The word “Paradise,” according to Strong’s Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, means “a park, an Eden (place of future happiness).” In the book of Genesis Adam and Eve lived in the “Garden of Eden,” a “paradise on earth.” Yet the word Paradise is a New Testament word, which, as we have just seen, speaks of “a place of FUTURE happiness.” We have no doubt that the term refers to Heaven and this is confirmed in the three passages in which it is found.

*Luke 23:43, “And Jesus said to him (the penitent thief), ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in PARADISE” (NKJV).

*2nd Corinthians 12:2-4, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was CAUGHT UP TO THE THIRD HEAVEN. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—how he was CAUGHT UP INTO PARADISE.”

*Revelation 2:7, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the PARADISE of God.”

In all three cases Paradise is another name for Heaven. The spirits of the Lord Jesus and the saved thief went to Paradise immediately after they died; the Apostle Paul was caught up into Paradise; and all believers (who make up the “church”) will eat from the tree of life in the Paradise of God.

The word “Hades,” according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, means “the region of departed spirits.” It is equivalent to the Old Testament word “Sheol” which was used to describe “the realm of the dead” or “the place of departed souls/spirits.” This doesn’t tell us exactly WHERE the spirit is, it simply speaks as to the CONDITION of one who has died, for their souls/spirits have “separated from their bodies.” The fact is the ACTUAL PLACE of one’s departed spirit depends on whether or not the person was a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ or an unbeliever. We just saw (when discussing the word Paradise) that the thief who had turned in faith to Christ went to Paradise to be with Christ. So, in his case, his departed spirt was in Heaven.

In Luke 16:22-23 we have a case of a believer and an unbeliever. It reads, “So it was the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to ABRAHAM’S BOSOM. The rich man also died and was buried. And being IN TORMENTS in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” The beggar was no doubt a believer and his spirit was carried to “Abraham’s bosom” (another name for Paradise/Heaven) where he was COMFORTED (see verse 25). The rich man died in unbelief and his spirit went to a place where he was “in torments.” We aren’t told where this place was; only that it was a PLACE OF TORMENT. Both men were in Hades (the region of departed spirits), but their response to Jesus Christ determined “which place” they were in, one of bliss and comfort, or one of torment.

I want to add in closing that Hades is a “temporary condition.” For the believer, it ends when Christ returns and raises the believer’s body and reunites it with his/her spirit (see 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1st Corinthians 15:51-55). For the unbeliever, it ends when their bodies are raised from the dead and reunited with their spirits, followed by their being cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:13-15 reads, “The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death (the GRAVE) and Hades (the SPIRIT REALM) delivered up the dead who were in them…Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” (317.3) (DO)