Luke 23
William Kelly Major Works Commentary
And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate.
Luke Chapter 23

Luke 23:1-25Matthew 27:2; Mat 27:11-31; Mark 15:1-20; John 18:28-40; Joh 19:1-16.

We have next the scene before the Roman governor. Heartless as he was and with little conscience, still wilfulness characterized the Jews. "And the whole multitude of them rose up and led him to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this [man] perverting our* nation and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ, a king." Thus they who were really impatient under the Roman yoke, breaking out from time to time into turbulent opposition, were here forward in the pretence of loyalty. But this was a little thing compared with the blindness of unbelief - which denied their own Messiah. Nor could any charge be more false. He had departed from them when they wished to make Him a king. He had only just before expressly enjoined that they should render to Caesar the things that were Caesar's, no less than to God the things of God.

*"Our": so Edd. after BDH, etc., 69, Syrr. Old Lat. Memph. Sah. Aeth. Blass, with AEG, etc., and most cursives, adheres to "the."

It will be observed that when "Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? he answering said to him, Thou sayest." The Lord acknowledged the authority that was ordained of God, however He might suffer it. This is the true safeguard of faith, let the authority be ever so faithless. We are called to walk in His steps. We are not of the world even as He is not of the world. By and by we shall reign with Him and shall judge the world; we shall judge even angels. The more are we called above the world in spirit to be subject to God's authority in it: only we must obey God rather than man and therefore suffer where His will and the world's authority come into collision. So the Lord here witnesses a good confession,566 and submits to all the consequences.

But it is striking to observe that the Lord's confession of the truth (for indeed He was the King of the Jews) did not damage His cause before the Roman governor, but with His own people, blinded against the truth. On the contrary, "Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, I find567 no fault in this man. But they insisted, saying, He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee568 as far as this." Satan was pushing the incredulity of Israel to the last extremity. It is always so finally with his victims. Christ, in the fulness of His grace and truth, thoroughly brings out what is in man, because He brings in God.

"But Pilate having heard of Galilee,* demanded if the man were a Galilean. And having learnt that he was of Herod's jurisdiction, he remitted him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem in those days. And when Herod saw Jesus he rejoiced exceedingly, for he was wishing for a long time to see him, because of hearing [much]† of him. And he hoped to see some sign done by him, and questioned him in many words. but he answered him nothing."569 The silence of the Lord was a very solemn condemnation of Herod, while it gave the fullest opportunity for the rude insolence of his followers as well as of the accusers. "And the chief priests and the scribes stood and vehemently accused him. And Herod with his troops set him at nought and mocked him, and having arrayed [him] with a splendid570 robe, sent him back to Pilate."571 The Spirit of God does not fail to notice here the moral peculiarity of the transaction. There had been a feud between the Governor and the King, but "Pilate and Herod became friends with one another that very day, for they had been previously at enmity with each other."572 Thus it is against Christ that Satan contrives to make his union in the world, as the grace of God does by Him and for Him.

*"of Galilee": so ADRXΓΔΛΠ, later uncials, in cursives, Syrr. Old Lat. Sah. Edd. omit, as BLT, Memph.

†["Much"]: so ARXΓΔΛ, later uncials, most minuscules, Syrr. Old Lat. Edd. omit, following BDKLMΠ, 1, Syrrcu sin Sah. Memph. The word is in AERXΓΔΛ, etc., 13, 69, other Syrr. Old Lat.

The closing hour approaches, "And Pilate having called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people said to them, Ye have brought to me this man as turning away the people, and behold I, having made examination in your presence, have found no fault in this man, as to the things of which ye accuse him; nay, nor yet Herod, for I remitted you to him,* and behold, nothing deserving of death is done by him. Having chastised him therefore, I will release him." Such was the boasted equity of the Roman empire, of man. There was no doubt of the innocence of Jesus. The charges of the people had been proved to be fictitious. The hardened judge could. not condemn, but acquit as a matter of justice. He was willing to concede something to please the people, but he was anxious to release the Prisoner. Whether the 17th verse be genuine or not, there can be no doubt from what follows that it was the custom to release a prisoner at this time. Several excellent authorities omit the verse, as the Alexandrian, the Vatican, the Parisian uncials (62 and 63), with several very ancient versions, whilst others change its position. Nevertheless the Sinai, with the mass of MSS. and some of the best versions, contains it. On the whole the balance seems in its favour, as it also would be harsh to act upon an unexplained custom.† "Now he was obliged to release one for them at [the] feast. But they cried in full crowd, saying, Away with this [man] and release Barabbas for us; one who for a certain tumult made in the city and murder had been cast into prison." Such was the choice of man, such the value of their loyalty to Caesar, such their care for God's respect for the life of a fellow-creature made in His image. A rebel and a murderer preferred to Jesus!

*"I remitted (ἀνέπεμψα) you to him": so Lachm., Treg., Meyer, Alford, etc., with ADXΓΔΛM, later uncials, nearly all cursives, Syrhcl (txt), most Old Lat. (Cf. verse 10.) Most Syrr. (including sin.) have "I sent him to him." Tisch., W. H. (Revv.), Blass and Weiss adopt "He sent him back (ἀνέπεμψε) to us," following BKLM, etc., the Egyptians and Aeth.

