“You will be with me in Paradise.”—Luke 23:43
[From ws 12/18 p.2 February 4 – February 10]
After giving us the usage and meaning of the Greek word “paradeisos” (an unspoiled naturally beautiful park or garden) paragraph 8 gives us accurate information. In summing up the scriptural evidence provided it says the following: “There is no indication in the Bible that Abraham thought that humans would get a final reward in a heavenly paradise. So when God spoke of “all nations of the earth” as being blessed, Abraham would reasonably think of blessings on earth. The promise was from God, so it suggested better conditions for “all nations of the earth.””
It follows up in paragraph 9 with David’s inspired promise that “the meek will possess the earth, and they will find exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” David was also inspired to predict: “The righteous will possess the earth, and they will live forever on it.” (Ps 37:11, 29; 2 Sa 23:2)”
The next paragraphs deal with various prophecies in Isaiah, such as Isaiah 11:6-9, Isaiah 35:5-10, Isaiah 65:21-23, and King David’s Psalm 37. These talk about “the righteous will possess the earth and live forever upon it”, “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah”, the deserts having water and the grass growing there again, “the days of my people will be like the days of a tree” and similar wording. All together they paint a picture of a garden-like earth, with peace and everlasting life.
Finally, having set the scene convincingly, paragraphs 16-20 start discussing the theme scripture of Luke 23:43.
Discussing Jesus prophecy[i] that he would be in the grave 3 days and 3 nights and then raised up, paragraph 18 correctly points out “The apostle Peter reports that this happened. (Acts 10:39, 40) So Jesus did not go to any Paradise on the day he and that criminal died. Jesus was “in the Grave [or “Hades”]” for days, until God resurrected him.—Acts 2:31, 32;”
One might reasonably conclude that on this occasion the NWT translation committee got it right by moving the comma. However, another possibility is worthy of our consideration and is discussed in detail in this article: A Comma Here; A Comma There.
However, we want to draw attention to the following points:
First, the continued absence of any proper references to quotations from other sources, authorities, or writers, they are using to prove a point. Unusually there is one reference as a footnote to paragraph 18. However, the usual lack of any verifiable references resumes with the example in paragraph 19 when it says: “A Bible translator from the Middle East said of Jesus’ reply: “The emphasis in this text is on the word ‘today’ and should read, ‘Truly I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise.”
Is this Bible translator a scholar of the same faith? Without knowing, how can we be assured there is no bias in his evaluation? Indeed, is this a recognised scholar with qualifications or just an amateur without professional qualifications? This does not mean the conclusion is wrong, just that it is far more difficult for Beroean-like Christians to have confidence in the conclusions provided. (Acts 17:11)
As an aside, even today with agreements intended to be binding we usually sign and date documents. A common wording is to say: “signed this day in the presence of “. Thus, if Jesus was reassuring the impaled criminal that it was not an empty promise, then that wording “I tell you today” is what would have reassured the dying criminal.
The second point is that it ignores “the elephant in the room”. The article points out correctly that “We can thus understand that what Jesus promised must be an earthly paradise.” (Par.21) However, the previous sentences briefly allude to the teaching of almost all Christendom and also the Organization, namely that some will go to heaven. (The Organization restricts this to 144,000). They state “That dying criminal did not know that Jesus had made a covenant with his faithful apostles to be with him in the heavenly Kingdom. (Luke 22:29)”.
There is a difficult question that needs answering, which is avoided by the Watchtower article.
We have established that the criminal will be in paradise here on earth.
Jesus clearly states he would be with him, so that would imply Jesus would be here on earth too. The Greek word translated “with” is “meta” and means “in company with”.
It therefore follows that if Jesus is on earth with this criminal and others, then he cannot be in heaven at that time. Also, if Jesus is here on earth or in its close vicinity in the atmospheric sky of the earth then the chosen ones have to be in the same place as they are with Christ. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
“The heavenly kingdom” alluded to in that statement is described in the Scriptures in terms such as “the kingdom of the heavens” and “the kingdom of God”, describing who the kingdom belongs to or comes from, rather than where it is.
In fact Luke 22:29 cited in paragraph 21, only refers to the covenant Jehovah made with Jesus and in turn Jesus with his 11 faithful disciples. This covenant was to rule and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. The Organization interprets it as extending further, but that is by no means certain or clear from the scriptures that this particular covenant is for more than his faithful 11 disciples. Luke 22:28 states one of the reasons for this covenant or promise to them was because they were the ones who had stuck with him through his trials. Other Christians who accepted Jesus from then on would not be able to stick with Christ through his trials.
More interestingly, in the same paragraph says “Unlike the dying criminal, Paul and the other faithful apostles were selected to go to heaven to share with Jesus in the Kingdom. Still, Paul was pointing to something to come in the future—a future “paradise.””
