From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

The position of procurator, in the sense in which we are familiar with the word, cannot be understood without a knowledge of the word’s history. Before the Roman Empire was ever thought of, and regularly also after it had come into existence, a procurator (Greek, ἐπίτροπος) was one qui procurat, ‘who attends to’ or ‘manages,’ particularly the affairs of a house-hold or an estate-an agent, steward, or bailiff, in fact. Such a person was a superior servant, acting for his master, but still a servant. The Emperor required servants to manage his property in various parts of the Empire, and these were regularly known by the name procuratores. They derived what importance they had solely from the high position of their master. If this had been clearly understood, probably we should have been spared much cheap criticism of a man like Pilate, procurator of Judaea , whose career could be made or marred by a master’s whim. Such a man was in an entirely different position from an ordinary governor of a province, who would be a member of the Senate, still a privileged body, and might be of as good as, or of better blood than, the Emperor himself. It is true that an Emperor could also get rid of such, but not so easily.

Procuratores were of many kinds, but were never of higher rank than the equestrian. Once or twice they were Imperial freedmen. The Emperor had procuratores in all provinces, senatorial and Imperial alike, who attended to his financial interests there. The Emperors had private property in the provinces, often consisting of estates that had belonged to the domains of various gods and goddesses. These demanded a large staff of workers of many kinds, and over them were set procuratores. Sometimes these would take over the command of a province on the occasion of the death or absence of the real governor. They are to be distinguished from the procuratores who were actually set over provinces as governors. Only Imperial provinces were thus governed, and only the less important of these (see Governor, Province). They took the place of the earlier military prefects. The following provinces among others were governed at one time or another by them-the two Mauretaniae, Raetia, Noricum, Alpes Maritimae, Alpes Cottiae, Judaea , Cappadocia, Epirus, the Hellespont, Corsica, Sardinia, Bithynia, Pamphylia. To the student of Christian origins Judaea is the most interesting. Of Pontius Pilate we know almost nothing, but Felix was the first man born a slave who governed a Roman province and commanded the troops in it. Antonius Felix was brother of Claudius’ great minister of finance (a rationibus), Pallas, and, probably on account of his marriage into a higher class, was raised to the equestrian order before his appointment to Judaea . Such governors had a lower status than the finance procurators in other provinces. The troops under their command were auxiliaries, which were for the most part drawn from the country itself, and militia formed from the able-bodied men of the province. Such troops did not belong to the Imperial army in the strict sense. In Judaea , e.g., there was an ala formed of Caesariani and Sebasteni, the ala prima gemina Sebastenorum (apparently drafted in Vespasian’s time to Mauretania), and five cohorts (cf.  Acts 10:1 for the name of one of them), which also appear to have been raised entirely in the country, and were probably in part also commanded by officers of Eastern birth (e.g., probably, Claudius Lysias,  Acts 23:26). Only one of these cohorts had its quarters in Jerusalem. The 200 δεξιολάβοι (probably ‘slingers’) who were sent as an escort with St. Paul ( Acts 23:23) probably did not form a separate troop. In their quality of commanders of troops the procurators had beneficiarii under them. Sometimes also a sub-procurator (ἀντεπίτροπος) of equestrian rank is mentioned as an assistant to the procurator. Lower posts, filled by Imperial freedmen and slaves, were those of the tabularii, commentarienses, librarii, arcarii (cf.  Romans 16:23, where dispensator would be a more exact translation; also CIL_ iii. 556, v. 8818), and dispensatores with their vicarii, to which titles the name of the province is always added. These officials, to avoid the appearance of partiality, were never natives of the provinces in which they served.

The functions of the procurators were judicial, financial, and military. The last tended to become less important in the later Empire. They had supervision of the taxes. They had to pay the soldiers, not only in procuratorial but also in the other Imperial provinces. Each had charge of the carrying out of road-building and other buildings in his province. In the more important Imperial provinces the financial procurators acted ordinarily with the governors in the supervision of building and also in the settlement of boundary disputes, but also sometimes independently. In the ordinary Civil Court (Recorder’s Court, Court of Common Pleas) they had a jurisdiction like that of other governors, and in later times at least they could appoint a guardian to a ward (tutoris datio). Criminal jurisdiction over non-citizens was extended to them in Judaea already in Augustus’ time in full compass ( John 19:10), but over Roman citizens they had no power of life and death (ius gladii), unless this had been communicated to them in a special mandate from the Emperor. The right of pardon belonged only to the Emperor, and the liberation of such a criminal as Barabbas can have been made possible only by a clause in the special lex prouinciCE, according to which Judaea was governed ( John 18:39). The procurator of Judaea appears to have stood in a special position of dependence under the governor of the Imperial province of Syria. Pilate was deposed, or at least suspended, by L. Vitellius, the governor of Syria (Josephus, Ant. XVIII. iv. 2), with the command that he should appear before the Emperor in Rome, and a provisional governor appointed for Judaea . A similar experience fell to the lot of later procurators of Judaea , Felix and Cumanus, at the hands of Ummidius Quadratus, governor of Syria. But it has been pointed out that both these governors had a wider command than Syria, extending in fact over the neighbouring provinces as well. There was, however, a close connexion between Judaea and Syria, the result of Syria’s importance as a frontier province with four legions stationed in it.

Literature.-O. Hirschfeld, Die kaiserlichen Verwaltungsbeamten bis auf Diocletian2, Berlin, 1905, pp. 410-465. On Imperial estates, formerly the property of gods or goddesses, see W. M. Ramsay, ‘The Tekmoreian Guest-Friends; an Anti-Christian Society on the Imperial Estates at Pisidian Antioch,’ in Studies in the History and Art of the Eastern Provinces of the Roman Empire, 1906, pp. 305-377, Athenaeum, 12 Aug. 1911, p. 193, ‘Iconium and Antioch,’ in Exp_, 8th ser., ii. [1911] 257 ff., JHS_ xxxii. [1912] 151 ff.; J. G. C. Anderson, in JRS_ iii. [1913] 267 ff.; M. Rostowzew, Studien zur Gesch. des röm. Kolonates, Leipzig, 1910.

A. Souter.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [2]

Procurator. The Greek, agemon , rendered "Governor" , in the Authorized Version, is applied, in the New Testament, to the officer who presided over the imperial province of Judea. It is used of Pontius Pilate,  Matthew 27:1, of Felix, Acts 23-24, and of Festus.  Acts 26:30. It is explained under Proconsul that, after the battle of Actium, B.C. 27, the provinces of the Roman empire were divided by Augustus into two portions, giving some to the senate, and reserving to himself the rest.

The imperial provinces were administered by legali . No quaestor came into the emperor's provinces, but the property and revenues of the imperial treasury were administered by procuratores. Sometimes a province was governed by a procurator with the functions of a legatus . This was especially the case, with the smaller provinces, and the outlying districts of a larger province; and such is the relation in which Judea stood to Syria.

The headquarters of the procurator were at Caesarea,  Acts 23:23, where he had a judgment seat,  Acts 25:6, in the audience chamber,  Acts 25:23, and was assisted by a council,  Acts 25:12, whom he consulted in cases of difficulty. He was attended by a cohort as body-guard,  Matthew 27:27, and, apparently, went up to Jerusalem, at the time of the high festivals, and there resided at the palace of Herod, in which was the praetorium, or "Judgment Hall".  Matthew 27:27;  Mark 15:16. Compare  Acts 23:35.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

"governor"; Greek Heegemoon in New Testament, more strictly Epitropos . Used of Pontius Pilate, Felix, and Festus (Matthew 27; Acts 23; 24;  Acts 26:30). (See Pontius PILATE.) Legates governed the imperial provinces, with term of office subject to the emperor's will. They had six lictors, the military dress and sword (Dion Cass. 53:13). Procurators administered for the emperor's treasury ( Fiscus ) the revenues. In smaller provinces as Judaea, attached to larger as Syria, the procurator had the judicial junctions as "president," subordinate to the chief president over Syria.

Caesarea was the head quarters of the procurator of Judaea ( Acts 23:23), where he had his judgment seat ( Acts 25:6) in the audience chamber ( Acts 25:23), assisted by a council ( Acts 25:12) whom he cousulted in difficult cases. He had a bodyguard of soldiers ( Matthew 27:27). He visited Jerusalem at the great feasts, when riots were frequent, and resided in Herod's palace, where was the Proetorium ("judgment hall,"  John 19:9; "common hall,"  Matthew 27:27;  Acts 23:35).

