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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

John 18



Other Authors
Verse 1

Compare Matthew 26:30, Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:26, Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46.

Brook ( χειμάῤῥου )

From χεῖμα , winter, and ῥέω , to flow. Properly, a winter torrent. Only here in the New Testament. Rev., in margin, ravine. In classical Greek it occurs in Demosthenes in the sense of a drain or conduit. It may be taken as equivalent to the Arabic wady which means a stream and its bed, or properly, the valley of a stream even when the stream is dry.

Kidron ( Κέδρων )

Which might also be rendered of the cedars, which some editors prefer. There is some uncertainty as to the exact meaning of the word cedar, which occurs frequently, some supposing it to be a general name for the pine family. A tree of dark foliage is mentioned in the Talmud by the name of cedrum. The ravine of Kidron separated the Mount of Olives from the Temple-Mount. Westcott cites from Derenbourg (“On the History and Geography of Palestine”) a passage of the Talmud to the effect that on the Mount of Olives there were two cedars, under one of which were four shops for the sale of objects legally pure; and that in one of them pigeons enough were sold for the sacrifices of all Israel. He adds: “Even the mention of Kidron by the secondary and popular name of 'the ravine of the cedars' may contain an allusion to a scandal felt as a grievous burden at the time when the priests gained wealth by the sale of victims by the two cedars.” The Kidron is the brook over which David passed, barefoot and weeping, when fleeing from Absalom (2 Samuel 15:23-30). There King Asa burned the obscene idol of his mother (1 Kings 15:13). It was the receptacle for the impurities and abominations of idol-worship, when removed from the temple by the adherents of Jehovah (2 Chronicles 29:16); and, in the time of Josiah, was the common cemetery of the city (2 Kings 23:6). In the vision of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47:5, Ezekiel 47:6, Ezekiel 47:7) he goes round to the eastern gate of the temple, overhanging the defile of Kidron, and sees the waters rushing down into the valley until the stream becomes a mighty river.

A garden

Neither John nor Luke give the name Gethsemane.

Verse 2

Which betrayed ( ὁ παραδιδοὺς )

The present participle, marking the betrayal as in progress. Literally, who is betraying.

Resorted ( συνήχθη )

Literally, assembled. The items of this verse are peculiar to John.

Verse 3

A band ( τὴν σπεῖραν )

Properly, the band. See on Mark 15:16; also see on centurion, Luke 7:2; and see on Acts 21:31. The band, or cohort, was from the Roman garrison in the tower of Antonia.

Officers ( ὑπηρέτας )

See on Matthew 5:25. Sent from the Sanhedrim.

The temple police

The Synoptists speak of the body which arrested Jesus as ὄχλος , a multitude or rabble; but both Matthew and Mark mention the band ( σπεῖρα ) later in the narrative (Matthew 27:27; Mark 15:16).

Lanterns ( φανῶν )

Only here in the New Testament. A detail peculiar to John. Though it was full moon, it was feared that Jesus might hide and escape.

Verse 4

That should come ( τὰ ἐρχόμενα )

Literally, that are coming. The details in John 18:4-9are peculiar to John.

Verse 5

Of Nazareth ( τὸν Ναζωραῖον )

Literally, the Nazarene.

Stood ( εἱστήκει )

Imperfect tense. Rev., correctly, was standing.

Verse 8


The disciples.

Go their way ( ὑπάγειν )


Verse 10

Simon Peter

The names of Simon Peter and Malchus are mentioned only by John in connection with this incident. The incident itself is related by all the Evangelists.

A sword

Contrary to the rule which forbade the carrying of weapons on a feast-day.

The high priest's servant

See on Matthew 26:51.

Right ear

Luke and John. The others do not specify which ear. For ear John and Mark have ὠτάριον , a diminutive; Luke, οὐς , and Matthew, ὠτίον , a diminutive in form, but not in force. See on Matthew 26:51.

Verse 11

Thy sword

Omit thy, and read, the sword.

Sheath ( θήκην )

Only here in the New Testament. From τίθημι , to put. That into which the sword is put.

The cup

Compare Matthew 26:39; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42. Peculiar to John.

Verse 12

The captain ( χιλίαρχος )

See on Mark 6:21, and see on centurion, Luke 7:2.

