Jesus did NOT Forgive People from the Cross

Father Forgive Them

You may have heard about Jesus forgiving people while he was dying on the cross. This misconception comes from Luke 23:34 where Jesus says, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” At first glance this looks like Jesus is forgiving the people who are crucifying him, but there’s one important difference. Jesus isn’t talking to those responsible for his death. Jesus is talking to God. Jesus is praying.

When Jesus forgives someone, he normally doesn’t pray. He simply tells them, “You are forgiven.” For example, Matthew 9:2 says, “Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.'” Jesus never prayed. He simply told the paralyzed man that he was forgiven. Likewise in Luke 7, Jesus goes to eat at a Pharisees’ house, and a sinful woman follows him. She starts to cry, and anoints Jesus’ feet with perfume. Then in Luke 7:48, Jesus tells her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Again Jesus does not pray. He simply says, “Your sins are forgiven.”

So why would Jesus pray for his executioners to be forgiven instead of simply telling them? I believe Jesus prayed because he couldn’t forgive them until they had repented of their sin. God does not forgive anyone before they repent. God only forgives after we repent (Acts 2:38 & 1 John 1:9). And Jesus is God. So for Jesus to forgive those responsible for his death before they repented would be a violation of God’s Character.

In other words, Jesus’ prayer for his executioners includes an implied prayer for their repentance. Jesus can’t forgive them until they repent, but Jesus wants to forgive them. So Jesus does the best thing he can for them. He prays. Jesus hopes that his prayer will bring his executioners to repentance, and then after they have repented, Jesus will forgive them.

Why didn’t Jesus make his prayer easier to understand? Well, I don’t know. But I can say that Jesus did have a lot going on at the time (he was dying and all). In addition, I imagine if Jesus were to expand his prayer to include “Father, make them repent!” the tone would no longer fit the situation. Jesus’ prayer is a public display of compassion. If Jesus alters his prayer to include his executioners’ need to repent, then the tone of the prayer would change from compassion to contempt. Jesus’ prayer would have ended up as a display of fury instead of compassion.

Furthermore, I doubt Jesus’ prayer was difficult for the people present at the cross to understand. I believe we only have trouble understanding Jesus’ prayer because preachers today wrongly teach that we need to forgive everyone of everything, even if they don’t repent. It is only because of this false doctrine of “unconditional forgiveness” that Jesus’ prayer is so misunderstood today. (If you would like to read more about “unconditional forgiveness,” then click the following link to read, “The Heresy of Unconditional Forgiveness”. http://paulbollinger.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/the-heresy-of-unconditional-forgiveness/ )

But why is this such a big deal? What’s the problem with teaching that Jesus forgave people from the cross? Well for starters, 1) it isn’t true. We should always teach the truth, even if we don’t like it.

Also if Jesus forgave people from the Cross, then Jesus forgave people before they repented. Not all of those responsible for Jesus’ death had repented from their sin yet. Otherwise they would have stopped the execution, but they didn’t. They executed Jesus. If Jesus forgave them from the cross, then he forgave them before they repented. This would have been a violation of God’s character, because God only forgives after we repent (Acts 2:38 & 1 John 1:9). 2) If Jesus forgave people from the cross, then he was sinning, and he is not God. Thankfully Jesus did no such thing.

In addition, teaching that Jesus forgave people from the cross 3) makes people believe that they do not need to repent for sins committed out of ignorance. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” If Jesus is forgiving his executioners with this statement, then Jesus is forgiving them because they didn’t fully understand what they were doing. Therefore someone might falsely reason that because Jesus forgave his executioners when they sinned out of ignorance, Jesus forgives all sins committed in ignorance. This in turn opens up a whole host of additional problems.

If Jesus forgives all sins committed in ignorance, then determining the proper definition of “ignorance” is essential. You could argue that no one can fully understand God’s law unless you read all of God’s law. Therefore unless you have read the entire Bible, all of your sins have been committed in ignorance. And since all of your sins have been committed in ignorance, all of your sins have been forgiven. 4) This means that everyone who hasn’t read the Bible goes to Heaven. And everyone should stop reading the Bible so that everyone can go to Heaven. So Jesus allegedly forgiving people from the cross actually makes his death on the cross pointless. Why do we need a savior from sin if we can go to Heaven by simply not reading the Bible? Now of course this is all a bunch of nonsense, but that is what happens when you teach false doctrine.

