I am glad to be able to communicate with all of you again. As I have mentioned before, blogging about a saving relationship with Jesus and taking a critical look at our current world condition has been a game changer for me and brought me much closer to our Lord. I hope and pray that reading my blogs has done the same for you. Please share my blog site with others if it has been beneficial for you. Unity-4-God.com Thanks! Also, I would love to hear from you so please consider leaving a comment.
After we pray together, I would like to discuss Luke 23:43 concerning one of the most misunderstood scriptures in the Bible. First, let’s pray: Almighty Heavenly Father we come before You in prayer, asking that You forgive us of our sins and set us upon the path of righteousness. We ask that You send Your Holy Spirit to guild us into the truth of the scriptures I am about to discuss, so that I represent Your will and not that of my own. Thank You for receiving our prayer and granting us the privilege of Your intercession. In Jesus name we pray, Amen!
Luke 23:38-43 speaks about Jesus as He hung upon the Cross of Calvary and the conversation He had with two criminals crucified with Him – one on each side. One of them “hurled insults at Him: ‘Aren’t You the Messiah? Save Yourself and us.” (verse 39) The criminal on His other side “rebuked him, (the other criminal) ‘Don’t you fear God, he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence?” (verse 40) This same criminal goes on to say, “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man (Jesus) has done nothing wrong.” (verse 41)
Both criminals were given heavenly insight to know that they were being crucified next to the Messiah, the Son of God. But this reality hardened the heart of the one rebuking Jesus, while softening the heart of the other. The next texts convey the conversation between Jesus and the softened criminal. And these texts are the ones I believe have been misrepresented in the many translations of the Bible. Let’s look at them. Luke 23:42-43 reads, “Then he said, Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” In the last days of this criminals life he was saved by Jesus – what astounding joy!
At this point, you may be asking yourself what I find wrong with these texts. Let’s reason this out using the Bible and historical documentation.
First, let’s take a look at the historical documentation. Ancient Greek and Hebrew writers did not use punctuation. “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.” (www.greeklanguage.blog) “The oldest copies of both the Greek New Testament and the Hebrew Old Testament are written with no punctuation. In addition, the ancient Greeks used no spaces between words or paragraphs.” (www.quora.com) Many scholars believe this was done because paper/parchment was scarce. ” The punctuation of English versions of the Bible is dependent in part on the punctuation indicated by the Hebrew accent system and on the punctuation of the Greek text. However punctuation in English is different and more extensive than punctuation in either Hebrew or Greek. Thus, the punctuation of English versions is determined by the translators and editors of the particular version. (theaquilareport.com) Since ancient Greek and Hebrew had no punctuation or used a system of accent marks unfamiliar to us, translators were often required to make the best educated guess they could, which was open to the general bias and beliefs of their day.
So, where does that leave us? In placing the punctuation, we would probably be just as hard pressed as the translators of old. Where does the punctuation belong and how important is it? In many Bible passages, it doesn’t really change the message, but there are a few where it makes a very critical difference. I believe one of those critical differences is found in Luke 23:43, when Jesus tells the criminal that he would be with Him in paradise.
Now, let’s look to the Bible for answers. The way the text in Luke 23:43 reads, Jesus is saying: “Surely I tell you, (pause) today (this very day) you will be with Me in paradise.” In order for this translation to be correct, the Bible as a whole must support it. However, the Bible doesn’t – just within the 4 Gospels – God clearly speaks against this interpretation. How? The completion of the Calvary message gives us our answer. Luke 23:46 reads, “Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit. When He had said this, He breathed his last.” In Luke 23:50 we read, “Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the council, a good and upright man…. (skipping to verse 52) Going to Pilate, he ask for Jesus’ body.” Joseph took Jesus’ body and placed Him in a tomb never before used. (verse 53) Verse 54 tells us that it was preparation day (Friday) and the Sabbath was about to start. “Resting on the Sabbath in obedience to the Commandment”, (Luke 23:56) none of Jesus’ followers went to the tomb until Sunday morning and found the tomb empty. (Luke 24:1) At the tomb, the followers of Jesus were reminded that, “The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and the third day be raised again.” (Luke 24:7)
Jesus was in the tomb from late Friday until Sunday morning. If Jesus was in the tomb and didn’t rise until Sunday morning, He couldn’t possibly be in paradise with the criminal. Therefore, we must conclude that the punctuation is in the wrong place. There is no other possibility because we know Jesus does not lie. Let’s take a look at placing the comma in a different place and see if this matches what God tells us in His Word. “Surely I tell you today, (pause) you will be with Me in paradise.” This interpretation allows for Jesus’ time in the tomb and it doesn’t set any specific time as to when the repentant criminal would be with Jesus.
Using the comma after the word “today” speaks according to the Word of God. Isaiah 8:28 reads, “To the law and to the testimony; (the Bible) if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” All understanding must be tested according to the Word of God. God’s truth runs throughout the Bible in golden threads of light. By the power of the Spirit, prayer, and studying, the Bible will support itself – bear witness to itself.
By changing the position of the comma, we are able to clear away any confusion related to the popular interpretations of today. I believe I have been led by the Holy Spirit with regards to Luke 23:43, and believe this is another false truth we have been led to believe from generation to generation. God speaks to us using repetition, prophecy, Biblical history, and parables. We place ourselves on dangerous ground when we do not study scripture in context with surrounding scripture and the Bible as a whole unit. In Matthew 24, we are told not to be caught unaware so that we are not deceived by Satan’s lies and false truths. I pray the Holy Spirit will guild your understanding and your personal research.
Until next time, May God lead you by the light of His law and testimony. Isaiah 8:28