John 18:28 Commentary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
28. Then led they ] Better, They led therefore ( Joh 18:3). S. John assumes that his readers know the result of Jesus being taken to Caiaphas ( Joh 18:24): He had been condemned to death; and now His enemies (there is no need to name them) take Him to the Roman governor to get the sentence executed.
the hall of judgment ] The margin is better, Pilate’s house, i.e. the palace. In the original it is praitorion, the Greek form of praetorium. Our translators have varied their rendering of it capriciously: Mat 27:27, ‘common hall,’ with ‘governor’s house’ in the margin; Mar 15:16, ‘Praetorium;’ Joh 18:33; Joh 19:9, ‘judgment-hall.’ Yet the meaning must be the same in all these passages. Comp. Act 23:35, ‘judgment-hall;’ Php 1:13, ‘the palace.’ The meaning of praetorium varies according to the context. The word is of military origin; (1) ‘the general’s tent’ or ‘head quarters.’ Hence, in the provinces, (2) ‘the governor’s residence,’ the meaning in Act 23:35: in a sort of metaphorical sense, (3) a ‘mansion’ or ‘palace’ (Juvenal I. 75): at Rome. (4) ‘the praetorian guard,’ the probable meaning in Php 1:13. Of these leading significations the second is probably right here and throughout the Gospels; the official residence of the Procurator. Where Pilate resided in Jerusalem is not quite certain. We know that ‘Herod’s Praetorium,’ a magnificent building on the western hill of Jerusalem, was used by Roman governors somewhat later (Philo, Leg. ad Gaium, p. 1034). But it is perhaps more likely that Pilate occupied part of the fortress Antonia, on the supposed site of which a chamber with a column in it has recently been discovered, which it is thought may possibly be the scene of the scourging.
28 32. Outside the Praetorium; the Jews claim the execution of the Sanhedrin’s sentence of death, and Pilate refuses it.
early ] The same word, proï, is rendered ‘morning’ Mat 16:3; Mar 1:35; Mar 11:20; Mar 13:35; Mar 15:1; the last passage being partly parallel to this. In Mar 13:35 the word stands for the fourth watch (see on Mar 6:48), which lasted from 3.0 to 6.0 a.m. A Roman court might be held directly after sunrise; and as Pilate had probably been informed that an important case was to be brought before him, delay in which might cause serious disturbance, there is nothing improbable in his being ready to open his court between 4.0 and 5.0 a.m. The hierarchy were in a difficulty. Jesus could not safely be arrested by daylight, and the Sanhedrin could not legally pronounce sentence of death by night: hence they had had to wait till dawn to condemn Him. Now another regulation hampers them: a day must intervene between sentence and execution. This they shuffled out of by going at once to Pilate. Of course if he undertook the execution, he must fix the time; and their representations would secure his ordering immediate execution. Thus they shifted the breach of the law from themselves to him.
As in the life of our Lord as a whole, so also in this last week and last day of it, the exact sequence and time of the events cannot be ascertained with certainty. Chronology is not what the Evangelists aim at giving us. For a tentative arrangement of the chief events of the Passion see Appendix C.
they themselves ] In contrast with their Victim, whom they sent in under a Roman guard.
lest they should ] Better, that they might not, omitting ‘that they’ in the next clause.
be defiled ] by entering a house not properly cleansed of leaven (Exo 12:15).
eat the passover ] It is quite evident that S. John does not regard the Last Supper as a Paschal meal. Comp. Joh 13:1; Joh 13:29. It is equally evident that the synoptic narratives convey the impression that the Last Supper was the ordinary Jewish Passover (Mat 26:17-19; Mar 14:14; Mar 14:16; Luk 22:7-8; Luk 22:11; Luk 22:13; Luk 22:15). Whatever be the right solution of the difficulty, the independence of the author of the Fourth Gospel is manifest. Would anyone counterfeiting an Apostle venture thus to contradict what seemed to have such strong Apostolic authority? Would he not expect that a glaring discrepancy on so important a point would prove fatal to his pretensions? Assume that S. John is simply recording his own vivid recollections, whether or no we suppose him to be correcting the impression produced by the Synoptists, and this difficulty at any rate is avoided. S. John’s narrative is too precise and consistent to be explained away. On the difficulty as regards the Synoptists see Appendix A; also Excursus V at the end of Dr Farrar’s S. Luke.
28 19:16. The Roman or Civil Trial
As already stated, S. John omits both toe examination before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin at an irregular time and place, at midnight and at ‘the Booths’ (Mat 26:57-68: Mar 14:53-65), and also the formal meeting of the Sanhedrin after daybreak in the proper place (Mat 27:1; Mar 15:1; Luk 22:66-71), at which Jesus was sentenced to death. He proceeds to narrate what the Synoptists omit, the conference between Pilate and the Jews ( Joh 18:28-32) and two private examinations of Jesus by Pilate ( Joh 18:33-38 and Joh 19:8-11). Here also we seem to have the evidence of an eyewitness. We know that S. John followed his Lord into the high priest’s palace ( Joh 18:15), and stood by the Cross (Joh 19:26); it is therefore probable enough that he followed Him into the Procurator’s court.
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The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges is a biblical commentary set published in parts by Cambridge University Press from 1882 onwards. Anglican bishop John Perowne was the general editor. The first section published was written by theologian Thomas Kelly Cheyne and covered the Book of Micah.
Perowne exercised limited editorial control over the writers of individual commentaries: his aim was "to leave each contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment".