A Repent Thief, and Every Jot and Tittle

From The thief on the cross, the comma & Christ, by Bibleinfo

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Let’s take a look at several verses in Luke 23 to find the meaning of this phrase: “Then one of the criminals who was hanged blasphemed Him, saying, If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us. But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise’” (Luke 23:39-43).

One of the thieves, after joining with the other thief in mocking the Lord (Mark 15:32), recognized that Jesus was the Son of God and decided to ask for mercy and pardon. He offers up the simple prayer, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Jesus accepts His repentance and gives him the promise that the thief on the cross will be with him in paradise. Is Jesus promising that the repentant criminal would be with Him that day in paradise? It would appear so on the surface, but let’s take a deeper look.

[…some good stuff snipped: check the original!]

The Thief On the Cross & the Comma

It makes a big difference where the comma is placed. There is a story of a wealthy man whose wife sent him a telegram asking if she could buy a very expensive item. He sent the reply, “No, price too high.” Unfortunately the telegraph operator left the comma out of the message. When the wife received the message, “No price too high,” she happily went and bought the expensive item. This story illustrates the importance of correct punctuation. If the punctuation is off by even one word it can mean something entirely different.

As we compare scriptures one with another we will find apparent contradictions, but if we look carefully at the clearest texts and the overwhelming evidence in the scriptures on a certain subject, we will find the truth (see Isaiah 28:10). Often it’s our preconceived ideas that lead us to think a certain verse means a specific thing. We must be careful never to take a verse out of context. The question now is, how can we harmonize this verse with the rest of the Bible?

Is the Comma Inspired?

Is the punctuation in the Bible inspired? In the original Greek text of the New Testament there was no punctuation, in fact, there was no spacing between words. Here is a quote from the Greek language expert Michael W. Palmer. “The ancient Greeks did not have any equivalent to our modern device of punctuation. Sentence punctuation was invented several centuries after the time of Christ. The oldest copies of both the Greek New Testament and the Hebrew Old Testament are written with no punctuation” (https://www.greeklanguage.blog/?p=657).

When the translators of the English Bible translated this verse and others they had to decide where the punctuation should be. The translators themselves were not inspired. God definitely helped them translate the Bible, but the punctuation is not inspired since there was no punctuation in the original manuscripts. Translators made the simple mistake of placing the comma in the wrong position, perhaps because of their traditional beliefs about what happens when you die.

Is the Paradise that Jesus Referred to in Heaven?

This may seem like a surprising question to include, but there is a theory that paradise is not heaven but another place altogether. People generally come up with this theory to clear up the apparent contradiction between what Christ said to the thief on the cross and what He said to Mary two days later.

Where does the Bible say paradise is?

Christ promises to the faithful in the church of Ephesus: “To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7).

So where is the tree of life? The answer to this question will help us know where paradise is. In Revelation 22:1-4, we learn that the tree of life is in the New Jerusalem. So we can know for certain that paradise is in the New Jerusalem where God reigns. It is not some place in the underworld or in the subterranean regions. Paradise is the garden of God, which is in heaven.

Conclusion

The Scriptures are clear that Christ had not ascended to the Father on Sunday morning. Therefore, He could not have been with the thief in paradise on Friday. This means that the Bible translators incorrectly placed the comma before the word today instead of after it.

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A good sample of good Bible scholarship, here.

The Traditions of Men I

An interesting example of how a tradition of men gets started is shown, working to place Paradise as not heaven but another location. I am inclined to be forgiving of this from folks who just don’t know the facts, or are missing some of the puzzle pieces.

But once you know the facts, you have to place Paradise in Heaven, nowhere else. We are judged according to knowledge: the more we know, the more God rightfully demands of us.

Interesting, how American Christians dismiss knowledge of the creeds, the historical record, the Law… indeed, everything that involved logic, rules, the intellect, and limits. “No mental effort desired… or tolerated.”

Not so surprisingly, how drastically the intellectual heft of American Christians fell… and also, their influence and pull in society.

The Traditions of Men II

When the translators of the English Bible translated this verse and others they had to decide where the punctuation should be. The translators themselves were not inspired. God definitely helped them translate the Bible, but the punctuation is not inspired since there was no punctuation in the original manuscripts. Translators made the simple mistake of placing the comma in the wrong position, perhaps because of their traditional beliefs about what happens when you die.

When traditional beliefs clash with the actual word of God staring at you in the face, it’s time to set the traditional belief aside.

I am still not inclined to judge the translators harshly. Still, we know that they made the wrong call here, and it’s time to fix it.

Age does not sanctify, justify, or protect. Only the actual word of God counts.

Every Jot and Tittle

Details matter. Logic matter. Punctuation matters.

Commas matter.

Truth matters.

Happiness

I am glad that Christ welcomed the repentant thief to Paradise.

Divine mercy shown to a scoundrel opens the door for Divine mercy for me…
…. assuming that I am also repentant before the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.

That’s the right way to go.

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