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The Seventy-Fourth (Paradise)

I hope your week went well. We've got another interesting topic to cover this week, so let's get to it! There's a particular word that is very seldom used in scripture. In fact, it's only used three times in the entire Bible....at least in most Bibles!

The word, as you could probably tell by the title, is paradise. The Greek word is paradeisos, and it's found in Luke 23:43, 2 Corinthians 12:4, and Revelation 2:7. According to HELPS Word-studies, it comes from an ancient Persian word meaning, "enclosure, garden, park." Now already we're led to something interesting!

If we keep looking down to the Thayer's Greek Lexicon, at BibleHub.com, we see that the Persians used this word to describe what we would call a wildlife preserve nowadays. In fact, more specifically, it was an enclosed hunting ground. But that's not the most interesting part. Looking at definition number two, we see that we should actually see this word elsewhere in our Bible.

This Persian word for wildlife preserve was brought into the Hebrew language as pardes. Now here's the "creepy" part: it also exists in only three verses of the Old Testament! In the KJV, this word is translated to "orchard" and "forest," so it's usage is not obvious if you come across it. The verses that contain this word are Nehemiah 2:8, Ecclesiastes 2:5, and Song of Solomon 4:13.

When we look at these verses, we find that they all reference a worldly "preserve." Nehemiah uses it for a king's forest that's guarded by someone to protect it, Ecclesiastes uses it to describe the futility of focusing on worldly things, and in Song of Solomon he uses the word to describe his bride.

On the flip side, the New Testament verses all use this word in a spiritual sense. In Luke, Jesus tells one of the criminals He was crucified with that he will be in paradise. In 2 Corinthians, Paul uses it in a confusing passage about some other person (which was actually most likely him) that was caught up to paradise. Finally, in Revelation 2, Jesus again speaks of paradise, and tells us it's where the tree of life is located.

So, lets take a moment to pull that thread. Just like when you're trying to figure out the context or meaning of words today, the best place to go is another time the same person used that word. We see Jesus used it on the cross, and when giving John His revelation. If the tree of life is located in paradise, does Jesus talk about that tree somewhere else?

When we look, we find that He mentions it in Revelation 22. He describes it as being a tree that has leaves that heal the nations and grows on either side of a river that's in the middle of a street. It sounds amazing, but where is it? We have to look to Revelation 21 to get the context. We find that this tree is in New Jerusalem, which comes down from God after the new heaven and new earth are created.

So now, we have a question: if Jesus tells us paradise is New Jerusalem, and it comes down out of heaven after the first heaven and earth pass away (that's the one we're on now), where did the man Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 12 go? Well, the description in Revelation 22 says nothing about New Jerusalem being created, so it's entirely possible it exists in heaven right now. But not just heaven, specifically the third heaven because that's where Paul said paradise was seen.

Ok, so now we know that the paradise Jesus and Paul talk about is New Jerusalem. It's in the third heaven, and it is scheduled to come down to the new heaven and new earth once the first heaven and first earth pass away (which happens right after the great white throne judgment of Revelation 20:11-15). But wait, Jesus told the criminal next to Him, "today you will be with Me in paradise."

Does this mean that when believers die we go to New Jerusalem? Unfortunately, no. We're going to have to wait for that tree of life! If we take a look at Revelation 6:9-11, we see souls that were slain for the Word of God (aka Jesus the Messiah) under the altar of God. Jesus told us there is no greater love than to give your life for your friends (John 15:13), so these souls would be given the most choice location possible once they passed from this earth. What better location than New Jerusalem, right?

Well, what we find is that while New Jerusalem is a choice location, this altar is not located there. In fact, there is no temple in the New Jerusalem, because Yehovah and Yeshua are the temple (Revelation 21:22). No temple means no altar. So if these souls that died on earth are not located in New Jerusalem, why did Jesus tell the criminal that he would be in paradise today?

This is a case of punctuation. I have mentioned before that scripture was written without punctuation, and in this case, when Luke 23:43 was translated, the translators added a comma before "today," which gave the meaning that Jesus was saying that same day the criminal would be in paradise. Not only can that not be the proper comma usage based on what we've just discovered about what paradise actually is, it cannot be the proper punctuation because we know Jesus didn't go to heaven until the third day! So, in actuality, what Jesus said was: "Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in paradise."

So, we took at look at paradise this week, and I hope you were able to get some insight into what it is and what it isn't. It means a preserve here on earth. In heaven, it's New Jerusalem, and nothing else, and it's a sort of protected preserve created by Yehovah for His children. It will come down from Yehovah for us to be with Him and Jesus for eternity. I also hope you were able to see that when you come across confusing topics or verses, a good place to start is a word study. Not only did we find out what paradise was, we found out that the concept can be found in the Old Testament as well despite that word not being there!

I pray you have a blessed week! Shabbat Shalom and God bless you!

-Rob and Sara Gene

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