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [4]

Procurator . Originally a procurator was a steward of private property, who had charge of the slaves and his master’s financial affairs. His importance depended on that of his master. Thus the Emperor’s stewards were persons of consequence, and were sometimes trusted with the government of some less important Imperial provinces as well as with the Emperor’s financial affairs in all provinces. They were of equestrian rank, like Theophilus, to whom the Third Gospel and Acts are addressed. The following were at different times procurators of Judæa: Pontius Pilate, Felix, and Festus, called in NT by the comprehensive term ‘governors.’

A. Souter.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [5]

The Roman title given to the chief ruler of a district. Judaea was governed by a procurator, ἡγεμών,who held his authority directly from the emperor, and was invested with powers of life and death. Roman citizens, however, were privileged to appeal from his authority to the emperor. The procurators were to some extent responsible to the Presidents of Syria. Those mentioned in the N.T. are Pontius Pilate, Felix, and Festus. In the A.V. they are called 'governors.'

Webster's Dictionary [6]

(1): ( n.) One who manages another's affairs, either generally or in a special matter; an agent; a proctor.

(2): ( n.) A governor of a province under the emperors; also, one who had charge of the imperial revenues in a province; as, the procurator of Judea.

Holman Bible Dictionary [7]

 Matthew 27:2 Acts 23:24 Acts 24:27

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [8]

This word does not occur in the Vulgate or in the A.V., nor is its accurate Greek equivalent, Ἐπίτροπος (though used by Philo, Leg. Ad Ceiium, and by Josephus. Ant. 20:6, 2, 8, 5; comp. 20:5,; his office is called Ἐπιτροπή [Ibid. 20:5, 1]), found in this sense in the Greek Testament, where it is represented by the vaguer term Ἡγεμών , rendered by our translators "governor" ( Luke 2:2;  Matthew 27:2;  Matthew 28:14, etc.). ῾Ηγεμών also occurs in a perfectly general sense ( Matthew 10:18;  1 Peter 2:14). In  Matthew 2:6 it is rendered "prince," and corresponds to the Hebrew אִלּוּ . "Governor" in the A.V. is also used for Ἐθνάρχης ( 2 Corinthians 11:32). Διοικητής is another Greek term for procurator. The word Ἡγεμών , or procurator, is generally applied, both in the original and in our version, to the procurators of Judaea, Pontius Pilate (Matthew 27 etc.), Felix (Acts 23), and Festus ( Acts 26:30); but it is also used of Cyrenius (Quirinus), who held the more responsible and distinguished office Of Praeses or Leqatus Caesaris over the province of Syria ( Luke 2:2). Procurators were chiefly despatched to the imperial, and not to the senatorial provinces. (See Province).

The revenues of the latter flowed into the merarium, or exchequer, while those of the former belonged to the fiscus, or privy purse. The Procuratore Caesoris were specially intrusted with the interests of the fiscus, and therefore managed the various taxes and imposts, performing similar duties to those exercised by the quaestors in the provinces administered by the senate. Procurators were, however, sometimes sent as well as quaestors to the senatorial provinces (Tacit. Ann. 13:1: Dio Cass. 53:15); but these were doubtless offices of less dignity, though bearing the same title. Procurator is also used for steward (Plautus, Pseud. 2, 2, 14), attorney (Ulpian, Dig. 3, 3), regent (Cesar, B. C. 3, 112), etc. They were selected from among men who had been consuls or praetors, and sometimes from the inferior senators (Dio Cass. 53:13-15). They were attended by six lictors, used the military dress, and wore the sword (ibid. 13). No quaestor came into the emperor's provinces, but the property and revenues of the imperial treasury were administered to the rationales, procucratores, and actores of the emperor, who were chosen from among his freedmen, or from among the knights (Tacit. Hist. v, 9; Dio Cass. 53:15).

