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Discovery Magazine 7/1/2009

Pilate—Lost and Found

The last few days of Jesus’ life were the most tragic of any in human history. Ruthless men and women made fun of Him, spit upon Him, and hit Him. In the middle of all the violence, there stood one man who had the power to stop all the torture. One man who could call off the Roman soldiers and save Christ from being crucified. His name was Pontius Pilate. He was the Roman official who governed the area of Judea at the time of Christ’s death. The story of the crucifixion can hardly be told without mentioning Pilate. Three times Pilate said that Jesus was innocent and did not deserve death. Pilate’s wife sent him a message during the trial of Jesus. She told him not to have anything to do with the death of Jesus because Christ was a righteous man. Yet even though Pilate knew Jesus was innocent, he sentenced Him to death.

Although the Bible mentions Pilate on several occasions, his name could not be found among the archaeological evidence. For hundreds of years, no stone inscriptions or other physical evidence could be found that contained Pilate’s name. Had the New Testament writers made up the story about Pilate? Were they simply trying to make the story about Jesus more interesting to readers? Were the New Testament documents wrong about Pilate?

No, the New Testament writers were not wrong. They were reporting the historical facts just as they happened. In 1961, an Italian archaeological team working at Caesarea found a stone tablet that measured 32 inches high by 27 inches wide by eight inches thick. On this slab, now known as the “Pilate Inscription,” were the remains of this simple title: “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea”—almost the same title as the one given to him in Luke 3:1. This, then, became yet another find to remind us that the more we uncover the past, the more we uncover the truth—the Bible is, indeed, the Word of God.



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