The word "paradise" is used three times in the New Testament (ESV). Each time it refers to heaven or being in the presence of the Lord.
Is paradise the same thing as heaven? What is paradise?
First, Jesus told the thief on the cross, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43). Where was Jesus going that day? To heaven. The reference to Paradise indicated that Jesus accepted the faith of the man on the cross and provided salvation to him that began that day in heaven with the Lord.
Second, Paul referred to paradise when speaking of a heavenly vision. He wrote, "And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows" (2 Corinthians 12:3). Even Paul was not sure whether he was really in heaven or not. In either case, he described heaven as "paradise."
Third, Revelation 2:7 used the "paradise of God" as a reference to the place where believers would dwell: "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God."
It appears paradise and heaven are the same place according to the Bible. It is also clear from Scripture that every believer who dies today is immediately in this paradise or heaven. Jesus promised the thief on the cross "today" he would be with Him in paradise. In Philippians 1:21 Paul notes that to live is Christ and to die is gain. Why would it be gain? Because Paul would be with the Lord in heaven.
The apostle Paul also taught believers as "at home with the Lord" after death (2 Corinthians 5:6-9). There was no waiting period, but rather an immediate transition from final breath to eternal life.
This is also clear by references in Scripture to where previous saints now live. Abraham is already in God's presence (Luke 16:22). The "hall of saints" listed in Hebrews 11 are all said to already be in God's presence in heaven as well. Jesus refuted the Sadducees by teaching Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are already alive in God's presence (Matthew 22:23-32).
Paradise and heaven refer to the same location in Scripture. All believers who die today immediately enter into this paradise and dwell in the presence of the Lord forever. As Paul wrote, to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).
Does heaven have different levels?
Where does the idea of seven heavens come from? Is the idea of a seventh heaven biblical?
Does the Bible tell us what Heaven is like?
What does the Bible say about the new heavens and the new earth?
What happens after death?
Truth about Eternity