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Jehovah’s Witnesses

English
New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)

According to John 19:1-42

19  Pilate then took Jesus and scourged him.+  And the soldiers braided a crown of thorns and put it on his head and clothed him with a purple robe,+  and they kept coming up to him and saying: “Greetings, you King of the Jews!” They also kept slapping him in the face.+  Pilate went outside again and said to them: “See! I bring him outside to you in order for you to know that I find no fault in him.”+  So Jesus came outside, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them: “Look! The man!”  However, when the chief priests and the officers saw him, they shouted: “To the stake with him! To the stake with him!”*+ Pilate said to them: “Take him yourselves and execute him,* for I do not find any fault in him.”+  The Jews answered him: “We have a law, and according to the law he ought to die,+ because he made himself God’s son.”+  When Pilate heard what they were saying, he became even more fearful,  and he entered the governor’s residence again and said to Jesus: “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer.+ 10  So Pilate said to him: “Are you refusing to speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and I have authority to execute you?”* 11  Jesus answered him: “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been granted to you from above.+ This is why the man who handed me over to you has greater sin.” 12  For this reason Pilate kept trying to find a way to release him, but the Jews shouted: “If you release this man, you are not a friend of Caesar. Everyone who makes himself a king speaks against* Caesar.”+ 13  Then Pilate, after hearing these words, brought Jesus outside, and he sat down on a judgment seat in a place called the Stone Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabʹba·tha. 14  Now it was the day of Preparation+ of the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews: “See! Your king!” 15  However, they shouted: “Take him away! Take him away! To the stake with him!”* Pilate said to them: “Shall I execute your king?” The chief priests answered: “We have no king but Caesar.” 16  Then he handed him over to them to be executed on the stake.+ So they took charge of Jesus. 17  Bearing the torture stake for himself, he went out to the so-called Skull Place,+ which is called Golʹgo·tha in Hebrew.+ 18  There they nailed him to the stake+ alongside two other men, one on each side, with Jesus in the middle.+ 19  Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the torture stake. It was written: “Jesus the Naz·a·reneʹ the King of the Jews.”+ 20  Many of the Jews read this title, because the place where Jesus was nailed to the stake was near the city, and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. 21  However, the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate: “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that he said, ‘I am King of the Jews.’” 22  Pilate answered: “What I have written, I have written.” 23  Now when the soldiers had nailed Jesus to the stake, they took his outer garments and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier, and they also took the inner garment. But the inner garment was without a seam, being woven from top to bottom. 24  So they said to one another: “Let us not tear it, but let us cast lots over it to decide whose it will be.”+ This was to fulfill the scripture: “They divided my garments among themselves, and they cast lots for my clothing.”+ So the soldiers actually did these things. 25  By the torture stake of Jesus, however, there were standing his mother+ and his mother’s sister; Mary the wife of Cloʹpas and Mary Magʹda·lene.+ 26  So when Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved+ standing nearby, he said to his mother: “Woman, see! Your son!” 27  Next he said to the disciple: “See! Your mother!” And from that hour on, the disciple took her into his own home. 28  After this, when Jesus knew that by now all things had been accomplished, in order to fulfill the scripture he said: “I am thirsty.”+ 29  A jar was sitting there full of sour wine. So they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop stalk and held it up to his mouth.+ 30  When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said: “It has been accomplished!”+ and bowing his head, he gave up his spirit.+ 31  Since it was the day of Preparation,+ so that the bodies would not remain on the torture stakes+ on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath day was a great one),+ the Jews asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken away. 32  So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man and those of the other man who was on a stake alongside him. 33  But on coming to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they did not break his legs. 34  But one of the soldiers jabbed his side with a spear,+ and immediately blood and water came out. 35  And the one who has seen it has given this witness, and his witness is true, and he knows that what he says is true, so that you also may believe.+ 36  In fact, these things took place for the scripture to be fulfilled: “Not a bone of his will be broken.”+ 37  And again, a different scripture says: “They will look to the one whom they pierced.”+ 38  Now after these things, Joseph of Ar·i·ma·theʹa, who was a disciple of Jesus but a secret one because of his fear of the Jews,+ asked Pilate if he could take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body away.+ 39  Nic·o·deʹmus,+ the man who had come to him in the night the first time, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about a hundred pounds.+ 40  So they took the body of Jesus and wrapped it in linen cloths with the spices,+ according to the burial custom of the Jews.+ 41  Incidentally, there was a garden at the place where he was executed,* and in the garden was a new tomb+ in which no one had ever yet been laid. 42  Because it was the day of Preparation+ of the Jews and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Footnotes

