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Jehovah's Witnesses: Is It True That You Place Punctuation In Your NWT To Support Your Own Teachings?

I read in an answer on Yahoo that you do. The example provided is Jesus' words to the thief on the cross next to him at Luke 23:43: "I say to you today you will be with me in paradise." The NWT puts the comma after "today" but other translations put it before the word today. The poster says the more common use is to put it BEFORE the word today. He says this more common use is right and the Witnesses are wrong. Therefore, it is reasoned that Jehovah's Witnesses rearrange scriptures to change the meaning and support their peculiar teachings and this is but one example.

Since, as the poster rightly mentions, there was no punctuation in koine Greek (the reader or writer has to supply it), on what is the "more common" placement of the comma based? If Witnesses place the comma after the word today based on their own (allegedly erroneous) teachings, then on what do other Bible translations base their "common" placement of the comma BEFORE the word today? I mean, since there was no punctuation in the original, how do those who commonly place the comma know it is supposed to go BEFORE the word today?

Of course, since we are talking about scriptures, it would be beneficial to use scriptures in the answer. Therefore, all scriptures in your response and the expounding thereon is appreciated.


God's Gift: regrettably, that does not answer the question. But thank you very much for your response.

Update 2:

Tomi C: Thank you very much for citing to the copyrighted material from the Reasoning book on page 286.

Update 3:

Thank you, Rangedog.

Update 4:

Thank you, CF, for your answer; your scriptures and your reasoning on them.

Update 5:

Thank you, Abernathy, as always. You said "Bible translation accuracy is not a democracy." How very true. Thanks also for the well-researched material. Most appreciated. And very responsive.

Update 6:

Thank you bar_enos. How interesting that even the Apostles' Creed acknowledges that Jesus was not in paradise that day.

Thank you, Elijah, for providing a scriptural response using other translations which render Luke similarly. Surely people do not accuse these translators of rendering the verse in such a way as to support their teachings!

Update 7:

Well, a careful consideration of all information provided (the Sahidic Coptic, the Apostles’ Creed, Emphasized Bible, lexicons and concordances, etc.), shows that, despite what some may claim, Jehovah’s Witnesses did not rearrange punctuation in this scripture to support their teaching that the thief next to Jesus did not go to paradise with Christ that day. More to the point, those who responded provided scriptures themselves which have been shown to be the basis upon which Jehovah’s Witnesses place the comma after the word today.

Update 8:

CF wrote: ‘The NWT considered the whole context of the Bible’ to translate Luke 23:43. Thank you, CF, for providing that context so we could look at the question scripturally. And thanks for your sound reasoning on the scriptures themselves.

8 Answers

  • ?
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Well, whoever translated the Bible had to use punctuation. In the koine Greek there was no punctuation. How do you use it? Any translator with a logical mind, would punctuate it according to the whole context of the Bible.

    Let´s consider what the Bible says about going to heaven. Let´s take David. David was a genuine servant of God. Did he go to heaven?

    Let´s read Acts 2:34, 35:

    Actually David did not ascend to the heavens, but he himself says, ‘Jehovah said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.”’

    In fact, none of the faithful servants of God of old like Noah, Moses, Abraham ever ascended to heaven. Let´s read John 3:13:

    Moreover, no man has ascended into heaven but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man.

    One important point to consider is that Jesus received the holy spirit from Jehovah only after his resurrection. It was with that spirit that Jesus would anoint and seal his disciples to become a "new creation" with heavenly life in view. As pointed out by my friend Brian, by e-mail, to make it clear, that´s when Jesus received the authority to employ the holy spirit. Of course, he was anointed with holy spirit at his baptism.

    John 7:38, 39:

    By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

    Acts 2:33:

    Therefore because he was exalted to the right hand of God and received the promised holy spirit from the Father, he has poured out this which YOU see and hear.

    By being anointed with holy spirit, they are in union with Christ:

    1 Corinthians 1:21, 22:

    But he who guarantees that YOU and we belong to Christ and he who has anointed us is God. He has also put his seal upon us and has given us the token of what is to come, that is, the spirit, in our hearts.

    Ephesians 1:13, 14:

    But YOU also hoped in him after YOU heard the word of truth, the good news about YOUR salvation. By means of him also, after YOU believed, YOU were sealed with the promised holy spirit, which is a token in advance of our inheritance, for the purpose of releasing by a ransom [God’s] own possession, to his glorious praise.

    See, only after Jesus was resurrected and glorified he would, then, start anointing his disciples, appointing them to bee co-rulers with them in heaven. Therefore that thief could not go with Jesus to heaven on that same day; Jesus was only resurrected on the third day. During those days he was dead. Otherwise, it would make no sense to affirm that he was resurrected on the third day and not on the first.

    Servants of God like Abel, Noah, Abraham, David and the thief all died before holy spirit was poured on Jesus´disciples on the Day of Pentecost 33 C.E. (Acts 2:1-4) That´s when the first Christians were anointed and sealed with holy spirit. They became a "new creation" with heavenly life or heavenly inheritance in view.

    Like Noah and others where will the thief be, then? At John 5:25-29 Jesus said:

    “Most truly I say to YOU, The hour is coming, and it is now, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who have given heed will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted also to the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to do judging, because Son of man he is. Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment."

    In the coming Millennial Reign of Jesus and his co-rulers from heaven (Rev 20:6), many people, like the thief, will be resurrected to live forever in paradise earth.

    Psalm 37:29 says:

    The righteous themselves will possess the earth,

    And they will reside forever upon it.

    And Proverbs 2:21, 22:

    For the upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it. As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it.

    Therefore, unaffected by pagan teachings like the immortality of the soul, the NW, considering the whole context of the Bible precisely translates Luke 23:43:

    And he said to him: “Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.”

