As He hung on the cross, the Savior spoke words of compassion to a man being crucified beside him: “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
The Greek word paradeisos (παράδεισος) comes from an ancient Persian word for a garden or a park. It specifically refers to an enclosed garden, representing a peaceful place. (See “paradise,” Online Etymological Dictionary.)
The Book of Mormon prophet Jacob contrasted “the paradise of God,” where the spirits of the righteous dwell between death and the resurrection, and “hell” where the wicked spirits dwell (2 Nephi 9:12-13).
Alma made the same distinction as he taught his son Corianton. He described paradise as “a state of rest, a state of peace, where [righteous spirits] shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.” In contrast, he said, the wicked will dwell “in a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them” (Alma 40:12, 14).
Moroni believed that he would enter a state of peace when he died. In the final verse of the Book of Mormon, he says, “I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite” (Moroni 10:34).
On October 3, 1918, President Joseph F. Smith received additional insight about what happens in the world of spirits after we die. In a vision, he saw “an innumerable company of the spirits of the just” who were “filled with joy and gladness.” He said that among the rebellious, “darkness reigned, but among the righteous there was peace” (Doctrine and Covenants 138:12, 15, 22).
After the Savior’s death and before His resurrection, He went to paradise and “organized his forces” to preach the gospel to those who were in darkness. “and thus was the gospel preached to the dead” (Doctrine and Covenants 138:30).
Today, I will be grateful for the knowledge that the work of salvation moves forward in the spirit world just as it does in this mortal world. The Savior wants to help those who are in darkness to experience the peace and happiness of His gospel, and He invites those who are in a state of peace to share that peace with others and invite them to come to paradise.