Or “Execute him on the stake! Execute him on the stake!”
Or “execute him on the stake.”
Or “execute you on the stake?”
Or “opposes.”
Or “Execute him on the stake!”
Or “executed on the stake.”

Study Notes

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.

clothed him with a purple robe: This was done to mock Jesus and make fun of his kingship. Matthew’s account (27:28) says that the soldiers draped Jesus “with a scarlet cloak,” a garment worn by kings, magistrates, or military officers. Mark’s and John’s accounts (19:2) say that it was a purple garment, but in ancient times, “purple” was used to describe any color that had a mixture of red and blue. Also, angle, light reflection, and background could have influenced the observer’s perception of the exact color. This variation in describing the color shows that the Gospel writers did not simply copy one another’s accounts.

Greetings: Or “Hail.” Lit., “Be rejoicing.” They hailed him as they would have hailed Caesar, evidently to ridicule the claim that he was a king.

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.

born again: Jesus reveals to Nicodemus that in order to see the Kingdom of God, a human has to be born a second time. Nicodemus’ response in verse 4 indicates that he understood Jesus’ words to mean experiencing a literal second birth as a human. Jesus, however, goes on to describe this second birth as being “born from . . . spirit.” (Joh 3:5) Those who were “to become God’s children” “were born, not from blood or from a fleshly will or from man’s will, but from God.” (Joh 1:12, 13) At 1Pe 1:3, 23, Peter uses a synonymous Biblical expression, saying that anointed Christians are given “a new birth.” Although most Bibles use the expression “born again,” a number of Bibles say “born from above,” which is also a possible rendering because the Greek word aʹno·then usually means “from above.” (Joh 3:31; 19:11; Jas 1:17; 3:15, 17) Both renderings harmonize with the idea that those who would enter the Kingdom would experience a new birth that is “from God” and thus from above. (1Jo 3:9) But considering Nicodemus’ response, in this context it has also been understood to mean “again; anew.”

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 Tiberias. 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: Or “the Emperor.” The Roman emperor during Jesus’ earthly ministry was Tiberius, but the term was not restricted to the ruling emperor. “Caesar” could refer to the Roman civil authority, or the State, and its duly appointed representatives, who are called “the superior authorities” by Paul, and “the king” and his “governors” by Peter.Ro 13:1-7; 1Pe 2:13-17; Tit 3:1; see Glossary.

Hebrew: In the Christian Greek Scriptures, inspired Bible writers used the term “Hebrew” in designating the language spoken by the Jews (Joh 19:13, 17, 20; Ac 21:40; 22:2; Re 9:11; 16:16), as well as the language in which the resurrected and glorified Jesus addressed Saul of Tarsus (Ac 26:14, 15). At Ac 6:1, “Hebrew-speaking Jews” are distinguished from “Greek-speaking Jews.” While some scholars hold that the term “Hebrew” in these references should instead be rendered “Aramaic,” there is good reason to believe that the term actually applies to the Hebrew language. When the physician Luke says that Paul spoke to the people of Jerusalem “in the Hebrew language,” Paul was addressing those whose life revolved around studying the Law of Moses in Hebrew. Also, of the great number of fragments and manuscripts comprising the Dead Sea Scrolls, the majority of Biblical and non-Biblical texts are written in Hebrew, showing that the language was in daily use. The smaller number of Aramaic fragments found shows that both languages were used. So it seems highly unlikely that when Bible writers used the word “Hebrew,” they actually meant the Aramaic or Syrian language. (Ac 21:40; 22:2; compare Ac 26:14.) The Hebrew Scriptures earlier distinguished between “Aramaic” and “the language of the Jews” (2Ki 18:26), and first-century Jewish historian Josephus, considering this passage of the Bible, speaks of “Aramaic” and “Hebrew” as distinct tongues. (Jewish Antiquities, X, 8 [i, 2]) It is true that there are some terms that are quite similar in both Aramaic and Hebrew and possibly other terms that were adopted into Hebrew from Aramaic. However, there seems to be no reason for the writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures to have said Hebrew if they meant Aramaic.

judgment seat: Usually a raised outdoor platform from which seated officials could address crowds and announce their judicial decisions.

