From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

PILATE. —Pilate’s first name, that by which he would be known in his own household, has not been recorded; we know only his second name ‘Pontius,’ and his third ‘Pilatus.’ Pontius may be derived from pons (‘bridge’), or be cognate with πέντε (‘five’); and Pilatus meant, no doubt, originally, ‘armed with the pike’ (of the Roman legionary); but we are no nearer his origin. We know nothing of his parents, his birthplace, or the date of his birth. He was a Roman citizen, and was born probably in Italy. From the position which he afterwards occupied, it is certain that he belonged in manhood to the middle or equestrian class in the community; but whether by favour of the Emperor or by birth is unknown. Admission to this class could be obtained only by those who possessed 400,000 sesterces (equivalent to about £3000 of our money, but with much greater purchasing power). The question whether he inherited this property qualification or not cannot be answered.

In order to reach the position of procurator of the Roman province of Judaea, he must have passed through a course of earlier appointments open to his order. He must have had considerable military experience, and have held one or more of the following appointments: prefecture (or tribunate) of an auxiliary cohort, or a legionary tribunate of the second class (those of the first being open only to the senatorial order), or the prefecture of a wing ( ala ) of cavalry (Cagnat, Cours d’Épig. Lat. 3 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] p. 109 ff.). The earliest age at which one could become a procurator was between twenty-seven and thirty years. These procuratorships differed in standing (see Procurator), and that of a province like Judaea was not the highest. Further promotion was open to one who did well in that position. The date of the birth of Pilate cannot have been later than about b.c. 4–1. In  Matthew 27:19 he appears as married, but whether he left any descendants or not is uncertain.

In a.d. 26, Pilate was appointed by the Emperor Tiberius procurator of the province of Judaea. This province comprised the former kingdom of Archelaus,—roughly Samaria and the territory south of it to Gaza and the Dead Sea,—and the procurator’s duties were both administrative and military. He was in a position of subordination to the governor of the province of Syria, but the exact nature of the subordination is not known. For all practical purposes his rule over all in the province, except Roman citizens, was absolute. At the same time, it must be remembered that in this, as in other provinces, certain communities were permitted a large measure of self-government—one of the secrets of Rome’s success as a world-power. Thus in Jerusalem the Sanhedrin retained many judicial functions; death sentences, however, had to be confirmed by the governor, and were carried out under his supervision ( John 18:31; Josephus Ant. xx. ix. l, BJ ii. viii. l). The religious and political zeal of the various sections of the population made the task of governing the province one of extreme difficulty, requiring statesmanlike gifts of no ordinary quality.

We derive most of our knowledge of Pilate’s rule from Josephus, from whom the following incident is repeated, to illustrate the statement above made. The Jewish prejudice against images of gods was incomprehensible to the other ancient peoples; but their attitude was officially respected by the Romans, whose practice it was to refrain from introducing such into the Jews’ country. They carried their conciliatory policy so far as to remove the figures of the god-emperor from those military standards which bore them. In contravention of this custom, Pilate caused the standards with their usual decoration to be carried by night into Jerusalem. The people pleaded with him to remove the objectionable images, but he remained obdurate, and eventually ordered his soldiers to surround the crowd and put them to death if they persisted. This threat bad no terror for men whose religious frenzy was worked up to the highest pitch, and Pilate had to yield, for it was impossible to massacre so many. His action in this matter showed want of tact, hot temper, and weakness; and as the occurrence took place early in his period of government, it was an evil augury for his rule ( Ant. xviii. iii. 1). On another occasion he used money from the Temple-treasury for the building of an aqueduct, and broke up the riot which threatened by introducing disguised soldiers into the crowd ( Ant. xviii. iii. 2).  Luke 13:1 is the only authority for the mention of the Galilaeans whose blood Pilate ‘mixed with their sacrifices.’ The cause of his action was doubtless some riot. Pilate is represented in the worst possible light by a passage in Philo, which is put into the mouth of Agrippa ( Legatio ad Gaium , 38).—

[The Jews’ threat to communicate with Tiberius] ‘exasperated Pilate to the greatest possible degree, as he feared lest they might go on an embassy to the Emperor, and might impeach him with respect to other particulars of his government—his corruptions, his acts of insolence, his rapine, and his habit of insulting people, his cruelty, and his continual murders of people untried and uncondemned, and his never-ending, gratuitous, and most grievous inhumanity.’

We do not need to go beyond the Gospel narratives, and the fact that he was retained in his position for ten years by Tiberius, to realize that this picture is grossly overdrawn.

For our knowledge of the part Pilate played in the trial of Jesus we are dependent on all four canonical Gospels. As it may be assumed that Mark’s narrative is the oldest, we shall take it first, then proceed to Matthew’s and Luke’s, which are probably almost contemporaneous with one another, and, lastly, we shall draw on the Fourth Gospel.

