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Why is Luke the only person (to my knowledge) that states what the 2 prisoners crucified with Jesus did and said?

Luke 23:39-42 - One of the criminals who hung there heaped abuse on Him. “Are You not the Christ?” he said. “Save Yourself and us!”

But the other one rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same judgment? We are punished justly, for we are receiving what our actions deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!”

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  • All four evangelists selected the material that they included and excluded. The same could be said of about a hundred other instances as well.
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 15 at 5:47
  • Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him. (Mk 15:32). Commented Feb 15 at 12:01
  • Welcome to BHSX - thanks for joining the group. Please remember to take the tour (link bottom left) to better understand how this site is different from others.
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 15 at 20:30
  • Mark 14:50 'And they all left him and fled.' - how would anyone know let alone Luke! such an important matter like many others Luke mentions that no one else does Commented Feb 16 at 13:48

3 Answers 3

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Too Long, Didn't Read:
Luke included the conversation between Jesus and two others' crucified with him because he believed it contributed information that his readers needed. Other writers either didn't have the information or didn't believe that it contributed to their readers understanding of the author's message.


The Bible does not give us a specific list of reasons there are differences between the gospels.

A careful reading of the gospels help us arrive at some possibilities.

The four gospels were written by different people with specific goals to different readers at different times in history. I have gathered the so called "purpose statements" of each book together. As we read these passages we can see that there are similarities and differences in how each writer communicates, just as there are similarities and differences in the stories they wrote.

Purpose Statements:
Matthew
Chapter 1

21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Matthew presents Jesus as The Messiah, the one who will save his people and fulfill prophecy.

Mark
Chapter 1

1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God

And later in that chapter the theme of Jesus' teaching

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Mark presents Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God. The kingdom of God has come near in the person of Jesus.

Luke
Chapter 1

1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

Luke writes to assure his readers that the things they have been taught about Jesus are true. He went to eyewitness accounts about "the things that have been fulfilled among us". The word "fulfillment" is a reference to John's perspective that the story if Jesus is part of the covenant story and the fulfillment of God's promises.

John
Chapter 20

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John is writing so that his readers will believe that "Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have eternal life"

Each writer is writing about the same events from different perspectives and telling the story to different audiences. Luke included the conversation between Jesus and two others' crucified with him because he believed it contributed information that his readers needed. Other writers either didn't have the information or didn't believe that it contributed to their readers understanding of the author's message.

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Luke 1:1-4 New King James Version

1 Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.

Eyewitness Testimony. Luke was not a direct eyewitness of the events he recorded in his own Gospel! It's possible, and likely, that Luke had access to sources or eyewitness accounts that provided details about the crucifixion scene. The other Gospel writers likely didn't have the same sources Luke had, if any. Luke, who was known to be a meticulous researcher and careful historian, may have incorporated this specific account based on the reliable testimony he received.

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    + 1 This makes more sense than that Mark of Matthew would exclude this information. In the case of John, however, his theological outlook focused on Jesus as the heavenly Son of God more than the earthly son of Man, so he may indeed have excluded this material as unimportant. Commented Mar 16 at 23:59
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@Jason has it basically right. In Mark and Matthew's case especially, the evangelists probably did not have access to the facts that Luke reported. Luke wrote later than either Mark or Matthew, and was thus able to include reports that had not reached the other two. He makes this possibility clear from the prolog to his gospel, especially if we use more modern translations than the KJV.

Since many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us... it seemed fitting to me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in an orderly sequence. (NASB)

Meanwhile, John's Gospel, characterized by a high Christology, focused on portraying the Son of God as finishing the Father's work for him. Although John wrote later than Luke, he was not particularly interested with the humanizing details of the scene, such as the conversation with the two other sufferers or Jesus saying things like "my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34, Matthew 27:46) He reports no anguished cries or loud shouts, as the other writers do. Instead, John reports Jesus' last words as triumphant and completely confident:

John 19

Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, in order that the Scripture would be fulfilled, said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. 30 Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

Conclusion: With regard to Jesus' conversation with the two men who were crucified with him, the most likely explanation that Luke had information that Mark and Matthew did not. In the case of John's gospel, this could also be so. However, it is also true that John - being focused more than the others on Jesus the heavenly Son of God rather than the earthly son of Man - was simply not interested in such details.

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