In Paradise

One of the thieves who was crucified with the Savior made a desperate final request: “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” In response, Jesus promised, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:42-43).

The Greek word paradeisos (παράδεισος) in that passage comes from two Persian roots: pairi- “around” and diz “to make, to form (a wall)” (Online Etymology Dictionary, “paradise“). So a paradise is a place that is surrounded by a wall, a place that is secure and peaceful.

In the King James Version of the Bible, the word “paradise” only appears three times, always in the New Testament. But in the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Old Testament) some form of the word paradeisos appears 27 times, often as a translation of the Hebrew word gan (גַּן), which means “an enclosure” or “a garden.” The garden of Eden, for example, appears in the Septuagint as “the paradise of Eden.”

This concept of paradise as a secure and peaceful place also appears in the Book of Mormon. Both Jacob and Alma distinguish between two states of people after they die: the righteous will be in paradise, “a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow,” while the wicked will be in a place which Jacob called hell and which Alma called “outer darkness” (Alma 40:11-14, 2 Nephi 9:11-13). And Moroni concludes the entire book by looking forward to a time when he would “go to rest in the paradise of God” (Moroni 10:34).

Perhaps the only way for paradise to be a secure and peaceful place is for the wicked to be excluded. But the Savior’s assurance to the thief indicates His willingness to invite everyone to enter His garden and enjoy that peace and rest.

In fact, between the Savior’s death and His resurrection, He organized the spirits in paradise “and commissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men; and thus was the gospel preached to the dead” (Doctrine and Covenants 138:30, see also 1 Peter 3:18–20, 1 Peter 4:6).

Today, I will be grateful for a Savior who provides places of peace and security. I will also be grateful that those places are not intended to be exclusive. He works patiently and compassionately with each of us, inviting us all to come out of the darkness and join Him in paradise.

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