Pontius Pilate.

I reckon this is the best place for this question.

Pontius Pilate, “good guy” or “bad guy”? If I sum up what I know about PP from The four Gospels he seem to be very unhappy camper and really wanted to set Christ free. I did hear somewhere that he and his wife later on became Christians, so what about him? I know it had to be someone who gave the order to crucify Jesus as well as someone had to betray Him, but PP did not like what he did and most likely he also did have some sort of faith and maybe did really believe what Christ was.

Pilate probably had a good chuckle when the Priests presented the “King of the Jews” to him.

But while he hemmed and hawed, and sent Jesus over to Herod Antipas, who also had fun with him, and after freeing up Barabbas, finally did what he had no choice but to do.

Pilate was certainly paid off by the High Priesthood for just such an occasion as this. Caiaphas gave Jesus over for crucifixion and had no doubt that Pilate would do so.

I think Pilate had good intentions overall (or as good as a ruthless pagan’s intentions can be), but, in the end, he succumbed to pressure and condemned a man whom he knew was innocent to one of the most cruel forms of torture ever invented.

Pilate was the typical “personally opposed but” politician. :smiley:

Pilate was rather antagonistic to Jews back in the day, so understandably he would give them a hard time over what they want.

It’s hard to say where his heart and mind were at when judging Jesus and if he ever converted. I remember reading that he committed suicide.

Jesus was clear that the greater sin was on those turning Him over to Pilate.

John 19:11 Jesus answered him, "You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin. "

12 From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, "If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar. "

Whether Caesar was being antagonistic or genuinely thought Jesus should be let go we can’t be certain. Perhaps a combination of both.

If I were to take a guess I would say it was political pressure that made him do it after he got to know Jesus. It seems that Pilate was quite alright with releasing Him and even washed his hands of the situation.

Gutless man of worldly power, gives the order to kill our Lord.

Is anyone good who rejects Jesus?

We can wonder what may have happened to him later, but from what we know…he was not good.

Luke 23:12
“That day Herod and Pilate became friends, before this they had been enemies.”


Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent, but he was more concerned with losing his head than his soul.

The Ethiopian Orthodox revere Pilate as a saint. They believe that he later repented. This of course, isn’t official Catholic position. His wife is recognized as a saint in both the Ethiopian and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Again, not official Catholic position.

Tacitus, the Roman writer, though not sympathetic to Christians, wrote something to the effect that Pontius Pilate was an extremely cruel person.

Interesting. There are really not much about PP to read, I did find a few passages in the net but not much, thank you all.

Pilate was coerced by the crowds [John 19:12] and decided to let the same crowd decide the fate of Jesus giving them a choice between Jesus and Barabbas. Pilate considered the implied threat issued by the crowd to be real one. Pilate did not see any guilt in Jesus and ‘‘made efforts to release Him.’’ Nobody likes coercion. Doubtful Pilate had any regard for the mob who kept yelling Jesus should be crucified. Jesus broke no Roman law and was a pacifist. Pilate warned by his wife. Absent the blackmail, Jesus would have never been crucified. Pilate acted out of expedience as opposed to what was right. Pilate chose the wrong most right given his circumstances.

The greater sin went to Judas and by extension, the mob IMO. [John 19:11]



My opinion? He was a guy who did his job. Just like Caiaphas or Herod or Judas.

Just a little background: you had this pervasive anti-Jewish (not to be confused with anti-Semitic) sentiment in early Christianity. The early Christians, originally acting from within a Jewish context, really took a page from the OT prophets’ calling Israel out for its sins (e.g. Nehemiah 9:26; 2 Chronicles 36:14-16): as part of their message towards (fellow) Jews, they emphasized the Jewish responsibility for the death of Jesus, coupled with a plea for Israel to repent and accept Jesus as the Messiah (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16; Acts 2:22-38; 3:12-26; 4:8-22; 5:29-32). They cast the Jewish rejection of Jesus in the same light as Israel’s rejection of the prophets in former times.

It’s not surprising that the two most Jewish gospels of the four, Matthew and John, are at the same time, quite ironically, the most ‘anti-Jewish’. While Matthew tries hard to portray Jesus as the Jewish Messiah who fulfilled the Jewish Scriptures, the antagonists in his gospel are “the scribes and the Pharisees.” In fact, his gospel is the one which has that infamous line in Matthew 27:25. John, while he records Jesus saying, “Salvation is from the Jews,” often (but not always, note) casts “the Jews” in antagonistic roles toward Jesus.

