© 2023 United Church of God Australia
All correspondence and questions should be sent to . Send inquiries regarding the operation of this Web site to .
Most Bible versions translate Christ's words to the convicted criminal being crucified with Him in Luke 23:43 as the New King James Version does: "...Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
Because of the positioning of the comma after the word "you," many assume Jesus was assuring the thief he would go to Heaven with Him that very day. But there were no commas in the original Greek text for this verse. Commas were added by the King James translators and have made the verse misleading. This verse should read: "...Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise."
Dr. E.W. Bullinger explains in The Companion Bible: "None of our modern marks of punctuation are found [in Bible texts] until the ninth century . . . The punctuation of all modern editions of the Greek text...rests entirely on human authority, and has no weight whatsoever in determining or even influencing the interpretation of a single passage" (1990, Appendix 94, p. 136).
The Bible clearly shows Jesus did not go to Paradise or Heaven on the day He died, but was buried in the grave. He told Mary soon after He had been resurrected: "...Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father..." (John 20:17), and earlier He had said He would be in the grave for three days and three nights (Matthew 12:40).
Jesus was encouraging the thief by assuring him a time would come, in God's future Kingdom on earth, when he would be resurrected and would see Jesus again. The wording of the thief’s request: "...Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom" (Luke 23:42) expresses no expectation of immediately going to Heaven. He may even have already known that the Kingdom of God would be a literal kingdom to be established on earth by the Messiah -- which many Jews of that day understood. Jesus had also previously related an entire parable to explain this "... because they thought that the kingdom of God would immediately appear" (Luke 19:11).
Peter's assertion in Acts 2:29, 34, almost two months after Christ's death and resurrection, that King David "...is both dead and buried..." and "...David did not ascend into the heavens..." also supports Christ’s statements. Putting together these scriptures, we can see that the "paradise" Christ mentioned, in which men will dwell with God, is to be at a future time.