What are the Differences Between Paradise and Heaven in the Bible?

What are the Differences Between Paradise and Heaven in the Bible? September 11, 2014

Are heaven and paradise the same thing?  Did the thief on the cross go to heaven or paradise?

Paradise is…

Jesus told the thief on the cross “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” but where is paradise (Luke 23:43)?  Is this heaven or is it a different place?  Jesus told the church at Ephesus “To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (Rev 2:7) so apparently paradise is where God is at because it is called the “Paradise of God” and Jesus told the thief that he would be with him in Paradise that very day.  Paul once stated that he “was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter” (2 Cor 12:3-4). It must be a place that is so wonderful that he cannot even describe it and was apparently told not to describe it or tell other what is was like.  Maybe that’s because if we really knew what Paradise or heaven was like, we’d want to check out of this life and go there right now.  Paradise in the Jewish vernacular described heaven as being in the place where God is at.  It has been said to be “in the bosom of Abraham” (Luke 16:19-30). The Garden of Eden is sometimes referred to as Paradise, as some translations say in Genesis 3:8.  Paradise is also said to be a higher place, a holy of the holiest places where there is no sin.  The Jews word for Paradise is “pardes” and is actually a borrowed word from the Persian word that means “park” or “garden” and in some Rabbinical circles is thought of as Eden restored.

Heaven is…

To me, heaven is any place where God is at and it appears that Paradise is heaven, but it’s just another name for it.  When Jesus Christ returns and establishes His kingdom on this earth, heaven comes down to earth and believers don’t actually go “up” to heaven.  In Revelation 21:1-4 John “saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

John was “carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.  It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed—on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates.  And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Rev 21:10-14). Once more, John reveals that heaven is to come down to the earth and the Kingdom of Heaven will be the New Jerusalem which will be the capital of all the earth and from where Christ and His saints will rule.

When heaven comes down as the New Jerusalem, there will be a “the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.  They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.  And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” (Rev 21:2b-5).  The “tree of life” has the same name as the tree of life in the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:9) so in a sense, the Jew’s may have the right idea in the sense of having Eden restored but this will be so much better than Eden for there will be no more sin or the sorrow that sin brings and the greatest of these sorrows is death which has been conquered by Jesus Christ’s victory at Calvary (Isaiah 25:8; 1 Cor 15:54).

The Difference Between Heaven and Paradise

The only real difference that I could find between heaven and Paradise is the use of the word.  Both describe the presence of God.  Both describe a utopian state.  Both describe the absence of sorrow, suffering and sin.  All of the Old Testament saints will be there along with those who are now departed and with the Lord.  We could describe Paradise and hell or hades as temporary holding places until the New Jerusalem is established and the dead are joined back with their physical bodies.  For those who have died in the faith, we know that they are present with the Lord right now because if a person is absent or deceased from their body, they are in the presence of the Lord (2 Cor 5:8).  Of this fact, Paul was confident and since God’s Word is without error, we know that anyone that has repented and trusted in Christ will be with the Lord after they breathe their last breath on this earth.

Paradise vs Heaven


If you have never had a time of repentance, confession of sin, and putting your trust in Christ, Paradise or heaven is not your destination.  You only have a fearful expectation of your awaiting judgment by God (Rev 20:11-15).  There is no need to worry about what happens after death if you are born again because whoever believes in Jesus Christ will be saved (Acts 4:12) because He so loved the world that He died for those who would trust in Him (John 3:16-17).  Is that you? I pray it is.

Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book  Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon

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  • zebdonk

    So you’re saying the evil doer who was executed the same day as Christ beat him to heaven, then. Jesus wasn’t resurrected until three days later. Could it all be a simple matter of comer placement, Jesus really meaning: I tell you this today, rather than I tell you this, today. This then allows for the evil doer to be resurrected, still, but in a future time. Revelation 21:1-4 speaks about the blessings due to descend upon earth, the tent of God being with mankind. If paradise is the place where God pitches his tent, or dwells, then paradise will be here on earth.

