Pontius Pilate was born in Roman Italy, and died in Rome, in 38 CE.
He served as the fifth prefect of the Roman province of Judea. He is best known for preceding over the trial and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. He was the husband of Claudia Procula, and father to his only son, Pilo. As a Prefect, Pontius Pilate had control over the Public Order Battalions, which, apart from the Praetorian Guard, was the only fully armed force in the city. The Public Order Battalions served as a police force.
He also served as head of the Senate, and presided over it’s meetings. Following the term of Valerius Gratus, Pontius Pilate was appointed as the fifth prefect of the Roman province of Judea, in 26 CE. He retained his position for ten years, even though the normal term for a Roman prefect was between one and three years. He mainly had military tasks, but he was also responsible for collecting some imperial taxes and had some restricted judicial tasks as well. He always had approximately 3000 ready soldiers at his disposal. Pontius Pilate’s main residence was in Caesarea, but he frequently travelled to Jerusalem to perform the his duties as a prefect. He, as a prefect, also stays in Jerusalem during the Passover to maintain order.
The Passover is an eight day jewish festival celebrating the Israelites emancipation from slavery in Egypt. Pontius Pilate’s greatest legal responsibility was conserving law and order in his province. He had the power of supreme judge, which gave him the power over the life of criminals; he could order their release, or order their execution.
Pilate is best known for the trial and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. According to the New Testament, the Sanhedrin brought Jesus of Nazareth to Pilate, after arresting and questioning him in Jerusalem. The Sanhedrin was a court, consisting of about twenty-three men, that questioned and dealt with religious matters. In private, Pilate asks Jesus of Nazareth, “Are you the King of the Jews?” to which Jesus of Nazareth replies, “Thou sayest it,” which means, ‘It is as you say.’ Pilate received a message from his wife during the trial stating, “Do not condemn this just man, for today I have suffered terribly because of a dream about him.
” Pilate was convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was innocent, and his wife knew it too. He knew that the Jews wanted him convicted because of his claim of authority over their people, so he tried to use the tradition of Passover to set Jesus free.Pilate takes Jesus of Nazareth out before a large crowd of Jews. He also brings out another criminal, named Jesus Barabbas. During the Passover, it is customary to release a criminal. Jesus Barabbas was known as a “notorious criminal” and “a murderer.
” Pilate brought out Jesus Barabbas in the hopes that the public would vote Jesus of Nazareth to be freed. Pilate then asked, “Whom do you wish me to release to you? Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Although the Jews knew that Barabbas was malevolent, they all cried out, “Barabbas!” In response, Pilate asked, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” The Jews then all answered, “Crucify him!” Pilate asked why they wanted him crucified, for he knew of no crime he had commited. The Jews then shouted louder yet, “Crucify him!” Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent, and seeing that he could get nowhere with the crowd, he washed his hands for all to see and shouted, “I am innocent of this man’s blood! It is your responsibility!” Then the crowd of Jews answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”Pilate then released Barabbas to them, and handed Jesus of Nazareth over to be crucified. After the crucifixion, Pilate had a sign placed above Jesus’ head saying, This is Jesus, The King of the Jews. The elders wished Pilate to replace the sign with one saying, This is Jesus, Claimed to be King of the Jews. Pilate refused to change it. Meanwhile, Tiberius Caesar, emperor of Rome, was very ill.
He had heard stories of Jesus of Nazareth’s power to heal all with a single word, and he sent a message to Pilate. The message instructed Pilate to bring Jesus of Nazareth to Rome, so that he could cure the emperor’s disease. When Pilate recieved this message, he was very afraid, because he had just caused Jesus to be killed. Pilate answered the message with another, stating that Jesus had been chosen to be killed, and that his order caused his crucifixion.
Upon recieving this message, Tiberius Caesar became angry with Pilate, and ordered him to be brought to Rome. Tiberius had him locked in prison, while he decided what would be done with him. After a few days, word came to Pilate that a most disgraceful death was being planned for him. When Pilate heard this, he stabbed himself, ending his life. When Tiberius Caesar was informed about Pilate’s death, he had Pilate’s body sunk in the Tiber River. Pontius Pilate played a crucial role in ancient Rome.
He played a very pivotal part of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus.