John 19:1-16 – The PreCrucifixion

John 19:1-16 – The PreCrucifixion

This is an odd lesson to be taught on Christmas Day.
·  But it is interesting that last week we encountered the following words of Jesus.
·  Words that are a direct answer to the question, “What is the meaning of Christmas?”
·  John 18:37 (ESV) — 37For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth…”

So today, we begin to look at what Jesus had to endure so that His birth and incarnation could complete His stated purpose – to “bear witness to the truth”.
·  And to do this, it will be necessary to gain an understanding of the contextual background of the events described in our text.
·  In other words, there is going to be a lot of history.

John 19:1–3 (ESV) — 1 Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. 2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. 3 They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands.

Pilate “took Jesus” back into the Antonia Fortress after the Jews made it clear they did not want Jesus released.
·  When back inside the Fortress, Pilate arranged for Jesus to be flogged.
·  And then the soldiers engaged in what D.A. Carson calls, “barracks vulgarity”.
o   The crown of thorns, purple robe and the hitting.
·  There is a great deal more to say on these verses, so we will return to them momentarily.
·  Suffice it to say, we will find that the “traditional” view of Jesus’ flogging may need reevaluating.

And BTW – Last week we noted that the Jews would not enter the Gentile fortress because they wanted to remain ceremonially pure for the upcoming feast.
·  They wanted to use Pilate the Gentile to kill Jesus, but didn’t want to go in his house.
·  And here again they remain outside while Jesus is taken inside to be flogged.
·  The irony here is that the “ceremonially pure” Jews in our text were bankrupt morally.
·  The Jews were conniving at every moment to have the perfectly, morally pure Jesus murdered.

In fact, this scene epitomizes the very thing over which Jesus clashed with them on numerous occasions.
·  Moral Purity vs. Ceremonial Law Purity.
·  Jesus addressed this throughout His ministry.
·  Matthew 23:23 (ESV) — 23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
·  Matthew 21:32 (ESV) — 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you [chief priests and elders] did not afterward change your minds and believe him.
·  Mark 2:16–17 (ESV) — 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Moving on…

John 19:4–7 (ESV) — 4 Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” 5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” 6 When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” 7 The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.”

After the flogging, Pilate brought Jesus back to the Jews for the second time.
·  His words are interesting, “that you many know that I find no guilt in him” (vs. 4).
·  Now, John tells us that Jesus came out with a crown of thorns and a purple robe.
·  And that Pilate sarcastically declared, “Behold the man!” (vs. 5).
o   As in, “Behold the innocent man that is certainly not the threat you say he is”.

How would these actions, given the flogging, convey that Pilate had found “no guilt in him” (vs. 4)?
·  For starters, Jesus looked or acted nothing at all like a king.
·  He was nothing more than a homeless, humiliated Nazarene.
·  And his loyal followers were nowhere to be seen.
o   But wait…there is more, and we will get to it when we return to verses 1-3.

So, unfazed by Pilate’s production, the Jews were relentless.
·  …they cried out, ‘Crucify him, crucify him!’” (vs. 6)
·  Pilate mocked them a little, “Take him yourselves and crucify him” (vs. 6)
o   He knew this would be an impossibility.
·  And for the third time he declared Jesus’ innocence – “I find no guilt in him” (vs. 6).

They pretty much ignored Pilate and responded with a Levitical law to justify why Jesus must die.
·  Leviticus 24:16 (ESV) — 16 Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.
·  Apparently, Jesus blasphemed God because He made himself the Son of God” (vs. 7).

John captures when this supposed crime took place.
·  John 10:30 & 34-38 (ESV) — 30 I and the Father are one [in action].”…34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
·  BTW – “…the claim of being God’s son need not be blasphemous and may refer to the anointed king of Israel (2 Sam. 7:14;   p 534  Ps. 2:7; 89:26–27) or to the Messiah…” – Kostenberger.

After the revelation that Jesus claimed to be the “Son of God”, Pilate begins to come across as rattled.
·  Let’s take a look.

John 19:8–11 (ESV) — 8 When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. 9 He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”

There are two things going on here.
·  (1) Why was Pilate afraid?
·  (2) The Sovereignty of God.

