Who was responsible for Christ’s death? Who killed Jesus?
QuestionAnswer The solution to this question has a number of different sides. In the first place, there is little question that the religious leaders of Israel were directly or indirectly responsible for Jesus’ killing. “The chief priests and the elders of the people convened in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they devised a plan to secretly capture Jesus and murder him,” according to Matthew 26:3–4. The Jewish authorities asked that Jesus be put to death from the Romans (Matthew 27:22–25).
It was a Roman form of execution approved and carried out by the Romans under the authority of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who sentenced Jesus to death on the cross.
The people of Israel were also participants in Jesus’ execution, as was the Roman Empire.
Crucify him!” “Crucify him!” the crowd chanted as He faced trial before Pilate (Luke 23:21).
When Peter told the men of Israel in Acts 2:22–23, he was confirming their suspicions: “You, with the assistance of evil men, put him to death by nailing him on the cross.” As it turned out, the murder of Jesus was part of an elaborate conspiratorial scheme that involved the Roman Empire, Herod’s Jewish leaders, and the Jewish people themselves, a diverse group of people who had never worked together before or since, but who came together this one time to plot and carry out an unthinkable act: the assassination of the only begotten Son of God.
- At the end of the day, and maybe quite astonishingly, it was God Himself who executed Jesus.
- Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross insured the redemption of untold millions of people and offered the sole means by which God could forgive sin without compromising His holiness and flawless righteousness, which was otherwise impossible.
- As opposed to being a win for Satan, or a needless tragedy, as some have indicated, it was the most gracious act of God’s grace and mercy, the greatest manifestation of the Father’s love for sinners.
- As the Bible says, “God caused him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that through him, we may become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
- He died in order to pay the price for our sins (Romans 5:8; 6:23).
He did it this way to serve as a constant reminder to himself and everyone else that it was our faults that condemned Jesus to death on the cross. Questions regarding Jesus Christ (return to top of page) Who was to blame for the killing of Jesus Christ? Who was responsible for Jesus’ death?
Subscribe to the
Get our Question of the Week emailed to your inbox every weekday morning! Got Questions Ministries is a trademark of Got Questions Ministries, Inc., registered in the state of California in the year 2002. All intellectual property rights are retained. Policy Regarding Personal Information The information on this page was last updated on January 4, 2022.
Who Killed Jesus?
In 1965, as part of the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church issued the much-anticipated proclamation Nostra Aetate, which took a fresh look at the subject of Jewish blame for the execution of Jesus Christ. That modern-day Jews could not be held responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion, and that not all Jews who were alive at the time of Jesus’ execution were guilty of the crime, according to the arguments in the paper. In the history of Christian views toward Jews, this was a significant step forward, as Christian anti-Semitism has long been predicated on the assumption that Jews were responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion.
When Jesus was crucified, they thought that the Church would come out and claim that the Jews had had no role in his execution.
Jews Lacked A Motive for Killing Jesus
Indeed, most historians believe that it would have been more rational to place the responsibility for Jesus’ execution on the Romans. Crucifixion was a common form of punishment among the Romans, not among the Jews. At the time of Jesus’ execution, the Romans were enforcing a harsh and ruthless occupation on the Land of Israel, and the Jews had been rebellious at times throughout the occupation. The Romans would have had good cause to desire to silence Jesus, who had been dubbed “King of the Jews” by some of his disciples and was well-known as a Jewish upstart miracle worker at the time of his death.
The many factions of the Jewish society at the period — including the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and others — had numerous differences with one another, but none of the organizations orchestrated the death of the leaders of the other purportedly heretical sects.
READ: The History of the Land of Israel Under Roman Control Nonetheless, the notion that Jews murdered Jesus can be found in Christian foundational literature dating back to the early days of the Jesus movement, and it is unlikely that it will be readily abandoned simply because of historians’ arguments.
The New Testament Account
The notion that Jews assassinated Jesus is parodied in this 1896 cartoon, which substitutes Uncle Sam for the historical figure. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) “The Jews who killed the Lord, Jesus,” Paul writes in his writings, which are considered by historians to be the earliest works of the New Testament (written 10 to 20 years after Jesus’ death), and he addresses them very briefly: “the Jews who slaughtered the Lord, Jesus” (I Thessalonians 2:14-15). While the idea that the Jews bear primary responsibility for Jesus’ death is not central to Paul’s understanding of Jesus’ life and death, the idea that the Jews bear primary responsibility for Jesus’ death is more prominent in the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, each of which presents a slightly different account of Jesus’ life.