In conclusion, Jesus did not forgive those responsible for his death from the cross. He prayed for them to be forgiven. And while this does not change the fact that Jesus desired to reconcile with his executioners, it does mean that some of the people responsible for Jesus’ death were not ever forgiven (because they did not ever repent). If we teach that Jesus forgave people from the cross, then we negate the power of the very cross from which he spoke. We must teach the truth: Jesus prayed for his executioners’ forgiveness. Those who later repented were forgiven. Those who failed to repent went to Hell.

***Appendix***

For those of you who are more educated, you will remember that Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD. In Luke 19:41-44, Jesus says that the city of Jerusalem will be destroyed because the city sinned against him by refusing to accept him as the Messiah. By crucifying Jesus, Jerusalem condemned itself to destruction. But if Jesus forgave all of his executioners from the cross, then why did the city of Jerusalem still get destroyed? It seems that the destruction of the city of Jerusalem itself proves that Jesus did not forgive people from the cross. The destruction of the city also proves that at least some people responsible for Jesus’ death never did repent, even 40 years after the execution.

It is also interesting to note that Jesus forgiving his executioners in Luke 23:34 may not even be part of the original text of the Gospel of Luke. Luke 23:34 may have been added later by someone other than Luke who did not want Jesus to seem less pious than Stephen, who prays for his executioners in Acts 7:60. I am normally not one to try and take verses out of the Bible, but Jesus’ prayer in Luke 23:34 is among the least likely passages in the entire New Testament to be part of the original manuscript. But please remember, I am not an expert in textual criticism, so you should not take my word as authoritative.

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About Paul E. Bollinger III
I am a Christian. I love Jesus, and I have devoted my entire life to him through baptism. My wife's name is Kristen and my son's name is Alex. I live in Joplin, Missouri where I graduated from Ozark Christian College with a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry in 2012

17 Responses to Jesus did NOT Forgive People from the Cross

  1. With respect, Yashua Messiah said: “Father, forgive them NOT, for they are aware of what they are doing.”

    • Yes, that is true! And I quoted that verse in the very first paragraph. So it seems to me that you have not even read the first paragraph of my argument. You probably just read the title and were too lazy to read any more. In which case, you have not given me the respect you claim, because although you expect me to read your comment on my blog, you never read beyond the title of my blog in the first place.

      • Once again and with repsect you quoted the verse as written in a wretched corrupted English translation and later you said:

        “In other words, Jesus’ prayer for his executioners includes an implied prayer for their repentance.”

        No it doesn’t, and in the Greek MSS and in Aramaic Peshitta, if you had taken the trouble to look, it says the direct statement: “Father forgive them NOT, for they are aware of what they are doing.”

        There is no implied possibility of their repentance in that statement at all. They were unforgiven then and they are unforgiven now and they will remain unforgiven until they have received their stripes and severe punishment.

      • Here is the Greek:
        Πάτερ ἄφες αὐτοῖς οὐ γὰρ οἴδασιν τί ποιοῦσιν

        It literally translates as:
        Father forgive them not for they know what they do.

        However you must not know Greek very well, because the word “γὰρ” (translated as “for”) does not start clauses. It is almost always the second word in a clause. Therefore when translating this Greek passage into English you must switch the word order of οὐ and γὰρ. Once this is done, the passage translates literally as:

        Father forgive them for not they know what they do.

        You are wrong. You are also prideful to believe that you are more capable of translating the Bible than professionals. There is a reason that no English translation supports your translation.

        Also it seems illogical to believe that Jesus really believed his executioners knew what they were doing, since his executioners were mocking him as the Christ. If his executioners really knew that he was the Christ then why were they mocking him. And since his executioners do mock him, we know that they did not know what they were doing.

        So both on grounds of translation and context, your interpretation/translation fails.

      • You can always rely upon a mainstream Christian for excellent explaining away – they spend most of their waking hours doing it. LOL You had better go look at The Aramaic Peshitta and see if you can blaspheme against that version as well.

        You also better go research The Tares who were literally The Devil’s seed and it was The Devil’s Seed that crucified Yashua Messiah.

        You also better research NO REPENTANCE, NO FORGIVENESS.

        Immediately Yashua Messiah allegedly said forgive them they cast lots for his garments so lots of repentance going on there then.

  2. PS Nothing I say fails, for I am a messenger of Yashua Messiah – The Truth.

    • You don’t have to trust “mainstream” Christianity. Just look at the Greek from other passages in the NT and you will see that γὰρ does not start clauses. It’s called post-positive.

      For example:

      Luke 23:41 (just a few verses after this passage):

      καὶ ἡμεῖς μὲν δικαίως, ἄξια γὰρ ὧν ἐπράξαμεν ἀπολαμβάνομεν: οὗτος δὲ οὐδὲν ἄτοπον ἔπραξεν.