(1) Why was Pilate afraid?
·  We know that up to this point Pilate seemed anything but afraid.
·  He was sarcastic, mocking and pragmatic (“What is truth?”), but not afraid.
o   Carson describes him as “cynical and blunt”.
·  It turns out that scholars (Kostenberger, Carson, Beasley-Murray) suggest that the Greek in vs. 8 doesn’t mean Pilate was previously afraid and then became more afraid.

But what it may mean, we are told is:
·  His superstitious worldview was set in motion with the association of Jesus with a “Son of God”.
·  The Greco-Roman worldview contained a belief in what are called “‘divine men’, gifted individuals who were believed to enjoy certain ‘divine’ powers” – D.A. Carson.
·  We see this in action in Acts 14:11.
o   Barnabas as Zeus/Paul as Hermes.

So Pilate’s fear may have been because he just flogged and mocked one of these “divine men” as he understood the term.
·  Not a good thing to do.
·  And we also can’t forget that in Matthew 27:19, Pilate’s wife told Pilate to have “nothing to do with that righteous man”.
·  The gravity of all this may have struck Pilate at once.

(2) The Sovereignty of God – “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above...” (vs. 11).
·  The Sovereignty of God is something we have addressed throughout our time in John.
·  Whether it was with the “born again” in John 3, the “drawn” in John 6,  Jesus’ “hour” in John 7, or “the given” in John 17, we have continually encountered the Sovereignty of God at every level.
·  John 3:8 (ESV) — 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
·  John 3:27 (ESV) — 27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.
·  John 6:44 (ESV) — 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
·  John 7:30 (ESV) — 30 So they were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.
·  John 17:6 (ESV) — 6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.

And the following Scriptures also give us a small taste of this huge subject.
·  1 Chronicles 29:11 (ESV) — 11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.
·  Daniel 2:21 (ESV) — 21 He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;
·  Romans 13:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Moving on again…

John 19:12–16 (ESV) — 12 From then on [for this reason or temporally] Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” 13 So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” 16 So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.

So having been spooked and faced with what could be a “divine man”, we are told once more that Pilate wants to release Jesus.
·  This could certainly be taken as the fourth time in John that we are told Pilate believes Jesus to be innocent (John 18:38; 19:4; 19:6).
·  So why, then, did he hand Jesus over to be crucified?
·  Was the Jews’ claim, “you are not Caesar’s friend” really enough to sway Pilate?

The answer is yes…and a possible reason why has to do with the tentative nature of Pilate’s power.
·  We know that “‘Friend of Caesar’ was a title accorded to persons of honor among the leading men of Rome” – Beasely-Murray.
·  We know that Pilate’s mentor and political ally was a man named Aelius Sejanus.
·  And that the Roman historian Tacitus said, “Whoever was close to Sejanus had a claim on the friendship of Caesar” – Beasley-Murray.
·  Sejanus was the prefect of the Roman Praetorian Guard.

The problem is that Sejanus lost favor with Caesar Tiberius.
·  He was seen as a threat to Tiberius’ power and so was executed on October 18 in the year 31.
·  So given Pilate’s relationship to Sejanus, it may very well have been that his hold on power in Judea was tentative.
·  Therefore, any complaint from the Jewish leadership, or any sign of trouble from Judea could cost Pilate his power.
·  What is truth?” – the truth is that Jesus was to now die or Pilate may lose power.

So the Jews set a political trap for Pilate and he was “captured”.
·  And at about 6 a.m. he delivered Jesus over to be crucified.
·  And three hours later, we learn from Mark, Jesus would be crucified.
·  BTW – these times are estimates (they didn’t have watches).

Now back to verses 1-3.


We mentioned earlier the “traditional” view of Jesus’ flogging and how it may need reevaluating.
·  We also asked earlier how Pilate’s actions in verses 1-3 convey that he had found “no guilt in him” (vs. 4).
·  The two issues are related.
·  The answer to the question will provide us with a consideration that may require us to rethink our “traditional” view of Jesus’ flogging.

Here is the problem, in John we are presented with a Pilate who, as we have seen, clearly views Jesus as not guilty and not worthy of death.
·  In fact, his official finding on Jesus after his interview with him was, “I find no guilt in him” (vs. 18:38).
·  And Luke even tells us Pilate said, “I will therefore punish and release him” (Luke 23:16).
·  Moreover, in verses 8-11, we also have a scene in which Pilate has another conversation with Jesus.
o   This conversation took place with a Jesus who had just been flogged.

