Q&A – Explain Luke 23:43

Will you please explain Luke 23:43 NKJV? When Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “Assuredly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise,” what exactly did He mean?

All punctuation in the Scripture was added by the translators, as there was none in the original manuscripts. Adding the comma where it is in the above verse appears to change the timing of when the thief would be with Jesus in Paradise. However, by looking at other verses pertaining to those who have died, it is clear that Jesus did not mean that on that very day the forgiven thief would go to Paradise.

Job said, “Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb.” Job 21:32.

John said, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:28, 29.

The promise made that day, as they were both hanging on a cross, was that the thief would be remembered among the redeemed for whom Jesus is coming back and will take to heaven to live with Him in Paradise throughout eternity.

“Assuredly I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Neither did Jesus Himself go to Paradise that day. On the Sunday after His crucifixion, Mary stood weeping at the empty tomb in the garden thinking the body of Jesus had been stolen. She first mistook Jesus for the gardener, but when recognizing her Lord, she was the first to see the risen Saviour. He told her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father” (John 20:17 NKJV). This verse makes it very clear that He did not go to Paradise on the day of His crucifixion.

Paradise is where the tree of life is (Revelation 2: 7), and the tree of life is “fast by the throne of God” (Revelation 22:1, 2).

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