Pilate then went out to them, and said, What accusation bring you against this man?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Pilate then went out unto them.—Better, Pilate therefore went out unto them—i.e., because of their religious scruples they would not enter into the palace.
What accusation bring ye against this man?—Comp. John 18:33. They expected that he would have at once ordered His execution; but he asks for the formal charge which they bring against Him. He knew by hearsay what this was, but demands the legal accusation without which the trial could not proceed. As the Roman procurator, he demands what crime Jesus has committed against the Roman law.John 18:29-32. Pilate then went out and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? — This was the most natural question imaginable for a judge to ask on such an occasion; nevertheless the priests thought themselves affronted by it. They answered, haughtily, If he were not a malefactor — Greek, κακοποιος, an evil-doer, a notorious offender; we would not have delivered him up unto thee — It seems they knew the governor’s sentiments concerning the prisoner, and understood his question as carrying an insinuation along with it, of their having brought one to be condemned against whom they could find no accusation. Then said Pilate, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law — By making this offer to them, the governor told them plainly, that in his opinion the crime which they laid to the prisoner’s charge was not of a capital nature; and that such punishment as they were permitted by Cesar to inflict, might be adequate to any misdemeanour Jesus was chargeable with. The Jews therefore said, It is not lawful for us — It is not allowed, you well know, by the government under which we are; to put any man to death — By which they signified, that the prisoner was guilty of a capital crime, that he deserved the highest punishment, and that none but the governor himself could give judgment in the cause. That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, &c. — That is, in consequence of this procedure of the Jews, there was an accomplishment of the divine counsels concerning the manner of our Lord’s death, of which Jesus had given frequent intimations in the course of his ministry. Signifying what death he should die — For crucifixion was not a Jewish, but a Roman punishment. So that had he not been condemned by the Roman governor, he could not have been crucified. Thus was the governor’s first attempt to save Jesus frustrated. He made four other efforts to the same purpose, but was equally unsuccessful in them all. This good effect, however, has flowed from them; they serve to testify how strongly Pilate was impressed with the conviction of our Lord’s innocence, and at the same time they show to what a height of malice and wickedness the Jewish great men were now risen.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).
accusation of Christ, according to the ordinary and regular course of judgments. John 19:13 the place where the Jewish sanhedrim used to sit; wherefore in complaisance to them, since they would not come into his court of judicature, he condescends to go into one of theirs, which showed great civility and humanity in him:
and said, what accusation bring ye against this man? meaning, what offence had he committed? what crime had they to charge him with? what did they accuse him of? and what proof had they to support their charge? His view was, to have the matter stated, the cause opened, and evidence given; that the accused being face to face with the accusers, might answer for himself; and he, as a judge, be capable of judging between them: all which were very commendable in him, and agreeably to the Roman laws; and have an appearance of equity, justice, and impartiality.Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 18:29-30. In the prudent concessive spirit of Roman policy towards the Jews in the matter of religion, Pilate comes forth to them, and demands first of all, in accordance with regular procedure, a definite accusation, although he knew it, John 18:33; “sed se scire dissimulabat,” Ruperti. The defiance of the hierarchy, however, uttered in an evil conscience, demands of him, contrary to all forms of legal procedure, that he should assume the delivering-up of the prisoner itself as a warrant of crime. Him who is not a mis-doer, they reply, they would not have delivered up to the procurator. They had in truth themselves sufficient power to punish, although not extending to execution. If, therefore, the offence exceeds this power of theirs to punish, so that the surrender to the procurator takes place, this surrender is sufficient proof that the person is a criminal. The kind and manner of the crime (Tholuck: criminal offence against the citizens) is not yet defined by their words. The idea: “one hand washes the other” (Lange), lies entirely remote.
κατὰ τοῦ ἀνθρ. τούτου] is, further, uttered with a feeling of indifference, not: “against such a pious and renowned a man,” Luther.
 The whole behaviour of Pilate in all the following proceedings is depicted with such psychological truth, that the opinion that his interest in Jesus was ascribed to him only by the evangelist (Strauss, Baur, Schenkel), can appear only as the consequence of presuppositions, which lie quite outside the history. Note particularly how just his suspicion against the Jews, owing to their personal behaviour, must have been from the first; and how, on the other hand, owing to Jesus’ personal bearing, his sympathy for Him must hare developed and increased, so that in the mind of the procurator strength of character and of conscience alone was wanting, to prevent him, after perverted measures and concessions, from yielding ignominiously at last. See also Steinmeyer, Leidensgesch. p. 143 ff.John 18:29. ἐξῆλθεν οὖν ὁ Πιλάτος … The examination began therefore in the open air in front of the building; cf. John 19:13. Pilate opened the case with the formal inquiry, Τίνα κατηγορίαν κ. τ. λ.; To this reasonable demand the Sanhedrists evasively and insolently reply (John 18:30): “Had He not been a κακοποιός we should not have delivered Him to you”. It appears therefore that having already condemned Him to death (see Matthew 26:60. ἔνοχος θανάτου ἐστί. Mark 14:64) they handed Him over—παρεδώκαμεν—to Pilate, not to have their judgment revised, but to have their decision confirmed and the punishment executed. κακοποιός is found in Arist., Eth., iv. 9, Polybius, and frequently in 1 Peter.29. Pilate then] Pilate therefore (John 18:3). Because they would not enter, he went out to them. The Evangelist assumes that his readers know who Pilate is, just as he assumes that they know the Twelve (John 6:67) and Mary Magdalene (John 19:25); all are introduced without explanation.
went out] The verb stands first in the Greek for emphasis. The best MS. add ‘outside’ to make it still more emphatic; went out therefore Pilate outside unto them; as if attention were specialy called to this Roman concession to Jewish religiousness.
What accusation] Not that he does not know, but in accordance with strict procedure he demands a formal indictment?Verse 29. - Pilate therefore, because of their rooted national prejudice, went out unto them beyond his court, to some open space convenient for hearing the case. Pilate is introduced here without any preliminary statement or title, as though the position of the man were well known to his readers - another proof that the synoptic narrative is presupposed. This scrupulousness contrasts with the summary proceeding of Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:1, 2), and with the conduct of the Roman authorities (Acts 22:24). The very question he asks implies that something had conspired to provoke a certain sympathy on his part with Jesus, and to excite additional suspicion of the Jews. The statement of Matthew 27:19 may account for the former. The fact that he was ready to hear the case at this early hour shows that he must have been prepared for the scene, and even primed for it. Pilate (the manuscripts vary between Peilatos and Pilatos) was the fifth governor of Judaea under the Romans, and held office from A.D. -36. He is represented by Philo ('Legatio ad Caium,' 38) as a proud, ungovernable man; and, in his conflicts with the Jews, he had especial reason to detest their obstinate ceremonial and religious prejudices. Philo speaks of Pilate's "ferocious passions,What accusation do ye bring against this Man? He may have known, probably did know, but chose to give formality to the charge, and not simply to register their decrees.
Note the abruptness with which he is introduced as one well known. Two derivations of the name are given. Pilatus, one armed with the pilum or javelin, like Torquatus, one adorned with a collar (torques). Or, a contraction from Pileatus, wearing the pileus or cap, which was the badge of manumitted slaves. Hence some have supposed that he was a freedman. Tacitus refers to him as connected with Christ's death. "The author of that name (Christian), or sect, was Christ, who was capitally punished in the reign of Tiberius, by Pontius Pilate" ("Annals," xv. 44). He was the sixth Roman procurator of Judea.
Not implying Pilate's ignorance of the charge, but his demand for the formal accusation.
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