So we have from Pilate a not guilty verdict, intent to punish and release, and a short but deep conversation between Pilate and a flogged Jesus.
·  Beasley-Murray describes the above as follows:
·  “Pilate now seeks to satisfy the Jews’ desire that Jesus be punished…Such is the clear intimation of Luke 23:16: Pilate declares that after examination neither he nor Herod found any basis for the Jewish charges, nor ground for inflicting the death penalty. Accordingly he adds: “I will punish him and then release him” – Beasley-Murray.

So, the question arises, does the flogging traditionally associated with this part of Jesus’ precrucifixion fit with what John is telling us about Pilate and his judgment of and interaction with Jesus?
·  We have to contend with what we know about the practice of crucifixion by the Romans to find out.

“Roman sources attest to the general sequence of events involved in Roman crucifixion:
1.       The victim was tortured by various means.
2.       The victim carried his or her cross-bar (patibulum) to the place of crucifixion.
3.       The victim was fastened by ropes or nails to the crossbeam.
4.       The crossbeam and victim were then raised to the wooden post or tree and fastened to it. Occasionally, the post or tree may have had a wooden seat (sedile) for the victim” – LBD.

We also know that these four things happened in succession after the guilty verdict was rendered and death by crucifixion was ordained.
·  But, in Jesus’ case, Pilate had declared Jesus to be not guilty.
·  And crucifixion had not been ordered at the time of his flogging in John 19:1-3.

It will also help us to know that Rome had three official kinds of flogging.
·  And only one was associated with crucifixion.
·  (1) “the fustigatio, a beating given for smaller offenses such as hooliganism, often accompanied by a severe warning;
·  (2) the flagellatio, a more brutal flogging to which criminals were subjected whose offenses were more serious; and
·  (3) the verberatio, the most terrible form of this punishment, regularly associated with other reprisals such as crucifixion” – Kostenberger.

We know that it was the third form that was exacted upon the person who was sentenced to crucifixion.
·  But we just said the Jesus had not yet been sentenced to crucifixion yet.
·  And importantly, this brutal form of flogging wasn’t alone.
·  This flogging was also accompanied by brutal forms of torture.
·   “Precrucifixion torture…could also include burning, racking, mutilation, and abuse of the victim’s family” – LBD.
·  In fact, the flogging and torture were so brutal that many times a dead body was crucified – DJG.

Plato and Josephus give us a brutal picture of the flogging and torture associated with crucifixion.
·  Josephus says of the Jews during the Roman siege of Jerusalem that they were, “‘scourged and subjected to torture of every description’” before they were crucified – DJG.
·  Plato gives us some details – “‘[A man] is racked, mutilated, has his eyes burned out, and after having had all sorts of great injuries inflicted on him, and having seen his wife and children suffer the like, is at last impaled (i.e., crucified) or tarred and burned alive’.
·  In another text, Plato writes: ‘The just man who is thought to be unjust will be scourged, racked, bound—will have his eyes burnt out; and, at last after suffering every kind of evil, he will be impaled (i.e., crucified)’” – LBD.
·  So the flogging that preceded crucifixion was accompanied with “torture of every description” and “suffering [of] every kind of evil”.

So the answer to our question about Jesus’ flogging in John, is that it does not appear to fit the flogging normally meted out to one sentenced to die by crucifixion.
·  In fact, Beasely-Murray says, the flogging Jesus received “…was proposed as an alternative to crucifixion, not, be it noted, as an accompaniment of it” – Beasley-Murray.
·  Therefore, “in the present instance, the flogging probably in view is the least severe form, the fustigatio, which was intended in part to appease the Jews and in part to teach Jesus a lesson” – Kostenberger.
·  “Because Pilate has not yet pronounced sentence, the beating Jesus receives is a lesser one. Pilate may hope that the blood it draws would satisfy Jesus’ accusers” – Craig Keener.
·  “…the flogging threatened in Luke and reported here in John is the fustigatio, the least severe form, and was intended partly to appease the Jews and partly to teach Jesus a lesson…” – D.A. Carson.

D.A. Carson goes on to say:
·  “…it is hard to imagine any Roman prefect administering the verberatio before sentencing” – D.A. Carson.
·  And he says, as we just concluded, that “…it is so brutal that it ill accords with the theme of Luke and of John, that Pilate at first found Jesus innocent and merely wanted to administer enough punishment to be able to appease Jewish officialdom and then let Jesus go” – D.A. Carson.

If this is so, this is why Pilate could flog Jesus, i.e. fustigatio, and declare him not guilty or worthy of death.
·  Remember John’s description in 19:4, “Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.
·  From Pilate’s point of view, Jesus got the punishment that fit the crime.
·  Jesus was not guilty of being a king or aspiring to be a king in any way that concerned Pilate.   
·  So, Jesus was mocked, beaten and fustigatio, but He was not verberatio and tortured – at least not yet.

This also explains how Pilate could continue to walk back and forth with Jesus in and out of the Fortress.
·  And it explains why Pilate could still have a conversation with Jesus.
·  Had Jesus been flogged and tortured in the verberatio style, none of this would have been possible.
·  And this is why we noted that Carson referred to the soldiers mocking of Jesus as “barracks vulgarity”.
·  Their treatment of Jesus was nothing like what one sentenced to crucifixion would receive.
o   Remember Josephus and Plato?

But what of Mark and Matthews account of Jesus flogging (Mark 15:15)?
·  What of the fact that Jesus couldn’t carry His crossbeam?
·  What of the fact that Jesus died so quickly?
·  So quickly, in fact, that his bones weren’t broken.

If all these guys are right about Jesus’ flogging in John, How do we explain all these facts?
·  The explanation is that Jesus was flogged twice!
·  “After the sentence of crucifixion, Jesus was scourged again, this time in the most severe form, the verberatio” – Kostenberger.
·  “…this means that Jesus received a second scourging, the wretched verberatio, after the sentence of crucifixion was passed” – D.A. Carson.

So it is here that the traditional view may need revising.
·  On His way to being “lifted up” and glorified on the cross of Calvary, Jesus was flogged, beaten and mocked two times.

And from what we know of Roman precrucifixion and crucifixion, what Jesus endured was far worse than we previously thought – if that was possible.
·  Due to “literary-aesthetic considerations” present at the time, the extent of, and the exact nature of an individual precrucifixion and crucifixion were not detailed – DJG.
·  We can hardly imagine the flogging and torture Jesus was subjected to when the sentence of crucifixion was pronounced.

“And unto us a Child is born, and unto us a Child is given.”
·  But all this was, as Jesus said, so that He might bear witness to the truth.

Bonus Material – Lexicon Info for John, Luke, and Mark’s “flogging”:
Mastigoo – Greek for flogging in John 19:1.
(a) of flogging as a punishment decreed by the synagogue (Dt 25:2f; s. the Mishna Tractate Sanhedrin-Makkoth, edited w. notes by SKrauss ’33) w. acc. of pers. Mt 10:17; 23:34. Of the beating administered to Jesus J 19:1. If John refers to the ‘verberatio’ given those condemned to death (TMommsen, Röm. Strafrecht 1899, 938f; Jos., Bell. 2, 308; 5, 449), it is odd that Pilate subsequently claims no cause for action (vs. 6); but if the latter statement refers only to the penalty of crucifixion, μ. vs. 1 may be equivalent to παιδεύω [the paideuo found in Luke] (q.v. 2bγ) in Lk 23:16, 22 (for μ.of a non-capital offense PFlor I, 61, 61 [85A.D.]=Mitt-Wilck. II/2, 80 II, 61).

Paideou – Greek for flogging in Luke 23:16.
(2) to assist in the development of a person’s ability to make appropriate choices, practice discipline.
γ. discipline by whipping or scourging (Vi. Aesopi G 61 P.; 3 Km 12:11, 14; 2 Ch 10:11, 14) Lk 23:16, 22.

Phragelloo – Greek for flogging in Mark 15:15.
in Christian usage [s. end of this entry]; but cp. TestBenj 2:3 and Aesop fr. the Cod. Paris. 1277: CRochefort, Notices et Extraits II [1789] 719 no. 19) 1 aor. ἐφραγέλλωσα (Lat. loanw.: flagello; s. φραγέλλιον) flog, scourge, a punishment inflicted on slaves and provincials after a sentence of death had been pronounced on them. So in the case of Jesus before the crucifixion (cp. Jos., Bell. 2, 306 οὓς μάστιξιν προαικισάμενος ἀνεσταύρωσεν [sc. Φλῶρος]; 5, 449; Lucian, Pisc. 2) Mt 27:26; Mk 15:15


John 18:28-40 – What is the Truth?

