John 18:28
Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas to the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.
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(28) On the accusation before Pilate (John 18:28-38), comp. Notes on the parallels in Matthew 27:11-14; Mark 15:2-5; Luke 23:2-5.

The hall of judgment.—Literally, the Prœtorium. Comp. Note on Matthew 27:27. It is interesting to observe the various renderings which our translators have given for this one word. Here, “hall of judgment,” or “Pilate’s house,” and “judgment-hall;” John 18:33, “hall of judgment” without the marginal alternative; John 19:9, “judgment-hall;” in Matthew 27:27, “common-hall,” or “governor’s house;” in Mark 15:16, “prætorium” (the original word Anglicised); in Acts 23:35, “judgment-hall;” in Philippians 1:13, “palace,” this being perhaps the only passage where “palace” does not give the right meaning. (Comp. Note there.)

And it was early.—The Greek word occurs in the division of the night in Mark 13:35 (“even,” “midnight,” “cock-crowing,” “morning”) for the time between cock-crowing and sunrise, as we should say roughly, from three to six o’clock; but comp. Matthew 27:1, and Luke 22:66. We must remember that Pilate must have sent the band (John 18:3), and was therefore expecting its return.

And they themselves went not into the judgment hall.—They sent Jesus in under guard of the Roman band, while they remained outside.

But that they might eat the passover.—Comp. Excursus F: The Day of the Crucifixion of our Lord.



John 18:28 - John 18:40

John evidently intends to supplement the synoptic Gospels’ account. He tells of Christ’s appearance before Annas, but passes by that before Caiaphas, though he shows his knowledge of it. Similarly he touches lightly on the public hearing before Pilate, but gives us in detail the private conversation in this section, which he alone records. We may suppose that he was present at both the hearing before Annas and the interview within the palace between Jesus and Herod, for he would not be deterred from entering, as the Jews were, and there seems to have been no other impediment in the way. The passage has three stages-the fencing between the Sanhedrists and Pilate, the ‘good confession before Pontius Pilate,’ and the preference of Barabbas to Jesus.

I. The passage of arms between the priests and the governor.

‘It was early,’ probably before 6 A.M. A hurried meeting of the Sanhedrim had condemned Jesus to death, and the next thing was to get the Roman authority to carry out the sentence. The necessity of appeal to it was a bitter pill, but it had to be swallowed, for the right of capital punishment had been withdrawn. A ‘religious’ scruple, too, stood in the way-very characteristic of such formalists. Killing an innocent man would not in the least defile them, or unfit for eating the passover, but to go into a house that had not been purged of ‘leaven,’ and was further unclean as the residence of a Gentile, though he was the governor, that would stain their consciences-a singular scale of magnitude, which saw no sin in condemning Jesus, and great sin in going into Pilate’s palace! Perhaps some of our conventional sins are of a like sort.

Pilate was, probably, not over-pleased at being roused so early, nor at having to defer to a scruple which would to him look like insolence; and through all his bearing to the Sanhedrim a certain irritation shows itself, which sometimes flashes out in sarcasm, but is for the most part kept down. His first question is, perhaps, not so simple as it looks, for he must have had some previous knowledge of the case, since Roman soldiers had been used for the arrest. But, clearly, those who brought him a prisoner were bound to be the prosecutors.

Whether or not Pilate knew that his question was embarrassing, the rulers felt it so. Why did they not wish to formulate a charge? Partly from pride. They hugged the delusion that their court was competent to condemn, and wanted, as we all often do, to shut their eyes to a plain fact, as if ignoring it annihilated it. Partly because the charge on which they had condemned Jesus-that of blasphemy in calling Himself ‘the Son of God’-was not a crime known to Roman law, and to allege it would probably have ended in the whole matter being scornfully dismissed. So they stood on their dignity and tried to bluster. ‘We have condemned Him; that is enough. We look to you to carry out the sentence at our bidding.’ So the ‘ecclesiastical authority’ has often said to the ‘secular arm’ since then, and unfortunately the civil authority has not always been as wise as Pilate was.

He saw an opening to get rid of the whole matter, and with just a faint flavour of irony suggests that, as they have ‘a law’-which he, no doubt, thought of as a very barbarous code-they had better go by it, and punish as well as condemn. That sarcastic proposal compelled them to acknowledge their subjection. Pilate had given the reins the least touch, but enough to make them feel the bit; and though it went sore against the grain, they will own their master rather than lose their victim. So their reluctant lips say, ‘It is not lawful for us.’ Pilate has brought them on their knees at last, and they forget their dignity, and own the truth. Malicious hatred will eat any amount of dirt and humiliation to gain its ends, especially if it calls itself religious zeal.

