Born to tell the truth (Jn 18:37-18:37)

“Pilate said to Jesus.

‘So then!

You are a king!’

Jesus answered.

‘You say

That I am a king!

For this,

I was born!

For this,

I came

Into the world.

I came

To bear witness

To the truth.

Everyone who belongs

To the truth


To my voice.’”

εἶπεν οὖν αὐτῷ ὁ Πειλᾶτος Οὐκοῦν βασιλεὺς εἶ σύ; ἀπεκρίθη ὁ Ἰησοῦς Σὺ λέγεις ὅτι βασιλεύς εἰμι. ἐγὼ εἰς τοῦτο γεγέννημαι καὶ εἰς τοῦτο ἐλήλυθα εἰς τὸν κόσμον, ἵνα μαρτυρήσω τῇ ἀληθείᾳ· πᾶς ὁ ὢν ἐκ τῆς ἀληθείας ἀκούει μου τῆς φωνῆς.

John uniquely continued with this dialogue between Pilate and Jesus.  Pilate (ὁ Πειλᾶτος) said to Jesus (εἶπεν οὖν), so therefore (Οὐκοῦν), he was a king (Οὐκοῦν βασιλεὺς εἶ σύ)!  Only John, among all the Greek biblical writers used this word Οὐκοῦν, that means therefore or so then.  Pilate understood that Jesus had admitted that he was a king, since he had a kingdom, but not of this world.  Jesus (ὁ Ἰησοῦς) answered (ἀπεκρίθη) as in the Synoptics that Pilate was the one saying that he was a king, since he had just said so (Σὺ λέγεις ὅτι βασιλεύς εἰμι).  Then Jesus explained that this was why he was born (ἐγὼ εἰς τοῦτο γεγέννημαι).  He came (καὶ εἰς τοῦτο ἐλήλυθα) into this world (εἰς τὸν κόσμον) to be a king.  Thus, he can bear witness (ἵνα μαρτυρήσω) to the truth (τῇ ἀληθείᾳ·).  Everyone who belonged (πᾶς ὁ ὢν ἐκ) to the truth (τῆς ἀληθείας) listened (ἀκούει) to his voice (μου τῆς φωνῆς).  This dialogue with Jesus and Pilate continued.  First, Pilate thought that Jesus had said he was a king, since he had a heavenly kingdom.  Jesus then took the stance that the synoptics had reported, as he turned it on Pilate, who was the one calling him a king.  If that is the case, it must be true.  Then Jesus elaborated on his kingship.  He was born to be a king, like an earthy royal heir.  He came into this world to explain the heavenly kingdom or the kingdom of God.  He had to bear witness to the truth of his heavenly kingdom.  However, only those who listened to his true voice would be part of his kingdom.  Jesus was extending an invitation to Pilate, but would he listen?  Do you listen to Jesus to become part of his heavenly kingdom?

A kingdom not of this world (Jn 18:36-18:36)

“Jesus answered.

‘My kingdom is

Not from this world.

If my kingdom

Were of this world,

My followers

Would be fighting

To keep me

From being handed over

To the Jews.

But my kingdom is

Not from this world.’”

ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς· Ἡ βασιλεία ἡ ἐμὴ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου· εἰ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου ἦν ἡ βασιλεία ἡ ἐμή, οἱ ὑπηρέται ἂν οἱ ἐμοὶ ἠγωνίζοντο, ἵνα μὴ παραδοθῶ τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις· νῦν δὲ ἡ βασιλεία ἡ ἐμὴ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐντεῦθεν. 

John uniquely indicated that Jesus gave a long answer (ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς).  He said that his kingdom was not (Ἡ βασιλεία ἡ ἐμὴ οὐκ ἔστιν) from this world (ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου).  If (εἰ) his kingdom was (ἦν ἡ βασιλεία ἡ ἐμή) of this world (ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου), his followers or attendants (οἱ ὑπηρέται ἂν οἱ ἐμοὶ) would be fighting or struggling (ἠγωνίζοντο) to keep him from being handed over (ἵνα μὴ παραδοθῶ) to the Jews (τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις).  However, his kingdom (νῦν δὲ ἡ βασιλεία ἡ ἐμὴ) was not from this earth or world (οὐκ ἔστιν ἐντεῦθεν).  Jesus admitted that he did have a kingdom, but it was not a worldly kingdom.  If it were of this world, his followers would be fighting with the Jews, so that he would not be handed over to the Romans.  Instead, his kingdom was other worldly.  Do you believe in another kingdom, not of this world?

What have you done? (Jn 18:35-18:35)

“Pilate answered.

‘I am not a Jew!

Am I?

Your own nation

And the chief priests

Have handed you

Over to me.

What have you done?’”

ἀπεκρίθη ὁ Πειλᾶτος Μήτι ἐγὼ Ἰουδαῖός εἰμι; τὸ ἔθνος τὸ σὸν καὶ οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς παρέδωκάν σε ἐμοί· τί ἐποίησας;

John uniquely indicated that Pilate (ὁ Πειλᾶτος) answered (ἀπεκρίθη) Jesus that he was not a Jew (Μήτι ἐγὼ Ἰουδαῖός εἰμι).  He said that Jesus’ own countrymen (τὸ ἔθνος τὸ σὸν) and chief priests (καὶ οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς) had handed him (παρέδωκάν σε) over to Pilate (ἐμοί).  He wanted to know what had Jesus done (τί ἐποίησας).  Pilate, using the first person singular, explained that he was not a Jew, so he was not sure what was going on.  Jesus’ own fellow countrymen and the high priests of the Jerusalem Temple had handed Jesus over to Pilate.  Pilate wanted to know what had made those Jerusalem religious officials so angry at him?  This conversation was not in the other synoptics, only here in John.  Have you ever been accused of pretending to be somebody you are not?

Why do you say that? (Jn 18:34-18:34)

“Jesus answered him.

‘Do you say this

Of your own accord?

Or did others

Tell you

About me?’”

ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς Ἀφ’ ἑαυτοῦ σὺ τοῦτο λέγεις, ἢ ἄλλοι εἶπόν σοι περὶ ἐμοῦ;

John indicated that Jesus answered Pilate.  Jesus (Ἰησοῦς) answered (ἀπεκρίθη) him if he said this on his own (ἑαυτοῦ σὺ τοῦτο λέγεις) or had others told him about him (ἢ ἄλλοι εἶπόν σοι περὶ ἐμοῦ)?  The other three synoptic had similar but slightly different responses.  Matthew, chapter 27:11, indicated that Jesus had a simple reply (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς) that if Pilate had said so, then it must be so (ἔφη Σὺ λέγεις).  Jesus would only confirm what Pilate had said, without saying it explicitly himself.  Thus, Jesus was identified as the King of the Jews, or leading a political rebellion against the Roman authorities.  This was the charge that the Jewish leaders were making about Jesus to Pilate.  Mark, chapter 15:2, also indicated that Jesus had a simple reply (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς αὐτῷ λέγει) that if Pilate had said so, then it must be so (Σὺ λέγεις).  Luke, chapter 23:3, said that Jesus answered him (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς αὐτῷ) that if Pilate had said it (Σὺ λέγεις), then it must be so (ἔφη).  Thus, the three synoptics of Mark, Matthew, and Luke had the same reply (Σὺ λέγεις).  Only John had this question to Pilate about where he got his information.  What do you think about calling Jesus the king of the Jews?

Are you the king of the Jews? (Jn 18:33-18:33)


Entered the praetorium again.

He summoned Jesus.

He asked him.

‘Are you

The King of the Jews?’”

Εἰσῆλθεν οὖν πάλιν εἰς τὸ πραιτώριον ὁ Πειλᾶτος καὶ ἐφώνησεν τὸν Ἰησοῦν καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Σὺ εἶ ὁ Βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων;

This question is found exactly the same in Greek in all four gospel stories (Σὺ εἶ ὁ Βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων).  John indicated that Pilate (ὁ Πειλᾶτος) entered the praetorium again (Εἰσῆλθεν οὖν πάλιν εἰς τὸ πραιτώριον).  He summoned (καὶ ἐφώνησεν) Jesus (τὸν Ἰησοῦν).  He asked him (καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ).  “Are you the King of the Jews (Σὺ εἶ ὁ Βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων)?”  In the other synoptic stories, Pilate was already in the praetorium.  Matthew, chapter 27:11, said that Jesus stood before the governor (Ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἐστάθη ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ ἡγεμόνος), without mentioning his name.  This governor then questioned Jesus (καὶ ἐπηρώτησεν αὐτὸν).  He wanted to know (ὁ ἡγεμὼν λέγων) if Jesus was the “King of the Jews (Σὺ εἶ ὁ Βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων).  Mark, chapter 15:2, said that Pilate asked Jesus (καὶ ἐπηρώτησεν αὐτὸν ὁ Πειλᾶτος).  He wanted to know if Jesus was the “King of the Jews (Σὺ εἶ ὁ Βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων).”  In Luke, chapter 23:3, Pilate asked Jesus (ὁ δὲ Πειλᾶτος ἠρώτησεν αὐτὸν λέγων) whether he was the king of the Jews (Σὺ εἶ ὁ Βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων).  In John here, there was a longer discussion between Jesus and Pilate.  Mark, Matthew, and Luke were almost the same.  This was the basic question about Jesus.  Was he claiming to be a new king of the Jews in Israel?  Do you believe that Jesus was an Israelite political leader of the Jewish people?

How Jesus was to die (Jn 18:32-18:32)

“This was to fulfil

What Jesus had said

When he signified

The kind of death

He was about to die.”

ἵνα ὁ λόγος τοῦ Ἰησοῦ πληρωθῇ ὃν εἶπεν σημαίνων ποίῳ θανάτῳ ἤμελλεν ἀποθνήσκειν.

John uniquely indicated that that this crucifixion was to fulfil (πληρωθῇ) what Jesus had said (ἵνα ὁ λόγος τοῦ Ἰησοῦ) when he signified (ὃν εἶπεν σημαίνων) the kind of death (ποίῳ θανάτῳ) that he was about to die (ἤμελλεν ἀποθνήσκειν).  Only John, among the canonical gospel writers, used this word σημαίνων, that means to give a sign, signify, indicate, or make known.  Once again, there is a reliance on the concept of signs or signifying rather than the word miracles.  This was a reference to what Jesus had said earlier about being lifted up in chapter 3:14.  There was a comparison with Moses (καὶ καθὼς Μωϋσῆς), who had lifted up the serpent (ὕψωσεν τὸν ὄφιν) in the desert (ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ), to the Son of Man (τὸν Υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου), who must be lifted up also (οὕτως ὑψωθῆναι δεῖ).  John had Jesus predict his death on the cross and his own ascension into heaven.  The Son of Man, Jesus, would be lifted up on a cross.  In chapter 12:32, Jesus said that when he (κἀγὼ) was lifted up (ἐὰν ὑψωθῶ) from the earth (ἐκ τῆς γῆς), he would draw (ἑλκύσω) all people (πάντας) to him (πρὸς ἐμαυτόν).  Obviously, this is a reference to the future crucifixion of Jesus.  By being raised up on the cross, he would bring salvation to the whole world.  The gospel would be spread to the whole world.  Now the hour or the time for Jesus to be lifted up was coming.  Did Jesus have to die on the cross?

They could not put Jesus to death (Jn 18:31-18:31)

“Pilate said to them.

‘Take him yourselves!

Judge him

According to your own law!’

The Jewish leaders replied to him.

‘We are not permitted

To put anyone

To death.’”

εἶπεν οὖν αὐτοῖς ὁ Πειλᾶτος Λάβετε αὐτὸν ὑμεῖς, καὶ κατὰ τὸν νόμον ὑμῶν κρίνατε αὐτόν. εἶπον αὐτῷ οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι Ἡμῖν οὐκ ἔξεστιν ἀποκτεῖναι οὐδένα·

John uniquely indicated that Pilate (ὁ Πειλᾶτος) said to them (εἶπεν οὖν αὐτοῖς) that they should take him themselves (Λάβετε αὐτὸν ὑμεῖς).  They should judge him (κρίνατε αὐτόν) according to their own law (καὶ κατὰ τὸν νόμον ὑμῶν).  However, the Jews or Jewish leaders (οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι) replied to him (εἶπον αὐτῷ) that they were are not permitted or legally authorized (Ἡμῖν οὐκ ἔξεστιν) to kill or put anyone to death (ἀποκτεῖναι οὐδένα).  In other words, under Roman rule, only the Romans themselves, and not the local authorities could administer capital punishment by putting someone to death.  If they were a Roman citizen, they would be beheaded.  If they were a non-Roman citizen, they would be hung on a cross to die.  Crucifixion was a Roman penalty, and not a Jewish option for a crime.  Pilate had no objection to them judging Jesus by Judaic law.  However, since the Jewish leaders could not put Jesus to death, they needed a Roman decree for that to be done.  Once again, only John had this conversation of Pilate with the Jewish leaders outside the praetorium, since the other three synoptic gospels did not have this discussion.  What is the value of the death penalty?

Is he an evildoer? (Jn 18:30-18:30)

“They answered.

‘If this man

Was not a criminal,

We would not have handed

Him over

To you.’”

ἀπεκρίθησαν καὶ εἶπαν αὐτῷ Εἰ μὴ ἦν οὗτος κακὸν ποιῶν, οὐκ ἄν σοι παρεδώκαμεν αὐτόν.

John uniquely indicated that these Jewish religious leaders answered (ἀπεκρίθησαν) Pilate.  They said to him (καὶ εἶπαν αὐτῷ) that if this man were not a person doing evil or a criminal (Εἰ μὴ ἦν οὗτος κακὸν ποιῶν), they would not have handed him over to him (οὐκ ἄν σοι παρεδώκαμεν αὐτόν).  Pilate wanted to know why they were bringing Jesus to him.  These leaders said that that was a stupid question, since they would not have brought Jesus to him if he were not a criminal or an evildoer.  Only John had this conversation of Pilate with the Jewish leaders outside the praetorium, since the other three synoptic gospels did not have this discussion.  Do only criminals get accused?

