Should the comma be placed after “Today” in Luke 23:43?
The KJV says, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” The comma is placed before “Today” in the KJV, NASB, ESV, NIV, NLT, ESV, NKJV, etc. Those who hold to the doctrine of soul sleep, or those who cannot reconcile this reading with the fact that Jesus went to Hades, allege that the KJV and a host of other translations erroneously place the comma before “Today.” These critics claim that Jesus said, “I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with me in paradise,” joining “today” with the first clause. But it is futile to challenge this placement of the comma in the KJV based on either the doctrine of soul sleep or the fact that Jesus went to Hades.
Whether the doctrine of soul sleep is true or not for the general population is irrelevant here. The Bible is clear that the soul of Jesus did not sleep. 1 Peter 3:18-19 says that Jesus was “put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” Thus, the question is not whether Jesus’ soul slept or not. Jesus’ soul did not sleep. The question is WHERE his soul went.
The Apostle Peter says that Jesus’ “soul was not left in hell (Hades)” (Acts 2:31). Thus, Jesus went to Hades, the abode of the dead. This is consistent with 1 Peter 3:18-19. Was Hades paradise? Not quite. But from Jesus’ parable of Lazarus and the rich man, we see that there was a place called “Abraham’s bosom,” which was a place of comfort (Luke 16:22-25) across a “great gulf” from the place of torment (Luke 16:26). This is probably the “paradise,” which Jesus referred to in Luke 23:43. Abraham’s bosom was neither in heaven nor in a place of torment. It was a place of comfort that was visible from the place of torment. Thus, what we can deduce from scripture strongly suggests that Abraham’s bosom was in Hades, just not in the fiery pit of it (which kept the unsaved souls). If we were to map Jesus’ course after death, he seemed to have gone to Abraham’s bosom (i.e. paradise) and also went to the “spirits in prison” to preach to them.
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