John sees in the issue of this first round in the duel between Pilate and the rulers the sequence of events which brought about the fulfilment of our Lord’s prediction of His crucifixion, since that was not a Jewish mode of execution. This encounter of keen wits becomes tragical and awful when we remember Who it was that these men were wrangling about.

II. We have Jesus and Pilate; the ‘good confession,’ and the indifferent answer.

We must suppose that, unwillingly, the rulers had brought the accusation that Jesus had attempted rebellion against Rome. John omits that, because he takes it for granted that it is known. It is implied in the conversation which now ensued. We must note as remarkable that Pilate does not conduct his first examination in the presence of the rulers, but has Jesus brought to him in the palace. Perhaps he simply wished to annoy the accusers, but more probably his Roman sense of justice combined with his wish to assert his authority, and perhaps with a suspicion that there was something strange about the whole matter-and not least strange that the Sanhedrim, who were not enthusiastic supporters of Rome, should all at once display such loyalty-to make him wish to have the prisoner by himself, and try to fathom the business. With Roman directness he went straight to the point: ‘Art Thou the King of the Jews, as they have been saying?’ There is emphasis on ‘Thou’-the emphasis which a practical Roman official would be likely to put as he looked at the weak, wearied, evidently poor and helpless man bound before him. There is almost a touch of pity in the question, and certainly the beginning of the conviction that this was not a very formidable rival to Caesar.

The answer to be given depended on the sense in which Pilate asked the question, to bring out which is the object of Christ’s question in reply. If Pilate was asking of himself, then what he meant by ‘a king’ was one of earth’s monarchs after the emperor’s pattern, and the answer would be ‘No.’ If he was repeating a Jewish charge, then, ‘a king’ might mean the prophetic King of Israel, who was no rival of earthly monarchs, and the answer would be ‘Yes,’ but that ‘Yes’ would give Pilate no more reason to crucify Him than the ‘No’ would have given.

Pilate is getting tired of fencing, and impatiently answers, with true Roman contempt for subject-people’s thoughts as well as their weapons. ‘I . . . a Jew?’ is said with a curl of the firm lips. He points to his informants, ‘Thine own nation and the chief priests,’ and does not say that their surrender of a would-be leader in a war of independence struck him as suspicious. But he brushes aside the cobwebs which he felt were being spun round him, and comes to the point, ‘What hast Thou done?’ He is supremely indifferent to ideas and vagaries of enthusiasts. This poor man before him may call Himself anything He chooses, but his only concern is with overt acts. Strange to ask the Prisoner what He had done! It had been well for Pilate if he had held fast by that question, and based his judgment resolutely on its answer! He kept asking it all through the case, he never succeeded in getting an answer; he was convinced that Jesus had done nothing worthy of death, and yet fear, and a wish to curry favour with the rulers, drove him to stain the judge’s robe with innocent blood, from which he vainly sought to cleanse his hands.

Our Lord’s double answer claims a kingdom, but first shows what it is not, and then what it is. It is ‘not of this world,’ though it is in this world, being established and developed here, but having nothing in common with earthly dominions, nor being advanced by their weapons or methods. Pilate could convince himself that this ‘kingdom’ bore no menace to Rome, from the fact that no resistance had been offered to Christ’s capture. But the principle involved in these great words goes far beyond their immediate application. It forbids Christ’s ‘servants’ to assimilate His kingdom to the world, or to use worldly powers as the means for the kingdom’s advancement. The history of the Church has sadly proved how hard it is for Christian men to learn the lesson, and how fatal to the energy and purity of the Church the forgetfulness of it has been. The temptation to such assimilation besets all organised Christianity, and is as strong to-day as when Constantine gave the Church the paralysing gift of ‘establishing’ it as a kingdom ‘of this world.’

Pilate did pick out of this saying an increased certainty that he had nothing to fear from this strange ‘King’; and half-amused contempt for a dreamer, and half-pitying wonder at such lofty claims from such a helpless enthusiast, prompted his question, ‘Art Thou a king then?’ One can fancy the scornful emphasis on that ‘Thou.’ and can understand how grotesquely absurd the notion of his prisoner’s being a king must have seemed.

Having made clear part of the sense in which the avowal was to be taken, our Lord answered plainly ‘Yes.’ Thus before the high-priest, He declared Himself to be the Son of God, and before Pilate He claimed to be King, at each tribunal putting forward the claim which each was competent to examine-and, alas! at each meeting similar levity and refusal to inquire seriously into the validity of the claim. The solemn revelation to Pilate of the true nature of His kingdom and of Himself the King fell on careless ears. A deeper mystery than Pilate dreamed of lay beneath the double designation of His origin; for He not only had been ‘born’ like other men, but had ‘come into the world,’ having ‘come forth from the Father,’ and having been before He was born. It was scarcely possible that Pilate should apprehend the meaning of that duplication, but some vague impression of a mysterious personality might reach him, and Jesus would not have fully expressed His own consciousness if He had simply said, ‘I was born.’ Let us see that we keep firm hold of all which that utterance implies and declares.

