Pilate Tries to Release Jesus
1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged severely.#tn Or “had him flogged,” or (traditional), “scourged him.” The verb should be read as causative. Pilate ordered Jesus to be flogged. A Roman governor would not carry out such a sentence in person. BDAG 620 s.v. μαστιγόω 1. states, “If J refers to the ‘verberatio’ given those condemned to death (TMommsen, Röm. Strafrecht 1899, 938f; Jos., Bell. 2, 308; 5, 449), it is odd that Pilate subsequently claims no cause for action (vs. 6); but if the latter statement refers only to the penalty of crucifixion, μ. vs. 1 may be equivalent to παιδεύω (q.v. 2bγ) in Lk 23:16, 22 (for μ. of a non-capital offense PFlor I, 61, 61 [85ad]=Mitt-Wilck. II/2, 80 II, 61).”sn This severe flogging was not administered by Pilate himself but his officers, who took Jesus at Pilate’s order and scourged him. The author’s choice of wording here may constitute an allusion to Isa 50:6, “I gave my back to those who scourge me.” Three forms of corporal punishment were employed by the Romans, in increasing degree of severity: (1) fustigatio (beating), (2) flagellatio (flogging), and (3) verberatio (severe flogging, scourging). The first could be on occasion a punishment in itself, but the more severe forms were part of the capital sentence as a prelude to crucifixion. The most severe, verberatio, is what is indicated here by the Greek verb translated flogged severely (μαστιγόω, mastigow). People died on occasion while being flogged this way; frequently it was severe enough to rip a person’s body open or cut muscle and sinew to the bone. It was carried out with a whip that had fragments of bone or pieces of metal bound into the tips. 2 The soldiers#tn Grk “And the soldiers.” The conjunction καί (kai, “and”) has not been translated here in keeping with the tendency of contemporary English style to use shorter sentences. braided#tn Or “wove.” a crown of thorns#sn The crown of thorns was a crown plaited of some thorny material, intended as a mockery of Jesus’ “kingship.” Traditionally it has been regarded as an additional instrument of torture, but it seems more probable the purpose of the thorns was not necessarily to inflict more physical suffering but to imitate the spikes of the “radiant corona,” a type of crown portrayed on ruler’s heads on many coins of the period; the spikes on this type of crown represented rays of light pointing outward (the best contemporary illustration is the crown on the head of the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor). and put it on his head, and they clothed him in a purple robe.#sn The purple color of the robe indicated royal status. This was further mockery of Jesus, along with the crown of thorns. 3 They#tn Grk “And they.” The conjunction καί (kai, “and”) has not been translated here in keeping with the tendency of contemporary English style to use shorter sentences. came up to him again and again#tn The words “again and again” are implied by the (iterative) imperfect verb ἤρχοντο (hrconto). and said, “Hail, king of the Jews!”#tn Or “Long live the King of the Jews!”sn The greeting used by the soldiers, “Hail, King of the Jews!”, is a mockery based on the standard salutation for the Roman emperor, “Ave, Caesar!” (“Hail to Caesar!”). And they struck him repeatedly#tn The word “repeatedly” is implied by the (iterative) imperfect verb ἐδιδοσαν (edidosan). in the face.
4 Again Pilate went out and said to the Jewish leaders,#tn Grk “to them.” The words “the Jewish leaders” are supplied from John 18:38 for clarity. “Look, I am bringing him out to you, so that you may know that I find no reason for an accusation#tn Or “find no basis for an accusation”; Grk “find no cause.” against him.” 5 So Jesus came outside, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe.#sn See the note on the purple robe in 19:2. Pilate#tn Grk “He”; the referent (Pilate) has been specified in the translation for clarity. said to them, “Look, here is the man!”#sn Look, here is the man! Pilate may have meant no more than something like “Here is the accused!” or in a contemptuous way, “Here is your king!” Others have taken Pilate’s statement as intended to evoke pity from Jesus’ accusers: “Look at this poor fellow!” (Jesus would certainly not have looked very impressive after the scourging). For the author, however, Pilate’s words constituted an unconscious allusion to Zech 6:12, “Look, here is the man whose name is the Branch.” In this case Pilate (unknowingly and ironically) presented Jesus to the nation under a messianic title. 6 When the chief priests and their officers saw him, they shouted out, “Crucify#sn Crucifixion was the cruelest form of punishment practiced by the Romans. Roman citizens could not normally undergo it. It was reserved for the worst crimes, like treason and evasion of due process in a capital case. The Roman statesman and orator Cicero (106-43 b.c.) called it “a cruel and disgusting penalty” (Against Verres 2.5.63-66 §§163-70); Josephus (J. W. 7.6.4 [7.203]) called it the worst of deaths. him! Crucify him!”#tn The word “him” is not in the Greek text. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from context. Pilate said,#tn Grk “said to them.” The words “to them” are not translated because they are unnecessary in contemporary English style. “You take him and crucify him!#sn How are Pilate’s words “You take him and crucify him” to be understood? Was he offering a serious alternative to the priests who wanted Jesus crucified? Was he offering them an exception to the statement in 18:31 that the Jewish authorities did not have the power to carry out a death penalty? Although a few scholars have suggested that the situation was at this point so far out of Pilate’s control that he really was telling the high priests they could go ahead and crucify a man he had found to be innocent, this seems unlikely. It is far more likely that Pilate’s statement should be understood as one of frustration and perhaps sarcasm. This seems to be supported by the context, for the Jewish authorities make no attempt at this point to seize Jesus and crucify him. Rather they continue to pester Pilate to order the crucifixion. Certainly#tn On this use of γάρ (gar) used in exclamations and strong affirmations, see BDAG 190 s.v. γάρ 3. I find no reason for an accusation#tn Or “find no basis for an accusation”; Grk “find no cause.” against him!” 7 The Jewish leaders#tn Or “the Jewish authorities”; Grk “the Jews.” In NT usage the term ᾿Ιουδαῖοι (Ioudaioi) may refer to the entire Jewish people, the residents of Jerusalem and surrounding territory, the authorities in Jerusalem, or merely those who were hostile to Jesus. (For further information see R. G. Bratcher, “‘The Jews’ in the Gospel of John,” BT 26 [1975]: 401-9.) Here the phrase refers to the Jewish leaders, especially members of the Sanhedrin, and their servants (mentioned specifically as “the chief priests and their servants” in John 19:6). replied,#tn Grk “answered him.” “We have a law,#sn This law is not the entire Pentateuch, but Lev 24:16. and according to our law he ought to die, because he claimed to be the Son of God!”#tn Grk “because he made himself out to be the Son of God.”
8 When Pilate heard what they said,#tn Grk “heard this word.” he was more afraid than ever,#tn Grk “became more afraid.” 9 and he went back into the governor’s residence#tn Grk “into the praetorium.” and said to Jesus, “Where do you come from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate said,#tn Grk “said to him.” The words “to him” are not translated because they are unnecessary in contemporary English style. “Do you refuse to speak to me? Don’t you know I have the authority#tn Or “the power.” to release you, and to crucify you?”#tn Grk “know that I have the authority to release you and the authority to crucify you.” Repetition of “the authority” is unnecessarily redundant English style.sn See the note on Crucify in 19:6. 11 Jesus replied, “You would have no authority#tn Or “power.” over me at all, unless it was given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you#tn Or “who delivered me over to you.”sn The one who handed me over to you appears to be a reference to Judas at first; yet Judas did not deliver Jesus up to Pilate, but to the Jewish authorities. The singular may be a reference to Caiaphas, who as high priest was representative of all the Jewish authorities, or it may be a generic singular referring to all the Jewish authorities directly. In either case the end result is more or less the same. is guilty of greater sin.”#tn Grk “has the greater sin” (an idiom).sn Because Pilate had no authority over Jesus except what had been given to him from God, the one who handed Jesus over to Pilate was guilty of greater sin. This does not absolve Pilate of guilt; it simply means his guilt was less than those who handed Jesus over to him, because he was not acting against Jesus out of deliberate hatred or calculated malice, like the Jewish religious authorities. These were thereby guilty of greater sin.
