Pontius Pilate

The story of Jesus is narrated In the first four Books of the New Testament: His birth in Bethlehem, His betrayal by Judas, His crucifixion, and His resurrection. Some important political figures also appear, such as Pontius Pilate. Let’s learn more about Pontius Pilate, and his role in the story of Jesus Christ as it is told by the Word of God

Who Was Pontius Pilate?

Pontius Pilate belonged to the equestrian class of ancient Rome. He was a prefect of Judea from around 26 to 36 A.D., before being sent back to Rome to explain himself to the emperor. The Bible presents him as the governor, before whom Jesus was summoned during His trial. He is also known as the man who gave the order of Jesus’ crucifixion, and dictated the message that was to appear on His Cross. 

Pilate Washing His Hands

The governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, was an important figure during the trial of Jesus. After interrogating Him, he could not find any real reason to condemn Him: “Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” (John 19: 4). However, after the high priests and the crowds pressured him, and  “when Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” (Matthew 27: 24). The expression “to wash one's hands of something” comes from this passage from the Bible, it means to disclaim responsibility for an action. 

Pontius Pilate and King Herod

The Gospel of Luke the Evangelist contains an event that is not featured in the other Gospels: the friendship between Pilate and Herod Antipas, who was the King of Judea at the time of Jesus’ trial. 

“Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.” (Luke 23:11-12)

The Trial of Jesus Before Pontius Pilate in the Gospel of Matthew

Pontius Pilate Interrogates Jesus

“Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer.”

(Matthew 27:11-12)

“Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” 

(Luke 23:4)

Pilate Interrogates Jesus a Second Time

“And he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”

Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

(John 19:9-11)

INRI: The Inscription on Jesus’ Cross, Wrote by Pontius Pilate

“Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. The writing was:


Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city. And it was written in Hebrew, in Greek, and in Latin. The chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but ‘He said, I am King of the Jews.’ ”

Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

(John 19:19-22)

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