What Is Paradise and Is it Different Than Heaven? (2023)

There are two thieves hanging on a cross next to Jesus. One is mocking, the other exhibits a bit of faith and asks Jesus to remember him when Jesus comes into His kingdom. “Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’” Why doesn’t he say, “today you will be with me in heaven”? What is paradise and is it heaven? Is it a sort of holding tank where believers go before the resurrection? Or was paradise the place where Old Testament saints went when they died but after the resurrection when people die, they go to heaven? Is paradise a different place than heaven?

Yes. And no.

I will answer this question by explaining a little about the word paradise and where it appears in the Bible. But it’s also important to understand a little about heaven and the new heavens. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll understand why the answer is both yes and no.

Where Does the Bible Talk about Paradise?

Paradise is a word that is likely borrowed from the Persians. It means “garden.” The word appears in the Hebrew Old Testament only in three places where it refers to a park (Ecc. 2:5), a forest (Neh. 2:8), and an orchard (Song of Solomon 4:13). But the word seems to have taken on a new flavor after the Babylonian Exile. In the Septuagint (LXX) the Greek word paradeisos is used for the Garden of Eden. “Paradise” becomes God’s Garden. The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary explains it well:

(Video) What is the difference between heaven and paradise?

The religious meaning—God’s garden or Paradise—entered Jewish thought and vocabulary after the Babylonian Exile, was combined with the hope of a blessed eschaton, and appears in the Apocrypha (2 Esdr 4:7; 6:2; 7:36, 123; 8:52) and frequently in other early Jewish writings. (Paradise).

Thus, by the time of the New Testament paradise became synonymous with resting in God’s presence. The word paradeisosonly appears three times in the New Testament. It is the locale where Jesus tells the thief on the cross he will be with him in Luke 23:43. Paul speaks of being caught up into the “third heaven” and then almost synonymously refers to it as “paradise”. And in Revelation 2:7, Jesus tells the church in Ephesus that they will be granted to “eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God”. Revelation 2 clearly has overtones of the Garden of Eden.

It is surprising that the word paradise only appears six times in the Scriptures. And yet the concept, of God’s presence with humanity, is all throughout.

What Is Paradise and Is It Heaven?

If you ask your friend about his trip to the Bahama’s he might respond that it was a paradise. There is a town in California with the name Paradise and another locale south of Vegas referred to as Paradise. If you’re in Texas you could visit a tobacco store called Smokers Paradise. There are television shows with the name paradise in them, and it’s a word which luxury hotels will use to sell their products. Paradise has become a common word within our vocabulary. But what does it mean?

According to Merriam-Webster’s paradise is “a very beautiful, pleasant, or peaceful place that seems to be perfect.” Or it is a “place that is perfect for a particular activity or for a person who enjoys that activity.” Finally, it is a “state of complete happiness.” Is this what the Bible means when it refers to paradise?

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As stated earlier, the word originally referred to a garden. Specifically, it referred to the lush and walled gardens of the Persian kings. The Garden of Eden, then, is a perfect representation of a paradise. Merriam-Webster isn’t that far off when it refers to a beautiful, pleasant and peaceful place. But the difference between the two is that in the Scriptures what makes the Garden of Eden so wonderful is not the trees or the rivers or the luscious fruits, it is the presence of Almighty God. When the first couple is booted out of the Garden (note the concept of being walled away) the great tragedy is not simply that they now have thorns instead of beautiful gardens, it is that they are removed from the good presence of God. The story of the Bible is about humanity returning to God’s presence through the work of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Milton wasn’t far off—the Bible is about Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained.

If we use the simplest of definitions for both paradise and heaven, we see that they are practically synonymous. They both refer to a place of happiness that is filled with the good presence of God. In 2 Corinthians 12:4 Paul seems to refer to the “third heaven” and “paradise” as the same locale. When Jesus tells the thief that he will be with him in paradise, it’s certainly not wrong to connect this with Paul’s statement that to “depart” is to be in the presence of Jesus.

So, to answer what is paradise and is it heaven, we must ask, are paradise and heaven the same thing? I believe the answer to that question depends on what you mean by heaven. When a believer in Christ dies today, do they go to heaven? Yes. When a believer in Christ dies today, do they go to paradise? Yes. In that sense the two are synonymous. But heaven today will not be the same as heaven tomorrow.

How Do We Distinguish the Difference between Paradise and Heaven?

There are some who teach that Sheol/Hades (the underworld) was actually made up of two parts. The good side was called paradise or Abraham’s bosom. Most get this understanding from the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (as well as Old Testament uses of the word Sheol).

Many who hold to this view of the afterlife will also hold to something called the Harrowing of Hades (or Hell). This view holds that when Jesus died his soul went to Paradise (in Sheol, located under the earth) but upon his resurrection, he took the souls from paradise up into heaven with him. This place would not be in the direct presence of God the Father—it would instead be a type of holding place until the final resurrection.

(Video) Heaven or Paradise?

