Did The Thief on the Cross Die On the Day of Christ’s Crucifixion?

And so the lyrics go, “Even in death, He remembered the thief hanging by His side. He spoke with love and compassion, then He took him to paradise.”  It is a universal error taught by most Christian theologians today, that the thief on the cross was taken to Paradise on the day Jesus died. To understand what happened with the Thief that day, we need to correctly appreciate the question he asked of Christ on the day they were both crucified, thus, we will start there:

Of the repentant thief the Scriptures declare: “42And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Luke 23: 42, 43

The key thought and import of his request is simply this: “when thou comest into thy kingdom.” So, Christ’s answer will be reflective of and relative to “WHEN” His Kingdom comes, and not of the very day on which they both hung from their respective cross! Most people have not seen this aspect and make the second error of suggesting that “today” meant that very day when they were first nailed to the cross, but in reality, the thief did NOT die that day! Now, if this can be proven from Scripture that the thieves did not die that day, and ONLY Christ, it would place in clear perspective the error of most theologians today who suggest that “today” meant that Friday evening! How do we know the thieves did not die that day? Let us read further:

“31The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. 33But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:” John 19: 31-33

The act of breaking the legs was not to kill the condemned, but to ensure that the condemned could NOT escape by foot, should he somehow manage to extricate himself from the cross overnight, painful though it may be! So the Roman Soldiers broke the legs of both thieves, because they were STILL ALIVE, but of Christ that was NOT necessary, because when they came to break his legs, He was already dead from 3:00 PM,  that the prophecy of the Passover Lamb might be perfectly fulfilled in Him–not a bone of His body should be broken.

The question of crucifixion and subsequent death is one of interest to Modern Medicine, and attracted the interests of Doctors Matthew W Maslen 1Piers D Mitchell.  It is rather educational as well as historical to see how these medical experts describe the process of crucifixion and death on the cross, as it will inform our understanding of the anatomy and physiology of death by crucifixion.

In Roman times a common starting point was to be whipped across the back, buttocks and legs with a flagrum. This was a short whip with sharp objects interweaved into the thongs. The victim was then often obliged to carry part of their cross to the place of execution, outside the city walls. The weight of this would obviously vary depending upon the region and the type of wood used. Once at the place of crucifixion, the hands and feet of the prisoner were fixed to the cross with either nails or cords, and the cross erected in any one of a range of orientations. If crucified head up, the victim’s weight may also have been supported on a small seat. This was believed to prolong the time it took a man to die. Victims in the head up position could spend several days on the cross before they died. One technique used by the Romans to hasten death was to break the legs below the knee with a blunt instrument1 (p. 25). Modern interpretation in the medical literature as to how this might work includes blood loss from the fracture site or respiratory failure from fat embolism. In those positioned head up then respiratory failure might also ensue as a consequence of the inability to inflate the chest sufficiently, since the legs could no longer be used to support the weight of the body.”— Maslen MW, Mitchell PD. Medical theories on the cause of death in crucifixion. J R Soc Med. 2006 Apr;99(4):185-8. doi: 10.1177/014107680609900416. PMID: 16574970; PMCID: PMC1420788; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1420788/; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16574970/

This statement from the “National Library of Medicine,” a secular source, should silence the question as to whether or not, “in Roman times”, it was normative for the condemned criminal (malefactor) to have died on the same day he was originally nailed to the cross.  This is compelling evidence from a secular source, for it assures us that “victims… could spend several days on the cross before they died“! But the MOST compelling witness of all, is the Bible, for there it clearly demonstrated the need for breaking the thieves’ legs, on account of their still being alive, whereas with Christ, they purposefully refrained from breaking His legs for they verified that he was “dead already,” and knew that a dead man could not walk or run!  Yet, just in case He was playing dead, the Roman soldier, out of an abundance of caution, pierced His side to burst His heart and drain His life blood!

34But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. 35And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.” John 19: 34-36.

These words were written that we may believe on the authenticity of the historical account of Christ’s crucifixion, along with that of the two malefactors flanking him on the cross! So, did Jesus really take the repentant thief on the cross, the day of His crucifixion, to Paradise? A child can now answer this question with ease and confidence that truly the thief did not die on that Friday and could NOT have been taken to heaven!  But there is more:

On the third day from the crucifixion (counting inclusively), Mary Magdalene went to the garden alone, while the dew was still on the roses, and the voice she heard falling on hear ears, were those of the son of Man, our Lord and Risen Saviour, Y’shuah!

11But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre…  14And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus… 16Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. 17Jesus 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.” John 20: 11, 14, 16, 17. 