    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you Zebdonk, that’s a great question. I have no knowledge
      of commas in this sentence because there were no commas in the original manuscripts and it is my understanding that commas were inserted much latter. The ancient Greeks did not have any equivalent to our modern device of punctuation. Sentence punctuation was invented several centuries after the time of Christ. The oldest copies of both the Greek New Testament and the Hebrew Old Testament are written with no punctuation so if you look at the sentence without any commas (which was the way it was written), “today” would still mean today or that same day. Does this make sense my friend? Anyway, isn’t being the presence of the Lord still Paradise or wherever God is, is heaven anyway?

      • Deependra Baral

        In my opinion ,paradise n heaven are almost same. In genesis Adam n eve , they are in garden of Eden n that ‘s time it was paradise. And heaven is not like that we thought , it’s the place where GOD’s presence n there no mor e sin,poverty n suffering. When Adam was created that time GOD is in the earth it means that time earth is like heaven coz there is no sin,poverty n sufferings. Heaven /paradise are only heaven/ paradise when there is GOD. If there is no GOD it’s nothing. The scripture says all the world n heaven passed away but the WORD OF GOD’S remain ever n forever. Why the scriptures says “even the heaven” passed away ,it means heavens is also temporary. There is someplace beyond our limits n it is not revealed yet . It means I am not trying to say JESUS is liar coz HE say I am the way , the life n the truth. He is here to reconcile GOD. But think what the GOD say in John 3:16…………….but has eternal life, then where is that eternal life we spending ? In heaven/paradise? If it’s heaven then we are not spending eternal life coz the WORD say heaven passed away. Heaven is just place where we gone a meet the GOD. He has a really great place for us which is not revealed yet except HIM no one knows. GOD knows every humans knowledge n it’s danger too coz humans eat the fruit of knowledge good n bad. In genesis what the people try to make ,”THE TOWER OF BABEL” let’s make the ladder that reach the heaven, humans r on the way but GOD confuse their language n that ladder remains pending. Here, the question comes why GOD bring confuses on their language? GOD really know that human can reach the heaven by that ladder? So what we think that rather then thinking heaven/paradise try to make our place (earth) like heaven/paradise by removing sin,poverty n suffering .GOD created this earth n HE seems it’s beautiful now HE want us to conclude it. We have faith on GOD , did GOD have faith on us? Can we handle earth to GOD like as it before ? If we , then we have rights to talk about heavens/paradise. Otherwise we don’t ,coz human already destroy HIS one paradise(earth) ,n to backup it again HE do lot even HE sacrifice HIS own beloved SON.

    • Kay Cavin

      I believe that too. It was a very important verse for the translators to make a mistake over, but I believe this has happened here.

    • Glenn A

      Time is irrelevant once out of the human body, it does not exist. Time is used to calculate ageing, they will be no ageing in Heaven. God lives outside time, the believers go to be with God, and were he is, is timeless. This is something our human brain cannot truly fully understand. God looks at us from outside of time, This is how God knows the future.

      Ecclesiastes 3:15 (NIV) Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account.

  • lou barreto

    There are Christian Believers today who are having unusal experiences of being transported to 3rdHeaven/Paradise as the Apsotle Paul’s ascension to the the Third Heaven/Paradise.. I wote a book about the many visitations I have had with the Lord, including a trip to Paradise where my body or spirit was transported to Heaven……it was a fantastic experience..I wrote a book about it and the many visitations I had with the Lord……….and it’s on amazon.com the title of the book “Who is this Alien? This Higher Power

  • Glenn A

    Heaven is not created yet, Jesus said he goes to prepare a place for us, and when it’s ready he will return for us. John 14:3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” So heaven and paradise cannot be the same place. Jesus was going to paradise that day, Heaven is not yet ready. However on reading the whole verse we also see that Gods house has many rooms, one of these “rooms” being paradise.

    “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3″If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4″And you know the way where I am going.”

    As regards Ghosts, there are more then one incident where “Ghost” as in an ghost of a person, are mentioned. After the crucifixion:

    “They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.” Luke 24:47

    And in Matthew 14:26

    “When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.”

