The Gospel of Nicodemus

formerly called the ACTS OF PONTIUS PILATE

1. Christ accused to Pilate by the Jews of healing on the Sabbath, 9. summoned before Pilate by a messenger who does him honor, 20. worshipped by the standards bowing down to him.

1. Annas and Caiaphas, and Summas, and Datam, Gamaliel, Judas, Levi, Nephthalim, Alexander, Cyrus, and other Jews, went to Pilate about Jesus, accusing him with many bad crimes.

This Gospel was used by many churches by the end of the third century. It was sometimes called the Acts of Pilate, which unfortunately was also the title of a pagan forgery. (Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History, charges the Pagans with having forged and published a book called the Acts of Pilate, and takes occasion to observe that the internal evidence of this Gospel shows it was not the work of any unbeliever.) This confusion of titles causes some critical scholars to assume both books of that name are forgeries, and that this book was published much later by Christians, partly to confront the spurious one of the pagans, and partly to support appeals made by Christians of former ages to the Acts of Pilate, which could no longer be produced.

However, other equally learned scholars believe this is the original book really written by Nicodemus, who had conversed with Christ and become his disciple. Whether or not it should be canonical, it is of very great antiquity and was appealed to by several of the ancient Church Fathers. It contains passages of great dramatic intensity. This translation was made from the Gospel published by Grynaeus in the Orthodoxographa, vol. 1, tome 2, p. 643.

2. And said, We are assured that Jesus is the son of Joseph the carpenter, and born of Mary, and that he declares himself the Son of God, and a king; and not only so, but attempts the dissolution of the Sabbath, and the laws of our fathers.

Compare with "And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this [man] this wisdom, and [these] mighty works? Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this [man] these things? And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief." (Matthew 13:54-58; the Greek words "brethren" and "sisters" mean relatives, but not necessarily by blood); "And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?" (John 6:42); see also John 5:17-23. On "breaking the Sabbath," see Matthew 12:1-8 and Luke 13:14.

3. Pilate replied: What is it which he declares? And what is it which he attempts dissolving?

4. The Jews told him, We have a law which forbids doing cures on the Sabbath day; but he cures both the lame and the deaf, those afflicted with the palsy, the blind, and lepers, and demoniacs, on that day by wicked methods.

The commandment on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-10) prohibits "work," but says nothing about performing cures. However, when Jesus found a man with a withered hand in the synagogue, "...they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him." (Mark 3:2)

5. Pilate replied, How can he do this by wicked methods? They answered, He is a conjurer and casts out devils by the prince of the devils; and so all things become subject to him.

Compare with: "But when the Pharisees heard [it], they said, This [fellow] doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast [them] out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you." (Matthew 12:24-28; see also Mark 3:22 and Luke 11:15)

6. Then said Pilate, Casting out devils seems not to be the work of an unclean spirit, but to proceed from the power of God.
7. The Jews replied to Pilate, We entreat your highness to summon him to appear before your tribunal, and hear him yourself.
8. Then Pilate called a messenger and said to him, By what means will Christ be brought here?
9. Then went the messenger forth, and knowing Christ, worshipped him; and having spread the cloak which he had in his hand upon the ground, he said, Lord, walk upon this, and go in, for the governor calls you.
10. When the Jews perceived what the messenger had done they exclaimed against him to Pilate, and said, Why did you not give him his summons by a minor officer who keeps order, and not by a messenger? For the messenger, when he saw him, worshipped him and spread the cloak which he had in his hand upon the ground before him, and said to him, Lord, the governor calls you.
11. Then Pilate called the messenger and said, Why have you done thus?
12. The messenger replied, When you sent me from Jerusalem to Alexander, I saw Jesus sitting in a humble figure upon a she- ass, and the children of the Hebrews cried out, Hosannah, holding boughs of trees in their hands.
13. Others spread their garments in the way and said, Save us, you who are in heaven; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

For an example of this on another occasion, see Matthew 21:8.

14. Then the Jews cried out against the messenger and said, The children of the Hebrews made their acclamations in the Hebrew language; and how could you, who are a Greek, understand the Hebrew?
15. The messenger answered them and said, I asked one of the Jews and said, What is this which the children do cry out in the Hebrew language?
16. And he explained it to me, saying, They cry out Hosannah, which being interpreted is, O Lord, save me; or, O Lord, save.
17. Pilate then said to them, Why do you yourselves testify to the words spoken by the children, namely, by your silence? In what has the messenger done amiss? And they were silent.
18. Then the governor said unto the messenger, Go forth and endeavor by any means to bring him in.
19. But the messenger went forth and did as before, and said, Lord, come in, for the governor is calling you.
20. And as Jesus was going in by those who carried the banners, the tops of them bowed down and worshipped Jesus.
21. Whereupon the Jews exclaimed vehemently against the ensigns.

Ensigns were low-ranking soldiers who carried the flags.

22. But Pilate said to the Jews, I know it is not pleasing to you that the tops of the banners did of themselves bow and worship Jesus; but why do you exclaim against the ensigns, as if they had bowed and worshipped?
23. They replied to Pilate, We saw the ensigns themselves bowing and worshipping Jesus.
24. Then the governor called the ensigns and said unto them, Why did you do thus?
25. The ensigns said to Pilate, We are all pagans and worship the gods in temples; how should we think anything about worshipping him? We only held the banners in our hands and they bowed themselves and worshipped him.
26. Then Pilate said to the rulers of the synagogue, You yourselves choose some strong men and let them hold the banners, and we shall see whether they will then bend of themselves.
27. So the elders of the Jews sought out twelve of the most strong and able old men and made them hold the banners and they stood in the presence of the governor.
28. Then Pilate said to the messenger, Take Jesus out, and by some means bring him in again. And Jesus and the messenger went out of the hall.
29. And Pilate called the ensigns who before had borne the banners and swore to them that if they had not borne them in that manner when Jesus before entered in, he would cut off their heads.
30. Then the governor commanded Jesus to come in again.
31. And the messenger did as he had done before, and very much entreated Jesus that he would go upon his cloak and walk on it, and he did walk upon it and went in.
32. And when Jesus went in, the banners bowed themselves as before and worshipped him.

2. Pilate's wife has compassion on him. 7. He is charged with being born in fornication. 12. Testimony to the betrothing of his parents. Hatred of the Jews to him. 1. Now when Pilate saw this, he was afraid and was about to rise from his seat.
2. But while he thought to rise, his own wife who stood at a distance, sent to him, saying, Have nothing to do with that just man, for I have suffered much concerning him in a vision this night.

Compare with: "When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him." (Matthew 27:19)

3. When the Jews heard this they said to Pilate, Did we not say to you, He is a conjuror? Behold, he has caused your wife to dream.
4. Pilate then called Jesus and said, You have heard what they testify against you, and you make no answer?
5. Jesus replied, If they had not a power of speaking, they could not have spoken; but because everyone has the command of his own tongue to speak both good and bad, let him look to it.
6. But the elders of the Jews answered and said to Jesus, What shall we look to?
7. In the first place, we know this concerning you, that you were born through fornication; secondly, that upon the account of your birth the infants were slain in Bethlehem; thirdly, that your father and mother Mary fled into Egypt because they could not trust their own people.
8. Some of the Jews who stood by spoke more favorably, We cannot say that he was born through fornication, but we know that his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, so he was not born through fornication.
9. Then Pilate said to the Jews who affirmed him to be born through fornication, Your account is not true, seeing there was a betrothment, as they testify who are of your own nation.
10. Annas and Caiaphas spoke to Pilate, All this multitude of people is to be regarded, who cry out that he was born through fornication and is a conjuror; but they who deny him to be born through fornication are his proselytes and disciples.
11. Pilate answered Annas and Caiaphas, Who are the proselytes? They answered, They are those who are the children of pagans and have not become Jews, but followers of him.
12. Then replied Eleazar, and Asterius, and Antonius, and James, Caras and Samuel, Isaac and Phinees, Crispus and Agrippa, Annas and Judas, We are not proselytes, but children of Jews, and speak the truth, and were present when Mary was betrothed.

These men are not mentioned in the New Testament; it is unlikely the Crispus baptized by Paul (I Corinthians 1:14) is the same man.

13. Then Pilate addressing himself to the twelve men who spoke this, said to them, I abjure you by the life of Caesar, that you faithfully declare whether he was born through fornication and those things be true which you have related.
14. They answered Pilate, We have a law, whereby we are forbidden to swear, it being a sin: Let them swear by the life of Caesar that it is not as we have said, and we will be contented to be put to death.

The Old Testament is replete with examples of swearing by an oath, and nowhere is it forbidden to do so. These men deny being proselytes of Christ, but they seem to be referring to his words: "Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne; Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." (Matthew 5:33-37; also see Matthew 23:16-22).

The rule for conscientious Christians is in James 5:12, which reads: "But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and [your] nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation." For this reason, our courts allow witnesses with religious scruples to "affirm" rather than "swear."

15. Then said Annas and Caiaphas to Pilate, Those twelve men will not believe that we know him to be basely born and to be a conjuror, although he pretends that he is the son of God and a king, which we are so far from believing that we tremble to hear.
16. Then Pilate commanded everyone to go out except the twelve men who said he was not born through fornication, and for Jesus to withdraw to a distance, and said to them, Why have the Jews a mind to kill Jesus?
17. They answered him, They are angry because he wrought cures on the Sabbath day. Pilate said, Will they kill him for a good work? They said unto him, Yes, Sir.

Compare with: "Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God." (John 10:31-33)

1. Christ is exonerated by Pilate. 11. Disputes with Pilate concerning Truth.

1. Then Pilate, filled with anger, went out of the hall and said to the Jews, I call the whole world to witness that I find no fault in that man.

Compare with John 18:38 and Luke 23:14, 15.

2. The Jews replied to Pilate, If he had not been a wicked person, we would not have brought him before you.
3. Pilate said to them, Then you take him and try him by your law.
4. Then the Jews said, It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.

The Jews' argument was specious; they certainly did kill people by stoning. (Crucifixion was a Roman method of execution.)