Took ( συνέλαβον )

Rev., better, seized. It is the technical word for arresting. Literally, took with them, of which there is a suggestion in the modern policeman's phrase, go along with me. Compare Luke 22:54.

Verse 13

Annas first

This supplies the detail of an examination preliminary to that before the high-priest, which is omitted by the Synoptists.

Father-in-law ( πενθερὸς )

Only here in the New Testament.

That same year

See on John 11:49.

Verse 15

Followed ( ἠκολούθει )

Imperfect, was following.

The other disciple

The correct reading omits the article. Another. Probably John himself.

Palace ( αὐλὴν )

Not palace, but court, as Rev. See on Matthew 26:3; see on Luke 11:21.

Verse 16


Properly, was standing.


The door opening from the street into the court.

Her that kept the door ( τῇ θυρωρῷ )

See on John 10:3.

Verse 17

The damsel ( ἡ παιδίσκη )

See on Acts 12:13.

Art thou ( μὴ σὺ )

The question is put in a negative form, as if expecting a negative answer: thou art not, art thou?


Showing that she recognized John as a disciple.

Verse 18


It is discouraging to see how the A.V. habitually ignores the imperfect tense, and thus detracts from the liveliness of the narrative. Render, as Rev., were standing.

Fire of coals ( ἀνθρακιὰν )

Only here and John 21:9. Matthew does not mention the fire. Mark has τὸ φῶς , strictly, the light of the fire. Luke says they had kindled a fire ( πῦρ ).


Rev., correctly, were warming. So, John 18:25, was standing and was warming, for stood and warmed.

Verse 19

Asked ( ἠρώτησεν )

Or, questioned.

Doctrine ( διδαχῆς )

Rev., better, teaching.

Verse 20

In the synagogue ( ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ )

The best texts omit the article. Render, in synagogue: when the people were assembled. Like our phrase, in church.

Always resort ( πάντοτε συνέρχονται )

For πάντοτε alwaysread πάντες all Συνέρχονται is rather come together, assemble. Rev., where all the Jews come together.

Verse 22

Struck - with the palm of his hand ( ἔδωκε ῥάπισμα )

Literally, gave a blow. Interpreters differ as to whether it was a blow with a rod, or with the hand. The kindred verb ῥαπίζω , from ῥαπίς , a rod, is etymologically related to ῥαβδίζω , from ῥάβδος , a rod, and occurs Matthew 5:39, of smiting on the cheek, and Matthew 26:67, where it is distinguished from κολαφίζω , to strike with the fist. This latter passage, however, leaves the question open, since, if the meaning to smite with a rod can be defended, there is nothing to prevent its being understood there in that sense. The earlier meaning of the word was, undoubtedly, according to its etymology, to smite with a rod. So Herodotus of Xerxes. “It is certain that he commanded those who scourged ( ῥαπι.ζοντας ) the waters (of the Hellespont) to utter, as they lashed them, these barbarian and wicked words” (vii., 35). And again: “The Corinthian captain, Adeimantus, observed, 'Themistocles, at the games they who start too soon are scourged ( ῥαπίζονται )'” (viii., 59). It passes, in classical Greek, from this meaning to that of a light blow with the hand. The grammarian Phrynichus (A. D. 180) condemns the use of the word in the sense of striking with the hand, or slapping, as not according to good Attic usage, and says that the proper expression for a blow on the cheek with the open hand is ἐπὶ κόρρης πατάξαι . This shows that the un-Attic phrase had crept into use. In the Septuagint the word is clearly used in the sense of a blow with the hand. See Isaiah 50:6: “I gave my cheeks to blows ( εἰς ῥαπι.σματα ). Hosea 11:4, “As a man that smiteth ( ῥαπίζων ) upon his cheeks” (A.V. and Rev., that take off the yoke on their jaws ). In 1 Kings 22:24, we read, “Zedekiah - smote Micaiah on the cheek ( ἐπάταξε ἐπὶ τὴν σιαγόνα ).” The word in John 18:23, δέρεις , literally, flayest, hence, do beat or thrash (compare Luke 12:47), seems better to suit the meaning strike with a rod; yet in 2 Corinthians 11:20, that verb is used of smiting in the face ( εἰς πρόσωπον δέρει ), and in 1 Corinthians 9:27, where Paul is using the figure of a boxer, he says, “So fight I ( πυκτεύω , of boxing, or fighting with the fists ), not as one that beateth ( δέρων ) the air.” These examples practically destroy the force of the argument from δέρεις . It is impossible to settle the point conclusively; but, on the whole, it seems as well to retain the rendering of the A.V. and Rev.

