John 19:21 MEANING

John 19:21
(21) Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate.--Better, Therefore said . . ., i.e., because the inscription could be read by all comers, and the Messianic title, "King of the Jews," would be exposed to scorn. Yet these are the men who said, in order to accomplish the death of Jesus, "We have no king but Caesar."

The expression, "chief priests of the Jews," occurs only here in the New Testament, perhaps in contrast to the title, "King of the Jews," to indicate that their anxiety about the title came from them as representatives of the national honour.

What I have written I have written.--The words are a formula to signify that the thing was done and could not be undone. There are frequent instances of similar expressions in the Rabbinical writings.

Verse 21. - Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate. They must have hurried back to him with petulant resentment of his intentional scorn. Observe the very unusual phrase, "the chief priests of the Jews," as though the priesthood felt the connection between the priesthood and kingship of the theocratic people, and it gave additional sting to the sarcastic reproach involved in the inscription. Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. They resented the association of the theocratic or Messianic symbol with the spiritual Being whom they had condemned. Had they not already declared that they had no king but Caesar? Doubtless he said, "I am the King of the Jews;" he made the claim, not in a sense which could be rationally entertained in a Roman court, but in the true Messianic and prophetic sense. The priests knew perfectly well that because Jesus had altogether refused, Heir of David though he was, to entertain the Kingship in the only sense in which they desired to proclaim it, they had rebelled against him and rejected his claims. For Pilate to have given any color to the purely spiritual prerogative of their Victim roused their remonstrance, but that it might be treated as identification of the national cause with a convicted and crucified felon exasperated them.

19:19-30 Here are some remarkable circumstances of Jesus' death, more fully related than before. Pilate would not gratify the chief priests by allowing the writing to be altered; which was doubtless owing to a secret power of God upon his heart, that this statement of our Lord's character and authority might continue. Many things done by the Roman soldiers were fulfilments of the prophecies of the Old Testament. All things therein written shall be fulfilled. Christ tenderly provided for his mother at his death. Sometimes, when God removes one comfort from us, he raises up another for us, where we looked not for it. Christ's example teaches all men to honour their parents in life and death; to provide for their wants, and to promote their comfort by every means in their power. Especially observe the dying word wherewith Jesus breathed out his soul. It is finished; that is, the counsels of the Father concerning his sufferings were now fulfilled. It is finished; all the types and prophecies of the Old Testament, which pointed at the sufferings of the Messiah, were accomplished. It is finished; the ceremonial law is abolished; the substance is now come, and all the shadows are done away. It is finished; an end is made of transgression by bringing in an everlasting righteousness. His sufferings were now finished, both those of his soul, and those of his body. It is finished; the work of man's redemption and salvation is now completed. His life was not taken from him by force, but freely given up.Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate,.... Who were not only informed of this inscription, but might read it themselves, for they were present at the crucifying of Christ, and mocked at him as he hung on the tree; these, when they read the title, were greatly offended at it, partly because it was doing too great an honour to Jesus to call him the King of the Jews: and partly because it fixed a public brand of infamy upon their nation, that a king of theirs should be crucified: wherefore they went to Pilate and addressed him, saying,

write not the King of the Jews: because they did not own him for their king, which this title seemed to suggest, nor had he in their opinion any right to such a character; wherefore they desired that in the room of these words he would be pleased to put the following,

but that he said, I am King of the Jews; that so he might be thought to be a seditious person and a traitor; one that laid claim to the temporal crown and kingdom of Israel, and one that suffered justly for attempts of that kind.

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