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#5.1 TODAY YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE Luke 23:43

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Greek word definition παράδεισος meaning 'Paradise' Strong's 3857

Introduction 5.1

This bible study analyses the punctuation of the statement of Jesus, 'Today you will be with me in Paradise.' (Luke 23:42). It is hotly debated by some scholars because the truth or falseness of the doctrine of 'soul sleep' rests on it. If Jesus said, 'Today you will be with me in Paradise,' then it proves the doctrine of 'soul sleep' false, but if it is correct that Jesus said, 'Amen I say to you today, You will be with me in Paradise.' then it enables them to continue to justify what they believe.

#5.1 The Robber on the Cross went with Jesus to Paradise

LUKE 23:39-43
39 And one of the robbers who were hanged railed on him, saying, If you are Christ, save yourself and us.
40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Do you not fear God, seeing that you are in the same condemnation?
41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man has done nothing wrong.
42 And he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.
43 And Jesus said to him, Amen I say to you, Today you shall you be with me in Paradise.

Note 1: Reading this scripture as it is written, shows that not only did Jesus go to Paradise when he died, but also that the robber who was saved went with him the same day. It appears as if Jesus said, "Amen I say to you, To day you shall be with me in Paradise." (v43), but there are some that believe that the punctuation here is not correct, and what Jesus actually said was, "Amen I say to you today, You shall be with me in Paradise." Can you see the difference? The adverb "today" is now qualifying the verb "I say", instead of the verb "you shall be", and it completely changes the meaning. So Let us examine whether it is legitimate to do this or not. The original Greek manuscripts were written without punctuation, or accents, in all capital letters (called uncials) and without spaces between the words. Word separation, punctuation, and accents, were all added by people who copied manuscripts at a much later date, and it would be naive to say the least, to automatically accept that they always got it right. So in cases where there is definite evidence that it was not done properly, we could justify ourselves in changing the punctuation, although this has to be the exception rather than the rule.

Note 2: There are a number of churches that would oppose what is being taught here, and they all seem to have the same advocate to support their case: E. W Bullinger a Church of England theologian who lived 1837 to 1913. Here are his main arguments:

ARGUMENT 1: The interpretation of this verse depends entirely on punctuation, which rests wholly on human authority, the Greek manuscripts having no punctuation of any kind till the ninth century, and then it is only a dot in the middle of the line separating each word.
The Verb "to say," when followed by hoti, introduces the ipsissima verba of what is said; and answers to our quotation marks. So here (in Luke 23:43), in the absence of hoti (="that"), there may be a doubt as to the actual words included in the dependent clause. But the doubt is resolved (1) by the common Hebrew idiom, "I say unto thee this day," which is constantly used for very solemn emphasis; as well as (2) by the usage observable in other passages where the verb is connected with the Gr. semeron= to-day.

1. With hoti:--
Mark 14:30: "Verily I say unto thee, that (hoti) 'this day ... thou shall deny me thrice.' "
Luke 4:21: "And He began to say unto them, that (hoti) 'This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.' "
Luke 5:26: "Saying (hoti=that), 'We have seen strange things to-day.' "
Luke 19:9: "Jesus said unto him that (hoti), 'This day is salvation come to this house.' "

For other examples of the verb "to say," followed by hoti, but not connected with semeron (to-day), see Matt. 14:26, 16:18, 21:3, 26:34, 27:4; Mark 1:40; 6:14,15,18,35, 9:26, 14:25; Luke 4:24,41, 15:27, 17:10, 19:7.

2. Without hoti: --
On the other hand, in the absence of hoti (=that), the relation of the word "to-day" must be determined by the context.
Luke 22:34: "And He said, 'I tell thee, Peter, in no wise shall a cock crow to-day before thou shall thrice deny that thou knowest Me.' " Here the word" to-day" is connected with the verb "crow," because the context requires it. Compare Heb. 4:7.

It is the same in Luke 23:43: "And Jesus said to him, 'Verily I say unto thee to-day [or this day, when, though they were about to die, this man had expressed so great faith in Messiah's coming Kingdom, and therefore in the Lord's resurrection to be its King -- now, under such solemn circumstances] thou shall be, with Me, in Paradise.' " For, when Messiah shall reign, His Kingdom will convert the promised land into a Paradise. Read Isa. 35, and see note on Ecc. 2:5.

