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What Does the Bible Say About...Paradise?

In a recent Bible study, Luke 23:43 was discussed with reference to the placement of the comma. It was said that if the comma was placed after the word today, instead of before the word the meaning of the sentence would be changed. Could you please comment on this Thank you.


It would certainly change the meaning of the sentence. Instead of it being an immediately fulfilled promise it would be a promise in some indefinite future time. The readings would be "Truly I say to you, 'Today you will be with me in the garden.'" Or "Truly I say to you today, "You will be with me in the garden." If the "today" went with "I say to you" it would more properly be "Today I tell you truly, 'You will be with me…." The sentence order implies that it goes with the latter clause. However, I am not a scholar of the Greek, so I am not sure if that is true in Greek grammar.

The significance of where the "today" should be placed relates to whether Jesus was "in Paradise" for the three days he was in the grave. The whole discussion hinges on what is meant by "Paradise." You may have noticed that above I quoted the passage using the translation of the word instead of using a form of the original word. Jesus and, presumably, the robber were both in the garden that day, as most burials were in gardens. Using it in that sense, it doesn't matter where the "today" is placed. Either way it is a true statement. The definite article is in the text, making it "the Paradise" or "the garden," rather than "in Paradise" as it is generally translated.

The placement of the comma is important only if there is a question of whether Jesus went to some heavenly "paradise" before his resurrection. If he was speaking metaphorically, then the robber was also to be in that place, either that day or in some future time. For the robber it would not make a difference when. For Jesus it would only matter if that "Paradise" was where God makes his abode. The only reason that would be significant is that he later said, "I am not yet ascended to the Father." (John 20:17) But even if the concept of Paradise as a separate place of the dead awaiting judgment was a doctrine of the time, it would not necessarily be the abode of God, but rather "Abraham's bosom" (Lk 16:22). So theologically it really doesn't make a difference where the comma is placed. Either the robber was to be in the abode of the dead that day with Jesus or was to be with Jesus in that place at a future time, presumably after his ascension. Either way it is a true statement. The Bible doesn't tell us where Jesus was during the time in the grave, and it really doesn't matter.