Luke 23:13-25 - Jesus before Pilate (Second time)
Updated: Apr 11, 2022
Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, and said to them, "You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. I will therefore have him flogged and release him."
Then they all shouted out together, "Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!" (This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting, "Crucify, crucify him!" A third time he said to them, "Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him." But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished.
Just as one should assume that Pilate sent a message to Herod Antipas about the appearance of Jesus and the Sanhedrin, to prepare him for that audience and to have Herod make arrangements in his schedule, the same should be seen in Jesus being returned to Herod. Herod would have told Pilate that he had anointed Jesus as the King over the Sanhedrin, which would then make Jesus a potential threat to Rome. Even though Jesus said nothing to Herod, the rant made by the scribes was enough to determine the only Jews upset about Jesus were in Jerusalem, not Galilee. With Jesus then made King of the Temple his father (Herod the Great) had beautified in Judea, Herod would have written a note to Pilate telling him he had his approval to settle a Jerusalem dispute, as he saw fit. This would be the “association” that would bond Herod Antipas and Pilate in Christian history, as they both would become murderers of souls sent by Yahweh in human flesh, as sacrificial lambs – two for the two Seder meals.
In verse thirteen, which begins with the capitalized “Pilate,” that again shows a transition of divine importance, relative to the name that means “Freedman.” In this verse Pilate calls together all who accused Jesus and repeated that he had listened to their charges, questioned Jesus, and judged that there was nothing Pilate could find as a crime against Rome. The whole of this verse literally says, “Pilate now , having called together those chief priests kai those leaders kai this people ,” This says Jesus arrived back at Fort Antonia, having been equally moved secretly by armed guards, along with a message from Herod Antipas, saying Jesus being a Galilean was not to be his responsibility, as his crimes were only in Jerusalem. Therefore, Pilate – wanting to release Jesus – was led to call those who had accused Jesus of a crime against Rome before him. They would have expected this meeting; but because the Passover had the leaders of the Temple performing daily duties for the Jews pilgrimaging to Jerusalem, the meeting would have been set for Tuesday morning, with Jesus returned to the palace of Caiaphas until then.
Verse fourteen is then what Pilate told the accusers of Jesus, when he called the meeting to tell them Herod had declined to act upon the charges against Jesus, saying it was a Jerusalem matter. In the whole of this verse is found literally written (translated into English): “he said towards themselves , Yourselves offered to myself this man here , as it were turning back this people ; kai behold! , I in sight of yourselves having questioned , nothing I found within this man here cause which yourselves make accusation against of himself .” In this verse is one capitalized word, which is “Prosēnenkate,” which is the second-person plural being divinely elevated as “Your souls” (“Yourselves” or “You” collectively). The root verb normally would say, “you brought,” but the same word becomes divinely elevated as “Your soul ls offered,” which becomes a perfect word choice for Jesus being the sacrificial lamb. In this word, Luke wrote that Pilate said the leaders of the Jewish Temple made an “Offering” of Jesus as a blemish-free innocent. Thus, the use of “kai” before the one-word statement that says, “behold!” shows the importance of Jesus having been found spotless of “cause” (“aition,” also meaning “responsibility”). This verse then says the “Offering brought” before the priest who would slaughter the lamb met the criteria set by Yahweh, through Moses.
In verse fifteen, Pilate informs the accusers that not only did he find no fault in Jesus, but neither did Herod. In that, the whole of this verse can be found literally saying, “nevertheless , neither Herod ; he sent back indeed himself advantageous for ourselves . kai behold! , nothing worthy of death it exists done to himself .” Here, the capitalization of “Herod” becomes divinely elevated to be an inspector of lambs offered for sacrifice. In the words that translate as saying, “he sent back indeed himself advantageous for ourselves,” the replacement of “selves” with “souls” says Pilate said Herod did every soul a favor by “sending Jesus back” alive, so the fate of his soul being released does not reflect badly on all of “our souls.” That is then followed by the use of “kai,” again coming before the word saying, “behold!” All eyes should open and see the imperfection of this sacrificial lamb. It is here, when Luke quoted Pilate as saying, “nothing worthy of death,” where that “death” is seen as the intended outcome of this “Offering” before butchers. Nothing written by Luke prior, in the verses read from his twenty-second chapter, up till now, has said Jesus was brought before Pilate or Herod for a judgment of “death.” Now it is stated clearly.
In verse sixteen the NRSV translates, “I will therefore have him flogged and release him.” That is not written; and, with Pilate saying neither he nor Herod had found just cause for accusations to be accepted, to flog an innocent man would be an injustice. The truth of what Pilate said is then literally this: “having corrected (as an adult would educate a child who has done wrong) therefore himself , I will set free .” Here, it must be seen how Pilate saw the complaints of the Sanhedrin as a parent or baby sitter would hear the illogical crying of babies, because another baby played with their toy. An adult does not flog a child for doing what all children do. Thus, Pilate told the leaders of the Temple, “I have told Jesus not to play with your interpretations of religious Law anymore; so, I am sending you all back to the playroom together.”
Omitted from the NRSV translation is verse seventeen, which is surrounded by angle brackets, making it appear as a silent statement, like an aside that is optional reading. The whole of this verse is seen literally saying, “<Necessity now he possessed to set free to themselves according to periodically recurring one > .”
This statement in Luke is silently expressed, while both Matthew and Mark clearly state the same thing; but there is nothing in Roman records (of Jewish history in Roman occupied Israel) that says a prisoner was released during Passover every year. The festival (where the word “heortēn” can equally be generalized to mean a “periodically recurring” event) that yearly releases “one” ‘prisoner’ is Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), where the “prisoner’ is “one” scapegoat, upon which all the sins of the Jews are placed, sending it out into the wilderness to die. Because Josephus said nothing about a yearly release during the Passover festival, the silent statement here in Luke can be seen as a statement of the release of atonement now being importantly “Necessitated,” due to the anger expressed by the chief priests and scribes. Whereas the Jews would release a goat in late summer, to free the people of their sins, it seems that Pilate was threatened with insurrection in Jerusalem, if he did not appease their hatred of Jesus, forcing him to make up some Yom Kippur-like event, where that Passover a prisoner scheduled for death would be released, based on the vote of the people. This would be like the President of the U.S. of A. letting a turkey be granted its life before Thanksgiving. However, the Sanhedrin’s threat “Necessitated” this offering; and the angle brackets indicate there was a private negotiation that importantly brought about this “Necessity,” where Jesus had to be sentenced to death first, so he could then be offered up for freedom and released.
Because both Matthew and Mark use the word “heortēn,” rather than “Passover,” there is nothing written that connects this offering of release as relative to the Passover festival. It simply was a Jewish “recurring” release, with sheep and goats being as similar as are law-abiding humans and criminals. This says the Sanhedrin classified Jesus as a goat, not a blemish-free lamb. There might have been some gentleman’s agreement, between the Sanhedrin and Pilate, which gave them one free release per year (whenever they chose to use that negotiating ploy), in return for the Sanhedrin granting Pilate a similar allowance to punish necessarily. This use of the ‘free release card’ at this time says the Sanhedrin was well aware that a popular criminal was sentenced to die (Barabbas); and, they wanted Pilate to offer the people either Barabbas’ freedom or Jesus’ … even though Pilate had already deemed Jesus for release of all charges, without due cause for arrest.
Verse eighteen must then be seen as having some time lapse, to perhaps high noon. To know that Jesus would be crucified along with two common criminals, one should assume that the cross prepared for Barabbas would be the one picked up by Jesus. That says three had already been condemned to die, with all three in holding cells waiting for their executions. To make the ‘free release’ offer seem fair and just, it is more likely that all three were brought out in bondage, and lined up alongside Jesus, before a crowd to vote for which would be released. In the whole of this verse, one can see it literally saying, “They cried out now all together , saying , You remove here , set free now to ourselves this Barabbas ,” Here is the protest by the Sanhedrin, along with all their followers (the wealthy who profited from selling the Law to ignorant Jews). Jesus had the potential for ruining their business, should he go free. Thus, the capitalization of “Anekragon” is a divinely elevated cry from their souls that could not be contained, as “They” (the third-person) spoke in unison the truth of their hatred in “their Cries.” What they said then begins with the capitalized second-person “You,” pointing to Pilate, where the word meaning “raise, take up, lift,” implying “take away, remove,” is a “Cry” that Pilate must “remove” this threat to their livelihoods. “You” is those false prophets “saying” “They” could not be known to be the killers of Jesus. It had to be Pilate who killed him. In exchange for killing Jesus, they would “remove Barabbas” from Pilate’s list of Jews killed. This was not the general public making a vocal vote for Barabbas to be freed; but a demand made to Pilate … or else.
Verse nineteen then gives information about the man named at the end of verse eighteen. The name “Barabbas” means “Son of the Father” or “Son of the Teacher,” where Jesus was claimed to have said he was the “Son of God.” Because “Father” and “God” become synonymous, they were releasing a man of similar title. Verse nineteen then literally can be seen as saying this about Barabbas: “whoever he existed on account of rebellion certain having been born within this city , kai murder , having been thrown within this guardhouse .” This says the man named “Son of the Father” had been charged with “insurrection,” most likely against the Roman rule within Jerusalem, leading him to “murder” a Roman soldier (there would be no need to be called a “rebel” for killing a Jew), which would be why he was being held at Fort Antonia for execution. This explanation says the Sanhedrin wanted the sins of Barabbas placed upon the back of Jesus; so, Jesus would be marched to death for his sin of “murder.”
Because Barabbas was one of a collection of Jews who sought “insurrection” and “rebellion” against the Roman occupation of Jerusalem (not allowing it to be a free city, untaxed by Rome), the Sanhedrin’s bargaining chip was using the freedom of Barabbas as them using that to avert an uprising. However, if Barabbas was executed (while Jesus was allowed to go free), then the Sanhedrin would assist further acts of insurrection and rebellion, meaning more Roman soldiers would be murdered, with no way to catch all who would act like Barabbas. The choice presented to Pilate was kill Jesus and save Roman soldiers’ lives … or not. Let Jesus go free and lose Roman soldiers’ lives.
With this ultimatum presented to Pilate, verse twenty then has Pilate shown as unwilling to be blackmailed by wealthy Jews of Jerusalem, who acted like royalty, when they were obviously truly weak of soul and strength. The whole of this verse can be seen beginning with the capitalized word “Palin,” which is a divinely elevated “Return” to that twice been deemed of Jesus. This verse then literally says, “Again now this Pilate he harangued to themselves , designing to set free this Jesus .” In this translation, where the NRSV translates the word “prosephōnēsen” simply as “addressed,” when it bears the implication of “he gave a speech to,” of “he harangued,” this says Pilate was strongly telling the Sanhedrin that he might not believe in their god, but ‘by god’ there were gods; and, to murder like Barabbas and have Jesus exchanged to free a murderer was self-condemnation at the highest extent of all divine beings’ judgment. Pilate was using common sense to religious priests, telling them to wake up and see their own judgments coming, should they not change their minds.
Verse twenty-one has been seen as if this exchange was between a frustrated Pilate and a large crowd of wandering Jewish pilgrims in the Gentile court, between the Temple and Fort Antonia. There was no history of any public offering to free murderers, based on some vocal vote from a mob. This conversation was not parading Jesus publicly before those who might revolt if Pilate announced he was going to unjustly sentence Jesus to death. Thus, this verse says what the Sanhedrin voiced to Pilate, after he made it clear to them they were doing a great wrong. To a Roman governor, who did not care is Jews lived or died, because he was not Jewish, nor raised to believe in the Jewish god, all he knew was the truth that the Jews he had to deal with were all lowlife gutter rats; and, the only reason Roman swords were not hacking them to pieces was they had a good way for making money, money that Rome loved taking from their living hands. Still, Pilate had a soul and knew right from wrong.
The whole of this verse can be seen literally translating to say, “these now they were crying out , saying , Affix to a stake , crucify himself .” In this, it should be realized that the Jewish way of ‘legally’ killing a lawbreaker was by stoning. It would be a shock to think visiting pilgrims from all over the known world would be screaming out to have any Jew hung from a Roman cross and left to die a slow, agonizing death. When John the Baptist was executed, beheading was seen as a swift and dignified (if execution can be called that) death, with stoning more slow. Still, the Romans used crucifixion as a symbol that their empire would not put up with revolutionaries; and, they would make sure everyone saw just how heinous that form of execution was. So, to hear “cries , saying, Crucify, crucify him” would have to be by a select group of Jews, in the privacy of an audience with the Roman governor. The capitalization of the first use of “Staurou” must be seen as the souls of the Sanhedrin being led to be the first to promote a “Cross” as a symbol that would be forever connected to Jesus, even when “Staurou” was what all good vineyard owners did to their grapevines, keeping them high off the ground, so the good fruit could be born.
When verse twenty-two is seen as Pilate pleading for sanity, he certainly would not be doing that before a general public gathering. To make a Roman Prefect appear to be weak and begging Jews to see things his way, good luck collecting taxes for someone who did not have the backbone to enforce his will and the will of Rome … in a heartbeat. The whole of this verse is then found literally saying, “This now third time he said advantageous for themselves , What indeed evil has done here ? nothing responsible for of death I found within himself . having corrected therefore himself , I will set free .” This is Pilate saying for the third time (once before sending Jesus to Herod and twice now since Herod sent Jesus back) that Jesus had broken no Roman law that justified a death sentence. Pilate again said Jesus was to be set free; again, with the “correction” (from “paideusas”) being a verbal warning, not any use of a whip on an innocent man.
In verse twenty-three we see that decree by Pilate was met loudly, with further clamor. The capitalization of “Hoi” says “These” – the Sanhedrin and followers – raised their voice in anger against Pilate. The whole of this verse then shows literally saying, “These now they were insistent , so sounds great , demanding himself to be affixed to a stake . kai were overpowering those noises of themselves . <kai of those chief priests> .”
This says that “These” leaders of the Temple and Judaism most probably carried with them staffs, which they began beating on the floor, while shouting angrily that Pilate was not listening to them. They hated Jesus because he made them look evil in the eyes of the common Jews, who paid dearly for the Lawyering they sold to them (a captive audience). They demanded that Pilate hear their threat and kill Jesus as they willed. In the last segment of words, they are surrounded by angle brackets, speaking silently that the one making the loudest noise to Pilate were importantly “the chief priests” of the Temple. Everyone wanted to see Jesus suffering on a Roman crucifix, as stoning him to death was too quick. They wanted to walk by his suffering body day after day, while shouting insults at his dying body, knowing there would be no way for him to get down and tell them how wrong they were … like he did every time they opened their mouths around him before. Because the chief priests were the ones who made sure Rome got its tax money on time, Pilate gave in to their demands. Pilate could not care less what Pharisees or scribes thought or wanted.
In verse twenty-four we find Pilate relenting to the pressures of the chief priests. Again, due to the other Gospels telling a story that makes it more appear to be a public forum (which can still be read like this story in Luke unfolds), the silent statement about “the chief priests” says they could use hidden signals and amplify dissent among those aligned with them, who in turn could stimulate many others to do as they say, without knowing anything about what they were supporting. It was this hidden power held by the chief priests to manipulate thousands that told Pilate to give in to their wish, for the betterment of Rome. Thus, the whole of this verse says literally: “kai Pilate he gave sentence to come about this request of themselves .” This is an important statement that says the “Freedman” of Roman assignment to Jerusalem and Judea “gave in to the demands” of criminals wearing fine robes and carrying large staffs. This importantly says Pilate took on the guilt of their request, in the same way that Herod Antipas gave in to the demands of his step-daughter, whose silent signal to her came from Herod’s wife, who hated John the Baptist. This now becomes the smile on Herod’s face, knowing Pilate would know the same inner guilt he knew, for the rest of their lives.
Verse twenty-five then sums up the end of this meeting by literally stating, “he set free now this on account of insurrection kai murderer having been thrown into prison , whom they had requested ; this now Jesus he handed over to this desire of themselves .” Here it is stated that Pilate set free Barabbas – importantly shown as a murderer convicted and sentenced to death justly – because of a “request” (from “ētounto,” which mildly says “they had demanded”). Because the Jews of Jerusalem “desired” Jesus to be “crucified,” Pilate gave the cross constructed for Barabbas to Jesus.