Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament 
Agony —This word is used in Luke 22:44 to describe the sorrow, suffering, and struggle of Jesus in Gethsemane. The Greek word agônia (ἀγωνία) is derived from agôn (ἁγών), meaning: (1) an assembly of the people (cf. ἁγορά); (2) a place of assembly, especially the place in which the Greeks assembled to celebrate solemn games; (3) a contest of athletes, runners or charioteers. Ἀγών is used in a figurative sense in Hebrews 12:1 ‘let us run with patience the race that is set before us.’ The word has the general sense of struggle in 1 Thessalonians 2:2 ‘in much conflict’; Philippians 1:30 ‘having the same conflict’; 1 Timothy 6:2 ‘the good fight of faith’; 2 Timothy 4:7 ‘I have fought the good fight.’ It means solicitude or anxiety in Colossians 2:1 ‘how greatly I strive for you’ (literally, ‘how great an agôn I have for you’).
The state of Jesus in Gethsemane is described in the following phrases: Matthew 26:37 ‘he began to be sorrowful and sore troubled’; Mark 14:33 ‘he began to be greatly amazed and sore troubled’; Luke 22:44 ‘And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat became as it were great drops of blood falling down upon the ground.’* [Note: On the genuineness of this passage see the ‘Notes on Select Readings’ in Westcott and Hort’s NT in Greek.] Jesus confesses His own feelings in the words, ‘My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death’ ( Matthew 26:38, Mark 14:34). That He regarded the experience as a temptation is suggested by His warning words to His disciples: ‘Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak’ ( Matthew 26:41, Mark 14:38; cf. Luke 22:40; Luke 22:46). That He was conscious of human weakness, and desired Divine strength for the struggle, is evident from the prayers, in reporting the words of which the Evangelists do not verbally agree, as the following comparison shows:—
‘O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.’
‘Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; remove this cup from me: howbeit not what I will, but what thou wilt.’
‘Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done.’
St. Mark and St. Luke give the words of one prayer only, although the former evidently intends to report three distinct acts of prayer ( Luke 22:35; Luke 22:39; Luke 22:41), and the latter apparently only two ( Luke 22:41; Luke 22:44). But St. Matthew gives the words of the second prayer, which he reports as repeated the third time ( Luke 22:42; Luke 22:44): ‘O my Father, if this cannot pass away, except I drink it, thy will be done.’ It is not at all improbable that there was such progress in Jesus’ thoughts. At first He prayed for the entire removal of the cup, if possible (Mt.), because possible to God (Mk.), if God were willing (Lk.); and then, having been taught that it could not be taken away, He prayed for strength to take the cup. It is not necessary for us to decide which of the reports is most nearly verbally correct, as the substance of the first prayer is the same in all reports. Although St. John gives no report of the scene in Gethsemane, yet in his account of the interview of Jesus with the Greeks there is introduced what seems to be a faint reminiscence: ‘Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name’ ( John 12:27-28). It is substantially the same request, expressed in the characteristically Johannine language. But even if this conjecture be unwarranted, and this be an utterance on the occasion to which the Fourth Evangelist assigns it, the words serve to illustrate Jesus’ struggle in view of His death. Much more confident can we be that Gethsemane is referred to in Hebrews 5:7-8 ‘Who in the days of his flesh, having offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and having been heard for his godly fear; though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered.’ Having passed in review the material which is offered us in dealing with the question of the nature of the agony in Gethsemane, we may now concentrate our attention upon it, excluding all reference to other matters which are dealt with in their own place.
Many answers have been given to the question, What was the cup which Jesus desired to be taken away?
(1) The most obvious, but not on that account the most intelligent and reverent, answer is that in Gethsemane Jesus was overcome by the fear of death, from which He longed to escape. But this is to place Christ on a lower plane of manhood than many men, even among the lowest races. If the love of Christ has constrained many martyrs for His name to face rack and block, water and flame, and many other painful modes of death without shrinking, and even with the song of praise upon the lips, is it at all likely that He Himself shrank back?
