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At Luke 23:42, one of the criminals says to Jesus

"Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!" (Berean Study Bible)

Jesus then responds

"Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."

Why does Jesus respond to a request about his Kingdom by talking about Paradise?

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    Good Q. Upvoted + 1. Jesus' kingdom will be of the heavenly realm and the subsequent earthly paradise. The criminal will eventually be a participant of the earthly paradise. Consequently, IMO the comma is indeed mistakenly placed; the comma should come after today. Feb 17, 2022 at 4:31

2 Answers 2

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The criminal was dying on the cross and basically asking Jesus' permission to enter His kingdom.

Jesus responded with the promise of the Paradise.

How did the criminal understand the word "Paradise"?

Thayer's Greek Lexicon

  1. among the Persians a grand enclosure or preserve, hunting-ground, park, shady and well-watered, in which wild animals were kept for the hunt; it was enclosed by walls and furnished with towers for the hunters ...
  2. universally, a garden, pleasure-ground ...
  3. that part of Hades which was thought by the later Jews to be the abode of the souls of the pious until the resurrection ...
  4. an upper region in the heavens

What did Jesus mean by the word "Paradise"?

Revelation 2:7b To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Why does Jesus respond to a request about his Kingdom at Luke 23:42 by talking about Paradise in Luke 23:43?

Jesus wanted to reassure the suffering and dying criminal of the blessed destination to come so that he could die in peace.

Ellicott explains it this way:

In this instance we may trace in our Lord’s use of the word a subtle tenderness of sympathy. What He said in answer to the penitent’s prayer was, in part, a contrast to it, in part, its most complete fulfilment. Not in the far-off “Coming,” but that very day; not “remembered “only, but in closest companionship; not in the tumult and battle which his thoughts had connected with the Kingdom, but in the fair garden, with its green lawns and still waters, its trees of Knowledge and of Life. No picture could meet the cravings of the tortured robber more completely than that; none, probably, could be more different from his expectations. Yet the “paradise” of Eastern lands was essentially the kingly garden, that of which the palace was the centre. The promise implied that the penitent should enter at once into the highest joy of the Kingdom.

As usual, Jesus didn't just answer a question superficially. He connected the deeper concerns of the inquirers. Jesus connected for the criminal His Kingdom to the joy in the Paradise.

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  • " The promise implied that the penitent should enter at once into the highest joy of the Kingdom." Do you understand Ellicott to be saying the criminal would enter into the Kingdom, or only that he would enter into a joy comparable to the highest joy of the Kingdom? Mar 3, 2021 at 21:07
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    I read it as a hypobole.
    – user35953
    Mar 3, 2021 at 21:33
  • What do you understand the Paradise Jesus is referring to, to be? (Heaven? Sheol? The Kingdom? something else?) Mar 3, 2021 at 21:38
  • Paradis is a part of the Kingdom.
    – user35953
    Mar 3, 2021 at 21:47
  • So according to this interpretation, the criminal will be in the Kingdom even though Jesus hasn't been resurrected yet? Mar 3, 2021 at 21:48
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The Thief's Question

Let's start with the thief's question--he wants to be with Jesus in His kingdom. The thief would have been aware that Jesus was understood (by some) to be the Messiah--after all, people were using the term pejoratively to mock Jesus while He was on the cross (e.g. Mark 15:32).

The thief either:

  • Recognizes who Jesus really is and understands His role--and therefore wants to be in good standing before his Eternal Judge (see John 5:22)
  • Holds the common contemporary view that the Messiah will be a conquering warrior (see here), and is asking something similar to what James & John (or their mother) asked in Mark 10:37--they want positions of prominence in the Messiah's kingdom (not unlike seeking favors from an up-and-coming politician). On this view, the thief may full well have expected Jesus to miraculously descend from the cross at any moment.

Jesus' response to the sons of Zebedee in Mark 10 is instructive:

44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.

45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Jesus is effectively teaching "It's not about power & position...and by the way I'm not going to overthrow Rome, I'm going to die and ransom you."

It is unclear whether the thief understood this at this time--if he did, he was one of the few who did.

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Jesus' response

Jesus makes a reference to a spiritual realm (which one exactly is debated--see here) - it appears that he is letting the thief know:

  1. I'm not here for physical liberation; I'm not going to save you from this cross
  2. I do offer liberation on a far more eternal scale, and I am offering/have offered it to you

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Conclusion

While the thief may have been focused on his immediate physical fate (understandable, given the circumstances), Jesus takes the opportunity, as He did so often, to highlight (and give hope to) a matter of even weightier significance--the man's eternal fate.

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  • I'm giving you an upvote on this but you should take note of my comment to the OP. Feb 17, 2022 at 4:33
  • @OldeEnglish adjusting the comma is certainly grammatically possible. Feb 17, 2022 at 4:38

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