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Matthew 27:32-44

The Crucifixion

27:32 As 1  they were going out, they found a man from Cyrene named Simon, whom they forced 2  to carry his cross. 3  27:33 They 4  came to a place called Golgotha 5  (which means “Place of the Skull”) 6  27:34 and offered Jesus 7  wine mixed with gall to drink. 8  But after tasting it, he would not drink it. 27:35 When 9  they had crucified 10  him, they divided his clothes by throwing dice. 11  27:36 Then they sat down and kept guard over him there. 27:37 Above 12  his head they put the charge against him, 13  which read: 14  “This is Jesus, the king of the Jews.” 27:38 Then two outlaws were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 27:39 Those 15  who passed by defamed him, shaking their heads 27:40 and saying, “You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! 16  If you are God’s Son, come down 17  from the cross!” 27:41 In 18  the same way even the chief priests – together with the experts in the law 19  and elders 20  – were mocking him: 21  27:42 “He saved others, but he cannot save himself! He is the king of Israel! If he comes down 22  now from the cross, we will believe in him! 27:43 He trusts in God – let God, if he wants to, deliver him now 23  because he said, ‘I am God’s Son’!” 27:44 The 24  robbers who were crucified with him also spoke abusively to him. 25 

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

2 tn Or “conscripted”; or “pressed into service.”

3 sn Jesus was beaten severely with a whip before this (the prelude to crucifixion, known to the Romans as verberatio, mentioned in Matt 27:26; Mark 15:15; John 19:1), so he would have been weak from trauma and loss of blood. Apparently he was unable to bear the cross himself, so Simon was conscripted to help (in all probability this was only the crossbeam, called in Latin the patibulum, since the upright beam usually remained in the ground at the place of execution). Cyrene was located in North Africa where Tripoli is today. Nothing more is known about this Simon. Mark 15:21 names him as father of two people apparently known to Mark’s audience.

4 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated.

5 tn This is an Aramaic name; see John 19:17.

6 sn A place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). This location is north and just outside of Jerusalem. The hill on which it is located protruded much like a skull, giving the place its name. The Latin word for the Greek term κρανίον (kranion) is calvaria, from which the English word “Calvary” is derived (cf. Luke 23:33 in the KJV).

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

8 sn It is difficult to say for certain who gave Jesus this drink of wine mixed with gall (e.g., the executioner, or perhaps women from Jerusalem). In any case, whoever gave it to him most likely did so in order to relieve his pain, but Jesus was unwilling to take it.

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

10 sn See the note on crucified in 20:19.

11 tn Grk “by throwing the lot” (probably by using marked pebbles or broken pieces of pottery). A modern equivalent, “throwing dice,” was chosen here because of its association with gambling. According to L&N 6.219 a term for “dice” is particularly appropriate.

sn An allusion to Ps 22:18.

12 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated.

13 sn Mention of the inscription is an important detail, because the inscription would normally give the reason for the execution. It shows that Jesus was executed for claiming to be a king. It was also probably written with irony from the executioners’ point of view.

14 tn Grk “was written.”

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

16 sn There is rich irony in the statements of those who were passing by, “save yourself!” and “come down from the cross!” In summary, they wanted Jesus to come down from the cross and save his physical life, but it was indeed his staying on the cross and giving his physical life that led to the fact that they could experience a resurrection from death to life.

17 tc ‡ Many important witnesses (א* A D pc it sy[s],p) read καί (kai, here with the force of “then”) before κατάβηθι (katabhqi, “come down”). The shorter reading may well be due to homoioarcton, but judging by the diverse external evidence (א2 B L W Θ 0250 Ë1,13 33 Ï lat) it is equally possible that the shorter reading is original (and is so considered for this translation). NA27 puts the καί in brackets, indicating doubts as to its authenticity.

18 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated.

19 tn Or “with the scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 2:4.

20 tn Only “chief priests” is in the nominative case; this sentence structure attempts to capture this emphasis.

21 tn Grk “Mocking him, the chief priests…said.”

22 tn Here the aorist imperative καταβάτω (katabatw) has been translated as a conditional imperative. This fits the pattern of other conditional imperatives (imperative + καί + future indicative) outlined by ExSyn 489.

23 sn An allusion to Ps 22:8.

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

25 sn Matthew’s wording suggests that both of the criminals spoke abusively to him. If so, one of them quickly changed his attitude toward Jesus (see Luke 23:40-43).

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