LUKE 23:43-"Truly I tell you today,You will be with me in Paradise"(NWT)-
Where should the comma be placed?

The above is how The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures render Jesus' well known words to the criminal beside him on the stake. This is not how most translations so render. Most place the comma before the word "today" so that it then reads:"I tell you the truth,today you will be with me in paradise"-New International Version. Or, as the Todays English Version reads, "I promise you that today you will be in Paradise with me." With the use of the pronoun "that" before "today" the TEV is agreeing with those that use a comma before "today" to show that the criminal was to be with Jesus in Paradise that very day.

One 'Christian' website says:

"Of course, there is ONE English version which does put the comma after the "today" in Luke 22:43 - the New World Translation, the "Bible" of Jehovah's Witnesses. But their reason for doing so is their preconceived theology, not grammar. JWs do not believe the righteous go directly to "paradise" after death. They believe people enter a state of non-existence at death, only to be "re-created" at the resurrection.However, even in the NWT, every place else the phrase occurs, the comma is placed directly after "you." So the burden of proof would be on them to prove why the phrase should be punctuated differently this one time and to explain why Jesus would have changed His lifetime practice while at the point of death.So the reason the ALT and most every other version places the comma before "today" is consistency and simple logic. There really is no reason to place the comma after "today" - unless someone is trying to uphold their pre-conceived theology."-emphasis mine.

Is it true that the reason why the NWT place the comma after "today" is because of "their preconcieved theology?"

It should be made known that the stance taken by the NWT translators is not so unique. The book,"Reasoning from the Scriptures,"(WTB&TS, p.288.)quotes German Bible translator L.Reinhardt in his ftnote," The punctuation presently used[by most translators]in this verse is undoubtedly false and contradictory to the entire way of thinking of Christ and the evildoer...[Christ] certainly did not understand paradise to be a subdivision of the realm of the dead,but rather the restoration of a paradise on earth." Did Reinhardt have a "preconceived theology" aswell? J.B.Rotherham was a Bible translator and British clergyman and definitely did not share a "theology" with Jehovah's Witnesses over this passage before us.Yet.....

I have before me a 1878 copy of the translation by J.B.Rotherham, which the title page reads:

At Luke 23:42,43 we can read;

"And he was saying:Jesus! remember me,whensoever thou mayest come in thy kingdom.And Jesus said to him,Verily,to thee I say,this day,with me shalt be in the paradise."

Note that Rotherham has placed the words "this day" between two commas. So the reader is left to make his own choice whether the words "this day",as made by Jesus, is in reference to the time he made the promise or it has reference to when that promise would be fulfilled. To this rendering Rotherham has a footnote that reads;

"b It is left for the reader to determine
whether the words "this
day" should be
joined (A)with the former
part of the sentence,or (B)
with the latter.In favour
of (A)may be urged(1)the
fact that semeron,"this day," does not always
stand first in the clause to which it
belongs(see Lu.ii.11;v.26;xxii.34;
xxiv.21;xxvi.29; (2) that
being essentially
a demonstrative
word,it will bear any

