Difficult Texts

"And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise."

Some have assumed from this verse that souls go to their reward immediately after death, a teaching which goes contrary to scores of other Bible texts. Notice two things wrong with this assumption. First: Even though Jesus told the thief, "Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise," three days later He told Mary that He had not yet ascended to His Father.

Here is the evidence that His Father was in Paradise: Revelation 2:7 says the tree of life "is in the midst of the paradise of God," and Revelation 22:1,2 describes the tree of life by the side of the river of life which flows, in turn, from the throne of God. So there is no question about the Father's throne being located in Paradise. The question is: How could Jesus have told the thief that He would be with him in Paradise that day when He did not go there until three days later?

In the second place, Jesus and the thief did not even die on the same day. When the soldiers came just before sunset to take the bodies off the cross, Jesus was already dead (John 19:32-34). The thieves were very much alive, and their legs were broken to hasten death and to prevent them from escaping. They undoubtedly lived past sunset into the hours of the Sabbath and possibly longer. So how could Jesus assure the thief of being with Him in Paradise that day when they did not both die on "that day"?

The apparent contradictions clear up when we consider that the punctuation of Luke 23:43 was added by uninspired men when our English Bible was translated. They placed a comma before the word "today," when in reality it should have been placed after the word "today." Then the verse would correctly read: "Verily I say unto thee today, Thou shalt be with me in Paradise." In other words, Jesus was saying: "I give you the assurance today, when it seems I can save no man--today, when my disciples have forsaken me and I'm dying as a criminal dies, I assure you of salvation."

Please notice that the thief did not ask to be taken to Paradise then. He asked, "Lord remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." That's exactly when he will be remembered and taken into that kingdom.