Though such a view is plausible, I find it a bit shaky to develop an entire theology of the afterlife upon a parable. What is clear from Scripture is that when a believer dies, they are in the presence of Christ. That is certainly enough for me. And I think these words of John Piper are particularly convicting and exposing of our true desire within the afterlife:

The critical question for our generation—and for every generation—is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there?

What Piper is saying is that the goal of heaven/paradise is the presence of Christ. That is what the story of the Bible is really about. There is no difference between heaven and paradise when we are defining them by the good presence of God. But perhaps there is a bit of a difference when we are talking location and stage within redemptive history. I think you could say with some level of certainty that the heaven/paradise that exists now is not the same that will exist when Revelation 21-22 becomes reality.

I believe you could speak of “going up” to heaven/paradise at present. But I do not believe you can speak that way of the new heavens and the new earth. Revelation 21-22 is clear that God comes down to earth and transforming everything. Christopher J.H. Wright says it well:

In other words, the Bible’s last great vision is not of us going ‘up’ there (to heaven), but of God coming ‘down’ here (to earth). That’s why I said, I look forward to going to heaven if I die before Christ returns. But I’m not going to stay there a moment longer than it takes to receive my resurrection body and join the rest of the redeemed humanity on earth once Christ does return. That’s where Revelation 21-22 clearly locates the bride of Christ and the city of God. Not ‘up’ there but ‘down’ here! (Wright, 195)

(Video) Difference between Heaven, Paradise, & Kingdom of God in the Bible


What is paradise and is it heaven? Well, it depends on your definition. Are you talking location? If so, are you referring to the new heaven/new earth or heaven as it presently exists? If you mean as it presently exists, I think you can make a quality argument from the Scriptures that the two are synonymous. But the paradise/heaven that currently exists is not the same as what awaits us for all eternity when Christ returns. We look for the resurrection—our ultimate and blessed hope. Until then, when we die we know that we are in the presence of Christ. Whether you call this paradise or heaven doesn’t matter much. What matters is whether or not you are with Jesus. If you’re with Jesus then it is bliss. If you’re not with Jesus then it’s everything but bliss. That is the most important question to ask of paradise/heaven and hell. Are you with Jesus?

Charlesworth, J. H. (1992). Paradise. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 5, p. 154). New York: Doubleday.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Biletskiy Evgeniy

Mike Leake is husband to Nikki and father to Isaiah and Hannah. He is also the lead pastor at Calvary of Neosho, MO. Mike is the author of Torn to Heal and Jesus Is All You Need. His writing home is http://mikeleake.net and you can connect with him on Twitter @mikeleake.


What is paradise according to the Bible? ›

Later in history the garden of Eden also came to be known as “paradise”, a term which comes from the Persian word pairi-daeza, which can mean “park” or “garden”. In the LXX the Greek word paradeisos is used, which became the common term used by the early Christians.

Why is it called paradise? ›

"Paradise" ultimately comes from an Iranian word that the Greeks modified into "paradeisos," meaning "enclosed park." In Hellenistic Greek, "paradeisos" was also used in the Septuagint -- an early Greek translation of Jewish scriptures -- in reference to the Garden of Eden.

What is the place called before you go to heaven? ›

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that there is a place where sins are punished and a soul is purified before it can go to Heaven. This is called Purgatory .

What does Enoch say about paradise? ›

And those men took me from there, and they brought me up to the third heaven, and set me down |there|. Then I looked downward, and I saw Paradise. And that place is inconceivably pleasant.

What are the examples of paradise? ›

In some religions, paradise is considered the ultimate destination, but in general, it's any place that is ideal and free from worry. Eden, Shangri-la, or even the corner nail salon — each might represent paradise to someone.

What is paradise in Luke 23 43? ›

This word for heaven, this word for the place where we are finally with God. A place free from sin, experiencing eternal life and eternal joy and eternal peace in him. “Today, you will be with me in paradise.”

Why did Jesus say you will be with me in paradise? ›

Joy filling everyone's hearts, minds, and souls would be paradise. The word paradise often refers to Heaven, as it does when Jesus sends his message to the church in Ephesus. Jesus told the man who believed Him that he would be with Him in paradise. We can trust that Jesus was referring to being with God in Heaven.

Where in the Bible does it say today you will be with me in paradise? ›

Sometimes Jesus' words are confusing—like when he told the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise” in Luke 23:43.

Where is paradise on earth? ›

Therefore, Srinagar is the city which is known as paradise on earth.

Is paradise a real place? ›

Paradise is a town in Butte County, California, United States in the Sierra Nevada foothills above the northeastern Sacramento Valley. As of the 2020 census, the town population was 4,764.

Does paradise mean heaven? ›

It is used instead of Heaven to describe the ultimate pleasurable place after death, accessible by those who pray, donate to charity, and believe in: Allah, the angels, his revealed books, his prophets and messengers, the Day of Judgement and divine decree (Qadr), and follow God's will in their life.