(1) According to Mark ( Mark 14:53), the chief priests and scribes and elders, after Jesus had been brought from Gethsemane, led Him away to the high priest, in whose residence they all assembled. This was an extraordinary meeting of the Sanhedrin. The Court sought evidence which would lead to the death of Jesus, but failed to find any that was reliable. Such evidence as they had was false and conflicting. Jesus’ statement about the Temple was repeated and misconstrued. Then the high priest elicited from Him a declaration that He was the Messiah. This statement was decided to be blasphemy, and as a result He was judged worthy of death ( Leviticus 24:16). After the verdict He was subjected to every insult. The death sentence had by law to be confirmed by Pilate before it could be carried out. In their eagerness they lost no time in bringing Him before Pilate’s tribunal ( Mark 15:1). The question was put by Pilate, ‘Art thou the king of the Jews?’; to which Jesus answered, ‘Thou sayest’ ( Mark 15:2). The chief priests, being permitted by Pilate to make their charges, brought many against Him; the accused, on being asked by Pilate if He had anything to say, was silent, and caused His judge to wonder. It happened that the feast of the Passover was at hand, and on such an occasion it was the custom to release a prisoner. The crowd which stood around called for the release of a certain Barabbas, a robber and murderer. Pilate proposed instead to release Jesus, knowing that hatred had been the motive of the high priests in handing Him over. The chief priests instigated the crowd to beg for Barabbas. Pilate then asked what they wished to be done with ‘the king of the Jews,’ and they said, ‘Crucify him.’ On being asked by Pilate what evil He had done, their only answer was to repeat the cry. Pilate, being anxious to please the crowd, gratified both their requests. Such is Mark’s narrative of the trial, baldly stated. It is so very brief that it is not surprising that the other Evangelists have been able to add to it. Mark has nothing further to say about Pilate except to tell that Joseph of Arimathaea begged and obtained from him the body of Jesus ( Mark 15:43).

(2) Matthew makes only two additions of any importance to this narrative. One is the warning message sent to Pilate, when seated on the tribunal, by his wife ( Matthew 27:19). The Character of the incident stamps it as a reliable tradition. The second is Pilate’s washing of his hands after he had acquiesced in the decision of the Jews and the wishes of the mob, and his proclamation of his innocence, followed by the Jews’ invocation of the curse upon themselves and their children. At a later stage in the narrative, Matthew alone ( Matthew 27:62 ff.) gives the incident of the deputation to Pilate with the request for permission to seal the tomb, and the granting of that permission.

(3) Luke , at the beginning of the accusation before Pilate, mentions the charge ( Luke 23:2): ‘We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself was an anointed king.’ The first part of this charge is directly contrary to the truth ( Mark 12:17 =  Matthew 22:21 =  Luke 20:25). It is Lk. also who mentions (23:4–12) that when Pilate learned that Jesus was a Galilaean he sent Him to Herod, tetrarch of Galilee, to whose jurisdiction He belonged. Herod could elicit no answer from Jesus, and sent Him back to Pilate. This exchange of courtesy led to a renewal of the friendship between Pilate and Herod, which had been interrupted for some reason or other. On the return of Jesus, Pilate is represented as proclaiming His innocence and confirming it by the decision of Herod.

(4) The Fourth Gospel makes the following contributions to the story. The informal questioning by Annas ( John 18:19-24) is special to Jn., which gives also ( John 18:33-38) a much longer conversation between Jesus and Pilate than the others, in which Jesus explains the nature of His Kingdom. It is quite certain that Pilate realized that Jesus’ Kingdom was not an ordinary kingdom, else his conduct of the case would have been entirely different. The section  John 19:4-15 contains a further examination of Jesus, and the terrorizing of Pilate by the Jews. The Johannine account, as it is the fullest, is also the best. It explains what is obscure in the others, and brings the whole situation before us with startling vividness. John makes Pilate the author of the inscription on the cross, and mentions his repudiation of the Jewish criticism of its wording.

The situation was for Pilate an extremely difficult one. The Jews in authority were determined that Jesus should die. Assassination was impossible, because of the people. They were therefore compelled to resort to the governor’s power. In order to get him to sign the warrant, they had to show that Jesus had committed a crime worthy of death. They had to select a charge which in their opinion would leave Pilate no option. They seized upon that of treason, a charge which brought death upon some of the most influential Roman citizens during that period, as the early books of Tacitus’ Annals show. Pilate examined Jesus on this charge, and soon found that this was no case of treason. A strong man might have defied the provincials, and set Jesus at liberty. In doing so, he would have risked all his future prospects, perhaps his own life. The procurator was in reality only an upper servant of the Emperor, and as such could be dismissed and ruined without appeal. The Jews, when they saw that Roman justice might win and Jesus be released, held over Pilate the threat of a report to the Emperor on his conduct. Pilate, as we have seen, was not a strong man. He yielded, though he knew the accused was innocent. It must be remembered that Jesus was not a Roman citizen, was, in fact, in the eyes of a Roman officer, merely a subject, a slave, a chattel. The life of a Roman citizen was precious, that of a mere subject worthless. That Pilate had a tender enough conscience or a sound enough idea of justice to try to save this ‘slave,’ should be remembered to his credit. He was not of the stuff of which heroes are made, though doubtless in many respects a competent governor.

