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John 18:19-24

19. The high priest then asked Jesus concerning his disciples, and concerning his doctrine. 20. Jesus answered him, I spoke openly in the world; I always taught in the synagogue and in the temple, where all the Jews assemble, and in secret I have spoken nothing. 21. Why askest thou me? Ask those who have heard what I have spoken to them: behold, they know what I have said. 22. When he had said these things, one of the officers that 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? 24. Now Annas had sent him bound to Calaphas the high priest.


19. The high priest then asked Jesus. The high priest interrogates Christ, as if he had been some seditious person, who had split the Church into parties by collecting disciples; and he interrogates him as if he had been a false prophet, who had endeavored to corrupt the purity of the faith by new and perverse doctrines. Our Lord 140140     “Nostre Seigneur.” Jesus Christ, having completely and faithfully discharged the office of teacher, does not enter into a new defense; but, that he may not abandon the cause of truth, he shows that he was prepared to defend all that he had taught. Yet he likewise reproves the impudence of the high priest, who inquires about a matter perfectly well known, as if it had been doubtful. Not satisfied with having rejected the Redeemer offered, together with the salvation promised to them, they likewise condemn all the exposition of the Law.

20. I spoke openly in the world. It is a childish error into which some have fallen, who think that this reply of Christ condemns those who expound the word of God in private apartments, when the tyranny of wieked men does not allow them to expound it publicly; for Christ does not argue as to what is lawful and what is not lawful, but his intention was to put down the insolent malice of Caiaphas.

This passage, however, appears to be inconsistent with another saying of Christ, where he enjoins the apostles to

proclaim on the house-tops what he had whispered in their ear,
(Matthew 10:27;)

and again, when he declares that

it is not given to all to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,
(Matthew 13:14)

and that he therefore confers this favor on none but the twelve apostles. I answer, when he says in the passage now under review, that he spoke nothing in secret, this refers to the substance of the doctrine, which was always the same, though the form of teaching it was various; for he did not speak differently among the disciples, so as to instruct them in something different; nor did he act cunningly, as if he purposely intended to conceal from the people what he spoke to a small number of persons in the house. He could, therefore, testify with a good conscience that he had openly declared and honestly proclaimed the substance of his doctrine.

22. When he had said these things. This is added, in order to inform us, first, how great was the rage of the enemies of Christ, and how tyrannical their government was; and, secondly, what sort of discipline existed among those priests. They sit like judges, but they are as cruel as ferocious beasts. A council is assembled, in which the utmost gravity ought to have prevailed; and yet a single officer is so daring and presumptuous, that, in the midst of the judicial proceedings, and in the presence of the judges, he strikes the person accused, who was not found to be in any respect guilty. We need not wonder, therefore, that the doctrine of Christ is condemned by so barbarous an assembly, from which not only all justice, but likewise all humanity and modesty, are banished.

23. If I have spoken evil. That is, “If I have sinned, accuse me, that, when the cause has been tried, I may be punished according to the offense; for this is not a lawful mode of procedure, but very different order and very different modesty ought to be maintained in judicial courts.” Christ complains, therefore, that a grievous injury has been clone to him, if he has committed no offense, and that, even if he has committed an offense, still they ought to proceed in a lawful manner, and not with rage and violence.

But Christ appears not to observe, in the present instance, the rule which he elsewhere lays down to his followers; for he does not

hold out the right cheek to him who had struck him on the left,
(Matthew 5:39.)

I answer, in Christian patience it is not always the duty of him who has been struck to brook the injury done him, without saying a word, but, first, to endure it with patience, and, secondly, to give up all thoughts of revenge, and to endeavor to overcome evil by good, (Romans 12:21.) Wicked men are already too powerfully impelled by the spirit of Satan to do injury to others, in order that nobody may provoke them. It is a foolish exposition of Christ’s words, therefore, that is given by those who view them in such a light as if we were commanded to hold out fresh inducements to those who already are too much disposed to do mischief; for he means nothing else than that each of us should be more ready to bear a second injury than to take revenge for the first; so that there is nothing to prevent a Christian man from expostulating, when he has been unjustly treated, provided that his mind be free from rancour, and his hand from revenge.

24. Now Annas had sent him bound. This sentence must be read by way of parenthesis; for, having said that Christ was taken to the house of Annas, and having continued his narrative, as if the assembly of the priests had been held there, the Evangelist now reminds the reader that Christ was taken from the house of Annas to the high priest’s house. But as the tense of the Greek verb ἀπέστειλε has led many people into a mistake, I have preferred translating it by the pluperfect tense, Had sent. 141141     “J’ay mieux aime tourner en ceste sorte, Avoit envoye; que, I1 a envoy;“ — “I have chosen to render it in this way, Annas Had Sent, rather than, Annas Sent.”

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