During the time of Jesus about 2000 years ago, in the land of Israel, there were a variety of political parties, factions and movements, including one called the Galileans. The Galileans were the political extreme-right fanatics of their day. The group arose in northern Israel, headed by a man named Judas of Galilee, or Judas the Galilean, who led a rebellion against foreign elements, including the Romans.
Other political groups and community groups that wielded influence about 2000 years ago in the land of Israel included the Herodians, Pharisees, Sadducees, Sanhedrin and Scribes.
The Galileans came into violent confrontation with Pontius Pilate, who on one occasion had a number of them slaughtered. Pilate was the Roman who was appointed to preside over the land of Israel. Some of the enemies of Jesus tried to link Jesus and his disciples with the Galilean extremists.
Judas the Galilean is mentioned directly in Acts 5:37. He was killed during an unsuccessful revolt.
In the New Testament books of Luke, John and Acts, the word "Galileans" appears in four verses. In John 4:45 and Acts 2:7, it appears that the word simply refers to people who live in Galilee, rather than to a political party.
In Luke 13:1-2, the word appears twice, possibly in reference to the political party. A Bible scholar named John Gill, who lived in England during the 1700s, speculated that:
These Galileans were very likely some of the followers of ... Judas of Galilee ... who endeavoured to draw off the Jews from the Roman government, and affirmed it was not lawful to give tribute to Caesar; at which Pilate being enraged, sent a band of soldiers, and slew these his followers; who were come up to the feast of the passover, as they were offering their sacrifices in the temple, and so mixed their blood with the blood of the passover lambs...
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