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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Luke 23

 

 

Verse 1

Luke 23:1. ἅπαν τὸ πλῆθος, the whole number. The Jewish authorities go to Pilate in full strength to make as imposing an appearance as possible and create the impression that something serious was on hand.— ἤγαγεν: nothing is said about leading Jesus bound, as in Mt. and Mk.


Verses 1-5

Luke 23:1-5. Before Pilate (Matthew 27:1-2; Matthew 27:11-14, Mark 15:1-5). At the morning meeting of the Sanhedrim (in Mt. and Mk.) it had doubtless been resolved to put the confession of Jesus that He was the Christ into a shape fit to be laid before Pilate, i.e., to give it a political character, and charge Him with aspiring to be a king. To this charge Lk. adds other two, meant to give this aspiration a sinister character.


Verse 2

Luke 23:2. διαστρέφοντα, perverting, causing disaffection and disloyalty to Rome.— κωλύοντα, doing His best to prevent (people from paying tribute to Caesar); false, and they probably knew it to be so, but it was a serviceable lie.— βασιλέα: in apposition with χριστὸν = saying that He was Christ—a King!


Verse 3

Luke 23:3. σὺ εἶ, etc.: Pilate’s question exactly as in Mt. and Mk.— σὺ λέγεις: this reply needs some such explanation as is given in John; vide notes on Mt.


Verse 4

Luke 23:4. αἴτιον, blameworthy, punishable (neuter of αἴτιος) = αἰτία. Pilate arrived at his conclusion very swiftly. A glance sufficed to satisfy him that Jesus was no dangerous character. Probably he thought him a man with a fixed idea.


Verse 5

Luke 23:5. ἐπίσχυον (here only in N.T.), they kept insisting, used absolutely = “invalescebant,” Vulg(191)ἀνασείει, stirs up, a stronger word than διαστρέφειν.— διδάσκων, teaching, the instrument of excitement. Jesus did, in fact, produce a great impression on the people by His teaching, and one not favourable to the Pharisees, but He did not set Himself to stir up the people even against them.— καθʼ ὅλης τ. .: κατὰ with the genitive of place as in Luke 4:14 = in the whole of Judaea. This, considering the purpose, should mean Judaea strictly, Pilate’s province, and so taken it bears witness to more work done by Jesus in the south than is recorded in the Synoptists. But the testimony is of little value. The accusers said what suited their purpose, true or false.— καὶ ἀρξάμενος: the καὶ is a difficult reading, and just on that account probably correct. It gives the impression of an unfinished sentence, something left out = and beginning from Galilee He has spread His mischievous doctrine over the land even to this holy city. The words from καὶ to γαλιλαίας are omitted in some MSS., and it is not inconceivable that they are an early gloss to explain Luke 23:6 (so Weiss in Meyer).


Verses 6-12

Luke 23:6-12. Before Herod, peculiar to Lk.


Verse 7

Luke 23:7. ἀνέπεμψεν, remitted Him = remisit, sent Him to, not the higher (Meyer), but the proper tribunal: a Galilean, to the tetrarch of Galilee; a technical term.— ἐν ἱεροσ. Herod would be in Jerusalem to keep the Passover, though that is not stated.


Verse 8

Luke 23:8. ἐχάρη λίαν, was much pleased, “exceeding glad” (A.V(192) and R.V(193)) is too grave a phrase to express the feeling of this worthless man, who simply expected from the meeting with Jesus a “new amusement” (Schanz), such as might be got from a conjurer who could perform some clever tricks ( τι σημεῖον).


Verse 9

Luke 23:9. ἐν λόγοις ἱκανοῖς: suggesting the idea of a desultory conversation, in which the king introduced topic after topic in a random, incoherent manner, showing no serious interest in any of his questions.— οὐδὲν ἀπεκρίνατο, answered nothing, which would greatly astonish and pique this kingling, accustomed to courtier-servility. The fact that Jesus said nothing, and that nothing of importance came out of the appearance before Herod, may explain its omission by the other evangelists.


Verse 10

Luke 23:10. οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς, etc., priests and scribes, there too, having followed Jesus, afraid that the case might take an unfavourable turn in their absence.— εὐτόνως, eagerly (Acts 18:28).


Verse 11

Luke 23:11. ἐξουθενήσας: on this verb and kindred forms, vide at Mark 9:12. Herod, feeling slighted by Jesus, slights Him in turn, inciting his bodyguards ( τοῖς στρατεύμασιν, which cannot here mean armies) to mock Him, and having Him invested with a costly robe, probably a cast-off royal mantle of his own, and so sending Him back a mock king to Pilate, a man to be laughed at, not to be feared or punished.— ἐσθῆτα λαμπρὰν, a splendid robe; of what colour, purple or white, commentators vainly inquire.— ἀνέπεμψεν, “sent Him again” (A.V(194)), or “back” (R.V(195)). The verb may mean here, as in Luke 23:7, sent Him to Pilate as the proper person to try the case. The two magnates compliment each other, and shirk unpleasant work by sending Jesus hither and thither from tribunal to tribunal, the plaything and sport of unprincipled men.


Verse 12

Luke 23:12. ἐγένοντο φίλοι: that the one positive result of the transaction—two rulers, previously on bad terms, reconciled, at least for the time. Sending Jesus to Herod was a politic act on Pilate’s part. It might have ended the case so far as he was concerned; it pleased a jealous prince, and it gave him a free hand in dealing with the matter: nothing to fear in that quarter.— μετʼ ἀλλήλωγ for ἀλλήλοις (Euthy. Zig., who also substitutes πρὸς ἀλλήλους for πρὸς ἑαυτούς).— ὄντες after προϋπῆρχον might have been omitted, as in Acts 8:9, but it serves to convey the idea of continued bad relations.


Verses 13-16

Luke 23:13-16. Pilate proposes to release Jesus.


Verse 14

Luke 23:14. ἀποστρέφοντα, turning away (the people from their allegiance). In Acts 3:26, of turning men from their iniquities.— ἐνώπιον ἀνακρίνας, having made an inquiry in your presence. In John, Pilate’s inquiry is private. “He says this,” remarks Pricaeus, “lest they should think he was setting Jesus free by favour or intrigue” (gratiâ ant ambitu). ἀνακρίνας is used absolutely here as in Acts 24:8.


Verse 15

Luke 23:15. αὐτῷ: some have taken this as referring to Herod = Herod did nothing in the case, implying that it was of a serious, capital nature. Most take it as referring to Jesus = behold, the result of sending to Herod is that in his judgment nothing has been done deserving death by the accused.— αὐτῷ instead of ὑπʼ αὐτοῦ; vide on this construction Winer, § xxxi., 10.


Verse 16

Luke 23:16. παιδεύσας: doubtless used here in the Hellenistic sense of chastise, scourge—a mild name for an ugly thing. The policy of the proposal Euthy. thus explains: “a moderate flagellation ( μετρίαν μαστίγωσιν) to mitigate their wrath, that thinking they had gained their point they might cease from further madness”. A weak, futile policy. “Hic coepit nimium concedere” (Bengel). Fanaticism grows by concession (Schanz).


Verse 17

Luke 23:17, which states that Pilate was under a necessity (why, not explained) to release one (prisoner) at feast time, is almost certainly imported from the parallels by a later hand, though it fills up an obvious hiatus in Lk.’s meagre narrative.


Verses 17-25

Luke 23:17-25. Pilate finally succumbs (Matthew 27:15-26, Mark 15:6-15).


Verse 18

Luke 23:18. παμπληθεί: adverb, from παμπληθής (here only in N.T.) = in the whole-mob style, giving a vivid idea of the overpowering shout raised.— αἶρε τοῦτον, take away this one, i.e., to the cross.— ἀπόλυσον, release; if ye will release some one (Luke 23:16, ἀπολύσω) let it be Barabbas. Lk. makes this demand the voluntary act of the people. In the parallels (vide there) it is suggested to them by Pilate (Mt.), and urged on them by the priests. In Lk. s narrative the behaviour of the people is set in a dark light, while both Pilate and the priests are treated with comparative mildness. In view of Israel’s awful doom, Lk. says in effect: the people have suffered for their own sin.


