Luke 23


Christ is led to Pilate, and accused by the Jews, 1, 2.

Pilate examines, and pronounces him innocent, 3, 4.

The Jews virulently accuse him, 5.

Pilate, understanding that he was of Galilee, sends him to

Herod, by whom he is examined, 6-9.

The chief priests and scribes vehemently accuse him, and Herod

and his soldiers mock him, 10, 11.

Pilate and Herod become friends, 12.

Pilate, before the chief priests, rulers, and people, pronounces

Christ to be innocent, and offers to release him, 13-20.

The Jews clamour for his condemnation, and Pilate gives him up

to their will, 21-25.

Simon bears his cross, 26.

The people bewail him, and he foretells the destruction of the

Jewish state, 27-31.

He and two malefactors are brought to Calvary, and are crucified,

32, 33.

He prays for his crucifiers, 34.

He is derided, mocked, and insulted by the rulers, and by the

soldiers, 35-37.

The superscription on the cross, 38.

The conduct of the two malefactors, to one of whom he promises

paradise, 39-43.

The great darkness, 44, 45.

He gives up the ghost, 46.

The centurion and many others are greatly affected at his death,


Joseph of Arimathea begs the body, and puts it in his own new

tomb, 50-53.

The women prepare spices and ointments to embalm him, 54-56.


Verse 1. The whole multitude] It seems most probable that the

chief priests, elders, scribes, and captains of the temple,

together with their servants, dependents, and other persons hired

for the purpose, made up the multitude mentioned here. The common

people were generally favourers of Christ; and for this reason the

Jewish rulers caused him to be apprehended in the night, and in

the absence of the people, Lu 22:6, and it was now but just the

break of day, Lu 22:66.

Verse 2. Perverting the nation] The Greek word διαστρεφοντα,

signifies stirring up to disaffection and rebellion. Many MSS. and

versions add ημων, OUR nation. They intimated that he not only

preached corrupt doctrine, but that he endeavoured to make them

disaffected towards the Roman government, for which they now

pretended to feel a strong affection!

Several copies of the Itala add, Destroying our law and

prophets. Et solventem legem nostram et prophetas.

Forbidding to give tribute to Caesar] These were the falsest

slanders that could be invented. The whole of our Lord's conduct

disproved them. And his decision in the case of the question about

the lawfulness of paying tribute to Caesar, Mt 22:21, was so

fully known that we find Pilate paid not the least attention to

such evidently malicious and unfounded accusations. Neither Christ

nor any of his followers, from that day until now, ever forbade

the paying tribute to Caesar; that is, constitutional taxes to a

lawful prince.

Verse 4. I find no fault in this man.] According to

Joh 18:36, 38, Pilate did not say this till after our Lord had

declared to him that his kingdom was not of this world; and

probably not till after he had found, on examining witnesses,

(Lu 23:14,) that all their evidence amounted to no proof, of

his having set up himself for a temporal king. See Bishop PEARCE.

Verse 5. Saying, He stirreth up the people, &c.] In the Codex

Colbertinus, a copy of the ancient Itala or Antehieronymian

version, this verse stands thus: He stirreth up the people,

beginning from Galilee, and teaching through all Judea unto this

place; our wives and our children he hath rendered averse from us,

and he is not baptized as we are. As the Jews found that their

charge of sedition was deemed frivolous by Pilate, they changed

it, and brought a charge equally false and groundless against his


Verse 7. Herod's jurisdiction] The city of Nazareth, in which

Christ had continued till he was thirty years of age, and that of

Capernaum, in which he principally resided the last years of his

life, were both in Lower Galilee, of which Herod Antipas was

tetrarch. Pilate was probably glad of this opportunity to pay a

little respect to Herod, whom it is likely he had irritated, and

with whom he now wished to be friends. See Lu 23:12.

Verse 10. The chief priests-vehemently accused him.] Corrupt

priests and teachers are generally the most implacable enemies of

Christ and his truth. Evil passions betray those who are slaves to

them. An affected moderation would have rendered these accusers

less suspected, their accusations more probable, and the envy less

visible than this vehemence: but envy seldom or never consults

prudence: and God permits this to be so for the honour of truth

and innocence. Quesnel.