John 18:28–32 (ESV) — 28 Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” 30 They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” 31 Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” 32 This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

John omits Jesus’ “trial” before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin (found in Matt., Mark & Luke) and jumps straight to Jesus and Pilate.
·  He tells us that the Jewish leadership escorted Jesus to the “governor’s headquarters” (vs. 28).
o   Fortress Antonia or the Herodian palace on the Western Wall.
·  And then John gives us some irony.
·  The Jews, while illegally and unjustly orchestrating Jesus’ murder, will “not enter the governor’s headquarters” (vs. 28).
·  They did this so that “they would not be defiled” and therefore could still “eat the Passover” (vs. 28).
o   The Feast of Unleavened Bread
·  “The Jews take elaborate precautions to avoid ritual contamination in order to eat the Passover, at the very time they are busy manipulating the judicial system to secure the death of him who alone is the true Passover” – D.A. Carson.
·  “Also ironic is that they use a Gentile to achieve their ends yet will not enter a Gentile’s house” – Kostenberger.
·  Murder would be no problem – ceremonially unclean would be a huge problem.
o   More cheap equivocation – kind of.

Jesus, unlike the other Jews, had to enter Pilate’s “headquarters” (vs. 33).
·  As a result, and unlike his accusers, Jesus became ceremonially unclean.
o   Probably no big deal to Him.
·  But, yet another example that He takes upon Himself the “dirt” of the world – even the Gentile world.

This is very similar to the “costly grace” discussion last week.
·  Whether it was going through Samaria and meeting with the adulterous woman at the well.
·  Or lodging with the rich, hated tax collector, Zacchaeus.
·  Or being unjustly bound, tried and sent to Pilate’s Gentile palace.
·  Jesus marginalizes Himself on our behalf – “costly grace”.

Then John tells us that Pilate accommodates their hypocrisy – “Pilate went outside to them” (vs. 29).
·  He asks the Jews what the charges are against Jesus.
·  The Jews answer with a non-answer – “duh, obviously he is evil or we wouldn’t be here” (vs. 30).
·  “The Jews’ response tacitly acknowledges their inability to ‘bring a water-tight charge against Jesus’” – Kostenberger.
·  Pilate’s response indicates that he “was well aware of the weakness of the Jews’ case against Jesus” – Kostenberger.
o   Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law” (vs. 31)
·  D.A. Carson suggests that Pilate’s reply shows us he knows they are running a scheme and wants no part of it.

The Jews press on.
·  Given the fact that Jesus is “obviously evil” and needs to be put to death, the Jews respond to Pilate with something he already knew.
o   It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death” (vs. 31)

A question immediately comes to mind.
·  We know that the Jews stoned Stephen to death (Acts 7).
·  We also know from Josephus that Jesus’ half-brother, James, was killed by the Jews in A.D. 62.
·  Roman law didn’t stop them in these instances.
·  Why didn’t they take out Jesus in like manner – legal or not?
·  “This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die” (vs. 32).
·  God the Father had other plans.
·  He is Sovereign and in charge.
·  Jesus was to be “lifted up”.

John 18:33–35 (ESV) — 33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?”

Pilate begins his interrogation of Jesus – “Are you the King of the Jews?” (vs. 33)
·  The consensus is that Pilate wants to determine if Jesus is a political threat.
·  If massive unrest were to come to Palestine because of Jesus, Pilate would be held accountable.
o   As with Caiaphas, the status quo must be maintained.
·  Pilate’s question also tells us that he had been in communication with the Jews prior to this event.
·  We know this because, “The fact that Roman troops were used at the arrest proves that the Jewish authorities had communicated something of this case to Pilate in advance” – D.A. Carson.

There are also some who see in Pilate’s question some mockery.
·  They suggest the question was as follows:
·  “You, a prisoner, deserted even by your friends, are a king, are you?” – Barrett/Kostenberger.

Jesus’ answer to Pilate is peculiar – “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” (vs. 34)
·  We are told that Jesus is seeking to define terms – Carson/Kostenberger.
o   What kind of “King” are we talking about here?
·  In other words, a political “this world” Kingship or a Kingship that is “not of this world”?
·  And with Jesus’ question and the conversation that comes, Carson tells us:
o   “Jesus, as it were, has become the interrogator; the prisoner has become the judge.”

