Luke 23:43: And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”(according to most translations, that is)
I will be assessing this verse in three ways:
3.Logically as well as biblically speaking
Right off the bat,let's examine the grammar.Because there is no punctuation in the Greek here,it depends upon where the comma is placed within this passage what the true intent of Yahushua was in his statement therein.First,does the bible provide any precedent that the comma can be placed AFTER the word today?Absolutely.Please examine:
Deut. 30:18:I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish.
Acts 20:26:Why I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.
The grammar is possible either way.If you look at bias sites,you will find bias opinions.Scripture from cover to cover should be the determining factor.Obviously in texts like the above, "today" or "this day" is said to emphasize a point,not to propose that what was being said would actually occur on that day.
A website says:
"the phrase in verse 43, “I tell you the truth today,” was a common Hebrew idiom used to emphasize the solemnity and importance of an occasion or moment." (compare Deut. 4:26, 39, 40; 5:1; 6:6; 7:11, Josh. 23:14).(from:http://www.truthortradition.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=370 )
All that being said,it should go without saying that Yahushua isn't going to propose something that would contradict clear and prevailing revelations throughout his father's word.So to establish those revelations,let's examine the context itself of the passage in question as well as the passages that cannot be contradicted throughout the bible itself to help establish an interpretation of Luke 23:43 itself that doesn't negate prevailing biblical sentiments.First,context.
It is paradise that we inherit when Christ returns and the earth is made new,not anytime before that if we are to believe common sense scriptures.Perhaps that is why the man on the cross said “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Lk. 23:42)Perhaps that is also why Yahushua stressed that he would remember the thief in his kingdom.After all,isn't his kingdom "paradise"?As Anthony Buzzard notes "the Lord's assertion more than satisfies the thief's request."("What happens when we die?" p. 56)Since when was "sheol"(in Hebrew) or "hades"(in Greek),which is where the dead go until they're resurrected, "paradise" anyway?(Job 14:13,Acts 2:31)
Yahushua said in Luke 22:18(not long before he addressed the malefactor on the cross) :"I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes."To which I suppose a traditionalist Christian could say: "Why not..if you'll be in Paradise the day you die?"Acts 2:31 says about Yahushua that "he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption."So apparently unless one is resurrected from the GRAVE,as opposed to "Paradise" where it seems everything would be beautifully preserved,the "flesh"(yes,proving actual "flesh" must be in Hades)would decay.If Hades is a Paradise of disembodied souls,why is there flesh there and why does it decay?
I would suggest that when Yahushua addressed the man in Luke that what came to mind for this criminal was the Garden of Eden that Adam lost.(Rev. 2:7,22:2)Adam lived there with his body intact.And thanks to the Last Adam,we can too!!At the Last Day.(1 Thes. 4:17,2 Tim. 4:8)I would also suggest to you that the "tree of life" doesn't grow where the dead sleep.And that since the tree of life is in the "paradise of God" then the dead don't eat of it.Otherwise,what *exactly* was the curse for all sinful men Adam caused?To turn to dust *so that* you can eat of the tree of life?(Reason is called for.)That tree of life in God's paradise is obviously a gift bestowed not upon the dead,but rather upon the resurrected faithful.
If the dead are in some interim called paradise,it must be utterly silent without joy,breath,livelihood,any semblance of intellect,or even awakeness.Otherwise,what God has actually said irrefutably and rather plainly about their state would be utterly nonsensical.So now it's time for some holy scripture and logic.
Ps. 115:17: The dead do not praise the Lord,
nor do any who go down into silence.
Ps. 146:4: His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; In that very day his thoughts perish.
Please note the passage says that *he* does,as opposed to a flesh capsule without *him* in it.When the spirit,or the breath of life,exits the body,the entire person ceases to breathe,think,or remain awake.At least according to plain unambiguous language.
Ecc. 9:5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, ..and verse 10:there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.(sheol is hades in Hebrew)
I could go on and on here describing the proper state of the dead,but I'll spare you.For those of you who believe that all the "silence" and "sleep" and "breath leaving the body as the thoughts perish" texts are in reference solely to a "body" with no one in it,then I suppose the only appeal I can make is for you to reconsider such an unwarranted leap,one made imo without any solid reason.That view is similar to the remarkable and unfounded view that much of what Christ accomplished was due to a "nature",(including even his very death!) and not the actual whole person of Yahushua *himself.*Why let theological presuppositions and long held traditional inferences butcher plain language?
Matthew 9:23-25, John 11:11-14, Jeremiah 51:39, Acts 7:60 all describe the dead as asleep(connoting God's ability to awake them in a resurrection)..Would "sleeping" be the best possible way to describe those who are awake in sheol or hades,which those who have misused Luke 23:43 have managed to call "Paradise"?It would seem to be,logically speaking,that the resurrections that took place in scripture would have been more like intolerable cruelty than a joyous occasion if the dead are alive in Paradise,given that a "resurrection" would rob them of their joy with God as spirits even as it gives them back their tainted flesh that often causes much discomfort and agony.(Rom. 7:18-25)I also find it interesting,and you can argue that I'm arguing from silence while I would say instead that we're commanded to reason(and so I will argue with that intact),that no one resurrected in scripture described how they were alive anywhere in a state of being awake and alive(in ANY condition) before they were made alive in the biblical records of resurrections performed by everyone from Elijah to Yahushua to Peter & Paul.
Please also note that all the dead are said to be in Sheol or Hades,so where is there a distinguishing mark between those who are wicked and those who are righteous?In other words,if Hades is the destination of all who die,how can it properly be called "Paradise"?Do the wicked inherit "Paradise" at death?If not,then how can sheol and hades actually BE Paradise?
For those of you who think hades and Paradise(assuming that you believe the dead are in both hades and Paradise because hades is in fact somehow Paradise) are also both somehow "heaven"(because in your theological view Paradise IS Heaven),then how could you possibly reconcile that with Christ's proclamation that he hadn't ascended to the father and didn't for 40 days(Jn. 20:17) and also the bible's revelation that none of God's faithful servants had either?(Acts 2:34)
Paul said in 2 Corinthians:
2 Cor. 5:2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
Why would Paul scoff at the idea of being "unclothed" if God intends to "unclothe him" as a disembodied spirit in some interim supposedly called "Paradise"(where he's perfect & blissful with Yahushua mind you!) before he's resurrected?If that was God's intention,shouldn't Paul have rather "groaned" to be unclothed and free from the burden of his body so that he could be with Yahushua in Paradise as a spirit creature?Instead Paul says something very telling..he says "we may not be found naked. " and " we groan...*not that we would be unclothed*, but that we would be *further clothed*"Also, note how Paul contrasts "mortality" from "being swallowed up by life."If mortality actually entails being alive then the apparent contrast would be entirely lost..I logically detect no need of a resurrection at all if we're made perfect in Paradise with Christ the moment we die.What is so exceptional about regaining a body if Paradise is held in the palm of our hands without one?
As yet another reasoning point,wouldn't peace in "Paradise" with Yahushua be absolutely perfect?According to Heb. 11:40,all the faithful are made perfect TOGETHER,not apart from one another.And when?When they're resurrected,of course.(1 Cor. 15:52)So if the thief was made perfect apart from everyone else,the bible lies.
Significantly enough,Rom. 10:7 says Christ was in the *abyss* for 3 days like Jonah was in the belly of the sea monster(Matt. 12:40)i.e. NOT in paradise.The abyss,I can assure you,is not paradise.Yahushua said "*I* was dead."*I* entails an ego and mind in the Greek language so a *body* with no Yahushua in it isn't a sufficient death to save anyone.His mind,breath,and thoughts had to cease to function or he didn't die for anyone.If he was awake anywhere at all he didn't legitimately die for anyone.(John 11:11,Ps. 115:17,146:4)Bodies don't die without people in them,except by an absurd unwarranted inference,quite frankly initially based upon Platonic type philosophies of men.
In summary,the criminal on the cross(in context) is asking about assurance that he will be saved when Yahushua returns as king,not that *particular* day.Because the hope for all mankind from cover to cover is a resurrection to glory at the LAST DAY,and not glory before it.(2 Tim. 4:8,1 Cor. 15:52,1 Thes. 4:16)Again,either translation for Luke 23:43 is gramatically viable(in terms of comma placement),but the one that harmonizes with the bible's unambiguous declarations from cover to cover is the only one that can be right.