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Question and Answer

As He was being crucified, Jesus kept saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Was that prayer for those people only, or does it still apply to those who are ignorant of the Word?

The context suggests that Jesus was praying for His executioners and for the crowd that tagged along to view a public execution. I would guess he was not praying for the murderous scribes and Pharisees who planned His death. He had already said to them, “You will die in your sin” (John 8:21) and “you belong to your father, the devil . . .” (John 8:44). Their fate was sealed.

In Peter’s first sermon (Acts 2), he included the entire nation in the crime, and he urged them to repent, be baptized, and save themselves from “this corrupt generation.” In his second sermon (Acts 3), Peter said he knew that they had acted in ignorance, “as did your leaders.” But not all their leaders acted in ignorance; the principals were moved by envy and malice.

In any case, Christ’s prayer was answered for those who responded to the gospel, as is clear from the first few chapters of Acts. All others were lost. That is also true of our generation: those who believe are saved; those whose refusal to believe is a fixed decision are lost forever.

BY C. Donald Cole

C. DONALD COLE hosted Moody Radio’s Open Line for 26 years before retiring in 2008. Before joining the team at the Moody Bible Institute in 1971, Pastor Cole and his wife, Naomi, served the Lord as missionaries in Angola from 1948 until 1966. Pastor Cole then served as a faculty member of Emmaus Bible College of Dubuque and as editor of Interest magazine.

Pastor Cole authored several books, and was married to his wife Naomi for 65 years before he went home to the Lord in 2012.

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