Barabbas-Robber or Revolutionary?

In the reading of St Johns Passsion account last night the translation used said Barabbas was a revolutionary. When I got home I went and got out all my old Bibles such as the Douay, Challoner, and RSV Catholic Edition, and all said he was a robber. How and when did the powers that be determine he was a revolutionary? Thanks.

I vaguely recall going over this in my 101 theology class.

The Romans often called revolutionaries “robbers” rather then what they were so that when the Emperor asked if there were any rebels in the province the governor could respond, nope just a bunch of muderors and robbers. I do not know about Barrabas, but the two thieves crucified with Jesus were actually zealots who sought the overthrow of the empire through political and violent means. Crucifixion was a punishment for political sorts of crimes, not robbers. Barrabas the revolutionary has significance in that it shows the Jews desired a political revolutionary messiah, rather then the spiritual type that Christ is. Either way, its pretty much an irrelevant point. Either views do not take away from the significance that the Jews present desired someone other then Christ be released from the Romans.

Mark 15:7 and Luke 23:19 indicate that Barabbas was an insurrectionist and murderer. Apparently, he was a robber as well. (John 18:40) Sounds like he wasn’t a very nicer person.

I know this is not on target with the thread, but I have to ask if anyone else has heard of this before. Just like Simon bar Jonah, I heard that bar stood for ‘son of’ as Simon son of Jonah. And Jesus called God ‘Abba’ which I heard meant Father. Jesus said he was the son of God ( son of the Father ) So Barabbas’s name meant “son of God” and because of this it was a type , of I guess, mockery to let him go saying that Barrabas was the true son of God, not Jesus. Appreciate any input.

May God Bless, Static ( 1 Tim 1:15 )

I was wondering why he was still alive & in prison. From what I understood the Romans the didn’t keep insurrectionists in jail (if any) for any length of time before execution.

I’ve heard similar, also some versions of Matthew call him Jesus Barabbas, though I’ve heard some people use it to try and claim that Jesus and Barabbas were the same person, which makes no sense

not exactly. barabbas does not mean “son of God”, it means “son of the father”. basically, it is the most generic name ever in history…lol. my take on it (and i’ve heard others argue this) is that we are all sons of a father (or children of parents, etc.). barabbas represents all of us. Jesus dies in barabbas’ place just like He dies in our place.
maybe there was a real barabbas. maybe his first name was yeshua (or jesus in greek) and the gospel writers simply used his generic name to avoid confusion. bottom line is, he is the representation of us. he also represents the fact that we in this world choose rebellion over God (the crowd demands barabbas to be released). so the crowd represents humanity as a whole and barabbas represents us individually.

that is just what i think.

Yeah I’ve thought similar before with regards to Jesus dying in the place of Barabbas and thus Barabbas representing us

Bar = son, Abba = father.

Bar-abba = son of the father.

This is a play on Jesus, and John (and the other Evangelists) are making a point here.

At this point in salvation history, there is only one Son of the Father, our Lord. Through his death and resurrection, we are ransomed into His house (as the Exultet puts it: “To ransom a slave, you gave away a Son”).

If Jesus is the only true Son of the Father, who is the one called “Bar-Abba”? Who is his father?

Bar-Abba is called an insurrectionist and a murderer. He is the son of the Original Insurrectionist, and “a murderer from the beginning” - the prince of lies, Satan.

We are offered a choice - a most direct choice. Who is it we choose to release? to live with? Who do we release as our “Passover custom”?

IMO Mel Gibson does a tremendous job making this point in the Passion.

The true Son of the Father, or this faux Bar-abba?

Another thing to note is that although the gospel says this was a common practice, there is no mention of this type of prisoner release in any Jewish or Roman historic writings at all. So instead of it being a common practice, there is really no historic basis for believing it ever occured. Which of course leads one at least in the direction of this being a symbolic account written to teach more about who Jesus was and who was rejecting who.

i agree there is only one son of God the Father, but there are billions of “sons of the father”. it could also be translated “son of father” or “son of a father”. it could be a play on words referencing Jesus, but i think it is more likely a play on words representing us.


There are two Jesuses at the trial before Pilate. One of them is on trial because someone said he was King of the Jews. He’s the one we remember, the one it says was innocent and had been handed over for reasons of jealousy. The other one was a notorious prisoner… Barabbas.
The crowd wants Jesus Messiah to be crucified, and Jesus Barabbas, the notorious prisoner to be set free.
The story is not primarily history as we know it. It’s not written to tell people what happened in the way we give evidence of who was driving where in a traffic accident. It was written and told to make a point about Jesus and how to live as one of his followers. So the names are chosen carefully, and with purpose.
In English we miss what the names mean. Jesus Christ means Jesus Messiah. Christ is a Greek translation of Messiah. Messiah means the one anointed and sent from God.
What does Jesus Barabbas mean? Well, it’s not “B’rabbas” as Australians have learned to pronounce it. It is Bar Abbas. Bar Abbas means Jesus the Son of the Father.
So, in the words behind the words, Pilate is asking the crowd, "Which Jesus do you want? Jesus the one sent from God… the King of the Jews or, Jesus the Son of the Father?"
They chose Jesus the Son of the Father. Sounds like a good choice…. who here would not put their hand up if I asked who was a disciple of the Son of the Father?

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