Verse 24

Annas had sent ( ἀπέστειλεν ὁ Ἄννας )

The best texts insert οὖν , therefore. The rendering of the aorist by the pluperfect here is inadmissible, and is a device to bring this examination of Jesus into harmony with that described in Matthew 26:56-68, and to escape the apparent inconsistency between the mention of the high-priest (Caiaphas) as conducting this examination and the statement of John 18:13, which implies that this was merely a preliminary examination before Annas. Render, Annas therefore sent him.


Probably He had been unbound during His examination.

Verse 27

The cock crew

The Greek has not the definite article. See on Matthew 26:34. The use of the article would seem to mark the time, cock-crowing, rather than the incident.

Verse 28

Led ( ἄγουσιν )

Present tense, lead.

Hall of judgment ( πραιτώριον )

A Latin word, proetorium, transcribed. Originally, the general's tent. In the Roman provinces it was the name for the official residence of the Roman governor, as here. Compare Acts 23:35. It came to be applied to any spacious villa or palace. So Juvenal: “To their crimes they are indebted for their gardens, palaces (proetoria ), etc.” (“Sat.,” i., 75). In Rome the term was applied to the proetorian guard, or imperial bodyguard. See on Philemon 1:13. Rev., palace.

Early ( πρωΐ́ )

Used technically of the fourth watch, 3-6 a.m. See Mark 13:35. The Sanhedrim could not hold a legal meeting, especially in capital cases, before sunrise; and in such cases judicial proceedings must be conducted and terminated by day. A condemnation to death, at night, was technically illegal. In capital cases, sentence of condemnation could not be legally pronounced on the day of trial. If the night proceedings were merely preliminary to a formal trial, they would have no validity; if formal, they were, ipso facto, illegal. In either case was the law observed in reference to the second council. According to the Hebrew computation of time, it was held on the same day.

Be defiled ( μιανθῶσιν )

Originally, to stain, as with color. So Homer: “Tinges ( μιήνῃ ) the white ivory with purple.” Not necessarily, therefore, in a bad sense, like μολύσω , to besmear or besmirch with filth (1 Corinthians 8:7; Revelation 3:4). In classical Greek, μιαίνω , the verb here used, is the standing word for profaning or unhallowing. So Sophocles:

“Not even fearing this pollution ( μίασμα ) dire,

Will I consent to burial. Well I know

That man is powerless to pollute ( μιαίνειν ) the gods.”

Antigone,” 1042-1044.

And Plato: “And if a homicide … without purification pollutes the agora, or the games, or the temples,” etc. (“Laws,” 868). See on 1 Peter 1:4. The defilement in the present case was apprehended from entering a house from which all leaven had not been removed.

Eat the Passover

The purpose of this work forbids our entering upon the much-vexed question of the apparent inconsistency between John and the Synoptists as to the time of celebrating the Passover.

Verse 29


Note the abruptness with which he is introduced as one well known. Two derivations of the name are given. Pilatus, one armed with the pilum or javelin, like Torquatus, one adorned with a collar (torques ). Or, a contraction from Pileatus, wearing the pileus or cap, which was the badge of manumitted slaves. Hence some have supposed that he was a freedman. Tacitus refers to him as connected with Christ's death. “The author of that name (Christian), or sect, was Christ, who was capitally punished in the reign of Tiberius, by Pontius Pilate” (“Annals,” xv. 44). He was the sixth Roman procurator of Judea.

What accusation

Not implying Pilate's ignorance of the charge, but his demand for the formal accusation.

Verse 30

Malefactor ( κακοποιὸς )

Rev., evil-doer. From κακὸν , evil, and ποιέω , to do. Luke uses a different word, κακοῦργος , from κακὸν , evil, and ἔργω , to work. See on 1 Peter 2:12.

Verse 31

Take ye him ( λάβετε αὐτὸν ὑμεῖς )

The A.V. obscures the emphatic force of ὑμεῖς , you. Pilate's words display great practical shrewdness in forcing the Jews to commit themselves to the admission that they desired Christ's death. “Take him yourselves (so Rev.), and judge him according to your law.” “By our law,” reply the Jews, “he ought to die.” But this penalty they could not inflict. “It is not lawful,” etc.