Eventually, the high priest comes to the conclusion that Jesus is guilty of blasphemy and petitions the Jewish council for guidance on how to punish him.
Matthew’s account of Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross (referred to by Christians as “Jesus’ “passion”) has served as the inspiration for numerous books, plays, and musical compositions over the years, and it is a prominent part of Christian liturgy, particularly during the celebration of Easter.
It is said that Pontius Pilate, the Roman ruler of Judea, was fundamentally sympathetic to Jesus, but that he was unable to overcome the pressure from the Jews, who demanded that Jesus be put to death.
When Pilate arrives, the gathering members of the Jewish community tell him, “His blood be on us and on our children,” which is the most contentious verse in all of the passion accounts (Matthew 27:25).
According to Christian doctrine, succeeding generations of Jews are also guilty of deicide, the crime of murdering God, which was committed by their forefathers.
Church Fathers and Thereafter
An etching from 1845 portraying King Herod and Pontius Pilate exchanging handshakes. (Photo by F.A. Ludy courtesy of Wellcome Images/Wikimedia Commons) With even more clarity and power, this allegation emerges in the works of the Church Fathers, who are considered to be the most authoritative Christian theologians who lived after the New Testament period. After explaining to his Jewish interlocutor why the Jews had experienced exile and the destruction of their Temple, Justin Martyr (mid-second century) concludes that these “tribulations were justly placed on you since you have assassinated the Just One” (Jesus Christ) (Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 16).
- A historical King Solomon addresses the Jews in “The Mystery of Adam,” a religious drama from the 12th century that prophesies that they would eventually slay the son of God, as depicted in the play.
- This statement is subject to verification.
- The masters of the law will be the ones who do this.
- They’ll descend from a tremendous height, and may they be comforted in their bereaved state of affairs.
- In recent times, passion plays — large-scale outdoor theater events that dramatize the end of Jesus’ life and frequently feature hundreds of actors — have continued to spread this notion, as have other forms of religious expression.
In the Talmud
It’s worth noting that the notion that the Jews assassinated Jesus may be found in Jewish religious literature as well. Against the evidence of theBabylonian Talmud, on folio 43a of tractateSanhedrin, aberaita (a doctrine dating back to before the year 200 C.E.) says that Jesus was executed by a Jewish tribunal for the crimes of sorcery and insurrection. For this reason, there is a blank area near the bottom of that folio in normal Talmuds from Eastern Europe — or in American Talmuds that simply copied from them — since the possibly offending text has been omitted.
This section has been restored in a number of recent Talmudic versions.) When the Talmud claims that the incident occurred on the eve of Passover, it follows the timeline given in the gospel of John, which is supported by historical evidence.
Responsibility for the killing of Jesus is also given to the Jews in Jewish folk literature, such as the popular scurrilous Jewish biography of Jesus,Toledot Yeshu (which may be as old as the fourth century), and in Christian folk fiction.
From the first through the nineteenth century, the degree of hostility between Jews and Christians was such that both parties believed the accusation that the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus.
People who believe the tales of the New Testament (or of the Talmud) to be credible historical sources should not be shocked if this belief prevails. You may read this article in Spanish (leer en espaol) if you want to learn more about who killed Jesus.
Join Our Newsletter
Encourage your Jewish exploration on a daily basis.
The Crucifixion of Jesus and the Jews
Jesus was executed because he was a Jewish victim of Roman persecution. On this point, all documented authorities are in agreement. His execution was ordered by the Gentile Roman ruler, Pontius Pilate, who had him tortured and killed by Gentile Roman troops before he was executed. In fact, Jesus was one of thousands of Jews who were executed by the Romans. The New Testament not only attests to this fundamental reality, but it also provides for Jewish participation in two ways. A small group of high-ranking Jewish officials who owed their positions and authority to the Romans colluded with the Gentile leaders to have Jesus executed; they are claimed to have been envious of Jesus and to have regarded him as an existential danger to the status quo.
The number of individuals in this mob is not specified, nor is there any explanation provided for their actions (other than the fact that they had been “stirred up,” as stated in Mark 15:11).
As recorded in Matthew, the Roman ruler wipes his hands of Jesus’ blood, as the Jews exclaim, “His blood be upon us and upon our children!” (Matthew 27:25.) Throughout Jesus’ mission, the Jews are shown as desiring to murder him in John’s Gospel (John 5:18,John 7:1,John 8:37).
