Who Was Bar Abbas?

Q. Who was Barabbas? I have been intrigued by the meaning of his name (son of the father, if I’m not mistaken). Can you shed some light into his role?

A. It gets even more intriguing when you realize that according to some translations his first name was Jesus. He’s usually depicted as a criminal but in fact was more likely the leader of a group of freedom fighters. It’s thought that his first name was deleted from some Greek texts to avoid having the name Jesus associated with a criminal.

There are several other similarities between these two. Beside the fact that both were Jews named Jesus, both were “sons of the father” (bar Abbas means son of the father), both were popular rebel leaders, and both were trying to free their people. Tradition holds that upon his release, Jesus bar Abbas went to Golgotha to watch Jesus the Messiah be crucified and was later killed in another revolt against the Romans. So both also died at the hand of the Romans for the crime of treason.

Earlier, Jesus had said that although He had come in His Father’s name, Israel would reject Him. But if another came in his own name they would accept him. (John 5:43) He was speaking of the anti-Christ, who they will accept as their messiah early in the 70th Week of Daniel. Jesus bar Abbas became the partial fulfillment that confirms this prophecy.

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