Is Paradise the same as Heaven?

            My post, “What happens when you die,” has generated more questions. One commentator asked, “Is Paradise the same as Heaven?”

            Whenever we discuss the Bible, we need to have the same presuppositions. In other words, we need to be on the same page. When dealing with Scripture, we need to confess Scripture’s authority. That means that the Bible rightly claims your unrestricted acceptance of all its statements, full assent to its teachings, unwavering confidence in all its promises, and a willing observance of all its demands.

When dealing with Scripture, we must also confess that the Scriptures are clear. This means that the Bible is accessible to every reader or hearer, that it actually is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.

When dealing with Scripture, we must also confess that Scripture is efficacious, that it actually changes stony, fallen human hearts. When dealing with Scripture, we must also confess that the Bible is sufficient; that is, that the Bible contains all that is necessary for faith and life.

            Most importantly, we must confess that the Scriptures are one. There is a unity in the Bible because there is One Divine Author. The Holy Spirit is the Author of the Scriptures. In our day and age, it is too easy to look only at the distinctiveness of each book of the Bible. While can be and often is very good, it can also cause us to “miss the forest for the trees.”

            With all of this said, let us discuss the question. Is Paradise the same as heaven? The short answer is yes. Paradise is what Jesus promises to the repentant thief in Luke 23:43. And we see that the Holy Spirit, using St. Paul as His instrument, makes paradise and the third heaven synonymous in 2 Corinthians 12. In verse 2, St. Paul writes that this man was “caught up to the third heaven.” Then in verse three, St. Paul says that “this man was caught up into paradise.”

            Here we see that paradise and heaven are synonymous. This surely is a great comfort to Christians. On account of sin, our first parents were exiled from paradise. By our sin, we were barred from the unspeakable and inexpressible bliss of the heavenly paradise. But by His death, Christ has opened the gates of paradise to those who are justified by faith through His grace. While we do go through many tribulations here in this vale of tears, we can confidently endure because of the glorious rest awaiting us.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” (Rev. 2:7)

4 thoughts on “Is Paradise the same as Heaven?

  1. One additional supporting point that you could also include in this is the connection between Paradise and Eden through the languages. If I remember correctly, during the exile when Aramaic became the language of the Israelites, they picked up the Babylonian/Persian loanword “Paradise”. This then becomes associated with the Garden of Eden (c.f. Genesis 2:8 in the LXX). The rabbinical tradition of Jesus’ time associates “paradise” with “heaven” as well because of this connection.

  2. Hello Tom,

    What is third heaven, as opposed to second or fourth heaven?

    There is no mention of “a second heaven”, “the second heaven”, or “a fourth heaven”, “the fourth heaven” in Scripture.

    Your question about “the third heaven” from 2 Cor. 12:2 (the only place in the New Testament this phrase is used) (compare Old Testament Deut. 10:14, 1 Kings 8:27), and its relationship to “Paradise” in 2 Cor. 12:4 is answered in Pastor Berg’s post above. They are synonymous. Did you miss this? Or do you have a specific theological inquiry as it relates to the immaterial soul upon death of the physical body and what happens to it?

    The fact that the apostle Paul enumerates it “the third heaven” (Gr. tritou ouranou) lends one to believe this is significant in some way as to what Jewish tradition believed per the Scriptures were distinctions of the ‘heavens’. One would have to do a word study of the Hebrew words to parse this out.

  3. Hey Tom, we just heard this Epistle yesterday, and someone asked about the third heaven. The first heaven may refer to earth’s atmosphere, or the sky, as the Psalmist refers to the birds of the heavens, 8:8. The second heaven then might be outer space, where the Psalmist refers to the “heavens, the works of Your fingers, the moon and stars,” 8:3 etc. The third heaven then would be the dwelling place of God; Jesus usually refers to His reign as the Kingdom of the Heavens (both Hebrew and Greek are almost always plural, showing again the different levels or layers).

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