At the end of the Lord’s message to the church in Ephesus, He said, “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” (Rev. 2:7). This exhortation was the incentive the Lord offered this church if they would repent as He instructed them in v. 5. In the context, of course, the Lord was referring to their eternal reward in heaven. His characterization of it as the “Paradise of God” is an interesting imagery.
The word “paradise” originated in the ancient Persian language. It was incorporated into the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages, and from these into modern English. The term originally referred to an enclosure and came to mean a park surrounded by a wall. Such an enclosure was an especially appealing site because it typically contained lush, beautiful plants and trees. Being enclosed by a wall separated it from the mundane and less beautiful landscape beyond the wall, and also protected it from many predators. In time, the term “paradise” came to refer to the garden of a king, which would be far more beautiful than any other park.
When Jewish scholars translated the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, they used the Greek word paradeisos to refer to the Garden of Eden. They also used this term several times in Isaiah and Ezekiel to refer to a garden of God. Thus in Jewish thinking this term began to take on a spiritual meaning. One of the ways in which this was so is that “paradise” became the preferred designation for the resting place of the righteous dead. The righteous, then, could look forward to a beautiful resting place where all the pain of life would be forgotten. The Lord Himself used this word in Lk. 23:43 when He told the thief on the cross that he would be with Him in Paradise.
The imagery of the final resting place of the righteous dead as paradise provides a strong incentive for us. The Lord’s story about the rich man and Lazarus (Lk. 16:19-31) shows us the stark contrast between the waiting place of the wicked dead, versus that of the righteous dead. In this story the Lord said Lazarus went to “Abraham’s bosom”, while the rich man went into “torment”. Although He did not use the word in this story, there is no question that Lazarus was in paradise.
As wonderful as this imagery is, however, the Paradise of God, as the Lord used it in Rev. 2:7, is even more wonderful. The Paradise of God in this sense is the place that is prepared for the righteous in heaven. In Jn. 14:1-4 the Lord told the apostles that He was going to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house. In that place God the Father will dwell with His people, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. In that place there will no longer be any death or mourning or crying or pain (Rev. 21:3-4). The righteous will dwell there in peace and security because no evil person or thing will ever enter there (Rev. 21:27). In that place the redeemed of earth will have free access to the tree of life and to the river of the water of life, which flows from the throne of God (Rev. 22:1-2). There is simply no other king’s garden to compare with the Paradise of God.
The contrast to the Paradise of God is the Lake of Fire, into which the unrighteous will be thrown after judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). Therefore, it behooves us to make the right choices in life so that our names will be found written in the Lamb’s book of life at judgment. There is a paradise awaiting all those who obey the gospel and live faithfully for the Lord. It is the ultimate paradise. It is the Paradise of God.