Verse 19

Luke 23:19. ὅστις seems to be = ὅς here, following the growing usage of later Greek (Schanz, vide Buttmann, Gram., p. 115).— διὰ στάσινκαὶ φόνον= διὰ φόνον ἐν στάσει πεποιημένον, Pricaeus.— ἦν βληθείς: instead of ἔβληθη, the analytic form is unusual with the aorist (here only in N.T.), hence probably the reading of T.R., βεβλημένος.


Verse 20

Luke 23:20. πάλιν, again, a second time. Lk. carefully enumerates the friendly attempts of Pilate, hence τρίτον in Luke 23:22. The first is in Luke 23:16.


Verse 21

Luke 23:21. ἐπεφώνουν, shouted ( βοᾷ κράζει, Hesych.), in Lk. only, and in reference to the people (Acts 12:22).— σταύρου (active, not middle = σταυροῦ), “crucify,” repeated, with passion; thoughtless, foolish, impulsive mob!


Verse 22

Luke 23:22. τρίτον: third and final attempt, showing some measure of earnestness on Pilate’s part.— τί γὰρ κακόν: the γὰρ answers to the hostile mood of the people = I cannot respond to your demand for, etc.; the “why, what evil,” etc., of the A.V(196) is a happy rendering. In this final appeal, Pilate states most distinctly his opinion that Jesus is innocent.


Verse 23

Luke 23:23. ἐπέκειντο, “they were instant,” A.V(197) The verb is used absolutely.— κατίσχυον, were overpowering; “ecce gentis ingenium!” Pricaeus.


Verse 24

Luke 23:24. ἐπέκρινεν, decided, gave judgment; here only in N.T. and in 2 Maccabees 4:47, 3 Maccabees 4:2. It was not a condemnation but simply a sentence to death under pressure.— αἴτημα, desire, here and in Philippians 4:6 in this sense.


Verse 25

Luke 23:25. τὸν διὰ σ.: the repetition of this description, instead of giving the name, is very expressive.— τῷ θελήματι α., to their will. Weak man and wicked people!


Verse 26

Luke 23:26. ἀπήγαγον: who led Jesus away is not indicated. It might seem it was the mob, to whose will Jesus had just been delivered. But Lk. does not mean that. He simply continues the story, as in Mk., omitting the mockery of the soldiers (Mark 15:16-20), who, that brutal sport ended, led Him out ( ἐξάγουσιν, Mark 15:20). Lk. omits also the scourging, which even Mt. and Mk. hurry over ( φραγελλώσας).— ἐπιλαβόμενοι: a Greek word substituted for the foreign technical ἀγγαρεύειν in the parallels (usually takes the genitive in the Gospel, here also in T.R., accusative in W. and H.’(198) text, vide Acts 17:19; Acts 18:17).— ὄπισθεν του ἰησοῦ does not mean that Simon helped Jesus to bear the cross, carrying the end behind Jesus. They laid the whole cross on him.

Luke 23:27 f. This incident of the women following in the crowd is peculiar to Lk.— καὶ γυναικῶν, and of women; they are the part of the crowd in which the story is interested. They were mainly women of Jerusalem (Luke 23:28).— αἳ ἐκόπτοντο, etc.: they indulged in demonstrative grief by gesture and voice ( ἐθρήνουν), contrary to rule it would appear (“non planxerunt eductum ad supplicium, sed interius luxerunt in corde,” Lightfoot on Matthew 27:31), but great grief heeds not rules.


Verses 26-32

Luke 23:26-32. On the way to the cross (Matthew 27:31-34, Mark 15:21).


Verse 28

Luke 23:28. ἐπʼ ἐμέ, ἐφʼ ἑαυτὰς are brought close together to emphasise the contrast = weep not for me, but for yourselves weep, hinting at the tragedies of Jerusalem’s fatal day. At such times the greatest joy, that of motherhood, is turned into the greatest misery (Holtzmann, H. C.). The mothers ever have the worst of it (J. Weiss in Meyer).


Verse 29

Luke 23:29. ( μακάριαι, etc.: blessed the women that have no children, barren, or unmarried: nobody to care for but themselves. The reflection implies keen sympathy with human feeling.