†The versions omitting are the Egyptians and one copy of Old Lat. The uncials containing it, besides , are XΓΔΛM, etc.; all the cursives show it, besides several copies of Old Lat., with Amiat. of Vulg. The Syrr. have it, only that Cureton's and the Sinaitic, as Cod. D., place it after verse 19. Treg., Tisch., Meyer, W. H., Weiss (as from Matthew or Mark) discredit, but Blass (as Wordsworth and Milligan) retains the verse; this critic being of opinion that the omission arose from confusion of the two initial ἀνάγκην δέ and ἀνέκραξαν (verse 18) δέ, and he observed that ἀνάγκην εἶχε is Lucan (xi v. 18).

"Again therefore* Pilate addressed them, wishing to release Jesus. But they kept calling in reply, Crucify, crucify him! And he said the third time 573 to them, Why, what evil has this [man] done? I have found no cause of death in him. Having chastised him therefore, I will release [him]. But they were urgent with loud voices begging that he might be crucified; and their voices [and those of the high priests]† prevailed.574 And Pilate gave sentence that what they begged should take place, and released‡ him who, for tumult and murder, had been cast into prison, for whom they begged, and Jesus he delivered up to their will."575

*"Again therefore": so X, etc. Edd. read "and (δέ) again," as ABDLT, Syrsin Latt. Memph.

†"And of the high priests": so ADTXΔΛΠ, later uncials, all cursives, Syrr. (including sin.). Blass brackets. Other Edd. omit, as BL, most Old Lat., Amiat., Sah.

‡After "released," KMΠ, 1, 69, Syrr. Amiat., add "to them." Edd. omit, with ABD, etc.

Thus all the world was proved guilty before God, but none were so deeply involved as those whom it least became. The people who had the law fell under its curse, not merely because they were disobedient to its requirements, but, worst of all, because they were resolutely bent on the rejection of their own Messiah to death, and this when the heathen sought to let Him go. Such was what the world was proved to be, where the reality came out through Him who alone was real, the Holy and the True. No room for boasting more: there never was, in truth, but now it is evident and impossible to be denied by him who rightly reads the Word of God.*

*Dean Alford remarks that Luke omits the scourging and mocking of Jesus. It is just _possible that he might have omitted the mocking, because he had related a similar incident before Herod; but how shall we say this of the scourging, if he had seen any narrative which contained it? The break between verses 25 and 26 is harsh in the extreme, and if Luke had any materials wherewith to fill it up, I have no doubt he would have done so. Truly, unbelief is not confined to unbelievers, and is to my mind more grievous, as it is less consistent, in the believer. The reasoning is as feeble as the presumption is inexcusable, even if verses 16 and 23 did not prove that scourging is distinctly implied on the part of Pilate. Inspiration does not give all that was known, but the Holy Spirit selects facts and words according to the Divine design in each writer. We know expressly from the last of the Evangelists that much more was known than was recorded (John 20:30-31). The nature of the design in Luke excludes the detail of Gentile iniquity,575 and accounts by moral purpose of the Spirit for that omission which was so unworthily, and I will add unintelligently, imputed to the writer's ignorance. To call a break "harsh in the extreme" which is due to the Holy Spirit I must leave every pious reader to characterise. (B.T.)

Luke 23:26-32.

Matthew 27:52; Mark 15:21.

Nevertheless the Spirit of God gives us more. "And as they led him away, they laid hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, 576 coming from [the] country, and put on him the cross to bear [it] after Jesus." There was no restraint now, but if man were lawless, God remembered Simon another day, and his sons are not forgotten in the record of life. (Compare Mark 15:21 and Romans 16:13.) It may be a terrible truth that God looks down from heaven and beholds the children of men, and sees none so worthy of reprobation as those who misuse selfishly the highest privileges of His mercy; but when we know Him, or rather, are known of Him, it is not the least of our comforts that God takes account of everything, and knows how to reply in His grace to those who have power and not on the side of the oppressor.

It is not that man lacks feeling: but feeling without faith comes to nothing, no less than mind, or authority, or position, were it the highest in the religious world. The affections of nature may be sweet, but never can be trusted to stand firm to Christ, however moved for a season. "And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who* wailed and lamented him. And Jesus turning to them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not over me, but weep over yourselves and over your children; for behold, clays are coming in which they will say, Blessed the barren and wombs which bear not and breasts which suckled not. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall upon us, and to the hills, Cover us.577 For if they do these things in the green tree, what shall take place in the dry? "Jesus knew what was in man, despised not the feelings of the women, but trusted Himself to none. Tenderly He warns them of that which man believes not till it comes, for it is a part of man's wisdom to suppose the future uncertain in the words of God, because it is uncertain to man. Fools and slow of heart to believe what the Lord said no less than their own prophets! Had they believed them, they had not refused Him. Had they received Him, days of heaven had dawned upon the earth, on Israel especially, and all the glorious visions of His reign had been accomplished. But Israel was ruined and guilty, man fallen and lost, and all in such a state reject Jesus. Therefore God works out deeper counsels by the Cross of Jesus in heaven and for heaven, now testified by the Holy Ghost sent down here below. These are the counsels and the ways of His grace, but His warnings stand equally, and His Word must be accomplished to the letter. Soon had they an accomplishment, though I do not say that there may not be more in store at the end of the age, when those who refused the true Christ that came in His Father's name shall receive the Antichrist coming in his own. And the overflowing scourge shall pass through and the apostate Jews be trodden down by it. The Messiah was the green tree, the Jews the dry.578 If He because of their wickedness came into such sorrow, what was not reserved to them for their own? For, whatever His grace, God judges righteously.