    Now just what a ghost is, is another question. One thing to ponder though, Spirit cannot die, so if the believer goes to paradise, where does the non believer go?

    • Skullface

      Non believe goes to Hades

    • gerry

      non believers die in their sin and go the hell.like it says in psalm the wicked go down to hell.

    • Will Whitfield

      After the war in Heaven we do not really know how much damage was done, could Heaven right now be still be being built ready for The Final Trumpet to sound and to call all the people in Paradice to be at the bridal feast.

  • lou barreto

    The Apostle Paul spoke about the third heaven in the New Testament bible and he said it was Paradise..the third heaven is another universe and mankind does not have the technology to access the third heaven……And if you know Jesus as your Savior , you will have access to it………………………….Lou

  • lou barreto

    I would like to submit a New Interpretation/Parable on “Strive to enter the narrow gate”
    to Pastors and Christian Believers to review and consider-Below Is The Final,
    Final Draft Of The Parable. I am currently a member of the Anaheim Vineyard
    community since 1983. You can share this posting on social media or to other


    (New Interpretation of Parable)

    What is the meaning of the parable? During the time of Jesus’
    ministry before His death on the cross, He spoke mainly to the Jews of Israel.
    Most of the parables spoken by Jesus was about the nation of Israel and the
    Jewish Priesthood only and not about other nations or future Christians.
    Remember prior to the cross, Grace, as we know it today, did not exist during
    the ministry of Jesus as He spoke to the Jews prior to His death. In Luke
    13vs24, Jesus said, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many I say to
    you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” What was Jesus referring to when
    He said “Narrow is the gate?” Was Jesus speaking about Himself as being the
    narrow gate?No, He was not
    speaking about Himself. Jesus was talking about the Law as being the Narrow
    Gate, not Himself He was speaking about the Jewish nation, the Jewish Priesthood
    exclusively involved with works to fulfill the Law. Jesus was talking about the
    Law as being the Narrow Gate, a small window, not Himself. Jesus was saying It’s harder to enter Paradise through the Law, this small window, this narrow gate. Jesus was also saying that people who are murders, adulteress, liars, envious, prideful, spiteful, hateful, not giving to the poor, not forgiving others, false witness, sexual fornicators, abusiveness of any sort, robbers and thieves, upright individuals that are good citizens and anyone born with an evil nature-that means every child, the rich, the poor, every teen, every adult, every mother, every father, every Jew and every
    gentile in the world will not enter into Paradise, the kingdom of God through
    the Law.

    The Law is the Narrow Gate. The Law said no to anyone trying to
    enter the Gate of Paradise. The Law made the Gate of Paradise very narrow to
    enter-an impossibility to enter except for a few who pursue God by faith as the
    scripture said, “Many Are Called but Few Are Chosen” and Jesus was referring to the Jews and the Jewish Priesthood who were trying to fulfilled the Law or involved with works to fulfill the Law. Jesus spoke in parables and the Jewish Priesthood knew that Jesus was speaking about them in the parables according to NKJ Bible Matt 21vs45, and the parables were very confusing to the Jews at that time period, including many Christians and preachers today who are misinterpreting the Parable (NKJ Bible, Luke 13vs24 and Matt 7vs 12,14) and using the parables to cause Christians to doubt their Salvation or perhaps being cast into the everlasting fire.

    Jesus is not the Law, the Narrow Gate, where few can only enter.
    When Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected, the Flood Gates of Paradise
    became wide open to capture all of humanity and not just a few. Jesus became
    available as a Savior to everyone who would receive Him as their Savior, including the Jews and all the gentiles in the world. Yes, the Flood Gate of Grace became available to those who were murders, adulteress, liars, envious, prideful, spiteful, hateful, not caring about the poor, not forgiving others, false witness, sexual fornicators, abusiveness of any sort, robbers and thieves, upright individuals that are good citizens and anyone born with an evil nature-that means every child, the rich, the poor, every teen, every adult, every mother, every father, every Jew, and every
    gentile in the world.

