Sanhedrin: See study note on Mt 26:59.
Pilate: The Roman governor (prefect) of Judea appointed by Emperor Tiberius in 26 C.E. His rule lasted about ten years. Pilate is mentioned by non-Biblical writers, including Roman historian Tacitus, who wrote that Pilate ordered the execution of Christ during the reign of Tiberius. A Latin inscription with the words “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea” was found in the ancient Roman theater in Caesarea, Israel.—See App. B10 for the domain ruled by Pontius Pilate.
Are you the King of the Jews?: See study note on Mt 27:11.
You yourself say it: See study note on Mt 27:11.
used to release to them one prisoner: This incident is mentioned by all four Gospel writers. (Mt 27:15-23; Lu 23:16-25; Joh 18:39, 40) There is no basis or precedent for this custom in the Hebrew Scriptures. However, it seems that by Jesus’ day, the Jews had developed this tradition. The practice would not have seemed strange to the Romans, since there is evidence that they released prisoners to please the crowds.
Once more: As indicated at Lu 23:18-23, the crowd yelled at least three times, demanding that Pilate execute Jesus. The account here in Mark indicates that Pilate three times asked the crowd questions regarding Jesus.—Mr 15:9, 12, 14.
whipped: See study note on Mt 27:26.
governor’s residence: See study note on Mt 27:27.
they dressed him in purple: This was done to mock Jesus and make fun of his kingship. Matthew’s account (27:28) says that the soldiers draped Jesus “with a scarlet cloak,” a garment worn by kings, magistrates, or military officers. Mark’s and John’s accounts (19:2) say that it was a purple garment, but in ancient times, “purple” was used to describe any color that had a mixture of red and blue. Also, angle, light reflection, and background could have influenced the observer’s perception of the exact color. This variation in describing the color shows that the Gospel writers did not simply copy one another’s accounts.
crown: Along with the purple garment (mentioned earlier in this verse), Jesus was given mock attributes of royalty—thorns for a crown and, according to Mt 27:29, “a reed” for a scepter.
Greetings: See study note on Mt 27:29.
bowed down to him: Or “did obeisance to him; paid him homage.” Here the Greek verb pro·sky·neʹo is used of the soldiers who mockingly bowed down to Jesus, calling him “King of the Jews.”—Mr 15:18; see study note on Mt 2:2.
compelled into service: A reference to the compulsory service that the Roman authorities could demand from a citizen. They could, for example, press men or animals into service or commandeer whatever was considered necessary to expedite official business.—See study note on Mt 5:41.
Cyrene: See study note on Mt 27:32.
the father of Alexander and Rufus: Only Mark mentions this point regarding Simon of Cyrene.
torture stake: See study note on Mt 27:32.
Golgotha: See study note on Mt 27:33.
Skull Place: The Greek expression Kra·niʹou Toʹpos renders the Hebrew word Golgotha. (See Joh 19:17 and the study note on Golgotha in this verse.) The term Calvary is used at Lu 23:33 in some English Bible translations. It comes from the Latin word for “skull,” calvaria, used in the Vulgate.
wine drugged with myrrh: The parallel account at Mt 27:34 says that the wine was “mixed with gall.” The drink likely contained both myrrh and bitter gall. This mixture was evidently given to deaden pain.—See study note on he would not take it in this verse and study note on Mt 27:34.
he would not take it: Jesus evidently wanted to have full possession of all his faculties during this test of his faith.
distributed his outer garments: See study note on Mt 27:35.
by casting lots: See Glossary, “Lots.”
the third hour: That is, about 9:00 a.m. Some point to a seeming discrepancy between this account and Joh 19:14-16, which says “it was about the sixth hour” when Pilate handed Jesus over to be executed. Although the Scriptures do not fully explain the difference, here are some factors to consider: The Gospel accounts generally harmonize with regard to the timing of events during Jesus’ last day on earth. All four accounts indicate that the priests and the elders met after dawn and then had Jesus taken to Roman Governor Pontius Pilate. (Mt 27:1, 2; Mr 15:1; Lu 22:66–23:1; Joh 18:28) Matthew, Mark, and Luke all report that when Jesus was already on the stake, darkness fell over the land from “the sixth hour . . . until the ninth hour.” (Mt 27:45, 46; Mr 15:33, 34; Lu 23:44) A factor that may have a bearing on the timing of Jesus’ execution is this: Scourging, or whipping, was considered by some to be a part of the execution process. Sometimes the scourging was so terrible that the victim died. In Jesus’ case, it was sufficiently severe to make it necessary for another man to carry the torture stake after Jesus started out carrying it alone. (Lu 23:26; Joh 19:17) If the scourging was viewed as the start of the execution procedure, some time would have elapsed before Jesus was actually nailed to the torture stake. Supporting this, Mt 27:26 and Mr 15:15 mention the scourging (whipping) and execution on the stake together. Therefore, different individuals might give different times for the execution, depending on their perspective regarding the time when the process began. This may explain why Pilate was astonished to learn that Jesus died so soon after he was nailed to the stake. (Mr 15:44) Additionally, Bible writers frequently reflect the practice of dividing the day into four segments of three hours each, as was done with the night. Dividing the day in that way explains why there often are references to the third, sixth, and ninth hours, counting from sunrise at about 6:00 a.m. (Mt 20:1-5; Joh 4:6; Ac 2:15; 3:1; 10:3, 9, 30) Also, people in general did not have precise timepieces, so the time of day was frequently qualified with the term “about,” as we find at Joh 19:14. (Mt 27:46; Lu 23:44; Joh 4:6; Ac 10:3, 9) In summary: Mark may have included both the scourging and the nailing to the stake, while John referred only to the nailing to the stake. Both writers may have rounded off the time of day to the nearest three-hour period, and John used “about” when referring to his stated time. These factors may account for the difference in times mentioned in the accounts. Finally, the fact that John, writing decades later, included a time that appears to vary from that given by Mark shows that John did not simply copy Mark’s account.
robbers: See study note on Mt 27:38.
A few later manuscripts here add the words: “And the scripture was fulfilled that says: ‘And he was counted with lawless ones,’” which quotes a part of Isa 53:12. But these words do not appear in the earliest and most reliable manuscripts and are evidently not part of the original text of Mark. A similar statement is part of the inspired text at Lu 22:37. Some are of the opinion that a copyist inserted into Mark’s account the expression from Luke’s account.—See App. A3.
shaking their heads: See study note on Mt 27:39.
torture stake: See study note on Mt 27:32.
torture stake: See study note on Mt 27:32.
the sixth hour: That is, about 12:00 noon.—See study note on Mt 20:3.
a darkness: Luke’s parallel account adds the observation that “the sunlight failed.” (Lu 23:44, 45) This darkness was miraculous, caused by God. It could not have been caused by a solar eclipse. Those occur at the time of the new moon, but this was Passover season, when the moon is full. And this darkness lasted for three hours, far longer than the longest possible total eclipse, which is less than eight minutes.
the ninth hour: That is, about 3:00 p.m.—See study note on Mt 20:3.
Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?: See study note on Mt 27:46.
My God, my God: See study note on Mt 27:46.
Elijah: From the Hebrew name meaning “My God Is Jehovah.”
sour wine: See study note on Mt 27:48.
reed: See study note on Mt 27:48.
expired: Or “breathed his last.”—See study note on Mt 27:50.
curtain: See study note on Mt 27:51.
sanctuary: See study note on Mt 27:51.
army officer: Or “centurion,” that is, one in command of about 100 soldiers in the Roman army. This high-ranking officer may have been at Jesus’ trial before Pilate and may have heard the Jews say that Jesus claimed to be God’s Son. (Mr 15:16; Joh 19:7) Mark here uses the Greek word ken·ty·riʹon, a Latin loanword that also occurs at Mr 15:44, 45.—See “Introduction to Mark” and study notes on Mr 6:27; Joh 19:20.
Mary Magdalene: See study note on Mt 27:56.
James the Less: One of Jesus’ apostles and the son of Alphaeus. (Mt 10:2, 3; Mr 3:18; Lu 6:15; Ac 1:13) The designation “the Less” may indicate that this James was either not as old or not as tall as the other apostle James, the son of Zebedee.
Joses: From Hebrew, a shortened form of Josiphiah, meaning “May Jah Add (Increase); Jah Has Added (Increased).” Although a few manuscripts here read “Joseph,” the majority of ancient manuscripts read “Joses.”—Compare the parallel account at Mt 27:56.
Salome: Probably from a Hebrew word meaning “peace.” Salome was a disciple of Jesus. A comparison of Mt 27:56 with Mr 3:17 and 15:40 may indicate that Salome was the mother of the apostles James and John; Matthew mentions “the mother of the sons of Zebedee,” and Mark calls her “Salome.” Further, a comparison with Joh 19:25 points to Salome as possibly being the fleshly sister of Mary, Jesus’ mother. If so, then James and John were first cousins of Jesus. In addition, as Mt 27:55, 56, Mr 15:41, and Lu 8:3 imply, Salome was among the women who accompanied Jesus and ministered to him from their belongings.
Preparation: As Mark evidently writes primarily with non-Jewish readers in mind, he clarifies that this expression refers to the day before the Sabbath, an explanation not found in the other Gospel accounts. (Mt 27:62; Lu 23:54; Joh 19:31) On this day, Jews got ready for the Sabbath by preparing extra meals and finishing any work that could not wait until after the Sabbath. In this case, the day of Preparation fell on Nisan 14.—See Glossary.
Joseph: The individuality of the Gospel writers is evident in the varying details they provide about Joseph. Tax collector Matthew notes that he was “a rich man”; Mark, writing primarily for the Romans, says that he was “a reputable member of the Council” who was waiting for God’s Kingdom; Luke, the sympathetic physician, says that he “was a good and righteous man” who did not vote in support of the Council’s action against Jesus; John alone reports that he was “a secret [disciple] because of his fear of the Jews.”—Mt 27:57-60; Mr 15:43-46; Lu 23:50-53; Joh 19:38-42.
Arimathea: See study note on Mt 27:57.
tomb: See study note on Mt 27:60.
a stone: Apparently a circular stone, since this verse says that it was rolled into place and Mr 16:4 says that it “had been rolled away” when Jesus was resurrected. It might have weighed a ton or more. Matthew’s account calls it “a big stone.”—Mt 27:60.