This Week's Focus Passage

This Week’s Focus Passage: Luke 22:43, 44 ‘And there appeared unto him an angel from heaven, strengt

This Week’s Focus Passage: Luke 22:43, 44

‘And there appeared unto him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.’


    Consider the entire ‘pericope’ which, we believe, is that which makes up verses 39-46. We set them before our readers for their convenience:

    And he came out, and went, as his custom was, unto the mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was parted from them about a stone’s cast; and he kneeled down and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared unto him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became as it were great drops of blood falling down upon the ground. And when he rose up from his prayer, he came unto the di’sciples, and found them sleeping for sorrow, and said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.—Luke 22:39-46, A.S.V.—1901.

    The A.S.V.—1901 supplies a footnote, advising the reader, that “Many ancient authorities omit verses 43 and 44.” This is found to be somewhat amazing, considering the particularly superlative matter found in those two verses; matter found alone in Luke’s account. It is very comforting to find, upon investigation, that of the sixty English translations contained on the BibleGateway website, there is not one of them that has omitted these two marvelous verses. Indeed, John Charles Ryle, first bishop of Liverpool; that is, in the Church of England; the Episcopalian Church, wrote a helpful note in his Expository Notes on the Gospels. It is, as follows:

    “This circumstance in our Lord’s agony in the garden is only mentioned by St. Luke. It has given rise to many strange comments, and has even stumbled some Christians. It is a curious fact, that in the early ages of Christianity, this verse and the following one, (vss. 43-44), were entirely omitted in some copies of St. Luke’s Gospel. It was ignorantly supposed that they were so derogatory to our Lord’s dignity, and so favorable to the Arian heresy, that they were not genuine. The omission was entirely unjustifiable. There is an immense preponderance of evidence to show, that the two verses were as much inspired as any other part of the Gospel, and were really written by St, Luke.”

       With all that being said, let us return to our thoughts upon this passage; in particular, with the two verses brought into question. They are quite remarkable, in and of themselves. The appearance of the angel from heaven, is very obviously, the Father’s response to the prayer of the Christ. It is immediately upon the utterance of Jesus’ prayer that the ‘angel from heaven’ is sent down to strengthen the Lord. We should be immediately reminded of the occasions predating this happenstance. In the temptation of Christ, recorded in the fourth chapter of Luke, and verse ten, it is actually the devil himself quoting Scripture, from Psalm 91:11, saying that, For he will give his angels charge over thee, To keep thee in all thy ways. Now, here in Gethsemane, his argument bears fruition, and an angel is sent from heaven to, we are told, strengthen the Savior of the world. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound? We have read, years ago, a remark made by a minister of the Free Church of Scotland, about this angel. John Duncan, by his students in seminary affectionately referred to as, ‘Rabbi Duncan,’ for he taught them Old Testament, as well as Hebrew grammar. But he made the comment about this angel ‘sent from heaven to strengthen our Lord,’ that after [please note that it is only after] he has met his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and has been with Him for a good while, that the second one he wished to see in heaven, was this angel sent to Gethsemane.

    That Christ needed such strengthening is just one aspect of the marvelous ‘mystery of godliness’ spoken of by Paul, in his first epistle to Timothy. In 1 Timothy 3:16, he has written of that astounding reality, when he wrote to his young brother;

And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness; He who was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the spirit, Seen of angels, Preached among the nations, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory. And now we are reading that this Mystery required strengthening.

Mystery indeed, God manifested in the flesh. The God-man, Himself. This inefble union of the Godhead with man, in the Person of Jesus Christ. This mystery, this marvelous determination of the Godhead, from before the foundation of the world, was realized in the incarnation, which was foretold by Isaiah, the prophet:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the govern-ment shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.—Isaiah 9:6.

With that promise, from the ‘Gospel of Isaiah,’ and its fulfillment recorded in the Gospels of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, each of them, we may witness, in John’s Gospel, not the birth itself, but the incarnation manifested in the Person announced by John the Baptizer, and written of by John, the disciple of Jesus, in his narrative of the activities of the Christ. He began, not with stable and manger, but with the Word of God Himself. 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 

While the synoptic gospels recorded the lineage, or generations of Christ, the gospel of John delineates the ‘Spiritual pedigree’ of Jesus. He is the Word from the beginning. John’s references to our Lord’s physical birth are found in 6:42 and 7:42.

And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How doth he now say, I am come down from heaven?

Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, What, doth the Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the scripture said that the Christ cometh of the seed of David, and from Bethlehem, the village of David?

David Farmer, elder,

Fellowship Bible Church


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