Jesus Bar’Abba Or Jesus Barabbas

This article explains the differences between Jesus Bar’Abba and Jesus Barabbas.

Jesus Bar’Abba or Jesus Barabbas, which one is it?

According to the gospels, Jesus considered himself a Bar Abba (Mark. 12:6; 13:32; Mt. 11:27; Luke. 10:22) and prays to God as Abba the Father.

“And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.” (Mark 14:36)

The self styled apostle Paul also uses the word “Abba” in his epistles:

“Abba, Father.”(Romans 4:15)

“Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6)

And in the Jewish Talmudic literature:

“….Since I have done the will of Abba who is in the Heavens “(Lev R para 32) Now the gospels tell us the name (title) of the robber Pilate offered to the crowd for release in Jesus stead was “Barabbas” or Bar’Abba Mk 15:6-15, Mt 27:15-26, Luke 23:17-25, John 18:39-40.

(This is not a personal name. It’s a title – in Aramaic, it means “the Son of the Father”). Some ancient manuscripts of Matthew, confirmed by the writings of the church father, Origen (250ce), reveal the full name of the criminal as “Jesus Bar’Abbas “, just like the “Jesus Bar’Abbas” ( Son of the Father “God” ) that Christians worship.

The church father Origen was appalled by the use of “Jesus Barabbas” in the manuscripts he was familiar with because he held the conviction that no “sinner” should bare the name and title of “Jesus the Christ”.

Dr. Hyam Maccoby in his book Revolution in Judea, New York: Taplinger Publishing Company, 1973 believes the name of the criminal “Barabbas” was: “Suppressed in most of the manuscripts”

Because of Origen’s confusion and the embarrassment of having Jesus “Son of Abba / Father /God” share a prison with the other “Jesus Son of Abba” (p. 159).



“Jesus Barabbas” (the criminal), appears in the Syrian and Armenian versions of Matthew 27:16-17. A number of scholars, including Dr. William Barclay, Dr. D.A. Carson, Dr. Robert Gundry, and Dr. Klaas Schilder, also accept this reading. Dr. D. A. Carson wrote:

“Scribes deleted the name Jesus from Jesus Barabbas out of reverence for Jesus Christ.” D. A. Carson, Matthew, in vol. 8 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, edited by Frank E. Gaebelein, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984), p574.

The New English Bible and the Scholar’s Version (The Complete Gospels by Robert J. Miller, ed. Sonoma, Calif.: Polebridge Press, 1992) now adds the name “Jesus” to the criminal “Barabbas” in their translation.

What the gospels are asking us to believe is that Pilate offers the crowd the choice between “Jesus Bar’Abbas, the criminal” or “Jesus Bar’ Abbas the prophet (Jesus “Son of God” who prays to God as Father was imprisoned alongside Jesus “Son of the Father”!) Essentially what Pilate asked the crowd is:

“Which Jesus will ye that I release unto you? Jesus Bar’Abbas or Jesus ‘Bar Abbas’?” The crowd replied, “Jesus Bar Abbas” – or, as Christians would have it, “Barabbas” (without his real name “Jesus”, due to it’s close resemblance to their god incarnate “Jesus”).

It is as if Pilate said:

“Who do you want me to release, “Jesus, God’s Son”, or a criminal we just happen to apprehend in the nick, “Jesus Godson.”?

This seems a strange coincidence, doesn’t it? The gospel of Luke tells us (emphasis mine / I will write Barabbas’ name in blue):

Luke 23:18 With one voice they cried out, “Away with this man! Release Jesus Barabbas to us! “

Luke 23:19 (Jesus Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)

Luke 23:20 Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again.

Luke 23:21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

Luke 23:22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.”

Luke 23:23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed.

Luke 23:24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand.

Luke 23:25 He released the man (Jesus Barabbas) who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus (The Jesus Bar’Abba, The one Christians worship) to their will.

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