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John 19:12-15

Context

19:12 From this point on, Pilate tried 1  to release him. But the Jewish leaders 2  shouted out, 3  “If you release this man, 4  you are no friend of Caesar! 5  Everyone who claims to be a king 6  opposes Caesar!” 19:13 When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus outside and sat down on the judgment seat 7  in the place called “The Stone Pavement” 8  (Gabbatha in 9  Aramaic). 10  19:14 (Now it was the day of preparation 11  for the Passover, about noon. 12 ) 13  Pilate 14  said to the Jewish leaders, 15  “Look, here is your king!”

19:15 Then they 16  shouted out, “Away with him! Away with him! 17  Crucify 18  him!” Pilate asked, 19  “Shall I crucify your king?” The high priests replied, “We have no king except Caesar!”

1 tn Grk “sought.”

2 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.

3 tn Grk “shouted out, saying.”

4 tn Grk “this one.”

5 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.

6 tn Grk “who makes himself out to be a king.”

7 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.

8 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.

9 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.

10 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.

11 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).

12 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.

13 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.

14 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.

15 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.

16 tn Grk “Then these.”

17 tn The words “with him” (twice) are not in the Greek text. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context.

18 sn See the note on Crucify in 19:6.

19 tn Grk “Pilate said to them.” The words “to them” are not translated because it is clear in English who Pilate is addressing.



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