John 18:15-40

15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest.
16 But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter.
17 Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one of this man's disciples? He saith, I am not.

18 And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.

As Jesus was being tried and condemned, Peter was engaged is a very personal struggle of his own. See John 13:36-38, John 18:10-11, 17, 25, 27 and John 21:15-17. Use the concordance to gain a clear picture of the life and ministry of Peter.

19 The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine.

[Asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine] He probably asked him by what authority he collected disciples, formed a different sect, preached a new doctrine and set himself up as a public reformer. As religion was involved in these things the high priest was considered to be the proper judge. But all this, with what follows, was transacted by night, and this was contrary to established laws. For the Talmud states, Sanhed.c.iv.s.1, that "Criminal process can neither commence nor terminate, but during the course of the day. If the person be acquitted, the sentence may be pronounced during that day; but if he be condemned, the sentence cannot be pronounced till the next day. But no kind of judgement is to be executed, either on the eve of the Sabbath or the eve of any festival." Nevertheless, Christ was judicially interrogated and condemned during the night; and on the night of the passover, or, according to others, on the eve of a feast. Thus, as I have remarked previously, all forms of justice were insulted and outraged in the case of our Lord.

20 Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.
21 Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.

How can you possibly not already know what I taught? Everybody else knows.

22 And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so?
23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?

[One of the officers... struck Jesus] Another outrage to justice, for a prisoner, before he is condemned, is considered to be under the special protection of justice, nor has anyone a right to touch him but according to the direction of the law. Could it be that the immediate environment had something to do with this? When people are immersed in what appears to be a universal mood they tend to accept it as a temporary standard even when it goes against established standards of the day. The mood in the room was perceived by the officer (not a Roman military officer but an ecclesiastical office-holder) to be entirely hostile toward Christ, therefore granting him tacit permission to mistreat our Lord. Some current examples of such environments: (1) A highway where the traffic is running 15 miles per hour over the legal speed limit. (2) A society where television, the predominant teacher of values, is filled with the message that immorality in all it's forms is a natural and acceptable expression of one's humanity. Romans 12:2, 21.

24 Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest.

A parenthetical statement to establish the current location. In verse 13 of this chapter it is stated that the soldiers initially took Jesus to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest.

25 And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not.
26 One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him?
27 Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.

An update on the events which were swirling around Peter.

28 Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.

[The hall of judgement] The praetorium. This was the house where Pilate, the praetor, or chief of the province lodged. It was the place where he held his court and tried causes. Jesus was now within the Roman justice system.

[Lest they should be defiled] The Jews considered even the touch of a Gentile to be a legal defilement and therefore would not venture into the pratorium for fear of contacting some impurity, which would have obliged them to separate themselves from all religious ordinances till the evening.

Passover week is a combination of two celebrations: Passover, a commemoration of the night in Egypt when the death angel spared the firstborn of Israel by passing over the homes where the blood had been applied to the door posts, and Feast of Unleavened Bread which was a week long reminder of the time Israel spent in the desert following their flight from Egypt the next morning. Passover and the first night of Unleavened bread are marked by special meals. You can do additional study by searching for PASSOVER and UNCLEAN.

29 Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man?

[Pilate then went out] This was an act of condesension, but, as the Romans had confirmed to the Jews the free use of all their rites and ceremonies, the governor could not do less than comply with them in this matter. He went out to them, that they might not be obliged to come into the hall and thus run the risk of being defiled.

30 They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.

They did not wish to permit Pilate to judge him, but only to execute the judgement which they had already illegally passed.

31 Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:

[It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.] They might have judged Jesus according to their law, as Pilate bade them do; but they could only excommunicate or scourge him. The power of life and death was reserved to Roman law and Roman justice.

32 That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.

[That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled] God permitted the Jews to lose the power of life and death so that Jesus might be crucified by Roman law according to his own prediction. See John 12:32-33 and John 3:14.

In the passages in the Gospels where Christ taught his disciples regarding his coming crucifixion and resurrection he pointed out that, while the Jewish leadership would condemn him and demand his death, the Romans (gentiles) would actually carry it out. All mankind, Jew and gentile alike, participated in the rejection and death of Christ, and by the grace of God, became beneficiaries of it. Compare: Matthew 20:17-19, Mark 10:32-34, Luke 18:31-34.

33 Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?

[Art thou the King of the Jews?] Luke says expressly in Luke 23:2 that when the Jews brought him to Pilate they began to accuse him as a rebel who said he was the King of the Jews and forbade the people to pay tribute to Caesar. It was in consequence of this accusation that Pilate asked the question.

34 Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?

[Sayest thou this thing of thyself] That is, Is it because my enemies thus accuse me or because you yourself suspect this might be so?

35 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you unto me: what have you done?

[Am I a Jew?] That is, I am not a Jew and cannot judge whether you are what is called the Christ, the King of the Jews. It is your own countrymen and their spiritual rulers who have delivered you up to me with the above accusation.

[What hast thou done?] If you do not profess yourself king over this people, and an enemy to Caesar, what is it that you have done, for which they desire your condemnation?

36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

[My kingdom is not of this world] It is purely spiritual and Divine. If it had been secular in nature then my servants would have contended -- they would have opposed you with force, as the kingdoms of this world do in their wars; but as my kingdom is not of this world, therefore no resistance has been made.

37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

[Thou sayest] A common form of expression for, "Yes, it is so."

38 Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.

[What is truth?] Among the sages of the time there were many opinions concerning truth, some supposing that it is a thing utterly out of the reach of men. Pilate may have despaired of getting a satisfactory answer.

[I find in him no fault] Having asked the above question and being convinced of our Lord's innocence, he went out to the Jews to tell them his opinion and to deliver him out of their hands.

39 But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?

40 Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.

[Barabbas was a robber] He was a person who lived by plunder, who had shed the blood of many whom his band had robbed and who was a genuine threat to the Roman government. See Luke 23:19. Christ himself had said, "If ye were of the world, the world would love it's own."

Based upon excerpts from Adam Clarke's Commentary, 2nd edition published in New York by Lane and Scott, 1850. More recent editions may be purchased from


This page updated 02/04/2007

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