In Greek the meaning of the term paradise is 'garden' or 'park,' and so it can be used of Eden in the LXX (cf. Gen. 13:10; Isa. 51:3; Ezek. 28:13; 31:8-9). The word is found three times in the New Testament (Luke 23:43; 2 Cor. 12:4; Rev. 2:7).
The Jewish teaching made paradise that part of hades which was reserved for the blessed. An illustration of this belief is given by Christ in the account of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).
Paradise is now, since the resurrection of Christ (Eph. 4:8-10), removed from hades and located where Christ sits enthroned (2 Cor. 12:4), the third heaven. Revelation 2:7 promises, as opposed to the theory that would deny consciousness to the departed at present: "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." The wresting of Scripture by the advocates of soul sleeping is well illustrated in their treatment of the doctrine of paradise (e.g., a verse like Luke 23:43).
For the present abode of the spirits of departed believers, see 2 Corinthians 5:8 and Philippians 1:23. For the present abode of the bodies of departed believers, see Romans 8:23; 1 Corinthians 15:35-57; Philippians 3:20-21. Sheol as declared in Old Testament speech and hades as in New Testament represent the abode of the departed spirits of unregenerate mankind.
When stoned to death at Lystra, though the time element cannot be finally established, Paul was caught up to paradise—the third heaven, but afterwards was not permitted to recount what he saw or heard. Nevertheless he wrote this much about it: "To depart and to be with Christ ... is far better" (Phil. 1:23).
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