reasonable stress which may be laid upon it,whether it be placed before or after the words it qualifies; (3)that it is far from meaningless if regarded as belonging to the opening words of asserveration ("Thou dost ask to be remembered then: verily thou art assured now. As on this day of my weakness and shame, thou hast faith to ask, I this day have authority to answer"); (4)that the latter part of this verse is thus left free to refer to the very matter of the supplicant's request ("Thou dost ask to be remembered when I come in my kingdom:thou shalt be remembered then, and with distinguished favour:thou shalt be in my kingdom; shalt be with me in the very paradise of my kingdom, in the garden of the[Sep. paradesios]; Eze.xxxvi.35; compare Ge.ii.8[Sept.paradesios];Re.ii.7-in that most central and blessed part of the coming kingdom, of which thou dost believe me to be the destined king." On the other hand, in support of (B)it may be said, (1)that our Lord's well known formula, "Verily I say to thee," "Verily I say to thee," in every instance stands thus simply alone without any other qualifying word; (2)that the double emphasis produced by attaching "this day" to the words coming after("This day,with me shalt thou be")is exactly matched by chap.xix.5("This day,in thine house I must needs abide"); (3)that no ingenuity of exposition can silence the testimony of Lu. xvi.23,25 to the conscious comfort of seperate souls in Abraham's bosom;(4) that in the days of our Lord, that state of waiting consolation was sometimes termed "paradise," to which state, therefore, the believing listener might not unnaturally understand the speaker to refer; and (5) that,although this interpretation does not regard the Lord's reply as covering of the precise intention of the petitioner, it must nevertheless have been to him a pre-eminently satisfactory answer, no better pledge of a place in the future kingdom being conceivable than an immediate place in the paradise of waiting souls in the companionship of the annointed king. (For the various and not always consistent views of the Jews in the days of our Lord regarding "Paradise," see Smith's Bible Dictionary, under that word:it was far off in the distant East, further than the foot of man had trod-it was a region in the world of the dead, of Sheol, in the heart of the earth-or, again, it was in the third heaven, etc, etc, -From this account it will be seen what weight should be attched to Jewish opinion in connection with what Jesus spoke of the rich man and Lazarus, Lu.xvi.)"

We also have J.B.Rotherham's The Emphasised New Testament,A New Translation being based on the Westcott and Hort Greek Text, it being an "entirely remodelled" edition of the above work, being issued I believe in 1897. In this 'revision' Rotherham now reads at Luke 23:43:

"And he said unto him-| Verily | I say unto thee this day: | With me ||shalt thou be in Paradise." With a short ftnote saying;"Or:"|| This day|| |with me| shalt," &c."

It appears by this time he favoured that the word semeron had reference to the time the promise was made rather than to the time it was to be fulfilled. Rotherham showing the [traditional favoured] alternative in a short ftnote.

The book This Means Everlasting Life(1950,WTB&TS)on pp.281, 282,reads:

"The English translation by Dr.Wm.Cureton of an old Syriac Version of the gospels* agrees with that and renders Luke 23:43: "And he said to Jesus, My Lord, remember me whem thou comest in thy kingdom. Jesus said to him, Verily I say to thee to-day that with me thou shalt be in the Eden's garden"

(Ftnote* reads: "Remains of a Very Ancient Recension of the Four Gospels in Syriac by William Cureton, DD., F.R.S., published in London, England, in 1858 and dedicated to "His Royal Highness The Prince Consort, K.G.," Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria of Great Britain.")

It then quotes Rotherham's translation and then reads: "The Modern New Testament from Aramaic by G.M.Lamsa(1940) says: "Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you today, You will be with me in Paradise,"

The Concordant Literal New Testament renders it: "And Jesus said to him, 'Verily, to you am I saying today, with Me shall you be in paradise."

The above edition with the Greek text and commentary on facing pages, page 93, we read: "The Lord will not come into his kingdom until after the great judgements which commence the Lord's day. ...The Lord assured the malefactor that his request will be granted, and that his present sufferings shall be exchanged for the delights of that day."

(We have a copy of George M.Lamsa's translation from the Aramaic of the Peshitta The New Testament From The Ancient Eastern Text being a later printing of a 1957 edition published by A.J.Holman. Lamsa' translation herein reads at Lu.23:43: "Truly I say to you,Today[2] you will be with me in Paradise."-the ftnote reading: "2 Ancient texts were not punctuated. The comma could come before or after today.")

The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Annointed(1958)by James L. Tomanek: "Indeed today I say you, you shall be with Me in the paradise.(Arrowhead Press, Pocatello, Idaho,1958)

The Gospel of History, Charles A.L.Totten: "Verily do-I-say unto-thee to-day - With me, thou-shalt-be, in Paradise." (Destiny Publishers, Merrimac, Mass,1990)

The Companion Bible in it's Appendix 173 says:

"The interpretation of this verse depends entirely on punctuation, which rests wholly on human authority, the Greek manuscripts having no punctuation of any kind till the ninth century, and then it is only a dot(in the middle of the line)separating each word.....The verb "to say", when followed by hoti, intoduces the ipsissima verba of what is said; and answers to our quotation marks. So here(in Luke 23.43), in the absence of hoti = "that", there may be doubt as the the actual words included in the dependent clause. But the doubt is resolved (1) by the common Hebrew idiom, "I say unto thee this day", which is constantly used for very solemn emphasis.......; as well as (2) by the usage observable in other passages where the verb is connected with the Gk. semeron = to-day.