12 From this point on, Pilate tried#tn Grk “sought.” to release him. But the Jewish leaders#tn Or “the Jewish authorities”; Grk “the Jews.” Here the phrase refers to the Jewish leaders, especially members of the Sanhedrin, and their servants (mentioned specifically as “the chief priests and their servants” in John 19:6). See the note on the phrase “Jewish leaders” in v. 7. shouted out,#tn Grk “shouted out, saying.” “If you release this man,#tn Grk “this one.” you are no friend of Caesar!#sn Is the author using the phrase Friend of Caesar in a technical sense, as a title bestowed on people for loyal service to the Emperor, or in a more general sense merely describing a person as loyal to the Emperor? L. Morris (John [NICNT], 798) thinks it is “unlikely” that the title is used in the technical sense, and J. H. Bernard (St. John [ICC], 2:621) argues that the technical sense of the phrase as an official title was not used before the time of Vespasian (a.d. 69-79). But there appears to be significant evidence for much earlier usage. Some of this is given in BDAG 498-99 s.v. Καῖσαρ. E. Bammel (“φίλος τοῦ καίσαρος (John 19:12),” TLZ 77 [1952]: 205-10) listed significant and convincing arguments that the official title was indeed in use at the time. Granting that the title was in use during this period, what is the likelihood that it had been bestowed on Pilate? Pilate was of the equestrian order, that is, of lower nobility as opposed to senatorial rank. As such he would have been eligible to receive such an honor. It also appears that the powerful Sejanus was his patron in Rome, and Sejanus held considerable influence with Tiberius. Tacitus (Annals 6.8) quotes Marcus Terentius in his defense before the Senate as saying that close friendship with Sejanus “was in every case a powerful recommendation to the Emperor’s friendship.” Thus it is possible that Pilate held this honor. Therefore it appears that the Jewish authorities were putting a good deal of psychological pressure on Pilate to convict Jesus. They had, in effect, finally specified the charge against Jesus as treason: “Everyone who makes himself to be king opposes Caesar.” If Pilate now failed to convict Jesus the Jewish authorities could complain to Rome that Pilate had released a traitor. This possibility carried more weight with Pilate than might at first be evident: (1) Pilate’s record as governor was not entirely above reproach; (2) Tiberius, who lived away from Rome as a virtual recluse on the island of Capri, was known for his suspicious nature, especially toward rivals or those who posed a political threat; and (3) worst of all, Pilate’s patron in Rome, Sejanus, had recently come under suspicion of plotting to seize the imperial succession for himself. Sejanus was deposed in October of a.d. 31. It may have been to Sejanus that Pilate owed his appointment in Judea. Pilate was now in a very delicate position. The Jewish authorities may have known something of this and deliberately used it as leverage against him. Whether or not they knew just how potent their veiled threat was, it had the desired effect. Pilate went directly to the judgment seat to pronounce his judgment. Everyone who claims to be a king#tn Grk “who makes himself out to be a king.” opposes Caesar!” 13 When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus outside and sat down on the judgment seat#tn Or “the judge’s seat.”sn The judgment seat (βῆμα, bhma) was a raised platform mounted by steps and usually furnished with a seat. It was used by officials in addressing an assembly or making official pronouncements, often of a judicial nature. in the place called “The Stone Pavement”#sn The precise location of the place called ‘The Stone Pavement’ is still uncertain, although a paved court on the lower level of the Fortress Antonia has been suggested. It is not certain whether it was laid prior to a.d. 135, however. (Gabbatha in#tn Grk “in Hebrew.”sn The author does not say that Gabbatha is the Aramaic (or Hebrew) translation for the Greek term Λιθόστρωτον (Liqostrwton). He simply points out that in Aramaic (or Hebrew) the place had another name. A number of meanings have been suggested, but the most likely appears to mean “elevated place.” It is possible that this was a term used by the common people for the judgment seat itself, which always stood on a raised platform. Aramaic).#sn This is a parenthetical note by the author. 14 (Now it was the day of preparation#sn The term day of preparation (παρασκευή, paraskeuh) appears in all the gospels as a description of the day on which Jesus died. It could refer to any Friday as the day of preparation for the Sabbath (Saturday), and this is the way the synoptic gospels use the term (Matt 27:62, Mark 15:42, and Luke 23:54). John, however, specifies in addition that this was not only the day of preparation of the Sabbath, but also the day of preparation of the Passover, so that the Sabbath on the following day was the Passover (cf. 19:31). for the Passover, about noon.#tn Grk “about the sixth hour.”sn For John, the time was especially important. When the note concerning the hour, about noon, is connected with the day, the day of preparation for the Passover, it becomes apparent that Jesus was going to die on the cross at the very time that the Passover lambs were being slain in the temple courts. Exod 12:6 required that the Passover lamb be kept alive until the 14th Nisan, the eve of the Passover, and then slaughtered by the head of the household at twilight (Grk “between the two evenings”). By this time the slaughtering was no longer done by the heads of households, but by the priests in the temple courts. But so many lambs were needed for the tens of thousands of pilgrims who came to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast (some estimates run in excess of 100,000 pilgrims) that the slaughter could not be completed during the evening, and so the rabbis redefined “between the two evenings” as beginning at noon, when the sun began to decline toward the horizon. Thus the priests had the entire afternoon of 14th Nisan in which to complete the slaughter of the Passover lambs. According to the Fourth Gospel, this is the time Jesus was dying on the cross.)#sn This is a parenthetical note by the author. Pilate#tn Grk “And he”; the referent (Pilate) has been specified in the translation for clarity, and the conjunction καί (kai, “and”) has not been translated here in keeping with the tendency of contemporary English style to use shorter sentences. said to the Jewish leaders,#tn Or “the Jewish authorities”; Grk “the Jews.” Here the phrase refers to the Jewish leaders, especially members of the Sanhedrin, and their servants (mentioned specifically as “the chief priests and their servants” in John 19:6). See the note on the phrase “Jewish leaders” in v. 7. “Look, here is your king!”
15 Then they#tn Grk “Then these.” shouted out, “Away with him! Away with him!#tn The words “with him” (twice) are not in the Greek text. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context. Crucify#sn See the note on Crucify in 19:6. him!” Pilate asked,#tn Grk “Pilate said to them.” The words “to them” are not translated because it is clear in English who Pilate is addressing. “Shall I crucify your king?” The high priests replied, “We have no king except Caesar!” 16 Then Pilate#tn Grk “Then he”; the referent (Pilate) has been specified in the translation for clarity. handed him over#tn Or “delivered him over.” to them to be crucified.
The Crucifixion
So they took Jesus, 17 and carrying his own cross#tn Or “carrying the cross by himself.”sn As was customary practice in a Roman crucifixion, the prisoner was made to carry his own cross. In all probability this was only the crossbeam, called in Latin the patibulum, since the upright beam usually remained in the ground at the place of execution. According to Matt 27:32 and Mark 15:21, the soldiers forced Simon to take the cross; Luke 23:26 states that the cross was placed on Simon so that it might be carried behind Jesus. A reasonable explanation of all this is that Jesus started out carrying the cross until he was no longer able to do so, at which point Simon was forced to take over. he went out to the place called “The Place of the Skull”#sn Jesus was led out to the place called “The Place of the Skull” where he was to be crucified. It is clear from v. 20 that this was outside the city. The Latin word for the Greek κρανίον (kranion) is calvaria. Thus the English word “Calvary” is a transliteration of the Latin rather than a NT place name (cf. Luke 23:33 in the KJV). (called in Aramaic#tn Grk “in Hebrew.” Golgotha).#sn This is a parenthetical note by the author. 18 There they#tn Grk “where they.” This is a continuation of the previous verse in Greek, but contemporary English style tends toward shorter sentences. A literal translation would result in a lengthy and awkward English sentence. crucified#sn See the note on Crucify in 19:6. him along with two others,#tn Grk “and with him two others.” one on each side, with Jesus in the middle. 