Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said to them, Whom will you that I release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Whom will ye that I release unto you?—This, we must remember, was all but the last attempt of Pilate to shift off from himself the dreaded burden of responsibility.Luke 23:13-16
He was therefore desirous of releasing him. He expected to release one to the people. He knew that Jesus, though condemned by the chief priests, was yet popular among the people He therefore attempted in this manner to rescue him from the hands of the priests, and expected that the people would prefer Him to an odious and infamous robber and murderer. Had the people been left to themselves it would probably have been done.
Jesus, which is called Christ - That is, Jesus, who claims to be the Messiah. Pilate probably did not believe it, or care much for it. He used the name which Jesus had acquired among the people. Perhaps, also, he thought that they would be more likely to ask him to be released if he was presented to them as the Messiah. Mark Mar 15:9 adds that he asked them whether they would that he should release "the King of the Jews?" It is probable that he asked the question in both ways. Perhaps it was several times repeated, and Matthew has recorded one way in which it was asked, and Mark another. He asked them whether they would demand him who "was called the Christ," expecting that they would be moved by the claims of the Messiah - claims which, when he entered Jerusalem in triumph, and in the temple, they had acknowledged. He asked them whether they would have the "King of the Jews" probably to ridicule the priests who had delivered him on that charge. He did it to show the people how absurd the accusation was. There Jesus stood, apparently a poor, inoffensive, unarmed, and despised man. Herod had set him at naught and scourged him, and sent him back. The charge, therefore, of the priests, that he was a "king" opposed to the Roman emperor, was supremely ridiculous; and Pilate, expecting that the people would see it so, hoped also that they would ask that he might be released.
For the exposition, see on Lu 23:1-25; Joh 18:28-40.See Poole on "Matthew 27:18". Matthew 27:15, and where the Ethiopic version adds, "and should choose".
Pilate said unto them, whom will ye that I should release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus, which is called Christ? He puts it to them, whom they would choose to have released, Barabbas, the thief and robber, the seditious person and murderer, or Jesus, whom some called the Christ, the Messiah, the king of the Jews. Pilate on purpose proposed such an infamous person along with him, not doubting but they would have preferred him, whatever were their prejudices against him, before such a scandalous person as Barabbas; and whatever good will they might secretly have to put Jesus to death, and release Barabbas, yet he thought they could not, for shame, speak out their sense, and desire him, and not Jesus. His view was not to reproach Christ, by joining him with so wicked a man, but in order to save him.Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 27:17 Οὖν] In accordance with the custom referred to, and as it so happened that at that moment there lay under sentence of death (Matthew 27:15-16) a noted criminal called Jesus Barabbas, Pilate got the multitude that was collected outside gathered together, and then asked them to choose between Jesus Barabbas and Jesus who was called the Messiah.
αὐτῶν] refers not to the members of the Sanhedrim, but to the ὄχλος, Matthew 27:15. See Matthew 27:20.Matthew 27:17. τίνα θέλετε ἀπολύσω. Here Pilate seems to take the initiative; in Mk. he is first reminded of the custom (Matthew 15:8). Mk.’s whole account is fuller and clearer.—Βαρ. ἢ Ἰησ. The two names put before the people, as presumably both popular more or less, Barabbas for some unknown reason, Jesus by inference from being called “Christ”. No favouritism implied. Pilate is feeling his way, wants to do the popular thing as safest for himself.17. Therefore when they were gathered together] In accordance, probably, with the custom named, Matthew 27:15, an appeal was made to the people, not to the Sanhedrin. Pilate was sitting on the tribunal to ascertain the popular decision; at this point he was interrupted by his wife’s messengers, and while he was engaged with them, the chief priests employed themselves in persuading the people to demand Barabbas rather than Christ.Matthew 27:17. Λεγόμενον Χριστόν, called Christ) Therefore Jesus had been already very frequently called Christ.Verse 17. - Therefore when (when then, οϋν) they were gathered together. The illative particle refers to the fact just mentioned that the notorious Barabbas was at that time in prison. The multitude, together with the Sanhedrists summoned from their meeting in the temple, were gathered at the doors of the Praetorium, when Pilate came out and spoke to them. Whom will ye that I release unto you? He had great hope that their answer would favour Jesus. When it came to choosing between a vile robber and murderer and a beneficent, moral teacher, common sense would guide the choice aright. Which is called Christ (ver. 22). In Mark Pilate terms him, "the King of the Jews." He puts before them these two names as the limit of their choice, minor offenders being not worthy of consideration in the lace of these celebrated prisoners. And he names Christ's claims, as if he would remind the people that in Jesus they possibly had the Messiah whom they desired.
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