I was reading over your study on Sheol, hell, and Paradise. It is a good study, except I noticed that you said the righteous go to heaven who had been in Sheol. My understanding is that the righteous remained in the “Paradise” side of Sheol/Hades until Jesus came back, went to Sheol/Hades, and took the righteous out. Is that what you meant? Or did I misunderstand when you said the righteous during the Old Testament days went to Heaven when they died?
The study on Sheol, Hell, Hades, Paradise and Heaven has been rewritten to help clarify some confusing portions. We are sorry for the confusion. However, you did understand us correctly. Hopefully, the following will help.
The scriptures do not mention Paradise in the Old Testament. The word only occurs only in the New Testament. Here are the passages:
And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (NASB) Luke 23:43
. . . was caught up into Paradise, and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. (NASB) 2 Cor. 12:4
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.’ (NASB) Rev. 2:7
The apostle Paul says that he was caught up to the third heaven in 2 Cor. 12:2 and then proceeds to tell us in verse four that this is Paradise. This means that Paradise is heaven.
Paradise in Hades?
Jesus’ illustration of Lazarus and the rich man has caused some to believe that Paradise was in Sheol or hell. In Luke 16:9-31, Jesus tells His disciples that a certain rich man had ignored the needs of a beggar by the name of Lazarus. Eventually both the rich man and Lazarus died. Jesus says that the rich man found himself in Hades, and because of his suffering he asked Abraham to send Lazarus to him with some water.
Where was Lazarus?
Many have concluded that Lazarus was in Paradise in some portion of Hades or Sheol because they were able to talk with one another. But the passage says that Lazarus was in “Abraham’s bosom.” What is that and where is it? The phrase only occurs two times in the New Testament and both times it occurs in Jesus’ parable. Where was Abraham? Is it possible that Abraham’s bosom was heaven in the parable? We must remember that this is a parable. We cannot be sure that this was a real life event.
Therefore, where was Paradise in the Old Testament? The answer is found in the events surrounding the deaths of Enoch and Elijah. We state that they died because their physical body did die. They were transformed into an immortal body at some point as they left this earth and went to heaven. Where did they go when they left this planet? In 2 Kings 2:11, we are told that God took the prophet Elijah up to heaven in a fiery chariot to be with Him forever. Scripture also says that God took Enoch (Gen. 5:24; Heb. 11:5). That is, Paradise is heaven. Otherwise nothing special happened to Enoch or Elijah, and they just died and remained in Sheol.
Our God does awesome things and these men were special because of their relationship with Him. This is a great encouragement for us to seek Him daily.