*After "who," Ccorr EPΔ, etc., 1, add "also," which Edd. reject, after ABCpm DEX, 33, Old Lat. Memph.

Luke 23:33-49.

Matthew 27:33-56; Mark 15:22-41; John 19:17-30.

"And two others, malefactors, were led with him to be put to death."579 Jesus was spared no insult. As He was the song of the drunkard, so He made His grave with the wicked. "And when they came* to the place called Skull,580 there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand and the other on the left. And Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."†581 It is not here, as in Matthew and Mark, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" It is the expression of His grace towards sinners, not of His abandonment by God in accomplishing the work of atonement; and it is of the deepest interest to see that, as the answer to the one came in resurrection-power and heavenly glory, so of the other in the proclamation of forgiveness by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.582 Therefore Peter could preach (Acts 3:17ff.), "And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as also your rulers. But those things which God had showed by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted for the blotting out of your sins, so that times of refreshing way come from the presence of the Lord," etc. But here again we have to wait. The message of forgiveness was refused. A remnant, indeed, believed, received forgiveness, and rose into better blessings; but the mass have pursued their heedless unbelief to this day, and will sink into deeper darkness. Yet assuredly light shall spring up in the darkest hour, and the remnant of that day shall be brought out of their sins and ignorance alike to be made the strong nation when He appears to reign in glory.

*"Came": so most Edd., after BCDLQ, 33, 69, Syrrcu sin pesch old Lat. Tisch.: "Had gone," as T.R., from AEXΔ, etc.

†After Lachm. W. H. (see their App. p. 67f.) and Weiss discredit this verse as far as "do," on the strength of corr BDpm and Akhmim MS., three cursives, Syrrsin and the Coptic versions. The words are attested by pm ACDcorr QXΓΔΛΠ, etc., nearly all cursives, including 1, 33, 69, Syrrcu pesch hcl hier, several Old Lat., Arm. Aeth., and are accepted by Blass, following Tisch. Treg. Alford, etc.

The horrors of the crucifixion in its detail come before us. "And, parting his garments, they cast lots. And the people stood beholding, and the rulers also* [with them]† sneered, saying, He saved others, let him save himself if this is the Christ, the chosen of God.‡ And the soldiers also were mocking him, coming up§ offering him vinegar, and saying, If thou art the king of the Jews, save thyself. And there was also an inscription over him,"" This is the king of the Jews."583 In every respect the Word of God was accomplished, and the ways of men laid bare. It was no question of a class and its peculiar habits. High and low, the governed and the governors, civil and military, all played their part; and the part of all was enmity against God revealing His love and goodness in His Christ. The folly, too, of man was apparent no less than grace in presence of his wickedness. It was because He was the King of the Jews, as none other had been or can be besides, that He saved not Himself, and can therefore send out the message of salvation now and bring salvation by and by. Little did man, in that day, weigh the import of that which was written over Him in Greek and Roman and Hebrew letters, "This is the king of the Jews." If man wrote it in scorn, God will give it all its own force - God Who overrules the will and the wrath of man to praise Him. Through the Crucified, God will bless the world by and by, Jew and Gentile, high and low, even as His grace gathers out from it now.

*"Also": as ABC, with all other uncials and the mass of cursives. The word is omitted by Tisch., after D and five minuscules.

†"With them": so AΓΔΛΠ, all later uncials, and most cursives, Syrrcu sin hcl. Edd. omit, as BCDL, etc., 33,69, several Old Lat. Memph.

‡Influenced by W. H., the revisers have taken τοῦ θεοῦ as preceding "chosen," and so "God" with a comma after it. Syrsin, however, sustains the earlier punctuation.

§The "and" of T.R. after "coming up," which is in Ccorr EQXΔ, etc., 1, 33, 69, most Syrr. Amiat., Edd. omit, following ABCpm L, etc.

""Between "inscription" and "the king," Lachm., with pm ACcorr DXΔM, etc., all cursives, Syrrpesch hcl, most Old Lat. Arm. Aeth., reads "in Greek and Roman and Hebrew letters." (Cf. John 19:20.) All later Edd. omit these words, after corr BCpm L, Syrrcu sin and Egyptian versions. Syrsin has "And an inscription was written and placed over him, This is the king of the Jews."

Here God would give a testimony of His grace to man, suited to His Son and suited to the Cross. Hence He was pleased to choose the most hopeless circumstances in the view of nature, and even while delivering a soul, up to this steeped in guilt and degradation, in the agonies of death, and with the forebodings of a judgment incomparably more solemn, even as it is eternal, to secure in the fullest way His own immutable character, and to manifest in practical righteousness the ungodly one whom His grace had justified by faith. All this and much more may be seen in the history which our Evangelist alone gives of the converted robber.

"Now one of the hanged malefactors reviled him.* Art not thou the Christ? Save thyself and us. But the other in answer rebuking him said, Dost not even thou fear God, because thou art in the same judgment? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due requital for what we have done, but this [man] has done nothing amiss. And he said to Jesus, Remember me† when thou shalt come in‡ thy kingdom.584 And he§ said to him, Verily, I say unto thee,"" Today585 shalt thou be with me in paradise."