      And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”

      Romans 2:13 (notice the οὐ γὰρ and how they switch places when translated into english, just like Luke 23:34

      οὐ γὰρ οἱ ἀκροαταὶ νόμου δίκαιοι παρὰ [τῷ] θεῷ, ἀλλ’ οἱ ποιηταὶ νόμου δικαιωθήσονται.

      For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

      Acts 1:20

      Γέγραπται γὰρ ἐν βίβλῳ ψαλμῶν, Γενηθήτω ἡ ἔπαυλις αὐτοῦ ἔρημος καὶ μὴ ἔστω ὁ κατοικῶν ἐν αὐτῇ, καί, Τὴν ἐπισκοπὴν αὐτοῦ λαβέτω ἕτερος.

      “For it is written in the Book of Psalms, “‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’; and “‘Let another take his office.’

      I have had 3 semesters of Koine Greek in college. I am not the most educated Greek student, but after my first semester of Greek, I would have been able to refute your argument. Therefore I can only conclude that you don’t really know Greek, or at least, you understand less than a college student who has had one semester of the language. Take some classes and learn something before you try to teach what you don’t even understand.

      As for the Aramaic, I don’t care what it says. Luke was written in Greek before it was translated into Aramaic. When you argue from the Aramaic, you may as well be arguing from the Latin Vulgate. In addition, I don’t know Aramaic, so I have no ability to judge what it says. And if you know Aramaic as well as you know Greek, then you probably don’t understand what it says either. Get an education before you start trying to teach others. Stop pretending to know languages that you don’t.

      • So whilst you play your intellectual games of grammatical BS which were most likely corrupted you’re saying that Yashua Messiah is an idiot and didn’t know what he was talking about when he said this?

        Luk 17:3 (KJV) Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

        So what your saying is that Yashua Messiah wanted The Father to forgive people that were NOT his brothers and without any repentance on their part either?

        Your thinking is totally erroneous and your foundation is satanic.

      • Read the blog already. I addressed Luke 17:3 and passages like it in my other blog that was cited in this blog. http://paulbollinger.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/the-heresy-of-unconditional-forgiveness/

      • You have not addressed Luke 17:3, if you’re accepting Luke 23:34 as written, all you are dong is fudging and accommodating.

        Yashua Messiah said: “Father forgive them not” – period.

      • You said this:

        “In other words, Jesus’ prayer for his executioners includes an implied prayer for their repentance. Jesus can’t forgive them until they repent, but Jesus wants to forgive them. So Jesus does the best thing he can for them.”

        No it doesn’t. This is YOU reading your mealy mouthed intellectual nonsense (spin) into The Holy Scriptures.

        What you have to do is make up your mind as to whether He forgave them right there and then or He didn’t. Now which is it? I know He didn’t, because I know some people will NEVER enter The Kingdom so they will NEVER be forgiven.

      • As a PS do you believe The Greek MSS are totally reliable when we know for a fact that Diocletian destroyed most of the originial writings?

        E.g. what’s your view on the reliability of Matthew 28:19?

      • Have you considered taking a degree in BS and explaining away. You would get honours and merits galore. LOL

        Now answer my question about Matthew 28:19.

      • You would save us both a lot of time by actually reading the blog. Like I said in the blog, I do not consider myself well educated enough to engage in textual criticism therefore I defer to the opinions of others who are more educated than myself, which is why I posted a link to someone else’s blog in response to your question. It’s called being humble enough to admit what you know and what you don’t. And since you don’t really know Greek, you have no capability of accurately judging the reliability of Greek manuscripts. Stop pretending to know things you don’t. Get an education, but in the mean time, be a little more humble.

      • I defer to no one apart from Yashua Messiah and The Father.

        What you need to do is repent of your false humility and start to analyse what being a Christian really is. Try meditating on this verse for about a week and hopefully it will sink in:

        1 John 2:27 (KJV) But The Anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same Anointing teacheth you of all things, and is Truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him.

        Furthermore, if you think that education is a criteria for entering The Kingdom, again, you haven’t a clue.

        Interesting, too, that you deem yourself not educated enough and yet can spiel irrelevant grammatical nonsense about where the word ‘not’ should be placed in a verse in order to support your erroneous ideas.

        Learn one solid gold Truth – the more educated you and they are, the less you and they know.

        1Cor 1:25-29 (KJV) Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

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Zack Donaldson

Honoring Jesus in every area of life

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