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
- 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 ...
- universally, a garden, pleasure-ground ...
- that part of Hades which was thought by the later Jews to be the abode of the souls of the pious until the resurrection ...
- 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.