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Doane April Hanne F.

Chungalao
Hermeneutics Finals Paper
1 December 2019

SELECTED NARRATIVE: John 18:28-40 “Jesus Before Pilate”

Translations used:
King James Version, New International Version, New Living Translation

Working Title/s: Jesus Is Brought Before Pilate/ Jesus States the Truth

Exegetical Idea: Truth is found in Jesus Christ and those who know the Truth, listen to it;
true power is wielded by God

Purpose: To emphasize the power of God and the truth that is found in Jesus Christ

Subject: The truth presented by Jesus stating His overall power.

Complement: What did Jesus answer Pilate when He was asked if He was the King of
the Jews?
Answer: Jesus told Pilate that he was right in saying that Jesus is
a king. Jesus stated that it was for that reason He was born
into the world to testify about the truth (John 18:37)

Main Idea: Jesus presents Pilate with the truth, which is Christ Himself; that His
kingdom is not of this world and that His powers surpass those of this
world. Whoever is of the truth and knows that true power is God’s,
hears Jesus’ voice.

History:

(Excerpts from ​Bible.org/seriespage/background-study-john)​


- The author of the Fourth Gospel was the Apostle John (John 21:24 assigns authorship to
“the apostle whom Jesus loved”; this disciple is mentioned by this title twice in the
passion narrative [13:23, 19:26] and twice afterwards [21:7, 21:20]; he is known to the
high priest [18:15]; he stands in close relationship with Peter; from the list in 21:2 of
those present, this disciple must have been one of the sons of Zebedee, or one of the two
other unnamed disciples present; the synoptics present Peter, James and John as standing
in a special relationship to Jesus. Peter is eliminated [20:21], James was martyred very
early [Acts 12:2]; this leaves John)
- Corroboration:John is not mentioned by name anywhere in the Gospel; while John is not
mentioned by name, the author is very particular about defining names in his gospel--he
frequently qualifies by using additional names (Simon is not called merely Simon after
his call, but always by his full name Simon Peter or the new name Peter) But in spite of
this tendency, the author of the Fourth Gospel never refers to the Baptist as John the
Baptist (as the synoptics do) but only as “John”.

(Excerpt from ​Bible-history.com/new-testament/bookofjohn​)


- It is worthy to consider the words of the most famous archaeologist of all time that
according to archaeological evidence there is "no longer any solid basis for dating any
book of the New Testament after about A.D. 80." Most scholars conclude that the book
of John was written around 85 or 90 AD probably before the exile to Patmos. It is also
important to consider John 5:2 when it mentions "Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep
[market] a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches."
This verse would indicate that this existed at the current time that the Gospel of John was
written. This would place the written work before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
There is also no evidence as to whether John wrote the Gospel before or after his return
to Ephesus from the Island of Patmos.

(Excerpt from ​wake-up.org/bible-characters/pilates-judgement-of-Jesus​)


- The first duty of a Roman governor was to maintain order and keep the peace according
to the provisions of Roman law. Governors typically had a contingency of Roman
soldiers at their command and they used them when necessary to keep order. Governors
were also responsible for imposing and collecting taxes for Caesar which was no small
task given the intense animosity between the occupied territories and the heavy hand of
Rome. Then as now, people who had political ambitions coveted the office of governor,
and yet, with all its trappings, the office was not very glamorous. A Roman governor
walked a very fine line. He was trapped between keeping peace in a province which hated
to pay taxes to Rome, while simultaneously, meeting all of Caesar’s demands. If the
governor offended the people, it often caused an uprising. When this occurred, Caesar
would hear about it and question the governor’s ability to keep the peace. If the governor
tried to please the people by softening Rome’s demands, Caesar would fire him in a heart
beat and put him to death for insubordination. So, to be a governor in Jesus’ day may
have been a powerful job, but it required a delicate political balance.
- History says that Pilate was the fifth governor of Judea. Most governors served two to
four years, but Pilate served as governor of Judea for about eleven years. (A.D. 26-36)
We have no information about Pilate before he arrived in Judea as governor. If it were
not for a few hours with Jesus on one fateful morning, Pilate would have disappeared
long ago into the silent hallway of history. Josephus indicates that Pilate’s career in Judea
ended abruptly when he agitated his subjects one time too many. (​Antiquities of the Jews
18:85-89).

