Sanhedrin: That is, the Jewish high court in Jerusalem. The Greek word rendered “Sanhedrin” (sy·neʹdri·on) literally means a “sitting down with.” Although it was a general term for an assembly or a meeting, in Israel it could refer to a religious judicial body or court.
Pilate: The Roman governor (prefect) of Judea appointed by Emperor Tiberius in 26 C.E. His rule lasted about ten years. Pilate is mentioned by non-Biblical writers, including Roman historian Tacitus, who wrote that Pilate ordered the execution of Christ during the reign of Tiberius. A Latin inscription with the words “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea” was found in the ancient Roman theater in Caesarea, Israel.
Are you the King of the Jews?: No king in the Roman Empire could rule without Caesar’s consent. So Pilate apparently concentrated his interrogation on the issue of Jesus’ kingship.
You yourself say it: This reply is evidently an affirmation of the truth of Pilate’s statement. (Compare study notes on Mt 26:25, 64.) Though Jesus confesses to Pilate that he really is a king, it is in a sense that differs from what Pilate imagines, since Jesus’ Kingdom is “no part of this world” and thus no threat to Rome.
used to release to them one prisoner: This incident is mentioned by all four Gospel writers. (Mt 27:15-
Once more: As indicated at Lu 23:18-
whipped: The Romans flogged victims using a terrible instrument known in Latin as a flagellum, from which the Greek verb used here (phra·gel·loʹo, “to whip”) is derived. This instrument consisted of a handle into which several cords or knotted leather thongs were fixed. Sometimes the thongs were weighted with jagged pieces of bone or metal to make the blows more painful. Such floggings caused deep contusions, tore the flesh to ribbons, and could even lead to death.
governor’s residence: The Greek term prai·toʹri·on (derived from the Latin praetorium) designates the official residence of the Roman governors. In Jerusalem, the residence was probably the palace built by Herod the Great, situated in the NW corner of the upper city, that is, of the southern part of Jerusalem. (See App. B12 for the location.) Pilate stayed in Jerusalem only on certain occasions, such as festivals, since there was a potential for unrest. His usual residence was in Caesarea.
they dressed him in purple: 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.
crown: Along with the purple garment (mentioned earlier in this verse), Jesus was given mock attributes of royalty
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.
bowed down to him: Or “did obeisance to him; paid him homage.” Here the Greek verb pro·sky·neʹo is used of the soldiers who mockingly bowed down to Jesus, calling him “King of the Jews.”
compelled into service: A reference to the compulsory service that the Roman authorities could demand from a citizen. They could, for example, press men or animals into service or commandeer whatever was considered necessary to expedite official business.
Cyrene: A city located near the North African coast, SSW of the island of Crete.
the father of Alexander and Rufus: Only Mark mentions this point regarding Simon of Cyrene.
Golgotha: From a Hebrew word meaning “skull.” (See Joh 19:17; compare Jg 9:53, where the Hebrew word gul·goʹleth is rendered “skull.”) In Jesus’ day, the site was outside the city walls of Jerusalem. However, the location remains uncertain. (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.
Skull Place: The Greek expression Kra·niʹou Toʹpos renders the Hebrew word Golgotha. (See Joh 19:17 and the study note on Golgotha in this verse.) The term Calvary is used at Lu 23:33 in some English Bible translations. It comes from the Latin word for “skull,” calvaria, used in the Vulgate.
wine drugged with myrrh: The parallel account at Mt 27:34 says that the wine was “mixed with gall.” The drink likely contained both myrrh and bitter gall. This mixture was evidently given to deaden pain.
he would not take it: Jesus evidently wanted to have full possession of all his faculties during this test of his faith.
distributed his outer garments: The account at Joh 19:23, 24 adds complementary details not mentioned by Matthew, Mark, and Luke: Roman soldiers evidently cast lots over both the outer garment and the inner one; the soldiers divided the outer garments “into four parts, one for each soldier”; they did not want to divide the inner garment, so they cast lots over it; and the casting of lots for the Messiah’s apparel fulfilled Ps 22:18. It was evidently customary for the executioners to keep their victims’ clothes, so criminals were stripped of their clothing and possessions before being executed, making the ordeal all the more humiliating.
by casting lots: See Glossary, “Lots.”
the third hour: That is, about 9:00 a.m. Some point to a seeming discrepancy between this account and Joh 19:14-
robbers: Or “bandits.” The Greek word lei·stesʹ may include robbing by using violence and at times could refer to revolutionaries. The same word is used of Barabbas (Joh 18:40), who according to Lu 23:19 was in prison for “sedition” and “murder.” The parallel account at Lu 23:32, 33, 39 describes the men as “criminals” from a Greek word (ka·kourʹgos), which literally means “one who engages in doing bad or evil.”
A few later manuscripts here add the words: “And the scripture was fulfilled that says: ‘And he was counted with lawless ones,’” which quotes a part of Isa 53:12. But these words do not appear in the earliest and most reliable manuscripts and are evidently not part of the original text of Mark. A similar statement is part of the inspired text at Lu 22:37. Some are of the opinion that a copyist inserted into Mark’s account the expression from Luke’s account.
shaking their heads: Generally accompanied by words, this gesture expressed derision, contempt, or mockery. The passersby inadvertently fulfilled the prophecy recorded at Ps 22:7.
torture stake: See study note on Mt 27:32.
the sixth hour: That is, about 12:00 noon.
a darkness: Luke’s parallel account adds the observation that “the sunlight failed.” (Lu 23:44, 45) This darkness was miraculous, caused by God. It could not have been caused by a solar eclipse. Those occur at the time of the new moon, but this was Passover season, when the moon is full. And this darkness lasted for three hours, far longer than the longest possible total eclipse, which is less than eight minutes.
the ninth hour: That is, about 3:00 p.m.
Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?: Though some consider these words to be Aramaic, they were likely contemporary Hebrew, somewhat influenced by Aramaic. The Greek transliteration of these words recorded by Matthew and Mark does not allow for a positive identification of the original language.
My God, my God: In calling out to his heavenly Father, acknowledging him as his God, Jesus fulfilled Ps 22:1. Jesus’ cry of agony may have brought to his listeners’ minds the many things prophesied about him in the rest of Ps 22
Elijah: From the Hebrew name meaning “My God Is Jehovah.”
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.
expired: Or “breathed his last.”
curtain: This beautifully ornamented drape separated the Most Holy from the Holy in the temple. Jewish tradition indicates that this heavy curtain was some 18 m (60 ft) long, 9 m (30 ft) wide, and 7.4 cm (2.9 in.) thick. By tearing the curtain in two, Jehovah not only manifests his wrath against his Son’s killers but also signifies that entry into heaven itself is now possible.
sanctuary: The Greek word na·osʹ here refers to the central edifice with its Holy and Most Holy compartments.
army officer: Or “centurion,” that is, one in command of about 100 soldiers in the Roman army. This high-ranking officer may have been at Jesus’ trial before Pilate and may have heard the Jews say that Jesus claimed to be God’s Son. (Mr 15:16; Joh 19:7) Mark here uses the Greek word ken·ty·riʹon, a Latin loanword that also occurs at Mr 15:44, 45.
Mary Magdalene: Her distinguishing name Magdalene (meaning “Of, or Belonging to, Magdala”) likely stems from the town of Magdala on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee about halfway between Capernaum and Tiberias. It has been suggested that Magdala was Mary’s hometown or place of residence.
James the Less: One of Jesus’ apostles and the son of Alphaeus. (Mt 10:
Joses: From Hebrew, a shortened form of Josiphiah, meaning “May Jah Add (Increase); Jah Has Added (Increased).” Although a few manuscripts here read “Joseph,” the majority of ancient manuscripts read “Joses.”
Salome: Probably from a Hebrew word meaning “peace.” Salome was a disciple of Jesus. A comparison of Mt 27:56 with Mr 3:
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.
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.”
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.
a stone: Apparently a circular stone, since this verse says that it was rolled into place and Mr 16:4 says that it “had been rolled away” when Jesus was resurrected. It might have weighed a ton or more. Matthew’s account calls it “a big stone.”
Seventy-one members constituted the Jewish high court called the Great Sanhedrin. It was located in Jerusalem. (See Glossary, “Sanhedrin.”) According to the Mishnah, the seating was arranged in a semicircle three rows deep, and two scribes were present to record the court’s rulings. Some of the architectural features shown here are based on a structure discovered in Jerusalem that is considered by some to be the Council Chamber from the first century.
1. High priest
2. Members of the Sanhedrin
3. A defendant