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Matthew 27:11-14 & John 18:28-19:6 by Robert Dean

What do you think about Jesus Christ? C.S. Lewis said there are only three choices. Either He’s the Lord, or He’s a lunatic, or He’s a liar. Listen to this lesson to learn about how the religious leaders of His day plotted to come up with a crime to convince a Roman prefect, Pontius Pilate, that Jesus had committed treason. See how Pilate tried to get out of making a judgment call by sending Jesus to Herod Antipas. Just as the people in those days had to choose where they stood in the case of Jesus Christ, each of us must make a decision now.

Also includes Mark 15:1-5 and Luke 23:1-12.

Series:Matthew (2013)
Duration:1 hr 8 mins 2 secs

The Roman Trials: #4 and 5
Matthew 27:11-14; Mark 15:1–5; Luke 23:1-12; John 18:28–38
Matthew Lesson #181
December 17, 2017

Opening Prayer

“Our Father, we’re thankful for this time that we can study Your Word, that we can come to understand what transpired at the time of our Lord’s arrest, we can come to understand the issues behind that arrest, the charges brought against Him, and the way in which this displays so often the reaction of fallen man to Your grace.

“Father, we pray that, as we study, we may not only have a greater understanding of what transpired in the events leading up to the Cross, we can understand how You have given us confirmatory evidence of the truth of these things.

“Father, that our faith may be strengthened and that we may be motivated by God the Holy Spirit and Your Word to pursue spiritual growth and spiritual maturity.

“We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”

Slide 2

Open your Bibles with me this morning to Matthew 27. If you wish, you can take a marker or piece of paper and stick it over in John 18 because we will be moving back and forth primarily between those two passages. We will look at what Mark and Luke say about these events as well, but primarily we’re going to be looking at these verses.

Slide 3

This is the Roman trials, numbers four and five that we are looking at today. As we have been studying through these trials of Jesus, I’ve pointed out that there are two broad events that take place that are sometimes classified as just basically two broad trials.

Others say no, there are six trials, but in either case, it’s depending on how your understanding is of the jurisprudence at that particular time, we have six different events, six different hearings before different authorities. The first three are religious trials and the second three are civil or criminal trials.

The first three occur before the power behind the high priest, Annas, who had been high priest who was deposed. The current high priest was his son-in-law, Caiaphas. Then he goes from Annas, described in John 18:12–14, to Caiaphas, described in Matthew 26:57–68. Then they will pull together a trial to cover their illegalities, and that’s described in Matthew 27:1–2.

Slide 4

We have covered those, and now we’re starting the civil or criminal trial. This is done under the authority of the Roman prefect who is Pontius Pilate. There are, again, three stages of three trials: First before Pilate, second before Herod Antipas, and then third coming back to Pilate and the final verdict and condemnation of Jesus.

That’s the basic set-up that is going on here. We’ve looked at the first set of trials, the religious trials, and seen that Jesus was handed over to the religious leaders who violated at least 22 different laws that they had established to protect the innocent.

These laws are not codified for another couple of hundred years in the Mishnah, but the organization of the Mishnah occurs by Judah the Prince, known as Judah ha-Nasi. When he codifies it, he’s not making these things up.

Often you will hear people get into a debate over this, and when the accusation is made that these trials were illegal, they’ll say, “Well, that’s based on something that’s written down 200 years later.”

But what is codified by Judah the Prince had been part of their oral tradition for over 300 years, long before the time of Christ, and so these principles, for the most part, were already in effect. All of these laws were designed to protect the innocent.

The concept that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty is embedded within the Mosaic Law, and that is where we get that idea in American law. This is why we honor the Ten Commandments.

There have been a number of challenges to the presence of either sculptures or paintings reflecting the Ten Commandments in various courtrooms. It’s rather hypocritical because if you go to the Supreme Court building in Washington D.C., you will see that there are statues, that there are paintings, and that there is a sculpture on the façades of the Supreme Court building itself that reflect the giving of the Law to Moses.

This is not a theological statement. It is a historical statement that the Mosaic Law, as it entered into Western civilization via Judaism and Christianity—that Judeo-Christian heritage—forms the foundation of our understanding of law and this principle of innocence until being proven guilty.

A number of laws were violated. There’s a handout a couple of lessons back that’s compiled from what Dr. Fruchtenbaum has written: 22 different laws that were violated. One of these is that there were to be no trials before the morning sacrifice, and they’ve already had two. That’s why the third trial is to give legitimacy to what they had done illegally during the night.

Another law that was violated was that there were to be no secret trials, only public trials, and yet the first two trials or hearings were done in private under the cover of darkness, which was also a violation of the law.

A third law that was violated was that during the trial, the defense was to have the first word before the prosecutor. So, Jesus was to have the first word.

We see that they began accusing Him and trying to find witnesses that will agree with one another in their accusation of Jesus. That was another law that was violated.

There were to be, according to the Mosaic Law, two or three witnesses, and their testimonies had to agree in every detail. They kept trying to find and bribe witnesses, and they just couldn’t agree in every detail. Finally, a couple of them got close. Caiaphas stood up, tore his robe, which was also violation of the law, in order to feign his absolutely self-righteous arrogance and contempt for Jesus, then expressed that He had committed blasphemy, which He had not.

Another rule that was broken was that a person could not be condemned solely on the basis of their own words, which was what transpired in that second trial.

The last one I’m reviewing is that a capital sentence could only be pronounced three days after the guilty verdict. Of course, when they came together for the third trial, they came to the conclusion that Jesus was guilty and worthy of death, and then they immediately took Jesus to Pilate in order to get Him condemned to death. So, all of this is a violation of the law.

Slide 5

After they attempted to give a veneer of legality to their decision, they took Jesus to Pilate. This is the plot that is mentioned in Matthew 27:1–2, as well as in Mark 15:1, Luke 23:1, and John 18:28.

Slide 6

These are the passages that I read during Scripture reading, as I brought these together; we will break it down in a minute. Mark always starts with this word “immediately.” Mark is younger; he’s in a hurry all the time. That’s one of the characteristics of his writing, is he says, “And immediately this happened, and immediately that happened.”

When you read through the Gospel of Mark, if you circle every “immediately,” by the time you get through Mark, you’re kind of huffing and puffing; you’re out of breath because you’ve been running all the way through 14 chapters.

He says, “Immediately, early in the morning …”—this is right at sunrise, so they could legitimize this decision—“… the chief priests held a consultation with the elders, and scribes, and the whole counsel.”

Not all the Gospels indicate everybody that was there. That comes from Mark’s account, and tells us of all of the religious leaders that were involved in this conspiracy to find Jesus guilty and to crucify Him.

He says, “They bound Jesus, and the whole multitude of them led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and delivered Him to Pilate. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover.”

We’re told in Matthew 27:1, the basics of this that covers that last decision and their decision to take him to Pilate.

Now a couple of observations, as we look at the comparison of these accounts. After Pilate first stated that he found no fault in Jesus, only Luke’s account tells us about a trial where Jesus is taken to Herod Antipas. That tells us that the other two accounts sort of conflate what happened, and you see an interview with Pilate that took place with Jesus.

Then it immediately goes into the story related to the release of Barabbas; that is the Aramaic word. The Hebrew is Ben “something.” For example, Jacob’s last son is named Benjamin, Son of my right hand. The Ben means “son.” So, when you have that word in Hebrew, Bensomething” it always indicates “Son of.”

The Aramaic form of that is “Bar,” so when you have Bar Abbas, then his name is “Son of Abbas.” That’s how we pronounce it. When you talk about Mahmoud Abbas, who is the leader of the Palestinians, that’s the same name: Abbas.

His name was Bar Abbas, Son of Abbas, and according to various ancient manuscripts that have a textual variant in here, his first name was Yeshua. We will look at that next time, which Jesus are you following? That will make a good Christmas message.

That actually comes, when we compare the text, just before Jesus’ condemnation. The trial of Herod comes between John 18:38–39; verse 39 is where John introduces the Bar Abbas incident.

As we look at these trials, a couple of things that we should keep in mind just in terms of their application or implication for us. First of all, these two broad trials, the religious trial and the civil trial, represent the reaction of most human beings to Jesus.

The religious trials represent the reaction of religion to the truth, as they are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness based on Romans 1:18–21.

In the second set of trials, the civil or criminal trials, we have Pilate asking Jesus that somewhat cynical question, “What is truth?” The civil trials represent what is often the secular reaction or response to the claims of Jesus.

Second thing to observe is that in the religious trial, we see what happens when a person has rejected the truth. Once they are convicted, then they react emotionally, and this is what has happened with the religious leaders. Trust me, they are under conviction of the truth.

They knew what they were doing. They knew that what they were doing was illegal. That’s why they convened that third trial after sun-up, so that they could give it a veneer of legality. And yet they were reacting in anger to the truth.

This is often what happens in a culture that has rejected the truth. We can give lots of examples of that from our own culture, as we see more and more atheists and secularists who, under the cover of a continued decrease in Christianity in our culture, they now feel comfortable coming out and making various hostile statements about Christians.

This is what goes along with negative volition and a rejection of the gospel. When people have their façade of righteousness exposed, they react in hatred. They react in anger, they react in bitterness because they know that God exists.

That’s Romans 1: God made the truth—His existence—evident to them because it was evident within them. Every human being knows God exists. Every human being knows the truth. But there are those who in negative volition, which comprises most of humanity, are suppressing that truth in unrighteousness. We see a picture of what happens here in that hostile emotional reaction to the gospel.

The question for each of us as human beings as we look at these trials, is what is your verdict on Jesus Christ? Was He an evildoer? That was the accusation that the Sanhedrin, the chief priests, brought before Pilate. Not the accusation of blasphemy, which is what they decided in their trial, but they knew that that charge wouldn’t carry any weight with the secular criminal judicial system of Rome, so they changed the charge, and the charge was that He was an evildoer.

Was He an evildoer? Was He a misguided religious teacher? Was He innocent of all of the charges that were brought against Him, or was He who He claimed to be? Was He the Messiah? Was He the Son of Man, the perfect God-Man who came into the world to die on the Cross for our sins?

This is the classic argument that was organized by C.S. Lewis called “Lord, Liar, or Lunatic,” which has been used by many people. It’s an excellent systemization of the argument: that is, Jesus doesn’t leave us room to conclude that He was a good man. He’s either a liar—and therefore an evildoer—because He’s telling people that He is the only way to God.

When He said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” in John 14:6, He is saying, “I Am the Truth.” He is claiming to be the personification of absolute truth as the incarnation of God. He’s either telling the truth or He’s misleading millions, if not billions, of people into trusting in a lie for their eternal salvation.

He’s either a liar or He’s a lunatic, but He can’t be just simply a good man. We’re left with saying then, therefore, He must be exactly who He claimed to be—the promised, prophesied Messiah—Who died on the Cross for our sins.

This reminds us of a passage we’re studying in 1 Peter on Thursday night. 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.”

Slide 7

We will start in Matthew where we see the plot—the consultation, the conspiracy—that is explained in Matthew 27:1–2, “When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death, and when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor.”

Slide 8

What I want to do on this next slide, is add to it the verses from Mark and from Luke. The Luke verse down at the bottom is very short. He doesn’t say nearly as much as either Matthew or Mark.

Mark 15:1 says, “Immediately, in the morning, the chief priests held a consultation ...”

If you’re looking at your English version, it reads one way in Mark, it reads another way in Matthew. You would think that you’ve got two different words there.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with Tommy Ice, a longtime friend, and we were talking about something that had happened with regard to when he teaches. He goes and speaks in all kinds of different churches, and he says, “… but nobody ever asks me the questions they ask at your church. At your church they will always ask, ‘What does the Greek say, what does the Hebrew say?’ ”

When you look at this, and as I looked at it in the English, I went, “Wait a minute, what’s the difference there between plotting and having a consultation?” Actually, there is no difference. It’s exactly the same phraseology in both Matthew and Mark, and it refers to having a group of people coming together to make a decision. They are making a formal counsel.

Now why are they plotting? They are plotting because it is obvious that they want a death penalty, but their charge of blasphemy won’t hold any water for a Roman prefect. They cannot convince him that this is a crime worthy of death, so they have to come up with a charge that will hold water before Pilate.

Slide 9

This consultation involves the whole council, the whole Sanhedrin, including elders, and scribes, chief priests, all of them. According to Matthew and Mark, the chief priests seem to be the chief organizers of this. We’re told that there are the chief priests and elders by Matthew. But Mark tells us it involves the elders, scribes, and the whole council. So, they’re all involved.

Now Luke just makes it simple. He just says, “the whole multitude,” the whole crowd. All of them that were involved in these three trials of Jesus are all plotting, and they are going to take Jesus to Pilate.

Slide 10

Remember what their charge was? Earlier in Matthew 26:6–66, in the second trial before Caiaphas, Caiaphas became impatient. He heard what Jesus said, addressed Jesus directly and said, “Tell us if you are the Christ …”—that is the Messiah—“... the Son of God.” Jesus affirmed that, He said, “It is as you said.” “You’re right; that is exactly what I am saying.”

Jesus makes it clear that He is claiming to be the Messiah, the Son of God, the Son of man, and that is what they condemned Him for. This is when Caiaphas tears his robe in Matthew 26:65 and screams out, “He’s spoken blasphemy!” He turns to the Sanhedrin and says, “Now you have heard His blasphemy!” You are witnesses of His blasphemy.

It’s not blasphemy because blasphemy was taking the name of God in an empty manner, using the name of God in a wrong way. He never utters the name of God. It’s a manufactured charge, and yet they are going to make it that He is deserving of death. So, they bind Him and they take Him to Pilate, and this is where there will be the accusation.

Now yesterday, Tommy told me a story about a group of elementary kids that were given an art assignment to draw the Christmas story, and so various pictures came in of the manger, the Nativity, and one kid had drawn a picture of an airplane with four figures on the airplane.

The teacher called him up and said, “Why do you have an airplane and who are these people?”

The little boy said, “Well, this is a picture Jesus’ flight to Egypt.

She said, “Well, who are who are the people on the plane?”

He said, “Well it’s Joseph and Mary and Jesus.”

She said, “Well, who’s the fourth one?”

He said, “That’s Pontius the pilot.”

So, they’re taking Jesus to Pontius Pilate. We don’t know his first name. That was his family name and his praenomen and his cognomen, but we don’t know his actual name. There’s a lot that we don’t know about Pilate. There are various legends about him. There were various Aryan legends that developed.

It’s really interesting to trace all of the different ways in which Pilate has been viewed down through the centuries. Some view him as evil. Others view him as being quite innocent of Jesus’ blood, and so we get these different views in history.

In the first century, the early church understood that he is as culpable for the death of Jesus, and the Romans are as culpable for the crucifixion of Jesus, as the Jewish religious leaders.

But by the middle of the second century, the image of Pilate got overhauled, and a little historical and theological revisionism comes into play. Tertullian, who gave us the nomenclature for the Trinity, the word “Trinitas,” thinks that Pilate was completely innocent. He was the good guy in the whole scenario. The last thing he wanted to do was crucify Jesus, so he was really the good guy. So, for a number of centuries Pilate was viewed very positively.

What does that tell us? Something else was going on. The mid-second century started the rise of Christian anti-Semitism. They were beginning to blame the Jews for the death of Jesus, that all Jews are culpable for the death of Jesus.

For example, we will see this with Barabbas coming up, that they make this statement that “His blood be on us and our children.” That’s taken out of context and is used to justify Christian anti-Semitism, which is totally wrong. With the rise of blaming the Jews, you’re going to take any culpability away from Pontius Pilate.  

Slides 11, 12

John 18:29, Pilate comes out; he is the prefect. We will look at what that means in just a minute. He goes out to the religious leaders, and he asked the question, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?”

The other Gospel accounts have summarized what happens. John gives us a fuller account and shows the legality of what’s transpiring in this trial. It is necessary to bring someone into court to first articulate their accusation. So as John records it, the first thing that happens is that Pilate comes out of the Praetorium.

According to John earlier, the Jewish leaders did not enter into the Praetorium, and there’s a lot of discussion about the Praetorium. The Praetorium was the seat of the governor, wherever the governor was. The Praetorium actually was in Caesarea by the Sea. This is where the Roman prefect lived and where he had his official residence, where he conducted business. But during these feast days, he would come to Jerusalem.

For many years the tradition was that the Praetorium was in the location of the Fortress Antonio, named for Mark Antony, which is on the northwest corner of the Temple compound. It was elevated so that the Roman soldiers could watch what was going on in the Temple compound.