Sometimes the procurators were invested with the dignity of legati, or procuratores cum jure gladii ( Τῇ Ἐπὶ Πᾶσιν Ἐξουσίᾷ , Josephus, War, ii, 8, 1), and this was the case with the procurators of Judaea, which had been made a sub-province of Syria ( Προσθήκη Τῆς Συρίας ; id. Ant. 13:1, 1) since the deposition of the ethnarch Archelaus, A.D. 6. There is therefore no inaccuracy in the use of Ἡγεμών in the New Test., since we find from inscriptions that preeses and procurator were often interchangeable (Gruter, p. 493, b). In one respect, indeed, the Ἡγεμόνες were even more powerful than the proconsuls themselves ( Ἀνθύπατοι ) ; for, being regarded as the immediate emissaries and representatives of the Caesar, by whom they were appointed to an indefinite tenure of office (Dio Cass. 53:13-15), they had the power of inflicting capital punishment at their own discretion ( John 19:10; Josephus, War, ii, 8, 1). They also governed the province when the proconsul was dead or absent, "vice proconsilium," as we see from many inscriptions (Murat. p. 907, 4, etc.). In a turbulent and seditious province like Judaea, their most frequent functions were of a military or judicial character. The first procurator was Coponius, who was sent out with Quirinus to take a census of the property of the Jews and to confiscate that of Archelaus (Josephus, Ant. 18:1, 1). His successor was Marcus Ambivitus, then Annius Rufus, in whose time the emperor Augustus died. Tiberius sent Valerius Gratus. who was procurator for eleven years, and was succeeded by Pontius Pilate ( Ibid. 2, 2), who i called by Josephus (ibid. 3, 1) Ἡγεμών , as he is in the New Test. He was subject to the governor ( Praeses ) of Syria, for the council of the Samaritans denounced Pilate to Vitellitus, who sent him to Rome and put one of his own friends, Marcellus, in his place ( Ibid. 4, 2). The headquarters of the procurator were at Cesarea (Josephus, War, ii, 9, 2;  Acts 23:23), where he had a judgment-seat (25:6) in the audience-chamber ( Acts 23:23), and was assisted by a council ( Acts 23:12) whom he consulted in cases of difficulty, the Assessores (Suieton. Gelb. 14), or ; Ἡγεμόνες , who are mentioned by Josephus (War, ii, 16, 1) as having been consulted by Cestius, the governor of Syria, when certain charges were made against Florus, the procurator of Judaea. More important cases were laid before the emperor ( Acts 25:12; comp. Josephus, Ant. 20:6, 2). The procurator, as the representative of the emperor, had the power of life and death over his subjects (Dio Cass. 53:14;  Matthew 27:26),which was denied to the proconsul. In the New Test. we see the procurator only in his judicial capacity. Thus Christ is brought before Pontius Pilate as a political offender ( Matthew 27:2;  Matthew 27:11), and the accusation is heard by the procurator, who is seated on the judgmentseat ( Matthew 27:19). Felix heard St. Paul's accusation and defence from the judgment-seat at Caesarea (Acts 24), which was in the open air in the great stadium (Josephus, War, 2, 9, 2), and St. Paul calls him "judge" ( Acts 24:10), as if this term described his chief functions. The procurator ( Ἡγεμών ) is again alluded to in his judicial capacity in  1 Peter 2:14.