(2) A more ingenious view, which has an apparent verbal justification in Matthew 26:38, Mark 14:34 (‘even unto death’), and Hebrews 5:7 (‘to save him from death’), is that Jesus felt Himself dying, and that He feared He would die before He could offer the great sacrifice for the sin of the world. But to this suggestion there are three objections. Firstly, there is no evidence of such physical exhaustion on the part of Jesus as would justify such a fear; although the stress of His work and suffering had undoubtedly put a severe strain upon His bodily strength, yet we have no proof that His health had given way so far as to make death appear at all probable. Secondly, only a very superficial and external view of His work as Saviour warrants the supposition that His sacrifice could be accomplished only on the Cross; that its efficacy depended in any way on its outward mode; that His death, if it had come to Him in Gethsemane, would have had less value for God and man than His crucifixion has. Thirdly, even if this supposition be admitted, we may be sure of this, that Jesus was so confident of His Father’s goodness and guardianship in every step of His path, that it was impossible for Him to fear that the great purpose of His life would be left unfulfilled on account of His premature death. His rebuke of the ‘little faith’ ( Matthew 8:26) of His disciples during the storm at sea would have been applicable to Himself had He cherished any such fear.
(3) A much more profound view is offered to our consideration, when not the death itself, but the circumstances of the death, are represented as the cause of Jesus’ agony. He regarded His death not only as a sacrifice which He was willing to offer, not only as a tragedy which He was ready to endure, but as a crime of man against God from which He shrank with horror. That the truth and grace of God in Him should meet with this insult and injury from the race which He had come to save and bless—this it was that caused His agony. He could not endure to gaze into ‘this abysmal depths’ of human iniquity and impiety, which the murder of the Holy One and the Just opened to view. Surely this apocalypse of sin was not necessary as a condition of the apocalypse of grace. If we look more closely at the conduct of the actors in this drama, we shall better understand how appalling a revelation of sin it must have appeared to Jesus. The fickleness of the multitude, the hypocrisy and bigotry of the Pharisees, the worldliness and selfishness of the priesthood, the treachery of Judas, the denial by Peter, the antagonism of the disciples generally to the Master’s saving purpose, the falsehood of His accusers, the hate and the craft of His persecutors,—all these were present to the consciousness of Jesus as an intolerable offence to His conscience, and an unspeakable grief to His heart. To His moral insight and spiritual discernment these were not single misdeeds, but signs and proofs of a wickedness and godlessness spreading far and wide in the life of mankind, reaching deep into the soul of man. Must this antagonism of sin to God be forced to its ultimate issue? Could He not save mankind by some mode of sacrifice that would involve the men concerned in it in less heinous guilt? Must He by persevering in His present course drive His enemies to do their worst against Him, and thus by His fidelity to His vocation must He involve all who opposed Him in this greater iniquity? That such questions cannot have been present to the mind of Jesus, who can confidently affirm? He foresaw the doom of the guilty nation, and He also saw that it was the crime about to be committed against Him that would seal its doom. That He shrank from being thus the occasion of its judgment cannot be doubted. But if in Gethsemane Jesus anticipated distinctly and accepted deliberately what He so intensely experienced on the Cross, then this solicitude for all who were involved in the crime of His death does not at all exhaust His agony. The words of darkness and desolation on the Cross, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ ( Matthew 27:46), must be our clue to the mystery of this experience.
(4) The only view that seems to the present writer at all adequate is that what Jesus dreaded and prayed to be delivered from in the experience of death was the sense of God’s distance and abandonment. His sorrow unto death was not the fear of death as physical dissolution, nor of dying before He could finish His work on the Cross, but the shrinking of His filial soul from the sting of death, due to sin, the veiling in darkness of His Father’s face from Him. His prayer was answered, for He was saved from death, inasmuch as the experience of darkness and desolation was momentary, and ere He gave up the ghost He was able to commit Himself with childlike trust unto His Father. ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit’ ( Luke 23:46). His agony in Gethsemane was worthy of Him as the Son of God, for it was the recoil of His filial spirit from the interruption of His filial communion with His Father, which appeared to Him to be necessarily involved in the sacrifice which He was about to offer for the sins of the world.
