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The Report of Pilate to Emperor Tiberius on The Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ

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The Gospel of Nicodemus, commonly referred to as the Acts of Pilate assume to have been derived from the official acts preserved in the prætorium at Jerusalem. The Acta Pilati, mentioned by St. Justin Martyr (c100-165) and Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus (c155-220), is referred to about a century later by the well-informed bishop and historian Eusebius of Caesarea (c260/265-339). St. Epiphanius refers to the Acta Pilati similar to our own, as early as 376, but there are indications that the current Greek text, the earliest extant form, is a revision of the original one. The “Acta” are of orthodox composition and free from Gnostic taint.

Pontius Pilate (unknown B.C. – circa A.D. 37) was the fifth Roman procurator of Judea (AD 26 – 36 ) under Emperor Tiberius, who sentenced Jesus to death by crucifixion. The quotes below refer to the Acts of Pontius Pilate. The existence of the Acts of Pontius Pilate is strongly supported by St. Epiphanius (Heresies 50.1), St. Justin Martyr (First Apology, A.D. 150 ) and Tertullian (Apology, A.D. 200). The Acts of Pontius Pilate were kept in the Roman archives, Commentarii principis, as stated in the following quote.

The ancient Romans were scrupulously careful to preserve the memory of all remarkable events which happened in the city; and this was done either in their “Acts of the Senate” (Acts Senatus), or in the “Daily Acts of the People” (Acta Diurna Populi), which were diligently made and kept at Rome. In like manner it was customary for the governors of provinces to send to the emperor an account of remarkable transactions that occurred in the places where they resided, which were preserved in the “Acts of” their respective governments. We find, long before the time of Eusebius [3rd century], that the primitive Christians, in their disputes with the Gentiles, appealed to these “Acts of Pilate”. Thus, St. Justin Martyr, in his first “Apology” for the Christians, which was presented to the Emperor Antoninus Pius [A.D. 138-161] and the senate of Rome, about the year [A.D.] 140, having mentioned the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and some of its attendant circumstances, adds, “And these things were done, you may know from the ‘Acts’ made in the time of Pontius Pilate.”

It should be noted that fraudulent versions of the original Acts of Pilate were circulated later in the fourth and fifth centuries. These should not be confused with the original document that was generated in the first century, archived in Rome and was available to Caesar Antoninus Pius and the Roman Senate. Otherwise, St. Justin Martyr’s appeal to the Acts of Pilate in his First Apology would have lacked credibility. Both St. Justin Martyr (A.D. 150) and Tertullian (A.D. 200) refer to the original document, and not the fraudulent versions

Pilate’s Reference To Jesus Christ

“And again in other words, through another prophet, He says, “They pierced My hands and My feet, and for My vesture they cast lots.” And indeed David, the king and prophet, who uttered these things, suffered none of them; but Jesus Christ stretched forth His hands, being crucified by the Jews speaking against Him and denying that He was the Christ. And as the prophet spoke, they tormented Him, and set Him on the judgment-seat, and said, Judge us. And the expression, “They pierced my hands and my feet,” was used in reference to the nails of the cross which were fixed in His hands and feet. And after He was crucified they cast lots upon His vesture, and they that crucified Him parted it among them. And that these things did happen, you can ascertain from the Acts of Pontius Pilate.” – St. Justin Martyr, First Apology 35

“And that it was predicted that our Christ should heal all diseases and raise the dead, hear what was said. There are these words: “At His coming the lame shall leap as an hart, and the tongue of the stammerer shall be clear speaking: the blind shall see, and the lepers shall be cleansed; and the dead shall rise, and walk about.” And that He did those things, you can learn from the Acts of Pontius Pilate.” – St. Justin Martyr, First Apology 48

The report of Pilate reveals several key things, including:

  • Christ performed amazing miracles
  • Pilate saw angels.
  • Pilate saw resurrected people


In those days, our Lord Jesus Christ having been crucified under Pontius Pilate, procurator of Palestine and Phoenicia, these records were made in Jerusalem as to what was done by the Jews against the Lord. Pilate therefore, along with his private report, sent them to Tiberius, the Cæsar in Rome, writing thus: —

To the most mighty, venerable, awful, most divine, the august,—Pilatus Pontius, the governor of the East sends greeting:

I have to report to thy reverence, through this writing of mine, being seized with great trembling and fear, O most mighty emperor, the conjuncture of the present times, as the end of these things has shown.

