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The Compromise of Pilate

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The Compromise of Pilate



1.       Inner sense of moral ‘oughtness’ urging men and women to do right and shun wrong

2.       Violating conscience – condemned as guilty

3.       Unsaved people have a conscience that functions as part of God’s general revelation = basic understanding of God’s Law placed upon the heart (Ro 2.15)

4.       The Law written upon the heart becomes more clearly understood when a person is saved

5.       The Law is further confused in the conscience of an unsaved person due to the perversions of human culture

6.       Unsaved people may defile or permanently impair their consciences through wicked behavior and wicked thinking (Titus 1.15); unable to discern right from wrong (1 Tim 4.2)

7.       Salvation cleanses and renews the conscience (Heb 9.14); the Word of God trains the conscience, teaching us how to act and think; discernment strengthened

8.       Grace enables Christians to discern between good and evil more clearly as they mature spiritually; Christians gain more power from the Lord to respond properly to the conscience.  The sin of compromise becomes less frequent as a result. 

Transition:  Many people involved in the death of Christ are sad subjects of moral and spiritual compromise.  Pontius Pilate serves as an example of compromise due to his fear of losing power and position as a Roman. 


·         Pilate was the fifth Roman procurator of Judea; ruled until AD 36

·         Two kinds of Roman provinces:  Senatorial and Imperial

o   Senatorial = governed by a proconsul chosen by the Roman senate and approved by the emperor

o   Imperial = directly controlled by the emperor and ruled by procurators

o   Judea was an imperial province and Pilate answered directly to Tiberius Caesar, the emperor

Trouble with Jews

·         Tiberius subject to shifts in mood; Pilate in a delicate position

·         A poor decision would lead to him being deposed; he could not afford to offend Tiberius

·         Pilate did not start off well with the Jews:

o   Ordered Roman soldiers in a parade to carry emblems that the Jews considered idolatrous; the parade was on the Day of Atonement; threatened to kill any who objected only to later back down when the Jews continued their opposition

o   Appropriated money from the temple treasury to build an aqueduct to Jerusalem; Jews rioted and Pilate had them killed by the soldiers (see Luke 13.1)

o   Insensitive to the religion of the Jews

o   Brought much of their opposition upon himself

o   Regardless for their hatred of one another, Pilate and the Jews had to work together

o   Sanhedrin had considerable authority in religious and civil matters; could mete out judgment on almost all crimes except those demanding the death penalty

o   To build rapport, Roman governors often accepted the Sanhedrin’s decision and approved the punishment

First Hearing

·         Sanhedrin found Jesus guilty of blasphemy; took Him to Pilate for the death sentence (John 18.28 ff.)

·         Pilate asked about the accusation being brought (29)

·         Jews were vague hoping for a rubber stamp without a retrial (30)

·         Pilate refused; remind the proud Jews of their subjugation to Rome; animosity was high

·         Three-fold accusation against Jesus:

o   Insurrection – caused people to not pay taxes to Roman government

o   Claimed to be King of the Jews

o   Stirring up sedition in Galilee and Judea = Pilate sends to Herod

·         Pilate asked Jesus about the claim to be King of the Jews (33)

o   Kingdom not of this world (36)

o   Kingdom of truth – those that received the truth became a part of His kingdom (37)

o   “What is truth?”  - philosophy of life for Pilate; no absolutes; no truth or falsehood; only what had to be done to stay ahead of the game

o   “Behold the Man!” – Pilates ironic answer to “What is truth?”

o   Pilate sent Jesus to Herod

§  Herod and his soldiers mocked Jesus (Luke 23.11)

§  Found no crime worthy of death; sent Him back to Pilate

§  Healed a breach between Pilate and Herod (Luke 23.12)

Second Hearing

Pilate told the Jewish leaders that neither he nor Herod had found any fault in Him (Luke 23.13-14).


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