scourged him: The punishment of scourging usually preceded execution on a stake. After giving in to the Jews’ insistent cry for Jesus’ execution and for the release of Barabbas, Pilate then took Jesus and “scourged him.” (Mt 20:19; 27:26) The most terrible instrument for scourging was known as a flagellum. It consisted of a handle into which several cords or leather thongs were fixed. These thongs were likely weighted with jagged pieces of bone or metal to make the blows more painful.
crown: See study note on Mr 15:17.
clothed him with a purple robe: See study note on Mr 15:17.
Greetings: See study note on Mt 27:29.
Look! The man!: Though battered and wounded, Jesus displayed a quiet dignity and calm that even Pilate acknowledged; his words seemed to mingle respect with pity. The Vulgate rendering of Pilate’s words, ecce homo, has been the theme for many artists. Those who were familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures and who heard Pilate’s words may have called to mind the prophetic description of the Messiah found at Zec 6:12: “Here is [or, “Look!”] the man whose name is Sprout.”
We have a law: Seeing that their charges of political wrongdoing failed to produce results, the Jews exposed their real motive by bringing against Jesus the religious charge of blasphemy. This is the same accusation they used hours earlier at the Sanhedrin, but it is a new charge for Pilate to consider.
from above: Or “from heaven.” The Greek word aʹno·then is rendered “from above” here and at Jas 1:17; 3:15, 17. The same term is used at Joh 3:3, 7, where it can be rendered both “again (anew)” and “from above.”—See study note on Joh 3:3.
the man: Rather than Judas Iscariot or any specific individual, it seems likely that Jesus had in mind all those who shared in the sin of killing him. That included Judas, “the chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin,” and even “the crowds” that were persuaded to ask for the release of Barabbas.—Mt 26:59-65; 27:1, 2, 20-22; Joh 18:30, 35.
friend of Caesar: This title of honor was often bestowed on provincial governors in the Roman Empire. In this context, the Jewish leaders apparently used it in a general way, implying that Pilate was laying himself open to the charge of condoning high treason. The Caesar of that time was Tiberius, an emperor with a reputation for executing any whom he considered disloyal—even high-ranking officials. For example, Lucius Aelius Sejanus was the commander of the Praetorian Guard and was officially designated “a friend of Caesar.” He could be considered second in command after Tiberius. Pilate was a favored acquaintance of the highly influential Sejanus. As long as he was in power, Sejanus protected and supported Pilate. In 31 C.E., however, Tiberius turned against Sejanus, accusing him of sedition and ordering that he and many of his supporters be executed. This event occurred shortly before Jesus appeared in front of Pilate. Therefore, Pilate’s life could have been threatened if the Sadducees complained to the emperor, especially since their charge would be that Pilate was “not a friend of Caesar.” Pilate had already irritated the Jews, so he did not want to risk any further friction, much less an accusation of disloyalty. It seems, therefore, that Pilate allowed his fear of a jealous emperor to influence him when he pronounced the death sentence on Jesus, a man he knew to be innocent.
Caesar: See study note on Mt 22:17.
judgment seat: See study note on Mt 27:19.
the Stone Pavement: The site was called, in Hebrew, Gabbatha, a word of uncertain derivation and possibly meaning “hill,” “height,” or “open space.” The Greek name for it, Li·thoʹstro·ton (Stone Pavement), may indicate a plain stone pavement or a decorative one; some scholars feel that it may have been an ornamental mosaic work. The location of this site may have been an open area in front of the palace of Herod the Great, though some scholars favor other locations. The exact location of this pavement is uncertain.
Hebrew: See study note on Joh 5:2.
the day of Preparation: A name applied to the day preceding the weekly Sabbath, during which the Jews prepared for the Sabbath. (See study note on Mr 15:42.) John’s Gospel includes the words of the Passover. The time period referred to in this context is the morning of Nisan 14, the day of Jesus’ trial and death. The Passover day had begun the evening before, and as shown in the other Gospel accounts, Jesus and the apostles had eaten the Passover meal that night. (Mt 26:18-20; Mr 14:14-17; Lu 22:15) Christ perfectly carried out the regulations of the Law, including the requirement to celebrate the Passover on Nisan 14. (Ex 12:6; Le 23:5) This day in the year 33 C.E. could be viewed as the Preparation of the Passover in the sense that it was the preparation for the seven-day Festival of Unleavened Bread that was to begin the next day. Because these days were close in the calendar, the entire festival was sometimes referred to by the term “Passover.” (Lu 22:1) The day after Nisan 14 was always a sabbath, regardless of the day of the week on which it fell. (Le 23:5-7) In 33 C.E., Nisan 15 fell on the regular Sabbath, making the day “a great,” or double, Sabbath.—See study note on Joh 19:31.
about the sixth hour: That is, about 12:00 noon.—For an explanation of a seeming discrepancy between this account and the one recorded by Mark, who said that Jesus was nailed to the stake at “the third hour,” see study note on Mr 15:25.