He was attended by a cohort as body-guard ( Matthew 27:27), and apparently went up to Jerusalem at the time of the high festivals, and there resided in the palace of Herod (Josephus, War. ii, 14, 3; Philo, De Leg. ad Caiunz, § 37, ii, 589, ed. Mang.), in which was the pretoriium, or "judgment-hall," as it is rendered in the A.V. ( Matthew 27:27;  Mark 15:16; comp.  Acts 23:35). Sometimes, it appears, Jerusalem was made his winter quarters (Josephus, Ant. 18:3, 1). The high- priest was appointed and removed at the will of the procurator ( Ibid. 2, 2). Of the oppression and extortion practiced by one of these officers, Gessius Florus, which resulted in open rebellion, we have an account in Josephus ( Ant. 20:I, 1; War, ii, 14, 2). The same laws held both for the governors of the imperial and senatorial provinces, that they could not raise a levy or exact more than an appointed sum of money from their subjects, and that when their successors came they were to return to Rome within three months (Dio Cass. 53:15). The pomp and dignity of the procurators may be inferred from the narrative of these trials, and from the titles of "most excellent" and "most noble" ( Κράτιστε ), applied to them by such different lips as those of Claudius Lysias, Tertullian, and St. Paul; yet they were usually chosen from no higher rank than that of the equites, or even the freedmen of the emperor; and the "most noble Felix," in particular, was a mere manumitted slave (Tacit. Hist. 5, 9; Ann. 12:54; Sueton. Claud. 28). It is satisfactory to find that even in the minutest details the glimpses of their position afforded to us by the New Test. are corroborated by the statements of heathen writers. The violence ( Luke 13:1), the venality ( Acts 24:26), the insolence ( John 19:22), and the gross injustice ( Acts 24:27), which we see exemplified in their conduct towards our Lord and his apostles, are amply illustrated by contemporary historians (Josephus, Ant. 18:3, 1; War, ii, 9; Cicero, In Veterem, passim); and they weighed so heavily on the mind of the emperor Trajan that he called the extortions of provincial governors "the spleen of the empire" (comp. Aurel. Vict. Epist. 42). Vespasian (mnore suo) took a more humorous view of the matter, and said that the procurators were like sponges (Sueton. Vesp. 16). The presence of the wives of Pilate ( Matthew 27:19) and Felix ( Acts 24:24) reminds us of the famous debate on the proposition of Caecina to forbid the proconsuls and procurators to be accompanied by their wives (Tacit. Ann. 3, 33, 34). This had been the old and perhaps the wise regulation of earlier days, since the cruelty, ambition, and luxury of these ladies were often more formidable to the provincials than those of the governors themselves. But the rule had often been violated, and had of late been deliberately abandoned. We see, too, in the ready handing-over of the prisoner from one authority to another ( Ἀνέπεμψεν , remisit,  Luke 23:7;  Acts 26:32), some trace of that salutary dread of being denounced after their term of office was over, which alone acted as a check upon the lawlessness of even the most unscrupulous governors. Even the mention made of things at first sight so trivial as the tribunal ( Βῆμα ), and the tessellated pavement ( Λιθόστρωτον ) on which it was elevated, derives an interest and importance from the fact that they were conventional symbols of wealth and dignity, and that Julius Caesar thought it worth while to carry one about with him from place to place (Sueton. Jul. C. 46). See Sibranda, De Statu Judaeoe Provinc. (Franc. 1698; also in Iken, Thes. Nov. ii, 529); Deyling, Observat. ii, 429; Grossmann, De Procuratore (Lips. 1823); Langen, in the Theol. Quartalschr. (1862) iii; Bible Educator, 3, 180. (See Governor).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [9]

prok´ū́ - - tẽr ( ἐπίτροπος , epı́tropos ): This word signified in a general sense a steward or bailiff of a private estate, or a financial agent with power of attorney, and the development of the special usage of the word to denote an imperial functionary or official is characteristic of the origin of many departments of administration under the Roman Empire which sprang from the emperor's household. At the time of Augustus, when the domestic quality of these offices had not been entirely lost, the procurators were mostly imperial freedmen. But after the systematic organization of the administration in the 2nd century, the title of procurator was reserved for functionaries of the equestrian class. In fact, the term is so intimately connected with the sphere of official activity of the Roman knights that the expressions "procuratorial career" and "equestrian career" are used synonymously (compare Hirschfeld, Die kaiserlichen Verwaltungsbeamten bib auf Diocletian , 410-65).

During the last century of the Republic, the class of knights (equites) embraced in general all citizens of wealth who were not magistrates or members of the senate. The Roscian Law (67 BC) established 400,000 sesterces (about ,000 (in 1915), or 3,600 British pounds (in 1915)) as the minimum census rating for membership in this class. The gold ring, tunic with narrow purple border, and privilege of sitting in the first 14 rows at theater were the tokens of knighthood. Augustus added to these the public horse which was conferred henceforth by the emperor and recalled the original military significance of the order. From the time of Augustus the first three decuriae of jurors ( judices ), each containing 1,000 persons, were filled with knights.

