The Thief on the Cross

“And Yahushua said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43. Does this verse prove that there is life immediately after death? Let’s examine.

This verse was written in Greek. The Greek language is without punctuation. The adverb sēmeron, which is “today” in Greek, stands between two clauses which read, literally, “truly to you I say” and “with me you will be in the paradise.” Greek usage allowed an adverb to appear anywhere in a sentence the speaker or writer desired to place it. Merely from the Greek construction of this sentence it is impossible to determine whether the adverb “today” modifies “I say” or “you will be.” Either is possible.

The logical way to decide which was meant is to focus on whether Yahushua meant to literally say, “Truly to you I say today,” or “Today with me you will be in paradise.”

Now, on the eve of the betrayal—less than 24 hours before making this promise to the thief - Yahushua had told the disciples, “In my Father’s house are many mansions. … I go to prepare a place for you. … I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” John 14:2, 3. Yet, three days later Yahushua informed Mary, “I am not yet ascended to my Father” John 20:17. Obviously, Yahushua did not go to paradise, and was not in paradise, on the day of His crucifixion. Therefore, the thief could not have been with Yahushua in paradise.

It should be noted that the comma between the words “thee” and “to day” [Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise] was inserted by the translators. The original Greek text, which had neither punctuation nor word division, reads: amēn soi legō sēmeron met emou esē en tō paradeisō, literally, “truly to-you I-say today with-me you-will-be in the paradise.” The adverb sēmeron, “today,” stands between the two verbs legō, “I-say,” and esē, “you-will-be.” It was totally up to the translator to put a comma where he wished, and it is amazing how much of a difference placing a comma before or after the word “today” makes.

In placing the comma before “today,” the translators were guided by the unscriptural belief that the dead receive their rewards at death. But neither Yahushua nor the writers of the New Testament believed or taught this. To place the comma before “today” would make Yahushua contradict all that He and all the writers of the Bible have plainly stated elsewhere. Accordingly, the Scriptures themselves require that the comma be placed after the word “today,” not before it.

Thus, what Yahushua actually said to the thief on the cross was: “Verily I say unto thee today, Thou shalt be with me in paradise.” The only thing the thief was worried about at the moment was not when he would reach paradise, but whether he would get there at all. Yahushua’ simple statement assures him that he will most assuredly be there.

For more Bible verses on this much discussed and confused subject, please read: The Thief on the Cross.