Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus
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Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus
Jesus about to be struck in front of former High Priest Annas, as in John 18:22 (Madrazo, 1803)
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In the New Testament, the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus refers to the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin (a Jewish judicial body) following his arrest in Jerusalem and prior to his dispensation by Pontius Pilate. It is an event reported by all four canonical gospels of the New Testament, although John's Gospel does not explicitly mention a Sanhedrin trial in this context.[1]

Jesus is generally quiet, does not mount a defense, and rarely responds to the accusations, but is condemned by the Jewish authorities for various accusations: violating the Sabbath law (by healing on the Sabbath), threatening to destroy the Jewish Temple, sorcery, exorcising people by the power of demons, and claiming to be the Messiah.[2] The Jewish leaders then take Jesus to Pontius Pilate, the governor of Roman Judaea, and ask that he be tried for claiming to be the King of the Jews.

The trial as depicted in the Synoptic Gospels is temporally placed informally on Thursday night and then again formally on Friday morning. However, since the Jewish preparation day begins on Thursday at sunset, according to the Gospel of John this informally happened on Wednesday night and then again formally on Thursday morning, with him eventually being taken off the cross on Thursday night, being the beginning of the Jews' 'day of preparation', as it is written at John 19:42.

The idea that the 'day of preparation' begins on Thursday night is thought by some to be an error due to the bias of later 'Christian' thought. This trial takes place in the night portion of the 14th day of the 1st month, i.e. Passover, making the 'day of preparation' a reference to the preparation of the Passover meal and the cleansing of the home of all leaven. If this is true, the 'Sabbath' the next day is not a reference to the weekly Sabbath, but the High Sabbath of the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Interestingly, John calls this Sabbath a "high one" in John 19:31 (KJV, but called a 'special Sabbath' in the NIV). The High (special) Sabbaths that are associated to the Biblical feast days (Leviticus 23) can fall on any day of the week, not just Saturday. It is the belief of most Hebraic believers[] that the Messiah was crucified on the afternoon of a Wednesday and rose again on the evening of the weekly Sabbath, just before the first day of the week, which began at sunset according to the Scriptural meaning of a day (Genesis 1, i.e. evening and morning). When the women went to the grave in the morning, his tomb was already empty, he was already gone. A Wednesday to Saturday time frame fulfills the only sign given that he was the Messiah, i.e. the sign of Jonah, three days and three nights in the grave (Matthew 12:40) and his claim that he would rise again on the third day (Matthew 20:19, Mark 12:34, Luke 24:46).

Trial

In the narrative of all the canonical gospels, after the arrest of Jesus he is taken to the Sanhedrin. From a historical perspective, in the era in which the narrative is set, the Sanhedrin body was an ad hoc gathering, rather than a fixed court.[3] The portrayal of the Sanhedrin contradicts that of Jewish tradition and texts, which portray the Sanhedrin to be an established court based in Jerusalem with strict guidelines on how to function.[4] This is often considered by Christian sources to have been a deliberate contradiction by the Gospel authors, accusing the Sanhedrin of illegally violating the Torah during the trial.[5][6][7]

In the four canonical gospels, Jesus is tried and condemned by the Sanhedrin. According to Luke, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus dissent from this decision.[8] Jesus is mocked and beaten and condemned for various accusations, violating the Sabbath law (by healing on the Sabbath), threatening to destroy the Jewish Temple, sorcery, exorcising people by the power of demons, and claiming to be both the Messiah and the Son of God.[2][9][10] Although the Gospel accounts vary with respect to some of the details, they agree on the general character and overall structure of the trials of Jesus.[11]

Matthew 26:57 states that Jesus was taken to the house of Caiaphas the High Priest of Israel, where the scribes and the elders were gathered together. Matthew 27:1 adds that, the next morning, the priests held another meeting. Mark 14:53 states that Jesus was taken that night "to the high priest" (without naming the priest), where all the chief priests and the elders gathered, and Mark 15:1 adds that another consultation was held among the priests the next morning. Luke 22:54 states that Jesus was taken to "the high priest's house", where he was mocked and beaten that night. It is added in 22:66 that, "as soon as it was day", the chief priests and scribes gathered together and led Jesus away into their council.[2][9][10]

