1. As, the question asks, can anyone aggregate for me and put a small list of who all witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, in the decreasing order of the person's importance (popularity). e.g. First the disciples and then other notable people who witnessed the event in that order. A list of roughly 25 or less number of people would suffice.

  2. Also a related question, who exactly witnessed Jesus Christ saying these words at the time of his death, "Father forgive them?". (Please support the answer to this line with authentic references)

2 Answers 2


Matthew 27:38-54, Mark 15:27-39, Luke 23:35-49, and John 19:23-34 describe the crucifixion and the people present and name some of them. These passages from the four canonical gospels, however, give different accounts of the number of people present and their names. Putting these accounts together, the following names can be found (or inferred):

  1. Mary (Mariam), mother of Jesus.
  2. Mary Magdalene
  3. Joseph of Arimathea; probably a secret Judean disciple of The Messiah.
  4. "the disciple whom Jesus loved", James; though his identity still a subject of considerable debate.
  5. Nicodemus; probably also a secret Judean disciple
  6. Salome
  7. Mary of Clopas
  8. Simon of Cyrene

Not named but inferred:

  1. The centurion, (Longinus; the name is found in the pseudepigraphal Gospel of Nicodemus that was appended to the apocryphal Acts of Pilate).

  2. Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest.

  3. Annas, a high priest before whom Jesus is brought.

The rest are unnamed nor can be named: various kinds of crowds.

As for the forgiveness passage, its authenticity is disputed, as detailed in the NET notes.

  • 5
    You omitted the thieves, the "captive audience". Also, some consider the disciple whom Jesus loved to be the apostle John, not James. Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 19:13
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    Are you identifying the disciple whom Jesus loves to be James, or saying that both James and the Beloved Disciple were there? Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 2:45
  • 3
    I thought John was the disciple Jesus loved...? John 21
    – Stephen S
    Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 2:07
  • This is a fine list, with one significant omission: Luke 23:48-49 informs us that, in addition to the unnamed crowds, "all those who knew him" (including the women) stood at a distance, watching these things (v.49). This seems to indicate that many, if not all, of his disciples were on the scene.
    – kmote
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 17:16

I'll begin with Mark's Gospel, as that was the first New Testament Gospel to be written and is considered by scholars to be the primary source used by the authors of the other gospels, either directly (Matthew, Luke) or indirectly (John).

Mark 15:40 says that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and Salome stood watching from afar off:

There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome;

Mark 15:39 tells us that there was a centurion present, with his soldiers, and the chief priests and scribes who mocked Jesus (15:31). Simon the Cyrenian was probably there (15:21), but otherwise there seems only to have been a hostile crowd. As one would expect from a person in his position, Pontius Pilate did not go to the crucifixion, but "delivered Jesus" to be crucified (15:15).

Matthew 27:55-56 says that many women looked from afar of, including Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children

many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.

As with Mark, there was a centurion present (27:54) and the chief priests who mocked Jesus (27:41-42).

Luke 23:49 plainly tells us that all of Jesus' acquaintances, including the women, stood watching afar off.

And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.

There were the centurion and the "rulers," or high priests.

John chapter 19 very much disagrees with the synoptic gospels, perhaps for theological reasons. John 19:19 now tells us that Pontius Pilate was present, because he felt that a great wrong was being done:

And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

In this gospel, those of,Jesus' acquaintance and the women were not all standing afar off, instead Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus and another Mary were at the foot of the cross with one of the disciples (19:25-26):

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!

The statement, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" is only found in Luke's Gospel, at Luke 23:34. There is no likelihood of Luke have met any eyewitness to the crucifixion, and even conservative theologians would agree that he was not present at the crucifixion, and . Luke was a gentile companion of Paul in the 50s of the first century and would be unlikely to have been in Jerusalem over twenty years earlier. Raymond E. Brown says in An Introduction to the New Testament,page 259, that some manuscripts of Luke lack Jesus' words of forgiveness, possibly meaning that these words were added to the Gospel some time after it was written.

  • This is 99% of the format what I was looking for. Satisfactory enough. So, you mean to say, that what ever you've written above were the only lines pertaining to people who exactly witnessed crucifixion? Can I get a final confirmation? Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 4:25
  • @servantofWiser I can confirm that these are the only lines in the Bible that refer to identifiable witnesses (apart from the crowds and so on) to the crucifixion. Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 4:57
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    Not that part. This part: "there is no likelihood of him have met any eyewitness to the crucifixion." His whole claim as a historian is that he interviewed eyewitnesses, or so conservatives claim, unless I'm wrong about what the tradition has taught. That's what I wanted you to address. Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 20:51
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    Dick, Pilate did not need to have been present to have ordered that the sign (INRI) be on the cross. Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 13:51
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    @DickHarfield I understand that, but governors doing things are often the case of governor ordering flunky X to do something but the attribution, years later, is the governor did that. Which is not strictly true. (Example, Mussolini didn't gas the Ethiopians in 1936, but his airforce - whom he directed - did). I understand your point from the "what text is available" basis. Given the lack of mention in the other gospels on Pilate being there, my take is we once again see the difference between Johanine Gospel and the others, style wise. Thanks for the cite. Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 20:52

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