Matthew 27:15

ESV Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted.
NIV Now it was the governor's custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd.
NASB Now at the Passover Feast the governor was accustomed to release for the people any one prisoner whom they wanted.
CSB At the festival the governor's custom was to release to the crowd a prisoner they wanted.
NLT Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd — anyone they wanted.
KJV Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.

What does Matthew 27:15 mean?

These events are happening near Passover, a major Jewish holiday (Matthew 26:1–5). This is likely the only reason Pontius Pilate, an infamously cruel and prejudiced Roman governor, is here rather than in his more usual seat of power. Pilate might have been arrogant, but he was not stupid. By this time, he would have already known about Jesus' popularity (Matthew 21:10–11). He can see through the obvious vendetta of the religious leaders (Matthew 27:18). If for no other reason than to resist being manipulated, he seems committed to having Jesus released, rather than killed.

The following verses show one of the attempts Pilate made to go around the Jewish religious leaders to free Jesus. He would use a custom to give the crowd a chance to call for Jesus' release. Roman law allowed certain leaders to pardon prisoners as they saw fit. The gospels suggest a standing tradition existed in Judea in which the Roman governor would release one prisoner during the Passover celebration. Perhaps the prisoner was selected, at least in part, according to popular opinion. What Pilate does not realize—yet—is that the people present appear to have been brought by Jesus' enemies to present a hostile scene (Matthew 27:20, 24; Mark 15:11, 15).
What is the Gospel?
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