Francis Henry Dunwell.

A commentary on the authorized English version of the Gospel according to St. John; compared with the Sinaitic, Vatican, and Alexandrine manuscripts, and also with Dean Alford's revised translation online

. (page 43 of 52)
Online LibraryFrancis Henry DunwellA commentary on the authorized English version of the Gospel according to St. John; compared with the Sinaitic, Vatican, and Alexandrine manuscripts, and also with Dean Alford's revised translation → online text (page 43 of 52)
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of nnoleonness.''— Lightfoot ii., 610.

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Paschal Iamb at the proper time, the eveDing before. Their time had
been spent first in arranging how to apprehend Jesus, and then by a
lengthened and elaborate examination of Him to discover some gromid,
on which to prefer a civil charge against Him before Pilate, a charge
of endangering the peace of the country and the safety of the Boman

The other explanation is that the expression '' that they might eat
the Passover " does not refer to the Paschal lamb, which the Jews had
already eaten and at the very time during which Jesus and the Twelve
were eating the Paschal Supper in the Upper-Boom. By eating the
Passover here it is suggested that St. John means, either '' that they
might go on keeping the Passover," or that they might partake of the
extra sacrifices which were ofiered during the seven days of unleavened
bread, as, for instance, the Chagigah or festival sacrifices, which were
usual at all festivals, and especially at the Passover.

Great as was the hypocritical scrupulosity of the Jews, it is difficult
to beUeve that they could carry it so far as to change the day for
eating the Paschal lamb, the very sin of Jeroboam, and then scruple
to enter Pilate's house, lest they should be defiled, and so prevented
from eating it on a day on which it was not appointed to be eaten.

29 (Pilate then) went out unto them [and said], What
acicusation bring ye against This Man ?

[S. v. And saith.]
(Alf. PUate therefore.)

80 They answered and said unto him, If He were not
a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up unto

31 [(Then said Pilate)] unto them, (Take ye him), [and
judge him according] to your law. (The Jews therefore said)
unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.

[A. Bnt Pilate laid i d. And judge aooording.]

(Alf. Pilate therefore said— Take Him yourBelyes — The Jeirra said.)

32 That the sajdng of Jesus might be fulfilled, [which
He spake,] signifying (what death) He should die*

[S. Omits, vhich He spake.]
(Alf. What maimer of death.)

The Jews deliver Jesus up to Pilate. When he requires to know the
charge which they bring against Him, they reply in general terms that
He is a malefactor, a breaker of the laws of the country, and as such
they request Pilate to proceed against Him according to law. Pilate
who as yet did not understand that they intended the death of Jesus,

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and not wisliing to be merely the executioner of their decrees, offers
them the choice of jadging and punishing Jesus according to their own
laws. This the Jews decline on the ground that death was the punish-
ment which Jesus had deserved^ and that it was not lawful for them to
put any man to death. Some have thought that they meant, that it was not
lawful for them to put any man to death at such a high festival as
the Passover. But the most probable interpretation is, that as a con-
quered nation, the Romans had withdrawn from them the right of
capital punishment, and had reserved it for the Roman Governor

Evidently the Jews had their own reasons for declining to take
Jesus and judge Him according to their own laws, even if they might
inflict on Him the punishment of death, of which according to their
laws, as they said, He was guilty. Perhaps they might wish to avoid
the odium, which the death of Jesus might bring on them from the
people, who were at all times fickle, and who had often shown con-
siderable favom* towards Jesus, and who might look upon His death,
if inflicted by the Jewish high-priest, &c., as the result of their private
envy and malice. They might especially wish to avoid the appearance
of severity at such a festival of mercy as the Passover. If Pilate put
Jesus to death, it would be on a more public charge, and by a more
ignominious death. If they accepted Pilate's offer and judged TTim
according to their own law, the charge against Him must be one of
blasphemy, and His death would be by stoning (Levit. xxiv. 16), and
the act would be that of the Jewish Sanhedrin alone. But if Pilate put
Jesus to death, it must be on the ground of being a breaker of the law, a
disturber of the peace of the country, a common criminal. His death
would be by crucifixion, and the deed would be sanctioned by the
authority of the whole Roman empire.

St. John has nowhere recorded that Jesus exactly said that He
should be crucified, which St. Matthew does (xx. 18) ; but he has
spoken of Him as using an equivalent expression with reference to
His Death, (xii. 82, 33.)

33 (Then Pilate) entered into (the judgment hall) again,
and called Jesus, and said unto Him, Art Thou the King
of the Jews ?

(Alf. FUate therefore— the palace.)

