John 19:14
And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!
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(14) And it was the preparation of the passover.—Comp. Note on Matthew 26:17, and Excursus F: The Day of the Crucifixion of our Lord.

And about the sixth hour.—Comp. Notes on Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:25; Luke 23:44. St. John’s statement of time (twelve o’clock) seems opposed to that of St. Mark, who states that the Crucifixion took place at “the third hour” (nine o’clock); and no solution of the discrepancy is wholly satisfactory.

There are, as we may have expected, some variations of MSS., and as early as the time of Eusebius we find a suggestion that “third” should be here read for “sixth.” No competent critic would, however, for a moment admit that either in the parallel in St. Mark, or in this passage, there is even a strong presumption in favour of any reading except that of the Received text.

The common supposition that St. John adopted the Roman division of hours, and that by “sixth hour” he meant six o’clock is equally unsatisfactory. (Comp. Notes on John 1:39; John 4:6; John 4:52; John 11:9.) Even if it could be proved that this method was in use at the time, the fact would not help us; for if we read this text as meaning six o’clock, it is as much too early for the harmony as twelve o’clock is too late.

It is better, therefore, simply to admit that there is a difficulty arising from our ignorance of the exact order of events, or, it may be, of the exact words which the Evangelists wrote.

Candidly admitting this, and not attempting to explain it away, we may still note:—

(14) Behold your King!—The words are spoken in bitter irony towards the Jews, as those in the following verse and those written over the cross (John 19:19). (Comp. Note on Matthew 27:37.)

19:1-18 Little did Pilate think with what holy regard these sufferings of Christ would, in after-ages, be thought upon and spoken of by the best and greatest of men. Our Lord Jesus came forth, willing to be exposed to their scorn. It is good for every one with faith, to behold Christ Jesus in his sufferings. Behold him, and love him; be still looking unto Jesus. Did their hatred sharpen their endeavours against him? and shall not our love for him quicken our endeavours for him and his kingdom? Pilate seems to have thought that Jesus might be some person above the common order. Even natural conscience makes men afraid of being found fighting against God. As our Lord suffered for the sins both of Jews and Gentiles, it was a special part of the counsel of Divine Wisdom, that the Jews should first purpose his death, and the Gentiles carry that purpose into effect. Had not Christ been thus rejected of men, we had been for ever rejected of God. Now was the Son of man delivered into the hands of wicked and unreasonable men. He was led forth for us, that we might escape. He was nailed to the cross, as a Sacrifice bound to the altar. The Scripture was fulfilled; he did not die at the altar among the sacrifices, but among criminals sacrificed to public justice. And now let us pause, and with faith look upon Jesus. Was ever sorrow like unto his sorrow? See him bleeding, see him dying, see him and love him! love him, and live to him!The preparation of the passover - See the notes at Mark 15:42.

The sixth hour - Twelve o'clock noon. Mark says Mark 15:25 that it was the third hour. See the difficulty explained in the notes at that place.

14. It was the preparation—that is, the day before the Jewish sabbath.

and about the sixth hour—The true reading here is probably, "the third hour"—or nine A.M.—which agrees best with the whole series of events, as well as with the other Evangelists.

he saith to the Jews, Behold your King!—Having now made up his mind to yield to them, he takes a sort of quiet revenge on them by this irony, which he knew would sting them. This only reawakens their cry to despatch Him.

The preparation to any feast signifies the day before it, because on that day they prepared whatsoever according to the law was necessary for the solemnization. Some much doubt whether in this place the passover signifies strictly the paschal supper, which it could not do if the Jews strictly this year kept to the law; for the fourteenth day of the month Nisan at evening was the time when most certainly Christ kept it, who ate it the night before. It is therefore more probably thought, that by the passover here is meant their great festival, which was upon the fifteenth day. See Poole on "John 18:28". John tells us it was

about the sixth hour; that is, in the latter part of the interval between nine o’clock in the morning and twelve at noon: for the division of the day according to the Jews was in four parts; the first was from the rising of the sun till our nine in the morning, and was called the third hour; the other was from the third hour to the sixth, that is, twelve o’clock at noon; the third division was from their sixth hour to the ninth, that is, three o’clock with us in the afternoon; the fourth division was from the ninth hour to sunset, that is, with us six o’clock in the evening, when the sun is in the equinox. Now, not only the time when any of these hours came was called either the third or sixth hour, but the space of three hours allotted to each division was so called, when the next division began: so the time of our Saviour’s crucifixion is recorded by Mark to be the third hour; that is, the whole space from nine o’clock to twelve was not quite gone, though it was near at an end; and by the evangelist here it is said, that it was about the sixth hour, that is, near our twelve o’clock. And thus the different relations are clearly reconciled.

