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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE - Chapter 23 - Verse 43
Verse 43. Today, &c. It is not probable that the dying thief expected that his prayer would be so soon answeyed. It is rather to be supposed that he looked to some future period when the Messiah would rise or would return; but Jesus told him that his prayer would be answered that very day, implying, evidently, that it would be immediately at death. This is the more remarkable, as those who were crucified commonly lingered for several days on the cross before they died; but Jesus foresaw that measures would be taken to hasten their death, and assured him that that day he should receive an answer to his prayer and be with him in his kingdom.
Paradise. This is a word of Persian origin, and means a garden, particularly a garden of pleasure, filled with trees, and shrubs, and fountains, and flowers. In hot climates such gardens were peculiarly pleasant, and hence they were attached to the mansions of the rich and to the palaces of princes. The word came thus to denote any place of happiness, and was used particularly to denotes the abodes of the blessed in another world. The Romans spoke of their Elysium, and the Greeks of the gardens of Hesperides, where the trees bore golden fruit. The garden of Eden means, also, the garden of pleasure, and in Ge 2:8 the Septuagint renders the word Eden by Paradise. Hence this name in the Scriptures comes to denote the abodes of the blessed in the other world. See Barnes "2 Co 12:4".
The Jews supposed that the souls of the righteous would be received into such a place, and those of the wicked cast down to Gehenna until the time of the judgment. They had many fables about this state which it is unnecessary to repeat. The plain meaning of the passage is,
"To-day thou shalt be made happy, or be received to a
state of blessedness with me after death."
It is to be remarked that Christ says nothing about the p1ace where it should be, nor of the condition of those there, excepting that it is a place of blessedness, and that its happiness is to commence immediately after death (see also Php 1:23); but from the narrative we may learn—
1st. That the soul will exist separately from the body; for, while the thief and the Saviour would be in Paradise, their bodies would be on the cross or in the grave.
2nd. That immediately after death—the same day—the souls of the righteous will be made happy. They will feel that they are secure; they will be received among the just; and they will have the assurance of a glorious immortality.
3rd. That state will differ from the condition of the wicked. The promise was made to but one on the cross, and there is no evidence whatever that the other entered there. See also the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Lu 16:19-31.
4th. It is the chief glory of this state and of heaven to be permitted to see Jesus Christ and to be with him: "Thou shalt be with me." "I desire to depart and to be with Christ," Php 1:23; Re 21:23; 5:9-14.
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