Verse 32

By what death ( ποίῳ θανάτῳ )

More correctly, by what manner of death. So Rev. Compare John 12:32; Matthew 20:19. Crucifixion was not a Jewish punishment.

Verse 33

Art thou ( σὺ εἷ )

Thou is emphatic. Thou, the despised malefactor.

King of the Jews

The civil title. The theocratic title, king of Israel (John 1:49; John 12:13) is addressed to Jesus on the cross (Matthew 27:42; Mark 15:32) in mockery.

Verse 35

Am I a Jew?

As if Jesus' question implied that Pilate had been taking counsel with the Jews.

Verse 36

Servants ( ὑπηρέται )

Only in this passage in the Gospels, of Christians. Compare Acts 13:5; 1 Corinthians 4:1. Corresponding with Christ as a king.

Fight ( ἠγωνίζοντο )

The imperfect tense, denoting action in progress: would now be striving.

Verse 37

Art thou then ( οὐκοῦν εἷ σύ )

The interrogative particle οὐκοῦν , not therefore, occurs only here in the New Testament. It is ironical. In John 18:33the emphasis is on thou: here upon king. So then, after all, thou art a king.

Was I born - came I ( γεγέννημαι - ἐλήλυθα )

Both perfects. Have I been born - am I come. So Rev. The Greek order is I for this have been born, etc., throwing the emphasis on Christ's person and destiny. The perfect describes His birth and coming not merely as historical facts, but as abiding in their results. Compare this confession before Pilate (1 Timothy 6:13) with the corresponding confession before the high-priest (Matthew 26:64). “The one, addressed to the Jews, is framed in the language of prophecy; the other, addressed to a Roman, appeals to the universal testimony of conscience. The one speaks of a future manifestation of glory, the other speaking of a present manifestation of truth. The one looks forward to the Return, the other looks backward to the Incarnation” (Westcott).

Of the truth ( ἐκ τῆς ἀληθείας )

Literally, out of: sprung from: whose life and words issue from the truth. See on John 14:6, and compare John 8:47.

Verse 38


Not with the article as in the previous verse, the truth. Jesus meant the absolute truth: Pilate, truth in any particular case. “Pilate's exclamation is neither the expression of an ardent thirst for truth, nor that of the despair of a soul which has long sought it in vain; it is the profession of a frivolous skepticism, such as is frequently met with in the man of the world, and especially in the statesman” (Godet).

Fault ( αἰτίαν )

Properly, cause of accusation. Rev., crime. See on Matthew 27:37, and compare note on Matthew 19:10.

Verse 39

Ye have a custom

The word συνήθεια , custom, originally means intimacy, habitual intercourse, and thence naturally passes into the meaning of habit or custom. Only John puts the statement of this custom into the mouth of Pilate. Matthew and Mark relate it as a fact.

At the Passover ( ἐν τῷ πάσχα )

More specific than Matthew and Mark, where the expression is general, κατὰ ἑορτήν , at feast-time.

Verse 40

Cried ( ἐκραύγασαν )

Peculiarly of a loud, importunate cry; a shout. Plato uses it of the howling of a dog: “The yelping hound, howling ( κραυγάζουσα ) at her Lord” (“Republic,” 607). Others, of the cries of spectators in the theaters and of the croak of a raven. See on Matthew 15:22.


Assuming John's recollection of a previous “crying out,” which he has not recorded.

Robber ( λῃστής )

See on Matthew 26:55; see on Mark 11:17; see on Luke 10:30. Matthew calls him a “notable prisoner” (Matthew 27:16). Mark states that he had made insurrection, and had committed murder (Mark 15:7), speaking of the insurrection as a well-known event. Luke says, “for some insurrection ( στάσιν τινὰ ) that had arisen in the city, and for murder” (Luke 23:19). Writing for Gentiles, Luke would not refer to the event as something familiar. Bandits of this kind were numerous in the neighborhood of Jerusalem under the Roman dominion. Their leaders were well known. Josephus describes them by the same word which Matthew uses, ἐπίσημοι , notable. Their depredations were often committed under patriotic pretenses, so that Barabbas might have had influential friends among the people.


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 18:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

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