The Penitent Thief

Do Christ’s words to the penitent thief imply that he went to “heaven” the very day of his death?

In the original Greek manuscripts of the New Testament there was no punctuation. We are at liberty to read the text, “I tell you today, you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). There are a number of reasons for preferring this option:

1. The thief actually asked Jesus to remember him “when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42), that is when he begins his future Messianic reign;

2. The “paradise” of Scripture is the New Heavens and the New Earth (Rev. 2:7, 22:1-5), Eden restored! It is yet future, when Christ shall come in his kingdom;

3. Had Luke intended the word “today” to belong to the latter clause and not the former he might have put the Greek word hoti as he does in Luke 4:21 and 19:9. He does not.

4. Phrases such as “I command you this day” are used frequently in the book of Deuteronomy, for example, to give emphasis to solemn utterances. “This day” goes with verb preceding it in both Matthew 6:11 and Luke 2:11 for other New Testament examples of this.

Also consider this fact: If, as “orthodoxy” teaches Jesus descended into hell for three days, following his death, how could he have been with the penitent thief in Paradise on that very day?

Clearly Jesus granted the thief’s request to remember him when he comes again to establish his kingdom.

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2 Responses to The Penitent Thief

  1. Paul says:


    Great piece – spot on! I’d like to quote a bit of it in my uni paper – can you give me the author’s name to reference it please?



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