Pilate had come to the gate of the palace to the chief priests and
his party to receive their charge against Jesus. This charge had no
relation whatever to blasphemy, of which alone they professed after
their examination to have found Him guilty. They were quite aware
that Pilate would pay no attention to such a charge. They therefore
say, " We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to
give tribute to Caesar, saying, that He Himself is Christ a King,"

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(St Luke xxiii. 2.) 1. He was perverting the nation ; 2. He was for-
bidding to give tiibute to C»sar ; 3. He was setting Himself up as
£ing of the Jews. Here were three distinct charges, in every one of
which Pilate as the Governor of Judaea had a direct interest. A new
Pretender to the throne of Judaea ! This was of itself sufficient to
arouse the prejudice of Pilate. Having heard this accusation, he re-
turns to his prisoner in the palace^ and said unto Him, Art Thou the
King of the Jews ?

34 Jesus answered [him, Sayest thou (this thing)] of
thyself, or did others tell it thee (of Me) ?

[V. A. Omit him— S. Hast thou said this thing 7]
(Alf. This— oonceniiiig Me.)

As Governor of Jnd»a and therefore as the representative of
Cfldsar its king, it was part of Pilate's duty to keep a ready ear to
any claims that might he made to the sovereignty, and to put them
down at once. Probably the object, that Jesus had in this question,
was to force on Pilate's mind, that He had made no such claim, at
least in the sense in which the Jews represented it.

35 Pilate answered. Am I a Jew ? Thine Own nation
[and the chief priests] (have delivered Thee) unto me :
what hast Thou done ?

[S. And the chief priest.]
(Alf. DeliTered Thee.)

36 Jesus answered. My kingdom is not of this world :
if My kingdom were of this world, [(then would My] ser-
vants fight,) that I should not be delivered to the Jews : but
now is My kingdom not from hence.

[8. Then wonld ahK> My.]
(Alf. My servants would fight.)

37 Pilate therefore said unto Him, Art thou a King
then ? Jesus answered, (Thou sayest that I am a King),
[To this end] (was I bom), and for this cause (came I) into
the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.
Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice.

[A. To this end also.]

(Alf. Thou sayest : for I am a King— have I heen bom - am I oome.)

Haying drawn his attention to the fact, that Pilate had himself


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HO ground for believing that He laid claim to Gsesai^s kingdom, bat
that thia was a mere oalumny of the JewSi Jesnfl answers his ques-
tion, and admits that He is a King, and then points out the nature
of the kingdom of which He is King — ^not one to interfere with the
claims of Ciesar. He takes no notice of the surprise and scorn
which Pilate had thrown into his question, Art Thou a King then ?
Thou a King ! (piKoiw ffa/rtXeu^ el <rv;)

Of the four Eyangelists St. John alone relates the full answer of
Jesus to Pilate's question, '* Art Thou the King of the Jews ?" The
other three content themselves with giving only the latter part of His
answer, '* Thou sayest," that is, I am, as thou sayest, the King of
the Jews. Jesus meant that He was the King of the Jews, inasmuch
as He was the Messiah, but He laid no claim to be king in the sense
in which GaBsar or Herod was king. But the latter was the sense in
which the Jews invidiously represented His claim to Pilate.

The truth to which Jesus came to bear witness was (1) The know-
ledge of the One True God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ohost, as
opposed to the false gods of the heathen ; (2) It was the Incarnation,
that Jesus, the Son of God, the Word, was made Flesh, was bom of a
Virgin in order to redeem man ; (8) That true happiness consists not
in tiie possession of the riches and pleasures of the body, but in an
ever-increasing likeness to God ; and that perfect happiness consists
in the beatific Vision, or in the Vision of God which will transform
man into His Own likeness.

To be of the truth here means much the same as to be of God.
Jesus had probably a double object in saying, ** Every one that is of
the truth heareth My voice," partly to show tiie iniquity of the Jewish
rulers, and partly to induce Pilate to act nprighUy in his office as
Judge, The Jewish high-priest, Scribes, and Pharisees were not of
the truth. Their object was not the honour or the worship of God,
but the gratification of their own selfish desires. Wealth, bodily
pleasure, honour, or position in the world, was what they sought, how
could they believe in Him, who came to bear witness unto tho

88 Pilate saith unto Him, What is truth ? And when
ho had 3aid this, he went out again unto the Jews, and
saith unto them, (I find in Him no fault at all.)

(Alt I find no fault in Him.)

89 But ye have a custom, that I should release unto
you one at the Passover : will ye therefore that I release
unto you the King of the Jews ?

