Augustin on John 113
114 (Jn 18,28-32.
1). Let us now consider, so far as indicated by the evangelist John, what was done with, or in regard to, our Lord Jesus Christ, when brought before Pontius Pilate the governor. For he returns to the place of his narrative where he had left it, to explain the denial of Peter. He had already, you know, said, “And Annas sent Him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest:” and having returned from where he had dismissed Peter as he was warming himself at the fire in the hall, after completing the whole of his denial, which was thrice repeated, he says, “Then they bring Jesus unto Caiaphas1 into the hall of judgment (pretorium);” for he had said that He was sent to Caiaphas by his colleague and father-in-law Annas. But if to Caiaphas, why into the hall of judgment? Nothing else is thereby meant to be understood than the place where Pilate the governor dwelt. And therefore, either for some urgent reason Caiaphas had proceeded from the house of Annas, where both had met to give Jesus a hearing, to the governor’s pretorium, and had left the hearing of Jesus to his father-in-law; or Pilate had made his pretorium in the house of Caiaphas, which was so large as to contain separate apartments for its own master, and the like for the judge.
2. “And it was morning; and they themselves,” that is, those who brought Jesus, “went not into the judgment hall,” to wit, into that part of the house which Pilate occupied, supposing it to be Caiaphas’ house. And then in explanation of the reason why they went not into the judgment hall, he says, “lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.” For it was the commencement of the days of unleavened bread: on which they accounted it defilement to enter the abode of one of another nation. Impious blindness! Would they, forsooth,be defiled by a stranger’s abode, and not bedefiled by their own wickedness? They wereafraid of being defiled by the pretorium of a foreign judge, and had no fear of defilement from the blood of an innocent brother: not to say more than this meanwhile, which was enough to fix guilt on the conscience of the wicked. For the additional fact, that it was the Lord who was led to death by their impiety, and the giver of life that was on the way to be slain, may be charged, not to their conscience, but to their ignorance.
3. “Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.” Let the question be put to, and the answer come from, those who had been delivered from foul spirits, from the sickly who had been healed, the lepers who had been cleansed, the deaf who were hearing, the dumb who were speaking, the blind who were seeing, the dead who were raised to life, and, above all, the foolish who were become wise, whether Jesus were a malefactor. But these things were said by those of whom He Himself had already foretold by the prophet, “They rewarded me evil for good.”2
4. “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.” What is this that their insane cruelty saith? Did not they put Him to death, whom they were here presenting for the very purpose? Or does the cross, forsooth, fail to kill? Such is the folly of those who do not pursue, but persecute wisdom. What then mean the words, “It is not lawful for us to put any man to death”? If He is a malefactor, why is it not lawful? Did not the law command them not to spare malefactors, especially (as they accounted Him to be) those who seduced them from their God?3 We are, however, to understand that they said that it was not lawful for them to put any man to death, on account of the sanctity of the festal day, which they had just begun to celebrate, and on account of which they were afraid of being defiled even by entering the pretorium. Had you become so hardened, false Israelites? Were you by your excessive malice so lost to all sense, as to imagine that you were unpolluted by the blood of the innocent, because you gave it up to be shed by another? Was even Pilate himself going to slay Him with his own hands, when made over by you into his power for the very purpose? If you did not wish Him to be slain; if you did not lay snares for Him; if you did not get Him to be betrayed to you for money; if you did not lay hands upon Him, and bind Him, and bring Him there; if you did not with your own hands present Him, and with your voices demand Him to be slain,-then boast that He was not put to death by you. But if in addition to all these former deeds of yours, you also cried out, “Crucify, crucify [him];”4 then hear what it is against you that the prophet proclaims: “The sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.”5 These, look you, are the spears, the arrows, the sword, wherewith you slew the righteous, when you said that it was not lawful for you to put any man to death. Hence it is also that when for the purpose of apprehending Jesus the chief priests did not themselves come, but sent; yet the evangelist Lc says in the same passage of his narrative, “Then said Jesus unto those who were come to him, [namely] the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and elders, Be ye come out, as against a thief,” etc?6 As therefore the chief priests went not in their own persons, but by those whom they had sent, to apprehend Jesus, what else was that but coming themselves in the authority of their own order and so all, who cried out with impious voices for the crucifixion of Christ, slew Him, not, indeed, directly with their own hands, but personally through him who was impelled to such a crime by their clamor.
