Matthew 26:57-66 “The Church Tries the Son of God”

Translation & Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ The Redeemer Church Manhattan KS, 03 Nov 2013

Greyed-out text was edited from the 40-minute version of the sermon.


26:57 Then the captors led Jesus away to Caiaphas the high priest,

where the scribes and the elders were gathered together.

26:58 Now, Peter was following Him from a distance up to the courtyard of the high priest,

and after entering inside, He seated himself with the pages to see the outcome.

26:59 Well, the high priests and the elders and the whole Sanhedrin

were seeking for a false witness against Jesus so that they might put Him to death,

26:60 yet they didn’t find [any].

Even though many false witnesses came forward, they didn’t find [any]!

But later two false witnesses came forward 26:61 and said,

“This man stated, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’”

26:62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Him,

“And not a thing do you answer? What are these men testifying against you?”

26:63 But Jesus kept silent.

So in response, the high priest said to him, “I put you under oath by the Living God

so that you may tell us if you are the Anointed One, the Son of God.”

26:64 Jesus says to him, “You have said it yourself.

Moreover, I declare to y’all that after this time, you will view the Son of Man

as He sits off the right side of the Mighty One

and as He comes upon the clouds of the heavens.”

26:65 Then the high priest ripped his robes, saying, “He blasphemed!

What further need do we have of witnesses?

See now, y’all heard his blasphemy! 26:66 How does it seem to y’all?”

And they, in answer said, “He is deserving of death.”


A book entitled Killing Jesus was just published last month, authored by Fox newscaster Bill O’Reilly, purporting to be a history of the life of Christ. A review[1] I read gave the following quotes from the book: “Whether knowingly or unknowingly, Jesus had led a life that is a continual fulfillment of Jewish prophecy,” (p. 176) and, “Jesus has become a victim of his own celebrity” (p. 153).

Is that what it’s all about?

  • In the last passage in the Gospel of Matthew about the capture of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, we saw that Jesus was very conscious of the fact that He was fulfilling prophecy and that He had a duty to submit himself to God’s will expressed in prophecy – even to His own death.
  • Now as we turn to the ecclesiastical trial of Jesus, we will see whether Jesus was just another popular historical figure like Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy (also profiled in O’Reilley’s series), who died a tragic and unfortunate death, a victim of his own popularity, or whether Jesus was something much more.

What did the eyewitnesses of Jesus’ trial have to say about why the priests condemned Jesus to death? And what did Jesus say about it Himself?


26:57 Then the captors led Jesus away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were gathered together.

Οἱ δὲ κρατήσαντες τὸν ᾿Ιησοῦν ἀπήγαγον πρὸς Καϊάφαν τὸν ἀρχιερέα, ὅπου οἱ γραμματεῖς καὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι συνήχθησαν.

·         The trial of Jesus occurred in three stages,

o       first a preliminary examination by the high priest Annas[2] (which is not mentioned in Matthew, but is mentioned in John 18:12ff),

o       then this informal trial by the Sanhedrin before dawn,

o       and then a formal trial after dawn.

·         The high priest was anticipating the successful arrestNIV of Jesus, and he had already assembledKJV,NIV the 70 elder-judges of the Sanhedrin so they could try Jesus as soon as He had been seizedNAS,ESV and brought into their custody.


26:58 Now, Peter was following Him from a distance up to the courtyard of the high priest, and after entering inside, He seated himself with the pages to see the outcome.

ὁ δὲ Πέτρος ἠκολούθει αὐτῷ ἀπὸ[3] μακρόθεν ἕως τῆς αὐλῆς τοῦ ἀρχιερέως, καὶ εἰσελθὼν ἔσω ἐκάθητο μετὰ τῶν ὑπηρετῶν ἰδεῖν τὸ τέλος.

·         Luke 22:54 says this took place at “the high priest’s house,” and it appears to be the very courtyard in which these “snakes” had hatched their plan to capture Jesus (Mat. 26:3).

·         It was apparently kind-of a duplex-palaceKJV for the two chief priests, with Annas living in one wing and his son-in-law Caiaphus living in the other wing, with this courtyard inbetween.

·         The parallel account in the Gospel of John 18:15-16 mentions another disciple being there in addition to Peter who was recognized by the gatekeeper and who let Peter in. Was it John who also knew Malchus the servant of the high priest? Or was it Judas who was now in the good graces of the priests? The Bible doesn’t say. (Chrysostom and A.T. Robertson thought it was John.)

·         At any rate, Peter sits down inside. The Greek word ὑπηρετῶν is different from the standard word for “servant” or “guard” or “officer;” but inasmuch as this term indicates a person who does tasks for other people, that’s why it’s translated “servants,” and inasmuch as they did official tasks, they are called “officers.” Since this gathering was a formally-assembled court, the term may be describing what we would call pages – younger guys who volunteer to help the bigwigs and learn in the process how the legal system works.

·         So it is here among the pages that Peter waits for the τέλος = literally “the endKJV,ESV

o       While it may just indicate that Peter was waiting for the outcomeNAS,NIV of the trial, when he hoped the judges would reach a verdict of not guilty,

o       on the other hand, it may connote that Peter was expecting that this would be “the end” of Jesus’ life.


26:59 Well, the high priests and the elders and the whole Sanhedrin were seeking for a false witness against Jesus so that they might put Him to death,

Οἱ δὲ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι καὶ[4] τὸ συνέδριον ὅλον ἐζήτουν ψευδομαρτυρίαν κατὰ τοῦ ᾿Ιησοῦ ὅπως θανατώσωσιν[5] αὐτὸν,


26:60 yet they didn’t find [any]. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they didn’t find [any]! But later two false witnesses came forward

καὶ οὐχ εὗρον· καὶ[6] πολλῶν ψευδομαρτύρων προσελθόντων, οὐχ εὗρον[7]. ὕστερον δὲ προσελθόντες δύο ψευδομάρτυρες[8]

·         There are some Greek manuscripts which do not include the elders in the list here, so most modern English Bibles don’t include the elders either. However, they are in the Patristic editions of the Greek New Testament and in the King James English Version. The debate centers on whether certain recently-discovered manuscripts (which are older than most of the previously-known Greek manuscripts), are closer to the original manuscript of Matthew, or whether those manuscripts contained mistakes that the majority of copyists avoided. I have not found any such variants in Matthew to be significant, however. For instance, in this case, the elders are specifically mentioned as being in on this plot against Jesus in Matthew 26:3, 26:47, 26:57, 27:1, 27:3, 27:12, 27:20, 27:41, and 28:12, so whether or not they’re explicitly mentioned in v.59, the context tells us that they are there.

·         Now, notice that the Imperfect tense of the main verb in v.59 “they were lookingNIV/kept trying to obtainNAS/were seekingESV,” indicates that this Council (The Greek term for it was the “Sanhedrin”), doesn’t have their witnesses lined up yet.

o       In their interviews with reliable witnesses, they couldn’t find a single crime to pin on Jesus. But instead of admitting their mistake of assuming that Jesus was in the wrong, they are persisting in their prejudiced assumption that Jesus is evil and must be put to death, so they are starting to go through the streets, offering to pay people to be false witnesses and tell lies about Jesus in order to convict Him of a crime worthy of death.

o       Now, the Mosaic law is clear that no one should be put to death without the testimony of at least two witnesses[9], so in their sanctimonious regard for the letter of the law (while “neglecting the weightier matters” of the law - Mt. 23:23), the Pharisees are desperately trying to find two false witnesses whose testimony will agree at some point concerning Jesus, but the parallel passage in Mark 14:56 says that the false witnesses were disagreeing with each other.

o       This process is ongoing as they retain Jesus there in the courtyard. This proves that Jesus was arrested without a legitimate warrant.

o       Jesus is standing there waiting to be tried by the church, and the church doesn’t even have two witnesses to say that Jesus did anything wrong!

o       “[T]his… is no trialIt is murder.” ~Wm. Hendriksen

·         Does Jesus know what it is like to be treated unfairly? You’d better believe it. He has been “tempted at all points, just like you” (Heb. 4:15).

·         And, by the way, how many times do we put God on trial ourselves with nothing more than our own opinion against Him? The Bible says in 1 Tim 5:19, that we should not even entertain an accusation against a church elder unless we have two or three witnesses, so if you’re going to go head-to-head with God… you’d better have something better than that!

·         One more point bears mentioning, and that is the innocence of Jesus. Nobody could find a single thing He had done wrong. Although this isn’t the final proof of His sinlessness, it is consistent with what the scriptures tell us about Jesus: He “knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21). He was the first human being to have perfectly obeyed God’s law, the first human being who had never offended God, the first man to come to the end of his life and have no need for atonement of his own sins. He had the first perfect, sinless record, available to be transferred legally to any other human He chose – as long as He would take on the sinful record of that other human and die like a sinner Himself. That’s how Jesus could be our Savior.


26:61 [But later two false witnesses came forward] and said, “This man stated, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’”

εἶπον[10]· οὗτος ἔφη, δύναμαι καταλῦσαι τὸν ναὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ διὰ τριῶν ἡμερῶν οἰκοδομῆσαι αὐτόν[11].

·         Jesus did actually say something to this effect the first time He cleansed the temple. In the Gospel of John 2:19, the temple officials approached Jesus as He was rampaging around the temple marketplace and asked Him to give them a miraculous sign to prove that He had prophetic authority from God to bring reform to the temple. That’s when Jesus said, “O.K. guys, destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.[12]

o       This is consistent with what Jesus had said later when He said that the only sign He would give this adulterous generation is the sign of Jonah (Matthew 16:4) – a man dead under the water for three days and brought back to life.

·         Notice, however, the two key differences between Jesus’ original quote and the distorted version stated by these two false witnesses:

o       Jesus did not say that He would destroy the temple, He said that the temple leaders would destroy the temple, and then He would rebuild it. The false witnesses are twisting Jesus’ words to make it sound like He is threatening to take a wrecking bar to the temple, when that’s not what He said at all. He was prophecying His own crucifixion and resurrection.

o       Secondly, the false witnesses substitute the words “of God” for the word “this” in the original quote. Jesus said, “Destroy this temple,” speaking of His body, but the false witnesses quote Him as saying, “I’m going to destroy the temple of God.[13]” In other words, “I just might feel like tearing this temple apart stone by stone!” Again, this sounds like a threat against the magnificent temple building of which the Jews were so proud.

o       It also carries overtones of a political threat; it paints Jesus as arrogantly stating that He is greater than Herod the Great who painstakingly built that temple over the course of some fifty years. “Build it in three days? In a pig’s eye!”


26:62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Him, “And not a thing do you answer? What are these men testifying against you?”

καὶ ἀναστὰς ὁ ἀρχιερεὺς εἶπεν αὐτῷ· Οὐδὲν ἀποκρίνῃ; τί οὗτοί σου καταμαρτυροῦσιν;

·         This testimony from these witnesses is a bit odd and obscure. Jesus never did take a wrecking bar to the temple, so the court doesn’t have anything to pin on Jesus yet, but at least they have two witnesses agreed on a point, a point on which there is some potentially slippery ground, so now the prosecution tries to get Jesus talking in hopes that Jesus will indeed slip in what He says and say something that they can use against Him.

·         Jesus was not eager to justify Himself. He could probably have talked His way out of this trial, just as he managed to confound the Pharisees on all the other times they had tried to trap Him in words (cf. chapter 22). But now Jesus is self-consciously moving toward the cross to die for our sins, and He intends to let the injustices[14] happen so that He will indeed be killed.

·         “Like a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth,” prophecied Isaiah (53:7). So Jesus says nothing until the judge requires an answer of Him.


26:63 But Jesus kept silent. So in response, the high priest said to him, “I put you under oath by the Living God so that you may tell us if you are the Anointed One, the Son of God[15].”

ὁ δὲ ᾿Ιησοῦς ἐσιώπα. καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς[16] ὁ ἀρχιερεὺς εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ἐξορκίζω[17] σε κατὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ ζῶντος ἵνα ἡμῖν εἴπῃς εἰ σὺ εἶ ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ.

·         This question seems to come out of the blue. Where did Caiaphas come up with that?

o       Jesus never said outright that He was the Son of God, although He did speak in third person of this fact four times in the Gospel of John (3:18, 5:25, 10:36, 11:4)[18],

o       And we are told in Mark 3:11 that demons early on in Jesus’ ministry yelled out that Jesus is the “Son of God,” and also that Satan, tempted Jesus to perform miracles to prove that He was the Son of God (Matt. 4).

o       The angel had told Mary that her child would be called the “Son of God” (Luke 1:35), and at Jesus’ baptism, God the Father made a public proclamation that Jesus was His son (Matt. 3:17).

o       and the Gospels record several of the followers of Christ saying that Jesus is the “Son of God,” namely, John (John 1:34), Nathaniel (John 1:49), Peter (Matthew 16:16), and Martha (John 11:27).

o       But in the case of the demons and of Peter, Jesus warned them not to tell others. Perhaps Jesus shushed them to keep Himself out of this very predicament before it was time.

o       But perhaps word got around. It would be a pretty sensational piece of gossip: “Did you hear about the travelling preacher who came through town and delivered people from demons? The demons said He was the Son of God, but He told them to be quiet. What do you make of that?”

o       However, if Jesus laid claim to the title of Christ (which is Greek for Hebrew word Messiah and means “the Anointed One”),  the ultimate king, prophet, and priest, it would be a direct challenge to the chief priests to step down and let the Messiah take their place. (Calvin) But Annas and Caiaphas weren’t about to give up their prestigious positions as high priest!

·         The high priest decided to use an oath designed to obligate someone else; in this case, he does it in order to obligate Jesus to talk.

o       The verb for this, exorkizw, only shows up two other times in the Greek Bible, once in Judges 17:2, where Michaiah’s mom gets him to ‘fess up to stealing the family’s silver by making this oath,

o       and once in Genesis 24:3, where Abraham adjures his servant under this oath to get a wife for his son Isaac from his kinsmen in Haran rather than from the Canaanites.

o       It was probably manipulative and presumptuous for the high priest to swear an oath to God that he would be able to make the Son of God say something, but Jesus nevertheless decides to respond.


26:64 Jesus says to him, “You have said it yourself. Moreover, I declare to y’all that after this time, you will view the Son of Man as He sits off the right side of the Mighty One and as He comes upon[19] the clouds of the heavens.”

λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· σὺ εἶπας· πλὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀπ᾿ ἄρτι ὄψεσθε τὸν Υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου καθήμενον ἐκ δεξιῶν τῆς δυνάμεως καὶ ἐρχόμενον ἐπὶ τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ.

·         Jesus responds simply to the high priest, using only two words in Greek, literally, “You said[20].” Then He turns to the entire gathering to add on to that statement, saying that things are not as they will be later on. Now He is standing on trial with His hands tied behind His back (John 18:24), but…

·         “you will see Him sitting” - The seated position of the Son of Man is significant, because it indicates that He will be in the role of a judge. Even today in our culture, judges sit when they are judging. After His sojurn on earth, the Son of Man will no longer be a humble suspect upon whom they can pass judgment. No! In the future He will be revealed as the God who comes to judge them. One day they will see this with their own eyes, to their own rapture – or to their own terror, depending on whether or not they remain rebels against Christ.

·         I like what the NIV did with the word for “power” dynamews, translating it “The Mighty One.” Jewish tradition was to avoid using direct terms for God, so, for instance, Matthew, writing with a Jewish audience in mind, calls the kingdom Jesus was instituting “the kingdom of heaven” rather than “the kingdom of God.” Here, God is referred to as “The Power” – That’s why the ESV capitalized the word Power.

·         What does it mean that Jesus will be at the right hand of God the Father Almighty?

o       The right hand was the position of favored status. It is the place for trusted officials of the king who do His will.

o       Moses and Ezekiel described angels – cherubim at God’s right hand[21]

o       When Bathsheba came to visit her son Solomon, after he was crowned king, he gave his mom a special place of honor, seating her on a throne at his right hand. (1 Kings 2:19)

o       But Psalm 110 describes the Son of Man as more than an angel, more than an honorable mother, but as the Lord who judges sinners, “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The Lord shall send out a rod of power (δυνάμεώς) for thee out of Sion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. With thee is dominion in the day of thy power, in the splendours of thy saints... The Lord at thy right hand has dashed in pieces kings in the day of his wrath. He shall judge among the nations, he shall fill up the number of corpses, he shall crush the heads of many on the earth…” (Brenton)

o       When Jesus comes again, He will not be the demure, quiet victim He appeared to be before the priests in Jerusalem, He’s going to be the blindingly-glorious, unassailable, bone-crushing warrior-judge who will wipe evil off the face of the earth! That’s what Psalm 110 says.

·         But note that Jesus does not carry forward with the “Son of God” moniker mentioned by the high priest. He sticks with the term He preferred to use of Himself, the “Son of Man.”

·         There is only one place in the Old Testament[22] where a “son of man” is described as coming on “the clouds of heaven,” and that is Daniel 7:13-14, “I beheld in the night vision, and, lo, one coming with the clouds of heaven as the Son of man, and he came on to the Ancient of days, and was brought near to him. And to him was given the dominion, and the honour, and the kingdom; and all nations, tribes, and languages, shall serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom shall not be destroyed.” (Brenton)[23]

·         Now, there are some differences between Daniel’s prophecy and Jesus’ words:

o       Jesus calls God the Father the “Mighty One,” rather than Daniel’s “Ancient of Days,”

o       and Jesus restates the “near”-ness to the Father and the “dominion given” to Him in Daniel’s vision as “sitting at the right hand” of God.

o       Furthermore, the “coming” of the Son of Man mentioned in Daniel appears to be Jesus’ ascension up into heaven, not the “coming on the clouds” that Jesus mentioned in Matthew 24:30 as the sign of His coming down to earth as judge.

o       So, I don’t think this is intended to be an exact quote of Daniel, but rather an allusion to his prophecy.

·         Nevertheless the parallels are still there:

o       Jesus is the “Son of Man” whom Daniel saw equal with God (Phil. 2:6),

o       who came down from heaven (John 6:38),

o       and would ascend to the right hand of God the Father Almighty forty days after His resurrection (Mark 16:19, Acts. 7:55),

o       and He will come again in power, riding on the clouds of heaven (Rev. 1:7), to judge the living and the dead (Rev. 19:11, 11:18) and finalize His role as King of the Universe.

o       Do you see now why Caiaphas considered this blasphemy?


26:65 Then the high priest ripped his robes, saying, “He blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? See now, y’all heard his blasphemy!

τότε ὁ ἀρχιερεὺς διέρρηξε τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ λέγων ὅτι[24] ἐβλασφήμησε· τί ἔτι χρείαν ἔχομεν μαρτύρων; ἴδε νῦν ἠκούσατε τὴν βλασφημίαν αὐτοῦ[25]·


26:66 How does it seem to y’all?” And they, in answer said, “He is deserving of death.”

τί ὑμῖν δοκεῖ; οἱ δὲ ἀποκριθέντες εἶπον[26]· ἔνοχος θανάτου[27] ἐστί.

·         This kangaroo court finally hits on something to accuse Jesus of, but, instead of proceeding to try Jesus for blasphemy, the presiding judge says, “Hey, there’s no need of a trial, let’s proceed to sentencing!”

·         The “rending/tearing” of one’s outer clothing was a traditional expression of great grief.

o       Can you imagine a judge getting so upset at a criminal’s confession that he jumps up and tears his black judge’s robe from top to bottom?

o       One has to wonder, however, if this was really a theatrical show from Caiaphas[28], who has been trying to find fault in Jesus all along and wanted it to be bad enough to put Him to death. “[T]he entire trial was a farce.” ~Wm. Hendriksen

o       The words of the prophet Joel seem particularly appropriate, “[R]end your hearts, and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God…” (Joel 2:13a, Brenton)

·         The seventy elders, however, were unwilling to turn and acknowledge Jesus as the Lord, so the only alternative for them was to “condemn” (Mark 14:64) Him to “death.”

o       In one respect they had it right: there is no middle ground logically to ignore Jesus as a harmless teacher; He is deserving of either adoring worship or of murderous hatred.

o       So the Jewish church leaders hand down the sentence of death for the crime of blasphemy.

·         Our English word “Blasphemy” is a transliteration of the Greek word Blasphemia[29], which can be broken into two morphemes: blas, meaning “harm/injury” and pheme meaning “speech.” Its meaning includes “slander/insults” of any kind against any person.

·         In English, the word “blasphemy” has a specific meaning of saying something bad about God, but in Hebrew and Greek, they didn’t have a specialized word for that, so there is not a specific blasphemy law, but the general principle is there in the law that insulting speech is a terrible thing, and there are two passages which apply this principle to speech that is against God:

o       In Leviticus 24, the son of the Israelite woman who had married an Egyptian man spoke insolently against God. The people were horrified at what he said and arrested him, then God told Moses that the death sentence should be applied to him.

o       And in Numbers 15:30-31 it says, “But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the LORD and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt will be on him” (NASB).