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.

Preparation: As Mark evidently writes primarily with non-Jewish readers in mind, he clarifies that this expression refers to the day before the Sabbath, an explanation not found in the other Gospel accounts. (Mt 27:62; Lu 23:54; Joh 19:31) On this day, Jews got ready for the Sabbath by preparing extra meals and finishing any work that could not wait until after the Sabbath. In this case, the day of Preparation fell on Nisan 14.—See Glossary.

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. In the period from 29 to 35 C.E., the only year in which Nisan 14 fell on a Friday was the year 33 C.E. So this evidence supports the conclusion that it must have been on Nisan 14, 33 C.E., that Jesus died.

the third hour: That is, about 9:00 a.m. Some point to a seeming discrepancy between this account and Joh 19:14-16, which says “it was about the sixth hour” when Pilate handed Jesus over to be executed. Although the Scriptures do not fully explain the difference, here are some factors to consider: The Gospel accounts generally harmonize with regard to the timing of events during Jesus’ last day on earth. All four accounts indicate that the priests and the elders met after dawn and then had Jesus taken to Roman Governor Pontius Pilate. (Mt 27:1, 2; Mr 15:1; Lu 22:66–23:1; Joh 18:28) Matthew, Mark, and Luke all report that when Jesus was already on the stake, darkness fell over the land from “the sixth hour . . . until the ninth hour.” (Mt 27:45, 46; Mr 15:33, 34; Lu 23:44) A factor that may have a bearing on the timing of Jesus’ execution is this: Scourging, or whipping, was considered by some to be a part of the execution process. Sometimes the scourging was so terrible that the victim died. In Jesus’ case, it was sufficiently severe to make it necessary for another man to carry the torture stake after Jesus started out carrying it alone. (Lu 23:26; Joh 19:17) If the scourging was viewed as the start of the execution procedure, some time would have elapsed before Jesus was actually nailed to the torture stake. Supporting this, Mt 27:26 and Mr 15:15 mention the scourging (whipping) and execution on the stake together. Therefore, different individuals might give different times for the execution, depending on their perspective regarding the time when the process began. This may explain why Pilate was astonished to learn that Jesus died so soon after he was nailed to the stake. (Mr 15:44) Additionally, Bible writers frequently reflect the practice of dividing the day into four segments of three hours each, as was done with the night. Dividing the day in that way explains why there often are references to the third, sixth, and ninth hours, counting from sunrise at about 6:00 a.m. (Mt 20:1-5; Joh 4:6; Ac 2:15; 3:1; 10:3, 9, 30) Also, people in general did not have precise timepieces, so the time of day was frequently qualified with the term “about,” as we find at Joh 19:14. (Mt 27:46; Lu 23:44; Joh 4:6; Ac 10:3, 9) In summary: Mark may have included both the scourging and the nailing to the stake, while John referred only to the nailing to the stake. Both writers may have rounded off the time of day to the nearest three-hour period, and John used “about” when referring to his stated time. These factors may account for the difference in times mentioned in the accounts. Finally, the fact that John, writing decades later, included a time that appears to vary from that given by Mark shows that John did not simply copy Mark’s account.

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.

torture stake: Or “execution stake.” This is the first occurrence of the Greek word stau·rosʹ. In classical Greek, it primarily referred to an upright stake or pole. Used figuratively, it sometimes stood for the suffering, shame, torture, and even death that a person experienced because of being a follower of Jesus.—See Glossary.

torture stake: Or “execution stake.” In classical Greek, the word stau·rosʹ primarily referred to an upright stake or pole. Used figuratively, this term sometimes stands for the suffering, shame, torture, and even death that a person experienced because of being a follower of Jesus.—See Glossary.