5. But when the evangelist Jn adds, “That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which He spake, signifying what death He should die:” if we would understand such words as referring to the death of the cross, as if the Jews had said, “It is not lawful for us to put any man to death,” for this reason that it was one thing to be put to death, and another to be crucified: I do not see how such can be understood as a consequence, seeing that this was their answer to the words that Pilate had just addressed to them, “Take ye him, and judge him according to your law.” If it were so, could they not then have taken Him, and crucified Him themselves, had they desired by any such form of punishment to avoid the putting of Him to death? But who is there that may not see the absurdity of allowing those to crucify any one, who were not allowed to put any one to death? Nay more, did not the Lord Himself call that same death of His, that is, the death of the cross, a putting to death, as we read in Mark, where he says, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles: and they shall mock Him, and shall spit upon Him, and shall scourge Him, and shall put Him to death, and the third day He shall rise again”?7 There is no doubt, therefore, that in so speaking the Lord signified what death He should die: not that He here meant the death of the cross to be understood, but that the Jews were to deliver Him up to the Gentiles, or, in other words, to the Romans. For Pilate was a Roman, and had been sent by the Romans into Judea as governor. That, then, this saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, namely, that, being delivered up to them, He should be put to death by the Gentiles, as Jesus had foretold would happen; therefore when Pilate, who was the Roman judge, wished to hand Him back to the Jews, that they might judge Him according to their law, they refused to receive Him. saying, “It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.” And so the saying of Jesus was fulfilled, which He foretold concerning His death, that, being delivered up by the Jews, He should be put to death by the Gentiles: whose crime was less than that of the Jews, who sought by this method to make themselves appear averse to His being put to death, to the end that, not their innocence, but their madness might be made manifest).
1 This reading of the text is also found in “The Harmony of the Evangelists,” Book 3,chap. 7; but the true biblical reading is now ascertained to be, ajpo; tou` Kai]avfa “from Caiaphas.”-Migne.
2 (Ps 35,12,
3 (Dt 13,5, evidently attaches wrong meaning to the words, Nobis non licet interficere quenquam; as if these Jews thereby insinuated that they did not themselves wish Christ’s death: unaware, seemingly, of the fact, that, on their subjugation by the Romans, their own rulers were still allowed to try minor offenses, but were deprived of the power of inflicting capital punishment; and that, consequently, it was because they were actually bent on putting Him to death, and no less penalty would satisfy them, that they thus brought Him before the Roman governor.-Tr.
4 Chap. 19,6.
5 (Ps 57,4,
6 (Lc 22,52,
7 (Mc 10,33-34,
115 (Jn 18,33-40.
1). What Pilate said to Christ, or what He replied to Pilate, has to be considered and handled in the present discourse. For after the words had been addressed to the Jews, “Take ye him, and judge him according to your law,” and the Jews had replied, “It is not lawful for us to put any man to death, Pilate entered again into the judgment hall, and called Jesus, and said unto Him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus answered, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?” The Lord indeed knew both what He Himself asked, and what reply the other was to give; but yet He wished it to be spoken, not for the sake of information to Himself, but that what He wished us to know might be recorded in Scripture. “Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation, and the chief priests, have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? 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.” This is what the good Master wished us to know; but first there had to be shown us the vain notion that men had regarding His kingdom, whether Gentiles or Jews, from whom Pilate had heard it; as if He ought to have been punished with death on the ground of aspiring to an unlawful kingdom; or as those in the possession of royal power usually manifest their ill-will to such as are yet to attain it, as if, for example, precautions were to be used lest His kingdom should prove adverse either to the Romans or to the Jews. But the Lord was able to reply to the first question of the governor, when he asked Him, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” with the words, “My kingdom is not of this world,” etc.; but by questioning him in turn, whether he said this thing of himself, or heard it from others, He wished by his answer to show that He had been charged with this as a crime before him by the Jews: laying open to us the thoughts of men, which were all known to Himself, that they are but vain;1 and now, after Pilate’s answer, giving them, both Jews and Gentiles, all the more reasonable and fitting a reply, “My kingdom is not of this world.” But had He made an immediate answer to Pilate’s question, His reply would have appeared to refer to the Gentiles only, without including the Jews, as entertaining such an opinion regarding Him. But now when Pilate replied, “Am I a Jew? Thine own nation, and the chief priests, have delivered thee to me;” he removed from himself the suspicion of being possibly supposed to have spoken of his own accord, in saying that Jesus was the king of the Jews, by showing that such a statement had been communicated to him by the Jews. And then by saying, “What hast thou done?” he made it sufficiently clear that this was charged against Him as a crime: as if he had said, If thou deniest such kingly claims, what hast thou done to cause thy being delivered unto me? As if there would be no ground for wonder that one should be delivered up to a judge for punishment, who proclaimed himself a king; but if no such assertion were made, it became needful to inquire of Him, what else, if anything, He had done, that He should thus deserve to be delivered unto the judge.