19 Pilate also had a notice#tn Or “an inscription.”sn Mention of the inscription is an important detail, because the inscription would normally give the reason for the execution. It shows that Jesus was executed for claiming to be a king. It was also probably written with irony from the executioners’ point of view. written and fastened to the cross,#tn Grk “Pilate also wrote a notice and placed it on the cross.” The two verbs should be read as causatives, since it is highly unlikely that the Roman governor would perform either of these actions himself. He ordered them to be done.sn John says simply that the notice was fastened to the cross. Luke 23:38 says the inscription was placed “over him” (Jesus), and Matt 27:37 that it was placed over Jesus’ head. On the basis of Matthew’s statement Jesus’ cross is usually depicted as the crux immissa, the cross which has the crossbeam set below the top of the upright beam. The other commonly used type of cross was the crux commissa, which had the crossbeam atop the upright beam. But Matthew’s statement is not conclusive, since with the crux commissa the body would have sagged downward enough to allow the placard to be placed above Jesus’ head. The placard with Pilate’s inscription is mentioned in all the gospels, but for John it was certainly ironic. Jesus really was the King of the Jews, although he was a king rejected by his own people (cf. 1:11). Pilate’s own motivation for placing the title over Jesus is considerably more obscure. He may have meant this as a final mockery of Jesus himself, but Pilate’s earlier mockery of Jesus seemed to be motivated by a desire to gain pity from the Jewish authorities in order to have him released. More likely Pilate saw this as a subtle way of getting back at the Jewish authorities who had pressured him into the execution of one he considered to be an innocent man. which read:#tn Grk “Now it was written.” “Jesus the Nazarene, the king of the Jews.” 20 Thus many of the Jewish residents of Jerusalem#tn Grk “the Jews.” Here the phrase refers to the residents of Jerusalem in general. See also the note on the phrase Jewish religious leaders” in v. 7.map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. read this notice,#tn Or “this inscription.” because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the notice was written in Aramaic,#tn Grk “in Hebrew.” Latin, and Greek. 21 Then the chief priests of the Jews#tn Or “the Jewish chief priests.” Nowhere else in the Fourth Gospel are the two expressions οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς τῶν ᾿Ιουδαίων (Joi arcierei" twn Ioudaiwn) combined. Earlier in 19:15 the chief priests were simply referred to as οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς. It seems likely that this is another example of Johannine irony, to be seen in contrast to the inscription on the cross which read ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν ᾿Ιουδαίων (Jo basileu" twn Ioudaiwn). For this reason the phrase has been translated “the chief priests of the Jews” (which preserves in the translation the connection with “King of the Jews”) rather than “the Jewish chief priests.” said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The king of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am king of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
23 Now when the soldiers crucified#sn See the note on Crucify in 19:6. Jesus, they took his clothes and made four shares, one for each soldier,#sn Four shares, one for each soldier. The Gospel of John is the only one to specify the number of soldiers involved in the crucifixion. This was a quaternion, a squad of four soldiers. It was accepted Roman practice for the soldiers who performed a crucifixion to divide the possessions of the person executed among themselves. and the tunic#tn Or “shirt” (a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin). The name for this garment (χιτών, citwn) presents some difficulty in translation. Most modern readers would not understand what a ‘tunic’ was any more than they would be familiar with a ‘chiton.’ On the other hand, attempts to find a modern equivalent are also a problem: “Shirt” conveys the idea of a much shorter garment that covers only the upper body, and “undergarment” (given the styles of modern underwear) is more misleading still. “Tunic” was therefore employed, but with a note to explain its nature. remained. (Now the tunic#tn Or “shirt” (a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin). See the note on the same word earlier in this verse. was seamless, woven from top to bottom as a single piece.)#sn This is a parenthetical note by the author. 24 So the soldiers said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but throw dice#tn Grk “but choose by lot” (probably by using marked pebbles or broken pieces of pottery). A modern equivalent, “throw dice,” was chosen here because of its association with gambling. to see who will get it.”#tn Grk “to see whose it will be.” This took place#tn The words “This took place” are not in the Greek text but are implied. to fulfill the scripture that says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they threw dice.”#tn Grk “cast lots.” See the note on “throw dice” earlier in the verse.sn A quotation from Ps 22:18. So the soldiers did these things.