*"Saying" is here added by ACQR, etc. Edd. omit, as BDL. Most Edd. reproduce as above the reading of BCpm L, etc., Syrrcu sin Sah. Memph. Arm. Aeth. Blass follows D in omission of all after "him." The T.R. has, "If thou art," etc., from ACcorr and all later uncials, all cursives, the other Syrr. and Amiat. The Old Lat. copies are divided.

†Here corr ACcorr, all the later uncials and the minuscules, Syrrcu sin Old Lat. Aeth. add "Lord." Some few, 'but of the highest authority (BCL, the Sahidic and Coptic versions and Origen sometimes) read, "Jesus, remember me," etc. (B.T.). So W. H. and Weiss.

‡"In" before "thy kingdom" is the reading of ACΔM, for which BL, Syrsin have "into": so W. H., Treg. and Revv. in marg. and Weiss. Blass, after D, reads the verse thus: "And turning to the Lord, he said to him, Remember me in the day of thy coming (ἐλεύσεως)." See notes in Part II.

§"He": so Edd., as BL, Sah. "Jesus" is read in ACEQRXΔ, etc., Syrr (including sin.).

""Before "today," Blass introduces "Take courage (θάρσει)," as D.

There is no sufficient reason to suppose that the robber was converted before he was crucified, or even before he had joined his fellow in reviling the Lord. The earlier Gospels give us ground to believe that both were thus guilty, that the rejected Jesus was exposed to this as well as to every other draught of the bitter cup. I am aware that general phrases may be used, but I see no sufficient ground to doubt that each of the robbers did thus join in insulting the Lord of glory. Why should we hesitate? Is it because the conversion of one of them might seem too sudden? - a reason in my judgment wholly insufficient. Conversion is usually, if not always, sudden, though the manifestation of it may not be. The entrance of the soul into enjoyed peace may be lone, delayed and may demand the removal of many hindrances. This is rarely done in a very short time; but it is wholly distinct from conversion, and the two things should not be confounded as they too often are. Conversion is the soul's turning to God through a believing reception of the Lord Jesus; the enjoyment of peace depends on the soul's submission to the righteousness of God when the redemption-work of the Lord Jesus is seen by faith. Hence there are many souls who are truly converted because they have bowed to Jesus, who nevertheless are often cast down and unhappy and burdened, because they do not equally see peace made by the blood of His Cross. Where there is the simple reception of the Gospel the converted soul passes so soon into peace that one can well understand how the two things get confounded in the minds of many; as many others, on the contrary, confound them, because, unconsciously slighting conversion, which frequently plunges the soul in deep exercise and trouble of conscience before God, they only take into account that complete relief and peace which the Gospel ministers.

Certain it is that the malefactor was now converted who rebuked the sin of him, who persisted in reviling the Lord. On the other hand, there may be the surest reviling of the Saviour without one word which man as such would consider blasphemous. In this very instance the impenitent robber simply said, "Art not thou the Christ? Save thyself and us." It was a thought, it was language not unnatural to man's mind under such circumstances. It was blasphemy to the mind of the Spirit. That the promised centre and medium of every blessedness for the earth, for man, and for God here below, should die upon a cross did seem beyond measure strange; that He Who had all power to save others, not to speak of Himself, should be pleased so to die, was naturally incredible. Man does not understand the depth of the humiliation of Jesus any more than the grace of God, or of his own utter need as measured and met by both.

But it is deeply interesting to see that a new-born soul discerns according to God, and this instinctively in virtue of the new nature where no formal teaching had been given or received. The converted robber at once warns his impenitent fellow of his sin, sets before him his danger, confesses his own natural state, his own life, his own ways no less evil than the other's, and in the most serious and feeling way vindicates the glory of the Lord Jesus. "Dost not even thou," said he in a reply of rebuke, "fear God?" The death which was before his spirit gave the gravest tone to it and made him speak out with evident anxiety, and this not so much for himself personally as in compassion for the reviler, however he might feel his sin. There they were, "in the same judgment," as a fact, but how different in God's eyes!

And faith gave him to estimate this aright - the crucifixion of a malefactor unrepentant, of another repentant, and of Him Whose grace drew out the repentance of the latter and hardened the former to the uttermost because he believed not. There is no true fear of God apart from faith; but faith produces not only hope and confidence in God, but also the only genuine sense of what it is to be a sinful man in His sight, and hence the only real humility. Such was the present state of this converted robber. Nothing shows it better than that he should so forget himself as practically to preach to the reviler, to set before him his sin and his danger, to hold up Jesus Christ the righteous. He does not stop to think of the singularity of such words from his own mouth, that be, a wretched, guilty, degraded malefactor, should appear to presume to speak of God to man, to rebuke a fellow-sinner, to maintain unsullied the name of Him Whom the highest authorities had just condemned to die on the cross. This in truth is the humility of faith, not the mere human lowliness of trying to think as ill of ourselves as we can, but the Divinely given sense that we are too bad to think of ourselves at all, because of the perfection we have seen in the Saviour, the Son of God, the man Christ Jesus.

