|Go to verse:|
|01 |02 |03 |04 |05 |06 |07 |08 |09 |10 |11 |12 |13 |14 |15 |16 |17 |18 |19 |20 |21 |22 |23 |24 |25 |26 |27 |28 |29 |30 |31 |32 |33 |34 |35 |36 |37 |38 |39 |40 |41 |42 |43 |44 |45 |46 |47 |48 |49 |50 |51 |52 |53 |54 |55 |56 |
Go to Bible: Luke 23
|Luk 23:1||- (top)|
|Luk 23:2||- (top)|
“It is as you say.” See commentary on Matthew 27:11; “It is as you say.”(top)
|Luk 23:4||- (top)|
|Luk 23:5||- (top)|
|Luk 23:6||- (top)|
“he sent him up.” The Greek verb, “he sent…up” is anapempō (#375 ἀναπέμπω), and it means “to send from a lower to a higher place,” or, “to send to a person of higher authority,” or, “to send back to a previous location” (BDAG Greek-English lexicon). In this context, the meaning is “to send from a lower to a higher place,” and it helps us locate where Pontius Pilate was during the trial of Jesus Christ.
There is some very good evidence that Pilate tried Jesus in the Hasmonean palace, which was just west of the Temple and on the west slope of the Tyropoeon Valley, the valley that runs south to north through Jerusalem. During Jesus’ trial, Pilate sent Jesus to Herod Antipas. It is most likely that Herod Antipas, who grew up in the Western Palace as a boy, would be offered that as a place to stay during Passover. The Western Palace, or “Citadel,” was the ancestral home of the Herods and it was on the far west of Jerusalem and higher in elevation than the Hasmonean palace. So if Pilate sent Jesus from the Hasmonean palace to the Western Palace, then the Bible did indeed correctly state that Pilate sent Jesus “up” to Herod.
The Judean ruler, king Herod Archelaus (Matt. 2:22), who was the son of Herod the Great and his wife Malthace and who replaced Herod the Great as king, was deposed by the Romans in 6 AD, at which time all his possessions, including his palaces, became the property of Rome. Thus, by the time Pilate was governor, he controlled and used both the great Western Palace and the old Hasmonean palace. The Hasmonean palace was directly west of the Temple and had towers that overlooked its walls, and historically, both palaces were called a “Praetorium.” Little attention is payed to the Hasmonean palace today. This is partly due to the fact that nothing remains of it; in fact, even its exact location was disputed until recently. Also, it has only been recently that some scholars have begun to put together the evidence and come to the conclusion that the old Hasmonean palace was the place of the trial of Christ.
There are a number of pieces of evidence that lead us to conclude that Pilate tried Jesus in the Hasmonean palace, too many to discuss here. Nevertheless, one very important piece of biblical evidence is the Bible’s use of anapempō in Luke 23:7. As the Roman authority and governor of Judea, Pilate was a higher authority in the land than Herod Antipas was, which was likely why Herod was flattered and honored when Pilate sent Jesus to him, and thus why Herod and Pilate became friends (Luke 23:12). Many lexicons write as though Herod was the higher authority in Israel at the time, and make it seem like Pilate sent Jesus “up” to Herod because Herod was a higher authority than Pilate. But that is clearly not the case. For one thing, Herod was visiting Judea for Passover, and Judea was not even technically his jurisdiction. Also, the religious leaders brought Jesus to Pilate because he was the authority in Judea. So, Pilate did not send Jesus “up to a person of higher authority” when he sent Jesus to Herod, nor did he “send Jesus back to a previous location.” The evidence leads us to conclude that the Bible is historically correct and Pilate sent Jesus “up” to Herod because the Western Palace was higher in elevation than the Hasmonean palace.
Also, Pilate’s wife had a dream about Christ, and “sent word to him” to have nothing to do with Christ (Matt. 27:19). Although it is possible that she would have “sent word” even if she and her husband Pilate were in the same palace enclosure, it seems unlikely. The message seems urgent enough that if she could have reasonably seen her husband face to face, she would have. If, however, she was staying in the plush and very secure Western Palace, and at that time of day Pilate was working from the Hasmonean palace near the Temple, she would have “sent word to him.” The Roman work day, even for government officials, began very early, so it would not be unusual for Pilate to be working when his wife wanted to tell him about a dream she had (there is also some ancillary evidence that perhaps the governor and his wife would not have stayed in the same location anyway).
Also, the Hasmonean palace had been used as the administrative center of Jerusalem for years, so there is some support from tradition. And, as the historian Jack Finegan points out, “…the oldest Jerusalem tradition, attested by the pilgrims down into the seventh century, points to the Praetorium of Pilate as being on the west bank of the Tyropoeon Valley, which was the area of the Hasmonean palace which became Herod’s Lower Palace” (The Archeology of the New Testament, Revised Edition, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1992, p. 249.) However, Finegan notes that the Western Palace is also a possibility even if it does not have the historical support the Hasmonean palace does.
Also, at some point in the early centuries after Christ, the Christians built a church on the site of where Jesus had been on trial, and that church was visited by early pilgrims, including Peter the Iberian in 451 AD; and there is a church in that location on the Madaba Mosaic Map (done sometime between 542 and 570 AD). It has only been in the last decades that remains of an ancient church has been uncovered on the west slope of the Tyropoeon Valley where the Hasmonean palace would have been located, whereas there is no history of a church being in the location of the Western Palace.
Although it is possible that Pilate did try Jesus in the Western Palace, and that place has a lot of support today, the actual evidence for it is very limited. It mainly comes from traditional support; the fact that the Western Palace, like the Hasmonean palace, was called a Praetorium; and archaeology showing there was a pavement there and room for a crowd. But the Hasmonean palace would have had plenty of room for a trial also.
If Pilate was at the Western Palace, that does not explain why Pilate sent Jesus “up” to Herod. Also, if Herod had been staying in the Antonia Fortress or the Hasmonean palace, those places were “down” from the Western Palace.