Literary Context:

(Excerpt from ​The Quest of the Historical Gospel: Mark, John, and the Origins of the Gospel)

Both [Mark and John] gospels develop the dramatic irony of Pilate’s interrogation, but in
different ways...In John the irony is rich...HEre the drama is carried out by a fascinating
bit of stagecraft, as Pilate moves in and out of the pretorium. The Jewish leaders...refuse
to enter the pretorium so that they may remain ritually pure for the celebration of
Passover. Thus their design, to kill a righteous man, stands in ironic contrast to their
scruples over a matter of ritual purity...How can one explain why the wisest and most
righteous person who ever lived was executed? The irony points the reader in the same
direction. The world, which has the power over the wisest and most righteous person who
ever lived, has no idea what he is saying. The creation of an ironic distance between the
petty scrupulousness of the opponents and the larger moral issue at hand is not
uncommon in literature contemporary to John...

Observation.Interpretation.Application

OBSERVATION INTERPRETATION APPLICATION

v.28 “Then led they Jesus - “They” referring to the ● We sometimes nitpick
from Caiaphas unto the hall Sanhedrin (Jewish council so much about being
of judgment: and it was consisting of the chief priests, legalistic in what we
early; and they themselves elders…) do and practice as
went not into the judgment - Early in the morning Christians; we can act
hall, lest they should be because they did not want to like hypocrites as well
defiled; but that they might be seen; they were in such a sometimes, loving to
eat the passover. rush to have Jesus crucified; pass judgment on
QUESTIONS: historically, it was illegal for others and acting very
1. Who are “they”? them to take Jesus into self-righteous
2.​ ​Why early [in the morning? trial--and yet they did. (Matt.7:3-5)
3. How can the last part of the - The judgment hall
verse be interpreted? (praetorium>Greek
praitorion)​ was a place where
the governor executed
judgment over people; the
Sanhedrin did not have the
power to execute judgment
over Jesus (although they
forced Pilate’s hand), but they
did not even want to be
“defiled” (that is
contaminated,​ ​ceremonially
or morally​)>> contrast to
what they did earlier in
putting Jesus on trial illegally;
also, they particularly saw to
it that they were ​clean before
the passover, which they
apparently regarded more
highly than their plot for
murder.

v.29 “Pilate then went out - As present governor, Pilate ● We put so much
unto them, and said, what held the power in Judea, and prestige on position
accusation bring ye against so, had the power to and power even today;
this man? pronounce judgment on the rules of
whoever was brought to him government today
for trial--in this case Jesus have been a copy of
- Being governor was tricky how Rome was
(you had the power, but you governed in the past
also needed to be careful)> (more humane as of
balance between pleasing the present, but
Emperor and not causing the governance and law
people to riot were generally the
same)

v.30 “They answered and -”malefactor”> criminal/ ● We usually come up


said unto him, If he were evil-doer (as they accused with reasons to excuse
not a malefactor, we would Jesus of blasphemy) the judgment we pass
not have delivered him up - The Sanhedrin had already on others; we love to
unto thee.” gone through the first phase do this in order to
QUESTIONS: of their plot: capturing Jesus justify ourselves
- “malefactor”? and putting him on trial; the
-Were they being defensive? second phase was to make an
excuse for themselves: “If he
were not a malefactor, we
would not have delivered him
up unto thee.” Pursuant with
their character trait of being
self-righteous
* manipulation