·         The Pharisees had already been suspecting Jesus of religious blasphemy and had sent emissaries from Jerusalem to find evidence against Jesus as early as Matthew chapter 15.

o       When Jesus claimed to forgive the sins of the paralytic, they considered it blasphemy against God because only God can forgive sins (Matt. 9:3).  

o       And another time when Jesus was teaching in the temple, the Jews picked up stones to kill Him for saying, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:33). They considered it blasphemy for Him to make Himself out to be God.

o       In the book of Acts, Jews considered it blasphemy when Christians said that the man Jesus was God (Acts 26:11), but, on the other hand, Christians considered it blasphemy when Jews said that Jesus wasn’t God (Acts 18:6, 1 Tim 1:13)!


·         Viewed from the perspective of the question, “Is Jesus the Son of God?” There is a clear storyline in the Gospels,

o       from the angel’s announcement, “He will be called the Son of God,”

o       to the Father’s pronouncement, “This is my beloved Son,”

o       to Satan’s challenge, “If you really are the Son of God, make these stones into bread,”

o       to the disciples’ affirmation “You are the Christ the son of the living God,”

o       to Caiphas’ question, “Are you the Christ the Son of God?”

o       to the crowd’s jeers, “If you are the Son of God come down from the cross!”

o       to the Centurion’s awestruck conclusion, “Truly this was the Son of God!” –

o       and the evangelist’s epilogue, “These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Son of God!”

o       Do you see the progression? Caiphas was on to an earth-shakingly important point!

o       Every one of us must answer this same question, “Is Jesus the Son of God?”

o       How will you answer the question? Will you deny it with mocking grief, or will you shout for joy that the Son of God has come to save you?

·         Consider also the irony of this trial. The priests, together with the church elders and Bible scholars are trying to find fault with God in the flesh! The people who are supposed to be serving and worshipping God and His Son are instead looking for a way to destroy Him. Crazy!

o       The gall that they had to try Jesus in their court is infuriating! What infinite patience Jesus must have had to stand there and let them judge Him, as though He were not infinitely superior to them all. Intellectual midgets trying to shame the omniscient God.

o       What incredibly hard hearts they must have had to look down their noses at Jesus instead of groveling at His feet for treating Him so meanly.

o       After all the miracles Jesus had done and all the wonderful things He had taught, how were they so unwilling to admit that Jesus is God? How could they just consider Him a troublemaker to be gotten rid of?

o       And yet, how many times we have done the same thing those Pharisees did? How many times have we judged God?

o       How many times have we said, “Why didn’t you answer my prayer, God? Why did you allow that painful thing to happen? Why didn’t you intervene to stop that evil? How can you be a good God? How can you say You are all-powerful? I’m not sure I completely trust you, after you let me down like that. I’m just not sure you are who You claim to be. If You are the only place I’m supposed to find comfort, why am I so uncomfortable? I bet you aren’t even listening!”

o       Every one of us in this room is guilty of high spiritual treason, putting God on trial upon the merits of our puny and poorly-informed sense of justice. Every one of us has commit­ted terrible insults against the King of Kings and Most High God. We have absolutely no excuse to think we are any better than those deluded, odious, self-righteous Pharisees.

o       Whenever we are tempted to put God on trial for His unwelcome providences in our lives, remember the blasphemy of Caiaphas and instead bow yourself before “the Christ, the Son of God” and humbly praise Him.


[2] Annas, as Ellicott remarks, was appointed high priest by Quirinus, a.d. 12, and after holding the office for several years, was deposed by Valerius Gratius, Pilate’s predecessor in the procuratorship of Judea [Josephus, Antiquities, 18.2.1, etc.]… It is thus highly probable that, besides having the title of “high priest” merely as one who had filled the office, he to a great degree retained the powers he had formerly exercised... ~Jamieson Fausset and Brown’s Commentary

[3] This preposition is omitted in several Greek manuscripts (א, C, L, Δ, f1), but the omission is not considered authentic by the editors of the Critical, Patriarchal, or T.R. editors.