In John 18:12-14, however, Jesus is first taken to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was the high priest at that time. Annas was the former high priest,[12] and it appears that Caiaphas sought Annas' confirmation of Caiaphas' actions.[] In 18:24, Jesus is sent from Annas to Caiaphas the high priest, and 18:28 states that, early in the morning, Jesus was led from Caiaphas to Pontius Pilate in the Praetorium.[2][9][10]

In all four Gospel accounts, the trial of Jesus before the priests and scribes is interleaved with the Denial of Peter narrative, where Apostle Peter, who has followed Jesus, denies knowing him three times.[13] The intercalated narrative of Jesus' resolute determination offers contrast to the framing narrative of Peter's aggrieved denials (Mark 14:53-54, 14:66-72).[14]Luke 22:61 states that as Jesus was bound and standing at the priest's house Peter was in the courtyard. Jesus "turned and looked straight at him", and Peter remembered the words Jesus had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times."[2][9][10][13]

In the Gospel accounts, Jesus speaks very little, and gives very infrequent and indirect answers to the questions of the priests, according to John 18:22 prompting an officer to slap him. In Matthew 26:62, the lack of response from Jesus prompts the high priest to ask him: "Answerest thou nothing?" In the Gospel accounts, the men that hold Jesus at the high priest's house mock, blindfold, insult and beat him, at times slapping him and asking him to guess who had hit him that time.[2][9][10][15]

Mark 14:55-59 states that the chief priests had sought witness against Jesus to put him to death but did not find any, so they arranged false witnesses against him, but their witnesses did not agree together. Mark 14:61 states that the high priest then asked Jesus: "Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" And Jesus said "I am", at which point the high priest tore his own robe in anger and accused Jesus of blasphemy. In Matthew 26:63, the high priest asks: "Tell us whether you are the Christ, the Son of God." Jesus responds "You have said it", prompting the High Priest to tear his own robe,[2][9][10] breaking Mosaic Law (Leviticus 21:10).[disputed ]

In Luke 22:67, Jesus is asked: "If thou art the Christ, tell us. But he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe". But, in 22:70, when asked "Are you then the Son of God?", Jesus answers "You say that I am", affirming the title Son of God.[16] At that point, the priests say "What further need have we of witness? for we ourselves have heard from his own mouth", and they decide to condemn Jesus.[2][9][10]

Thereafter, in Pilate's Court, the Jewish elders ask Pontius Pilate to judge and condemn Jesus, accusing him of claiming to be the King of the Jews. Such a claim would be considered treasonous, for being a direct challenge to the Roman authorities.[10]

Comparison

Narrative comparison

The following comparison table is primarily based on the New International Version (NIV) English translation of the New Testament.[17]

Matthew Mark Luke John
Sanhedrin trial before Caiaphas (Matthew, Mark, Luke) or Annas (John) Matthew 26:57-67
  • Jesus taken to Caiaphas' court.
  • Sanhedrin brought forth false witnesses.
  • Jesus remained silent. Caiaphas: 'Are you the Messiah, the Son of God?'
  • Jesus: 'You say so, but from now on you will see the Son of Man next to the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.'
  • Caiaphas tore his clothes and said: 'Blasphemy! Who needs more witnesses, now you have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?'
  • The rest answered: 'He is worthy of death!'
  • Jesus spat on and beaten. 'Prophesy, who hit you, Messiah?'

Mark 14:53-65
  • Jesus taken to the high priest.
  • Sanhedrin brought forth false witnesses.
  • Jesus remained silent. High priest: 'Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?'
  • Jesus: 'I am, and you will see the Son of Man next to the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.'
  • High priest tore his clothes: 'Who needs more witnesses, now you have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?'
  • They all condemned him as worthy of death.
  • Jesus spat on, blindfolded and beaten. 'Prophesy!'

Luke 22:54-71
  • Jesus taken to high priest's house.


  • Jesus mocked and beaten. Blindfolded and asked: 'Prophesy! Who hit you?'
  • At daybreak, Sanhedrin asked Jesus if he is the Messiah.
  • Jesus: 'You won't believe me, but from now on the Son of Man will be next to the power of God.'
  • All: 'Are you then the Son of God?'
  • Jesus: 'You say that I am.'
  • All: 'Who needs more testimony? We've heard him say it himself!'
John 18:13-28
  • Jesus taken to Annas' court.


  • Annas questioned Jesus about his disciples and teaching.
  • Jesus told Annas about his ministry.
  • Officer of Annas slapped Jesus, who asked him why.
  • Annas sent Jesus, bound, to Caiaphas.

