.

D Codex Ephraemi.

L Codex Regius.

Lat. Vet. Vetus Latina.

Egyptt. Egyptian Versions.

marg. Revided Version marg.

5 See Thayer, Art. in Journal Bib. Lit. 1894.

Memph. Memphitic.

1 .Codex Basiliensis

209 An unnamed, valuable manuscript.

1Luke 23:5.

U Codex Nanianus.

13 Codex Regius.

33 Codex Regius.

69 Codex Leicestrensis.

Harcl. Harclean.

Theb. Thebaic.

Latt. Latin Versions.

1 Cf. Isaiah 53:7.

A Codex Alexandrinus.

K Codex Cyprius.

Vulg. Vulgate.

Δ̠Codex Sangallensis

1 So Weiss.

1 On this use of γάρ in questions, see Win. 53, 8 c). The answer to the question in such cases is causal with reference to what precedes, here with reference to Σταύρωσον αὐτόν.

G Codex Wolfi A.

H Codex Wolfi B.

M Codex Campianus.

Π̠Codex Petropolitianus

2 The Lat. verb flagellare. The Grk. verb is μαστιγόω.

3 Edersheim, Life of Jesus, p. 579.

1 J. 19:12-16.

1 See Thay.-Grm. Lex., B.D. Procurator.

2 On this use of αὐλή, see Thay.-Grm. Lex.

3 A biblical word.

4Matthew 27:28.

F Codex Borelli.

5 See Burton, 48, 52. This seems to belong to the cases in which B. considers the plup. necessary to the Grk. idiom. The earlier event is necessarily thought of as completed at the time of the subsequent event. Goodwin, Gr. Moods and Tenses, says that the aor. is used, instead of the plup., after particles of time.

N Codex Purpureus.

P Codex Guelpherbytanus.

6 A Persian word, meaning to press into the service of the royal couriers, ἄγγαροι. See Matthew 5:41.

346 Codex Ambrosianus.

S Codex Vaticanus.

V Codex Mosquensis.

Γ̠Codex Tischendorfianus

1 See Art. Myrrh, Encyclopædia Brit.

2 Meyer cites passages from Xen. and Thuc. to show that it was not uncommon to join a statement of time with the statement of what took place at the time by καί. But in all the passages which he cites, both the time and the event are additional matter, and may easily be connected in this way, the statement being the same as, when the time came, the event happened. But in this case, the time only is additional matter, the event, the crucifixion, being just mentioned in v. 24, so that this is the same as, it was three o’cl. when they crucified him. And for this, the independent statements connected by καί are not an idiomatic expression.

1 An onomatopoetic word belonging to Biblical Greek, and not found elsewhere in the N.T.

2 See 14:58.

1 Notice how exactly the language of v. 29-32 corresponds to Matthew 27:39-42, Matthew 27:44.

28 Codex Regius.

Pesh. Peshito.

2 These words are from Psalm 22:1. Ἐλωΐ is the Syriac form for the Heb. אֵלִי, Ἠλεί, which is the form given by Matthew 27:46. σαβαχθανεί is the Chaldaic form for the Heb. עֲזַבְתָּנִי azabtani. Mk. reproduces the language of Jesus, which translates the Heb. into the current language. The Grk. ὁ θεός μου, ὁ θεός μου, εἰς τἰ (ίνατί) ἐγκατε λιπές με; is from the Sept.

1 See Malachi 4:5.

2 The translation vinegar, EV., is incorrect, as it denotes the wine after it has passed the acetous fermentation; but this is simply the ordinary sour wine of the country, which would be procured probably from the soldiers.

3Matthew 27:48, Matthew 27:49.

4 Lat. emittere vocem.

5 κεντυρίων is the Latin name of the officer in charge of the execution. Mt. and Lk. give the Greek name ἑκατοντάρχης. The centurion commanded a maniple, or century, sixty of which made up the legion.

1 For statements of the two sides of this question, see B.D. Art. James and Brother

1 A Biblical word, found in the N.T. only here.

2 1 S. 1:1, 19.

3 εὐσχήμων means primarily elegant in appearance.

Hier. Jerusalem Lectionary.

1 For this word, see on 6:29.

2 See 16:1.

3 J. 19:39, 40.

And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto him, Thou sayest it.
And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing.
And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee.
But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled.
Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired.
And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection.
And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them.
But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?
For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.
But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them.
And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews?
And they cried out again, Crucify him.
Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him.
And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.
And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they call together the whole band.
And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head,
And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews!
And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him.
And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him.
And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.
And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull.
And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not.
And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take.
And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.
And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left.
And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.
And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days,
Save thyself, and come down from the cross.
Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save.
Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.
And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias.
And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down.
And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.
And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.
And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.
There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome;
(Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem.
And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,
Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counseller, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.
And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead.
And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph.
And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre.
And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid.
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