Antipas and Jesus
Antipas' relationship to Jesus is seen in three events.
The first event
is when Herod Antipas first began to hear about Jesus and concluded that this
one is "John the Baptist resurrected from the dead" (Matt 14:1, 2; Mark
6:14-16; Luke 9:7-9). It may have been that he was plagued with his own guilt and the
possibility that perhaps God had anointed John the Baptist. He is the one that
had John beheaded, and forced to do so. Now this new preacher, Jesus, was
gaining even more popularity than John and what was he to do?
Antipas wanted to see Jesus but was not able to do so because Jesus not only
withdrew from his territories, but also Antipas did not want to use force
because he might rouse the people again as with John.
The second event
to is when Jesus was on His final journey to Jerusalem. Some of the Pharisees
came to Jesus and stated that He had better remove Himself from Herod Antipas'
territories because he sought to kill Jesus (Luke 13:31-33).
Jesus replied by saying, "Go tell that fox"
that He would continue His ministry of healing the sick and casting out
demons for a short time at least, but only after He had finished His work would He
go to Jerusalem to perish.
Antipas saw the potential danger of Christ's influence on the people and
wanted Him to leave his domains by threatening to kill Him. Antipas did not dare to
use force because there was no evidence that Jesus was causing potential
trouble and the people had not forgiven Antipas for his treatment of John the Baptist
whom they considered a prophet.
But Jesus saw through Antipas' scheme and called him a "fox"
(the animal which is weak and uses cunning deceit to achieve its aims), hence
a crafty coward. Jesus was to finish His ministry there for a short time and
though Antipas killed John the Baptist in his territory, he did not scare Jesus
nor control His fate.
The final event
was when Jesus was tried by Antipas in 29 A.D. (Luke 23:6-12). Pilate was
intimidated by the Jewish leaders who had insisted on Jesus' execution but Pilate
found no guilt in Him. He found the easiest solution was to send Jesus to
Antipas who was in Jerusalem for the Passover when he heard that Jesus was from
Another reason for handing Jesus over to Antipas was for diplomatic courtesy
in order to improve his relationship with Antipas which had been damaged by the
Galilean massacre (Luke 13 :1) and by the incident over the votive shields
being brought into Jerusalem by Pilate (Philo Legatio ad Gaium 299-304).
This incident was reported by Antipas (and other Herods) to Tiberius who
ordered Pilate to remove the shields immediately. Pilate had overstepped himself and
was anxious to appease.
Antipas did not presume on Pilate's gesture but after mocking Jesus, Antipas
sent Jesus back. The one thing that was accomplished in this trial was the
reconciliation of Antipas and Pilate.
note: Many scholars consider this story as legendary since it is not in the
other gospels. Luke probably included it because Theophilus, who was the
addressee of the gospel and probably a Roman officer, would have been interested in the
reconciliation between Antipas and Pilate (Luke 23 :12).
Certainly if Theophilus were a Roman official he would have been interested in
the relationship of the Herods and the prefects of Judea.
Since the other gospels did not have a particular interest in the Herods one
can see the reason for the omission of this event, especially since it adds
nothing to the progression of the trial of Christ. There are some scholars who
think that the source of the story is Acts 4:25, 26 (which quotes Ps 2 :1, 2) but
upon close examination the opposite is true.
Other scholars say that the story’s origin is in the Gospel of Peter
but if one examines the Gospel of Peter,
he will see no real parallel with Luke's account of Antipas' trial of Jesus.
In fact the Gospel of Peter
holds Antipas responsible for Jesus' death where there is nothing of this in