The Glory of Messiah, 13:1-20:31

The Passion Narrative, 18:1-20:31

iv] The Humiliation of Jesus


John continues to record Pilate's futile efforts to free Jesus. Having scourged Jesus and announced his innocence, Pilate offers him to the crowd, but again the representatives of the Sanhedrin and their assistants (presumably the temple police) call for Jesus crucifixion. Pilate again interviews Jesus and is even more determined to free him, but when the religious officials imply that by freeing Jesus Pilate is "no friend of Caesar", he is forced to convict him and hand him over to be crucified.


As part of the divine plan for humanity it was necessary for the heavenly man to die for the many.


i] Context: See 18:1-11.


ii] Structure: The Humiliation of Jesus:

Jesus is scourged and mocked, v1-3;

"Hail, king of the Jews!

Pilate finds Jesus innocent of all charges, v4-6;

"I find no guilt in him."

A second interrogation by Pilate, v7-11;

"You would have no power over me if it were not ...."

Pilate succumbs to the demands of the Jews, v12-16a.

"Here is your king."


iii] Interpretation:

A local religious matter has disturbed the business of government. Pilate has heard the charge brought against Jesus by the religious representatives of the Sanhedrin, namely that Jesus claims to be king of the Jews, and after interrogating Jesus has determined that the charge is baseless; what claim Jesus has to kingship is of a religious sort, and not political, and so the charge of sedition does not stand. None-the-less, the religious authorities are persistent, and at this point Pilate makes an error of judgment; he offers the release of a prisoner - an established custom of the Passover Festival. Presumably others have gathered with the religious authorities outside the governor's palace, and Pilate must have thought that the more diverse crowd would happily accept the release of Jesus, but instead they call for Barabbas, a bandit, possibly an insurgent.

John now takes up his account again, this time with Pilate deciding to have Jesus scourged. This is not undertaken as punishment, but is a normal method of interrogation used for a recalcitrant prisoner. Although normally used to extract a confession, Pilate already has his confession, but he gives his soldiers their mornings entertainment, probably thinking that a bit of rough treatment will satisfy the gathered crowd. The soldiers quickly demonstrate what they think of the notion that Jesus is the king of the Jews. The purple robe and crown of thorns says it all.

Having scourged Jesus, Pilate comes out before the crowd again and announces that he finds no basis for a charge against him, yet, when he brings Jesus out before the crowd and presents "The Man" to them (is John alluding to the Son of Man?), they shout out, "Crucify! Crucify!" Again Pilate declares Jesus innocent of any charges, and suggests if they are so keen to crucify their king why not do it themselves. Of course, taking the law into their own hands would have its consequences!

Finally the Jewish authorities reveal the real charge of blasphemy, of Jesus' claim to be the messiah, the Son of God. For some reason this charge disturbs Pilate and so he takes Jesus inside the palace for further questioning. Pilate's question "Where do you come from?", may parallel Luke 23:6, but probably relates to the discourses that cover Jesus' claim to be "Son of God" and the ongoing questioning by "the Jews" about Jesus' origin, 7:28, 41ff, 8:14. So, John seems to be making the point that Pilate realizes that he is not just dealing with an innocent man, but someone more than just a man. Jesus drives this point home by declaring that Pilate's authority under Caesar derives from God and thus he has no authority over God's Son. Pilate obviously gets the point and so from this point on he tries to set Jesus free. Interestingly, Jesus does not hold Pilate culpable for the whole unsavory business. Guilt lies with the one who handed Jesus over to Pilate, namely Caiaphas.

Pilate's original error of judgment now compounds into a failure of nerve; he chooses political expediency over justice. The religious authorities have the perfect argument - "Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar." Those who support such a person are "no friend of Caesar." Pilate is cornered. He mounts the portable platform outside his palace used to make official announcements - it stood at Gabbatha, "the Pavement." Pilate then presents Jesus to the crowd, "Behold your king." "Away with him. Crucify him", they cry. Pilate asks in amazement, "Shall I crucify you King?" Against all the claims of "the Jews" that they have no king but God, they proclaim their loyalty to Caesar; "We have no king but Caesar."