Little is known of Pilate’s later history. He used armed force to suppress a fanatical movement in Samaria, which does not appear to have endangered the Roman supremacy in the slightest (Josephus Ant. xviii. iv. 1). So many were put to death that the Samaritans appealed to Vitellius, the then governor of the province of Syria. The governor ordered Pilate to Rome, to appear before the Emperor’s council. Before he reached Rome, Tiberius had died. The result of this no doubt was that he escaped trial. Of his further career nothing is certainly known, but legend has naturally not neglected one of the most interesting figures of NT history. In the Gospel of Peter , which belongs probably to the middle of the 2nd cent., he is represented in a very favourable light; the author shows also anti-Jewish tendencies. As the fragment of this Gospel is put together almost entirely from the canonical Gospels, it yields in interest to another apocryphal work—the Acts of Pilate . In the 2nd cent. the Church began to busy itself with its own history, and to build up a defence of its faith and practice on a historical foundation. The person of Pilate was a subject of special interest, and was pressed into the service of the Church as a valuable witness to the truth of Christianity. In the Acts of Pilate he is acquitted of all blame, and represented as in the end confessing Jesus to be the Son of God (ch. 46). It was widely believed in ancient times that an official account of the trial of Jesus was sent by Pilate to the Emperor Tiberius and preserved in the archives at Rome. It is not impossible that such a report was sent; but this at least we can say with certainty, there is no real evidence of its existence or its use to be found in any apocryphal writing. Justin in his (first) Apology (chs. 35, 48) refers more than once to the Acts under Pontius Pilate . The Acts of Pilate (Gospel of Nicodemus) which we possess, however, with kindred pieces, is not of earlier date than the 4th or 5th century. Tertullian in his Apology (ch. 21) speaks of the report of Pilate to Tiberius as containing an account of the miracles, condemnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus, with the story of the guard at the grave. There still exists in various ancient works (e.g. Acts of Peter and Paul ) a so-called Letter of Pilate to Claudius (or Tiberius) , which, though possibly interpolated at a later date, gives an impression of real antiquity, and is no doubt the document referred to by Tertullian. As to the date of it nothing can be said, except that it is older than 197 a.d., the date of the Apology of Tertullian: it was probably written in Greek originally, though it is extant also in Latin. Tertullian says ( Apol. 5) that Tiberius, as the result of a communication from Palestine, proposed to the Roman Senate that Jesus should be recognized as a god, but that the Senate rejected the motion. He further states that the Emperor held by his intention, and punished those who accused the Christians. All this must be regarded as pure legend.

Tradition has it that Pilate fell on evil days after the death of Tiberius, and ultimately committed suicide (Euseb. Historia Ecclesiastica ii. 7, and also in his Chronicle ). Another account has it that he was beheaded by Tiberius’ order, but that he repented before his death. His wife is commonly reported to have become a Christian, on the strength, no doubt, of the warning which St. Matthew records that she gave to her husband. It is told that Pilate appeared before the Emperor to stand his trial, wearing the tunic of Jesus, and that this tunic acted as a charm to protect him from the anger of his Imperial master. His body is said to have been first thrown into the Tiber, but the evil spirits so haunted the spot as to terrorize the populous neighbourhood, and it was conveyed to Vienne in the South of France and sunk in the Rhone. Here also the evil spirits proved troublesome, and the body was removed to the territory of Lausanne in Switzerland, where it was sunk and walled up in a deep pit surrounded by mountains. The best known legend connects itself with that country, and the mountain still known as Pilatus. The corpse is said to rest in a lake on the mountain side, whence it comes forth periodically and goes through the act of washing its hands. The Coptic Church reveres Pilate as a saint and martyr (June 25th).

Literature.—The Part. ‘Pilate’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible contains a very full bibliography. A few works only are mentioned here; G. A. Müller, Pontius Pilatus der fünfte Prokurator von Judäa (Stuttgart, 1888); A. Taylor Innes, Trial of Jesus Christ: a Legal Monograph (Edinburgh, 1899); G. Rosadi, The Trial of Jesus (London, 1905); F. W. Robertson, Serm. 1st ser. 292 ff.; Expositor , ii. viii. [1884] 107, vi. ii. [1900] 59; J. B. Lightfoot, Serm. in St. Paul’s Cathedral , 91; W. B. Carpenter, The Son of Man , 33; W. H. Simcox, The Cessation of Prophecy , 287; J. H. Moulton, Visions of Sin , 185; for the early apocryphal literature, see R. A. Lipsius, Die Pilatus-Akten kritisch untersucht (1871); F. C. Conybeare, ‘Acta Pilati’ in Stud. Bibl. et Eccles . vol. iv. pp. 59–132 (Oxford, 1896); E. Hennecke, Neutest. Apokryphen , pp. 74–76 (Tübingen and Leipzig, 1904), and Handbuch z. neutest. Apokr . p. 143 ff. (Tübingen and Leipzig, 1904).

Alex. Souter.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

PILATE . Pontius Pilatus, a Roman of no known family, succeeded Valerius Gratus as procurator of Judæa in a.d. 26. He possibly owed his appointment to Sejanus, and his administration, as described from the Jewish standpoint, shows either that he shared the anti-Jewish feelings of Sejanus or that he failed to understand the temper of the people with whom he bad to deal. His first offence was not allowing the soldiers to remove the images from their standards on entering Jerusalem. These images were worshipped by the soldiers, and were therefore symbols of idolatry. A deputation of Jews waited on Pilate for five days, and refused to desist though threatened with instant death. He was compelled to give way, but subsequently set up in the palace of Herod tablets dedicated to the Emperor, which was taken as an attempt to introduce the Cæsar-worship already flourishing in the rest of the Empire. Only an order from Tiberius compelled him to yield a second time. He gave further offence by a more justifiable action. The need of water in the city was much felt at the time of festivals, and Pilate proceeded to construct a new aqueduct at the expense of the Temple treasure. The Sanhedrin might have ordered such a work, but as Pilate’s act it caused a riot which was not quelled without bloodshed. To these incidents we must add the massacre of some Galilæans at the very altar of sacrifice, referred to in   Luke 13:1 , but not otherwise explained. The end of Pilate’s rule was brought about by a disturbance in Samaria. Tradition said that the vessels of the Tabernacle had been buried on Mt. Gerizim, and a band of armed men escorted thither an impostor who promised to reveal them. Pilate sent troops to the spot, who, after a massacre, dispersed the multitude. Complaint was made to Vitellius, the legatus of Syria, who seems at this time to have had authority over the governor of Judæa. Pilate was ordered to justify himself at Rome (a.d. 36), out before he arrived there Tiberius had died (March, a.d. 37), and he was not re-appointed (Joseph, Ant. XVIII. iii, 1 iv. 2). Eusebius states that he committed suicide. The ‘Acts of Pilate’ and his letters to the Emperor are late forgeries.

Pilate would therefore be to us only one of a series of unsuccessful procurators, but for the fact that his years of office covered the period of Christ’s ministry. From the accounts of our Lord’s trial we learn more of him than from any other source.

Except at the times of the great feasts the governors usually stayed at Cæsarea; but Pilate was probably present with reinforcements to repress any disorder during the Passover, and had his headquarters in the fortress known as the Tower of Antonia, which adjoined the Temple on the N. side. The prætorium formed part of this fortress (but see Prætorium), and on this occasion, while the prisoner was led inside, the accusers remained below the steps which led into the hall, lest they should be rendered unclean for the feast by entering a building defiled by leaven. Pilate examined Jesus inside the hall, and came outside each time he wished to speak to the accusers. Jesus had been brought to him to be condemned to death, this penalty being out of the power of the Sanhedrin; and at first they expected Pilate to pass sentence on their simple statement that he was ‘a malefactor’ (  John 18:28-32 ). Pilate was too Roman for this penalties in their power they might inflict, but if he was to add his authority he required a reason. Therefore (avoiding the charge of blasphemy) they accused Jesus of ‘forbidding tribute’ and calling himself ‘Christ, a king’ (  Luke 23:2 ). Pilate returned inside, and by questions assured himself that the prisoner claimed only what he would have called a ‘philosophical kingship’ an idea familiar to him, if only from the Stoics. Hardly believing that truth was attainable (as he showed by the scornful answer, ‘What is truth?’), he was yet prepared, like many Romans of his day, to patronize one who thought he had attained to it (  John 18:33-38 ). From this time onwards we must regard the trial as a series of attempts on Pilate’s part to release Jesus without too great offence to the Jews. (1) Hearing that He came from Galilee, he sends Him to Herod Antipas , who was at Jerusalem for the feast. If Herod ‘claimed jurisdiction’ over the prisoner he might have released Him, but he had no more power to condemn a man to death in Jerusalem than the Jews had. The courtesy reconciled Herod and Pilate, their former enmity being due to the fact that Herod sent private reports to Rome and was regarded as the Emperor’s spy. But when Herod failed to get either reply or miracle from Jesus, he sent Him back to Pilate (  Luke 23:6-12 ). (2) It was a custom (whether Jewish or Roman in origin) to release a prisoner in honour of the Passover. Pilate proposed to release Jesus, but, persuaded by the priests, the multitude clamoured for Barabbas (  Matthew 27:15-21 ,   Mark 15:6-11 ,   Luke 23:13-19 ,   John 18:39-40 ). (3) After solemnly washing his hands, as if absolving himself of responsibility for condemning an innocent man (  Matthew 27:24-25 ), Pilate hoped to satisfy the rancour of the accusers by scourging the prisoner. ‘I will chastise him and release him’ (  Luke 23:16;   Luke 23:22 ). But when Jesus came forth from the scourging, the Jews for the first time brought forward the cry that He ‘made himself the Son of God’ (  John 19:7 ). To such as Pilate, Greek mythology would make it not incredible that ‘the son of a god’ should be on earth, and in the decadence of their own religion the Romans were lending a ready ear to the mysterious religions of the East. Moreover, Pilate’s superstitions fear had already been aroused by the report of his wife’s dream (  Matthew 27:19 ). Again, therefore, he questioned Jesus. But at length the Jews prevailed with the cry, ‘If thou let this man go, thou art not Cæsar’s friend’ (  John 19:12 ). The threat that the province would accuse him at Rome for treason overcame Pilate’s scruples. An accusation for ‘treason’ might mean death under Tiberius. Pilate gave way, caused his throne or tribunal to be brought on to the tessellated space in front of the prætorium (called ‘Gabbatha’ in Aramaic), and there pronounced final judgment. But in the taunting words, ‘Behold your king!’ and ‘Shall I crucify your king?’ as well as in the inscription on the cross, which he refused to alter in spite of protest, he wreaked upon the Jews such revenge as lay in his power.

In this unjust complaisance we have an illustration of one danger in the strict supervision which Augustus and Tiberius maintained over provincial government. In the main it was a great benefit, but it enabled the provincials to intimidate a weak governor. The weak points in Pilate’s character stand out strongly. He seems to have been a sceptic in principle, but not free from superstition, in this resembling perhaps most of the upper class among the Romans in his day. He had probably not taken the trouble to understand the fierce passions of the people whom he was sent to govern, and when worsted by them in early encounters, the scorn which Romans felt for Jews became in him something like hatred, and a strong desire to be avenged on their leaders at all costs save one, namely, disgrace at Rome. For before all things he seems to have considered his own position.

