Thieves in Paradise

 

DO YOU KNOW:

 

That one of the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus asked to be rememberedby Him when He would come into His kingdom, and that Jesus assured him that hewould be with Him in paradise (#Lu 23:42, 43)?

 

That due to Jesusí and His disciplesí widespread and repeated preaching, thepeople in general, including this thief, knew of this coming kingdom?

 

That the kingdom has two phases:

 

(1) its invisible, heavenly phase: Jesus andHis Church, His Bride, the Little Flock (#Re 21:2; #Eph 5:23-32;#Lu 12:32), and the Bridesmaids, the Great Company (#Ps 45:14, 15; #Re 7:9-17; 19:9);

 

(2) it visible, earthly phase: the Worthies (#Heb 11:39, 40;#Ge 13:14, 15; #Ac 7:5; #Mt 11:11; #Lu 13:28-30) and itssubjects-mankind in general (#Ps 37:9-11, 22, 29, 34; #Isa 60:21; #Am 9:14, 15)?

 

That by teaching His disciples to pray, "Thy kingdom come; thy will be done inearth, as it is in heaven," Jesus showed that His kingdom on earth was future?

 

That the fulfillment of Bible prophecies shows that this reign of righteousnessand peace over all the earth (#Da 2:35, 44; 7:13, 14, 18, 27; #Zec 14:9;#Hag 2:7; #Heb 12:27, 28; #Isa 9:6, 7; 2:2-4; #Jer 3:17) will sooncome?

 

That, contrary to the views of some, the thief never asked Jesus to take him toheaven?

 

That he did not ask Jesus to remember him on the day they were crucified, butrather at a future timeó"when thou comest into thy kingdom"?

 

That in reply Jesus solemnly assured him that his request would be granted, thatHe would indeed remember him when He would come into His kingdom, saying:"Verily [amen, or, it shall be so; that is, you request is granted] I say untothee today, Thou shalt be with me in paradise"?

 

DO YOU KNOW:

 

That the word paradise, meaning garden, is used in the Bible to refer to:

 

(a)the garden of Eden, "the garden of God" (#Ge 2:8-15; #Eze 28:13), i.e.,the perfect abode of Adam and Eve while sinless;

 

(b) Godís abode, in heaven(#Re 2:7);

 

(c) the earth after the kingdom is set up on it, as and afterits curse of sin and death is increasingly removed (#Re 22:1-3, compare#Ge 2:9, 10; #1Co 15:26), and it becomes increasingly (#Da 2:35)"like the garden of Eden" (#Eze 36:35), i.e., Paradise Lost becomes ParadiseRegained, which new earth was seen in vision and prophecy together with thethird, the new heaven-the spiritual control of Christ (#2Co 12:1-4; #2Pe 3:6, 7, 12, 13; #Re 21:1-3)-that will supplant the spiritualcontrol of Satan, "the god of this world" (#2Co 4:4; #Ga 1:4;#Eph 2:2)?

 

That of the three Biblically-mentioned paradises,

 

(a) was destroyed long beforeJesusí death, and

 

(c) is still future; hence

 

(b) alone existed when Jesus died; but on the third day thereafter He stated that He had not yet gone there (#Joh 20:17), nor did He go there until 40 days later (#Ac 1:3-11)?

 

That therefore the comma should have been placed after the world "today" in #Lk 23:43, and not before it, as is done in many Bible translations?

 

That placing the comma before the word "today" (thus: "I say unto thee, Todayshalt thou be with me in paradise") would make Jesus a falsifier, for it wouldmean that He promised the thief that he would be with Him in paradise on thesame day they were crucified, when He knew from the Scriptures that He was notgoing there that day, but on that day was to pour out His soul unto death(#Isa 53:10, 12) and His soul was to descend into hell (hades-the deathstate-#Ac 2:30-32), from which He would not be raised until the third day (Luke18:31-33)?

 

That placing the comma after the word "today" (thus: "I say unto thee today,Thou shalt be with me in paradise") creates no such difficulties, fir it showsthat Jesus merely made the promise to the thief on that day, though the promisewould not be fulfilled until Jesus would come into His kingdom?

 

DO YOU KNOW:

 

That commas and other punctuation marks, found in various Bible translations toaid the reader, were not placed there by Divine inspiration, since they are notfound in the original Greek manuscripts of the New Testament-in fact,punctuation marks were not even invented until the ninth century after Christ-sothere is nothing at all in the Divinely inspired record that requires the commato be before instead of after the word "today"?

 

That heaven is a prepared place (#Joh 14:1-3; #1Co 2:9; #Heb 10:34)for prepared people (#Ro 9:23, 24)-i.e., those only who by self-denial andworld-denial and taking up their crosses become Jesusí disciples (#Mt 16:24;#Lu 14:26, 27), who are begotten of the Holy Spirit (#1Jo 5:1, 18; #1Pe 1:3; #Joh 3:3-8), and who then faithfully follow in His steps (#1Pe 2:21; 1#Joh 2:6), by patient continuance in well-doing, including bringing forth thefruits of the Spirit, seeking for immortality, eternal life (#Ro 2:7;#Ga 5:22, 23; #Heb 12:14; #Jas 1:4; #2Pe 1:5-11)?

 

That God holds all accountable for the sins they commit (#Mt 12:36; #1Ti 5:24) and commands them to repent (#Ac 17:30; 3:19)?

 

That Jesus appreciated the dying thiefís manifestation of reverence for God andtrue repentance for sins committed (#Lu 23:40, 41), and therefore on that darkday graciously granted his request and gave him the comforting assurance that hewould be with Him in paradise-the earthly phase of His kingdom-when it isestablished, for it is evident that the thiefís repentance, so close to the timeof his death, did not give him time to be properly prepared for a place in theheavenly, spiritual phase of the kingdom?

 

That God did not promise that any who will be in the kingdomís heavenly phase orits earthly phase-including the penitent thief-would be rewarded at death;rather, He showed that they would sleep in death (#1Ki 2:10; #Da 12:2;#Joh 11:11-14, 44; #1Co 15:6, 18, 20; #1Th 4:13-17) and gettheir rewards at the time of Jesusí Second Advent, in the resurrection awakening(#Joh 14:3; #Mt 16:27; #Lu 14:14; #2Ti 4:8; #1Pe 1:7, 13)?

 

DO YOU KNOW:

 

That at Jesusí return in His kingdom (#Lu 19:11, 12), His reward is with Him(#Re 22:12), and "all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, andshall come forth," either "unto the resurrection of life," or "unto theresurrection of judgment"-for "there shall be a resurrection of the dead, bothof the just and unjust" (#Joh 5:28, 29; #Ac 24:15)?

 

That then Jesus will remember the penitent thief-He will awaken him from Adamicdeath with the "unjust," who were not previously on trial for life, for whomalso He died (#Heb 2:9; #1Jo 2:2), and He will give them a knowledge of the Truth (#1Ti 2:4) and a trial for life during His reign on earth (#Re 5:10; 20:4, 6), in the Thousand-year Judgment Day (#2Pe 3:8), when He will"judge the world in righteousness" (#Ac 17:31; #Ps 96; 98) and make theentire earth into a paradise?

 

That "whosoever will" (#Re 22:17) of these will gradually attain humanperfection on the highway of holiness then cast up-"they shall obtain joy andgladness, and sorrow and signing shall flee away" (#Isa 35:8, 10; 62:10); allfound worthy (the unworthy will be destroyed-#Isa 65:20; #Re 20:7-9; 21:8; #Ps 145:20) will inherit everlasting life, not in heaven, but in theparadise on earth (#Mt 25:31-46)?

 

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