ABC:Luke 23

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Verse 42

TheThinkingAtheist.com claims the Bible is wrong about the following passage, and makes the following comments in the section, "How Long Did it Take for Jesus to Get to Heaven After the Crucifixion?":[1]

Matthew 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Jesus wouldn’t ascend to heaven for 3 days. His journey is compared to Jonah’s 3 days in the belly of the fish.

Luke 23:42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Jesus is to be in Paradise that very day.

The critic just doesn't understand the Biblical concept of the afterlife, although this isn't uncommon, many people think there's just one Heaven where God dwells that all go to upon dying. As shocking as people might find this, the Old Testament does not say people go to Heaven upon dying, but a place called sheol divided into halves. Jesus did indeed go to Paradise, or sheol, in the heart of the earth. The critic fails to realize they are one and the same, and that the public's concept of Heaven is not Biblical.

Biblical Concept of Heaven

There are three heavens referred to in the Bible (1 Corinthians 12:2). There's the sky/atmosphere (Genesis 1:20, Jeremiah 4:25; 34:20; Lamentations 4:19; Zephaniah 1:3), outer space (Genesis 1:14-17; 15:5; 22:17; 26:4; Deuteronomy 1:10; 17:3; Psalm 8:3, Jeremiah 8:2; Matthew 24:29), and the dwelling place of God (1 Peter 3:22) which is called the "heaven of heavens." (Deuteronomy 10:14; 1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 2:6, 6:18, Nehemiah 9:6; Psalms 148:4) As Richard Anthony points out, that there is more than one heaven is evidenced in the Old Testament also by Psalms 115:16, "The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD'S..."[2]

Biblical Afterlife, Sheol

Furthermore, the Heaven where God dwells is not where the dead go. Rather, all die and go to what the Old Testament calls "the grave" or "the pit" (Heb. sheol[3]). It is divided into two parts, one side of peace where children who die prematurely and those who've lived righteously go (Job 3:11-19) and another side where the wicked go to be tormented. (Psalms 9:17) Jesus said there is a "great gulf fixed" between these two sides preventing travel between them.

Luke 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

Heaven Not Where Dead Go

The Bible does not say people go to the Heaven where God dwells when dying, quite the opposite, it says that none have gone up to this Heaven but the one who came down from it, Jesus.

John 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

Proverbs 30:4 Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?

New Heavens and a New Earth

It seems only after the Final Judgment will new heavens and a new earth be created. After the 1,000 year reign of Jesus on Earth (Revelation 20:4) Satan will lead a final rebellion (Revelation 20:8-10) and then will occur the Final Judgment where death, hell, and the sea will give up the dead to be judged according to their works. (Revelation 20:11-15) God will then make new heavens and a new earth, and create a 'New Jerusalem' on Earth where He will dwell with men. Those who do evil not written in Jesus' Book of Life will be cast into the Lake of Fire. (Revelation 20:15; 21:8,27)

Revelation 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

Conclusion

My point in all of this is to say that this is not a contradiction. Jesus and the thief on the cross did indeed go to Paradise, but Paradise Biblically is sheol not Heaven. Jesus went to Paradise in the "heart of the earth" known as sheol but would not ascend to Heaven yet.

Verse 46

Jim Meritt of Infidels.org calls a contradiction "Jesus' last words".[4] TheThinkingAtheist.com also claims a contradiction exists here in the section "What Were Jesus’ Last Words on the Cross?"[1]

Matthew 27:46,50: "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?" that is to say, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" ...Jesus, when he cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost."

Luke 23:46: "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, "Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit:" and having said thus, he gave up the ghost."

John 19:30: "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished:" and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."

None of the passages say what were Jesus' last words, the phrase "Jesus' last words" is an expression originated by Meritt, not the Bible. The passages all actually complement one another, since neither Matthew 27 or Luke 23 say what it was that Jesus cried. So presumably the cry of Jesus not specified in those passages included "It is finished" in Luke 23:46 and both "Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit" and "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" in Matthew 27.

As seen from the chronology of the passages, Jesus' first cry was "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46) He then cried out again with a loud voice (Matthew 27:50), a cry that apparently included "It is finished" John 19:30 and then "Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit". (Luke 23:46) Since John 19:30 does not specify a loud cry, this statement presumably is the last of the three.

For a more detailed explanation of what Jesus said during the Crucifixion, see the Scofield Study Bible III's note for Matthew 27:33.[5]

Verse 47

TheThinkingAtheist.com claims the Bible is wrong about the following passage in the section "What Were the Centurion’s Words at the Cross?", and makes the following comments:[1]

Matthew 27:54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

"Surely he was the Son of God!"

Luke 23:47 Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.

"Surely this was a righteous man."

The statements are not remotely incompatible, there is no reason the centurion could not have said them both. Mark 15:39 additionally records the first statement. The critic simply doesn't understand the meaning of the word "contradiction." A contradiction means there are two incompatible statements which are mutually exclusive and cannot both be true, not a case like this where additional detail is given.

Sources

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 TheThinkingAtheist. Bible Contradictions. Retrieved from http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/page/bible-contradictions. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "thinkatheist" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "thinkatheist" defined multiple times with different content
  2. Anthony, Richard. Elijah, Enoch, and Moses. Devoted to Truth. Retrieved from http://www.ecclesia.org/truth/enoch.html.
  3. Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. Hebrew Lexicon entry for Sh@'owl. The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon. Retrieved from http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/hebrew/kjv/sheowl.html.
  4. Meritt, Jim (1992). A list of Biblical contradictions. Retrieved from http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html.
  5. Scofield, C.I. (2006). The Scofield Study Bible III. p. 1307. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=fpu-Pl7W_UIC&pg=PA1307.