Not that this self-forgetfulness produces the smallest unwillingness to confess our own sins, but on the contrary makes us free to acknowledge them fully, as we see in the words "And we indeed justly, for we receive the just requital for what we have done, but this [man] has done nothing amiss." The converted man owns himself as bad and as justly condemned as the unconverted one, but he takes all care to exempt Jesus from the common character of fallen man. "this [man] has done nothing amiss." How had he learnt it? We know not that he had ever listened to or ever seen Him before; but we may be certain that never before had he such a knowledge as would warrant such language. Was he rash, then? He was taught of God, he had beheld the Lamb of God. On the cross he had seen enough, heard enough, to be certain that there was hanged beside him the long-expected Messiah Who should save His people from their sins and blot out their iniquities as a thick cloud, Who should make reconciliation for iniquity, and bring in everlasting righteousness. As for himself, his wicked life was ending, the forfeit of his crimes, due to the outraged majesty of the laws he had broken. But if there was a just sentence of man in his case, there was forgiveness with God that He might be feared; and the spotless dying Lamb had given him to realise both his own sins and God's holiness as never before.

Without a particle of highmindedness, he felt that the opinion, yea the solemn judgment of man was nothing in Divine things. The high priest had treated the claim of Jesus as blasphemy; the Roman governor had given him up, knowing he was innocent, but afraid of displeasing Caesar, to the murderous will of the Jews. But grace had made single the eye of the converted robber; and his whole body was full of light. He could answer for Jesus as one who was known thoroughly. "This [man] has done nothing amiss." It was contrary to all man's experience, not only to what he knew of himself and of others known to him, but to all ever reported since the world began. Yet it was not more sure that others were sinners than that Jesus was not. It was faith, and exactly such a confession of Jesus as glorified Him at that moment when in the eyes of the world at the lowest point, despised and rejected of men. No angel was here to comfort, no apostle to confess Who He the Son of man was. If all else had forsaken Jesus and fled, the converted robber from the cross was there to confess the crucified Lord, in terms hardly heard before but truly adapted in the wisdom of God to give the lie to unbelief. The God Who opened the lips of babes and sucklings a few days before to set forth His praise wrought in the hanged robber with yet greater power now.

"And he said to Jesus, Remember me when thou shalt come in thy kingdom." An admirable prayer and in beautiful keeping with the whole truth of the position. It is not what we might have thought at first sight suitable to such a case. The Lord described a poor publican as saying acceptably to God, Have mercy upon me, the sinner that I am. The converted robber here has no doubt of the Lord's mercy. He does not ask for a part in His kingdom, but to be remembered by Jesus then. What! He, a robber, to be remembered by the King of kings and Lord of lords? Even so. He was right, and those who would judge him as wrong are so themselves. They enter not, as he did, into the glory of Jesus, Who, as He calls His own sheep by name now, will not forget the last any more than the first then in the perfection of His love. He prays to be remembered when Jesus should come in His kingdom, for he at least believes in the kingdom of the Son of man. Others might set up the inscription without faith over the Crucified, but the name and kingdom of the Crucified were, inscribed on the converted robber's heart.

Remark also how he was guided of the Spirit, not more concerning Christ and His ways and character than about His kingdom. Truly he was taught of God. Some looked only for the kingdom of Messiah here, others since conceive that Jesus is gone into a kingdom far away. He prays to be remembered when Jesus shall come in His kingdom; for, as our Evangelist shows in the parable (Luke 19:11, etc.), He is gone to a far country to receive for Himself a kingdom and to return. He will be invested with the kingdom on high, as also is shown by the prophet Daniel; but He will surely come in His kingdom instead of merely closing all things here below. Not so will He come in His kingdom. He shall reign over all peoples and tribes and tongues. Yet it is no mere earthly realm, but the kingdom of God, consisting of heavenly things as well as of earthly (John 3:12); nor is it a kingdom of the Spirit, though the Spirit makes it good now in those who believe, but a real personal kingdom of Jesus; and the converted robber, with all saints, will be remembered when He shall come in His kingdom. The once robber will surely have his place in that. day. He knew Whom he had believed and was persuaded that He is able to keep what he had committed to Him against that day.

But the prayer of, faith, while it surely has its answer according to the measure of our soul's confidence in Divine love according to the Word, has its answer also according to the depths of Divine grace and truth far beyond our measure. So it was now. "And he said to him, Verily, I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." If the prayer of the robber was admirable, much more was the reply of Jesus, a reply ushered in with special emphasis, not for him only to whom it was said, but for us also who believe in Him Who died and rose again for us. The blessings of accomplished redemption are not deferred till that day. They are true now, whether we live or die. We are the Lord's, and we know it; we are bought with a price; we are washed from our sins in His blood. By Him the Father has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Such is the position, such the standing, such the assured, known privilege of the believer by virtue of redemption. The converted robber was the first soul to taste of this rich and fresh mercy. The Lord assures him, not merely of His remembrance in the kingdom, but of being that very day with Himself in paradise. What a testimony to the all-overcoming and immediate power of His redemption! A robber so purged by His blood as to be that very day with the Son of God, and this, not in heaven only, but in its brightest, highest seats! For such is paradise.

