Luke 23:43 states:

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.

John 20:17 states:

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

I know that there is an explanation translate based for this, that approach gives us that 'Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.' has been incorrect translated for English and the correct phrase would be:

Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in paradise.

But I'd like to know if there is a clue for throw this 'contradiction' away which is not translation-based. I was thinking that the body of Jesus had not gone to heaven yet so he went to heaven and came back to lead his body there.

But Eclesiastes 9:10 states:

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might,[a] for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

So was Jesus actually sleeping? Is the incorrect translation interpretation the only way to get through this?


9 Answers 9


Yes, actually... There is! But before anything else, I'm going to show why there is a seeming contradiction between Luke 23:43 and John 20:17 in the first place. In Luke 23:43, Jesus clearly tells the thief that he(the thief) will be with him(Jesus) in paradise today, and by "today" we automatically assume Jesus is talking about the "current 24-hour period of rotation on the Earth's axis." And in John 20:17, Jesus unequivocally states that HE had not been with the Father yet. So, if the thief had not been with Jesus in paradise that very 24 hours(assuming he was operating under such a definition of "day"), then Jesus would have lied. And the scriptures make it quite clear that God cannot lie(whether or not you believe Jesus is God shouldn't matter, as Jesus is the exact representation of God[see Hebrews 1:3 and Colossians 1:15]. So, it being impossible for God to lie directly corresponds to it being impossible for Jesus to lie); see Numbers 23:19, Hebrews 6:18, and Titus 1:2. Hence, lest we admit that Jesus lied, we have a (seeming) contradiction.

But I know what you are thinking; why do we have to say that Paradise is in heaven? Why can't we just say it's somewhere else other than heaven? Well, paradise is somewhere else other than heaven. It is also on Earth, i.e. the Garden of Eden(In the New Heavens and New Earth, the whole Earth will be a paradise again, and we will "eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life"[see Revelation 2:7]). But that Paradise is not here yet. So, if there is another Paradise at this moment, it can only be in Heaven. It seems that there may be a Paradise in Heaven at the current moment, as detailed by the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4, where he talks about how he was "caught up to the third heaven... caught up to Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." However, I do not personally believe he was talking about an actual heavenly Paradise, because the apostle Paul had just said in verse 1, "...I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord." So, it's possible he was having a revelation(through a vision given by Christ) about a future paradise on Earth(not that he was taken up to a literal paradise in heaven), but one can most certainly debate that. Either way, if you want to say that Paradise exists somewhere at the current moment, then there is absolutely no chance that you can say it is anywhere other than heaven.

So, do we have a contradiction between Luke 23:43 and John 20:17? Well, no! As I said in the beginning of my post, there is another valid explanation(other than moving the punctuation mark) that reconciles the two verses. All we need to do is prove that the dead are totally unconscious; we can do this quite easily. So, onwards and upwards!

Ecclesiastes 9:5; 10 "For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten."; "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going."

Psalm 146:4 "His spirit goeth forth, he returneth to his earth, In that day have his thoughts perished."

Isaiah 38:18-19 "For Sheol cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee: They that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: The father to the children shall make known thy truth."

Yes, these scriptures make it entirely evident that the dead of totally unaware of themselves and their surroundings; unable to think, to have any knowledge or wisdom whatsoever, or even so much as hope for the truth of God. And that at the moment of their death, they return from whence they came(the dust), their spirit returns from whence it came(God), and all their thoughts perish entirely. But there is more to support this view; the fact that Jesus, Paul, and Luke referred to death as "sleeping."

John 11:11-13 "These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep."

Acts 7:59-60 "While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep."

1 Corinthians 11:30; 15:6 "For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number are asleep."; "After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep."

