Pontius Pilate - A Brief Overview

Pontius Pilate Prefect

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"they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate"

Pontius Pilate will go down forever in history as the man who ordered the crucifixion of Jesus, persuaded by the Jewish authorities against his will. Pontius Pilate was the Roman procurator in Judea from 26 to 36 A.D. (Luke 3 :1).

Non-Christian authors (Tacitus, Philo, and Flavius Josephus) mention not only his name but also many details concerning his person and his rule. In a letter from Agrippa I, cited by Philo, his character is severely judged. It speaks of unlimited harshness, pride, violence, greed, insults, continual executions without trial, and endless and unbearable cruelty. His insensitive policies brought Pilate into conflict with the Jews. They were continually offended with Pilate's statues which the Jews considered idolatry (Exod. 20:4). The Jews opposed the entry into Jerusalem of soldiers with banners bearing the likeness of the emperor, and also to the placing of shields inscribed with the Roman emperor's name inside Herod's palace. The Jews finally appealed to the Emperor Tiberius and they succeeded in obtaining withdrawal of the idols.

His use of temple funds to finance the building of an aqueduct also created hostility and bad relations. Finally, after brutally slaughtering the Samaritans, Pilate was sent back to Rome by Vitellius, the legate in Syria, to answer for his conduct.

In the New Testament Pontius Pilate first appears during the time of the Passover Feast in Jerusalem and is confronted with the person of Jesus, who is accused of treason and blasphemy by the Jewish authorities, and Pilate must act as Jesus' judge. The Gospel recounts the trial in detail. Although Pilate is convinced of Jesus' innocence, he is forced to order Jesus to be crucified. By washing his hands and declaring he is innocent of the blood of Jesus, he tries to evade any responsibility.

Another harsh action by Pilate is referred to in Luke 13.

A large assortment of legendary material dealing with Pontius Pilate is found in later literature. Justine the Martyr, Tertullian, and Eusebius refer to an official report compiled by Pilate and sent to Emperor Tiberius which probably gave rise to the Acta (or Gesta) Pilati (or the Gospel of Nicodemus), which claims to be a version of that report (not earlier than the 4th cent.). Details found in Eusebius claim that Pilate committed suicide. Others say he was executed by Nero, according to one tradition. Another tradition says that He finally accepted Jesus and was executed by Tiberius. His wife, by whom he is warned in Matt. 27: 19, is called Procla or Claudia Procula in a legend where she is represented as a follower of Christ.

Pontius Pilate
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Easton's Bible Dictionary
Edersheim - Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah - Chap 14


Hitchcock's Bible Names


International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
ISBE Procurator


Later History






Personal Life
Pilate and Jesus
Pontius Pilate


Smith's Bible Dictionary
Strong's Concordance


Pontius Pilate

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