10. I would like to tell you something about Paradise. You believe like all Christians that Paradise is our final destination. I don’t believe that. The Saviour said to one of the robbers: “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43), and after He rose from the dead He said to Mary Magdalene who wanted to touch Him: “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father” (John 20:17). Then, tell me this, if Jesus after death went to paradise with the robber why afterward did He say that He had not yet ascended to the Father?



Here is the answer to your question. When Jesus said to the robber on the cross that on that day he would be with Him in Paradise, He meant that on that day that man would be into Abraham’s bosom, which was – before the resurrection of Christ – the place in the hereafter where the righteous continued to exist after death (Luke 16:22). That place was not in heaven but underground and it was separated from the place of torment (Hades), where the wicked continued to exist after death, by a great gulf, for in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man who was in hell (Hades) saw Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom (Luke 16:23), and he was able to talk with Abraham. Therefore if Jesus said to that man on the cross that on that same day he would be with Him in Abraham’s bosom we must not be surprised by the fact that after Jesus rose from the dead He told Mary Magdalene that He had not yet ascended unto the Father, because the throne of His Father was in heaven and not underground into the place called ‘Abraham’s bosom’ where Jesus went immediately after His death (By the way, remember that it was necessary for Jesus to go to Hades that He might preach the Gospel to the dead). Things are clear to us.

However, after Jesus rose again the Abraham’s bosom was taken away and those who were into it were taken to heaven, as it is written: “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)” (Ephesians 4:8-10). The NIV reads: “This is why it says: When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men. (What does ‘he ascended’ mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe” (Ephesians 4:8-10). In other words, Christ led a multitude of captives of death – those who were in Abraham’s bosom – to the immediate presence of God.

Since His resurrection, those who have died in the Lord are in heaven with the Lord (Philippians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Revelation 6:9), that is to say, in the heavenly paradise, where they await the resurrection (2 Corinthians 12:2-4; Revelation 2:7).