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Coptic Orthodox Church
How can the thief be with Christ in paradise today if Jesus said
edited December 2013
How can the thief be with Christ in paradise today if Jesus said he would be in the heart of the earth for 3 days?
why is there no reply to this?
edited January 2014
I guess 3 days to the LORD is like an instant with reference to us while to the LORD and those in sheol it was 3 days however long that is. I could say more but I know He did not suffer in sheol
What better Paradise is there than to enjoy fellowship with Christ our Lord?
Brother in Christ, this is an excellent question. Allow me to quote the entirety of Blessed Theophylact's writing on the matter:
And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed at Him, saying, If Thou be Christ, save Thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked Him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when Thou comest in Thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise.
Luke Chapter 23 Verse 39-43
How is it then that the other Evangelists say that the two thieves accused Him? At first both thieves did accuse Him, but then one of them, the more discerning of the two, recognized in Jesus’ voice His goodness and divinity, when He said on behalf of His crucifiers, Father, forgive them. The voice of Jesus was not only full of compassion, but it also revealed great power. He did not say, "Lord, I beseech Thee, forgive them," but instead spoke the simple and authoritative words, Father, forgive them. Therefore, when the former blasphemer recognised by this voice that Jesus was indeed a king, he rebuked the other thief, and said to Jesus, Remember me in Thy kingdom. How does the Lord reply? Today thou shalt be with Me in paradise.
As a man, He was on the Cross, but as God, He is everywhere, both on the Cross and in paradise, filling all things, and nowhere absent. Some will ask, "How can the Lord say to the thief, Today thou shalt be with Me in paradise, when Paul said that none of the saints had received the promise?" Some say that the Apostle was not referring to all the saints when he said that none of them had received the promise, but was speaking only of those whom he there enumerated. Though he listed many, the good thief was not among them. Listen to the words that Paul uses, And these all … By this he refers expressly, they say, to those whom he had just enumerated, and the thief was not one of those. Others have said that the thief has not yet attained the life in paradise, yet the Lord could still say, Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise, because His promise is immovable and irrevocable. For the Lord, they explain, often employs this kind of speech when He speaks of things that will be as if they had already occurred. For example, the Lord says, He that believeth not is condemned already; and again, He that heareth My word, and believeth ... shall not come into condemnation, but hath passed from death unto life. Others have done violence to the context of these words, pausing after today, so that it might read, Verily I say unto thee today, Thou shalt be with Me in paradise.
Others, who appear to have hit the mark, explain it this way: the good things which are promised to us are not a life in paradise, or a return to paradise, but instead the kingdom of heaven. This is why we pray, Thy kingdom come, and not, "May we live in paradise." Let no, one say to me that paradise and the kingdom are one and the same. For eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have ascended into the heart of man, the good things of the kingdom. But the eye of Adam saw paradise, and his ear heard the words, Of every tree which is in paradise thou mayest eat for food. Even if you say, "Yes, but one tree was denied to him," still he could see it, and he did hear about it, and delight in it rose up in his heart. And Adam had every reason to be delighted; for was not this tree, both his work and his pleasure, as husbandman of paradise? Therefore, the Lord does not contradict what Paul says. The repentant thief did obtain paradise, but he has not yet obtained the kingdom. He will obtain the kingdom, along with all those whom Paul enumerated. In the meantime he has paradise, which is a place of spiritual rest. Many have spoken about these things.
We may add that, even if the kingdom of heaven and paradise are one and the same, this does not prevent both the Lord’s words and Paul’s from being in agreement. For the good thief is in paradise, that is, in the kingdom, and not only he, but all those mentioned by Paul. But he does not yet enjoy the full inheritance of good things. It is not the condemned who live in kingly palaces, for these are locked in prisons where they await their appointed punishments. It is, rather, men of honor and nobility who enter palaces and pass their time within them. Then, when the time is at hand for the distribution of royal gifts, they are found worthy of them. So too with the saints: although they do not yet enjoy their reward in full, nevertheless in the meanwhile they pass their time in places of light, of fragrance, of royalty, in short, in the tabernacles of the righteous, although they are not yet entitled to the full measure of the gifts of the kingdom. Therefore the thief was in paradise, and yet did not enjoy completion, so that he without us should not be made complete.
This, I think, is the truest understanding of all. If it were the case that the gifts of the saints in paradise were as complete as the gifts they will enjoy in heaven, then [what will those who confuse paradise with heaven say when] I remind them that the saints likewise received gifts during their life on earth as they worked miracles? [Will they say that life on earth is the same as life in paradise?] In truth all those who were found worthy of spiritual gifts received those gifts already in this life as an earnest and pledge of the Holy Spirit. They are in paradise, although they have not yet been brought to completion and perfection and have not yet received the kingdom. As Paul says in the same Letter to the Hebrews, that these all ... have not yet received the promise. When he says the promise he means "the whole promise." These saints, therefore, have not yet received the full promise, although they are in the kingdom and in paradise.
Marvel at this, O reader, that just as a victorious king returns in triumph from his conquest, bringing with him the best of his spoils, so too the Lord, having despoiled the devil of the best of the devil’s own plunder, brings it with Him as He returns into man’s ancient homeland, l mean, paradise. For [after His death as a man], the Lord was present in paradise not only as God, but also by reason of His human soul endowed with logos and mind. He was in paradise with, His mind, and [simultaneously] He descended into hades with His soul. By saving the thief, He also bound the devil, the vessel of evil, as the Lord foretold when He said that one must first bind the strong man and only then can he plunder the strong man’s goods.
minasoliman that is true but why do you bring it up?
childoforthodoxy thankyou very much for these writings. I have to read it again to see where it mentions anything about 3 days. I need to read it perhaps slowly with that in mind
edited January 2014
Paradise is the state of enjoyment of the company of Christ. Yes, He went to Sheol, but to bring them to a state of Paradise and to destroy the power of Satan. Therefore, the thief indeed enjoyed Paradise. He "went to" it, in that he repented and became one with Christ at that moment. Christ spent 3 days in the "belly of the world" to bring others to be one with Him as well, it just so happens that the thief "stole a moment" and turned it into eternity for him, to be the first one in Paradise before even the descent into Sheol.
Think of it like a diver to save the drowning. He spent 3 days diving and pulling them up, one by one:
edited January 2014
Thankyou I understand it now your explanation makes sense