What does John 18:4 mean?
ESV: Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?”
NIV: Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, 'Who is it you want?'
NASB: Jesus therefore, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, came out into the open and *said to them, 'Whom are you seeking?'
CSB: Then Jesus, knowing everything that was about to happen to him, went out and said to them, "Who is it that you're seeking? "
NLT: Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. 'Who are you looking for?' he asked.
KJV: Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?
NKJV: Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?”
Verse Commentary:
Throughout His ministry, Jesus has made it clear He knows exactly what will happen at the end of His earthly ministry (Matthew 20:18; John 12:32–33; 13:26–27). That Judas is arriving with a heavily armed squadron (John 18:1–3) is no surprise. Neither is it something Jesus attempts to avoid. Since this is "the hour" for these events (John 2:4; 7:6), He actively approaches the men who have come to arrest Him.

The question Christ asks serves several purposes. First, it clarifies these men are there for Jesus, and not the men who follow Him (John 18:8). Second, it provides a final opportunity for Jesus to demonstrate His power. When the men state their target (John 18:5), Christ will respond with an answer echoing God's self-identification in Exodus 3:14. With merely a word, He will flatten the aggressors (John 18:6), only to submit to their arrest and to His sacrificial death (Philippians 2:8).
Verse Context:
John 18:1–11 occurs after Jesus' High Priestly Prayer (John 17). The garden setting evokes both the beginning and end of human history (Genesis 2:8; Revelation 22:1–5). Christ's obedience contrasts with the disobedience of Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45; Philippians 2:8; Genesis 3:12). Writing after the other Gospels were in circulation, John skips over Jesus' prayers in the garden (Matthew 26:36–46). Judas arrives to identify Jesus so He can be arrested. Christ provides a last demonstration of power before submitting to His enemies. Peter's maiming of a servant is mentioned, along with Jesus' rebuke of Peter, but not the healing of the servant's ear (Luke 22:50–51), or the disciples retreat (Matthew 26:56). David, also, experienced betrayal by a close ally while crossing Kidron on the way to the Mount of Olives (2 Samuel 15:23–31).
Chapter Summary:
Jesus is secretly, quietly arrested in the garden of Gethsemane and taken to a series of sham trials before Jewish leadership. This leads to His encounter with the local Roman governor. Jesus accepts being described as "King" but denies that His current purpose is earthly rule. A mob assembled by Jesus' enemies reject Pilate's attempt to free Jesus. In the meantime, Peter fulfills Christ's prophecy about a three-fold denial.
Chapter Context:
John's Gospel was written well after the other three, so he frequently chooses to present different details. Chapter 17 detailed Jesus' High Priestly Prayer, just before He entered the garden of Gethsemane. This chapter describes Jesus' arrest, sham trials before Jewish leadership, and the beginning of His trial before the Roman governor. In the following chapter, Jesus will be unfairly condemned, executed, and buried.
Book Summary:
The gospel of John was written by the disciple John, decades later than the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls “signs”—in order to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in all of the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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