Here the article does not quote or cite a scripture in support. Why not? Is it perhaps because one does not exist? There are a number of scriptures that are or can be interpreted that way by the Organization and by Christendom. However, is there a scripture that categorically and clearly states that humans will become spirit creatures and go to live in the heavens? By “heavens” we mean Jehovah’s presence somewhere beyond outer space.[ii]
Third, the Apostle Paul states that he believed “there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous” (Acts 24:15). If the righteous are to be resurrected to heaven as a limited number of 144,000 as taught by the Organization, where does that leave those who will live on or be resurrected to earth? With this teaching of the Organization these ones would have to be considered as part of the unrighteous. Remember too that this would also include the likes of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Noah and so forth, as they did not have a hope to go to heaven according to the Organization. Simply put, does splitting those considered righteous between heaven and earth make sense and agree with Scripture?
Food for thought for all thinking Witnesses.
[i] See Matthew 12:40, 16:21, 17:22-23, Mark 10:34
[ii] Please see a series of articles on this site discussing this subject in depth.
Hermano wilson, tengo varias cosas que decirle. Lei el articulo de la atalaya y creame que es de las pocas veces que ponen solo dos o tres citas biblicas, No usaron mas. Y al contrario, citaron a un Catolico (no que los catolicos son lo peor, la gran ramera? Porque citar a un catolico???) Y citaron a un musulman o estudioso judio de la biblia que por cierto temieron dar el nombre (muy raro), pero alguien en un video de youtube si investigo quien era. Eso me hace pensar que el Paraiso que por tantos años nos han metido en… Read more »
Great article as always Tadua! I lurk and read far more often then I ever write, but this latest WT article kind of pushed me a bit. As a JW who’s still wrestling with having to be in, I always struggle with the question of whether the errors in our belief system are due to a true misguided zeal, or at times perhaps whether the elements of the Governing Body know better but can’t/won’t go through the arduous process of correcting obviously misguided thinking. Today’s article was a nice review of the prophecies regarding the word Paradise in the Scriptures.… Read more »
Tadua, thank you very much for your continued hard work! Just a thought about the heavenly hope. Rev 7:15 “That is why they are before the throne of God, and they are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple [naos]; and the One seated on the throne will spread his tent over them.” The word translated as temple above is the Greek word ‘naos’. The following verses specify the location of the naos as being in heaven. Rev 11:19 “And the temple sanctuary [naos] of God in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was… Read more »
I implore all commenters to please not be angry with Watchtower. When we believed it was God’s instrument we used to defend it to our deaths. Those still believing in it who read here still do. You can understand what response our expressing anger towards their cherished org. might illicit. More importantly that anger can harm us. For it might identify us to Christ as judges rather than God’s messengers to humanity and brothers and sisters of each other. One WT ploy is that it’s written many of us who leave are bitter,even though it knows many aren’t. And we… Read more »
In my comment above ARISING SHOULD BE ARISEN. ELDERLY SHOULD BE ELDER.
I have auto fill on my phone which has its own mind and sometimes changes my words.
Just a thought around the comments of some who feel this site could take a different direction with the type of material being considered, so as to be more “up building and Christ centred”. At times I think of the early Christians particularly those who fled Jerusalem due to the persecution from the religious leaders such as Saul of Tarsus. They were forced to go to places where the language, customs and culture was different, and in many cases repugnant to a Jew. they may of had minimal community friends and family they could relate to. Not to mention a… Read more »
The purpose of this site is contained in its title: JW.org Reviewer. For those who do not wish to review, analyze and cross examine JW teachings, we have another site, Beroeans.study, titled “Bible Study Forum”. Unfortunately, we have been neglecting it for the past months because the work of providing videos for both the English and now Spanish communities has taken up all our time. Many hands make light the work, but alas, there are not many hands. Until that changes, we’ll do our best. It is my hope that for the English audience, the need for JW centric videos… Read more »
It would be fine to concentrate on things that are upbuilding. And it is good for readers to realise how many excellent articles are already available, and all credit to you for these. Those on the Bible Study forum still make fine reading.
It is hard not to criticize JW publications when those of us still attending have to listen to this. It is not a situation we like, I can assure you.
Good points Alithia.
Holy Spirit is really what should be teaching us. We probably still have thinking patterns left over from our years of Org indoctrination.
C.T. Russell often stated that his publications were better to have than the Bible itself. The same culture still exists in the Org today. Their “spiritual food” almost replaces the Holy Scriptures as well.
Thanks for the reminders dear brother Alithia ?