The end of the Incarnation is to ‘bear witness to the truth.’ That witness is the one weapon by which Christ’s kingdom is established. That witness is not given by words only, precious as these are, but by deeds which are more than words. These witnessing deeds are not complete till Calvary and the empty grave and Olivet have witnessed at once to the perfect incarnation of divine love, to the perfect Sacrifice for the world’s sin, to the Victor over death, and to the opening of heaven to all believers. Jesus is ‘the faithful and true Witness,’ as John calls Him, not without reminiscences of this passage, just because He is ‘the First-begotten of the dead.’ As here He told Pilate that He was a ‘king,’ because a ‘witness,’ so John, in the passage referred to, bases His being ‘Prince of the kings of the earth’ on the same fact.

How little Pilate knew that he was standing at the very crisis of his fate! A yielding to the impression that was slightly touching his heart and conscience, and he, too, might have ‘heard’ Christ’s voice. But he was not ‘of the truth,’ though he might have been if he had willed, and so the words were wind to him, and he brushed aside all the mist, as he thought it, with the light question, which summed up a Roman man of the world’s indifference to ideas, and belief in solid facts like legions and swords. ‘What is truth?’ may be the cry of a seeking soul, or the sneer of a confirmed sceptic, or the shrug of indifference of the ‘practical man.’

It was the last in Pilate’s case, as is shown by his not waiting for an answer, but ending the conversation with it as a last shot. It meant, too, that he felt quite certain that this man, with his high-strained, unpractical talk about a kingdom resting on such a filmy nothing, was absolutely harmless. Therefore the only just thing for him to have done was to have gone out to the impatient crowd and said so, and flatly refused to do the dirty work of the priests for them, by killing an innocent man. But he was too cowardly for that, and, no doubt, thought that the murder of one poor Jew was a small price to pay for popularity with his troublesome subjects. Still, like all weak men, he was not easy in his conscience, and made a futile attempt to get the right thing done, and yet not to suffer for doing it. The rejection of Barabbas is touched very lightly by John, and must be left unnoticed here. The great contribution to our knowledge which John makes is this private interview between the King who reigns by the truth, and the representative of earthly rule, based on arms and worldly forces.John 18:28. Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment Το πραιτωριον, the pretorium, the governor’s palace. Properly speaking, the pretorium was that part of the palace where the soldiers kept guard, Mark 15:16; but in common language it was applied to the palace in general. The Jewish high-priests and elders sent Jesus hither that he might be tried by the Roman governor, Pilate, because they could not otherwise accomplish their purpose, the power of life and death being now taken out of their hands. And it was early — Although by this time it was broad daylight, yet it was early in the morning, and much sooner than the governor used to appear. It is therefore probable that he was called up on this extraordinary occasion; and they themselves went not into the judgment-hall — Or, into the palace, of which the judgment-hall was a part; lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the passover — Having purified themselves in order to eat the passover, they would not enter into the palace, which was the house of a heathen, for fear of contracting such defilement as might have rendered them incapable of eating the paschal-supper. They stood, therefore, before the palace, waiting for the governor, who on such occasions came out to them.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.See Matthew 27:1-2.

Hall of judgment - The praetorium - the same word that in Matthew 27:27, is translated "common hall." See the notes on that place. It was the place where the Roman proctor, or governor, heard and decided cases brought before him. Jesus had been condemned by the Sanhedrin, and pronounced guilty of death Matthew 26:66; but they had not power to carry their sentence into execution John 18:31, and they therefore sought that he might be condemned and executed by Pilate.

Lest they should be defiled - They considered the touch of a Gentile to be a defilement, and on this occasion, at least, seemed to regard it as a pollution to enter the house of a Gentile. They took care, therefore, to guard themselves against what they considered ceremonial pollution, while they were wholly unconcerned at the enormous crime of putting the innocent Saviour to death, and imbruing their hands in their Messiah's blood. Probably there is not anywhere to be found among men another such instance of petty regard to the mere ceremonies of the law and attempting to keep from pollution, at the same time that their hearts were filled with malice, and they were meditating the most enormous of all crimes. But it shows us how much more concerned men will be at the violation of the mere forms and ceremonies of religion than at real crime, and how they endeavor to keep their consciences at ease amid their deeds of wickedness by the observance of some of the outward ceremonies of religion by mere sanctimoniousness.

