Luke 23:1-7

Today we consider the trial of Jesus before Pilate in Luke 23:1-7.

Καὶ ἀναστὰν ἅπαν τὸ πλῆθος αὐτῶν ἤγαγον αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὸν Πειλᾶτον. ἤρξαντο δὲ κατηγορεῖν αὐτοῦ λέγοντες Τοῦτον εὕραμεν διαστρέφοντα τὸ ἔθνος ἡμῶν καὶ κωλύοντα φόρους Καίσαρι διδόναι καὶ λέγοντα αὑτὸν χριστὸν βασιλέα εἶναι. ὁ δὲ Πειλᾶτος ἠρώτησεν αὐτὸν λέγων Σὺ εἶ ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων; ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς αὐτῷ ἔφη Σὺ λέγεις. ὁ δὲ Πειλᾶτος εἶπεν πρὸς τοὺς ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ τοὺς ὄχλους Οὐδὲν εὑρίσκω αἴτιον ἐν τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ τούτῳ. οἱ δὲ ἐπίσχυον λέγοντες ὅτι Ἀνασείει τὸν λαὸν διδάσκων καθ᾿ ὅλης τῆς Ἰουδαίας, καὶ ἀρξάμενος ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας ἕως ὧδε.

Text notes

  • ἐπίσχυον is easier to remember when you see it as ἐπι ισχύω “upon” + “grow stronger/more powerful”.
  • When Pilate asks Jesus “Are you the king of the Jews”, Jesus’ response is simply Σὺ λέγεις, which is literally translated “You are speaking”. I have a few questions about this
  • Firstly, this text is normally translated in the past tense, Σὺ λέγεις is generally translated “You said it”. This suggests Jesus is agreeing with Pilates statement. Or is “You are speaking” a better translation. Is Jesus implying “You are the one speaking, you are the one doing the interview, you are clearly the one in charge here.” Is Jesus wishes ambiguously suggesting to that Pilate may consider himself King as he appears to be the one in charge?
  • Secondly, I wonder how the punctuation has been decided. Could it just as easily be Σὺ λέγεις; instead? Could Jesus asking Pilate to honestly asses the situation, asking Pilate: “What do you say?", ore more clearly, “What do you think?”


I had previously thought that Jesus’ response to Pilate “It is as you say” (NASB) was Jesus claiming that he is indeed king, but then never understood why Pilate would react that way if Jesus did just claim to be King. It is obvious however, that Jesus is defering to Pilate, suggesting “It is whatever you say”. What is interesting to me is that I only now understand this by having read it in the Greek. It seems to me that this statement could just as easily be a question. Does any early church commentary exist on this passage that suggests this might be the case?