John 19:9
And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.
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(9) And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus.—He had brought Jesus out to the people. He now led Him back to the palace in order to inquire further of Him in private.

Whence art thou?—The question is based upon the claim to be Son of God, of which he had heard. He knew that Jesus was a Galilean before sending Him to Herod (Luke 23:6). It is not of His earthly habitation, therefore, that he inquires, but of His origin and nature. (Comp. the same word, and in the same sense, in John 8:14, and Matthew 21:25.)

But Jesus gave him no answer.—This silence of our Lord has seemed hard to understand, and very many and very different have been the explanations suggested. An explanation can only be suggested; it cannot be given with any degree of certainty; but that which seems most in harmony with the position is that Pilate’s question was one which to him could not be answered in reality, and therefore was not answered in appearance. The answer had, indeed, already been given (John 18:37), but he had treated it with the impatience which showed he could not receive it now. Not of the truth, he could not hear the voice of the Son of God, and therefore that voice did not speak.

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!Whence art thou? - See the notes at John 7:27. Pilate knew that he was a Galilean, but this question was asked to ascertain whether he claimed to be the Son of God - whether a mere man, or whether divine.

Jesus gave him no answer - Probably for the following reasons:

1. Jesus had already told Pilate Jesus' design, and the nature of his kingdom, John 18:36-37.

2. Jesus had said enough to satisfy Pilate of Jesus' innocence. Of that Pilate was convinced. Pilate's duty was clear, and if he had had firmness to do it, he would not have asked this. Jesus, by his silence, therefore rebuked Pilate for his lack of firmness, and his unwillingness to do what his conscience told him was right.

3. It is not probable that Pilate would have understood Jesus if Jesus had declared to Pilate the truth about Jesus' origin, and about his being the Son of God.

4. After what had been done - after he had satisfied Pilate of his innocence, and then had been beaten and mocked by his permission he had no reason to expect justice at his hands, and therefore properly declined to make any further defense. By this the prophecy Isaiah 53:7 was remarkably fulfilled.

9. and went again into the judgment hall, and saith to Jesus, Whence art thou?—beyond all doubt a question relating not to His mission but to His personal origin.

Jesus gave him no answer—He had said enough; the time for answering such a question was past; the weak and wavering governor is already on the point of giving way.

Our Lord, who knew the secrets of all men’s hearts, very well knew, that though Pilate had for some time withstood his temptations, yet he would at last yield: he also was ready to lay down his life, as he knew was determined for him; having therefore made a reasonable defence, he thinks fit to add no more of that nature.

And went again into the judgment hall,.... From whence he came out, taking Jesus along with him, in order to interrogate him alone upon this head:

and saith unto Jesus, whence art thou? meaning not of what country he was, for he knew he was of the nation of the Jews; nor in what place he was born, whether at Bethlehem or at Nazareth, for this was no concern of his; but from whence he sprung, who were his ancestors, and whether his descent was from the gods, or from men; and if from the former, from which of them; for as Pilate was an Heathen, he must be supposed to speak as such:

but Jesus gave him no answer; for his question was frivolous, and deserved none; and besides, he was not worthy of one, who had used him so ill, when he knew, in his own conscience, that he was innocent; nor was he capable of taking in an answer, or able to judge whether it was right or wrong; and since Christ was come to die for the salvation of his people, it was not proper he should say anything that might be a means of hindering it.

And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.
John 19:9-10. He therefore took Jesus again away with him into the praetorium for a private audience.

πόθεν] asks after His origin, but not in the sense of the place of birth (Paulus), but in the sense occasioned by υἱὸν θεοῦ, John 19:7, in order to obtain a declaration from Jesus on this point, whether He were of human or divine origin. Comp. on John 8:14; Matthew 21:25.

ἀπόκρ. οὐκ ἔδωκ. αὐτῷ] Both this observation, as well as the peculiarity of Pilate’s question, betraying a certain timidity, πόθεν εἶ σύ (how entirely different is his question, John 18:33; while here he shrinks from asking directly), has the stamp of originality. Jesus is silent; for what He would have had to say would only have been misunderstood by Pilate, or not understood at all (John 17:25; Matthew 7:6). Moreover, He had already in truth sufficiently indicated His heavenly origin, John 18:36-37, had Pilate only possessed susceptibility for the truth. But as it was, he was unworthy of further discussion, and in the silence of Jesus it is precisely the self-assurance and greatness of the Son of God which are implied. Luthardt explains it from the assumption that Jesus will not give Pilate occasion to release Him from motives of fear, and thereby to interfere with the will of God. But on that supposition He must also have withheld the great and bold words, John 19:11. A resolute opposition on the part of the sceptical man of the world to the desire of the Jews, Jesus assuredly neither hoped nor feared.

John 19:10. Καὶ φοβεῖται καὶ φοβεῖ, Euth. Zigabenus.

ἐμοὶ οὐ λαλεῖς;] ἐμοί bears the emphasis of mortified power, which then also attempts alike to terrify and to entice. To mention at first the σταυρῶσαί σε, and then, not before, the ἀπολῦσαί σε, corresponded to the state of the procedure. But A. B. E. א. Lachm. Tisch. have the converse order, which would, however, more readily suggest itself to the mechanical copyist. The repetition of ἐξουσ. ἔχω is solemn.

9. judgment-hall] See on John 18:28.

Whence art thou?] Pilate tries a vague question which might apply to Christ’s dwelling-place, which he already knew (Luke 23:6), hoping for an answer as to His origin. Would the prisoner assert his mysterious claim to him, or explain it?

no answer] Pilate could not have understood the answer; and what had it to do with the merits of the case? Comp. Matthew 27:12-14 and Christ’s own precept, Matthew 7:6.

John 19:9. Πόθεν whence) Dost thou ask, Pilate? He was of God and from above, as He Himself implies in John 19:11, whilst seeming to give no answer to this question. Comp. ch. John 18:36-37, [where He states only from whence His kingdom is not, viz. “not of this world;” but not from whence it is, viz. from heaven; but He implies this in saying, “I came into the world.”]

Verse 9. - And he entered the Praetorium again (Jesus following him), and he saith to Jesus, Whence art thou? but Jesus gave him no answer. Almost all commentators reject the old explanation of the question of Pilate given by Paulus, that he simply asked Jesus of his birthplace or his home. The governor was disturbed, and ready to suspect that he had on his hands some supernatural Being whom no cross could destroy - some mysterious half-human, half-Divine creature, such as filled the popular literature; and, without any spiritual insight on his own side, he enticed Jesus to give him his confidence, and entrust to his keeping some of the secret of his origin, and the source of the bitter antagonism to his claims. There was fear, curiosity, and great desire for his own sake to save the suffering Man from the clutches of his enemies. "Whence art thou? Hast thou indeed made this claim? Best thou call thyself Son of God? that God is thy proper Father; that thou art coming in the glory of heaven; that thou, in thy purple robe and bleeding form, art already seated on thy throne of judgment?" Surely all this was really conveyed by the question, for we cannot suppose that "the Jews" confined themselves to the laconic recital of the charge as here recorded. The silence of Jesus is very impressive, and we, in our ignorance, can only vaguely say what it meant. Very numerous explanations are offered. Luthardt's idea, that Christ would not give an answer which would have the effect of preventing Pilate, in his agitated state, from giving the order for his crucifixion, is stagey and unreal. Moreover, it is bound up with very questionable ethic, and suggests that Jesus is answerable for the awful sin of Pilate, from which, by a word, he might have saved him. We admit that at any moment the Lord could, if he had chosen, have smitten his foes with blindness, or delivered himself from their malice by passing through them (cf. John 12:59). They would all have fallen to the earth if he had glanced at them as he had done upon the Roman guard in Gethsemane upon that very band of men who were now so busy in wiping out the stain of their momentary panic. On other occasions, when his hour of self-deliverance and self-devotion to the Father's will had not arrived, he discomfited his enemies; but now his hour had come, and he did not shrink. All this is true, but it does not account for the refusal to answer a question like this. Doubtless the silence was as expressive as speech, and even less likely to be misunderstood. He could not have denied that he was "Son of God." He could not have affirmed it without leading Pilate to put human and heathen notions into it. But could not he, who is infinite wisdom incarnate, have given an answer which would have avoided both dangers? That, however, is practically what he did effect. The prophetic picture had foretold of him, that "like a sheep before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth;" and the previous silences of Jesus before Annas, and before the false witnesses, before Caiaphas, and Pilate himself, and before Herod, are all governed by the same rule - a refusal to save himself from malignant falsity, or tricky design, or conspicuously lying charges; but when challenged to say whether he was the Christ, whether he was the Son of God, whether he was a King, he gave the answers needed. There was some likeness between the spirit of Herod, Caiaphas, and the false witnesses, and of Pilate's "Whence art thou?" which did not deserve an affirmative answer. The governor, who had scourged and insulted an apparently defenseless man, at the very moment when he was proclaimed innocent, and now was afraid of what he had done, came into the category of the slayers of the silent Lamb. But to the next inquiry, which went down to the depths of his heart, and revealed the utter unspirituality and self-ignorance which needed response, a wondrous reply was given. John 19:9
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