said, while on the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what
do…” (Luke 23:34). This passage seems to confuse some, and others
to include more people than it should. So let us take a look at it.
one needs to understand that this event took place under the Old Law,
under Christianity. The Christian Law came into effect forty days after
Christ’s resurrection on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). The renting (or
down the middle) of the veil in the Temple (Luke 23:45; Matthew 27:51)
understood to mean doing away with the Old Law and replacing it with
Law, or Christianity. Therefore, any actions of Jesus on the cross are
governed by Christian Law, even though such acts were good.
when Jesus said to one of the thieves beside him on a cross being
the same time, that the thief would be with him that day in paradise
23:43), it does not mean that action is for any other person, or
then. Today we are under the Law of Christ, or Christianity. Taking the
to paradise took place under the Old Law.
it is not stated that Jesus forgave “them.” Even though it may be
it should be reasonable to believe that he would not ask God to forgive
unless he had first forgiven them. The stated action is that he asked
Father, to forgive them. That we know for certain.
in Luke 23:34, “they” in part A and in Part B refer to the same
are those who precipitated and were active in causing Jesus to be
and it is these who make up the “they” and the “them.” Matthew Henry,
commentary, Vol. 5, pages 666-667, suggests that these were the
the priests and scribes, who acted out of ignorance generated by these
who they were following. Thus it may be said that those who come by
of God’s Word honestly are forgivable, while those who refuse to learn
and his Word may not be as easily nor ever forgiven. The rulers
referred to did
not change continuing to refuse Jesus and his teachings. Church
rulers, today who alter God’s Word omit parts of God’s Word, or refuse
may find themselves in the same unforgiven state as these rulers under
Law, if they continue in those beliefs and practices, and teach those
to members of the church where they rule.
when were these forgiven? Immediately, or later? When did God forgive
have the answer in Acts 2. In verse 23b, speaking to Jews, Peter said,
Jesus) “ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.”
were at least some present who heard Peter that had been a part of the
who crucified Christ.
in Acts 2 Peter proceeded with his sermon, until in verse 37 these Jews
and brethren, what shall we do?” They had become convinced that they
help, they needed to be forgiven and that they needed to change. They
the Word, Peter’s sermon, believed it and now Peter tells them what to
Peter tells them in verse 38 what they asked, what they needed to do,
what they must do, saying, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in
name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive
of the Holy Ghost.” So it follows that “they” who had participated in
crucifying Christ were not forgiven by God until they heard Peter’s
repented and were baptized.
all together that day about three thousand were baptized (verse 41),
some who had participated in the crucifixion of Christ. Ninth, and in
we see, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be
is those who had met all the requirements.
can draw some conclusions: (1) Jesus did not ask for all people to be
Rather, on the cross he was praying in particular for “they” or those
crucified him. John 17 is Jesus’ prayer for his followers, Christians.
did not immediately answer the prayer during the time that Jesus was on
cross, or in the grave. (3) Rather, God waited some forty days, until
of Pentecost when Peter preached to them, and they had obeyed the
that the comforter, the Holy Spirit, had delivered to the apostles from
People are forgiven today when they obey God’s Word in like manner.