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Luke 23:1-25

Context
Jesus Brought Before Pilate

23:1 Then 1  the whole group of them rose up and brought Jesus 2  before Pilate. 3  23:2 They 4  began to accuse 5  him, saying, “We found this man subverting 6  our nation, forbidding 7  us to pay the tribute tax 8  to Caesar 9  and claiming that he himself is Christ, 10  a king.” 23:3 So 11  Pilate asked Jesus, 12  “Are you the king 13  of the Jews?” He replied, “You say so.” 14  23:4 Then 15  Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no basis for an accusation 16  against this man.” 23:5 But they persisted 17  in saying, “He incites 18  the people by teaching throughout all Judea. It started in Galilee and ended up here!” 19 

Jesus Brought Before Herod

23:6 Now when Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 23:7 When 20  he learned that he was from Herod’s jurisdiction, 21  he sent him over to Herod, 22  who also happened to be in Jerusalem 23  at that time. 23:8 When 24  Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform 25  some miraculous sign. 26  23:9 So 27  Herod 28  questioned him at considerable length; Jesus 29  gave him no answer. 23:10 The chief priests and the experts in the law 30  were there, vehemently accusing him. 31  23:11 Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, 32  dressing him in elegant clothes, 33  Herod 34  sent him back to Pilate. 23:12 That very day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other, 35  for prior to this they had been enemies. 36 

Jesus Brought Before the Crowd

23:13 Then 37  Pilate called together the chief priests, the 38  rulers, and the people, 23:14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading 39  the people. When I examined him before you, I 40  did not find this man guilty 41  of anything you accused him of doing. 23:15 Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, he has done nothing 42  deserving death. 43  23:16 I will therefore have him flogged 44  and release him.”

23:17 [[EMPTY]] 45 

23:18 But they all shouted out together, 46  “Take this man 47  away! Release Barabbas for us!” 23:19 (This 48  was a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection 49  started in the city, and for murder.) 50  23:20 Pilate addressed them once again because he wanted 51  to release Jesus. 23:21 But they kept on shouting, 52  “Crucify, crucify 53  him!” 23:22 A third time he said to them, “Why? What wrong has he done? I have found him guilty 54  of no crime deserving death. 55  I will therefore flog 56  him and release him.” 23:23 But they were insistent, 57  demanding with loud shouts that he be crucified. And their shouts prevailed. 23:24 So 58  Pilate 59  decided 60  that their demand should be granted. 23:25 He released the man they asked for, who had been thrown in prison for insurrection and murder. But he handed Jesus over 61  to their will. 62 

1 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.

2 tn Grk “him”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

3 sn Pilate was the Roman prefect (procurator) in charge of collecting taxes and keeping the peace. His immediate superior was the Roman governor (proconsul) of Syria, although the exact nature of this administrative relationship is unknown. Pilate’s relations with the Jews had been rocky (v. 12). Here he is especially sensitive to them.

4 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

5 sn They began to accuse him. There were three charges: (1) disturbing Jewish peace; (2) fomenting rebellion through advocating not paying taxes (a lie – 20:20-26); and (3) claiming to be a political threat to Rome, by claiming to be a king, an allusion to Jesus’ messianic claims. The second and third charges were a direct challenge to Roman authority. Pilate would be forced to do something about them.

6 tn On the use of the term διαστρέφω (diastrefw) here, see L&N 31.71 and 88.264.

sn Subverting our nation was a summary charge, as Jesus “subverted” the nation by making false claims of a political nature, as the next two detailed charges show.

7 tn Grk “and forbidding.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated to suggest to the English reader that this and the following charge are specifics, while the previous charge was a summary one. See the note on the word “misleading” earlier in this verse.

8 tn This was a “poll tax.” L&N 57.182 states this was “a payment made by the people of one nation to another, with the implication that this is a symbol of submission and dependence – ‘tribute tax.’”

9 tn Or “to the emperor” (“Caesar” is a title for the Roman emperor).

10 tn Or “Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”

sn See the note on Christ in 2:11.

11 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied result of the charges brought in the previous verse.

12 tn Grk “him”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

13 snAre you the king of the Jews?” Pilate was interested only in the third charge, because of its political implications of sedition against Rome.

14 sn The reply “You say so” is somewhat enigmatic, like Jesus’ earlier reply to the Jewish leadership in 22:70.

15 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.

16 tn Grk “find no cause.”

sn Pilate’s statement “I find no reason for an accusation” is the first of several remarks in Luke 23 that Jesus is innocent or of efforts to release him (vv. 13, 14, 15, 16, 20, 22).

17 tn Or “were adamant.” For “persisted in saying,” see L&N 68.71.

18 sn He incites the people. The Jewish leadership claimed that Jesus was a political threat and had to be stopped. By reiterating this charge of stirring up rebellion, they pressured Pilate to act, or be accused of overlooking political threats to Rome.

19 tn Grk “beginning from Galilee until here.”

20 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

21 sn Learning that Jesus was from Galilee and therefore part of Herod’s jurisdiction, Pilate decided to rid himself of the problem by sending him to Herod.

22 sn Herod was Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great. See the note on Herod in 3:1.

