The Confession Of The Centurion In Luke 23:47 -- By: Kenneth W. Yates

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 32:62 (Spring 2019)
Article: The Confession Of The Centurion In Luke 23:47
Author: Kenneth W. Yates

The Confession Of The Centurion In Luke 23:47

Kenneth W. Yates


I. Introduction

In the Gospel of Luke, Luke tells us that when the centurion at the cross of Christ saw Jesus die, “he glorified God, saying, ‘Certainly this was a righteous man’” (Luke 23:47, NKJV). Both Matthew and Mark say that the centurion proclaimed that Jesus was “the Son of God” (Matt 27:54; Mark 15:39). While some maintain that Luke changed the centurion’s confession to make a theological point, there is no need to come to that conclusion. The centurion said both things about Christ. The centurion spent hours at the cross, and without a doubt he said many things, many of which are not even recorded in the Scriptures.

This article will address the centurion’s confession as recorded in Luke’s Gospel. What did the centurion mean by claiming that Christ was “righteous”? How did this confession relate to the purpose of Luke’s Gospel? It is important to recognize that the centurion was a military man. Another military man plays a significant role in telling the reader the purpose of Luke’s Gospel.

II. The Military And Jesus’ First Sermon

When talking about the purpose of the Gospel of Luke, we must remember that Luke also wrote the Book of Acts and that the two books go together. Many students and scholars have proposed different purposes for Luke’s two-volume work.1

There is general agreement, however, that one of the purposes of Luke is to show that the gospel goes out to Gentiles. The books are dedicated to a Gentile. After the birth of Jesus, Simeon makes an explicit reference to Gentiles (Luke 2:32). At the beginning and end of both books, Gentiles are included in God’s “salvation” (Luke 2:30–32; 24:47; Acts 1:8; 28:28). These inclusios bracket Luke’s purpose in writing.2

In Luke’s writings, not only are Gentiles included in the plan of God, but often these Gentiles will be open to what God is doing in Christ while some Jews are not. This comes out in Jesus’ first sermon in the Gospel of Luke. It occurs in Nazareth (Luke 4:16–30). A Gentile...

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