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Pontius Pilate was a Roman Governor, or Prefect, over the Roman province of Judea during the reign of Tiberius Caesar[1]. Pilate served for 10 years, second only to his predecessor Valerius Gratus in difficult province where Jews hated the occupation. As governor over Judea he oppressed the common Jewish citizen, but tried to appease the Jewish leadership (the High Priests, Sanhedrin and Pharisees) in order to remain in power. His most notable action as Governor of Judea was sentencing Jesus Christ to crucifixion in order to please the Jewish leadership, because there was no legal basis for his execution[2].


Early Life

Nothing is known about Pontius Pilate's early life. However, having come to power as a governor in AD 26, he would have been a mature leader trusted by the emperor by then.

Establishment as Governor

He was appointed by Tiberius Caesar, succeeding Valerius Gratus. He reigned over Judea, Samaria and Idumæa at least from the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius[1].

Pontius Pilate was almost always referred to by his surname "Pilate," as "Pontius" could've been a title rather than a first name.

Once in power, Pontius became a rival with others with a similar governor title, most notably with Herod Antipas the tetrarch of Galilee[3].

During Pontius Pilate's reign, he would mix the blood of Galileans with that of Jewish and Yahwistic sacrifices[4].

Proceeding over the Trial of Jesus

When Judas Iscariot had betrayed Jesus Christ, he was arrested by the Jewish priesthood, including Caiaphas the high priest. After Jesus had been tried by the Jews, they brought him to the palace in Jerusalem belonging to the current Judean governor; at the time Pilate. When the Jews arrived at Pontius Pilate's palace, they would not enter his palace, because it was early morning and they wanted to remain clean to partake in Passover[5].

So Pilate came out of his palace to exercise his judicial obligations and asked what charges were accused of Jesus[6]. The Jews notioned several false charges against Jesus, and also notioned that He had claimed to be king[7]. Pilate then told the Jews that they needed to try him by their own law, rather than Roman law enforced by him, but they did not have the right to execute[8].

Then Pontius went back inside his palace and summoned Jesus and asked Him if He was the king of the jews[9]. Jesus responded by stating if he said so, and asking him of Pilate had came up with this idea on his own[10]. The Judean Prefect told Jesus that he was not a Jew and it was his own people that had made the claim of his kingship[11]. Jesus then explained to Pontius that His kingdom was not of the world, and so Pilate exclaimed that Jesus was indeed a king[12]. Pilate continued asking Christ about the charges in which He had been accused of[13], but to Pilate's astonishment remained quiet[14]. After Jesus explained to Pontius that the truth was on his side he retorted the question of what truth was[15].

After this the Roman Governor brought Jesus back out to the crowds and announced that no charge had been found against him[2]. The crowd became enraged with this answer, and began to complain of how Jesus had begun teaching from Galilee and into Judea[16]. Upon hearing this Pilate asked if the man was from Galilee[17]. After learning that Jesus was from Galilee (being from Nazareth) and under Herod Antipas' jurisdiction sent him to Herod[18].After asking him several questions which received no reply, Antipas sent Jesus back to Pilate wearing a robe[19]. On that day Pilate and Antipas became friends and ended their rivalry[3].

Pilate then called together the accusers of Jesus and told them that neither him nor his new ally Antipas had found any legal basis[20][2], so he would be punished and then released. Judea's governor also practiced a custom in which he would release one prison of the crowds choosing near the Passover feast[21]. Pilate asked the crowd if they wanted the "king of the Jews" to be released[22], knowing that it was out of self interest for him to be charged[23]. While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat, his wife told him not to have anything to do with Jesus Christ, because she had agonized over a dream about him[24]

Instead the crowds asked for an infamous insurrectionist named Jesus Barabbas[25]. Pilate wanting Jesus to be released, once again appealed to the crowds[26] asking what should be done with Jesus[27]. They shouted for Pontius to crucify him, but he pleaded two more times to consider releasing Jesus[28].

When the prefect saw his pleas were going nowhere, he washed his hands in front of the crowd and exclaimed he was innocent of the man's blood[29].Wanting to please the ever insistent crowd, Pilate finally gave in to their demands and released Barabbas[30] and had Jesus flogged[31].

Overseeing Jesus's Crucifixion

In 36 AD, the Zealots (a Jewish religious group that fought the Romans) started a riot at Samaria. Pilate had the instigators and 30,000 Samaritans crucified. This event scared the religious leaders who went to Rome and begged emperor Tiberius to remove Pilate from office in return they promised peace. Tiberius agreed and Pilate was removed from office. He was exiled to the Roman city of Vienne, France.



  1. 1.0 1.1 Luke 3:1
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Luke 23:4,14-15,22;Matt 27:23;John 18:29,38; John 19:4,6;Mark 15:10,12; Acts 13:28
  3. 3.0 3.1 Luke 32:12
  4. Luke 13:1 (Link)
  5. John 18:28, Luke 23:1, Mark 15:1 (Link)
  6. John 28:29 (Link)
  7. Luke 23:1 (Link)
  8. John 18:31 (Link)
  9. John 18:33,Luke 23:3, Matt 27:11,Mark 15:2 (Link)
  10. John 18:34 (Link)
  11. John 18:35 (Link)
  12. John 18:37 (Link)
  13. Matt 27:12-13,Mark 15:3-4, (Link)
  14. Matt 27:14, Mark 15:5 (Link)
  15. John 18:38 (Link)
  16. Luke 23:5 (Link)
  17. Luke 23:6 (Link)
  18. Luke 23:7 (Link)
  19. Luke 23:11 (Link)
  20. Luke 23:13-16 (Link)
  21. Matt 27:15, Mark 15:6, Luke 23:17 (Link)
  22. Mark 15:9, John 18:39 (Link)
  23. Mark 15:10 (Link)
  24. Matt 27:19 (Link)
  25. Luke 23:18, John 18:40, Mark 15:12, Matt 27:21 (Link)
  26. Luke 23:20 (Link)
  27. Mark 15:12, Matt 27:22 (Link)
  28. Luke 23:22, Mark 15:14, Matt 27:23 (Link)
  29. Matt 27:24 (Link)
  30. Luke 23:23-25 (Link)
  31. John 19:1, Luke 23:15, Matt 27:26 (Link)