John 19:10
So Pilate said to Him, "Do You refuse to speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You and authority to crucify You?"
Pilate's Second Interview with ChristJohn 19:8-12
The Cowardice of GuiltLord Clarendon.John 19:8-12
All Power from GodH. C. Trumbull, D. D.John 19:10-11
Greater and Lesser SinsPhilip Henry.John 19:10-11
Human Power Heaven-BestowedD. Young John 19:10, 11
Pilate's ResponseS. S. TimesJohn 19:10-11
The Greater SinH. Bonar, D. D.John 19:10-11
Human judges see all sorts of people brought before them to be dealt with. Some prisoners, in the most critical situations, betray the utmost coolness and indifference; others are beside themselves in the agonies of despair. And Pilate doubtless had had a large experience of all sorts of prisoners. But now at last Jesus makes his appearance, and Pilate is profoundly perplexed how to deal with him. If Pilate had been a perfectly just man, and dealing with Jesus under a perfectly definite code of laws, he would have had no difficulty. But because the man thought of his own interests first, and was left to perfectly arbitrary methods, he found himself in the utmost difficulties. Every additional question he asks only lands him in greater puzzlement. "Whence art thou?" he says to Jesus; and what use was it for Jesus to reply? Pilate would have understood no explanation; he was too far from the kingdom of heaven for that. Canaan cannot be seen from Egypt; one must reach Mount Pisgah first. And so Jesus stood in gentle, patient silence.

I. PILATE'S ASSERTION OF AUTHORITY. It was very natural for Pilate to speak so. He mistook the spirit or' Jesus; but he made no vain boast in speaking of his power to crucify and to release. He had troops of obedient soldiers at his disposal, to effect whatever he decided. This exhibition of Pilate's power had its good side. Bad as Pilate may have been, he held a necessary and a beneficial office. Brutal as the soldiers were, they made the last barrier against anarchy and lawlessness. The office of Pilate is ever honored in all true Christian teaching. A strong executive is a thing to be thankful for. Judges and magistrates have to be watched, for the mere wrapping of a man in scarlet and ermine cannot take away his frailties, prejudices, and antipathies. But the office is good, and the man that fills it is often good. We are not wild beasts. There must be something to restrain the violent and predatory hand. If the lion in the desert sees the antelope, he springs on him at once; no after-power will come in to demand of the lion wherefore he slew the helpless beast. But if a man in a civilized community ponders an evil deed, he has to ponder also all the possible results. He cannot get past the risk of punishment.

II. JESUS AND THE ORIGIN OF AUTHORITY. Pilate was not a man caring to seek and think under the surface of things, or he would have asked himself the question, "Why are these soldiers so ready to obey me? Why is it that I, one man, have all these dwellers in Jerusalem under my control?" Man recognizes the need of authority. Jesus did not mean to dispute the right of Pilate to do what he liked with him. Pilate would have traced the origin of his authority to Rome, but that only threw the question a little further back. When we get to the very highest seen thing, we feel that, as it were, an invisible hand is stretching down and making it what it is. Jesus wanted to make Pilate feel that, whatever power he had, he would be called to account for the use of it. Judas had the greater blame, but Pilate could not escape. - Y.

Then said Pilate unto Him, Speakest Thou not unto me?
S. S. Times.




(S. S. Times.)

Knowest Thou not that I have power to crucify Thee?... Thou couldest have no power at all against Me, except it were given thee from above.
Men are inclined to think that they have power for good or power for evil because of their wealth, station, or influence. They fail to consider that all their power is a simple trust from God; and that not only are they responsible for the use they make of it, but the power itself is liable to be taken away from them, or held in check at the command of God at any instant. Men are free agents in the use of all their faculties and all their possessions; but their free agency is a gift of God; and God has not surrendered His watch or His control of every free agent in His service or among His opponents. No man has power for good or for evil except as God consents to that man's temporary exercise of power. There is a warning in this thought to those who may have fancied that they could either serve or resist God of their own strength. There is comfort and cheer in this thought to those who are threatened, or who are imperiled, by the hostility of others. A man can, in a sense, help God's cause by generous giving, or by earnest doing — if God permits man to give help in that way. A man can, in a sense, harm God's cause by opposing the right, or by withholding the aid that he ought to render — if God permits the man to do harm in that way. But, in the truest sense, no man can render a service to the devil, or harm a hair of a believer's head, unless God consents to this exercise of the man's power. But in either case the man is responsible for what he would like to do. By God's permission he is a free agent there.

(H. C. Trumbull, D. D.)

Therefore he that delivered Me unto thee hath the greater sin.
These words are a declaration of the great guilt of the Jewish nation and its rulers in asking Pilate to exercise his God-given authority against the Son of God. Pilate did what he did ignorantly and in unbelief; they knew he knew not. The greater sin was committed by the men who with the Scriptures in their hand called on him who had not those Scriptures to condemn their own Messiah.


