As can be seen from the above list, not all seven sayings can be found in any one account of Jesus' crucifixion. The ordering is a harmonisation of the texts from each of the four canonical gospels. In the gospels of Matthew and Mark, Jesus is quoted in Aramaic, shouting the fourth phrase only, and cries out wordlessly before dying. In Luke's Gospel, the first, second, and seventh sayings occur. The third, fifth and sixth sayings can only be found in John's Gospel. In other words:
This first saying of Jesus upon the cross was Jesus' prayer for forgiveness for those who were crucifying him: the Roman soldiers, and apparently for all others who were involved in his crucifixion.
In , Jesus exhorts his followers to love their enemies and to pray for those who persecute them. This verse appears to reflect Jesus' teaching of unqualified love and forgiveness for all, including those who might seem to oppose or even attack us.
Many early manuscripts omit Luke 23:34.
Jesus is crucified between two thieves. In Luke's Gospel, one of them supports Jesus' innocence and asks him to remember him when he comes into his kingdom. Jesus replies to him using his set formula for important sayings: "Truly, I say to you..." (ἀμήν λέγω σοί, amēn legō soi). Then follows the only use of the word "paradise" in the Gospels (παραδείσω, paradeisō, from the Persian pairidaeza). As this is the word used in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) for the garden of Eden, Jesus may have meant a return of humanity to the presence of God. However, it is traditionally meant to refer to the abode of the blessed dead. Perhaps, it can be read that the thief's own confession of guilt opens the way to forgiveness of sin.
The correct punctuation of this verse is the cause of some debate. Protestants believe the verse, as punctuated above, rules out the existence of purgatory. Catholics who believe in purgatory say the comma belongs after the word today: "Truly, I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise." Ancient Hebrew had no punctuation, so the original text is ambiguous. More importantly, neither did ancient Greek, which is the language of the text. Most English translations place the comma before "today".
Jesus entrusts Mary, his mother, into the care of a disciple. Traditionally, this is thought to be John the Evangelist, but he is only referred to as the beloved disciple. The Catholic Church interprets this phrase beyond just the disciple, saying that Jesus was giving his mother to all of the church, and consequently all of the church to her. The Catholic Church also uses this saying as a proof that Mary did not have any other children, because if she did have other sons who could have taken care of her, Jesus would not have needed to give her over to his beloved disciple — indeed, had Mary had other sons, such a transfer would have been incredibly insulting to them in the context of 1st-century Jewish culture. Protestants and Evangelicals reject both interpretations, usually saying that Jesus found it necessary to take this step only because Mary's other children were not yet believers in him as the Messiah.
Another view on this saying is that Jesus, on the verge of giving up his life, and having had given up everything else in his life, was now giving up his only last "attachment," which was his mother. Thus, he would be dying in absolute poverty, without even the benefit of a mother.
Of the seven sayings of Jesus from the cross, this one stands out. It is the only saying recorded in Matthew and Mark, and is the only one that appears in two, parallel accounts. Intriguingly, this saying is given in Aramaic with a translation (originally in Greek) after it. This phrase also appears on the opening line of Psalm 21 (Psalm 22 in the Masoretic Text). In the verses immediately following this saying, in both Gospels, some who hear Jesus' cry imagine that he is calling for help from Elijah (Eliyyâ). The slight differences between the two gospel accounts are most probably due to dialect. Matthew's version seems to have been more influenced by Hebrew, whereas Mark's is perhaps more colloquial.
The phrase could be either:
The Aramaic word švaqtanî is based on the verb švaq, 'to allow, to permit, to forgive, and to forsake', with the perfect tense ending -t (2nd person singular: 'you'), and the object suffix -anî (1st person singular: 'me').
Many Christians believe that the quotation presents as a prophecy of Christ's suffering (verses 14-18), of his message (25 f.), and, as a whole, of his exaltation (v 24). Some theologians claim the Father seems to have deserted the Son (v 1-2, and the contrast between v 5 and v 6) but saves him ultimately and with him those who seek him in all the nations. Thus some Christians argue that by uttering this single question Jesus was in a way announcing the whole gospel at the moment of its decisive event (cf. ). This "gulf of separation" that occurs between God the Father and God the Son, in the death of the latter, has been described by the theologian Jürgen Moltmann as 'death in God'.
A. T. Robertson noted that the "so-called Gospel of Peter 1.5 preserves this saying in a Docetic (Cerinthian) form: 'My power, my power, thou hast forsaken me!'" However, this could still be a mistaken or alternate rendering from a Semitic source, as אל ['ēl] in Aramaic and Hebrew can both translate as "god" or "power."
A limited number of people such as Rocco A. Errico and the late George M. Lamsa has asserted the rendering "My God, my God, for this [purpose] I was spared! or "...for such a purpose have you kept me!" which has become popular in many niche circles, but the vast majority of Aramaic scholars view such a rendering as spurious and pseudoscientific.
This saying perhaps represents the total humanity of Jesus, and the thirst for God of those who are put far from him. As he is given sour wine to drink, soaked in a sponge on a hyssop stem, this may be a reference to , where sour wine is offered. It may allude to Jesus' statement about drinking the cup that the Father gives him ().
Jesus announces that his work, atonement, is completed. Sometimes the meaning 'the debt is written off' is read into this verse. Although this is often seen as a theological statement (that the debt of humanity to God is cancelled, that Jesus had finished his mission, and so on), the Greek (τετέλεσται) is best translated by a simple English word: "completed", or "finished".
This saying is based on . Because of this, it is unlikely that 'my spirit' refers to a disembodied soul, but simply to one's self: I put myself in your hands now.