Pontius Pilate

Pontius Pilate was Roman prefect of Judea, the fifth governor of the province from A.D. 26 to 36.  He was prefect during the time of John the Baptists ministry as recorded in the gospels, as well as the ministry and crucifixion of Jesus (see Luke 3:1).1

We have information about Pilate from the writings of Philo Judaeus and Flavius Josephus (Antiquities 18.32f, 35, 89).

He was seen as insensitive to Jewish religious practices and easily used brutal force to ensure his power and control.  He insulted the Jews by minting coins with pagan gods on them.

Josephus tells us when Pilate first brought Roman troops to Jerusalem from Caesarea, he allowed the troops to bring in busts of the Roman emperors which were considered idolatrous images by the Jews. This was done at night so the Jews werent aware of it. "A massive protest demonstration in Caesareas stadium forced the removal of the standards, but only after the Jews used tactics of nonviolent mass resistance, lying down and baring their necks when Pilates soldiers, swords in hand, surrounded and attempted to disperse them."2

Philo tells of how the Pilate appropriated Jewish temple funds and used them for building an aqueduct. The Jews protested. Pilate then had Roman soldiers disguise themselves as Jews and mingle among them with concealed clubs. On a given signal they attacked the people.

He was removed from his office in Judea in the year that Emperor Tiberius died, and sent back to Rome to answer the charges that he had executed people without giving them trials.  Tradition states that he committed suicide in Rome.

  • 1. Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row, P., & Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). Harper's Bible dictionary. Includes index. (1st ed.) (Page 796). San Francisco: Harper & Row.
  • 2. ibid.

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.