1. As governor. "There is no power but of God," &c. The recognition of this lies at the root of all true politics. Earthly crowns are thus linked with the heavenly. Kings and magistrates are by reason of their office responsible to God. Not personally, as other men, merely. It is just because of their office that they are bound to consecrate everything that their office gives them power over to the service of Him from whom they have received their power.

2. As a Gentile governor. The Jews, for their sins, had been given over to Gentile dominion. So that in a double sense Pilate's power was not his own, nor from Rome, nor from the people, but from God, and was therefore to be specially used for God. He might not know all this; but Israel knew it, for their prophets, Daniel especially, had taught them it; and therefore they had the "greater sin."

II. EVEN A BAD MAN'S POWER IS FROM GOD. Our Lord affirms this of Pilate when using that power for the perpetration of the greatest crime ever committed. Let no man therefore point to the sins of potentates and say, Can the power of these men be given them from above? Listen to our Lord's words here, or St. Paul's when in the days of Nero he said (referring to the words of Christ), "Let every soul be subject to the higher powers," i.e., authorities holding from above; and when he proclaims civil government to be "the ordinance of God"; nay, when he calls the civil ruler "the minister of God."

III. THE USE OF GOD-GIVEN POWER FOR A BAD PURPOSE IS ALLOWED OF GOD. Pilate is free to act; but he is responsible to God for his actions. God overrules his wickedness and employs him as an instrument for carrying out His purposes. He ought to use his power for a good purpose; not for condemning the Son of God, but for honouring Him; and when he abuses his authority he is doubly guilty, though that guilt is made use of by God. What a reckoning is at hand with the kings of the earth for the abuse of their power (Psalm 82.)! Like Pharaoh working out Israel's deliverance, Pilate here works out the deliverance of the Church, according to the purpose of God.

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

The delivering of Christ to suffer and to die is sometimes spoken of as a good deed (Romans 8:32). And it was no sinful act in God; but was an act of —(1) Love (John 3:16).(2) Infinite justice. When He had taken our debt upon Him, it was just that He should suffer for it. But in Judas it was a wicked act. God delivered Him to Judas, Judas to the priests, the priests to Pilate, and Pilate to death. There was sin in all those, but there was no sin in God.


1. In the same definition. They are all a breach of the law.

2. In the desert of them (Galatians 3:10: Romans 6:23). Every transgression of the law deserves death.

3. In that the same price is paid to satisfy for them; no little sin is satisfied with less than the blood of Christ.

4. In respect of the possibility of the pardon of them; it was ill-said of Cain, "Mine iniquity is greater than can be forgiven" (mar. Genesis 4:13).

II. IN WHAT RESPECT IS ONE SIN SAID TO BE GREATER THAN ANOTHER? When one sin is said to be little, it is not meant absolutely as if any sin were little, but comparatively. There are three Scripture comparisons.

1. Some sins are called gnats, others camels (Matthew 23:24).

2. Some motes, and others as beams.

3. Some pence, and others talents. Note that some sins —

(1)Are more displeasing to God than others.

(2)Grieve the conscience more than others.

(3)Procure more plagues and punishments in this world than others.

(4)Sink people lower in belt than others.

(5)Spread more of their infection upon others.

(a)By the example. He that begins m a sin, that sin is greater in him than in others; therefore, Adam's sin was great, because we all sinned in him.

(b)In respect of the penal consequence: the sin of David in numbering the people was great; and it appeared, because God did visit it on His people, and slew thousands of them; therefore, all sins are not alike.

III. WHAT IS IT THAT MAKES ONE SIN GREATER THAN ANOTHER. Judas's sin was the greater for four reasons.

1. It was a leading sin (Acts 1:16). He is called the guide to them that took Jesus. Take heed how you are, any of you, guides to others to sin.

2. That which moved Pilate was fear of Caesar; but it was not fear that made Judas betray Christ, but love of money (cf. Matthew 26:14, 15 with Luke 22:3, 4, 5). Satan entered into Judas. So, where the love of money is, it is a sign that the devil is entered. There is no sin so great but the love of money will make a man commit it; so it was with Ananias and Sapphira; Satan had filled their hearts.

3. The greatest aggravation of Judas's sin was the price — thirty pieces of silver; the price of a common servant (Exodus 21:32).

4. The dissimulation that was in it.

(1)Pilate was a heathen, a stranger to Christ.

(2)Pilate did it openly; but Judas did it in the night, when honest people were a-bed.

(3)What Judas did, he did with a kiss, but Pilate did not do so (Matthew 26.).

5. The deliberation and contrivance that was in it (Luke 22:21). Pilate's hand was not there. Every premeditated sin is a great sin (Micah 2:1). It is one thing to be overtaken with a fault, and another thing to overtake it. Conclusion: What happened to Judas for this sin?

1. He died by his own hand despairing.

2. It brought him to his own place.

3. His name stinks to this day.

(Philip Henry.)

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