I’ve always wanted to visit those scenic islands that travelers call Paradise. The beautiful water bodies and beaches make for a wonderful vacation. As a devout Christian, I know there is an even more perfect place beyond this world. Some people call it Heaven, while others call it Paradise. My many years in theology have taught me that there are certain differences between Heaven and Paradise. After speaking to various theology professors, I got a better understanding of the two. Last Friday, my bible study group brought up the issue of Paradise and Heaven. They argued that Paradise was different from Heaven. Others thought both words referred to the same place. With the facts I gathered from the seasoned scholars, I was ready to shed some light on the topic. So, what are the differences between Paradise vs Heaven?
Heaven and Paradise are different in definition. Heaven is the home of God, while Paradise is a perfect place of joy and peace. While there have been instances of turmoil in Heaven, Paradise is viewed as a place where conflict is non-existent. Still, the Bible uses the words Heaven and Paradise interchangeably.
In this article, we will discuss the possible differences between Heaven and Paradise. We will also look at some similarities and explore the use of both words in scripture. Read on to understand what these terms mean for Christians.
Heaven vs. Paradise: differences in definition
Based on scripture, Heaven is the dwelling place of God. It is also where the angels, cherubim, and other spiritual beings reside. Many activities take place in Heaven because God governs the affairs of the universe from there. In Psalms 33:13, the Psalmists talk about how God has a perfect view of mankind from his throne in Heaven. When we say the Lord’s prayer, the first words acknowledge Heaven as the dwelling place of God.
In light of this, the Bible describes Heaven as a beautiful and regal place. According to Revelation 21:21, the heavenly city of Jerusalem is so beautiful that the streets are made of pure gold. A city decorated with precious stones and gems is quite a sight to behold. Heaven is also the dwelling place of believers who die in Christ. In Philippians 3:20, Paul talks about how believers should await their heavenly citizenship for living Godly lives here on earth.
Paradise is a place where there is an overflow of joy, peace, and stability. Going to Judaism, Paradise is a place of tranquillity where righteous souls go to wait for the final resurrection. Scholars in theology propose that Paradise is a perfect garden in the heavenly realm. In Revelations 2:7, scripture talks about the tree of life, which is in the “paradise of God .”Here, we see God promising the righteous believers that they will receive the right to eat from this tree. This is why Paradise is sometimes used to mean the Garden of Eden.
How is Heaven different from Paradise?
Heaven and Paradise are different in numerous ways. Going by various situations in the Bible, one may think of Heaven as the capital city of the universe. Serious business happens in Heaven. In fact, God has passed harsh judgments from his throne in Heaven. In the book of Revelation 12:7-12, John witnesses a fierce war in Heaven. One team of fighters includes the angels of God, led by the archangel Michael. The other team is made up of the devil and his supporters. According to John, the war begins when Satan decides to challenge God’s authority one more time. Ultimately, Satan is defeated and kicked out of Heaven for good. This incident suggests that conflict can arise in Heaven. This is because God has given every creature the free will to choose between good and evil.
On the other hand, Paradise is a place where the righteous enjoy peace. There is not much in the way of conflicts and battles of any kind. Theology teaches that souls in Paradise are exempt from the kind of strive on earth and in hell. Since there is no strife in Paradise, it is unlikely that a war would break out in Paradise, as seen in Heaven in the book of Revelations 12. The assumption here is that everyone in Paradise has already made the right choice between good and evil.
Heaven is a vast place with different sections. In 2 Corinthians 12:2-3, Paul recounts visiting the first, second, and third Heaven. According to the apostle, the throne of God is located in the third Heaven. Some theologians, therefore, argue that the devil would sometimes gain admittance into the first and second heavens. According to Job 1;1-2, the devil appears before God to accuse Job and question his love and faith in God. Satan appears again in Zechariah 3:1-10 to accuse Joshua. After the war in Heaven, this was no longer possible. Scripture tells us that a third of heavenly beings were also cast out for siding with the enemy. On the contrary, Paradise seems to be one tranquil section of Heaven. Many scholars think of Paradise as a garden shielded from spiritual and physical attacks.
Are there any similarities between Heaven and Paradise?
Yes, Heaven and Paradise have several similarities. First, unlike earth and the underworld, Heaven and Paradise enjoy God’s presence nearby. God is omnipresent, and he can therefore go wherever he wants. However, He graces humanity with his presence in familiar forms that humans can relate to. For instance, in Exodus 3:2, God appears to Moses as a burning bush. God ordered Moses to remove his sandals because he was walking on holy ground. There is a gap between the earthly world and the heavenly realm. This world could not handle God’s presence in its entirety. This is why God appeared as various natural elements, such as fire and clouds.
Second, Christianity teaches that the dwelling place of Jesus’ followers is Heaven or Paradise. These words are used interchangeably to mean a world that is separate from the struggles of the world and the horrors of hell. Paradise and Heaven are the end goals for Christians who maintain their faith despite the numerous challenges that life brings. This is evident in Luke 16:19-31, where Jesus tells the story of a poor man named Lazarus and a very wealthy man. The Bible says that rich man wanted nothing, while the poor man would wait to eat the crumbs from the rich man’s table. Lazarus knew he needed God, unlike the rich man who took pride in his wealth. Upon death, the rich man went to hell, while Lazarus enjoyed himself in Heaven next to Abraham. Some scholars in the field of theology refer to this place as Abraham’s bosom, which Judeans view as Paradise.
Where in the Bible does it talk about Paradise?
Jesus directly references Paradise in Luke 23: 42-43. In this scripture, one of the thieves crucified with Jesus repents for his sins and asks Jesus to remember him in the next life. Due to his show of faith, Jesus assures the thief that he will surely enter Paradise. Even before his death, Jesus knew he would end up in Heaven.
In 2 Corinthians 12:3, Paul has a vision where he sees a righteous man (possibly himself) caught up in Paradise. Paul talks about being unsure whether this was an out-of-body experience or not. As mentioned earlier, scripture talks about Paradise for the third time in Revelations 2:7. Here, God is reminding faithful Christians that they will receive eternal life in “the paradise of God.”
What do Heaven and Paradise mean for Christians?
Paradise in Christianity has a profound meaning. When souls end up in Paradise, the Bible teaches that they enjoy total rest. Based on Christian doctrine, people in Paradise get to enjoy the presence of God. That is why Psalms 16:11 reminds Christians that the presence of God carries an inordinate amount of joy for the living and the dead who end up in Paradise. When loved ones die, every Christian hopes they would immediately go to Paradise.
For Christians, God rules over everything from His throne in Heaven. The maker of the universe delegates duties and answers prayers from his heavenly throne. This is why believers send their prayers to Heaven. Christians recognize that there are other forces in Heaven apart from God. For instance, you might pray for God to send his angels to help you in a certain situation. Christian doctrine teaches that Heaven is a place of judgment. Every creature will present themselves before God’s throne to give an account of their words. You can read about this warning in Matthew 12:36-37.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.