Believer, heed not those who may say that the Lord, separate from the body, abode in gloom till His resurrection. Not so. His spirit was shut up in no prison, but commended by Himself to the Father; and where He is, there too are His saints. Doubtless He had not yet ascended; for ascension, like, resurrection, is predicated of the body; but His spirit went to paradise, and as Adam's paradise of old was the choicest spot of an unfallen earth where all was very good, so is the paradise of God the choicest of heaven. Hence St. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12, connects it with the third heaven; and St: John holds it out as the promised scene of glory where the overcomer shall by and by eat of the tree of life. No believer can conceive that this will be a place of dimness and doubt and restraint, but of Divine and everlasting glory through the Second man, the last Adam.

In this paradise, then, the Lord declares that the converted malefactor should be with Him "today," so completely were his sins blotted out by blood, so rendered capable himself, by and in that new nature which grace gives the believer. Instruction most weighty for us, and a hope full of glory, for it is the present fruit of redemption and the gift of grace to every believer. It was not assuredly his own act of dying which had this virtue for the malefactor, but the death of the Lord; and this is as free and full for every Christian as for him to whose faith it was then made known. To us now it is proclaimed in the Gospel. Shame on those who profess to believe the Gospel, but deny its most precious and eternal blessings. Nor is it merely the dark and queen-like Circe who cheats her victims and destroys them with poisoned cup, and will surely find her plagues from God in one day. How few among those who have cast off her thraldom enjoy the liberty wherewith Christ has set us free! How many with an open Bible overlook the plainest lessons where there is no veil, but man stands immediately confronted with the light of God's glory in the face of Jesus Christ! Anything short of this is not the true grace of God, is not the Gospel of the glory of Christ, but the darkening effect of that unbelief, so prevalent in Christendom, which has, is it were, sewn up the veil again with God at a distance within, and man without, wistfully looking for a deliverance as if the Deliverer had not already come and finished the work of redemption. For the soul salvation is come: for the body, no doubt, it waits till Jesus come again. But this is another matter on which we need not inquire more now.

Nor did God permit that so stupendous an event as the death of His Son should leave unaffected that world which He had made, or that legal system which He had set up by Moses In the midst of His earthly people. "And it was now* about [the] sixth hour, and there came darkness over the whole land till [the] ninth hour. And the sun was darkened,†586 and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. And Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, Father, into thy hands I commend‡ my spirit; and, having said this, he expired."587 And the testimony was not without immediate effect on the officer in command at the crucifixion. "Now the centurion, seeing what took place, glorified God, saying, Certainly this [man] was righteous." But the mass were filled with the sense of having committed themselves to they knew not what. "And all the crowds that came together for that sight, having beheld§ the things done, returned beating [their] breasts." Not that some were not there who prized His ministry and were attached to His person, but far off in that day of man's shame and guilt and of Satan's power. "And all those who knew him stood afar off, and women who had accompanied him from Galilee, seeing these things."

*"Now": so BCpm L, Memph., followed by most Edd. Blass omits, as ACcorr DQRXΓΔΛΠ, all later uncials, all cursives, Syrr. Old Latt. Sah. Arm.

†"And the sun was darkened": so Lachm., Treg., Meyer, and Blass after Acorr DQRXΓΔΛMΠ, all later uncials, most cursives, all Syrr. Tisch., W. H. have "the sun being eclipsed" (Revv. "the sun's light failing"), τοῦ ἡλίου ἐκλείποντος (Weiss, Nestle: ἐκλίποντος), as in BCpm L and Egyptians.

‡"Commend": so Edd., following ABCKM, etc., 33, Syrrcu sin T.R. "will commend" is the reading of ELΔ, etc.

§"Having beheld": so Edd. with BCDL, etc., 33, Syrr. EPQΔ, etc., 69, read "beholding."

Luke 23:50-56.

Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; John 19:38-42.

But God used that very day and His grace who was thus put to death to bring out to distinct association with His name a good and righteous man. If Jesus in His life of rejection had not Joseph openly in His train, the death of the cross made him bold while others fled or stood aloof. "And behold, a man named Joseph, being a councillor and a good and righteous man (he had not consented to their counsel and deed), from Arimathea a city of the Jews, who waited for the kingdom of God, himself went to Pilate and begged the body of Jesus; and, having taken down, wrapped in fine linen and placed him* in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. And it was preparation day, and sabbath dusk† was drawing on."588; On their affection, not without darkness, a brighter day was soon to dawn.

*"Him": so Edd., following BCD and most Old Lat. "It" is the reading of AELPXGDLP, all later uncials, and most cursives (33).

†It was evening, not morning, though learned men have forgotten Jewish modes of expressing the day no less than the ignorant. Any one who takes the trouble may soon see how this mistake has embroiled the harmonies, especially as to the details of the death and the resurrection of Christ in point of time. (B.T.: Cf. Wellhausen ad loc.)


566Luke 23:3. - See 1 Timothy 6:13.

567Luke 23:4. - "Find." For this forensic use, still preserved, cf. 2 Corinthians 5:3, Php 3:9, 2 Peter 3:14. For the examination before Pilate in extenso, see John 18:33 ff. For the travesty of justice by which it was throughout marked, see Rosadi, "The Trial of Jesus" (E. T. from third Italian edition).

568Luke 23:5. - "All Judea, etc." See note on Luke 4:44.

569Luke 23:6 ff. - Against the impeachment of this section by critics (e.g. O. Holtzmann, p. 482, Schmiedel, § 108, col. 1840), Burkitt's defence, "attested by Gospel of Peter," may well qualify by quantum valeat (p. 138).

