"Truly I say to you" or "Truly I say to you today"
by Rod Jackson

All verses are quoted from the NASB anything in [square brackets] is added by me for clarity.

The New Testament is written originally in ancient greek. They do not have commas in the original text. This becomes a bit of a problem when we try to understand Luke 23:43. Some cults that wish to advocate "soul sleep" say that when the repentant thief on the cross died, he didn't immediately go to paradise. But his soul went to sleep and at some future time he will go to paradise. Christians counter this by saying that Jesus taught it was "today you will be with me in paradise". But they claim the comma is after the word "today" and so the today is just referring to Jesus expression "Truly I say to you".

So a normal Christian translation will put the comma here -

"And He [Jesus] said to him, `Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.' " Luke 23:43

Whereas some cults put the comma here -

"And He [Jesus] said to him, `Truly I say to you today, you shall be with Me in Paradise.' " Luke 23:43

See how by just moving the comma a little it changes the meaning of the text. Can we resolve this dilemma? The good news is that we can, and you don't have to be a "greek expert" to see the solution. The solution comes when we realise that, this is not the first passage of scripture where Jesus says "truly I say to you". In fact He uses this expression so often that we will be able to determine which is correct, either the expression "truly I say to you" or the expression "truly I say to you today". If Jesus has a habit of using either one of these expressions then it is obvious where the comma should go. If Jesus normally says it without the word "today" then the comma should go before the word today in Luke 23:43. If however the word "today" is used in this expression of Jesus' then the comma should go after the word today in Luke 23:43. If Jesus used both expressions - "Truly I say to you" and "Truly I say to you today" then we cannot tell where the comma should go from this method. Below I have listed and underlined all the times Jesus uses either expression.

Matthew

"For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished." Matthew 5:18

"Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent." Matthew 5:26

"So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full." Matthew 6:2

"When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full." Matthew 6:5

"Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full." Matthew 6:16

"Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, `Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.' " Matthew 8:10

"Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city." Matthew 10:15

"But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes." Matthew 10:23

"And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward." Matthew 10:42

"Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he" Matthew 11:11

"For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it." Matthew 13:17

"Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." Matthew 16:28

"And He [Jesus] said to them, `Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, "Move from here to there," and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.' " Matthew 17:20

"and [Jesus] said, `Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.' " Matthew 18:3

"If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray." Matthew 18:13

"Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." Matthew 18:18

"And Jesus said to His disciples, `Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.' " Matthew 19:23

"And Jesus said to them, `Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.' " Matthew 19:28

"And Jesus answered and said to them, `Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, "Be taken up and cast into the sea," it will happen.' " Matthew 21:21

" `Which of the two did the will of his father?' They said, `The first.' Jesus said to them, `Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you.' " Matthew 21:31

"Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation." Matthew 23:36

"And He [Jesus] said to them, `Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.' " Matthew 24:2

"Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place." Matthew 24:34

"Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions." Matthew 24:47

"But he [Jesus] answered, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.' " Matthew 25:12

"The King [Jesus] will answer and say to them, `Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' " Matthew 25:40

"Then He [Jesus] will answer them, `Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' " Matthew 25:45

"Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her." Matthew 26:13

"As they were eating, He [Jesus] said, `Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.' " Matthew 26:21

"Jesus said to him, `Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.' " Matthew 26:34

So in Matthew's gospel these expressions occur -
"Truly I say to you" occurs 30 times.
"Truly I say to you today" occurs 0 times.

Mark

"Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter;" Mark 3:28

"Sighing deeply in His spirit, He [Jesus] said, `Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.' " Mark 8:12

"And Jesus was saying to them, `Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.' " Mark 9:1

"For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward." Mark 9:41

"Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all." Mark 10:15

"Jesus said, `Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake,' " Mark 10:29

"Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, `Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him." Mark 11:23

"Calling His [Jesus'] disciples to Him, He said to them, `Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury;' " Mark 12:43

"Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place." Mark 13:30

"Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her." Mark 14:9

"As they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus said, `Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me--one who is eating with Me.' " Mark 14:18

"Truly I say to you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God." Mark 14:25

"And Jesus said to him, `Truly I say to you, that this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny Me three times.' " Mark 14:30

So in Mark's gospel these expressions occur -
"Truly I say to you" occurs 13 times.
"Truly I say to you today" occurs 0 times.

Luke

"And He [Jesus] said, `Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown.' " Luke 4:23

"Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them." Luke 12:37

"Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions." Luke 12:44

"Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all." Luke 18:17

"And He [Jesus] said to them, `Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God,' " Luke 18:29

"And He [Jesus] said, `Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them;' " Luke 21:3

"Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place." Luke 21:32

"And He [Jesus] said to him, `Truly I say to you today you shall be with Me in Paradise.' " Luke 23:43

So in Luke's gospel these expressions occur -
"Truly I say to you" occurs 7 times.
"Truly I say to you today" occurs 1 times. This is the verse we are trying to determine where it is correct to place the comma in (Luke 23:43)

John

"And He [Jesus] said to him, `Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.' " John 1:51

"Jesus answered and said to him, `Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.' " John 3:3

"Jesus answered, `Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.' " John 3:5

"Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony." John 3:11

"Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, `Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.' " John 5:19

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live." John 5:24-25

"Jesus answered them and said, `Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.' " John 6:26

"Jesus then said to them, `Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven.' " John 6:32

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life." John 6:47

"So Jesus said to them, `Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.' " John 6:53

"Jesus answered them, `Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.' " John 8:34

"Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death." John 8:51

"Jesus said to them, `Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.' " John 8:58

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber." John 10:1

"So Jesus said to them again, `Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.' " John 10:7

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." John 12:24

"Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him." John 13:16

" `Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.' When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified and said, `Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.' " John 13:20-21

"Jesus answered, `Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.' " John 13:38

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father." John 14:12

"Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy." John 16:20

"In that day you will not question Me [Jesus] about anything Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you." John 16:23

"Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go." John 21:18

So in John's gospel these expressions occur -
"Truly, Truly I say to you" occurs 25 times.
"Truly, Truly I say to you today" occurs 0 times.

To summarise we have seen that the only time the word today occurs is in Luke 23:43. Therefore it is obvious that the comma must go before the word today. This is because Jesus is just using His normal expression and the rest of the sentence is the non-repeated part. And since today is never in the expression it is also in the non-repeated part. The closest verse I have found to having a "today" after this expression "truly I say to you" (other than Luke 23:43) is in the NIV translation of Mark 14:30

" `I tell you the truth,' Jesus answered, `today - yes, tonight - before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.' " Mark 14:30 [NIV]

The expression "I tell you the truth" in the NIV is the same as the expression "truly I say to you" in the NASB. Notice that the "today" in the NIV in this verse comes after the words "Jesus answered". Hence again we see that the comma is to be after the expression "I tell you the truth"!


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