And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And the servants and officers stood there.—i.e., in the quadrangular court. The “servants” “are the household servants or slaves of the high priest. The officers are the Temple servants. (Comp. Note on John 18:3.)
A fire of coals.—In the Greek this phrase is expressed by one word which occurs again in the New Testament in John 21:9; and in the LXX. in Ecclesiasticus 11:30; Ecclesiasticus 11:32; and 4Ma 9:20. It means a glowing fire. One of the Greek translators (Aquila) uses it in Psalm 119:4 (English version Psalm 120:4 : “coals of juniper”—that is, of the broom plant).
Peter stood with them, and warmed himself:—It is implied that the other disciple had been admitted into the house. As the houses were usually constructed, the court would be visible from the interior. Peter has already been identified as a disciple. To stand aloof would have been to call further attention to himself. He joins the company, therefore, round the fire.Matthew 26:57-58.
Another disciple - Not improbably John. Some critics, however, have supposed that this disciple was one who dwelt at Jerusalem, and who, not being a Galilean, could enter the palace without suspicion. John, however, mentions the circumstance of his being known to them, to show why it was that he was not questioned as Peter was. It is not probable that any danger resulted from its being known that he was a follower of Jesus, or that any harm was meditated on them for this. The questions asked Peter were not asked by those in authority, and his apprehensions which led to his denial were groundless.
stood there, who had made—"having made."
a fire of coals, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves—"John alone notices the material (charcoal) of which the fire was made, and the reason for a fire—the coldness of the night" [Webster and Wilkinson]. "Peter went in and sat with the servants to see the end (Mt 26:58), and warmed himself at the fire" (Mr 14:54). These two statements are extremely interesting. His wishing to "see the end," of issue of these proceedings, was what led him into the palace, for he evidently feared the worst. But once in, the serpent coil is drawn closer; it is a cold night, and why should not he take advantage of the fire as well as others? Besides, in the talk of the crowd about the all-engrossing topic, he may pick up something which he would like to hear. "And as Peter was beneath in the palace" (Mr 14:66). Matthew (Mt 26:69) says, "sat without in the palace." According to Oriental architecture, and especially in large buildings, as here, the street door—or heavy folding gate through which single persons entered by a wicket kept by a porter—opened by a passage or "porch" (Mr 14:68) into a quadrangular court, here called the "palace" or hall, which was open above, and is frequently paved with flagstones. In the center of this court the "fire" would be kindled (in a brazier). At the upper end of it, probably, was the chamber in which the trial was held, open to the court and not far from the fire (Lu 22:61), but on a higher level; for Mark (Mr 14:66) says the court was "beneath" it. The ascent was, perhaps, by a short flight of steps. This explanation will make the intensely interesting details more intelligible.
who had made a fire of coals, for it was cold; though it was the passover, and harvest near. Dr. Lightfoot has observed from our countryman Biddulph, who was at Jerusalem at this time of the year, that though in the daytime it was as hot as with us at Midsummer, yet such very great dews fell as made it very cold, especially in the night; and from one of the Jewish canons (m), that the year was not intercalated, (which when done was chiefly on account of the passover,) neither for snow nor frost; which, as he justly remarks, supposes there might be frost and snow at the time of the passover. The same is observed in the Talmud (n), where the gloss upon it is,
"that they might not desist, on that account, from coming to the passover.''
The sense is, that whereas sometimes snow fell about the time of the passover; which might be thought to be an hinderance to some from coming to it; this never was a reason that came into consideration with the sanhedrim, or prevailed upon them to intercalate a month, that so the passover might not fall at a time of year when there was usually snow. The passover was always in the spring of the year, when nights are commonly cold, as they are generally observed to be at the vernal equinox: this night might be remarkably cold; which seems to be suggested by the Persic version, which reads, "for it was cold that night"; and the Ethiopic version, "for the cold of that night was great"; and adds what is neither in the text, nor true, "for the country was cold". The Arabic version, as it should seem, very wrongly renders it, "for it was winter"; since the passover was never kept in the winter season, but always in the spring, in the month Nisan: the winter season, with the Jews, were half the month of Chisleu, all Tebeth, and half Shebet (o); though this is to be observed in favour of that version, that the Jews distinguish their winter into two parts; the one they call which, as the gloss says, is the strength of winter, the coldest part of it, and which lasts the time before mentioned; and the other they call which is the end of winter, and when the cold is not so strong; and half Nisan is taken into this; for they say that half Shebat, all Adar, and half Nisan, are reckoned to this part of winter: so that, according to this account, the fourteenth of Nisan, which was the day on which the passover was killed; or at least the fifteenth, which was now begun, was the last day of winter, and so just secures the credit of the above version.
And they warmed themselves, and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself: he was cold both inwardly and outwardly; and being so, he gets into bad company; and it may be with a view that he might not be suspected, but be taken for one of their own sort, as one who had the same ill opinion of Jesus they had; and by the light of the fire he is again discovered and challenged, which makes way for a second denial.And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 18:18. Εἱστήκεισαν … θερμαινόμενος. The household servants and the Sanhedrim servitors had made a fire in the open court of the house and were standing round it warming themselves. Peter, unabashed by his lie, joined himself to this group and stood in the light of the fire. Cf. Luke 22:56, πρὸς τὸ φῶς. Jerusalem, lying 2500 feet above sea-level, is cold at night in spring.18. And the servants, &c.] Better, Now the servants and the officers, having made … were standing and warming themselves. The tribune (John 18:12) having deposited his prisoner in safety, has withdrawn with his men. Only the Jewish officials remain, joined now by the household servants of the high priests.
a fire of coals] Charcoal in a brazier, ‘to the light’ of which (Luke 22:56) S. Peter turned. Comp. John 21:9; Sir 11:32.
for it was cold] Cold nights are exceptional but not uncommon in Palestine in April. Jerusalem stands high.
and Peter, &c.] Rather, And Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself pretending to be indifferent, but restlessly changing his posture. S. Luke says he ‘sat to the light.’John 18:18. Πέτρος, Peter) He had become cold on the Mount of Olives.Verse 18. - The εἰστήκεισαν δὲ implies the conditions under which the first fearful fall of Peter was accomplished. Now the servants and the officers were standing (imperfect tense), having made (πεποιηκότες, perfect participle) a fire of coals (ἀνθρακιάν), congeries prunarum ardentium (cf. John 21:9; Ecclus. 11:32, "a glowing fire;" Aquila, Psalm 120:4), because it was cold (in the dead of the night, even in April, at the present day, the temperature falls considerably, and the cold is felt far more keenly in these climates in contrast with the heat of the sun by day): and Peter was standing with them, standing and warming himself. The whole construction of the sentence implies that this was how matters stood while the examination was going on to which John then reverts. The synoptists know or say nothing of this first examination, which bears upon it strong marks of authenticity.
It is discouraging to see how the A.V. habitually ignores the imperfect tense, and thus detracts from the liveliness of the narrative. Render, as Rev., were standing.
Fire of coals (ἀνθρακιὰν)
Only here and John 21:9. Matthew does not mention the fire. Mark has τὸ φῶς, strictly, the light of the fire. Luke says they had kindled a fire (πῦρ).
Rev., correctly, were warming. So, John 18:25, was standing and was warming, for stood and warmed.
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