v.31 “Then said Pilate unto - Historically, Roman law did ● We do not fully
them, Take ye him and not hold anything that had to understand real power
judge him according to your do with religious issues and because it is
law. The Jews therefore the Sanhedrin were already something we will
said unto him, It is not accusing Jesus of blasphemy never have--only God
lawful for us to put any man (Luke 23:2). Pilate may have and God alone holds
to death. had the power, but he true power
QUESTIONS: technically did not have all ● Like children who
1. Why did Pilate tell them to the power. tattle on other
be the ones to judge Jesus - This is followed by the children, we like to
instead when he had the Sanhedrin manipulating Pilate see those who have
power to do it? into pronouncing a death the power punish
sentence on Jesus. They were those we have
confident and forceful in their problems with
accusations (and lies), yet
they wanted to wash their
hands off the actual
pronouncement of death

v.32 “That the saying of - Jesus had already predicted ● As true Christians, we
Jesus might be fulfilled, his death and had told his are aware that things
which he spake, signifying disciples and the people about that happen in our
what death he should die.” this (John 12:20-36) lives are not truly
fully within our
control; we need to
realize that we do not
hold true power to
change our
circumstances. Only
God knows and is in
control over
everything. We just
need to trust Him.

v.33 “Then Pilate entered - Of all the accusations hurled


into the judgment hall about Jesus, Pilate chose to
again, and called Jesus, and latch on to the one about him
said unto him, Art thou the being called the King of the
King of the Jews? Jews; this did not seem to be
QUESTION a question out of mockery,
1. Why did Pilate ask this but one out of curiosity (and
particular question? maybe formality?) as to what
Jesus would say; they had
accused Jesus of being a
malefactor>>Roman law
required having to question
the one on trial about the
accusations, so Jesus must
have committed some kind of
crime against the Emperor or
something against Roman law
-Pilate already knew it was
out of pure envy that the
Sanhedrin had accused Jesus
(Matt. 27:18; Mark 15:10);
the issue perhaps baffled him

v.34 “Jesus answered him, - Although Jesus already


Sayest thou this thing of knew the answer, he replied
thyself, or did others tell it with a question to know if
thee of me? Pilate’s inquiry was genuine
or if it was out of gossip and
mockery; in the first three
Gospels, Jesus is quoted
replying “Thou sayest it”
(KJV) or “Yes, it is as you
say” (NIV)

v.35 “Pilate answered, Am I -Pilate probably felt slighted ● When we are in a


a Jew? Thine own nation by Jesus’ reply and resorted position of power, we
and the chief priests have to proclaim as if he had all tend to like lording it
delivered thee unto me: the power by saying that over others that
what hast thou done?” Jesus’ own people took him sometimes, even the
to be judged by one higher slightest rhetorical
than he ([They]”have question feels
delivered thee unto me”; John somewhat of an
19:10) offense to us
-Pilate proceeds to question
Jesus again about what he has
really done to gain the ire of
his own people, perhaps not
even expecting the answer in
the following verse.

v.36 “Jesus answered, My - Jesus finally proceeds to ● On earth, kingdoms


kingdom is not of this present the truth to Pilate. He clash and do
world: if my kingdom were tells him of his kingdom everything to offend,
of this world, then would which is “not of this world” defend, and avenge
my servants fight, that I and that his deliverance to his whomever and
should not be delivered to own people was intended for whenever they like as
the Jews: but now is my a cause a sign of power (loyal
kingdom not from hence. - Jesus presents the difference servants are known to
between his heavenly fight for their kings
kingdom and the worldly especially when their
kingdom. Jesus presents that, king is threatened or
although He has the power to in danger); as humans,
command wrath on his own we often possess a
people who betrayed Him, He characteristic of doing
allows what is happening to all we can to protect
Him in order for Scripture to those we love and
be fulfilled. Just because He defend them at all
stated that His kingdom was costs; Jesus, however,
not of this world, it did not teaches us that,
mean that He did not have although we may have
any powers on earth; His some power over
authority simply was over others, we should not
everything and surpassed use it for revenge
whatever powers or kingdoms >>turning the other
were of the world. cheek (Matt.5:38-40;
Romans 12:19)

