“Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Who is “them?”

Father forgive them for they do not know what they do (Luke 23:24a).

In good translations of the Bible, a note is attached to the above words of Jesus suggesting that the saying is a textual variant because it does not appear in the early manuscripts of Luke. Alan Kirschner presents a strong argument to support this suggestion.

In the light of the rest of Jesus’s words and the New Testament as a whole, I suggest that these are either not the words of Jesus or that Jesus is referring not to all those involved in his crucifixion but only to a select few’ or more accurately an “elect” few (a scriptural concept/term – 41 verses in the Bible ).

I was in conversation with a pastor friend on Wednesday about the crucifixion, specifically about Colossians 2:13-14. Verse 13: “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins…” When did Jesus forgive us all our sins? When we were made alive (and believed)? Most Christians will say when we first believed. This may come as a shock but nope; it was forgiven before you were born. That may be news to you; it is news to me- very good news. We continue with our passage, Colossians 2:14: “having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.” So, all our sins (past, present and future) have been taken away and nailed to the cross before we were born, and after those who crucified Christ were born.

For my pastor friend and most Christians (namely, who believe they came to Jesus on their own gas – in their natural state), Jesus nailed every human being’s sin to the cross; it’s one’s choice to decide whether one wants to accept this redemption. This means that Jesus shed his blood for every human being without exception, that is, was punished in their place and forgiven; and it’s up to “whosoever” to decide to follow Jesus. Where is the most famous “who(so)ever” in many English translations of the Bible (for example, the King James Version)? John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

My pastor friend says that “whosoever” means “whosoever decides to believe…” There is nothing in the text about choosing/deciding. The problem lies not in what the text means, but what most readers mean by “whosoever,” because 1. that is how it is used in English, and 2. the verse must “surely mean whoever decides,” because that is the preconception readers bring to the next – after all, the Holy Spirit is a gentleman, they say, and won’t force Himself upon you. (Have you ever heard in your church during prayer time from the preacher’s lips, “Allow the Holy Spirit to reveal your sins to you.” This is nonsensical. He blows where he wills – John 3:8).

We return to John 3:16: the literal Greek of John 3:16 says: “ For God did so love the world, that His Son — the only begotten — He gave, that every one who is believing (or, “the believing ones”) in him may not perish, but may have life age-during.” There’s nothing in the text about deciding anything, silly.

En passant, If most men and women who fall in love, do not force themselves on one another (happy that force) no one would get married, or, if you prefer, partnered.

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