Hello to all, Wow! 18 comments already. I believe this is a good thing. So encouraging to hear from everyone. By the way Tadua, I would like to say thanks for your continued hard work on your WT Reviews. I do believe these are needed for those who are still active JWs who need a “place to go” that isn’t outwardly intimidating. When I was waking up a few years ago this site was the only one I would dare allow myself to visit. I’m certain that is still the case for many awakening Witnesses. I’m certain it will continue… Read more »
Hi Warp speed Rest assured I certainly can. It’s all the nice comments and interchange between readers that helps keep me going. I read them all, even if I don’t comment. Trust me it gets very frustrating at times reviewing the same insipid or incorrect material that is perpetually peddled as spiritual food from God. Trying to get the balance between highlighting error and encouraging others is also a difficult balance to get. It is actually a relief when there is some time to write a WT publication free article. So much more refreshing and exciting. However, I constantly have… Read more »
Warp Speed and to all who comment and write articles on this website, I just want to say thank you for your persistence, and research into so many faith building subjects that truly makes my brain cells jump for joy. The way we encourage and commend one another is truly amazing, and the hard work that Tadua and the way he reasons is diffidently backed by Jehovah’s Spirit, I am extremely grateful for that. The org always mentions that we should offer commendation to one another for the hard work that our brothers who are taking the lead, but in… Read more »
Hi JB, and thanks for your encouraging reply further down the page. When I came off the BOE that bland announcement was all there was. My family were livid ! Unfortunately, all the elders seem to be bound by what it says in the Shepherding book” , which simply says that the announcement is “brother o and so is no longer serving as an elder(or M/S ” (or something very similar). So because the book says nothing to allow any embellishment, then that is all we get. One bland announcement. An elder with 40 years of service, who comes off… Read more »
Hi LJ and JB,
Same announcement for me also. There is no flexibility given for anyone. It’s the same wording whether you were removed (for sin) or stepped-down for personal reasons. This is intentional (it nurtures fear and distrust which helps control the rank and file.)
What a fine Christian attitude…..
Tadua, you are a wise person and many thanks for your advise. Psalmbee…… This is how you react at conversations. A blast from your PAST: In reply to Robert-6512. Hi Robert, That was a scolding to a very high degree. We must remember that this site is focused on the awakening JW’s and those that are slumbering. Tadua is doing what he thinks is best for that targeted group, and I think you owe him an apology even if you are right. There is plenty of places to get spiritual food if you’re hungry. Your advanced state needs a little… Read more »
Hi JB it seems to me that getting to the truth on any subject involves either starting from scratch or starting from where we are. The knowledge most us bring here is a combination of JW teachings which we agree with and JW teachings which we do not agree with. I am open to teachings from all over the place, as long as they harmonise with the Bible. I then do my best to sort out what I can accept for the moment, and those that I think are wrong. However, it is hardly surprising that in realising that many… Read more »
As I was reading your words, my heart cried with joy, you are truly a lover of God, your words of encouragement has eternally touched my heart.
Thank you LJ
Thank you James Brown, and I still love you too. I have said a lot of things on this site that I got reprimanded and moderated for, I’m the first one to admit that. I have been on moderation for several months at a time,but to be honest that only made me respect this site and the people who run it. Yeah I was a little mad at first but not anymore. When you said what you did in one of your posts it reminded me of me and I just wanted to speak up about it. While it is… Read more »
I love what you write, and yes you are right, sometimes my emotions get the better of me, I cannot talk to my wife as she worships the ground GB walks on, so the only place I get to say what I can say is on this site, and Psalmbee, this is STUPID of me, as I love you all very,very much.
EC 7:8 Is so true, thanks again my brother.
This article is one of the main reasons I believe that the earthly hope is the only hope, that includes the anointed of Christ , they are going to rule here with Christ as glorified immortal humans, not disembodied spirits, that has always been the hope of Israel, its only till the Greek influence arrived through the early church fathers that the idea of heaven took hold
I think Eric/Meleti has said in his videos that there will be a resurrection of the righteous and unrighteous at two different time periods. I had never thought about the resurrection being separate occurrences but it would seem logical. Also, at John 5:29 “those who did good things to a resurrection of life and those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment”. That doesn’t sound like the good resurrection will be the same as the one who practiced vile things and I would hope that I would not have the bad judgment.-
Good morning to all At the out set let me say Warp speed I am with you 100%, I stated before why do we spend so much time and energy on what WT & GB is teaching or doing or what they should be doing! Jesus said Gods word is alive and exerts power, so why dont we STUDY it, I mean we have great thinkers among us that are producing great articles, so again why dont we take a few chapters of the bible and examine them so we can stir the thinking of fellow witnesses, its beyond me… Read more »
Jamesbrown, (this is my first reply so I hope it works out okay.) I agree with you that the Watchtower just uses it’s own thoughts but they should study the Bible for their information. That’s why I was never a happy JW. That is what a Christian should do is study and read the Bible instead of studying the Watchtower publications.
