For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)He knew that for envy.—Pilate knew enough of the accusers to see through the hollowness of their pretended zeal for their own religion, or for the authority of the emperor. He found their real motive in “envy”—fear of the loss of influence and power, if the work of the new Teacher was to continue.
He drew away the people from them. This Pilate understood, probably, from his knowledge of the pride and ambition of the rulers, and from the fact that no danger could arise from a person that appeared like Jesus. If Pilate knew this, he was bound to release him himself. As a governor and judge, he was under obligation to protect the innocent, and should, in spite of all the opposition of the Jews, at once have set him at liberty. But the Scriptures could not then have been fulfilled. It was necessary, in order that an atonement should be made. that Jesus should be condemned to die. At the same time. it shows the wisdom of the overruling providence of God, that he was condemned by a man who was satisfied of his innocence, and who proclaimed before his accusers his "full belief" that there was no fault in him.
For the exposition, see on Lu 23:1-25; Joh 18:28-40.Mark 15:6-11, Now at that feast he released unto them, one prisoner, whomsoever they desired. And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection. And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them. But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them.
Luke hath this passage of the history more fully, Luke 23:13-18: And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him. No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him. I will therefore chastise him, and release him. (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.) And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas: (who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.)
John saith, John 18:38-40, that when he went out he told them he found no fault in him at all. But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews. Then cried they all again, saying, not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.
The history is plain: Pilate discerned, upon his before mentioned examination of Christ, that our Saviour had done nothing amiss, but was only loaded with the malice and envy of the chief priests and scribes; this made him resolve to do what in him lay to deliver him. He first tells them that they had brought him before him, accused him of many things, but had proved against him nothing criminal; that he had sent him to Herod, in whose jurisdiction he had lived, but neither did Herod find any fault in him. Now there was a custom, that ever at the passover the governor released a prisoner at the request of the people. The people desired he would keep their old custom in this particular. Pilate propounds to them to release the King of the Jews. The chief priests influence the people to declare their dissatisfaction at that, and to name one Barabbas, a prisoner who was a robber, and had been guilty of an insurrection, and of murder committed in the insurrection: accordingly the people cry out, Not this man, but Barabbas. This makes him again to return to the judgment seat. For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 27:18 Γάρ] Had he not been aware, etc., he would not have thus attempted to effect the release of Jesus.
παρέδωκαν] The subject of the verb is, of course, the members of the Sanhedrim (Matthew 27:2), whose dominant selfishness was too conspicuous in itself, as well as from the animus that characterized their behaviour, to escape his notice. They were jealous of the importance and influence of Jesus; διά denotes the motive which animated them: because of envy; see Winer, p. 372 [E. T. 497]. This was the causa remotior.Matthew 27:18. ᾔδει, he knew, perhaps too strong a word, the fact being that he shrewdly suspected—knew his men, and instinctively divined that if Jesus was a popular favourite the Pharisees would be jealous. This explains his sang froid in reference to the title “King of the Jews,” also his offering the name of Jesus to the people.Matthew 27:18. Διὰ φθόνον, for envy) They envied Jesus because the people had adhered to Him.Verse 18. - For he knew. He had recourse to this expedient because he was well acquainted with the motives which led the Sanhedrists to desire his death. They had shown their envy of Christ's influence with the people; they were jealous of his reputation and success; grudged him his marvellous powers; were embittered by his attacks on rabbinism, and the undermining of their popularity. Pilate saw much of this; he penetrated behind their flimsy pretence of averting some possible danger from the Roman dominion, and he laboured in this indirect way to save the victim of this vindictive plot. Of course, Pilate could not fully appreciate Christ's character, nor enter into the question of his supernatural claims; he saw only that he was brought before him from the basest motives, that no real offence was proved against him, and that no fear could be entertained of his heading a popular tumult.
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