Luke 22:40: "When [Christ] arrived at the [Mount of Olives], He said to [his disciples], 'Pray that you may not enter into temptation.' And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, 'Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.' Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him."

Verse 44 then reads:

Luke 22:44: "And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground."

Just what manner of help did the angel offer Christ?


The very 'appearance' of the angel from heaven would be a significance boost for Jesus to remember from where his strength came - the Father. Just as the vision of the flaming chariots bolstered Elisha's servant.

And Elisha prayed, "Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:17

Perhaps the angel did nothing, but to show up!

Jesus' prayer was to avoid this impending doom if possible. Jesus' will was to avoid, but he was assisted in submitting to God's will and persist with the plan. The angel would be God's provision in that submission process. Apart from 'appearing' as the text shows, we are not told anymore.

Except to notice Luke said it was from 'heaven'. If this detail expresses something more, again, we are not told.

This is not World Championship Wrestling tag team! Jesus was on his own, except for God's provision in spirit. The angel appearing would have reminded Jesus of the spiritual fight he was in and only God could help him have the required humble obedience to see this through to the bitter, yet glorious end!


There is some dispute over verses 42-44 including the unique, 'like drops of blood'. This section could be left out as it does not add significantly to the struggle Jesus has been expressing at length already. However it could also be included without causing contradiction with anything else.


Luke 22:43 Berean Study Bible

Then an angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him.

The Greek word here has a rather uncontroversial meaning inside and outside of the Bible.

Thayer's Greek Lexicon

STRONGS NT 1765: ἐνισχύω

ἐνισχύω; 1 aorist ἐνισχυσα; (cf. Buttmann, 145 (127));

  1. intransitive, to grow strong, to receive strength: Acts 9:19 (here WH Tr marginal reading ἐνισχυθη); (Aristotle, Theophrastus, Diodorus, the Sept.).

  2. transitive, to make strong, to strengthen (2 Samuel 22:40; Sir. 50:4; Hippocrates leg., p. 2, 26 ὁ χρόνος ταῦτα πάντα ἐνισχυει); to strengthen one in soul, to inspirit: Luke 22:43 (L brackets WH reject the passage).

The same Greek word is used in Acts 9:19

and having taken food, he [Paul] was strengthened. And he was some days with the disciples in Damascus.

Barnes illustrates the meaning:

Strengthening him - His human nature, to sustain the great burden that was upon his soul. Some have supposed from this that he was not divine as well as human; for if he was "God," how could an angel give any strength or comfort? and why did not the divine nature "alone" sustain the human? But the fact that he was "divine" does not affect the case at all. It might be asked with the same propriety, If he was, as all admit, the friend of God, and beloved of God, and holy, why, if he was a mere man, did not "God" sustain him alone, without an angel's intervening? But the objection in neither case would have any force. The "man, Christ Jesus," was suffering. His human nature was in agony, and it is the "manner" of God to sustain the afflicted by the intervention of others; nor was there any more "unfitness" in sustaining the human nature of his Son in this manner than any other sufferer.

Jesus was alone. The angel was his companion at this critical moment before the blood came out. After Jesus was physically strengthened, the anguish continued. Luke 22:44

And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

Just what manner of help did the angel offer Christ?

Physical companionship.


How was Christ “strengthened” by the angel (Lk. 22:43)?

Just what manner of help did the angel offer Christ?

These are very curious circumstances indeed. While we are informed that an angel appeared to Jesus, why did God Himself not appear to Him? On three previous occasions, God the Father and Spirit were present with Christ (baptism, Transfiguration, speaking from heaven (Jn. 12:28)). Why not now, in Jesus' desperate time of need?

Recall that Christ was administered to by angels at the beginning of His ministry after He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness:

Matthew 4:11: "Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him" (emphasis added).

It will be remembered that, under far less trying conditions (starving for 40 days is hardly trivial), it seems that angels (plural) came to His aid. Why would Christ not have been afforded at least the same substantive attention as before?

Here are the passages under consideration:

Luke 22:40: "When [Christ] arrived at the [Mount of Olives], He said to [his disciples], 'Pray that you may not enter into temptation.' 41And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42saying, 'Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.' 43Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground" (emphasis added).

Jesus knew from the very beginning of His ultimate fate, and those circumstances now lay immediately before Him. We are told several times about the relationship between Jesus and the Father, all of which seems curious as Christ was now on the brink of desolation:

John 10:30: "I and the Father are one" (emphasis added).

John 10:38: "[Though] you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father" (emphasis added).

