What does John 19:15 mean?
ESV: They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”
NIV: But they shouted, 'Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!' 'Shall I crucify your king?' Pilate asked. 'We have no king but Caesar,' the chief priests answered.
NASB: So they shouted, 'Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!' Pilate *said to them, 'Shall I crucify your King?' The chief priests answered, 'We have no king except Caesar.'
CSB: They shouted, "Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him! "Pilate said to them, "Should I crucify your king? ""We have no king but Caesar! " the chief priests answered.
NLT: Away with him,' they yelled. 'Away with him! Crucify him!' 'What? Crucify your king?' Pilate asked. 'We have no king but Caesar,' the leading priests shouted back.
KJV: But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.
Verse Commentary:
Though he knew Jesus was innocent (Matthew 27:18; John 18:36–38), Pilate had Him brutally whipped and humiliated, seeking to satisfy the mob's blood lust (John 19:1–4). That did not work; the crowd demanded Jesus suffer the most agonizing, shameful death possible (John 19:5–7). When the crowd feigned loyalty to Rome (John 19:12) and threatened to riot (Matthew 27:24), Pilate brought Jesus to the place of judgment. There, he also put on a show, as if he were in control of the situation (John 19:11). This posturing included acting as if he was in possession of Israel's "King," a title which this crowd had not applied to Jesus.

Here, the crowd repeats their vicious demands, and Pilate duplicates the mocking claim that he's passing judgment on the King of Israel. Coming from the governor, it's a way to deflect from the fact that he's been outmaneuvered. He will attempt to reinterpret this result as a strong Roman governor, cracking down on a rebellious Jewish people, by crucifying their purported king.

Jesus' enemies, for their part, cynically claim loyalty to the Roman Empire. The irony of this moment is heartbreaking: God sent His own Son to His chosen people. Those people are now demanding an earthly power murder this Messiah, as they proclaim their submission to men, rather than to God. The descendants of Abraham are shouting their praise for a pagan, ungodly empire and encouraging the death of their rightful King.
Verse Context:
John 19:1–16 continues Jesus' interrogation by the Roman governor, Pilate. Pilate has already recognized Jesus' innocence and continues to look for ways to release Him without an execution. Religious leaders refuse this, using the threat of a riot to coerce the governor. Eventually, Pilate gives in and orders Jesus to be crucified. Parallel accounts are found in Matthew 27:24–30, Mark 15:12–15, and Luke 23:20–25.
Chapter Summary:
Pilate recognizes Jesus' innocence, but fears the mob assembled by Jewish religious leaders. He attempts to satisfy them by having Jesus viciously whipped and mocked. This only results in more cries for Jesus' death. The governor then shifts to protect his own reputation, ordering Jesus to be crucified on a charge of being "King of the Jews." John is directly present as Jesus is executed. He notes the fulfillment of several prophecies as Jesus dies. Once He is confirmed to be dead, Jesus' body is taken by two friendly members of the ruling council. They hastily bury Him in the borrowed crypt of a rich man.
Chapter Context:
When Jesus was first brought to Pilate, His innocence was obvious (John 18:36–38). However, the mob refuses to be satisfied with anything less than crucifixion. Pilate gives in to these demands. John, who is present for the entire gory spectacle, notes several instances of fulfilled prophecy (Psalm 22:18; Psalm 69:21; Exodus 12:46; Zechariah 12:10). Jesus is then buried in the borrowed tomb of a rich man (Isaiah 53:9) to complete yet another Old Testament prediction. A guard will be posted to ensure no one steals the body (Matthew 27:62–68), which will only serve to confirm that Jesus' eventual resurrection was a true miracle (John 20:1–8).
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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