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Pilate, Pontius
        probably connected with the Roman family of the Pontii, and
        called "Pilate" from the Latin pileatus, i.e., "wearing the
        pileus", which was the "cap or badge of a manumitted slave," as
        indicating that he was a "freedman," or the descendant of one.
        He was the sixth in the order of the Roman procurators of Judea
        (A.D. 26-36). His headquarters were at Caesarea, but he
        frequently went up to Jerusalem. His reign extended over the
        period of the ministry of John the Baptist and of Jesus Christ,
        in connection with whose trial his name comes into prominent
        notice. Pilate was a "typical Roman, not of the antique, simple
        stamp, but of the imperial period, a man not without some
        remains of the ancient Roman justice in his soul, yet
        pleasure-loving, imperious, and corrupt. He hated the Jews whom
        he ruled, and in times of irritation freely shed their blood.
        They returned his hatred with cordiality, and accused him of
        every crime, maladministration, cruelty, and robbery. He visited
        Jerusalem as seldom as possible; for, indeed, to one accustomed
        to the pleasures of Rome, with its theatres, baths, games, and
        gay society, Jerusalem, with its religiousness and
        ever-smouldering revolt, was a dreary residence. When he did
        visit it he stayed in the palace of Herod the Great, it being
        common for the officers sent by Rome into conquered countries to
        occupy the palaces of the displaced sovereigns."
        After his trial before the Sanhedrin, Jesus was brought to the
        Roman procurator, Pilate, who had come up to Jerusalem as usual
        to preserve order during the Passover, and was now residing,
        perhaps, in the castle of Antonia, or it may be in Herod's
        palace. Pilate came forth from his palace and met the deputation
        from the Sanhedrin, who, in answer to his inquiry as to the
        nature of the accusation they had to prefer against Jesus,
        accused him of being a "malefactor." Pilate was not satisfied
        with this, and they further accused him (1) of sedition, (2)
        preventing the payment of the tribute to Caesar, and (3) of
        assuming the title of king (Luke 23:2). Pilate now withdrew with
        Jesus into the palace (John 18:33) and examined him in private
        (37,38); and then going out to the deputation still standing
        before the gate, he declared that he could find no fault in
        Jesus (Luke 23:4). This only aroused them to more furious
        clamour, and they cried that he excited the populace "throughout
        all Jewry, beginning from Galilee." When Pilate heard of
        Galilee, he sent the accused to Herod Antipas, who had
        jurisdiction over that province, thus hoping to escape the
        difficulty in which he found himself. But Herod, with his men of
        war, set Jesus at nought, and sent him back again to Pilate,
        clad in a purple robe of mockery (23:11, 12).
        Pilate now proposed that as he and Herod had found no fault in
        him, they should release Jesus; and anticipating that they would
        consent to this proposal, he ascended the judgment-seat as if
        ready to ratify the decision (Matt. 27:19). But at this moment
        his wife (Claudia Procula) sent a message to him imploring him
        to have nothing to do with the "just person." Pilate's feelings
        of perplexity and awe were deepened by this incident, while the
        crowd vehemently cried out, "Not this man, but Barabbas." Pilate
        answered, "What then shall I do with Jesus?" The fierce cry
        immediately followed. "Let him be crucified." Pilate, apparently
        vexed, and not knowning what to do, said, "Why, what evil hath
        he done?" but with yet fiercer fanaticism the crowd yelled out,
        "Away with him! crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate yielded, and
        sent Jesus away to be scourged. This scourging was usually
        inflicted by lictors; but as Pilate was only a procurator he had
        no lictor, and hence his soldiers inflicted this terrible
        punishment. This done, the soldiers began to deride the
        sufferer, and they threw around him a purple robe, probably some
        old cast-off robe of state (Matt. 27:28; John 19:2), and putting
        a reed in his right hand, and a crowd of thorns on his head,
        bowed the knee before him in mockery, and saluted him, saying,
        "Hail, King of the Jews!" They took also the reed and smote him
        with it on the head and face, and spat in his face, heaping upon
        him every indignity.
        Pilate then led forth Jesus from within the Praetorium (Matt.
        27:27) before the people, wearing the crown of thorns and the
        purple robe, saying, "Behold the man!" But the sight of Jesus,
        now scourged and crowned and bleeding, only stirred their hatred
        the more, and again they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!"
        and brought forth this additional charge against him, that he
        professed to be "the Son of God." Pilate heard this accusation
        with a superstitious awe, and taking him once more within the
        Praetorium, asked him, "Whence art thou?" Jesus gave him no
        answer. Pilate was irritated by his continued silence, and said,
        "Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee?" Jesus,
        with calm dignity, answered the Roman, "Thou couldest have no
        power at all against me, except it were given thee from above."
        After this Pilate seemed more resolved than ever to let Jesus
        go. The crowd perceiving this cried out, "If thou let this man
        go, thou art not Caesar's friend." This settled the matter. He
        was afraid of being accused to the emperor. Calling for water,
        he washed his hands in the sight of the people, saying, "I am
        innocent of the blood of this just person." The mob, again
        scorning his scruples, cried, "His blood be on us, and on our
        children." Pilate was stung to the heart by their insults, and
        putting forth Jesus before them, said, "Shall I crucify your
        King?" The fatal moment had now come. They madly exclaimed, "We
        have no king but Caesar;" and now Jesus is given up to them, and
        led away to be crucified.
        By the direction of Pilate an inscription was placed,
        according to the Roman custom, over the cross, stating the crime
        for which he was crucified. Having ascertained from the
        centurion that he was dead, he gave up the body to Joseph of
        Arimathea to be buried. Pilate's name now disappears from the
        Gospel history. References to him, however, are found in the
        Acts of the Apostles (3:13; 4:27; 13:28), and in 1 Tim. 6:13. In
        A.D. 36 the governor of Syria brought serious accusations
        against Pilate, and he was banished to Vienne in Gaul, where,
        according to tradition, he committed suicide.
Bibliography Information
Easton, Matthew George. M.A., D.D., "Biblical Meaning for 'Pilate, Pontius' Eastons Bible Dictionary". - Eastons; 1897.

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