I just want to stress how vital it is that the dead are unconscious so as to lend credence to these metaphors. The metaphor of death being analogous to sleep makes very little sense if death does result in unconsciousness. The metaphor becomes essentially useless, and quite confusing if I might add. During deep sleep, we are unaware of our body and surroundings, though not entirely unconscious, as there is still subconscious brain activity(this is, of course, due to the fact that the brain of a living person is not dead but still functioning. The brains of dead people are, however, entirely nonfunctional). It is an analogy, after all. No analogy, by definition, can be perfect. But if the dead were aware of their surroundings, in a "hell" or "paradise", then they would not be asleep; they wouldn't be anything remotely similar to being asleep(I hardly imagine you can fall asleep while being tortured by fire, or in the total bliss of a beautiful paradise in heaven with God Himself. I also hardly imagine that one can be woken up from either state). The analogy is reduced to utter meaninglessness.

There are two points Jesus is trying to make with the metaphor;

(1) The dead are unconscious; unaware of their surroundings, just as people in deep sleep are.

(2) The dead will awaken from their state of unconsciousness in the resurrection, just as living people are awoken from their state of sleep.

The power and beauty of these notions are diminished greatly(effectively to the point of nonsense) when you take "asleep" to mean either "being tortured day and night in hell" or "being in total bliss in a heavenly paradise." As Ecclesiastes states: The state of the dead is the same for all, as there is no knowledge, thought, or wisdom of any kind whatsoever for anyone at all.

Now that we have proved that the dead are totally unconscious of everything, we can see what Jesus was saying to the thief at Luke 23:43 in a different light, without having to alter the placement of the punctuation mark; a light that, I feel, shines a whole lot brighter.

Luke 23:43 "And Jesus said to him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.""

So, did Jesus really mean that the thief would be with him in paradise that very day? Yes, and no!

For my first point: The word "day" doesn't always mean, "a period of twenty-four hours as a unit of time, reckoned from one midnight to the next, corresponding to a rotation of the earth on its axis." It's a pretty flexible term. Here are some additional definitions that are given by Google. (1) Day - "the part of a day spent working." Example: "He works an eight-hour day." (2) Day - "a particular period of the past; an era." Example: "The laws were very strict back in those days." (3) Day - "the present time." Example: "The political issues of today are tough." (4) Day - "the span of someone's life." Example: "She cares for him all the rest of his days."

Now for my second point. Jesus is never once recorded as saying, "truly I tell you today", as a form of emphasis. He says, "truly I tell you", or "truly I say" about 50 times in Scripture, but he never adds any kind of temporal qualifier. You and I might do that if we’re trying to convince somebody of something we’re going to do that we failed to do before. If your mate tells you, "You promised to do that before, but you didn’t do it." You might reply with something like, "Well, I’m telling you now that I’m going to do it." The "now" is a temporal qualifier used to try to convince your mate that this time things will be different. But Jesus is never recorded doing that. He says, "truly I say" many times in Scripture, but he never once adds "today". He never has a need to! He certainly didn't need to when he was speaking to the thief on the cross, because it was his first time ever speaking to him.

So, what's my interpretation? Well, I think that Jesus was speaking from the point of view of the criminal. What do I mean by that? Well, remember when we proved that the dead are totally unconscious? Well, then, at the exact moment of the thief's death, he would have blacked out entirely. And sometime in the future, many hundreds of thousands of days later, he would be resurrected. But guess what? From his point of view, but an instant would have passed. You try. Blink. Just once. When you're done, do you think you are on a day other than the one you had initiated your blink on? That'll be the viewpoint of the thief.

The thief would have absolutely no awareness of what was going on in between his death and resurrection because he'd be entirely unconscious. He could be dead for two-thousand, three-thousand, even a million years, and he would have no knowledge of anything at all during that time period; he would die and be resurrected in the blink of an eye. Knowing that; what do you think will be the first thought when he is resurrected by Jesus? "Oh my goodness, how many years have passed by, my lord Jesus!?" No, it'll most likely be, "What! I only died a second ago! My lord, you were right." From his frame of reference, not only does his death and resurrection happen on the same day; they happen within the same instant. From the thief's perspective, having no perception of any time between the period of his death and resurrection, and having absolutely zero knowledge of anything happening during it(as per Ecclesiastes 9:5; 10), his death and resurrection happen on the same day.

And that's what Jesus was doing; giving the thief a promise from the vantage point of the thief. Why? Well, even in all his suffering and anguish, with the weight of the world on his shoulders, Jesus could still dig deep into his heart and say something motivated by love and guided by the immense wisdom that he alone possessed. Jesus knew that from the criminal’s POV, he would be in paradise the very same day he died.; that there would be no perceptible gap in time between the moment of his death and the moment of his resurrection.

Jesus didn’t have the time nor the energy to explain all the intricacies of life, death, and the resurrection to the repentant man dying next to him. In one short sentence, Jesus told the criminal all he needed to know to put his mind at rest. That man saw Jesus die, then shortly afterward, the soldiers came and broke his legs so that the full weight of his body would hang from his arms causing him to suffocate to death quickly. From his point of view, the time between his last breath on the cross and his first breath in paradise would be instantaneous. He would close his eyes, and then open them again to see Jesus extending a hand to raise him up, perhaps saying, "Didn’t I just tell you that today you would be with me in paradise?"

While the definition of "day" Jesus was operating under isn't found in any of the definitions given above, my point was to show you that what one considers a "day" is very flexible. When Jesus said "today" to the thief, he meant something like "from your POV of what the current day is." So, Jesus was effectively saying; "Truly I tell you, from your point of view you will be with me in paradise this very day." As opposed to, "Truly I tell you, during this period of twenty-four hours corresponding to the rotation of the earth on its axis you will be with me in paradise."

I find this incredibly heartwarming. Of course, I certainly don't know that it's true. I just wanted to answer the question(of reconciling the two scriptures given) with a valid alternative to fixing an "incorrect translation", as you put it(and you can certainly make a very strong case for altering the punctuation mark. I'm not saying that you cannot. I'm just looking at it through another possible approach). Either way, whether you decide to alter the position of the punctuation mark or not, there is a way to reconcile John 20:17 and Luke 23:43. I hope this helps! Have a wonderful day. :)

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    And about Luke 16? the rich was in hell, Am I sure? Commented Dec 25, 2021 at 1:34
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    First of all, not hell. "ᾅδης", or "Hades", which is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew "Sheol". Luke 16: 23 "and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side." Also, this will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. Revelation 20:14 "And death and Hades[ᾅδης] were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire." The Lake of Fire is symbolic for eternal destruction; thus, the grave will be destroyed eternally, because no one will ever die again in the New Heavens and New Earth, but all will have everlasting life and peace.
    – Rajesh
    Commented Dec 25, 2021 at 2:08
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    It seems to me that the NT teaches about a spiritual existence after death which is not tied to the dead body. For instance, we read in 1 Pet 3:18-19: "He was put to death physically, but made alive spiritually, and in his spiritual existence he went and preached to the imprisoned spirits." (GNB). "being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which] he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison" (ESV) Jesus committed his spirit to his Father when he died (Luke 23:46), and the spirit apparently returned to the body when it was time for the resurrection. Commented Dec 26, 2021 at 8:14
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    @IverLarsen 1 Pet 3:18-19 does not say what you suggest. Jesus died as a man - 'in the flesh' as we all are, and was raised (after the 3 days) with a spirit life eternal - not able to die again, Rom 6:9
    – Steve
    Commented Dec 26, 2021 at 12:42
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    @IverLarsen 1 Peter 3 "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 AFTER being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits." He proclaimed to the evil spirits in Tartarus(2 Peter 2:4) AFTER he was resurrected, made into a spirit being with a body both physical and spiritual.
    – Rajesh
    Commented Dec 26, 2021 at 21:42

Luke 23:43 - “I tell you the truth today you will be with me in paradise.”

The original Greek text contained no punctuation so that the adverb of time, (σήμερον semeron), “today”, could equally modify “I tell” (lego) as per most versions, or, “you will be” (ese) as per "Faithful Version". Therefore, on the basis of the Greek text and syntax of this verse alone, it is impossible to determine where the comma (if any) should be placed.

However, it is possible to examine the author, Luke, and how he used the adverb σήμερον before or after the verb it modifies. This adverb occurs just 20 times in Luke and Acts. In 14 of those, the adverb occurs AFTER the verb (Luke 2:11, 5:26, 12:28, 13:32, 33, 22:34, 61, Acts 19:40, 20:26, 22:3, 24:21, 26:2, 29, 27:33). Of the remaining cases where the adverb precedes the verb, one is a quotation from Ps 2:7 (Acts 13:33), and in three cases, σήμερον is preceded by a conjunction (Luke 4:21, 19:5, 6) which makes such a construction inevitable. The single case, Acts 4:9, where the adverb precedes the verb. Thus, placing the adverb AFTER the verb is entirely in keeping with Luke’s literary style.

In fact, Luke employs a common Hebrew idiom of adding “today” after a verb to add emphasis, and solemnity. For example:

  • Deut 4:1 – “I teach you today”;
  • Deut 11:26 – “I set before you today”;
  • Deut 28:13 – “I give you today”;
  • Deut 6:6, 7:11, 12:23 – “I command you today”;
  • Deut 8:19 – “I testify against you today”;
  • Deut 30:18 – “declare to you today”; etc.
  • See also Deut 4:26, 30:19, 32:36, Acts 20:26, 26:2, etc.

Thus, Luke’s style is consonant with Biblical literary style.

The question of the placement of the above comma can also be resolved by the semantics rather than the syntax of the passage. If the comma is placed before “today” (eg, as in most versions), then Jesus said that very day the two would share the joys of paradise. However, if it is placed after “today”, then Jesus employs a construction, which adds emphasis to the veracity of what He is saying. In order to choose between these two alternatives requires the answer to two more questions: What is Paradise? And, Where did Jesus and the criminal go that day?

  • Paradise: The word paradise, occurs only three times in the New Testament - Luke 23:43, 2 Corinthians 12:4 and Revelation 2:7. These references suggest that paradise is synonymous with heaven.
  • Jesus and the Criminal: Jesus did not go to heaven that day, Friday, because he told Mary Magdalene on the following Sunday morning (John 20:17) that He had not yet ascended to the Father. Neither did the criminal go to paradise that day because he was still alive at sunset and had to have his legs broken to prevent his escape over the Sabbath (John 19:31, 32).

Therefore, since Jesus could not have intended that He and the criminal were to be in paradise that day, he presumably intended the adverb today as emphasis as per Koine (common) Greek and Hebrew idiom. Thus, the correct place for the comma is after today thus making the passage read:

“I tell you the truth today, you will be with me in paradise.”

Thus, the passage does not (and could not) imply heavenly rewards immediately at death.

This is the only explanation I am aware of.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Jesse
    Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 20:15
  • Great answer, +1. This supports Soul Sleep in Sheol doctrine over "Heaven Now" doctrine.
    – Joshua B
    Commented Jun 15 at 9:52

Greek uses the order of words to indicate prominence. If a word like "today" is fronted in its clause, it points to an emphasis on today as opposed to another day. We can look at a few examples in Luke to illustrate:

Luke 2:11 - because was born to you today a savior

Luke 4:21 - He began to say to them: Today has been fulfilled this (just mentioned) Scripture in your ears

Luke 5:26 - saying: We have seen remarkable things today.

Luke 19:5 - Zaccheaus, hurry and come down. Today, you see, in your house I must stay.

Luke 19:9 - Jesus said to him: Today salvation has come to this house

Luke 22:34 - I tell you, Peter: Not will sound today a rooster

Luke 23:43 - And he said to him: Surely to you I say: Today with (like) me you shall be in Paradise.

In the cases where today is fronted and marked as today, there is focus on that very day as opposed to any other day. In the other cases, the event is relatively more prominent than when the event took place. It does not make sense to me to take the word "today" to go with "I say to you" in Luke 23:43, because Jesus has not spoken to this person before, nor will he speak to him another day.

So, although Greek did not use punctuation, the various Greek editions we have today all agree that the punctuation should come after "I say". I believe they are correct in this interpretation.

