By   •   March 13, 2008   •   Topics:


What did Jesus mean when He told the thief on the cross who believed in Him that he would be with Him in paradise? Is paradise the same thing as heaven, or is it something else?


In the New Testament, “paradise” is simply another word for heaven, the dwelling place of God. Just as Jesus is now in heaven, so we too will be with Him in heaven someday if we have trusted Him for our salvation.

In English, we often use the word “paradise” to describe any place of beauty and happiness and security; we even have “paradise” motels and “paradise” cafes! But only heaven perfectly matches this description of paradise, for it alone is a place of perfect and lasting beauty and happiness and security. Only in heaven, the Bible says, will there be “no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Why did Jesus promise this criminal, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43)? The reason is because this man (unlike his fellow robber) knew he needed to have his sins forgiven, and he believed only Christ could forgive and save him: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). He could not depend on his good works–for he had none. He could only depend on Christ–and that was all he needed.

The same is true with us. Only one thing will keep us out of heaven, and that is our sin. But Jesus Christ came to take away our sins by His death on the cross. Are you trusting Him alone for your salvation? If not, open your heart to Him today.

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  1. Billy says:

    This does not answer the question asked. 1st garden of eden is referred to as paradise. 2nd Christ spent 3 days preaching to the dead. Does today mean today is the question. As a committed believer I find this an interesting topic. Having many educated non-believing friends who tell me this is bible babble designed for a believer, but as stated did not answer the question. What do I say to them?

    1. BGEA says:

      Hi Billy,

      We have passed on your question to our team. Thank you!

  2. Bettye J. Simmons says:

    Wow this was so powerful and clarity of the true meaning of salvation for us today. Awesome teaching…Respecfully, Bettyejay

  3. Bettye J. Simmons says:

    I would enjoy your monthly news letter. Thanks for insight on the 7 last words.

  4. Ricky Germain says:

    Mathew 12:40 told us
    New International Version
    For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

    Now the question is, why did He told the thief on the cross today you will be with me in paradise if He was going to be in the heart of the earth for 3 days and 3 nights?

  5. Luke Awilkinson says:

    Thank u sir for clarification on this matter I thought paradise was something totally different from heaven 😊

  6. David McDaniel says:

    Sorry but Paradise and Heaven are not one and the same…the Bible even teaches this fact.

    1. David McDaniel says:

      Additionally, NO ONE will be living in Heaven – the Bible teaches in Revelation that God will live among men in the New Jerusalem which will DESCEND from Heaven and rest upon the earth.

  7. Mike.D says:

    Paradise and heaven are not the same thing. Jesus could not have meant that the thief would be in paradise with him that day because Jesus wasn’t raised up for almost 3 days. So what did he mean? All scriptures have to make sense. No scripture contradicts another. What if Jesus said “I tell you today…you will be in paradise with me.” Like someone today saying..I tell you right now that team is gonna win. See the difference a comma makes? The whole theme of the bible is Gods coming kingdom…returning the earth to a paradise and ridding the wicked. Jesus is King of this new hence when this thief is ressurected he will be in paradise with Jesus. Its the only way that scripture makes sense. Hope this helps.

  8. Dean Davis says:

    How could Paradise mean heaven in this context? Jesus did not rise again for three days. He did not ascend to heaven until after going to hades to preach the gospel to those in Abraham’s bosom. Could paradise refer to the place where old testament saints where waiting for the messiah to come? Thief could not have gone to heaven before Jesus because only His righteousness is accepted there. Just want to know your reasoning. Thanks

  9. daniel okao says:

    Thanks. Christ have mercy on me.

    1. Marcus says:

      So does this mean we don’t go straight to heaven after we die?!

  10. amowi nicholas says:

    Salvation is a process.