Father Forgive Them: What Does Luke 23:34 Mean?


Luke 23:34, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” (King James Version)

TranslationLuke 23:34
ESVAnd Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.
NASBBut Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.
NIVJesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
NLTJesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.

Also see the meaning of Confess Your Sins to One Another to learn more.

Father Forgive Them: Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

23:32-43 As soon as Christ was fastened to the cross, he prayed for those who crucified him. The great thing he died to purchase and procure for us, is the forgiveness of sin. This he prays for.

Jesus was crucified between two thieves; in them were shown the different effects the cross of Christ would have upon the children of men in the preaching the gospel. One malefactor was hardened to the last. No troubles of themselves will change a wicked heart.

The other was softened at the last: he was snatched as a brand out of the burning, and made a monument of Divine mercy. This gives no encouragement to any to put off repentance to their death-beds, or to hope that they shall then find mercy.

It is certain that true repentance is never too late; but it is as certain that late repentance is seldom true. None can be sure they shall have time to repent at death, but every man may be sure he cannot have the advantages this penitent thief had.

We shall see the case to be singular, if we observe the uncommon effects of God’s grace upon this man. He reproved the other for railing on Christ. He owned that he deserved what was done to him. He believed Jesus to have suffered wrongfully. Observe his faith in this prayer.

Christ was in the depth of disgrace, suffering as a deceiver, and not delivered by his Father. He made this profession before the wonders were displayed which put honour on Christ’s sufferings, and startled the centurion. He believed in a life to come, and desired to be happy in that life; not like the other thief, to be only saved from the cross.

Observe his humility in this prayer. All his request is, Lord, remember me; quite referring it to Jesus in what way to remember him. Thus he was humbled in true repentance, and he brought forth all the fruits for repentance his circumstances would admit.

Christ upon the cross, is gracious like Christ upon the throne. Though he was in the greatest struggle and agony, yet he had pity for a poor penitent. By this act of grace we are to understand that Jesus Christ died to open the kingdom of heaven to all penitent, obedient believers.

It is a single instance in Scripture; it should teach us to despair of none, and that none should despair of themselves; but lest it should be abused, it is contrasted with the awful state of the other thief, who died hardened in unbelief, though a crucified Saviour was so near him. Be sure that in general men die as they live.

Also see the meaning of Love Covers A Multitude of Sins to learn more.

Luke 23:34 | Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

Joh 19:17-30. Crucifixion and Death of the Lord Jesus.

17. And he bearing his cross—(See on [1908]Lu 23:26).

went forth—Compare Heb 13:11-13, “without the camp”; “without the gate.” On arriving at the place, “they gave Him vinegar to drink mingled with gall [wine mingled with myrrh, Mr 15:23], and when He had tasted thereof, He would not drink” (Mt 27:34). This potion was stupefying, and given to criminals just before execution, to deaden the sense of pain.

Fill high the bowl, and spice it well, and pour

The dews oblivious: for the Cross is sharp,

The Cross is sharp, and He

Is tenderer than a lamb.

Keble.

But our Lord would die with every faculty clear, and in full sensibility to all His sufferings.

Thou wilt feel all, that Thou may’st pity all;

And rather would’st Thou wrestle with strong pain

Than overcloud Thy soul,

So clear in agony,

Or lose one glimpse of Heaven before the time,

O most entire and perfect Sacrifice,

Renewed in every pulse.

Also see the meaning of Though I Walk Through the Valley to learn more.

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