  • Yes, you are absolutely right. This is the point I made. There is still another solution, though, as I've shown in my answer. :)
    – Rajesh
    Commented Dec 25, 2021 at 16:39
  • In view of John 20:17, what did Jesus mean in Luke 23:43? I do not think you have answered the question.
    – Dottard
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 11:46
  • @dottard. John 20:17 refers to the resurrected body of Jesus, which will later be taken up to Heaven. This does not refer to where Jesus has been in his Spirit. Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 15:21
  • The resurrected body of Jesus IS a spirit. That's the problem. When Jesus died, he did not live on as a conscious spirit being; that is an oxymoronic statement. If you are dead, you are, by definition, dead. You have no body, whether spirit or flesh. You can't simultaneously be dead and conscious in the body of a spirit. If you are dead, you are neither conscious nor do you have a body, so you cannot have both while also dead. If you want to say that you can, you have to point me to a scripture that suggests that.
    – Rajesh
    Commented Dec 29, 2021 at 0:44
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    @IverLarsen - your answer effectively divides Christ because you imply that "me" (spirit) in Luke 23:43 is different from the "I" (body) in John 20:17. The Bible makes no such distinction. On what basis do you make this distinction, other than convenience to suit your theory? Further, your evidence above support the opposite conclusion because the adverb "today" iis most often placed AFTER the verb it modifies.
    – Dottard
    Commented Dec 30, 2021 at 21:32

Is there a contradiction between these two verses? :-

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43)

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:17)

No, there is no contradiction, just a recurrence of the mystery of the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Luke 23:43 he is speaking from the perspective of his divine nature, and in John 20:17 he is speaking from the perspective of his human nature, his human body has not yet ascended into heaven.

In his divine nature he fills heaven and earth, always. It is perfectly reasonable for him to say "today you will be with me in Paradise": he is speaking as the Lord God.

In John 20:17 he is speaking as the God-man. The God-man he has not yet ascended into Heaven. As God he is always filling heaven and earth and thus always in heaven, but as to his human body and human nature the (God-)man Christ Jesus had not yet ascended. It would have been ridiculous to say that as God he was not yet ascended, because as God he is already in heaven, and needs no ascent. It is then as the God-man, the whole person of Jesus Christ that is not yet in Heaven: the reference is really to his human nature and human body.

The two thieves saw our Lord die. After seeing him die the legs of both thieves were broken, which meant they no longer had any way of lifting their torso up in order to be able to breath. Hence, they both suffocated and died after a few minutes. All three died on the same day.

Did our Lord say "Truly I say unto you today, You will be with me in paradise"?

Some have suggested the answer given by the Watchtower, that in Luke 23:43 a comma should be placed after "today" rather than before "today", so that it reads "Truly I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise".

I think this suggestion is refuted by the scriptural evidence. The phrase "Truly I say unto you" (Synoptics) [plus the phrase "Truly truly I say unto you" (John's Gospel)] is used over 70 times in the four gospels. This was not a phrase used by just Luke, it was a phrase used in all four gospels. It is in all four gospels because it was an individualistic phrase of our Lord Jesus: he used it to emphasise the importance of what he was going to say next.

It was not his idiosynchrasy to use "today" for emphasis, he already had this phrase for emphasis and needed no addition. If He had wanted to add extra emphasis to this statement then why is there no additional "today" for addtional emphasis in any other of his 70 plus similar statements?

Besides, "Truly I say to you today" is ridiculous. Of course He said it today! What other day could He ever say anything on?

See for all the uses of "Truly I say unto you and "Truly truly I say unto you" here :- https://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/70904/jesus-answered-him-i-tell-you-the-truth-today-you-will-be-with-me-in-paradise/71296#71296

The view that straight after death the souls of the saved go to Heaven is supported in Philippians 1:23 -"having a desire to depart and be with Christ which is far better"); and 2 Corinthians 5:8 - "We are confident and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.". See also Hebrews 12:1; Revelation 6:9,10; Luke 16:23-25.

Some have pointed to Ecclesiastes 9:5, "the dead know nothing at all", to argue the dead have ceased to exist. For a refutation of this see How should we interpret Ecclesiastes 9:5 in the case of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?.


It seems to be a common in the NT already but not yet language. If you believe in Jesus as the Son of God, you are already past God's judgement and a citizen of the new Jerusalem. A good example of that language is Ephesians 2.

1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Paradise is the new Jerusalem, the new Eden. It will be on earth. People of God are going to enter it after the earth and the heavens are renewed. And since Jesus rested for three days and three nights in the grave, he didn't ascend to heaven on the crucifixion day. He did it on the Sunday morning to present Himself to God as the first fruit of resurrection, exactly at the same time when the first fruit of barley was offered in the temple in Jerusalem.


The parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19–31) puts the lie to the "soul-sleep" idea and the "like rover, you're dead all over" idea. Is Paradise the same as Heaven? Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 says that "the man" was caught up to Heaven and he was caught up to Paradise." Unless this happened twice, Paul is saying Heaven and Paradise are one and the same. I Peter says that Jesus went and preached to the spirits in prison. Was the former thief with Jesus? I think we make it too complicated. The proverbial bottom line is that, after death, the righteous will spend eternity in Heaven and the unrighteous will spend eternity in Hell. I would prefer to focus on living a righteous life and leave the timing of my entrance to eternity in God's hands.

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    Commented Dec 15, 2023 at 4:37

For me I think we are confusing Jesus in spirit and Jesus in flesh. In Luke 23:43 Jesus and the thief were physical and he promised the thief Paradise when they will die i.e. no longer physical. Immediately after death both Jesus and the thief were together in spirit. But from spirit, Jesus returns back to his physical body.

1 Peter 3:18-19

18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; ambayo kwa hiyo aliwaendea roho waliokaa kifungoni, akawahubiri;

That is why the day Jesus died many saints were raised.

Matthew 27:52-53

52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

Here Jesus and the thief were in spirit their bodies were physically in their tombs. From the spirit, Jesus returned to his physical body and was physically raised from the dead. In John 20:17 Jesus was referring to his physically raised body after returning in.

Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Later in his physical body he allowed Thomas to touch him.

John 20:27

Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

Luke 24:39

Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.


I'm surprised none of these answers includes a very common explanation for this conundrum of how Jesus could tell one of the criminals crucified with him that today he would be with him in paradise, but after the resurrection Jesus still had not ascended to heaven.

None of the dead had ascended to heaven until Jesus ascended there. Paradise is not heaven, and he and the criminal on the cross both physically died that day but were still alive in spiritual bodies, and went to paradise. Its a place where those who had died were kept (not in heaven where God's abode is). And when Jesus did ascend to heaven he took the saved dead with him, which is the leading of captivity captive as the following verse states. None of the dead ascended to heaven until Jesus did.

Eph. 4:8-10, "Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)"

As the following passage shows, Jesus, after dying on the cross, was alive in his spiritual body while the physical body was in the grave, and he went to a place where many other spirits were, some of which were disobedient and had died in Noah's flood.

1 Peter 3:18, "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water."

So, looking at these passages, Jesus first descended to wherever this place is (paradise) before ascending to heaven, and when Jesus ascended to heaven he took the captive spirits there with him.