As we mentioned earlier, Pilate is not really buying what the Jews are selling.
·  All the Jewish stuff aside – “Am I a Jew?” (vs. 35) – Pilate just wants to know “What have you done?” (vs. 35)

John 18:36–38 (ESV) — 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him.

Jesus then drops the J-Bomb and begins to explain just what kind of King He is.
·  He disavows any notion that His is a political Kingship and Kingdom – “My kingdom is not of this world” (vs. 36).
·  Therefore, Jesus’ Kingship was no political threat to Pilate.
·  Carson even points out that Pilate would have had a sense that Jesus was no threat.
o   He didn’t marshal “his followers to fight and protect him from arrest” – D.A. Carson.
·  Jesus appeals to this sense with, “my servants would have been fighting” (vs. 36).

Jesus then goes on to concede His Kingship – “‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘you say that I am a king’” (vs. 37).
·  “The evidence is very strong that the expression is unambiguously affirmative” – D.A. Carson.
·  And though it sounds like it, it is not evasion – Beasley-Murray.
·  In other words, Jesus’ answer to Pilate is, “yes”.
·  Jesus then begins a discourse that reveals how His Kingship of the “not of this world” kingdom affects Pilate.

Jesus’ is a Kingship and Kingdom that Pilate must reckon with whether he “is a Jew” or not.
·  Jesus’ kingdom may not be “of this world”, but it was breaking into this world.
·  “It is essential that Jesus’ statement should not be misconstrued as meaning that his kingdom is not active in this world, or has nothing to do with this world” – Beasley-Murray.
·  For as Jesus Himself said:
·  Matthew 12:28 (ESV) — 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

So Jesus proceeds to spell out the implications of His Kingdom for Pilate (and for us).
·  Jesus said He has “… come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (vs. 37)
·  We mentioned earlier that “the prisoner had become judge” – D.A. Carson.
·  To this end, Jesus implies a crucial question to Pilate concerning His Kingdom.
o   Is my Kingdom true and will you affirm this truth by “listening” to me?
·  Pilate “…is confronted with the “light of the world” and must decide whether he prefers darkness or light” – Kostenberger.

Pilate’s reply to Jesus’ testimony says it all – “Pilate said to him, ‘What is truth?’” (vs. 38)
·  He rejects Jesus claim and thus, implicitly, is judged as not of the Kingdom or he would “listen” to Jesus.
·  “As Haenchen observed, “If Pilate, face to face with this Truth standing before him, asks, ‘What is truth?’ it is evident that he does not belong to ’those whom the Father has given to Jesus’” – Beasley-Murray.
·  His dismissal of Jesus is so thorough that he concludes, “I find no guilt in him” (vs. 38).
o   “Nothing Jesus has said has anything to do with me…it’s all jewish stuff.”
·  He then lets the Jews decide Jesus’ fate based on a custom of mercy at Passover.

Pilate’s take on Jesus reminds me of Winston Churchill’s words.
·  "Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened" – Winston Churchill.


Both Jesus’ claims of truth and Pilate’s question naturally lead us to contend, however briefly, with this issue of truth.

Very quickly, we will look at the basic definitions of truth on:
·  (1) Jesus’ view
·  (2) Greek view
·  (3) Philosophical View

(1) John and Jesus’ Definition of Truth:
The word for truth used by John and Jesus is “aletheia”.
·  And our text certainly equates His truth to His work of inaugurating the Kingdom of God.
·  Jesus’ apologetic in John 5 also gives a good description of the truth Jesus is talking about.
·  D.A. Carson sums Jesus’ truth up well when he says it, “refers to the incarnation, his move from the glory he shared with the Father in his presence (17:5) to his manifestation in this fallen world to manifest something of that glory” – D.A. Carson.

John says this of Jesus’ truth:
·  John 1:14 (ESV) — 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
·  John 1:17 (ESV) — 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
·  John 8:32 (ESV) — 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
·  John 14:6 (ESV) — 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
·  John 17:17 (ESV) — 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

The Lexham Bible Dictionary (LBD) says this truth is essentially used three ways in the NT.
·  (1) Truth as Factuality – such as the fact of the Gospel and Jesus’ testimony about Himself and the Father.
·  (2) Truth as Faithfulness and Reliability – this is the moral dimension of truth and what God requires of us.
·  (3) Truth as Reality – real and authentic as opposed to fake and counterfeit.