It is not the function of this article to offer a theological interpretation of Jesus’ experience in Gethsemane; but a justification of the above answer to the question of the nature of Jesus’ agony may be briefly offered in a psychological analysis of His experience. First of all, then, we note Jesus’ sense of solitude. He must leave behind Him the disciples except three, and even from these three He must withdraw Himself ( Matthew 26:36; Matthew 26:39). He sought this outward isolation because He felt this inner solitude. Since His announcement of His Passion ( Matthew 16:21) the disciples had been becoming less and less His companions, as they were being more and more estranged from His purpose. At last He knew that they would abandon Him altogether, their outer distance but the sign and proof of their inward alienation. Yet the comfort of the Father’s presence would remain with Him: ‘Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is come, that ye shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me’ ( John 16:32). But now in Gethsemane He began to realize that it might be necessary for the accomplishment of His sacrifice that even the Father’s presence should be withdrawn from Him. That dread drives Him to the Father’s presence, but the assurance that there is no ground for this fear does not come to Him. Again He turns to His disciples. Secondly, therefore, we note His need of sympathy. When He withdrew from the three, He asked them to watch with Him; when, returning, He found them sleeping, His words are a pathetic reproach: ‘What, could ye not watch with me one hour?’ ( Matthew 26:40). He craved sympathy, not only because He felt solitary, but because this solitude was due to His love for man. The sacrifice He was about to offer, in which the sense of His Father’s abandonment was the sting of death, was on behalf of, and instead of man; and yet not even the men He had chosen would sorrow with Him, although He was suffering for all mankind. Thus man’s denial of sympathy must have made Him feel more keenly the dread that even God’s comfort and help might be withheld from Him. Thirdly, we note that this dread was not groundless, but was rooted deep in His experience and vocation. We must then go beyond any of the words uttered in Gethsemane itself to discover all that was involved in His agony there. As the incarnate love, mercy, and grace of God, His experience was necessarily vicarious. He suffered with and for man. He so identified Himself with sinful mankind, that He shared its struggle, bore its burden, felt its shame. Himself sinless, knowing no sin, He was made sin for mankind in feeling its sin as it were His very own. The beloved of God, He became a curse in experiencing in His own agony and desolation the consequences of sin, although as innocent He could neither feel the guilt nor bear the penalty of sin. So completely had He become one with mankind in being made sin and a curse for man, that even His consciousness of filial union and communion with God as His Father was obscured and interrupted, if even for only a moment, by His consciousness of the sin of man. God did not withdraw Himself from, or abandon His only-begotten and well-beloved Son, but was with Him to sustain Him in His sacrifice; but the Son of God was so overshadowed and overwhelmed by His consciousness of the sin and the consequent curse of the race which He so loved as to make Himself one with it, that He dreaded in Gethsemane to lose, and did on Calvary lose for a moment, the comfort and help of His Father’s love. In this experience He exhibited the antagonism of God and sin, the necessary connexion between the expulsion of God and the invasion of sin in any consciousness, since His self-identification with sinful man involved His self-isolation from the Holy Father. This, then, was the agony in Gethsemane, such a sense of the sorrow, shame, and curse of mankind’s sin as His very own as became a dread of the loss of God’s fatherly presence. Although He at first prayed to be delivered from this, to Him, most terrible and grievous experience, yet He afterward submitted to God’s will, as God’s purpose in the salvation of mankind was dearer to Him than even the joy of His filial communion with God His Father. In this surrender He was endowed with such strength from above that He finished the work His Father had given Him to do, and in His obedience even unto death offered the sacrifice of His life, which is a ransom for many, and the seal of the new covenant of forgiveness, renewal, and fellowship with God for all mankind. See also art. Dereliction.
Literature.—The standard Commentaries and Lives of Christ; Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible ii. 712 f.; Jonathan Edwards, Works , ii. 866 ff.; Expos. Times , vi. [1894–1895], 433 f., 522; Expositor , 3rd ser. v. 180 ff.; Fairbairn, Studies in the Life of Christ , ‘Gethsemane,’ where the explanation numbered (3) above is fully elaborated.
Alfred E. Garvie.
