How Was Pontius Pilate's Wife Connected to Christ?

Although the Bible contains little personal information about Pontius Pilate’s wife, various historical and apocryphal records identify her as Claudia Procula.

Roman statue of a woman, Pontius pilate's wife

Imagine you’re the wife of an important politician. Your husband has clawed his way to the top of the power-ladder and is now determined to do whatever it takes to stay there. Although you’ve never been a fan of his cruel and brutal tactics, you’ve always stuck by him—as much for your own sake as his. But this time is different. You can’t remain silent. Everything inside you screams, has been screaming all day, to warn your husband that he can’t—he mustn’t be a part of the evil scheme to convict an innocent man. This is where we find Pontius Pilate’s wife on the day of Christ’s crucifixion.

Who Was Pontius Pilate's Wife?

Although the Bible contains little personal information about Pontius Pilate’s wife, various historical and apocryphal records identify her as Claudia Procula. According to these records, Claudia was the granddaughter of Emperor Augustus and technically a Roman princess. But Claudia’s mother, Julia, lived a notoriously promiscuous lifestyle and was exiled by her husband Tiberius shortly before Claudia was born. After Julia’s death, Tiberius purportedly legitimized Claudia’s birth and accepted her as his stepchild, thereby securing the political connections that would one day prove advantageous to her future husband.

Claudia grew up near a Roman outpost close to the Mediterranean Sea. It’s believed that her arranged marriage to Pontius Pilate bolstered Pilate’s political standing and helped him catch the eye of Sejanus, one of Tiberius’s favorite administrators. Pilate became governor of Judea in 26 AD, thanks to the Sejanus’s referral.

As part of his governing responsibilities, Pilate reported to Jerusalem during the Jewish Passover festival to keep order and preside over legal proceedings, Claudia was with Pilate in Jerusalem during Jesus’s trial. This was highly unusual because wives were forbidden to accompany their husbands to their posts. The fact that Claudia would have had to request special permission from her stepfather, Tiberius, to accompany Pilate suggests she held genuine affection for her husband and did not want a prolonged separation from him.

At the height of Jesus’s trial before Pilate, Claudia sent her husband a note that strongly warned him against the impending judgment. “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man,” she said, “for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him” (Matthew 27:19). Pilate seemed to value Claudia’s input since he took the time to read her message, but ultimately, he caved under political pressure and reluctantly issued a death sentence despite his wife’s warning.

Some records indicate that Claudia, having long been fond of the Jewish faith, converted to Christianity after Jesus’s resurrection. In fact, some believe that perhaps Claudia was the person responsible for relaying the details of Jesus’s trial to the disciples for documentation. In his article, Why Is a Message from Pilate’s Wife in Scripture?  Chris Bolinger explains, “She would have known the intimate details because he [Pilate] told her after the dreadful day where he sent an innocent man to his death. And, of course, she would have remembered every detail because she had had a dream warning her husband to have “nothing to do with that righteous man.”

What Does the Bible Say about Her?

While the historical research is fascinating, and the process of piecing together tidbits of information to create a character sketch for Pilate’s wife can be satisfying—the significance of her Biblical account should not be overlooked.

“While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him" (Matthew 27:19).

There’s a reason this power-packed, one-verse encounter with Pilate’s wife was included in Matthew’s Gospel. We know that God’s word is alive and active and that He intends to use every part of it in our lives for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness to equip us can for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

So what can glean from Pontius Pilate’s wife narrative in the Bible? As we look at the verse in context and dig deep into the details of the message, as it relates to the whole Bible, we discover treasure too rich to ignore.

What Role Does Pontius Pilate's Wife Play in the Easter Story?

Early in the morning on the day of His crucifixion, Jesus stood before Pilate. He was bound in chains, exhausted, and physically alone. Jesus’s disciples had scattered, the Jewish Council was out for His blood, and the cries of “Hosanna!” that had rung in the streets just five days earlier, were now replaced with furious screams to, “crucify Him!”

During that trial, only one person dared to intervene on Jesus’s behalf. “A woman. A Gentile woman. A pagan woman. The wife of the Roman governor. The wife of the man who answered to the emperor,” says Dr. Ray Prichard. Though many knew Jesus to be innocent, Pilate’s wife demonstrated the faith to act upon her belief despite overwhelming opposition.

Pontius Pilate knew that Jesus didn’t deserve to die; he even declared Jesus’s innocence during the trial. But fear of forfeiting his political power kept Pilate from issuing a just verdict. The disciples truly believed that Jesus was the Messiah and they loved Him, but their fear of arrest kept them bound in tearful silence. The Jewish Council understood that they were involved in an illegal and unwarranted quest to convict an innocent man, but their fear of Jesus’s power and rising fame had blinded them to the Truth that stood before them.

Out of a crowd of witnesses, God chose a woman—one with no authority, piety, or power—to be an example of active faith and a voice to affirm the righteousness of His Son. Pilate’s wife’s story is an important piece of a bigger theme. She joins a host of other minor characters in the Easter story to help display the sovereignty and grace behind God’s redemptive plan.

While Jesus stood silent before his accusers through most of his six trials, God provided seven unlikely people who would verbally proclaim His Son’s innocence—Judas Iscariot (Matthew 27:4), Pontius Pilate (Luke 23:4), Herod Antipas (Luke 23:15), Pontius Pilate’s Wife (Matthew 27:19), The Dying Thief (Luke 23:41), The Roman Centurion (Luke 23:47), and The Roman Guards (Matthew 27:54).

Of these seven, only a few backed up their declaration of Jesus’s innocence with an act of faith. Pilate’s wife was one of those three. Her example shows us that living faith plays a crucial role in our walk with the Lord.

How Can Apply Pilate’s Wife’s Example to our Easter Celebration?

When we look at Pilate’s wife example as it compares with the bigger picture of Scripture, we can find parallels that will help deepen our understanding so that we can apply God’s truth in practical ways. “The Bible was never meant to merely inform us; the Bible was meant to transform us,” says Donna Jones in The Beginner's Guide to Reading the Bible.

Throughout Scripture, we see examples of faith that is not just spoken, but active. In Hebrews 11 we’re given a recap of some Biblical heroes who acted upon their faith: By faith, Abel brought, by faith Noah built, by faith Abraham obeyed, by faith Sarah conceived.

As we approach this Easter season, we can apply Pilate’s wife’s example to our worship. The best way to commemorate the resurrection of Christ is by honoring Him with a faith that lives—just as He lives. By doing this we know our celebration is pleasing to God for “without faith it is impossible to please God.”

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Crisfotolux

Annette GriffinAnnette Marie Griffin is an award-winning author and speaker who has managed and directed children’s and youth programs for more than 20 years. Her debut children’s book, What Is A Family? released through Familius Publishing in 2020. Annette has also written curriculum for character growth and development of elementary-age children and has developed parent training seminars to benefit the community. Her passion is to help wanderers find home. She and her husband have five children—three who have already flown the coop and two adopted teens still roosting at home—plus two adorable grands who add immeasurable joy and laughter to the whole flock.


This article is part of our larger Holy Week and Easter resource library centered around the events leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We hope these articles help you understand the meaning and story behind important Christian holidays and dates and encourage you as you take time to reflect on all that God has done for us through his son Jesus Christ!

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