Hello all, James Brown, you say you are starving Spiritually. We all may be a little hungry but Christ feeds his sheep in rations and we are all relying on those rations. JW.ORG needs reviewed, their teachings need scrutinized. We all have loved ones rooted in the Org, whether living or already dead, the record will be set straight. I can appreciate your “eager anticipation”, I’ve been there and still get there at times, but True Christian Love must endure the patience, one of the toughest things that we all encounter. Be patient, the gang is all here. the Situation… Read more »
Psalmbee and to all my friends This website has taught me to check the source material where paragraphs are quoted from, and that means I am forced to read WT & have GB teaching again in my mind & that makes me very angry about what I am reading. If Jesus was alive today, how much time would he spend on the false teachings of jw.org, would he turn around tell his disciples to devote their time and energy on JW false teaching? I want to ask you: If there was NO jw.org, what would happen to the Beroean Pickets?… Read more »
Hi James Brown,
This website is not only dedicated to going back and smelling the vomit but also dedicated to cleaning up the vomit (Is 19:14). You suit yourself, but it seems like you keep returning here to this site, like a man who is staggering around in his own vomit. Catch a grip and hold on tight (Pr 23:8).
Dear James Brown I can feel your pain. Our aim is not to get the Organization to change, although that would benefit all those still trapped in the Organization. But there are many looking for a way out, without losing their faith. Also the smell of the vomit reminds us why we should keep away from it. In addition we do endeavour to provide fresh food solely scripturally based. All takes time. We have many ideas, but currently not enough hours in the day to bring them all to fruition. But there are a number of topics in preparation that… Read more »
In reply, WS. A valid point, caused by our searching for truth following many years being misled. Whether we are trying to “intellectualize” things, is probably not a fair way to put things. Approaching 50 years of being told this is the truth, leads one to examine everything to try and discern what is “truth”. Also, it can be very hard to build love for God after being told that JWs are his Organisation. I can understand why many who leave find themselves athiest or agnostic. I must agree however, that some of the searching does lead to conclusions that… Read more »
Hi LJ, Thanks for the response. My point is that in continually trying to rebuff Watchtower teachings, we are spinning our wheels and diverting ourselves from truly beginning our journey with Christ. Sure, there are newly “awakening” ones visiting this site. This site is indeed beneficial for those as it certainly was for me. For ones like us though, LJ, I have to wonder how beneficial it is for us to continue to “trash” teachings that we determined to be false years ago. Wouldn’t the time and energy be better spent focusing on our journey forward, instead of looking in… Read more »
Hi Warp Speed,
Very well put, but I hope you plan on sticking around to lend your experience, like you just did in your post above.
Everyone has to be somewhere, and I think this is a “mighty” fine place to be, would you not agree? This life doesn’t end just because we get a little tired of knocking WT. We still gotta live with what we know and think to be true and what was for some, bred into.
Always good to hear your voice of reason, I hope you and yours are doing fine.
At Revelation 21:16 an angel measures the holy city where the church lives. It is as high as it is wide and deep. That is about 1,400 miles, which is about half way across the United States. No physical structure could be built that high from the ground. New Jerusalem is heavenly, not physical. Those living there come out of it to serve the people on Earth. Where they spend more time is questionable. But their assignment is to serve people on Earth. The Bible has always represented God and Christ when he was not human as living in dimensions… Read more »
There may or may not be any agenda on the organizations part but I’ve wondered why they have failed to mention at least in a footnote the different wording in some manuscripts of Luke 23:42 in any of their Bible versions. I’ve noticed many other translations make mention of this possible variance. (Luke 23:42) NWT Then he said: “Jesus, remember me when you get into your Kingdom.” (Luke 23:42) NET Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in* your kingdom.” *The alternate readings of some mss make the reference to Jesus’ coming clearer. “Into your kingdom” – with… Read more »
So then, it seems that none of us know for sure. Therefore, why do we keep trying to intellectualize all of the details.
How about cultivating love in our lives and showing it to others?
Did not our Lord and Master sum up what His followers should be doing- namely, loving God with their whole strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves?
Hello Warp, fine sentiments expressed that you desire which is commendable. However in my view one must consider the entire text that you refer to. Thoughts embedded in the OT and reiterated by Jesus as follows.] Mark 12:30-31 says, “`And you shall love the Lord your God from your whole heart and from your whole soul and from your whole mind and from your whole strength.’ The second is this: `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Please note in addition to what you quoted we must also love God with all of our mind! After which we can then… Read more »