John 18:36
Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
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(36) Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world.—The answer of Jesus is two-fold, declaring (1) in this verse, that He is not a King in the political sense; and (2) in John 18:37, that He is a King in the moral sense. By “of this world” we are to understand that the nature and origin of His kingdom are not of this world, not that His kingdom will not extend in this world. (Comp. John 8:23; John 10:16.) In the world’s sense of king and kingdom, in the sense in which the Roman empire claimed to rule the world, He had no kingdom.

Then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews.—Better, then would My servants have been fighting. (Comp. John 19:16.) His “servants” are His disciples, who would be in this relation to Him if He were a temporal king, and the crowds such as those who had sought to make Him king (John 6:15), and had filled Jerusalem with the cry, “Hosanna: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel” (John 12:13). One of His servants had drawn the sword (John 18:10), and, but that His will had checked the popular feeling, neither the Jewish officers nor the Roman cohort could have delivered Him to be crucified.

But now is my kingdom not from hence.—That is, “But, as a matter of fact, My kingdom is not from here.” It was proved by His standing bound in the presence of the procurator. The clause has been strangely pressed into the service of millennial views by interpreting it, “But now My kingdom is not from hence. Hereafter it will be.” For the true sense of “now,” comp. John 8:40; John 9:41; John 15:22; John 15:24.

18:33-40 Art thou the King of the Jews? that King of the Jews who has been so long expected? Messiah the Prince; art thou he? Dost thou call thyself so, and wouldest thou be thought so? Christ answered this question with another; not for evasion, but that Pilate might consider what he did. He never took upon him any earthly power, never were any traitorous principles or practices laid to him. Christ gave an account of the nature of his kingdom. Its nature is not worldly; it is a kingdom within men, set up in their hearts and consciences; its riches spiritual, its power spiritual, and it glory within. Its supports are not worldly; its weapons are spiritual; it needed not, nor used, force to maintain and advance it, nor opposed any kingdom but that of sin and Satan. Its object and design are not worldly. When Christ said, I am the Truth, he said, in effect, I am a King. He conquers by the convincing evidence of truth; he rules by the commanding power of truth. The subjects of this kingdom are those that are of the truth. Pilate put a good question, he said, What is truth? When we search the Scriptures, and attend the ministry of the word, it must be with this inquiry, What is truth? and with this prayer, Lead me in thy truth; into all truth. But many put this question, who have not patience to preserve in their search after truth; or not humility enough to receive it. By this solemn declaration of Christ's innocence, it appears, that though the Lord Jesus was treated as the worst of evil-doers, he never deserved such treatment. But it unfolds the design of his death; that he died as a Sacrifice for our sins. Pilate was willing to please all sides; and was governed more by worldly wisdom than by the rules of justice. Sin is a robber, yet is foolishly chosen by many rather than Christ, who would truly enrich us. Let us endeavour to make our accusers ashamed as Christ did; and let us beware of crucifying Christ afresh.My kingdom ... - The charge on which Jesus was arraigned was that of laying claim to the office of a king. He here substantially admits that he did claim to be a king, but not in the sense in which the Jews understood it. They charged him with attempting to set up an earthly kingdom, and of exciting sedition against Caesar. In reply to this, Jesus says that his kingdom is not of this world - that is, it is not of the same nature as earthly kingdoms. It was not originated for the same purpose, or conducted on the same plan. He immediately adds a circumstance in which they differ. The kingdoms of the world are defended by arms; they maintain armies and engage in wars. If the kingdom of Jesus had been of this kind, he would have excited the multitudes that followed him to prepare for battle. He would have armed the hosts that attended him to Jerusalem. He would not have been alone and unarmed in the garden of Gethsemane. But though he was a king, yet his dominion was over the heart, subduing evil passions and corrupt desires, and bringing the soul to the love of peace and unity.

Not from hence - That is, not from this world.

36. Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world—He does not say "not over," but "not of this world"—that is, in its origin and nature; therefore "no such kingdom as need give thee or thy master the least alarm."

if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews—"A very convincing argument; for if His servants did not fight to prevent their King from being delivered up to His enemies, much less would they use force for the establishment of His kingdom" [Webster and Wilkinson].

but now—but the fact is.

is my kingdom not from hence—Our Lord only says whence His kingdom is not—first simply affirming it, next giving proof of it, then reaffirming it. This was all that Pilate had to do with. The positive nature of His kingdom He would not obtrude upon one who was as little able to comprehend it, as entitled officially to information about it. (It is worthy of notice that the "MY," which occurs four times in this one verse—thrice of His kingdom, and once of His servants—is put in the emphatic form).

My kingdom is not of this world; that is, I cannot deny but that I am the King of the Jews, but not in the sense they take it, not such a king as they look for in their Messiah; my kingdom is spiritual, over the hearts and minds of men, not earthly and worldly. And of this thou thyself mayest be convinced; for was there ever an earthly prince apprehended and bound for whom none of his subjects would take up arms? There is none of my disciples that takes up arms, or offereth to fight for me; which is a plain evidence, that I pretend to no kingly power in disturbance of the Roman government. Jesus answered, my kingdom is not of this world,.... By saying which, he tacitly owns he was a king: as such he was set up, and anointed by his Father from everlasting; was prophesied of in the Old Testament; declared by the angel, both when he brought the news of his conception, and of his birth; was owned by many, who knew him to be so in the days of his flesh; and since his resurrection, ascension, and session at God's right hand, more manifestly appears to be one: he also hereby declares, that he had a kingdom; by which he means, not his natural and universal kingdom, as God, and the Creator and Governor of all things; but his mediatorial kingdom, administered both in the days of his flesh, and after his resurrection; which includes the whole Gospel dispensation, Christ's visible church state on earth, and the whole election of grace; it takes in that which will be at the close of time, in the latter day, which will be more spiritual, and in which Christ will reign before his ancients gloriously; and also the kingdom of God, or of heaven, even the ultimate glory: the whole of which is not of this world; the subjects of Christ's kingdom are not of the world, they are chosen and called out of it; the kingdom itself does not appear in worldly pomp and splendour, nor is it supported by worldly force, nor administered by worldly laws; nor does it so much regard the outward, as the inward estates of men; it promises no worldly emoluments, or temporal rewards. Christ does not say it is not "in" this world, but it is not of it; and therefore will not fail, when this world does, and the kingdoms thereof. Every thing that is carnal, sensual, and worldly, must be removed from our conceptions of Christ's kingdom, here or hereafter: and to this agrees what some Jewish writers say of the Messiah, and his affairs;

"the Messiah (they say (o)) is separated from the world, because he is absolutely intellectual; but the world is corporeal; how then should the Messiah be in this world, when the world is corporeal, and , "the business of the Messiah is divine, and not corporeal?"''

And since this was the case, Caesar, or any civil government, had no reason to be uneasy on account of his being a king, and having a kingdom; since his kingdom and interests did not in the least break in upon, or injure any others: and that this was the nature of his kingdom, he proves by the following reason;

if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight that I should not be delivered to the Jews: if Christ's kingdom had been a worldly one, set up on worldly views, and governed with worldly policy, and was to answer some worldly ends, Christ would have had servants enough among the Jews, who would have declared for him, and took up arms in his favour against the Romans; his own disciples would not have suffered him to have been betrayed into the hands of the Jews by Judas; nor would he have hindered them from attempting his rescue, as he did Peter; nor would they suffer him now to be delivered by Pilate into their hands, to put him to death; since they had such a Prince at the head of them, who, was he to make use of his power, was able to drive all the Roman forces before them out of the nation, and oblige a general submission among the Jews, to the sceptre of his kingdom:

but now is my kingdom not from hence; it does not rise out of, nor proceed upon, nor is it supported by worldly principles, wherefore none of the above methods are made use of.

(o) R. Juda Bezaleel Nizeach Israel, fol. 48.

{11} Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

(11) Christ affirms his spiritual kingdom, but rejects a worldly one.

John 18:36. But Jesus accepts the allegation of the Jews and proceeds to explain in what sense He is king: Ἡ βασιλεία ἡ ἐμὴ κ. τ. λ. My kingdom is not of a worldly nature, nor is it established by worldly means. Had it been so, my servants would have striven to prevent my being surrendered to the Jews. But as things are, νῦν, since it is indisputable that no armed resistance or rescue has been attempted, it is put beyond question that my kingdom is not from hence. “The substitution of ‘hence’ for ‘of this world’ in the last clause appears to define the idea of the world by an immediate reference to the representatives of it close at hand.” Westcott. Perhaps this rather limits the reference. Jesus uses ἐντεῦθεν as one who has other worlds than this in view.36. My kingdom] There is a strong emphasis on ‘My’ throughout the verse; ‘the kingdom that is Mine, the servants that are Mine;’ i.e. those that are truly such (see on John 14:27). The word for ‘servants’ here is the same as is rendered ‘officers’ in John 18:3; John 18:12; John 18:18; John 18:33, John 7:32; John 7:45-46 (comp. Matthew 5:25), and no doubt contains an allusion to the officials of the Jewish hierarchy. In Luke 1:2, the only other place in the Gospels where the word is used of Christians, it is rendered ‘ministers,’ as also in 1 Corinthians 4:1, the only place where the word occurs in the Epistles. Comp. Acts 13:5.

is not of this world] Has not its origin or root there so as to draw its power from thence. Comp. John 8:23, John 20:19, John 17:14; John 17:16.

if my kingdom] In the original the order is impressively reversed; if of this world were My kingdom. For the construction comp. John 5:46.

fight] Better, be striving (comp. Luke 13:24; 1 Corinthians 9:25). For the construction comp. John 5:46, John 8:19; John 8:42, John 9:41, John 15:19.

but now] The meaning of ‘now’ is clear from the context and also from John 8:40, John 9:41, John 15:22; John 15:24, ‘as it is,’ ‘as the case really stands.’ It does not mean ‘My kingdom is not of this world now, but shall be so hereafter;’ as if Christ were promising a millenium.John 18:36. Βασιλεία, kingdom) Thrice Jesus names His kingdom.—οὐκ, not) Jesus merely says from whence His kingdom is not, namely, not of this world; but does not express whence it is, namely, from heaven. However He intimates it, when He says, that “He came into the world,” John 18:37.—ἐκ) The particle of or from is to be marked. See note on Revelation 11:15, “The seventh angel sounded, and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever.” For ἐν and ἐκ differ: above, ch. John 17:11; John 17:14, “I am no longer in (ἐν) the world;” “I am not of (ἐκ) the world.” Ἐκ denotes precisely the origin, as presently after ἐντεῦθεν, from hence. [Comp. Erklär. Offenb. p. 553.—V. g.]—κόσμου τούτου, of this world) On this account Christ did not stay long in this life.—εἰ ἐκ, if of) Of this world is emphatically put in the beginning of the clause [not ἡ βασιλεία ἡ ἐμὴ ἦν ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου, but ἐκ τ. κοσμ. is put first]. The world defends its kingdoms by force of arms.—ὑπηρέται, My servants, ministers) who are not from or of this world.—ἠγωνίζοντο, would fight) Each kind of agent acts in its own sphere.—παραδοθῶ, that I should not be delivered) Pilate was already contemplating this, John 18:31.—νῦν, now, as it is) The particle is adversative, not a particle of time.Verse 36. - In reply to this challenge, Jesus answered - obviously assuming the fact that he was a king in a sense entirely different from that which had been maliciously suggested to Pilate - My kingdom - the kingdom that is mine - is not of this world. Neither now nor at any future period will it derive its origin from this world. So far as Christ is King, his royal power and state are not furnished by earthly force, or fleshly ordinances, or physical energies, or material wealth, or imperial armies. The dominion that he will wield will be one over hearts and lives; the authority of the Lord Jesus cannot be arrested or overpowered by physical force. Most commentators justly regard this as a spiritual manifesto of the sources and quality of the kingdom of Christ, and a foreshadowing of the separation between the spiritual and secular power - a declaration that all effort to embody Christian laws and government in compulsory forms, and to defend them by penal sanctions and temporal force, is disloyalty to the royal rank and crown rights of the Lord Jesus Christ. Hengstenberg regards the assertion as precisely the reverse; sees in the passage, "rightly understood, the very opposite purpose. The kingdom that sprang directly from heaven must have absolute authority over all the earth, and it will not submit to be put into obscurity. The kingdoms of this world must become the kingdom of the Lord and his Anointed, and he shall reign for ever and ever." This is true, but not along the lines or with the machinery of earthly rule and authority. The influence and authority of Heaven works upon the spirit by truth and righteousness and peace, and thus transforms institutions, permeates society from the ground of the heart, modifies the relations between the members of a household, and transfigures those between a ruler and his subjects, between the master and his slaves, between labor and capital, and between man and man. Whenever it is triumphant, whenever the lives of kings and their peoples are sanctified by supreme obedience to Christ the King, then war will be impossible, all tyrannies and slaveries will be abolished, all malice and violence of monarchs or mobs will be at an end; then the wolfish and the lamblike nature will be at peace. Then all the means for enforcing the will of one against another will be done away. He will have put down all rule, authority, and power; for he must reign, and he alone. This kingdom is not (ἐκ) "from," "out of," this world's methods or resources; does not begin from without and establish itself, or propagate or preserve itself, from the world, which is a rival, and is not to be coerced but drawn to itself. Like the individual disciple, the kingdom may be in the world, but not of it. Christ proceeded, If the kingdom that is mine were from this world, which it is not (mark the form of the condition), then, on that Supposition, would the servants (ὑπηρέται, generally translated "officers") that are mine fight, with physical force, in order that I should not be delivered up (παροδοθῶ) to the Jews. The supposition that the ὑπηρέται of whom our Lord spoke were "the angels" (as Bengel, Lampe, Stier, and at one time Luthardt, imagined), is distinctly repudiated by the ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, "of this present world." If it were the case, as it is not, then would my officers be, not a handful of disciples (whom he generally calls διάκονοι δοῦλοι), but the servants who would be appropriate to my royal mission, - then would my servants be busily fighting that I should not be delivered up by the Roman power that is for the moment thrown over me like a shield, to the Jews, who are thirsting for my blood. The loud cry of hatred and vengeance may even at this moment have pierced the interior of the Praetorium, thus giving its force, if not form, to the sentence. Godet thinks our Lord was referring to the crowds who actually gathered round him on Palm Sunday, and not to hypothetical ὑπηρέται; but the force of the condition goes down deeper, and, moreover, such language might have awakened the suspicion that, after all, Jesus had a political following, if he should choose to evoke it. Observe that this entire severance between "the Jews" and the friends of Christ, which, though occasionally adopted by the evangelist, is not the customary method of our Lord. The moment at which the Savior speaks gives great significance to the phraseology (observe John 4:22; John 13:33; John 18:20; the only other occasions on which the Lord used this phrase to denote his own people). But now (the νῦν, cf. John 9:41 and John 15:22, is logical, not temporal); i.e. But seeing that it is so - my kingdom, he adds, is not from hence. The ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου is equivalent to ἐντεῦθεν, and suggests that the kingdom derives its re sources and its energies "from the upper world, from above." Servants (ὑπηρέται)

Only in this passage in the Gospels, of Christians. Compare Acts 13:5; 1 Corinthians 4:1. Corresponding with Christ as a king.

Fight (ἠγωνίζοντο)

The imperfect tense, denoting action in progress: would now be striving.

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