This truth in John presupposes the God of Abraham, His covenant with Israel, the incarnation of Jesus, and Jesus’ identity as the second person in the triune godhead, etc.

(2) Greek Definition of Truth:
The TDNT tells us its etymology refers to the concept of “nonconcealment”.
·  From this “aletheia” came to mean, “what is seen, indicated, expressed, or disclosed, i.e., a thing as it really is, not as it is concealed or falsifies” – TDNT.
·   “In Greek literature, the words for truth do not have the same personal and moral connotation [as we saw above]. Rather, truth is intellectual. It is ‘the full or real state of affairs” – NBD.
·  The Greek idea of truth does not contain the “God” presuppositions of John and Jesus.
·  However, it did have a relationship to the “logos”.

It is very interesting that Greeks saw “logos” as having the function to reveal (active nonconcealment) – TDNT.
·  This is one reason why John used “aletheia” and “logos” in reference to Jesus.
·  Jesus is the revealed, incarnate Truth of God the Father.
·  And He speaks on behalf of the Father to reveal the Father’s Truth.

And in John, those that recognize and trust that Jesus is the Word and Truth of God who speaks the Truth are the “given” and walk in the light.
·  Those that do not, such as Pilate, walk in darkness.
·  Jesus told Pilate in our text, He came into the world “to bear witness to the truth” (vs. 37).
·  Pilate was skeptical – “what is truth?
o   “…he doesn’t believe that Jesus, or anyone else for that matter, could give one [an answer]” – Beasley-Murray.

So we have seen how Jesus’ and John’s view of truth is different from a clinical Greek view of truth.
·  But what about the philosophical dimensions of Jesus’ truth?
·  Can it provide insight into Jesus’ and John’s idea of truth or even into Pilate’s perception of truth?
·  It can and I think you will see it has enormous apologetic value in defending John and Jesus’ view of truth.

(3) Philosophical Theories of Truth (from Doug Groothuis’ Christian Apologetics):
There are a bunch but I want to define 3 of them.
·  Correspondence Theory
·  Postmodern Theory
·  Pragmatism Theory

But before we do, I need to define the difference between an objective truth and subjective truth.
·  This is important because truth (and its moral dimension) will be either objective or subjective.
·  And in either case, the implications are quite different for how they apply to life.

Objective Truth:
Something is objectively true if it is “valid and binding” (Bill Craig) on you whether you or your culture believe it to be so or not.
·  Or looked at another way, the reason or foundation for a fact’s truth is to be found outside of the individual or culture.
·  Something is true because something that exists outside of us says so.
·  The nature of this “outside” is hotly contested – transcendent or not transcendent.
·  This is especially the case when it comes to the kind of truth that contains moral facts.

Subjective Truth:
Something is subjectively true if it is “valid and binding” on you only if you or your society/culture deem it to be so for whatever reason.
·  Or looked at another way, the reason or foundation for a facts truth is to be found inside the individual or culture.
·  Something is true because we say so.
·  This is the “It might be true for you, but it is not true for me” sentiment.

Greg Koukl teases these two out as follows:
·  “Subjective truths are based on internal preferences and change according to our whims. Objective truths, in contrast, are realities in the external world that we discover and cannot be changed by our internal feelings. External facts are what they are, regardless of how we feel about them” – Greg Koukl.
·  Objective truths are discovered, not made.
o   “We do not create the truth; we can only discover it” – Groothuis.
·  Subjective truths, on the other hand, can be “made”.

Now let’s move on to three theories of truth.

Correspondence Theory of Truth:
“A belief or statement is true only if it matches with, reflects or corresponds to the reality it refers to. For a statement to be true it must be factual. It is the nature and meaning of truth to be fact dependent. In other words, for a statement to be true, there must be a truth-maker that determines its truth [objective/transcendent]. A statement is never true simply because someone thinks it or utters it [subjective]. We may be entitled to our own opinions, but we are not entitled to our own facts” – Douglas Groothuis.
·  Under this view, torturing babies for fun is wrong in every place and every time.
·  Under this view, we can speak of having a real, objective knowledge of God.
·  Under this view, we speak of “Truth” and “truths”.