And it was the preparation of the passover,.... So the Jews (x) say, that Jesus suffered on the eve of the passover; and the author of the blasphemous account of his life says (y), it was the eve both of the passover and the sabbath; which account so far agrees with the evangelic history; but then this preparation of the passover was not of the passover lamb, for that had been prepared and eaten the night before. Nor do I find that there was any particular day which was called "the preparation of the passover" in such sense, and much less that this day was the day before the eating of the passover. According to the law in Exodus 12:3 the lamb for the passover was to be separated from the rest of the flock on the tenth day of the month, and to be kept up till the fourteenth; but this is never called the preparation of the passover; and was it so called, it cannot be intended here; the preparing and making ready the passover the evangelists speak of, were on the same day it was eaten, and design the getting ready a place to eat it in, and things convenient for that purpose, and the killing the lamb, and dressing it, and the like, Matthew 26:17 there is what the Jews call , which was a space of fifteen days before the passover, and began at the middle of the thirty days before the feast, in which they used to ask questions, and explain the traditions concerning the passover (z): but this is never called the preparation of the passover: and on the night of the fourteenth month they sought diligently, in every hole and corner of their houses, for leavened bread, in order to remove it (a); but this also never went by any such name: wherefore, if any respect is had to the preparation for the passover, it must either design the preparation of the "Chagigah", which was a grand festival, commonly kept on the fifteenth day, and which was sometimes called the passover; or else the preparation for the whole feast all the remaining days of it; See Gill on John 18:28 but it seems best of all to understand it only of the preparation for the sabbath, which, because it was in the passover week, is called the passover preparation day: and it may be observed, that it is sometimes only called "the day of the preparation", and "the preparation", Matthew 27:62 and sometimes the "Jews' preparation day", John 19:42 and it is explained by the Evangelist Mark 15:42. "It was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath"; on which they both prepared themselves for the sabbath, and food to eat on that day; and this being the time of the passover likewise, the preparation was the greater: and therefore to distinguish this preparation day for the sabbath, from others, it is called the passover preparation; nor have I observed that any other day is called the preparation but that before the sabbath: the Jews dispute about preparing food for the sabbath on a feast day, as this was; they seem to forbid it, but afterwards soften their words, and allow it with some provisos: their canon runs thus (b);

"a feast day which falls on the eve of the sabbath, a man may not boil (anything) at the beginning of the feast day for the sabbath; but he may boil for the feast day; and if there is any left, it may be left for the sabbath; and he may make a boiling on the eve of a feast day, and depend on it for the sabbath: the house of Shamtoni say two boilings; and the house of Hillell say one boiling.''

Bartenora on the passage observes, that some say the reason of this boiling on the evening of a feast day, is for the honour of the sabbath; for because from the evening of the feast day, the sabbath is remembered, that which is best is chosen for the sabbath, that the sabbath may not be forgotten through the business of the feast day. The account Maimonides (c) gives of this matter is,

"on a common day they "prepare" for the sabbath, and on a common day they prepare for a feast day; but they do not prepare on a feast day for the sabbath, nor is the sabbath, "a preparation" for a feast day.''

This seems to be contrary to the practice of the Jews in the time of Christ, as related by the evangelists, understanding by the preparation they speak of, a preparation of food for the sabbath; but what he afterwards says (d) makes some allowance for it:

"a feast day, which happens to be on the eve of the sabbath, (Friday,) they neither bake nor boil, on a feast day what is eaten on the morrow, on the sabbath; and this prohibition is from the words of the Scribes, (not from the word of God,) that a man should not boil any thing on a feast day for a common day, and much less for the sabbath; but if he makes a boiling (or prepares food) on the evening of a feast day on which he depends and boils and bakes on a feast day for the sabbath, lo, this is lawful; and that on which he depends is called the mingling of food.''