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40 (Then cried they [all] again), saying, Not this Man,
but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber,*

[8. V. Omit aU.]

(Alf. Then they all cried out again.)

Pilate was qnite indifferent to the truth. He asked the question,
Wliat is truth ? but he had no interest in it. He cared not to learn
how it was that Jesus should claim to be a king, but that His king-
dom was not of this world.

Bt John omits many of the circumstances connected with the trial

1 A Bobber. — " These two words
jcx/wn^f , and KifffTis ooeur together John
z. 18, but do not oonstitnte there or
elsewhere a tautology, or mere rhetorical
amplification. Both appropriate what is
not theirs, bnt the K\iimis by fraud and
in seeret (Matt. xxiy. 43 ; John xii. 6) ;
the \jftrHis by violence and openly (2 Cor.
xi. 26} : the one is the thief and steals ;
tiie other is the robber and plmiders, as
his name from Krits or Af la (as onr own
robber from Baub, booty) sufficiently de-
clares. They are severally the ' fur ' and
the * tatio ' of the Latin : fures insidianter
et oecoltd frande decipinnt = latrones
andacter aliena diripiont (Jerome, in
Osee. 7, 1.)

** Our Translators have always rendered
jcX^rnif by thief ; they ought, with a like
consistency, to have rendered Xptrr^f by
robber; but it also they have oftener
rendered as thief, eifaoing thus the distinc-
tion between the two. We cannot charge
them with that carelessness here, of which
those would be guilty who now should do
the same. Passages out of number in our
Eliaabethan literature attest that in their
day * thief ' and * robber * had not those
distinct meanings which since they have
acquired. Thus FalstafF and his company,
who, with open violence, rob the king's
treasure on the king's highway, are

* thieves * throughout Shakespeare's Henry
lY. StiU one must regret that in several
places in our Version we do not find

* robbers ' rather than thieves. Thus at
Matt. xxi. 13 we read : * My house shall
be called the house of prayer, but ye have
made it a den of thieves.-' but it is
'robbers' and not 'thieves' that have
dens or caves ; and it is rightly * den of
robbers ' at Jer. vii. 11, whence this quota-
tion is drawn. Again Matt. xxvi. 55:
' Are ye come out as against a thief with
swords and staves for to take Me ? ' but it
would be against some bold and violent

robber that a party armed with swords and
clubs would issue forth, not against a
lurking thief. The poor traveUer in the
parable fLuke x. 80) fell not among

* thieves ' but among * robbers,' bloodv and
violent men, as their treatment of him
plainly declared.

** No passage has suffered so seriously as
this from this confounding of * thief ' and

* robber ' as Luke xxiii. 89-43. The whole
anterior moral condition of him whom we
call the penitent thief is probably much
obscured for us by the associations which
naturaUy cling to this name. The two
malefactors crucified with Jesus, the one
obdurate, the other penitent, in aU likeli-
hood had belonged both to the band of
Barabbas, who for murder and insurrec-
tion had been east %Dith hU fellow imur-
genti into prison. {Mark xv. 7.) He too
was himself a \p<rH|s (John xviii. 40), and
yet no common midefactor, on the con-
trary ' a notable prisoner' {Ufffuos MtnifAOs,
(Matt, xxvii. 16). Now, considering the
wild enthusiasm of the Jewish population
on his behalf, and combining this with
the fact that he was in prison for an un-
successful insurrection ; keeping in mind
too the condition of the Jews at this
period, with false Ohrists, false deliverers,
every day starting up, we can hardly doubt
that Barabbas was one of those fierce and
stormy zealots who were evermore raising
anew the standard of resistance against
the Boman domination; flattering and
feeding the insane hopes of their country-
men that they should yet break the Boman
yoke from off their necks. These men,
when hard pressed, would betake them-
selves to the mountains, and thence would
levy petty war against their oppressors,
living by plunder — if possible, by that of
their enemies, if not, by that of any
within their reach.

" And yet of stamp and character how
different woiild many of these men, these

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of Jesas before Pilate, which the other Evangelists relate, such as the
repeated accusations of Jesus by the chief-priests and elders, to which
He gave no answer, which are recorded by St. Matthew xxvii. 12-14 :
such as the sending to Herod, and second proclamation of His inno-
cence by Pilate, which is recorded by St. Luke xidii. 6-16. St. John
omits all this and goes on to relate — and that in a condensed form — in
the 39th and 40th verses Pilate's attempt to release Jesus, and the
opposition made to it by the rulers and by the crowd that had by this
time collected at the gates of Pilate's palace.