2. Hear then, ye Jews and Gentiles; hear, O circumcision; hear, O uncircumcision; hear, all ye kingdoms of the earth: I interfere not with your government in this world, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Cherish ye not the utterly vain terror that threw Herod the elder into consternation when the birth of Christ was announced, and led him to the murder of so many infants in the hope of including Christ in the fatal number,2 made more cruel by his fear than by his anger: “My kingdom,” He said, “is not of this world.” What would you more? Come to the kingdom that is not of this world; come, believing, and fall not into the madness of anger through fear. He says, indeed, prophetically of God the Father, “Yet have I been appointed king by Him upon His holy hill of Zion;”3 but that hill of Zion is not of this world. For what is His kingdom, save those who believe in Him, to whom He says, “Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world”? And yet He wished them to be in the world: on that very account saying of them to the Father, “I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”4 Hence also He says not here, “My kingdom is not” in this world; but, “is not of this world.” And when He proved this by saying, “If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews,” He saith not, “But now is my kingdom not” here, but, “is not from hence.” For His kingdom is here until the end of the world, having tares intermingled therewith until the harvest; for the harvest is the end of the world, when the reapers, that is to say, the angels, shall come and gather out of His kingdom everything that offendeth;5 which certainly would not be done, were it not that His kingdom is here. But still it is not from hence; for it only sojourns as a stranger in the world: because He says to His kingdom, “Ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.”6 They were therefore of the world, so long as they were not His kingdom, but belonged to the prince of this world. Of the world therefore are all mankind, created indeed by the true God, but generated from Adam as a vitiated and condemned stock; and there are made into a kingdom no longer of the world, all from thence that have been regenerated in Christ. For so did God rescue us from the power of darkness, and translate us into the kingdom of the Son of His love:7 and of this kingdom it is that He saith, “My kingdom is not of this world;” or, “My kingdom is not from hence.”
3. “Pilate therefore said unto Him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king.” Not that He was afraid to confess Himself a king, but “Thou sayest” has been so balanced that He neither denies Himself to be a king (for He is a king whose kingdom is not of this world), nor does He confess that He is such a king as to warrant the supposition that His kingdom is of this world. For as this was the very idea in Pilate’s mind when he said, ’“Art thou a king then?” so the answer he got was, “Thou sayest that I am a king.” For it was said, “Thou sayest,” as if it had been said, Carnal thyself, thou sayest it carnally.
