What is heaven? Is anyone in heaven now?
I received this question from one of our readers. I asked this question to my husband and his answer did not surprise me at all: “But what is meant by heaven?” Do you know why I wasn’t surprised by his question? Because the noun “heaven” is not a proper name, but a common name, that is, it does not refer to a particular place. Two years ago I wrote an article in which I answered the question “What is heaven?” In this article you can find more explanations of how this word is used in the Bible.
The Greek word translated into Romanian “rai” is “paradeisos” and means garden, orchard or royal park (enclosed space). For example, in the Septuagint the word “paradeisos” is used to refer to orchards, gardens or royal forests. Here are some examples of how the word “paradeisos” was used in the Septuagint:
…a letter for Asaph, the keeper of the royal woods (Neemia 2:8a)(NASB)
I made gardens and parks, and in them set out fruit trees of all sorts.… (Ecclesiastes 2:5)(NASB)
…Your branches are a grove of pomegranates…. (Song of songs 4:13)(NASB)
In these original texts (Hebrew) the word “pardace” was used, which is a word of Persian origin and means garden, park, orchard or royal forest.
Many use the word “heaven” or “paradise” in reference to the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2 and 3).
But if we were to answer the question, “Is anyone in heaven now?” the answer is “yes.” At least one of the criminals, who was crucified with Christ, is now in heaven:
Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)(NASB)
Translated by Liza Bîrlădeanu