A difficulty has been raised as to the Crucifixion being as early as 9 A.M. (Mark 15:25), in the light of Luke's statement here. But cf. John 18:28: "it was early," when the Lord was led into the Praetorium (palace), which may quite well have been by 6 A.M. The distance traversed and retraversed between the residences of Pilate and Herod would be short. The historicity of this section needs for its support no such assumptions as those of Verrall (The Journal of Theological Studies, April, 1909, pp. 321-353).

As to Luke's source of information, cf. note 4F. He is as familiar with the doings of Agrippa in Acts 12:20, Acts 13:1, as here with those of Antipas.

For the technical term rendered here and in verse 17, "remitted," cf. Acts 25:21, where it is used again.

570Luke 23:11. - The word λαμπρός is strictly "white"; and to this incident is attributed the use of the vestment called "alb."

571Luke 23:12. - With regard to the treatment by textual critics of verses 10-12, it may be said that, what with Tischendorf's fondness for , Hort's partiality to "B," and Wellhausen's being wedded to Syrsin, something further is needed as determinative beyond "diplomatic" evidence, reinforced as that may be by "historical" or "critical acumen" enlisted in the service of irreconcilable views.

572 Cf. Acts 4:27.

573Luke 23:22.- Cf. veres 4 and 15. By Roman Law the Procurator ought not to have entertained the second, to say nothing of the third, trial.

574Luke 23:23. - "Urgent": so American Revv. Cf. Psalm 12:4.

575Luke 23:25. - Wellhausen can but speak of "indiscoverable reasons." J. Weiss, however, notes Luke's also forbearing to record the soldier's completion of the crucifixion: the Evangelist clearly meant to attach the blame to the Jews.

"Pilate" is included in Whyte's "Bible Characters," LXXXIV.

576Luke 23:26. - "Cyrene," the modern Tripoli. Cf. Acts 6:9. Observe how Luke's account brings together John's statement and that of Matthew and Mark. The Lord must alone have borne the cross until relieved of some portion of it by Simon.

577Luke 23:28-30. - Cf. Revelation 6:12; Rev 6:15 f. Stier calls this the first part of the Lord's Passion Sermon; the remainder is, of course, the seven words from the Cross, beginning with that in verse 34, where see note.

578Luke 23:31. - Cf. Psalm 1:4. The explanation of "green" and "dry" is that long ago given by Theophylact (cf. Farrar).

See Tholuck's Sermon on verses 26-31 ("Light from the Cross," p. 100), and Dr. Arnold's from verse 30.

579Luke 23:32. - Some copies alter the order, but the punctuation of A.V. is right from every point of view.

580 "Skull," i.e., Golgotha a name avoided, as Gethsemane, etc., in view of Gentile readers. "Calvary" of A.V. is from the Latin Vulgate.

581Luke 23:34. - This saying of course fulfils the last clause of Isaiah 53:12. Cf. 1 Timothy 1:13. The other utterances from the Cross are: (2) in verse 43 here; (3) in John 19:26; (4) in Mark 15:34; (5) in John 19:28; (6) in John 19:30; and (7) in verse 46 here.

On the reading, see Blass, "Philology of the Gospels," p. 71.

582 The suggestion of O. Holtzmann and others that the words in Matthew 27:46, as in Mark 15:34, had by the time Luke wrote come to be regarded as derogatory to the Son of God, is in the usual strain of "critical" nescience.

One has but to compare Luke 20:17 with the scope of quotation from Ps. 118 in Matthew and Mark, to see, as often elsewhere in this Gospel, how Luke condenses his record. That which is of chief importance is that it was to God as such, and not from the standpoint of John 3:14 ff., that the cry "with a loud voice" (verse 46) went up. Cf. note 587.

Tholuck has preached on verses 33-35 (p. 203).

583Luke 23:38. - "The King of the Jews, this!" For the tone of contempt, which finds suited expression in Luke, cf. Isaiah 53:3.

As to the various forms of inscription recorded by the Evangelists, see Stuart, pp. 283-285, comparing note 349 on John. The Lord here acts as King; before as Prophet (verse 28), and then as Priest (verse 34). Cf. Maclaren, ii., p. 307.

584Luke 23:42 f. - As to this robber's probable acquaintance with the Lord's predictions, see Meyer in loc. "The Penitent Thief" is one of Whyte's "Bible Characters," No. LXXXVII.

Wellhausen treats the εἰς in "B" (R.V. margin, "into") as "a very bad correction."

585Luke 23:43. - "Verily." For this form of emphatic announcement, cf. Luke 2:24, Luke 12:37, Luke 18:17; Luk 18:29, Luke 21:32.

"Today shalt thou be, etc." Or, "I say to thee today, thou shalt be, etc." (Whately and others). This alternative is rejected by Alford, but favoured, it would seem, by B. W. Newton, in his note on the Locality of Hades ("Remarks on Mosaic Cosmogony," p. 85), who points out the advantage such punctuation affords in meeting the difficulty which some feel in respect of the present passage, and refers to the bearing of John 3:13 on the Paradise question (infra).

Syrsin has an interesting addition: the impenitent robber had here said, "Save thyself alive today and us."

"With Me": Plummer, "Not merely in My company (σὺν ἐμοί), but sharing with Me (μετ᾽ ἐμου). The promise implies continuance of consciousness after death."

"PARADISE" (cf. note on Luke 16:22). Or, as Continental versions, "the Paradise."

The Expositor's view, that by this is meant the heavenly Paradise, is taken also by B. W. Newton, B. Weiss, and others. It will be observed that W. Kelly (as Delitzsch, "Biblical Psychology," p. 497, and Beck of Tübingen, "The Logic of Christian Doctrine," p. 526) held that our Lord's human spirit did not pass, as say the Apostles' and Athanasian Creeds, into Hades ("Hell"); and this notwithstanding Acts 2:27, where the Revv. have preserved "in." His conviction was that εἰς there should have been rendered "to," as the corresponding Hebrew preposition in Psalm 16:10, the Apostle's citation. It is fair, however, to note that the same Hebrew occurs in Job 39:14, and is there rendered "on," in parallelism with "in." Others regard "to" in the Psalm as equivalent to "in."

The usual belief is founded on such passages as Matthew 12:40 (the Lord's soul), Romans 10:7 and Ephesians 4:9.

The Expositor, as B. W. Newton, has taken sides against the early "Fathers," according to whose view, the separate state of all the blessed dead is referable to Hades; and has thus agreed with the Westminster Divines (note 417).

At the Reformation there was a recoil, emphasized by the Puritans of the next century, from mediaeval ideas in general; and so, not only from such conceptions as Gregory's purgatorial suffering, but from the interpretation of passages like Php 1:6, considered by many still to indicate continued sanctification after death for the perfect state of Heaven (cf. Hebrews 12:23), right on "to the day of Christ!" This does not, however, seem to be the Apostle's real meaning.

Such words as Paul's in Ephesians 2:6 dispose some to the view taken in the Exposition; whilst others emphasize the difference between the "Sheol" of the Old Testament, regarded as a "prison," a scene of "gloom," and the condition of comfort presented in Luke 16:25, - the "unseen" world as brightened by the enjoyment, in rest, of Christ's presence as Divine Redeemer (Psalm 139:8, Ephesians 4:10, 2 Corinthians 5:8, Php 1:23). They likewise experience difficulty in conceiving that any could be set before the βῆμα of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10) - yet all are to be "manifested" there - if the "Catholic" interpretation be really correct of the opening verses of the chapter concerned (see Explanatory Catechism, No. 102), as of Revelation 2:7, according to which a select company of believers go straight to heaven on death; or the view of Weymouth, that those do so "who resemble in character and watchfulness the Wise Virgins."

That the "Beatific Vision" ("Explan. Catech." 132) will be finally realized by all the redeemed, is common ground (Revelation 22:4). Holy Scripture, however, nowhere speaks, as do the Roman Catechism (No. 104) and some Protestant hymns, of any disembodied spirits as already "glorified." For that, resumption of the body will be needed (Php 3:21).

By "dead in Christ" (1 Thessalonians 4:16) must be meant the whole person of each (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Resurrection, not death, is the hope of the Christian (2 Corinthians 5:4: cf. Matthew 16:18 and 1 Corinthians 15:55, which are future).

Tholuck and Newman Hall have preached on verses 39-43.

586Luke 23:44 ff. - Under normal conditions there could be no eclipse of the sun at the season of full moon: hence the solemnity of the darkness. Cf. Jeremiah 23:20 ff., Psalm 89:36 ff.

Montefiore (after others, see note 582) observes that "the cry of forsakenness was inconceivable to" Luke (verse 46). But - as he himself says elsewhere of a remark of J. Weiss - how does he know that? No one pretends that the quotation from Ps. 31 is a "substitute" for the earlier quotation from Ps. 22. Luke's is added detail: recovery of sense of Divine Sonship when, according to the last of the records, from the remembrance of an eye-witness, JESUS could exclaim, "It is finished" (John 19:30).

587 The Lord's death, according to the view of Wieseler, Schürer, and Salmon, was on the 7th April, A.D. 30. "Christ our Passover was sacrificed" (1 Corinthians 5:7). at the hour of the evening sacrifice, "between the two evenings" (Exodus 12:6), which may mean between the beginning of Friday (our Thursday) evening and the beginning of Saturday (our Friday) evening. See next note.

See Tholuck's Sermon on verses 46-48.

588Luke 23:54. - The "Preparation" (παρασκεύη) is synonymous with the "eve" of the Passover, "by which the time from the evening of the 14th to that of the 15th Nisan is always described in Jewish writings" (Edersheim, "The Temple," etc.: p. 220 f.). It came to designate the Christian's Friday.

The word ἐπέφωσκε. Montefiore connects with the kindling of the "Sabbath lights" at the Jewish opening of that day.

Cf. note 531, and see Mark 15:42, John 19:31; Joh 19:42, with notes thereon.

And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King.
And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it.
Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man.
And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.
When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean.
And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time.
And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him.
Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.
And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him.
And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate.
And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.
And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people,
Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him:
No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him.
I will therefore chastise him, and release him.
(For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.)
And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas:
(Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.)
Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them.
But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.
And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.
And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.
And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.
And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.
And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.
And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.
But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.
For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.
Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.
For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?
And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.
And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.
And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar,
And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.
And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.
And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.
And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.
And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.
And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.
And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counseller; and he was a good man, and a just:
(The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.
This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.
And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.
And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.
And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.
And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.
Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible

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