“remember me.” In this case, the word “remember” has an idiomatic sense, a meaning that some scholars refer to as the “pregnant sense” of the word, and thus “remember” often means to act upon one’s knowledge or previous knowledge. Idiomatically, “remember” often means “pay attention to” and/or “help, support, assist,” etc. Also, “remember” can also be used of “remembering” someone in a bad sense.
Here in Luke 23:42, the malefactor on the cross was not asking that Jesus simply remember him intellectually, but that on Judgment Day that Jesus would look favorably upon him and allow him to enter the kingdom. Jesus knew exactly what the malefactor was asking and calmed his heart by saying that he would be with Jesus in Paradise.
There are many examples of “remember” being used with its idiomatic meaning. For example, God “remembered” Noah in the sense that He helped and protected Noah (Gen. 8:1). In Genesis 19:29, God “remembered” Abraham, that is, He blessed and helped Abraham by saving his nephew Lot from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In 1 Samuel 1:19, God “remembered” Hannah in that He especially blessed her in getting pregnant after she had been barren for years. When the children of Israel did not “remember” Yahweh, it does not mean that they forgot who He was, it means they quit paying attention to Him and quit obeying His commandments (Judg. 8:34).
The idiomatic sense of “remember” is used by both God (Gen. 30:22; Exod. 2:24; Judg. 16:28; 1 Sam. 1:19) and people (Judg. 8:34; 1 Sam. 1:11; Ps. 74:22), and there are many examples of it being used idiomatically (cp. Gen. 19:29; Neh. 6:14; 13:31; Ps. 106:4; Ecc. 9:15; Hos. 8:13). “Remember” can also mean “to keep in mind” (Ps. 103:14). Examples of “remember” being used in the bad sense of acting against a person or people include 1 Samuel 15:2-3; 3 John 1:10; and Revelation 18:5. The idiomatic use of “remember” occurs in the New Testament as well as the Old Testament (cp. Gal. 2:10; Col. 4:18; and Heb. 13:3). The phrase “do not forget” has the same basic meaning as “remember” (Ps. 74:23).
Many other words besides “remember” are used in an idiomatic or pregnant sense. For example, “look” (or “see”) often means more than just to look at, but to look at and then act in the situation (cp. Gen. 29:32, Exod. 4:31; 1 Sam. 1:11; 9:16; 2 Sam. 16:12; Job 40:12; Luke 1:48). Similarly, “watch” is used of much more than just watching in Matthew 25:13. There it means to keep watch and keep doing what you are supposed to be doing.
The word “know” can mean to know or experience, but it can also have an idiomatic or pregnant sense and mean “to care about,” “to act lovingly toward.” Thus, Psalm 144:3 (YLT 1862/87/98) says, “what is man that Thou knowest him,” while the NIV(2011) translates that in a way that recognizes the idiom: “what are human beings that you care for them?” Similarly, Proverbs 12:10 (YLT) says, “The righteous man knoweth the life of his beast,” while the NIV(2011) has, “The righteous care for the needs of their animals.” Also, “know” is used idiomatically for sexual intercourse because when a man has sexual intercourse with a woman it involves knowing her experientially, and often deeply intellectually as well (see commentary on Matt. 1:25). [For more on “know” see commentary on Gen. 3:22].
The word “foreknow” can also have the meaning of care about beforehand (see commentary on Romans 8:29).