"1 With hoti:-

"Mark 14:30: "Verily I say unto thee,that(hoti) 'this day....thou shalt deny me thrice'" Luke 4:21: "And He began to say unto them, that(hoti) 'This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.'" Luke 5:26: "Saying(hoti=that), 'We have seen strange things to-day.'" Luke 19:9: "Jesus said unto him that(hoti), 'This day is salvation come to this house.' " For other examples of the verb "to say", followed by hoti, but not connected with semeron(to-day), see Matt.14:26; 16:18; 21:3; 26:34; 27:47. Mark 1:40; 6:14;,15,18,35; 9:26; 14:25. Luke 4:24,41; 15:27; 17:10; 19:7.

2. Without hoti:-

"On the other hand, in the absence of hoti (=that), the relation of the word "to-day" must be determined by the context.

"Luke 22:24: "And He said, 'I tell thee, Peter, in no wise shall a cock crow to-day before thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest Me.'" Here the word "to-day" is connected with the verb "crow", because the context requires it. Compare Heb.4.7. It is the same in Luke 23:43: "And Jesus said to him, 'Verily I say unto thee to-day[or this day,when though they were about to die, this man had expressed so great faith in Messiah's coming Kingdom, and therefore in the Lord's resurrection to be it's King- now, under such solemn circumstances] thou shalt be, with Me, in Paradise.'" For, when Messiah shall reign, His Kingdom shall convert the promised land into a Paradise. Read Isa.35, and see note on Ecc.2.5"

"We must notice also the Article before "Paradise". It is "THE Paradise", viz the paradise of which the prophets tell in such glowing language, when the Lord shall come in his Kingdom. See Ps.67,4,6;.....

"It has no connection with Babylonian, Jewish,and Romish tradition, but is a direct answer to the malefactor's prayer. His prayer referred to the Lord's coming and His Kingdom; and if the Lords answer was direct, the promise must have referred to that coming and to that Kingdom, and not to anything that was to happen on the day on which the words were being spoken.

"It is alleged that the Lord's promise was a reply to the man's thought; but this is an assumption for which no justification can be found. Moreover, how can we know what his thought was, except by the words he uttered?

"The Lewis Codex of the Syrian N.T. reads in v.39: "save Thyself and us to-day". So the Lord's word "to-day" may have reference to the revilings of the one, as well as to the request of the other."-Appendix 173.

(Dr. Bruce M. Metzger wrote concerning the Curetonian Syriac:"The Curetonian Syriac, rearranges the order of words, joining semeron[today] not with met emou ese[you will be]. But with amen soi lego[truly to you I say]-"Truly I say to you today, that with me you will be....")

A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament by E.W.Bullinger, 811 says:

"And Jesus said to him, Verily, to thee I say this day, with Me shalt thou be in the Paradise." The words to-day being made solemn and emphatic. Thus, instead of a remembrance, when He shall come in...His kingdom, He promises a presence in association (meta, "with") Himself. And this promise he makes on that very day when he was dying...Thus we are saved (1) the trouble of explaining wht Jesus did not answer the question on its own terms; and (2) the inconvenience of endorsing the punctuation of the Auth[orised]. Vers[ion]. as inspired; and we also place this passage in harmony with numberless passages in the O.T., such as "Verily I say unto you this day," etc.; "I testify unto you this day day." etc.; vii.1; x.13; xi.8;,13,23; xii.13; xix.9; xxvii.4; xxxi.2, etc., where the Septuagint corresponds to Luke xxii.43."

Prof Wilhelm Michaelis translates: "Truly, already today I give you the assurance: (one day)you will be together with me in paradise."

A footnote in the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, Reference Edition(1984) says:

"Today." Although W[estcott and]H[ort] puts a comma in the Gr. text before the word "today," commas were not in used in Gr. uncial mss. In keeping with the context, we omit the comma before "today." Syc(fifth cent.C.E.)renders this text: "Amen,I say to thee to-day that with me thou shalt be in the Garden of Eden"- F.C.Burkitt, The Curetonain Version of the Four Gospels, Vol.1, Cambridge, 1904."

We note that James Parkinson, on his website, has stated:


Punctuation was not used when the Bible was written, nor for many centuries afterwards. Sometimes just a comma can make a difference. More significant than changing commas in Ephesians 1:4, 5 and Colossians 3:16 is the case of Luke 23:43.

Luke 23:43 (Recommended translation)

"And Jesus said unto him. Verily I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with me in paradise." Luke 23:43 (AV)

"And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day thou shalt be with me in paradise."

Grammatically the comma goes equally well before or after the word "today." Rotherham, the New World Translation, and Concordant place it after. It is preferred to go after "today," because until the third day, according to Acts 2:3 1, Christ went to "hell"--which is not normally considered Paradise."-emphasis mine.

The two volume encyclopedia Insight on the Scriptures(Vol 2. p.575.1988, WTB&TS) says, partly, under the article PARADISE:

"Luke's account shows that an evildoer, being executed alongside Jesus Christ, spoke words in Jesus defense and requested that Jesus remember him when he got into his kingdom. Jesus reply was: Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.(Lu 23:39-43) The punctuation shown in the rendering of these words must, of course, depend on the translator's understanding of the sense of Jesus' words, since no punctuation was used in the original Greek text. Punctuation in the modern style did not become common until about the ninth century C.E. Whereas many translations place a comma before the word "today" and thereby give the impression that the evildoer entered Paradise that same day, there is nothing in the rest of the Scriptures to support this. Jesus himself was dead and in the tomb until the third day and was then resurrected as "the firstfruits" of the resurrection. (Ac 10:40; 1Co 15:20; Col 1:18) He ascended to heaven 40 days later. Joh 20:17; Ac 1:1-3, 9. The evidence is, therefore, that Jesus' use of the word "today" was not to give the time of the evildoer's being in Paradise but, rather, to call attention to the time in which the promise was being made and during which the evildoer had shown a measure of faith in Jesus. It was a day when Jesus had been rejected and condemned by the highest-ranking religious leaders of his own people and was thereafter sentenced to die by Roman authority. He had become an object of scorn and ridicule. So the wrongdoer alongside him had shown a notable quality and commendable heart attitude in not going along with the crowd but, rather, speaking out in Jesus' behalf and expressing belief in his coming Kingship. Recognizing that the emphasis is correctly placed on the time of the promise being made rather than on the time of its fulfillment, other translations, such as those in English by Rotherham and Lamsa, those in German by Reinhardt and W. Michaelis, as well as the Curetonian Syriac of the fifth century C.E., rendered the text in a form similar to the reading of the New World Translation,quoted herein. As to the identification of the Paradise of which Jesus spoke, it is clearly not synonymous with the heavenly Kingdom of Christ. Earlier that day entry into that heavenly Kingdom had been held out as a prospect for Jesus' faithful disciples but on the basis of their having "stuck with him in his trials",something the evildoer had never done, his dying on a stake alongside Jesus being purely for his own criminal acts. (Lu 22:28-30; 23:40, 41) The evildoer obviously had not been "born again", of water and spirit, which Jesus showed was a prerequisite to entry into the Kingdom of the heavens. (Joh 3:3-6) Nor was the evildoer one of the "conquerors" that the glorified Christ Jesus stated would be with him on his heavenly throne and that have a share in "the first resurrection".- Re 3:11, 12, 21; 12:10, 11; 14:1-4; 20:4-6. Some reference works present the view that Jesus was referring to a paradise location in Hades or Sheol, supposedly a compartment or division thereof for those approved by God. The claim is made that the Jewish rabbis of that time taught the existence of such a paradise for those who had died and were awaiting a resurrection. Regarding the teachings of the rabbis, Hastings Dictionary of the Bible states:" The Rabbinical theology as it has come down to us exhibits an extraordinary medley of ideas on these questions, and in the case of many of them it is difficult to determine the dates to which they should be assigned. . . . Taking the literature as it is, it might appear that Paradise was regarded by some as on earth itself, by others as forming part of Sheol, by others still as neither on earth nor under earth, but in heaven . . . But there is some doubt as respects, at least, part of this. These various conceptions are found indeed in later Judaism. They appear most precisely and most in detail in the mediaeval Cabbalistic Judaism . . . But it is uncertain how far back these things can be carried. The older Jewish theology at least . . . seems to give little or no place to the idea of an intermediate Paradise. It speaks of a "Gehinnom" for the wicked, and a Gan Eden, or garden of Eden, for the just. It is questionable whether it goes beyond these conceptions and affirms a Paradise in Sheol.- 1905, Vol. III, pp. 669, 670. Even if they did teach such a thing, it would be most unreasonable to believe that Jesus would propagate such a concept, in view of his condemnation of the non-Biblical religious traditions of the Jewish religious leaders. (Mt 15:3-9) Likely the paradise truly familiar to the Jewish malefactor to whom Jesus spoke was the earthly Paradise described in the first book of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Paradise of Eden. That being so, Jesus' promise would reasonably point to a restoration of such earthly paradisaic condition. His promise to the wrongdoer would therefore give assured hope of a resurrection of such an unrighteous one to an opportunity to life in that restored Paradise.- Compare Ac 24:15; Re 20:12, 13; 21:1-5; Mt 6:10."