Postmodern Theory of Truth:
“In a nutshell postmodernism holds that truth is not determined by its connection to objective reality but by various social constructions devised for different purposes….‘man is the measure of all things’ instead of being measured by them…Truth is what you make it, nothing more” – Douglas Groothuis.
·  Under this view, it is possible that there is a time and place where torturing babies for fun is not wrong.
·  Under this view, “Instead of the ‘knowledge of God’, we speak of ‘beliefs’, ‘opinions’ or ‘feelings’ instead” – Groothuis.
·  Under this view, there is no distinction between “Truth” and “truths”.

A third theory of truth has a great deal in common with the Post-Modern Theory.

Pragmatism Theory of Truth:
·  “To simplify a bit, the general pragmatic understanding of truth is that a belief is true only if it produces desirable or beneficial effects in the long run” – Douglas Groothuis.
·  “A true belief is like a tool that works well for whatever purposes you have in mind...If a belief is not useful or interesting in some way, then it doesn't matter. On the other hand, if it is useful over the long haul, then it is true - sort of like how an arrow ‘flies true’ when it hits your target, in this case your purposes” – Philosophy Forum.


Given the above discussion, some obvious questions arise:
·  Is the truth espoused by John and Jesus objective or subjective? Why?
·  Is the truth espoused by John and Jesus a correspondence, post-modern or pragmatic view? Why?

And what about Pilate’s view of truth, how would we categorize it?
·  Kostenberger hints that Pilate’s view is a pragmatic one.
·  Pilate’s question to Jesus, “may reflect disillusionment from a political, pragmatic point of view” – Kostenberger.
·  In other words, whatever best serves his interests as a politician is truth.

Clash of Truth and truth:
So given the nature of Jesus’ truth in or text, we see right away it is at odds with much of the world’s view of truth.
·  It contains fundamentally different presuppositions – objective/transcendent truth (God) vs. subjective/relative truth (us)
·  It is no accident that in John, Jesus primarily grounded His truth with the transcendent, objective Father.
·  Again, refer back to His apologetic in John 5.

And from Jesus’ point of view, what is the “thing” that separates “Pilates” from “believers”?
·  “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (vs. 37)
·  In other words, the separation comes from what one does with Jesus!
·  Is He a truth or The Truth?
o   He can’t be both – if the law of non-contradiction is objectively true.

This point ties us back into Jesus’ kingdom language.
·  We learned some weeks ago that those who trust in Jesus have both a place and position in the Kingdom of God.
·  In context of our lesson, this means that our place involves a transcendent and objective place and position.
·  Not a place made by us as Karl Marx thought (opiate for the masses), but a real place and position grounded in God.
·  Our union with Christ and His Kingdom is not subjectively true, it is objectively true – it is real.

So what – the Moral Argument:
For those that don’t have faith, how can we communicate the differences between Jesus’ objective truth and their subjective truth?
·  How do we highlight the differences and tease out the implications of each?

The implications of the moral argument seem to me to be one of the best ways to do so.
·  For example, reasonable people will all agree that what just happened in Connecticut was wrong.
·  But was it wrong objectively so or subjectively so?
o   Was it wrong because its wrongness was connected to a transcendent fact? (actually wrong)
o   Or was it wrong because we declare it to be so? (relatively wrong)
·  Brilliant arguments can be constructed to say that for society to function properly, innocents (especially children) are not to be harmed.
o   In other words, actions that harm others are wrong and produce no benefit to society.
o   The glue that holds society together is weakened by such actions, thus they are wrong.
·  But what is the problem with this view?

And what of the justice dimension of morailty?
·  Is justice man-made and subjective?
·  Or is it transcendent and objective?
·  If the first, then justice can be thwarted or avoided.
o   Criminal’s can escape, avoid extradition or kill themselves.
·  If the second, there is no escape from justice.
o   We all will stand before God – “every knee shall bow and tongue confess” – and be judged.

Without a transcendent truth, morality and justice, things will not be, and can’t be “put right”.
·  And to live and talk like they can be is irrational and just plain gibberish.

So we can try to nudge people to doubt their presuppositions with implications from the moral argument.
·  As Greg Koukl says, we can try to show them that, “their feet are firmly planted in midair”.

“A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed" – G.K. Chesterton.

“Christians, of all people, must strongly affirm the notion that truth is what corresponds to reality – and must do so unswervingly, whatever the postmodern (or other) winds of doctrine may be blowing in our faces” – Doug Groothuis.