Therefore when they were gathered together
Meaning not the chief priests and elders; for these were together before, but the common people; and so the Persic version renders the words, when the people increased into a multitude: for it was to them the release of a prisoner was to be made, and so the proposal of one; and it was at their option, who should be the person; for it was "whom they would", as in ( Matthew 27:15 ) , and where the Ethiopic version adds, "and should choose".
Pilate said unto them, whom will ye that I should release
Barabbas, or Jesus, which is called Christ?
He puts it to them, whom they would choose to have released, Barabbas, the thief and robber, the seditious person and murderer, or Jesus, whom some called the Christ, the Messiah, the king of the Jews. Pilate on purpose proposed such an infamous person along with him, not doubting but they would have preferred him, whatever were their prejudices against him, before such a scandalous person as Barabbas; and whatever good will they might secretly have to put Jesus to death, and release Barabbas, yet he thought they could not, for shame, speak out their sense, and desire him, and not Jesus. His view was not to reproach Christ, by joining him with so wicked a man, but in order to save him.