The Johannine perspective on the trial of Jesus: John gives weight to his account of Jesus before Pilate; he virtually ignores the religious trial, as if a sham, and focuses on the secular trial. It is here where the three players show their hand. Pilate, representing the secular power, seems to be in charge of proceedings, but he is dragged in and out of his palace, baffled by the words of Jesus, and buffeted by the malicious tactics of the religious authorities, and ends up acting against his own good judgment. The religious authorities think they are in charge of proceedings, but end up opposing the one who is in charge. They set out to perpetrate a miscarriage of justice. As John has earlier detailed, the issue between Jesus and "the Jews" was his claim of unity with God the Father. "King of the Jews" is nothing more than a trumped up charge of sedition, and to pull it off they condemn themselves before God, abandoning their true king for Caesar. It is the third player in this drama who is in charge of proceedings. He presents as a king of a heavenly kingdom, not a kingdom of death, but of a life-giving Word, the purpose of which he serves through a power given from above and the end of which is divinely ordained.


Is the gospel of John anti-semitic?. Since the Second World War there has been some reaction toward John's use of the term "the Jews" and his totally negative account of their treatment of Jesus, even to the point of whitewashing the role of the Roman authorities. It is unfortunate when we forget that the author of this gospel is obviously a Jew, that Jesus was a Jew, and that all the early believers were Jews. It's hard for a Jew to be anti-semitic! John's use of the term "the Jews" on most occasions refers to Israel's religious authorities, and his account of Jesus' trial before Pilate is anything but a Roman whitewash - it was devoid of justice in that an innocent man was crucified by the Roman authorities. See Ridderbos p.586.

Text - 19:1

The Humiliation of Jesus, v1-16: i] Jesus is scourged and mocked, v1-3. Scourging is primarily used to extract evidence, but was also used as an extra punishment before crucifixion. Pilate seems to use it here to gain sympathy from the religious authorities. In Luke Pilate suggests scourging instead of crucifixion.

oun "-" - therefore [pilate took jesus and scourged, whipped, flogged him]. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative. The use of the temporal adverb tote, "then", serves here to indicate this step, giving the sense "next". Both verbs, "took" and "whipped" are obviously causative; "Pilate gave orders for Jesus to be beaten with a whip", CEV.


Given the charge "King of the Jews", the soldiers mock Jesus, cf., Mk15:17-20. The crown / wreath of thorns is not necessarily made from a thorn bush; it may be made of palm fronds and so not necessarily an act of torture. The purple robe obviously represents royalty; probably a military robe. The soldiers hail Jesus in mock homage as they would the Emperor, and administer a slap, again a form of mock homage.

plexanteV (plekw) aor. part. "twisted together [a crown]" - [and the soldiers] having woven, plaited [a wreath, garland]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to lay on, place on"; "twisted together a wreath and placed it on his head." "Plaited" would take too much work so "twisted", Phillips.

ex + gen. "of [thorns]" - from [thistle, thorn bush, brier]. Expressing source / origin, although when used with some material it will carry the sense "made from." The end product is meant to represent the laurel crown worn by the Emperor.

th/ kefalh/ (h) "head" - [and put it on his] head [and threw around him a purple garment = robe]. Dative of direct object after the epi prefix verb "to place on."


hrconto (ercomai) imperf. "went up to him again and again" - [and] they were coming [toward him and were saying]. This imperfect verb, as with the other two verbs in the verse, indicates durative / ongoing action, as expressing in the NIV; "repeatedly they came", NAB.

twn Ioudaiwn adj. "[king] of the Jews" - [hail = long live the king] of the jews [and they were giving him blows]. The adjective serves as a substantive, the genitive being adjectival, idiomatic / subordination, "king over the Jews." "They struck him in the face", Cassirer; "hit him with their fists", CEV, may be a bit strong.