This shift in emphasis is not entirely clear, but one obvious possibility is that as the church spread throughout the world, Romans rather than Jews became the primary targets of evangelism; as a result, there may have been some motivation to “off-the-hook” the Romans and blame the Jews for Jesus’ death rather than the other way around.
However, by the middle of the second century, the apocryphal Gospel of Peter presents the Romans as Jesus’ supporters, and the Jews as those who crucify him, according to tradition.
As a result, anti-Semitism has fed such beliefs for ages, culminating in the crude demonization of Jews as “Christ-killers.” Christians have traditionally held, in opposition to such predictions, that the human actors responsible for Jesus’ execution are irrelevant: he offered his life voluntarily as a sacrifice for sin (Mark 10:45;John 18:11).
“Let his blood be upon us and upon our children!” cries out the congregation in most liturgical churches when Matthew’s PassionNarrativeis read during a worship service.
In most liturgical churches, when Matthew’s PassionNarrativeis read during a worship service, all members of the congregation are invited to echoMatt 27:25aloud, crying out, “Let his blood be upon us and upon our children!”
Mark Allan Powell is a professor of New Testament at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota (Columbus, Ohio). He is the editor of the HarperCollins Bible Dictionary and the author of Introducing the New Testament (Baker, 2009) andJesus as a Figure in History (Westminster, 2009). He received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University. John Knox Publishing Company, 2012). A gathering of individuals who are participating in religious services and are worshiping. The proclamation of “the good news” of Jesus Christ to the entire world.
- spurious gospel purporting to have been authored by the apostle Peter, but which was rejected by the early Roman Catholic Church as part of the canonical New Testament canon because of its apocryphal nature.
- A narrative that has been written, spoken, or recorded.
- God’s character and actions are discussed through writing, conversation, or contemplation.
- 15:1111 (Mark 15:1111) The leading priests, on the other hand, incited the mob to demand that Jesus release Barabbas for them instead.
27:2525 (KJV) Following that, the entire population exclaimed, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 5:1818 (John 5:1818) In order to assassinate him, the Jews increased their efforts even further, believing that he was not only violating the Sabbath but also referring to God as his own Father in the process.
- He did not want to travel about in Judea since the Jews were searching for an occasion to attack him and his family.
- 1 2:14-1514 (Thess 2:14-1514) Because you, brothers and sisters, were models for the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are located in Judea, because you experienced the same things from your own compa, you became imitators of those churches.
- Observe further information 10:45:45 (Mark 10:45:45) The Son of Man, after all, did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 18:1111 (John 18:1111) “Put your sword back into its sheath,” Jesus instructed Peter to do.
- God, on the other hand, demonstrates his love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
- More details may be found at1 Tim 1:515 p.m.
When it comes to Christ Jesus coming into the world to help sinners—of which I am the foremost—the phrase is certain and deserving of complete acceptance. Matt. 27:2525 (KJV) Following that, the entire population exclaimed, “His blood be on us and on our children!”
Romans are to blame for death of Jesus
Among religious specialists and laypeople alike, the soon-to-be-released Mel Gibson film “The Passion of the Christ” is causing quite a commotion in the media. Many people believe the film contains anti-Semitic implications. Although the Jews are often believed to have been involved in Jesus’ death, according to Dr. Frank K. Flinn of Washington University in St. Louis’ department of religious studies, the Romans are truly to blame for the death of Jesus. Frank Flinn is a songwriter and musician from the United Kingdom.
“Crucifications could only be authorized by the Roman authorities, and they frequently did so on a brutal, mass scale.” In the opinion of Flinn, an expert on Catholicism, Gibson’s film appears to merge all of the gospel stories about the Passion into one epic, a made-for-the-big-screen story that fails to show how opinions about the Jews’ role in the crucifixion have changed dramatically over time, as has been shown in other films about the Passion.
- The author points out that our oldest accounts of the crucifixion, such as the Gospel of Mark, which was written about 60-70 C.E., make it apparent that Pilate was the one who ordered Christ’s execution.
- “Matthew, most likely as a result of inter-Jewish competition, places the ultimate responsibility fully on the shoulders of the Jewish leadership,” Flinn explained.
- When it came to Jewish persecution and murder throughout the Middle Ages, the label “Christ-killers” became a rhetorical club to legitimize the ghettoization, persecution, and slaughter of Jews.
- A Guide to Taking in the Show Mel Gibson’s next film Written by Frank K.
- In his books The Jewish War and Jewish Antiquities, Josephus, the Jewish historian, records several incidents.
