WHAT and WHERE is PARADISE ?
What does the BIBLE have to say about WHERE Jesus and the thief on the cross went when they died?
One day a dear brother in Christ ask me if the thief on the cross went to heaven? He knew that Jesus said to the thief beside him, "TODAY you shall be with me in PARADISE", but he was not sure what paradise meant. Well I myself had never really thought about it either at the time, so I could not give him an answer right then and there. So the purpose of this study is to find the Biblical meaning of the word "PARADISE"
Let us begin this study in God's word by reading the account in Luke 23:42,43 where we are told about the thief on the cross that Jesus told would be with him in PARADISE that day.
“And he (the thief on the cross) said unto Jesus, Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom.
And Jesus said unto him, Verily (or truly) I say unto you, TODAY shall you be with me in PARADISE.”
We know from the scriptures that when Jesus gave up the ghost on the cross that he, as a spirit being, descended into the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.
Please take a look at Mathew 12:40, which PLAINLY tells us this fact.
“For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the HEART of the earth.”
So the question is, “Did the thief on the cross beside Jesus enter into PARADISE on that selfsame day?” Or in other words, was the HEART of the earth, where Jesus descended to on that selfsame day that he was crucified, and died or gave up the ghost actually PARADISE? Please keep in mind that he plainly told the thief on the cross beside him that "TODAY you shall be WITH ME IN PARADISE." So the word of God makes it quite CLEAR that where ever Jesus WAS when he gave up the ghost and died, SO ALSO was the thief on the cross, because Jesus PLAINLY and CLEARLY stated the the thief would be WITH HIM that VERY DAY. And the word of God ALSO plainly states that Jesus DESCENDED into the BELLY or the HEART of the EARTH for three days and three night IMMEDIATELY upon his death the VERY SELFSAME DAY.
So now let us explore some other questions and compare some scriptures. Let’s begin by looking at what Jesus did WHILE he was in the HEART of the earth for three days and three nights.
The sole purpose or reason Jesus laid down his life on the cross was to redeem ALL of mankind. The Bible tells us in Romans 3:20 that NO FLESH is justified by the law. Also we are told in John 14:6 that the ONLY WAY to the Father was through his Son Jesus.
Now if the Bible is to remain consistent and not contradict itself, then something needed to be done in order for all of the Old Testament saints to be saved, because NO flesh is saved or justified by the law, which would include those that died BEFORE Jesus died for their sins.
The word of God teaches us in 1 Corinthians 1:21 that it pleased God by the foolishness of PREACHING to save them that believe. So it would be necessary for those who died before Jesus was crucified to hear the gospel preached to them in order to be saved. And this is EXACTLY what took place in the HEART of the Earth where Jesus went the selfsame day that he died on the cross. He went to PARADISE to PREACH the GOSPEL to the Old Testament saints.
Please take a look at 1 Peter 3:19 which teaches us this TRUTH.
“By which (referring to the Holy Spirit) also he (referring to Jesus) went and PREACHED unto the SPIRITS (speaking of the SPIRITS of the dead saints of the OLD testament who were being kept by the law unto the age of grace and the first resurrection fro the righteous. Jesus went to PREACH the GOSPEL to the SPIRITS who were) in prison.”
Well when I first read this I thought to myself "PRISON" that does NOT sound like PARADISE to me. So I looked this word "prison" up in my Strong's exhaustive concordance and found that this word translated as prison in the Greek language also means a holding place or a place where something is kept watch over. But just who were these spirits Jesus preached to in this holding place and why were they being kept watch over? We ALREADY KNOW the reason of WHY they needed to hear the PREACHING of the gospel?
To answer these questions please look at 1 Peter 4:6, which compliments the reason of WHY these dead souls or spirits being watched over in the HEART of the Earth NEEDED to HEAR the message of the GOSPEL.
“For this cause (or for this reason) was the gospel preached ALSO to them that are dead (these spirits in PARADISE) that they might be judged ACCORDING to men in the flesh (that is to say, judge in or with the SAME MANNER as men that are presently alive), but live according to God in the spirit (or in other words, in order for ALL of mankind to be judge the SAME, then ALL of mankind NEEDED to hear the PREACHING of the GOSPEL).”