It also should be noted that although the Antonia Fortress has often been traditionally known as the place where Pilate tried Jesus, the historical and archaeological evidence is against it. (For more information, see (Finegan, The Archeology of the New Testament, pp. 246-250. Also, Bargil Pixner, Paths of the Messiah, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA, 2010, pp. 268-272; 308-309).(top)
|Luk 23:8||- (top)|
“questioned him at considerable length.” The Greek reads, “was questioning him with many words,” but the phrase means “questioned him at considerable length,” (NET; cp. “great length,” CJB; “some length,” ESV, NASB, NRSV). Herod questioned Jesus for a considerable length of time, but there is no evidence of a formal trial. Herod wanted to have his curiosity satisfied, and did not really care whether or not Jesus got justice in his court.
“but he did not answer him.” It is certainly understandable that Jesus did not answer Herod Antipas. First and foremost, there was no profit in it. For him to die in Jerusalem he would have to be tried before Pilate, who had the authority there. He had no desire to be taken under arrest back to Galilee. Furthermore, there was no point in providing any satisfaction to Herod, who had killed his friend and cousin John the Baptist. Neither was he interested in giving any satisfaction to Herod’s court, which included his murderous wife Herodias, or his dancing step-daughter Salome. He could have told them that soon he would be their judge and condemn them to a second death, but that would have only made him the butt of their jokes.(top)
|Luk 23:10||- (top)|
“treated…with contempt.” From exoutheneō (#1848 ἐξουθενέω). See commentary on 1 Thessalonians 5:20.
“mocked.” The Greek word translated “mocked” is empaizō (#1702 ἐμπαίζω), and means “mock,” “make fun of,” “ridicule.” See commentary on Matthew 27:29.
“sent him back to Pilate.” Herod Antipas was no doubt embarrassed by his failure to get Jesus to talk to him, so he mocked Jesus, treated him badly, and sent him to Pilate. He could have taken Jesus back to Galilee and tried him there, but since he was already feeling a lack of support from his subjects for killing John the Baptist, he would not take Jesus back to his area of strongest support and execute him when he could simply send him back to Pilate, who would then have to deal with him.(top)
“friends.” Pilate and Herod Antipas had been hostile to each other, deeply disliking one another. Herod had even sent a letter about Pilate to the Roman Emperor Tiberias about his not respecting Jewish customs (see commentary on Matthew 27:2; “Pilate”) Pilate’s sending Jesus to Herod, even though Pilate could have tried the case himself, was viewed by Herod as a personal and professional courtesy, both in recognizing his rank as Tetrarch of Galilee, but also in allowing him to see Jesus, something that Pilate likely knew Herod wanted.(top)
“Pilate called the chief priests and the rulers and the people together.” This was now close to noon on Tuesday (John 19:14), and the start of Jesus’ second trial before Pilate. When the Jews brought Jesus to Pilate the first time, they had just had him on trial before the whole Sanhedrin, so when they came to Pilate they did not have to be called together, they came as a whole assembly (Matt. 27:1; Mark 15:1; Luke 22:66-23:1). But when Pilate sent Jesus to Herod Antipas, their group went their own way. So now, after Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate, the leaders of the Jews had to be assembled again, which is what we see here in Luke 23:13.(top)
“Look!” The Greek word is idou (#2400 ἰδού), and it is used to get our attention. See commentary on Matthew 1:20 (“Look!”).(top)
“see” The Greek word is idou (#2400 ἰδού), and it is used to get our attention. See commentary on Matthew 1:20 (“Look!).(top)
|Luk 23:16||- (top)|
|Luk 23:18||- (top)|
|Luk 23:19||- (top)|
|Luk 23:20||- (top)|
“Crucify! Crucify him!” The majority of this crowd was probably Jewish leaders, followers of the Jewish leaders, Temple police, etc. There is a lot of traditional teaching about the fickle crowd who shouted “Hosanna” as Jesus rode into Jerusalem, but shouted “crucify him” only a few days later, but the real situation was different than that. To be sure, there would have been people who, seeing Jesus humbled and beaten by the Jewish rulers and the Romans would have thought he was a deceiver who misled and tricked them, and they would have changed their mind perhaps to the point they wanted Jesus crucified. However, the Gospel records make it plain that there were always people who doubted Jesus. This second trial before Pilate had not been advertised (Pilate had to gather the Jewish leaders back together after Herod returned Jesus to Pilate; Luke 23:13), but when the Jewish leaders were summoned before Pilate, no doubt they quickly spread the word to gather their supporters, who would have made up this crowd before Pilate. The followers of Jesus made up the crowd that followed him and were mourning (see commentary on Luke 23:27).(top)
|Luk 23:22||- (top)|
|Luk 23:23||- (top)|
|Luk 23:24||- (top)|
|Luk 23:25||- (top)|
|Luk 23:26||- (top)|
“a great multitude.” This shows that there was a huge crowd of people who did follow Jesus Christ, and did not agree with his crucifixion. It shows that the people in Jerusalem were divided into two camps: the group of people who shouted “Hosanna” and “Son of David” when Jesus entered Jerusalem some days earlier (Matt. 21:9; Mark 11:9; John 12:13), and the group of people who had shouted “Crucify him” (Matt. 27:23; Mark 15:14; Luke 23:21; John 19:15). The great multitude who was following Jesus seemed to genuinely sympathize with him, but it was to the women who were so emotional that he addressed himself.
“the People.” In this context “the People” refers to the people who were Jews (see commentary on Matt. 2:4).
