Chapter

Matthew 27:20

ESV Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.
NIV But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
NASB But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas, and to put Jesus to death.
CSB The chief priests and the elders, however, persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to execute Jesus.
NLT Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death.
KJV But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.

What does Matthew 27:20 mean?

Pilate has offered the people a choice. Every year at the Passover, he releases one prisoner in Roman custody as a sign of good faith to the people (Matthew 27:20). This year, he has given the crowds a choice. This is a calculated decision. One option is Jesus, popular, a healer, and clearly innocent (Matthew 21:10–11; 27:18). The other is Barabbas, the insurrectionist and murderer (Matthew 27:16; Mark 15:7). Pilate's goal is to have Jesus released.

While this seems to be an easy decision, there are factors to consider. Barabbas' participation in an attempt to overthrow Roman rule may have made him a hero to many. The fact that the entire Jewish religious leadership had condemned Jesus may have turned some of His former fans into skeptics. And, so far as this mob was concerned, it was not a neutral issue. The chief priests and elders have quickly gone to work. It's entirely possible that most who arrived at the governor's home in the early morning (Matthew 27:1–2; John 18:28) were specifically invited by Jesus' enemies. These religious leaders use their influence to persuade the people to ask for the release of Barabbas and the destruction of Jesus, the Son of God.
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