In the verse of the thief on the cross, I was wrong about that comma. When you read about the thief with the comma moved over, it doesn't sound right, because right after the comma, it is without an object. That was a lame idea I received from someone, like trying to rationalize pre-tribulation only.
Just as Matthew Henry and Watchman Nee believe Paradise is heaven, so do I since in Rev. 22 it uses the word Paradise for Heaven. I think what is going on is the Jews believed Paradise was Hades, and God is now trying to show them that Paradise is Heaven, so it is a form of conciliatory reasoning with them in switching Paradise over from Hades to Heaven. When Paul was caught up to 3rd Heaven and also to Paradise, I really love that argument that says Paul is being shown the 3 parts of creation: heaven, earth, and hades (not Paradise). Yet Paradise is definitely not Hades, even though the Jews once thought it, and still do. How can we call Paradise Hades in light of Rev. 22? To say Paradise is Hades is totally unacceptable. I feel like I am caught between a rock and a hard place on this issue. Is there an answer to be had by what God is really revealing? The Jews rested on the Sabbath, but now the Sabbath is passed, and we worship on the Lord's Day. It's the same thing. Hellinization of Christianity is wrong on many counts, but so too is Judaism all by itself, that is, Judaism that is outside the boundaries of the Word of God.
I have a better answer that agrees with Nee and Henry, though they may not have stated it outwardly. When Paul was talking about the three parts of creation, it is the same process God uses again to transfer the Jews over from thinking Paradise is Hades (believing that it is one of the three parts of creation) to teaching that Paradise is, indeed, Heaven. One could say they had a misconception or a false teaching, and it is now being corrected with double emphasis on "Third Heaven" and repeated again as "Paradise". As in so many things Judaism has to be cleansed of its legalisms so that Christianity is not Judaized. The Jews were the chosen ones and in the OT Word of God is perfect, accurate and true, but fringe Judaistic beliefs are the problem that do not add up to the OT Word of God. This is very similar to when Paul was using conciliatory irony to help the believers at Corinth use language properly and also to teach them not to engage the ecstasy of mystery religions at Corinth of false tongues whereby some of them thought that tongues is unknown to themselves as they speak it. No!
When you leave your body you go to Hades (and sleep) and when you are resurrected you leave Hades. The state of leaving Hades is the same condition as when you left your body entering Hades. Therefore, I believe the only possible explanation is that in this place of rest that Jesus would go for 3 days and that the thief would too, Jesus said to the thief he would be with Christ this day. But Jesus was not talking about Hades, that much is clear, since He used the word Paradise. The answer to this rock and a hard place conundrum can be found in a concept. It means that there is no time in Hades, just as you and I have no real sense of time while asleep. Sense of time is totally lost, even though we may have memories, time itself just seems to vanish. We sleep and then wake up with no cognizance in between. This is shown in Eccl. 9.5,"the dead know nothing"; 9.10, "For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom"; and Psalms 146.4, "His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; In that very day his thoughts perish"; and 115:17, "The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence."
Jesus would see the thief today since there is no time in Hades. Therefore, to see Jesus this day, there must be a passage through the timelessness of Hades so that from the perception of the thief it would be "today" that he would see Jesus in Paradise of Heaven as perception of time vanishes while he sleeps. It would seem like that today he would see Jesus in the same way you and I sleep and all of a sudden magically awake. But then some will ask, wasn't there a sense of perception of the Lazarus and the Rich man in their respective places in Hades, so that they must have endured time after death in Hades, even consciously? No, because it is just a parable. What one is seeing is the state of condition throughout the whole time waiting in Hades before resurrection, but there is no sense of waiting as if they could sense time. If you can understand that, then you got it. Some might say, what about those under the altar who were martyred for Christ in Rev. 6.11? They seem to be impatiently waiting, pleaing to the Lord? Again, this is to show their hearts at the time of death as they wait for resurrection in Hades (timelessly). They really are pleaing, but their pleas, even upon death are not fulfilled until the resurrection at the 7th trumpet when Christ sets down on the mount of olives.
And so for those pre-tribulation rapture only people, to assume you will go straight to heaven at 1st rapture is problematic because if you for sake of argument, end up in Tribulation, you will never realize it, because you don't think it is possible, so you won't recognize the mark of the beast when you actually take it. The foundation of this belief has to do with believing that as soon as you die, your spirit goes to heaven and somehow you are split from your body until the time of resurrection at 1st rapture. for them the Tribulation has nothing to do with watchfulness, readiness and overcoming in Christ, and keeping the Word of His patience (Luke 21.36, Rev. 3.10) and therefore they will certainly suffer the consequence of overassuming.