15 Facts About Barabbas You Should Know

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In this post, we will look at some facts about Barabbas, the man who is a pivotal yet enigmatic figure in the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion.

His brief mentions in the Gospels raise many questions about who he was and what his story signifies.

While the Bible gives few details about his life, Barabbas has become an intriguing biblical character and his role on Good Friday has been explored for centuries. Looking at key facts about Barabbas can provide insight into this controversial biblical figure.

Who is Barabbas? 

Barabbas is described in the Gospels as a criminal imprisoned at the time Jesus was brought before Pontius Pilate.

His full name was Jesus Barabbas, meaning “Jesus, son of the father” in Aramaic. This distinguishes him from Jesus of Nazareth, but also connects the two figures.

Barabbas was arrested for taking part in an insurrection against the Roman occupiers and for murder.

He was awaiting execution for his crimes when the Passover pardon freed him. Beyond these details, little is known about his background or motivations.

The sparse biographical facts make Barabbas an obscure figure, but his notable release has made him the subject of much interest and debate.

15 Facts about Barabbas

  1. Barabbas appeared in all four Gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ trial. His presence in all four Gospels underscores his importance in the narrative of Jesus’ crucifixion.
  2. Jesus and Barabbas shared a common name. Both Jesus and Barabbas were referred to as “Jesus, son of the father,” which has led some to believe that this was meant to highlight the contrast between the two men.
  3. The Gospels portray Barabbas in an unfavorable light. He is described as a “notorious prisoner,” a rebel, and a murderer. This portrayal likely reflects the early Christian view of Barabbas as a contrast to Jesus, who was seen as the perfect and innocent Son of God.
  4. Barabbas was imprisoned for taking part in an insurrection against the Romans. This insurrection was likely a Messianic revolt, which aimed to overthrow Roman rule and establish an independent Jewish kingdom.
  5. Pontius Pilate offered to release either Barabbas or Jesus. This offer followed a Passover tradition of pardoning one prisoner. Pilate likely hoped that the crowd would choose to release Jesus, but they instead chose Barabbas.
  6. Pilate was surprised that the crowd chose to free Barabbas. He believed that Jesus was innocent and that Barabbas was a dangerous criminal. This suggests that Pilate may have sympathized with Jesus, but he ultimately felt pressured to follow the will of the crowd.
  7. Some believe that the crowds were manipulated by Jewish leaders to call for Barabbas’ release and Jesus’ crucifixion. This interpretation suggests that the Jewish leaders were responsible for Jesus’ death.
  8. Others believe that having the crowd choose Barabbas was meant to place guilt on all Jews. This interpretation is often used to justify anti-Semitism.
  9. Early anti-Semitic sentiments used Barabbas’ release to justify hatred of Jews as “Christ-killers.” This interpretation is a dangerous and harmful generalization that has no basis in the Gospels.
  10. Others see Barabbas’ story as showing Jesus’ willingness to die for sinners like Barabbas. This interpretation emphasizes the universality of Jesus’ sacrifice and its ability to redeem even the most wicked people.
  11. Barabbas’ release fulfilled the prophecy that the Messiah would be “numbered among the transgressors.” This prophecy is found in Isaiah 53:12. It suggests that the Messiah would be falsely accused and executed like a criminal.
  12. Beyond the Gospels, Barabbas is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible or in non-biblical sources. This lack of evidence suggests that Barabbas was a relatively minor figure in Jewish history.
  13. Barabbas’ life after being pardoned is left unknown. This has left his story open to artistic imagination.
  14. Barabbas appears in many fictional portrayals. He is a character in novels, films, and other works of art. Some of the most famous portrayals include The Robe (1953) and Barabbas (1961).
  15. Barabbas represents the pardoning of sinners made possible by Christ’s sacrifice. His story shows that even the most wicked people can be redeemed through God’s grace.
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Conclusion

The mysterious life and release of Barabbas has made him an object of fascination for two millennia. This biblical figure shows up only briefly in the Passion narratives, yet leaves many lingering questions. His shared name and contrasting character with Christ have been pondered deeply.

While some facts about Barabbas can be gleaned from the Gospels, much remains uncertain about who this criminal was.

His role on Good Friday continues to be debated from varying perspectives. Regardless of his shadowy identity, Barabbas leaves an indelible mark on the Easter story.

His release represents the dramatic irony of sinners being freed through the suffering of Jesus Christ. More than just a biblical footnote, Barabbas embodies the redemptive message at the heart of Christianity.

 

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