Recent archaeological discoveries have given much greater support to the view that this was not where Pilate would have stayed. He would’ve stayed in a place where he would’ve had much greater creature comforts. He would’ve stayed on the western side of the Old City of Jerusalem, near what is today the Citadel of David and the Jaffa Gate. This was where he stayed; it was part of Herod’s palace that was located there, and it would have been much more grand surroundings.

That makes a lot of sense because this was the same area where Caiaphas and Annas lived—so that they’re not taking Jesus from one side of the city to the other side of the city and then back again—traipsing back and forth on the route that is known as the Via Dolorosa or “The Way of Tears”. Many pilgrims in Jerusalem follow that route, but historically that has little or no support.

Jesus is taken to the Praetorium where Pilate would’ve had his temporary residence, and the chief priests and religious leaders aren’t going to go in. It is prohibited, according to their tradition, for a Jew to go into the home of a Gentile for just about any reason, but this would render them ceremonially unclean. So, they never went into a Gentile’s home.

This is seen in Acts 10 and 11, when Peter goes to the home of Cornelius the Centurion. That’s why God had to lower the sheet with all the unclean animals and everything: He is telling Peter that the dietary laws are no longer in effect, it’s okay for him to go into the home of the Gentile.

This is the background. This is why the religious leaders wouldn’t go into the Praetorium. They were going to still be celebrating Passover that night, according to the Judean calendar of observance, and they did not want to become ceremonially defiled, so that they could still have their Passover that night.

Pilate is forced to come out and go back in, go out, come back in several times, tracing that movement between the Gospels is a little bit difficult.

They began to accuse Him in Luke 23:2, “We found this fellow perverting the nation …”—so they’re accusing Him of treason, not blasphemy—“… and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar ...”

They’re accusing Him of tax evasion, that He is disloyal to Caesar, and that He’s making Himself out to be a king. Their charge is that He is committing treason against Caesar, He’s going to instigate a rebellion which was a crime that was punishable by death.

Slide 13

In John 18:30 they are said to add to that, “If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.” That statement in itself is a fulfillment of prophecy that Jesus made showing that He is a true prophecy.

The word there that is translated “delivered up” is the Greek word PARADIDOMI, and it has a range of meanings. So sometimes you’ll see it translated “delivered,” sometimes “given over,” sometimes “betrayed.” It depends on the context how it’s going to be translated.

Slide 14

But Jesus had predicted this as far back is Matthew 16:21. He had indicated that He would go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes. There He just said He would be killed, but He added that He would be raised on the third day.

In Matthew 17:22 He said that He would “… be betrayed …” (PARADIDOMI)—handed over—“… into the hands of men.”

In Matthew 20:18–19 He told his disciples that “the Son of Man will be betrayed (PARADIDOMI), given over to the chief priests and to the scribes, and they will condemn Him to death …”—which is what happened in the third trial—and then “… deliver him to the Gentiles (PARADIDOMI again)—which is what’s happening here—“… to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify.”

We will see that that happens under both Herod Antipas in the fifth trial, and then with Pontius Pilate in the sixth trial.

Matthew 26:2, Jesus said the day after the Olivet Discourse, “ ‘You know that after two days is the Passover and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.’ ”—once again PARADIDOMI.

Slide 15

That same word was used of Judas Iscariot, and in Matthew 26:15–16, as he is betraying the Lord, working out his deal for 30 pieces of silver with the Sanhedrin, he says to them in Matthew 26:15, “ ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?’ ”—PARADIDOMI—“And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought an opportunity to betray Him.”—there’s PARADIDOMI again.

The statement in John is showing that He is fulfilling a prophecy that He has made.

We’re told of Pilate’s response as he goes back and he interrogates Jesus. We need to understand a little bit about this man Pontius Pilate. There’s not a whole lot of information. Secular sources give us some insights.

There’s Philo of Alexandria, who lived at about the same time, and he has some historical writings that confirm the existence of Pontius Pilate. The problem with that is that he was extremely hostile to Pilate, so we have to take that into consideration, but he gives us information.

Josephus does as well; and there are a few other things. Beyond that we don’t know a whole lot about Pontius Pilate. He was the prefect of Judea, which is a term that, translated into the Greek, comes across as “governor.” He was the proper authority to hear the charges against Jesus.

