11 August, 2016

Luke 23:34—“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”


Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots (Luke 23:34).         
  

COMMON GRACE ARGUMENT:
This text is often thought to teach a compassion and desire of Christ for the salvation of the reprobate.



(I)

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

[Source: Summa Theologica, III, Q. 21, Art. 4, ad. 2; emphasis added.]

[In response to an argument from Luke 23:34 that not every prayer made by Christ was heard by God the Father, Thomas Aquinas replied,] “Our Lord did not pray for all those who crucified Him … but for those only who were predestined to obtain eternal life through Him.


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(II)

Francis Turretin (1623-1687)

[Source: Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 2, pp. 464-465; emphasis added.]

XXI. Third, the same truth is established by the connection between his satisfaction and the intercession of Christ. For since they are parts of the same priestly office, they must also be of the same extent. He should intercede for those for whom he made satisfaction; nor should he make satisfaction for others than those for as much of his propitiation (hilasmou) as of his appearance in the presence of God (emphanismou) as they are connected indissolubly by Paul and John (I Jn. 2:1, 2; Rom. 8:34). Now Christ himself expressly declares that he does not intercede for all, but only for those who are given him by the Father: “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me” (Jn. 17:9). However, since to offer up prayers for anyone is much easier than to give blood and life for them, who will say that he dies for those to whom he denies his prayers? or that he would have denied his prayers to those for whose sake he was just about to pour out his blood at the very moment before his death?

XXII. Nor is it to be said here with the Remonstrants that “there is a twofold intercession of Christ, one universal, which is in respect of the whole world, concerning which Isaiah speaks (53:12), according to which he is said to have prayed for his persecutors (Lk. 23:34); another particular, which is in respect of believers, which is spoken of in Jn. 17 and Rom. 8.” It is gratuitously supposed that a universal intercession can be granted. For as he is always heard by the Father (Jn. 11:42), if he would intercede for all, all would be actually saved. Nor is this universal intercession proved from Is. 53:12, where it is said that he would intercede for the transgressors; not for all, but for the many of whom mention is there made and whom he is said to justify (v. 11). Nor is it proved from Lk. 23:34. He does not pray for all those who crucified him, but for those who sinned from ignorance (as Christ adds there), who also obtained the fruit of his prayer (Acts 2, 3). If Christ (from a humane affection and an impulse of love) prayed also for those who perished, it does not follow that the intercessory prayers which he offered up as Mediator (and in that special office) are to be extended to others than those elected and given him by the Father. To these Christ himself restricts his intercessory prayers.


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(III)

Robert Lewis Dabney (1820-1898)

[Source: Syllabus and Notes of the Course of Systematic and Polemic Theology. 2nd Edition (St. Louis, MO: Presbyterian Publishing Company of St. Louis, 1878), p. 549]

The objects of Christ’s intercession are the elect particularly. See Jno. xvii : 9. Also, His official intercession is always prevalent ; if He prayed for all, all would be saved : but all are not saved. Hence, His prayer for the pardon of His murderers, Luke xxiii : 34, must be explained, as being limited by its terms to those of His persecutors who sinned in ignorance. And we conclude that every one of these was among the “great company of the priests,” Acts vi : 7, who became “obedient to the faith.” There is an alternative solution, which is less satisfactory : That this prayer was not Messianic and officially Mediatorial ; but only the expression of Christian meekness by our pattern, the man Jesus. This attempt to discriminate between the agency of the divine and human wills in Christ, where the act is ethical and spiritual, is perilous.


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(IV)

Herman Hoeksema (1886-1965)

[Source: When I Survey: A Lenten Anthology (RFPA, 1977), p. 382]

[The] scope of this intercession is strictly limited to those that repent and believe, and, therefore, to the elect. For, first of all, the Lord Himself tells us that He prays not for the world but for those whom the Father has given Him. And surely, to that limitation this prayer can be no exception. Secondly, the scope of this intercessory prayer cannot be wider than that of His atoning blood. And He gave His life for His sheep, and they are those that were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world. Thirdly, the prayer of Christ is always heard; those for whom He interceded on the cross have forgiveness of their sins, and they are surely saved. And, finally, this petition of our Lord covers all penitent sinners, that are truly sorry for their sins, and seek forgiveness and righteousness in His blood. But it covers none other. And true repentance and sorrow after God, in which you confess your sins, and seek refuge in the atoning blood of the Lamb, is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God’s free and sovereign grace, the out-flow of His gracious election.


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(V)

Prof. Herman C. Hanko

[Source: Covenant Reformed News, vol. VI, no. 1-3]

Check out the following 3-part commentary this text:

Title: “Luke 23:34—An Intercessory Prayer for the Elect”



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(VI)

More to come! (DV)





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