25 Now standing beside Jesus’ cross were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.#sn Several women are mentioned, but it is not easy to determine how many. It is not clear whether his mother’s sister and Mary the wife of Clopas are to be understood as the same individual (in which case only three women are mentioned: Jesus’ mother, her sister Mary, and Mary Magdalene) or as two different individuals (in which case four women are mentioned: Jesus’ mother, her sister, Mary Clopas’ wife, and Mary Magdalene). It is impossible to be certain, but when John’s account is compared to the synoptics it is easier to reconcile the accounts if four women were present than if there were only three. It also seems that if there were four women present, this would have been seen by the author to be in juxtaposition to the four soldiers present who performed the crucifixion, and this may explain the transition from the one incident in 23-24 to the other in 25-27. Finally, if only three were present, this would mean that both Jesus’ mother and her sister were named Mary, and this is highly improbable in a Jewish family of that time. If there were four women present, the name of the second, the sister of Jesus’ mother, is not mentioned. It is entirely possible that the sister of Jesus’ mother mentioned here is to be identified with the woman named Salome mentioned in Mark 15:40 and also with the woman identified as “the mother of the sons of Zebedee” mentioned in Matt 27:56. If so, and if John the Apostle is to be identified as the beloved disciple, then the reason for the omission of the second woman’s name becomes clear; she would have been John’s own mother, and he consistently omitted direct reference to himself or his brother James or any other members of his family in the Fourth Gospel. 26 So when Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing there, he said to his mother, “Woman,#sn The term Woman is Jesus’ normal, polite way of addressing women (Matt 15:28, Luke 13:12; John 4:21; 8:10; 19:26; 20:15; see BDAG 208-9 s.v. γυνή 1). But it is unusual for a son to address his mother with this term. The custom in both Hebrew (or Aramaic) and Greek would be for a son to use a qualifying adjective or title. Is there significance in Jesus’ use here? Jesus probably used the term here to help establish Mary and the beloved disciple in a new “mother-son” relationship. Someone would soon need to provide for Mary since Jesus, her oldest son, would no longer be alive. By using this term Jesus distanced himself from Mary so the beloved disciple could take his place as her earthly son (cf. John 2:4). See D. A. Carson, John, 617-18, for discussion about symbolic interpretations of this relationship between Mary and the beloved disciple. look, here is your son!” 27 He then said to his disciple, “Look, here is your mother!” From that very time#tn Grk “from that very hour.” the disciple took her into his own home.
Jesus’ Death
28 After this Jesus, realizing that by this time#tn Or “that already.” everything was completed,#tn Or “finished,” “accomplished”; Grk “fulfilled.” said (in order to fulfill the scripture),#sn A reference to Ps 69:21 or Ps 22:15. “I am thirsty!”#sn In order to fulfill (τελειωθῇ [teleiwqh], a wordplay on the previous statement that everything was completed [τετέλεσται, tetelestai]) the scripture, he said, “I am thirsty.” The scripture referred to is probably Ps 69:21, “They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” Also suggested, however, is Ps 22:15, “My tongue cleaves to the roof of my mouth, and you [God] lay me in the dust of death.” Ps 22:1 reads “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?,” a statement Jesus makes from the cross in both Matt 27:46 and Mark 15:34. In light of the connection in the Fourth Gospel between thirst and the living water which Jesus offers, it is highly ironic that here Jesus himself, the source of that living water, expresses his thirst. And since 7:39 associates the living water with the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ statement here in 19:28 amounts to an admission that at this point he has been forsaken by God (cf. Ps 22:1, Matt 27:46, and Mark 15:34). 29 A jar full of sour wine#sn The cheap sour wine was called in Latin posca, and referred to a cheap vinegar wine diluted heavily with water. It was the drink of slaves and soldiers, and was probably there for the soldiers who had performed the crucifixion. was there, so they put a sponge soaked in sour wine on a branch of hyssop#sn Hyssop was a small aromatic bush; exact identification of the plant is uncertain. The hyssop used to lift the wet sponge may have been a form of reed (κάλαμος, kalamo", “reed,” is used in Matt 27:48 and Mark 15:36); the biblical name can refer to several different species of plant (at least eighteen different plants have been suggested). and lifted it#tn Or “and brought it.” to his mouth. 30 When#tn Grk “Then when.” Here οὖν (oun) has not been translated for stylistic reasons. he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is completed!”#tn Or “It is accomplished,” “It is finished,” or “It is ended.” See tn on John 13:1. Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.#tn Or “he bowed his head and died”; Grk “he bowed his head and gave over the spirit.”
