Barabbas: The Intriguing Biblical Figure Chosen Over Jesus

barabbas biblical figure

barabbas biblical figure

The Bible, one of the most well-read books in human history, is filled with tales of faith, redemption, and profound mystery. Among its many stories, the account of Barabbas stands out for its intriguing implications and moral dilemmas. Often referred to as the ‘barabbas biblical figure’, the story of this man, chosen by the public over Jesus Christ, delves deep into the intricacies of human choices, biases, and societal pressures.

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What was Barabbas Known As?

Barabbas is a unique character whose full story isn’t detailed extensively in biblical texts, but the snippets that are mentioned are profound. Historically and biblically, he’s often recognized as a rebel or insurgent. The gospels describe him as someone who had been involved in a rebellion against the Roman authorities, and as a result, he was imprisoned.

Who is Barabbas in John 18:40?

The Gospel of John provides one of the most direct insights into Barabbas’s identity and the context in which he was chosen over Jesus. In John 18:40, the crowd is given a choice to release a prisoner, as was customary during the Passover festival. Faced with the option of Jesus, a man who claimed to be the Son of God, or Barabbas, a known rebel, the crowd chose the latter. The exact verse reads: “They shouted back, ‘No, not him! Give us Barabbas!’ Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.”

Why Did They Chose Barabbas Over Jesus?

The decision to choose Barabbas over Jesus is one filled with layers of complexity. Several factors might have contributed:

  1. The Role of Religious Leaders: The religious leaders of the time felt threatened by Jesus and His teachings. They might have swayed the public opinion against Him.
  2. Misunderstanding of Jesus’s Mission: Many people at that time expected a Messiah who would free them from Roman rule, but Jesus’s teachings were more spiritual than political. Barabbas, being involved in an uprising against the Romans, might have been seen as someone who physically fought for their freedom.
  3. Mob Mentality: Crowds can be easily manipulated. The loud voices of a few can influence the decisions of many. The choice for Barabbas could have been the result of a few vocal leaders in the crowd.
  4. Fear of Roman Retaliation: The public might have believed that releasing a known rebel like Barabbas could be less threatening than releasing Jesus, who was seen as a potential revolutionary figure against the Roman Empire.

Who is Barabbas in Matthew 27?

In Matthew 27, Barabbas’s story is explored further. Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, offers the crowd a choice to release one prisoner. He gives them the option of Jesus, called the Messiah, or Barabbas. Influenced by the chief priests and the elders, the crowd asks for Barabbas to be released and Jesus to be crucified.

Matthew’s account also emphasizes the inner turmoil of Pilate, who believes Jesus to be innocent. Despite his wife’s warning and his own reservations, Pilate yields to the wishes of the crowd, washes his hands symbolizing his attempt to distance himself from the decision, and releases Barabbas.


The story of Barabbas, while brief, presents readers with thought-provoking questions about societal choices, the influence of leadership, and the complexities of human nature. It’s a story that underscores the tumultuous times leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Every time we delve into the tale of Barabbas, we are reminded of the profound choices that history, society, and individuals often make, and the far-reaching consequences that come with them.

FAQs on Barabbas: Understanding the Biblical Figure Chosen Over Jesus

  1. Who exactly was Barabbas?
    • Barabbas was a man imprisoned by the Roman authorities for insurrection and possibly other crimes. He is best known for being the prisoner whom the Jews chose to release instead of Jesus during the Passover, as per the Roman custom.
  2. Why is Barabbas significant in the Bible?
    • The story of Barabbas is crucial because it highlights the choice of the people at the time – choosing to release a known criminal over Jesus, who was innocent. This moment showcases the extent of the rejection of Jesus by His own people and the manipulation by religious leaders.
  3. What was Barabbas known for?
    • Barabbas is often described in the Gospels as a rebel or insurgent, indicating he might have been part of a movement against the Roman Empire. Some translations also label him as a murderer.
  4. Is Barabbas’s full story detailed in the Bible?
    • No, the Bible provides only a snapshot of Barabbas’s life, focusing primarily on the moment he was chosen over Jesus. Details about his early life, the specifics of his crimes, or what happened to him post-release aren’t provided.
  5. How did the crowd come to choose Barabbas over Jesus?
    • The decision was influenced by multiple factors, including manipulation by religious leaders, the crowd’s misunderstanding of Jesus’s mission, the influence of vocal individuals, and possibly fear of Roman retaliation.
  6. What does the name “Barabbas” mean?
    • The name “Barabbas” can be broken down as “Bar” meaning “son of” and “Abbas” meaning “father”. So, Barabbas can be translated as “son of the father”. It’s an interesting contrast given that Jesus is often referred to as the Son of the Father (God).
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