Verse 11. A gorgeous robe] εσθηταλαμπραν. It probably means a

white robe, for it was the custom of the Jewish nobility to wear

such. Hence, in Re 3:4, it is said of the saints,

They shall walk with me in WHITE (garments,) because they are

WORTHY. In such a robe, Herod, by way of mockery, caused our Lord

to be clothed; but, the nobility among the Romans wearing purple

for the most part, Pilate's soldiers, who were Romans, put on

Jesus a purple robe, Mr 15:17; Joh 19:2; both of them

following the custom of their own country, when, by way of mocking

our Lord as a king, they clothed him in robes of state. See Bishop


Verse 12. Pilate and Herod were made friends] I do not find any

account of the cause of the enmity which subsisted between Herod

and Pilate given by ancient authors; and the conjectures of the

moderns on the subject should be considered as mere guesses. It is

generally supposed that this enmity arose from what is related

Luke 13, of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate hath mingled with

that of their sacrifices. These were Herod's subjects, and Pilate

seems to have fallen on them at the time they were offering

sacrifices to God at the temple. Wicked men cannot love one

another: this belongs to the disciples of Christ. But when Christ,

his truth, or his followers are to be persecuted, for this purpose

the wicked unite their counsels and their influence. The Moabites

and Ammonites, who were enemies among themselves, united against

poor Israel, and, as Rabbi Tanchum says, may be likened to two

contending dogs, who, when the wolf comes, join together to

destroy him; each knowing that, if he do not, the wolf will kill

both in succession: whereas, by their union, they may now kill or

baffle him. There is a proverb among the rabbins, that, when the

cat and weasel marry together, misery becomes increased.

Verse 15. No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him] That is, to

see whether he could find that Christ had ever attempted to raise

any disaffection or sedition among the Galileans, among whom he

had spent the principal part of his life; and yet Herod has not

been able to find out any evil in his conduct. Your own

accusations I have fully weighed, and find them to the last degree


Instead of ανεπεμψαγαρυμαςπροςαυτον, for I sent you to him,

BHKLM, and many other MSS., with some versions, read ανεπεμωενγαρ

αυτονπροςημας, for he hath sent him to us. As if he had said,

Herod hath sent him back to us, which is a sure proof that he hath

found no blame in him."

Nothing worthy of death is done unto him.] Or rather, nothing

worthy of death is committed by him, πεπραγμενοναυτω, not, done

unto him. This phrase is of the same sense with ουδενπεπραχεν

αυτος, he hath done nothing, and is frequent in the purest Attic

writers. See many examples in Kypke.

Verse 17. For of necessity he must release one] That is, he was

under the necessity of releasing one at this feast. The custom,

however it originated, had now been so completely established that

Pilate was obliged to attend to it. See Clarke on Mt 27:15.

Verse 18. Away with this man] That is, Put him to death-αιρε

τουτον, literally, Take this one away, i.e. to punishment-to


Verse 22. I have found no cause of death in him] I find no crime

worthy of death in him. There is nothing proved against him that

can at all justify me in putting him to death, So here our blessed

Lord was in the most formal manner justified by his judge. Now as

this decision was publicly known, and perhaps registered, it is

evident that Christ died as an innocent person, and not as a

malefactor. On the fullest conviction of his innocence, his

judge pronounced him guiltless, after having patiently heard every

thing that the inventive malice of these wicked men could allege

against him; and, when he wished to dismiss him, a violent mob

took and murdered him.

Verse 26. Simon, a Cyrenian] See Clarke on Mt 27:32.

Verse 27. Bewailed and lamented him.] εκοπτοντο, Beat their

breasts. See Clarke on Mt 11:17.

Verse 28. Weep not for me] Many pious persons have been greatly

distressed in their minds, because they could not weep on reading

or hearing of the sufferings of Christ. For the relief of all

such, let it be for ever known that no human spirit can possibly

take any part in the passion of the Messiah. His sufferings were

such as only God manifested in the flesh could bear; and, as they

were all of an expiatory nature, no man can taste of or share in

them. Besides, the sufferings of Christ are not a subject of

sorrow to any man; but, on the contrary, of eternal rejoicing to

the whole of a lost world. Some have even prayed to participate in

the sufferings of Christ. The legend of St. Francis and his

stigmata is well known.-He is fabled to have received the marks in

his hands, feet, and side.

Relative to this point, there are many unwarrantable expressions

used by religious people in their prayers and hymns. To give only

one instance, how often do we hear these or similar words said or


"Give me to feel thy agonies!

One drop of thy sad cup afford!"

Reader! one drop of this cup would bear down thy soul to endless

ruin; and these agonies would annihilate the universe. He suffered

alone: for of the people there was none with him; because his

sufferings were to make an atonement for the sins of the world:

and in the work of redemption he had no helper.

Verse 30. Mountains, fall on us] As this refers to the

destruction of Jerusalem, and as the same expressions are used,

Re 6:16, Dr. Lightfoot conjectures that the whole of that

chapter may relate to the same event.

Verse 31. If they do these things in a green tree] This seems to

be a proverbial expression, the sense of which is: If they spare

not a tree which, by the beauty of its foliage, abundance and

excellence of its fruits, deserves to be preserved, then the tree

which is dry and withered will surely be cut down. If an innocent

man be put to death in the very face of justice, in opposition to

all its dictates and decisions, by a people who profess to be

governed and directed by Divine laws, what desolation, injustice,

and oppression may not be expected, when anarchy and confusion sit

in the place where judgment and justice formerly presided? Our

Lord alludes prophetically to those tribulations which fell upon

the Jewish people about forty years after. See the notes on

Mt 24:1-51.

Verse 32. Two other malefactors] ετεροιδυοκακουργοι, should

certainly be translated two others, malefactors, as in the Bibles

published by the King's printer, Edinburgh. As it now stands in

the text, it seems to intimate that our blessed Lord was also a


Verse 33. The place-called Calvary] See Clarke on Mt 27:33.

They crucified him] See the nature of this punishment explained

Mt 27:35.

Verse 34. They know not what they do.] If ignorance do not

excuse a crime, it at least diminishes the atrocity of it.

However, these persons well knew that they were crucifying an

innocent man; but they did not know that, by this act of theirs,

they were bringing down on themselves and on their country the

heaviest judgments of God. In the prayer, Father, forgive them!

that word of prophecy was fulfilled, He made intercession for the

transgressors, Isa 53:12.

Verse 35. Derided him] Treated him with the utmost contempt,

εξεμυκτηριζον, in the most infamous manner. See the meaning of

this word explained, Lu 16:14.

Verse 36. Offering him vinegar] See Clarke on Mt 27:34. Vinegar

or small sour wine, was a common drink of the Roman soldiers; and it

is supposed that wherever they were on duty they had a vessel of

this liquor standing by. It appears that at least two cups were

given to our Lord; one before he was nailed to the cross, viz. of

wine mingled with myrrh, and another of vinegar, while he hung on

the cross. Some think there were three cups: ONE of wine mixed

with myrrh; the SECOND, of vinegar mingled with gall; and the

THIRD, of simple vinegar. Allow these three cups, and the

different expressions in all the evangelists will be included. See


Verse 38. A superscription] See Mt 27:37.

ln letters of Greek, and Latin and Hebrew] The inscription was

written in all these languages, which were the most common, that

all might see the reason why he was put to death. The inscription

was written in Greek, on account of the Hellenistic Jews, who were

then at Jerusalem because of the passover; it was written in

Latin, that being the language of the government under which

he was crucified; and it was written in Hebrew, that being the

language of the place in which this deed of darkness was

committed. But, by the good providence of God, the inscription

itself exculpated him, and proved the Jews to be rebels against,

and murderers of, their king. See Clarke on Mt 27:37. It is

not to be wondered at that they wished Pilate to alter this

inscription, Joh 19:21, as it was a record of their infamy.

Verse 39. One of the malefactors which were hanged.] It is

likely that the two robbers were not nailed to their crosses, but

only tied to them by cords, and thus they are represented in

ancient paintings. If not nailed, they could not have suffered

much, and therefore they were found still alive when the soldiers

came to give the coup de grace, which put a speedy end to their

lives. Joh 19:31-33.

Verse 40. Dost not thou fear God] The sufferings of this person

had been sanctified to him, so that his heart was open to receive

help from the hand of the Lord: he is a genuine penitent, and

gives the fullest proof he can give of it, viz. the acknowledgment

of the justice of his sentence. He had sinned, and he acknowledges

his sin; his heart believes unto righteousness, and with his

tongue he makes confession unto salvation. While he condemns

himself he bears testimony that Jesus was innocent. Bishop PEARCE

supposes that these were not robbers in the common sense of the

word, but Jews who took up arms on the principle that the Romans

were not to be submitted to, and that their levies of tribute

money were oppressive; and therefore they made no scruple to rob

all the Romans they met with. These Jews Josephus calls λησται,

robbers, the same term used by the evangelists. This opinion

gains some strength from the penitent thief's confession: We

receive the reward of our deeds-we rose up against the government,

and committed depredations in the country; but this man hath done

nothing amiss-ατοπον, out of place, disorderly,-nothing

calculated to raise sedition or insurrection; nor inconsistent

with his declarations of peace and good will towards all men, nor

with the nature of that spiritual kingdom which he came to

establish among men; though he is now crucified under the pretence

of disaffection to the Roman government.

Verse 42. Lord, remember me, &c.] It is worthy of remark, that

this man appears to have been the first who believed in the

intercession of Christ.

Verse 43. To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.] Marcion and

the Manichees are reported to have left this verse out of their

copies of this evangelist. This saying of our Lord is justly

considered as a strong proof of the immateriality of the soul; and

it is no wonder that those who have embraced the contrary opinion

should endeavor to explain away this meaning. In order to do this,

a comma is placed after σημερον, to-day, and then our Lord is

supposed to have meant, "Thou shalt be with me after the

resurrection I tell thee this, TO-DAY." I am sorry to find men-of

great learning and abilities attempting to support this most

feeble and worthless criticism. Such support a good cause cannot

need; and, in my opinion, even a bad cause must be discredited by


In paradise. The garden of Eden, mentioned Ge 2:8, is also

called, from the Septuagint, the garden of Paradise. The word

Eden, signifies pleasure and delight. Several places were thus

called; see Ge 4:16; 2Ki 19:12; Isa 37:12; Eze 27:23;

and Am 1:5; and such places probably had this name from their

fertility, pleasant situation, &c., &c. In this light the

Septuagint have viewed Ge 2:8. as they render the passage thus:

εφυτευσενοθεοςπαραδεισονενεδεμ, God planted a paradise in

Eden. Hence the word has been transplanted into the New Testament;

and is used to signify a place of exquisite pleasure and delight.