Initially, he dismissed the trial. After his initial interrogation of Jesus, he recognized that He had no fault, He had not done anything worthy of death. But he knew he was in a bind; he was under pressure to keep order in Judea.

If he angers the religious leaders, and there’s a religious riot, then word will get back to Rome, and there will be consequent problems. So, he decides to pass the buck, and send Jesus to Herod Antipas, who is not the ruler over Judea, but is the ruler over Galilee.

Slide 16

Here is a chart—trying to keep the Herods straight. Herod the Great, who was the King of Judea at the time of Jesus’ birth, lived from 37 BC, according to traditional chronology he didn’t die until 4 BC. But there’s a lot of evidence now to indicate that he didn’t die until 2 BC. That is, therefore, the date of Jesus rather than 4 BC, which I think has some really good support.

His kingdom was split up and his son, Herod Archelaus, was identified as the ethnarch, that’s a title for a rulership of a smaller area. He reigned over Judea from 4 BC to AD 6. The problem with him was his total incompetence; he was removed from office.

He was replaced by prefects, Roman governors who ruled over this area. So, from AD 6 until AD 41, which is a period of about 35 or 36 years, Herod Agrippa ruled; there were about seven different prefects.

From AD 44 to AD 70—the destruction of Jerusalem—you have seven more. That first group of seven, Pontius Pilate is in power the longest. Even though he’s presented as being very cruel, and in some ways incompetent, Pilate was politically savvy, he was a prefect longer than anybody else. This tells us a little bit of something about his character. We know that he existed also because we have in inscriptional evidence.

Slide 17

If you go to Israel with me, one of the first places we go is Caesarea by the Sea, which is where Paul was later imprisoned. That’s described in Acts under Felix and Festus, but this was the seat of Pontius Pilate’s Prefecture. They have discovered a stone: they have a mockup of it there at Caesarea by the Sea. The original is in the Israel Museum, and the inscriptions are just partially restored.

I’ve got a better picture that I’ll show you in just a minute, but the inscription reads “Pontius Pilate, the prefect of Judea,” and then they supplied a couple of words, “erected a building dedicated” and then it says “to,” and then they would insert the phrase “the Emperor Tiberius.” This gives us historical verification that Pontius Pilate existed.

Slide 18

This is a nice little graphic they provide in Logos that enables us to see more clearly what is written there, mentioning Caesar Tiberius. And you see the name Pontius Pilate; you see the title “Prefect” and the word for “dedication” here.

Slide 19

This is what it actually looks like. This is a picture from the Israel Museum, and you can read “Tiberius” here, you can read part of “Pilate” right here, Pontius, the “n,” the “u,” the “s,” and then the “P-i-l-a-t-e” there so that is documentation of the existence of Pontius Pilate.

In Rome, there were three different types of Roman provinces: There was the senatorial province, which was administered by the Roman Senate. There were imperial provinces, which were administered directly by the Roman Emperor or his representatives.

Then there were provinces that were formed from client kingdoms. This is a third class that is ruled by these prefects. And the prefects would’ve come from the class of Romans known as Equites, and they were like the Knights of the Empire. Judea was in this class and Pontius Pilate would’ve come out of that sort of upper-middle-class of Roman citizens, not the senatorial class of Roman citizens

He’s referred to in most translations as a governor, which is based on the Greek word HEGEMON, where we get our word “hegemony.” That’s a word that’s talking about a collection of states that are organized together. We might think about the former Soviet bloc as a hegemony. So, it’s a government. He was the longest reigning of the seven prefects in that first period.

Slide 20

We’re also going to be introduced to Herod Agrippa. It’s always difficult to keep all the Herods associated. You have Herod the Great and his three sons: Archelaus, Antipas, and Philip. Philip is the Tetrarch Northeast (in the far north) of Galilee. Archelaus was Ethnarch in Judea, but he was ousted in AD 6.

Antipas was the longest ruling. He’s the one who beheaded John the Baptist. He is the Herod that’s mentioned throughout all of the Gospels. He is not a ruler in Judea, but he would be there for the Feast Days, and he is the Tetrarch or the ruler over Galilee and Perea. Perea was the area over what we would call Jordan today. That helps you put those things into proper perspective and proper order.

One of the things we know about Pilate is he was not diplomatic at all. He didn’t understand much about the Jews. He had committed a number of—shall we say—diplomatic faux pas.

One the most serious of which was that when he first took power, he decided to do something to honor Tiberius. They made these images of Tiberius, which they affixed to the posts in the guidons of the Roman legions, and then he had his Roman legions march into Jerusalem with these images of Tiberius.

That, of course, violated the second commandment, which was a prohibition against making carved images. It upset all of the Jewish hierarchy. They sent an enormous contingent of leaders to Caesarea to talk to Pilate. After six days Pilate became impatient and sent his armed soldiers in amongst this crowd of Jews with the threat that if they would not go home, then they would be beheaded.

The Jews immediately responded en masse by pulling down their robes, bearing their necks, and leaning over and said, “Go ahead, behead us!” Pilate thought little bit better of this, that he wasn’t going to start an insurrection, and so he backed away, but that was just the first of several different incidences.

Luke 13:1–2 describes another incident where he ordered an attack on a group of Galileans on the Temple Mount and shed their blood and killed many of them, so he was not well loved as a prefect.

Eventually, he was removed from power because of an incident at the base of Mount Gerizim, where he ordered the deaths of a group of Samaritans who were following one of their prophets and were attempting to ascend Mount Gerizim to worship at their temple in violation of a Roman law. That’s when he was deposed.

Herod Antipas is eventually going to be dealt a blow by the justice of God. He will be removed in AD 39, and when he goes back to Rome, hoping that he will curry favor with the emperor, the emperor dies.

Gaius Caligula became emperor. He doesn’t care about anything but himself, so he removed Herod Antipas from power and exiled him to Lyons in Gaul, which is modern France. There Antipas and his wife died in abject poverty. They are the ones who had been complicit in the death of John the Baptist and Jesus, so God took care of them.

Slide 21

John 18:29, Pilate comes out and he says, “what accusation is this that you bring against this Man?” Their accusation was one of treason.

Slide 22

He tells them, John 18:31, “You take Him and judge Him according to your law.” Their reply is, “Well, we don’t have the authority to put him to death, so you must make that decision” is basically what they are saying.

Slide 23

John inserts his statement in John 18:32, that this was done “that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled of which He spoke,” —we’ve already reviewed those prophecies that Jesus made—“signifying what kind of death He would die.

Slide 24

At that point Pilate went back into the Praetorium. He went to Jesus and said, “Are you the king of the Jews?” And during this time there are continued accusations made by the chief priests and the elders. As long as they are making these accusations, Jesus didn’t react. He didn’t try to defend Himself.

When you have people who are brought up on a charge, especially a false charge, their typical response is to react and protest their innocence and try to bring out evidence. Jesus was just silent, which is a fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 53:7 that “… as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so Jesus opened not His mouth.”

Slide 25

Pilate then was trying to engage Jesus in terms of these charges, Matthew 27:13–14, “Do You answer nothing? Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” Again, Matthew tells us, “He did not answer a single word.”

I’m wrestling with how to put this together, because John tells us that there is a conversation with Pilate at this time. I thought about this late in my preparation today—this may have occurred before the other conversation.

This may be the first thing that Pilate did when he came in; they had this conversation, and then he went back out. They have their accusation, and then he comes in, and that is the point when Jesus is not answering anything.

Slide 26

But in this conversation, John 18:34–36, which probably came earlier, Jesus says to Pilate, “Are you speaking for yourself about this …”—that is, this claim that He’s the king—“… or did others tell you this concerning me?”

Pilate said, “‘Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You …’ ”—there’s that word PARADIDOMI again—“ ‘... to me. What have You done?’ ”

Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now my kingdom is not from here.’ ”

This is a favorite verse from those who are amillennial—those who do not believe in a literal Messianic earthly reign of Jesus on the earth. They misinterpret this passage because Jesus is just saying at this point, because the kingdom has been postponed, that He is not there to establish His kingdom at this point.

If He were, then His servants would fight. He is not saying it’s wrong to fight, because there will be fighting when Jesus returns at the Second Coming. He will slay the armies of the Antichrist, as well as destroying the false prophet and the Antichrist.

He is not saying that His kingdom is a spiritual kingdom. He’s not saying His kingdom is an invisible kingdom. He is saying that it is not part of the cosmos; that is Satan’s domain.

Slide 27

Pilate asked Him in John 18:37, “ ‘Are you a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king.’ ” He affirms that. “ ‘For this cause I was born and for this cause I’ve come into the world that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’ ”

Slide 28

John 18:37, Pilate says, “What is truth?” How can you make a claim to truth? He just dismisses this whole idea. That is the secular response to the Gospel. They’re suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, and he denies it.

What’s interesting about this particular verse is that it is a part of a very small fragment—you see the picture up there on the screen of what is called Papyrus or P52. It is kept in the John Ryland Library in Manchester, England. This is the oldest inscription that we have of the New Testament.

It is typically dated by conservatives at approximately AD 117, which is probably within 30 years of its writing. What’s interesting about this is that just this last week I was watching one of those shows on one of the history channels, and they’re talking about Jesus and the trials and everything, and they brought this up, and they said that this was dated AD 200.

That’s important for liberalism because liberal theology says that the Gospels weren’t written in the first century by eyewitnesses. They were written 100 to 250 years later, John being the last one, and it was written not in AD 85 or 90, but it was written in 160. They’ve got it postdated.

I was looking at this book I recommended after we came back from the Pre-Trib conference—a new book out on a biblical archaeology by Randy Price and Wayne House.

It’s laid out in the order of the books of the Bible, and P52 is very well known here, and they bring out various things related to this, that if you study the writing, the way in which the letters are written, that this went out of vogue by AD 130, and based on other factors, that dating this somewhere between AD 110 and AD 125 is what you have to do based on the style of writing. So this is a very early witness to the Gospels.

Slide 29

Pilate is being very skeptical of truth as he is talking to the One Who is the Truth.

Slide 30

When he gets done, he goes out and he recognizes that this Man has not done anything.

Luke 23:4, Pilate goes to the chief priests and the crowd and says, “I find no fault with this Man.”

Slide 31

This concludes that first trial; then we come to the fifth trial, which is the trial of Herod Antipas. Now that’s something we can cover very quickly.

Slide 32

According to Luke 23:7-12, the only Scripture that talks about this trial, as soon as he heard that Jesus was from Galilee, he said, “He’s in Herod’s jurisdiction. This isn’t my problem. I’m going to toss it to Herod.” So, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.

They’re right close together; he’s probably staying in the Herodian palace at that point. When Herod saw Jesus, he was all excited. He was curious like a lot of people are about Jesus, but they’re not really that interested. They just want to have their imagination stimulated, or have a nice theological discourse, and have a stimulating debate, but they really don’t want to learn about Jesus. He was just hoping Jesus would perform some miracle. He questioned Jesus, but Jesus says nothing according to Luke 23:9.

Slide 33

In the conclusion in Luke 23:11, “Then Herod with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate.” He’s passing the buck again. Luke comments, “That day Pilate and Herod became close friends.” You know the saying, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” They see Jesus as a common enemy, and so they become friends over this particular incident.

The question that comes to everyone: when we read this—as they were attempting to decide who Jesus is—everyone needs to make that decision. Because that is the most important decision any of us will ever make: who is Jesus?

He’s either the Son of God, the Son of man, Who came to die for the sins of the world and you have eternal life by simply believing in Him, or He is the greatest fraud that ever existed. Those are the only options.

Closing Prayer

“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to read through the Gospels to come to understand what transpired in these two trials: the fourth trial before Pilate, the fifth trial before Herod.

“To come to understand the hostility that the world has to Your truth, the hostility that religion has, the hostility secularism has to the truth of Your existence, the truth of Your Word, and the truth of the claims of Jesus to be the only truth, to be the one who came to die on the Cross, and the only way to You. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by Me.”

“Father, we pray that if anyone is listening to this lesson, is here today or listening, and they’ve never trusted Jesus as Savior, that God the Holy Spirit would make this very clear to them, and they would realize that their eternal destiny depends upon this one decision.

“Jesus has died for you. He has paid the penalty for you. The only thing necessary is for you to accept that as a free gift, to believe in Jesus and you will have eternal life.

“And for us as believers, we have more confirmatory evidence. As Luke tells us in Acts 1, Jesus gave the disciples many convincing proofs. We know from our study of Your Word, that it is absolute truth, and that we can base everything in our lives upon Your Word.

“We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”