Verse 30

Luke 23:30. τοῖς ὄρεσι, τοῖς βουνοῖς: the reference is to Palestine, a land of mountains and hills, and the prayer of the miserable that a hill may fall on them and bury them under its ruins (quoted from Hosea 10:8).


Verse 31

Luke 23:31. The sense of this proverbial phrase is obscure, but the connection demands this general idea: what is happening to me now is nothing to what is going to happen to this people. The green tree represents innocence, the dry tree guilt, ripe for the fire of judgment. Vide Ezekiel 20:47; Ezekiel 21:3. Pricaeus cites as a parallel from Catullus: “quid facient crines quum ferro talia cedant?” The Rabbinical proverb, “si duo fuerint ligna arida et unum viride, arida illud lignum viride exurunt,” does not seem to bear the same meaning.— ἐν ὑγρῷ ξύλῳ, in the wet tree, in ligno humido, Grotius. ξύλον χλωρὸν= lignum viride, in Ezekiel.


Verse 32

Luke 23:32. ἕτεροι δύο κακοῦργοι, other two malefactors, as if Jesus was one also. But this is not meant. “It is a negligent construction, common to all languages, and not liable to be misunderstood,” remarks Field (Ot. Nor.), who gives an example from the Communion service. “If he require further comfort or counsel let him come to me, or to some other discreet and learned minister of God’s word.” If κακοῦργοι were meant to include Jesus it would be used in reference to what men thought, δοξαστικῶς (Kypke) = pro tali habitus in reference to Jesus (Kuinoel). On this use of ἕτερος and ἄλλος, vide Winer, p. 665.


Verses 33-38

Luke 23:33-38. Crucifixion (Matthew 27:35-38, Mark 15:24-27).— κρανίον, a skull, for the Hebrew γολγοθά in Mt. and Mk.


Verse 34

Luke 23:34. πάτερ, etc.: a prayer altogether true to the spirit of Jesus, therefore, though reported by Lk. alone, intrinsically credible. It is with sincere regret that one is compelled, by its omission in important MSS., to regard its genuineness as subject to a certain amount of doubt. In favour of it is its conformity with the whole aim of Lk. in his Gospel, which is to exhibit the graciousness of Jesus.— διαμεριζόμενοι, etc., and parting His garments they cast lots = they divided His garments by casting lots.


Verse 35

Luke 23:35. θεωρῶν: the people are now mere spectators. Have they begun to rue already when they see what their demand has come to? Observe the words θεωρίαν and θεωρήσαντες in Luke 23:48. When they had gazed long enough it came to decided poignant regret. Fickle mob!— οἱ ἄρχοντες: they alone, the rulers of the people, mock and sneer. The σὺν αὐτοῖς (T.R.) is a badly attested reading and clearly contrary to the spirit of the narrative.— ἐκλεκτός, the Elect One, and come to this? Incredible? No! thus all the truest sons and elect of God have fared in this evil world.


Verse 36

Luke 23:36. οἱ στρατιῶται, the soldiers; first mention of them, whether there as executioners or as keeping order does not appear in Lk.’s narrative. They too mock in their own rough way, offering the sufferer vinegar by way of grim joke (Meyer). So Lk. understands the matter. Note how he hurries over these brutalities. Cf. Mt. and Mk.


Verse 37

Luke 23:37. The taunt put into the mouth of the soldiers is a pointless echo of the sneers of the rulers. The crucified one might be a King, yet be unable to save Himself. The Christ, elect of God, might be conceived endowed with supernatural power.


Verse 38

Luke 23:38. ἐπʼ αὐτῷ, over Him, i.e., above His head; or in reference to Him (Bleek). The ἐπιγραφὴ is viewed by Lk. as also an insult, crowning the others ( ἦν δὲ καὶ), to which answers its form as in W. and H(199): βασιλεὺς τ. . οὗτος= the King of the Jews this (crucified person).


Verse 39

Luke 23:39. ἐβλασφήμει: the wretched man caught up the taunt of the rulers and, half in coarse contempt, half by way of petition, repeated it, with καὶ ἡμᾶς added, which redeemed the utterance from being a gratuitous insult.