“were beating themselves on the chest.” The Greek is koptō (#2875 κόπτω), and it means, to cut, strike, smite, or to beat one’s breast for grief.(top)
“do not cry for me.” The women were already crying. The verse could perhaps better be translated, “Stop crying for me, and be crying for yourselves.” “In negative commands the present imperative often means, as it does here, to stop an action already begun” (Lenski. Cp. A. T. Robertson, Grammar, p. 851). Jesus told the women to “be crying for themselves.” Jesus had been teaching that soon after his death the Great Tribulation would occur (cp. Matt. 24:34), and things would become very difficult for believers. Daniel foretold that during the end times the worldly rulers would persecute the believers and succeed (Dan. 7:21), and the book of Revelation confirms that (Rev. 13:7). Families would be destroyed, and so the emotional pain of those times would be less severe for women who did not have children.(top)
“Look!” The Greek word is idou (#2400 ἰδού), and it is used to get our attention. See commentary on Matthew 1:20 (“Look!”).(top)
“to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Bury us!’” The Tribulation of the End Times will be so terrible that people will long to die, and prefer the quick death of being crushed to the lingering pain of tribulation. Revelation 9:6 says, “And in those days people will seek death but will not find it, and they will long to die, but death will flee from them.”(top)
|Luk 23:31||- (top)|
|Luk 23:32||- (top)|
|Luk 23:33||- (top)|
“And Jesus said...” This verse is omitted in some early manuscripts, and therefore scholars have debated long and loud about whether it was or was not original. We believe it was original (Cp. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus; Alford; The Greek Testament). If it was original, it would have been removed by those who were so biased against the Jews that any thought of them being forgiven by Jesus was repugnant (and had they believed it, they would have had to markedly change their attitudes towards the Jews). On the other hand, that Jesus would utter a prayer of forgiveness from the cross after some 40 hours of inhuman and merciless torture is so astounding and such an amazing act of grace that we dare say no human would have thought to add it. We believe any addition of that kind would have been immediately rejected by peers as absurd, and the saying would have never made it into the textual tradition.(top)
|Luk 23:35||- (top)|
|Luk 23:36||- (top)|
|Luk 23:37||- (top)|
|Luk 23:38||- (top)|
“hanged.” The Greek is kremannumi (#2910 κρεμάννυμι), and it means, to hang, to hang up, to suspend, and it was also used of hanging or suspending someone on a cross, just as we used the word “hang” in reference to the cross, and say, “Jesus hung on the cross.”
“kept insulting.” The Greek verb blasphēmeō (#987 βλασφημέω) means showing disrespect to a person or deity, and/or harming his, her, or its reputation. [For more information on blasphēmeō, see commentary on Matt. 9:3].(top)
|Luk 23:40||- (top)|
|Luk 23:41||- (top)|
“remember me.” In this case, the word “remember” has an idiomatic sense, a meaning that some scholars refer to as the “pregnant sense” of the word, and thus “remember” often means to act upon one’s knowledge or previous knowledge. Idiomatically, “remember” often means “pay attention to” and/or “help, support, assist,” etc. Also, “remember” can also be used of “remembering” someone in a bad sense.
Here in Luke 23:42, the malefactor on the cross was not asking that Jesus simply remember him intellectually, but that on Judgment Day that Jesus would look favorably upon him and allow him to enter the kingdom. Jesus knew exactly what the malefactor was asking and calmed his heart by saying that he would be with Jesus in Paradise.
There are many examples of “remember” being used with its idiomatic meaning. For example, God “remembered” Noah in the sense that He helped and protected Noah (Gen. 8:1). In Genesis 19:29, God “remembered” Abraham, that is, He blessed and helped Abraham by saving his nephew Lot from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In 1 Samuel 1:19, God “remembered” Hannah in that He especially blessed her in getting pregnant after she had been barren for years. When the children of Israel did not “remember” Yahweh, it does not mean that they forgot who He was, it means they quit paying attention to Him and quit obeying His commandments (Judg. 8:34).
The idiomatic sense of “remember” is used by both God (Gen. 30:22; Exod. 2:24; Judg. 16:28; 1 Sam. 1:19) and people (Judg. 8:34; 1 Sam. 1:11; Ps. 74:22), and there are many examples of it being used idiomatically (cp. Gen. 19:29; Neh. 6:14; 13:31; Ps. 106:4; Ecc. 9:15; Hos. 8:13). “Remember” can also mean “to keep in mind” (Ps. 103:14). Examples of “remember” being used in the bad sense of acting against a person or people include 1 Samuel 15:2-3; 3 John 1:10; and Revelation 18:5. The idiomatic use of “remember” occurs in the New Testament as well as the Old Testament (cp. Gal. 2:10; Col. 4:18; and Heb. 13:3). The phrase “do not forget” has the same basic meaning as “remember” (Ps. 74:23).
Many other words besides “remember” are used in an idiomatic or pregnant sense. For example, “look” (or “see”) often means more than just to look at, but to look at and then act in the situation (cp. Gen. 29:32, Exod. 4:31; 1 Sam. 1:11; 9:16; 2 Sam. 16:12; Job 40:12; Luke 1:48). Similarly, “watch” is used of much more than just watching in Matthew 25:13. There it means to keep watch and keep doing what you are supposed to be doing.
The word “know” can mean to know or experience, but it can also have an idiomatic or pregnant sense and mean “to care about,” “to act lovingly toward.” Thus, Psalm 144:3 (YLT 1862/87/98) says, “what is man that Thou knowest him,” while the NIV(2011) translates that in a way that recognizes the idiom: “what are human beings that you care for them?” Similarly, Proverbs 12:10 (YLT) says, “The righteous man knoweth the life of his beast,” while the NIV(2011) has, “The righteous care for the needs of their animals.” Also, “know” is used idiomatically for sexual intercourse because when a man has sexual intercourse with a woman it involves knowing her experientially, and often deeply intellectually as well (see commentary on Matt. 1:25). [For more on “know” see commentary on Gen. 3:22].
The word “foreknow” can also have the meaning of care about beforehand (see commentary on Romans 8:29).(top)
“I say to you today, you will be with me...” This verse is one of the demonstrations of Jesus’ great love for people. The malefactor on the cross had no assurance of salvation, and in fact may have been fairly certain of his own doom. Yet in a last act he reached out to the Messiah, and Jesus promised him life in Paradise. Jesus never turns away those who come to him for salvation.
What Jesus said in Luke 23:43 to the criminal on the cross has been quoted to prove that when a person dies, he goes immediately to Heaven or Hell, but it does not have to read that way. Admittedly, the way that this verse is punctuated in almost every English Bible, it does say the criminal was going to go to Paradise that day. However, there was no punctuation in the original text (in fact, there were not even spaces between the words). All punctuation was added by translators, and they added it in a way that fit their theology and made sense to them. Thankfully, most of the time the translators have done a good job with the punctuation, and it is correct and helpful. However, in this verse almost every English Bible puts the comma in the wrong place, creating a false and misleading reading.
We believe that the comma should be after the word “today,” not in front of it. That way, the verse reads: “And he [Jesus] said to him [the criminal], ‘Truly, I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise.’” Thus Jesus did not say the criminal would be in Paradise that day, but rather made the point that today he was saying the criminal would be in Paradise in the future.
Placing the comma after “today” makes the verse fit with both the scope of Scripture and the immediate context. From the scope of Scripture we learn that when a person dies he is dead; not alive in any form (see commentary on 1 Cor. 15:26).
The comma being after “today” also fits with the immediate context. To see this, we must remember what the criminal said to Jesus in the previous verse, Luke 23:42: “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” The criminal was speaking about the “kingdom.” The “kingdom” is not “heaven,” and it is future, it is not available now, which is why the criminal said, ‘when you come into your kingdom.’ The kingdom is the Messianic Kingdom that Jesus will set up on earth after he fights the Battle of Armageddon and conquers the earth. The Bible has a lot to say about the Messianic Kingdom: there will be peace, justice, and safety on earth. Jesus will rule from Jerusalem, everyone will worship in the Temple (Ezek. 40-44), and the lion will eat straw like the ox (Isa. 11:7). Also, everyone will be healthy and have plenty to eat. [For more information about the Millennial Kingdom see commentary on Matt. 5:6, “the meek will inherit the earth,” and John Schoenheit, The Christian’s Hope: The Anchor of the Soul].
The criminal did not doubt that the Messianic Kingdom was coming, but he likely doubted whether he would be allowed into it. So in an unassuming, pleading way, he requested, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” In other words, the criminal said to the Lord that he would like to be in the first resurrection, the Resurrection of the Righteous, and get to enter the Kingdom and be saved. It was a wonderful act of love for Jesus to say, “you will be with me in Paradise.”
Why did Jesus use the word “today?” In many languages, including Greek, Hebrew, and English, words that we normally think of as being “time words” are often used for emphasis. This happens with the English word “now” all the time. A teacher might say, “Now class, make sure you sign your test.” The purpose of “Now” in that sentence is not time, but emphasis, and that can be the case in both Hebrew and Greek as well (cp. Luke 11:39, Acts 13:11; 15:10; 22:16; 1 Cor. 14:26; James 4:13).
In Hebrew, the word “today,” or “this day” was also used for emphasis, and it is used that way many times in the Old Testament. “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today,...” (Deut. 4:26); “know therefore today,...” (Deut. 4:39); “And these words, which I command thee this day,...” (Deut. 6:6). “I testify against you this day, that you shall perish” (Deut. 8:19). A use that is very similar to Luke 23:43 is Deuteronomy 30:18, “I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish.” There is very little difference between, “I say to you today” (Luke 23:43) and “I declare to you today” (Deut. 30:18). Deuteronomy 9:1 says, “Hear O Israel today you are going to cross over this Jordan (P. Craigie; The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, without punctuation). It is vital that we understand that Israel did not cross Jordan “that day,” and in fact did not do so for another couple months. So “today” did not mean that very day, but was used for emphasis. Bullinger, Companion Bible, notes the punctuation of Deuteronomy 9:1 should be: “Hear O Israel today, you are...,” which is very similar to Luke 23:43. Other uses, just in Deuteronomy, that include the word “today” more for emphasis than for time, include Deut 4:40; 5:1; 7:11; 8:1, 11, 19; 9:1, 3; 10:13; 11:2, 8, 13, 26, 27, 28, 32; 13:18; 15:5, 15; 19:9; 26:3, 16, 17, 18; 27:1, 4, 10; 28:1, 13, 14, 15; 30:2, 8, 11, 15, 16, 18, 19; 32:46.
Neither Jesus nor the criminal went to “Paradise” that day (see commentary on Luke 23:43; “Paradise”).
“Paradise.” The Greek text actually reads, “the Paradise” (tō paradeisō), that is, the well-known one that the prophets had been speaking about for centuries. Jesus was not speaking about “a” paradise,” but “the Paradise” that will be on earth when he conquers the earth and sets up his kingdom.
The English word “paradise” comes from the Greek word paradeisos (#3857 παράδεισος; pronounced pä-rä-day-sos). “Paradise” was, and will again be, a place on earth. God’s plan was that mankind would live on earth, and so He put Adam and Eve on earth in the Garden of Eden. God’s plan for mankind to live on a wonderful earth was temporarily spoiled by sin, but God will bring His plan to fulfillment. When Jesus Christ conquers the earth at the Battle of Armageddon and sets up his Messianic Kingdom, mankind will again live in “Eden,” in Paradise (Rev. 2:7).
The Hebrew word eden (#05731 עֵדֶן) means “delight, or pleasure.” When God created Adam and Eve, He loved them and so He put them in the “Garden of eden;” the “Garden of Delight” (Gen. 2:15). It is unfortunate that the translators decided to transliterate the word eden into “Eden” instead of translating it into “Delight.” The phrase “Garden of Eden” does not mean anything to most English readers except that it was a physical place on earth. In contrast, had the translators decided to say, “Garden of Delight” instead of “Garden of Eden,” we would still know it was a place on earth, but God’s love and purpose in putting people in a wonderful place would have been revealed.