4. Thereafter He adds, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” * *8 Whence it is evident that He here referred to His own temporal nativity, when by becoming incarnate He came into the world, and not to that which had no beginning, whereby He was God through whom the Father created the world. For this, then, that is, on this account, He declared that He was born, and to this end He came into the world, to wit, by being born of the Virgin, that He might bear witness unto the truth. But because all men have not faith,9 He still further said, “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” He heareth, that is to say, with the ears of the inward man, or, in other words, He obeyeth my voice, which is equivalent to saying, He believeth me. When Christ, therefore, beareth witness unto the truth, He beareth witness, of course, unto Himself; for from His own lips are the words, “I am the truth;”10 as He said also in another place, “I bear witness of myself.”11 But when He said, “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice,” He commendeth the grace whereby He calleth according to His own purpose. Of which purpose the apostle says, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to those who are called according to the purpose of God,”12 to wit, the purpose of Him that calleth, not of those who are called; which is put still. more clearly in another place in this way, “Labor together in the gospel according to the power of God, who saveth us and calleth us with His holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace.”13 For if our thoughts turn to the nature wherein we have been created, inasmuch as we were all created by the Truth, who is there that is not of the truth? But it is not all to whom it is given of the truth to hear, that is, to obey the truth, and to believe in the truth; while in no case certainly is there any preceding of merit, lest grace should cease to be grace. For had He said, Every one that heareth my voice is of the truth, then it would be supposed that he was declared to be of the truth because he conforms to the truth; it is not this, however, that He says, but, “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” And in this way he is not of the truth simply because he heareth His voice; but only on this account he heareth, because he is of the truth, that is, because this is a gift bestowed on him of the truth. And what else is this, but that by Christ’s gracious bestowal he believeth on Christ?
5. “Pilate said unto Him, What is truth?” Nor did he wait to hear the answer; but “when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and said unto them, I find in him no fault. 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?” I believe when Pilate said, “What is truth?” there immediately occurred to his mind the custom of the Jews, according to which he was wont to release unto them one at the passover; and therefore he did not wait to hear Jesus’ answer to his question, What is truth? to avoid delay on recollecting the custom whereby He might be released unto them during the passover-a thing which it is clear he greatly desired. It could not, however, be torn from his heart that Jesus was the King of the Jews, but was fixed there, as in the superscription, by the truth itself, whereof he had just inquired what it was. “But on hearing this, they all cried again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.” We blame you not, O jews, for liberating the guilty during the passover, but for slaying the innocent; and yet unless that were done, the true passover would not take place. But a shadowy of the truth was retained by the erring Jews, and by a marvellous dispensation of divine wisdom the truth of that same shadow was fulfilled by deluded men; because in order that the true passover might be kept, Christ was led as a sheep to the sacrificial slaughter. Hence there follows the account of the injurious treatment received by Christ at the hands of Pilate and his cohort; but this must be taken up in another discourse.
1 (Ps 94,11,
2 (Mt 2,3 Mt 2,16.
3 (Ps 2,6).
4 Chap. 17,16, 15.
5 (Mt 13,38-41.
6 Chap. 15,19.
7 (Col 1,13,
8 The verse quoted reads in Latin, “Ego in hoc natus sum, et ad hoc veni,” etc.; and in reference to the words, in hoc, Augustin goes on to say, in the passage marked * * . “We are not to lengthen the syllable [vowel] of this pronoun when He says, In hoc natus sum, as if He meant to say, In this thing was I born; but to shorten it, as if He had said, Ad hanc rem natus sum, vel ad hoc natus sum (for this thing was I born), just as He says, Ad hoc veni in mundum (for this came I into the world). For in the Greek Gospel there is no ambiguity in this expression,” the Greek having eij" tou`to. This passage is interesting only to Latin scholars, as showing that in ordinary parlance they marked, in Augustin’s time, the distinction between hoc of the abl. and hoc of the nom. or acc.-Tr.
9 (2Th 3,2,
10 Chap. 14,6.
11 Chap. 8,18.
12 (Rm 8,28,
13 (2Tm 1,8-9,
116 (Jn 19,1-16.
1). On the Jews crying out that they did not wish Jesus to be released unto them all the passover, but Barabbas the robber; nottim Saviour, but the murderer; not the Giverof life, but the destroyer,-“then Pilate tookJesus and scourged Him.” We must believe that Pilate acted thus for no other reason than that the Jews, glutted with the injuries done to Him, might consider themselves satisfied, and desist from madly pursuing Him eve,unto death. With a similar intention was it that, as governor, he also permitted his cohort to do what follows, or even perhaps ordered them, although the evangelist is silent on the subject. For he tells us what the soldiers did thereafter, but not that Pilate ordered it. “And the soldiers,” he says, “platted a crown of thorns, and put it on His head, and they clothed Him with a purple robe. And they came to Him and said, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote Him with their hands.” Thus were fulfilled the very things which Christ had foretold of Himself; thus were the martyrs moulded for the endurance of all that their persecutors should be pleased to inflict; thus, by concealing for a time the terror of His power, He commended to us the prior imitation of His patience; thus the kingdom which was not of this world overcame that proud world, not by the ferocity of fighting, but by the humility of suffering; and thus the grain of corn that was yet to be multiplied was sown amid the horrors of shame, that it might come to fruition amid the wonders of glory.