John 14:8-9: "Philip said to Him, 'Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.' Jesus said to him, 'Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (emphasis added).

John 14:10b: “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?" (emphasis added).

John 14:11: "Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me" (emphasis added).

Many have observed that, unlike the Synoptics, John's Gospel, was specifically written to emphasize Christ's deity. It seems intriguing that a "mere angel" would appear from heaven to comfort Him. This is especially true after Christ admonishes his audience with the following words:

Luke 11:11-12: “Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if [his father] is asked for an egg [by his son], he will not give him a scorpion, will he?" (emphasis added).

This is more dramatically emphasized in the Letter of James:

James 2:15-16: "If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,' and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?" (emphasis added).

These passages demonstrate that simply telling someone desperately in need, "Go, it will all be fine" is totally unacceptable. This is especially true as we read in verse 44 that immediately follows the angel's "strengthening", Christ's sweat became like drops of blood, falling to the ground" (22:44, emphasis added).

How, precisely, did the angel strengthen Him? There is a good article that describes this unique phenomenon: "hematidrosis" -- "sweating blood," here. Apparently, this angel did not offer any physical relief to Christ; it appears to have been emotional assistance as has been suggested by the other contributors.

We are told repeatedly throughout the Gospels that Christ could read the minds of those around Him: "He knew their thoughts" (Matt. 9:4, 12:25, Lk. 9:47, etc.) Is it possible that this enormous burden was now being withdrawn from Him, that Jesus' profound foresight would now be lifted?

Interestingly, we read an exchange that may reveal this just a bit:

John 18:33-34: "Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, 'Are You the King of the Jews?' Jesus answered, 'Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?'"

Had the "angel" relieved Christ of His semi-omniscience to every event about to transpire? Suppose that is what occurred. Christ would no longer necessarily be intimately familiar with the next beating He was to receive -- the imminent strike of the metal/bone scourge to tear His skin. He would be restricted, as we are, in our knowledge of exact future details. After all, we are not privy to every horrific detail of what might occur during an impending fatal auto accident; God has withheld such explicit details from us.

It is unlikely that anyone can plumb the depths of this matter to our satisfaction. But perhaps Christ was at least offered some solace by removal of His exact foreknowledge of the horrors that would ensue? While this would afford little comfort in circumstances such as these, even the slightest assistance could bestow some aid to Christ's extreme mental anguish.

  • 1
    far too much imagination involved here - incl. Suppose "the angel" was much more than an angel. Could this have been the Holy Spirit, -1
    – steveowen
    May 10 at 22:50
  • @user48152 I removed reference to the H/S. I could not back up any such assertion as you suggest.
    – Xeno
    May 11 at 1:02
  • that was just the beginning. "like drops of blood" It doesn't say he did - it says 'like'. Which practically rules out sweating blood. "removal of His exact foreknowledge" ?? Please just stick to the text.
    – steveowen
    May 11 at 1:23
  • Well, Luke was a physician. If anyone would know about sweat becoming like drops of blood, he would. I'm not sure we can rule that out at all. Why would an inspired doctor write something like that if it weren't true? In the article I cited, Leonardo Da Vinci apparently wrote about soldiers sweating blood before battle. Verse 44 emphasizes Christ's anguish despite the angel. I also added the passage from John which suggests Jesus had slightly diminished abilities. Why would Christ ask such a question other than for Scripture to tip its hand a bit? I'm not sure why you continue to reject this
    – Xeno
    May 11 at 1:37
  • because it says like! The locusts looked 'like' horses, feet were 'like' bronze... see the point? Next there will be a medical term for bronze feet!
    – steveowen
    May 11 at 1:43

I don't think the angelic encounter has to be taken literally. The encounter with Satan in the wilderness particularly appears to be a parabolic depiction of the spiritual struggle and discipline he experienced through extreme fasting. The angelic ministering in the garden of Gethsemane could be the way of the author's describing the extreme anguish and emotional struggle Jesus faced as the time of his suffering arrived. His heart was pressed as though in the oil-press in Gethsemane, which means olive press. His lonely situation entails the absence of the Holy Spirit. So, the author might have depicted the scene with an angel of the Lord. If we assume this to be a literal encounter, we should know that the angel or the Holy Spirit does not give pep-talk of encouragement with human arguments, but immediately gives us spiritual comfort, thus transforming our situation in the midst of weakness and hopelessness. The prayer of full surrender to God (Luke 22:42), is the ultimate key for finding spiritual strength and hope in the hopeless situation. It could well be depicted as a miraculous angelic encounter if you want to have a graphic illustration.

(Hebrews 5:7 ESV) In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

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