When the Greeks living in Egypt translated the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek around 250 BC and made the Septuagint version, they translated the phrase “garden of eden” as “paradeisos.” Actually, paradeisos was not a Greek word, but was a loan-word from the Persian language and meant “pleasure garden.” It referred to the lush, protected pleasure gardens that oriental rulers and powerful men kept for their enjoyment. The English word “paradise” comes from the word “paradeisos.” That the Greek-speaking Jews translated the “garden of eden” as “paradeisos” was a good choice, because the Garden of eden was indeed a garden of delight, a paradise. By the time of Christ, paradeisos (Paradise) was one of the terms used for the Millennial Kingdom of Christ on earth, as we can see from 2 Corinthians 12:4 and Revelation 2:7.
We do not know for sure what language Jesus spoke when he spoke to the criminal on the cross because we do not know the nationality of the criminal, but Jesus did know because he heard the criminal speak. If Jesus spoke Hebrew, what he said would be in essence, “You will be with me in Eden.” If he spoke Greek, he would have used the word paradeisos. English readers today do not usually see the flow of God’s plan for mankind from the Old Testament to the New Testament because of the change from Old Testament Hebrew to New Testament Greek. God’s plan was to put humankind on earth in “Eden,” “Paradise.” But Adam and Eve sinned and Paradise was lost and the earth became the fallen world we live in today. But God’s plan will not be thwarted forever: God will reinstate Paradise on earth for humankind (the Millennial Kingdom and the Eternal Kingdom), as many prophecies in both the Old and New Testament state. However, today we read about “Eden” in the Old Testament and “Paradise” in the New Testament and don’t see the connection. But although the sin of Adam and Eve derailed God’s plan for a while, Jesus will come back to earth, fight the Battle of Armageddon and conquer the earth, and again set up Paradise on earth.
The criminal on the cross asked to be remembered when Jesus came into his Kingdom, which will be on earth, and Jesus responded and comforted the man by saying he would indeed be in Eden, or Paradise, which will be on earth. When Jesus said, “You will be with me in Paradise,” Jesus was promising the man he would be in the resurrection of the righteous (Luke 14:14; Acts 24:15), also called the first resurrection (Rev. 20:5, 6); and “the resurrection of life” (John 5:29), and people in that resurrection then get to be part of the Messianic Kingdom on earth. [For more information on the resurrections, see commentary on Acts 24:15].
Neither Jesus nor the criminal went to “Paradise” that day. When Jesus Christ died, Scripture universally testifies that he was in the grave and not in Paradise. In fact, Paradise (the Messianic Kingdom on earth) has still not come—we are still awaiting the resurrection of the dead and the Messianic Kingdom on earth. But the fact that Jesus said, “You will be with me in Paradise” is a beautiful expression of Christ’s heart for mankind. He could have looked at the criminal and said, “Okay, I will remember you.” But by saying “You will be with me in Paradise,” Jesus gave the man strength and hope to be able to endure his last few hours of tremendous suffering on the cross. The man was in excruciating pain, but he had a hope that burned with a fire that must have kept his heart warm until his dying breath. [For more information on the Kingdom of Christ being on earth, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth”]. Paradise is also specifically mentioned two other times in the New Testament. Once by Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:4, where we learn that Jesus took Paul into the future Paradise in a vision in much the same way that he took the Apostle John by a vision into the future and told John to write the Book of Revelation about what he saw. The other time is in the vision John had of the future, which mentions Paradise and the Tree of Life, just like the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:8-9; Rev. 2:7). The fact that the Tree of Life was in the Garden of Eden in Genesis and the future Paradise in the Book of Revelation is more evidence that “Paradise” is on earth, not in heaven.
Besides Luke 23:43, Paradise is also specifically mentioned two other times in the New Testament. Once by Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:4, where we learn that Jesus took Paul into the future Paradise in a vision in much the same way that he took the Apostle John by a vision into the future and told John to write the Book of Revelation about what he saw. The other time is in the vision John had of the future, which mentions Paradise and the Tree of Life, just like the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:8-9; Rev. 2:7). The fact that the Tree of Life was in the Garden of Eden in Genesis and also in the future Paradise in the Book of Revelation is more evidence that “Paradise” refers to a place on earth and is not somehow in heaven.
It is sometimes taught that “Paradise” is an intermediary state that existed for righteous people before they could go to heaven. There is no direct scriptural support for such a place, but it is assumed to exist due to some false assumptions.
The first false assumption is that the soul is immortal, and therefore has to live someplace. However, there is no Scriptural support for the soul being immortal. In fact, just the opposite. The soul can and does die (cp. Matt. 10:28). The reason that people need to be “raised from the dead” is that the “person” is dead, not just the person’s body. If the person’s soul was alive someplace, it could be judged without the body being present, but Scripture never teaches that. Furthermore, when it speaks of resurrection, it speaks of the “person” being raised. There is no verse about a living soul rejoining a dead body. [For more information on this topic, see Appendix 4: The Dead are Dead].
Having made the false assumption that the dead person is actually alive and has to live someplace, theologians then drew another false conclusion based on the first one. First, they correctly realized that if the person died before the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the person’s soul could not go to “heaven.” If a dead person could go to heaven before Jesus died for his sin, then anyone could go to heaven before Jesus, and thus Jesus would not really have needed to come at all. So theologians invented a place where the souls of good people could go while they waited for the savior to save them and open the way to heaven. This “place” does not exist in the Bible, so it needed a name, and therefore some theologians call it “Paradise.”
The simple, biblical truth is that when a person dies, he is dead until God raises him from the dead, and the three major times that happens in Scripture are the Rapture of the Church, the First Resurrection (or Resurrection of the Righteous), and the Second Resurrection (or Resurrection of the Unrighteous). Jesus and the malefactor both died on the cross that day. God raised Jesus from the dead three days later and Jesus is now in heaven ruling as Lord and Christ. The malefactor is still in the grave, dead and completely unaware of the passage of time. But Jesus will be good for his promise, and on Resurrection Day that man will hear the shout of the Son of Man and come out of the tomb (John 5:25-29; Ezek. 37:12-14).(top)
“sixth hour…ninth hour.” This is about our noon to 3 PM. Both the Jews and Romans divided the day into 12 hours, starting at daylight, roughly 6 AM. [For the hours of the day and the watches of the night, see commentary on Mark 6:48].(top)
|Luk 23:45||- (top)|
Quoted from Psalm 31:5.