[4] Critical editions of the GNT omit “and the elders” from this list because the phrase does not occur in five of the oldest Greek manuscripts (א, Β, D, L, Θ – and a handful of the minuscules, including f13, and it’s also not in the Vulgate and Coptic versions), however the phrase is in just as many of the old Greek manuscripts (A, C, W, 090, 0133) as well as the vast majority of the total Greek manuscripts, so it is in the Patristic and T.R. editions of the GNT. The phrase is not in the parallel passage in Mark, but Mark 15:1 does mention all three groups (priests, elders, and Sanhedrin) together in a nearby passage, and Matthew mentions the collusion of the elders throughout this passage (Matthew 26:3,47,57; 27:1,3,12,20,41; 28:12 – with no textual variants in these passages to dispute the elders’ presence), so the context includes the elders, and the omission of the elders in this particular verse does not change the story; they are still there, but you just don’t read of them being there in the NAS, NIV, or ESV.

[5] Several Greek manuscripts (A, D, L, N, W, Δ, 090, 0133, plus several minuscules) render this verb in the Future Indicative instead of the Aorist Subjunctive, which is the reading of the Majority and of the Critical editions. The difference between these two meanings is negligible, so this isn’t really a variant in meaning.

[6] This word “even/though” is not found in six of the oldest-known Greek manuscripts (א, Β, C, L, N, Θ) or in the Vulgate or Coptic versions, so it is not included in the Critical editions of the GNT. However, it is in the majority of Greek manuscripts and has early manuscript support (A, D, W). All the English versions include it, so it doesn’t make a difference in translation.

[7] The phrase “they did not find” is in the majority of Greek manuscripts (and in the KJV), but due to its absence in the six Greek manuscripts listed in the previous footnote, Critical texts do not include this phrase, and it’s not in the NAS, NIV, or ESV. It is redundant, so the meaning is not changed by the omission of this second occurrence of the phrase.

[8] Four early Greek manuscripts (א, Β, L – plus a few minuscules) omit this word, so it’s not in Critical editions or in the NAS, NIV, or ESV. It’s in the majority of Greek manuscripts, including some of the oldest (A, C, D, N, W, etc.), so the Patristic and T.R. editions of the GNT include it, as do the Vulgate and KJV translations. It is assumed by ellipsis if it is not there explicitly, so no change in meaning.

[9] Deuteronomy 17:6 “He shall die on the testimony of two or three witnesses; a man who is put to death shall not be put to death for one witness” (Brenton, Cf. Deut. 19:15).

[10] Critical editions of the GNT spell this word a little differently (ειπαν), but the N-A and the UBS do not give manuscript evidence in their critical apparatus for this departure from the majority of Greek manuscripts. It doesn’t matter, though because it’s just a variant spelling of the exact same word, no difference in meaning.

[11] Because two ancient Greek manuscripts (B & Θ – plus families 1 and 13 of the minuscules) omit the auton (“it”), Critical editions omit the word. I don’t think that is enough reason to depart from the traditional Greek text found in the Patristic and T.R. editions. The word is in the original Greek quote in John 2:19. At any rate, the omission doesn’t change the meaning, because all the English versions – whether they follow the Critical text or not – render the phrase into English the same way, including the word “it” - “[re]build it in three days.”

[12] λυσατε τον ναον τουτον και εν τρισιν ημεραις εγερω αυτον

[13] The Parallel passage in Mark 14:58-59 may be quoting the other false witness, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.’” Mark believed that this testimony was different enough to not actually be a corroborating witness. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown also raise the following point: “it is next to certain that the ecclesiastics, who were the prosecutors in this case, did not believe that this was His meaning. For in less than three days after this they went to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, after three days I will rise again” (Mat. 27:63). Now what utterance of Christ known to His enemies, could this refer to, if not to this very saying about destroying and rearing up the temple?”

[14] William Hendricksen, in his commentary notes additional laws in the Mishna (Sanhedrin IV.1) broken by the priests in Jesus’ trial, including a prohibition against conducting trials at nighttime and a prohibition against carrying out the execution of a sentence on a feast day or even the eve of a feast day. Then there is also the prohibition in Leviticus 10:6 and 21:10 against the high priest tearing his robes.

[15] Cf. Mark 14:61 “Son of the Blessed One”

[16] Because three ancient Greek manuscripts (B L & Θ – plus families 1 and 13 of the minuscules, and the Vulgate) omit this word (“answering”), Critical editions omit the word. I don’t think that is enough reason to depart from the traditional Greek text found in the Patristic and T.R. editions, but the meaning isn’t changed anyway. The context makes clear that the high priest’s statement is related to Jesus’ silence.

