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The TRUTH about Jesus View on PARADISE

Updated: Feb 3, 2023

In this article I consider what Jesus believed about Paradise and although Jesus never made the case of Paradise being a realm of the dead He did in fact used this idea as a backdrop for one of his parable’s which is known as the parable of Lazarus and the rich man and can be found in Luke 16:19-31.So, let’s read this account first:

There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and linen, enjoying himself day after day with magnificence. 20 But a beggar named Lazʹa·rus used to be put at his gate, covered with ulcers 21 and desiring to be filled with the things dropping from the table of the rich man. Yes, even the dogs would come and lick his ulcers. 22 Now in the course of time, the beggar died and was carried off by the angels to Abraham’s side. “Also, the rich man died and was buried. 23 And in the Grave he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and he saw Abraham from afar and Lazʹa·rus by his side. 24 So he called and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazʹa·rus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this blazing fire.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you had your fill of good things in your lifetime, but Lazʹa·rus for his part received bad things. Now, however, he is being comforted here, but you are in anguish. 26 And besides all these things, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that those who want to go over from here to you cannot, neither may people cross over from there to us.’ 27 Then he said, ‘That being so, I ask you, father, to send him to the house of my father, 28 for I have five brothers, in order that he may give them a thorough witness so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to these.’ 30 Then he said, ‘No, indeed, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’”

The lesson behind this parable is that riches in this life do not guarantee riches in the after life.Material possessions will not grand you a preferential treatment when you pass away. Also the parable was a scathing attack on the Pharisees that believed that they were reach spiritually but in reality they were spiritually and morally bankrupt in the eyes of God. But this is not what we’re interested in here.What is important for us and more relevant to our subject at hand is the backdrop of this parable .You see Jesus is using as a location for his story the Underworld, a location where unlike the teachings of the Watchtower seems to be full of activity.According to first century Jews when the righteous died they where taken into a special compartment of Sheol called “Abraham’s bosom” or as the Watchtower likes to render it, “Abraham’s side”.

What does the phrase “Abraham’s bosom” mean? According to the article “Abraham’s bosom” on Wikipedia”:

The word found in the Greek text for “bosom” is kolpos, meaning “lap” “bay”.[2] This relates to the Second Temple period practice of reclining and eating meals in proximity to other guests, the closest of whom physically was said to lie on the bosom (chest) of the host. (See John 13:23 )[3][4]

So “Abraham’s bosom” or “Abraham’s side” was another phrase for Paradise that compartment in Sheol where the righteous reside after their death. Are the writers of the Watchtower aware of this information? Of course they are, and they choose to ignore it. What is their take on this part of Jewish tradition? Under the theme “Paradise” in their 1959 Watchtower Study article of 1st February pages 69-77, paragraph 12 they have this to say:

The Paradise of which Jesus spoke to the evildoer was not the paradise that rabbinical schools of that day taught.(=see how they minimize the importance of this belief,this is not true, this wasn’t just some strange teaching taught in a religious school of the day, this was the prevailing belief among all Jews of the first century) According to such schools Paradise still existed, namely, the garden of Eden. According to their teaching, where did it exist? To quote one authority: Paradise “was a region of the world of the dead, of Sheol, in the heart of the earth. Gehenna was on one side, with its flames and torments. Paradise on the other, the intermediate home of the blessed. . . . The patriarchs were there, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, ready to receive their faithful descendants into their bosoms . . . The highest place of honor at the feast of the blessed souls was Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:23), on which the new heir of immortality reclined as the favored and honored guest.”*Today a number of religious leaders of Christendom accept that rabbinical teaching.

To summarize, “Abraham’s bosom " was another name for Paradise which is a compartment of the righteous dead under the earth in Sheol and the Watchtower has admitted knowing this in writing since at least 1959 and have chosen to ignore it.

The main issue here though is this, did Jesus actually believe in the concept of Paradise or “Abraham’s bosom”?One can only assume that he did since He used it as a backdrop for his parable. In fact one can make the case that when Jesus referred to certain locations by name in his parables , these were real locations. In other words Jesus never used fictitious or make believe locations for his Illustrations.For example in his parable of the “good Samaritan” Jesus used the cities of Jerusalem and Jericho that were real existing cities of the time as a backdrop. In fact Jesus NEVER used as a backdrop for his parables a location that he knew it be a lie, remember this.Certainly we do not sense any attempt here from his part to mock or trick his listeners into believing these places were the backdrop of a fairy tale.