A side effect of this rhetoric is that less focus is made on the Roman culpability for the crucifixion. The level of anti-Judaism in early Christianity depended mostly on the geographical area (they tended to be high in areas where there are more Jews for Christians to encounter, dialogue and/or heckle with than in areas with only a minimal Jewish presence), but in its most extreme form, the Romans are totally excused of all blame - the crucifixion is made to be an act perpetrated solely by the Jews. Sometimes, it is no longer Pilate that sentences Jesus to death, but Herod (the closest they could get to a Jewish equivalent to Pilate - a political ruler). For the most extreme specimens of anti-Jewish rhetoric in late 2nd century Christianity, you have the Gospel of Peter and St. Melito of Sardis’ Sermon on the Passover.

Another possible reason why early Christians would want to blame the Romans less is because they don’t want to antagonize the government further than they already did. When you’re practicing an illegal ‘superstition’ that could get you discriminated or worse, arrested, the last thing you’d probably want to do is to portray a Roman official complicit in the death of your movement’s Founder. This tactic also has some basis in Jewish apologetics: in the 1st century, Philo appealed to Caligula and reminded him of the many privileges that previous emperors had granted to Jews, in response to measures the emperor was about to enforce that were offensive to Jewish sensibilities. It is not just that Christians needed an ally in the form of a Roman official, but it was also significant for them to not have an enemy in the form of a Roman official. This is part of the reason why Christians were kinder to Pilate than they were with, say, Caiaphas: some Christians started fantasizing about Pilate as a sympathetic figure, at best even a secret Christian who gets to be martyred for his faith. If Pilate had any faults at best it’d be the lack of a backbone.

The positive portrayal of Pilate begins to be less popular by the 4th century, coincidentally with the arrival of Constantine and the recognition of Christianity as a legal religion. Constantine and his successors were living, breathing emperors whose stature overshadowed that of a long-dead governor. In other words, Christians no longer needed Pilate to get recognition from Rome. Basically the positive portrayal of Pilate remained strong in the East, while in the West, the negative portrait of Pilate began to dominate.

Do you think that Pilate was regularly paid off by the Temple High Priesthood not to interfere with Temple operations?

They made a lot of money.

Or did Pilate demand a “piece of the action” to provide extra protection for the festivals?

“Calling it your job, don’t make it right, boss.”

  Luke, from Cool Hand Luke

:D… This line came into my head at your comment. But I do understand the level of culpability Pilate was faced with. Even Jesus recognized that. But still, washing his hands of the direct intent to crucify Jesus is a far cry from Baptism. We have no indication Pilate sought reconciliation from Jesus. Becoming friends with Herod seems to show otherwise. But as always, we need to remember Jesus is judge of hearts.


Josephus tends to suggest that the only overt anti-Christian activity came from the High Priesthood, or encouraged by the High Priesthood. Which is consistent with the Gospels to a degree.

What comes to mind is when the Sanhedrin was illegally convened by Ananus, the son of Ananus, after the death of Procurator Festus. In A.D. 62.

James the Just and other top Christians were accused, tried and executed quickly.

But there was such an outcry (presumably from the common Jews) that Agrippa II had to remove Ananus from the position.

And if the outcry came from other Roman officials, that goes to the point that they were protective, if anything, towards the Christians.

Pilate was a bad guy, and was being disingenuous when he was claiming before the crowds that Jesus was innocent. The reason he seemed to be defending him was because he was trying to avoid an uprising. Many, many loved and respected Jesus, and saw him as the Messiah. So when he put Jesus to death, no one could later say to him that he hastily tried Him. Now Pilate could point to the crowds and say, “I tried to reason with the crowd, but they are the ones who yelled ‘Crucify Him!’ My hands are clean of this affair.”

The historian Josephus does not paint him in a very positive light.

How do you know that Pilate was paid off?

We can read into what is written about Pilate or we can read what is written about Pilate.

Seems to me that the uprising that Pilate was worried about was the one if he did let Jesus go.

According to what is written, it seems that the mob mentality was pretty much at a boiling point.

Remember that Pilate had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews” and that the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that he said, ‘I am the King of the Jews" to which Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

Any thoughts concerning Who might have been speaking thru Pilate?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.