The Meaning of John 18:40 Explained

John 18:40

KJV: Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.

YLT: therefore they all cried out again, saying, 'Not this one -- but Barabbas;' and Barabbas was a robber.

Darby: They cried therefore again all, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.

ASV: They cried out therefore again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.)

What does John 18:40 Mean?

Verse Meaning

John described Barabbas as a robber (Gr. lestes, lit. one who seizes plunder). However, Barabbas seems also to have participated in bloody insurrection as a terrorist and guerrilla fighter (cf. Mark 15:7). The chief priests normally had nothing to do with Zealots and other freedom fighters who sought to overthrow the Roman yoke violently. However here they preferred such an individual to Jesus who had not actively opposed Rome but whom they regarded as a threat to their security. The irony of their decision is obvious to the reader and must also have been obvious to Pilate. Evidently Barabbas had a popular following among the people, as Jesus did, but for different reasons.
The release of a proven enemy of Rome, which John did not record, showed Pilate"s poor judgment. This decision would not have stood him in good stead with his superiors. Evidently it was the pressure of the Jewish mob that encouraged him to act against his own as well as Jesus" interests.

Context Summary

John 18:33-40 - The King Of Truth
There was a tone of satire in Pilate's question: "Thou poor, worn, tear-stained outcast, forsaken by every friend in this hour of need-art thou a king?" Human ears have never heard more majestic words than our Lord's reply. But when He said, My kingdom is not of this world, He did not mean that it had nothing to do with this world, but that it did not originate here. It has descended from heaven, and seeks to bring the inspiration, principles, and methods of heaven into all the provinces of human activity. The one conspicuous proof of its absolutely foreign origin is its refusal to employ force. We do not fight, but sacrifice and suffer, for its maintenance. Our Lord therefore hastened to show that His Kingdom is based on the manifestation of the truth. There is no soul of man which is pure and true that does not recognize Christ's royalty, as King of Truth, when it hears Him speak. [source]

Chapter Summary: John 18

1  Judas betrays Jesus
6  The officers fall to the ground
10  Peter cuts off Malchus' ear
12  Jesus is taken, and led unto Annas and Caiaphas
15  Peter's denial
19  Jesus examined before Caiaphas
25  Peter's second and third denial
28  Jesus arraigned before Pilate
36  His kingdom
40  The Jews prefer Barabbas

Greek Commentary for John 18:40

Cried out [εκραυγασαν]
First aorist active of κραυγαζω — kraugazō old and rare verb from κραυγη — kraugē outcry (Matthew 25:6), as in Matthew 12:19. Not this man Contemptuous use of ουτος — houtos The priests put the crowd up to this choice (Mark 15:11) and Pilate offered the alternative (Matthew 27:17, one MS. actually gives Jesus as the name of Barabbas also). The name αραββας — Barabbas in Aramaic simply means son of a father. A robber Old word from ληιζομαι — lēizomai to plunder, and so a brigand and possibly the leader of the band to which the two robbers belonged who were crucified with Jesus. Luke terms him an insurgent and murderer (Luke 23:19, Luke 23:25). They chose Barabbas in preference to Jesus and apparently Jesus died on the very cross planned for Barabbas. [source]
Cried [ἐκραύγασαν]
Peculiarly of a loud, importunate cry; a shout. Plato uses it of the howling of a dog: “The yelping hound, howling ( κραυγάζουσα ) at her Lord” (“Republic,” 607). Others, of the cries of spectators in the theaters and of the croak of a raven. See on Matthew 15:22. [source]
Again []
Assuming John's recollection of a previous “crying out,” which he has not recorded. [source]
Robber [λῃστής]
See on Matthew 26:55; see on Mark 11:17; see on Luke 10:30. Matthew calls him a “notable prisoner” (Matthew 27:16). Mark states that he had made insurrection, and had committed murder (Mark 15:7), speaking of the insurrection as a well-known event. Luke says, “for some insurrection ( στάσιν τινὰ ) that had arisen in the city, and for murder” (Luke 23:19). Writing for Gentiles, Luke would not refer to the event as something familiar. Bandits of this kind were numerous in the neighborhood of Jerusalem under the Roman dominion. Their leaders were well known. Josephus describes them by the same word which Matthew uses, ἐπίσημοι , notable. Their depredations were often committed under patriotic pretenses, so that Barabbas might have had influential friends among the people. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for John 18:40