ANSWER 1: The first thing to notice is that all the examples that Bullinger has quoted are against his case, none of them qualifying the verb 'I say'. Each one uses 'hoti' to separate 'This day' from the verb 'I say'. This leaves us with a situation where Jesus NEVER used the words 'today' or 'this day' to qualify the verb I say. We can prove whether the adverb "today" should qualify the verb "I say", or the verb "you shall be" (Luke 23:43) by examining other similar statements of Jesus.

Jesus said, "I say to you" (without an 'amen') 59 times:
Matthew with 'hoti' 14 times - Matthew 3:9, 5:20, 5:22, 5:28, 5:32, 6:29, 8:11, 11:24, 12:16, 12:36, 17:12, 18:9, 19:9, 26:29.
Matthew without 'hoti' 11 times - Matthew 5:34, 5:39, 5:44, 6:25, 11:9, 11:22, 12:31, 18:10, 19:24, 23:39, 26:64.
Mark with 'hoti' 1 time - Mark 9:13.
Mark without 'hoti' 4 times - Mark 2:11, 5:41, 11:24, 13:37.
Luke with 'hoti' 10 times - Luke 3:8, 10:12, 12:44, 14:24, 15:7, 19:26, 21:3, 22:16, 22:18, 22:37.
Luke without 'hoti' 18 times - Luke 4:25, 5:24, 6:27, 7:14, 7:26, 7:28, 7:47, 11:8, 11:9, 11:51, 12:4, 12:5, 12:8, 12:22, 12:27, 13:24, 15:10, 16:9.
John without 'hoti' 1 time - John 4:35.

Jesus said, "Amen I say to you," 51 times: (Please note: the NKJV uses the word 'Assuredly' instead of 'Amen'.)
Matthew with 'hoti' 10 times - Matthew 6:5, 6:16; 13:17; 18:13, 19:23, 19:28; 21:31; 24:47; 26:21, 26:34.
Matthew without 'hoti' 20 times - Matthew 5:18, 5:26; 6:2, 8:10; 10:15, 10:23, 10:42; 11:11; 16:28; 17:20; 18:3, 18:18; 21:21, 23:36; 24:2, 24:34, 25:12; 25:40, 25:45; 26:13.
Mark with 'hoti' 7 times - Mark 3:28; 9:1, 11:23; 12:43; 14:18, 14:25; 14:30.
Mark without 'hoti' 7 times - Mark 6:11; 8:12; 9:41; 10:15, 10:29; 13:30; 14:9.
Luke with 'hoti' 5 times - Luke 4:24; 12:37; 13:35; 18:29; 21:32.
Luke without 'hoti' 2 times - Luke 18:17, 23:43.

Jesus said, "Amen, amen, I say to you," 25 times: (Please note: the NKJV uses the words 'Most assuredly' instead of 'Amen, amen'.)
John with 'hoti' 8 times - John 3:11; 5:24, 5:25; 8:34, 10:7; 13:21, 16:20, 16:23.
John without 'hoti' 17 times - John 1:51; 3:3, 3:5, 5:19, 6:26, 6:32, 6:47, 6:53; 8:51, 8:58; 10:1, 12:24; 13:16, 13:20, 13:38; 14:12; 21:18.

In 135 occasions where Jesus used the phrase 'I say to you' it was followed by 'hoti' 55 times, and was without 'hoti' 80 times. So where is the big deal? In none of these places where 'hoti' is used would its omission change the meaning of the passage. Look at these two scriptures:

(Matthew 6:2) "Amen I say to you, They have their reward."
(Matthew 6:5) "Amen I say to you, They have their reward."

Can you see any difference? No? The Greek is identical except that the second scripture contains 'hoti' after 'I say to you' and the first one does not. The same writer for both and only three verses apart. It is obviously nothing more than a matter of style; they both mean exactly the same thing. However, despite all the evidence there are still those who would like to change the meaning in Luke 23:43 simply because it contradicts their false doctrine of 'soul sleep'. In none of these 135 times recorded here did Jesus ever use the adverb "today" to qualify the time of speaking. Why not? - because it was never required. If it was a practice or a custom of his he would have done it in other places, but significantly there are none recorded. Jesus does not change (Hebrews 13:8), neither does the Father change (James 1:17), so why would he add the word "today" in Luke 23:43? If it was meant to indicate the time of speaking, it adds nothing at all to understanding of the verse, does it? If the word had been missed out altogether Jesus would still have known which day he spoke to the robber, so would the robber, and so would anyone else who heard it. Even us reading the bible now, almost two thousand years later, would know that it was said the day that Jesus died on the cross, which was the 14th day of Nisan, the day of the Passover, so it would just be an additional, idle word. Jesus himself taught against speaking useless words:

(Matthew 5:37) "But let your word be, Yes, for yes; No, for no; for whatever is more than these comes of evil."
(Matthew 12:36) "But I say to you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account of it in the day of judgment."

So we can conclude from this that Jesus would not do it, and when he used the word "today" (Luke 23:43), it was used in a meaningful manner to qualify the verb "you shall be", and indicate to the robber that he would go to Paradise when he died. There are examples where Jesus used the adverb "today" to qualify an action verb.

(Mark 14:30) "And Jesus says to him, Amen I say to you, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crows twice, you shall deny me three times."
(Luke 4:21) "And he began to say to them, 'Today this scripture is fulfilled in your ears.' "
(Luke 19:9) "Jesus said to him, 'This day salvation is come to this house.' "

In each of these cases the word 'hoti' is used and Jesus is indicating the exact timing of the event, just as in Luke 23:43, so his words are meaningful and not wasted. NEVER, in the whole of the New Testament did Jesus use the word today to qualify the time of speaking, so stick with his example and do not commit spiritual suicide as those who try to alter it.

ARGUMENT 2: Further we must note that the formula "I say unto thee this day," was a well known Hebrew idiom used to emphasized the solemnity of the occasion and the importance of the words. See Deut 4:26, 4:29, 4:40; 5:6; 6:6; 7:11; 8:1, 8:11, 8:19; 9:3; 10:13; 11:2, 11:8, 11:13, 11:18, 11:27, 11:28, 11:32; 13:18; 15:5; 19:9; 26:3, 26:17, 26:18; 27:1, 27:4, 27:10; 28:1, 28:13, 28:14, 28:15; 29:12; 30:2, 30:8, 30:11, 30:15, 30:16, 30:18, 32:46. The expression, therefore, "I say unto thee this day," marks the wonderful character of the man's faith; which, under such circumstances, could still believe in, and look forward to the coming kingdom; and acknowledge that Christ was the King, though on that very day He was hanging on the Cross.

ANSWER 2: There are a number of things that we can note here.
(a) Three of the references given are incorrect: Deuteronomy 4:29, 5:6, 11:18. These do not contain the word 'today' or 'this day'.
(b) None of these references contain the word 'Amen' which is a Hebrew word, and Jesus used in his statement (Luke 23:43).
(c) None of these references contain the words 'I say' which would be the Greek word 'lego' in the Septuagint.
(d) All of these references are from the book of Deuteronomy. He did not give any from anywhere else in the Old Testament.

So if none of the references given by Bullinger contain either the words 'Amen' or 'I say' then they can hardly be in any way equivalent to what Jesus said in Luke 23:43 and many other places. Secondly, why are all the references that Bullinger gave in Deuteronomy and none from anywhere else in the Old Testament if it was a common Hebrew idiom as he claimed? Surely there should have been references from everywhere in the Old Testament. I think there is a very good reason for this, so let us examine it.
The most common statement in Bullinger's references is, 'which I command you today'. There are numerous references: Deuteronomy 4:40; 6:6; 7:11; 8:1, 8:11, 10:13; 11:8, 11:13, 11:27, 11:28, 13:18; 15:5; 19:9; 27:1, 27:10; 28:1, 28:13, 28:14, 28:15; 30:2, 30:8, 30:11,30:16. These are referring to commandments, statutes, judgments, or words, and are emphasizing which commandments, statutes, judgments or words he is referring to: the ones which I command you today! Not any other commandments but those I have spoken today! So there is a good reason to use the word 'today' in these scriptures and it is very meaningful. The same applies to a similar phrase, 'I set before you this day', which dealt with statutes and judgments, blessing and cursing (Deuteronomy 4:8, 11:26, 11:32, 30:15) and the Law (Deuteronomy 4:4). The reason why the word 'today' is important in these and other references is because the people were entering into a covenant with God that day (Deuteronomy 29:1, 29:12), and Moses spoke all the words of that covenant on that one day (Deuteronomy 1:3, 5:1). This is therefore not a common Hebrew idiom as Bullinger claimed; the emphasis on the time of speaking was done with good reason, which does not apply to the words of Jesus in Luke 23:43.

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