Amazingly, the Watchtower doesn’t think that to be the case.According to them Jesus was out to trick people with his parables! You don’t believe me? Look what the Watchtower 15/2 1954, pp.109 under the article: " The Rich Man and Lazarus—Parable or Narrative?” had to say:

THE great majority of the religious sects of Christendom hold that eternal torment in a burning hell is the destiny of the wicked. The words of Jesus recorded at Luke 16:19-31 regarding the rich man and Lazarus are among the proofs offered in support of this teaching. It is argued that these words tell of an incident, are a narration of what actually took place. A tract published by one who holds to this view asks: “Do you not think all who heard the Lord Jesus relate the story of the rich man and Lazarus, would naturally suppose He meant to teach conscious existence after death in happiness or woe?

SO now they will argue against this view and look what arguments they use:

Granting, for the sake of argument, that his listeners did think it was an actual incident, that, far from proving that it was, proves just the opposite. How so? Because we are explicitly told that the reason Jesus spoke in parables or illustrations was—that people might understand?—no, but that they might NOT understand. Note his words: “To you [his disciples] it is granted to understand the sacred secrets of the kingdom of God, but for the rest it is in illustrations, in order that, though looking, they may look in vain and, though hearing, they may not get the meaning.” (Luke 8:10, NW) Obviously, whatever meaning his listeners got from the illustration was bound to be the wrong one.(=unbelievable!!!)

Have you heard more preposterous reasoning ? Apparently Jesus was out to trick and confuse his listeners when in fact Jesus used illustrations to reach the minds of uneducated people and drive home complex truths with easy out of everyday life motifs and backdrops.Everyone was welcomed to ask the Teacher questions later, most people chose not to not because Jesus was tricking them or confusing them but because they were not interested in deeper spiritual truths and as we know many followed Jesus just to get fed .What preposterous misrepresentation of the very person they claim they promote!

Now on their second reasoning from the same article:

But some further object because Jesus did not indicate in so many words that this was an illustration. But is it necessary that Jesus do this every time, when we have the plain statement that “without an illustration he would not speak to them”? (Matt. 13:34, NW) The mere fact that names are given cannot be used as an argument against its being an illustration, in view of all the evidence that proves that to take it literally is to outrage reason and common sense and to contradict the rest of God’s Word.

Now this argument doesn’t make much sense, as I proved earlier Jesus used real geographical locations as a backdrop for his illustrations and here they are just making stuff up and expect you to go along with their reasoning.In fact if you read the rest of the article it is an attack on Jesus’s parable attempting to discredit everything He said about “Abraham’s bosom” because it simply doesn’t fit in with Watchtower teaching of a Paradise “panda bear” world.In fact they dislike this parable so much that I had go almost 70 years back to find an article they wrote that dealt with this parable in any meaningful way.

To conclude, this parable is problematic and is being avoided from most Christian denominations including Jehovah’s Witnesses because it shows that Jesus believed in a Paradise location in the heart of the earth, in the Underworld. So exactly what did Jesus reveal with this parable about the location of Paradise or otherwise called “Abraham’s bosom”?

Before the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ everybody who died went to Sheol/Hades,a location in the heart of the earth, which was at that time divided into at least two compartments. One was a place of torment while the other was a place of blessing, which was referred to as Abraham’s Bosom. The two compartments are divided by a big chasm that makes passing from the one to the other compartment impossible.This is what Jesus seems to be silently accepting.The teaching of a Sheol looking alot like the Greek Hades is not just some silly doctrine but a reality that was explained more in detail in this parable than any other part of the Old Testament.

And here is where the issue with the writers of the Watchtower lies, just because something has pagan origins doesn’t necessarily mean it is a lie, or the fabrication of silly pagan people with an overreactive imagination. The fact that all ancient people, including Greeks, Sumerians,Babylonians,Egyptians and Romans believed like Jesus that Paradise was a place in the heart of the Earth doesn’t make them stupid or liars.How about we see this from a different perspective.Like the Flood story that is integral to every ancient mythology it is a reference to a common shared truth or experience.A true story that faded into legend and myth with the passing of centuries.

So to recap, the parable of the rich and Lazarus shows that Jesus believed that Paradise was in the Underworld occupied by the dead righteous ones. Despite the Watchtower’s attempts to diminish this truth Jesus knows a lot more about the afterlife than they do. Having that in mind how do we then view the famous words that Jesus uttered on the cross to the thief “Today you will with me in Paradise?”

I will consider this on my next video, so stayed tuned.


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