Under the Republic the influence of the equestrian class was chiefly exerted in the financial transactions of the companies which farmed the variable revenues. The importance of the publicani was greatly reduced under the Empire, but the emperors recompensed the knights for this loss of opportunity by entrusting them with a great variety of administrative functions. Military service as prefect or tribune was the preliminary step in the official equestrian career. The highest positions held by members of the equestrian class were called prefectures, and included the prefecture of the guard, of Egypt, of the grain-supply, of the watchmen in Rome, and of the fleet. But between these extremes the title procurator was applied generally to the functionaries whose positions were of imperial origin.

The administration of the fiscus or imperial treasury at Rome and of the finances in the imperial provinces, as well as the collection of fiscal revenues in the senatorial provinces, was in the hands of procurators. They occupied many positions which, on account of their intimate relationship with the person of the monarch, could be safely entrusted only to those whose limited prestige precluded inordinate ambition (Friedlaender, Sittengeschichte Roms 7th edition, Part I, 132-43). Finally, several provinces, where the conditions were unfavorable to the introduction of the ordinary administrative system and Roman public law, were governed as imperial domains by officials of the equestrian class as the emperor's representatives. In Egypt the title prefect ( praefectus ) was employed permanently as the appellation of the viceroy, and while the same term may have been used originally to denote the governors of this class generally, when their military outweighed their civil functions, yet the designation procurator became at an early date the term of common usage to designate them (Hirschfeld, 382).

Mauretania, Rhaetia, Noricum, Thrace, Cappadocia, Judea and some smaller districts were all, for a time at least, governed by procurators (Tacitus, History i. 11; Dio Cassius lvii. 17).

The question concerning the original title of the Roman governors of Judea has arisen because the New Testament employs the word hēgemṓn (  Matthew 27:2 ,  Matthew 27:11 ,  Matthew 27:14 ,  Matthew 27:15 ,  Matthew 27:21 ,  Matthew 27:27;  Matthew 28:14;  Luke 3:1;  Luke 20:20;  Acts 23:24;  Acts 24:1;  Acts 26:30 ), which corresponds with the Latin term, praeses , which might be considered synonymous with either procurator or praefectus (Hirschfeld, 384). There is no inscriptional evidence to establish the nomenclature of the rulers of Palestine before the time of Vespasian, and Hirschfeld is of the opinion that a certain passage in Tacitus ( Ann. xv. 44) where Pilate is called procurator is not sufficient proof in view of this writer's carelessness in details of this sort. Josephus ( Ant. , XX, i, 2), however, employs epitropos ( procurator ) for the time of Claudius, and it is convenient to follow common usage and assume that this title was current from the first.

It was evidently the intention of Augustus that membership in the equestrian class should be a necessary qualification for the procurators who were appointed to govern provinces. But Claudius appointed a freedman, Antonius Felix, brother of the famous minister of finance, Pallas, as procurator of Judea (Suetonius, Claudius xxviii; Tacitus, History v. 9). This remained, however, an isolated instance in the annals of Palestine (Hirschfeld, 380), and it is probable, moreover, that Felix was raised to equestrian rank before the governorship was conferred upon him.

The following list of the procurators of Judea is based on Marquardt ( Romische Staatsverwaltung , I, 409,412) and Schurer ( Geschichte des judischen Volkes4 , I, 485-585):

Coponius (6 Ad to circa 10 AD)

M. Ambibulus (circa 10-13)

Annius Rufus (circa 13-15)

Valerius Gratus (circa 15-26)

Pontius Pilatus (26-35)

Marcellus (probably 35-38)

Maryllus (38-44)

C. Cuspins Fadus (44-46)

Tiberius Alexander (46-48)

Ventidius Cumanus (48-52)

M. Antonius Felix (52-60 or 61)


Marquardt gives his name as Claudius Felix, supposing that he was a freedman of Claudius and therefore took his nomen (Suetonius, Claudius xxviii; Victor, epitome iv, 8); but there is stronger evidence in support of the belief that Felix was a freedman of Antonia, Claudius' mother, like his brother Pallas (Tacitus, Annals xii. 54; Josephus, Ant. , Xviii , vi, 4; XX, vii, 1,2; XX, viii, 9; Bj , II, xii, 8), and accordingly had received the praenomen and nomen of Antonia's father (Josephus, Ant. , Xviii , vi, 6).

Portius Festus (61)

Albinus (62-64)

Gessius Florus (65-66)

See, further, Governor .