33 Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
After the Jews evaded Pilate’s question about the formal charge against Jesus, he went into his residence to interrogate Jesus (vv. 33-38). The Jews would not get a perfunctory endorsement of their religious trial against Jesus from the governor.
Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him,
After talking to Jewish leaders about Jesus in his courtyard Pilate went back inside his residence or the Praetorium to talk to Him again.
“Are You [emphatic] the King of the Jews?”
The Jews accused Jesus of treason by His claiming to be a king (Lu 23:2). Pilate asked Him the question of whether He was the King of the Jews considering that allegation. This was not the same issue by which the Sanhedrin convicted Jesus. They condemned Him for blasphemy, not treason.
Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?”
Jesus here asked Pilate whether it was his idea that He was the King of Jews or whether others had leveled this allegation. In effect, Jesus asked Pilate whether he was dealing with a revolutionary. That question was not an issue at the Sanhedrin trial.
Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew?
Pilate’s answer to Jesus was that he was not dealing with a Jewish question. His only issue was a civil concern. Religious questions were of no issue to him. These pursuits exasperated him. The suggestion that he might be a Jew was disdainful.
Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me.
Jesus came to offer His kingdom to Israel, but they officially rejected that offer. “He came to His own things [neuter] but His own people [masculine] received Him not” (Jn 1:11). This comment by Pilate shows how true John 1:11 was. His own nation vetoed His claim to be the Messiah.
What have You done?”
Pilate asked Jesus what He did to deserve His “own nation” surrendering Him to Rome. He wanted to know how relevant the charge was against Him. He would also not rubber stamp Jewish allegations against Jesus.
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of [origin] this world.
Rather than denying that He was a King, Jesus admitted that He was a King of a different realm. Now that Israel had officially rejected Him as the Messiah, the King of Israel, His kingdom would function in the spiritual realm.
If [but it is not] My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews;
Jesus here affirmed that Pilate should have no fear of a political insurrection because He was not attempting to establish a kingdom on earth. If He were to establish a kingdom on earth at this time, His followers would flight physically for that kingdom.
Now that Israel rejected Jesus as their Messiah and His offer of a physical kingdom, Jesus’ kingdom was spiritual, not physical. The word “now” deals with a point of time, the time that He spoke to Pilate.
My kingdom is not from here.”
Jesus’ kingdom is in the spiritual realm, not the physical (Jn 3:3; Co 1:13). His kingdom was no threat to Rome. He was indeed the King of the Jews but His kingdom with them still lay in the future (Mt 2:2).
A true kingdom contains spirituality.
Jesus did not say that His kingdom was not in the world; He said that it was not “of”—that is, did not have its source—from human origin (Jn 17:16). The idea is that Jesus’ kingdom is otherworldly.
Jesus did not repudiate His right to be King of the nation Israel. That would be delayed until later. The rejection of Jesus as the Messiah by the nation Israel resulted in the postponement of our Lord’s literal kingdom on earth.