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Jesus, speaking to his Father, God, committed the ultimate act of trust by giving up his life. The word “spirit” is translated from the Greek word pneuma (#4151 πνεῦμα), which has many meanings and can refer to things that are invisible and immaterial, but yet often exert a force or influence that can be seen. We need to be aware that “spirit” itself has many meanings, including God (John 4:24); Jesus (2 Cor. 3:17; Rev. 2:7); angels (Heb. 1:14); demons (Matt. 10:1), “attitude” (Matt. 5:3; 26:41; Mark 14:38; Acts 18:25), and the natural life of the body, which is immaterial and thus in the realm of “spirit” (Luke 8:55; Acts 7:59; James 2:26). The natural life of the body (sometimes referred to as “soul”) is by nature “spirit,” and therefore is sometimes referred to as “spirit.” Examples include Luke 23:46, Matthew 27:50, Luke 8:55; and James 2:26. Here in Luke 23:46, Jesus committed his “life” to his Father, God, trusting that God would give him life again by raising him from the dead. [For more on the uses of pneuma (“spirit”) in the Bible, see Appendix 6: “Usages of ‘Spirit,’” and also see Graeser, Lynn, Schoenheit, The Gift of Holy Spirit: The Power to be like Christ, Appendix B, “Usages of ‘spirit’ in the New Testament”].(top)
|Luk 23:47||- (top)|
|Luk 23:48||- (top)|
|Luk 23:49||- (top)|
“Look!” The Greek word is idou (#2400 ἰδού), and it is used to get our attention. See commentary on Matthew 1:20 (“Look!).
“there was a good and righteous man named Joseph.” Joseph is mentioned in all four Gospels. For the relationship between Joseph and Nicodemus, see commentary on John 19:39.
The death and resurrection of Christ is the pivotal point in the history of mankind. Each of the Four Gospels describes the event, but describes different aspects of it. It takes some effort to make all the pieces on the subject fit together. To be sure, the central message is crystal clear and stands on its own in every Gospel—God raised Jesus from the dead and the tomb is empty. However, when just read side by side, the Gospels have apparent contradictions. But the fact that we must piece the records together to get the actual history of the account is the same thing we have to do in many other places in the Bible in order to understand the more intricate information God has for us in His Word.
Just because the Four Gospels do not read the same way about an event does not mean they contradict each other. In order for each Gospel to portray its own unique picture of the Messiah, it has to have information that the other Gospels do not have, or omit information that they do have [For the four unique Gospel portraits of Jesus Christ, see the commentary on Mark 1:1].
We must keep in mind that even when a record in one Gospel seems to flow smoothly from one event to another, words such as “and,” “now,” or “but,” can represent a break in time. Thus the two events connected by a conjunction do not necessarily follow one right after the other, but may have other events that occur between them. For example, there are a large number of verses that start with “and,” which read as if they followed immediately after the previous verse, when actually we can see from the scope of Scripture that time passed and other events occurred between the verses.
The only way to properly construct the chronology of the Four Gospels is to be willing to split the seeming flow of events in a Gospel when there is good evidence from the other Gospels that there are intervening events. By reading each Gospel quickly, and simply noticing what is included or excluded, the unique emphasis of each Gospel is more easily seen. In contrast, by reading the record of Jesus’ life event by event in all four Gospels, we get the composite historical account of what happened.
In fitting the records together we can see that sometimes large periods of time occur right in the middle of a verse, and only by splitting a verse into two parts can we reconstruct a proper chronology. It would have been helpful if the men who invented the verse divisions had started a new verse each time there was a break in the chronology of Christ’s life. However, because the verse divisions are man-made (in fact, the modern verse divisions we use today were not put into the New Testament until the mid-1500’s), they are not always put in the best places. They are good for reference, but unfortunately sometimes they conceal the true chronology of the biblical text rather than help us understand it.
To understand the events in the Gospels and Acts and be able to better see how they fit with the prophecies and feasts in the Old Testament, it is important to know that the Jewish day started at sunset, while the Roman day started at midnight (like our Western time does). This is important because, although an event that happened at 3PM would be counted on the same day in both Jewish and Roman time, an event between sunset and midnight would be a day earlier in Roman time than in Jewish time, because sunset would have started the new Jewish day. The study below lists the verses in chronological order. Commentary on the individual verses can be looked up under that specific verse reference. As we do our study, it is helpful to overview the chronology. The events below are recorded in both Jewish and Roman time.
Wednesday, 14th of Nisan (Jewish and Roman time): close to sunset
Wednesday, 14th of Nisan (Romans time; if after sunset, then the 15th Jewish time): just before or after sunset
Thursday, 15th of Nisan (the Special Sabbath): morning
Friday, 16th of Nisan:
Saturday, 17th of Nisan (the weekly Sabbath):
Saturday, 17th of Nisan: evening. The Resurrection. The event itself is not described in Scripture.