That they might eat the passover - See the notes at Matthew 26:2, Matthew 26:17. This defilement, produced by contact with a Gentile, they considered as equivalent to that of the contact of a dead body Leviticus 22:4-6; Numbers 5:2, and as disqualifying them to partake of the passover in a proper manner. The word translated "passover" means properly the paschal lamb which was slain and eaten on the observance of this feast. This rite Jesus had observed with his disciples the day before this. It has been supposed by many that he anticipated the usual time of observing it one day, and was crucified on the day on which the Jews observed it; but this opinion is improbable. The very day of keeping the ordinance was specified in the law of Moses, and it is not probable that the Saviour departed from the commandment. All the circumstances, also, lead us to suppose that he observed it at the usual time and manner, Matthew 26:17, Matthew 26:19. The only passage which has led to a contrary opinion is this in John; but here the word passover does not, of necessity, mean the paschal lamb. It probably refers to the Feast which followed the sacrifice of the lamb, and which continued seven days. Compare Numbers 28:16-17. The whole feast was called the Passover, and they were unwilling to defile themselves, even though the paschal lamb had been killed, because it would disqualify them for participating in the remainder of the ceremonies (Lightfoot).

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 [1903]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 [1904]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.

The chief priests having in their sanhedrim done with our Saviour’s case, and judged him worthy of death, as we read, Matthew 26:66 Mark 14:64; which two evangelists, with Luke, relate this history of Christ’s trial before the sanhedrim, with many more circumstances than John doth; they now lead him from the ecclesiastical court to the court of the civil magistrate; either kept in Pilate’s house, who was them present civil governor under the Romans, or some where at least where he sat as judge, which was therefore called

the hall of judgment. And it was early; how early it was we cannot tell, but probably about five or six of the clock. The Jews would not go into the judgment hall, that they might not be defiled, for they accounted it a legal pollution and uncleanness to come into a heathen’s house, or to touch any thing which a heathen had touched: now the reason is assigned why they were afraid of contracting any legal pollution, viz. that they might the passover.

Object. But had they not eaten the passover the night before? That was the time prescribed by the law, to the letter of which there is no doubt but that our Saviour strictly kept himself.

Answer. Some say that they had not, because the day wherein they should have eaten it this year falling the day before their sabbath, the passover was put off to be kept on the sabbath, that two great festivals might not be kept two days successively; so as, though our Saviour kept it at the time appointed by the law, yet the Jews did not. But this is denied by other very learned then, who tell us the Jews never altered their day for keeping their passover, neither for the succeeding sabbath, nor any other reason. They say therefore, that by the passover which is mentioned in this verse is to be understood the feast, mentioned Numbers 28:17, which was to be kept the fifteenth day, which day was a day of great solemnity with them from the morning to the evening; all the seven days they also offered various sacrifices, which all went under the name of the passover, because they followed in the days of the paschal feast. Thus the term passover is taken, Deu 16:2, Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover unto the Lord thy God, of the flock and the herd. According to this notion, the meaning of those words, that they might eat the passover, is, that they might proceed in their paschal solemnity, keeping the feast according to the law. Be it as it will, these hypocrites in it notoriously discovered their hypocrisy, scrupling what caused a legal uncleanness, and not at all scrupling either immediately before their eating the passover, or presently after it, in their great festival to defile themselves with the guilt of innocent blood; nay, had Christ been such a malefactor as they pretended, yet the bringing him into judgment, their prosecuting, and accusing, and condemning him, and assisting in his crucifying, were not works fit for the day before such a solemnity, or the day after it, which was so great a festival: but there is nothing more ordinary, than for persons over zealous as to rituals, to be as remiss with reference to moral duties. 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.

{10} Then led they Jesus from {a} Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.

(10) The Son of God is brought before the judgment seat of an earthly and profane man, in whom there is found much less wickedness than in the rulers of the people of God. A graphic image of the wrath of God against sin, and in addition of his great mercy, and last of all of his most severe judgment against the stubborn condemners of his grace when it is offered unto them.

(a) From Caiaphas' house.

John 18:28. Εἰς τὸ πραιτώριον] into the praetorium, where the procurator dwelt, whether it was the palace of Herod (so usually), or, more probably, a building in the tower of Antonia (so Ewald). Comp. on Matthew 27:27 : Mark 15:16.

πρωΐ] i.e. in the fourth watch of the night (see on Matthew 14:25), therefore toward daybreak. Pilate might expect them so early, since he had in fact ordered the σπεῖρα, John 18:3, on duty.

αὐτοί] They themselves did not go in, but caused Jesus only to be brought in by the soldiers, John 18:3.

