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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature
Thief Penitent On the Cross
Thief, Penitent, on the Cross (). It has been assumed that this man had been very wicked; that he continued so till he was nailed to the cross; that he joined the other malefactor in insulting the Savior; and that then, by a miracle of grace, he was transformed into a penitent Christian. Some eminent writers, however, are of opinion, that he was, in all probability, not a thief who robbed for profit, but one of the insurgents who had taken up arms on a principle of resistance to the Roman oppression, and to what they thought an unlawful burden, the tribute-money. They are of opinion, also, that it is far from certain that either his faith or repentance was the fruit of this particular sea on. He must have known something of the Savior, otherwise he could not have said 'he hath done nothing amiss.' He was convinced of our Lord's Messiahship: 'Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.' Koecher tells us that it is a very ancient tradition that the thief was not converted at the cross, but was previously imbued with a knowledge of the Gospel.
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Thief Penitent On the Cross'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature". https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/kbe/t/thief-penitent-on-the-cross.html.