The Passion Narrative, 18:1-20:31

1. The arrest, trial and crucifixion, 18:1-19:42

i] The arrest of Jesus


Jesus and his disciples now leave Jerusalem and cross the Kidron Valley to gather in a secluded garden. Judas is aware of the place and leads a detachment of officers to arrest Jesus. Peter attempts to resist, but Jesus instructs him to allow the arrest to proceed.


To follow Jesus is to drink the cup destined for us.


i] Context: See 1:1-13/14. In the Argument Proper Part I John introduced us to the gospel - the good news of salvation appropriated through faith in Jesus Christ. In the Argument Proper Part II, John, in the Farewell Discourse, has explained how the fruit of faith, namely love / oneness, manifests itself in the Christian community through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Now, John sets out to establish the basis upon which faith, and its fruit of love, rests, namely, the faithfulness of Christ realized in his glorification, his lifting up (the cross, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement).

Jesus' faithfulness is established in a series of scenes / episodes covering chapters 18-20:

Part 1:

The arrest of Jesus, 18:1-11;

The pretrial and Peter's denial, 18:12-27;

Jesus before Pilate, 18:28-40;

The humiliation of Jesus, 19:1-16a;

The crucifixion of Jesus, 19:16b-30;

The burial of Jesus, 19:31-42;

Part 2:

The empty tomb, 20:1-10;

Jesus appears to Mary, 20:11-18;

Jesus appears to his disciples, 20:19-31.

Stibbe in Readings thematically encompasses these episodes with the theme The darkness did not overcome it. He suggests that John characterizes Jesus through these episodes as judge, king and elusive God. Moloney in his commentary divides chapters 18 and 19, Part 1, into five scenes, rather than six, identifying each scene by new people and places.


ii] Structure: The arrest of Jesus:

Setting, v1;

Judas' betrayal, v2-3;

Jesus confronts his adversaries, v4-7;

"I AM".

Jesus protects his disciples, v8-9;

"I have not lost one of those you gave me."

Jesus restrains his disciples;

"Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?"


iii] Interpretation:

Central to the Passion Narrative is the revelation of the faithfulness of Jesus, God's anointed one. The salvation of Jesus' disciples, and of all believers throughout the ages, rests on the faithfulness of the Christ - faith in the faithfulness of Jesus saves.

In the passage before us John draws out the faithfulness of Jesus.

First, John reminds us that the recorded events now before us have not caught Jesus by surprise; Jesus knew "all that was going to happen to him." The events now overtaking him are in no way outside the divine will. This is all part of the divine initiative to save mankind, one facilitated in and through the faithfulness of Jesus.

Second, John reminds us of the key player in this tragedy . When the Temple police and their assisting Roman auxiliaries appear at the entrance of the garden, Jesus goes out to meet them. With typical Johannine ambiguity we are presented with an arresting party somewhat startled by Jesus as he comes out of the darkness into the light of their lamps. But, for those with eyes to see, we are shown the emissaries of Satan falling to the ground before God's great I AM.

Third, John reminds us that Jesus cares for his own. Jesus promised to do exactly this and so demands that the arrest party "let these men go." As John notes, this is in fulfillment of Jesus' words "I have not lost one of those you gave me." As Dodd puts it, "the Shepherd went to meet the wolf to save his flock." Jesus is in the business of setting us free.

Finally, unlike the synoptic gospels where Jesus 'reference to his "cup" of suffering is in the context of a time of prayer in the garden, in John's account Jesus speaks of his "cup" in relation to restraining the aggression of Peter. Peter has tried to defend Jesus, wounding one of the arresting officers in the process. Despite Peter's actions, John reminds us of Jesus' determination to proceed with his divinely appointed suffering, which act of faithfulness on our behalf will save us.


iv] Synoptics:

Again we note how John runs his own race. John has Jesus in prayer back at Jerusalem and not in the garden just before his arrest, as in the Synoptic tradition, cf., Mark 14:32-52. John does not mention Jesus' grief in the garden (a small family rural holding), nor the particular site, "Gethsemane", nor the kiss of Judas. John adds to the Synoptic tradition by mentioning the wadi they crossed in the Kidron valley, the disciple who swung his sword, and the officer who lost his right ear, cf., Luke 22:50. John also tells us that Roman auxiliaries were present with the Temple police. None-the-less, as Kostenberger notes, "Overall, the Johannine passion narrative coheres closely with that of the Synoptics, yet occasionally with different emphasis."

