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Luke 23:34-46

Context
23:34 [But Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”] 1  Then 2  they threw dice 3  to divide his clothes. 4  23:35 The people also stood there watching, but the rulers ridiculed 5  him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save 6  himself if 7  he is the Christ 8  of God, his chosen one!” 23:36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, 9  23:37 and saying, “If 10  you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!” 23:38 There was also an inscription 11  over him, “This is the king of the Jews.”

23:39 One of the criminals who was hanging there railed at him, saying, “Aren’t 12  you the Christ? 13  Save yourself and us!” 23:40 But the other rebuked him, saying, 14  “Don’t 15  you fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 16  23:41 And we rightly so, for we are getting what we deserve for what we did, but this man has done nothing 17  wrong.” 23:42 Then 18  he said, “Jesus, remember me 19  when you come in 20  your kingdom.” 23:43 And Jesus 21  said to him, “I tell you the truth, 22  today 23  you will be with me in paradise.” 24 

23:44 It was now 25  about noon, 26  and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 27  23:45 because the sun’s light failed. 28  The temple curtain 29  was torn in two. 23:46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit! 30  And after he said this he breathed his last.

1 tc Many important mss (Ì75 א1 B D* W Θ 070 579 1241 pc sys sa) lack v. 34a. It is included in א*,2 (A) C D2 L Ψ 0250 Ë1,(13) 33 Ï lat syc,p,h. It also fits a major Lukan theme of forgiving the enemies (6:27-36), and it has a parallel in Stephen’s response in Acts 7:60. The lack of parallels in the other Gospels argues also for inclusion here. On the other hand, the fact of the parallel in Acts 7:60 may well have prompted early scribes to insert the saying in Luke’s Gospel alone. Further, there is the great difficulty of explaining why early and diverse witnesses lack the saying. A decision is difficult, but even those who regard the verse as inauthentic literarily often consider it to be authentic historically. For this reason it has been placed in single brackets in the translation.

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

3 tn Grk “cast lots” (probably by using marked pebbles or broken pieces of pottery). A modern equivalent “threw dice” was chosen here because of its association with gambling.

4 sn An allusion to Ps 22:18, which identifies Jesus as the suffering innocent one.

5 tn A figurative extension of the literal meaning “to turn one’s nose up at someone”; here “ridicule, sneer at, show contempt for” (L&N 33.409).

6 sn The irony in the statement Let him save himself is that salvation did come, but later, not while on the cross.

7 tn This is a first class condition in the Greek text.

8 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.

9 sn Sour wine was cheap wine, called in Latin posca, and referred to a cheap vinegar wine diluted heavily with water. It was the drink of slaves and soldiers, and the soldiers who had performed the crucifixion, who had some on hand, now used it to taunt Jesus further.

10 tn This is also a first class condition in the Greek text.

11 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.

12 tc Most mss (A C3 W Θ Ψ Ë1,13 33 Ï lat) read εἰ σὺ εἶ (ei su ei, “If you are”) here, while οὐχὶ σὺ εἶ (ouci su ei, “Are you not”) is found in overall better and earlier witnesses (Ì75 א B C* L 070 1241 pc it). The “if” clause reading creates a parallel with the earlier taunts (vv. 35, 37), and thus is most likely a motivated reading.

sn The question in Greek expects a positive reply and is also phrased with irony.

13 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.

14 tn Grk “But answering, the other rebuking him, said.” This is somewhat redundant and has been simplified in the translation.

15 tn The particle used here (οὐδέ, oude), which expects a positive reply, makes this a rebuke – “You should fear God and not speak!”

16 tn The words “of condemnation” are not in the Greek text, but are implied.

17 sn This man has done nothing wrong is yet another declaration that Jesus was innocent of any crime.

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

19 sn Jesus, remember me is a statement of faith from the cross, as Jesus saves another even while he himself is dying. This man’s faith had shown itself when he rebuked the other thief. He hoped to be with Jesus sometime in the future in the kingdom.

20 tc ‡ The alternate readings of some mss make the reference to Jesus’ coming clearer. “Into your kingdom” – with εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν (ei" thn basileian), read by Ì75 B L – is a reference to his entering into God’s presence at the right hand. “In your kingdom” – with ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ (en th basileia), read by א A C*,2 W Θ Ψ 070 Ë1,13 33 Ï lat sy – looks at his return. It could be argued that the reading with εἰς is more in keeping with Luke’s theology elsewhere, but the contrast with Jesus’ reply, “Today,” slightly favors the reading “in your kingdom.” Codex Bezae (D), in place of this short interchange between the criminal and Jesus, reads “Then he turned to the Lord and said to him, ‘Remember me in the day of your coming.’ Then the Lord said in reply to [him], ‘Take courage; today you will be with me in paradise.’” This reading emphasizes the future aspect of the coming of Christ; it has virtually no support in any other mss.

21 tn Grk “he.”

22 tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amhn), I say to you.”

23 sn Jesus gives more than the criminal asked for, because the blessing will come today, not in the future. He will be among the righteous. See the note on today in 2:11.

24 sn In the NT, paradise is mentioned three times. Here it refers to the abode of the righteous dead. In Rev 2:7 it refers to the restoration of Edenic paradise predicted in Isa 51:3 and Ezek 36:35. In 2 Cor 12:4 it probably refers to the “third heaven” (2 Cor 12:2) as the place where God dwells.

25 tn Grk “And it was.” Here καί (kai) has been translated as “now” to indicate the transition to a new topic.

26 tn Grk “the sixth hour.”

27 tn Grk “until the ninth hour.”

28 tc The wording “the sun’s light failed” is a translation of τοῦ ἡλίου ἐκλιπόντος/ ἐκλείποντος (tou Jhliou eklipontos/ ekleipontos), a reading found in the earliest and best witnesses (among them Ì75 א B C*vid L 070 579 2542 pc) as well as several ancient versions. The majority of mss (A C3 [D] W Θ Ψ Ë1,13 Ï lat sy) have the flatter, less dramatic term, “the sun was darkened” (ἐσκοτίσθη, eskotisqe), a reading that avoids the problem of implying an eclipse (see sn below). This alternative thus looks secondary because it is a more common word and less likely to be misunderstood as referring to a solar eclipse. That it appears in later witnesses rather than the earliest ones adds confirmatory testimony to its inauthentic character.

sn This imagery has parallels to the Day of the Lord: Joel 2:10; Amos 8:9; Zeph 1:15. Some students of the NT see in Luke’s statement the sun’s light failed (eklipontos) an obvious blunder in his otherwise meticulous historical accuracy. The reason for claiming such an error on the author’s part is due to an understanding of the verb as indicating a solar eclipse when such would be an astronomical impossibility during a full moon. There are generally two ways to resolve this difficulty: (a) adopt a different reading (“the sun was darkened”) that smoothes over the problem (discussed in the tc problem above), or (b) understand the verb eklipontos in a general way (such as “the sun’s light failed”) rather than as a technical term, “the sun was eclipsed.” The problem with the first solution is that it is too convenient, for the Christian scribes who, over the centuries, copied Luke’s Gospel would have thought the same thing. That is, they too would have sensed a problem in the wording and felt that some earlier scribe had incorrectly written down what Luke penned. The fact that the reading “was darkened” shows up in the later and generally inferior witnesses does not bolster one’s confidence that this is the right solution. But second solution, if taken to its logical conclusion, proves too much for it would nullify the argument against the first solution: If the term did not refer to an eclipse, then why would scribes feel compelled to change it to a more general term? The solution to the problem is that ekleipo did in fact sometimes refer to an eclipse, but it did not always do so. (BDAG 306 s.v. ἐκλείπω notes that the verb is used in Hellenistic Greek “Of the sun cease to shine.” In MM it is argued that “it seems more than doubtful that in Lk 2345 any reference is intended to an eclipse. To find such a reference is to involve the Evangelist in a needless blunder, as an eclipse is impossible at full moon, and to run counter to his general usage of the verb = ‘fail’…” [p. 195]. They enlist Luke 16:9; 22:32; and Heb 1:12 for the general meaning “fail,” and further cite several contemporaneous examples from papyri of this meaning [195-96]) Thus, the very fact that the verb can refer to an eclipse would be a sufficient basis for later scribes altering the text out of pious motives; conversely, the very fact that the verb does not always refer to an eclipse and, in fact, does not normally do so, is enough of a basis to exonerate Luke of wholly uncharacteristic carelessness.

29 tn The referent of this term, καταπέτασμα (katapetasma), is not entirely clear. It could refer to the curtain separating the holy of holies from the holy place (Josephus, J. W. 5.5.5 [5.219]), or it could refer to one at the entrance of the temple court (Josephus, J. W. 5.5.4 [5.212]). Many argue that the inner curtain is meant because another term, κάλυμμα (kalumma), is also used for the outer curtain. Others see a reference to the outer curtain as more likely because of the public nature of this sign. Either way, the symbolism means that access to God has been opened up. It also pictures a judgment that includes the sacrifices.

30 sn A quotation from Ps 31:5. It is a psalm of trust. The righteous, innocent sufferer trusts in God. Luke does not have the cry of pain from Ps 22:1 (cf. Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34), but notes Jesus’ trust instead.



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