27:15 During the feast the governor was accustomed to release one prisoner to the crowd, 1 whomever they wanted. 27:16 At that time they had in custody a notorious prisoner named Jesus 2 Barabbas. 27:17 So after they had assembled, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus 3 Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Christ?” 4 27:18 (For he knew that they had handed him over because of envy.) 5
1 sn The custom of Pilate to release one prisoner is unknown outside the gospels in Jewish writings, but it was a Roman custom at the time and thus probably used in Palestine as well (cf. Matt 27:15; John 18:39).
2 tc Although the external evidence for the inclusion of “Jesus” before “Barabbas” (in vv. 16 and 17) is rather sparse, being restricted virtually to the Caesarean text (Θ Ë1 700* pc sys), the omission of the Lord’s name in apposition to “Barabbas” is such a strongly motivated reading that it can hardly be original. There is no good explanation for a scribe unintentionally adding ᾿Ιησοῦν (Ihsoun) before Βαραββᾶν (Barabban), especially since Barabbas is mentioned first in each verse (thus dittography is ruled out). Further, the addition of τὸν λεγόμενον Χριστόν (ton legomenon Criston, “who is called Christ”) to ᾿Ιησοῦν in v. 17 makes better sense if Barabbas is also called “Jesus” (otherwise, a mere “Jesus” would have been a sufficient appellation to distinguish the two).
3 tc Again, as in v. 16, the name “Jesus” is supplied before “Barabbas” in Θ Ë1 700* pc sys Ormss (Θ 700* lack the article τόν [ton] before Βαραββᾶν [Barabban]). The same argument for accepting the inclusion of “Jesus” as original in the previous verse applies here as well.
4 tn Or “Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”
sn See the note on Christ in 1:16.
5 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.