What does John 19:2 mean?
ESV: And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe.
NIV: The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe
NASB: And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and placed it on His head, and put a purple cloak on Him;
CSB: The soldiers also twisted together a crown of thorns, put it on his head, and clothed him in a purple robe.
NLT: The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him.
KJV: And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe,
Pilate has already determined that Jesus is innocent. His only reason for continuing the charade is the threat of an angry mob (Matthew 27:20). He's not interested in doing any favors for Jewish religious leaders, so he's looked for ways to have Jesus released (John 18:33–40). When those efforts fail to appease the mob, Pilate orders Jesus to be "flogged" and abused. Flogging, also known as "scourging," used a specialized whip called a flagrum. This combination of leather strips and weights sometimes included hooks, rocks, or glass, and could easily strip flesh from bone (John 19:1).
On top of being physically mutilated, Jesus is also shamed by Roman soldiers. Their teasing fits the theme of Jesus' accused crimes: claiming to be "King" (John 18:37). They sarcastically outfit Jesus with a crown and a robe and mockingly proclaim His throne (John 19:3).
Had Pilate originally intended to kill Jesus, he would have simply done so. The scourging, abuse, and spectacle seem to be an attempt to leave Jesus alive, if forever humiliated. This might be due to spite for Jewish leaders, a sincere act of conscience, or fear about who Jesus really is (John 19:7–9; Matthew 27:19). The effort will not sway the mob, and Pilate will eventually give in by signing an innocent man's death warrant (John 19:16).
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.
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.
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).
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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