  • 1 decade ago

    First off, the NWT is not the only Bible that has the correct rendering of Luke 23:43

    As history goes, punctuation was not used in the original greek writings.

    When later copies of the Bible was being made in the different languages that uses punctuation, it was up to the translators and copyists to put the punctuation where it would give the correct message of the verse.

    In the case of Luke 23:43 this didn't happen. Placing the comma before the word 'today' gives birth to a contradiction. It counters other parts of the Bible that explain the condition of the dead.

    Placing the comma correctly behind the word 'today' does not create a Bible contradiction and harmonizes with the Bible.

  • 1 decade ago

    It is the most "common" in that most Bible translations put the comma before the word "today." But Bible translation accuracy is not a democracy.

    The original Greek did not have punctuation, and the original writer and readers wouldn't have had any problem understanding the verse. But today this placement of comma (required in English translations) is not so straightforward.

    In favor of placing the comma before "today," I have only heard the explanation that it would have been superfluous for Jesus to tell the criminal that he was telling him something that day.

    In favor of placing the comma after today, it is pointed out this was a common semitic idiom, used to show the certainty of something. A similar idiom is used some 40 times in the book of Deuteronomy.

    The accusation that this is a JW specific issue is easily proved wrong. For example, the best manuscripts of the Sahidic Coptic version, perhaps made in the late 2nd century says this at Luke 23:43:


    Truly I am telling you today that you will be with me in paradise.

    The Coptic particle ϪЄ (je) means "that" and can function as a comma in Coptic. It is placed after, not before, "today." The Sahidic Coptic is the translation closest in time to when Luke was written, and reflects a translation similar to the NWT at Luke 23:43.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The Bible does not agree with the view that Jesus and the evildoer went to heaven on the day that Jesus spoke to him. Jesus had foretold that, after his being killed, he would not be raised up until the third day. (Luke 9:22) During that three-day period he was not in heaven, because following his resurrection he told Mary Magdalene: “I have not yet ascended to the Father.” (John 20:17) It was 40 days after Jesus’ resurrection that his disciples saw him lifted up from the earth and out of their sight as he began his ascent to heaven.—Acts 1:3, 6-11.

    The evildoer did not meet the requirements to go to heaven even at some later time. He was not “born again”—being neither baptized in water nor begotten by God’s spirit. Holy spirit was not poured out upon Jesus’ disciples until more than 50 days after the evildoer’s death. (John 3:3, 5; Acts 2:1-4) On the day of his death, Jesus had made with those ‘who had stuck with him in his trials’ a covenant for a heavenly kingdom. The evildoer had no such record of faithfulness and was not included.—Luke 22:28-30.

  • Elijah
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    As has been noted, none of the earliest manuscripts (up to the 9th century A.D.) originally had capitalization or punctuation. Later copyists have added punctuation wherever they felt it should be. So just because a modern text writer decides where he wants the punctuation and capitalization to be in his interpretation of the original text does not mean that is how the original Bible writer intended the meaning.

    We see The Emphasized Bible by Joseph B. Rotherham *also* punctuating this scripture to produce the meaning found in the NWT:

    "Verily I say unto thee this day: With me shalt thou be in Paradise."

    And the footnote for Luke 23:43 in Lamsa's translation admits:

    "Ancient texts were not punctuated. The comma could come before or after today."

    The Concordant Literal New Testament renders it: "43 And Jesus said to him, 'Verily, to you am I saying today, with Me shall you be in paradise.'"

    2001 Translation – An American English Bible: 43 And [Jesus] replied, `I tell you this today; you will be with me in Paradise.'

    A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament by E.W.Bullinger, DD., page 811 says:

    "'And Jesus said to him, Verily, to thee I say this day, with Me shalt thou be in the Paradise.' The words today being made solemn and emphatic. Thus, instead of a remembrance, when He shall come in...His kingdom, He promises a presence in association (meta, 'with') Himself. And this promise he makes on that very day when he was dying.... Thus we are saved (1) the trouble of explaining why Jesus did not answer the question on its own terms; and (2) the inconvenience of endorsing the punctuation of the [KJV] as inspired; and we also place this passage in harmony with numberless passages in the O.T., such as 'Verily I say unto you this day,' etc.; 'I testify unto you this day.' etc.; vii.1; x.13; xi.8;,13,23; xii.13; xix.9; xxvii.4; xxxi.2, etc., where the Septuagint corresponds to Luke xxii.43."

    Yes, there is no reason to deny the rendering of Luke 23:43 as, "I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise." Besides, as Bar-Enosh correctly pointed out, this rendering is in harmony with the teachings of Jesus.

    For much more, see:

    NWT - Luke 23:43 - Punctuation

    LUKE 23:43-"Truly I tell you today,You will be with me in Paradise"(NWT)- Where should the comma be placed?

    Luke 23:43 and the New World Translation

    What About...Luke 23:43?

    Luke 23:43 (Scroll Down to Second Letter)

  • No, it is in harmony with the teachings of Jesus, namely, that he would be in the grave for three days, not in paradise.

    He could not take "with" him the thief on the stake somewhere that he himself was not.

    Even the "Apostles' Creed" acknowledges that Jesus was in "hell" (the grave), not paradise:

    "I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:

    "And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:

    "Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:

    "Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:

    "The third day he rose again from the dead:

    "He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:

    "From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead..."

    Source(s): The HOLY Bible, The Apostles' Creed
  • 1 decade ago

    I dont think any jw's are going to comment.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    JWs are not Christians. they are self deluded. their book is corrupted and they twist and ignore certain verses

    Source(s): Azezi
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