    Yes, the Flood Gates of Grace was extended to the “Thief on the
    cross” as he said to Jesus, “Do not forget me when you come into your kingdom
    and Jesus said “today you will be with me in Paradise.” A thief in those days
    committed probably murder or violent attacks upon their victims, but the Gate
    of Grace, excepting Christ as his Savior gave the thief access into
    Paradise. The Law, the Narrow Gate would have denied the thief access into
    Paradise, but the blood of Christ covers all of our sins from murder to mayhem
    to lying and most of all the evil nature that we inherited from Adam and Eve.

    Christian preachers today used the parables mention
    in this commentary to make Christian Believers doubt their salvation or perhaps,
    never been saved which is not true. These parables were meant for the Jews only
    and not meant to condemn Christians who are weak in the faith or in the process
    of learning to live out their salvation in the midst of their sins-all of us
    are a work in progress. And anyone today who is trying to enter paradise by way
    of works via the narrow gate will be denied access.

    Jesus opened wide the new Flood Gates of Grace to capture you
    and me-all the Jews and Gentiles in the world. Without Christ as your Savior,
    there is the Narrow Gate of the Law for you to contend with. The Narrow Gate of
    the Law is still in existence. If you seek to enter into the narrow gate of the
    Law or works, the Lord will say” I do not know you, depart from me and He was
    speaking to the Jews in general and the Jewish priesthood when He taught them
    in the streets of Jerusalem in NKJ Bible, Luke13vs25, 27 and the Jewish
    Priesthood always knew that Jesus was talking about them in all His parables as
    in Matt 21vs 45

    There is also the narrow gate and the wide gate of destruction that Jesus spoke about in Matt 7vs12, 14. In verse 12 Jesus was talking to the Jewish prophets, the
    Jewish nation in general about the Law with respect to entering the narrow gate
    as well as the wide gate of destruction in verse 13,14. Jesus did not explain
    that parable from verse 13 to 14 or the parables in this commentary as He has
    in other parables. Jesus was referring to the wide gate of destruction as being
    the Gate of Hell. He was referring to the narrow gate as being the Law which
    made it impossible to enter into Paradise by fulfilling the Law or through
    works. Jesus was saying It’s harder to enter Paradise through the Law, this small window, this narrow gate. It’s much easier to enter Paradise through Grace, through Jesus Christ.

    And the Gate of Hell is open wide to anyone, be it an atheist, agnostic, those who could care less about the afterlife and the list goes on and on and Hell has no
    requirements for entering-come as you are. The Law, the Narrow gate, has the
    requirement of fulfilling the Law to enter into Paradise. Who
    can fulfill the Law? It’s hard, the window is so narrow, so small and “Many are call but few are chosen” as Jesus stated.

    In summary, the Gate of Grace is wide open- it’s not narrow, there are no Laws to fulfill and no works to fulfill. And Grace is open wide to everyone, be it a murder, a
    thieve, an adulteress and the list goes on and on and the only simple requirement
    for entering into Paradise is accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior. Yes, the
    Gate of Grace is Wide Open To Everyone, both Jews and Gentiles-who believe in
    Christ Jesus as their Savior.

    Over the years many Christians have been taught by pastors and teachers to believe the prevailing view about the Narrow gate as being Jesus and the Lord has over the
    years given me another understanding about these parables. Yes, it’s much
    easier to enter Paradise through Grace than it is by way of the Law, this small
    window, this narrow window and that’s what Jesus was talking about. Jesus was
    saying It’s harder to enter Paradise through the Law or by works, this small
    window, this narrow gate required by the Jewish Priesthood and other religions.
    When Jesus said, “Many are call, but few are chosen,” Jesus was talking about the Jewish priesthood and the Jewish nation “As Few Being Chosen.” He was
    not talking about Christian Believers. Just as Jesus was not talking to
    Christians Believers when he said in Matt 7vs 22 “I never knew you, depart from
    me, you who practice lawlessness.” He was talking about His Jewish followers who
    were casting out demons prior to the Cross and stop being His followers when
    Jesus said, “Take this living bread my body and eat as well as drink my blood,”
    NKJ Bible, John 6vs 51, 66

    Hopefully, many will see the logic of my position, this new interpretation of these
    parables. I am just presenting this new view of the parables for Pastors and Believers
    to consider, accept and to mull over in their spare time as well as having a
    new view of the parables to teach and share with others. Regardless of your views
    or assessment of my interpretation about these parables, continue to go on
    doing what the Lord has call you to do-whether it’s sharing the gospel message
    of Christ, feeding the poor, praying for the sick, caring about your earthly
    family and the family of God in your church.



