John 18:40 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 18:40, NIV: They shouted back, 'No, not him! Give us Barabbas!' Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.

John 18:40, ESV: They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.

John 18:40, KJV: Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.

John 18:40, NASB: So they shouted again, saying, 'Not this Man, but Barabbas.' Now Barabbas was a rebel.

John 18:40, NLT: But they shouted back, 'No! Not this man. We want Barabbas!' (Barabbas was a revolutionary.)

John 18:40, CSB: They shouted back, "Not this man, but Barabbas! " Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.

What does John 18:40 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The Roman governor, Pilate, has interrogated Jesus after accusations of rebellion (John 18:30–32). During that interview, it became clear that Jesus was not a political threat (John 18:33–38). The person in question, Barabbas, is identified as a murderer and rebel (Luke 23:18–19). In one sense, Pilate seems to be pushing back against the claims of Jesus' enemies. He knows, with certainty, that Jesus is innocent and that this is a personal vendetta (Matthew 27:18, Mark 15:10). By offering someone who is clearly guilty of crimes against Rome, he may be trying to outmaneuver the scribes and Pharisees.

However, Christ's enemies have assembled a mob, who will eventually threaten to riot (Matthew 27:24). They will continue to insist that Jesus should be executed for defying Roman rule (John 19:12–15). While it's clear that Pilate has little respect for the Jewish people (John 18:35), he's also in a bad political situation. History suggests his brutal, violent approach put him at risk of losing his position as governor. If civil unrest breaks out during a major religious holiday (John 18:28), and includes accusations of both blasphemy (John 19:7) and sedition (Luke 23:1–5), it will not end well for the Roman governor.

Pilate's next step will be to see if merely humiliating and abusing Jesus will be enough to satisfy the mob (John 19:1–5). It will not (John 19:6).