Matthew Poole's Commentary
Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him.John 19:1-4 Jesus is scourged, crowned with thorns, mocked, and
buffeted by the soldiers.
John 19:5-7 Pilate declareth his innocence: the Jews charge him
with assuming the title of the Son of God.
John 19:8-16 Pilate upon further examination is more desirous to
release him, but, overcome with the clamours of the
Jews, delivereth him to be crucified.
John 19:17,18 He is led to Golgotha, and crucified between two
John 19:19-22 Pilate’s inscription on his cross.
John 19:23,24 The soldiers part his garments.
John 19:25-27 He commendeth his mother to John,
John 19:28-30 receiveth vinegar to drink, and dieth.
John 19:31-37 The legs of the others are broken, and the side of
John 19:38-42 Joseph of Arimathea begs his body, and, assisted
by Nicodemus, buries it.
It was the custom of the Romans, when any one was to be crucified, first to scourge him; but (as it appears) Pilate ordered it, hoping that, though he could not prevail by any other art with them, yet by this he might; and they might possibly be satisfied with this lighter punishment; for it appeareth by John 19:4,12, that Pilate had a mind to release him, if he could have satisfied the Jews; though he had not courage enough to oppose the stream, and to do what himself thought was just, in despite of their opposition.
And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe,The other evangelists also mention a reed put into his right hand. The crown, and the purple robe, and a sceptre, are all regal ensigns; they give them to Christ in derision of his pretence to a kingdom, and in the mean time themselves proclaim what he had said, that his kingdom was not of this world; for though earthly kings wear crowns, yet they use to be of gold, not of thorns; and their sceptres use to be gold, not reeds.
And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.They mocked him when they said, Hail, King of the Jews! But yet spake a great truth, though not in their sense. The other evangelists speak of more indignities offered him: See Poole on "Mark 15:19".
Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him.Pilate appeareth convinced in his own conscience that Christ had done nothing worthy either of death or bonds, and a great while resisted that strong temptation which he was under to please the people, and to secure his own station, lest any complaint made to the Roman emperor against him should have prejudiced him.
Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!He therefore, after Jesus had been scourged, and dressed up in this mock dress, brings him out again to the people to move their pity.
When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.Our Lord finds more compassion from Pilate, though a heathen, than he found from those of his own nation; yea, those that pretended highest to religion amongst them: Pilate would have saved him; they cry out for his blood. Pilate leaves another testimony behind him, that what he did, at last overborne with a great temptation, he did contrary to the conviction of his own conscience, and as yet declineth the guilt of innocent blood.
The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.The law they mean, is the law for putting false prophets to death, Deu 18:20. By
the Son of God here, they mean the eternal Son of God, in all things equal with his Father; otherwise it was a term applicable to themselves, whom God calls his son, his firstborn, &c. Now for any in this sense to arrogate to himself this title who indeed was not so, was blasphemy, and that in the highest degree, and brought him under the notion of a false prophet of the deepest dye: but this was injuriously applied to Christ, who thought it no robbery to be equal with the Father, and who was so declared by God himself at his baptism and transfiguration; and who had made his Divine power appear by such works as no mere man ever did.
When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid;It should seem that the Romans permitted judgments to the Jews according to their own laws, which the Roman governor was to see executed; or else, seeing the rabble in such a heat and disorder, he feared some breaking out.
And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.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.
Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?Pilate seemeth something displeased that Christ would be no more free: men in worldly power are too prone to forget from whom they derive it.
Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.Our Lord checks Pilate modestly for boasting of his authority as a judge to absolve or condemn him; declaring, that all the power he had was derived from God, who in his eternal counsels had determined this thing, which must therefore come to pass: but withal lets him know, that this neither excused him, nor much less the Jews, who were to execute the Divine purposes. Pilate was to look to God’s revealed will, not his secret counsels, of which he could have no knowledge; but he saith, they who had delivered him to him had the greater sin: he did act but as a judge upon their accusations; they procured the false witness, they would not be satisfied without his blood, and they sinned against much more light.
And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.He sought all fair and plausible means to release him, being convinced in his own conscience that he was an innocent man: but the Jews double their clamours, and (according to the usual acts of sycophants) quit their charge as to religion, though that was the true and real cause of all their malice, and pursue only the charge which was proper for the cognizance of the Roman governor, of sedition or rebellion; and tacitly accuse Pilate as a traitor, and being false to his trust, if he should let our Saviour go; for no man could set up himself as a king, but he must proclaim himself a traitor to the Roman emperor.
When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.That saying, that if he let Jesus go he was not Caesar’s friend. Pilate was a man that loved the honour that was from men more than the honour and praise which is from God; he was more afraid of losing his place than his soul, and could no longer resist the temptation he was under.
He brought Jesus forth, and sat down in a place called the Pavement, because it was paved with stone, but in the Hebrew, (mixed with the Syriac), Gabbatha, that is, a high place; for it was their manner to have their judgment seats higher than other parts of the room where they were.
And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!The preparation to any feast signifies the day before it, because on that day they prepared whatsoever according to the law was necessary for the solemnization. Some much doubt whether in this place the passover signifies strictly the paschal supper, which it could not do if the Jews strictly this year kept to the law; for the fourteenth day of the month Nisan at evening was the time when most certainly Christ kept it, who ate it the night before. It is therefore more probably thought, that by the passover here is meant their great festival, which was upon the fifteenth day. See Poole on "John 18:28". John tells us it was
about the sixth hour; that is, in the latter part of the interval between nine o’clock in the morning and twelve at noon: for the division of the day according to the Jews was in four parts; the first was from the rising of the sun till our nine in the morning, and was called the third hour; the other was from the third hour to the sixth, that is, twelve o’clock at noon; the third division was from their sixth hour to the ninth, that is, three o’clock with us in the afternoon; the fourth division was from the ninth hour to sunset, that is, with us six o’clock in the evening, when the sun is in the equinox. Now, not only the time when any of these hours came was called either the third or sixth hour, but the space of three hours allotted to each division was so called, when the next division began: so the time of our Saviour’s crucifixion is recorded by Mark to be the third hour; that is, the whole space from nine o’clock to twelve was not quite gone, though it was near at an end; and by the evangelist here it is said, that it was about the sixth hour, that is, near our twelve o’clock. And thus the different relations are clearly reconciled.
But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.The more Pilate sought to quiet them, the more they rage, contrary to all dictates of reason; when God hath determined a thing, all things shall concur to bring it about. Pilate mocks them when he saith,
Shall I crucify your King? Yet so fierce was their malice against Christ, that to compel the governor to condemn him, (though there were not a people under heaven more zealous for their liberties, nor more impatient of a foreign yoke), they cry out,
We have no king but Caesar; that is, the Roman emperor, who had conquered them.
Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.This must be at or about twelve of the clock, for that must be signified by the sixth hour, John 19:14. Pilate condemned him, and delivered him to the executioner, who (as the manner is in such cases) led him away.
And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:See Poole on "Matthew 27:31", and following verses to Matthew 27:33, where whatsoever needs expounding in this verse may be found, and this text is reconciled to that, which telleth us, that one Simon, a man of Cyrene, bore his cross. Their places of execution (as usually with us) were without their cities.
Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.See Poole on "Matthew 27:38".
And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.See Poole on "Matthew 27:37".
This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.The place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city; as all their places of execution were, within two furlongs, or thereabouts.
It was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin; it was written in all three languages, that not the Jews only, but all such strangers as were come up to the feast, might understand it.
Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.The Jews thought it would be a disgrace to them, that Christ should be reported abroad as their king, therefore they desire an alteration of the writing.
Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.But Pilate refuseth to gratify them, and lets them know he would not be directed by them what to write, nor alter any thing of it.
Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.Both Matthew, Matthew 27:35, and Mark, Mark 15:24, mention this parting of Christ’s garments amongst them, which must be understood of his inward garments; which some tell us might easily be done, because their garments were made up of four parts. But his outward garment, which is called his coat, was all of a piece.
They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.This made them choose rather to cast lots for that, than to divide it, as they had done his inward garments. But there was something more in it than the soldiers knew; Christ hereby proved a true Antitype to David, who said of himself figuratively, Psalm 22:18, They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture; by which he meant no more, than that his enemies loaded themselves with his spoils: those words which figuratively were true of David, proved literally true as to Christ. Thus vile and wicked men are fulfilling the Scriptures when they little think of it.
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.These words the wife are not in the Greek, but supplied by our translators; which leaves it doubtful whether that Mary was the wife, or the mother, or the daughter of Cleophas.
When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!We have often heard that John was the beloved disciple, and usually expressed under the notion of him whom Jesus loved. Our Lord commendeth his mother to the care of John, whom he had ordered to take care of her, as if he had been her own son: this letteth us know that Joseph was at this time dead, otherwise it is not probable that Christ would have committed his mother to any other guardian.
Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.He also reciprocally commendeth his mother to John, to be cared for as his own mother. From that time Mary went home, and lived with John.
After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.Ver. 28,29. David said, Psalm 69:21, to signify his enemies multiplying afflictions upon him, They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink; which he spake metaphorically. Part of these words were without a figure literally fulfilled in Christ, who was the Son of David; for he crying out upon the cross that he thirsted, there being no other liquor at hand, or this being set on purpose for this end, they dip a spunge in it, and give it to him to drink; whether to stupify his sense, or to prolong his life in those torments, or barely to quench his thirst, is hard to determine. It is probable that it was such a kind of refreshment as they allowed to ordinary malefactors in his circumstances, the particulars of which usage we are not able to determine.
Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.Ver. 29. See Poole on "Jn 19:28".
When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.When Christ had tasted the vinegar, he said, It is finished; that is, I have now done and suffered all things which lay upon me in this life to do and suffer. Having said this,
he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. They are terms expressive of death, and our Saviour’s free surrender of his soul unto his Father.
The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.It was the preparation; not to the passover, (for that was celebrated the night before), but to the weekly sabbath; and they judged according to the law, Deu 21:23, that the land would be defiled if the persons executed were not buried that day, but their bodies should remain on the tree all night, especially on the sabbath, which began immediately after sunset. And this sabbath was a more than ordinary sabbath, for it was not only the weekly sabbath, but also their second day of unleavened bread; which, and the last day, were both very solemn days, as may be seen, Leviticus 23:1-44. This makes them come and beseech Pilate that the bodies might be taken down, and in order to it,
that their legs might be broken, lest any life remaining in them they should revive and escape.
Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.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.
But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:See Poole on "John 19:32"
But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.But one of the soldiers, to make sure of him, pierced his side, out of which it is said that there presently came forth blood and water. That there should come out blood is no wonder, nor yet that there should come forth water. Blood being congealed, it is ordinary to see water on the top of the vessel where it is. And besides, anatomists tell us, that in the hollow part of the breast there are watery as well as bloody humours in the membrane that encompasses the heart, which being pierced, and the water let out, the living creature dieth necessarily. But yet in regard of the next words,
He that saw it bare record, and he knoweth that he saith true, &c., most divines think, that there was some mystery in this water and blood which came out of Christ’s side pierced. Some would have the two sacraments of the gospel signifies by this water and blood. Christ is said to have come by water and blood, 1Jo 5:6; that is, say interpreters, he brought in a true expiation of sins by his blood, and the laver of regeneration, washing the soul from its filthiness: and thus be proved the true Antitype, answering the Jewish types in sacrifices and divers washings.
And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.Nor was this a fable, for John saw it, and bare record, and knew it to be true; and published it, that men might believe that it was him in whom all the legal types and figures had their completion.
For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.Now was there any thing of this but in fulfilling of the Scripture; for it was God’s law about the passover, Exodus 12:46 Numbers 9:12, concerning the paschal lamb, (which was a type of Christ, John 1:29 1 Corinthians 5:7), that a bone of it should not be broken. So as by this breaking no bone of Christ’s body, they might have understood that he was figured out by the paschal lamb.
And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.So also by seeing Christ’s side pierced, (a thing not very usual), they might have understood, that he was the person mentioned, Zechariah 12:10.
And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.See Poole on "Matthew 27:57", and following verses to Matthew 27:59.
And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.The history of Nicodemus coming by night to our Saviour, and of their discourse together, we had John 3:1-21. We again heard of him standing up for Christ in the sanhedrim, John 7:50. We read no more of him till now, where he shows his love to his dead body; bringing a hundred pounds weight of myrrh and aloes, which were both of them drugs used in embalming dead bodies, as also in perfuming other things, Psalm 45:8.
Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.That is, persons of fashion.
Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.As all their gardens were out of the city, so also their burial places, which usually were vaults, or caves within the earth.
There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.There they immediately buried Christ, because the time strictly called the preparation (for the whole day was so called) was nigh at hand. See a fuller account of the history of our Saviour’s passion, death, and burial:
See Poole on "Matthew 27:1", and following verse to Matthew 27:66, where what is said by all the evangelists is compared together, and made one complete history.