Bearing the torture stake for himself: According to John’s account, Jesus carried his own torture stake. However, the other Gospel accounts (Mt 27:32; Mr 15:21; Lu 23:26) say that Simon of Cyrene was compelled into service to carry the stake to the place of execution. John’s account is sometimes condensed, and often he does not repeat what was mentioned in the other Gospels. So John did not add the detail that Simon was compelled to carry the stake.
torture stake: See study note on Mt 27:32.
Skull Place: The Greek expression Kra·niʹou Toʹpon renders the Hebrew name Golgotha. (See study note on Golgotha in this verse. For a discussion of the term Hebrew, as used in the Christian Greek Scriptures, see study note on Joh 5:2.) The term “Calvary” is used at Lu 23:33 in some English Bible translations. It comes from the Latin word calvaria (skull) used in the Vulgate.
Golgotha: From a Hebrew word meaning “skull.” (Compare Jg 9:53; 2Ki 9:35; 1Ch 10:10, where the Hebrew word gul·goʹleth is rendered “skull.”) In Jesus’ day, the site was outside the city walls of Jerusalem. Although the exact location is uncertain, the vicinity of the traditional site where the Church of the Holy Sepulchre now stands is thought by some to be a reasonable possibility. (See App. B12.) The Bible record does not state that Golgotha was on a hill, though it does mention that some observed the execution from a distance.—Mr 15:40; Lu 23:49.
Hebrew: See study note on Joh 5:2.
Latin: This is the only specific mention of the Latin language in the inspired text of the Bible. Latin was the language of the Roman authorities of Israel in Jesus’ day. It appeared on official inscriptions, but it was not the common language of the people. The multilingual environment apparently explains why the charge that Pilate posted above Jesus Christ’s head at his execution, as mentioned at Joh 19:19, was written in official Latin, as well as in Hebrew and Greek (Koine). There are several words and expressions in the Christian Greek Scriptures that are derived from Latin.—See Glossary, “Latin”; “Introduction to Mark.”
took his outer garments and divided them: See study note on Mt 27:35.
his mother’s sister: See study note on Mr 15:40.
Clopas: In the Bible, this name is mentioned only here. It is understood by many scholars that Clopas was the same person as Alphaeus mentioned at Mt 10:3; Mr 3:18; Lu 6:15; and Ac 1:13. As other examples in the Bible show, it was not uncommon for an individual to have two names that were used interchangeably.—Compare Mt 9:9; 10:2, 3; Mr 2:14.
the disciple whom he loved: That is, the one whom Jesus especially loved. This is the second of five occurrences mentioning a certain disciple “whom he [or, “Jesus”] loved” or “for whom Jesus had affection.” (Joh 13:23; 20:2; 21:7, 20) It is generally believed that the disciple referred to is the apostle John.—See study note on Joh 13:23.
he said to the disciple: “See! Your mother!”: Jesus’ love and concern moved him to entrust the care of his mother, Mary, (apparently a widow by now) to the beloved apostle John. (See study note on Joh 13:23.) No doubt, Jesus was concerned not just with Mary’s physical and material needs but especially with her spiritual welfare. The apostle John had proved his faith, whereas it is unclear whether Jesus’ fleshly brothers were as yet believers.—Mt 12:46-50; Joh 7:5.
sour wine: See study note on Mt 27:48.
a hyssop stalk: In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the Greek word hysʹso·pos, traditionally rendered “hyssop,” appears only twice, here and at Heb 9:19. Scholars have different opinions about what plant is meant at Joh 19:29. Some think that this refers to the same plant commonly referred to as “hyssop” in the Hebrew Scriptures, which many identify with marjoram, or Origanum maru; Origanum syriacum. (Le 14:2-7; Nu 19:6, 18; Ps 51:7) This hyssop was used by the Israelites in Egypt to splash the blood of the Passover victim on the two doorposts and the upper part of the doorway of their houses. (Ex 12:21, 22) Therefore, some have suggested that this plant might have been available when Jesus was executed, since it would have been used in the Passover celebration. Others think that a marjoram stalk is not stiff enough to have supported a wine-soaked sponge or long enough to carry the sponge to Jesus’ mouth. Another view is that the hyssop referred to here may have been a bunch of marjoram attached to a reed and held to Jesus’ mouth. This would agree with the parallel accounts at Mt 27:48 and Mr 15:36, where it says that the sponge soaked with sour wine was put on “a reed.”
he gave up his spirit: Or “he expired; he stopped breathing.” The term “spirit” (Greek, pneuʹma) may here be understood to refer to “breath” or “life force.” This is supported by the use of the Greek verb ek·pneʹo (lit., “to breathe out”) in the parallel accounts at Mr 15:37 and Lu 23:46 (where it is rendered “expired” or, as in the alternative rendering mentioned in the study notes on these verses, “breathed his last”). Some suggest that the use of the Greek term rendered “gave up” means that Jesus voluntarily stopped struggling to stay alive, since all things had been accomplished. He willingly “poured out his life even to death.”—Isa 53:12; Joh 10:11.
the day of Preparation: The day preceding the weekly Sabbath. During this day, the Jews got ready for the Sabbath by preparing extra meals and by finishing any work that could not wait until after the Sabbath. In the case mentioned here, the day of Preparation fell on Nisan 14. (Mr 15:42; see Glossary, “Preparation.”) According to the Mosaic Law, dead bodies “should not remain all night on the stake” but, rather, should be buried “on that day.”—De 21:22, 23; compare Jos 8:29; 10:26, 27.
that Sabbath day was a great one: Nisan 15, the day after Passover, was always a sabbath, regardless of the day of the week on which it fell. (Le 23:5-7) When this special Sabbath coincided with the regular Sabbath (the seventh day of the Jewish week, which runs from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday), it was “a great” Sabbath. Such a sabbath followed the day of Jesus’ death, which was on a Friday. From 31 to 33 C.E., the only year in which Nisan 14 fell on a Friday was the year 33 C.E. This fact leads to the conclusion that Jesus died on Nisan 14, 33 C.E.
to have the legs broken: In Latin, this practice was called crurifragium. A brutal form of punishment, it was likely done in this case to hasten the death of those executed on stakes. A person hanging on a stake had difficulty breathing. With his legs broken, he would not be able to raise his body and relieve the pressure on his lungs, so he would suffocate.
Not a bone of his will be broken: This is a quotation from Ps 34:20. At the institution of the Passover, Jehovah commanded regarding the lamb (or goat) slaughtered on that night: “You must not break any of its bones.” (Ex 12:46; Nu 9:12) Paul called Jesus “our Passover lamb,” and true to the pattern as well as the prophecy at Ps 34:20, none of Jesus’ bones were broken. (1Co 5:7; see study note on Joh 1:29.) This took place as foretold, even though it was apparently customary for Roman soldiers to break the legs of those who were executed on the stake, likely to hasten death. (See study note on Joh 19:31.) The soldiers did break the legs of the two criminals alongside Jesus, but when they found that Jesus had already died, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of them “jabbed his side with a spear.”—Joh 19:33, 34.
Joseph: See study note on Mr 15:43.
Arimathea: See study note on Mt 27:57.
the Jews: Apparently referring to the Jewish authorities or religious leaders.—See study note on Joh 7:1.
Nicodemus: Only John mentions that Nicodemus joined Joseph of Arimathea in preparing Jesus’ body for burial.—See study note on Joh 3:1.
a mixture: Some manuscripts read “a roll,” but the main text reading has strong support in early authoritative manuscripts.
myrrh: See Glossary.
aloes: A name applied to a type of tree containing a fragrant, or aromatic, substance used as a perfume in the Biblical period. (Ps 45:8; Pr 7:17; Ca 4:14) The aloes brought by Nicodemus were likely the same as the aloeswood product that was referred to in the Hebrew Scriptures. In connection with preparing a dead body for burial, aloes were used in the form of a powder together with the myrrh, possibly to overpower the smell of decay. Most commentators consider the aloe tree of the Bible to be the Aquilaria agallocha, sometimes called the eaglewood tree and now found principally in India and neighboring regions. The tree may reach a height of 30 m (c. 100 ft). The inner core of the trunk and the branches is impregnated with resin and a fragrant oil, from which comes the highly prized perfume. Apparently attaining its most aromatic state when in decay, the wood is sometimes buried in the ground to hasten the decaying process. It was ground into a fine powder and then sold as “aloes.” Some scholars feel that the term “aloes” in this text refers to the plant of the lily family that now bears the botanical name Aloe vera, which is used, not for its aroma, but for health-related purposes.
pounds: The Greek term liʹtra (singular) is usually equated with the Roman pound (Latin, libra) that weighed 327 g (11.5 oz). Thus the mixture mentioned here weighed about 33 kg (72 lb).—See App. B14.
tomb: See study note on Mt 27:60.