5. Pilate said to the Jews, The command, therefore you shall not kill, belongs to you, but not to me.

Pilate's reply is half-taunt, half-threat. "Thou shalt not kill" in Exodus 20:13 is not a prohibition against capital punishment, but is more accurately translated "Thou shalt do no murder." He seems to imply they are intent on murdering Jesus, and suggesting that he is not bound by any commandment which would prevent him from murdering them.

6. And he went again into the hall and called Jesus by himself and said to hm, Are you the king of the Jews?
7. And Jesus answering said to Pilate, Do you speak this of yourself, or did the Jews tell it to you concerning me?
8. Pilate answered to Jesus, Am I a Jew? The whole nation and rulers of the Jews have delivered you up to me. What have you done?
9. Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight and I should not have been delivered to the Jews; but now my kingdom is not away.
10. Pilate said, Are you a king then? Jesus answered, You say that I am a king: to this end was I born, and for this end came I into the world; and for this purpose I came, that I should bear witness to the truth; and everyone who is of the truth, is hearing my voice.

This is in Matthew 27:11, Mark 15:2, and John 18:33-37.

11. Pilate said to him, What is truth?
12. Jesus said, Truth is from heaven.
13. Pilate said, Therefore truth is not on earth.
14. Jesus said to Pilate, Believe that truth is on earth among those who, when they have the power of judgment, are governed by truth and form right judgment.

Pilate's question is in John 18:38, but not Christ's answer.

1. Pilate finds no fault in Jesus. 16. The Jews demand his crucifixion.

1. Then Pilate left Jesus in the hall and went out to the Jews and said, I find not any single fault in Jesus.
2. The Jews said to him, But he said, I can destroy the temple of God and in three days build it up again.
3. Pilate said to them, What sort of temple is that of which he speaks?
4. The Jews said to him, That which Solomon was forty-six years in building, he said he would destroy and in three days build up.

Compare with: "Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body." (John 2:18-21)

5. Pilate said to them again, I am innocent from the blood of that man; you look to it.

See Matthew 27:24 for this, and Pilate's washing his hands to symbolize it.

6. The Jews said to him, His blood be upon us and our children. Then Pilate called together the elders and scribes, priests and Levites, and said to them privately, Do not act thus; I have found nothing in your charge against him concerning his curing sick persons and breaking the Sabbath, worthy of death.

Compare with: "Then answered all the people, and said, His blood [be] on us, and on our children." (Matthew 27:25) This verse should never be used as a justification for persecuting Jews, for in the Old Testament the shedding of innocent blood is avenged by God, and the New Testament teaching is that Christ's blood is upon us all.

Christ's curse on a fig tree foreshadowed Israel's self-inflicted curse (Matthew 21:18, 19; Mark 11:12- 14), which was fulfilled in Israel's history by the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, an event foretold by Christ: "And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to [him] for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." (Matthew 24:1,2)

7. The priests and Levites replied to Pilate, By the life of Caesar, if anyone be a blasphemer, he is worthy of death; but this man has blasphemed against the Lord.

The reference is "And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, [and] all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name [of the Lord], shall be put to death." (Leviticus 24:16)

8. Then the governor again commanded the Jews to depart out of the hall, and calling Jesus, said to him, What shall I do with you?
9. Jesus answered him, Do according as it is written.
10. Pilate said to him, How is it written?
11. Jesus said to him, Moses and the prophets have prophesied concerning my suffering and resurrection.

Old Testament prophecies concerning Christ's suffering and resurrection will be cited in the appropriate places, but none are attributed to Moses.

12. On hearing this, the Jews were provoked and said to Pilate, Why will you any longer hear the blasphemy of that man?
13. Pilate said to them, If these words seem to you blasphemy, you take him, bring him to your court, and try him according to your law.
14. The Jews replied to Pilate, Our law says he shall be obliged to receive nine and thirty lashes, but if after this he will blaspheme against the Lord, he shall be stoned.
15. Pilate said to them, If that speech of his was blasphemy, you try him according to your law.
16. The Jews said to Pilate, Our law commands us not to put anyone to death: we desire that he may be crucified, because he deserves the death of the cross.
17. Pilate said to them, It is not proper he should be crucified; let him be only whipped and sent away.

Compare with: "I will therefore chastise him and release [him]." (Luke 23:16)

18. But when the governor looked upon the people that were present and the Jews, he saw many of the Jews in tears, and said to the chief priests of the Jews, All the people do not desire his death.
19. The elders of the Jews answered to Pilate, We and all the people came here for this very purpose, that he should die.
20. Pilate said to them, Why should he die?
21. They said to him, Because he declares himself to be the Son of God, and a King.

1. Nicodemus speaks in defence of Christ, and relates his miracles. 12. Another Jew, 26. with Veronica, 34. Centurio, and others, testify of his miracles.

1. But Nicodemus, a certain Jew, stood before the governor, and said, I entreat you, O righteous judge, that you would favor me with the liberty of speaking a few words.

Nicodemus was more than just "a certain Jew," but a Pharisee and ruler of the Jews; his first encounter with Jesus is recorded in John 3.