- Only the Roman authorities had the authority to order crucifixions, and they did it on a brutal and enormous scale on a regular basis.
- The first Galilean disciples of Jesus regarded him as a prophet similar to Elijah, who wandered the Galilean hills healing the sick and reviving the dead, as did the prophet Elijah.
- Sadducees and Pharisees were among the Jewish leaders who owed their positions to their patron-client relationship with the Roman rulers (notice the word “some”).
- In addition to the teachers and prophets in rural Galilee and the Dead Sea Scrolls community at Qumran, other Jewish groups and individuals either rejected or rebelled against the corrupt relationship between Jerusalem and Rome.
- Along with the Temple tax, this tax was collected for Rome by the Temple officials, who distributed it to tax farmers.
- Due to the annual ordinance of Jubilee, it should have been possible for the rich in Jerusalem to restore this territory to the original tribes, but they failed to do so.
According to Leviticus 19:4, “render unto Caesar” means “return to Caesar” his own coin with Caesar’s image on it (a blasphemy to the pious Jew!) and “return to God” what is God’s, which is the land itself, which God ultimately owns and which God gave directly to Israel in the covenant (Joshua 24:13)!” The message of Jesus was both spiritually and politically dangerous, first to the Roman rulers and then, secondary, to their client appointees in Jerusalem, who were first threatened by it.
- The Gospel of Mark, the earliest Gospel we know, was written between 60 and 70 CE.
- Matthew and Luke were written considerably later, in the year 80-95, and show a wide range of interests and points of view.
- Aside from his status as a Jewish disciple of Jesus (Antioch being the site of the first use of the term “Christian”), Matthew also comments on the era following the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE, when tensions broke out between rabbinic Yavneh Jews and Jewish followers of Jesus.
- It’s possible that the rabbis weren’t all that successful.
- (I constantly point out to my pupils that a Christian may attend any Jewish Sabbath service and participate fully in all of the prayers with complete religious commitment.) Matthew goes to great lengths to disassociate himself from the actions of the Roman authority.
- Perhaps as a result of intra-Jewish competition, the phrase “His blood be upon us and our offspring” is added to place the ultimate responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the Jewish leadership (Matthew 24:25).
- The Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts should be read together as a single piece of literature.
We can now use the name “Christian,” which appears for the first time in Acts 11:26, but the term was probably definitely coined as a derogatory slur in its original context.
Against the backdrop of Roman criticism, Luke is attempting to defend Christianity against the charge of “superstition” leveled against it.
The paragraphs about Jesus being crowned with thorns and being mocked have been omitted.
“But Jesus hedelivered over to theirwill,” says Luke, elaborating on Pilate’s guilt (Luke 23:26).
In its present form (ca.
100-110 CE) is that John does not place the blame for Jesus’ death solely on Pilate, or Pilate’s Jewish authorities, or even the Jewish authorities alone, but on “Jews” collectively (John 19:12).
The stage is laid for the later, tragic accusation that “the Jews murdered Jesus,” despite the fact that John does not state so explicitly.
It was not until after Constantine established a complete break with Judaism as such that the term “Christ-killers” was coined to describe these individuals.
Bishop John Chrysostom of Constantinople (ca.
By the Middle Ages, the label “Christ-killers” had evolved into a linguistic club used to legitimize the ghettoization, persecution, and death of Jews around the world, particularly in Europe.
My argument establishes a chronological order for determining who was responsible for Jesus’ killing, as well as the appropriate terminology for each stage: Romans Leaders of the Romans and Jews The High Priest, the Scribes, and the Elders/Romans Chief Priest, Scribes, Elders, and the general populace/Pilate (sort of) Jews are a group of people who live in a community that is surrounded by other Jews (in general) “Stiff-necked Individuals” “Christ-killers.” According to what I’ve read about Mel Gibson’s movie in published accounts, it appears to be similar to many other films about Jesus in that it combines all of the gospel tales about the passion into a single narrative.
As I’ve demonstrated above, the multiple gospels express quite different messages.
This makes it seem eerily similar to the infamous traditional Catholic Oberammergau Passion Play in Germany, which was in its original form grossly stereotyped and anti-Semitic in its content.
Most crucially, the inclination in virtually all Christian interpretations of Jesus’ death is to adopt as one’s frame of reference, not the first phrase in the sequence I listed above, but the last term in the series. But, to be fair, we’ll have to wait till the film is out before we can find out.
Who Really Killed Jesus?
The subject of who is ultimately accountable for the murder of Jesus has long been a source of heated dispute among Christians. That it is such a contentious issue is because it has been used as a justification for anti-Semitism on a large scale in the past. The fact is that assigning blame for Christ’s death to a single organization or individual is extremely difficult to do. But let’s take a look at some of the places where accountability falls.
There’s no denying that Jesus died in a manner that was uniquely Roman in nature. While Rome did not develop the act of crucifixion, they did make it more efficient and effective. Under the supervision of the Romans, what began as a way of humiliating offenders by nailing them to a tree or a stake became a far more effective method of punishment. Jews did not (and were not permitted to) crucify anybody under any circumstances. Rather of beheaded, they were stoned, which was a more ancient method of execution.
Not only were the Romans accountable for Jesus’ crucifixion, but they were also responsible for much of the suffering and humiliation that surrounded His execution.
- Stabbed Him in the back to ensure He was dead (Matthew 27:26)
- Mocked Him (Matthew 27:27–31)
- Gambled for His clothing (Matthew 27:35)
- Gave him vinegar to drink (Matthew 27:47–49)
- Flogged Him to ensure He was dead (Matthew 27:26–31)
- Stabbed Him in the back to guarantee He was dead (Matthew 27:47–49)
It is impossible to acquit the Romans of their role in Jesus’ crucifixion. They must be held accountable.
There is no doubt that the Jewish rulers were the source of practically all of Jesus’ hostility. They viewed Him as a direct challenge to the Law and to their power in general. The final nail in the coffin appears to have been the cleaning of the temple. It seems that this conduct, along with the raucous greeting Jesus got when He rode into Jerusalem, had inflamed the religious officials’ feelings. It was even necessary for the Sanhedrin to provide false witnesses at Christ’s trial for blasphemy in order to assure a guilty verdict: “We heard him declare, ‘I will destroy this temple built with human hands and in three days will construct another, not fashioned with human hands.'” Even still, their testimonies did not corroborate one another.
- Was this testimony that these folks are presenting against you true and accurate?” But Jesus stayed deafeningly silent and didn’t say anything.
- “I am,” Jesus stated emphatically.
- The high priest ripped his clothing to shreds.
- “You’ve heard the blasphemy, haven’t you?
Although Paul is himself a Jew, his epistle to the Thessalonian church appears to place the blame squarely on the Jews’ shoulders, as follows: “In order to become imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus, you, brothers and sisters, became: You suffered at the hands of your own people in the same way that those churches suffered at the hands of the Jews who slaughtered the Lord Jesus and the prophets and drove us out of their lands.
They are displeasing to God and unfriendly to everyone around them “14–15; I Thessalonians 2:14–15; Peter, on the other hand, assigns equal responsibility in his speech at Pentecost.
It was God’s purposeful design and foresight that brought you into contact with this man; you, with the assistance of evil men, executed him by nailing him to the cross “(See Acts 2:22–23.)
The fact is that it makes no difference who ordered Jesus’ execution. Each of us has some responsibility for His death. Jesus was crucified in order to atone for all of our sins. “Jesus was the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not just for our sins, but also for the sins of the whole world,” the disciple John writes in his first Epistle (1 John 2:2). As a result of Christ’s death, we are both the cause of and the beneficiaries of it. Because Jesus was crucified as a result of the sin of everyone who has ever lived, it is pointless to point fingers at any one individual as being personally culpable.
Fortunately, the gospel tale did not come to a close on a depressing note with the crucifixion.
It doesn’t matter who killed Jesus; what counts is that death has been overcome once and for all through the cross.
Why Did Pontius Pilate Have Jesus Executed?
“What is truth?” Pontius Pilate asks Jesus of Nazareth in the Gospel of John, and Jesus responds with a question. It’s a question that may be raised regarding Pilate’s own personal background as well. According to the New Testament of the Christian Bible, the Roman ruler of Judea was a shaky judge who originally exonerated Jesus before bowing to the will of the multitude and condemned him to death as a result of his actions. Non-Biblical sources, on the other hand, present him as a barbaric commander who wilfully rejected the traditions of the Jewish people under his command.
WATCH: JESUS: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE VaultJesus before Pilate, just before he was crucified.
Pilate’s early life is a mystery.
Before his time as Roman governor of Judea, from 26 and 36 A.D., nothing is known about Pilate’s early life and career. While most believe he was born into an equestrian family in Italy, certain tales indicate that he was actually born in the Scottish Highlands. From the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria emerges one of the earliest—and most damning—accounts of Pilate’s reign as governor. Around the year 50 A.D., he denounced the prefect for “briberies, insults, robberies, outrages and wanton injuries, executions without trial, constantly repeated, endless and extremely severe brutality,” among other things.
