John 19:32
Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(32) Then came the soldiers,. . . .—The words do not mean, as they have sometimes been understood, that other soldiers came, but refer to the quaternion before named (John 19:23), who had naturally fallen back from the crosses, and are here represented as coming forward to complete their work. The mention of the “first” and the “other” suggests that they formed two pairs, and began on either side breaking the legs of the thieves crucified with Jesus.

19:31-37 A trial was made whether Jesus was dead. He died in less time than persons crucified commonly did. It showed that he had laid down his life of himself. The spear broke up the very fountains of life; no human body could survive such a wound. But its being so solemnly attested, shows there was something peculiar in it. The blood and water that flowed out, signified those two great benefits which all believers partake of through Christ, justification and sanctification; blood for atonement, water for purification. They both flow from the pierced side of our Redeemer. To Christ crucified we owe merit for our justification, and Spirit and grace for our sanctification. Let this silence the fears of weak Christians, and encourage their hopes; there came both water and blood out of Jesus' pierced side, both to justify and sanctify them. The Scripture was fulfilled, in Pilate's not allowing his legs to be broken, Ps 34:20. There was a type of this in the paschal lamb, Ex 12:46. May we ever look to Him, whom, by our sins, we have ignorantly and heedlessly pierced, nay, sometimes against convictions and mercies; and who shed from his wounded side both water and blood, that we might be justified and sanctified in his name.The preparation - John 19:14.

That the bodies ... - The law required that the bodies of those who were hung should not remain suspended during the night. See Deuteronomy 21:22-23. That law was made when the punishment by crucifixion was unknown, and when those who were suspended would almost immediately expire. In the punishment by crucifixion, life was lengthened out for four, five, or eight days. The Jews therefore requested that their death might be hastened, and that the land might not be polluted by their bodies remaining suspended on the Sabbath day.

Was an high day - It was:

1. The Sabbath.

2. It was the day on which the paschal feast properly commenced.

It was called a high day because that year the feast of the Passover commenced on the Sabbath. Greek: "Great day."

Their legs might be broken - To hasten their death. The effect of this, while they were suspended on the cross, would be to increase their pain by the act of breaking them, and to deprive their body of the support which it received from the feet, and to throw the whole weight on the hands. By this increased torment their lives were soon ended. Lactantius says that this was commonly done by the Romans to persons who were crucified. The common period to which persons crucified would live was several days. To compensate for those lingering agonies, so that the full amount of suffering might be endured, they increased their sufferings by breaking their limbs, and thus hastening their death.

Joh 19:31-42. Burial of Christ.

31-37. the preparation—sabbath eve.

that the bodies should not remain—over night, against the Mosaic law (De 21:22, 23).

on the sabbath day, for that sabbath day was an high day—or "great" day—the first day of unleavened bread, and, as concurring with an ordinary sabbath, the most solemn season of the ecclesiastical year. Hence their peculiar jealousy lest the law should be infringed.

besought Pilate that their legs might be broken—to hasten their death, which was done in such cases with clubs.

Ver. 32,33. They brake the two other malefactors’ legs, but not Christ’s, because they found him dead. It is very possible in a natural course, that of three men dying in the same manner, one may die sooner than another; but it is but rationally presumed, that the cause of our Saviour’s quicker death, was not the failure of his spirits sooner, but his own voluntary surrender of his soul.

Then came the soldiers,.... Pilate having granted the Jews what they desired; either the soldiers that crucified Christ, and the others with him, and watched their bodies, being ordered by Pilate, went from the place where they sat; or a fresh company, which were sent for this purpose, came from the city:

and brake the legs of the first; they came unto, which whether it was he that was crucified on his right hand, and was the penitent believer in him, as some have thought, is not certain:

and of the other which was crucified with him; who, if the former is true, must be he that reviled him; and was this their position, it was a lively emblem of the last day, when the sheep shall stand at the right, and the goats on the left hand of Christ.

Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 19:32-33. To assume, on account of Mark 15:39 (Comp. Matthew 27:54), that these soldiers were others (sent out by Pilate) than those who had crucified Jesus (Storr, Kuinoel, Olshausen, Maier, Lange), is indicated by nothing in the text, where rather οἱ στρατιῶται are those already known. The ἦλθον is only pictorial, and the centurion does not come into consideration with John.

