Question: "What is paradise? Is it different than Heaven?"
Answer: The word paradise is used as a synonym for “heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:4; Revelation 2:7). When Jesus was dying on the cross and one of the thieves being crucified with Him asked Him for mercy, Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Jesus knew that His death was imminent and that He would soon be in heaven with His Father. Therefore, Jesus used “paradise” as a synonym for “heaven.”
What we do know for sure is that there has always been a separation of believers and unbelievers (Luke 16:19-31). The righteous have always gone to paradise; the wicked have always gone to hell (hades). For right now, both heaven (paradise) and hell (Sheol) are “temporary holding places” until the day when Jesus Christ comes back to judge the world based on whether or not they have believed in Him. The first resurrection is of believers who will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ to receive rewards based on meritorious service to Him. The second resurrection will be that of unbelievers who will stand before the Great White Throne Judgment of God. At this point, all will be sent to their eternal destination—the wicked to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15), and the righteous to a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21-22).
© Copyright 2002-2013 Got Questions Ministries.