The Roman Senate had posthumously raised Julius Caesar to the rank of a god. His adopted son and successor, Octavian, was thereafter declared divi filius, that is, “Son of a Divine One,” or “Son of God.” This Latin designation became a solemn title of the emperors. This is verified by numerous inscriptions on Roman altars, temples, statues, and coins. When the Jews charged Jesus with making himself “God’s son,” they were, in effect, accusing him of assuming an official title, which was tantamount to treason.
By the time of Jesus’ trial, Tiberius had inherited the title of divi filius. This emperor had a fearsome reputation for killing any whom he considered to be his enemies. So when the Jews intimated that Pilate would be disloyal to Caesar if he did not condemn Jesus, the Roman governor became “more fearful.” Eventually, he caved in under pressure and ordered Jesus’ execution.—John 19:8, 12-16.