Pilate finds Jesus innocent of all charges, v4-6. Jesus, having undergone investigation by scourging, is presented to the Jewish authorities by Pilate with dramatic flare. Presumably he thought this would add weight to his pronunciation of innocence, but he gets a totally unexpected response; "Crucify him!"

palin adv. "once more" - [and pilate came out outside] again. Sequential adverb, expressing repeated action, modifying the verb "to come out." The verb is further modified by the adverb of place, "outside". "Presently Pilate went out again", Rieu.

autoiV dat. pro. "[said] to the Jews" - [and said] to them. Dative of indirect object.

iJna + subj. "to let you know" - [behold, i bring him to you outside] that [you may know]. Here introducing a final clause expressing purpose; "in order that you may know."

oJti "that" - that [i find no fault in him]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Pilate wants the religious authorities to know. "I present him to you, but I want you to know I do not find him guilty of any crime", Peterson.


A touch of Johannine irony is probably intended here. In a mock ceremonial royal presentation Jesus comes out dressed as a king, with purple robe and laurel wreath, and is presented to the crowd by Pilate as "the man" - the reader can't help but do a double take and consider him as "the Son of Man", the glorious eschatological man who comes to the Ancient of Day to rule a heavenly kingdom. The response of the crowd is "Crucify!" John would have us consider our response?

oun "when" - therefore. Inferential, establishing a logical connection; "So Jesus came out." "So right then Jesus came forth wearing a thorny wreath and a purple robe."

forwn (forew) pres. part. "wearing [the crown of thorns]" - [jesus came out outside] wearing [the thorny wreath, crown and the purple robe]. The participle is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of Jesus' coming outside.

autoiV dat. pro. "to them" - [and Pilate said] to them [behold the man]. Dative of indirect object. "Here he is, the man", Peterson.


oJte "as soon as" - [therefore = so] when [the chief priests and the servants saw him]. Temporal conjunction serving to introduce a temporal clause; "When the religious authorities / the representative of the Sanhedrin and the temple police saw him."

legonteV (legw) pres. part. "[they shouted]" - [they called out] saying [crucify, crucify]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to call out"; redundant.

autoiV dat. pro. "-" - [pilate says] to them. Dative of indirect object.

gar "as for me" - [you take him and you crucify him] because [i do not find fault in him]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Pilate tells the religious authorities to do their own dirty work, namely, because he regards Jesus innocent of any crime. "You do your own dirty work, for I find no reason to hold this man in custody."


iii] The second interrogation by Pilate, v7-11. "The Jews" (religious authorities, Pharisees, etc., ..) finally reveal the real charge against Jesus, rather than the politically motivated "King of the Jews." In this gospel, Jesus' messianic claims are viewed by "the Jews" as the ravings of a lunatic (demon possessed), although claims that have the potential to arouse public dissent and so prompt action from the Roman authorities. For Caiaphas, the priestly politician, the pragmatic solution to this problem is that Jesus should be disposed of for the benefit of the people at large. The reader, of course, understands that there is a more substantial benefit (another example of Johannine irony). Yet, for the purists, the Pharisees, Jesus needs to die because he is guilty of blasphemy. In the eyes of Israel's pietists, Jesus' claim of unity with the Father is a claim to equality with God, a blasphemous claim, 10:31-39. This is how they understand Jesus' claim that he is "the Son of God", although for Jesus it is a messianic title; See 5:25.

kata + acc. "according to [the law]" - [the jews answered him, we have a law and] according to [the law]. Expressing a standard, "in accordance with", although possibly means, "by that law he ought to die", Rieu.

apoqanein (apoqnhskw) aor. inf. "[he must] die" - [he is obligated = required] to die. Complementary infinitive completing the sense of the verb "to be obligated."

oJti "because" - that [he made himself son of god]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why he must die; "because he made himself out to be the Son of God", Cassirer.


The nature of Pilate's mallon efobhqh, "great fear", is unclear. The Emperor was known as Divi Filius, so maybe Pilate now sees in Jesus a potential threat to the God Emperor. Or, given that it was not an absurd idea to Pagans that gods are able to visit humanity in human form, maybe Pilate fears that Jesus is such a god. Whatever the reason, Pilate is "more frightened than ever", Cassirer.

oJte "when" - [therefore = so] when [pilate heard this word]. This conjunction serves to introduce a temporal clause, as NIV.

mallon adv. "[he was] even more [afraid]" - [he was afraid] more. Comparative adverb. An elative sense is likely, as NIV, so Barrett; "now more than ever", BDAG. Ridderbos thinks this is drawing too much from the adverb. He argues there is no evidence that Pilate responds in fear to Jesus during the first interrogation, and thinks he is not fearful of him in this second interrogation, rather the adverb reflects an increasing "uneasiness at being driven by the Jews into a position from which he had less and less of a way of extracting himself."


The question "where do you come from? / what is your real origin?" is a reminder of a similar questions put to Jesus by "the Jews", eg., 7:25-27, 40-44, 8:14-19 - usually related to authority. Pilate may also have in mind Jesus' authority - does Jesus claim divine authority ("Son of God")? Actually, Jesus has already answered the question, he is "from above" (cf.,18:36), which may explain why he doesn't bother answering the question again. When it comes to authority, Jesus has it all, and Pilate has nothing, cf., v11. At a more mundane level, Brown suggests that the question may be an attempt to find a legal loophole. If Jesus was to indicate that he is a Galilean then Pilate could send him to Herod to deal with the matter; as a Galilean, Jesus would fall under Herod's jurisdiction.

poqen "where [do you come] from?" - [and he entered into the praetorium again and says to jesus] from where [are you]? Interrogative adverb of place.

autw/ dat. pro. "[Jesus gave] him [no answer]" - [but/and jesus did not give an answer] to him. Dative of indirect object. Jesus' unwillingness to answer the question is somewhat of a mystery, although Jesus has declared who he is and so nothing more need to be said; "he opened not his mouth", Isa.53:7.


Pilate is obviously peeved, given the emphatic emoi, "to me [you do not speak]?" Johannine irony is surely present in Pilate's claim to have authority over life and death. John would have us know where the real authority lies.

oun "-" - therefore [pilate says to him]. Inferential, establishing a logical connection; "So Pilate said to him", ESV.

emoi dat. pro. "to me" - to me [do you not speak]? - Dative of indirect object, emphatic by position. "Who do you think you are refusing to answer my questions?"

oJti "-" - [do you not know] that. Introducing an object clause, dependent statement of perception expressing what Pilate claims Jesus does not know.

apolusai (apoluw) aor. inf. "[I have power either] to free [you]" - [i have authority] to release, set free [you and i have authority to crucify you]. As with the infinitive "to crucify", the infinitive here is epexegetic, specifying the "authority". "Don't you realize the Emperor has given me the authority to release you, as well as the authority to condemn you to death."


Pilate's authority derives from the Emperor; Jesus' authority derives from God the Father. Pilate's authority is derivative, ultimately from God; Jesus authority is directly from God, cf., Rom.13:1-7. The point Jesus makes is that Pilate's authority is not absolute; he is ultimately under a higher authority.

kat (kata) + gen. "over [me]" - [jesus replied to him, you do not have authority] against [me]. Here expressing opposition, "against"; "You haven't a shred of authority over me", Peterson.

ei mh "if [it were] not [given]" - if not = except. Introducing an exceptive clause which establishes a contrast by designating an exception; "You would have no authority over me except that which was given you from above", Klink. Both Harris and Novakovic follow Burton #249 and classify it as an irregular 2nd. class conditional clause, contrary to fact (an is missing in the apodosis and the protasis is referring to time in the present); "if as is not the case, it had not been granted from above then you would have no power over me" = "unless, as is not the case, it had been give you from above, then you would have no authority over me", cf., ESV and most translations - this classification doesn't make sense!

dedomenon (didomai) perf. mid./pas. part. "it were [not] given]" - it had been given [to you]. The perfect participle with h\n, the imperfect verb to-be, forms a periphrastic pluperfect construction, possibly emphasizing stative aspect.