2. Pilate said to him, Speak on.
3. Nicodemus said, I spoke to the elders of the Jews, and the scribes, and priests and Levites, and all the multitude of the Jews in their assembly; what is it you would do with this man?
4. He is a man who has wrought many useful and glorious miracles such as no man on earth ever wrought before nor will ever work. Let him go, and do him no harm; if he comes from God, his miracles (his miraculous cures) will continue; but if from men, they will come to nothing.

The same idea is in Acts 5:38,39, which says "...if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God."

5. Thus Moses, when he was sent by God into Egypt, wrought the miracles which God commanded him before Pharaoh king of Egypt; and though the magicians of that country, Jannes and Jambres, wrought by their magic the same miracles which Moses did, yet they could not work all which he did;

For the miracles Moses did in the presence of Pharaoh (circa 1491 B.C.), see Exodus 8. The Egyptian magicians, Jannes and Jambres, are mentioned in II Timothy 3:8.

6. And the miracles which the magicians wrought, were not of God, as you know, O Scribes and Pharisees; but they who wrought them perished, and all who believed them.
7. And now let this man go; because the very miracles for which you accuse him are from God, and he is not worthy of death. 8. The Jews then said to Nicodemus, Are you become his disciple and making speeches in his favor?
9. Nicodemus said to them, Is the governor become his disciple also, and does he make speeches for him? Did not Caesar place him in that high post?
10. When the Jews heard this they trembled and gnashed their teeth at Nicodemus, and said to him, May you receive his doctrine for truth, and have your lot with Christ!
11. Nicodemus replied, Amen; I will receive his doctrine, and my lot with him, as you have said.
12. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] Then another certain Jew rose up, and desired permission from the governor to hear him a few words.
13. And the governor said, Speak what you have a mind.
14. And he said, I lay for thirty-eight years by the sheep- pool at Jerusalem, laboring under a great infirmity and waiting for a cure which should be wrought by the coming of an angel, who at a certain time troubled the water; and whoever first stepped in after the troubling of the water was made whole of whatever disease he had.
15. And when Jesus saw me languishing there, he said to me, Will you be made whole? And I answered, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool.
16. And he said unto me, Rise, take up your bed and walk. And I was immediately made whole, and I took up my bed and walked.

This exact story is in John 5:1-9; other healings in which Christ said "Rise and walk" are in Matthew 9:6, Mark 2:11, and Luke 5:24.

17. The Jews then said to Pilate, Our Lord Governor, please ask him what day it was on which he was cured of his infirmity.
18. The infirm person replied, It was on the Sabbath.
19. The Jews said to Pilate, Did we not say that he wrought his cures on the Sabbath, and cast out devils by the prince of devils?
20. Then another certain Jew came forth, and said, I was blind, could hear sounds, but could not see anyone; and as Jesus was going along, I heard the multitude passing by, and I asked what was there.
21. They told me that Jesus was passing by; then I cried out, saying, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. And he stood still, and commanded that I should be brought to him, and said to me, What do you want?
22. I said, Lord, that I may receive my sight.
23. He said to me, Receive your sight. And presently I saw, and followed him, rejoicing and giving thanks.

This may be the story of blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52. Compare the similar, if not identical healing, of an unnamed man in Luke 18:35-43.

24. Another Jew also came forth and said, I was a leper, and he cured me by his word only, saying, I will, be you clean; and presently I was cleansed from my leprosy.

A more complete account is in Matthew 8:1-4, Mark 1:40-45, and Luke 5:12-14.

25. And another Jew came forth and said, I was crooked, and he made me straight by his word.

A similar story about the healing of a woman is in Luke 13:11.

26. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] And a certain woman named Veronica said, I was afflicted with an issue of blood twelve years, and I touched the hem of his garments, and presently the issue of my blood stopped.

The "issue" (meaning flow) of blood may refer to a menstruation abnormality or some wound that would not heal. The account is found in Matthew 9:20-22 and Luke 8:43-48. Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History (1.7, c. 18), affirms that this miracle was performed on a woman named Veronica, and refers to a statue she erected to the honor of Christ.

27. The Jews then said, We have a law, that a woman shall not be allowed to give evidence.
28. And, after other things, another Jew said, I saw Jesus invited to a wedding with his disciples, and there was a lack of wine in Cana of Galilee;
29. And when the wine was all drank, he commanded the servants that they should fill six pots which were there with water, and they filled them up to the brim, and he blessed them and turned the water into wine, and all the people drank, being surprised at this miracle.

This was the first public miracle Christ performed in Galilee, recorded in John 2:1-11.

30. And another Jew stood forth and said, I saw Jesus teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum, and there was in the synagogue a certain man who had a devil; and he cried out, saying, Let me alone; what have we to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Are you come to destroy us? I know that you are the Holy One of God.
31. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold your peace, unclean spirit, and come out of the man; and presently he came out of him and did not at all hurt him.

The identical account is in Luke 4:33-37.

32. The following things were also said by a Pharisee; I saw that a great company came to Jesus from Galilee and Judaea, and the sea-coast, and many countries about Jordan, and many infirm persons came to him, and he healed them all.
33. And I heard the unclean spirits crying out, and saying, You are the Son of God. And Jesus strictly charged them that they should not make him known.

This corresponds with Matthew 4:23-25 and Mark 3:11.

34. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] After this another person whose name was Centurio, said, I saw Jesus in Capernaum, and I entreated him, saying, Lord, my servant lies at home sick of the palsy.
35. And Jesus said to me, I will come and cure him.
36. But I said, Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed.
37. And Jesus said to me, Go your way; and as you have believed, so be it done for you. And my servant was healed from that same hour.

The man named Centrio is not mentioned in the New Testament. The details correspond with those in Matthew 8:5-13, where the man is identified as a Roman centurion, however, and certainly not a Jew.

38. Then a certain nobleman said, I had a son in Capernaum, who lay at the point of death; and when I heard that Jesus was come into Galilee, I went and pleaded that he would come down to my house and heal my son, for he was at the point of death.
39. He said to me, Go your way; your son lives.
40. And my son was cured from that hour.
41. Besides these, also many others of the Jews, both men and women, cried out and said, He is truly the Son of God, who cures all diseases only by his word, and to whom the devils are altogether subject.
42. Some of them further said, This power can proceed from none but God.
43. Pilate said to the Jews, Why are not the devils subject to your doctors?
44. Some of them said, The power of subjecting devils cannot proceed but from God.
45. But others said to Pilate that he had raised Lazarus from the dead after he had been four days in his grave.

For the raising of Lazarus, see John 11:11-46. (Verse 33, "Jesus wept," is the shortest in the Bible.)

46. On hearing this, the governor trembled and said to the multitude of the Jews, What will it profit you to shed innocent blood?

1. Pilate is dismayed by the turbulence of the Jews, 5. who demand Barabbas to be released and Christ to be crucified, 9. Pilate warmly expostulates with them, 20. washes his hands of Christ's blood, 23. and sentences him to be whipped and crucified.

1. Then Pilate having called together Nicodemus, and the fifteen men who said that Jesus was not born through fornication, and said to them, What shall I do, seeing there is likely to be a tumult among the people?

This is apparently a discrepancy; verse 2:16 says there were twelve men, not fifteen.

2. They said unto him, We do not know; let them look to it who raise the tumult.
3. Pilate then called the multitude again and said to them, You know that you have a custom, that I should release to you one prisoner at the feast of the passover;
4. I have a noted prisoner, a murderer, who is called Barabbas, and Jesus who is called Christ, in whom I find nothing that deserves death; which of them therefore have you a mind that I should release to you?
5. They all cry out and say, Release to us Barabbas.

On Pilate's attempt to barter Barabbas for Christ, see Matthew 27:15-26, Mark 15:6-15, Luke 23:13-25, and John 18:39, 40.

6. Pilate said to them, What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?
7. They all answer, Let him be crucified.
8. Again they cried out and said to Pilate, You are not the friend of Caesar if you release this man, for he has declared that he is the Son of God and a king. Are you inclined that he should be king, and not Caesar?
9. Then Pilate filled with anger said to them, Your nation has always been seditious, and you are always against those who have been serviceable to you.
10. The Jews replied, Who are those who have been serviceable to us?
11. Pilate answered them, Your God who delivered you from the hard bondage of the Egyptians, and brought you over the Red Sea as though it had been dry land, and fed you in the wilderness with manna and the flesh of quails, and brought water out of the rock, and gave you a law from heaven:
12. You provoked him all ways, and desired for yourselves a molten calf, and worshipped it, and sacrificed to it, and said, These are your Gods, O Israel, which brought you out of the land of Egypt!
13. On account of which your God was inclined to destroy you; but Moses interceded for you, and your God heard him and forgave your iniquity.
14. Afterwards you were enraged against, and would have killed your prophets, Moses and Aaron, when they fled to the tabernacle, and you were always murmuring against God and his prophets.

Here, as before, Pilate demonstrates familiarity with the Old Testament.

15. And arising from his judgment seat, he would have gone out, but the Jews all cried out, We acknowledge Caesar to be king, and not Jesus.
16. Whereas this person, as soon as he was born, the wise men came and offered gifts unto him; which when Herod heard, he was exceedingly troubled and would have killed him.
17. When his father knew this, he fled with him and his mother Mary into Egypt. Herod, when he heard he was born, would have slain him; accordingly he sent and slew all the children which were in Bethlehem and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under.

See Matthew 2 for Herod's Massacre of the Innocents.

18. When Pilate heard this account, he was afraid; and commanding silence among the people, who made a noise, he said to Jesus, Are you therefore a king?
19. All the Jews replied to Pilate, He is the very person whom Herod sought to have slain.
20. Then Pilate took water and washed his hands before the people and said, I am innocent of the blood of this just person, you look to it.
21. The Jews answered and said, His blood be upon us and our children.

Refer to previous notes at 4:4, 6.
22. Then Pilate commanded Jesus to be brought before him, and spoke to him in the following words:
23. Your own nation has charged you as making yourself a king; wherefore I, Pilate, sentence you to be whipped according to the laws of former governors; and that you be first bound, then hanged upon a cross in that place where you are now a prisoner, and also two criminals with you, whose names are Dimas and Gestas.

