Persian loanword for "an area enclosed by a wall" or "garden." Its three uses in the Hebrew Bible ( Neh 2:8 ; Eccl 2:5 ; Sol 4:13 ) retain this meaning. The Septuagint uses the Greek paradeisos [paravdeiso"] for the garden of Eden in Genesis (called the "garden of God" in Isa 51:3 ; and Ezek 28:13 ).
The intertestamental literature completes the transition of the word to a religious term. Human history will culminate in a divine paradise. Since Israel had no immediate access to the garden at history's origin or conclusion, paradise, sometimes called Abraham's Bosom, was associated with the realm of the righteous dead awaiting the resurrection of the body.
The New Testament understands paradise in terms of its Jewish heritage. In Luke 23:43 Jesus promises the penitent thief: "Today you will be with me in paradise." The intermediate state was transformed by Jesus' emphasis on being with him "today." No longer is paradise just an anticipatory condition awaiting the messianic presence at the end of the age. Those who die in faith will "be with Christ" ( Php 1:23 ). The dead in Christ will not experience life diminished, but life enhanced, as Jesus' words to Martha in John 11:23-26 imply.
According to Revelation 2:7, the overcoming church will eat from the tree of life in the eschatological garden. Sin and death through redemption are now cast out of human experience. The way is open for the faithful to return to the garden of God. Paradise is the Christian's final home.
Paul's glimpse of paradise ( 2 Cor 12:4 ) likely refers to the intermediate state. If so, it is one source of Paul's confidence that Christ is present among the righteous dead, even though he does not relish the unnatural state of death ( 2 Cor 5:1-10 ). Yet it is quite possible that the dead in Christ more clearly see the paradise at history's conclusion than do earth-bound believers. Thus, Paul tells the Thessalonians that it is a matter of small consequence if one dies in the Lord or is still alive at the second coming ( 1 Thess 4:13-18 ). Christ's presence pervades both the intermediate state and the final kingdom.
Luke L. Keefer, Jr.
Bibliography. V. R. Gordon, ISBE, 3:660-61; J. Jeremias, TDNT, 5:765-73.
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a Persian word (pardes), properly meaning a "pleasure-ground" or "park" or "king's garden." (See EDEN .) It came in course of time to be used as a name for the world of happiness and rest hereafter ( Luke 23:43 ; 2 co 12:4 ; Revelation 2:7 ). For "garden" in Genesis 2:8 the LXX. has "paradise."
This is a word of Persian origin, and is used in the Septuagint as the translation of Eden. It means "an orchard of pleasure and fruits," a "garden" or "pleasure ground," something like an English park. It is applied figuratively to the celestial dwelling of the righteous, in allusion to the garden of Eden. ( 2 Corinthians 12:4 ; Revelation 2:7 ) It has thus come into familiar use to denote both that garden and the heaven of the just.
par'-a-dis (pardec; paradeisos):
1. Origin and Meaning:
A word probably of Persian origin meaning a royal park. See GARDEN. The word occurs in the Hebrew Scriptures but 3 times:
Song of Solomon 4:13, where it is translated "an orchard"; Nehemiah 2:8, where it is translated "a forest" (the Revised Version margin "park"); Ecclesiastes 2:5, where it is in the plural number (the King James Version "orchards," the Revised Version (British and American) "parks"). But it was early introduced into the Greek language, being made specially familiar by Xenophon upon his return from the expedition of Cyrus the Younger to Babylonia (see Anab. i.2, section 7; 4, section 9; Cyrop. i.3, section 14). In Septuagint the word is of frequent use in translating other terms of kindred significance. The Garden of Eden became "the paradise of pleasure or luxury" (Genesis 2:15; 3:23; Joel 2:3). The valley of the Jordan became `the paradise of God' (Genesis 13:10). In Ezekiel 31:8,9, according to Septuagint, there is no tree in the `paradise of God' equal to that which in the prophet's vision symbolizes the glory of Assyria. The figures in the first 9 verses of this chapter may well have been suggested by what the prophet had himself seen of parks in the Persian empire.
