Luke 23
The Greek text of Luke 23:47-24:1 on Codex Bezae (Cambridge University Library MS. Nn.2.41), written about AD 400.
BookGospel of Luke
Christian Bible partNew Testament
Order in the Christian part3

Luke 23 is the twenty-third chapter of the Gospel of Luke in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. The book containing this chapter is anonymous, but early Christian tradition uniformly affirmed that Luke the Evangelist composed this Gospel as well as the Acts of the Apostles.[1] This chapter records the trial of Jesus Christ before Pontius Pilate, Jesus' meeting with Herod Antipas, and his crucifixion, death and burial.[2]


Luke 23:14-26 from a Gospel Book (folio 160v; British Library, MS Add. 11848) written in Carolingian minuscule

The original text was written in Koine Greek. Some early manuscripts containing the text of this chapter are:

This chapter is divided into 56 verses.

Old Testament references

New Testament parallels

Jesus before Pilate

Verse 1

And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate.[5]

"The whole multitude of them" (Greek: ἅπαν τὸ πλῆθος, hapan to plēthos) may also be translated as "the whole assembly",[6] or "the whole Council".[7] Luke uses τὸ πλῆθος (rather than το ὄχλος, to ochlos) to signify a multitude in number.[8] They led Jesus to Pontius Pilate, the provincial governor (prefect) of Judaea.

Verse 2: the charges against Jesus

Irish archbishop John McEvilly notes that Luke provides more specific details of the charges against Jesus than either Matthew or Mark, who refer to "many charges" brought against him.[9] There are three specific charges:

We found this man subverting our nation, opposing payment of taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is the Messiah, a King.[10]

McEvilly refers to a fourth charge mentioned in Pilate's letter to Tiberius, "that He practised magic, in virtue of which, He performed some miraculous wonders".[9] For F. W. Farrar, the first charge, translated in the King James Version as perverting the nation,[11] "had the advantage of being perfectly vague".[8]

Verse 3

Christ before Pilate, Mihály Munkácsy, 1881

See also: Jesus, King of the Jews

Then Pilate asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"
He answered, "You say so". (NRSV)[12]

Cross reference: Matthew 27:11; Mark 15:2; John 18:37

Verse 3 in Greek

Textus Receptus/Majority Text:

ὁ δὲ Πιλάτος ἐπηρώτησεν αὐτόν, λέγων, Σὺ εἶ ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων;
ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς αὐτῷ ἔφη, Σὺ λέγεις.


Ho de Pilatos epērōtēsen auton, legōn, "Su ei ho basileus tōn Ioudaiōn?":
Ho de apokritheis autō ephē, "Su legeis."

Verse 3 in Latin

Biblia Sacra Vulgata:

Pilatus autem interrogavit eum dicens tu es rex Iudaeorum
at ille respondens ait tu dicis.

The style of response is the same as in Luke 22:70,[citation needed] where Jesus answers the Sanhedrin's question, "Are you the Son of God?"

Verse 5

But they were the more fierce, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place.”[13]

Traditionally, "throughout all Judea" has been rendered as "throughout all Jewry".[14] Farrar suggests that these words imply a "Judean ministry" which the synoptic gospels do not narrate,[8] as the only journey of Jesus in Judea which is recorded is that from Jericho to Jerusalem, and William Robertson Nicoll also suggests that there might have been "more work done by Jesus in the south than is recorded in the Synoptists", although he counsels against basing any picture of Jesus' ministry on the inadequate testimony of his accusers.[15] On the other hand, Judea has "sometimes been the name of the whole land, including apparently parts beyond the Jordan", see Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XII, 4.11,[16] which term would therefore include the area of Perea east of the Jordan River. Matthew, Mark and John all refer to Jesus' stay in Perea, and Lucan scholars generally assume that the route Jesus followed from Galilee to Jerusalem passed through this region.[17] The reference to Jesus' ministry "beginning from Galilee" relates back to Luke 4:14, where Jesus begins to teach in the synagogues there.

Verses 6-12

Responsibility for the interrogation of Jesus is transferred from Pilate to Herod Antipas. This section is unique to Luke's Gospel.[15] The editors of the Jerusalem Bible suggest that Luke may have obtained this information from Manaen, who according to Acts 13:1, "had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch".[18]

Verse 14

[Pilate] said to them, "You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him."[19]

Luke's version of the trial scene "emphasizes Pilate's reluctance to act against Jesus".[20]

Verse 22

Then he said to them the third time, "Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go."[21]

This "third time" of declaring Jesus' innocence follows the previous declarations in verses 4 and 14-15.[20]

Verse 24

So Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested.[22]

This verse reads ο δε πιλατος επεκρινεν γενεσθαι το αιτημα αυτων in the Textus Receptus, matching the opening words of Mark 15:15, ο δε πιλατος ("so Pilate ..."), but the sentence begins καὶ Πιλᾶτος ... ("and Pilate ...") in critical texts such as Westcott-Hort.[23] Pilate's "official decision" [24] was to comply with the request of the crowd. The word ἐπέκρινεν (epekrinen, "pronounced sentence") is specific to Luke,[25] although it also appears in the apocryphal 2 Maccabees 4:47, where innocent men are condemned to death.[26][8]

The way to Calvary

Verse 27

And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.[27]

Matthew's parallel passage, Matthew 27:34, notes that Jesus was offered wine mixed with gall to drink. Luke does not include this, a reference to Proverbs 31:6-7, Give strong drink to him that is perishing ..., but his reference to women in attendance may include their role in fulfilling this observance.[8] Lutheran writer Johann Bengel suggests that the "bewailing" denotes their gestures and the "lamenting" reflects their vocal tones.[28]