  • Denial of Peter (part 2).

  • Jesus taken from Caiaphas to Pilate.
Trial before Pilate (Luke: and also before Herod Antipas) Matthew 27:1-14
  • Early in the morning the chief priests and elders planned to have Jesus executed.


  • Pilate: 'Are you the king of the Jews?' Jesus: 'You have said so.'
  • Jesus otherwise remained silent, which amazed Pilate.
Mark 15:1-5
  • Very early in the morning the chief priests, elders, law teachers and Sanhedrin made plans, bound Jesus and took him to Pilate.
  • Pilate: 'Are you the king of the Jews?' Jesus: 'You have said so.'
  • Jesus otherwise remained silent, which amazed Pilate.
Luke 23:1-12
  • The whole assembly rose and took Jesus to Pilate.
  • They accused Jesus of subverting the nation, opposing Roman taxes, and claiming to be Messiah, a king.
  • Pilate: 'Are you the king of the Jews?' Jesus: 'You have said so.'
  • Pilate: 'I find no guilt in this man.'
  • They: 'He came from Galilee stirring up people all over Judea by his teaching!'
  • Pilate sent Jesus to Herod Antipas because he was a Galilean.

  • Herod - also in Jerusalem at the time - was pleased to see Jesus, but Jesus didn't answer his questions. The chief priests and law teachers accused Jesus. Herod and his soldiers then mocked Jesus, put an elegant robe on him and sent him back to Pilate.
John 18:28-38
  • Early in the morning Jesus was taken to Pilate by the Jewish leaders, who refused to enter the praetorium to stay ceremonially clean for Passover.
  • Pilate came out and asked them why. They said only Pilate could apply the death penalty.
  • Pilate, inside: 'Are you the king of the Jews?' Jesus: 'My kingdom is not of this world, otherwise my servants would have fought to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders.'
  • Pilate: 'You are a king, then!' Jesus: 'You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.' Pilate: 'What is truth?'
  • Pilate, outside: 'I find no guilt in him.'
Jesus versus Barabbas Matthew 27:15-26
  • Narrator explains the amnesty vote and Barabbas.
  • Pilate asked crowd: 'Should I release Barabbas or Jesus 'the Messiah'?'
  • Pilate's wife begged him to release Jesus. Chief priests and elders persuaded the crowd against Jesus.
  • Pilate asked crowd: 'Who should I release?' Crowd: 'Barabbas!'
  • Pilate: 'What should I do with Jesus?' Crowd: 'Crucify him!'
  • Pilate: 'What crime has he committed then?' Crowd, louder: 'Crucify him!'
  • Pilate washed his hands of guilt and said: 'I'm innocent of this man's blood, it's your responsibility!' Crowd: 'His blood is on us and on our children!'
  • Pilate released Barabbas, had Jesus flogged and abducted.
Mark 15:6-15
  • Narrator explains the amnesty vote and Barabbas.
  • Pilate asked crowd: 'Do you want me to release the king of the Jews?'
  • Chief priests stirred up the crowd to release Barabbas.
  • Pilate: 'What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?' Crowd: 'Crucify him!'
  • Pilate: 'What crime has he committed then?' Crowd, louder: 'Crucify him!'
  • Pilate released Barabbas, had Jesus flogged and abducted.
Luke 23:13-25
  • Pilate tells chief priests and rulers: 'I've found Jesus not guilty, neither has Herod. So I will flog him and release him.'
  • But the crowd shouted: 'Away with him! Release Barabbas!'
  • Narrator explains Barabbas.
  • Pilate tried to appeal for Jesus's release and repeated his not guilty verdict, but due to insistent loud shouting for crucifixion, Pilate gave in to their demand.
  • Pilate released Barabbas, had Jesus abducted.
John 18:39-19:16
  • Pilate explained the amnesty vote and asked: 'Do you want me to release 'the king of the Jews'?'
  • They shouted back: 'No, not him! Give us Barabbas!' Narrator explains Barrabas.
  • Pilate had Jesus flogged. Soldiers put a crown of thorns and purple robe on Jesus, hit his face and mocked him saying: 'Hail, king of the Jews!'
  • Pilate, outside, repeated his not guilty verdict and presented Jesus: 'Here is the man!'
  • Chief priests and officials shouted: 'Crucify! Crucify!' Pilate: 'Go ahead and crucify him. I myself find no guilt in him.' Jewish leaders: 'Our law says he must die because he claimed to be the Son of God.'
  • Pilate, afraid, interrogated Jesus inside. Jesus: 'You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.' Pilate tried to set Jesus free.
  • Jewish leaders: 'If you let him go, you disobey Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.'
  • Pilate brought out Jesus around noon, saying: 'Here is your king.' They shouted: 'Take him away, crucify him!'
  • Pilate: 'Shall I crucify your king?' Chief priests: 'We have no king but Caesar.'
  • Pilate handed Jesus over to them for crucifixion.
Jesus abducted for crucifixion Matthew 27:27-31
  • Roman soldiers took Jesus into the praetorium.
  • Soldiers undressed Jesus and put a scarlet robe, a crown of thorns and a staff on him.
  • Soldiers knelt in front of Jesus and mocked him saying: 'Hail, king of the Jews!'
  • They spit on him, took the staff and struck his head.
  • They took off the robe, put his clothes back on and led him away.
Mark 15:16-20
  • Roman soldiers took Jesus into the praetorium.
  • Soldiers put a purple robe and a crown of thorns on Jesus.
  • Soldiers called out to Jesus: 'Hail, king of the Jews!'
  • They struck his head with a staff, spit on him and knelt in homage to him.
  • After mocking, they took off the purple robe, put his clothes back on, led him outside and away.
Luke 23:26
  • Jesus led away by Roman soldiers.
  • [No mistreatment by soldiers]
John 19:16
  • Jesus led away by chief priests.
  • [No mistreatment by soldiers; this did happen earlier, see 19:1-3]