Hebrew: In the Christian Greek Scriptures, inspired Bible writers used the term “Hebrew” in designating the language spoken by the Jews (Joh 19:13, 17, 20; Ac 21:40; 22:2; Re 9:11; 16:16), as well as the language in which the resurrected and glorified Jesus addressed Saul of Tarsus (Ac 26:14, 15). At Ac 6:1, “Hebrew-speaking Jews” are distinguished from “Greek-speaking Jews.” While some scholars hold that the term “Hebrew” in these references should instead be rendered “Aramaic,” there is good reason to believe that the term actually applies to the Hebrew language. When the physician Luke says that Paul spoke to the people of Jerusalem “in the Hebrew language,” Paul was addressing those whose life revolved around studying the Law of Moses in Hebrew. Also, of the great number of fragments and manuscripts comprising the Dead Sea Scrolls, the majority of Biblical and non-Biblical texts are written in Hebrew, showing that the language was in daily use. The smaller number of Aramaic fragments found shows that both languages were used. So it seems highly unlikely that when Bible writers used the word “Hebrew,” they actually meant the Aramaic or Syrian language. (Ac 21:40; 22:2; compare Ac 26:14.) The Hebrew Scriptures earlier distinguished between “Aramaic” and “the language of the Jews” (2Ki 18:26), and first-century Jewish historian Josephus, considering this passage of the Bible, speaks of “Aramaic” and “Hebrew” as distinct tongues. (Jewish Antiquities, X, 8 [i, 2]) It is true that there are some terms that are quite similar in both Aramaic and Hebrew and possibly other terms that were adopted into Hebrew from Aramaic. However, there seems to be no reason for the writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures to have said Hebrew if they meant Aramaic.

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: Or “execution stake.”—See Glossary, “Stake”; “Torture stake”; see also study notes on Mt 10:38 and 16:24, where the term is used in a figurative sense.

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.

torture stake: Or “execution stake.”—See Glossary, “Stake”; “Torture stake.”

Hebrew: In the Christian Greek Scriptures, inspired Bible writers used the term “Hebrew” in designating the language spoken by the Jews (Joh 19:13, 17, 20; Ac 21:40; 22:2; Re 9:11; 16:16), as well as the language in which the resurrected and glorified Jesus addressed Saul of Tarsus (Ac 26:14, 15). At Ac 6:1, “Hebrew-speaking Jews” are distinguished from “Greek-speaking Jews.” While some scholars hold that the term “Hebrew” in these references should instead be rendered “Aramaic,” there is good reason to believe that the term actually applies to the Hebrew language. When the physician Luke says that Paul spoke to the people of Jerusalem “in the Hebrew language,” Paul was addressing those whose life revolved around studying the Law of Moses in Hebrew. Also, of the great number of fragments and manuscripts comprising the Dead Sea Scrolls, the majority of Biblical and non-Biblical texts are written in Hebrew, showing that the language was in daily use. The smaller number of Aramaic fragments found shows that both languages were used. So it seems highly unlikely that when Bible writers used the word “Hebrew,” they actually meant the Aramaic or Syrian language. (Ac 21:40; 22:2; compare Ac 26:14.) The Hebrew Scriptures earlier distinguished between “Aramaic” and “the language of the Jews” (2Ki 18:26), and first-century Jewish historian Josephus, considering this passage of the Bible, speaks of “Aramaic” and “Hebrew” as distinct tongues. (Jewish Antiquities, X, 8 [i, 2]) It is true that there are some terms that are quite similar in both Aramaic and Hebrew and possibly other terms that were adopted into Hebrew from Aramaic. However, there seems to be no reason for the writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures to have said Hebrew if they meant Aramaic.

Hebrew: See study note on Joh 5:2.

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 one whom Jesus loved: That is, the one whom Jesus especially loved. This is the first of five occurrences mentioning a certain disciple “whom Jesus [or “he”] loved” or “for whom Jesus had affection.” (Joh 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20) It is generally believed that this disciple is the apostle John, the son of Zebedee and the brother of James. (Mt 4:21; Mr 1:19; Lu 5:10) One reason for this identification is that the apostle John is not referred to by name in this Gospel, except for the mention of “the sons of Zebedee” at Joh 21:2. Another indication is found at Joh 21:20-24, where the expression “the disciple whom Jesus loved” is used with reference to the writer of this Gospel. Also, Jesus said of that apostle: “If it is my will for him to remain until I come, of what concern is that to you?” This suggests that the one referred to would long survive Peter and the other apostles, a description that fits the apostle John.—See study notes on Joh Title and Joh 1:6; 21:20.

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.

the one whom Jesus loved: That is, the one whom Jesus especially loved. This is the first of five occurrences mentioning a certain disciple “whom Jesus [or “he”] loved” or “for whom Jesus had affection.” (Joh 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20) It is generally believed that this disciple is the apostle John, the son of Zebedee and the brother of James. (Mt 4:21; Mr 1:19; Lu 5:10) One reason for this identification is that the apostle John is not referred to by name in this Gospel, except for the mention of “the sons of Zebedee” at Joh 21:2. Another indication is found at Joh 21:20-24, where the expression “the disciple whom Jesus loved” is used with reference to the writer of this Gospel. Also, Jesus said of that apostle: “If it is my will for him to remain until I come, of what concern is that to you?” This suggests that the one referred to would long survive Peter and the other apostles, a description that fits the apostle John.—See study notes on Joh Title and Joh 1:6; 21:20.

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: Or “wine vinegar.” Likely referring to a thin, tart, or sour wine known in Latin as acetum (vinegar) or as posca when diluted with water. This was a cheap drink that poor people, including Roman soldiers, commonly drank to quench their thirst. The Greek word oʹxos is also used at Ps 69:21 in the Septuagint, where it was prophesied that Messiah would be given “vinegar” to drink.

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. In the period from 29 to 35 C.E., the only year in which Nisan 14 fell on a Friday was the year 33 C.E. So this evidence supports the conclusion that it must have been on Nisan 14, 33 C.E., that Jesus died.

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.

the Lamb of God: After Jesus got baptized and returned from being tempted by the Devil, John the Baptist introduced him as “the Lamb of God.” This expression occurs only here and at Joh 1:36. (See App. A7.) Comparing Jesus to a lamb is fitting. Throughout the Bible, sheep were offered in recognition of sin and to gain approach to God. This foreshadowed the sacrifice that Jesus would make when he surrendered his perfect human life in behalf of mankind. The expression “the Lamb of God” could reflect a number of passages in the inspired Scriptures. In view of John the Baptist’s familiarity with the Hebrew Scriptures, his words may have alluded to one or more of the following: the male sheep that Abraham offered up instead of his own son Isaac (Ge 22:13), the Passover lamb that was slaughtered in Egypt for the deliverance of the enslaved Israelites (Ex 12:1-13), or the male lamb that was offered up on God’s altar in Jerusalem each morning and evening (Ex 29:38-42). John may also have had in mind Isaiah’s prophecy, where the one whom Jehovah calls “my servant” is said to be “brought like a sheep to the slaughter.” (Isa 52:13; 53:5, 7, 11) When the apostle Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians, he referred to Jesus as “our Passover lamb.” (1Co 5:7) The apostle Peter spoke of Christ’s “precious blood, like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb.” (1Pe 1:19) And more than 25 times in the book of Revelation, the glorified Jesus is spoken of figuratively as “the Lamb.”—Some examples are: Re 5:8; 6:1; 7:9; 12:11; 13:8; 14:1; 15:3; 17:14; 19:7; 21:9; 22:1.

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.

the Jews: As used in the Gospel of John, this term conveys different meanings, depending on the context. In addition to referring to Jewish or Judean people in general or to those living in or near Jerusalem, the term may also refer more specifically to Jews who zealously adhered to human traditions connected with the Mosaic Law, which were often contrary to the spirit of that Law. (Mt 15:3-6) Foremost among these “Jews” were the Jewish authorities or religious leaders who were hostile to Jesus. In this passage and in some of the other occurrences of this term in John chapter 7, the context indicates that the Jewish authorities or religious leaders are referred to.—Joh 7:13, 15, 35a.

