Why is λόγος accusative singular in John 19:8 and genitive plural in John 19:13? In both cases λόγος is the object of the verb ἀκούω (hear). There seems to be three possibilities.

  1. In v8 Pilate believed the statement v7; in v13 he did not believe the statements in v12.

  2. There is one statement in v8 and two statements in v13.

  3. In v8 Pilate had no intention of following to their reasoning to condemn Jesus in v7 while in v13 Pilate was inclined to give in to their reasoning based on the statements in v12.

The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” 8 When Pilate heard this statement [τὸν λόγον], he was even more afraid. 9 He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. (John 19:7–9, ESV)

12 From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” 13 So when Pilate heard these words [τῶν λόγων], he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. (John 19:12–13, ESV)


Abbott supports option 3 in his grammar.

[2586] 19:8 ὅτε οὖν ἤκουσεν ὁ Π. τοῦτον τὸν λόγον μᾶλλον ἐφοβήθη may be compared with 19:13 ὁ οὖν Π., ἀκούσας τῶν λόγων τούτων ἤγαγεν ἕξω τὸν Ἰ. In the former, the “hearing” does not produce (1614 b) any result beyond emotion; and the clause, being subordinate in thought, is introduced with a subordinate conjunction. In the latter, τούτων is emphasized by position (2553 c) and τ. λόγων τούτων by case (1614 b)—referring to the words “thou art not Cæsar’s friend.” This is a charge that Pilate cannot hear unmoved. Now therefore he is goaded to action, and the sentence introduces the action as the consequence, ὁ οὖν Π … ἤγαγεν[3]. -- Abbott, E. A. (1906). Johannine Grammar (p. 435). London: Adam and Charles Black.

Abbott apparently took this meaning from this classical use since τῶν λόγων τούτων the the things hear, not the people speaking.

ἀκούω ... IV. to listen to, give ear to, Il. 2. to obey, c. gen., or more rarely c. dat., Ib. 3. to hear and understand, κλύοντες οὐκ ἤκουον Aesch. -- Liddell, H. G. (1996). A lexicon: Abridged from Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English lexicon (p. 29). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

1 Answer 1


It's focused on two separate aspects. Verse 8 focuses on the message given him, whereas verse 13 keys in on the fact that the message was the words of the Jews (plural).

When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; (John 19:8, KJV)

ὅτε οὖν ἤκουσεν ὁ Πιλᾶτος τοῦτον τὸν λόγον μᾶλλον ἐφοβήθη (Greek)

The "τὸν λόγον" here in verse 8 addresses the saying, or the message (singular), that the Jews had given Pilate, and this is the object of the verb (accusative case).

Unfortunately, at least in the KJV, the English translation did not differentiate on the usage as the Greek does for verse 13.

When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. (John 19:13, KJV)

ὁ οὖν Πιλᾶτος ἀκούσας τῶν λόγων τούτων ἤγαγεν ἔξω τὸν Ἰησοῦν καὶ ἐκάθισεν ἐπὶ βήματος εἰς τόπον λεγόμενον λιθόστρωτον Ἑβραϊστὶ δὲ Γαββαθα (Greek)

As the question rightly points out, this is now in the Greek genitive case, which is a possessive form in this context. It basically is saying "the words (plural) of (the Jews)", because the Jews who were addressing Pilate were plural--it was not just one person. Perhaps it could have been translated as "their words" or the English could just supply "the Jews" to clarify the grammar here because Greek frequently drops recurrent nouns like this that would have been simply understood within their grammar.

I would submit that the translation for verse 13 might say:

"When Pilate therefore heard the Jews' words . . . ."

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