From this the ancient heathens borrowed their ideas of the gardens

of the Hesperides, where the trees bore golden fruit; and the

gardens of Adonis, a word which is evidently derived from the

Hebrew Eden: and hence the origin of sacred groves, gardens,

and other enclosures dedicated to purposes of devotion, some

comparatively innocent, others impure. The word paradise is not

Greek, but is of Asiatic origin. In Arabic and Persian it

signifies a garden, a vineyard, and also the place of the blessed.

In the Kushuf ul Loghat, a very celebrated Persian dictionary, the

[Arabic] Jenet al Ferdoos, Garden of Paradise, is said to have

been "created by God out of light, and that the prophets and wise

men ascend thither."

Paradise was, in the beginning, the habitation of man in his

state of innocence, in which he enjoyed that presence of his Maker

which constituted his supreme happiness. Our Lord's words intimate

that this penitent should be immediately taken to the abode of the

spirits of the just, where he should enjoy the presence and

approbation of the Most High. In the Institutes of Menu, chap.

OEconomics, Inst. 243, are the following words: "A man habitually

pious, whose offences have been expiated, is instantly conveyed,

after death, to the higher world, with a radiant form, and a body

of ethereal substance." The state of the blessed is certainly what

our Lord here means: in what the locality of that state consists

we know not. The Jews share a multitude of fables on the subject.

Verse 44. Darkness over all the earth]

See Clarke on Mt 27:45. The darkness began at the

sixth hour, about our twelve o'clock at noon, and lasted till

the ninth hour, which answered to our three o'clock in the


Verse 45. The sun was darkened] See an examination of the

accounts of Phlegon, Thallus, and Dionysius, on Mt 27:45.

The veil-was rent] See Mt 27:51.

Verse 46. Into thy hands I commend my spirit] Or, I will commit

my spirit-I deposit my soul in thy hands. Another proof of the

immateriality of the soul, and of its separate existence when

the body is dead.

Verse 48. And all the people] All were deeply affected except

the priests, and those whom they had employed to serve their base

purposes. The darkness, earthquake, &c., had brought terror and

consternation into every heart. How dreadful is the state of those

who, in consequence of their long opposition to the grace and

truth of God, are at last given up to a reprobate mind!

Verse 50. - 51. Joseph of Arimathea] See the notes on

Mt 27:57-60, and those especially on Mr 15:43.

Verse 54. And the Sabbath drew on.] Or, The Sabbath was lighting

up, επεφωσκε, i.e. with the candles which the Jews light just

before six in the evening, when the Sabbath commences. The same

word is used for the dawning of the day, Mt 28:1.

Wakefield. The Jews always lighted up candles on the Sabbath;

and it was a solemn precept that, "if a man had not bread to eat,

he must beg from door to door to get a little oil to set up his

Sabbath light." The night of the Sabbath drew on, which the Jews

were accustomed to call the light. See Lightfoot.

Verse 55. The women also, which came] These were Mary of

Magdala, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, Lu 24:10. To these

three, Mark, in Mr 16:1, adds,

Salome; but some think that this was only a surname of one of

these Marys.

Verse 56. Prepared spices and ointments] This was in order to

embalm him; which sufficiently proves that they had no hope of his

resurrection the third day.

And rested the Sabbath day] For though the Jewish canons allowed

all works, necessary for the dead, to be done, even on the

Sabbath, such as washing and anointing, provided they moved not a

limb of the dead person, yet, as the Jews had put Christ to death

under the pretence of his being a malefactor, it would not have

been either prudent or safe to appear too forward in the present

business; and therefore they rested on the Sabbath.

CERTAIN copies of the Itala have some remarkable additions in

these concluding verses. The conclusion of the 48th verse,

Lu 23:48 in one of them, is read thus:

Beating their breasts and their foreheads, and saying, Wo to us

because of what is done this day, on account of our sins; for the

desolation of Jerusalem is at hand. To Lu 23:52, another adds:

And when Pilate heard that he was dead, he glorified God and

gave the body to Joseph. On the circumstances of the crucifixion,

see the observations at the end of Matt. 27, and

consider how heinous sin must be in the sight of God, when it

required such a sacrifice! See Clarke on Mt 27:66

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