Also, the Awake magazine of August 8th, 1979, pp26-28 says, in part:

The Problem of Punctuation;

"The grammatical aspects of the Greek text allow for placing a comma (or, colon) either before or after "today."But how did the writer Luke punctuate the sentence? The truth is, he did not! Professor Oscar Paret explains that the form of Greek script in which the New Testament was written "is composed solely of capital letters . . . loosely set next to one another without any punctuation to separate words and sentences. Greek literature used this script down to the 9th century C.E." Thus in translating Jesus' statement W. G. Ballantine, a professor of Hebrew and Greek, did not insert punctuation: "I tell you truly to-day you will be with me in Paradise."-The Riverside New Testament. Some have contended, however, that the expression "I tell you truly" or "Truly I tell you" does not allow for adding the word "today" to it. Is that true? Note what Dr. George Lamsa* writes:"According to the Aramaic manner of speech, the emphasis in this text is on the word "today" and should read [as it does in the New World Translation], "Truly I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise.". . . This is a characteristic of Oriental speech implying that the promise was made on a certain day and would surely be kept".- Gospel Light from Aramaic on the Teachings of Jesus. The Hebrew Scriptures themselves provide numerous examples of this solemn idiom using "today".- Zech. 9:12; Deut. 4:26, 39, and 40 other instances in the book of Deuteronomy alone.Further, The Companion Bible explains that the absence of the Greek word for "that"(" hoti") in Jesus' promise is noteworthy. If the text had read either,"I tell you - that- today . . . " or " I tell you today -that- you . . . "the meaning would be settled. But in the absence of "that", the relation of the word "to-day" must be determined by the context".