Fausset's Bible Dictionary 
(Greek conflict in wrestling; figuratively, a struggle with intense trials.) Used only in Luke 22:41. Jesus' agony in Gethsemane, "so that His sweat was as it were great clotted drops of blood" ( Thromboi ), namely, blood mixing with the ordinary watery perspiration, medically termed diapedesis, resulting from agitation of the nervous system, turning the blood out of its natural course, and forcing the red particles into the skin excretories. The death of Charles IX. of France was attended with it. Many similar cases are recorded, as the bloody sweat of a Florentine youth, condemned to death unjustly by Sixtus V. (De Thou 82 4 44.) Compare Hebrews 5:7-8; Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42. Each complements the other, so that the full account is to be had only from all compared together. Luke alone records the bloody sweat and the appearance of all angel from heaven strengthening Him, Matthew and Mark the change in His countenance and manner, and His complaint of overwhelming soul sorrows even unto death, and His repetition of the same prayer.
The powers of darkness then returning with double force, after Satan's defeat in the temptation ( Luke 4:13, "for a season," Greek "until the season," namely, in Gethsemane, Luke 22:53), the prospect of the darkness on Calvary, when He was to experience a horror never known before, the hiding of the Father's countenance, the climax of His vicarious sufferings for our sins, which wrung from Him the "Εli Εli Lama Sabacthani" , apparently caused His agonizing, holy, instinctive shrinking from such a cup. Sin which He hated was to be girt fast to Him, though there was none in Him; and this, without the consolation which martyrs have, the Father's and the Savior's presence. He must tread the winepress of God's wrath against us alone. Hence the greater shrinking from His cup than that of martyrs from their cup ( John 12:27; Luke 12:49-50).
The cup was not the then pressing agony; for in John 18:11 He speaks of it as still future. There is a beautiful progression in the subjecting of His will to the Father's: "O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me, nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt" ( Matthew 26:39): "Abba, Father, all things are possible unto Thee," (lest His previous IF should harbor a doubt of the Father's power) "take away this cup from Me, nevertheless not what I will but what Thou wilt" ( Mark 14:86): "Father, if Thou be willing" (marking His realizing the Father's will as defining the true limits of possibility), remove this cup from Me, nevertheless not My will, but Thine be done" ( Luke 22:42): "Oh My Father, if (Rather Since) this cup may (Can) not pass away from Me except I drink it, (Now Recognizing That It Is Not The Father'S Will To Take The Cup Away) , Thy will be done" ( Matthew 26:42): lastly, the language of final triumph of faith over the sinless infirmity of His flesh, "The cup which My Father hath given Me shall I not drink it?" ( John 18:11.) A faultless pattern for us ( Isaiah 50:5-10).
Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words 
Eng., "agony," was used among the Greeks as an alternative to agon, "a place of assembly;" then for the contests or games which took place there, and then to denote intense emotion. It was more frequently used eventually in this last respect, to denote severe emotional strain and anguish. So in Luke 22:44 , of the Lord's "agony" in Gethsemane.
Easton's Bible Dictionary 
The verb from which the noun "agony" is derived is used to denote an earnest endeavour or striving, as "Strive [agonize] to enter" ( Luke 13:24 ); "Then would my servants fight" [agonize] ( John 18:36 ). Compare 1 Corinthians 9:25; Colossians 1:29; 4:12; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7 , where the words "striveth," "labour," "conflict," "fight," are the renderings of the same Greek verb.
Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible 
AGONY ( Luke 22:44 ) is not a translation but a transliteration of the Greek agÃ´nia , equivalent to St. Matthew’s ‘sorrowful and sore troubled’ ( Matthew 26:37 ) and St. Mark’s ‘greatly amazed and sore troubled’ ( Mark 14:33 ). The word does not mean ‘agony’ in the English sense. AgÃ´n was ‘a contest,’ and agÃ´nia the trepidation of a combatant about to enter the lists. Christ’s Agony in Gethsemane was the horror which overwhelmed Him as He faced the final ordeal.
King James Dictionary 
AG'ONY, n. Gr. a contest with bodily exertion a word used to denote the athletic games, in Greece whence anguish, solicitude from L. ago. Gr. to strive. See Act.
1. In strictness, pain so extreme as to cause writhing or contortions of the body, similar to those made in the athletic contests in Greece. Hence, 2. Extreme pain of body or mind anguish appropriately, the pangs of death, and the sufferings of our Savior in the garden of Gethsemane. Luke 22 . 3. Violent contest or striving.
Webster's Dictionary 
(1): (n.) The last struggle of life; death struggle.
(2): (n.) Paroxysm of joy; keen emotion.
(3): (n.) Violent contest or striving.
(4): (n.) Pain so extreme as to cause writhing or contortions of the body, similar to those made in the athletic contests in Greece; and hence, extreme pain of mind or body; anguish; paroxysm of grief; specifically, the sufferings of Christ in the garden of Gethsemane.
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature 
( Ἀγωνία ) , a word generally denoting Contest, and especially the contests by wrestling, etc., in the public games; whence it is applied metaphorically to a severe Struggle or Conflict with pain and suffering (Robinson's Lex. Of The N.T. s.v.). Agony is the actual struggle with present evil, and is thus distinguished from Anguish, which arises from the reflection on evil that is past (Crabb's Eng. Synonymes, s.v.). In the New Testament the word is only used by Luke (20:44) to describe the fearful struggle which our Lord sustained in the garden of Gethsemane (q.v.). The circumstances of this mysterious transaction are recorded in Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 20:39-47; Hebrew 5:7, 8. Luke alone notices the agony, the bloody sweat, and the appearance of an angel from heaven strengthening him. Matthew and Mark alone record the change which appeared in his countenance and manner, the complaint which he uttered of the overpowering sorrows of his soul, and his repetition of the same prayer. (See Bloody Sweat). All agree that he prayed for the removal of what he called "this cup," and are careful to note that he qualified this earnest petition by a preference of his Father's will to his own; the question is, what does he mean by "this cup?" Doddridge and others think that he means the instant agony, the trouble that he then actually endured. But Dr. Mayer (of York, Pa.) argues (in the Am. Bibl. Repos. April 1841, p. 294-317), from John 18:11, that the cup respecting which he prayed was one that was then before him, which he had not yet taken up to drink, and which he desired, if possible, that the Father should remove. It could, therefore, be no other than the death which the Father had appointed for him — the death of the cross — with all the attending circumstances which aggravated its horror; that scene of woe which began with his arrest in the garden, and was consummated by his death on Calvary. Jesus had long been familiar with this prospect, and had looked to it as the appointed termination of his ministry ( Matthew 16:21; Matthew 17:9-12; Matthew 20:17; Matthew 20:19; Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:32-34; John 10:18; John 12:32-33). But when he looked forward to this destination, as the hour approached, a chill of horror sometimes came over him, and found expression in external signs of distress ( John 12:27; comp. Luke 12:49-50). But on no occasion did he exhibit any very striking evidence of perplexity or anguish. He was usually calm and collected; and if at any time he gave utterance to feelings of distress and horror, he still preserved his self-possession, and quickly checked the desire which nature put forth to be spared so dreadful a death. It is, therefore, hardly to be supposed that the near approach of his sufferings, awful as they were, apart from every thing else, could alone have wrought so great a change in the mind of Jesus and in his whole demeanor, as soon as he had entered the garden. It is manifest that something more than the cross was now before him, and that he was now placed in a new and hitherto untried situation. Dr. Mayer says: "I have no hesitation in believing that he was here put upon the trial of his obedience. It was the purpose of God to subject the obedience of Jesus to a severe ordeal, in order that, like gold tried in the furnace, it might be an act of more perfect and illustrious virtue; and for this end he permitted him to be assailed by the fiercest temptation to disobey his will and to refuse the appointed cup. In pursuance of this purpose, the mind of Jesus was left to pass under a dark cloud, his views lost their clearness, the Father's will was shrouded in obscurity, the cross appeared in tenfold horror, and nature was left to indulge her feelings, and to put forth her reluctance." (See Jesus (Christ).)
Dr. Mayer admits that the sacred writers have not explained what that was, connected in the mind of Jesus with the death of the cross, which at this time excited in him so distressing a fear. "Pious and holy men have looked calmly upon death in its most terrific forms. But the pious and holy man has not had a world's salvation laid upon him; he has not been required to be absolutely perfect before God; he has known that, if he sinned, there was an advocate and a ransom for him. But nothing of this consolation could be presented to the mind of Jesus. He knew that he must die, as he had lived, without sin; but if the extremity of suffering should so far prevail as to provoke him into impatience or murmuring, or into a desire for revenge, this would be sin; and if he sinned, all would be lost, for there was no other Savior, In such considerations may probably be found the remote source of the agonies and fears which deepened the gloom of that dreadful night."
This, however, is not entirely satisfactory. Doubtless there was much of this obscuration of our Savior's mind, (See Crucifixion); but it would appear to have had reference to another point, and one connected with his condition and circumstances at the time, rather than with any future act or consequences. The apostle's inspired remark in Hebrew 5:7, has not been sufficiently attended to by interpreters, "Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears, unto Him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that [i.e. as to what] he feared." We are here distinctly informed, respecting this agony of Christ, that he was delivered from the object of dread, whatever it was; but this was not true in any sense of his future passion, which he suffered, and could not consistently have expected to have avoided, in its full extent. The mission of the angels, also, shows that some relief was administered to him on the spot: "There appeared an angel unto him from heaven strengthening him" ( Luke 22:43). The strength imparted appears to have been physical, thus, as the passage in Hebrew intimates, saving him from the Death which would otherwise have instantly supervened from the force of his emotions. This death Jesus was anxious to avoid just At That Time; his work was not yet done, and the "cup" of sacrificial atonement would have been premature. His heavenly Father, in answer to his prayer, removed it for the time from his lips, by miraculously sustaining his bodily powers, and his mind soon recovered its usual tone of equanimity. The emotions themselves under which he labored were evidently the same as those that oppressed him while hanging on the cross, and on other occasions in a less degree, namely, a peculiar sense of abandonment by God. This distress and perplexity cannot be attributed to a mere dread of death in however horrid a form, without degrading Christ's magnanimity below heathen fortitude, and contradicting his usually calm allusions to that event, as well as his collected endurance of the crucifixion tortures. Neither can they well be attributed (as above) to any uncertainty as to whether he had thus far fulfilled the will of God perfectly, and would be enabled in any future emergency to fulfill it as perfectly, without a gratuitous contradiction of all his former experience, and statements, and assigning him a degree of faith unworthy of his character. The position thus assigned him is incompatible with every thing hitherto in his history. Some other explanation must be sought. The state of mind indicated in his expiring cry upon the cross, "My God, my God, why hast THOU forsaken me ?" seems to betray the secret ingredient that gave the atoning cup its poignant bitterness. This appears to have been the consciousness of enduring the frown of God in the place of sinful man; without which sense of the divine displeasure, by a temporary withholding of his benign complacency, personally experienced by the Redeemer, although in others' behalf, the full penalty of transgression could not have been paid. (See Atonement). Jesus must suffer (in character) what the sinner would have suffered, and this with the concentrated intensity of a world's infinite guilt. The sacrifice of his human body could only have redeemed Man'S Body; his soul's beclouded anguish alone could represent the sentence passed,upon men's souls. This view essentially agrees with that taken by Olshausen (Comment. in loc.).
See Posner, De sudore Chr. sanguineo (Jen. 1665); Bethem, id. (ib. 1697); Clota. De doloribus animae J. C. (Hamb. 1670); Hasseus, De Jesu patiente in horto (Brem. 1703); Hekel, Iter Christi trans Cedron (Cygn. 1676); Hoffman, Jesu anxietas ante mortem (Lips. 1830); Koepken, De Servatore dolente (Rost. 1723); Krackewitz, De Sponsoris animi doloribus (Rost. 1716); Lange, De Christi angoribus (Lips. 1666); Nitzsche, De horto Gethsemane (Viteb. 1750); Voetius, De agonia Christi, in his Disputt. Theol. 2, 164 sq.; Wolfflin, Christus agonizans (Tubing. 1668); Ziebich, In hist. Servatoris Ἀγωνιζομένου (Viteb. 1744); Zorn, Opusc. 2, 530 sq., 300 sq.; Buddensieg, Matth. (in loc.) enarratus et defensus (Lips. 1818); Gurlitt, Explicatio (in loc.) Matth. (Magdeb. 1800); Schuster, in Eichhorn's Bibl. 9, 1012 sq.; Baumgarten, De precatione Ch. pro avertendo calice (Hal. 1785); Kraft, De Ch. calicem deprecante (Erlang. 1770); Neunhofer, De precibus Chr. Gethsemaniticis (Altenb. 1760); Quenstedt, De deprecatione calicis Christi (Viteb. 1675, and in Ikenii Thes. dispp. 2, 204 sq.); Scepseophilus, Christus in Gethsemane precans (Essl. 1743); Schmid, De Chr. calicem passionis deprecante (Lips. 1713); Nehring, De precatione Chr. pro avertendo calice (Hal. 1735); Cyprian, De sudariis Christi (Helmst. 1698, 1726, also in his Pent. Diss. 2); Gabler, Ueber d. Engel der Jesum gestarkt haben soil (in his Theol. Journ. 12, 109 sq.); Hilscher, De angelo luctante cum Christo (Lips. 1731); Huhn, De apparitione angeli Chr. confortantis (Lips. 1747); Pries, Modus confortationis angelicam illustratus (Rost. 1754); Rosa, Chr. in horto Geths. afflictissimus (Rudolphop. 1744); Carpzov, Spicileg. ad verba (in loc.) Luc. (Helmst. 1784); Bossuet, Reflexions sur l'agonie de J. C. (in his Euvres, 14, 240); Moore, The Nature and Causes of the Agony in the Garden (Lond. 1757); Mayer, De confortatione angelica agonizantis Jesu (Viteb. 1674, 1735).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia 
ag´o - ni ( ἀγονία , agōnı́a ; Vulgate agonia ): A word occurring only once in the New Testament ( Luke 22:44 ), and used to describe the climax of the mysterious soul-conflict and unspeakable suffering of our Lord in the garden at Gethsemane. The term is derived from the Greek agō̇n "contest" and this in turn from the Greek ágō "to drive or lead," as in a chariot race. Its root idea is the struggle and pain of the severest athletic contest or conflict. The wrestling of the athlete has its counterpart in the wrestling of the suffering soul of the Saviour in the garden. At the beginning of this struggle He speaks of His soul being exceeding sorrowful even unto death, and this tumult of emotion culminated in the agony. All that can be suggested by the exhausting struggles and sufferings of charioteers, runners, wrestlers and gladiators, in Grecian and Roman amphitheaters, is summed up in the pain and death-struggle of this solitary word "agony." The word was rendered by Wyclif (1382) "maad in agonye" Tyndale (1534) and following translators use an agony. The record of Jesus' suffering in Gethsemane, in the Synoptic Gospels ( Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46 , and also in Hebrews 5:7 , Hebrews 5:8 ) indicates that it was threefold:
The agony of His soul wrought its pain on His body, until "his sweat became as it were great drops of blood falling down upon the ground" ( Luke 22:44 , omitted by some ancient authorities). He offered His prayers and supplications "with strong crying and tears" ( Hebrews 5:7 ). The intensity of His struggle so distressed and weakened Him that Luke says "there appeared unto him an angel from heaven, strengthening him." The threefold record of the evangelists conveys the idea of the intensest physical pain. As the wire carries the electric current, so every nerve in Jesus' physical being felt the anguish of His sensitive soul as He took upon Himself the burden of the world's sin and moral evil.
The crisis of Jesus' career as Messiah and Redeemer came in Gethsemane. The moral issue of His atoning work was intelligently and voluntarily met here. The Gospels exhaust language in attempting to portray the stress and struggle of this conflict. "My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death." "Being in an agony he prayed more earnestly, saying, 'Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from me.'" The mental clearness of Christ's vision of humanity's moral guilt and the energy of will necessary to meet the issue and take "this cup" of being the world's sin-bearer, indicate the awful sorrow and anguish of His supernatural conflict. It is divinely significant that the word "agony" appears but once in all Scripture. This solitary word records a solitary experience. Only One ever compassed the whole range of the world's sorrow and pain, anguish and agony. The shame of criminal arrest in the garden and of subsequent condemnation and death as a malefactor had to His innocent soul the horror of humanity's entire and ageless guilt. The mental and moral anguish of Jesus in Gethsemane interprets the meaning of Paul's description of the atonement, "Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf" ( 2 Corinthians 5:21 ).
The agony of Jesus was supremely within the realm of His spirit. The effect of sin in separating the human soul from God was fathomed by the suffering Saviour in the fathomless mystery of His supernatural sorrow. Undoubtedly the anguish of Gethsemane surpassed the physical torture of Calvary. The whole conflict was wrought out here. Jesus' filial spirit, under the burden of the world's guilt, felt isolated from the Father. This awful, momentary seclusion from His Father's face constituted the "cup" which He prayed might pass from Him, and the "agony" of soul, experienced again on the cross, when He felt that God had forsaken Him.
No theory of the atonement can do justice to the threefold anguish of Jesus in Gethsemane and on Calvary, or to the entire trend of Scripture, that does not include the substitutionary element in His voluntary sacrifice, as stated by the prophet: "Yahweh hath laid on him the iniquity of us all," Isaiah 53:6; and by His apostles "who was delivered up for our trespasses," Romans 4:25; "who his own self bare our sins," 1 Peter 2:24 .
The word "agony" also occurs in 2 Macc 3:14, 16, 21 the King James Version (the Revised Version (British and American) "distress") in describing the distress of the people at the attempt of Heliodorus to despoil the treasury of the temple in the days of Onias.
Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature 
Agony, a word directly meaning contest, and especially the contests by wrestling, etc.in the public games; whence it is applied metaphorically to a severe struggle or conflict with pain and suffering. Agony is the actual struggle with present evil, and is thus distinguished from anguish, which arises from the reflection on evil that is past. In the New Testament the word is only used by Luke ( Luke 20:44), and is employed by him with terrible significance to describe the fearful struggle which our Lord sustained in the garden of Gethsemane. The circumstances of this mysterious transaction are recorded in Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 20:39-47; Hebrews 5:7-8. None of these passages, taken separately, contains a full history of our Savior's agony. Each of the three Evangelists has omitted some things which the others have recorded, and all are very brief. The passage in Hebrews is only an incidental notice. The three Evangelists appear to have had the same design, namely, to convey to their readers an idea of the intensity of the Lord's distress; but they compass it in different ways. Luke alone notices the agony, the bloody sweat, and the appearance of an angel from heaven strengthening him. Matthew and Mark alone record the change which appeared in his countenance and manner, the complaint which he uttered of the overpowering sorrows of his soul, and the repetition of the same prayer. All agree that he prayed for the removal of what he called 'this cup,' and are careful to note that he qualified this earnest petition by a preference of his Father's will to his own.
With regard to the cause of his overwhelming distress, Jesus himself points it out in the prayer, 'If it be possible, let this cup pass from me;' the cup which his Father had appointed for him; and the question is, what does he mean by 'this cup.' Doddridge and others think that he means the instant agony, the trouble that he then actually endured. But this is satisfactorily answered by Dr. Mayer, who shows by reference to John 18:18, that the cup respecting which he prayed was one that was then before him, which he had not yet taken up to drink, and which he desired, if possible, that the Father should remove. It could, therefore, be no other than the scene of suffering upon which he was about to enter. It was the death which the Father had appointed for him—the death of the cross—with all the attending circumstances which aggravated its horror; that scene of woe which began with his arrest in the garden, and was consummated by his death on Calvary. Jesus had long been familiar with this prospect, and had looked to it as the appointed termination of his ministry ( Matthew 16:21; Matthew 17:9-12; Matthew 20:17; Matthew 20:19; Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:32-34; John 10:18; John 12:32-33). But when he looked forward to this destination, as the hour approached, a chill of horror sometimes came over him, and found expression in external signs of distress ( John 12:27; comp. Luke 12:49-50). It is manifest, therefore, that something more than the cross was now before him, and that he was now placed in a new and hitherto untried situation. Dr. Mayer says: 'I have no hesitation in believing that He was here put upon the trial of His obedience. It was the purpose of God to subject the obedience of Jesus to a severe ordeal, in order that, like gold tried in the furnace, it might be an act of more perfect and illustrious virtue; and for this end He permitted Him to be assailed: by the fiercest temptation to disobey His will and to refuse the appointed cup. In pursuance of this purpose, the mind of Jesus was left to pass under a dark cloud, His views lost their clearness, the Father's will was shrouded in obscurity, the cross appeared in ten-fold horror, and nature was left to indulge her feelings, and to put forth her reluctance.'
Under another head [[[Bloody Sweat]]] will be found the considerations suggested by one of the remarkable circumstances of this event.
- ↑ Agony from Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
- ↑ Agony from Fausset's Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Agony from Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words
- ↑ Agony from Easton's Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Agony from Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
- ↑ Agony from King James Dictionary
- ↑ Agony from Webster's Dictionary
- ↑ Agony from Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
- ↑ Agony from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
- ↑ Agony from Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature