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Bible Commentaries

The Fourfold Gospel
Luke 23

 

 

Verse 1
And the whole company of them rose up, and brought him before Pilate1.

  1. And the whole company of them rose up, and brought him before Pilate. See .


Verse 2
And they began to accuse him1, saying, We found2 this man perverting our nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar4, and saying that he himself is Christ a king5.
    FIRST STAGE OF THE ROMAN TRIAL. JESUS BEFORE PILATE FOR THE FIRST TIME. (Jerusalem. Early Friday morning.) Matthew 27:11-14; Mark 15:2-5; Luke 23:2-5; John 18:28-38

  1. And they began to accuse him. The Jews now profess to change their verdict into a charge, they themselves becoming witnesses as to the truth of the matter charged. They say

  2. We found, thereby asserting that the things which they stated to Pilate were the things for which they had condemned Jesus. Their assertion was utterly false, for the three things which they now mentioned had formed no part whatever of the evidence against Jesus in their trial of him.

  3. We found this man perverting our nation. The first charge, that Jesus was a perverter or seducer of the people, was extremely vague.

  4. And forbidding to give tribute to Caesar. The second, that he taught to withhold tribute from Caesar, was a deliberate falsehood. See the notes at Mark 12:13-17.

  5. And saying that he himself is Christ a king. The third, that he claimed to be king, was true, but this third charge, coupled with the other two, was intended to convey a sense which was maliciously false. Jesus was a spiritual King, and claimed to be such, and as such was no offender against the Roman government. But the rulers intended that Pilate should regard him as claiming to be a political king, which he had constantly refused to do (John 6:15).


Verse 3
And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest.

  1. And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest. See .


Verse 4
And Pilate said unto the chief priests and the multitudes, I find no fault in this man1.

  1. I find no fault in this man. The pronoun "I" is emphatic; as if Pilate said, "You prejudiced fanatics demand his death, but I, the calm judge, pronounce him innocent".


Verse 5
But they were the more urgent, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Judaea, and beginning from Galilee even unto this place1.

  1. He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Judaea, and beginning from Galilee even unto this place. The Jews cling to their general accusation of sedition, and seek to make the largeness of the territory where Jesus operated overshadow and conceal the smallness of their testimony as to what his operations were.


Verse 6
But when Pilate heard it, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean1.
    SECOND STAGE OF THE ROMAN TRIAL. JESUS BEFORE HEROD ANTIPAS. (Jerusalem. Early Friday morning.) Luke 23:6-12

  1. But when Pilate heard it, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean. When he heard that Jesus had begun his operations in Galilee.


Verse 7
And when he knew that he was of Herod's jurisdiction1, he sent him unto Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem in these days3.

  1. And when he knew that he was of Herod's jurisdiction. Herod was tetrarch of Galilee (Luke 3:1). Hearing that Jesus was a citizen of Herod's province, Pilate saw an opportunity to do two things: (1) by sending Jesus to Herod he would either shift or divide the grave responsibility in which he was placed; (2) he would show a courtesy to Herod which might help to remove Herod's enmity toward him, a courtesy which perhaps might be the reverse of the discourtesy which likely caused the enmity. See Luke 3:1.

  2. He sent him unto Herod who himself also was at Jerusalem. "Also" includes both Pilate and Herod, neither of whom lived at Jerusalem.

  3. In these days. This phrase refers to the passover season. Pilate had come up from his residence at Caesarea to keep order during the passover, and Herod had come from Tiberias to keep in favor with the Jews by showing his respect to their festival.


Verse 8
Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was of a long time desirous to see him, because he had heard concerning him1; and he hoped to see some miracle done by him.

  1. Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was of a long time desirous to see him, because he had heard concerning him. As to Herod's previous knowledge of Christ, see Luke 9:7-9.


Verse 9
And he questioned him in many words; but he answered him nothing1.

  1. And he questioned him in many words; but he answered him nothing. Herod, as sated ruler, adulterer, and murderer, wished Jesus to turn juggler for his amusement; but the Son of God had nothing but silence for such a creature. The only contemptuous word which Jesus is recorded to have spoken had reference to this ruler (Luke 13:31,32).


Verse 10
And the chief priests and the scribes stood, vehemently accusing him1.

  1. And the chief priests and the scribes stood, vehemently accusing him. The rulers felt that their case had well-nigh failed before Pilate, so they became the more urgent in the presence of Herod, since Herod had less reason to fear them than Pilate. In the midst of this, Jesus stood silent, answering neither question nor accusation.


Verse 11
And Herod with his soldiers set him at nought, and mocked him1, and arraying him in gorgeous apparel sent him back to Pilate2.

  1. And Herod with his soldiers set him at nought, and mocked him. Herod took vengeance upon the silence of Christ by treating him with abusive contempt.

  2. And arraying him in gorgeous apparel sent him back to Pilate. But finding nothing in Jesus worthy of condemnation, he returned him to Pilate.


Verse 12
And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day1: for before they were at enmity between themselves.

