Hugh Fogelman



Who actually went to arrest Jesus? Was it only Jews, as Mark, Matthew and Luke imply? The King James Version says that Judas came with “a great multitude from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders” (Mark 14:43, Matthew 26:47 & Luke 22:52).  This sounds as if only Jews came to arrest Jesus, as there is no mention of any Roman soldiers present. 

However, in the book of John, the author wrote: "So Judas came to the grove guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests…" (NIV Study Bible John 18:3).    

John Shelby Spong, a Christian Bishop, agrees with John's account explaining that in the story, Judas came with a small detachment of Roman soldiers, accompanied by temple police. That sounds logical, as there was a sense of revolt throughout Israel during that period.  Rome would never allow multitudes of Jews with swords and weapons to gather without troops present.   

So why did the other unknown writers leave out this important element ― Roman soldiers arresting Jesus?  Very simply put, they wanted to make the story of “Jews verses Jesus.”  According to Bishop Spong, “it was no longer a Jewish arrest party headed by the chief priests, scribes and elders.  Instead this posse was made up of armed Roman soldiers.”   

More questions arise:  

Why were all these armed Roman troops and temple guards "so passive" when one had his ear cut off by a disciple waving a sword, especially when they were expecting trouble? Immediate action would have been taken.

Why did all the four unknown gospels tell that the disciples were all armed, yet they all just stood there looking on?  

Simply put, it would have taken away from the story line, especially if the Roman soldiers were involved with any killing or wounding of the disciples.


"All thinking men are atheists." -Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)