What Is Paradise?

 

 

PARADISE:  paradeisos ^3857^ is an Oriental word, first used by the historian Xenophon, denoting "the parks of Persian kings and nobles." It is of Persian origin (Old Pers. pairidaeza, akin to Gk. peri, "around," and teichos, "a wall") whence it passed into Greek. See the Sept., e. g., in <Neh. 2:8; Eccl. 2:5; Song of Sol. 4:13>. The Sept. translators used it of the garden of Eden, <Gen. 2:8>, and in other respects, e. g., <Num. 24:6; Isa. 1:30; Jer. 29:5; Ezek. 31:8-9>…The same region is mentioned in <Rev. 2:7>, where the "tree of life," the figurative antitype of that in Eden, held out to the overcomer, is spoken of as being in "the Paradise of God" (RV), marg., "garden," as in <Gen. 2:8>.#

(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)

(Copyright (C) 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

 

·        Luke 23:39-43  And one of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, "Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!"  But the other answered, and rebuking him said, "Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?  And we indeed justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong."  And he was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!"  And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."   (NAS)

 

The criminal was promised that “this day” he would be with Jesus in “paradise.”  The question is, where did Jesus go on “this day?”  We find the answer to this question elsewhere in the New Testament:

 

·        1 Pet 3:18-20   For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.  (NAS)

 

After Jesus died, he went to proclaim to the spirits in prison.  This is a realm known as Sheol (Hebrew), or Hades (Greek).  We know that Paradise refers to Sheol, because after Jesus died on the cross, it was prophesied that God would not abandon Him there:

 

·        Ps 16:10   For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol; neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.  (NAS)

 

·        Acts 2:22-36   "Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know--this Man  delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.  And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.  For David says of Him, 'I was always beholding the Lord in my presence; for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.  Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will abide in hope; Because Thou wilt not abandon my soul to hades, nor allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.  Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; Thou wilt make me full of gladness with Thy presence.'  Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.  And so, because he was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants upon his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay.  This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.  Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.  For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, Until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet."'  Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ-- this Jesus whom you crucified."  (NAS)

 

·        Acts 13:32-39  "And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, 'Thou art My Son; today I have begotten Thee.' And as for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no more to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: 'I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.'  Therefore He also says in another Psalm, 'Thou wilt not allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.'  For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers, and underwent decay; but He whom God raised did not undergo decay.  Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.  (NAS)

 

Sheol is defined as follows:  7585  she'owl (sheh-ole'); or sheol (sheh-ole'); from 7592; Hades or the world of the dead (as if a subterranean retreat), including its accessories and inmates: KJV-- grave, hell, pit.  (Strong’s Electronic Dictionary)

 

Hades is defined as the same place as Sheol: 86  haides (hah'-dace); from 1 (as negative particle) and 1492; properly, unseen, i.e. "Hades" or the place (state) of departed souls: KJV-- grave, hell.  (Strong’s Electronic Dictionary)

 

Since Sheol and Hades are defined as a place of departed souls and spirits of mankind, are there different areas there where the righteous and unrighteous were separated during the Old Testament before the death and resurrection of Jesus?

 

·        Luke 16:22-31  "Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried.  And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom.  And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.'  But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.  And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.'  And he said, 'Then I beg you, Father, that you send him to my father's house--for I have five brothers-- that he may warn them, lest they also come to this place of torment.'  But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.'  But he said, 'No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!'  But he said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.'"   (NAS)

 

We find that Lazarus went to be in Abraham’s bosom in Hades, while the rich man was in torment.  They could communicate with each other, but they were separated by a great chasm, and could not cross over that chasm to be with each other.  Thus we see that Sheol (i.e. – Hades) had a place for the wicked and the righteous in the Old Testament.  There are examples of the place of Sheol for the wicked in the Old Testament Scriptures.  Here is one example:

 

·        Job 26:5-6   "The departed spirits tremble Under the waters and their inhabitants.  Naked is Sheol before Him And Abaddon has no covering.   (NAS)

 

We also see an example of the place in Sheol for the righteous men like Job:

 

·        Job 14:13-14   "Oh that Thou wouldst hide me in Sheol, that Thou wouldst conceal me until Thy wrath returns to Thee, that Thou wouldst set a limit for me and remember me!  If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my struggle I will wait, until my change comes.   (NAS)

 

Job knew that Sheol for the righteous meant a place of waiting until his change came.  Thus, when Jesus told the criminal, “This day you shall be with me in paradise,” it referred to the place of Sheol reserved for the righteous like Job, the poor man, and Abraham.

 

After Jesus’ death, he descended to the place in Sheol (Hades) where the righteous were held captive, or imprisoned.  Jesus death had been effectual in bringing final redemption to them.  Thus, after Jesus resurrection, when he ascended, he led the host of righteous in Sheol captive into the presence of God:

 

·        Eph 4:7-10   But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.  Therefore it says, "When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men."  (Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?  He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)  (NAS)

 

·        Rom 10:6-7   But the righteousness based on faith speaks thus, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?' (that is, to bring Christ down), or 'Who will descend into the abyss?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)."   (NAS)

 

Now that Jesus has ascended, taking the captives of Sheol with him, he has, in effect taken “paradise” (the Old Testament believers) into heaven.  Paul speaks of a vision he experienced, where he went into the “third heaven” which he also called, “paradise”:

 

·        2 Cor 12:2-4   I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago-- whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows-- such a man was caught up to the third heaven.  And I know how such a man-- whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows--was caught up into Paradise, and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.   (NAS)

 

Thus we see that after Jesus’ ascension, “paradise” became known as the place in which the Father God and His son Jesus dwelt together with both Old Testament righteous redeemed, and New Testament believers who have died in Christ.

 

Lastly, we see that this New Testament concept of “paradise” being a place reserved for the redeemed and overcomers in Jesus illustrated in the Book of Revelation:

 

·        Rev 2:7   `He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.'  (NAS)

 

The tree of life was like that place in the Garden of Eden where man could fellowship with God before his fall into sin:

 

·        Gen 2:8-9   And the LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.  And out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.   (NAS)

 

God said man could partake of the tree of life, but not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Man chose the latter, and was banished away from the tree of life:

 

·        Gen 3:22-24   Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"--therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.  So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every direction, to guard the way to the tree of life.   (NAS)

 

The man could not partake of the tree of life and live forever.  Not until Jesus came, and brought redemption to mankind, giving mankind access into the presence of God, could he again live forever. 

 

·        John 11:25-27   Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"  She said to Him, "Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world."   (NAS)

 

God had to give man a Law to live by because sin made mankind like the serpent.  Yet the Law itself could not redeem mankind; it could only tell him what was right or wrong.  Now man would have to find his eternal life in Jesus, who died upon a tree, that we might have the life of God:

 

·        Prov 13:12   Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life. (NAS)

 

·        Gal 3:11-14   Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, "The righteous man shall live by faith."  However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, "He who practices them shall live by them."  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-- for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"--in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.   (NAS)

 

Now, having believed in Jesus, we have the ability to become overcomers in Him, and thus inherit access to the tree of life in the paradise of God.  And how do we overcome, that we might eat of the tree of life?  There are two ways:

 

1.            The blood of Jesus gives us the righteousness to overcome

 

2.            The word of our testimony enables us to win souls into the kingdom of God, and make us partakers of the tree of life in the paradise of God:

 

·        Rev 12:11   "And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death.   (NAS)

 

·        Prov 11:27-31   He who diligently seeks good seeks favor, but he who searches after evil, it will come to him.  He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like the green leaf.  He who troubles his own house will inherit wind, and the foolish will be servant to the wisehearted.  The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise wins souls.  If the righteous will be rewarded in the earth, how much more the wicked and the sinner!  (NAS)

 

Selah (think about it; reflect upon it)

 



 

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