Contrary to popular teaching, Paradise has nothing to do with heaven. It is the name given to "a garden planted with trees". The word has come through the Greek from the ancient Sanscrit. Socrates says that the king of Persia, wherever he is, takes particular care "to have gardens and enclosures, which are called paradises, full of everything beautiful and good that the earth can produce". The original Persian word pardes occurs in Nehemiah 2:8; Ecclesiastes 2:5 and Song of Solomon 4:13. The LXX almost constantly renders the Hebrew gan "garden" when it relates to the garden of Eden by paradeisos. Such is the language and testimony of Holy Writ. We have to go to Josephus and to Rabbinical tradition to discover that Paradise is a place. for the intermediate state "and that under the earth there will be rewards or punishment", although even Josephus in the opening of his Antiquities uses the word "paradise" for the Garden of Eden.
In the opening chapters of the Bible we have Paradise lost (Gen. 3), and in the closing chapters we find Paradise restored (Rev. 22). To this, the Lord refers when He said to the overcomes, "I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst
of the paradise of God" (Rev. 2:7), where no "intermediate state" can be intended or allowed. As Dr. Bullinger comments: "Hence, the Scriptures relating to Paradise now, are all future, as the abode of Risen saints, not of DEAD ones". The Paradise of God, 2 Corinthians 12:4, to which the Apostle says that he was "caught up" uses the Greek word harpazo which has nothing in its composition to justify the direction "up"; it means to "catch away". Instead of thinking of the Apostle passing up through the lower heavens to the third heavens "far above" (2 Cor. 12:2), he must be thought of as traversing time. John was taken "in spirit" to the Day of the Lord (Rev. 1:10) but Paul goes further. The first heaven is found in Genesis l:l. The second is the "firmament" of Genesis 1:6 and is destined to pass away (2 Pet. 3:10), leading to the new, or "third heaven" (2 Pet. 3:13). The Paradise of God is not above all heavens, it is the Paradise of Revelation 2:7 and chapter 22. The dying
Saviour assured the dying thief that he would be with Him in Paradise, Luke 23:43. The interpretation of this passage hinges
on the words, "I say unto thee this day". "I say unto thee this day" is a common phrase in the
"I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that . . . " (Deut. 4:26).
"Know therefore this day . . . that the Lord . . ." (Deut. 4:39).
"Which I command thee this day, that . . ." (Deut. 4:40).
And these words, which I command thee this day (Deut. 6:6),
and so on through forty-two occurrences in this book. When the Lord wished to imply that something was going to take place ON
THE SAME DAY He says so.
"This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears" (Luke 4:21).
"This day is salvation come to this house" (Luke 19:9).
In both of these passages, the words "this day" are preceded by the Greek hoti "that", which ensures that the thing spoken of would take place on that day. This important word is not employed in Luke 23:43. The Lewis Codex of the Syrian
N.T. reads in verse 39:
"Save Thyself and us to-day".
So the Lord's word "to-day" may have reference to the revilings of the one, and the request of the other. We have no
need to import into the Scriptures of truth the speculations and traditions of the
Rabbins. The dying thief's request was to do with the Lord's Coming and Kingdom, and the Lord's answer directed his hopes to "that day". It is one of the signs of poverty of argument, when those who champion the traditional intermediate state, base the doctrine on such passages as Luke 23:43 and Luke 16:19-31. For the Parable of the Rich man and Lazarus, see article on HELL. For other aspects see SOUL, IMMORTALITY, RESURRECTION. Paradise restored is no mere dream of the poet Milton, it is an integral part of the purpose of the ages, which tradition would blur and spoil with its
so called "intermediate state".