Matthew 27:21
The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Matthew 27:21-22. The governor said, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? — He still hoped to gain his point, and have Jesus released: but, to his great surprise, they said, Barabbas — As if his crimes were less than those of Jesus, and therefore he less deserved to die; or, as if his merits were greater, and therefore he better deserved to live! Be astonished, O heavens, at this, and thou earth, be horribly afraid! Were ever men that pretended to reason or religion guilty of such prodigious madness, such horrid wickedness! This was it that Peter charged so home upon them, when he said, Acts 3:14, Ye denied the Holy One and the Just, in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you, and ye killed the Prince of life. Pilate saith, &c. — Pilate, being amazed at their choice of Barabbas, was willing to hope it was rather from a fondness to him than from enmity to Jesus, and therefore put this question to them, What shall I do then with Jesus? — Shall I release him likewise for the greater honour of your feast? Or, will you leave the disposing of him to me? No: — They all say, LET HIM BE CRUCIFIED — The punishment which Barabbas had deserved: and this probably made them think of it. But in their malice they forgot with how dangerous a precedent they furnished the Roman governor. And indeed, within the compass of a few years, it turned dreadfully upon themselves. They desired he might die that death, because it was looked upon as the most scandalous and ignominious; and they hoped thereby to make his followers ashamed to own him, and their relation to him. It was absurd for them to prescribe to the judge what sentence he should pass, but their malice and rage made them forget all rules of order and decency, and turn a court of justice into a riotous and seditious assembly. Though they that cried thus, perhaps, were not the same persons that the other day had cried, HOSANNA; yet see what a change was made in the face of the populace in a little time! When he rode in triumph to Jerusalem, so general were the acclamations of praise, that one would have thought he had no enemies; but now, when he was led in dishonour to Pilate’s judgment-seat, so general were the outcries of enmity, that one would think he had no friends! Such revolutions are there in this changeable world, through which our way to heaven lies, as our Master’s did, by honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report, counterchanged. 2 Corinthians 6:8.

27:11-25 Having no malice against Jesus, Pilate urged him to clear himself, and laboured to get him discharged. The message from his wife was a warning. God has many ways of giving checks to sinners, in their sinful pursuits, and it is a great mercy to have such checks from Providence, from faithful friends, and from our own consciences. O do not this abominable thing which the Lord hates! is what we may hear said to us, when we are entering into temptation, if we will but regard it. Being overruled by the priests, the people made choice of Barabbas. Multitudes who choose the world, rather than God, for their ruler and portion, thus choose their own delusions. The Jews were so bent upon the death of Christ, that Pilate thought it would be dangerous to refuse. And this struggle shows the power of conscience even on the worst men. Yet all was so ordered to make it evident that Christ suffered for no fault of his own, but for the sins of his people. How vain for Pilate to expect to free himself from the guilt of the innocent blood of a righteous person, whom he was by his office bound to protect! The Jews' curse upon themselves has been awfully answered in the sufferings of their nation. None could bear the sin of others, except Him that had no sin of his own to answer for. And are we not all concerned? Is not Barabbas preferred to Jesus, when sinners reject salvation that they may retain their darling sins, which rob God of his glory, and murder their souls? The blood of Christ is now upon us for good, through mercy, by the Jews' rejection of it. O let us flee to it for refuge!Whether of the twain? - Which of the two, Jesus or Barabbas?Mt 27:11-26. Jesus Again before Pilate—He Seeks to Release Him but at Length Delivers Him to Be Crucified. ( = Mr 15:1-15; Lu 23:1-25; Joh 18:28-40).

For the exposition, see on [1372]Lu 23:1-25; [1373]Joh 18:28-40.

See Poole on "Matthew 27:23".

The governor answered and said unto them,.... A second time, after some time had been allowed and taken up to consider of the matter, and which the chief priests and elders improved among the people against Jesus.

Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? for as these two were proposed, one of them must be released; and it lay in the breast of the people to choose which they would:

they said, Barabbas; so that Christ was not only numbered among, and reckoned with transgressors, but he was accounted worse than the worst of them; a seditious person, a robber, and a murderer was preferred before him: see Acts 3:14.

The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 27:21 Ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ, κ.τ.λ.] The governor, having from his tribunal overheard this parleying of the members of the Sanhedrim with the people, now replies to it by once more demanding of the latter, with a view to a final decision: which of the two, etc. He thus puts a stop to the officious conduct of the hierarchs, and resumes his attitude of waiting for the answer of the crowd.

21. Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you?] Once more the question is put to the people (see Matthew 27:17). His wife’s message had made Pilate anxious to acquit Jesus. But the very form of the question implied condemnation. Jesus was classed with Barabbas in the category of condemned prisoners.

Verse 21. - Answered, to the various cries which reached him. Whether of the twain? Which of the two? He repeats the question before asked (ver. 17), having given the multitude time for deliberation, and offering them no alternative but to choose one of these two prisoners. Barabbas. They prefer a murderer to the Prince of life - a selection on their part guilty and malevolent, but on the part of God necessary for our salvation (Quesnel). Truly, Jesus "was despised and rejected of men." If he had been released now, his liberation would not have been, as it ought to have been, an act of simple justice, but an imperial concession, an act of grace, in which the character of the prisoner was not regarded. Matthew 27:21
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