John 18:36 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 18:36, NIV: Jesus said, 'My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.'

John 18:36, ESV: Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

John 18:36, KJV: 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.

John 18:36, NASB: Jesus answered, 'My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is notof this realm.'

John 18:36, NLT: Jesus answered, 'My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.'

John 18:36, CSB: "My kingdom is not of this world," said Jesus. "If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I wouldn't be handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here."

What does John 18:36 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Critics of faith often claim that religion creates violence, war, and death. Historically, this is false: few wars in history were instigated by religious differences. With the notable exception of Islam, few religions have a history of engaging in active warfare. Further, Christ's reply to Pilate's investigation (John 18:33–35), given here, makes it clear that violence is not part of the Christ-follower's mandate for growing or defending faith. The goal of Jesus' ministry was not to establish a government, an empire, or a political group. His role as Messiah involves a spiritual kingdom, rooted in the hearts of those who believe (Hebrews 8:8–12), spread by example and evangelism (Matthew 5:13–16; 28:19).

At some point in history, however, Jesus will establish an earthly kingdom. It's noteworthy that when John—the same apostle who records this conversation with Pilate—describes Jesus' triumph at His second coming (Revelation 19:11–15). In that account, John speaks of the armies of heaven accompanying Jesus, but even then only describes Christ as "[striking] down the nations." At no point in the New Testament are Christians called on to take up arms as a means to establish an earthly kingdom in the name of Jesus.

Jesus' enemies have brought Him to the Roman governor, Pilate, with accusations of rebellion (Luke 23:2). Their claim is that Jesus seeks to rebel against Rome and establish His own state (John 19:12–15). That's a serious charge, and one Pilate needs to carefully consider (John 18:37), but it is crystal clear that Jesus is not seeking to overthrow the earthly rule of the Roman Empire (Matthew 27:18; Mark 15:10). It will be mob rule, and the threat of civil unrest (Matthew 27:24) which leads Pilate to hand over an innocent man for death (John 19:16).