And this food, so called, was a small portion of food prepared on a feast for the sabbath, though not less than the quantity of an olive, whether for one man or a thousand (e); by virtue of which, they depending on it for the sabbath, they might prepare whatever they would, after having asked a blessing over it, and saying (f),

"by this mixture it is free for me to bake and boil on a feast day what is for the morrow, the sabbath; and if a man prepares for others, he must say for me, and for such an one, and such an one; or for the men of the city, and then all of them may bake and boil on a feast day for the sabbath.''

And about the sixth hour; to which agrees the account in Matthew 27:45, Luke 23:44 but Mark 15:25 says that "it was the third hour, and they crucified him"; and Beza says, he found it so written in one copy; and so read Peter of Alexandria, Beza's ancient copy, and some others, and Nonnus: but the copies in general agree in, and confirm the common reading, and which is differently accounted for; some by the different computations of the Jews and Romans; others by observing that the day was divided into four parts, each part containing three hours, and were called the third, the sixth, the ninth, and the twelfth hours; and not only that time, when one of these hours came, was called by that name, but also from that all the space of the three hours, till the next came, was called by the name of the former: for instance, all the space from nine o'clock till twelve was called "the third hour"; and all from twelve till three in the afternoon "the sixth hour": hence the time of Christ's crucifixion being supposed to be somewhat before, but yet near our twelve of the clock, it may be truly here said that it was about the sixth hour; and as truly by Mark the third hour; that space, which was called by the name of the third hour, being not yet passed, though it drew toward an end. This way go Godwin and Hammond, whose words I have expressed, and bids fair for the true solution of the difficulty: though it should be observed, that Mark agrees with the other evangelists about the darkness which was at the sixth hour, the time of Christ's crucifixion, Mark 15:33 and it is to be remarked, that he does not say that it was the third hour "when" they crucified him, or that they crucified him at the third hour; but it was the third hour, "and" they crucified him, as Dr. Lightfoot observes. It was the time of day when they should have been at the daily sacrifice, and preparing for the solemnity of that day particularly, which was their Chagigah, or grand feast; but instead of this they were prosecuting his crucifixion, which they brought about by the sixth hour. And about this time Pilate said, and did the following things:

and he saith unto the Jews, behold your king; whom some of your people, it seems, have owned for their king, and you charge as setting up himself as one; see what a figure he makes; does he look like a king? this he said, in order to move upon their affections, that, if possible, they might agree to release him, and to shame them out of putting such a poor despicable creature to death; and as upbraiding them for their folly, in fearing anything from so mean and contemptible a man.

(x) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 43. 1. & 67. 1.((y) Toldos Jesu, p. 18. (z) Misn. Shekalim, c. 3. sect. 1. & Bartenora in ib. T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 6. 1.((a) Misn. Pesachim, c. 1. sect. 1, 2, 3.((b) Misn. Betza, c. 2. sect. 1.((c) Hilchot Yom Tob. c. 1. sect. 19. (d) Ib. c. 6. sect. 1.((e) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Betza, c. 2. sect. 1.((f) Maimon. Hilchot Yom Tob, c. 6. sect. 8.

And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!
John 19:14. Day and hour of the decisive moment, after which the narrative then proceeds with καὶ λέγει, κ.τ.λ., without the necessity of placing ἦν δὲἔκτη in a parenthesis (rather, with Lachm. and Tisch., between two points).

