Problem: Accounts of Jesus' last words conflict
Verses: Luke 23:46, John 19:30; Status: Serious

This is Luke 23:46:

Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!" And having said this he breathed his last. (ESV)

This is John 19:30:

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, "It is finished," and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (ESV)

You might also hear people say that Mark and Matthew give Jesus last words as "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?". However, both Mark and Matthew write that, soon after this, Jesus gave another loud cry, so these accounts don't necessarily tell us his final utterance (though they're unclear on whether that cry contained actual words).

Anyway, the contradiction between Luke and John is bad enough on its own. Rational Christianity (link below) tries to resolve this by suggesting that he actually said both, for example:

"It is finished, Father; into your hands I commit my spirit."

But this not an honest reading of the passages. Luke and John seem to expect us to understand that we are reading the actual last words of Jesus. One more thing: there's a fairly obvious difference between the acceptance Jesus displays in Luke and John, versus the despair described in Mark and Matthew.

Updated: Summer 2008

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