The above is a reproduction of one the best witnesses to the text of the Greek New Testament, it being the Vaticanus 1209 of the 4th century C.E. (See "Life Does Have A Purpose," p.27, WTB&TS, 1977) Note that what we know as Luke 23.43 it has punctuation, a mark or 'comma', not before the word semeron but after. Here we have then a Greek Ms that is punctuated and agreeing with the NWT's choice connecting "today" with "Truly I tell you" rather than with "you will be in paradise with me." Interestingly, E. Earle Ellis remarks in The Gospel of Luke in The New Century Bible Commentary(pub. by Wm.B.Eerdmans Publishing Co. Grand Rapids Michigan, reprint of 1983): "A few reasonably early manuscripts place the comma after "today" and thus continue the parousia reference of verse 42." This undoubtedly shows that this scholar has knowledge about the punctuation in the Vaticanus Ms at Luke 23.43, as well as others. (He then considers this against the "usage elsewhere" but which we have addressed above and below). If there are in existence "a few reasonably early manuscripts" that place a comma or a mark after "today" this surely is evidence that the 'mark' that one can see in the Vaticanus 1209 was placed there on purpose and is not a "blemish" or a "blot" as some have tried to argue. A witness, Rudy Carmona, wrote to the Biblioteca Apostolica, Rome, the custodians of this important Greek ms, in early 1995 asking, among other questions, about the color of the mark in this manuscript at Luke 23.43. He recieved a reply from a member of the "Academic Staff of the Vatican Library who is a Patristics Greek specialist"(quoting Stafford's JWD2 book, p.547)whom testified that it was itself dated to the 4th century, the same century as the manuscript and not a mark that was placed there by some later medieval copyist. Of course, this scholar could see the ms himself and unlike some who have been found to think otherwise! All this of course shows that the claim by Mantey(in a letter to the WTB&TS often seen reproduced on the internet)that there are no Greek manuscripts that support the puncuation found in the NWT was false.

To conclude then.The critic's comments quoted at the beginning of this page said that "the burden of proof would be on them[the Jehovah's Witnesses]to prove why the phrase should be punctuated differently this one time..." The above is a reply to this request. But it is not good enough for any critic to just say that the rendering as found in the New World Translation is based upon a "preconcieved theology." True, what the translators beliefs are will influence how they treat Jesus' words to the evil-doer. But the above I believe does show that anyone who holds to a different position(which they have every right to) should not just use the theology "card." That just does not and should not convince, or prove anything to the contrary.


"Jehovah's Witnesses and Luke 23:43 -- A Case Study in Watchtower Interpretation," Part Three in a four-part series on Jehovah's Witnesses and the Bible (an article from the Christian Research Journal, Summer 1989, page 23) by Robert M. Bowman, Jr. The Editor-in-Chief of the Christian Research Journal is Elliot Miller.

"It is highly significant that out of the 74 times the expression occurs in the Bible, the NWT places a break immediately after it 73 times; Luke 23:43 is the _only_ exception. (Most translations follow this pattern in all 74 instances.) These breaks are placed in one of two ways. In 10 cases, the NWT has the word "that" immediately after the expression, so that the text reads, "Truly I tell you that..." (e.g., Matt. 5:18; 16:28; Mark 3:28; Luke 4:24). In 63 cases, the NWT inserts a comma immediately after the expression and capitalizes the following word (e.g., Matt. 5:26; 26:13, 21, 34; Mark 8:12; 14:9, 18, 25, 30; Luke 11:51; 21:32; John 1:51; 21:18). Unless there is overwhelming evidence from the context that Luke 23:43 is an exception to the above pattern, it should be translated according to Jesus' normal usage of the expression. This leads me to my second observation (related to the first): _JWs usually interpret a biblical text deductively rather than inductively._ That is, they usually base their interpretation on what they have already concluded must be true ("deductive" reasoning) rather than examining all of the relevant material in Scripture before drawing a conclusion ("inductive" reasoning)."

To this arguement by Robert M. Bowman Jnr:

Firstly, Bowman's examples are not that "significant." The fact is that there is a difference between the 73 times the expression "Truly I tell you that..." occurs and when Jesus uses it as recorded for us by Luke at Luke 23:43. It is only at Luke 23:43 that "today" follows "Truly I tell you." This is significant because of a frequent Hebrew idiom. E.W.Bullinger,already quoted, says regarding this Hebrew expression; "I say unto thee this day" was the common Hebrew idiom for emphasising the occasion of making a solemn statement(see Deut.iv. 26,39,40; v. 1; vi. 6; vii. 11; viii. 1,11,19; ix.3; x.13; xi. 2,8,13,26,27,28,32; xiii. 18; xv. 5; xix. 9; xxvi. 3,16,18; xxvii. 1,4,10; xxviii. 1,13,14,15; xxix. 12; xxx. 2,8,11,15,16,18,19; xxxii. 46).-How To Enjoy the Bible.Stafford (Jehovah's Witnesses Defended, 2nd edition, p.550, 551)says that when the 40 examples that Bullinger cites of this Hebrew expression are analysed "it becomes clear that Bowman's characterisation of NWT's placement of the comma after "today" as "unlikely" is not based on a careful consideration of the facts. Indeed, least 33 [are] parallel [to] Luke 23:43 in using a verb of speech or command with "today.""
Stafford goes on to cite other examples such as Genesis 22:14; 25:33; 41:9; Deut.9:6; 29:10; 30:6. More could be cited. All these examples from the LXX are clearly to be understood with semeron, "today," connected with the preceding verb so as to stress the veracity and significance of what is being said. Bowman has totally ignored this. We find a similiar use of semeron by the apostle Paul at Acts 20:26 " I-am-witnessing to you in the today's[semeron]that clean I am from the blood of-all." Paul wanted to emphasise that right up to that time, that very day, he, by preaching the kingdom to them in Asia, was, therefore, free of any accusation that he had neglected his command to preach, and by listening men could be free of condemnation. As Paul often used the Greek translations of the O.T. this common Hebrew expression would have been immediately in front of him and was well suited to make the forceful point he wished.
Likewise with Jesus. This expression, used to "make a solemn statement," Jesus used toward the thief who asked him to remember him. There would be great difficulty for anyone to come up with a more solemn time for this expression- the very day that Jesus was to die a horrible, painful and even ignoble death to all appearences. Yet Jesus could still promise the thief that he would remember him and on that very day when all seemed so dark around him. He could still say, "Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in paradise." And this he did.

It is a fact also worth noting that if Luke wanted to seperate semeron, "today," from "truly I tell you" he could have placed hoti, "that," before "today" so as to seperate "today" from the preceeding speech and so make "today" a part of "with me..." In fact Luke does this 5 times-2:11; 4:21; 5:26; 19:9 and 22:61.

We might add here then that what leads Bowman into his "second observation" that is, according to him "they[JW's] usually base their interpretation on what they have already concluded must be true ("deductive" reasoning) rather than examining all of the relevant material in Scripture before drawing a conclusion ("inductive" reasoning)" is plainly fallacious. Of course, what is apparent to any unbiased reader of this discussion is that it is Bowman himself that has not examined "all of the relevant material in Scripture" and it is he who is guilty of his own accusation toward the NWT's editors, which accusation is strikingly prepossessed and partial.
The above also disposes of the criticism made by the website quoted at the head of this page:
"But [the NWT's editor's]reason for [placing a comma after "today"] is their preconceived theology, not grammar. JWs do not believe the righteous go directly to "paradise" after death. They believe people enter a state of non-existence at death, only to be "re-created" at the resurrection.However, even in the NWT, every place else the phrase occurs, the comma is placed directly after "you." So the burden of proof would be on them to prove why the phrase should be punctuated differently this one time and to explain why Jesus would have changed His lifetime practice while at the point of death."

Obviously, and somewhat unfortunately, the critic appears to have made the same blunder as Bowman with the "relevant material in Scripture." The "burden of proof" then, is now with those who contend that the thief entered the "paradise," mentioned by Jesus, that very day.

Prof. Carl W. Conrad, Department of Classics/Washington University, wrote upon where he thought it best in a translation of Luke 23:43 to place the comma, that is, with "truly I tell you today,...." rather than with "....,today you will be with me in paradise." This was a change in his previous viewpoint following a number of other contributors on the bgreek list. For his remarks please click here. Then from that page search for the professor's remarks on Luke 23:43 that appeared on January 15th, 2000.