2. “Pilate went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And he saith unto them, Behold the man!” Hence it is apparent that these things were done by the soldiers not without Pilate’s knowledge, whether it was that he ordered them or only permitted them, namely, for the reason we have stated above, that His enemies might all the more willingly drink in the sight of such derisive treatment, and cease to thirst further for His blood. Jesus goes forth to them wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, not resplendent in kingly power, but laden with reproach; and the words are addressed to them, Behold the man! If you hate your king, spare him now when you see him sunk so low; he has been scourged, crowned with thorns, clothed with the garments of derision, jeered at with the bitterest insults, struck with the open hand; his ignominy is at the boiling point, let your ill-will sink to zero. But there is no such cooling on the part of the latter, but rather a further increase of heat and vehemence.
3. “When the chief priests, therefore, and attendants saw Him, they cried out, saying, Crucify, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them Take ye him and crucify him; for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by the law he ought to die because he made himself the Son of God.” Behold another and still greater ground of hatred. The former, indeed, seemed but a small matter, as that shown towards the usurpation, by an unlawful act of daring, of the royal power; and yet of neither did Jesus falsely claim possession, but each of them is truly His as both the only-begotten Son of God, and by Him appointed King upon His holy hill of Zion; and both might He now have shown to be His, were it not that in proportion to the greatness of His power, He preferred to manifest the corresponding greatness of His patience.
4. “When Pilate, therefore, heard that saying, he was the more afraid; and entered again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.” It is found, in comparing the narratives of all the evangelists, that this silence on the part of our Lord Jesus Christ took place more than once, both before the chief priests and before. Herod, to whom, as Lc intimates, Pilate had sent Him for a hearing, and before Pilate himself;1 so that it was not in vain that the prophecy regarding Him had preceded, “As the lamb before its shearer was dumb, so He opened not His mouth,”2 especially on those occasions when He answered not His questioners. For although He frequently replied to questions addressed to Him, yet because of those in regard to which He declined making any reply, the metaphor of the lamb is supplied, in order that in His silence He might be accounted not as guilty, but innocent. When, therefore, He was passing through the process of judgment, wherever He opened not His mouth it was in the character of a lamb that He did so; that is, not as one with an evil conscience who was convicted of his sins, but as one who in His meekness was sacrificed for the sins of others.
5. “Then saith Pilate unto Him, Speakest thou not unto me knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered: Thou wouldest have no power against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.” Here, you see, He replied; and yet wherever He replied not, it is not as one who is criminal or cunning, but as a lamb; that is, in simplicity and innocence He opened not His mouth. Accordingly, where He made no answer, He was silent as a sheep; where He answered, He taught as the Shepherd. Let us therefore set ourselves to learn what He said, what He taught also by the apostle, that “there is no power but of God;”3 and that he is a greater sinner who maliciously delivereth up to the power the innocent to be slain, than the power itself, if it slay him through fear of another power that is greater still. Of such a sort, indeed, was the power which God had given to Pilate, that he should also be under the power of Caesar. Wherefore “thou wouldest have,” He says, “no power against me,” that is, even the little measure thou really hast, “except” this very measure, whatever its amount, “were given thee from above.” But knowing as I do its amount, for it is not so great as to render thee altogether independent, “therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.” He, indeed, delivered me to thy power at the bidding of envy, whilst thou art to exercise thy power upon me through the impulse of fear. And yet not even through the impulse of fear ought one man to slay another, especially the innocent; nevertheless to do so by an officious zeal is a much greater evil than under the constraint of fear. And therefore the truth-speaking Teacher saith not, “He that delivered me to thee,” he only hath sin, as if the other had none; but He saith, “hath the greater sin,” letting him understand that he himself was not exempt from blame. For that of the latter is not reduced to nothing because the other is greater.
6. “Hence Pilate sought to release Him.” What is to be understood by the word here used, “hence,”4 as if he had not been seeking to do so before? Read what precedes, and thou wilt find that he had already for some time been seeking to release Jesus. By the original word,5 therefore, we are to understand, on this account, that is, for this reason, that he might not contract sin by slaying an innocent man who had been delivered into his hands, even though his sin would be less than that of the Jews, who delivered Him to him to be put to death. “From thence,”6 therefore, that is, for this reason, that he might not commit such a sin, “he sought” not now for the first time, but from the beginning, “to release Him.”
7. “But the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king, speaketh against Caesar.” They thought to inspire Pilate with greater fear by terrifying him about Caesar, in order that he might put Christ to death, than formerly when they said, “We have the law, and by the law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.” It was not their law, indeed, that impelled him through fear to the deed of murder, but rather it was his fear of the Son of God that held him back from the crime. But now he could not set Caesar, who was the author of his own power, at nought, in the same way as the law of another nation.
8. As yet, however, the evangelist proceeds to say: “But when Pilate heard these sayings, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down before the tribunal, in a place that is called the Pavement,7 but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation8 of the passover, and about the sixth hour.” The question, at what hour the Lord was crucified, because of the testimony supplied by another evangelist, who says, “And it was the third hour, and they crucified Him,”9 we shall consider as we can, if the Lord please, when we are come to the passage itself where His crucifixion is recorded.10 When Pilate, therefore, had sat down before the tribunal, “he saith unto the Jews, Behold your king! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate said unto them, Shall I crucify your king?” As yet he tries to overcome the terror with which they had inspired him about Caesar, by seeking to break them from their purpose on the ground of the ignominy it brought on themselves, with the words, “Shall I crucify your king?” when he failed to soften them on the ground of the ignominy done to Christ; but by and by he is overcome by fear.
9. For “the chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he Him therefore unto them to be crucified.” For he would have every appearance of acting against Caesar if, on their declaration that they had no king but Caesar, he were wishing to impose on them another king by releasing without punishment one whom for these very attempts they had delivered unto him to be put to death. “Therefore he delivered Him unto them to be crucified.” But was it, then, anything different that he had previously desired when he said, “Take ye him, and crucify him;” or even earlier still, “Take ye him, and judge him according to your law?” And why did they show so great reluctance, when they said, “It is not lawful for us to put any man to death,”11 and were in every way urgent to have Him slain not by themselves, but by the governor, and therefore refused to receive Him for the purpose of putting Him to death, if now for the same purpose they actually do receive Him? Or if such be not the case, why was it said, “Then delivered he Him therefore unto them to be crucified?” Or is it of any importance? Plainly it is. For it was not said, “Then delivered he Him therefore unto them” that they might crucify Him, but “that He might be crucified,” that is, that He might be crucified by the judicial sentence and power of the governor. But it is for this reason that the evangelist has said that He was delivered to them, that he might show that they were implicated in the crime from which they tried to hold themselves aloof; for Pilate would have done no such thing, save to implement what he perceived to be their fixed desire. The words, however, that follow, “And they took Jesus, and led Him away,” may now refer to the soldiers, the attendants of the governor. For it is more clearly stated afterwards, “When the soldiers therefore had crucified Him,”12 although the evangelist properly does so even when he attributes the whole to the Jews, for they it was that received what they had with the utmost greediness demanded, and they it was that did all that they compelled to be done. But the events that follow must be made the subject of consideration in another discourse).
1 (Mt 26,63 Mt 27,14 Mc 14,61 Mc 15,5 Lc 23,7-9; Jn 19,9,
2 (Is 53,7,
3 (Rm 13,1,
4 Exinde: Greek, ejktouvtou; literally. “therefrom.”-Tr.
5 Exinde: Greek, ejktouvtou; literally. “therefrom.”-Tr.
6 Exinde: Greek, ejktouvtou; literally. “therefrom.”-Tr.
8 Parasceve; Greek, paraskeuhv.
9 (Mc 15,25,
10 See below, Tract. CXVII. secs. 1, 2.
11 Chap. 18,31.
12 Chap. 19,23).
Augustin on John 113