It is certain that Christ was crucified between two thieves (Matthew 27:38, Mark 15:27, Luke 22:37), but their names are not recorded in the Canon, evidently because there was confusion on that in the oral tradition. Here they are named Dimas and Gestas; in I Infancy 8:3, their names are Titus and Dumachus.

1. Manner of Christ's crucifixion with the two thieves.

1. Then Jesus went out of the hall, and the two thieves with him.
2. And when they came to the place which is called Golgotha, they stripped him of his raiment, and girded him about with a linen cloth, and put a crown of thorns upon his head, and put a reed in his hand.

Golgotha means Place of a Skull, see Matthew 27:33 and John 19:19. In Greek the word is Calvary, with the same meaning.

3. And in like manner did they to the two thieves who were crucified with him, Dimas on his right hand and Gestas on his left.
4. But Jesus said, My Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
5. And they divided his garments, and upon his vesture they cast lots.

Compare with: "Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also [his] coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did." (John 19:23, 24; see also Mark 15:24) The soldiers unwittingly fulfilled Psalm 22:18, "They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon by vesture."

6. The people in the meantime stood by, and the chief priests and elders of the Jews mocked him, saying, He saved others, let him now save himself if he can; if he be the Son of God, let him now come down from the cross.
7. The soldiers also mocked him and took vinegar and gall and offered it to him to drink, and said to him, If you are king of the Jews, deliver yourself.

Vinegar (soured wine) and gall may have been thought to have an analgesic effect, and was perhaps customarily given suffering prisoners on the point of death. Jesus refused it. Matthew 27:34, 48, mentions vinegar was offered a second time as a humane gesture to assuage Christ's thirst. See also John 19:29, where it says he accepted that offer. These actions fulfilled the Messianic prophecy, "They gave me also gall for my meat; and in by thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." (Psalm 69:21)

8. Then Longinus, a certain soldier, took a spear and pierced his side, and presently there came forth blood and water.

Recorded in John 19:34, but the soldier's name is not mentioned. This fulfilled "...they shall look upon me whom they have pierced..." (Zechariah 12:10)

9. And Pilate wrote the title upon the cross in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek letters: This is the king of the Jews.

Compare with Matthew 27:37; Luke 23:38; and John 19:19-22, which is a fuller account: "And Pilate wrote a title, and put [it] on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, [and] Greek, [and] Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written."

10. But one of the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus, whose name was Gestas, said to Jesus, If you are the Christ, deliver yourself and us.
11. But the thief who was crucified on his right hand, whose name was Dimas, answering, rebuked him, and said, Do not you fear God, who are condemned to this punishment? We indeed receive rightly and justly the demerit of our actions; but this Jesus, what evil has he done?
12. After this groaning, he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.
13. Jesus answered and said to him, Truly I say to you, that this day you will be with me in Paradise.

Matthew 27:44 and Mark 15:32 say both thieves reviled Christ at first; the subsequent repentance of the one is recorded in Luke 23:39-43, and agrees with the story here.

1. Miraculous appearance at his death. 10. The Jews say the eclipse was natural. 12. Joseph of Arimathaea embalms Christ's body and buries it.

1. And it was about the sixth hour, and darkness was upon the face of the whole earth until the ninth hour.

The sixth hour means noon, which was about the same time the paschal lambs were ritually killed. This mid-day darkness before the death of Christ is noted in Matthew 27:45, Mark 15:33, Luke 23:44-45.

Note these curious Old Testament verses, which early Christians related to this event: "And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the light shall not be clear, [nor] dark: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, [that] at evening time it shall be light." (Zechariah 14:6, 7); "And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord God, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day." (Amos 8:9)

2. And while the sun was eclipsed, behold the veil of the temple was rent from the top to the bottom; and the rocks also were rent, and the graves opened, and many bodies of saints which slept arose.

Matthew 27:51-53 mentions all these events, but says the dead arose only after the Resurrection of Christ: "And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."

Mark 15:38 speaks only of the temple veil being torn, but agrees with Matthew that it was torn from top to bottom. (This veil was the curtain before the Holy of Holies and was worth remarking to show it was not done by human hands.) Luke 23:45 mentions only that the temple veil was torn.

3. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, Hely, Hely, lama zabacthani, which being interpreted is, My God, why have you forsaken me?

This is a transliteration; compare with: "And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46) Note that Psalm 22 begins with the words, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

The Church teaches that since Christ appropriated our nature, he experienced true separation from God in his humanity, knowing suffering and distress, yet he did not despair. He spoke these words in the name of humanity, to put an end to the alienation of man from God. For as God he was never forsaken by the Father, but with this cry humanity is accepted and saved.

4. And after these things, Jesus said, Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. And having said this, he gave up the ghost.
5. But when the centurion saw that Jesus thus crying out gave up the ghost, he glorified God and said, Of a truth this was a just man.

Matthew 27:54 and Mark 15:39 say the centurion confessed Christ not merely as a "just man," but as the Son of God.