These dead men or spirits in this holding place, which I believe Jesus referred to as PARADISE, were the patriarchs of the Old Testament. They were being watched over or kept from evil in the bosom of Abraham. There was a great gulf that separated them from the evil spirits that were also being kept there in this prison, or this holding place, but to me the side or part where they were kept did not seem to describe as a PARADISE as we think a paradise should be like. Let us continue this study in God's word to find out.
Please read Luke chapter 16 verses 19 through 31. But for now, here is a brief summary of this passage of scripture. Basically there were two men, a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus, and both men died and went to this holding place in the HEART of the earth, which in this verse this holding place is called HELL or HADES. Now this word that is translated as the word HELL is the Greek word HADES, which simply means the GRAVE, or the place of the DEAD also known as the underworld. We are told that Lazarus went to the side called, the bosom of Abraham, which was the side of comfort and rest side of this holding place in the belly or HEART of the earth that Jesus called PARADISE, and the rich man went to the side called hell where there was great torment of flames of fire.
Now it appears obvious that both the good spirits and the evils spirits were being held or kept in this SAME place called HELL or PARADISE by Jesus, that is to say, in the HEART of the earth, because they could see and hear each other, and talk to each other. However, there was a great gulf that separated them so that neither side could cross over to the other side. Jesus went to this holding place of the dead, this UNDERWORLD for three days and three nights for two reasons.
One reason Jesus descended into the heart of the earth was to PREACH the GOSPEL to these patriarchs of the old covenant so that the word of God would not be broken, because NO flesh is justified under there law. It was needful for them to HEAR the gospel, just as much as those who lived after the resurrection of Jesus need to hear the gospel in order to be saved, because it pleased God by the foolishness of PREACHING to save them that believe. So since they died BEFORE Jesus ever was crucified, because Jesus was crcified for their sins as well, this was the only way for them to hear the message of salvation through the ONLY NAME given among men to be saved, Jesus of Nazareth.
Ephesians 4:8-10 says it like this,
“Wherefore he says, When he (Jesus) ascended up on high, he led captivity captive (that is he led a multitude of captives) and gave gifts unto men.
Now that he ascended, what is it but that he ALSO descended FIRST into the LOWER PARTS of the earth?
He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above the heavens, that he might fill (or fulfill) all things.”
You see, it was needful for Jesus to fulfill the word of God and be the sacrifice for those under the old covenant as well as the new covenant, so that is why he descended first to the HEART of the earth to preach the gospel to those who died under the law.
When Jesus rose from the grave he led a multitude out of PARADISE or this HOLDING PLACE for the dead WITH him. But I am certain that he led ONLY those spirits that were held captive which BELIEVED the words that he PREACHED unto them all. It may be that some on the side that were being torment heard the GOSPEL as well and REPENTED and it may be that they already made it quite clear to whom they wanted to serve BEFORE they die. But to ME it is CERTAIN that those who LIVED RIGHTEOUSLY in the Old Testament CHOOSE to BELIEVE the message of the GOSPEL of their salvation and ROSE from the DEAD WITH Jesus when he arose from the grave.
Please take a look at Mathew 27:52, 53, which clearly shows us that MANY SAINTS arose from the GRAVE or PARADISE right along WITH Jesus when he arose from the grave.
“And the graves were opened and many bodies of the saints which slept arose. And came out of the graves after his resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared unto many.”
Now to ME it does NOT make any sense what so ever for these dead saints who have just risen from the dead to go right back into the GRAVE. Personally I believe they ASCENDED into heaven with Jesus when he ascended into heaven the FIRST time BEFORE he came back with his glorified body to be seen of men for forty days.
Now the second reason Jesus descended into the heart of the earth was in order to triumph over the enemy and get back the keys hell and death.
Take a look at Revelation 1:18.
“I (speaking of Jesus) am he that lives, and was dead, and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen, and have the keys of hell and death.”
While Jesus was in the lower parts of the earth where the dead were kept he defeated all principalities and powers and rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness in high places by the simple fact that Jesus was crucified as an innocent man without just cause. Satan was then forced to surrender the KEYS of hell and DEATH. Now Satan is still the god of this world for awhile longer, until Jesus returns to bind him for 1000 years in the pit. Then AFTER the 1000 years are finished Satan will be loose for a little time to once again DECEIVE the nations to rebel against God and his people. At this time the final part of God's WRATH will be poured out and Satan will be cast into the eternal lake of fire. I cover all of this in some of my other studies and I cover the reason of WHY Satan is let loose AGAIN after he has been bound for 1000 years in the study called "UNDERSTANDING WHY?".
But for now let us continue this study in God's word to learn more about PARADISE. Please take a look at 1 Corinthians 2:8, which says,
“Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they had known it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
In other words, had Satan known that by crucifying Jesus an innocent man, a lamb without spot or blemish he would be setting free ALL of mankind whom he held in bondage by causing them to sin and disobey God, then Satan would have NEVER nailed Jesus to that cross.
Now that we have taken a look at what Jesus did in PARADISE those three days and three nights let’s take a closer look at this place in the HEART of the earth and see why Jesus referred to it as PARADISE.
The word “PARADISE” is only found three times in the entire Bible. The Strong’s number is 3857 and the Greek word is "parsdeisos", which means a place of blessedness. The base meaning of the word means garden. Here are the three places that the word “paradise” are found.
In Luke 23:43, which is the verse in question, or the verse we began this study in God's word where Jesus told the thief on the cross that TODAY you will be WITH ME IN PARADISE.
“…Today shall you be with me in PARADISE.”
Then is 2 Corinthians 12:4, we read,
“How that he (speaking of Paul) was caught UP into PARADISE.”
So in this verse we see that PARADISE is UP, rather than DOWN in the HEART of the Earth. So then, are their TWO different PARADISES? It may surprise you that the Bible speaks of even MORE the TWO paradises. So let us keep reading to learn WHERE these other paradises are found. Please read Revelation 2:7 where we learn that the TREE of LIFE is located in the MIDST of the PARADISE of God.
“To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the MIDST of the PARADISE of God.”
Now all three scriptures at first don’t seem to be connected in any way, but rather lead one to believe that there are three different paradises.
In order to bring some clarity on this we need to go back to the first PARADISE in which we read about that is found in Genesis 2:7,8, which says,
“And the Lord God planted a GARDEN eastward in EDEN, and there he put man whom he had formed.
And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the MIDST of the GARDEN, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”
Please remember and keep in mind that the base meaning of the word “paradise” means GARDEN. Also please note that we just learned from the word of God that the tree of life was in the MIDST OF THE GARDEN here in Genesis 2;7,8, and when we compared scripture with scripture and compare Genesis with what we have just also learned in Revelation 2:7
“…the tree of life, which is in the MIDST OF THE PARADISE of God”,
then this gives us an important clue, seeing and knowing that the word PARADISE means GARDEN. In BOTH places, the GARDEN of God and the PARADISE of God, in the MIDST of BOTH of these places is found the TREE of LIFE. So then are these TWO trees of life, or is there just ONE PARADISE or GARDEN of God in which there is ONE tree of life. For me personally I believe there is just ONE tree of life that is found in the MIDST of the PARADISE or GARDEN of God seeing that the base meaning of the word "paradise" means GARDEN.
The whole idea or meaning of PARADISE is a place of comfort and blessedness, such as a GARDEN. Remember that the original garden of God was planted in EDEN. Now the word "EDEN" gives us another clue, because this word "EDEN" means PARADISE, delight or flat land. It is quite obvious that God’s desire or will for mankind is to live in a state of comfort and blessedness from simply observing the first GARDEN of God found in Genesis and the description of the PARADISE of God found in Revelation. Again remember that the word “paradise” means garden. But what about the PARADISE Jesus referred to as being in the HEART of the earth. It doesn’t sound like it would be a place of comfort and blessedness.
Please keep in mind what we already learned about the Old Testament saints being kept COMFORTED in the bosom of Abraham, while the ungodly souls SUFFERED on the other side of the great gulf as you take a look at part of Ezekiel 31:14, which says,
“…they are all delivered unto death to the NETHER parts of the earth, in the midst of the children of men, with them that go down to the PIT.”