23 sn Herod would probably have come to Jerusalem for the feast, although his father was only half Jewish (Josephus, Ant. 14.15.2 [14.403]). Josephus does mention Herod’s presence in Jerusalem during a feast (Ant. 18.5.3 [18.122]).

map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

24 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

25 tn Grk “to see some sign performed by him.” Here the passive construction has been translated as an active one in keeping with contemporary English style.

26 sn Herod, hoping to see him perform some miraculous sign, seems to have treated Jesus as a curiosity (cf. 9:7-9).

27 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied result of the previous statements in the narrative about Herod’s desire to see Jesus.

28 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Herod) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

29 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

30 tn Or “and the scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 5:21.

31 sn Luke portrays the Jewish leadership as driving events toward the cross by vehemently accusing Jesus.

32 tn This is a continuation of the previous Greek sentence, but because of its length and complexity, a new sentence was started here in the translation by supplying “then” to indicate the sequence of events.

33 sn This mockery involved putting elegant royal clothes on Jesus, either white or purple (the colors of royalty). This was no doubt a mockery of Jesus’ claim to be a king.

34 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Herod) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

35 sn Herod and Pilate became friends with each other. It may be that Pilate’s change of heart was related to the death of his superior, Sejanus, who had a reputation for being anti-Jewish. To please his superior, Pilate may have ruled the Jews with insensitivity. Concerning Sejanus, see Philo, Embassy 24 (160-61) and Flaccus 1 (1).

36 tn Grk “at enmity with each other.”

37 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.

38 tn Grk “and the,” but καί (kai) has not been translated since English normally uses a coordinating conjunction only between the last two elements in a series of three or more.

39 tn This term also appears in v. 2.

40 tn Grk “behold, I” A transitional use of ἰδού (idou) has not been translated here.

41 tn Grk “nothing did I find in this man by way of cause.” The reference to “nothing” is emphatic.

42 sn With the statement “he has done nothing,” Pilate makes another claim that Jesus is innocent of any crime worthy of death.

43 tn Grk “nothing deserving death has been done by him.” The passive construction has been translated as an active one in keeping with contemporary English style.

44 tn Or “scourged” (BDAG 749 s.v. παιδεύω 2.b.γ). This refers to a whipping Pilate ordered in an attempt to convince Jesus not to disturb the peace. It has been translated “flogged” to distinguish it from the more severe verberatio.

45 tc Many of the best mss, as well as some others (Ì75 A B K L T 070 1241 pc sa), lack 23:17 “(Now he was obligated to release one individual for them at the feast.)” This verse appears to be a parenthetical note explaining the custom of releasing someone on amnesty at the feast. It appears in two different locations with variations in wording, which makes it look like a scribal addition. It is included in א (D following v. 19) W Θ Ψ Ë1,13 Ï lat. The verse appears to be an explanatory gloss based on Matt 27:15 and Mark 15:6, not original in Luke. The present translation follows NA27 in omitting the verse number, a procedure also followed by a number of other modern translations.

46 tn Grk “together, saying.” The participle λέγοντες (legontes) is redundant and has not been translated here.

47 tn Grk “this one.” The reference to Jesus as “this man” is pejorative in this context.

48 tn Grk “who” (a continuation of the previous sentence).

49 sn Ironically, what Jesus was alleged to have done, started an insurrection, this man really did.

50 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.

51 sn The account pictures a battle of wills – the people versus Pilate. Pilate is consistently portrayed in Luke’s account as wanting to release Jesus because he believed him to be innocent.

52 tn Grk “shouting, saying.” The participle λέγοντες (legontes) is redundant and has not been translated here.

53 tn This double present imperative is emphatic.

sn Crucifixion was the cruelest form of punishment practiced by the Romans. Roman citizens could not normally undergo it. It was reserved for the worst crimes, like treason and evasion of due process in a capital case. The Roman historian Cicero called it “a cruel and disgusting penalty” (Against Verres 2.5.63-66 §§163-70); Josephus (J. W. 7.6.4 [7.203]) called it the worst of deaths.

54 tn Grk “no cause of death I found in him.”

55 sn The refrain of innocence comes once again. Pilate tried to bring some sense of justice, believing Jesus had committed no crime deserving death.

56 tn Or “scourge” (BDAG 749 s.v. παιδεύω 2.b.γ). See the note on “flogged” in v. 16.

57 tn Though a different Greek term is used here (BDAG 373 s.v. ἐπίκειμαι), this remark is like 23:5.

58 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied result of the crowd’s cries prevailing.

59 sn Finally Pilate gave in. He decided crucifying one Galilean teacher was better than facing a riot. Justice lost out in the process, because he did not follow his own verdict.

60 tn Although some translations render ἐπέκρινεν (epekrinen) here as “passed sentence” or “gave his verdict,” the point in context is not that Pilate sentenced Jesus to death here, but that finally, although convinced of Jesus’ innocence, he gave in to the crowd’s incessant demand to crucify an innocent man.

61 tn Or “delivered up.”

62 sn He handed Jesus over to their will. Here is where Luke places the major blame for Jesus’ death. It lies with the Jewish nation, especially the leadership, though in Acts 4:24-27 he will bring in the opposition of Herod, Pilate, and all people.



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