Chronological comparison

Chronological comparison between the Jesus Passion narratives according to the Gospels of Mark and John

Empty tombBurial of JesusQuod scripsi, scripsiCrucifixion of JesusPilate's courtDenial of PeterSanhedrin trial of JesusArrest of Jesus

Last SupperEmpty tombBurial of JesusCrucifixion darknessMocking of JesusCrucifixion of JesusPilate's courtDenial of PeterSanhedrin trial of JesusArrest of JesusGethsemanePassover SederLast Supper


See also

References

  1. ^ Mark 14:53-65, Matthew 26:57-68, Luke 22:63-71, and John 18:12-24
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey by Craig L. Blomberg 2009 ISBN 0-8054-4482-3 pages 396-400
  3. ^ Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament Doubleday 1997 ISBN 0-385-24767-2, p. 146.
  4. ^ "The Sanhedrin". www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org. Retrieved .
  5. ^ "34. The Illegal Trial before the Sanhedrin". Christianity.com. Retrieved .
  6. ^ Barton, George A. (1922). "On the Trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin". Journal of Biblical Literature. 41 (3/4): 205-211. doi:10.2307/3260096. JSTOR 3260096.
  7. ^ Illegality of Jesus' Trial before the Sanhedrin -- Triduum Retreat 1 Schoeman, retrieved
  8. ^ Luke 23:50-51
  9. ^ a b c d e f g The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: Matthew-Luke, Volume 1 by Craig A. Evans 2003 ISBN 0-7814-3868-3 page 487-500
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Holman Concise Bible Dictionary 2011 ISBN 0-8054-9548-7 pages 608-609
  11. ^ The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia by Geoffrey W. Bromiley 1982 ISBN 0-8028-3782-4 pages 1050-1052
  12. ^ Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Annas" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  13. ^ a b Theological dictionary of the New Testament by Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey William Bromiley, Gerhard Friedrich 1980 ISBN 0-8028-2248-7 page 105
  14. ^ James R. Edwards, "Markan Sandwiches: The Significance of Interpolations in Markan Narratives", Novum Testamentum 31 no. 3 (1989): 193-216; Tom Shepherd, "The Narrative Function of Markan Intercalation", New Testament Studies 41 (1995): 522-540; Rhoads, David, Joanna Dewey, and Donald Michie, Mark as Story: An Introduction to the Narrative of a Gospel, 3rd ed. (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Fortress Press, 2012), 51-52.
  15. ^ Matthew 26:67, Mark 14:65, Luke 22:63-65, John 18:22
  16. ^ Luke's presentation of Jesus: a christology by Robert F. O'Toole 2004 ISBN 88-7653-625-6 page 166
  17. ^ "Online Bible - New International Version". Biblehub.com. 2011. Retrieved 2021.

Further reading

External links


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