When Jesus was hanging on the cross, one dying thief demonstrated how someone can be on the brink of death and still call Christ Lord. No matter where you are in life, there’s always time to recognize Jesus’ lordship in your own life. Read the below notes from the MacArthur Bible Commentary.

Luke 23:32, 39-43

32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.

39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Verse-by-verse Notes

23:32 | two others, criminals. This word denotes a rebel and brigand who plunders as he steals. These were probably cohorts of Barabbas in the rebellion, since robbery itself was not a capital offense under Roman law.

23:39 | one of the criminals. Matthew 27:44 and Mark 15:32 report that both criminals were mocking Christ along with the crowd. As the hours wore on, however, this criminal’s conscience was smitten, and he repented. When the impenitent thief resumed his mocking (v. 39), this thief rebuked him and refused to participate again.

23:41 | this Man has done nothing wrong. Even the thief testified of Jesus’ innocence.

23:42 | Lord, remember me. The penitent thief ’s prayer reflected his belief that the soul lives on after death, that Christ had a right to rule over a kingdom of the souls of men, and that He would soon enter that kingdom despite His impending death. His request to be remembered was a plea for mercy, which also reveals that the thief understood he had no hope but divine grace, and that the dispensing of that grace lay in Jesus’ power. All of this demonstrates true faith on the part of the dying thief, and Christ graciously affirmed the man’s salvation (v. 43).

Key Word: Paradise

23:43 | Paradise—lit. “garden” or “park.” The Septuagint uses this word literally in Ecclesiastes 2:5 and Song of Solomon 4:13, although the term also refers to the Garden of Eden (see Gen. 2:8). Later, Paradise was described as the place of the righteous dead in Sheol (Luke 16:19–31). When Jesus spoke to the thief on the cross, He assured him that he would that day reside with Him in Paradise (23:42). This seems to indicate that this word refers to a pleasant place for the righteous among the dead. Revelation 2:7 speaks of Paradise as the restitution of an Edenic paradise, an everlasting home for believers (cf. Gen. 2 and Rev. 22).

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MacArthur Bible Commentary Two Thieves on the Cross

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  1. Laycistercians Reply

    Such a nice thing to know that eternal life could only be paradise or hell. People wise enough invests here for their souls, while others are taking so much material things that they cannot bring eternally.

  2. Greg Cross Reply

    Love in your heart and faith is all you need to go home to Christ our Lord.

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