    Lou Barreto, An Original
    Commentary Publication, January 29, 2015

    Kingdom Come Publishers

    • NathansFather

      >> He said “Narrow is the gate?” Was Jesus speaking about Himself as being the narrow gate? No, He was not speaking about Himself.<<
      I respectfully disagree. Yes, Jesus was speaking about Himself being the only access to Heaven on the Right Side of The Throne. He IS The Narrow Gate.

  • Kay Cavin

    If paradise and heaven are the same and we supposedly go to heaven immediately when we die if we are believers, please explain John 3:13 to me.

    • John

      You are right. The Bible teaches that no one goes to heaven until the resurrection/rapture. All the verses that confirm this are at ItsHisStory.com/sleep

  • John

    You are right except for the belief that believers who have died are presently with the Lord. The Bible is clear that no one goes to heaven until the resurrection/rapture. If you look up ALL the scriptures that deal with this, you will see that even Paul believed that as in Phil 3:10-11 Paul was looking forward to the resurrection, not going to be with Christ sooner. Paul confirms this with many references such as 1 Cor 15:22-23 and many others. Jesus also taught this in many places. You can see all the scriptures on this at ItsHisStory.com/sleep. Ask this: If all believers go to heaven immediately upon death, then at the resurrection, who gets resurrected?

    • gerry

      the body gets resurrected,like the body of Christ was dead but was resurrected three days later.

  • notbyworks

    Your confused because you misunderstand the word Resurrection (stand up !! = greek) , when the bible talks about the resurrection it is speaking of our bodies resurrecting form the grave and they will be in a Glorified state as Paul described as metamorphous of our first earthy bodies and as Jesus was raised in a body (tomb was empty_ but Jesus had his Glorified body.

    The eternal spirits of believers go directly to be with the Lord Jesus when believers die, the bible is clear on that, but we still wont have out glorified bodies until the resurrection , or as PAUL taught Thessalonians at the time of the Rapture. Paul assures and comforts believers who are still alive and says that those who proceeded in death are already in heaven.

    Read 1st and 2nd Thessalonians and ALL the verses that Paul teaches about wanting to be away from this earthly body and PRESENT with the LORD.

  • NathansFather

    I have a question Jack.

    We are currently struggling in our church to get a better working wording of The Apostles’ Creed.

    A couple we are dear friends with who sit in our same pew along with myself have a problem with Jesus “descended into Hell.” I see no reason for that wording as Jesus told the criminal on the cross beside His Cross he would see Him in Paradise. Was Paradise at that time in the land of the dead (grave of sleep) on the right side of the Gulf where the beggar, Lazarus and Abraham and the Old Testament Prophets were? Referred to as The Bosom of Abraham?

    Didn’t Jesus go to the Bosom of Abraham in a single event and raise them from the dead to walk the streets of Jerusalem when He arose on the third day from the grave?

  • charlotte

    I really do not need to see what Jesus looked like, because I know Jesus is real. He is the Son of the Living God. He is my Saviour.

  • charlotte

    I do have a question? You say we don’t get resurrected till judgement day, where does our soul go. Energy never dies.

  • Ken Miller

    It says in the above article “All of the Old Testament saints will be there along with those who are now departed and with the Lord.” I would like to know what scripture supports this….Thanks!

  • S3v3n007

    Paradise is where some go after death but before going to Heaven. Heaven is where we will enter upon being raptured or after having been in Paradise or asleep (as might be the case for some who died but didn’t go to Paradise, for reasons God only knows:)
    Either way, WOOOHOOOO!!!!
    It’s a celebration!!!