John 19:6 They cried out []
See on John 18:40. [source]
John 10:1 Verily, Verily [Αμην αμην]
Solemn prelude by repetition as in John 1:51. The words do not ever introduce a fresh topic (cf. John 8:34, John 8:51, John 8:58). So in John 10:7. The Pharisees had previously assumed (Vincent) they alone were the authoritative guides of the people (John 9:24, John 9:29). So Jesus has a direct word for them. So Jesus begins this allegory in a characteristic way. John does not use the word παροιμια — parabolē but εις την αυλην των προβατων — paroimia (John 10:6), and it really is an allegory of the Good Shepherd and self-explanatory like that of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. He first tells it in John 10:1-5 and then explains and expands it in John 10:7-18. Into the fold of the sheep (αυλη — eis tēn aulēn tōn probatōn). Originally αω — aulē (from αναβαινων — aō to blow) in Homer‘s time was just an uncovered space around the house enclosed by a wall, then a roofless enclosure in the country where flocks were herded as here and John 10:16. It later came to mean the house itself or palace (Matthew 26:3, Matthew 26:58, etc.). In the papyri it means the court attached to the house. Climbeth up (αναβαινω — anabainōn). Present active participle of αλλαχοτεν — anabainō to go up. One who goes up, not by the door, has to climb up over the wall. Some other way (αλλοτεν — allachothen). Rare word for old εκεινος — allothen but in 4Macc 1:7 and in a papyrus. Only here in N.T. The same (κλεπτης εστιν και ληιστης — ekeinos). “That one” just described. Is a thief and a robber (κλεπτω — kleptēs estin kai lēistēs). Both old and common words (from ληιζομαι — kleptō to steal, κλεπτης — lēizomai to plunder). The distinction is preserved in the N.T. as here. Judas was a kleptēs (John 12:6), Barabbas a robber (John 18:40) like the two robbers (Matthew 27:38, Matthew 27:44) crucified with Jesus erroneously termed thieves like “the thief on the cross” by most people. See Mark 11:17. Here the man jumping over the wall comes to steal and to do it by violence like a bandit. He is both thief and robber. [source]
John 11:43 He cried with a loud voice [πωνηι μεγαληι εκραυγασεν]
First aorist active indicative of κραυγαζω — kraugazō old and rare word from κραυγη — kraugē (Matthew 25:6). See Matthew 12:19. Occurs again in John 18:40; John 19:6, John 19:12. Only once in the lxx (Ezra 3:13) and with πωνηι μεγαληι — phōnēi megalēi (either locative or instrumental case makes sense) as here. For this “elevated (great) voice” see also Matthew 24:31; Mark 15:34, Mark 15:37; Revelation 1:10; Revelation 21:3. The loud voice was not for the benefit of Lazarus, but for the sake of the crowd standing around that they might see that Lazarus came forth simultaneously with the command of Jesus. Lazarus, come forth “Hither out.” No verb, only the two adverbs, deuro here alone in John. Lazarus heard and obeyed the summons. [source]
John 19:18 They crucified [εσταυρωσαν]
The soldiers just as in Acts 22:24.; the scourging of Paul was to be done by the soldiers. And Jesus in the midst Predicate adjective μεσον — meson A robber (ληιστης — lēistēs not a thief, κλεπτης — kleptēs) was on each side of Jesus (Mark 15:27; Matthew 27:38) like Barabbas (John 18:40) and probably members of his band, malefactors (κακουργοι — kakourgoi) Luke terms them (Luke 23:32). [source]

What do the individual words in John 18:40 mean?

They cried out then again saying Not this one but - Barabbas Was now - Barabbas an insurrectionist
Ἐκραύγασαν οὖν πάλιν λέγοντες Μὴ τοῦτον ἀλλὰ τὸν Βαραββᾶν ἦν δὲ Βαραββᾶς λῃστής

Ἐκραύγασαν  They  cried  out 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: κραυγάζω  
Sense: to cry out, cry aloud, to shout, to cry out to one.
πάλιν  again 
Parse: Adverb
Root: πάλιν  
Sense: anew, again.
λέγοντες  saying 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Active, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: λέγω 
Sense: to say, to speak.
τοῦτον  this  one 
Parse: Demonstrative Pronoun, Accusative Masculine Singular
Root: οὗτος  
Sense: this.
τὸν  - 
Parse: Article, Accusative Masculine Singular
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
Βαραββᾶν  Barabbas 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Singular
Root: Βαραββᾶς  
Sense: the captive robber whom the Jews begged Pilate to release instead of Christ.
δὲ  now 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: δέ  
Sense: but, moreover, and, etc.
Parse: Article, Nominative Masculine Singular
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
Βαραββᾶς  Barabbas 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: Βαραββᾶς  
Sense: the captive robber whom the Jews begged Pilate to release instead of Christ.
λῃστής  an  insurrectionist 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: ἀρχιλῃστής 
Sense: a robber, plunderer, freebooter, brigand.