An observation was made in Monday morning Bible study about where we go when we die. The statement excluded us from heaven by placing us in paradise, where we are held until the Harpazo or rapture, and then we, the church, are all taken up.
However, that is not what 2Corinthians 5 implies.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8 NASB 6) Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord-- 7) for we walk by faith, not by sight-- 8) we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5 is the only place we find a reference like this, and, when we are in the mood, we use it to imply that it means in dying here, we take our next breath in the presence of Jesus. It is a common passage at funerals. Logic also tells me that if I absent from the Lord while in my body, then to be present would mean I am dead. I admit that I could read these passages as some future hope and speculation, and, without a context that would probably be true. That is why we have to look beyond the verse that is leaving us with gaps in our understanding and consider the whole of the thought. For us, that is 2 Corinthians 5:1-9.
2 Corinthians 5:1-9 NASB 1) For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2) For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, 3) inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. 4) For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. 5) Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. 6) Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord-- 7) for we walk by faith, not by sight-- 8) we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 9) Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.
- “the earthly tent” - Which happens to be our bodies.
- “which is our house is torn down,” - Equates to death.
- “ in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven,”
Scripture tells us that all of creation groans, longing to be released from the damage placed upon them with the fall of man, and so do we.
So then, the context is about death and where we, as believers, go after death.
We say that, but apparently, we are not so convinced, as those same people who made the statement at last week's funeral will also tell you that there is a “paradise” for you to wait, much like we see in, "The Inferno" by Dante Alighieri. A fictional story in which people he knew, who had been negligent or criminal in the positions they held, were placed by him in horrific levels of hell until they could come to some form of repentance and then maybe be moved to a lesser hell.
Perhaps the problem lies in our not having multiple corroborating witnesses. Do we have other methods of corroborating Paul's assertion that there is a heaven awaiting us? The answer, though not so direct, is yes.
Such a statement comes from James 2:26a where we are told, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead,” From this I can ascertain that the body is just a useless hulk without the spirit or soul. However, denoting that the body is useless without the spirit does not answer the question as to where the soul goes as Paul did in his letter to the Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 15:42-44 NASB 42) So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 43) it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44) it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
Once released from the bondage of the body we recognize that our life merely continues with the Lord in Heaven, or the Eden that defines paradeisos.
Strangely, all three instances of paradise, found in the New Testament, use the same word – paradeisos. It is clear that what Jesus described for Lazarus was no park like setting, and we assume that this is the same place that the thief on the cross was taken.
Luke 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
G3857 paradeisos / par-ad'-i-sos. A park, that is, (specifically) an Eden (place of future happiness, “paradise”): - paradise.
What does not make sense here is the definitions assignable to this word, because we assume that the thief went to Abraham's bosom as well.
Paul wrote about an experience he had. I too have had two of those experiences in my life. One happened while I was playing golf, so there is no chance I was asleep. However, for those seconds nothing else existed in my mind. The other was what I believe to be a dream, but it was so vivid that it exists in my mind as real. In it, Jesus came to me and laid my life out before me. I thought I would never forget this and chose not to write anything down. All I remember now is that He was there, that every detail of my life was explained to me, and that I awoke with such joy. I will say that having lived most of my life now, I am hard pressed to understand the joy aspect.
2Corinthians 12:4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
Paul is telling us that he was caught up in a park-like setting, the place of future happiness – heaven, where Jesus is at.
The Apostle John had seen the most incredible vision when he saw into the heavens. In Revelation 2:7 he calls it paradeisos.
Revelation 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Having given some thought to this idea of paradise, it seems to me that we make the assumption or maybe connection with the story, which I happen to think were real people that Jesus had experienced, that we find in Luke chapter 16. There is no mention of paradise there, but there is the concept of a beggar now being comforted in Abraham's bosom, while the rich man, a Jew, was now in torment – in Hades.
Since this is lacking the terminology and the park-like setting, it is inappropriate and invalid as a witness and does not have a tie-in to the idea of paradise. As I mentioned a moment ago, the thief on the cross was told, you will be held in Abraham's bosom until I can get you out of there. No, he was invited into paradise, a park like setting, an Eden where Jesus could be found.
No, there is no paradise in hell, and, we know that Jesus snatched the keys to hell, fear and the grave, out of Satan's hands. (Yes, I said fear, because death has nothing less than fear attached to it.) Death has been conquered by Jesus and so has Satan. Since he does not seem to believe that, you may occasionally have to remind him and put him in his place through the name of Jesus.
I am hoping that you picked up on the fact that I am writing to those who should have an understanding of the things of God. Sadly, most of us in the church have no understanding at all. In saying that I am saying that we do not understand God's nature and character, and therefore attribute garbage to Him that He does not deserve.
If you don't know Him, you can. Merely start by saying, I believe in you, Jesus. You paid the price for me, to set me free and I accept you into my life. Trust me on this. Jesus Christ will flood into your life and start a process of changes that will boggle your mind if you let Him. I implore you to let Him, for time is short. Look around you, and you can see that.