The Seven Words from the Cross -- By: Simon J. Kistemaker

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 38:2 (Winter 1976)
Article: The Seven Words from the Cross
Author: Simon J. Kistemaker


The Seven Words from the Cross

Simon J. Kistemaker

Of the seven words spoken by Jesus from the cross, Matthew and Mark record one, Luke three, and John three. We may assume that Luke consulted eyewitnesses (see Luke 1:2) who furnished him with additional information. And we may assume that John relied on memory when he wrote down Jesus’ utterances.

The order of the seven sayings is usually given as follows: 1: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34); 2: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43); 3: “Woman, here is your son” and “Here is your mother” (John 19:26, 27); 4: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34); 5: “I am thirsty” (John 19:28); 6: “It is finished” (John 19:30); 7: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

As the other evangelists, so John records the incident of the soldiers casting lots for Jesus’ garments. Though he omits Jesus’ prayer: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” he does provide much descriptive detail such as the number of shares—one for each of the four soldiers, the seamless garment, and the conversation of the soldiers. Immediately following this incident, John records the presence of women and Jesus commending his mother to John. Considering the sequence, I take John 19:26, 27 (“Woman, here is your son” and “Here is your mother”) as the second word from the cross. The third word, then is Luke 23:43 (“I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise”).1

First Word: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

The first word from the cross is absent from a number of important and diversified manuscripts p75 B D* Θ ita,d syr8

copsa bo. It is found in other leading manuscripts א* A C Db K L f1 f13...

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