From Luke 23:43, Will We Be in Paradise with Jesus at the Moment of Death, or Sometime Later?

Question from a reader:

In your book Heaven I read that we will go to paradise at death, partially based on Luke 23:43 "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in Paradise." My pastor says that the original does not have punctuation and a better translation may be "I tell you the truth today, you will be with me in Paradise" (with the comma in a different place). What do you think?

Answer from Randy Alcorn:

I have heard that interpretation, but it doesn't make sense to me. As Jesus is on the cross, each word causes him pain. Why say today if it would be meaningless and unnecessary? Of course he's saying it today, that's obvious, when else would he be saying it? But the today matters a great deal if he's saying you'll be with me TODAY in paradise. I think it’s clear that’s what he’s saying.

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries