In Luke 23:39-43 we read about the conversation that took place between Yeshua and the thief as they were hanging on the cross.
“Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “if You are the Christ,
save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds, but this Man has done nothing wrong. Then he said to Jesus, 'Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.' And Jesus said to him, 'Assuredly, I say to you, today, you will be
with Me in Paradise.” (NKJV) (Bold script added by me)
These verses have been misunderstood to mean that Yeshua (Jesus) took the thief's soul/spirit body with Him to Heaven when they both died that day on the cross.
However, upon closer examination of the conversation and the Greek words used, it has a different meaning altogether.
In most older versions of the KJV one will find that verse 23:43 reads as follows, “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
I actually have several of these older versions of the KJV that have this scripture written just this way.
Why is it important? The first reason is because the word “to” is in italics. This means that this word was not in the original Greek manuscripts, but was added by the translator to supposedly bring clarity.
Instead of bringing clarity it has brought to us a very misleading belief. Also, notice how the word “To” is separated from the word “day”. The English word is written “today”, not “to day”. The way that is is written would mean that one has placed the preposition “to” in front of the word day. This is inaccurate grammar. In most other versions of the Bible, the two words are now just fused together as the word “today”, but that is not what the original said. Yeshua never promised the thief that he would
be with Him in Paradise “today”, just after their death.
In fact, if a closer examination is made into Greek concordances, one will find that no Greek word is present for the word “to” and the word “day” says that it is referring to the day being spoken about in the conversation. It states that a denominative pronoun such as “this” or “that” should be used before
the word “day”, to denote which day is being spoken about. In Hebrew there is no differentiation in the preposition “this” or “that”. The Hebrew word is zeh.
So, what did Yeshua say to the thief? First, re-read the conversation. The thief says, “remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Then Yeshua uses the Hebrew word “Amen”, which we translate as Verily, or Assuredly in English. This word means that Yeshua affirms the words of the thief; that He
will indeed remember him when He comes into His kingdom.
Notice the day about which they are speaking. They are speaking about the day that Yeshua comes into His Kingdom. It is on that “day” that the thief wanted to be remembered and it is on that “day” that Yeshua promises that He will remember the thief and that he will be in paradise with Him.
Now, I ask you, has Yeshua come into His Kingdom yet? No, He hasn't! He will not come into His Kingdom until He returns. It is at that time that He will set up His kingdom on earth and He will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. His kingdom will be in operation on earth during the Millennial reign. It is at that time that the dead will arise to be with Him. It is at that time that the thief will arise to be with Yeshua in His kingdom on earth. There are many scriptures which tell us about His coming to set up His Kingdom on earth but I will list only this one:
"I solemnly charge you before God and the Messiah Yeshua, who will judge the living and the dead when he appears and establishes his Kingdom:" II Timothy 4:1 (CJB)
Concerning the conversation between Yeshua and the thief, no one is dying and going to heaven in this passage! Paradise, Yeshua's coming kingdom, is not going to be in heaven, it is going to be here on earth. His Kingdom will be His Millennial reign. After this, the New Heaven and the New Earth comes down out of Heaven and will be here on earth. Revelation 21 and 22. This is represented when we celebrate the Festival of Shemini Atzeret, the Eighth Day Assembly. This Festival represents or shadows the "new beginning" of everything.
Yeshua went to the grave just like everyone else does. If He hadn’t then He would not have been able to conquer death and the grave and take the keys back. John 20:15-17 clearly tells us that Yeshua had not yet ascended to heaven shortly after His resurrection. However, we know that He did just in time to be the firstfruits of the resurrection and to offer Himself to the Father as the firstfruits offering.
Like the thief, I am awaiting the sound of the shofar, whether dead or alive, so that I can be with my Messiah in His Kingdom. His Kingdom, on earth, when He rules and reigns from Jerusalem.