In John 19:6 Pontius Pilate says "Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him." Does this imply that the Jews were allowed to crucify Him? If so, why didn't they do that?

  • I migrated this question from Christianity because it seems like a question about a specific Biblical passage that doesn't require any particular Christian doctrine to explain. Commented Dec 26, 2017 at 14:29

1 Answer 1


Crucifixion was a Roman punishment, not a Jewish one

You will find part of the answer to your question in the previous chapter of John, wherein the Jews explain that they are not authorized {under Roman Rule} to put a criminal to death. John 18: 28-31

28 Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorium.* It was morning. And they themselves did not enter the praetorium, in order not to be defiled so that they could eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and said, “What charge do you bring [against] this man?” 30 They answered and said to him, “If he were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” 31 At this, Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law.” The Jews answered him, “We do not have the right to execute anyone,”

  • Granted, the Mosaic Law had a variety of crimes that were punishable by death. Examples include:

Exodus 21:12-17

12 Whoever strikes someone a mortal blow must be put to death. 13 However, regarding the one who did not hunt another down, but God caused death to happen by his hand, I will set apart for you a place to which that one may flee. 14 But when someone kills a neighbor after maliciously scheming to do so, you must take him even from my altar and put him to death. 15 Whoever strikes father or mother shall be put to death. 16 A kidnapper, whether he sells the person or the person is found in his possession, shall be put to death. 17 Whoever curses* father or mother shall be put to death.

The Empire of Rome reserved to its own authority capital punishment in this conquered territory of Judea. The passage in John 18 reflects that, and alludes to why the Jews in this case (because they held blasphemy to be worthy of the death penalty) had to get the Imperial authority involved to get that sentence passed on this (in their eyes) criminal. From the Roman point of view, it wasn't blasphemy that was the capital crime but rather sedition.

Jesus stood accused of sedition, not blasphemy—a civil crime, not a religious one. Rome’s punishment was a painful, and visible, death by crucifixion. In the age of Roman domination, only Rome crucified. And they did it often. {snip} Clear evidence of the political nature of Jesus’s execution — that Pilate and the high priest were ridding themselves of a “messiah” who might disrupt society — is the sign Pilate demanded be affixed to Jesus’s cross: a scornful signal to the crowds that this death awaits any man the pilgrims might proclaim “the king of the Jews.”

Jesus: Rediscovering the Mysteries Surrounding Christ's Resurrection Johnna Rizzo

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    But is only Rome could crucify Him why did Pilate proposed this to the Jews?
    – Marijn
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 19:08
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    @Marijn The interpretations on that vary. Attribution as to his precise motive will involve a bit of speculation, but on the practical side, Pilate had a political problem to try and solve that involved both the threat of sedition and a local leadership of the people Rome was ruling who were appealing to Rome's authority to hand out a sentence that they could not because they were under Rome's authority. By the way, that's a separate question that you ought to post separately. You asked why the Jews didn't, and I think I covered that. Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 23:31
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    I suspect that Pilate was simply engaging in a bit of sarcasm. As the local Roman governor, he knew very well that Rome reserved the imposition of capital punishment for itself. "Go do it yourself" was probably equivalent to, "Sorry, it ain't gonna happen." Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 5:41

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