False doctrine abounds and needs to be refuted. Jude tells us to “contend for the faith once given to the saints.”
The Bible pointedly and clearly teaches that there is immediate consciousness after the death of our body. That is to say, our consciousness continues unbroken, uninterrupted.
(1). The case of the penitent thief on the cross and the promise Jesus made that the thief would be that day with Jesus in Paradise constitutes proof One for consciousness after death.
Luke 23:43 contains the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ to the Thief on the Cross:
Luk 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
For those few readers here who might be able to read the Greek text, here it is:
Luk 23:43 και ειπεν αυτω ο ιησους αμην λεγω σοι σημερον μετ εμου εση εν τω παραδεισω
Now, don’t faint, run away scared, or mad. I intend to explain this in a way that everyone can understand.
A very literal word-for-word English translation of the above Greek text would correctly read:
And said to-him [the] Jesus, Verily I-say to-thee, Today with me thou-shalt-be in Paradise.
I used square brackets “[…]” to indicate the presence of a Greek word which I translated which is not required in English, in this case involving the word “the.”
I joined English words with a hyphen when more than one word is used in English to translate a single Greek word.
The grammatical and idiomatic issue involves the placement of the word “Today.” For the text to properly mean “I say to thee today” the Greek word for “today” would have been placed before the verb I say, which then in a word-for-word literal English translation would in that case have read “Verily today I-say to-thee,” but no manuscript evidence for the Gospel of Luke in the sources I have here suggests any question about the placement or order of the word “Today” (Greek, σημερον). Just now, I am looking at the Greek text edited by Tregelles, page 366, the right hand lower column, which gives all the significant manuscript variations for this text.
Alford’s Greek text, volume 1, page 661, in its Greek apparatus immediately below the Greek text furnishes no readings which affect the word order under discussion.
Alford has this to say in his exegetical comments below, right hand column:
It is remarkable how, in three following sayings, the Lord appears as Prophet, Priest, and King: as Prophet, to the daughters of Jerusalem; –as Priest, interceding for forgiveness; –as King, acknowledged by the penitent thief, and answering his prayer.
43. αμην λεγω σοι…. The Lord surpasses his prayer in the answer; the αμην λεγω σοι σημερον, is the reply to the uncertain οταν [“when,” Luke 23:42] of the thief.
σημερον this day: before the close of this natural day. The attempt to join it with λεγω σοι, considering that it not only violates common sense, but destroys the force of our Lord’s promise, is surely something worse than silly: see below.
μετ εμου εση can bear no other meaning than thou shalt be with Me, in the ordinary sense of the words, ‘I shall be in Paradise, and thou with Me.’
Checking Wordsworth’s Greek Testament, on page 251, Wordsworth states: “The penitent thief prayed to be remembered at that future time, however distant, when Christ should come in His kingdom. Christ rewarded his faith and good confession by a promise of immediate happiness. “To-day thou shalt be (i.e. thy human soul shall be with My human soul) in Paradise” (page 251, left column, top paragraph).
Tischendorf’s great eighth edition of his Novum Testamentum Graece, volume 1, pages 714, 715 contains a textual apparatus for this verse which occupies nearly a full page of fine print, but I see no reference to New Testament manuscript evidence to support a change in the word order involving “Today” that could support the view that it properly means “I say to you today, ….”
As Alford remarked, such a rendering is silly, and I would add, a trifling with the Word of God. Obviously Jesus was speaking to the thief on the cross that very day in which he spoke to him. It is clearly not the intention of the expression “today” to affirm when Jesus was speaking, but when the thief would be with Jesus himself in Paradise.
No further textual evidence beyond what I’ve already given is furnished by the Roman Catholic Joseph M. Bover S. J.’s Novi Testamenti Biblia Graeca et Latina on page 263, or the eighth edition of Augustinus Merk S. J.’s Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine, page 298; both sources give no variant readings from the Greek that pertain to the question under discussion pertaining to the meaning or placement of “Today.”
F. W. Grant comments on this passage that “…the Lord is answering a prayer in which a time wherein the thief sought to be remembered was expressed. He had said, ‘Lord, remember me when Thou comest in Thy kingdom.’ The Lord says virtually, ‘You shall not wait for that: today you shall be with Me.’ This is the simple, intelligible reason for the specification of time: ‘Today,’ not when I come merely, ‘shalt thou be with me in Paradise'” (F. W. Grant, Facts and Theories as to a Future State, page 148).
As for Paradise, A. T. Robertson, the great American Greek scholar, states “This Persian word was used for an enclosed park or pleasure ground (so Xenophon). The word occurs in two other passages in the N.T. (2 Corinthians 12:4; Revelation 2:7), in both of which the reference is plainly to heaven” (Robertson, Word Pictures, vol. 2, page 287).
I trust the scholarship I have cited and the plain statement of the text in Greek and English will put to rest once and for all the mistaken notion that there is a mistake in the punctuation of our standard English translations, the argument I’ve recently read in Seventh Day Adventist literature which discusses this verse. Those who argue for “I say to thee today, thou shalt be with me in Paradise” clearly do so for doctrinal reasons that are not supportable from the original Greek text’s meaning, idiom, and grammar.