by Ed Gallagher
Why did Jesus die?
It’s a question that might have a variety of answers depending on the angle from which one approaches it. Why did the Jewish religious leaders want Jesus dead? Why did the Roman officials want Jesus dead? Why did God want Jesus dead? All of these questions are contested and have various answers. Like much in the Bible, if the answers seem obvious at first, a little more prying reveals intriguing complexities. Our focus here is on the Gospel of Luke, but we will also bring in elements from the other Gospels (if for no other reason than for the sake of comparison) and from other sources of information for the first-century Roman world.
Overview of the End
This lesson covers the arrest and execution of Jesus in Luke, including the following episodes.
- Arrest on the Mount of Olives (22:47–53)
- Peter’s denials (22:54–62)
- distinctive element in Luke: The Lord turned and looked at Peter (22:61)
- In Mark (= Matthew), Peter’s denials (14:66–72) follow the trial before the Sanhedrin (14:53–65).
- Captors abuse Jesus (22:63–65), mostly mocking, also beating
- Trial before the Sanhedrin (22:66–71)
- distinctive element in Luke: no theme of silence (cf. Mark 14:61; 15:4–5; Matt 26:63).
- Accusations against Jesus before Pilate (23:1–2)
- not reported by Mark or Matthew
- Pilate questions Jesus (23:3–5)
- Appearance before Herod (23:6–12)
- not reported in Mark or Matthew
- theme of silence (23:9)
- mocking from Herod and soldiers (23:11)
- Pilate maneuvers to release Jesus, fails (23:13–25)
- On the way to Golgotha (23:26–31)
- Jesus talks
- Crucifixion (23:32–38) = Mark 15:22–32
- distinctive element in Luke: Father, forgive them (23:34)
- Criminal on the Cross (23:39–43)
- conversation not reported in Mark or Matthew
- The Death (23:44–49) = Mark 15:33–41
- distinctive element in Luke: Father, into your hands (23:46)
- Burial of Jesus (23:50–56) = Mark 15:42–47
Crucifixion in the Roman World1
When Jesus challenged his followers to “carry the cross and follow me” (Luke 14:27), and to even do this “daily (Luke 9:23), they knew exactly what he was talking about. They had seen plenty of crucifixions.
The Romans (and other cultures) used crucifixion quite a bit. About seventy years before Jesus was born, the failed rebellion of Spartacus resulted in 6000 crucifixions along the Appian Way (as reported in Appian, Civil Wars 1.120). A couple decades earlier, the Jewish leader Alexander Jannaeus crucified 800 Pharisees. After the death of Herod the Great, the Roman leader Varus crushed a Jewish rebellion and crucified 2000 rebels (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 17.286–98; Jewish War 2.66–79). Crucifixion was common.
And it was horrible. The first-century Roman writer Seneca the Younger reflects on the horrors of crucifixion.
Can anyone be found who would prefer wasting away in pain dying limb by limb, or letting out his life drop by drop, rather than expiring once for all? Can any man be found willing to be fastened to the accursed tree, long sickly, already deformed, swelling with ugly weals on shoulders and chest, and drawing the breath of life amid long drawn-out agony? He would have many excuses for dying even before mounting the cross.Seneca, Epistle 101.14
Another well-known description of crucifixion is found in the previous century in the works of Cicero.
But the executioner, the veiling of the head and the very word ‘cross’ should be far removed not only from the person of a Roman citizen but from his thoughts, his eyes and his ears. For it is not only the actual occurrence of these things or the endurance of them, but liability to them, the expectation, indeed the very mention of them, that is unworthy of a Roman citizen and a free man.Cicero, Pro Rabirio 16
The third-century Christian writer Origen called it “the most repulsive death of the cross” (mors turpissima crucis).2 New Testament scholar Mark Goodacre finds that “many of us still have very little grasp of just how appalling a death crucifixion was. The remarkable thing about the Mel Gibson film was not so much the magnitude of suffering depicted but its restraint in showing many of the true horrors of crucifixion.”3
Part of this terrible experience that we don’t like to think about and that is rarely depicted (for obvious reasons) in movies and art is the nudity. Crucifixion victims were completely exposed; they were naked (though see this fifteenth-century painting). The Gospels do mention that some soldiers divided up Jesus’ clothing (John 19:23–24; cf. Mark 15:24). But perhaps Jesus retained some sort of undergarment? “[T]here is some debate about whether he would have been naked. Most ancient sources do not actually mention the naked (or clothed) status of the victim.” Some ancient sources do mention or imply the nudity of the victim.4
The second-century Christian author Melito of Sardis mentions nudity in his reflections on Jesus’ crucifixion:
The Sovereign (ὁ δεσπότης) has been made unrecognizable by his naked body, and is not even allowed a garment to keep him from view.Melito of Sardis, Peri Pascha §97
Romans stripped their victims of clothing as a way of stripping them of dignity. I think we can understand this tactic. Think Abu Ghraib.
From the victim’s standpoint, think about the dream we’ve all had that we show up to school naked. Our instinctive reaction? Run away, or cover up our private parts—actions denied a crucifixion victim, whose arms are forcibly outspread.
Crucifixion was spectacle, and deterrent; others would see the humiliation of the victim and think twice about crossing Rome.5
There are actually some remains of crucifixion victims from the ancient world, the most famous of which is the heel bone of Johanan, a crucifixion victim from the first century, whose ossuary containing his heel bone (with the nail still piercing it!) was discovered in Jerusalem in 1968.
The Motivation of Pilate
It is easiest, I think, to understand the death of Jesus from the perspective of Rome. Though Pilate himself had misgivings about whether Jesus was guilty of the accusations leveled against him—and Luke makes these misgivings more prominent than do the other Gospels—he could have been in no doubt about the nature of the accusations and how seriously such accusations had to be taken. Jesus was accused of treason, and for that crime he was convicted.
By the way, we don’t know a whole lot about Pilate.6 Basically all we know about him is that he was the Roman prefect of Judea for about a decade, during the years AD 26–36. Josephus mentions him a few times, as does Philo, not in a positive light.7 There is also an inscription that mentions Pilate, and some coins minted under him. Without any doubt, the most famous thing Pilate ever did was oversee the crucifixion of a Jewish peasant from the village of Nazareth.
The accusations made against Jesus are summarized for us by Luke.
They began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man perverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king.”Luke 23:2
When Pilate expresses doubts about these accusations, Jesus’ accusers double down.
But they were insistent and said, “He stirs up the people by teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to this place.”Luke 23:5
These accusations are much clearer, more detailed, than what we read in Mark (15:1–5) and Matthew (27:11–14), where the only accusation seems to be that Jesus is (or calls himself) the king of the Jews. The conversation between Jesus and Pilate is much longer in John’s Gospel (18:28–19:16), but there’s less information about the criminal charges than in Luke.
The Jewish leaders accuse Jesus of three separate activities that all amount to treason: (1) he’s stirring up the people (23:2, 5), (2) he forbids taxes to Caesar, and (3) he calls himself a king. The last of these charges would surely be interpreted as a direct challenge to Caesar, and so certainly worthy of death from the Roman point of view. So would the charge that he forbids paying taxes and that he stirs up the crowd. In themselves, these charges are perfectly believable for the time period—there were Jewish rebels who hated the Roman government to the point that they considered funding such a corrupt and pagan regime through taxes to be sacrilege (see Luke 20:20–26), and they stirred up the crowd against Rome.
The problem in regard to Jesus was twofold: Jesus never did any of these things, and Pilate didn’t believe that he did. Jesus actually shunned the title king (John 6:15); this reticence to proclaim himself king was almost certainly the reason he told people to be quiet about his works (e.g., Luke 5:14) and he rarely or never called himself Messiah. His preferred title for himself was the ambiguous “Son of Man.” He had basically nothing to say about taxes, except when asked, and then he gave an answer that was hard to interpret but might have meant that paying taxes was fine (Luke 20:20–26). As for stirring up the crowd, I guess that’s in the eye of the beholder: he certainly made some people excited (e.g., Luke 19:36–40), but he wasn’t about to lead a rebellion against Rome, no matter how much his own followers hoped he would. Probably two things made Pilate suspicious about the charges: Jesus’ quiet manner, and the very fact that the Jewish leaders were handing him over to the Romans. Pilate knew that the Jewish leaders rarely wanted to protect the power and dignity of Rome. Pilate may have reasoned that if Jesus really were guilty of sedition against Rome, the Jewish leaders would be the last ones trying to capture him and bring him to justice.
Pilate insists Jesus is not guilty (23:4, 14–15, 22). Of course, he’s still going to have Jesus flogged (23:16, 22), just for wasting his time, I suppose. But he tries to make a deal to release Jesus, but the Jewish leaders aren’t having it.
The Motivation of the Jewish Leaders
Who exactly are these Jewish leaders? We often think of the Pharisees as Jesus’ opponents, but the Pharisees make their final appearance at Luke 19:39, at the time of the Triumphal Entry. They are not mentioned in regard to the trial of Jesus.8 In Luke, the ones who arrest Jesus and try him are:
- Arrest: chief priests, temple police, elders (22:52)
- Jewish trial (sanhedrin): elders, chief priests, scribes (22:66)
- Before Herod: chief priests and scribes (23:10)
- Before Pilate: chief priests, leaders, people (23:13)
It was the temple authorities that seem to be most heavily involved in making sure Jesus died. The problem is Luke (or Matthew or Mark or John) never really tells us why they wanted Jesus dead. Oh, there are times when some people pick up stones to kill him during the course of his life, especially in John (5:18; 8:59; 10:39). In Luke, the hometown crowd got momentarily enraged and tried to throw him off a cliff (4:28–29), but these people were presumably not temple authorities, and the cause of their anger was probably not the same as what convinced the temple authorities that Jesus should die. What I’m saying is, we have to resort to guesswork.
Jesus had done various things that would probably make the temple authorities mad. The most obvious thing is Jesus’ Temple Action (Luke 19:45–48). Since Jesus could not possibly hope to expel the moneychangers from the temple by overturning a couple tables, his action probably was less a “cleansing” of the temple and more a demonstration that God would soon bring judgment on the temple. At least, Jesus’ action might have been interpreted in that way by the people in charge of the temple. And that interpretation would have been strengthened by some of the things Jesus said in the temple in the following week, especially the Parable of the Tenants (20:9–18). Luke records for us the reaction of the temple authorities to that parable.
When the scribes and chief priests realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to lay hands on him at that very hour, but they feared the people.Luke 20:19
During that final week, Jesus would also predict the destruction of the temple (Luke 21), but it is doubtful whether Luke wants us to think that the temple authorities overheard these predictions. But another thing about Jesus that might have angered the temple authorities is that Jesus offered forgiveness of sins (Luke 5:20; 7:48). Forgiveness was the job of the temple. People may have interpreted this action by Jesus as a criticism of the temple, and Jesus may have so intended it.
The trial before the Sanhedrin is much shorter in Luke (22:66–71) than it is in Matthew (27:57–68) or Mark (14:53–65). (John omits the trial before the Sanhedrin, preferring instead to narrate an interrogation by Annas, the former high priest and the father-in-law of the current high priest, Caiaphas.; John 18:12–14, 19–24, 28.) Here is the Sanhedrin trial according to Luke.
When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, gathered together, and they brought him to their council [= Sanhedrin]. 67They said, “If you are the Messiah, tell us.” He replied, “If I tell you, you will not believe; 68and if I question you, you will not answer. 69But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” 70All of them asked, “Are you, then, the Son of God?” He said to them, “You say that I am.” 71Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips!”Luke 22:66–71
Luke has compressed the narrative, omitting any reference to the false witnesses, or to Jesus’ silence. Luke just gets to the point. Of course, these temple authorities already have determined that they want to kill Jesus; that’s why they arrested him. The motivation was probably the criticisms of the temple that I’ve already mentioned. At the trial, they’re looking for some sort of charge that they can bring to Pilate, who will care nothing about inter-Jewish religious squabbles about the temple. So they press the question about Jesus’ identity as Messiah, because that is something Pilate ought to care about. Jesus gives them more than they bargained for. Instead of simply calling himself the Messiah—not a crime according to Jewish law but good enough for a treason charge in a Roman court—he identifies himself as the Son of Man from Daniel 7:13, the one who receives the kingdom and rides on a cloud next to God. In Mark (14:64) and Matthew (26:65), this same declaration by Jesus elicits the exclamation from the high priest, “blasphemy!” Apparently the high priest thinks that Jesus has called himself divine. Apparently he’s right. Luke doesn’t include the charge of blasphemy. Instead, he has the Sanhedrin ask whether Jesus is claiming to be the son of God (22:70), a traditional title for the Messiah (and for the Israelite king; i.e., not necessarily a divine title). In other words, Luke does not mention the supposed blasphemy of Jesus, but rather focuses on the fact that the temple authorities got what they wanted out of this trial: a close-enough admission from Jesus that he is the Messiah.
The Motivation of God
Many, many large books have been written on the significance of Jesus’ death. In fact, modern scholars routinely say that the four Gospels are basically reflections on Jesus’ death. According to Martin Kähler’s famous description, the Gospels are passion narratives with extended introductions.9 This discussion will necessarily be painfully brief.
In Luke, Jesus predicts his death several times, but he doesn’t really say what meaning his death will have (9:22, 44). It does become clear that his death is in accordance with Scripture (18:31–34), and that the death of Jesus conforms to the pattern of Israel’s prophets (13:33–35). His death is the fulfillment of God’s will; his “going” has been “determined” (22:22).
John’s Gospel has a little more reflection on the meaning of Jesus’ death, but Matthew and Mark, like Luke, tell us precious little about why God determined that Jesus ought to die. But Matthew and Mark both have a single, very significant saying in this regard.
The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.Mark 10:45 // Matthew 20:28
Despite the brevity of this statement, it is very suggestive. Jesus thought of his death as a ransom for others. He apparently interpreted his death in terms of sacrifice, offering forgiveness to others.
But this statement is not in Luke. How did Luke expect his readers to understand what Jesus had accomplished through his death? What does Luke stress about the death of Jesus? There are at least three points to consider:
(1) Luke has another volume, Acts, that contains further reflections on the death of Jesus. He doesn’t have to fit everything into this first volume, the Gospel. Especially in some of the speeches in Acts, Luke is able to offer some theological reflections on the Crucifixion (esp. Acts 2, 3, 7, 13).
(2) Luke stresses the innocence of Jesus (also in Acts 3:13–16; 13:27–28).
I find no basis for an accusation against this man.Luke 23:4
You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death.Luke 23:14–15
What evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death.Luke 23:22
This man has done nothing wrong.Luke 23:41
Certainly this man was innocent.Luke 23:47
This last statement is especially interesting, since in Mark (15:39) and Matthew (27:54), the centurion says, “truly this man was the son of God.” Luke has apparently interpreted this statement for his readers as an indication of Jesus’ innocence.
I think there is probably great significance to this theme in Luke, but before delving into it, we need to bring in the third point.
(3) Though Luke does not report the “ransom” saying contained in Mark and Matthew, Luke does present some material that suggests he interpreted the death of Jesus in terms of a sacrifice. There are primarily two passages favoring this idea: the Last Supper (Luke 22:14–23) and the quotation of Isaiah 53 (Luke 22:37). During the Last Supper, Jesus says that his body “is given for you” (22:19) and the cup “that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (22:20). This shows us that Jesus’ death was on behalf of other people and that it established the new covenant promised in Jeremiah 31:31. Moreover, the mention of blood (which does not come up in Jer 31:31–34) connects to sacrifice.
The only time in the Gospels that Jesus quotes from Isaiah 53 is at Luke 22:37, after he tells the disciples to get some swords in order to fulfill the Scripture, “And he was counted among the lawless” (Isa 53:12). This verse suggests that Jesus saw himself as the fulfillment of the figure of the Servant of the Lord, who is described as a sacrifice on behalf of others (Isa 53:4–7).10
Taking together the second point (innocence) with the third (sacrifice), we could see Jesus’ innocence in terms of a sacrifice without blemish. This idea is hinted at already in Isaiah 53, since it is “our sins” and not the Servant’s own that he bears (Isa 53:4–9). Peter (1 Peter 2:22) actually quotes Isaiah 53:9 to the effect that “He committed no sin.” Of course, other New Testament verses also declare that Jesus was without sin (Heb 4:15; 2 Cor 5:21). If we think about that idea with respect to the description of Jesus as a sacrifice, the “perfect, spotless” lambs of the Old Testament probably come to mind. And again, this may be part of the point, at least, for Luke to so prominently emphasize the innocence (spotless nature) of Jesus.
The bottom line here: why did God want Jesus to die? According to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus died as a sacrifice on behalf of others for the purpose of establishing the new covenant.
There is a lot more we could talk about in this section of Luke. What about the role of the evil spiritual forces in the death of Jesus? Clearly Satan was involved. “Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve” (22:3). We last encountered the devil during the Temptation Narrative (4:1–13).11 At that time, we were told that the devil had left Jesus “until an opportune time” (4:13). Apparently Passover week is the opportune time. Satan reappears and prods Judas to betray his master. Throughout the Gospel Jesus has been battling evil spirits.12 We could also explore ways in which the Crucifixion is part of this battle, Jesus vs. Satan (see, e.g., Heb 2:14–15).
There are also the unique elements to Luke’s Passion Narrative. We have explored some of them (the theme of Jesus’ innocence). Luke’s is the only Gospel to narrate Jesus’ conversation with women on his way to Golgotha (23:27–31). He again warns them of coming tribulation (as in Luke 17:22–37; and ch. 21).
Another unique element are the three sayings from the cross. In Mark (15:34) and Matthew (27:46), Jesus says only one thing on the cross: “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani,” a quotation of Psalm 22:1. Luke and John do not report this saying, but they each have three independent sayings. We won’t look at the ones in John here (19:26–27, 28, 30), but the three sayings in Luke are the following.
Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.Luke 23:34
Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.Luke 23:43
Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.Luke 23:46
Each of these sayings is worthy of sustained reflection that we cannot give it here. The third saying in Luke is a quotation of Psalm 31:5. The second one comes as part of an interesting, surprising conversation between Jesus and one of the criminals crucified alongside him. The first one (“Father, forgive them…”), one of the most famous sayings by Jesus, is debated as to whether it belongs in Luke. There is a textual problem with it, so that some Bibles print it in brackets. The saying is not present in some of our good, early Greek manuscripts of this Gospel (e.g., P75, Vaticanus), though it is present in others (e.g., Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus). But, to keep it brief, I’ll say that I think there are good reasons to regard this verse as original to Luke’s Gospel.13 If so, the statement certainly deserves careful reflection and provides an amazing example of grace.
There are a lot of interesting elements in Luke’s Passion Narrative. The main point is that all the major parties wanted Jesus dead: the temple authorities, the Roman authorities (with some hesitation from Pilate), and Jesus himself. The only group that did not want Jesus dead was his own disciples, because they had not yet figured out—despite Jesus’ very direct statements— that his death was an essential part of God’s plan to establish God’s kingdom. But God did not intend for Jesus to stay dead.
When Jesus is arrested (Luke 22:47–53) and tried before the Sanhedrin (22:63–71), what charge against Jesus does the council find worthy of a death sentence?
What ends up being the charge against Jesus for which Pilate crucified him? (Luke 23:1–25)
While on the cross (Luke 23:32–49), Jesus says three things. What are these three sayings from the cross? Compare these sayings to what Jesus says from the cross in the other Gospels.
How does the criminal on the cross (Luke 23:39–43) provide a better example of discipleship than some others that probably spent more time with Jesus? How do you think this criminal knew about Jesus?
What strange things happen at the death of Jesus, as reported by Luke (23:44–49)
(1) See the recent article Felicity Harley, “Crucifixion in Roman Antiquity: The State of the Field,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 27 (2019): 303–23, which reviews the following books: David W. Chapman, Ancient Jewish and Christian Perceptions of Crucifixion (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2010); David W. Chapman and Eckhard J. Schnabel, The Trial and Crucifixion of Jesus (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015); John Granger Cook, Crucifixion in the Mediterranean World (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014); Gunnar Samuelson, Crucifixion in Antiquity: An Inquiry into the Background and Significance of the New Testament Terminology of Crucifixion (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011; rev. ed. 2013).
(2) This is in Origen’s Commentary on Matthew 27.22; see also Celsus’ comments in Origen, Against Celsus 6.34.
(3) Mark Goodacre, “Scripturalization in Mark’s Crucifixion Narrative,” in The Trial and Death of Jesus: Essays on the Passion Narrative in Mark, ed. Geert van Oyen and Tom Shepherd (Leuven: Peeters, 2006), 33–47, at 33.
(4) See Chapman and Schnabel, Trial and Crucifixion, 673–74. As Chapman points out, the Alexamenos Graffito (see p. 673) represents a figure that is naked, at least from the waist down, and Artemidorus (Onir. 2.53) mentions the nudity of crucifixion victims, though there is some dispute as to whether “nude” (γυμνός) means completely nude. For much more on the Alexamenos Graffito, see Felicity Harley-McGowan, “The Alexamenos Graffito,” in The Reception of Jesus in the First Three Centuries, 3 vols., ed. Chris Keith et al. (London: Bloomsbury, 2019), 3.105–40 (available here).
(5) Josephus mentions the deterrent value of crucifixion at Jewish War 5.449–51. See also Chapman and Schnabel, Trial and Crucifixion, 673, citing Cicero, Verr. 2.4.24 and other sources.
(6) Helen K. Bond, “Pontius Pilate,” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, 2d ed., ed. Joel B. Green (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2013), 679–80.
(7) Josephus, Jewish War 2.169–77; Antiquities of the Jews 18.35, 55–62, 85–89; Philo, Embassy to Gaius 299–305. There is also reference in Tacitus, Annals 15.44, but the relevant line may well be an interpolation; see Richard Carrier, “The Prospect of a Christian Interpolation in Tacitus, Annals 15.44,” Vigiliae Christianae 68 (2014): 264–83.
(8) The same is true in Mark (final appearance of Pharisees at Mark 12:13), but in Matthew (27:62) and John (18:3) some Pharisees do participate in arresting Jesus and accusing Jesus before Pilate.
(9) Martin Kähler, The So-Called Historical Jesus and the Historic, Biblical Christ (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1964), 80n11. The original German work (p. 33 note 1) was published in 1892 (second edition, 1896, from which the English translation was made—see p. 80 note 1), and the relevant comment reads in German: “Etwas herausfordernd sönnte man die Evangelien Passionsgeschichten mit ausführlicher Einleitung nennen.” This description of the Gospels has become ubiquitous, so that Kähler’s footnote “must be one of the most-quoted footnotes in the history of the scholarly study of Jesus’ death”; Joel B. Green, “‘Was It Not Necessary for the Messiah to Suffer These Things and Enter into His Glory?’ The Significance of Jesus’ Death for Luke’s Soteriology,” in The Spirit and Christ in the New Testament and Christian Theology: Essays in Honor of Max Turner, ed. I. Howard Marshall, Volker Rabens, and Cornelis Bennema (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012), 71–85, at 82.
(10) For some additional nuance to the way Luke uses Isaiah 53 in reference to the death of Jesus, see Green, “Was It Not Necessary,” esp. 84.
(11) There are other references to Satan throughout the Gospel (10:18; 13:16), but Satan does not appear as a character in the story between the Temptation Narrative and his entering into Judas.
(12) Jesus battling evil spirits: Luke 4:31–37; 6:18; 7:21; 8:2, 26–39 (Legion); 9:37–43 (boy); 10:20; 11:14; 13:11.
(13) Believe it or not, Bart Ehrman presents some pretty good arguments for the originality of this saying to the Gospel of Luke in his book Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2005), 190–95. Already in the late second century, Irenaeus (Haer. 3.16.9, at the end; 3.18.5) knows the disputed saying.