Patterson describes Pilate’s rule as “corrupt and full of bribery.” Patterson is an early Christianity historian at Willamette University and the author of several books, including The Forgotten Creed: Christianity’s Original Struggle Against Bigotry, Slavery, and Sexism.
“Philo is a really dramatic writer,” she observes, “and one who has very apparent biases: persons who maintain Jewish rules are documented in highly favorable ways, whereas people who do not uphold Jewish laws are represented in quite bad ways.
MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: The Bible asserts that Jesus was a real person. Is there any further evidence? Prior to his crucifixion, Jesus had been tortured, and this was the culmination of that suffering. courtesy of DeAgostini/Getty Images
Pilate clashed with the Jewish population in Jerusalem.
A pair of golden shields emblazoned with the name of the Roman Emperor Tiberius were allowed into King Herod’s ancient residence in Jerusalem, according to Philo, despite Jewish tradition. Writing more than a half-century later, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus related a similar story, claiming that Pilate let troops bearing military standards with the likeness of the emperor into Jerusalem, despite Jewish law prohibiting the carrying of images in the holy city. A large number of people journeyed to the Judean city of Caesarea to express their displeasure, and they laid prostrate outside Pilate’s palace for five days until he finally yielded.
- This account has the ring of a rookie governor experimenting with his powers and entirely underestimating the depth of local opposition to graven images.
- Josephus related another event, this one with a bloodier conclusion, in which Pilate used cash from the Temple treasury to construct an aqueduct to provide water to Jerusalem.
- They were successful.
- More information may be found at: Where Is the Head of Saint John the Baptist?
The Gospels portray an indecisive Pilate.
Josephus also referred to Pilate’s well-known role in agreeing to Jesus’ death, which he had played previously. After being gravely concerned by his teachings, the Sanhedrin (an elite council of priestly and lay elders) arrested Jesus while he was celebrating the Jewish festival of Passover, according to the Gospels. They hauled Jesus before Pilate to be prosecuted for blasphemy, accusing him of claiming to be the King of the Jews, which they said was false. And they exerted pressure on Pilate, the only person who had the authority to sentence someone to death, to order his crucifixion.
According to the Gospel of Mark, Pilate intervened on Jesus’ behalf before caving in to the demands of the mob.
MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Discovering the Early Christian Church’s Conversion Tactics from Within “Mark’s goal isn’t truly historical in nature,” Patterson explains.
Mark blamed the Jewish rulers in Jerusalem for the city’s collapse since the high priests and officials had turned their backs on Jesus when he had arrived in the city.
courtesy of DeAgostini/Getty Images Following this, according to the Gospel of Matthew, Pilate washed his hands in front of the assembled throng before declaring, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; take care of yourself.” When the Jewish people heard this, they yelled out, “His blood be on us and our children.” For millennia, it would be used to punish the Jewish people, and it is still being utilized now.
As Bond explains, “Matthew claims that, while Romans were accountable for carrying out the action, the Jews were liable—a line of thought that, of course, has had fatal ramifications ever since.” When Jesus was making problems during a gathering like Passover, when the city was packed to capacity, I don’t believe Pilate would have spent much time worrying about what to do with him.
According to the Gospels, the people preferred the criminal Barabbas than Jesus.
The so-called custom of freeing a prisoner on Passover has been investigated by scholars, but so far, according to Patterson, “they have not discovered anything in regard to this so-called ritual.” More information may be found at: Early Christians Didn’t Always Take the Bible Literally (Discovery).
Pilate disappears from history after his rule.
Following the use of disproportionate force to quell a suspected Samaritan rebellion, Pilate was dismissed from office and transported back to Rome, according to Josephus and the Roman historian Tacitus. Pilate vanished from the historical record as soon as he arrived in Rome. According to various legends, he was either executed by Emperor Caligula or committed suicide, with his remains being thrown into the Tiber River after his death. It has also been claimed by early Christian theologian Tertullian that Pilate became a follower of Jesus and attempted to convert the emperor to Christianity.
A portion of a carved stone with Pilate’s name and title etched in Latin on it was discovered face down in an antique theater, where it had been used as a stair.
According to a November 2018 article in Israel Exploration Journal, improved photography showed Pilate’s name engraved in Greek on a 2,000-year-old copper alloy ring recovered at Herodium, which was previously thought to be a Roman coin.
Who Killed Jesus? The Historical Context of Jesus’ Crucifixion
Much of the academic discussion concerning the circumstances of Jesus’ execution relates to the question of who was accountable for his arrest and crucifixion. Please be advised that by submitting your email address, you acknowledge and agree that you will get email messages from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (501 Nelson Place, Nashville, TN 37214 USA) with information on products and services offered by the company and its affiliates. If you no longer wish to receive these email notifications, you may unsubscribe at any time.
- Who was the perpetrator?
- Historically, the Jewish leadership and the Jewish community in Jerusalem have been held accountable to the greatest extent possible.
- More recent tendencies in scholarship have transferred the responsibility to the Romans.
- Most current academics accept that there is not an either-or solution to this topic, but that both Jewish and Roman authority must have had some involvement in Jesus’ murder.
- (The more typical Jewish mode of execution was stoning.) There is substantial evidence that at this time the Jewish Sanhedrin did not have jurisdiction to carry out lethal punishment (John 18:31; y.
- 1:1; 7:2).
- The Roman ruler Pontius Pilate no probably gave the orders for Jesus’ crucifixion, and Roman troops carried it out.
- It is improbable that the Romans would have taken action against him without urging from the Jewish authorities.
- Raising the subject this way really misrepresents first-century Judaism, in which religion and politics were interwoven.
Let’s take a look at the motivations, tendencies, and actions of these authorities. The motivations of Pilate and the Romans The evidence points to the conclusion that Jesus was executed by the Romans for sedition—rebellion against the government.
- Initially, he was crucified in the role of “King of the Jews.” As previously stated in the last section, the titulus on the cross declaring this is very definitely historical in nature. Second, he was nailed to a cross between two “robbers” or “criminals,” which were names employed by the Romans to describe insurrectionists (Mark 15:27
- Matt. 27:38
- Luke 23:33
- John 19:18). In his stead, another insurrectionist, Barabbas, was freed (Mark 15:7
- Matthew 27:16
- Luke 23:19
- John 18:40)
- In addition, the following allegations presented before Pilate by the Sanhedrin are linked to sedition and are recorded in Luke’s Gospel: So they started accusing him, saying things like “We have discovered this individual who is corrupting our nation.'” As a Christian, he rejects the payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, the Son of God. Because of his preaching, he incites people all across Judea to action. He began his journey in Galilee and has traveled all the way to this place.” (Luke 23:2, 5
- Matthew 23:2).
In spite of the fact that this evidence verifies the indictment against Jesus, it begs the puzzling issue of why Jesus was killed in the first place, given that he had nothing in common with other rebels and insurrectionists of his day. Matthew 5:38–48 and Luke 6:27–36 both contain passages in which Jesus encourages his followers to love their adversaries and to react to suffering with acts of compassion. Moreover, he maintained the propriety of paying Caesar’s taxes (Mark 12:14, 17; Matt. 22:17, 21; Luke 20:22, 25).
- 10:34; Luke 22:36, 38).
- The fact that Jesus’ disciples were not picked up and murdered after his death, and were even permitted to create a religious community in Jerusalem, further demonstrates that Jesus was not regarded as instigating a violent revolt at the time.
- More information may be found in the following online course: The Historical and Cultural Context of Jesus’ Life and Ministry What was Pilate thinking when he ordered Jesus’ crucifixion?
- It has been established via various sources that Pilate’s administration was marked by a widespread contempt for his Jewish citizens and an unyielding repression of resistance.
- When Sejanus, an advisor to Emperor Tiberius, installed Pilate as governor of Judea in AD 26, it was a watershed moment in history.
Philip of Alexandria, a Jewish philosopher, provides an excellent illustration of Pilate’s precarious position when he writes about an incident in which Jews protested Pilate’s actions in placing golden shields in Herod’s palace in Jerusalem: “The Jews demonstrated against Pilate’s actions in placing golden shields in Herod’s palace in Jerusalem,” Philo writes.
As a result of his vindictiveness and enraged temper, he found himself in a terrible situation.
The warning from the Jewish leaders, “If you let this guy escape, you are no friend of Caesar,” (John 19:12), would almost certainly have made Pilate angry and fearful at the same time. Pilate was most likely motivated to order Jesus’ death by three factors:
- It appeased the Jewish authorities and, as a result, kept charges against him from reaching Rome. As a result, it preemptively neutralized any threat that Jesus may have posed if the people attempted to proclaim him king. Those who want to be prophets or messiahs were forcefully reminded that Rome would not tolerate any disagreement.
