In this connection it might be observed that as regards authenticity it might be said that there are three kinds of texts. First, there are those regarding which the testimony is so emphatic and clear that there is no question about their belonging in the text; these comprise upward of 99 percent according to Westcott and Hort. The second group make up those texts concerning which there is no question about their not belonging in the Bible, such as the larger portion of 1 John 5:7. Then there are a few texts concerning which the testimony is not entirely unequivocal or clear one way or the other and which require weighing and judging of evidence for and against. Among such is Luke 23:34.
As to those to whom Jesus was referring when he said the words in question, the preceding verse says: “And when they got to the place called Skull, there they impaled him and the evildoers, one on his right and one on his left.” Then come Jesus’ words, after which the record goes on to say: “Furthermore, to distribute his garments, they cast lots.” Obviously Jesus was not asking God to forgive the evildoers who were impaled with him, for the two of them were not doing anything to Jesus. Nor could Jesus have had in mind the chief priests who were responsible for his death, for they did know what they were doing, having handed Jesus over in malice because of envy.—Mark 15:10.
Jesus’ words therefore could only refer to the Roman soldiers to whom had been committed the distasteful task of impaling Jesus after stripping him of his garments; it was they who were doing something to Jesus at the time and who did not know or realize what they were doing. They did not know that they were impaling the Son of God. They were just obeying the orders of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, who had yielded to the insistence of the Jewish mob by handing Jesus over to his executional forces to be impaled. Consequently, it must have been these Roman executional soldiers who needed to be forgiven and for whom Jesus asked forgiveness from his heavenly Father.
● Why do Matthew and Mark speak of the transfiguration as taking place six days after Jesus had made a certain promise to his disciples, whereas the Gospel of Luke says that it occurred eight days later?—J. S., United States.
Apparently Matthew and Mark did not count the first and last days; rather, they counted six whole days as intervening between the promise of the Lord Jesus to his apostles and the transfiguration itself. (Matt. 17:1; Mark 9:2) Luke, we should note, does not profess to give the exact interval. He reports that the transfiguration occurred “about eight days after these words.” (Luke 9:28) Since Luke counts portions of the first and last days as whole days, he prefers to give the period in round numbers—“about eight days.” Thus Luke reported the number of days from a different viewpoint, and there is really no contradiction.
As followers of Jesus Christ, who is called the “Word of God,” Christians must be witnesses of Jehovah God, making known to all men what God has to say in his Word the Bible. (Rev. 1:5; 19:13) Appreciating this grand privilege, during June Jehovah’s witnesses will be offering to all persons the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, and a Bible-study booklet, on a contribution of $1.
DO YOU TREASURE THE BIBLE?
No possession can be of more lasting good to you than the Holy Bible. But to reap the benefits you must read it and follow its teachings. That means you need a copy of the Bible you can carry and use at all times. Such an edition is the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. This complete Bible is compact, attractively bound with gold-embossed hard cover, and contains maps, drawings and a concordance. It is $1. Send at once and receive free the booklet “This Good News of the Kingdom.”
“WATCHTOWER” STUDIES FOR THE WEEKS
July 7: Baptism Necessary for Christians. Page 328.
July 14: Willingly Expand Your Ministry. Page 334.