Pontius Pilate

The Roman governor who condemned Jesus to death

Pontius Pilate was governor of the Roman province Judea during the years 26-36 C.E. Like other provincial governors, Pilate was appointed by the Roman Emperor. He normally resided in Caesarea along the Mediterranean coast but came to Jerusalem on important occasions, such as when the Jewish people observed Passover. The brutality of his administration, well-known among his contemporaries, is reflected in the reference to Pilate slaughtering some Galileans who were going to offer sacrifices in Jerusalem (Luke 13:1).

The trial and execution of Jesus took place during the middle years of Pilate’s governorship. The Jewish authorities apparently brought Jesus to Pilate because only the Roman officials had the right to sentence someone to death by crucifixion. Although Jesus was charged with threatening Roman domination of Palestine, Pilate is said to have recognized that Jesus was innocent. Nevertheless, Pilate had Jesus beaten and later handed him over to be crucified.

A remorseful Pilate, engraving by by G. Mochetti after B. Pinelli. Wellcome Collection gallery (2018-03-22): https://wellcomecollection.org/works/xpzv8cpj CC-BY-4.0, CC BY 4.0, Link