10 Dec 2018

Pilate Rings True

Well, the guy was real.

As we head into the Christmas season, it is especially cool that a new archaeological discovery in Israel confirms yet again the accuracy of the Bible.

The backstory is also amazing.

A half-century ago, as the Six Day War enabled Israelis to really explore their ancestral land, an archaeological dig near Bethlehem yielded thousands of finds. Among them, a copper-alloy ring bearing the name…Pilate.

Yep, that Pilate. According to CBN:

“Archaeologists in Israel have found new evidence that an ancient finger ring could have belonged to the man who judged Jesus prior to his crucifixion, pointing to the authenticity of the biblical record.

The Times of Israel reports the 2,000-year-old copper alloy ring was dug up 50 years ago. It bears the inscription ‘of Pilatus,’ and it may be the second artifact proving that Pilate actually existed. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Pilate was the Roman prefect who washed his hands before condemning Jesus to death.

“When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.’” 
–Matthew 27:24

Pilate ruled Judea for 10 years; Jesus was crucified in the middle of this reign.

He famously asked Jesus, “What is truth?”

Historians tell us that Pilate actually allowed his soldiers to enter Jerusalem with images of the Roman emperor, which caused outrage among the Jews. It led to a confrontation, and Pilate backed down. His brief encounter with the Messiah is one of the most famous stories in history, and I find it fascinating that his ring was found near Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus!

The ring was found in 1968(!) at the Herodium, and the excavation was led by Gideon Foerster. As usual, skeptics claim the ring is too plain to have been worn by a Roman governor. Yet, hear experts in this type of archaeology believe it is more than plausible that it did indeed belong to Pilate:

“’Because of the rarity of the name Pilatus, which appears in full, and because only one Pontius Pilatus was ever the Roman governor of Judea, this identification should be regarded as completely certain,’ Mykytiuk wrote.”

I just think it’s really neat that this find has been made public for the first time, and it ties together Jesus’s birth with His resurrection, in the Greatest Story Ever Told.

It is also sobering for all of us, and should remind us to “use” this holiday celebration to share the Gospel with all we come in contact with, this month especially.

One wonders how and when Pilate himself discovered the true identity of the Galilean who stood in front of him, condemned, so long ago.

For God so loved the world…