Jesus was met with fierce Jewish hostility. During Jesus’ Galilean career, he came up against a lot of resistance, much of which came from the Pharisees and their scribes. At the beginning of his final week in Jerusalem, Jesus faced strong resistance from the priestly hierarchy, which was under the authority of the high priest, as well as from the Sanhedrin, which was dominated by the Sadducees. The two most important institutions in Judaism were the Torah (the law) and the temple. Jesus appeared to be challenging both the authority of both and the legitimacy of both in the present day, posing a substantial danger to Israel’s leadership.
- Isaias claimed control over the law, disregarded the Sabbath mandate as though it were subordinate to human necessities, and accused the Pharisees of placing their oral law, which was nothing more than human traditions, above God’s instructions.
- The Pharisees, who considered themselves the legitimate protectors of Israel’s traditions, would have been enraged by Jesus’ declaration of the kingdom of God and his calling of twelve disciples, as well as by his proclamation of the kingdom of God.
- If Jesus’ remarks had been spoken in the midst of the seething cauldron of religion and politics that was first-century Palestine, they would have met with fierce hostility.
- In reality, the cleansing of the temple by Jesus is commonly regarded as the pivotal event that prompted the Jewish rulers to take action against the Messiah.
- In Mark’s account of Jesus’ Jewish trial, “false witnesses” are called forward who swear that they heard Jesus proclaim, “I will destroy this man-built temple and in three days will construct another, not made by man,” among other things.
- and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Mighty One, coming on the clouds of heaven.” “I am.” says Jesus.
- According to Mark 14:58–65, the entire assembly demands for his execution (cf.
- 26:55–68; and Luke 22:66–71).
- For example, the Mishnah declares that it is forbidden for the Sanhedrin to convene at night, on the eve of Passover, or at the residence of the high priest during the holiday.
A second hearing would also have been required for a death sentence, and a charge of blasphemy could only be upheld if Jesus had pronounced the divine name of God during the course of the trial (m. Sanh. 4:1; 5:5; 7:5; 11:2). This argument is not persuasive for the following four reasons:
- First and foremost, the processes outlined in the Mishnah were codified in AD 200 and may not all date back to the time of Jesus
- Second, the procedures outlined in the Mishnah were codified in AD 200 and may not all date back to the time of Jesus. For starters, even though they are ancient texts dating back to the first century, they reflect a hypothetical circumstance that may or may not have been replicated in Jesus’ life. The existence of rules indicates that there have been abuses in the past. It is possible that they were established as a result of fraudulent trials such as this one. In addition, while the Mishnah preserves mostly Pharisaic traditions, it was the Sadducees who dominated the Sanhedrin during Jesus’ time. There is strong evidence that blasphemy was occasionally employed in Judaism in a more general meaning than pronouncing the holy name, and that activities such as idolatry, conceited scorn for God, or criticizing his chosen leaders were often considered blasphemy.
After careful examination, Mark’s trial story makes perfect sense when seen in the context of Jesus’ teaching and healing work. The high priest would have naturally inquired as to whether Jesus was making a messianic claim as a result of his actions in the temple. Psalm 110:1 and Daniel 7:13 are two major Old Testament verses that are included into Jesus’ answer. The first says that Jesus will be vindicated by God and exalted to a position at his right hand in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus will be given sovereign authority to judge God’s adversaries, as the later passage says.
An outlandish declaration like this was considered blasphemous by the body, which considered itself to be God’s authorized leadership, as well as the guards of God’s hallowed temple.
A reaction was required in the face of such a situation.
Because of Jesus’ acts in the temple, which the Sanhedrin most likely saw as an act of desecration, as well as his widespread popularity among the people, it became vital to act against him as fast and decisively as possible.
According to this scenario, the previous remarks of the Pharisees and chief priests in John seem plausible: “If we let him continue on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation” (John 11:48).
Learn more about the Bible by reading it.
In addition, you’ll receive periodic information about new courses, free videos, and other useful resources.
The Romans summoned Pilate back to Rome in AD 36, following what Josephus describes as a characteristically harsh military campaign against the Samaritans (Josephus, Ant.18.4.2:85–87).
The online courseFour Portraits, One Jesus takes a close look at the events of Holy Week, including Jesus’ death and resurrection, in order to better understand them.
View a free trailer here: This post is taken from information available in Mark Strauss’ online course, Four Portraits, One Jesus, which he teaches on a regular basis.