At the Roman Lectistemium it was usual to grant an acquittal to
prisoners. (Livy v. 18.) It is not now known, whether the custom of
releasing one at the Passover was introduced among them, by the
Roman Governors as a means of conciliating the Jews, or whether it
was an old Jewish custom. There is scarcely sufficient reason to lead
us to conclude that, the practice of releasing a prisoner was confined to
the Feast of the Passover. Doubtless the corresponding expression
used by the other three Evangelists, and as given in the English
Authorised Version, ''that feast" (Matt, xxvii. 16; Mark xy. 6),
"the feast'* (Luke xxiii. 17), would convey this impression. But it
has been pointed out, that neither of these expressions is an accurate
rendering of the original, but that they both, and especially the
former, Umit the meaning far too much. The correct translation of
Kard iopTtiv is *^ at festival-time " or '' at every feast," that is, at
every feast which the Jews as a nation were accustomed to observe.

xnaintainers of a last protest against a
foreign domination, probably be from tbe
mean and cowardly porloiner, whom we
caU the 'thief.' The bands of these
Xp^Tolt numbering in their ranks some of
the worst, would probably include also
some that were originally of the noblest
spirits of the nation<-~eyen though they
had miserably mistaken the task which
their time demanded, and had sought to
work out by the wrath of man the right-
eousness of God. Such a one we may

weU imagine this penitent XjfirT^s to hare
been. Should there be' any tnith in thi£
view of his former condition — and certainly
it would go far to explain his sudden con-
version — ^it is altogether obscured by the
name of * thief* which we have given him;
nor can it under any circumstances be
doubtful that he would be more aoearately
called *the penitent robber.*" — Arch-
bishop Trench on 5yiumyiru of New
Testament^ p. 153.

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( 389 )


Those who love to linger on our Savioxur's Pasnon and on the Beveral
instrmnents of His Passion, will not think the following extracts too

The Orown of Thorns.—'' We encamped about a mile to the
south of Jericho, and stayed there all that day : there was a small wood
to the east of us, where I saw the Zoccum tree ; the bark of it is like
that of the holly, and has yery strong thorns, and the leaf is some*
thing like that of the Barbary tree : it has a green nut : the skin or
flesh over it is thin, and the nut is ribbed, and has a thick shell, and
a yery small kernel : they grind the whole, and press an oil out of it,
as they do out of oliyes, and call it a balsam. But I take it to be the
Myrobalanum mentioned by Josephus (De bell. Jud. iy. 8), as growing
about Jericho : especially as it answers yery well to this fruit described
by Pliny as the produce of that part of Arabia, which was between
JudsBa and Egypt. Some think that Christ was crowned with this
thorn." — ^Pococke's Travels, ii. 82.

" Of other plants growing in the yale of Jericho, we noticed the
Nebk, the most abundant thorn in the Holy Land, and which, it is
commonly thought, was that of which the crown of thorns of our
Sayiour was made. Hasselquist's {Voyage and Travels, Eng. Trans,
p. 288) says, ' In all probability this is the* tree which afforded the
crown of thorns put on the Head of Christ : it grows yery common in
the East.' This plant was yery fit for the purpose, for it has many
small and sharp spines, which are well adapted to giye pain. The
crown might be easily made of these soft round, and pliant branches :
and what in my opinion seems to be the greatest proof, is, that the
leayes much resemble those of iyy, as they are of a yery deep green.
Perhaps the enemies of Christ would have a plant somewhat resembling
that with which emperors and generals were used to be crowned, that
there might be calunmy eyen in the punishment." — Wilson's Lands of
the Biiley ii. 11.

'' The thorn bushes, which during the summer and autumn had
been so dark and bare, were clothed with delicate green sprays of finely
serrated leayes, which almost hid the sharp, cruel-looking thorns.
They were sprinkled with little round buds ; when they opened, they
threw out silky tufts of crimson, crowned with golden-coloured powder.
The seed yessel is round, and diyided into four quarters : at first it is

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almost white, but gradaallj becomes pink : and at the apex there is a
little green tuft, in the shape of a Greek cross. When the seed is
quite ripe, it is about half-an-inch in diameter, and of a Tory shining
red colour. I had been told it was of this thorn that the wreath was
made which once crowned the Head of Christ. It may be so : and I
have never seen a plant of which so beautiful, and at the same time
so cruel a crown could be composed. This thorn is the Poterium

'* About Easter it is seen in all its beauty, the leaves glossy and
full-grown, the fruit or seed-vessels brilliantly red, like drops of blood,
and the thorns sharper and stronger than at any other time. No
plant or bush is so common on the hills of Judasa^ Galilee, and Gannel
as this." — Rogers* Domestic Life in Palestine, p. 170.

'' An Arab brought us some dhom apples, the fruit of the nubk, or
Spina Christi. They were much withered and presented the appear-
ance of a small dried crab-apple . It had a stone like the cherry ; bnt
the stone was larger, and there was less fruit on it in proportion to its
size. It was sub-acid, and to us quite palateable." — ^Lynch's Esspedition
to the Dead Sea, p. 286.

" The nfibk or lotus tree, the Spina Christi of Hassclquist, called
by the Arabs the dhom tree, has small dark-green, oval-shaped, ivy-
like leaves. Clustering thick and irregularly upon the crooked
branches, are sharp thorns, half an inch in length. The smaller
branches are very pliant, which in common with the ivy-like appear-
ance of the leaves, sustains the legend that of them was made the
mock crown of the Kedeemer. Its fruit, resembling a withered crab-
apple is Bub-aoid, and of a pleasant flavour."— Wem, p. 290.

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( 391 )


1 Christ is scourged^ crowned with tkomsy and beaten ; 4 Pilate is
desirous to release Him; but, being overcome with the outrage of
the Jews, he delivered Him to be crucified ; 23 They cast lots for
His garments ; 26 He commendeth His mother to John ; 28 He
dieth; 31 His side is pierced; 88 He is buried by Joseph and

1 Then Pilate therefore took Jesus and scourged Him.

We learn from St. Luke that the object which Pilate had in view
in thus scourging Jesus, whom he believed to be innocent, was to
excite their compassion for Him, that after such a severe punishment
they might be satisfied, and allow Him to depart. ** Pilate, therefore,
willing to release Jesus, spake again to them. But they cried, saying.
Crucify Him, crucify Him. And he saith unto them the third lime^
Why, what evil hath He done ? I have found no cause of death in
Him : I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go.*' (xxiii. 20-22.)

Such being Pilate's object, he would make the scourc^ing as severe
as possible, in order to render Jesus more an object for their com-
passion. Scourging was a Roman punishment^ and where the punish-
ment was intended to be severe, the whip which was used was a dreadful
instrument (horribile flagellum, Horace calls it), knotted with bones or
heavy indented circles of bronze, or terminated by hooks, in which case
it was aptly denominated a scorpion. The infliction of punishment
with it upon the naked back of the suflferer (Juv. L c.) was sometimes
fatal." (Hpr. Sat. i. 2, 41.)^

2 And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put
it on His head, and (they put on Him a purple robe)."

(Alf. They olothed Him with a purple robe.)

1 Smith's Clagsical Diet., Article " Fla- thorns Url^wos iucdyBwof) and placing it

gram." on the Sayioar's head, is eTidentlir a part

* A orown of thorns {<rri^wo9 H iutny' of that blasphemous caricature o! royalty
0«r.) — ^After showing that StiSrifM is the which the Boman soldiers would fain corn-
word always used for a kingly or impe- pel him to enact. But woven of such
rial crown, and a-rd^ayoi for a conqueror*s> materials as it was, probably of the juncuR
Archbishop Trench goes on to say : '* The marinus, or of the lycium spinosum, it is
only occasion on which ari^ayos might evident that SidSiifia could not be applied
seem to be used of a kingly crown is Matt. to it : and the word, therefore, which was
xzvii. 29, with its parallels in the other fittest in respect of the material whereof
GospelSf where the wearing of a crown of it was composed, takes place of that which

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3 [(And said)], Hail, King of the Jews ! and they smote
Him with their hands.

[8. v. And came to Him and Baid.]

(Alf. And they kept coming unto Him and saying.)

The Sinaitic and Vatican MSS. say that the soldiers came unlo
Him and said, which, as a repeated act, has been well translated, kept
coming unto Him and saying. They repeated their mock homage unto
Him from time to time.

Besides the purple robe and the crown of thorns St. Matthew says
they added another emblem of mock royalty. They put a reed into his
right hand, and bowed the knee before Him, and mocked Him, saying,
Hail, King of the Jews ! And they spit upon Him, and took the reed,
and smote Him on the head, (xxyii. 29, 80.)

4 [(Pilate therefore went forth] again), and saith unto
them, Behold I bring Him forth to you, that ye may know
that I find no fault [in Him.]

[S. Pilate went forth : Y. A. And Pilate went forth : S. Omite, In Him.]

Online LibraryFrancis Henry DunwellA commentary on the authorized English version of the Gospel according to St. John; compared with the Sinaitic, Vatican, and Alexandrine manuscripts, and also with Dean Alford's revised translation → online text (page 43 of 52)