▪ Jesus promised a dying man who courageously expressed faith in him: “You will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) Where would the man be? Would Paradise be located in heaven, on earth, or at some intermediate location where humans await judgment?
Our ancestors once lived in Paradise. The Bible tells us: “Jehovah God planted a garden in Eden, toward the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. . . . And Jehovah God proceeded to take the man and settle him in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and to take care of it.” (Genesis 2:8, 15) When those words were translated into Greek, the word “garden” was rendered pa·ra′dei·sos, from which came the English word “paradise.”
Just as a couple would enlarge their home when they have more children, so our first parents were expected to expand Paradise beyond the borders of Eden as the human family grew. God told them: “Fill the earth and subdue it.”—Genesis 1:28.
Our Creator’s purpose, then, was for humans to live and bear children in Paradise here on earth. They would live forever in an earthly garden with no need for any cemeteries. The earth was to become the permanent home for all mankind. No wonder the natural features of our planet bring us so much delight! We were created to live on a beautiful earth.
Has God’s purpose changed? No. For Jehovah assures us: “So my word that goes forth from my mouth will prove to be. It will not return to me without results, but it will certainly do that in which I have delighted.” (Isaiah 55:11) Over 3,000 years after man’s creation, the Bible stated regarding “the Former of the earth and the Maker of it” that he “did not create it simply for nothing,” but he “formed it even to be inhabited.” (Isaiah 45:18) God’s will has not changed. The earth will yet be a paradise.
Interestingly, many Bible passages about Paradise are simply descriptions of life on earth. For example, a prophecy of Isaiah states: “They will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage.” (Isaiah 65:21) Where are houses built and vineyards planted? Where is fruit eaten? On the earth. Proverbs 2:21 explicitly states: “The upright are the ones that will reside in the earth.”
Jesus too spoke about an earthly paradise. True, he also promised a heavenly paradise, but that was for a select few. (Luke 12:32) After death, these are resurrected to the heavenly Paradise and join Christ to rule over the earthly Paradise. (Revelation 5:10; 14:1-3) These heavenly corulers will ensure that Paradise on earth will be properly governed and maintained according to God’s standards.
Jesus knew that this was God’s will for the earth. After all, he was in heaven with his Father when the garden of Eden was created. Life in a future earthly paradise is open to all people who exercise faith today. (John 3:16) To such ones, Jesus promises: “You will be with me in Paradise.”—Luke 23:43.