Verses 39-43

Luke 23:39-43. The penitent malefactor, peculiar to Lk. and congenial to the spirit of the Gospel of the sinful.


Verse 40

Luke 23:40. οὐδὲ φοβῇ σὺ τ. θ.: οὐδὲ may be connected with, and the emphasis may fall on, either φοβῇ, σὺ, or θεόν = (1) dost thou not even fear God, not to speak of any higher religious feeling? (2) dost not even thou, in contrast to these mockers of misery, fear, etc.? (3) dost thou not fear God, at least, if thou hast no regard for men? The position of οὐδὲ just before φοβῇ, casts the scale in favour of (1).


Verse 41

Luke 23:41. ἄτοπον ( α pr. and τόπος): primarily out of place, unfitting, absurd, often in Plato; in later usage bearing a moral sense—wrong, wicked ( ἄτοπα πονηρὰ, αἰσχρὰ, Hesych.); of persons 2 Thessalonians 3:2, in the sense of physically hurtful in Acts 28:6.


Verse 42

Luke 23:42. καὶ ἔλεγεν· ἰησοῦ, and he said: Jesus! not to Jesus as T. R. signifies.— ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ σ.: when Thou comest in Thy kingdom = when Thou comest as King to earth again, the petition meaning: may I be among those whom Thou shalt raise from the dead to share its joys! The reading of (200) (201), εἰς τὴν β. σ., might point to an immediate entering into the Kingdom of Heaven, the prayer meaning: may I go there to be with Thee when I die!


Verse 43

Luke 23:43. σήμερον: to be connected with what follows, not with λέγω = to-day, as opposed to a boon expected at some future time (which makes for the reading ἐν τῇ β. in Luke 23:42). Or the point may be: this very day, not tomorrow or the next day, as implying speedy release by death, instead of a slow lingering process of dying, as often in cases of crucifixion.— ἐν τῷ παραδείσῳ, in paradise; either the division of Hades in which the blessed dwell, which would make for the descensus ad inferos, or heaven; vide at Luke 16:23, and cf. 2 Corinthians 12:4, where it is a synonym for heaven, and Revelation 2:7, where it denotes the perfected Kingdom of God, the ideal state of bliss realised. The use of “paradise” in this sense is analogous to the various representations in Hebrews of the perfect future drawn from the primeval condition of man: lordship in the world to come, deliverance from the fear of death, a Sabbatism (Hebrews 2:8; Hebrews 2:14; Hebrews 4:9). The use of the term παράδεισος by St. Paul makes its use by our Lord credible.


Verse 44

Luke 23:44. ἐφʼ ὅλην τὴν γῆν: though Lk. writes for Gentiles this phrase need not mean more than over the whole land of Israel.


Verses 44-49

Luke 23:44-49. After crucifixion (Matthew 27:45-56, Mark 15:33-41).


Verse 45

Luke 23:45. τοῦ ἡλίου ἐκλιπόντος: this phrase (a well-attested reading as against the T.R. ἐσκοτίσθη .) ought to mean the sun being eclipsed, an impossibility when the moon is full. If all that was meant was the sun’s light totally failing, darkened, e.g., by a sand storm, the natural expression would be ἐσκοτίσθη.


Verse 46

Luke 23:46. φωνῇ μεγάλῃ: this expression is used in Mt. and Mk. in connection with the “My God, My God,” which Lk. omits. In its place comes the “Father, into Thy hands”. Here as in the agony in the garden Lk.’s account fails to sound the depths of Christ’s humiliation. It must not be inferred that he did not know of the “Eli, Eli”. Either he personally, or his source, or his first readers, could not bear the thought of it.— παρατίθεμαι τ. π. μ.: an echo of Psalms 31:6, and to be understood in a similar sense, as an expression of trust in God in extremis. Various shades of meaning have been put on the words, among which is that Jesus died by a free act of will, handing over His soul to God as a deposit to be kept safe (Grotius, Bengel, Hahn, etc.).