Joseph: The individuality of the Gospel writers is evident in the varying details they provide about Joseph. Tax collector Matthew notes that he was “a rich man”; Mark, writing primarily for the Romans, says that he was “a reputable member of the Council” who was waiting for God’s Kingdom; Luke, the sympathetic physician, says that he “was a good and righteous man” who did not vote in support of the Council’s action against Jesus; John alone reports that he was “a secret [disciple] because of his fear of the Jews.”Mt 27:57-60; Mr 15:43-46; Lu 23:50-53; Joh 19:38-42.

Arimathea: The name of this city comes from a Hebrew word meaning “height.” At Lu 23:51, it is called “a city of the Judeans.”—See App. B10.

the Jews: Apparently referring to the Jewish authorities or religious leaders.—See study note on Joh 7:1.

Nicodemus: A Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews, that is, a member of the Sanhedrin. (See Glossary, “Sanhedrin.”) The name Nicodemus, which means “Conqueror of the People,” was well-known among the Greeks and had been adopted by some Jews. Nicodemus is mentioned only in John’s Gospel (Joh 3:4, 9; 7:50; 19:39), and Jesus calls him “a teacher of Israel” at Joh 3:10.—See study note on Joh 19:39.

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: Or “memorial tomb.” A vault, or chamber, cut into the soft limestone rock, rather than a natural cave. Such tombs often contained benchlike shelves or niches where bodies could be laid.—See Glossary, “Memorial tomb.”

Media

Nail in a Heel Bone
Nail in a Heel Bone

This is a photograph of a replica of a human heel bone pierced by an iron nail that was 11.5 cm (4.5 in.) long. The original artifact was found in 1968, during excavations in northern Jerusalem, and dates to Roman times. It provides archaeological evidence that nails were likely used in executions to fasten the person to a wooden stake. This nail may be similar to the nails employed by the Roman soldiers to fasten Jesus Christ to the stake. The artifact was found in a stone box, called an ossuary, into which the dried bones of a deceased person were placed after the flesh had decomposed. This indicates that someone executed on a stake could be given a burial.

The Hyssop Mentioned in the Bible
The Hyssop Mentioned in the Bible

The Hebrew and Greek terms translated “hyssop” in many Bible translations (Hebrew ʼe·zohvʹ and Greek hysʹso·pos) may embrace several different kinds of plants. Shown here is marjoram (Origanum maru; Origanum syriacum), the plant that many scholars think is referred to by the Hebrew term. This plant of the mint family is common in the Middle East. Under favorable conditions, it attains a height of 0.5 to 0.9 m (1.5 to 3 ft). In the Bible, this hyssop is often associated with cleanness. (Ex 12:21, 22; Le 14:2-7; Nu 19:6, 9, 18; Ps 51:7) In the Christian Greek Scriptures, “hyssop” is mentioned only twice. Heb 9:19 describes the inauguration of the old covenant, and in that context, “hyssop” evidently refers to the plant mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures. At Joh 19:29, Jesus is said to have been given a sponge full of sour wine “on a hyssop stalk” held up to his mouth. Scholars have different opinions about which plant the Greek word hysʹso·pos refers to in this context. Some think that because marjoram might not have been long enough to carry the stalk to Jesus’ mouth, the term here refers to another plant with a longer stalk, perhaps durra, a variety of common sorghum (Sorghum vulgare). Others think that even in this case, hyssop may have been marjoram. They suggest that a bunch of marjoram may have been attached to the “reed” mentioned by Matthew and Mark.—Mt 27:48; Mr 15:36.

Roman Spears
Roman Spears

Roman soldiers were commonly equipped with long weapons suitable for thrusting or throwing. The pilum (1) was designed to penetrate its target. Its heavy weight limited the range at which it could be thrown but enabled the weapon to pierce through armor or a shield. There is evidence that Roman legionnaires often carried the pilum. Simpler spears (2) had a wooden shaft and a tip of forged iron. Auxiliary infantry sometimes carried one or more spears of this type. It is unknown what kind of spear was used to jab the side of Jesus’ body.

Tomb Chamber
Tomb Chamber

The Jews usually buried their dead in caves or vaults cut into the rock. These tombs were customarily located outside the cities, an exception being the tombs of the kings. Jewish tombs that have been found are notable for their simplicity. This was evidently because the Jews’ worship allowed no veneration of the dead and did not foster any ideas of a conscious existence in a spirit world after death.