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(The Legality Of It)









Everything you can determine about Jesus’ trials was illegal.  These observations are based upon secular court proceedings and arrests of historical cases of the times (1 A.D. to 100 A.D.; mostly Roman laws; for that is the jurisdiction Jesus was under).  Another resource one can use is, the book, “The Trial of Jesus of Nazareth,” by Law Professor, Max Radin, published by the “University of Chicago Press,” in 1931.  Max Radin brings a lawyer’s eye to the historical record, from Christian, Roman, and Jewish sources; as well as succinctly developing the context.  Let’s run through just the obvious:






1) There was no possibility of a fair trial; and the Sanhedrin knew it.  Therefore, it should have been dismissed at the outset.


2) The binding of a prisoner until he is condemned was unlawful; unless resistance was offered, or if the accused did try to escape.  Jesus, of course, offered no resistance.


3) It was illegal for judges to participate in the arrest of the accused.  Yet in the case of Jesus, they were the ones ordering it and doing it.


4) No legal transactions, including and especially a trial, could be conducted at night.


5) No arrest could be conducted, without verification upon the validity of an informer or traitor.  Jesus’ accusers appeared after the arrest.


6) While a requital could be pronounced upon the same day (such as Pilot sending Jesus to Herod for a requital), His innocence would have to be accomplished upon a subsequent day by a party of two.  In other words, Pilot could not have released Jesus that day as he had hoped to do.  However, Pilot held Jesus in order to avert a riot.


7) This is a weird law, but nonetheless was the law of Jesus’ time:  No prisoner could be convicted upon his own evidence.  So when Jesus agreed with the High Priest that He claimed to be God, which is the only evidence that they could bring against Him, it had to be thrown out by law.  In other words, it was even against the Jewish law to condemn any man to death on his own testimony.


8) Therefore, the guilty verdict was rendered with no evidence.


9) It was the duty of the judge to see that the security of the accused was fully protected.  Of course, Jesus received none of this.


10) Herrings before a magistrate was completely foreign to the Jewish legal system (in other words, Jesus should have never been turned over to the Romans).  Of course, the reason He was is because the Jewish law system, in regards to putting a person to death, could not be used, for only the Roman law could afford the Jews what they wanted to accomplish; Christ’s death (the death penalty).


11) The use of violence during a trial was illegal; which was unopposed by any of Jesus’ judges.


12) The judges sought false witnesses against Jesus.  Of course, being very illegal.


13) In a Jewish court of law, the accused was considered innocent until proven guilty by two or more witnesses.  If and when the witnesses first disagree, at that point the prisoner is dismissed.  See Mark 14:56.


14) A witness must be called for the defense of the accused (see number 22).  Which, of course, never happened at Jesus’ trial.


15) The trial under Caiaphas took place in his home instead of the council chamber, where it legally should have been held.  Thus, this entire procedure should have been deemed as a mistrial.


16) The Jewish court lacked the civil authority to condemn a man to death (as mentioned in #9).  Thus sending Jesus to Pilot was highly illegal.


17) The official method of execution was stoning.  To allow Jesus to be crucified was, of course, unjust.


18) It was illegal to conduct any session of the court on a “Feast day.”  This was the 14th of Nisan, equaling Passover.


19) At the time of Jesus’ trial, a balloting process was in place.  And it was illegal in the trial of Jesus.  It was to take place, with the youngest judge to vote first.  But here we have Caiaphas giving the one and only verdict; granted, accepted by all, but not passed, or balloted by all.


20) The sentence was passed in the palace of the High Priest (as mentioned in #15), but the law demanded that any sentencing was required to take place in the Temple, in the hall of the Temple court, by the judgment stone.


21) The High Priest was required to wear his official robe at a trial, but was never permitted, under any circumstance, to rend that particular garment (Lev. 21:10).  As was recorded, Caiaphas tore his robe when Jesus’ acknowledged that He was God (Mark 14:64).


22) The accuser (Judas) identifies Jesus as a Law breaker, but later refuses to.  Thus, there is no true accuser of Jesus, and Judas was not used to testify against Him.  In other words, the original accuser must always be present at the trial unless the accuser was killed (Judas hanged himself after the trial of Jesus was already started).  This makes the trial highly illegal and dismissible when the original accuser does not show up for the trial or recants his testimony.


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