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When Jesus mentioned paradise in Luke 23:43,

43 and Jesus said to him, `Verily I say to thee, To-day with me thou shalt be in the paradise.' (YLT)

is it possible that he meant Abraham's bosom, as described in Luke 16:22-25?

22 `And it came to pass, that the poor man died, and that he was carried away by the messengers to the bosom of Abraham -- and the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 and in the hades having lifted up his eyes, being in torments, he doth see Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom, 24 and having cried, he said, Father Abraham, deal kindly with me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and may cool my tongue, because I am distressed in this flame. 25 `And Abraham said, Child, remember that thou did receive -- thou -- thy good things in thy life, and Lazarus in like manner the evil things, and now he is comforted, and thou art distressed; (YLT)


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Yes, there is ‘room’ to consider this. This paradise that Jesus spoke of could arguably have been the same place that Jesus called “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22) when He gave the story of the rich man and Lazarus.

Ephesians 4:9 with Acts 2:25-31 make it very clear that Jesus descended into the lower parts of the earth after His death, and John 20:17 shows that it was some time after His resurrection before Jesus ascended back to His Father. Therefore, this paradise was the “Abraham’s bosom” located in “Sheol” (Amplified Bible) in the lower parts of the earth (Matthew 12:40).

Paul later spoke of a man being caught up into paradise, and he used this word interchangeably with the term “the third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2 and 4). Paradise is also spoken of as being in heaven in Revelation 2:7. It might be that when Jesus went to paradise that was then in the heart of the earth and led the godly captives out (Ephesians 4:8-9), then so He moved paradise to heaven with Him?

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  • There is a lot of maybe's and "might have been"s in this answer. That is, it is quite speculative and relies more on what is unknown that what is known. The other references you quote about Jesus being in the earth are nothing more than allusions to his time burried in the grave.
    – Dottard
    Feb 16 at 7:23
  • @Dottard I totally agree with you. But then again, the question only asked “if there was room for this interpretation”. And my response was that there is ‘some’ room for it.
    – Dave
    Feb 16 at 18:15
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This is a possible interpretation.

The word for "paradise" is generally understood to have come into Greek from Persian, where it referred to an enclosed space/walled garden (see here). Its positive connotations come from its use in describing Eden in the Septuagint. Thus, paradise can be any enclosed/exclusive place, though it is usually used to describe desirable locations.

The 4 principal candidates for "paradise" in this passage are:

  1. Heaven (see Revelation 2:7)
  2. Hades as a whole (see Revelation 20:12-13)
  3. Specifically the "Abraham's Bosom" portion of Hades (see Luke 16:23)
  4. Specifically the "prison" portion of Hades (see 1 Peter 3:19)

I argue against #1 here. It is difficult to see #4 being a consoling/comforting statement to the dying thief. I do not see a clear path to eliminating option 2 or 3.


To Dottard's point, the association between paradise & Abraham's Bosom is not explicitly stated in the Bible. The most unambiguously explicit statements tying these concepts are found in:

  • Clement of Alexandria (Stromata ch. 6)
  • Hippolytus (Discourse to the Greeks concerning Hades)
  • Origen of Alexandria (De Principiis 4.23)
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  • ... and therein lies the trouble - the point I made in my answer - it requires extra-Biblical material. Thus, it does not pass the sola scriptura text.
    – Dottard
    Feb 16 at 10:21
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There is nothing explicit in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus to link Paradise to Hades. Observe that only the rich man is said to be in Hades while Lazarus is said to be in the bosom of Abraham.

Equally, there is nothing in the parable (or anywhere else in the Bible) to link the Bosom of Abraham to either Hades or Paradise.

The only thing that links paradise to Abraham's Bosom and/or Hades is what is NOT in the parable and NOT in the Bible - Jewish mythology in the period 400 BC to 200 AD (approx). More specifically:

  • Luke 23:43 is where Jesus resides
  • 2 Cor 12:2, 4 - paradise is "up" in the third heaven
  • Rev 2:4 - paradise contains the tree of life with God.

In none of these references is paradise linked to the Bosom of Abraham or Hades. However, if we ASSUME that:

  • Paradise is the bosom of Abraham in heaven, then we have a conversation between heaven and Hades which underlines the metaphoric nature of the parable; or -
  • Paradise is Abraham's bosom - a compartment in Hades; then Jesus and the third heaven are in Hades. This strains at the outer limits of credulity.

Both these possibilities are impossible and serve to underline the metaphoric nature of parable as a midrash of folklore and myth.

The main point of parable is explicitly stated in Luke 16:31 -

Then Abraham said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”

Finally, we have the almost absurd point illustrated above - does Abraham reside in the bosom of Abraham (along with Lazarus)?? Clearly not!

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