Saturday, 17th of Nisan: late in the day
Sunday, 18th of Nisan: very early Sunday morning
Sunday, 18th of Nisan: very early Sunday morning while it was still quite dark
Sunday, 18th of Nisan: around sunrise
Sunday, 18th of Nisan: just after sunrise
Sunday, 18th of Nisan: just after sunrise
Sunday, 18th of Nisan: sometime after sunrise
Sunday, 18th of Nisan: early to mid-morning
Sunday, 18th of Nisan: early to mid-morning (summary statement)
Sunday, 18th of Nisan: early to mid-morning
Sunday, 18th of Nisan:
Sunday 18th of Nisan: evening, before sunset
Sunday, 18th of Nisan (or soon afterward):
Sunday, 25th of Nisan:
Sunday, 25th of Nisan (or soon afterward):
Between Tuesday, 27th of Nisan, and the Ascension:
The Day of Ascension to the Day of Pentecost:
[After the Day of Pentecost:]
[For information on the events of the last week of Jesus’ life, see commentary on John 18:13. For a more detailed explanation of the Wednesday crucifixion and Jesus’ three days and three nights in the grave, see commentary on Matthew 12:40].(top)
|Luk 23:51||- (top)|
“This man went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.” Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus. See commentary on Matthew 27:58.(top)
“wrapped it in a linen cloth.” This was not a royal burial, and Joseph left before Nicodemus came with spices to give Jesus a royal burial. [For more on the women not seeing that Jesus was properly buried, see commentary on John 19:40].(top)
“and the Sabbath was beginning.” This was not the regular weekly Sabbath, which occurred on Saturday, but the Special Sabbath that was the 15th of Nisan and the first Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
The Greek word translated “was beginning” is epiphōskō (#2020 ἐπιφώσκω), and it literally means, to grow light. Thus it was used of “dawn,” or also idiomatically as “beginning.” Thus literally, “the Sabbath was dawning.” This phraseology can be confusing to us Westerners because the Jewish Sabbath began at sunset, not “dawn,” that is, not at sunrise. The Jews, however, used the phrase “growing light” or “dawning” idiomatically for the beginning of something. We could translate the verse as, “the Sabbath was dawning,” and understand it idiomatically, just as they did, but a less confusing way to translate the phrase is “the Sabbath was beginning.” The Jews did not have accurate clocks to tell them when Sabbath began, they just knew from the sky it was drawing close. [For more information on epiphōskō see commentary on Matt. 28:1].
According to Jewish reckoning of time, the sunset started the new day, so here in Luke 23:54, Wednesday the 14th of Nisan, the day Jesus Christ was crucified, was ending, and Thursday, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Special Sabbath, was starting. The 15th of Nisan was always a Sabbath, no matter on which day of the week it occurred (Exod. 12:16-17; Lev. 23:6-8). Since the Law of Moses decreed that the 15th of Nisan was a special Sabbath, Luke 23:54 says the “Sabbath” was beginning.
It is important to realize that the “Sabbath” in Luke 23:54 is not the weekly Sabbath on Saturday, but the Special Sabbath on Thursday, the 15th of Nisan. Knowing that will clear up a large number of apparent contradictions in the Bible. The point that Jesus was crucified before a Special Sabbath is made again in John 19:31, which tells us specifically that this Sabbath was a “high day,” meaning a special Sabbath, not the regular weekly Sabbath.
Most Christians do not realize that when the Bible says Jesus was crucified the day before the “Sabbath,” it does not mean the regular weekly Sabbath, and so tradition has taught that Jesus was crucified on Friday before the Saturday Sabbath. But that interpretation causes a number of problems. For one thing, Jesus could not have been “in the heart of the earth” for three “days” and three “nights” (Matt. 12:40) from Friday at sunset to Sunday morning when it was still dark (John 20:1). There are not three “days” and three “nights” between Friday at sunset and Sunday so early in the morning that it was still dark.
More evidence that Jesus was in the grave for three full days and nights, from Wednesday sunset to Saturday sunset comes from the fact that the women would not have had time before the Sabbath started to go and buy spices and then prepare them after watching Joseph bury Jesus without any spices (Matt. 27:60-61; Mark 15:46-47; Luke 23:53-55). Furthermore, they could not have bought the spices in the dark after the Saturday Sabbath was over either. Even if there was some special condition where they could have bought spices Saturday night, they could not have both bought them and prepared them before the Sabbath like Luke says (Luke 23:56) and also bought them after the Sabbath like Mark says (Mark 16:1).
The key to solving all the apparent contradictions is to realize that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday, Passover day, and that both Thursday and Saturday were Sabbaths. In that situation, Jesus could be in the grave for three full “days” and “nights,” from Wednesday at sunset to Saturday at sunset, not just 36 hours with no third “night” at all. That also helps explain why Jesus waited two full days before raising Lazarus (John 11:6). Jesus showed through Lazarus that a person could be raised after three full days, which many people doubted at that time; (see commentary on John 11:15). Also, both Mark and Luke would be correct. The women would have bought spices on Friday, which was “after” the Special Sabbath and “before” the regular weekly Sabbath. Since the Jewish calendar had many special Sabbaths, the people of the time were used to the language that some event could be both before and after a Sabbath, and were used to sorting through the context and seeing the truth of the situation.
A Wednesday crucifixion and burial also explains why the women thought they could go to the grave to anoint Jesus on Sunday morning but had not gone on Friday after preparing the spices. Sunday morning had been more than the three days the Roman guard was supposed to be at the grave, which was Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The Roman guard had run off after seeing the earthquake and the angel, but the women did not know that when they came to the tomb with the spices expecting someone could roll away the stone for them—something the Roman guard would never have allowed.
Still another ancillary piece of evidence for a Wednesday crucifixion comes from typology. Jesus got up from the dead on Saturday evening the 17th day of the month Nisan, proving that death had no power over mankind and mankind was safe from death. It was that same day of the year (the 17th of Nisan) that Noah’s ark rested on the land and mankind was safe from evil people and from the Flood (Gen. 8:4. To understand that, we must realize that the “seventh month” in Genesis was the month Nisan, which God later changed to be the first month of the year; see Exod. 12:2). If, as tradition teaches, the 14th of Nisan was a Friday, and Jesus was crucified on Friday the 14th of Nisan and got up on Sunday morning, then that would make the day Jesus Got up Sunday the 16th of Nisan. There is no typological parallel date for his resurrection if it occurred on Nisan 16 instead of Nisan 17. but if Christ was crucified on Wednesday the 14th of Nisan, and got up Saturday the 17th of Nisan, then Noah’s ark is the perfect type of Christ’s resurrection when it comes to saving mankind. Although this ancillary fact does not prove a Wednesday crucifixion, it supports it.