As for John's sources, it is often argued that John uses at lest one of the synoptic gospels, although John's willingness to ignore the synoptic account on so many occasions has led scholars like Dodd to argue that John uses an independent tradition.

Text - 13:1

The arrest of Jesus, v1-11: i] The Setting, v1. Jesus and the disciples exhlqen, "went out", although it is not clear whether John is referring to their leaving the site of the evening meal, or Jerusalem, but probably Jerusalem. John tells us that the party crossed the Kidron wadi and headed for a khpoV, "garden", presumably a small walled agricultural holding. Mark calls it Gethsemane, "(the place of) the oil-press", Harris.

eipwn (legw) aor. part. "When he had finished praying" - having said [these things jesus went out]. The participle is adverbial, temporal, as NIV; "after this discourse", NAB.

sun + dat. "with" - with [the disciples of him]. Expressing accompaniment / association.

peran + gen. "crossed" - beyond, across. Spacial; "he and his disciples crossed the Kidron Valley", CEV.

tou Kedrwn gen. "[the] Kidron [Valley]" - [the wadi] of kidron. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / identification; "the wadi known as Kidron." "Wadi" is a better translation because the word ceimarroV means "winter flowing", so not a flowing "brook, creek", etc., but a dry gully, except after winter rains.

oJpou "-" - where [there was a garden into which he entered]. Local conjunction, identifying place; "until they arrived at a place where there was a garden", Cassirer. The word khpoV, "garden", is referring to a piece of land, presumably cultivated, and usually surrounded by stone wall, loose or formed.

autougen. pro. "his [disciples]" - [and the disciples] of him. The genitive is adjectival, relational.


ii] Judas' betrayal, v2. John explains to his readers how Judas knew where to find Jesus to arrest him.

de "now" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

oJ paradidoouV (paradidwmi) pres. part. "[Judas], who betrayed [him]" - [judas] the one delivering over = betraying [him knew the place]. The participle serves as a substantive standing in apposition to "Judas." "Judas the traitor."

oJti "because" - because [jesus often gathered there]. Introducing a causal clause, "because", explaining why Judas "knew the place well", JB, namely "since Jesus went there frequently with his disciples", Rieu.

meta + gen. "with [his disciples]" - with [the disciples of him]. Expressing association / accompaniment; "in the company of."


Judas is probably only guiding the soldiers and is not in command of the situation. Only John mentions the torches and lanterns and the detachment of Roman soldiers. These details reveal that Jesus' arrest is officially sanctioned by the authorities of darkness, and that it was executed on the assumption that Jesus and his followers would resist arrest.

oun "So" - therefore [judas .......... comes there]. Inferential, establishing a logical connection, as NIV.

labwn (lambanw) aor. part. "guiding" - having taken. The participle is adverbial, probably modal, expressing the manner of Judas' coming to Jesus, as NIV; "Judas comes there (to the garden) having taken = taking = guiding ...."

thn speiran (a) "a detachment of soldiers" - the cohort. A Roman cohort consists of some 600 men so just "some Roman soldiers", CEV.

ek "from [the chief priests]" - [and assistants, servants] out of = from [the chief priests and] out of = from [the pharisees]. Expressing source / origin, ie., ek for apo, Zerwick, here with the sense "provided / sent by"; "together with a party of Temple police, who were supplied to him by the Chief Priests and the Pharisees", Barclay. The uJphretaV, "assistants, servants" are obviously "Temple police", as translated by Barclay.

meta + gen. "they were carrying" - with [lanterns and lamps and weapons]. Here adverbial, modal, expressing manner / attendant circumstance, qualifying the main verb ercetai, "came"; "Judas came .......... with = carrying torches ....."


