Q. I have a question about ‘Paradise’. Where is it said to be located? ie., middle of the earth??? What is it’s relevance and its role now and in future?
A. In Matt. 12:40 Jesus said that He would be in the belly of the Earth for 3 days and nights. He was speaking about His death. In Luke 23:43 He told the man on the next cross, “Today you’ll be with me in Paradise.” This gives us it’s location. It’s in the belly of the Earth.
As for its role, before the cross Paradise was the place where believers went after dying to be comforted while waiting for the Redeemer they believed would come to pay the price for their sins. The Jews also called it “Abraham’s Bosom.” No one could gain entrance to Heaven merely on the strength of animal sacrifices. These only temporarily set aside their sins. It took the shed blood of God’s own son, and since He was crucified on a specific day, they had to wait for that day to come.
After His resurrection, He took the inhabitants of Paradise to Heaven with Him (Ephes. 4:8) and since that time all believers who die go straight to be with the Lord.(Phil 1:22-23) Therefore, Paradise has no current or future role.
But within sight of Paradise is a place called Torments where unbelievers still go to await their resurrection and judgment at the end of the Millennium. Paradise and Torments together make up the place called Sheol in Hebrew and Hades in Greek, The Abode of the Dead. It’s referred to in Rev. 20:13 in conjunction with the Great White Throne Judgment.
The clearest description of all this can be found in Luke 16:19-31, the story of the rich man and Lazarus.