John 18:31 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 18:31, NIV: Pilate said, 'Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.' 'But we have no right to execute anyone,' they objected.

John 18:31, ESV: Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.”

John 18:31, KJV: 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:

John 18:31, NASB: So Pilate said to them, 'Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your law.' The Jews said to him, 'We are not permitted to put anyone to death.'

John 18:31, NLT: 'Then take him away and judge him by your own law,' Pilate told them. 'Only the Romans are permitted to execute someone,' the Jewish leaders replied.

John 18:31, CSB: Pilate told them, "You take him and judge him according to your law.""It's not legal for us to put anyone to death," the Jews declared.

What does John 18:31 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jesus' entry into Jerusalem a few days prior (Matthew 21:1–11; John 12:12–19) was extravagant and unusual. Had there been any reason for the Roman Empire to think He was a true threat, no other evidence would have been needed for them to act. It's certain, then, that Pilate was already vaguely aware of who Jesus was, and that Jewish religious leaders hated Him (Matthew 27:18). When he asked why Jesus had been brought for judgment, the scribes and Pharisees gave a derisive answer (John 18:30).

Pilate's retort is equally snide. He's not interested in their religious bickering (Mark 15:10). Since Rome allows local religious leaders to police certain offenses, including religious ones, squabbles between rabbis should not require a governor's intervention. The mention of the death penalty, however, implies their accusations are more serious. Other passages make the strategy of Jesus' enemies clear: to paint Him as an insurrectionist (Luke 23:2) actively rebelling against Roman rule (John 19:12–15). This would allow them to not only eliminate Jesus, but to deflect any resulting anger towards the Roman occupiers, instead of themselves.