Jesus fully understands that the time for his glorification is at hand and so willingly goes out into the light.

oun "-" - therefore [jesus ......... went out]. Inferential, establishing a logical connection, "so, then", or just transitional and left untranslated, as NIV.

eidwV (oida) perf. part. "knowing" - [jesus] having known [everything]. The participle is adverbial, probably best treated as causal, so Novakovic; "Jesus, because he knew everything ....... went out ...."

ta ercomena (ercomai) pres. part. "that was going to happen" - the things coming. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting the substantive adjective "everything", as NIV. Jesus knows what is about to transpire, although such knowledge is not necessarily supernatural; "Jesus already knew everything that was going to happen", CEV.

ep (epi) + acc. "to [him]" - upon [him]. Spacial, "on, upon, up to ..."; "to him."

autoiV dat. pro. "[asked] them" - [went out and says] to them [whom do you seek]? Dative of indirect object. As Harris notes the sense could be "went out from the garden to meet them", or "went out from the disciples to meet them." John does go on to reveal that Jesus is concerned for the disciples' welfare.


The warrant is for "Jesus of Nazareth." Other personal descriptors could be used, but "Nazareth" is used, probably due to the negative connotations associated with this less than kosha Galilean town; "Jesus the Nazarene", JB. Jesus' response "I am he" reflects Johannine irony, particularly when John indicates that Judas is standing near by. Judas will have often heard Jesus use egw eime in a messianic context, revealing that Jesus is God's great I AM, the anointed one. Note that some manuscripts have "I am Jesus"; it would be very easy for a copyist to accidentally leave "Jesus" out, and at the same time, it would be a strange addition.

oJ paradidouV (paradidwmi) pres. part. "[Judas] the traitor [was standing there]" - [they answered and said to him, jesus the nazarene. he says to them, i am he. but/and judas] the one betraying [him, and = also had stood with them]. The participle serves as a substantive standing in apposition to "Judas". For "I am" see 8:24. "Judas, the traitor, was standing there with the soldiers and the Temple police." Note, in John's account Judas does not identify Jesus with a kiss. By his just standing there, John means to suggest the "complete impotence of all but Jesus", Barrett.

met (meta) + gen. "with [them]" - Expressing association / accompaniment.


Johannine irony is again at work in his description of the response of the arresting officers. Moving out of the darkness into the light, Jesus may have easily startled them, but at the same time, they are confronting God's great I AM.

oun "-" - therefore. Inferential, establishing a logical connection, "so", or simply transitional.

wJV "when" - when [he said to them, i am he]. Temporal use of the conjunction.

eiV + acc. "[they drew back]" - [they departed, withdrew = drew back] into. The preposition expresses direction toward, arrival at, so they retreated to a new position.

ta net. art. "-" - the [back, behind]. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the adverb into a substantive. The arresting officers retreated to the / a place behind where they were first standing; "At once, they all backed away", CEV.

camai adv. "[fell] to the ground" - Adverb of place, "to/on the ground", BDAG. "They retreated and threw themselves on the ground", Cassirer. Cassirer is emphasizing the proper response to an I AM revelation, and certainly John is hinting at this response by describing the officers acting as if doing obeisance - prostrating themselves on the ground before the great I AM. "Fell to the ground" leaves the reader free to draw their own conclusion and so is followed by most translations. "The mere speech of Jesus (perhaps because expressed in language proper to God himself - see 8:24) is sufficient to repel his adversaries", Barrett.


oun "-" - therefore. Inferential, establishing a logical connection; "So he asked them again", ESV.

palin adv. "again" - again [he asked them, whom do you seek?]. Modal adverb expressing repetition. "Who are you after?" Peterson.

oiJ de "-" - but/and they [they said, jesus the nazarine]. Transitional, here with the article to indicate a step in the dialogue to a new speaker.


Jesus acts to protect his disciples.

oJti "[I told you] that [I am he]" - [jesus answered, i told you] that [i am]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what Jesus had told the arresting officers.

ei + ind. "if" - if [therefore, as is the case, you seek me, then]. Introducing a conditional clause 1st. class where the proposed condition is assumed to be true. "If it's me you're after, let these others go", Peterson.

oun "-" - therefore. Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion.

uJpagein (uJpagw) pres. inf. "[let these men] go" - [allow, permit these men] to go away. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to allow, permit."


John tells us that Jesus' protection for the disciples is in fulfillment of Jesus' own words. The quote is similar to 6:39, but this refers specifically to the disciples' spiritual safety. It seems more likely that the reference alludes to the Good Shepherd illustration, particularly 10:28f, so Lindars, Ridderbos, Kostenberger, ... Jesus, the Good Shepherd, lays down his life for his sheep, and does so that none be lost, cf., 17:12. The wolf now scatters the flock, but Jesus has secured their safety.

iJna + subj. "this happened so that" - that [may be fulfilled the word which said]. Although a rare imperatival iJna is possible, "let be fulfilled", it more likely introduces an adverbial clause, although it is necessary to supply the verb, as NIV; "this was to fulfill", Moffatt. A final clause expressing purpose, "in order that ...." is favored, but as already noted in John, a iJna clause will often tend toward result, or at least hypothetical / potential result; "Thus the word he had spoken was verified, 'None of these thou gavest me, I let go to destruction'", Berkeley. Note how John places the fulfillment of Jesus' words on a par with the words of the prophets.

ex (ek) + gen. "of [those]" - the ones from [those whom]. Here serving in the place of a partitive genitive.

moi dat. "[you gave] me]" - [you have given] to me, [i did not lose anyone]. Dative of indirect object.


All the gospels mention the affray, although only John names the combatants. Malchus is a Nabatean Arab name, and if we give weight to the diminutive sense of wtarion it was his right earlobe that Peter cut off. The word macaira, "sword", refers properly to a short sword, or dagger, so Peter is not wielding a broad-sword, as often represented in childhood story books. Luke tells us that the disciples had two daggers at hand, not quite enough to handle a Roman cohort (= 600 soldiers, but obviously only a small detachment was on hand). We would expect Peter to be arrested for his actions, but as Luke tells us, Jesus healed the wound, so maybe the miracle calmed the situation, cf., Lk.22:51.

oun "then" - therefore. Here probably transitional, as NIV.

ecwn pres. part. "who had [a sword]" - [simon peter] having [a dagger]. Possibly adjectival, as NIV, although being anarthrous it is more likely adverbial, possibly causal, so Novakovic; "then Simon Peter, because he had a dagger, lunged at the high priest's representative."

tou arcierewV (euV ewV) gen. "the high priest's [servant]" - [drew it and struck the servant = representative] of the high priest [and cut off the right ear of him]. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, expressing a dependent status, as NIV.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step to a parenthesis / editorial note.

tw/ doulw/ (oV) dat. "the servant's [name]" - [the name] to the servant [was malchus]. Possessive dative, as NIV.


In restraining Peter, Jesus refers to the "cup" the Father has handed him. In the Old Testament, the image of a "cup" is used of a cup of divine wrath, God's "cup of wrath", of judgment upon the wicked, eg., Isa.51:17, Jer.25:15-17, ... Jesus is surely referring to the cross, but it is rather strange that he would use this image to encapsulate what is happening. Three possible interpretations present themselves:

"Cup" may simply be used as an image of suffering, grief, a "cup of sorrow", Weymouth, so Morris, Brown, Lindars, "the bitterness of suffering and death", Ridderbos.

On the other hand, the image may represent the totality of God's will, "the cup the Father has given me", so Carson; "the Father's gift", Barrett, Schnackenburg, Beasley-Murray. This interpretation is supported by the synoptic record of Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane, "not my will, but yours be done." "Shall I not willingly accept whatever the Father sends me, however bitter it may be?", Barclay.

It may well be that "cup" depicts the nature of Jesus' suffering, namely, his substitutionary sacrifice on behalf of the lost, of Jesus taking upon himself the wrath of God, the punishment for human sinfulness, so Kostenberger, Klink.

oun "-" - therefore [jesus said to peter. put the sword into the sheath]. Inferential, establishing a logical connection; "So Jesus said to Peter", ESV.

ou mh + subj. "[shall I] not [drink]" - [the cup which the father has given to me, shall i] not not [drink it]? The subjunctive of emphatic negation is used here to form a question expecting an emphatic affirmation; "is it conceivable that I should not ......? Zerwick = "how can I possibly refuse to drink ......? Harris. "Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?" Rieu.

to pothrion (on) "the cup" - Being neuter, this noun may be either nominative or accusative. It seems best to treat it as a pendent nominative resumed by auto, "it", so Zerwick, Barrett, Harris, but see Novakovic for the accusative; "This is the cup the Father has given me. Shall I not drink it?", REB.


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