  1. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day. Thus Pilate gained but half his desire. Herod was now his friend, but the case of Jesus was still on his hands.


Verse 15
And Pilate called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people1,
    THIRD STAGE OF THE ROMAN TRIAL. PILATE RELUCTANTLY SENTENCES HIM TO CRUCIFIXION. (Friday. Toward sunrise.) Matthew 27:15-30; Mark 15:6-19; Luke 23:13-25; John 18:39-19:16

  1. And Pilate called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people. He did not wish to seem to take advantage of our Lord's accusers by releasing him during their absence. Possibly he knew of the triumphal entry the Sunday previous, and thought that the popularity of Jesus would be such that his release would be overwhelmingly demanded, and so called the rulers that they might see that he had released Jesus in answer to popular clamor. If he had such expectations, they were misplaced.


Verse 16
I will therefore chastise him, and release him1.

  1. I will therefore chastise him, and release him. He sought to please the rulers by scourging him, and the multitude by delivering him to them as a popular favorite, and himself by an adroit escape from an unpleasant situation. But he pleased nobody.


Verse 17
[Now he must needs release unto them at the feast one prisoner.]

  1. [Now he must needs release unto them at the feast one prisoner]. See .


Verse 18
But they cried out all together, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas1: --

  1. But they cried out all together, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas. See .


Verse 21
one who for a certain insurrection made in the city, and for murder1, was cast into prison.

  1. ne who for a certain insurrection made in the city, and for murder,
  2. was cast into prison. See .


Verse 22
And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath this man done1? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him and release him.

  1. Why, what evil hath this man done? See .


Verse 24
But they were urgent with loud voices, asking that he might be crucified1. And their voices prevailed2.

  1. But they were urgent with loud voices, asking that he might be crucified. See .

  2. And their voices prevailed. They overcame Pilate's weak resistance by their clamor.


Verse 25
And he released him that for insurrection and murder had been cast into prison, whom they asked for; but Jesus he delivered up to their will1.

  1. But Jesus he delivered up to their will. See .


Verse 26
And when they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country, and laid on him the cross, to bear it after Jesus.
    THE CRUCIFIXION. A. ON THE WAY TO THE CROSS. (Within and without Jerusalem. Friday morning.) Matthew 27:31-34; Mark 15:20-23; Luke 23:26-33; John 19:17

  1. They laid hold upon one Simon of Cyrene . . . and laid on him the cross, to bear it after Jesus. See John 19:17.


Verse 27
And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him1.

  1. And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. Only the women bewailed him. They were not Galileans, but women of Jerusalem. See Luke 23:28.


Verse 28
But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves1, and for your children.

  1. Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves,
  2. and for your children. Some of these women, and the children of others, would survive till the terrible siege of Jerusalem and suffer in it. Jesus bore his own suffering in silence, but his pity for those upon whom these days of anguish would come caused him to speak.


Verse 29
For behold, the days are coming, in which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the breasts that never gave suck1.

  1. Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the breasts that never gave suck. The proper blessedness of a matron is motherhood, but the horrors of the siege would reverse even so fixed a law as this.


Verse 30
Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us1.

  1. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. This language is figurative, describing one in extreme terror seeking impossible refuge. But there is a touch of literalness in the fulfillment, for Josephus tells us that at the end of the siege those in Jerusalem hid themselves in the subterranean recesses of the city, and that no less than two thousand of them were buried alive under the ruins of these hiding-places (Wars 6:9.4).


Verse 32
For if they do these things in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry1?

  1. For if they do these things in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry? The language here is obscurely proverbial. Here, as elsewhere (Luke 19:43; Matthew 24:15), Jesus refers to the sorrows which the Romans were to bring upon the Jews, and the meaning may be, "If the fiery persecution of Rome is so consuming that my innocence, though again and again pronounced by the governor himself, is no protection against it, what will that fire do when it envelopes the dry, guilty, rebellious city of Jerusalem"? Or we may make the present and the future grief of the women the point of comparison, and interpret thus: "If they cause such sorrow to the women while the city is like a green tree, how much more when, like a dry, dead tree, it is about to fall".


Verse 33
And when they came unto the place which is called The skull, there they crucified him1, and the malefactors, one on the right hand and the other on the left2.

  1. And when they came unto the place which is called The skull, there they crucified him. See .

    THE CRUCIFIXION. B. JESUS CRUCIFIED AND REVILED. HIS THREE SAYINGS DURING FIRST THREE HOURS. (Friday morning from nine o'clock till noon.) Matthew 27:35-44; Mark 15:24-32; Luke 23:33-43; John 19:18-27

  2. And the malefactors, one on the right hand and the other on the left. See John 19:18-27.


Verse 34
And Jesus said, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do1. And parting his garments among them, they cast lots2.

  1. And Jesus said, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. Our Lord's prayer here reminds us of the word at Isaiah 53:12. It accords with his own teachings (Matthew 5:44), and it was echoed by Stephen (Acts 7:59,60). Peter and Paul both speak of the Jewish ignorance (Acts 3:17; 1 Corinthians 2:8). Ignorance mitigates, but does not excuse, crime.

