The Case For And Against Luke 23:34

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

~Luke 23:34~

Here are two articles that summarize the case for and against Luke 23:34.  First is the case against the passage, as presented in the article, ‘From the Lips of Jesus or a Scribal Hand? “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”’ by Alan E. Kurschner of Alpha & Omega Ministries.  Here is the beginning of the article:

Luke 23:34a is often known as the so-called, “First Saying of Christ on the Cross.” His intercessory prayer has been an indelible saying in the minds of the biblical literate (and not so literate) for centuries. This saying is perennial sermon fodder for pastors on Good Friday…

A few years ago I wrote a paper entitled, “Luke 23:34a: From the Lips of Jesus or a Scribal Hand?” I argued that this saying of Jesus on the cross has significant textual doubt to its originality. It was sometime during the second century, probably the middle to the late part, that this saying was added, probably to a gospel harmony, and from then on it eventually found its way into all the text-types and the majority textual history thereafter.

Here is Will Kinney presenting the case for why the passage is genuine and authentic:


Here is an article by Will Kinney, reposted under this permission: “Feel free use or distribute any of these articles you think will be of help to others in defending and believing that the King James Holy Bible is the complete, inspired, inerrant, 100% historically true and doctrinally pure words of the living God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Freely ye have received, freely give.”  Matthew 10:8″:

James White says Luke 23:34 is not inspired Scripture

James White says Luke 23:34 is not inspired Scripture 

You can now listen to this on a teaching video that brother Dave Flang and I made located here

 James White on Luke 23:34 – “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

 James White is now denying that this saying of Jesus is inspired Scripture (big surprise;-) He says “there is a huge amount of doubt attached to it”.

 There is a short 6 minute video posted in July of 2013, ironically titled “Was the Bible Corrupted as Muslims Claim?”  I say “ironically” because if you look carefully, you will see that a guy who calls himself “Muslim by choice” is the one who posted it. Thus we see the irony of James Wite Out thinking he is combating the Muslims, when in fact he is giving them the ammunition to throw in the face of Christians that they have NO inerrant Bible. But this irony is probably lost on James White. 

In this video James White tells us this verse is not part of the inspired Bible and he would not preach on it. He also would omit John 7:53 through John 8:11, and Mark 16:9-20, John 5:4 and now Luke 23:34 from his preaching.

 Luke 23:34 – “THEN SAID JESUS, FATHER, FORGIVE THEM; FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO.  And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”

This is the reading found in the Majority of all Greek manuscripts as well as Sinaiticus original and Sinaiticus 2nd correction, A, C, D correction, E, F, G, H, K, L, M, Q, S, U, V, X, Gamma, Delta, Lambda, Pi, Psi, the Old Latin copies aur, b, c, e, f, ff2, l, r1, the Latin Vulgate, the Syriac Peshitta, Curetonian, Harclean, Palestinian, some Coptic Boharic, Slavonic, Georgian, Armenian, Ethiopic and Diatessaron 160-175 A.D. ancient versions.  The whole sentence was originally in the Sinaitic mss.  Then some scribe removed it, and then another scribe put the words back in the text.

Luke 23:42 Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” is in the Diatessaron of the 2nd century.

However Vaticanus omits all the capital lettered words “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” But it has the rest of the verse – “And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”

Almost every Bible version I am aware of includes these words in Luke 23:44 but the NRSV 1989 puts them in [[double brackets]] and the Holman Standard [brackets the words] to indicate doubt as to their authenticity.

 The latest Nestle-Aland 28th edition and the UBS 4th edition critical texts both [[put the words in double brackets]] indicating serious doubt as to their authenticity.  So they may very well disappear from the up and coming “late$t in $cholar$hip Advance$” in the future. 

 Meanwhile the RSV, ESV and NIV all cast doubt as to whether or not they are God’s inspired words by footnoting: “Some early manuscripts do not have this sentence.”

 The Catholic Connection

 We see the same pattern among the Catholic versions. The earlier Douay-Rheims 1582 and the 1950 Douay and even the 1968 Jerusalem bible all include the words with NO footnotes. But then the 1970 St. Joseph NAB and the New Jerusalem bible 1985 [bracket] the words and footnote: “This verse is retained despite its omission by some good and diverse ancient authorities.”

 Dan Wallace’s NET version also includes the words but he [brackets] them, indicating strong doubt, and then has these mind numbing footnotes that cast doubt on whether these words are inspired Scripture or not.

 He says: “Many important mss. (1א B D* W Θ 070 579 1241 pc sys sa) lack v. 34a. It is included in א*,2(A) C D2 L Ψ 0250 Ë1,(13) 33 Ï lat syc, p, h. It also fits a major Lukan theme of forgiving the enemies (6:27-36), and it has a parallel in Stephen’s response in Acts 7:60. The lack of parallels in the other Gospels argues also for inclusion here. On the other hand, the fact of the parallel in Acts 7:60 may well have prompted early scribes to insert the saying in Luke’s Gospel alone. Further, there is the great difficulty of explaining why early and diverse witnesses lack the saying. A decision is difficult, but even those who regard the verse as inauthentic literarily often consider it to be authentic historically. For this reason it has been placed in single brackets in the translation.”

 In other words, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t; “a decision is difficult”, it might be “literally inauthentic” but it is “historically authentic” – Say what?  As long as they can cast doubt with their “Yea, hath God said…?” footnotes, the Jesuits have accomplished their goal of overthrowing the final authority of God’s words.

 Numerous early church writers made allusion to this verse –

 At this site alone numerous early church writers quote or reference this verse. They include the Diatessaron (160-175 A.D.), Jacobus-Justus (according to Hegesippus), Marcion, Irenaeus, Clement, Hippolytus, Origen, Eusebius, Eusebian Canones, Ps-Clementines, Ambrosiaster, Hilary, Basil, Apostolic Constitutions, Gregory-Nyssa, Amphilochius, Ambrose, Didymus, Ps-Ignatius, Ps-Justin, Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustine, Cyril, Hesychius, Theodoret and John-Damascus.  Here are just a few of them.

 Archelaus Acts of the Disputation with the Heresiarch Manes (262 A.D) and here, our Lord Jesus prayed that the Pharisees might be pardoned, when He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”[531]

 Clementine Homily XI:(died in 99 A.D. disciple of St. Peter)  prayed to the Father that the sin of those who slew Him might be forgiven, saying, `Father, forgive them their sins, for they know not what they do.’[8]

 Constitutions of the Holy Apostles Book II (375-380 A.D.): For our Saviour Himself entreated His Father for those who had sinned, as it is written in the Gospel: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”[88]

 Constitutions of the Holy Apostles Book V (375-380 A.D.): And a little afterward, when He had cried with a loud voice, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,”[114]

 Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians (35-110 A.D.): but prayed for His enemies, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.”[82]

 Gospel of Nicodemus I The Acts of Pilate: Then Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying: Father, let not this sin stand against them; for they know not what they do.[106]

 Irenaeus Against Heresies Book II1 (180 A.D.) : And from this fact, that He exclaimed upon the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,”[348]

 Of the Journeyings of Philip the Apostle (1st Century A.D.): was made to drink gall and vinegar, and said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.[14]

 Recognitions of Clement VI: Wherefore, in short, the Master Himself, when He was being led to the cross by those who knew Him not, prayed the Father for His murderers, and said, `Father, forgive their sin, for they know not what they do!'[7] 

 Jerome (347 – 420 A.D.)– Epistle 120 – To Hedibia…/files/jerome_hedibia_2_trans.htm

 We even see that the Savior loved this city so much that the misfortunes which threatened it elicited tears from His eyes; when He was crucified, He said to His Father, “Forgive them, Father, because they do know what they do.” 

(English translation by James Snapp, Jr. via Google Translate)

 Ambrose (340-397 A.D.) in the 4th century:  The Prayer of Job and David

 “Indeed, had they known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of majesty and would never still be pursuing their Jewish follies. They, then, are the ones who know not. For this reason also the Lord Jesus says in the Gospel, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” 

 St. Aurelius Augustine (354-430 A.D.)

“Let them be turned backward and put to shame that wish me evil.” “Turned backwards.” Let us not take this in a bad sense. He wishes them well; and it is His voice, who said from the Cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Wherefore then doth he, say to them, that they should return “backwards”? . (Exposition of Ps. 40, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 1, Vol. 8.)

 Chrysostom (347-407 A.D.)

“For indeed . . . great miracles did He show forth, when lifted up, turning aside the sunbeams, bursting the rocks, raising the dead, frightening by dreams the wife of him that was judging Him, at the very judgment showing forth all meekness (which was of power not less than miracles to gain them over), forewarning them of countless things in the judgment hall; on the very cross crying aloud, “Father, forgive them their sin.” (Homily LXXIX on Matthew, Nicene and Post-Nicene, series 1, Vol. 10.)

 Hippolytus of Rome (170-235 A.D.)

 “Wherefore “they that sit in the gate spoke against me,” for they crucified me without the gate. “And they that drink sang against me,” that is, (they who drink wine) at the feast of the passover. “But as for me, in my prayer unto Thee, O Lord, I said, Father, forgive them,” namely the Gentiles, because it is the time for favor with Gentiles.” (“Expository Treatise against the Jews,” Ante-Nicene, Vol. 5.)

 St. Jerome (347-420 A.D.)

 “I can return bite for bite, if I like; when hurt myself, I can fix my teeth in my opponent. I too have had a liberal education. . . . But I prefer to be a disciple of Him who says, “I gave my back to the smiters… I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” When He was reviled He reviled not again. After the buffeting, the cross, the scourge, the blasphemies, at the very last He prayed for His crucifiers, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” I, too, pardon the error of a brother.” (“Letter 50: To Domnio,” Nicene and Post-Nicene, series 2, Vol. 6.)


