Article of the Month

March 2015

The Case of the Misplaced Comma

This is a short article, but one which is designed to make a big point.  While the Bible is the inspired and infallible Word of God, its many translations are not flawless!  The manuscripts of the Bible were written without punctuation, without chapter or verse divisions, and even without spaces between the words!  And all of the letters were capitals.  We can only imagine the reading difficulties this presented.  Additionally, we have only handwritten copies of copies of the original manuscripts.  Numerous textual variants, additions, and omissions have sneaked in.


While we are grateful for the addition of all the things which make reading easier in our modern Bibles, we must also be cautious that we are not misled by any of them.  This brings us to one simple case in point.


Luke 23:43

The verse reads, “And Jesus said unto him, ‘Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.’ “  (King James Version)

This was spoken to one of the thieves being crucified next to Jesus.  With a little thought, the problem with the text should be obvious.

 First, Jesus did not go to “paradise” that day.  He died, and he remained in the grave for parts of three days.


Second, none of the disciples received the begettal of the Holy Spirit until Pentecost.  No one will end up as a spirit being without having this begettal.  Even the great John the Baptist is excluded from heaven because of this.  (Matthew 11:11)


Third, this thief may, indeed, have been repentant.  But death-bed repentance is not a Scriptural concept as far as receiving any reward is concerned.

The conclusion, then, is clear.  The thief did not that day join Jesus in some spiritual “paradise.”

The entire problem is fixed by MOVING THE COMMA from BEFORE “Today” to AFTER “Today.”  Then the text accurately reads:

        “And Jesus said unto him, ‘Verily I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with me in paradise. ‘ “


(We have reversed “shalt thou” to “thou shalt.”  Both are permissible translations from the Greek text.  “Thou shalt” works equally well with either comma placement.)


One could ask, Why did Jesus say “today”?  The passage would have been just fine without the word.  But the fact is that THAT DAY was very prophetic, very special in the history of the world.  It was the day when the sacrifice was given that saved the world.  Jesus was stressing the day because it was a major part of the story.  In essence:  I can tell you this day that you will be with me eventually in paradise, because of what is happening this day.


Paradise, by the way, is a word which basically means “garden.”  It is used in Scripture as a description of an earthly paradise as well as a heavenly one.  It is not so much a PLACE as it is a CONDITION.  When the earthly kingdom for which we pray is fully established, this former thief will be on earth with Jesus as mediator between the thief and God.  Jesus was on THAT DAY saving not only the thief, but all who will eventually want to join in the blessings.

What great theological mistakes have been based on this one misplaced comma which never was a part of the inspired Holy Word in the first place!




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