But it is very unlikely that Tiberius, who was jealous for good provincial government, would have allowed Pilate to remain procurator for ten years if his administration had been as had as our knowledge of him would imply. It is easy to under-estimate the difficulties of his post. The province of Judæa included not only Judæa proper, but Samaria and Idumæa; and in addition to its normal population there was at the time of great feasts, particularly the Passover, an influx of Jews from other provinces, which made the temporary population of Jerusalem sometimes between two and three millions. And this population was animated, as no other race was, by a religious fervour capable of passing on occasion into political excesses difficult to cope with, since in the eyes of a large minority submission to foreign rule was religious apostasy. But the province ranked only as a ‘minor imperial province’; its governor was a procurator, not a legatus or prÅ“fectus , and to control the difficult elements in the population he had only 3000 troops, quartered usually at Cæsarea, besides small detachments used to garrison Jerusalem and Sebaste. The governor usually went up to Jerusalem for the Passover time, but he must have felt that in face of a sudden national movement he would be powerless; and it is no small testimony to Roman powers of administration that for 60 years the series of procurators in Judæa managed to postpone more serious conflicts. The fault would seem to rest with the central authority, which did not realize that in administering the small province of Judæa it had to deal not with the province alone, but with all the millions of Jews scattered throughout the Empire, profoundly earnest in religious convictions, regarding Judæa as the holy centre of all they held dearest, and maintaining direct communication with the Sanhedrin, to which the Romans themselves had allowed a certain authority over all Jews throughout the Empire. Hence, mistaking the nature of the work, they sent as procurators second-rate men, who were often (like Pilate) nominees of imperial favourites, and who were probably looking forward to their promotion from the moment that they landed in Cæsarea. Had Judæa been definitely attached to the province of Syria, it would at any rate have been governed by men with a wider outlook.

A. E. Hillard.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

PILATE, PONTIUS. Connected with the Pontian clan (gens ), first remarkable in the person of Pontius Telesinus, the great Samnite general. Pilate is probably from pileus , "the cap of freedom,"which manumitted slaves received; Pilate being perhaps descended from a freedman. Sixth Roman procurator of Judaea, appointed in Tiberius' 12th year (A.D. 25 or 26). The pagan historian Tacitus (Ann. 15:44) writes: "Christ, while Tiberius was emperor, was capitally executed by the procurator Pontius Pilate." The procurator was generally a Roman knight, acting under the governor of a province as collector of the revenue, and judge in cases arising under it. But Pontius Pilate had full military and judicial authority in Judas, as being a small province attached to the larger Syria; he was responsible to the governor of Syria. Archelaus having been deposed (A.D. 6), Subinus, Coponius, Ambivius, Rufus, Valerius Gratus, and Pontius Pilate successively were governors (Josephus, Ant. 18:2, section 2).

Pilate removed his military head quarters from Caesarea to Jerusalem, and the soldiers brought their standards with the emperor's image on them. The Jews crowded to Caesarea and besought him to remove them He was about to kill the petitioners after a five days' discussion, giving a signal to concealed soldiers to surround them; but their resolve to die rather than cease resisting the idolatrous innovation caused him to yield (Josephus, Ant. 18:3, section 1-2; B.J. 2:9, section 2-4). So far did the Jews' scruples influence the Roman authorities that no coin is stamped with a god or emperor before Nero (DeSaulcy, Numism. 8-9); the "penny" stamped with Caesar's image in  Matthew 22:20 was either a coin from Rome or another province, the shekel alone was received in the temple. Pilate again almost drove them to rebel

(1) by hanging up in his residence, Herod's palace at Jerusalem, gilt shields with names of idols inscribed, which were finally removed by Tiberius' order (Philo, ad Caium. 38, ii. 589);

(2) by appropriating the Corban revenue from redemption of vows ( Mark 7:11) to building an aqueduct. (It Is An Extraordinary Engineering Work, 30 Miles Long; The Southern Source Is 15 Miles From Jerusalem At Wady El Arrub; Ain Kueizibba Is Its True Source; It Is Carried On A Parapet 12 Ft. High Over Wady Marah El Ajjal.) He checked the riot by soldiers with concealed daggers, who killed many of the insurgents and even spectators.

(3) He mingled the blood of Galileans witk their sacrifices, probably at a feast at Jerusalem, when riots often occurred, and in the temple outer court ( Luke 13:1-4). Probably the tower of Siloam was part of the aqueduct work, hence its fall was regarded as a judgment; the Corban excluded the price of blood, as  Matthew 27:6.

It is not improbable that Barabbas' riot and murder were connected with Pilate's appropriation of the Corban; this explains the eagerness of the people to release him rather than Jesus; the name may mean "son of Abba," an honorary title of rabbis, from whence the elders were strongly in his favor. Livy (5:13) mentions that prisoners used to be released at a lectisternium or propitiatory feast in honor of the gods. That Jerusalem was not the ordinary residence of Pilate appears from  Luke 23:6, "Herod himself also (As Well As Pilate) was at Jerusalem at that time." Caesarea was the regular abode of the Roman governors (Josephus, Ant. 18:4, section 1; 20:4, section 4). The Passover brought Pilate to Jerusalem, as disturbances were most to be apprehended when the people were gathered from the country for the feast. (See Jesus Christ on Pilate's conflict of feelings.)

He had a fear of offending the Jews, who already had grounds of accusation against him, and of giving color to a charge of lukewarmness to Caesar's kingship, and on the other hand a conviction of Jesus' innocence (for the Jewish council, Pilate knew well, would never regard as criminal an attempt to free Judas from Roman dominion), and a mysterious awe of the Holy Sufferer and His majestic mien and words, strengthened by his wife's (Claudia Procula, A Proselyte Of The Gate: Evang. Nicod. 2) vision and message. Her designation of Jesus, "that just man," recalls Plato's unconscious prophecy (Republic) of "the just man" who after suffering of all kinds restores righteousness. Jesus' question, "sayest thou this of thyself, or did others tell it thee of Me?" implies suspicion existed in Pilate's mind of the reality of His being "King of the Jews" in some mysterious sense.

When the Jews said "He ought to die for making Himself Son of God" Pilate was the more afraid; Christ's testimony ( John 18:37) and bearing, and his wife's message, rising afresh before his mind in hearing of His claim to be "the Son of God" His suspicion betrays itself in the question, "from whence art Thou?" also in his anxiety, so unlike his wonted cruelty, to release Jesus; also in his refusal to alter the inscription over the cross (John 18; 19). (See Herod ANTIPAS for his share in the proceeding.) Jesus answered not to his question, "from whence art Thou?" Silence emphasized His previous testimony ( John 18:37); but to Pilate's official boast of his power to release or crucify, Jesus' answer, "Thou couldest have no power at all against Me, except it were given thee from above;" answers also "from whence art Thou?" Thy power is derived thence from whence I am. Pilate had no quaestor to conduct the trial, being only a procurator; but examined Jesus himself.

A minute accuracy, confirming the genuineness of the Gospel narrative; also his having his wife with him, Caecina's proposal to enforce the law prohibiting governors to bring their wives into the provinces having been rejected (Tacitus, Ann. 3:33-34). Pilate sending up (anepempsen;  Luke 23:7) Jesus to Herod is the Roman law term for referring a prisoner to the jurisdiction of the judge of his country. The "tesselated pavement" (lithostroton ) and the "tribunal" (bema ) were essential in judging, so that Julius Caesar carried a tribunal with him in expeditions (Josephus, Ant. 20:9, section 1). The granting of a guard for the sepulchre ( Matthew 27:65) is the last that Scripture records of Pilate. Having led troops against and defeated the Samaritans, who revolted under a leader promising to show the treasures which Moses was thought to have hid in Mount Gerizim, he was accused before Vitellius, chief governor of Syria, and sent to Rome to answer before Caesar. Caligula was now on the throne, A.D. 36.

Wearied with misfortunes Pilate killed himself (Josephus, Ant. 18:4, section 1-2; Eusebius, H. E., ii. 7). One tradition makes Pilate banished to Vienne on the Rhone, where is a pyramid 52 ft. high, called the "tomb of Pontius Pilate." Another represents him as plunging in despair into the lake at the top of Mount Pilatus near Lucerne. Justin Martyr (Apology i. 76, 84), Tertullian (Apol. 21), Eusebius (H. E. 2:2) say that Pilate made an official report to Tiberius of Jesus' trial and condemnation. "Commentaries (hupomneemata ) of Pilate" are mentioned in a homily attributed to Chrysostom (8 in Pasch.). The Acta Pilati in Greek, and two Latin epistles to the emperor, now extant, are spurious (Fabric. Apoer. 1:237, 298; 3:111, 456).

Pilate is a striking instance of the danger of trifling with conscientious convictions, and not acting at once upon the principle of plain duty. Fear of man, the Jews' accusations, and the emperor's frown, and consequent loss of place and power, led him to condemn Him whom he knew to be innocent and desired to deliver. His compromises and delays were vain when once the determined Jews saw him vacillating. Fixed principle alone could have saved him from pronouncing that unrighteous sentence which brands his name forever (Psalm 82). His sense of justice, compassion, and involuntary respect for the Holy Sufferer yielded to his selfishness, worldly policy, and cynical unbelief. Pilate was guilty, but less so than the high priest who in spite of light and spiritual knowledge ( John 19:11) delivered Jesus to him.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [4]

