Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Paradise and Heaven

One of the more obscure topics in the Bible is the actual location of Paradise, and, by extrapolation, Heaven itself. I was recently accosted by a man who insisted that Paradise is and always has been Heaven, based on a few Scripture references. I intend to show the origin of these locales based on what the Bible says.

Again, I make the King James Bible my sole authority: any Scripture used is King James only, and any other references will be ensured to line up with Scripture. No other Book has the power or authority of the Monarch of the Books, the Authorized Version of the Bible.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Again, I don't wish to get into the Gap issue here, but it must be noted that in the original creation, God only created one heaven. The atmosphere, also called the firmament, is also called "heaven" or "the firmament of heaven." So we can safely say that "heaven" doesn't immediately mean God's throne (Matt. 5:34), but has several meanings. Specifically, the Apostle Paul speaks of being caught up to the "third heaven" after being rocked to sleep stoned to death. He also uses the word "paradise" in that context, stating that the place where he went was called "paradise." Since the typical consensus is that paradise is not in the third heaven, allow me to explain what must be, according to the Scriptures.

The first instance of the word "paradise" is found in Luke 23:43.

And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Very obviously, Jesus is saying to the thief on the cross that he (the thief) will be with Christ after their deaths, that same day. Therefore, wherever Jesus is to be found immediately after His death, the thief will also be present.

Matthew 12:40 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.

Jesus was clearly stating here that He would go to Hell during the time when He was dead.

Ephesians 4:8 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?
10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

Revelation 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

Also reference this:

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

Christ's suffering was the means by which He preached to the spirits in prison (2 Pet. 2:4, Jude 6) in the same Hell where the rich man went (Luke 16:19-31) and saw Abraham's Bosom.

These places, Abraham's Bosom, and Hell, were separated by a "great gulf" which was impassable, meaning that while communication was indeed possible as this story proves, they were definitely separate places, one being a place of torment, and the other being described as comfortable. Therefore, since Jesus spent those three days in Hell, and He promised the thief that he would be with Christ in Paradise, the only logical conclusion that "Abraham's Bosom" is also called "paradise," the temporary resting place for righteous Old Testament souls whose sins had not yet been washed away under the Old Covenant of the Law. These people could no more enter heaven proper without proper atonement for their sins than could any lost person today: they had to have their sins forgiven first, which means that Christ had to die and pay their sin-debt! (Eph. 4:8)

So, we can see how that Christ very clearly said that paradise was in the center of the earth along with Hell. However, we also see that Paul stated that paradise was in the third Heaven. The simplest way to reconcile this "contradiction" is to simply accept that when Christ "led captivity captive," the place in Heaven where they went is also called "paradise" in the Bible.

There is much more to this study, including the Deep, the Pit, the Lake of Fire, and the whole origin and purpose of these places. However, I believe I covered the intended topic sufficiently, so we will let it rest until another time.

Comment if you have questions or have Biblical evidence of where I am wrong on this topic: I am always open to the correction of the Book!


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