What does paradise mean in the Bible, and do the righteous go to heaven when they die or are they just asleep until the return of Jesus?
II Corinthians 12:2-4 says, “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one CAUGHT UP TO THE THIRD HEAVEN. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was CAUGHT UP INTO PARADISE, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” This passage shows us that paradise is heaven.
Christians go to paradise (heaven) the moment that they die. Listen to what Jesus told the repentant thief on the cross in Luke 23:43, “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, TO DAY SHALT THOU BE WITH ME IN PARADISE.” Jesus’ body would lie in the grave for 3 days and 3 nights; and the thief’s body would lie in his grave. But they both would be alive in paradise, in heaven, that same day.
II Corinthians 5:8 says, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be ABSENT FROM THE BODY, and to be PRESENT WITH THE LORD.”