It is not known of what country or family Pontius Pilate was, but it is believed that he was of Rome, or, at least, of Italy. He was sent to govern Judea in the room of Gratus, A.D. 26, or 27. He presided over this province for ten years, from the twelfth or thirteenth year of Tiberius, to the twenty-second of the same emperor. He is represented, both by Philo and Josephus, as a man of an impetuous and obstinate temper, and, as a judge, one who used to sell justice, and, for money, to pronounce any sentence that was desired. The same authors make mention of his rapines, his injuries, his murders, the torments that he inflicted upon the innocent, and the persons he put to death without any form of process. Philo, in particular, describes him as a man that exercised an excessive cruelty during the whole time of his government; who disturbed the repose of Judea; and was the occasion of the troubles and revolt that followed. St. Luke acquaints us, that Pilate had mingled the blood of the Galileans with their sacrifices; and that the matter, having been related to Jesus Christ, he introduced the subject into his discourse, Luke 13. The reason why Pilate treated them in this manner, while sacrificing in the temple, is not known. At the time of our Saviour's passion, Pilate made some attempts to deliver him out of the hands of the Jews. He knew the reasons of their enmity, against him,  Matthew 27:18 . His wife, also, having had a dream that alarmed her, requested he would not stain his hands with the blood of that just person,  Matthew 27:19 . He therefore attempted to appease the wrath of the Jews by scourging Jesus,  John 19:1;  Matthew 27:26; and also tried to take him out of their hands by proposing to deliver him or Barabbas on the day of the passover. Lastly, he thought to discharge himself from pronouncing judgment against him, by sending him to Herod, king of Galilee,  Luke 23:7-8 . When he saw all this would not satisfy the Jews, and that they even threatened him in some manner, saying, he could be no friend to the emperor if he suffered Jesus to be set at liberty,  John 19:12-15 , he caused water to be brought, and washed his hands before all the people, and publicly declared himself innocent of the blood of that just person,  Matthew 27:23-24 . Yet at the same time he delivered him to his soldiers that they might crucify him. This was enough to justify Jesus Christ, as Calmet observes, and to prove that he held him as innocent; but it was not enough to vindicate the conscience and integrity of a judge, whose duty it was as well to assert the cause of oppressed innocence, as to punish the guilty. He ordered the inscription to be placed over the head of our Saviour,  John 19:19; and when requested by the Jews to alter it, peremptorily refused. He also gave leave for the removal of our Lord's body, and to place a guard over the sepulchre,  Matthew 27:65 . These are all the particulars that we learn concerning Pilate from the writers of the Gospels.

The extreme reluctance of Pilate to condemn Christ, considering his merciless character, is signally remarkable, and still more his repeated protestations of the innocence of his prisoner; although, on occasions of massacre, he made no scruple of confounding the innocent with the guilty. But he was unquestionably influenced by the overruling providence of God, to make the righteousness of his Son appear as clear as the noon day, even when condemned and executed as a malefactor, by the fullest, the most authentic, and the most public evidence:

1. By the testimony even of his judges, Pilate and Herod, after examination of evidence.

2. By the message of Pilate's wife, delivered to him on the tribunal.

3. By the testimony of the traitor Judas, who hanged himself in despair, for betraying the innocent blood.

4. By the testimony of the Roman centurion and guard, at his crucifixion, to his divinity and righteousness. And,

5. Of his fellow sufferer on the cross. Never was innocence so attested as his innocence.

Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Eusebius, and after them several others, both ancient and modern, assure us that it was formerly the custom for Roman magistrates to prepare copies of all verbal processes and judicial acts, which they passed in their several provinces, and to send them to the emperor. And Pilate, in compliance with the custom, having sent word to Tiberius of what had passed relating to Jesus Christ, the emperor wrote an account of it to the senate, in a manner that gave reason to judge that he thought favourably of the religion of Jesus Christ, and showed that he should be willing for them to confer divine honours upon him; but the senate was not of the same opinion, and so the matter dropped. It appears by what Justin says of these acts, that the miracles of Christ were mentioned there, and even that the soldiers had divided his garments among them. Eusebius insinuates that they spoke of his resurrection and ascension. Tertullian and Justin refer to these acts with so much confidence, as would make one believe they had read and handled them. However, neither Eusebius nor Jerom, who were both inquisitive and understanding persons, nor any other author who wrote afterward, seems to have seen them, at least not the true and original acts. For as to what we have now in great number, they are not authentic, being neither ancient nor uniform. There are also some pretended letters of Pilate to Tiberius, giving a history of our Saviour; but they are universally allowed to be spurious. Pilate being a man who, by his excessive cruelties and rapine, had disturbed the repose of Judea, during the whole time of his government, was at length deposed by Vitellius, the proconsul of Syria, A.D. 36, and sent to Rome to give an account of his conduct to the emperor. But, though Tiberius died before Pilate arrived at Rome, yet his successor Caligula banished him to Vienne in Gaul, where he was reduced to such extremity that he laid violent hands upon himself. The evangelists call him governor, though in reality he was nothing more than procurator of Judea, not only because governor was a name of general use, but because Pilate, in effect, acted as one, by taking upon him to judge in criminal matters, as his predecessors had done, and as other procurators in the small provinces of the empire, where there was no proconsul, constantly did.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [5]

In the Roman government of Palestine, the regions of Judea and Samaria were governed by procurators, or governors, sent out from Rome. (Galilee and other parts to the north and east were governed by Rome through the sons of Herod the Great.) Pilate governed Judea and Samaria from AD 26 to 37 ( Luke 3:1). His headquarters were at Caesarea, though during the Jewish festivals he moved to Jerusalem to keep order in the city ( Matthew 27:27; see Praetorium ).

Early records indicate that Pilate hated the Jews, and on occasions deliberately provoked them to riot by displaying images of Roman gods in Jerusalem. In one incident he massacred some of the Galilean Jews who had created a disturbance while in Jerusalem for one of the festivals ( Luke 13:1-2). This may have contributed to the hatred that existed between Pilate and Herod Antipas, the governor of Galilee ( Luke 23:6-12).

Besides being cruel, Pilate was a coward. This is seen clearly in the event for which he is chiefly remembered, the crucifixion of Jesus.

