Bible HistoryAncient Documents
Information regarding Pilate is only available in the Scriptures and in
Josephus and the early church Fathers. There is also material available that is
much less reliable made available in traditions and legends.
The early history of Pilate is unknown, outside of these unreliable traditions. A German legend recounts that he was an illegitimate son of Tyrus, king of Mayence, who sent him to Rome as a hostage. There he committed a murder and was sent to Pontus, where he subdued the barbarous tribes, receiving in consequence the name of Pontius, and was sent to Judea.
Pilate and Jesus. Since the Jews could not execute a person without approval from the Roman authorities (John 18:31), the Jewish leaders brought Jesus to Pilate to pronounce the death sentence (Mark 14:64). Pilate, apparently convinced that Jesus was not guilty of anything deserving death, sought to release Jesus (Matt 27:24; Mark 15:9-11; Luke 23:14; John 18:38-40; 19:12). There is no doubt that he did not want to antagonize the Jewish leaders and run the risk of damaging his own reputation and career. Therefore, when they insisted on Jesus' crucifixion, Pilate turned Jesus over to be executed (Matt 27:26; Mark 15:12-15; Luke 23:20-25; John 19:15-16).
Pilate's later history is also veiled in mystery. Josephus tells of a bloody encounter with the Samaritans, who filed a complaint with Vitellius, the governor of Syria and Pilate's superior. Vitellius deposed Pilate and ordered him to stand before the emperor in Rome and answer for his conduct.
Legends are confused as to how Pilate died. Eusebius wrote that Pilate was exiled to the city of Vienne on the Rhone in Gaul (France) where he eventually committed suicide.
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