Tradition is hard to change, and the tradition for a Friday crucifixion comes from John 19:31, that the crucifixion was before the Sabbath. That tradition has been bolstered by the teaching that Jesus was in the grave for 3 days, and “any part of a day can be counted as a day.” While that is true, it is not an honest handling of the text. The Bible does not say Jesus was in the grave “three days,” but “three days and three nights” (Matt. 12:40). Even if you count the tiny amount of time between when Nicodemus properly buried Jesus as a “day,” there are not three “days” and three “nights” between Friday sunset and Sunday morning before the sun came up and it was still dark—at absolute best there are only three days and two nights.
Tradition has also been bolstered by the words of the angel that “he is not here; he has risen” from the dead (Matt. 28:6; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:6). It has been assumed that Jesus had just gotten up a short while before that, but Scripture never says that. The three days and nights ended Saturday before sunset. If Jesus got up at that time, then what the angels told the women was true. They never said he had just gotten up; only that he was raised from the dead and therefore not in the tomb when the women arrived.
It is also important to remember that Jesus was quoting the book of Jonah when he said he would be “three days and three nights” in the heart of the earth (Jonah 1:17). It is likely that Jonah was thrown into the sea in the afternoon (perhaps even the late afternoon around when Jesus was buried), because the sailors tried hard to row to land so they would not have to throw Jonah into the ocean, but they eventually realized they were not getting anywhere and gave up (Jonah 1:13). Would the book of Jonah really have said that Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and nights if he was only there for three days and two nights? There would have been no need for that misstatement. The only reason that Christians have tried to force three days and nights into the short time from Friday sunset to Sunday morning while it was still dark is they know Jesus was up from the dead by Sunday morning and they assume Scripture teaches he was buried on Friday, the day before the weekly Sabbath.
In light of the teaching of Scripture on the subject, it is time to let tradition go. Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday and buried that day before Sunset. Then, three days and three nights later, Saturday before sunset, God raised him from the dead.(top)
“And the women ... having followed after Joseph.” The women saw that Joseph had not prepared Jesus’ body, so they thought they had to prepare him themselves. [For more on the women not seeing that Jesus was properly buried, see commentary on John 19:40].(top)
“prepared spices and ointments.” The women did this on Friday, the 16th of Nisan. This was after the Sabbath as Mark 16:1 says (i.e., after the special Sabbath, the 15th of Nisan and the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread), and before the Sabbath (i.e., Saturday, the weekly Sabbath), as Luke 23:56 says (see commentary on Matthew 12:40).
It has been noticed by many Bible commentators that Mark 16:1 contradicts Luke 23:56, and many different explanations have been set forth to explain the “problem.” For example, some liberal theologians are comfortable saying that one of the two Gospels is wrong, but that kind of error is only human. We reject that explanation entirely.
Other commentators say the women must have bought spices twice, once before the Sabbath, then realized they did not have enough, and bought more after the Sabbath. However, in the orthodox model of death, burial, and resurrection of Christ that explanation will not work for two reasons. First, the women did not have time to buy and prepare spices after Christ’s burial, it was too close to the Sabbath, and Luke 23:56 makes it clear the women rested on the Sabbath. Secondly, the women would not have been able to buy and prepare spices after the Sabbath, Sunday morning, and still get to the grave with the prepared spices at dawn.
The real explanation is very simple. Christ was buried Wednesday afternoon, just before sunset. The women hurried home as the special Sabbath, Thursday, the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread, started. On Friday the women bought and prepared the spices. Then they rested on Saturday, the regular weekly Sabbath. Then, at dawn on Sunday morning they brought the spices they had prepared to the tomb.
A key to realizing that the women could not have bought and prepared the spices between the time they saw Joseph bury Jesus without spices and when the Sabbath started that night is to realize what was involved in buying and preparing spices. Scripture says when Joseph buried Jesus the Sabbath was close and the women were still there, watching. But for the woman to buy the spices meant going into the city to the spice merchants and haggling with them over the different spices, then walking home with them. But the spice merchants would not have been open Friday night at sunset. It is a long-standing custom that merchants close early before the Sabbath because they have to go home and prepare for their own Sabbath meal and celebration. Even the shops in modern Israel close early before the Sabbath begins. But even if the women had found a spice merchant open, they would not have had the time to walk home and prepare the spices before the Sabbath began. To prepare the spices the women would pulverize them and mix them together. Then, many times, they would mix them with olive oil to bring out the aromatic aroma and so they could more easily and effectively spread them on the body. The fact that both Luke 23:56 and 24:1 specifically mention that the women had “prepared” the spices shows they did not just buy them and plan to spread them in that raw state on Jesus’ body. The point is that the women could not have bought and prepared spices on Friday evening before the Sabbath started at sunset, there just was not enough time. But neither could they have bought and prepared spices on Sunday morning because they brought the prepared spices to the tomb at dawn, which means they would have had to have bought the spices in the dark of night to have the time to prepare them and have them at the tomb around dawn, and no merchant would be open at night.
For more on the burial of Jesus and the spices, see commentaries on Matthew 27:57 and Mark 16:1.
“rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.” The women rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment, and although they would have rested on both the Special Sabbath and the regular weekly Sabbath, because of the chronology we can tell that this verse in Luke refers to the regular weekly Sabbath. Mark 16:1 makes it clear that the women bought the spices after the Sabbath, but in this verse they had already bought the spices when they rested on the Sabbath, so this Sabbath is the regular weekly Sabbath, Saturday the 17th of Nisan (see commentary on Mark 16:1).
The commandment in the Law of Moses about resting on the weekly Sabbath is Exodus 20:8-10, and about resting on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is Leviticus 23:4-8. According to the Law of Moses, walking was not considered work so the women could have walked to the tomb on the Sabbath without breaking the Sabbath. However, by the time of Jesus, Jewish traditional law had imposed limits on how far a person could walk on the Sabbath without it being work. The limit was called “a Sabbath day’s journey” and was 2000 cubits, or just over one half mile (see commentary on Acts 1:12). So the women still could have “rested” on the Sabbath but still walked to the tomb (see commentary on Matt. 28:1).
Jesus’ resurrection, which would have occurred between Luke 23:56 and 24:1, is not specifically recorded.(top)