Verse 29

The Latin text of Luke 23:47-24:1 on Codex Bezae (Cambridge University Library MS. Nn.2.41;~ AD 400).
Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore and the breasts which never gave suck.[29]

The prophet Hosea spoke in similar language, when recognising that the disobedience of the Israelites required God's punishment, but calling for some mitigation:

Give them, O Lord —
what will you give?
Give them a miscarrying womb
and dry breasts.[30]
The Crucifixion (1622) by Simon Vouet; Church of Jesus, Genoa

Verses 39-43

One of the two thieves who die with Jesus reviles him, the other is saved by faith.[31]

Verse 44

Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.[32]

Like Mark 15:33–34, Luke records three hours of darkness, which signify "the awesomeness of what is taking place".[20]

Verse 46

And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ ” Having said this, He breathed His last.[33]

Jesus' crying "with a loud voice" is not, as in Mark 15:34, one of desolation (why have you forsaken me?), but of "secure confidence". Jesus quotes Psalm 31:5, rather than Psalm 22:1 which appears in Mark's gospel.[20]

Verse 48

And the whole crowd who came together to that sight, seeing what had been done, beat their breasts and returned.[34]

Nicoll understands the phrase "the things that had happened" (Greek: τὰ γενόμενα, tà genómena) "comprehensively, including the crucifixion and all its accompaniments".[15] Albert Barnes refers to "the earthquake, the darkness, and the sufferings of Jesus" as the "things which were done".[35] The earthquake is only recorded in Matthew's Gospel, but the third century historian Sextus Julius Africanus also refers to an earthquake on or around the day of the crucifixion.[36]

Verse 49

And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.[37]

"The women" that followed Jesus from Galilee (also in Luke 23:55) were "Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them" according to Luke 24:10.[38] Matthew 27:55 lists "Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee", whereas Mark 15:40 names "Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the little and Joses, and Salome".[39]

Verse 55

And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid.[40]

According to Luke 24:10, "the women" (also in Luke 23:49) were "Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them".[38] Matthew 27:61 lists "Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary", whereas Mark 15:47 names "Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of Joses".[39]

See also


  1. ^ Holman Illustrated Bible Handbook. Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee. 2012.
  2. ^ Halley, Henry H. Halley's Bible Handbook: an Abbreviated Bible Commentary. 23rd edition. Zondervan Publishing House. 1962.
  3. ^ a b c Kirkpatrick 1901, p. 838.
  4. ^ a b Kirkpatrick 1901, p. 839.
  5. ^ Luke 23:1: KJV, also in the New King James Version
  6. ^ Luke 23:1: New American Bible Revised Edition
  7. ^ Luke 23:1: The Voice
  8. ^ a b c d e Farrar, F. W. (1891), Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges on Luke 23, accessed 10 February 2022
  9. ^ a b McEvilly, J., An Exposition Of The Gospels by The Most Rev. John Macevilly D.D. on Matthew 27, accessed 4 November 2023
  10. ^ Luke 23:2: Holman Christian Standard Bible
  11. ^ Luke 23:2: KJV
  12. ^ Luke 23:3: New Revised Standard Version
  13. ^ Luke 23:5: NKJV
  14. ^ Luke 23:5: King James Version
  15. ^ a b c Nicoll, W. R., Expositor's Greek Testament on Luke 23: The Passion Continued, accessed 13 February 2022
  16. ^ Riggs, S. J. (1894), Studies in Palestinian Geography, Auburn Theological Seminary, accessed 11 February 2022
  17. ^ Mercer Dictionary of the Bible by Watson E. Mills, Roger Aubrey Bullard 1998 ISBN 0-86554-373-9 p. 929
  18. ^ Jerusalem Bible (1966), footnote b at Luke 23:8
  19. ^ Luke 23:14: NKJV
  20. ^ a b c d Franklin, E., 59. Luke in Barton, J. and Muddiman, J. (2001), The Oxford Bible Commentary Archived 2017-11-22 at the Wayback Machine, p. 956-7
  21. ^ Luke 23:22: NKJV
  22. ^ Luke 23:24: NKJV
  23. ^ Meyer, H. A. W., Meyer's NT Commentary on Luke 23, accessed 23 August 2020
  24. ^ Luke 23:24: J. B. Phillips' translation
  25. ^ Englishman's Concordance: ἐπέκρινεν, accessed 23 August 2020
  26. ^ 2 Maccabees 4:47: New American Bible, Revised Edition
  27. ^ Luke 23:27: KJV
  28. ^ Bengel, J. A., Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament on Luke 23, accessed 6 November 2023
  29. ^ Luke 23:29: 21st Century King James Version
  30. ^ Hosea 9:14: English Standard Version
  31. ^ Luke 23:1: Geneva Bible, summary of chapter 23
  32. ^ Luke 23:44
  33. ^ Luke 23:46
  34. ^ Luke 23:48 NKJV
  35. ^ Barnes, A., Barnes' Notes on the Bible on Luke 23, accessed 13 February 2022
  36. ^ Wikipedia Foundation, Crucifixion of Jesus, accessed 13 February 2022
  37. ^ Luke 23:49 KJV
  38. ^ a b Bauckham 2017, pp. 49, 131.
  39. ^ a b Bauckham 2017, p. 49.
  40. ^ Luke 23:55 NKJV


Preceded by
Luke 22
Chapters of the Bible
Gospel of Luke
Succeeded by
Luke 24