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Pilate, Pontius

Pi´luht, pon´shuhs

Roman prefect of Judea, the fifth governor of the province and the second-longest holder of the office (26–36 CE). His term included the time of the public ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus. The historical writings of Philo Judaeus and Flavius Josephus include accounts of incidents not reported in the NT, most of which present Pilate as insensitive to Jewish religious scruples and all too ready to use brutal force to repress any dissent (Luke 13:1). In the Gospels, he plays a central role in the events surrounding the trial and crucifixion of Jesus (Matt 27:1-2; Matt 11-26:1; Mark 15:1-15; Luke 23:1-25; John 18:28-19:16; Acts 3:13; Acts 4:27; Acts 13:28; 1Tim 6:13). Pilate “wonders” at Jesus’s silence in the face of hostile accusations, but he bends to the will of the mob in sending Jesus to the cross and releasing Barabbas, a known murderer. Matthew’s Gospel contains the report of Pilate washing his hands publicly before the crowd in a futile attempt to exonerate himself of guilt for allowing innocent blood to be shed (Matt 27:24).