v.37 “Pilate therefore said - Pilate asks Jesus, again, as a ● If we are truly God’s
unto him, Art thou a king confirmation; the NIV children, without a
then? Jesus answered, Thou version translates Pilate’s doubt, we can hear
sayest that I am a king. To question into a statement, as Him in any
this end I was born, and for confirmation for his circumstance we are
this cause came I into the question-- perhaps as a sign in. Because our Lord
world, that I should bear that Pilate did not truly Jesus bore witness to
witness unto the truth. understand what Jesus was Himself, we are also
Every one that is of the saying called to bear as
truth heareth my voice.” - Jesus tells Pilate the whole witnesses of the
truth of His being and His truth--the Truth that
purpose of existence into this Jesus Christ is the
world; Jesus mentions about Light of the world
bearing witness to the (John 1:10-18)
truth--the Truth that is
Himself (John 14:6); that
everyone that is of the truth
hears him (John 10:25-29

v.38 “Pilate saith unto him, - Pilate’s statement was ● We tend to pride
What is truth? And when unfortunate. He, of all that ourselves with our
he had said this, he went out was logical to him, was a man education, our
again unto the Jews, and of knowledge and recognized degrees, our
saith unto them, I find in that Jesus had no fault and did accomplishments in
him no fault ​at all not see him as a threat to the life--and yet there are
Emperor. His question, still many of us,
“What is truth?” proves that, although faced with
with all his human knowledge the Truth, presented
and wisdom, Pilate could not with the Truth, we
see the real Truth even if it either refuse to
was already staring him recognize it or are
straight in the face--or did he? blinded by our pride
His wife had told him to have in ourselves. There are
nothing to do with Jesus’ people who tend to
death (Matt. 27:19), which keep searching, but do
meant he would have had not realize that it is
more than just a hint that only the truth of God
Jesus was truly the Son of that can fill the void is
God. Would not he have us (Ecclesiastes 3:10)
heard about the miracles
Jesus had done? And
yet…”What is truth?”

v.39 “But ye have a custom, - Even after not finding any ● We tend to please
that I should release unto fault with Jesus, Pilate still others instead of
you one at the passover: will tried to appease the Jews; this doing what is right
ye therefore that I release shows how limited his power
unto you the King of the really is. He wasn’t really in
Jews? control. He may have liked to
believe he had power--and yet
he still had to strike a
balance.

v.40 “Then cried they all - (NIV and NLT call ● As Christians, we can
again, saying, Not this man, Barabbas a revolutionary, or sometimes act just
but Barabbas. Now someone who had taken part like the Sanhedrin--we
Barabbas was a robber.” in a rebellion) They preferred are overcome by
a true criminal to someone pride, we forget to set
who had stated the truth and our eyes on the One
who is the Truth. The Truth, and we give in
Sanhedrin’s pride had taken to our bitterness
over in that even logic was ● As true Christians, if
thrown out the window. we are of the Truth
Because of their bitterness that is Christ, we will
and envy towards Jesus, they be able to overcome
preferred to have what was our pride and envy
truly harmful to society than and bitterness and rest
what was necessary for them. in the power of God.

EXEGESIS and HERMENEUTICS

Truth and power can be such trivial aspects for someone who does not know God. Truth,
for the common man, can be whatever the common man thinks it is. Therein lies the problem.
Truth, for a worldly aspect can then be bent or changed, twisted or altered, to fit whomever it
pleases. That is what the world teaches in such a broad form--to fit the common man: a false
truth. But then, ​What is truth?​, as Pontius Pilate stated. The whole form of it--its Being--is Jesus
Christ Himself. Those who are of the Truth, listen to it. Truth does not only give grace and
mercy and comfort those who know it. Truth also rebukes, chastens, and humbles.
Power is another thing the common man misunderstands. The common man believes
(however subconsciously denies) that he can wield power over anyone as long as he has it. The
world system is the belief that those who have power, or are in positions of power, or even
believe they have power, can lord it over those weaker than them or challenge whoever matches
their pride. However, true power can only be found in the One True God. Our passage and/or
two main points, then, found in the last thirteen verses of John chapter eighteen, addresses these
aspects, and presents the truth and power found in Jesus Christ.
In the previous verses, Jesus had been betrayed, captured, brought before Annas and
Caiaphas, and questioned about his doctrine. He was now being led into the hall of judgment
where he was to face Pontius Pilate, the then Roman governor of Judea. Verse 28 states that they
[the Sanhedrin, or the chief priests and elders] brought Jesus to Pilate early in the morning. What
was so important about bringing Jesus to Pilate in the morning? Pilate had not requested it and
yet the Sanhedrin were adamant.
Perhaps the Sanhedrin were afraid of the people themselves. Their plot was illegal as
well, since they had gone early in the morning. The verse states that they even refused to step
within the chambers of the judgment hall because they did not want to be defiled (​contaminated,​
ceremonially or morally​). This was a stark contrast to their scheme of having Jesus be put to
death.
We sometimes nitpick so much about being legalistic in what we do and practice as
Christians that we can act like hypocrites as well sometimes, loving to pass judgment on others
and acting very self-righteous. Just as Matthew 7:3-5, we unconsciously notice the specks in
others’ eyes and call them out for it; just like the verses, we forget to take out the planks that are
blocking our own view, even making us fail to see the truth about ourselves and take our eyes off
of Jesus.
Pilate then approaches the Sanhedrin and immediately emanates worldly power. As
present governor, Pilate held the power in Judea, and so, had the power to pronounce judgment
on whoever was brought to him for trial--in this case Jesus. The Sanhedrin then go on to accuse
Jesus of blasphemy. These “men of the law” had already gone through the first phase of their
plot: capturing Jesus and putting him on trial; the second phase was to make an excuse for
themselves: “If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.”
Pursuant with their character trait of being self-righteous, they had come to manipulate Pilate
into believing their claims about Jesus being a threat to Caesar so as to push Pilate into the
direction of pronouncing death on Jesus.
When envy and pride take hold of us, we usually come up with reasons to excuse our way
of passing judgment on others in a self-righteous way. Sometimes, this is because of the power
or positions we hold.
In verse 31, Pilate tells the Sanhedrin to take Jesus away and judge him by Jewish law.
The Sanhedrin, however, refuse and tell Pilate that they are not allowed to pass death as
judgment. This is where their true colors show. Historically, Roman law did not hold anything
that had to do with religious issues. Pilate did not have to do anything about it, but the chief
priests and elders had presented that they did not have the authority to actually put Jesus to death.
The role of worldly power is now played in a cowardly match. The Sanhedrin had the power to
capture and question Jesus, but were limited to just that. They did not want to get their hands
dirty. Pilate, on the other hand, may have had the power to allow Jesus to be crucified, but he
technically did not have all the power. This will later on be discussed in verse 39.
Sometimes, children love to tattle on other children they don’t like. Once they do, they
love to see the bigger people exercise their power by punishing the children they’ve tattled on.
As Christians, our attitude is not to remain as childish and prideful as the Sanhedrins, but to be
transformed by the truth of Jesus and act just as children of God would really act.
Verses 33-35 presents the beginning of a discussion between Pilate and Jesus. Pilate
questions Jesus as to whether he is the King of the Jews. Of all the accusations hurled about
Jesus, Pilate chose to latch on to the one about him being called the King of the Jews; this did not
seem to be a question out of mockery, but one out of curiosity--perhaps even a formality--as to
what Jesus would say; they had accused Jesus of being a malefactor. Roman law required having
to question the one on trial about the accusations, so Jesus must have committed some kind of
crime against the Emperor or something against Roman law. However, Pilate already knew it
was out of pure envy that the Sanhedrin had accused Jesus (Matt. 27:18; Mark 15:10).
Jesus had answered Pilate with a query: “Is that your own idea, or did others talk to you
about me?” (NIV). Pilate probably felt slighted by Jesus’ reply and resorted to proclaim as if he
had all the power by saying that Jesus’ own people took him to be judged by one higher than he
(​[They]”have delivered thee unto me”;​ John 19:10).
Jesus finally proceeds to present the truth to Pilate. He tells him of his kingdom which is
“not of this world” and that his deliverance to his own people was intended for a cause, which
was to die in the place of sinners. He talks about the difference between his heavenly kingdom
and the worldly kingdom and presents that, although He has the power to command wrath on his
own people who betrayed Him, He allows what is happening to Him in order for Scripture to be
fulfilled. Just because He stated that His kingdom was not of this world, it did not mean that He
did not have any powers on earth; His authority simply was over everything and surpassed
whatever powers or kingdoms were of the world (John 1:1-18). Jesus continues to tell Pilate
about the whole truth of His being and His purpose of existence into this world; Jesus mentions
about bearing witness to the truth--the Truth that is Himself (John 14:6); that everyone that is of
the truth hears him (John 10:25-29).
If we are truly God’s children, without a doubt, we can hear Him in any circumstance we
are in. Because our Lord Jesus bore witness to Himself, we are also called to bear as witnesses of
the truth--the Truth that Jesus Christ is the Light of the world (John 1:10-18).
Sadly, however, Pilate’s statement was unfortunate. He, of all that was logical to him,
was a man of knowledge and recognized that Jesus had no fault and did not see him as a threat to
the Emperor. His question, “What is truth?” proves that, with all his human knowledge and
wisdom, Pilate could not seem to see the real Truth even if it was already staring him straight in
the face--or did he? His wife had told him to have nothing to do with Jesus’ death (Matt. 27:19),
which meant he would have had more than just a hint that Jesus was truly the Son of God. Would
not he have heard about the miracles Jesus had done? And yet he had asked--perhaps
rhetorically--”What is truth?”
I do wonder about people who are presented with the truth and still question it. We tend
to pride ourselves with our education, our degrees, our accomplishments in life--and yet there are
still many of us, although faced with the Truth, presented with the Truth, we either refuse to
recognize it or are blinded by our pride in ourselves. Even when Truth is already facing us, we
sometimes try to look for false truths to fill the void. However, the only Truth that can fill us is
Jesus Christ (Ecclesiastes 3:10).
In the last verses, even after not finding any fault with Jesus, Pilate still tried to appease
the Jews; this shows how limited his power really is. He was not really in control. He may have
liked to believe he had power--and yet he still had to strike a balance. His power could be taken
away if the Emperor sought to. He had to please Caesar and not cause the people to riot at the
same time. By doing so, he had given exactly what the Jews wanted: the release of Barabbas and
the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
The irony is that the men who stood for “truth” preferred a true criminal to someone who
had stated the truth and who is the Truth. The Sanhedrin’s pride had taken over in that even logic
was thrown out the window. Because of their bitterness and envy towards Jesus, they preferred
to have what was truly harmful to society than what was necessary for them.
Sometimes, when we are given positions of power (or even just responsibility), we tend
to give in to what people want and end up only trying to please others instead of standing for the
truth and doing what is right. We end up swelling with pride at times because we have pleased
others and have cowered, for fear we might lose our positions, our worldly success, our
accomplishments. God does not become the focus anymore. His center in our lives is taken and
we start to put ourselves in the center. We become disillusioned by the world and by what others
think and by our own opinions that suddenly, the truth becomes muddled.
However, if we continue to listen and keep God as the center of our lives, we do not have
to worry about what truth is and in Whose power we rest. True power is not found in having to
wield it for our selfish causes or for when others taunt us to display it; true power is having
control over situations--over anything--over everything. True power is found in the Truth that is
God. When we ​know ​the Truth and listen and obey, we can trust that God has the power to
control everything.