enwqen adv. "from above" - Adverb of place. "From above" here with the sense "from heaven / God." "If God had not give you the power, you couldn't do anything at all to me", CEV.

dia touto "therefore" - because of this. This causal construction takes an inferential sense, "therefore", as NIV, cf., Runge, Discourse Grammar.

oJ paradouV (paradidwmi) aor. part. "the one who handed [me] over" - the one having delivered [me]. There is some debate as to the identity of this person. Caiaphas, representing Israel's religious establishment (ie., "the Jews"), is most likely the intended person, so Kostenberger, ....., but other suggestions include Judas, so Barrett, and the chief priests, so Schnackenburg, the people of Israel as a whole, so Bultman. The verb "to deliver over = betray" certainly ties in with the actions of Judas (but is also used of "the Jews" giving Jesus up to Pilate), but is is hard to see Judas as the representative of "the Jews." Judas' sin is grievous, but he does "repent" of his actions, gives back the blood money, and overtaken by grief, commits suicide. It is hard to argue that Judas' sin is greater than that of Pilate.

soi dat. pro. "to you" - to you [has greater sin than you]. Dative of indirect object.


iv] Pilate succumbs to the demands of the Jewish authorities, v12-16. Pilate now wants to release Jesus, but the political implications have him in a corner. It is not clear why Pilate is now more inclined to set Jesus free. If ek toutou is causal the reason would relate to what Jesus has just said. Does Pilate recognize divine attributes in Jesus and so is concerned about the apportioning of blame?

ek toutou "from then on" - from this. Probably a temporal construction, as NIV, ESV, ....., but possibly causal, "because of this.

apolusai (apoluw) aor. inf. "[Pilate tried] to set [Jesus] free" - [was seeking] to release [him]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to seek." The verb "to seek" is imperfect so its intention may be inceptive, "Pilate began seeking to release him." "From that time on Pilate made every effort to set him free", Cassirer.

de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step to a counter point.

legonteV (legw) pres. part. "-" - [the jews cried out, shouted out] saying. Attendant circumstance participles expressing action accompanying the verb "to shout out"; redundant.

ean + subj. "if" - if, as may be the case, [you free this man, then you are not a friend of caesar]. Introducing a 3rd. class conditional clause where the proposed condition has the possibility of coming true.

tou KaisaroV (ar roV) gen. "[friend] of Caesar" - The genitive is adjectival, relational. It is quite possible that this is a technical term for an appointed representative of the Emperor. It's a good argument and has Pilate stumped, but it is totally hypocritical, given the hatred "the Jews" have for the Roman authorities.

poiwn (poiew) "[anyone] who claims" - [all = everyone] making [himself a king]. If we take the adjective paV, "all", as a substantive, "everyone", the participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "everyone"; "Anyone who claims to be a king is a rebel against the Emperor", TEV.

Kaisari (ar roV) dat. "[opposes] Caesar" - [acts against] caesar. Dative of direct object after the anti prefix verb "to act against."


Pilate must now conclude the matter and does so from the bhmatoV, "judgment seat", a portable platform with seat and covering set up on a paved area related to the fortress of Antonia, Pilate's palace and administrative headquarters in Jerusalem.

akousaV (akouw) aor. part. "When [Pilate] heard" - [therefore = so pilate] having heard. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal.

twn logwn (oV) "[this]" - [these] words. Genitive of direct object after to verb "to hear." "These words" refer to the threat "if you let his man go you are no friend of Caesar."

ekaqisen (kaqizw) aor. "sat down" - [led outside jesus and] he sat [upon a tribunal seat]. The verb is usually translated as intransitive, such that Pilate sits down with Jesus standing nearby. It is possible to read the verb as transitive, "caused to sit", such that Pilate has Jesus sit down on the seat either to further humiliate him, or gain sympothy from the crowd. A transitive sense seems unlikely - throughout the NT the verb is always intransitive. See Barrett for the arguments fore and against, although he arrives at a rather strange conclusion with the word carrying a double meaning - historical (intrans.), theological (trans). "Pilate had Jesus brought out and he himself took his seat on the judicial bench", Cassirer.

legomenon (legw) pres. mid./pas. part. "a place known as" - [into a place] being called [the pavement, but/and in hebrew gabbatha]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "place"; "at a place which is called the pavement." Possibly "the Mosaic Pavement", Berkeley, but more likely a pavement with large flat stones, so "the stone pavement." "Gabbatha" is probably a local name for the site as the word has nothing to do with paving, stones or mosaics.