Pilate asks about the accusations (Jn 18:29-18:29)


Pilate went out

To them.

He said.

‘What accusation

Do you bring

Against this man?’”

ἐξῆλθεν οὖν ὁ Πειλᾶτος ἔξω πρὸς αὐτοὺς καὶ φησίν Τίνα κατηγορίαν φέρετε τοῦ ἀνθρώπου τούτου;

John uniquely indicated that Pilate (οὖν ὁ Πειλᾶτος) went (ἐξῆλθεν) out to meet these Jewish leaders (ἔξω πρὸς αὐτοὺς) early in the morning.  He said to them (καὶ φησίν), “What accusation do you bring against this man (Τίνα κατηγορίαν φέρετε τοῦ ἀνθρώπου τούτου)?”  In the other synoptic gospel stories, there was no greeting by Pilate.  They brought Jesus into Pilate.  Who was this Pontius Pilate?  Pilate was the rather cruel Roman ruler, prefect, or governor of Judea from 26-36 CE, the exact time frame of Jesus.  Interesting enough, a whole literature and artistic presentation of Pontius Pilate developed in 20th century with movie and TV portrayals of him.  He was certainly a central figure in this Passion of Jesus presentation as he had jurisdiction over death penalties.  Only John had this conversation of Pilate and the Jewish leaders.  The other synoptic gospels did not have this discussion outside.  Have you ever accused anyone of some wrong doing?

Jesus goes to the praetorium (Jn 18:28-18:28)

“Then they took Jesus

From Caiaphas

To the praetorium.

It was early in the morning.

They themselves

Did not enter

The praetorium,

So as to avoid

Ritual defilement,

To be able

To eat the Passover.”

Ἄγουσιν οὖν τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἀπὸ τοῦ Καϊάφα εἰς τὸ πραιτώριον· ἦν δὲ πρωΐ· καὶ αὐτοὶ οὐκ εἰσῆλθον εἰς τὸ πραιτώριον, ἵνα μὴ μιανθῶσιν ἀλλὰ φάγωσιν τὸ πάσχα.

John indicated that then they, the leaders of the Jerusalem council, took Jesus (Ἄγουσιν οὖν τὸν Ἰησοῦν) from Caiaphas (ἀπὸ τοῦ Καϊάφα) to the praetorium (εἰς τὸ πραιτώριον), the headquarters of Pilate.  It was early in the morning (ἦν δὲ πρωΐ).  They themselves did not enter (καὶ αὐτοὶ οὐκ εἰσῆλθον) into the praetorium (εἰς τὸ πραιτώριον), so as to avoid possible ritual defilement (ἵνα μὴ μιανθῶσιν).  John was the only canonical gospel writer to use this word μιανθῶσιν, that means to stain, defile, pollute, or corrupt.  Thus, they would be able to eat the Passover (ἀλλὰ φάγωσιν τὸ πάσχα), if they were not stained.  All four canonical gospels have this account of Jesus going before Pilate, after a meeting with the high priest or the Jewish Jerusalem leaders.  Matthew, chapter 27:1-2, said that when morning came (Πρωΐας δὲ γενομένης), after the all-night evening meeting at the house of Caiaphas, the high priest of Jerusalem, all the chief priests (πάντες οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς) and the elders of the people (καὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι τοῦ λαοῦ) conferred together or took counsel (συμβούλιον ἔλαβον) against Jesus (κατὰ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ).  They decided to bring about his death (ὥστε θανατῶσαι αὐτόν).  They tied up Jesus (καὶ δήσαντες αὐτὸν).  They led him away and delivered him to Pilate (ἀπήγαγον καὶ παρέδωκαν Πειλάτῳ), the Roman governor (τῷ ἡγεμόνι) of Judea.  Mark, chapter 15:1, did not mention the decision to bring Jesus to death.  However, he said that as soon as it was early in the morning (Καὶ εὐθὺς πρωῒ), after the all-night evening meeting at the house of the high priest of Jerusalem, the chief priests (οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς) with the elders or presbyters (μετὰ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων) and the Scribes (καὶ γραμματέων) conferred together or came to a resolution (συμβούλιον ἑτοιμάσαντες).  All of this council, tribunal, or Sanhedrin (καὶ ὅλον τὸ συνέδριον) agreed.  They tied up or bound Jesus (δήσαντες τὸν Ἰησοῦν).  They led him away (ἀπήγαγον).  They delivered him or handed him over to Pilate (καὶ παρέδωκαν Πειλάτῳ).  Luke, chapter 23:1, said that the assembly of Jewish religious leaders rose as a body (Καὶ ἀναστὰν ἅπαν τὸ πλῆθος αὐτῶν).  They brought Jesus before Pilate (ἤγαγον αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὸν Πειλᾶτον), just like John here.  Have you ever been up all night?