2. Use in Jewish Literatare:
In the apocryphal and pseudepigraphical literature the word is extensively used in a spiritual and symbolia sense, signalizing the place of happiness to be inherited by the righteous in contrast to Gehenna, the place of punishment to which the wicked were to be assigned. In the later Jewish literature "Sheol" is represented as a place where preliminary rewards and punishments are bestowed previous to the final judgment (see APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE; ESCHATOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT; and compare 2 Esdras 2:19; 8:52). But the representations in this literature are often vague and conflicting, some holding that there were 4 divisions in Sheol, one for those who were marryred for righteousness' sake, one for sinners who on earth had paid the penalty for their sins, one for the just who had not suffered martyrdom, and one for sinners who had not been punished on earth (En 102:15). But among the Alexandrian Jews the view prevailed that the separation of the righteous from the wicked took place immediately after death (see The Wisdom of Solomon 3:14; 4:10; 5:5,17; Josephus, Ant, XVIII, i, 3; B J, II, viii, 14). This would seem to be the idea underlying the use of the word in the New Testament where it occurs only 3 times, and then in a sense remarkably free from sensuous suggestions.
3. Used by Christ:
Christ uses the word but once (Luke 23:43), when He said to the penitent thief, "Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise" (see ABRAHAM'S BOSOM (compare HADES)). This was no time to choose words with dialectical precision. The consolation needed by the penitent thief suffering from thirst and agony and shame was such as was symbolized by the popular conception of paradise, which, as held by the Essenes, consisted of "habitations beyond the ocean, in a region that is neither oppressed with storms of rain, or snow, or with intense heat, but that this place is such as is refreshed by the gentle breathin of a west wind, that is perpetually blowing from the ocean" (Josephus, BJ, II, viii, 11).
See ESCHATOLOGY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
4. Other Forms and Uses:
Nowhere in His public teaching did Christ use the word "Paradise." He does indeed, when speaking in parables, employ the figure of the marriage supper, and of new wine, and elsewhere of Abraham's bosom, and of houses not made by hands, eternal in the heavens; but all these references are in striking contrast to the prevailing sensuous representations of the times (see 2 Esdras 2:19; 8:52), and such as have been introduced into Mohammedan literature. Likewise Paul (2 Corinthians 12:4) speaks of having been "caught up into Paradise" where he "heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." See ESCHATOLOGY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT. But in 2 Corinthians 12:2 this is referred to more vaguely as "the third heaven." In Revelation 2:7 it is said to the members of the church at Ephesus who should overcome, "I (will) give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God," where the Eden of Genesis 2:8 is made the symbol of the abode of the righteous, more fully described without the words in the last chapter of the book. The reticence of the sacred writers respecting this subject is in striking contrast to the profuseness and crudity both of rabbinical writers before Christ and of apocryphal writers and Christian commentators at a later time. "Where the true Gospels are most reticent, the mythical are most exuberant" (Perowne). This is especially noticeable in the Gospel of Nicodemus, the Acta Philippi, the writings of Tertullian (De Idol. c. 13; De Anim. c. 55; Tertullian's treatise De Paradiso is lost), Clement of Alexandria (Frag. 51), and John of Damascus (De Orthod. Fid., ii, 11). In modern literature the conception of Paradise is effectually sublimated and spiritualized in Faber's familiar hymn:
"O Paradise, O Paradise,
I greatly long to see
The special place my dearest Lord
Is destining for me;
Where loyal hearts and true
Stand ever in the light,
All rapture thro' and thro',
In God's most holy sight."
The articles in the great Dicts., especially Herzog, RE; HDB; Alger, Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life; Schodde, Book of Enoch; Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. on Luke 23:43; Salmond, The Christian Doctrine of Immortality, 346. For a good account of Jewish and patristic speculation on Paradise, see Professor Plumptre's article in Smith's D.B, II, 704.
G. F. Wright
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