Thursday, July 28, 2016

Does A Misplaced Comma In Scripture Change Where You Will Go When You Die?

by Diane M. Hoffmann

(Scriptures quoted from the King James Version)

On a recent radio interview about my book “24 Hot Potatoes in the Church Today”, the host brought up an issue not often thought up by Christians.

That issue is about the statement of our Lord in Luke 23:43, where he told one of the two thieves, crucified along with Him that day, who believed on Jesus and repented:  “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

The complaint on this by some people is that the comma should be after the word ‘today’ rather than before it, making it to mean that he would be in paradise only at another time, not immediately.

This of course can only appear as such to those who believe in “soul sleep” and some as well who do not believe in paradise as an immediate and literal place where the dead in Christ go to.

A quick search reveals that most Christian Bibles show the comma in that place (before the word ‘today’) in Scripture, all the way back to the King James of 1611 Bible, and also the Matthew Bible of 1535, as well as all subsequent versions (except for specific ones that moved it purposefully to support their interpretation and belief.)

Those who believe in either the soul sleep, or that there is no hell, believe that we do not live after we die the physical death. However, we are not only just physical but we are immortal as well. We are body, soul and spirit. A soul is immortal and lives forever.

Others believe that when we die we do not live immediately after but sleep until such time as we will be brought back to life at a later time to be with God (in Heaven) IF we are worthy of it.

However, we are worthy of the next life with God only because of one thing: our BELIEF in the ultimate sacrifice of Christ on the cross which makes us righteous before God, and the understanding that Christ is God Himself who came in the flesh to redeem us -- each one of us, one individual at a time.

Those who believe there is no hell need to see that Jesus talked about hell more than anyone else in the Bible – who are we going to believe: Jesus or others?

The Bible is clear that we live (spiritually, in a new immortal body) the moment we die physically.  

Mark 12:27, "He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err."

Matthew 22:31-32, "But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

There are many different words in the Greek and Hebrew for sleep, die, live, etc. and all are specific to the context of the passage of scripture. Sometimes sleep means ‘to rest’, other times sleep (different words in the original language) means deceased. To die means to expire, to finish life… The word used for Saul when he died (1 Chronicles 10:6) is “mooth” which is the word used for all other individuals referred to as passing away in physical death”.

“Slept” as in “and David, (Solomon, Roboham, etc., etc.) slept with his fathers” uses the same word in the Hebrew “shaw-kab”, where as when it refers to sleeping as in resting it is “yaw-shane”, except for one or two occasions when these are interchanged, but the context of the passage makes the meaning clear.


As for paradise, it is used only 3 times in the Bible, and it means, a park, an Eden, a place of future happiness.

Luke 23:43, “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Jesus was there also until His resurrection. He also visited hell during that time (1 Peter 3:19) but this is for another article.

2 Corinthians 12:14 “How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter”. (And the whole rest of the passage speaks of living).

Rev. 2:7 – the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God…


And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

Doesn’t sound like they’re sleeping to me.

Rev. 20:4-6: 

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection (i.e., of the righteous, in Christ): on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

This takes us to another issue of the first and second resurrections which, again, needs a whole other article – for another time.

Let us look at another passage of Scripture that speaks of the immediate life after death:

Luke 16:19-31

19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:
28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. \dmh



Diane M. Hoffmann, B.Th., M.Th., Ph.D./Th.

Author of "24 Hot Potatoes in the Church Today"
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