What are the three levels of heaven called? ›

According to this vision, all people will be resurrected and, at the Final Judgment, will be assigned to one of three degrees of glory, called the celestial, terrestrial, and telestial kingdoms.

Can souls in purgatory see us? ›

Visitations from Purgatory

When, according to God's will, spiritual beings such as angels appear, they must take on an appearance that is perceivable to our sense of sight. In a similar way, the souls of the deceased have been permitted to appear to mankind.

Is paradise the same as the Garden of Eden? ›

In Abrahamic religions, the Garden of Eden (Hebrew: גַּן־עֵדֶן, gan-ʿĒḏen) or Garden of God (גַּן־יְהֹוֶה, gan-YHWH and גַן־אֱלֹהִים gan-Elohim), also called the Terrestrial Paradise, is the biblical paradise described in Genesis 2-3 and Ezekiel 28 and 31.

Why does God create Eve Paradise Lost? ›

To fulfill Adam's desire, God created Eve from a rib in Adam's side while he slept. Adam remembers this fact because God allowed his mind to remain aware of what was happening even while he slept. Upon seeing Eve, Adam fell instantly in love.

What do Christians believe about paradise? ›

Paradise is a place of rest while its inhabitants continue learning in preparation for the Last Judgment.

What is the real meaning of paradise? ›

C1. a place or condition of great happiness where everything is exactly as you would like it to be: a tropical paradise. His idea of paradise is to spend the day lying on the beach. This mall is a shopper's paradise.

What does living in paradise mean? ›

idiom. : in a state of complete happiness : very happy. When I'm with you, I'm in paradise.

What is the main idea of paradise? ›

The Importance of Obedience to God

The first words of Paradise Lost state that the poem's main theme will be “Man's first Disobedience.” Milton narrates the story of Adam and Eve's disobedience, explains how and why it happens, and places the story within the larger context of Satan's rebellion and Jesus' resurrection.

What are the three kinds of heaven? ›

The First Heaven is the heaven (reality) we see with our natural eyes. the Second Heaven is where Satan has his throne and the fallen angels dwell (unholy dark realm). The Third Heaven is where God has His throne (celestial kingdom) and rules and reigns over the universe.

Is Paradise Lost in the Bible? ›

Paradise Lost is based on the biblical story of the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden by the fallen angel, Satan, and their expulsion from the Garden.

What is considered paradise on earth? ›

Nature has endowed Kashmir with implausible beauty and is rightly called as "Paradise on Earth".

Do Muslims believe in heaven or paradise? ›

Muslims believe in the concept of Paradise (Jannah ), which is where people go if they have lived a good life. Muslims also believe in Hell (Jahannam ), which is where people go if they have lived a bad life or have committed shirk .

What type of body will we have in heaven? ›

But one thing is clear: In heaven, we will have new and perfect bodies -- bodies that will never age or become weak or die, because they will be like Christ's glorious body after His resurrection.

Does the Bible say there are 3 heavens? ›

In fact, Deuteronomy 10:14 refers to all three in one verse: “Behold, to the Lord your God belong Heaven (#2) and the Heaven of Heavens (#3), the earth and all that is in it (#1).” During our time on earth, we dwell in the first two heavens.

How many heavens did God create? ›

In religious or mythological cosmology, the seven heavens refer to seven levels or divisions of the Heavens.

What is paradise like in Christianity? ›

In Christianity, paradise is pictured as a place of rest and refreshment in which the righteous dead enjoy the glorious presence of God. In its view of the heavenly afterlife, Islām views paradise as a pleasure garden in which the blessed experience the greatest sensual and spiritual happiness.

What Paradise Lost teaches us? ›

In essence, Paradise Lost presents two moral paths that one can take after disobedience: the downward spiral of increasing sin and degradation, represented by Satan, and the road to redemption, represented by Adam and Eve.

Where is the place called paradise? ›

In the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Northern California, there is a town on a ridge called Paradise. The area used to look like a forest, with homes nestled among tall pines and oak trees.

Do non Christians go to heaven? ›

First, it's important to understand that this heaven debate is mostly a Christian matter. Judaism and Islam, for example, both teach that all righteous people will go to heaven. The belief that only some righteous people go to heaven is a Christian belief.

How many virgins are in heaven? ›

In life, the most perfect aim is for istishadi through jihad, and the martyr will receive bountiful gifts in paradise. Men will receive 72 virgins in the hadith corpus. There is some debate on the meaning of the Quranic passages according to Islamic jurisprudence.


1. Are Paradise and Heaven the Same Place? - Your Questions, Honest Answers
(The 700 Club)
2. Heaven, Angels, and Cremation
(Collide Church)
3. Difference between Paradise and Heavens - Sheikh Assim Al Hakeem
4. Paradise Is Not Heaven--What Is Paradise?
(Mormon in the South)
5. New Heaven & Earth, The Resurrection, Are we Children of Israel, Battle of Gog and Magog
(Bible Scribe)
6. Paradise is NOT a fantasy! Mufti Menk
(Mufti Menk)
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