6. And all the people who stood by were exceedingly troubled at the sight, and reflecting upon what had passed, smote upon their breasts, and then returned to the city of Jerusalem.
7. The centurion went to the governor and related to him all that had happened;
8. And when he had heard all these things, he was exceeding sorrowful;
9. And calling the Jews together, said to them, Have you seen the miracle of the sun's eclipse, and the other things which came to pass while Jesus was dying?
10. Which when the Jews heard, they answered to the governor, The eclipse of the sun happened according to its usual custom.
11. But all those who were the acquaintances of Christ stood at a distance, as did the women who had followed Jesus from Galilee, observing all these things.
12. And behold a certain man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus, but not openly so for fear of the Jews, came to the governor and entreated the governor that he would give him the body of Jesus from the cross.
13. And the governor gave him permission.
14. And Nicodemus came, bringing with him a mixture of myrrh and aloes about a hundred pound weight; and they took down Jesus from the cross with tears and bound him with linen cloths with spices, according to the custom of burying among the Jews,
15. And placed him in a new tomb, which Joseph had built and caused to be cut out of a rock, in which never any man had been put; and they rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre.

The Jewish Sabbath was (and is) from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, so it was urgent to bury Christ. This account is very complete, but all the details can be learned only by examining each of the canonical Gospels: "When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed." (Matthew 27:57-60)

"And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling [unto him] the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. And when he knew [it] of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre." (Mark 15:42-46)

"And, behold, [there was] a man named Joseph, a counselor; [and he was] a good man, and a just: (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) [he was] of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. This [man] went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on." (Luke 23:50-54)

"And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave [him] leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound [weight]. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation [day], for the sepulchre was nigh at hand." (John 19:38-42)

Taken together, these sources reveal: 1) Joseph of Arimathaea was a high counsellor; 2) although he had been a secret disciple for fear of the Jews, he now came boldly to Pilate; 3) he was rich; 4) he buried Jesus in his own tomb; 5) Pilate checked with the centurion to make certain Jesus was dead before authorizing Joseph to take the body; 6) Nicodemus indeed assisted Joseph in removing Jesus from the cross and burying him, having provided a hundred pounds of spices; 7) a stone was rolled in front of the tomb to seal it. That Jesus was buried in the tomb of a rich man fulfilled the prophecy: "And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death..." (Isaiah 53:9)

1. The Jews become angry with Nicodemus; 5. and with Joseph of Arimathaea, 7. whom they imprison.

1. When the unjust Jews heard that Joseph had begged and buried the body of Jesus, they sought after Nicodemus, and those fifteen men who had testified before the governor that Jesus was not born through fornication, and other good persons who had shown any good actions towards him.
2. But when they all concealed themselves through fear of the Jews, Nicodemus alone showed himself to them and said, How can such persons as these enter into the synagogue?
3. The Jews answered him, But how dare you who were a confederate with Christ enter into the synagogue ? Let your lot be along with him in the other world.
4. Nicodemus answered, Amen; so may it be, that I may have my lot with him in his kingdom.
5. In like manner Joseph, when he came to the Jews, said to them, Why are you angry with me for desiring the body of Jesus of Pilate? Behold, I have put him in my tomb, and wrapped him up in clean linen, and put a stone at the door of the sepulchre:
6. I have acted rightly towards him; but you have acted unjustly against that just person, in crucifying him, giving him vinegar to drink, crowning him with thorns, tearing his body with whips, and prayed down the guilt of his blood upon you.
7. The Jews at the hearing of this were disquieted and troubled, so they seized Joseph and commanded him to be put in custody before the Sabbath and kept there till the Sabbath was over.
8. And they said to him, Make confession; for at this time it is not lawful to do you any harm, till the first day of the week come. But we know that you will not be thought worthy of a burial; but we will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth.

The first day of the week, for Jews and Christians, is Sunday.

9. Joseph answered, That speech is like the speech of proud Goliath, who reproached the living God in speaking against David. But you scribes and doctors know that God said by the prophet, Vengeance is mine, and I will repay to you evil equal to that which you have threatened to me.

For Goliath of Gath, the giant slain by David, see I Samuel 17:4-51. Goliath's proud speech was: "Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field." (II Samuel 21:19, and I Chronicles 20:5 say David also killed Goliath's giant brother and son.)

On vengeance belonging to God: "To me [belongeth] vengeance, and recompense; their foot shall slide in [due] time: for the day of their calamity [is] at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste." (Deuteronomy 32:35); the New Testament says: "Vengeance [belongeth] unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. [It is] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:30, 31)

10. The God whom you have hanged upon the cross is able to deliver me out of your hands. All your wickedness will return upon you.
11. For the governor, when he washed his hands, said, I am clear from the blood of this just person. But you answered and cried out, His blood be upon us and our children. According as you have said, may you perish forever.

Notice it is not Joseph who curses them, but they who have cursed themselves. As in the example of God's foreknowledge that he would "harden" Pharaoh's heart (Exodus 7:3, 10:1), it is clear that during the plagues on Egypt, Pharaoh repeatedly hardened his own heart. In other words, God rejects only those who first reject him.

Similarly, it is commonly said the Church excommunicates its unrepentant members, but in actuality they have excommunicated themselves by disqualifying themselves from participating in the sacraments of confession and the Eucharist, or Communion. Excommunication is not consigning people to hell; it is barring them from the sacraments until they repent and confess their sins.

