And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
The apparent contradiction between such sections of Scripture is caused by (1) a wrong understanding of the terms "Paradise", and (2) a wrong translation and punctuation of Luke 23:43. For many, "Paradies" means the same as "Heaven" and perhaps this is the reason for the inclusion of John 20:17 in the above mentioned statement of the problem. "Paradise" however is biblically not the same as "heaven", and it must be noted that "heaven" takes on different meanings in various contexts where it is used. "Paradise" first of all describes the garden of Eden, the original paradise where in the beginngin Adam and Eve lived and from where they were driven out after the fall of man (cp Genesis 1 -- 3). It was a location on eath, not a location in heaven. In the Bible "paradise" is mentioned only in reference to the still future "paradise" after God will have established a new heaven and a new earth (cp Revelation 22), and then again it will be a place on earth. In between these two poles there is no "paradise", therefore it was and is not possible for anyone to go to paradise until the future paradise has been established by God.
Having this abssolutely clear biblical background, it is now possible to solve the problem with the statement in Luke 23:43. On that very day there was no paradise in existence where Jesus and the believing malefactor could have gone. Where did Jesus "go" that day? As Acts 2:24 and 31 state, Jesus died that day and was buried in the grave where he remained for 3 days and 3 nights. He was in gravedom, held by death for this period of time. With the malefactor it was the same in that he died that day and ended up in the grave where he still is to this day. Did Jesus make a false promise that day? Was he be of the opinion that he would be in paradise that very day even though he had declared at a different time that he would be in the grave for 3 days and 3 nights? No!
Translators and those interpreting the Scriptures have translated Jesus' words this way based on their own belief and the traditional doctrine that believers go to heaven immediately after death and that "heaven" and "paradise" are the same. This way it is in accordance with their biased opinion, but not with the rest of Scripture. One has to recognize that there was no punctuation in the oldest manuscripts of the Biblical texts and that punctuation therefore is not part of the originallly God-inspired Word of God. If one looks at the Greek text of Luke 23:43, one can read (without punctuation):
and he said unto him verily to you I say today with me will you be in paradise
The problem is immediately solved when the verse is understood in light of the previously mentioned truths and correctly punctuated:
and he said unto him: Verily to you I say today, »With me will you be in paradise! «
The expression "I say to you today" is very typical for semitic languages, auch as Aramaic and Hebrew, in order to put a special emphasis on what then follows as a statement. It is found several places in the Old Testament already in important places. One should also note that the malefactor in his request to Jesus did not think of a paradise on that day at all, but he spoke of "when thou comest into thy kingdom". Jesus then in his response referred to this future reality of his kingdom with the term "paradise". On that very day of their death there was no paradise, but Jesus did give this repenting malefactor on that very day a promise that he would in the future be with him in paradise.!