Jesus said that no one has been to heaven save he who came from there. He also assured the criminal on the cross that he would be with him in paradise on the day he died. Does this suggest that paradise and heaven are different places?
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Jesus is speaking of the same place: heaven. John 3:9-13 Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" 10 Jesus answered him, "Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. When he said no one has been to heaven, he meant no one has gone to heaven and came back to earth to be able to explain heavenly things. Only the one whom came down from heaven can explain heavenly things. Verse 11 is the key: "we speak of what we know and bear witness to what we have seen". Jesus is claiming that he has been to heaven and therefor can speak of what he knows and bear witness to what he has seen. No other teacher on earth can claim that because they have never been to heaven.
There are four paradises mentioned in the Bible: 1. Lucifer’s Eden (Ezek. 28:11-17) This is where Lucifer ruled the earth with his HQ in the Lucifer's Eden until he was fallen from grace 2, Adam’s Eden This is were Adam ruled the earth with his HQ until Adam was fallen from grace (Gen 2:8) 3. Abraham's bosom Jesus mentioned about this paradise promised to the criminal dying on the cross. A phrase used among the Jews to signify paradise. It is called "paradise" in Lk. 23:43 and was located in the lower parts of the earth (Eph. 4:8-10 Mt. 12:40). Before the resurrection of Christ all righteous souls went to paradise where they were held captive by the devil against their wills (Heb. 2:14-15). When Christ died His body went to the grave, but He went to paradise and liberated those righteous captives taking them to heaven with Him when He ascended on high (Mt. 12:40 Eph. 4:8-10). 4. Paradise in Heaven (2Cor. 12:1-4 Rev. 2:7). It is located in the midst of the paradise of God in Heaven (Rev. 2:7). After ascension of Jesus into heaven, if any born-again Christian dies he is no longer held captive by the devil in the lower parts of the earth, but he goes immediately to heaven awaiting the resurrection of the body (2Cor. 5:8 Php. 1:21-24 Heb. 12:22-24 Rev. 6:9-11). Christ now has the keys of hades and of death (Rev. 1:18). Paradise under the earth is now empty, but the torment department of hades is being filled more every day. It will hold all the wicked dead until the end of the Millennium when hades will deliver up the souls in it, and the graves will give up all the bodies in them. Then the bodies, souls, and spirits of the wicked will be cast into the eternal hell (Rev. 20:11-15).
Paradise is probably a Persian word (pardes), properly meaning a "pleasure-ground" or "park" or "king's garden." It came in course of time to be used as a name for the world of happiness and rest hereafter (Luke 23:43; 2 Cor. 12:4; Revelation 2:7 --where reference is made to heaven as the "paradise of God"). (Revelation 2:7 NIV --"Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.") In 2 Cor 12:2, this "paradise" is referred to as "the third heaven." It's a place of incredible bliss and serene rest in the very presence of God. So I believe paradise is the same place as heaven, the seat and dwelling place of the divine Majesty. It's where the glorified Christ is. Holy angels live there. Wouldn't you like at the moment of your death, as a Christian enter this blessed dwelling place?
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