31 Then, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies should not stay on the crosses on the Sabbath#sn The Jewish authorities, because this was the day of preparation for the Sabbath and the Passover (cf. 19:14), requested Pilate to order the legs of the three who had been crucified to be broken. This would hasten their deaths, so that the bodies could be removed before the beginning of the Sabbath at 6 p.m. This was based on the law of Deut 21:22-23 and Josh 8:29 that specified the bodies of executed criminals who had been hanged on a tree should not remain there overnight. According to Josephus this law was interpreted in the 1st century to cover the bodies of those who had been crucified (J. W. 4.5.2 [4.317]). Philo of Alexandria also mentions that on occasion, especially at festivals, the bodies were taken down and given to relatives to bury (Flaccus 10 [83]). The normal Roman practice would have been to leave the bodies on the crosses, to serve as a warning to other would-be offenders. (for that Sabbath was an especially important one),#sn This is a parenthetical note by the author. the Jewish leaders#tn Or “the Jewish authorities”; Grk “the Jews.” Here the phrase refers to the Jewish leaders. See also the note on the phrase “Jewish leaders” in v. 7. asked Pilate to have the victims’ legs#tn Grk “asked Pilate that the legs of them might be broken.” The referent of “them” (the three individuals who were crucified, collectively referred to as “the victims”) has been supplied in the translation for clarity. broken#sn To have the legs…broken. Breaking the legs of a crucified person was a way of speeding up his death, since the victim could no longer use his legs to push upward in order to be able to draw a breath. This breaking of the legs was called in Latin crurifragium, and was done with a heavy mallet. and the bodies taken down.#tn Grk “asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and they might be taken down.” Here because of the numerous ambiguous third person references it is necessary to clarify that it was the crucified men whose legs were to be broken and whose corpses were to be removed from the crosses. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men who had been crucified#sn See the note on Crucify in 19:6. with Jesus,#tn Grk “with him”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity. first the one and then the other.#tn Grk “broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him.” 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced#sn If it was obvious to the soldiers that the victim was already dead it is difficult to see why one of them would try to inflict a wound. The Greek verb pierced (νύσσω, nussw) can indicate anything from a slight prod to a mortal wound. Probably one of the soldiers gave an exploratory stab to see if the body would jerk. If not, he was really dead. This thrust was hard enough to penetrate the side, since the author states that blood and water flowed out immediately. his side with a spear, and blood and water#sn How is the reference to the blood and water that flowed out from Jesus’ side to be understood? This is probably to be connected with the statements in 1 John 5:6-8. In both passages water, blood, and testimony are mentioned. The Spirit is also mentioned in 1 John 5:7 as the source of the testimony, while here the testimony comes from one of the disciples (19:35). The connection between the Spirit and the living water with Jesus’ statement of thirst just before he died in the preceding context has already been noted (see 19:28). For the author, the water which flowed out of Jesus’ side was a symbolic reference to the Holy Spirit who could now be given because Jesus was now glorified (cf. 7:39); Jesus had now departed and returned to that glory which he had with the Father before the creation of the world (cf. 17:5). The mention of blood recalls the motif of the Passover lamb as a sacrificial victim. Later references to sacrificial procedures in the Mishnah appear to support this: m. Pesahim 5:3 and 5:5 state that the blood of the sacrificial animal should not be allowed to congeal but should flow forth freely at the instant of death so that it could be used for sprinkling; m. Tamid 4:2 actually specifies that the priest is to pierce the heart of the sacrificial victim and cause the blood to come forth. flowed out immediately. 35 And the person who saw it#tn The word “it” is not in the Greek text but is implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context. has testified (and his testimony is true, and he#tn Grk “and that one.” knows that he is telling the truth),#sn A parenthetical note by the author. so that you also may believe. 36 For these things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled, “Not a bone of his will be broken.”#sn A quotation from Exod 12:46, Num 9:12, and Ps 34:20. A number of different OT passages lie behind this quotation: Exod 12:10 LXX, Exod 12:46, Num 9:12, or Ps 34:20. Of these, the first is the closest in form to the quotation here. The first three are all more likely candidates than the last, since the first three all deal with descriptions of the Passover lamb. 37 And again another scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”#sn A quotation from Zech 12:10. Here a single phrase is quoted from Zech 12, but the entire context is associated with the events surrounding the crucifixion. The “Spirit of grace and of supplication” is poured out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the first part of v. 10. A few verses later in 13:1 Yahweh (typically rendered as “Lord” in the OT) says “In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity.” The blood which flowed from Jesus’ pierced side may well be what the author saw as the connection here, since as the shedding of the blood of the sacrificial victim it represents cleansing from sin. Although the Jewish authorities and Roman soldiers certainly “looked on the one whom they have pierced” as he hung on the cross, the author may also have in mind the parousia (second coming) here. The context in Zech 12-14 is certainly the second coming, so that these who crucified Jesus will look upon him in another sense when he returns in judgment.
Jesus’ Burial
38 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus (but secretly, because he feared the Jewish leaders#tn Or “the Jewish authorities”; Grk “the Jews.” Here the phrase refers to the Jewish leaders, especially the Pharisees (see John 12:42). See also the note on the phrase “Jewish leaders” in v. 7.),#sn This is a parenthetical note by the author. asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. Pilate#tn Grk “And Pilate.” The conjunction καί (kai, “and”) has not been translated here in keeping with the tendency of contemporary English style to use shorter sentences. gave him permission, so he went and took the body away.#tn Grk “took away his body.” 39 Nicodemus, the man who had previously come to Jesus#tn Grk “him”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity. at night,#sn See John 3:1-21. accompanied Joseph,#tn Grk “came”; the words “accompanied Joseph” are not in the Greek text but are supplied for clarity. carrying a mixture of myrrh and aloes#sn Aloes refers to an aromatic resin from a plant similar to a lily, used for embalming a corpse. weighing about seventy-five pounds.#sn The Roman pound (λίτρα, litra) weighed twelve ounces or 325 grams. Thus 100 Roman pounds would be about 32.5 kilograms or 75 pounds. 40 Then they took Jesus’ body and wrapped it, with the aromatic spices,#tn On this term see BDAG 140-41 s.v. ἄρωμα. The Jews did not practice embalming, so these materials were used to cover the stench of decay and slow decomposition. in strips of linen cloth#tn The Fourth Gospel uses ὀθονίοις (oqonioi") to describe the wrappings, and this has caused a good deal of debate, since it appears to contradict the synoptic accounts which mention a σινδών (sindwn), a large single piece of linen cloth. If one understands ὀθονίοις to refer to smaller strips of cloth, like bandages, there would be a difference, but diminutive forms have often lost their diminutive force in Koine Greek (BDF §111.3), so there may not be any difference. according to Jewish burial customs.#tn Grk “cloth as is the custom of the Jews to prepare for burial.” 41 Now at the place where Jesus#tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity. was crucified#sn See the note on Crucify in 19:6. there was a garden,#tn Or “an orchard.” and in the garden#tn Or “orchard.” was a new tomb where no one had yet been buried.#tn Grk “been placed.” 42 And so, because it was the Jewish day of preparation#sn The day of preparation was the day before the Sabbath when everything had to be prepared for it, as no work could be done on the Sabbath. and the tomb was nearby,#sn The tomb was nearby. The Passover and the Sabbath would begin at 6 p.m., so those who had come to prepare and bury the body could not afford to waste time. they placed Jesus’ body there.
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