In the synoptic tradition the Lord's Supper is held on the Thursday evening when the Passover meal is eaten, whereas John seems to indicate Friday evening, the day of Jesus crucifixion. For John, this is the day of preparation for the meal, with the lamb slaughtered around 3pm and the meal eaten at 6pm. As already noted, John's gospel is more a reflection on Jesus' words and works than a record of them. For John, Jesus is the Pascal Lamb slaughtered for the people, he is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. So, John may be making the point that Jesus is lifted up, glorified, at the very moment when the people of Israel prepare to celebrate the Passover. Yet, as Kostenberger notes, "the day of Preparation" may well refer to the day when preparations are made for Sabbath celebrations, and "Passover" is referring to "Passover week", not the day when the passover meal is eaten, so "Friday of Passover week", Carson. Of course, it is possible that John's record is historically accurate and that the Passover meal recorded in the Synoptic gospels is a pre-passover meal. As to timing, John tells us that it was now the sixth hour, ie., twelve noon. Mark has Jesus crucified at the third hour, ie., 9am. Morris suggests that they are just approximations for somewhere before midday. Westcott suggests that John is using the legal Roman calculation of time counted from midnight (very unlikely).

tou pasca "of the Passover" - [but/and it was the day of preperation] of the passover. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / temporal (verbal, objective); "It was the day of preparation when the Passover was celebrated", or alternately, "It was the day of preparation before the Sabbath of = during Passover week."

wJV "about [noon]" - [it was] as [sixth hour]. Here expressing approximation, "about the sixth hour."

toiV IoudaioiV dat. adj. "to the Jews" - [and he says] to the jews. The adjective serves as a substantive, dative of indirect object.

uJmwn gen. pro. "[here is] your [king]" - [behold the king] over you. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / subordination; "king over you."


For a second time the religious authorities call for Jesus' crucifixion, to which Pilate taunts them with "Really! You want me to crucify your king?" In response "the Jews" deny the sovereignty of God and claim the sovereignty of the Emperor - a classic example of Johannine irony.

oun "but [they shouted]" - therefore [these ones shouted out, away, away, crucify him]. Inferential, establishing a logical connection; "So they cried out." "Away" = "Off with him", Harris.

autoiV dat. pro. "-" - [pilate says] to them [shall i crucify the king of = over you]. Dative of indirect object. The noun basilea, "king", is emphatic by position so giving the sense "Really! You want me to crucify your own king?"

ei mh "[we have no king] but [Caesar]" - [the high priests answered, we do not have a king] if not = except [caesar]. Introducing an exceptive clause which establishes a contrast by designating an exception. Usually translated as an adversative, "but", as NIV, because of the presence of the negation ouk in the protasis of the clause, so producing a counterpoint construction, "not ....., but ......" "The Emperor is the only king we have", Cassirer.


tote oun adv. "finally" - therefore then = so then = finally[he handed over, delivered over (betrayed) him]. Temporal construction introducing a temporal clause, "finally"; "And so at last he gave him up to them for crucifixion", Rieu.

autoiV dat. pro. "to them" - Dative of indirect object / interest, advantage. Pilate would actually hand Jesus over to a military escort who would then carry out the crucifixion, but given that the closest referent is "the chief priests", John may have them in mind as the ones technically responsible for the crucifixion, so Pilate "handed him over to them = to their demands"; "Pilate caved in to their demand", Peterson; "Thereupon Pilate let them have their way", Cassirer.

iJna + subj. "to [be crucified]" - that [he should be crucified by the military guard]. Here introducing a final clause expressing purpose, "in order to be crucified."


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