Any Christian wonders what paradise looks like, where a soul will go after death. The Bible gives spiritual and figurative descriptions of paradise so that we can understand what awaits us there.
Where is Heaven?
It’s worth noting that it’s very difficult for human consciousness to understand what paradise is.
Some theologians compare this to trying to show a blind person different colours using piano notes because we live in three-dimensional space and even Christ passing through a closed door throws us into shock.
There is also no definite idea whether paradise is a place or a state of mind. For example, Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos believes that for some people God himself is heaven, and for others hell, because they cannot bear the presence of God next to them due to the state of their soul.
Among the Church Fathers, there were also different interpretations of where heaven and hell are located, up to the saying that hell is in the middle of the Earth.
We can’t know whether they really thought so or it was a figurative expression, but we can say for sure that the statement of Hierotheos Vlachos is accurate for human souls before the universal resurrection, since the soul can’t occupy any space.
However, when souls receive new bodies, it can be assumed that there will be some place for them, but not in the three-dimensional world and not even in the four-dimensional world, including time.
What Does The Bible Say About Paradise?
The Bible says: “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3, 8) From this statement, we clearly see that time in heaven works completely differently and we can’t even imagine with our worldly understanding how time passes there.
Sometimes God changes our perception of time: “If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them.” (Mk. 13, 20).
God can not only shorten the time, but also lengthen it, such event is described in the book of Joshua chapter 10, 12-13, when God helped Joshua by lengthening the day more than usual, with the help of which Joshua defeated the enemies:
“On the day the LORD gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the LORD in the presence of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon. So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.”
Thus, we are once again convinced that God is outside of time, which means that his kingdom doesn’t obey the earthly laws of physics, since there are no time boundaries in paradise.
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Emotions in Paradise
In our earthly life, we constantly experience mood swings, such as sadness and joy, hope and disappointment. This is due to the imperfection of our world.
However, paradise is an eternity. This means that all the feelings that a person experiences in paradise can’t change. For example, joy can’t turn into anger or boredom, and love cannot stop.
Paradise is also peace. As it is written in the Bible, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10). Thus, paradise heals the soul, frees it from anxiety, fear, confusion, and earthly labors.
Such heavenly peace can be achieved on Earth if a person follows God’s commandments: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29).
Is it Boring in Heaven?
Can a person be bored if he feels a strong love for someone, and the object of his love is nearby?
Similarly, in paradise, there is a harmony of love for God and for other people.
Boredom is the result of mental emptiness. Experiencing love and joy next to God, a person can’t feel emptiness in his soul.
However, those people who dislike God will experience boredom and other negative emotions, but such people won’t be in paradise.
Does Heaven Deliver us From Earthly Suffering?
Paradise is an ideal and good place not because people in it get rid of earthly suffering and negative emotions, but because people find peace for their souls through communion with God, for which they have been striving throughout their earthly life.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.
They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” (Rev 21:3). Thus, in paradise, God is next to people, while people are in complete harmony with God and each other and it’s God’s love for man that frees the soul from all kinds of suffering.
Do the Dead See our World From Paradise?
Saint Silouan of Athos writes that souls in paradise can see the sufferings of people on earth: “The saints have reached the Heavenly Kingdom and there they see the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ; but by the Holy Spirit they also see the sufferings of people on earth.
The Lord has given them such great grace that they embrace the whole world with love. They see and know how we are exhausted from sorrows, how our insides have dried up, how despondency has bound our souls, and they do not cease to intercede for us before God.”
That is, souls are not only able to know about what is happening in our world, but also pray for our world before God.
Gregory of Nazianzus and John Chrysostom wrote that the saints pray not only for people living on earth but also for the dead who didn’t reach heaven.
Who Goes to Heaven
Jesus says that a place in paradise is prepared for every person:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3).
Thus, every person who has accepted God during his life lived, according to his commandments, and repented of his sins can get to paradise.
A person can get to heaven only with the help of work, first of all, he needs to work in the depths of his soul, as well as around himself. Lazy people don’t go to heaven and there is no person who is doomed to hell from birth.
Description of ParadiseParadise is described in the Revelation of John the Theologian: «I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband… It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates.
“On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel… The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl.
The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass… On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there… In the middle of its street and on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
“There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.
And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.
(Revelation 21:2;12;21;25; 22:2-5).
Paradise is represented in the image of an ideal and beautiful city, full of light from the love of God, where time and physics don’t work as in our world and where God and people are together.
The city itself is replete with symbolic details. For example, God is represented as a tree that gives people strength and truth. It’s also indicated that we will serve God in paradise and people there are in a state of eternal joy next to God.
Thus, we can conclude that paradise is not a material place in the earthly understanding, so it’s difficult for us to imagine its physical form, but with the help of descriptions from the Bible and explanations of Saint people, we can imagine and understand what feelings the soul experiences in paradise.
CharalamposCharalampos is an Orthodox Christian who wants to help others learn about Christianity. His main goal is to help people understand the Bible and how to apply its teachings in their everyday lives. He also enjoys spending time with his family, playing sports, and hiking.
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