“Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’”
Explanation and Commentary of Luke 23:43
The narrative in which this statement falls is one of the most amazing in the written chronicle of Jesus. By this statement, we know that it is true that those who truly repent, even if it is in the final moments of life, will be forgiven by God and taken to heaven to be with him. This is not to say that lip service, with no real love for Christ will buy passage to heaven, but a genuine moment of self-reflection and true sorrow for sin, accompanied by real faith is good to the very last millisecond of life (Mt 20:1-16).
Why? Because our entrance into God’s presence is not bought by our good works and our own righteousness, but with the alien righteousness that is the free gift from Jesus Christ (Ro 3:21).
There is some scholarly debate about paradise, and what is the nature of that place as a stopping point on the way to heaven, but it should not obscure the point of the story: Jesus Christ came to save sinners. As he himself stated, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mk 2:17). There is great reward for living a life of righteous obedience in Christ, but salvation comes by faith alone.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Luke 23:43
#1 “Jesus answered him,”
This is an address to the thief on the cross next to Jesus who asked that Jesus would remember him when he came into his kingdom. This was a remarkable statement, given that Jesus’ earthly fate was sealed at this time, and shows that the thief had faith in Jesus’ heavenly reign, which was apparently reckoned to him as righteousness.
#2 “Truly I tell you,”
This was a common way for Jesus to underscore the truth and importance of what would follow.
#3 “today you will be with me…”
It is not likely that the theological viewpoint that says Jesus went to hell upon his death is accurate. Jesus expected to be in paradise that very day and to have the man with him.
#4 “…in paradise.”
“Paradise” seems to be the state of the present heaven before the final judgment when there will come a New Heaven and a New Earth. It is a good place where we will dwell in the presence of Jesus until he returns to earth.
Bible Study on Luke 23:43
Expert Overview of Luke Ch. 10-24
Biblical Translations of Luke 23:43
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
And Jesus said unto him, “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.