ἵνα μὴ μιανθῶσιν, ἀλλʼ ἵνα φάγ. τὸ πάσχα] On the emphatic repetition of the ἵνα, comp. Revelation 9:5; Xen. Mem. i. 2. 48. The entrance into the pagan house, not purified from the corrupt leaven, would have made them levitically impure (μιαίνω, the solemn word of profanation, Plat. Legg. ix. p. 868 A; Tim. p. 69 D; Soph. Ant. 1031, LXX. in Schleusner, III. p. 559), and have thereby prevented them from eating the Passover on the legal day (they would have been bound, according to the analogy of Numbers 9:6 ff., to defer it till the 14th of the following month). Since φαγεῖν τὸ πάσχα throughout the N. T. (Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:12; Mark 14:14; Luke 22:11; Luke 22:15; comp. ἑτοιμάζειν τὸ πάσχα, Matthew 26:19; Mark 14:16; Luke 22:8; θύειν τὸ πάσχα, 1 Corinthians 5:7; Luke 22:7; Mark 14:12; see also Exodus 12:21; 2 Chronicles 35:13) denotes nothing else than to eat the paschal meal, as אָכַל הַפֶּסח, 2 Chronicles 30:18, comp. 3 Esr. John 1:6; John 1:12, John 7:12, it is thus clear that on the day, in the early part of which Jesus was brought to the procurator, the paschal lamb had not yet been eaten, but was to be eaten, and that consequently Jesus was crucified on the day before the feast. This result of the Johannean account is undoubtedly confirmed by John 13:1, according to which πρὸ τῆς ἑορτῆς gives the authoritative standard for the whole history of the passion, and that in such wise that the Jewish Passover feast was necessarily still future, when Jesus held His last meal with the disciples, with which latter, then, the seizure, condemnation, and execution stood in unbroken connection; further, by John 13:29, according to which the Johannean last supper cannot have been the paschal meal; finally, by John 19:14; John 19:31 (see on those passages), as, moreover, the view that the murdered Jesus was the antitype of the slaughtered paschal lamb (John 19:36), is appropriate only to that day as the day of His death, on which the paschal lamb was slaughtered, i.e. on the 14th Nisan.[218] Since, however, as according to the Synoptics, so also according to John (John 19:31), Jesus died on the Friday, after He had, on the evening preceding, held His last meal, John 13, there results the variation that, according to the Synoptics, the feast begins on Thursday evening, and Jesus holds the actual Jewish paschal meal, but is crucified on the first feast-day (Friday); in opposition to which, according to John, the feast begins on Friday evening, the last supper of Jesus (Thursday evening) is an ordinary meal (see Winer, Progr.: δεῖπνον, de quo Joh. xiii., etc., Leips. 1847), and His death follows on the day before the feast (Friday). According to the Synoptics, the Friday of the death of Jesus was thus the 15th Nisan; but according to John, the 14th Nisan. We can scarcely conceive a more indubitable result of exegesis, recognised also by Lücke, ed. 2 and 3, Neander, Krabbe, Theile, Sieffert, Usteri, Ideler, Bleek, De Wette, Brückner, Ebrard, Krit. d. Evang. Gesch., ed. 2 (not in Olshausen, Leidensgesch., p. 43 f.), Ewald, Baur, Hilgenfeld, Hase, Weisse, Rückert, Abendm. p. 28 ff., Steitz, J. Müller, Koessing (Catholic), de suprema Chr. coena, 1858, p. 57 ff., Kahnis, Dogm. I. p. 417, Pressensé, Keim, and several others. Nevertheless, harmonistic attempts have been made as far as possible to prove the agreement, either of the Synoptics with John (so mostly the older harmonists, see Weitzel, Passahfeier, p. 305 f.; recently, especially Movers in the Zeitschrift f. Phil. u. Kathol. Theol., 1833, vii. p. 58 ff., viii. p. 62 ff., Maier, Aechth. d. Ev. Joh., 1854, p. 429 ff., Weitzel, Isenberg, d. Todestag des Herrn, 1868, p. 31 ff., and several others), or of John with the Synoptics (so most later harmonists).[219] Attempts of the first kind break down at once before this consideration, that in the Synoptics the last meal is the regular[220] and legal one of the 14th Nisan, with the Passover lamb, slaughtered of necessity on the selfsame day between the two evenings in the forecourt (comp. Lightfoot, p. 470 f., 651), but not a paschal meal anticipated by Jesus contrary to the law (abrogating, in fact, the legal appointment, see Weitzel), as Grotius, Hammond, Clericus, and several others thought, also Kahnis, Abendm. p. 14, Krafft, p. 130, Godet, p. 629 ff., who appeals specially again to Matthew 26:17-18, Märcker, Uebereinst. d. Matth. und Joh. p. 20 ff., who thinks the non-legal character of the meal is passed over in silence by the Synoptics. Those attempts, however, according to which John’s account is made to be the same as that of the Synoptics (Bynaeus, de morte J. Ch. III. p. 13 ff., Lightfoot, p. 1121 ff., Reland, Bengel, and several others; latterly, especially Tholuck, Guericke, Olshausen, B. Crusius, Hengstenberg in loc., and in the Evang. K.-Zeit. 1838, Nr. 98 ff., Wieseler, Synopse, p. 333 ff., and in Herzog’s Encyklop. XXI. p. 550 ff., Luthardt, Wichelhaus, Hofmann in the Zeitschr. f. Prot. u. Kirche, 1853, p. 260 ff., Lichtenstein and Friedlieb, Gesch. d. Lebens J. Chr. p. 140 ff., Lange, Riggenbach, von Gumpach, Röpe, d. Mahl. d. Fusswaschens, Hamb. 1856, Ebrard on Olshausen, Baeumlein, Langen, Letzte Lebenstage Jesu, 1864, p. 136), are rendered void by the correct explanation of John 13:1; John 13:29, John 19:14; John 19:31, and, in respect of the present passage, by the following observations: (a) τὸ πάσχα cannot be understood of the sacrificial food of the feast to the exclusion of the lamb, particularly not of the Chagiga (חֲגִיגָה the freewill passover offerings, consisting of small cattle and oxen, according to Deuteronomy 16:2, on which sacrificial meals were held; see Lightfoot), as is here assumed by the current harmonists,[221] since rather by φαγεῖν is the Passover lamb constantly designated (comp. generally Gesenius, Thes. II. p. 1115), also in Josephus and in the Talmud (אכל הפסח), and consequently no reader could attach any other meaning to it;[222] in Deuteronomy 16:2-3, however, פסח does not mean “as a passover” (Hengstenberg, comp. Schultz on Deut. p. 471), but likewise nothing else than agnus paschalis, from which, then, צאֹן וּבָקר are distinguished as other sacrifices and sacrificial animals (comp. John 18:6-7), whereby with עליו, John 18:3, we are referred back to the whole of the eating at the feast. 2 Chronicles 35:7-9 also (comp. rather John 18:11; John 18:13) contributes as little to prove the assumed reference of πάσχα to the Passover sacrifices generally, as Exodus 12:48 for the view that to eat the Passover signifies the celebration of the feast in general; since, certainly, in the passage in question, the general ΠΟΙῆΣΑΙ ΤῸ Π. (prepare) is by no means equivalent to the special ἔδεται ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ.[223] (b) The objection, that entering the Gentile house would only have produced pollution for the same day (טִבּוּל יוֹם),[224] which might have been removed by washing before evening, and therefore before the beginning of the new day, and that consequently the Jews would have still been able to eat the Passover lamb, which was to be first partaken of in the evening (see especially Hengstenberg, Wieseler, and Wichelhaus, following Bynaeus and Lightfoot), cannot be proved from Maimonides (Pesach. iii. 1, vi. 1), must rather, in view of the great sacredness of the Passover feast (comp. John 11:55), be regarded as quite unsupported by the present passage (at all events in reference to the time of Jesus), irrespective also of this, that such a pollution would have been a hindrance to the personal slaughtering of the lamb, and certainly was, most of all, avoided precisely by the hierarchs, John 18:28. Ἄγουσιν, “They lead,” i.e., the Sanhedrists who had assembled lead: in Luke 23:1, ἀναστὰν ἅπαν τὸ πλῆθος αὐτῶν. ἀπὸ τοῦ Καϊάφα. Field prefers translating “from the house of Caiaphas,” cf. Mark 5:35; Acts 16:40. πραιτώριον, praetorium, lit. “the general’s tent”; here probably the governor’s quarters in Antonia, but possibly the magnificent palace of Herod used by the Roman governor while in Jerusalem; see especially Keim, Jesus of Nazareth, vi. 79 E. Tr. ἦν δὲ πρωΐα καὶ αὐτοὶ οὐκ εἰσῆλθον … “It was early morning (the fourth watch, from 3 to 6 A.M., see Mark 13:35; see on John 13:38) and they themselves entered not into the palace that they might not be defiled but might eat the passover.” The dawning of the day seems to have reminded them of its sacred character. To enter a house from which all leaven had not been removed was pollution. Probably too the mere entrance into the house of a Gentile was the gnat these men strained at. The plain inference from the word is that the Paschal Supper was yet to be eaten. But see Edersheim’s Life of Jesus, ii. 566.

