Can Jews execute or not? They could not crucify Jesus but could stone the adultres


I dont understand that in (John 18:31) The Jews told Pilot that they could not kill man but on the other hand could stone the adultres. Does this make sense to anyone?


I think the adultress case was more of a mob/vigilante case. While I don’t think that was allowed by the Romans anymore than Sanhedrin death sentences, there was no formality/no legal process regarding the charges against the adultress. It was more of a posse.

Jesus’s trial, on the other hand, was an actual “trial”, where he was actually arrested.


When they brought the woman taken in adultery to Jesus, it was a set-up pure and simple. They were testing Him as they had tried at other times. After all, where was the man involved?

However… what about the stoning of Stephen? Now you have got me wondering. I know that it was probably an act of passion, done without thinking of the consequences, but I wonder what happened to those involved under Roman Law.

I suppose the leaders could have gone to the Romans and made it seem that they were suppressing an act of insurrection on Stephen’s part as he was a follower of Christ who had been executed.

Any other ideas?


Maybe it had to do with how well a person was known. While Stephen was a disciple of Jesus, he was not as well known as Jesus so it would’ve been easier to “forget” to hand over Stephen to the Romans.


You haven’t understood the context. Stoning the adulteress would have been an act of defiance against Roman authority in favour of Jewish law. So the Pharisees were saying “if you are the Messiah then lead us”.

There is a bit of confusion in that St Stephen was stoned to death by order of the Sanhedrin. At this distance in time it is difficult to be sure exactly what the legal arrangements were. It may be that the gospel writers have got the details slightly wrong, or it may have been that for some reason St Stephen’s legal situation was different.


LRThunder…congratulations :slight_smile: and God bless you!:signofcross:


Yes, the bringing of the woman caught in adultery was a setup, pure and simple. If Jesus would have said “Stone her,” He would have 1) shown open defiance of Roman authority, which could have subsequently been used against him, and 2) would have belied his teachings, which were considerably more mercy-based than were those of the Pharisees. From the point of view of someone not convinced of His deity, His challenge to have the first stone thrown by whoever was without sin was a remarkably shrewd escape. I can just hear the muttering as the Pharisees dropped their stones and left–“Dang! He got us again!”

On the other hand, a reading of the “trial” and stoning of Stephen makes it pretty clear that it was a mob action, not the carrying out of a legally arrived-at execution.



I don’t know but I guess there was no prohibition against the Jews carrying out any sentence on their own people for violation of their own laws. The problem came when they tried to accuse Jesus of violating Roman law or civil law, and took it out of the realm of the rabbinical courts.


The Historian Warren H. Carroll in his book “The Founding of Christendom” says that at this time Pilote had been recalled to Rome and been replaced him with Marcellus. This appointment lapsed when the Emperor died. Gaius appointed Marullus or maybe the name was Marcellus. During this time Gaius permited a greater degree of autonomy. Because of a general uncertainty about the policy of the new emperor and because Pilot had been disgraced it may have caused the reluctance to interfer with the Sanhedrin carrying out exectuions without Roman approval. This is part of spectulation of Carroll but he also states that for whatever the reason that this prohibition (against the Jews executing anyone) was temporarily suspended.
Page 397-398


As I recall the romans moved in to stop the Jews from stoning Paul to death when the city erupted into mob violence at the claim that he took a gentile into the temple. So, no they could not Legally stone one to death. But, they as a mob could get away with it.


Firstly, I think the plan to stone was outside the city where the Romans may not even care about or notice such a happening.

Secondly, the Romans and other leaders involved may not have wanted Jesus to be stoned away from the city. There may have been opportunities to try to kill Jesus outside of the city. However, they may have purposefully had Him crucified formally and publicly in Jerusalem to give a message to anyone who could be a threat to political (and perhaps religious) power/agenda.


thanks everyone for the post.


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