[17] A few Greek manuscripts (D, L, θ, and f13) have a simpler form of the word ορκίζω  - without the “ex-“ prefix. A little less intense, but the same basic meaning. Likewise, a few Greek manuscripts (C, N, W, Δ) copy the τοῦ ζῶντος  modifying the first theou onto the end of the verse, following the last theou. The “living God,” is, of course, the same as “God” in the eyes of these speakers, so no difference is created by this addition. The Septuagint uses the simple form and the full form interchangeably to refer to the same action in Gen 24:3 and 37. Editors of the Patristic, T.R., and Critical editions of the GNT do not consider either of these variants authentic.

[18] John 3:18  "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God… John 5:25  "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live… John 10:36  do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?
John 11:4  But when Jesus heard this, He said, "This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it."

[19] Cf. Mark 14:62 and Daniel 7:13 “with (Greek=meta, Hebrew=im) the clouds.”

[20] Cf. Mark 14:62 εγω ειμι… and Luke 22:67-68 “And He said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe: and if I also ask you, ye will not answer Me, nor let Me go…”

[21] Deuteronomy 33:2 And he said, The Lord is come from Sina… on his right hand were his angels with him. Cf. Ezekiel 10:3 And the cherubs stood on the right hand... (Brenton)

[22] And only one other place in the New Testament: the strong angel in Revelation 10 who gives God’s word to John. Could this also be Jesus?

[23] The LXX reads: Dan 7:13  ἐθεώρουν ἐν ὁράματι τῆς νυκτὸς καὶ ἰδοὺ μετὰ τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ὡς υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου ἐρχόμενος ἦν καὶ ἕως τοῦ παλαιοῦ τῶν ἡμερῶν ἔφθασεν καὶ ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ προσηνέχθη. 14  καὶ αὐτῷ ἐδόθη ἀρχὴ καὶ τιμὴ καὶ βασιλεία, καὶ πάντες οἱ λαοί, φυλαί, γλῶσσαι αὐτῷ δουλεύσουσιν· ἐξουσία αὐτοῦ ἐξουσία αἰώνιος, ἥτις οὐ παρελεύσεται, καὶ βασιλεία αὐτοῦ οὐ διαφθαρήσεται. --

[24] This indicator of direct discourse is not found in six ancient Greek manuscripts (B, D, L, Z, , 090 – and a few minuscules), therefore it is not found in Critical editions. It doesn’t seem necessary from the standpoint of Greek grammar, and it doesn’t make a difference in English translations, but it’s in the majority of Greek manuscripts, including some of the oldest (A, C, W, 0133).

[25] According to the Nestle-Aland critical apparatus, the “his” at the end of the sentence is not found in six Greek manuscripts (א, B, D, L, Z, and 700 – also not in the Vulgate or Ethiopic versions), so Critical editions (and the NAS and NIV) don’t include it, but all the other thousands of Greek manuscripts have it, including early ones (like A, C, W, Θ, 090, etc.), so I’m keeping it. The context allows for the meaning to remain unchanged without the word, though, and the ESV, which follows the Critical text, nevertheless, includes the word “his.”

[26] Critical texts have a minor spelling variant (ειπαν) which means the same thing. The critical apparatus of the N-A and UBS do not provide a manuscript basis for this variant.

[27]actually guilty with the genitive (thanatou). The dative expresses liability” ~A.T. Robertson

[28] Chrysostom, Calvin, J.F.B., and Hendriksen seemed to think so too.

[29] This word does not occur in the Greek translation of the Penteteuch, although its English transliteration does occur in our English versions of Leviticus and Numbers, where the son of the Israelite woman who had married an Egyptian man cursed God, and God told Moses that whoever does that should be put to death (Lev. 24:16). The Greek translation mere­ly says that he said God’s name out loud (ὀνομάζων), but the Hebrew text is clear that he was insulting (ויקב) and making light of (ויקלל) God’s name (Lev. 24:11). Numbers 15:30-31 seems to be the only text in the law of Moses which speaks to blasphemy against God from a legal standpoint: 'But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming ( “reviles” גּדף/ υπερηφανιας=be haughty over) the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from among his people…  (NASB) This Hebrew word gadaph occurs later on in God’s rebuttal to Rabshakeh’s insults against the God of Israel (1 Kings 19:6), and there the Septuagint translates it “blasphemed” (εβλασφημησαν).