The Jewish Council, the Sanhedrin, had earlier condemned Jesus to death for blasphemy, but it had no power to carry out the death sentence. Only the Roman governor could authorize execution. The Jews therefore worded their accusation to try to convince Pilate that Jesus was a traitor to Rome and should be executed ( Luke 22:66-71;  Luke 23:1-5).

Pilate knew that Jesus was not a political rebel and that the Jews had handed him over because they were jealous of his religious following ( Luke 23:4-5;  Luke 23:14-15;  Matthew 27:18). His knowledge of Jesus’ innocence only increased his crime in condemning Jesus. He had tried to calm the Jews with offers that he hoped would please them while enabling him to release Jesus, but the Jews refused his offers ( Luke 23:16;  Matthew 27:15-23). Pilate’s concern was only for himself. His great fear was that he could be in trouble with the Emperor if a riot broke out. Therefore, to satisfy the Jews and protect his own interests, he crucified the man he knew to be innocent, and released the man he knew to be a murderer ( John 19:12;  John 19:16;  Luke 23:24-25).

A few years later Pilate was involved in another religious conflict when he slaughtered a number of Samaritans on their sacred mountain. He was ordered back to Rome to answer for his actions, and never returned to Judea. According to tradition he died by committing suicide.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [6]

Pi'late. (Armed With A Spear). Pon'tius Pi'late . Pontius Pilate was the sixth Roman procurator of Judea, and under him, our Lord worked, suffered and died, as we learn, not only from Scripture, but from Tacitus, (Ann. Xv. 44), he was appointed A.D. 25-6, in the twelfth year of Tiberius. His arbitrary administration nearly drove the Jews to insurrection on two or three occasions. One of his first acts was to remove the headquarters of the army from Caesarea to Jerusalem. The soldiers, of course, took with them their standards, bearing the image of the emperor, into the Holy City. No previous governor had ventured on such an outrage. The people poured down in crowds to Caesarea, where the procurator was then residing, and besought him to remove the images.

After five days of discussion, he gave the signal to some concealed soldiers to surround the petitioners and put them to death unless they ceased to trouble him; but this only strengthened their determination, and they declared themselves ready rather to submit to death than forego their resistance to an idolatrous innovation. Pilate then yielded, and the standards were, by his orders, brought down to Caesarea.

His slaughter of certain Galileans,  Luke 13:1, led to some remarks from our Lord on the connection between sin and calamity. It must have occurred at some feast at Jerusalem, in the outer court of the Temple. It was the custom for the procurators to reside at Jerusalem during the great feasts, to preserve order, and accordingly, at the time of our Lord's last Passover , Pilate was occupying his official residence in Herod's palace.

The history of his condemnation of our Lord is familiar to all. We learn from Josephus that Pilate's anxiety to avoid giving offence to Caesar did not save him from political disaster. The Samaritans were unquiet and rebellious, so Pilate led his troops against them, and defeated them enough. The Samaritans complained to Vitellius, then president of Syria, and he sent Pilate to Rome to answer their accusations before the emperor. When he reached it, he found Tiberius dead and Caius, (Caligula), on the throne, A,D, 36.

Eusebius adds that, soon afterward, "wearied with misfortunes," he killed himself. As to the scene of his death, there are various traditions. One is that, he was banished to Vienna Allobrogum, (Vienne on the Rhone), where a singular monument - a pyramid on a quadrangular base, 52 feet high - is called Pontius Pilate's tomb, Another is that, he sought to hide his sorrows on the mountain by the lake of Lucerne, now called Mount Pilatus; and there, after spending years in its recesses, in remorse and despair rather than penitence, plunged into the dismal lake, which occupies its summit.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [7]

Pilate (Pî'Late ), Pontius Hiatus, the sixth Roman procurator of Judea, succeeding Valerius Gratus. Under his rule John the Baptist commenced his ministry,  Luke 3:1, and our Lord was put to death.  Luke 23:6;  Luke 23:13;  John 19:6;  John 19:19. Pilate entered on his office at the end of 25 or beginning of 26 a.d., in the reign of Tiberius. He held it about ten years, till a short time before that emperor's death. He was unscrupulous in the exercise of his authority. See  Luke 13:1. Malicious, artful, yet not free from superstition, he was not destitute of some sense of justice, as his weak efforts to secure the acquittal of Jesus show. Vitellius, president or prefect of Syria, ordered Pilate to Rome to answer for his conduct before the emperor. His deposition must have occurred in 36 a.d., most probably prior to the passover. Before he arrived in Rome, however, Tiberius was dead, March 16, 37 a.d. Pilate is said to have been banished by Caligula to Vienne in Gaul. According to Eusebius, he put an end to his own life.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [8]

A name of everlasting infamy, well known to every reader of the Bible, and as universally detested as known. So unjust in his judgment, while acting as the Governor of Judea, that in the very moment he pronounced sentence of death upon the Lord Jesus Christ, he solemnly declared his innocency; and in confirmation of our Lord's holiness and his own guilt, took water nod washed his hands before the people in token of the deed. He was Governor of Judea, under the Emperor Tiberius. His name was Pontius as well as Pilate, perhaps, he might be of Pontus. With what horrors will he arise at the tremendous day of God, when every eye must see Jesus, and they also that pierced him! when that sacred head he crowned with thorns will appear in the fulness of glory, and before whose presence heaven and earth will flee away! ( Revelation 1:7)

Morrish Bible Dictionary [9]