This word “nether” means depths, or below. Sometimes this word refers to the UNDERWORLD, and the realm of the dead. The word "nether" simply means that it is the lower or lowest parts, or in other words the HEART of the earth. Now skip down to the last part of verse 16.
“…I cast him down to HELL with them that descend into the PIT and all the trees of EDEN, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be COMFORTED IN the NETHER parts of the earth (or IN the HEART of the Earth, or more precisely all that drink water shall be COMFORTED IN PARADISE which is IN the HEART of the Earth or the NETHER parts of the Earth).”
Now put it all together and you have the HEART of the earth or the NETHER part of the earth, which are the LOWEST and DEEPEST part of the Earth that Jesus called PARADISE. This place was were the dead were kept, because Jesus DESCENDED into this prison or holding place. to PREACH the GOSPEL to these dead or these spirits in paradise. Now the dead would include those under the covenant as well as the uncircumcised. Please keep in mind that this area in the HEART of the earth was divided into two parts that were separated by a great gulf. One part or side was called the bosom of Abraham which was the side of REST and COMFORT. Now the other side is not named, but it is known as the side with NO REST and a side of being in the torment of the flame of fire. Also remember that ALL those that drink WATER shall be COMFORTED. Now this could be referring to the WATER of the WORD of God, which those while they were ALIVE were partakers of and therefore where given WATER to quench their thirst and COMFORT them while they were being KEPT and WATCHED over until the TIME that Jesus would come and PREACH the GOSPEL to them in this place called PARADISE in the HEART of the Earth.
Now whether Jesus preached the gospel to both sides or not to me it is not clear, but it is certain that the gospel was preached to the spirits in this prison or holding place, and since both sides could hear each other and see each other, then it therefore seems reasonable to conclude that ALL who were in the HEART of the earth at this TIME heard the gospel preached.
It is also certain that Jesus went to this place in the heart of the earth FIRST right after he gave up the ghost on the cross, that is to say, BEFORE he ascended into heaven and came back to be seen of men for forty days. We know this because Jesus said to the thief on the cross next to him, “TODAY shall you be with me in PARADISE”, therefore it would be safe to assume that Jesus was referring to this place in the HEART of the earth, rather than heaven. We ALSO know this to be true because of what we read in Ephesians 4:8-19, which says,
"Wherefore he saith , When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
9. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended FIRST into the lower parts of the earth (or Jesus DESCENDED into PARADISE to PREACH the GOSPEL and led these CAPTIVES to HEAVEN when he ASCENDED to the Father)?
10. He that descended is the SAME also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)"
Or that Jesus might FULFILL all the spriptures including the one which teaches us that NO man shall be SAVED by the LAW. The word of God teaches us that mankind was only KEPT by the law UNTO the TIME of Jesus Christ. Also it is clear that this place in the heart of the earth is not the only PARADISE that the Bible tells us about.
I find at least four different paradises referred to in the Bible. The first PARADISE is the garden that God planted in Eden. The second PARADISE is the heart of the earth. The third PARADISE is the third heaven, or the throne of God. And the forth PARADISE is the New Jerusalem. There may perhaps be a fifth and final PARADISE in the age to come after the 1000 years reign. However, it may be that there is just ONE paradise and this ONE paradise is moved to where ever the people of God who have FINISHED the race will abide for all eternity.
Nonetheless I find that PARADISE is in essence a place of comfort, a place of blessedness and rest. So the fact that Lazarus was COMFORTED in the bosom of Abraham would be enough for me to conclude the Jesus was referring to the HEART of the Earth as at least “a” PARADISE where the thief joined him that SELFSAME day in which they both died and gave up the ghost or spirit upon the cross and their spirits went to this paradise in the heart of the Earth. I hope this little study answered your question about WHAT and WHERE is PARADISE my dear brothers and sisters in the Lord. May God bless you richly as you continue to study the Holy word of God. Thanks for reading.
Yours always in Christ Jesus,
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