  • 1 Peter 3:18 "For Christ also suffered for sins once for all time, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;" (NASB) Notice how Peter juxtaposes being "put to death" and being "made alive in the spirit." What does it say he was put to death in? In the "flesh." This is a reference to his crucifixion, where he died in a human (fleshly) body. Noticing the juxtaposition, what do you think Peter is referring to when he says "made alive in the spirit"?
    – Rajesh
    Commented Dec 29, 2021 at 0:19
  • He's talking about being put to death in one type of body, and then he goes on to talk about being resurrected in another type of body. Is that not what "being made alive" means? If you are dead, which clearly Jesus was, and you are "made alive", what is that a reference to? A resurrection, no doubt, as to resurrect literally means "restore (a dead person) to life." So, knowing that Peter is talking about the resurrected Jesus, do you think he might be continuing that same thought in the very next verse; that he is talking about Jesus proclaiming to the spirits AFTER he had been resurrected?
    – Rajesh
    Commented Dec 29, 2021 at 0:26
  • As for Ephesians 4:9, the translation "Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth..." is incorrect. It should be translated using a genitive of apposition. The "lower parts" and "the earth" are in apposition; it's using one noun(lower parts) to clarify another(the earth). Thus, the correct translation would be this, "In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth..." as given in the ESV Bible.
    – Rajesh
    Commented Dec 29, 2021 at 1:59
  • 1
    When Jesus was put to death in the flesh (crucified) he lived on in a spiritual body like he had before the incarnation, God is Spirit (John 4:24). I Peter 3:18 is not talking about his resurrection. While his body laid in the grave Jesus existed in a spiritual body in paradise. He did not ascend to heaven until sometime after his flesh resurrection. And that's what I was explaining in my answer to the question of how Jesus and the criminal were together in paradise immediately after their deaths, that very day.
    – DDover
    Commented Dec 29, 2021 at 9:37
  • @DDover Hi Dover and welcome to BH-Stack Exchange, we are glad you are here. Please be sure to take the site tour and read our code of conduct. Thank you! Commented Dec 30, 2021 at 11:06

From the supporting evidence (not assumptions, possibilities, commentaries in a hope to find a solution) it would appear to be a contradiction.


Iver Larsen has clearly clarified the punctuation issue in his answer above.


Luke 23:43 There is no evidence in the bible that ‘today’ means any other than the normal time period as we understand.

Luke 4:21 - And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Hebrews 13:8 - Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

James 4:13 - Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”

So on….

Could Jesus have ascended & descended

Possibly, because there are conflicting passages, that would make it appear Jesus must have been ascending & descending. I will not go into detail of the possible inconsistences (for another Q), simple account

Luke 23:43 – would imply Jesus is going to ascend to heaven ‘Today / paradise’ (will come back to this later.

Luke 24:51 - 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.

Mark 16:19 – 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.

John 20:17 - He said to Mary Magdelene two days later, “I have not yet ascended to the Father.”

John 20:24-26 – Thomas story – which appears to be a week later from Luke 24:51

Acts 1:3 - 3After His suffering, He presented Himself to them with many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a span of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

Acts 1:1-2 The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after he through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom he had chosen (Acts 1:1,2).

Acts 1:9 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

There is a possibility that Jesus ascended and then came back and ascended again, but this would be quite odd and never insinuated in any of the passages

Physical & Spiritual body

Some say the Jesus body ascended at resurrection but remained as a spirit

Luke 24:37-39 - 37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

John 20:24-27 - showed Thomas his body / flesh & bone / body marks John 20:20 - 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Luke 24:23 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive.

Mark 16:11 11 When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.

Hebrews 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, with a strong cry and tears, offering up prayers and supplications to him that was able to save him from death, was heard for his reverence.

Based on the above it would appear that Jesus was not a spirit and Luke 24:37-39 & John 20:24-27 (Thomas story) are very clear he was flesh & bone.

What was the purpose of Jesus eating

Luke 24:42 - ate fish & honeycomb Luke 24:30 – ate bread

Luke 20:36 Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. Hebrews 9:27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, Rom 6:9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.

It’s very unlikely that Jesus would eat to show that he is a ghost/spirit and does not need to eat as a spirit cannot die again – but that he was flesh and bone – physical body and not a spirit.

Paradise & Heaven

Some say that paradise and heaven are Two Different places.

1 Peter 3:22 ESV Who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

Mark 16:19 ESV So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.

Revelation 2:7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To those who are victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

2 Corinthians 12:2-4 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.

Very limited information, but we can see that Jesus was with God in heaven and Jesus states in Luke that he will ‘be with me in paradise’, the evidence would point to Heaven & Paradise being the same place above the clouds.


  1. Jesus could have been in paradise with the thief and then came back down after – but a very weak argument
  2. One passage is incorrect

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