Christianity Today: “Christ’s Kingdom and Paradise”

Christianity Today, November 2003 – Christ’s Kingdom and Paradise: What is the difference between the heavenly ‘paradise’ that Christ promised the thief on the cross and the kingdom of God? by Christopher A.Hall

Professor Hall discusses the relationship and difference between the statements “kingdom of God” and “Paradise” specifically mentioned by Jesus to the thief on the cross.  I think Professor Hall is a bit confused, mostly because he seems to hold some Platonically founded beliefs on the afterlife.  He does a good job of addressing the fact that Paradise is always a place on the earth, yet doesn’t completely understand that the Kingdom of God is in fact the time when Paradise is again restored on the earth – and because of the work of Jesus, many more than just Adam and Eve can live and dwell with each other and God there.

When Jesus tells the thief that he is going to be with him in Paradise, he just as easily could have replied that he would be with him in his Kingdom – after all, it was remembrance in the coming Kingdom that was the initial question:

Luke 23:42 – And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!”

Professor Hall ends with the following statement:

“Christ will return one day with all the inhabitants of paradise to consummate his reign on earth. In the meantime, those who die confessing (with the believing thief) faith in Christ’s kingdom can rest assured they will be with Christ in paradise during the strange, unexpected in-between time between Jesus’ first and second coming.”

Sadly, any thought of the Biblical understanding of the state of the dead is foreign to the professor of biblical and theological studies at Eastern University.  This could help his understanding and eliminate what he calls the “strange, unexpected in-between time” between Jesus’ coming.  From the opening pages of the Hebrew Scriptures to the New Testament’s close, those who die, both righteous and wicked, actually…..die.  Death is the end of life and man goes to the grave where there he does nothing until the future resurrection.  If at the moment of ones death the immediately go to heaven, or even Paradise, what is the point of and need for Jesus’ well documented return?  If one suggest the purpose of the second coming is to unite the dead souls with their new bodies, we see no support for that in Scriptures.  Perhaps a reading of I Corinthians 15 would be a good idea.  New, restored, resurrected bodies await those who have died in Christ and just as he was dead for three days and nights and rose again, those who have followed him in this life will also be raised like him when he returns.  This glorious company includes the thief on the cross as well.

For more information about the sleep of the dead, visit Kingdom Ready’s resource site.

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