Verse 47

Luke 23:47. ἑκατοντάρχης, the centurion, in command of the soldiers named in Luke 23:36.— δίκαιος, righteous, innocent; in the parallels he confesses that Jesus is a Son of God. Lk. is careful to accumulate testimonies to Christ’s innocence: first the robber, then the centurion, then the multitude (Luke 23:48) bears witness.


Verse 48

Luke 23:48. θεωρίαν, sight, here only (3 Maccabees 5:24).— τὰ γενόμενα, the things that had happened; comprehensively, including the crucifixion and all its accompaniments. They had looked on and listened, and the result was regret that they had had anything to do with bringing such a fate on such a man.— τύπτοντες τ. σ., beating their breasts. Lk. has in mind Zechariah’s “they shall look on me whom they have pierced and mourn” (Luke 12:10).— ὑπέστρεφον, kept going away, in little groups, sad-hearted.


Verse 49

Luke 23:49. οἱ γνωστοὶ, His acquaintances, Galileans mostly, who stood till the end, but far away. Mt. and Mk. do not mention this. No word of the eleven.— καὶ γυναῖκες: warm-hearted Galileans they too, and women, therefore bolder where the heart was concerned; nearer presumably, therefore “seeing” predicted of them specially ( ὁρῶσαι). The men stood at a safe distance, the women cared more for seeing than for safety.


Verse 50

Luke 23:50. καὶ ἰδού: introducing the bright side of the tragic picture, a welcome relief after the harrowing incidents previously related: the Victim of injustice honourably buried by a good man, who is described with greater fulness of detail than in Mt. and Mk.— ἀνὴρ ἀγαθὸς καὶ δίκαιος, a man generous or noble and just. Instead of the epithets εὐσχήμων (Mark 15:43) and πλούσιος (Matthew 27:57), indicative of social position, Lk. employs words descriptive of moral character, leaving βουλευτὴς to serve the former purpose. ἀγαθὸς has reference to the generous act he is going to perform, δίκαιος to his past conduct in connection with the trial of Jesus; hence the statement following: οὗτος οὐκ ἦν, etc., which forms a kind of parenthesis in the long sentence.


Verses 50-56

Luke 23:50-56. The burial (Matthew 27:57-61, Mark 15:42-47).


Verse 51

Luke 23:51. οὐκ ἦν συγκατατεθειμένος, was not a consenting party, here only in N. T. Alford thinks the meaning is that he absented himself from the meeting. Let us hope it means more than that: present at the meeting, and dissenting from its proceedings.— τ. βουλῇ καὶ τ. πράξει, their counsel and their subsequent action in carrying that counsel into effect.— ὅς προσεδέχετο, etc.: this describes his religious character. Thus we have first social position, a counsellor; next ethical character, generous and just: finally religious character, one who was waiting for the Kingdom of God.


Verse 53

Luke 23:53. λαξευτῷ, cut out of stone, here only, and in Deuteronomy 4:49.— οὐκ, οὐδέπω οὐδεὶς, an accumulation of negatives to emphasise the honour done to Jesus by depositing His body in a previously unused tomb.


Verse 54

Luke 23:54. ἐπέφωσκε, was about to dawn, illucescebat, Vulgate. The evening is meant, and the word seems inappropriate. Lk. may have used it as if he had been speaking of a natural day (as in Matthew 28:1) by a kind of inadvertence, or it may have been used with reference to the candles lit in honour of the day, or following the Jewish custom of calling the night light justified by the text, Psalms 148:3, “Praise Him, all ye stars of light” (vide Lightfoot, Hor. Heb.). Or it may be a touch of poetry, likening the rising of the moon to a dawn. So Casaubon, Exercit. anti-Baronianae, p. 416.


Verse 55

Luke 23:55. αἵτινες: possibly = αἵ, but possibly meant to suggest the idea of distinction: Galilean women, and such in character as you would expect them to be: leal-hearted, passionately devoted to their dead Friend.— ἀρώματα, spices, dry.— μύρα, ointments, liquid.


Verse 56

Luke 23:56. κατὰ τὴν ἐντολήν: they respected the Sabbath law as commonly understood. The purchase of spices and ointments is viewed by some as a proof that the day of Christ’s crucifixion was an ordinary working day.

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Luke 23:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/luke-23.html. 1897-1910.

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