This passage makes resoundingly clear that neither the thief nor Christ had been to “paradise” prior to His resurrection, three days later!  As Christ did not lie to either Mary or the Thief, it is needful that we correct our misapprehension of what he spoke to the thief, and in that regard, we will now consult other translations for clarity on the passage of interest, Luke 23: 43:

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

2.       And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” ESV

3.       And Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

4.       And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” NKJV

5.       And He said to him, “I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise.” HCSB

6.       Jesus replied, “I promise that today you will be with me in paradise.” CEV

7.       Jesus told him, “I tell you with certainty, today you will be with me in Paradise.” ISV

With all the above-cited translations of the Bible, the one that most faithfully conveyed the sense of what transacted between Christ and the thief, is that of the HSCB, #5 above. That which has caused this gross confusion among believers, is the placement of the punctuation mark (comma/colon) in the sentence.  These punctuation marks are the work of the Bible Translators and they’ve not always been correct, and this is a classic case to demonstrate the incorrect placement of a punctuation mark, which spoils the meaning and intent of the Saviour, for as we have already established, the Thief did NOT die on the day of his crucifixion, and could NOT, therefore, have been transported with Christ to Paradise, who Himself also NEVER went to Paradise that day either!  The internal evidence of Scripture informs us of this fact, as we’ve done with Mary’s encounter with our Lord on resurrection morning.  Let’s express the Truth of the punctuation mark with real examples below, using the NKJV passage:

1.       And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” NKJV

o   In this rendition, it appears as though Jesus were promising the thief that on this very day “today” you will be with me in Paradise.  But as we’ve already demonstrated, this conclusion cannot be supported by the weight of evidence of Scripture.

2.       And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise.” NKJV

o   In this placement of the punctuation mark, the correct sense of Christ’s words is preserved and IS supported by the rest of Scripture.  Thus, the incorrect placement of the punctuation mark based on an erroneous concept of what happens when a person dies, led the early translators to assert their theological leanings into the translation of the Sacred Text.

The redemptive truth of this situation is clear:  The thief requested that Christ at his Coming in His Kingdom, would carry him to Paradise!  How do we know the thief was speaking of the days of the Second Coming of Christ, and not of “that very day” when he, the thief did NOT die?  Easy, let’s see:

31When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:” Matt. 25: 31-34

Where is Paradise?

“2  I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3  And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4  How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”2 Cor. 12: 2-4.

From this passage we see that the Paradise of God is in the third heaven, or the heaven above the heavens.  Fore there is the atmospheric heaven, the intergalactic heaven, and the heaven above that—the Third Heaven—the Throne Room of YHWH, the King of the Universe.  This is where Paul was transported to, and this is where Christ will take all His redeemed.  Thus He promised,

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” Rev. 2:7.

Since there was a “tree of life” in the Garden of Eden, and it is no longer on earth, it is clear that God is here speaking of the Eden above—the New Jerusalem.  Of this place we read,

“1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2  In the midst of the street of it [Holy City], and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3  And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: 4  And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.” Rev. 22: 1-4, [added].

We can now with heavenly confidence proclaim the following truths:

1.       Jesus did NOT go to heaven on the day of His crucifixion

2.       The repentant Thief of the Cross did NOT go to heaven, on the day of his crucifixion

3.       The Thieves did NOT die on the original day of their crucifixion

4.       Mary saw Jesus three days AFTER the crucifixion, and he assured her that he had NOT YET gone to heaven to see His Father

9Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. 10For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:… 13But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.” Isa. 28: 9, 10, 13.

Garrick Augustus, November 30, 2022

One thought on “Did The Thief on the Cross Die On the Day of Christ’s Crucifixion?

  1. Concerning the above statement about the “Thief of the Cross” I wish to refer to a little statement that the above author said and to expand upon the statement, to get a better under standing of what it is referring to … bear with me and read along with me …

    From this passage we see that the Paradise of God is in the third heaven, or the heaven above the heavens. Fore there is the atmospheric heaven, the intergalactic heaven, and the heaven above that — the Third Heaven — the Throne Room of YHWH, the King of the Universe. This is where Paul was transported to, and this is where Christ will take all His redeemed. Thus He promised …

    intergalactic heaven … ? …

    Hummm … Lets talk about this a bit ! …

    How many of you my dear readers, under stand what the intergalactic heaven is ? Or what the third heaven is and where is the third heaven located ? … have we been given that knowledge ?

    How many of you my dear readers, understand what is astronomy and what is the modern day astronomy study based upon ? its base upon the study of how the universe began, completing avoiding what it says in the opening words of the Bible, in it says, God, light there be Light ! … the was the beginning of the univerise, the great big bang ! … its right there in the open words of the Bible, the very beginning of the inter-galactic heavens … How many of you my dear readers have experienced the wonder of seeing the stars at night, in a dark location, far away from the bight city lights ? And have looked up in silence wonder and awe at the stars in the heavens above, and have gazed at the stars with a pair of binoculars or a telescope ? And seen the far off galaxies and star clusters in the depths of space ? Or even better yet, have turned your wondering eyes to the stars of Orion ? And seen the rich deep green hues of Orion in the sword that hangs below the three belt stars ? How many of you are aware of the fact that Ellen White was given a vision of Orion and spoke of Orion by name only once, in her book, the early writing ? How many of you even know who or what Orion is that that Ellen spoke of ? … or of the times, and hours of Orion’s rising in the east and its close association to the times of the Passover, the death of Christ upon the cross and its connection to the day atonement events and the statement that Christ makes, as lighting flashes forth from the east, so shall the coming his coming be ! ?

