2 Cor. 12: “2I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to THE THIRD HEAVEN… 4How that he was caught UP INTO PARADISE, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”
So finally we shall round off this subject on the Third Heaven called PARADISE.
Luke 23:43, “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise?”
The same promise was made to the overcomer in the Book of Revelation;
Rev. 2:7, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God,” KJV.
In defining here the word ‘Paradise’ let me quote the words of Adam Clark;
“In Paradise.” “The garden of Eden, mentioned in Gen. 2:8, is also called, from the Septuagint, the GARDEN OF PARADISE. The word Eden, signifies PLEASURE and DELIGHT. Several places were thus called in the Bible; see Gen. 4:16; 2 Kgs. 19:12; Isa. 37:12; Eze. 27:23; and Amos 1:5.
In this light the Septuagint have viewed Gen. 7:2-8 as they render the passage thus: :efuteusen o yeov paradeison en edem’, God planted a paradise in Eden.
Hence the word has been transplanted into the New Testament; and is used to signify a place of EXQUISITE and DELIGHT.”
It is said by him that, “The word paradise is not Greek, but is of Asiatic origin. In Arabic and Persian it signifies a garden, a vineyard, and also the place of the blessed.”
And this totally agrees with scriptures, as we read of the Church to be the garden of God; 1 Cor. 3:9,
“For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.”
Furthermore, the “Complete Jewish Bible” translation in our text of Luke rightly states that the word, “Paradise“ means a “Garden.” See it;
Luke 23:43,“Yeshua said to him, Yes! I promise that you will be with me today in Gan-‘Eden.”
Quoting Adam Clark further he said,
“Paradise was, in the beginning, the habitation of man in his state of innocence, in which he enjoyed that presence of his Maker which constituted his supreme happiness. Our Lord’s words intimate that this penitent should be immediately taken to the abode of the spirits of the just, where he should enjoy the presence and approbation of the Most High.”
The state of the blessed is certainly what our Lord here means in Luke 23:43.which is nothing more than salvation.
So when Jesus said to the Thief,
“…Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise,” He was only promising him salvation and that he will be made to join the saints in glory in the Church that is both celestial and terrestrial, His own Body.
And Paul speaking on what constitutes the Body of Christ said, and I quote;
Heb.11: 39, “And these all, (referring to the heroes and heroines of faith in Chapter 11) having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” Heb. 12:1.
Meaning these Heroes of Faith are alive in the spirit realm and watching us running this race of the faith even though we can’t see them they are seeing us.
For they are in a celestial realm of existence and we are in a terrestrial realm of life. It is from this realm that Moses and Elijah walked out from on the Mount of Transfiguration in Mathew 17.
And so we read further in Heb. 12:22,
“22But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”
So you see all of us are in this realm called Mount Zion, the City of the living God, the Church of the firstborn with the spirits of just men (the heroes of faith and such that have come to believe in the Lord like the thief) and are “made perfect.”
Did you see it? Meaning all that Jesus was promising the thief was simply that for acknowledging me as a savior, as from today you are saved and being admitted into the Body of Christ to join the crowd of witnesses in Mount Zion the paradise of God where you will now be experiencing His joy and be delighted in life.
He was not promising him a location somewhere in the blue but simply a union with those who have received His spirit to be part of His Body.
The THIRD HEAVEN, which is the same thing as the PARADISE OF GOD is the CHURCH of the living God and not a location. And that is where you are today beloved if you are born again and should be enjoying the presence and beauty of the Glory of God. Amen!