“Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds (πράσσω); but this man has done nothing wrong.” Luke 23:40-41 (ESV)

Can one interpret the penitent thief's confession to be not just the specific act that led him to the cross but rather an evaluation of his life in hindsight such that it reveals sin in a wider scope?

Two arguments for this:

  1. Strong's defines πράσσω as "to 'practise', i.e. perform repeatedly or habitually".
  2. Thayer's Greek Lexicon categorizes πράσσω as the committing of "nameless iniquities".

Sidenote: Strong contrasts πράσσω with ποιέω, where the former has a repeated/habitual nature but the latter is a single act. The latter is most famously used, and nearest in context, by Jesus in his famous statement on the cross:

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (ποιέω).” Luke 23:34 (ESV)

  • Just to be clear since you're translating a noun ("deeds") with a verb (πρασσω), the Greek is literally "the due reward of that which we πρασσω(ed)". The question stands. (Cf. Rom 7:19ff on that πράσσω/ποιέω pair)
    – Susan
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 6:42

2 Answers 2


By way of adding to those who have given a definition for the word, I would say this.

Even though we have such a short account of the thief, it is clear that he:

  • repented - "Dost not thou fear God ... for we receive the due reward of our deeds"

  • believed - "... but this man hath done nothing amiss ... Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom."

  • did works befitting of repentance - by making a public confession of his sin and repentance, and confessing before others that Jesus is the Lord and holds salvation in his hands.

Also, the fact that the thief knew that Jesus had done nothing amiss indicates that he was aware of his teaching, or been told of it by others.

All this lends support to the idea that the thief was referring to the entirety of his life, in regard to his "deeds".


πράσσω is used in the context of doing (or "practicing") actions which are habitual or perhaps ritual, but I don't think that it necessarily always means doing something in an evil sense. It is used, for example, in Romans (2:25) in regards to keeping the law:

περιτομὴ μὲν γὰρ ὠφελεῖ, ἐὰν νόμον πράσσῃς· ἐὰν δὲ παραβάτης νόμου ᾖς, ἡ περιτομή σου ἀκροβυστία γέγονεν.

For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.

I don't think the word πράσσω by itself indicates whether the things done were good or evil - either a context (here the fact that the thieves are speaking of their deeds) or an object is needed. John, for example, uses the word with the object φαῦλος, meaning something bad or evil, in 3:20:

πᾶς γὰρ ὁ φαῦλα πράσσων μισεῖ τὸ φῶς καὶ οὐκ ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸ φῶς, ἵνα μὴ ἐλεγχθῇ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ·

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

πράσσω is an alternative here to the simpler ποιέω, meaning to "make" or "do". There is even a cognate of ποιέω - κακοποιέω - which means "to do evil" and might also have fit here, as in:

*Ἀγαπητέ, μὴ μιμοῦ τὸ κακόν, ἀλλὰ τὸ ἀγαθόν. ὁ ἀγαθοποιῶν ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐστιν· ὁ κακοποιῶν οὐχ ἑώρακε τὸν Θεόν.

*Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.**

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