Pilate’s Wife

It is very significant to notice how important the influence for good or bad a wife had, in the Bible.

Eve’s advice to Adam brought the completion of the ruin of the fall of man;

Job’s wife suggested that he curse God and die;

Haman’s wife, Zeresh, had the discernment to prophecy of the imminent fall of her husband although she had suggested building the gallows for Mordecai;

The stronger faith of Manoah’s wife was a timely word to her despairing husband;

Delilah was the means of Samson’s fall into the hands of the Philistines.

However, one wife rarely spoken of is Pilate’s wife. We read just one verse in the whole of Scripture about her, in Matthew 27:19: “When he (that is Pilate) was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that Just Man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of Him.”

How good it had been for Pilate if he had listened to his wife’s warning. However, we read in the very next verse:

“But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas and destroy Jesus.”
(Matthew 27:20)

Evidently this weak and vacillating man could not withstand the pressure of the malicious priests and elders, so their words weighed more heavily than those of his wife.

Now, for the salvation of sinners, we know that it was of the determinate counsel of God that the Lord Jesus should be crucified, yet the warning from God through Pilate’s wife left him without excuse.

It was also further testimony from God to the innocence of the dear Lamb of God, His Son, Jesus Christ.

But what of Pilate’s wife?

She would probably have been a heathen as Pilate was, although historians say that her name was of Jewish origin.

Who can tell what effect this revelation might have had on her?

Undoubtedly, it went deep enough into her mind for her to speak as she did to Pilate. It was an unheard-of thing in those days that a wife should influence justice, as she attempted to do.

Was this dream the beginning of a work of grace?

We cannot tell, as Scripture remains silent. However, one thing is certain: she believed Jesus to be innocent, and that may have somewhat influenced Pilate, when at the last “he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this Just Person; see ye to it.”

In her favour, it can be said that she was not afraid to openly testify of her conviction that Jesus was innocent, and this not only before her husband, but in the public way in which she sent the message, before Jesus! persecutors also.

Although the Lord Jesus Christ said nothing in His own defence, except to acknowledge that He is the Son of God, yet His Father raised up Pilate’s wife and the centurion, to name but two, who openly protested the innocence of the suffering Saviour.

These things are written for our learning and instruction.

By Gerald Buss

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