on John 18 :28
The hall of judgment - Εις το πραιτωριον, To the praetorium. This was the house where Pilate lodged; hence called in our margin, Pilate's house. The praetorium is so called from being the dwelling-place of the praetor, or chief of the province. It was also the place where he held his court, and tried causes.
St. John has omitted all that passed in the house of Caiaphas - the accusations brought against Christ - the false witnesses - the insults which he received in the house of the high priest - and the assembling of the grand council, or Sanhedrin. These he found amply detailed by the other three evangelists; and for this reason it appears that he omitted them. John's is properly a supplementary Gospel.
Lest they should be defiled - The Jews considered even the touch of a Gentile as a legal defilement; and therefore would not venture into the praetorium, for fear of contracting some impurity, which would have obliged them to separate themselves from all religious ordinances till the evening, Leviticus 15:10, Leviticus 15:11, Leviticus 15:19, Leviticus 15:20.
That they might eat the passover - Some maintain that το πασχα here does not mean the paschal lamb, but the other sacrifices which were offered during the paschal solemnity - for this had been eaten the evening before; and that our Lord was crucified the day after the passover. Others have maintained that the paschal lamb is here meant; that this was the proper day for sacrificing it; that it was on the very hour in which it was offered that Christ expired on the cross; and that therefore our Lord did not eat the Paschal lamb this year, or that he ate it some hours before the common time. Bishop Pearce supposes that it was lawful for the Jews to eat the paschal lamb any time between the evening of Thursday and that of Friday. He conjectures too that this permission was necessary on account of the immense number of lambs which were to be killed for that purpose. When Cestius desired to know the number of the Jews, he asked the priests how he might accomplish his wish? They informed him that this might be known by the number of the lambs slain at the passover, as never less than ten partook of one lamb, though twenty might feast on it. On this mode of computation he found the lambs to be 256,500; εικοσι πεντε μυριαδας ηριθμησαν, προς δε ἑξακισχιλια και πεντακοσια. See Josephus, War, b. vi. c. 9. s. 3.
That Jesus ate a passover this last year of his life is sufficiently evident from Matthew 26:17-19; Mark 14:12-18; Luke 22:8-15; and that he ate this passover some hours before the ordinary time, and was himself slain at that hour in which the paschal lamb was ordered by the law to be sacrificed, is highly probable, if not absolutely certain. See the note on Matthew 26:20, and at the conclusion of the chapter, where the subject, and the different opinions on it, are largely considered.
on John 18 :28
See Matthew 27:1-2.
Hall of judgment - The praetorium - the same word that in Matthew 27:27, is translated "common hall." See the notes on that place. It was the place where the Roman proctor, or governor, heard and decided cases brought before him. Jesus had been condemned by the Sanhedrin, and pronounced guilty of death Matthew 26:66; but they had not power to carry their sentence into execution John 18:31, and they therefore sought that he might be condemned and executed by Pilate.
Lest they should be defiled - They considered the touch of a Gentile to be a defilement, and on this occasion, at least, seemed to regard it as a pollution to enter the house of a Gentile. They took care, therefore, to guard themselves against what they considered ceremonial pollution, while they were wholly unconcerned at the enormous crime of putting the innocent Saviour to death, and imbruing their hands in their Messiah's blood. Probably there is not anywhere to be found among men another such instance of petty regard to the mere ceremonies of the law and attempting to keep from pollution, at the same time that their hearts were filled with malice, and they were meditating the most enormous of all crimes. But it shows us how much more concerned men will be at the violation of the mere forms and ceremonies of religion than at real crime, and how they endeavor to keep their consciences at ease amid their deeds of wickedness by the observance of some of the outward ceremonies of religion by mere sanctimoniousness.
That they might eat the passover - See the notes at Matthew 26:2, Matthew 26:17. This defilement, produced by contact with a Gentile, they considered as equivalent to that of the contact of a dead body Leviticus 22:4-6; Numbers 5:2, and as disqualifying them to partake of the passover in a proper manner. The word translated "passover" means properly the paschal lamb which was slain and eaten on the observance of this feast. This rite Jesus had observed with his disciples the day before this. It has been supposed by many that he anticipated the usual time of observing it one day, and was crucified on the day on which the Jews observed it; but this opinion is improbable. The very day of keeping the ordinance was specified in the law of Moses, and it is not probable that the Saviour departed from the commandment. All the circumstances, also, lead us to suppose that he observed it at the usual time and manner, Matthew 26:17, Matthew 26:19. The only passage which has led to a contrary opinion is this in John; but here the word passover does not, of necessity, mean the paschal lamb. It probably refers to the Feast which followed the sacrifice of the lamb, and which continued seven days. Compare Numbers 28:16-17. The whole feast was called the Passover, and they were unwilling to defile themselves, even though the paschal lamb had been killed, because it would disqualify them for participating in the remainder of the ceremonies (Lightfoot).
on John 18 :28
18:28 They went not into the palace themselves, lest they should be defiled - By going into a house which was not purged from leaven, Deut 16:4. Mt 27:2; Mr 15:1; Lu 23:1.