 “For the Teacher Himself, being nailed to the cross, prayed to the Father that the sin of those who slew Him might be forgiven, saying, “Father, forgive them their sins, for they know not what they do.” They also therefore, being imitators of the Teacher in their sufferings, pray for those who contrive them, as they have been taught.” (Clementine Homilies,” Homily XI, Ch. 20, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 8).

 All these words are found in the Latin Vulgate 405 A.D., the Anglo-Saxon Gospels Corpus Christi mss. Aelfric circa 1000 A.D. – ” Ða cwæð se hælend. fæder. forgyf him forþam hig nyton hwæt hig doð; Soðlice hig dældon hys reaf & wurpun hlótu.” Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew’s Bible 1549, the Bishops’ Bibld 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, the Douay Rheims 1610, and in the more modern versions like the RV 1881, ASV 1901, NASB 1995 (with NO doubting footnotes), RSV 1971, [[NRSV]] 1989, ESV 2011, NIV 1973-2011, [Holman 2009], NKJV 1982, the Modern Greek Bible with NO brackets – ” Ο δε Ιησους ελεγε· Πατερ, συγχωρησον αυτους· διοτι δεν εξευρουσι τι πραττουσι. Διαμεριζομενοι δε τα ιματια αυτου, εβαλον κληρον.- “and the Modern Hebrew Bible (again, with NO brackets) – “ויאמר ישוע אבי סלח להם כי לא ידעו מה הם עשים ויחלקו בגדיו להם ויפילו גורל׃”  

 All the words – “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”  are also found in the following Bible translations: Darby 1890, Young’s 1898, New Berkeley Version in Modern English 1969, the Amplified Bible 1987, Word of Yah 1993, Complete Jewish Bible 1998, A Conservative Version 2005, Complete Apostle’s Bible 2005, English Majority Text 2009, Hebraic Transliteration Scriptures 2010, Online Interlinear 2010 by Andre de Mol, Names of God Bible 2011, Orthodox Jewish Bible 2011, Biblos Interlinear Bible 2011, [The Voice 2012], World English Bible 2012, The Interlinear Hebrew-Greek Scriptures 2012, New Living Translation 2013 and the International Standard Version 2014. 

  A few modern versions have actually completely removed the words “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” from their text.  Among these are what is ironically called Faithful New Testament 2009, the Conservative Bible 2011  and the Holy Scriptures VW Edition 2010.

 James White is getting loopier and loopier.  He SAYS he believes “The Bible IS the infallible words of God”, but ask him where to get a copy of this infallible Bible he PROFESSES to believe in and he will NEVER tell you.

 Now he is “correcting” even the versions like the NASB, NIV, ESV, NET, Holman, NKJV; in fact, almost EVERY BIBLE out there that has ever been printed.  All of these bible versions contain Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11 in them, yet James White doesn’t believe they are true Scripture and he would just “skip over them”.

James White labors under the delusion that he is somehow “standing up to” the likes of Bart Ehrman and the Muslims in his “faith based defense of the Scriptures.”  And yet many Muslim sites are now using James White’s own material to attack the inerrancy of the Christian’s Bible, and this very site is one of them.  It was posted by a Muslim!

The only difference between James White and Bart Ehrman is that neither man believes there IS or ever WAS such a thing as a complete, inspired and infallible Bible in ANY language, but Bart Ehrman is HONEST about it, whereas James White is not.  Neither one of these men could show you a copy of the infallible Bible if their lives depended on it.  

 James White has clearly made HIMSELF his own final authority, and in his mind, you have to go to HIM to find out what God REALLY said, or didn’t say. May God deliver us from Bible critics like James White.

  For more about professional bible agnostic James White see “James White – the Protestant Pope of the new Vatican Versions” here –

 “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”  Luke 8:8

 All of grace, believing The Book,

 Will Kinney  

 Return to Articles –

Notes from the Internet


Now let us compare the statement of Christ to the Jews, “your house is left unto you desolate”, with Paul’s statement to the Jews, in Acts 13:46: “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.”

Why was it necessary that the Word of Christ should be preached to Israel first, some years after Christ had said “your house is left unto you desolate”?

The answer is, Luke 23:34—Acts 3:1718 and 3:26,

“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

“And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all His prophets, that Christ should suffer, He hath so fulfilled.”

“Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”

Christ on the cross prayed for Israel. God gave Israel another chance. And for several years after the prayer of Christ, God’s order was “to the Jew but not to the Gentile.” And then for some years, God’s order was “to the Jew first and also to the Gentile.” Romans 1:16—Acts 13:46—Acts 18:6 and Acts 28:28″. (Part 20: Christ Came Unto His Own by Pastor J. C. O’Hair)


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