Since they came to Jesus last, we must suppose that two each began on the two sides of the three crosses.

John 19:32. The two robbers were thus dispatched. ἐπὶ δὲ τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἐλθόντες, but when the soldiers who were carrying out Pilate’s orders came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they refrained from breaking His legs.

32. Then came the soldiers] The soldiers therefore came, in consequence of the fresh order from Pilate which the Jews would bring. Two probably went to each of the robbers.

John 19:32. Τοῦ πρώτου, καὶ τοῦ ἄλλου, the first, and the other) Pains often remain even to the converted [as here in the case of the penitent robber]; and an equal amount of outward bodily suffering with the ungodly. Ἄλλος, the other (a different one), is the expression used, not, the second; from which it may be inferred, as it seems, that by the first is meant the converted robber, who was more speedily released from his pains than the other.

Verses 32-34. - Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first - two of the quaternion employed on the one deed, and two on the other - and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was already dead, they brake not his legs. Their barbarous mercy was unnecessary, and John caw in this another correspondence with the sacred symbolism and prophetic anticipations of the Old Testament. But one of the soldiers pierced - gashed, probably, for the word ἔνυξεν is used in both senses - his side with a spear (λόγχῃ, a lance, a heavy formidable weapon) to give him the coup de grace, should their expectation not be actually realized, and forthwith came there-out blood and water. We do not enter into the numerous physiological reasons which have been advanced by Gruner, Bartholinus, and Dr. Stroud ('Physical Cause of the Death of Christ') for this event, but regard it as one of the great portents of the Crucifixion, which cannot be entirely explained as some physiologists have done. Dr. Schaff appears willing to accept the hypothesis that the extravagated blood, being first separated into its two constituents, was thus liberated from the pericardium - a phenomenon that might seem to justify the supposition of the evangelist, that it was blood and water. Dr. Stroud endeavored, with much medical learning, to show that this might follow the side-piercing if the Lord's physical death had followed, as he argued, from rupture of the heart due to his intense agonies. Sir R. Bennett has accepted this solution. Nor, further, do we see here any reference to the sacramental system of which John elsewhere says so little; but we do see a token miraculously given of the twofold power of his redemptive life and work

(1) renovation, refreshment, rivers of living water issuing from the κοίλια of Christ, the first great rush of spiritual power which was to regenerate humanity; and

(2) the expression of that redemptive process which was effected in the positive shedding of his precious blood. It was, moreover, a proof and sign given to Roman soldiers that their Victim was actually dead. We cannot think, with Westcott, that it was a kind of sign of the commencement of the resurrection-life, which goes perilously near to the assertion that he never really died. Moulton argues that the phenomena were physiologically possible if the-event occurred immediately after death. There is nothing in the narrative to prevent such juxtaposition. That John should have witnessed it, and been unable to understand it, and therefore put it down among the marvels of the Crucifixion, corroborates the veracity of the eye-witness (Webster and Wilkinson). The interesting catena of patristic interpretations given by Westcott ('Additional Note') shows that the earliest writer who refers to the marvel, Claudius Apollinaris, regarded it as expressive of λόγος and πνεῦμα, "the Word and the Spirit." Origen showed that from a corpse such a phenomenon could not occur; and so even in his death there are still the signs of the living one. Cyril of Jerusalem saw the two baptisms of blood and water; Chrysostom, the two sacraments, or the mysteries of baptism and of the flesh and blood. Macarius Magnes and Apollinarius saw an allusion to the side of Adam, from which Eve, the source of evil, was taken; that now the side of the second Adam should give forth the means of salvation and deliverance. Tertullian dwells on the two baptisms of water and blood; so Jerome; while Augustine sees in it the laver and the cup. That there was some special, abnormal phenomenon seems specially noticeable from the emphasis which the eye-witness lays upon the observation and record of the fact. John 19:32Brake the legs

A detail recorded only by John. This crurifragium, leg-breaking, consisted in striking the legs with a heavy mallet in order to expedite death. It was sometimes inflicted as a punishment upon slaves. Some horrible illustrations are furnished by Suetonius, in his lives of Augustus and Tiberius.

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