See here also. Comments by Nick Lunn, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Nairobi, Kenya

Addendum-2: In a recent discussion on CARM(March 2004) a trinitarian challenged that the "paradise" that Jesus mentioned was not the "paradise" that was the garden in Eden of Genesis 2 and 3. Herewith is an excerpt from one post which shows quite clearly the strong if not incontrovertable link between the "paradise" of Jesus' words at Luke 23.43 and the "garden" in Eden of Genesis 2.8, 9, 15-17; 3.23 which shows also the shallowness of the objections that were offered. The trinitarians' words are in blue:

"Yes, I do know of another "paradise" and this is the one mentioned in Genesis. Eden was called a "gan" which is the Hebrew for "garden." The LXX translators used the Greek word "paradeisos" in reference to this. This was, of course, an earthly "paradise."

"Not all gardens are paradises."

"The one in Eden was...

"....and there is no indication that the paradise mentioned in the NT is a garden."

"The Greek word in question is a loan word from Middle Iranian and means "garden, park or paradise."

"I am aware of the LXX translation's rendering of the Hebrew in Genesis as "paradeisos", but I can't think of any reason to view that translation as inspired."

"Yet this was the version that most of the NT authors used and quoted from and the Hebrew word "gan" was rendered by the Greek word "paradiesos." Remember, the word Jesus spoke to the thief on the stauros was certianly not the Greek "paradeisos" as he would have spoken to him in Hebrew or Aramaic. But when Luke wrote his gospel he wrote in Greek and used the word "paradeisos" to descrbe what Jesus referred to. As this word in the LXX is the one used in the translation of Genesis(13 times in chapters 2-3) and it itself means "garden, park" one can immediately see a possible connection with Jesus' words with that of the first "paradise," the "garden of Eden" mentioned in the Bible. Would the thief be conversant with this "paradise" or "garden"? Very likely.

"It may or may not be an adequate translation of the word in question."

"As you can see it is more than "adequate" for the word means "garden, park or paradise." It was used in the Greek with this meaning from the 4th century B.C.E onwards"

"The Bible, in its original languages, mentions paradise only three times, and none of them are in the OT. Your "of course" is overstating the case. Of course it was an earthly garden. It does not follow that it was a paradise, even if that is how the LXX called it."

"Of course, what you have failed to see is that the very word Luke used, "paradeisos" means "garden, park or paradise"! What "garden" is mentioned in the original OT and which one do you think the Jewish thief would be familiar with?"

"But, hey, just for fun, do you think that the Garden of Eden was still a going concern when Jesus was crucified? "

"Actually, yes! For the Jews wrote much upon this subject and it was expected that the "paradise" that Adam lost was to be brought back."

"Or when the trip to paradise Paul described took place? What evidence do you have that any of the three references to paradise that actually exist in the Bible (as distinct from uninspired translations of it) are referring to Eden, or anything like it? "

"In the "garden" of Eden there were two trees planted, one being, "the tree of life," and "in the middle of the garden."-Gen.2.9; 3.22. In Revelation 2.7 we can read: "To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God." Although the "paradise" here is not the earthly one to come this scripture takes up the thought of Gen.3 where after the fall Man was barred from the tree of life. This shows that the word the LXX translators used for the Hebrew "gan" in Genesis was very appropriate and that when Luke wrote his account and he too used this very word it undoubtedly points to the same "paradise" and which the thief would be familiar with. The thief would not have been aware of Paul's experience of this "third heaven," which he called "paradise"!-end

We hope you found this excerpt of some interest and of some value. In accord with the above we observe that the Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern at Luke 23.43 reads: "Yes! I promise that you will be with me today in Gan-"Eden."-italics ours. It is very likely that when Jesus spoke to the thief he used the Hebrew word "gan." So the thief would have heard, if we are to translate what Jesus said into English, "Truly I say to you today, you will be with me in the garden of Eden." When the thief heard those words what "garden" could he think of but the one mentioned in Genesis? Jesus was promising that the thief would be 'with' Jesus in a restored Earth, a "paradise" Earth and this was not to be on the day both Jesus and the thief died but in the future when Jesus' kingdom would rule over the Earth.-Revelation 21.1-4. And was not that the request of the thief to be "remembered" when Jesus came into his "kingdom"? Yes! Jesus will remember this thief and resurrect him in the future when Jesus is King in the Kingdom of God. Luke 23.43 has been correctly punctuated in the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.