παρασκ. τοῦ πάσχα] That the παρασκευή may not be understood of the weekly one, referable to the Sabbath (John 19:31; John 19:42; Luke 23:54; Mark 15:42; Matthew 27:62; Josephus, Antt. xvi. 6. 2, et al.), but may be referred to the Passover feast-day, of which it was the preparation-day, John expressly subjoins τοῦ πάσχα. It was certainly a Friday, consequently also a preparation-day before the Sabbath; but it is not this reference which is here to be remarked, but the reference to the paschal feast beginning on the evening of the day, the first feast-day of which fell, according to John, on the Sabbath. The expression corresponds to the Hebr. עֶרֶב הַפֶּסַח, not indeed verbally (for παρασκευή = ערובתא), but as to the thing. Those expositors who do not recognise the deviation of John from the Synoptics in respect of the day of Jesus’ death (see on John 18:28), explain it as: the Friday in the Passover week (see especially Wieseler, p. 336 f.; Wichelhaus, p. 209 f., and Hengstenberg in loc., also Riggenbach). But it is in the later ecclesiastical language that παρασκ. first denotes directly Friday (see Suicer, Thesaur.), as frequently also in the Constitt. ap., and that in virtue of the reference to be therewith supplied to the Sabbath; which, however, cannot be here supplied, since another genitival reference is expressly given. An appeal is erroneously made to the analogy of Ignat. Phil. 13. interpol., where it is said that one should not fast on the Sunday or Sabbath, πλὴν ἑνὸς σαββάτου τοῦ πάσχα; for (1) σάββατου in and of itself is a complete designation of a day; (2) σάββ. τοῦ πάσχα here denotes by no means the Sabbath in the Easter-tide, but the Sabbath of the Easter-day, i.e. the Saturday which precedes Easter-day, Easter Saturday. All the more decidedly, however, is this harmonistic and forced solution to be rejected, since, further, all the remaining statements of time in John place the death of Jesus before the first feast-day (see on John 13:1, John 18:28); and since John, if he had had the first feast-day before him as the day of death, would not have designated the latter (subtle evasions in Hengstenberg), with such a want of distinctness and definiteness, as “the Friday in Passover” (which in truth might have also been any other of the seven feast-days), especially here, where he wishes to proceed with such precision that he states even the hour. Comp. further Bleek, Beitr. p. 114 f.; Rückert, Abendm. p. 31 ff.; Hilgenfeld, Paschastr. p. 149 f., and in his Zeitschr. 1867, p. 190. Against Schneckenburger, Beitr. p. 1 ff., who, by referring παρασκ. to the feast of harvest, likewise brings out the 15th Nisan as the day of death, but makes it a Wednesday, see Wieseler, p. 338 f.

ἕκτη] According to the Jewish reckoning of hours, therefore twelve o’clock at noon,—again a deviation from the Synoptics, according to whom (see Mark 15:25, with which also Matthew 27:45, Luke 23:44 agree) Jesus is crucified as early as nine o’clock in the morning, which variation in the determination of this great point of time includes much too large a space of time to allow us to resolve it into a mere indefiniteness in the statement of the hour, and, with Godet, following Lange, to say lightly: “the apostles had no watch in hand,” especially as according to Matt. and Luke the darkening of the earth is already expressly ascribed to the sixth hour. Since, however, with Hofmann,[239] with whom Lichtenstein agrees, we cannot divide the words: ἦν δὲ παρασκευή, τοῦ πάσχα ὥρα ἦν ὡς ἕκτη, but it was preparation-day, it was about the sixth hour of the paschal feast (reckoned, namely, from midnight forwards), which forced and artificial explanation would absolutely set aside παρασκευή, in spite of τοῦ πάσχα therewith expressed, and would yield an unexampled mode of computation of hours, namely, of the feast, not of the day (against John 1:40, John 4:6; John 4:52); since, further, the reading in our present passage is, both externally and internally, certain, and the already ancient assumption of a copyist’s mistake (Eusebius, Beza, ed. 5, Bengel; according to Ammonius, Severinus, τινὲς in Theophylact, Petavius: an interchange of the numeral signs γ and ς) is purely arbitrary; since, further, as generally in John (comp. on John 1:40, John 4:6; John 4:52), the assumption is groundless,[240] that he is reckoning according to the Roman enumeration of hours (Rettig, Tholuck, Olshausen, Krabbe, Hug, Maier, Ewald, Isenberg; substantially so Wieseler, p. 414, who calls to his aid the first feast-day, Exodus 12:29, which begins precisely at midnight); since, finally, the quarter of a day beginning with this hour cannot be made out of the third hour of Mark (Calvin, Grotius, Jansen, Wetstein, and others, comp. Krafft, p. 147; see in opposition, Mark 15:33-34), and just as little (Hengstenberg, comp. Godet) can the sixth hour of John (comp. John 4:6) be taken into consideration only as the time of day in question;[241]—the variation must thus be left as it is, and the preference must be given to the disciple who stood under the cross. The Johannean statement of the hour is not, however, in itself improbable, since the various proceedings in and near the praetorium, in which also the sending to Herod, Luke 23:7 ff., is to be included (see on John 18:38), may probably have extended from πρωΐ, John 18:28, until noon (in answer to Brückner); while the execution, on the adjacent place of execution, quickly followed the judicial sentence, and without any intermediate occurrence, and the death of Jesus must have taken place unusually early, not to take into account the space which ὡσεί leaves open. Comp. Marcus Gnost. in Irenaeus, Haer. i. 14. 6 : τὴν ἕκτην ὥραν, ἐν ᾗ προσηλώθη τῷ ξύλῳ. For the way, however, in which even this statement of time is deduced from the representation of the paschal lamb (the writer desired to bring out the בין הערבים, Exodus 12:6; Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 9:3), see in Weisse, Evangelienfrage, p. 131.

ἼΔΕ Ὁ ΒΑΣΙΛ. ὙΜῶΝ!] Pilate is indeed determined, on ascending his judicial seat, to overcome his sentiment of right; but, notwithstanding, in this decisive moment, with his moral weakness between the twofold fear of the Son of God and of the Caesar, he still, before actually yielding, makes the bitter remark against the Jews: see, there is your king! imprudently, without effect, but at least satisfying in some degree the irony of the situation, into the pinch of which he sees himself brought.

[239] In the Zeitschr. f. Prot. u. Kirche, 1853, Oct. p. 260 ff., and Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 204 f.

[240] In fact, it is precisely in the present passage that the inadmissibility of the Roman enumeration of hours is shown. For if Jesus was brought πρωΐ, John 18:28, to the praetorium, it is impossible that after all the transactions which here took place, including the scourging, mocking, and also the sending to Herod (who questioned Him ἐν λόγοις ἱκανοῖς, Luke 23:9, and derided Him), the case can have been matured for sentence as early as six o’clock in the morning, that is, at the end of about two, or at most three hours.

[241] On this theory Hengstenberg forms the certainly very simple example: the combination of the statements of Mark and John yields the result, that the sentence of condemnation and the leading away falls in the middle, between the third and sixth hour, therefore about 10.30 o’clock. Were this correct, the statements of both evangelists would be incorrect, and we should avoid Scylla to fall into Charybdis.—Godet only renews the idle subterfuge that in Mark 15:25 the crucifixion is reckoned from the scourging forwards.

John 19:14. ἦν δὲ παρασκευὴ τοῦ πάσχα, “now it was the preparation of the Passover”. παρασκευή was the usual appellation of Friday, the day of preparation for the weekly Sabbath. Here the addition τοῦ πάσχα shows that it is used of the day preceding the Passover. This day was, as it happened, a Friday, but it is the relation to the feast, not to the ordinary Sabbath, that is here indicated. Cf. John 19:42. ὥρα δὲ ὡσεὶ ἕκτη. “It was about the sixth hour,” i.e., about 12 o’clock. But Mark (Mark 15:25) says: “It was the third hour and they crucified Him”. The various methods of reconciling the statements are given in Andrew’s Life of Our Lord, p. 545 ff. Meyer leaves it unsolved “and the preference must be given to the disciple who stood under the cross”. But if the crucifixion took place midway between nine and twelve o’clock, it was quite natural that one observer should refer it to the former, while another referred it to the latter hour. The height of the sun in the sky was the index of the time of day; and while it was easy to know whether it was before or after midday, or whether the sun was more or less than half-way between the zenith and the horizon, finer distinctions of time were not recognisable without consulting the sun-dials, which were not everywhere at hand. Cf. the interesting passages from rabbinical literature in Wetstein, and Professor Ramsay’s article in the Expositor, 1893, vol. vii., p. 216. The latter writer found the same conditions in Turkish villages, and “cannot feel anything serious” in the discrepancy between John and Mark. “The Apostles had no means of avoiding the difficulty as to whether it was the third or the sixth hour when the sun was near mid-heaven, and they cared very little about the point.” καὶ λέγειὑμῶν, “and he says to the Jews: Behold your king!” words uttered apparently in sarcasm and rage. If he still wished to free Jesus, his bitterness was impolitic.

14. the preparation] i.e. the day before the Passover, the ‘eve,’ See Appendix A.

and about the sixth hour] The best MSS. have ‘it was’ for ‘and;’ it was about the sixth hour. In two abrupt sentences S. John calls special attention to the day and hour; now it was the eve of the Passover: it was about the sixth hour. It is difficult to believe that he can be utterly mistaken about both. The question of the day is discussed elsewhere (Appendix A); the question as to the hour remains.

