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Paradise and the Watchtower translation of Luke 23:43 by John Stickland

Luke 23:43 records what must be amongst the most gracious words ever spoken by Jesus. To the dying criminal on the cross beside Him who reaches out to Him in his dire need, He says, ‘Verily I say unto you, today you will be with Me in Paradise’.
The word Paradise, of ancient Persian origin, means a garden, or more particularly a garden of pleasure such as those it is said which were attached to mansions of the rich and palaces of Princes. The meaning here then is literally the garden of the King.
To those living today, who have similarly reached out to the Lord and freely received His forgiveness and salvation, this for them is also the certain prospect when they pass from this present life.

Followers of the Watchtower however will not find this great truth from Luke in their own Bible version. The compilers of the ‘New World translation’ have changed the meaning of the verse by moving the comma from after ‘you’ to after ‘today’. This effectively takes away the Lord’s promise to the dying man that he would be with Him that same day, and also brings the reading out of conflict with their teaching that when a person dies he ceases to exist.
How does the Watchtower attempt to justify this?
Firstly reference is made to Ecclesiastes 9:5, which says that the living know that they will die, but that the dead know nothing. This is taken from the context of the passage, which deals with life upon earth, and the inability of the dead to take any further part in its activities.
A further reference is made to John 11:11 where Jesus refers to Lazarus as being asleep when he had died and similar references in Acts 7:60 and 1Corinthians 15:6. The references here refer to physical death of the body, however to teach that the word ‘asleep’ also involves the elimination of the soul and spirit has to be presumptuous. The error of this assumption clearly proved by Luke 23:43 is further confirmed by the Apostle Paul’s words in Phil. 1:23 and 2 Cor: 5:6-8 where he makes it clear that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord for those who are in Christ.

Artist’s impressions of paradise appear to be prominent in Watchtower literature, however the ironic and sad fact is that those who continue locked into the Watchtower’s teaching and practices can have no place in it, and will leave this life unforgiven, to face the judgment of God.


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7 Responses »

  1. Bobby. I admire and respect your heart for reaching out to Jehovah’s Witnesses, your desire to shed light where there is darkness. I also admire and respect your knowledge of The Witnesses doctrines and The Bible. This blog is professional, interesting and informative. However, I must question one statement and ask you not to assume that those locked in the practices of The watchtower Bible and tract Society will not see the Paradise Jesus has promised. The Witnesses themselves are an inclusive organisation, judging those outside of their faith, promising that only their adherents will be rewarded with Paradise. I believe they are wrong and I believe you are wrong too. Jesus will judge us ALL Bobby. Let us offer hope of His love to everyone. He knows our hearts.

    • Hi Paula I will respond to this as well as myself and John do have the same perspective on this one, however John is welcome to reply also of course.

      The first point is as you say that no one can judge another individuals salvation that is not our right and is between them and God, so I would start with conceding that it is perfectly possible that some members of the watchtower society are saved, however this would be despite the watchtowers teachings rather than because of it.

      However I would say the vast majority do not fall into this? So why is that?

      Well its not because they are bad people, lacking in zeal for their religion, its not a punishment for being a Jehovahs witness, however it is because they do not know Jesus in a saving way, they do not trust in Him alone for their salvation and ultimately because they do not believe they need to be born again and without fully trusting Jesus they are not born again. This is the reason this website and many others like it exists. This is the horrible power of groups like the Watchtower/Mormonism etc, they take lost people and keep them lost but just with a lot of religion around them and they think because they are doing good outward things they are ok.

      Members of the watchtower society are taught that salvation comes from being in Gods true organization, this is very far from the truth, salvation comes from accepting that we are lost and hopeless in our sin and that without the blood of Christ we are lost. Its knowing that no good works we have ever or will ever do will make us acceptable to God and its trusting in Him 100% that He will be faithful to us and save us because we have trusted Him. As a Jehovahs Witness were you in this position? Or were you always working harder to make sure you were acceptable to God?