John 18:28 to John 19:16. Jesus before Pilate.28. Then led they] Better, They led therefore (John 18:3). S. John assumes that his readers know the result of Jesus being taken to Caiaphas (John 18:24): He had been condemned to death; and now His enemies (there is no need to name them) take Him to the Roman governor to get the sentence executed.

the hall of judgment] The margin is better, Pilate’s house, i.e. the palace. In the original it is praitorion, the Greek form of praetorium. Our translators have varied their rendering of it capriciously: Matthew 27:27, ‘common hall,’ with ‘governor’s house’ in the margin; Mark 15:16, ‘Praetorium;’ John 18:33; John 19:9, ‘judgment-hall.’ Yet the meaning must be the same in all these passages. Comp. Acts 23:35, ‘judgment-hall;’ Php 1:13, ‘the palace.’ The meaning of praetorium varies according to the context. The word is of military origin; (1) ‘the general’s tent’ or ‘head quarters.’ Hence, in the provinces, (2) ‘the governor’s residence,’ the meaning in Acts 23:35 : in a sort of metaphorical sense, (3) a ‘mansion’ or ‘palace’ (Juvenal I. 75): at Rome. (4) ‘the praetorian guard,’ the probable meaning in Php 1:13. Of these leading significations the second is probably right here and throughout the Gospels; the official residence of the Procurator. Where Pilate resided in Jerusalem is not quite certain. We know that ‘Herod’s Praetorium,’ a magnificent building on the western hill of Jerusalem, was used by Roman governors somewhat later (Philo, Leg. ad Gaium, p. 1034). But it is perhaps more likely that Pilate occupied part of the fortress Antonia, on the supposed site of which a chamber with a column in it has recently been discovered, which it is thought may possibly be the scene of the scourging.

S. John’s narrative alternates between the outside and inside of the Praetorium. Outside; 28–32; 38–40; John 19:4-7; John 12-16. Inside; 33–37; John 19:1-3; John 8-11.

28–32. Outside the Praetorium; the Jews claim the execution of the Sanhedrin’s sentence of death, and Pilate refuses it.

early] The same word, proï, is rendered ‘morning’ Matthew 16:3; Mark 1:35; Mark 11:20; Mark 13:35; Mark 15:1; the last passage being partly parallel to this. In Mark 13:35 the word stands for the fourth watch (see on Mark 6:48), which lasted from 3.0 to 6.0 a.m. A Roman court might be held directly after sunrise; and as Pilate had probably been informed that an important case was to be brought before him, delay in which might cause serious disturbance, there is nothing improbable in his being ready to open his court between 4.0 and 5.0 a.m. The hierarchy were in a difficulty. Jesus could not safely be arrested by daylight, and the Sanhedrin could not legally pronounce sentence of death by night: hence they had had to wait till dawn to condemn Him. Now another regulation hampers them: a day must intervene between sentence and execution. This they shuffled out of by going at once to Pilate. Of course if he undertook the execution, he must fix the time; and their representations would secure his ordering immediate execution. Thus they shifted the breach of the law from themselves to him.

As in the life of our Lord as a whole, so also in this last week and last day of it, the exact sequence and time of the events cannot be ascertained with certainty. Chronology is not what the Evangelists aim at giving us. For a tentative arrangement of the chief events of the Passion see Appendix C.

they themselves] In contrast with their Victim, whom they sent in under a Roman guard.

lest they should] Better, that they might not, omitting ‘that they’ in the next clause.

be defiled] by entering a house not properly cleansed of leaven (Exodus 12:15).

eat the passover] It is quite evident that S. John does not regard the Last Supper as a Paschal meal. Comp. John 13:1; John 13:29. It is equally evident that the synoptic narratives convey the impression that the Last Supper was the ordinary Jewish Passover (Matthew 26:17-19; Mark 14:14; Mark 14:16; Luke 22:7-8; Luke 22:11; Luke 22:13; Luke 22:15). Whatever be the right solution of the difficulty, the independence of the author of the Fourth Gospel is manifest. Would anyone counterfeiting an Apostle venture thus to contradict what seemed to have such strong Apostolic authority? Would he not expect that a glaring discrepancy on so important a point would prove fatal to his pretensions? Assume that S. John is simply recording his own vivid recollections, whether or no we suppose him to be correcting the impression produced by the Synoptists, and this difficulty at any rate is avoided. S. John’s narrative is too precise and consistent to be explained away. On the difficulty as regards the Synoptists see Appendix A; also Excursus V at the end of Dr Farrar’s S. Luke.

28–19:16. The Roman or Civil Trial

As already stated, S. John omits both toe examination before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin at an irregular time and place, at midnight and at ‘the Booths’ (Matthew 26:57-68 : Mark 14:53-65), and also the formal meeting of the Sanhedrin after daybreak in the proper place (Matthew 27:1; Mark 15:1; Luke 22:66-71), at which Jesus was sentenced to death. He proceeds to narrate what the Synoptists omit, the conference between Pilate and the Jews (John 18:28-32) and two private examinations of Jesus by Pilate (John 18:33-38 and John 19:8-11). Here also we seem to have the evidence of an eyewitness. We know that S. John followed his Lord into the high priest’s palace (John 18:15), and stood by the Cross (John 19:26); it is therefore probable enough that he followed Him into the Procurator’s court.John 18:28. Αὐτοὶ) they themselves.—ἳνα μὴ μιανθῶσιν, lest they should be defiled) as Pilate’s house was not cleared out of leaven: Deuteronomy 16:4, “There shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy coasts seven days.”—φάγωσι τὸ πάσχα, that they might eat the Passover) So 2 Chronicles 30:22, ויאכלו המועד, “They ate the feast seven days.”[385] [This observation of John is not opposed to that view whereby we have shown that the Jews ate the Passover on the evening which formed the commencement of the Friday; i.e. at the close or evening of Thursday. (See note of the Gnom. on Matthew 26:17.) In fact, the word Πάσχα, in the strict sense, means only the Passover lamb, not a bull, etc.[386] But when the Passover in general is mentioned, by the Passover lamb, as being the principal part (Deuteronomy 16:1, “Keep the Passover,” with which comp. John 18:2, “sacrifice the Passover of the flock and the herd”), the whole feast is meant by Synecdoche (a part for the whole); namely, on the same principle as Σάββατον, the Sabbath, means both the seventh day of the week in the strict sense, and by consequence the whole week. To these considerations Lightfoot (Hor. on this passage) adds, that the defilement by entering the Pretorium or judgment-hall would last only up to evening, and that therefore would not prevent them, after being cleansed, from eating the Paschal lamb. Since, then, in this passage, the Evangelist is speaking of such an eating of the Passover as the Jews would have been excluded from before the evening by any defilement, no doubt a different part of the feast from the actual feast of the Passover lamb is indicated.—Harm., p. 544, et seqq.] Τὸ πάσχα cannot be the Accusative of time, during the Feast. For though defiled, they might eat common food. [Therefore it could not be ordinary eating, but eating the Passover, which this passage implies that defilement would have excluded them from.]

[385] But Engl. Vers. “They did eat throughout the feast.—E. and T.

[386] No other animal but a lamb would be expressed by Πάσχα, even though two young bullocks were sacrificed on the first day: Numbers 28:19.—E. and T.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.) Led (ἄγουσιν)

Present tense, lead.

Hall of judgment (πραιτώριον)

A Latin word, proetorium, transcribed. Originally, the general's tent. In the Roman provinces it was the name for the official residence of the Roman governor, as here. Compare Acts 23:35. It came to be applied to any spacious villa or palace. So Juvenal: "To their crimes they are indebted for their gardens, palaces (proetoria), etc." ("Sat.," i., 75). In Rome the term was applied to the proetorian guard, or imperial bodyguard. See on Philippians 1:13. Rev., palace.

Early (πρωΐ́)

Used technically of the fourth watch, 3-6 a.m. See Mark 13:35. The Sanhedrim could not hold a legal meeting, especially in capital cases, before sunrise; and in such cases judicial proceedings must be conducted and terminated by day. A condemnation to death, at night, was technically illegal. In capital cases, sentence of condemnation could not be legally pronounced on the day of trial. If the night proceedings were merely preliminary to a formal trial, they would have no validity; if formal, they were, ipso facto, illegal. In either case was the law observed in reference to the second council. According to the Hebrew computation of time, it was held on the same day.

Be defiled (μιανθῶσιν)

Originally, to stain, as with color. So Homer: "Tinges (μιήνῃ) the white ivory with purple." Not necessarily, therefore, in a bad sense, like μολύσω, to besmear or besmirch with filth (1 Corinthians 8:7; Revelation 3:4). In classical Greek, μιαίνω, the verb here used, is the standing word for profaning or unhallowing. So Sophocles:

"Not even fearing this pollution (μίασμα) dire,

Will I consent to burial. Well Iknow

That man is powerless to pollute (μιαίνειν) the gods."

"Antigone," 1042-1044.

And Plato: "And if a homicide... without purification pollutes the agora, or the games, or the temples," etc. ("Laws," 868). See on 1 Peter 1:4. The defilement in the present case was apprehended from entering a house from which all leaven had not been removed.


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