    Let us carefully examine this … let us back track in time about about 50 years …

    As a child in the second grade, me and my mom were visiting a dear family friend who was in her 90’s … this was in the late 1960’s .. between 67 and 69 or there about … while visiting the elderly lady, while mom was fixing up the ladies hair, I went into to the living room to take a look in the toy box that was there and down in the bottom, I found a very old book, that was printed in the 1800’s … it was a copy of the early writings … the woman told me to keep it … and take it home … so I took it home and began to read it … and came to that page where Ellen wrote of Orion, that the heavens would depart as a scroll and that we would look up at the stars of Orion and hear the voice of God declare the day and hour of Christ return …

    This elderly lady, was one of the last one still alive that has personally met Ellen White at one of the tent camp meeting … she met Ellen when she was a child …

    Let us stop here and carefully consider this … on a summer night, far from the bright city lights, you would see a band of soft white light running north and south across the night skies… that my dear friends is the galaxy, our home galaxy, that is over 100,105 lights years across … a light year is about 6 trillions miles x 100,105 … light travels at 186,282 miles a second .. at that speed, you could go around planet earth 7 times in one second … and reach the moon in 1.5 seconds … our sun is 868,000 miles across, 93 millions miles away, but at the the speed of light, its only 8 minutes away … our home world is located about 30,000 lights years from the center of home galaxy where the largest star of this galaxy lies in its stately grandeur, 32 millions miles in diameter … the stars of Orion lies about 2000 light years away away from our little home world … Orion stars lies within our Home galaxy, a star city … just one of untold millions of other star cities scatters across the vast realm of the universe … as we read the words that Ellen writes, that the voice of God with be heard speaking forth from the Stars of Orion, it shows that the Home of the Almighty is not in some far off location but its right here, close by in our own home galaxy … and if you had a chance to look at Orion, with a large telescope mirror, say a 17.5 inch telescope mirror, you would see the most beautiful shades of green … in the Bible, John and Ellen and others, speaks of seeing the throne, a green throne and a green rainbow, the same colors of Orion. But I assure you one thing, you will never ever see a photo of Orion in the same colors that you would see with your eye. Its only with your eyes that you will see the green colors, the same colors that John and Ellen spoke of when speaking of the throne of God … I am convince that the throne of our God, the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, is located in within Orion … He is not that far away … he is not in some far off intergalactic heaven or away off in some other realm, but he is close by ….

    at the time, I found the book, and read about Orion, nobody could tell me what she was talking about … I didn’t find my answer, until about 6 months later, on a cold winter night, when the frost laid heavy upon the ground… mom and dad had tucked me and my sister in for the night … our house was a large old Victorian mansion, way up on top of a high hill outside of town … as I said, it was a very cold night … after I had been asleep for a while, I suddenly felt a hand touch me and gently shake me and I heard a voice say, get up, I want to show you some thing … I am deaf and have to use a hearing aid. That hearing aid was put away for the night, yet, I clearly heard the voice, speaking to me, and I open my eyes and saw a shadowy form of someone standing there in the dark by my bed … I got up he took me by the hand, and lead me out of the room and down the long central stair case that was in the center of that old Victorian Mansion, there was no light in that old stair case, yet I could clear see where we going … we down that old staircase and out the kitchen back door, out into the night that glimmered with a million sparkling jewels in the star light … the frost twinkled like there was a bright moon, yet there was no moon, just the stars, that shone with a brightness … we walked away from the house, out over to a wheat field, where we stop, and he knelt down upon his knees beside me and put his arm around me and then pointed out the stars of Orion and said, do you see those stars ?, that is called the Golden Gate … Jesus is coming back through the Golden Golden … the lord himself had sent a angel to reveal this truth to me and he visited me three others times … in the last encounter, he revealed the Cross to me and said, first the cross then the crown of life. Take up your cross and follow me.

    Our God is not in some far off realm of the universe, but He is close by … you can see the green light of His throne, in the clouds of Orion …

    Some day, the heavens shall depart like a scroll … see Revelation 6:14. that is the same Bible verse, the same words that Ellen White used in her book, the Early Writings …

    I rarely ever share this revelation with anyone … it makes people nervous when I tell them what I have seen, which the lord by his grace revealed to me … but i assure you, that some day, we are gonna rise from this world, and past through the Golden Gate of Orion, and pass through the green clouds of Orion and join a host without number upon the sea of glass before the throne of light, the throne of God Almighty never more to depart from his presence, to walk amoung the angels, white as a light and to behold His face without a veil, and to worship him in song … promise me that you will meet me there near the throne of light …

    amen …

    Like

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