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Bible Dictionaries

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary

Pilate or Pontius Pilate

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Was the fifth or sixth Roman procurator in the province of Judea, after the banishment of Archelaus. He was appointed A. D. 26, and continues in the province ten year, usually residing at Caesarea. Pilate became odious both to the Jews and to the Samaritans for the severity and cruelty of his administration, Luke 13:1; and being accused by the latter before Vitellius, the governor of Syria, he was removed from his office and sent to Rome to answer to their accusations before the emperor. Before his arrival, Tiberius was dead; and Pilate is said to have been banished by Caligula to Vienna in Gaul, and there to have died by his own hand.

The character of Pilate is graphically described in the gospels. When Jesus had been condemned by the high priest and the Sanhedrin, he was brought before Pilate the governor, without whose consent he could not be executed. Pilate saw in Jesus an innocent victim of Jewish malice, and desired to save him. Though dull and ignorant as to religious truth, he had some dim sense of the superiority of Christ's character, and feared to wrong him. All that he saw of Christ deepened this feeling; and he tried every method to soften the obduracy of the Jews. But he had not the firmness of character, the deep-rooted principle of justice, and the consciousness of rectitude necessary to carry him through; and after repeated efforts, Luke 23:7,14-20; John 18:31,38; 19:4-6,9-12,15 , he at length gave way, and sacrificed a righteous man, rather than to provoke complaints against his administration and an investigation by the emperor. His washing of his hands, and his inscription upon the cross, only condemned himself. He would probably send a detailed report of his procedures to Tiberius; and the early fathers mention such an account as circulating in their day. The "Acts of Pilate," however, now in existence, is a subsequent fabrication. The Roman historian Tacitus, speaking of Christians, says, "The author of this name was Christ, who was capitally punished in the reign of Tiberius, by Pontius Pilate."

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of the topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859.

Bibliography Information
Rand, W. W. Entry for 'Pilate or Pontius Pilate'. American Tract Society Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/ats/p/pilate-or-pontius-pilate.html. 1859.

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