Did Jesus actually say: Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise? Or did Jesus actually say: Verily I say unto thee To day, shalt thou be with me in paradise?
Lets look at that verse in the Bible:
- And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
- And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. Luke 23:42-43.
So, what did Jesus really say? Was He actually saying that, on the very day He spoke, that the thief was going to be in paradise in heaven? Or was Jesus saying today, that the thief would eventually be with Him in paradise?
From the way it reads in the Bible is appears that Jesus did promise to the thief that he would go to paradise that day. However if that is true, we are faced with three problems.
- The thief did not ask to go that day. He had his theology straight, and asked to be remembered when Jesus comes in His kingdom.
- Jesus did not go that day. Three days later, after Jesus rose from the dead, He told Mary not to touch Him, for He had not ascended to the Father. Actually, the New King James version says it better:
17 Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'" John 20:17.
So Jesus never went to Heaven when He was dead. He plainly said to Mary that He had not yet seen the Father. Notice also that Jesus says He is ascending to His Father. Jesus did not say that He had just come back from Heaven nor did He say that He had ascended already (past tense). It should be clear that Jesus never went anywhere. He was in the grave sleeping the sleep of the dead.
- The thief could not have gone that day because he did not die that day! John 19:30-34 tells how the thieves legs were broken as the Sabbath began. This was because the Jews did not want crosses up on the Sabbath, so they would take them down and break the legs of those on the cross to hasten death and prevent escape. The thieves lived on after Jesus died. So, The thief could not be with Jesus in paradise on that day because the thief did not die that day.
So what is the answer? How can we have this text agree with all the other texts? The answer is simple. Greek text does not have punctuation. When the Bible was translated, the scholars put in the punctuation that they felt was correct, where it allowed the text to agree with their own interpretation. As we can see, this placing of the comma makes the text disagree with the rest of Scriptures. The scholars simply misplaced a comma which changes the entire meaning of the verse. They put the comma before the word today instead of after the word today.
If we change the punctuation so that it agrees with all the other Bible verses, it would read: "Verily I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with me in paradise." Jesus was emphasizing the fact that He was saying it now, today. In spite of the fact that the situation seems hopeless, after all, they were being killed in the worst possible way. Yet, in spite of the fact that Jesus seemed powerless to do anything for anybody; He told the thief, truly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise.