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Matthew 27:15-23 – Barabbas or Jesus?

|| Mark 15:6-14; Luke 23:13-23; John 18:38b-40

MT27:15 Now according to the custom[1] during the [Jewish] festivals the governor would release a prisoner by the choice of the crowd. MT27:16 At that time there was a notorious prisoner named Barabbas.[2] MT27:17 Leading [Barabbas and Jesus] together [before the crowd] Pilate asked them: “Who do you want me to release? Barabbas or the one called ‘Messiah’ – Jesus?” MT27:18 For Pilate realized it was because of jealousy[3] [the religious hierarchy] had turned Jesus over to him. MT27:19 Now while sitting on his judgment-seat Pilate’s woman approached him and warned, “A dream about him has tormented me[4] today! Have nothing to do with[5] that righteous man!” MT27:20 But the religious hierarchy and the Jewish elders persuaded the crowd so that they asked for the release of Barabbas, while they should destroy Jesus. MT27:21 Governor Pilate responded and asked the crowd: “Which of the two do you want me to release?” The crowd said, “Barabbas!” MT27:22 Pilate asked, “So what shall I do with Jesus, the one said to be ‘Messiah’?” The mob screamed, “Execute him!”[6] MT27:23 Pilate asked: “For what crime?” But the mob cried even louder,[7] “Execute him!”


[1] Custom: Possibly a Jewish custom for John 18:39 adds, “You have a custom that I should release a man to you at the Passover.”

[2] Barabbas: John 18:40 adds, “… a robber.” Mark 15:7 adds, “… in bonds with the seditionists, who in their sedition had committed murder.” His name is mentioned 11 times in the Gospels. His name possibly means, “Son of the teacher.” (A rabbi’s son?)

[3] Because of jealousy: Or, PME: through sheer malice.

[4] A dream about him has tormented me: Or, KNX: I dreamed I suffered much on his account; NEB: I was much troubled; GDSP: for I have just had a painful experience in a dream about him; PME: I went through agonies dreaming about him last night.

[5] Have nothing to do with: Or, KNX: do not meddle with this innocent man; BECK: let that righteous man alone.

[6] Execute him: The Greek is STAUROTHETO which literally means to impale on a stake or tree. Traditionally this is “crucify him.” Some think the root word STAUROS means a simple upright pole without a cross-beam. Others believe the word to include a stake with a cross-beam. Research the word cross or STAUROS. Because of the two views – each with their logical reasons – we choose a neutral phrase execute or instrument of execution. When the Greek XYLON is used we will prefer “tree.” Those who wish may read “crucify him!”

[7] The mob cried even louder: KJV: a tumult was made; RSV: a riot was beginning; KNX: the uproar only became worse; LAM: confusion was increasing.



Matthew 10:32-39 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: I Came to Cause Division

Matthew 16:24-28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: A Disciple Must Disown Self

Matthew 26 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Last days of Jesus Christ #1 Matthew 26:1-2 – Two Days Before Execution

Matthew 27 – The Final Hours: Trial, Execution and Burial – Bible Students Intro

Matthew 27 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Final Hours: Trial, Execution and Burial – #1 Matthew 27:1-2 – Priests Hand Jesus Over to Pilate

Matthew 27 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Final Hours: Trial, Execution and Burial – #2 Matthew 27:3-10 – Judas Hangs Himself

Matthew 27 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Final Hours: Trial, Execution and Burial – #3 Matthew 27:11-14 – “Are You King of the Jews?”


Matthew 27 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Final Hours: Trial, Execution and Burial – #5 Matthew 27:24-26 – “His Blood Come Upon Us!”

Matthew 27 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Final Hours: Trial, Execution and Burial – #6 Matthew 27:27-31 – Jesus Afflicted by Troops

Matthew 27 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Final Hours: Trial, Execution and Burial – #7 Matthew 27:32-37 – Executed at Golgotha


Additional reading

  1. Forbidden Fruit in the Midst of the Garden 4
  2. Swedish theologian finds historical proof Jesus did not die on a cross
  3. A Book to trust #11 Archaeology confirming or denying claims of the Bible #2 New Testament


Related articles

  1. Matthew 27: The Death of Jesus. The Triptych Enigma.
  2. Behold Your King!
  3. Governor Of The Jews
  4. Jesus Christ or Barabbas
  5. The Last Time Whites Listened to Jews, Deicide Happened
  6. The (in)justice of the mob in Luke 23

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