Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Luke 13:1

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

At that season - At what time this happened is not easy to determine; but it appears that it was now a piece of news which was told to Christ and his disciples for the first time.

Whose blood Pilate had mingled - This piece of history is not recorded (as far as I can find) by Josephus: however, he states that the Galileans were the most seditious people in the land: they belonged properly to Herod's jurisdiction; but, as they kept the great feasts at Jerusalem, they probably, by their tumultuous behavior at some one of them, gave Pilate, who was a mortal enemy to Herod, a pretext to fall upon and slay many of them; and thus, perhaps, sacrifice the people to the resentment he had against the prince. Archelaus is represented by Josephus as sending his soldiers into the temple, and slaying 3000 men while they were employed in offering sacrifices. Josephus, War, b. ii. c. 1, s. 3, and ii. c. 5. Some suppose that this refers to the followers of Judas Gaulonites, (see Acts 5:37;), who would not acknowledge the Roman government, a number of whom Pilate surrounded and slew, while they were sacrificing in the temple. See Josephus, Antiq. lib. 18: but this is not very certain.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

There were present - That is, some persons who were present, and who had heard his discourse recorded in the previous chapter. There was probably a pause in his discourse, when they mentioned what had been done by Pilate to the Galileans.

At that season - At that time - that is the time mentioned in the last chapter. At what period of our Lord‘s ministry this was, it is not easy to determine.

Some that told him - This was doubtless an event of recent occurrence. Jesus, it is probable, had not before heard of it. Why they told him of it can only be a matter of conjecture. It might be from the desire to get him to express an opinion respecting the conduct of Pilate, and thus to involve him in difficulty with the reigning powers of Judea. It might be as a mere matter of news. But, from the answer of Jesus, it would appear that “they” supposed that the Galileans “deserved” it, and that they meant to pass a judgment on the character of those people, a thing of which they were exceedingly fond. The answer of Jesus is a reproof of their habit of hastily judging the character of others.

Galileans - People who lived in Galilee. See the notes at Matthew 2:22. They were not under the jurisdiction of Pilate, but of Herod. The Galileans, in the time of Christ, were very wicked.

Whose blood Pilate had mingled … - That is, while they were sacrificing at Jerusalem, Pilate came suddenly upon them and killed them, and “their” blood was mingled with the blood of the animals that they were slaying for sacrifice. It does not mean that Pilate “offered” their blood in sacrifice, but only that as they were sacrificing he killed them. The fact is not mentioned by Josephus, and nothing more is known of it than what is here recorded. We learn, however, from Josephus that the Galileans were very wicked, and that they were much disposed to broils and seditions. It appears, also, that Pilate and Herod had a quarrel with each other Luke 23:12, and it is not improbable that Pilate might feel a particular enmity to the subjects of Herod. It is likely that the Galileans excited a tumult in the temple, and that Pilate took occasion to come suddenly upon them, and show his opposition to them and Herod by slaying them. “Pilate.” The Roman governor of Judea. See the notes at Matthew 27:2.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Mention was made to Christ of the death of some Galileans. This tragical story is briefly related here, and is not met with in any historians. In Christ's reply he spoke of another event, which, like it, gave an instance of people taken away by sudden death. Towers, that are built for safety, often prove to be men's destruction. He cautioned his hearers not to blame great sufferers, as if they were therefore to be accounted great sinners. As no place or employment can secure from the stroke of death, we should consider the sudden removals of others as warnings to ourselves. On these accounts Christ founded a call to repentance. The same Jesus that bids us repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, bids us repent, for otherwise we shall perish.
Ellen G. White
Christ's Object Lessons, 212-4

This chapter is based on Luke 13:1-9.

Christ in His teaching linked with the warning of judgment the invitation of mercy. “The Son of man is not come,” He said, “to destroy men's lives, but to save them.” Luke 9:56. “God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:17. His mission of mercy in its relation to God's justice and judgment is illustrated in the parable of the barren fig tree. COL 212.1

Read in context »
Jesus' Ministry in Galilee and Journey to Jerusalem