  2. And parting his garments among them, they cast lots. See 1 Corinthians 2:8.


Verse 37
And the people stood beholding1. And the rulers also scoffed at him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself2, if this is the Christ of God, his chosen.

  1. The people stood beholding. The scene had an awful fascination which they could not resist.

  2. He saved others; let him save himself. See .


Verse 39
And there was also a superscription over him, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

  1. A superscription also was written over him. See .


Verse 41
But the other answered, and rebuking him said, Dost thou not even fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation1?

  1. But the other answered, and rebuking him said, Dost thou not even fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? See .


Verse 42
And he said, Jesus, remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom1.

  1. Jesus, remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom. It is not likely that this robber had any conception of the spiritual kingdom of Jesus, but he somehow arrived at the conclusion that Jesus was the Messiah, and would come into his kingdom despite his crucifixion.


Verse 43
And he said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise1.

  1. To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise. Jesus answered the robber's prayer by a solemn promise that they would, that day, be together in that portion of the invisible world where those who are accepted of God await the resurrection. Many thoughtlessly make the dying robber the model of death-bed repentance, arguing that others may also be saved in this irregular manner. But Christ had not yet died, and the new testament or covenant was not sealed. Jesus then could change its terms to suit the occasion. It is therefore no evidence whatever that after his death and in his present glorified state our Lord will in any way change the covenant so as to do away with a single one of the terms required for obtaining remission of sins (Hebrews 9:15-18). Moreover, the example of the penitent robber is a difficult one to follow; he professed faith in Christ and his kingdom when there was no other voice in the whole wide world willing to do such a thing. Any one having such a faith in Christ will not put off his confession until the hour of death.


Verse 44
And it was now about the sixth hour1, and a darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour2,
    THE CRUCIFIXION. C. DARKNESS THREE HOURS. AFTER FOUR MORE SAYINGS, JESUS EXPIRES. STRANGE EVENTS ATTENDING HIS DEATH. Matthew 27:45-56; Mark 15:33-41; Luke 23:44-49; John 19:28-30

  1. And it was now about the sixth hour. Noon. See John 19:28-30.

  2. And a darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. See John 19:28-30.


Verse 45
the sun's light failing: and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst1.

  1. And the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. See .


Verse 46
And Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit1: and having said this, he gave up the ghost2.

  1. Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. See Psalms 31:5.

  2. He gave up the ghost. See Psalms 31:5.


Verse 47
And when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man1.

  1. Certainly this was a righteous man. See .


Verse 48
And all the multitudes that came together to this sight, when they beheld the things that were done, returned smiting their breasts1.

  1. And all the multitudes that came together to this sight, when they beheld the things that were done, returned smiting their breasts. The people who had acted under the influence of the priests now yielded to superior influences and began to experience that change of sentiment which led so many to repent and confess Christ at Pentecost (Acts 2:37-41).


Verse 49
And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed with him from Galilee, stood afar off1, seeing these things.

  1. And the women that followed with him from Galilee, stood afar off,
  2. seeing these things. See .


Verse 50
And behold, a man named Joseph1, who was a councillor, a good and righteous man
    THE CRUCIFIXION. D. JESUS FOUND TO BE DEAD. HIS BODY BURIED AND GUARDED IN THE TOMB. Matthew 27:57-66; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:31-42

  1. A man named Joseph. See John 19:31-42.


Verse 51
(he had not consented to their counsel and deed), [a man] of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews1, who was looking for the kingdom of God:

  1. Of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews. See .


Verse 52
this man went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus1.

  1. This man went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. See .


Verse 53
And he took it down, and wrapped it in a linen cloth1, and laid him in a tomb that was hewn in stone, where never man had yet lain2.

  1. And he took it down, and wrapped it in a linen cloth. As to the swathing of dead bodies, see .

  2. And laid him in a tomb that was hewn in stone, where never man had yet lain. See .


Verse 54
And it was the day of the Preparation1, and the sabbath drew on2.

  1. And it was the day of the Preparation. See .

  2. And the sabbath drew on. As Jesus died about three o'clock in the afternoon, and as all work had to stop at sunset, which was the beginning of the Sabbath, Joseph was much hurried in his efforts to bury Jesus.


Verse 55
And the women, who had come with him out of Galilee, followed after1, and beheld the tomb, and how his body was laid.

  1. And the women, who had come with him out of Galilee, followed after,
  2. and beheld the tomb, and how his body was laid. The context shows that our Lord was not completely embalmed by Joseph. The body of Jesus might have been kept elsewhere until after the Sabbath; but because the tomb was near, it appears to have been used temporarily.


Verse 56
And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments1. And on the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

  1. They returned, and prepared spices and ointments. The preparation of spices by the women shows that even that part of the burial was not, in their estimation, completed. This unfinished burial led the women back to the tomb early on the first day of the week, and thus brought to the disciples the glad news of the resurrection without any needless delay.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.

Bibliography Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Luke 23:4". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/luke-23.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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