12. The elders of the Jews, upon hearing these words, were exceedingly enraged and seized Joseph. They put him into a chamber where there was no window; they fastened the door and put a seal on the lock.
13. And Annas and Caiaphas placed a guard at it and took counsel with the priests and Levites, that they should all meet after the Sabbath, and they conspired to what death they should put Joseph.
14. When they had done this, the rulers, Annas and Caiaphas, ordered Joseph to be brought forth.

In this place there is a portion of the manuscript lost or omitted, which cannot be supplied.

1. Joseph's escape. 2. The soldiers relate Christ's resurrection. 18. Christ is seen preaching in Galilee. 21. The Jews repent of their cruelty to him.

1. When all the assembly heard this, they marveled and were astonished because they found the same seal over the lock of the chamber, but could not find Joseph.
2. Then Annas and Caiaphas went forth, and while they were all marvelling at Joseph's absence, behold, one of the soldiers who guarded the sepulchre of Jesus spoke in the assembly.
3. That while they were guarding the sepulchre of Jesus, there was an earthquake and: We saw an angel of God roll away the stone of the sepulchre and sit upon it;

Matthew 28:2-4 and 28:11 is the only canonical Gospel reporting that the soldiers also saw the angel who appeared to the women.

4. And his countenance was like lightning and his garment like snow; and we became through fear like persons dead.
5. And we heard an angel saying to the women at the sepulchre of Jesus, Do not fear; I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified; he is risen as he foretold.
6. Come and see the place where he was laid; and go presently and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead, and he will go before you into Galilee; there you shall see him as he told you.
7. Then the Jews called together all the soldiers who kept watch at the sepulchre of Jesus and said to them, Who are those women to whom the angel spoke? Why did you not seize them?
8. The soldiers answered and said, We know not who the women were; besides we became as dead persons through fear, and how could we seize those women?
9. The Jews said to them, As the Lord lives, we do not believe you.
10. The soldiers answered the Jews, When you saw and heard Jesus working so many miracles and did not believe him, how should you believe us? You well said, As the Lord lives, for the Lord truly does live.
11. We have heard that you shut up Joseph, who buried the body of Jesus, in a chamber under a lock which was sealed, and when you opened it, found him not there.
12. So you produce Joseph whom you put under guard in the chamber, and we will produce Jesus whom we guarded in the sepulchre.
13. The Jews answered and said, We will produce Joseph; you produce Jesus. But Joseph is in his own city of Arimathaea.
14. The soldiers replied, If Joseph be in Arimathaea, then Jesus is in Galilee. We heard the angel inform the women.
15. On hearing this, the Jews were afraid and said among themselves, If by any means these things should become public, then everybody will believe in Jesus.
16. Then they gathered a large sum of money and gave it to the soldiers, saying, You tell the people that the disciples of Jesus came in the night when you were asleep and stole away the body of Jesus, and if Pilate the governor should hear of this, we will satisfy him and secure you.
17. The soldiers accordingly took the money and said as they were instructed by the Jews; and their report was spread abroad among all the people.

See Matthew 28:12-15.

18. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] But a certain priest Phinees, Ada a schoolmaster, and a Levite named Ageus, they three came from Galilee to Jerusalem and told the chief priests and all who were in the synagogues,
19. We have seen Jesus, whom you crucified, talking with his eleven disciples and sitting in the midst of them in Mount Olivet, and saying to them,
20. Go forth into the whole world, preach the Gospel to all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and whoever shall believe and be baptized shall be saved.

See Matthew 28:16-30 and Mark 16:15, 16.

21. And when he had said these things to his disciples, we saw him ascending up to heaven.
22. When the chief priests, and elders, and Levites heard these things, they said to these three men, Give glory to the God of Israel and make confession to him, whether those things are true, which you say you have seen and heard.
23. They answered and said, As the Lord of our fathers lives, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, according as we heard Jesus talking with his disciples, and according as we saw him ascending up to heaven, so we have related the truth to you.
24. And the three men further answered and said, adding these words, If we should not admit to the words which we heard Jesus speak, and that we saw him ascending into heaven, we should be guilty of sin.
25. The chief priests immediately rose up, and holding the book of the law in their hands, adjured these men, saying, From now on you shall no more declare those things which you have spoken concerning Jesus.
26. And they gave them a large sum of money, and sent other persons along with them to conduct them to their own country, so they might not by any means make any stay at Jerusalem.
27. Then the Jews assembled all together, and having expressed the most lamentable concern, said, What is this extraordinary thing which is come to pass in Jerusalem?
28. But Annas and Caiaphas comforted them, saying, Why should we believe the soldiers who guarded the sepulchre of Jesus, in telling us that an angel rolled away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?
29. Perhaps his own disciples told them this, and gave them money that they should say so, and they themselves took away the body of Jesus.
30. Besides, consider this, that there is no credit to be given to foreigners, because they also took a large sum of us, and they have declared to us according to the instructions which we gave them. They must either be faithful to us, or to the disciples of Jesus.

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