Let’s read of that thief in Luke 23:39-43, “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” As the Lord hung on the cross, the chief priests, scribes, and elders all mocked Him and we read in Matthew 27:44, “The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.”

Looking at these two passages together, we see that at the outset, both of these thieves mocked the Lord as they hung there on either side of them. All of a sudden one of the thieves rebuked the other one for mocking and railing on the Lord. He realized they were guilty and worthy of death, but that the man between them had not done anything wrong. He looked at Jesus and addresses Him as Lord. How did he suddenly realize that this man on the center cross was the Lord? In Matthew 16:16 Peter confessed to the Lord “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” His response to Peter is in verse 17, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Sweet revelation to the heart that was willing to receive it! The Lord knew the dying thief’s heart and revealed to him that the one beside him on the cross was indeed the Lord. Perhaps the Lord revealed the truth to him as he heard the Lord Jesus cry from His cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

The thief asked the Lord to remember him when He came into His kingdom. That event hasn’t happened yet. The Lord will not ‘come into His kingdom’ until after the seven year Tribulation period. The Lord answered that thief with something far greater than he could ever imagine or ask for. “TODAY SHALT THOU BE WITH ME IN PARADISE.” Three great promises are given to the thief.

TODAY – He would receive the answer to his prayer that very day, for he would die that very day!

THOU SHALT BE WITH ME – What blessed company that thief would be in. In the very presence of God.

IN PARADISE – What makes Paradise such a wonderful place? The presence of our Lord would be there.

With that statement, the Lord shows us where He would be going that very day…Paradise. Where is Paradise? Read 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 and see how the Word interchanges the name ‘third heaven’ with the name ‘Paradise’. They are the same place! Paradise IS Heaven. Christ went to Heaven on the day He died. He cried from the cross in Luke 23:46, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”

Based on 1 Peter 3:18-20, some believe that Christ went down into hell at His death. That is a misunderstanding of the portion. For more about this, please click on this AFTB link: http://answersfromthebook.net/please-explain-1-peter-318-20-did-jesus-really-go-into-hell-and-take-some-people-out/ (284.8)