For while I, my lord, according to the commandment of thy clemency, was discharging the duties of my government, which is one of the cities of the East, Jerusalem by name, in which is built the temple of the Jewish nation, all the multitude of the Jews came together, and delivered to me a certain man named Jesus, bringing against him many and groundless charges; and they were not able to convict him in anything.

And one heresy of theirs against him was, that he said that the Sabbath was not their right rest. And that man wrought many cures, in addition to good works. He made the blind see; he cleansed lepers; he raised the dead; he healed paralytics who could not move at all, except that they only had their voice, and the joining of their bones; and he gave them the power of walking about and running, commanding them by a single word.

And another mightier work he did, which was strange even with our gods: he raised up a dead man, Lazarus, who had been dead four days, by a single word ordering the dead man to be raised, although his body was already corrupted by the worms that grow in wounds; and that ill-smelling body lying in the tomb he ordered to run; and as a bridegroom from the bridal chamber, so he came forth out of the tomb, filled with exceeding fragrance.

And some that were cruelly vexed by demons, and had their dwellings in deserts, and ate the flesh of their own limbs, and lived along with reptiles and wild beasts, he made to be dwellers in cities in their own houses, and by a word he rendered them sound-minded; and he made those that were troubled by unclean spirits to be intelligent and reputable; and sending away the demons in them into a herd of swine, he suffocated them in the sea.

Another man, again, who had a withered hand, and lived in sorrow, and had not even the half of his body sound, he rendered sound by a single word. And a woman that had a flow of blood for many years, so that, in consequence of the flowing of her blood, all the joinings of her bones appeared, and were transparent like glass; and assuredly all the physicians had left her without hope, and had not cleansed her, for there was not in her a single hope of health: once, then, as Jesus was passing by, she took hold of the fringe of his clothes behind, and that same hour the power of her body was completely restored, and she became whole, as if nothing were the matter with her, and she began to run swiftly to her own city Paneas.

And these things indeed were so. And the Jews gave information that Jesus did these things on the Sabbath. And I also ascertained that the miracles done by him were greater than any which the gods whom we worship could do.

Him then Herod and Archelaus and Philip, and Annas and Caiaphas, with all the people, delivered to me to try him. And as many were exciting an insurrection against me, I ordered him to be crucified.

And when he had been crucified, there was darkness over the whole earth, the sun having been completely hidden, and the heaven appearing dark though it was day, so that the stars appeared, but had at the same time their brightness darkened, as I suppose your reverence is not ignorant of, because in all the world they lighted lamps from the sixth hour until evening. And the moon, being like blood, did not shine the whole night, and yet she happened to be at the full. And the stars also, and Orion, made a lament about the Jews, on account of the wickedness that had been done by them.

And the fear of the earthquake remained from the sixth hour of the preparation until the ninth hour. And on the first of the week, about the third hour of the night, there was a sound out of the heaven and  the sun was seen such as it had never at any time shone, and all the heaven was lighted up. And as lightnings come on in winter, so majestic men of indescribable splendour of dress and of glory appeared in the air, and an innumerable multitude of angels crying out, and saying: Jesus that was crucified is risen. Glory in the highest to God, and on earth peace, among men goodwill: come up out of Hades, ye who have been kept in slavery in the underground regions of Hades.

And at their voice all the mountains and hills were shaken, and the rocks were burst asunder; and great chasms were made in the earth, so that also what was in the abyss appeared. And there were seen in that terror dead men raised up, as the Jews that saw them said: We have seen Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the twelve patriarchs, that died two thousand five hundred years ago; and we have seen Noah manifestly in the body.

And there were very many whom I also saw appearing in the body; and they were making a lamentation about the Jews, on account of the wickedness that had come to pass through them, and the destruction of the Jews and of their law.

And all the multitude walked about, and sang praises to God with a loud voice, saying: The Lord our God that has risen from the dead has brought to life all the dead, and has plundered Hades, and put him to death.

All that night therefore, my lord, O king, the light ceased not. And many of the Jews died, and were engulphed and swallowed up in the chasms in that night, so that not even their bodies appeared. Those, I say, of the Jews suffered that had spoken against Jesus. And one synagogue was left in Jerusalem, since all those synagogues that had been against Jesus were engulphed.

From that fear, then, being in perplexity, and seized with much trembling, at that same hour I ordered what had been done by them all to be written; and I have reported it to thy mightiness.”

See this article for other accounts from Roman Archives and Roman historians

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