(Editor's Note: For more than two years now brother Gene Frost of Fort Smith, Arkansas, has carried a syndicated column entitled "Bible Answers" in several newspapers. We are happy to pick up this column for the readers of the Gospel Guardian, and will run it at fairly frequent intervals. The answers are brother Frost's own, and may, or may not, be shared by this writer — or by you. But they will be provocative of thought. We commend them to your study. If you care to submit a question, send it to Gene Frost, 1900 Jenny Lind, Fort Smith, Arkansas.)
Question: Where Is Paradise, And Do The Good And Evil Both Go There?
Answer: The word "paradise" is an oriental word of Persian origin. The Old Persian pairidaeza, "enclosure," is akin to the Greek peri, around, and teichos, a wall, from which it passed into the Greek language: paradeisos. It denotes the parks and game refuges of Persian kings and nobles, beautifully kept gardens. To the oriental mind it expressed the sum total of blessedness.
The Septuagint translators used "paradise" for the garden of Eden in translating the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek. (Gen. 2:8) It is also used in Num. 24:6, Isa. 1:30, Jer. 29:5, Ezek. 31:8,9, et al.
In the New Testament "paradise" is used three times to denote places or conditions of blessedness. The first reference is Luke 23:43: Jesus said to the penitent thief on the cross, "Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." This state of blessedness was in hades, the state of the dead (receptacle of disembodied spirits). That very day the spirit of Jesus went into hades, and on the third day came forth. (David before "spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell (Greek hades), neither his flesh did see corruption" — Acts 2:31.) In hades are two compartments, separating the wicked from the blessed. (Luke 16:23, 25-26) When Jesus went into hades, He entered the place of the blessed — "paradise." This was also the state of the penitent thief with Jesus. This place is not heaven, but the intermediate state between this life and the eternal life to come after Judgment. Jesus entered hades at death and not heaven; after His resurrection He announced, "for I am not yet ascended to my Father." (John 20:17) For three days He was in "paradise," the receptacle of the righteous dead in hades.
The second reference to "paradise" in the New Testament is 2 Cor. 12:4: Paul speaks of one that "was caught up into paradise and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." In verse 2, paradise is identified as the "third heaven." The Jews defined three heavens: (1) the air or atmosphere (Gen. 2:1, 19); (2) the firmament with the sun, moon, stars, etc. (Deut. 18:3, Matt. 24:29); and (3) God's dwelling place. (Matt. 5:12,16,45, 48) God's dwelling place is indeed a blessed place — "paradise."
The third reference in the New Testament is Rev. 2:7: "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." This is an allusion to the garden of Eden and the tree of life of which one might "eat, and live forever." (Gen. 3:22) Rev. 2:7 is a figurative way to express that eternal life will be given to the saved in an eternal blessed state — in "paradise."
Thus we determine by its use In the Bible that paradise is not a specific place but signifies the state of blessedness wherever. The word is used of the garden of Eden where man was blessed in innocence, of the blessed state of the righteous dead, of the dwelling place of God, and of the eternal state of the redeemed. Since it is used of blessed states it is not used descriptive of the wicked.