Many Christians believe a scripture describing a person going to heaven as soon as they die, comes from the conversation Jesus had with the thief next to him at crucifixion. They point to the words of Jesus as found in the New Century Version of Luke 23:43 to support their belief.
43 Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Here are the words Jesus spoke as written in Greek for Luke 23:43.
Stephens 1550 Textus Receptus
kai eipen autw o ihsous amhn legw soi shmeron met emou esh en tw paradeisw
You will notice the Greek language does not use punctuation. When reading today, punctuation is very important in obtaining what is being conveyed. Let me demonstrate with the following statement.
A woman without her man is nothing
Having no punctuation in that statement, you may believe it to be misogynistic.
However, with the proper punctuation it may leave you with the opposite belief.
A woman, without her: man is nothing.
This is an example of what is happening with Luke 23:43. When you move the comma to the other side of today, the words of Jesus are supported by other Bible scripture that describes Jesus as going down into the ground after he died.
43 Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth today, you will be with me in paradise.”
Ephesians 4:9 King James Version
(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
After being in the grave for 3 days Jesus told Marry not to touch him because he had still not returned to his father. Clearly he didn’t go to paradise with God on the day he died. Can you think of other verses supporting either belief?
John 20:17 King James Version.
17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.