We have seen already (John 1:39, John 4:6; John 4:52, John 11:9), that whatever view we may take of the balance of probability in each case, there is nothing thus far which is conclusively in favour of the antecedently improbable view, that S. John reckons the hours of the day as we do, from midnight to noon and noon to midnight.

The modern method is sometimes spoken of as the Roman method. This is misleading, as it seems to imply that the Romans counted their hours as we do. If this were so, it would not surprise us so much to find that S. John, living away from Palestine and in the capital of a Roman province, had adopted the Roman reckoning. But the Romans and Greeks, as well as the Jews, counted their hours froth sunrise. Martial, who goes through the day hour by hour (iv. viii.), places the Roman method beyond a doubt. The difference between the Romans and the Jews was not as to the mode of counting the hours, but as to the limits of each individual day. The Jews placed the boundary at sunset, the Romans (as we do) at midnight. (Comp. Pliny Nat. Hist. ii. lxxvii.) The ‘this day’ of Pilate’s wife (Matthew 27:19) proves nothing; it would fit either the Roman or the Jewish method; and some suppose her to have been a proselyte. In this particular S. John does seem to have adopted the Roman method; for (John 20:19) he speaks of the evening of Easter Day as ‘the same day at evening’ (comp. Luke 24:29; Luke 24:33). This must be admitted as against the explanation that ‘yesterday’ in John 4:54 was spoken before midnight and refers to the time before sunset: but the servants may have met their master after midnight.

But there is some evidence of a custom of reckoning the hours from midnight in Asia Minor. Polycarp was martyred ‘at the eighth hour’ (Mart. Pol. xxi.), Pionius at ‘the tenth hour’ (Acta Mart. p. 137); both at Smyrna. Such exhibitions commonly took place in the morning (Philo, ii. 529); so that 8.0 and 10.0 a.m. are more probable than 2.0 and 4.0 p.m.

McClellan adds another argument. “The phraseology of our present passage is unique in the Gospels. The hour is mentioned in conjunction with the day. To cite the words of St Augustine, but with the correct rendering of Paraskeuê, ‘S. John does not say, It was about the sixth hour of the day, nor merely, It was about the sixth hour, but It was the Friday of the Passover; it was about the Sixth hour.’ Hence in the straightforward sense of the words, the sixth hour that he means is the sixth hour of the Friday; and so it is rendered in the Thebaic Version. But Friday in S. John is the name of the whole Roman civil day, and the Roman civil days are reckoned from midnight.” New Test. i. p. 742.

This solution may therefore be adopted, not as certain, but as less unsatisfactory than the conjecture of a false reading either here or in Mark 15:25, or the various forced interpretations which have been given of S. John’s words. If, however, the mode of reckoning in both Gospels be the same, the preference in point of accuracy must be given to the Evangelist who stood by the cross.

Behold your King.] Like the title on the cross and unlike the “Ecce Homo,” these words are spoken in bitter irony. This man in His mock insignia is a fit sovereign for the miserable Jews. Perhaps Pilate would also taunt them with their own glorification of Him on Palm Sunday.

John 19:14. Ἦν δὲ, now it was) This assigns the reason why both the Jews and Pilate were anxious that the proceeding should be brought to an issue. The Preparation was close at hand. So ἦν, “it was a feast,” in ch. John 5:1. Every Friday or sixth day of the week is called “the Preparation” [Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54 : whence with the Rabbins, the whole day which is succeeded by the Sabbath is called the evening (of the Sabbath): Harm., p. 557]; and as often soever as the Passover fell on the seventh day, it was “the Preparation of the Passover.” [But in this passage, when the Passover fell on the Friday (sixth day) itself, the παρασκευὴ, or Preparation, was not a preparation for the Passover, or before the Passover, but rather on the Passover, a preparation for the Sabbath (as Luther rightly renders it). Mark and Luke, in the passages quoted above, carefully guard against our understanding it of the Preparation for the Passover; and even John himself, expressly mentions the παρασκευή, Preparation for the Sabbath, John 19:41-42 (with which comp. John 19:31). The Passover fell at one time on this, at another time on that day of the week; but then, just as in the exodus from Egypt, according to the testimony of the most ancient of the Hebrews, the Passover fell upon the beginning of the Friday (the sixth day, which began on Thursday evening), so, as often soever as the Passover claimed to itself this day of the week (the sixth day), the fact was considered worthy of note. Christ is our Passover: the first Passover in Egypt, and the Passover of the Passion of Christ, have such a correspondence with one another (in falling on the same day of the week, the sixth), as was worthy to be marked by John by means of this very phrase. Comp. Ord. Temp., p. 266 (ed. ii., p. 230).—Harm., p. 557, et seqq].—τρίτη, third) Most copies read ἓκτη, the sixth, which is unquestionably an error; that it is an error, is acknowledged by that most learned person, Charl. Gottlob Hofmann in his “Introductio Pritiana N. T.,” pp. 370, 377. The Evangelists everywhere mention hours of the same kind, and so also John; and in this passage especially, where he is treating of the παρασκευή, the Jewish kind of hour must be meant. Now the Jews did not use or apply the name to any other hours than those of which the first was in the early morning, the twelfth in the evening; so John 11:9, “Are there not twelve hours in the day?” whence the sixth, seventh, and tenth occur, John 4:6; John 4:52; John 1:39. The third hour was decidedly the hour in which our Lord was crucified; and afterwards, from the sixth to the ninth hour, darkness prevailed; Mark 15:25; Mark 15:33.[388] We acknowledge with pious and grateful feelings, O Lord Jesu, the lengthened continuance of the time that Thou didst drink the cup of suffering to the dregs, hanging on the cross!—καὶ λέγει, and he saith) Pilate did not say this in derision, and yet at the same time he did not believe; but in every way tried to move the Jews to pity.

[388] LX and second-rate authorities alone support τρίτη. The Chron. Alex. alleges that “the accurate copies contain it, as also the autograph of the Evangelist himself preserved at Ephesus.” Nonnus (fifth cent.), Severus of Antioch (sixth cent.), Ammonius of Alexandria (third cent.), and Theophylact (eleventh cent.), support τρίτη; the last three say that transcribers confounded the numeral ς (or ἕκτη) with γ (or τρίτη). But AB Vulg. and all the Versions have ἕκτη, which sets aside the notion of ἕκτη coming from transcribers. Besides, the very difficulty of the reading, according to Bengel’s own canon, proves it is not an interpolation. The sixth hour in John is no doubt six o’clock in the morning. St John begins the day as the Romans did, at midnight; but counted the hours, as the Asiaties about Ephesus, where he was Bishop, did, after the Macedonian method, which came into use there through Alexander’s conquests. See Townson’s Harm., viii. § 1, 2, 3, where he shows the probability that the hours are so to be understood in ch. John 1:39, John 4:6-7, John 4:52-53, in opposition to Bengel.—E. and T.

Verse 14. - Now it was the preparation of the Passover. Once more the question of the discrepancy between the Johannine and synoptic implication of the day of our Lord's death reappears. This statement is claimed eagerly by both classes of critics. Hengstenberg, M'Clellan, Lange, Schaff, etc., all urge that the word "preparation" is simply the "Friday" before the sabbath - "the eve of the sabbath," and that τοῦ Πάσχα is added in the broad Johannine sense of the entire Paschal festival, and means the "Friday" of the Passover week, and that thus John only confirms the synoptic narrative that the Passover had been sacrificed on the previous evening. To this it is replied, by Meyer, Godet, Westcott, Farrar, etc., that this use of παρασκευή belongs to a much later period, and here it is used in the sense of the "preparation" for the Paschal meal, without interfering with the fact afterwards mentioned, that it was the pro-sabbaton, the day before the sabbath; the first day of unleavened bread coinciding with the ordinary weekly sabbath. The τοῦ πάσχα here would have no meaning for a reader, who had not learned this technical and later patristic usage. Why should not John, on that understanding, have simply used the word in the sense which the synoptists give to it, as equivalent to the προσάββατον? [There is another difficulty in the former interpretation: if our Lord was crucified on the first day of unleavened bread and after the Paschal meal, there would be a second preparation of the Passover on that day week, so that John could not have spoken of it with the precision which he used (see notes on John 13:1; 18:28).] The balance of argument, so far as John is concerned, is in favor of the Passover meat being still in prospect, and the statement is made to call attention to the fact that, as St. Paul said, "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us." Thus doubtless the blindness of the Jews is aggravated, and the typical and symbolic meaning of the correspondence between the ritual and its antitype emphasized. Another serious perplexity occurs. It was about the sixth hour. This is in manifest opposition with Mark's statement (Mark 15:25) that the Crucifixion took place at the third hour, and with all three of the synoptists, that the supernatural darkness overspread Jerusalem from the sixth to the ninth hour. This is represented as taking place after our Lord had been hanging for some time upon the cross. Some relief to this great difficulty of horology is found in the slight modification of the text from ὥρα δὲ ὡσεὶ ἕκτη of T.R. to ὥρα η΅ν ὥς ἕκτη, which may suffer the reading of Lange ("es war gegen die"), "it was going on towards the sixth hour" - the third hour, 9 a.m., was passed, and it was moving on to midday. Westcott, in an elaborate note on John's measurement of time, endeavors to prove that he always uses the Roman system of measure from midnight to midday, instead of the Oriental method of measurement from sunrise to sunset, and that he meant by the sixth hour 6 a.m., not 12 midday. But if this is possible, the perplexity is rather increased than diminished. It is difficult to imagine that this stage of the proceedings could have been reached by six o'clock a.m., and that three hours still followed before the Lord was crucified. M'Clellan hotly espouses this interpretation, and, against Farrar, maintains that the Romans did adopt this computation, by quotations from Censorinus ('De Die Nat.,' 23.), Pithy ('Nat. Hist.,' 2:77), Aulus Gellius, and Maerobius; and he reminds his readers that John wrote in Ephesus, and proves that there was an Asiatic computation of time which corresponded with the Roman, and that there is abundant time before 6 a.m. for all that is needed to have taken place. This is the interpretation of Townson ('Discourses on the Four Gospels'), and it is espoused by Cresswell, Wieseler, Ewald, Westcott, Moulton. Coder, however, gives strong proof, on John 1:39, that the Greeks of Asia Minor were familiar with the Jewish reckoning from sunrise to sunset (see notes on John 1:39; 4:6; 11:9). Eusebius supposed an alteration of the text of John, converting Γ = 3 into ς = 6. It is strange that no manuscripts have revealed the fact, though the third correcter of א and the supplement to D suggest this early solution of the difficulty. Eusebius was followed by Ammonius and Severus of Antioch. Beza, Bengel, and Alford with hesitation accept this conclusion. Luthardt, Farrar, and Schaff seem inclined to think that this may be the explanation, unless the ὡς be used with great latitude of meaning, and that what is really intended was that it was moving on to midday. The nine o'clock had been passed. Luthardt is dissatisfied with every explanation, not simply because it is inconsistent with the synoptic narrative, but because it is incompatible with John's own reckoning. Hengstenberg thought that the division of the day into four periods of three hours each is far older than either the Talmud or Maimonides (cf. Mark 13:35; Luke 12:38; Matthew 20:3, 4), and that the synoptic narrative reckoned by the terminus a quo, which, taken literally, would be too early for the act of crucifixion, and that John's reckoning points to the terminus ad quem, which, taken literally, would be too late. M'Clellan thinks this "outrageous!" though Andrewes, Lewin, Ellicott, and Lange practically adopt it. Augustine says, "At the third hour (Mark) he was crucified by the tongues of the Jews, at the sixth hour (John) by the hands of the soldiers." Da Costa suggested that the sixth hour was reckoned backward from 3 p.m., the commencement of the preparation. Mark, by using the aorist, cannot have intended to convey that the whole process of crucifixion, commencing with the scourging, including the procession to Golgotha, and the last scene of all, was included in the verb. (Hesychius argued this view at length, saying that Mark refers to the verdict of Pilate, and John to the nailing to the cross.) At the hour, thus indicated by a term which cannot be finally interpreted, Pilate, trembling with rage and impotent fury, endeavored to fling at the head of the haughty priesthood another maddening taunt, and yet with a flash of inward conviction which, after all, staggered him: he pointed once more to the sublime Sufferer, bleeding from his wounds and crowned with thorns, having every mark upon him of their insulting cruelty and insensate hate, wearing the mock and cruel habiliments of royalty, and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! There is the King whom you have crowned, and whose claim lies altogether beyond your ken. Wavering between the favor of Tiberius and the claims of justice, remembering that Sejanus, to whom he had personally owed his own appointment, had already been a victim to the jealousy of their common master, he yet cannot suppress the bitter taunt involved in Ἴδε ὁ Βασιλεὺς ὑμῶν John 19:14Sixth hour

See on John 1:39.

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