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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Luke 23

 

 

Verses 1-5

Luke 23:1-5. Jesus before Pilate (Mark 15:1-5*, Matthew 27:1 f., Matthew 27:11-14*).—Lk. alone records the charge against Jesus laid by the Sanhedrin before Pilate; its burden was that He was a political agitator, dangerous to Rome. That He forbade the payment of tribute money was deliberate falsehood (Luke 20:21-26).

Luke 23:3. This verse summarises Pilate's examination of Jesus (John 18:33-38).—Thou sayest may indicate assent.

Luke 23:4. Lk. puts less guilt than Mk., Mt., or Jn. on Pilate, and more on the Jews. He alone has Luke 23:5. The friendliness of Roman authorities towards Christianity is a leading motive of Lk.'s Acts of the Apostles.


Verses 6-16

Luke 23:6-16. Pilate, Herod, and Jesus (Lk. only).—The historicity of this incident has been questioned on two grounds. (1) There was not time for it before the Crucifixion at 9 A.M. But the Crucifixion may have been really nearer noon. (2) It seems made (cf. Luke 23:8) to connect with Luke 9:9. This is not a strong argument. For a defence of the story, see A. W. Verrall in JThS, April 1909 (x. 321). Lk. may have found the story in some very early form of the Gospel of Peter and used it as emphasising the innocence of Jesus, the goodwill of Pilate, and the insults of the Jewish (rather than the Roman) ruler and his guard. The Herod is Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee, and therefore Jesus' sovereign; he may have been in Jerusalem for the Passover. Jesus is silent when questioned, as Mk. (Mark 15:3-5) says He was before Pilate. When He is brought back to the procurator the latter repeats his conviction of Jesus' innocence, and says that Herod is of the same opinion. Scourging should meet the case; it would at least teach the accused to be more discreet.


Verses 18-25

Luke 23:18-25. Pilate, Barabbas, and Jesus (Mark 15:6-15*, Matthew 27:15-26*).—Lk. here depends mainly on Mk. 17 (omitted from RV) is an explanatory gloss from Mt.; in some MSS. it is found after Luke 23:19. The "people" are now associated with the chief priests and the rulers. Pilate makes two more vain attempts (Luke 23:20; Luke 23:22) to save the victim, but the vehement shouts of the accusers carry the day, and Pilate pronounces the sentence they demand. Barabbas is set free and Jesus handed over to death. Lk. omits the triple part played by the Roman soldiers, the mocking (this is transferred to Herod's men, Luke 23:11), the scourging, and the leading to execution. But see Luke 23:36.


Verses 26-32

Luke 23:26-32. The Journey to Calvary.—To the incidents of Simon of Cyrene and the two malefactors (Mark 15:21-27*, Matthew 27:32-38*), Lk. adds that of the women of Jerusalem. Note that the people of the city are here sympathisers. The episode recalls Zechariah 12:10-14, but need not be based thereon. Other OT reminiscences are Jeremiah 22:10, Isaiah 54:1, Hosea 10:8, Ezekiel 20:47.

Luke 23:32. An a fortiori argument to be interpreted by the context. The women weep for Jesus while the tree is still green; they should weep for what will happen when it is dead and dry. "If while there is still life in the nation such deeds are possible, what will happen when that life is withered and the hour of doom arrives?"


Verses 33-43

Luke 23:33-43. The Crucifixion (Mark 15:22-32*, Matthew 27:33-44*).

Luke 23:34. Though not found in the best MSS. (cf. Luke 22:43 f.), this may be a piece of genuine Gospel tradition, and certainly represents the spirit of Jesus. Cf. p. 669 and Acts 7:60. The prayer includes Romans and Jews alike.

Luke 23:36 seems to combine Mark 15:23 and Mark 15:36. The discrimination between the two criminals (Dysmas and Gestus according to the Latin Acts of Pilate) executed with Jesus is peculiar to Lk.

Luke 23:40. "Does not even fear (of God, before whom you and He are about to appear) hold you back from this new sin of mocking God's anointed?"

Luke 23:42. in thy kingdom, or "with thy kingdom," i.e. when Thou comest to reign.

Luke 23:43. Paradise, lit. a garden with fruit trees, e.g. Eden; hence a region of heaven regarded by the later Jews as in or just above the "third heaven" (2 Corinthians 12:2; 2 Corinthians 12:4). The suppliant receives more than he asks; this very day he shall have the society of Jesus in a realm of joy and peace.


Verses 44-49

Luke 23:44-49. The Death of Jesus (Mark 15:33-41*, Matthew 27:45-56*).

Luke 23:45. the sun's light failing: the words do not necessarily imply an eclipse. The rending of the Temple veil is earlier than in Mk.

Luke 23:46. Instead of the cry, "Eloi, eloi," etc., we have "Father, into thy hands," etc., which is also from the Psalms (Psalms 31:5).

Luke 23:47. The centurion's words are given in such a form as to confirm the Roman opinion of Jesus' innocence. His confession was in itself a glorifying of God.

Luke 23:49. The first word should be "but"; a contrast is drawn between the friends of Jesus and the crowd. According to Lk. the former were not solely women: perhaps he is influenced by "prophecy," e.g. Psalms 88:8; Psalms 38:11.


Verses 50-56

Luke 23:50-56. The Burial of Jesus (Mark 15:42-47*, Matthew 27:57-61*).—Lk. tells us that Joseph had dissented from the action of his colleagues in the Sanhedrin. Pilate's assent to his request is assumed.

Luke 23:53. Codex Bez adds, "And when he was lain there, he put against the tomb a stone which twenty men could scarcely roll."

Luke 23:54. the Sabbath drew on: lit. "began to dawn." Montefiore says the word is used of the kindling of the Sabbath lights (on Friday evening). Some such explanation is demanded by the immediately previous statement that it was the day of the Preparation.

Luke 23:56 looks as though the women prepared the spices on reaching home on Friday night, i.e. on the Sabbath. They might have come to the tomb on Saturday at sunset (cf. Matthew 28:1*), but naturally deferred their task till the daylight of Sunday. If Lk. had been a Jew he would have put the Sabbath rest (Luke 24:1) before the (purchase and) preparation of the spices and ointments, as Mk. (Mark 16:1) does. Note the additional information in Luke 23:55 compared with Mk. and Mt.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Luke 23:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/luke-23.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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