The word paradise is used only a few times in the Bible. The most well known verse is in the Gospel of Luke, when Jesus tells one of the thieves on the cross:
“Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43
The apostle Paul also uses this word to describe a vision he experienced:
“And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.” 2 Corinthians 12:3-4
Finally, it is mentioned in Revelation:
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’ Revelation 2:7
But what exactly does paradise mean? Is it synonymous with heaven? Well, not quite.
Paradise was originally a Persion word meaning “an area enclosed by a wall” or a “garden.” In the Old Testament, it’s used to refer to the Garden of Eden in Genesis. In intertestamental (noncanonnical) literature such as the pseudepigrapha and apocrypha the word takes on a more specifically religious meaning. Human history will culminate in a divine paradise on earth. Since there was (and still is) no immediate access to the garden of Eden, or the New Jerusalem, paradise (also sometimes known as Abraham’s Bosom) was considered the realm of the righteous dead who are awaiting the resurrection of the body. It’s this intermediate state which is probably referred to in the verses above.
For more posts about the garden of Eden see: