The interpretation of this verse depends
entirely on punctuation, which rests wholly on human authority, the Greek manuscripts
having no punctuation of any kind till the ninth century, and then it is only a dot in the
middle of the line) separating each word.
The Verb "to say," when followed
by hoti, introduces the ipsissima verba of what is said; and answers to our
quotation marks. So here (in Luke 23:43), in the absence of hoti
(="that"), there may be a doubt as to the actual words included in the dependent
clause. But the doubt is resolved (1) by the common Hebrew idiom, "I say unto thee
this day," which is constantly used for very solemn emphasis; as well as (2) by the
usage observable in other passages where the verb is connected with the Gr. semeron=
1. With hoti:--
Mark 14:30: "Verily I say unto thee, that (hoti)
'this day ... thou shall deny me thrice.' "
Luke 4:21: "And He began to say unto them, that (hoti)
'This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.' "
Luke 5:26: "Saying (hoti=that), 'We have seen
strange things to-day.' "
Luke 19:9: "Jesus said unto him that (hoti),
'This day is salvation come to this house.' "
For other examples of the verb "to say," followed by hoti,
but not connected with semeron (to-day), see Matt. 14:26, 16:18, 21:3, 26:34, 27:4; Mark
1:40; 6:14,15,18,35, 9:26, 14:25; Luke 4:24,41, 15:27, 17:10, 19:7.
2. Without hoti: --
On the other hand, in the absence of hoti (=that), the
relation of the word "to-day" must be determined by the context.
Luke 22:34: "And He said, 'I tell thee, Peter, in no wise
shall a cock crow to-day before thou shall thrice deny that thou knoweat Me.' " Here
the word" to-day" is connected with the verb "crow," because the
context requires it. Compare Heb. 4:7.
It is the same in Luke 23:43: "And
Jesus said to him, 'Verily I say unto thee to-day [or this day1, when, though they were about to die, this man had
expressed so great faith in Messiah's coming Kingdom, and therefore in the Lord's
resurrection to be its King -- now, under such solemn circumstances] thou shall be, with
Me, in Paradise.' " For, when Messiah shall reign, His Kingdom will convert the
promised land into a Paradise. Read Isa. 35, and see note on Ecc. 2:5.
We must notice also the Article before
"Paradise." It is "THE Paradise," viz. the paradise of which the
prophets tell in such glowing language, when the Lord shall come in His Kingdom. See Ps.
67:4,6, 72:6,7,16,17; Isa. 4:2; 30:23,24, 35:1,2,5,6, 41:18,20; Jer. 31.5,12; Ezek.
34:25-27, 36:29,30, 47:8,9,12; Hos. 2:18,21,22;. Joel 3:18; Amos 9:13-15; Zech. 8:12.
It has no connection with Babyloninn,
Jewish, and Romish tradition, but is a direct answer to the malefactor's prayer. His
prayer referred to the Lord's coming and His Kingdom; and, if the Lord's answer was
direct, the promise must have referred to that coming and to that Kingdom, and not to
anything that was to happen on the day on which the words were being spoken.
It is alleged that the Lord's promise was a
reply to the man's thought; but this is an assumption for which no justification can be
found, Moreover, how can we know what his thought was, e~cept by the words he uttered?
The Lewis Codex of the Syrian N.T. reads in
v. 39: "save Thyself and us to-day." So the Lord's word "to-day"
may have reference to the revilings of the one, as well as to the request of the other.
1 It is rendered
"to-day" eighteen times in the Gospels, Hebrews and James; but "this
day" twenty-three times (five times in Matthew; once in Mark; four times in Luke;
nine times in Acts; once in Romans; twice in 2 Corinthinns; and, once in Hebrews).