Matthew 27:20
But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) The chief priests and elders.—Brief as the statement is it implies much; the members of the Sanhedrin standing before Pilate’s palace, mingling with the crowd, whispering—now to this man, now to that—praises of the robber, scoffs and slander against the Christ. As the next verse shows, they did their work effectively.

27:11-25 Having no malice against Jesus, Pilate urged him to clear himself, and laboured to get him discharged. The message from his wife was a warning. God has many ways of giving checks to sinners, in their sinful pursuits, and it is a great mercy to have such checks from Providence, from faithful friends, and from our own consciences. O do not this abominable thing which the Lord hates! is what we may hear said to us, when we are entering into temptation, if we will but regard it. Being overruled by the priests, the people made choice of Barabbas. Multitudes who choose the world, rather than God, for their ruler and portion, thus choose their own delusions. The Jews were so bent upon the death of Christ, that Pilate thought it would be dangerous to refuse. And this struggle shows the power of conscience even on the worst men. Yet all was so ordered to make it evident that Christ suffered for no fault of his own, but for the sins of his people. How vain for Pilate to expect to free himself from the guilt of the innocent blood of a righteous person, whom he was by his office bound to protect! The Jews' curse upon themselves has been awfully answered in the sufferings of their nation. None could bear the sin of others, except Him that had no sin of his own to answer for. And are we not all concerned? Is not Barabbas preferred to Jesus, when sinners reject salvation that they may retain their darling sins, which rob God of his glory, and murder their souls? The blood of Christ is now upon us for good, through mercy, by the Jews' rejection of it. O let us flee to it for refuge!Persuaded the multitude - The release of a prisoner was to be to the people, not to the rulers.

The rulers, therefore, in order to secure the condemnation of Jesus, urged on the people to demand Barabbas. The people were greatly under the influence of the priests. Galileans among the citizens of Jerusalem were held in contempt. The priests turned the pretensions of Jesus into ridicule. Hence, in a popular tumult, among a flexible and changing multitude, they easily excited those who, but a little before, had cried Hosanna, to cry, Crucify him.

Mt 27:11-26. Jesus Again before Pilate—He Seeks to Release Him but at Length Delivers Him to Be Crucified. ( = Mr 15:1-15; Lu 23:1-25; Joh 18:28-40).

For the exposition, see on [1372]Lu 23:1-25; [1373]Joh 18:28-40.

Ver. 19,20. Matthew only mentions this passage of Pilate’s wife; whether it was when Pilate sat upon the judgment seat the second time, (the story of which we have heard), or afterward, is uncertain; nor is it material. She doubtless refers to some late dream, which possibly she might have after her husband was gone from her, for he was called early. Whether this dream was caused by God for a further testimony of Christ’s innocency, or were merely natural, cannot be determined. But still the cry holdeth, Not him, but Barabbas. So much influence had the wicked priests upon the people.

But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude,.... Among whom the choice lay who should be released. This they did not by haranguing them, or making a public oration to them; but by sending their servants, or proper persons among them, telling them that Jesus had been examined before the sanhedrim that morning, and was found to be a blasphemer; and that the whole court had unanimously condemned him to death, and therefore it became them to act according to their decree: and besides, should this man be set free, they might suggest to them, since he has given out that he is the king Messiah, the Romans hearing of it, will be jealous of such a person, and come and take away both our place and nation, or deprive us of the privileges we have remaining: with such sort of arguments as these, it may be supposed they worked upon the common people. The Persic version reads, "commanded", instead of "persuaded",

that they should ask Barabbas to be released to them,

and destroy Jesus; for nothing short of that would satisfy them: they thirsted after his blood, and were bent upon his death: to release Barabbas, if Jesus was not destroyed, would not answer their end: they desired Barabbas's liberty for no other reason, but for the sake of the destruction of Jesus.

But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 27:20 The question of Matthew 27:17 is still under the consideration of the assembled crowd; and while Pilate, who had mounted the tribunal for the purpose of hearing their decision, is occupied with the messengers from his wife, the members of the Sanhedrim take advantage of this interruption to persuade the people, etc.

ἵνα] purpose of ἔπεισαν. Ὅπως is likewise used with πείθειν by Greek authors. See Schoem. ad Plut. Cleom. p. 192.

Matthew 27:20-26. Result of the appeal to the people.

20. ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus] St Peter brings out the full meaning of this choice: “ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life” (Acts 3:14-15). They saved the murderer, and slew the Saviour.

Matthew 27:20. Ἔπεισαν, persuaded) by words fair in appearance.—Ἰησοῦν ἀπολέσωσιν, they should destroy Jesus) i.e. they should demand Jesus to be killed.

Verse 20. - But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude. For a short time the people appear to have wavered in their choice, and Pilate had hopes that his stratagem worked well. But the Sanhedrists were at hand with their insidious suggestions; not a voice was raised for Christ; all his friends were scattered or silenced; and his enemies easily swayed the fickle crowd. That they should ask (ask for) Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. By directing popular favour to Barabbas, they could make the condemnation of Jesus more certain. The expression in the Greek implies that they used their persuasive powers in order that (ἵνα) the people should demand the release of Barabbas, and compass the death of Jesus. Matthew 27:20
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