      • I know the truth of what you say Bobby. 😥

        When I came to Christ in 2006 I even ‘felt’ born again. I felt renewed. My baptism signified acceptance of my sins, repentance and acknowledgement that I needed Jesus Christ. This hasn’t changed at all. I am nothing, no thing without Christ in my life. When I say that I include God The Father and The Holy Spirit, because I cannot separate them. (And I have tried! The teachings of The Watchtower Bible and tract Society take many, many years and great faith to get away from.)

        Interestingly my father (still a Jehovah’s Witness) said this to me directly after my baptism. ‘But Paula, you’re already baptised.’ Indeed I had been baptised – as a Jehovah’s Witness. It is so different from my Christian Baptism. Their baptism is so different, the preparation is not so much accepting Christ, (though they do accept Christ as saviour, they defer always to Jehovah, and Jehovah’s representative on earth, the faithful and discreet slave, ‘The Organisation.’) You are baptised as a Jehovah’s Witness, not a believer, follower, disciple of Jesus.

        Jesus takes a back seat altogether, and the Spirit is hardly mentioned. (Another story.)

        I think that, when it comes down to it, I am afraid for my parents, so devout and strong in their faith. So deceived. I do believe I need to be brave, to trust in our Lord and see where he leads me on this.

        Thank you for speaking out. Bless you.

      • Thanks for that Paula appreciated

  2. My apologies. The author of this post was John Strickland, my comments about forgiveness are directed to him.

  3. your comment on Mormonism,was off, I am not a Utah mormom.howerver Am a menber of the Reorganized church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints (RLDS) which is a Restoration Branch. we do accept the Book of Mormon as a testimony of the holy Bible as well as Jesus the Christ, whi is our only salvation….If you have never read the book I invte you to do so,especially before you condemn something you know litttle or nothing about.I have met & enjoyed the company of many Jehovahs many artice from the watch tower,that was informative & enjoyable.My grands son’s Employer is a member of the Jehovahs witness, and a very fine man,has been so very kind to my grandson, whose home recently burned.He paid all the help to go help clean up after the fire.This is a very Godly act.which all our family appreciated, and sure God smiled on him..

    • Miriam thanks for commenting interesting to have someone from the RLDS or community of Christ comment, where are you from out of interest?

      Ok so firstly I have been researching Mormonism for around 10 years and have been to Utah on a mission trip twice in the last year, i have spent countless hours reading mormon material pro and critical and have read around a third of the book of Mormon, its tough reading but I am determined to read it all, I am by no means a scholar on the subject but I do have some idea of what I am talking about.

      To be fair to you from what I understand the RLDS movement is much more liberal these days on the problematic sides of Mormonism and has from what I gather rejected many aspects of it such as Book of Abraham etc because of the historical issues, however as well as this I understand there is more of a diversity from within with some people buying into all of the Joseph Smith things and some not.

      But regarding the point I made about Mormonism having a gospel that does not save I do stand by that, here is a quick reason why.

      Galatians 1:8 says But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

      If even the apostle Paul or an angel preached a different gospel to have he preached let him be accursed, what was this gospel?

      Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

      He preached a gospel that was God centered and Gods work in us, a gospel that brings the good news that we can do nothing to make our salvation happen it is the gift of God, not of ourselves!!

      Onto the book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 25:23 we are saved by grace, after all we can do.

      No longer is it a God centered gospel but its a gospel where we have to do all we can and He makes up the rest, supposedly a gospel of works and grace, however

      Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

      If its by grace its not of works as if it is of works then its not of grace, so therefore with mormonism and the biblical gospel we have two different gospels which makes Galatians 1:8 a great problem for you.

      Regarding what you said about Jehovahs witnesses I agree they are sincere good hard working honest people, however if they are lost in their sin and not saved by Christ through absolute trust in His saving faith they are lost, this saddens me because i love them hence why i do this.

      As it happens Mormonism is actually a bigger focus for me than Jws and I have a blog on mormonism at if you would like to continue the mormon discussion it might be better there, i have a post on this subject that fits in well at

      thanks for commenting i look forward to hearing more from you, also feel free to email me on

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