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A friend once talked about the idea that there are two temporary "holding places", so to speak. If a person died and would go to Heaven, but that time had not yet come, they would go to a temporary paradisaical place and similarly for Hell (not the Catholic Purgatory). Some support is given in Luke 23:

Luke 23:40-43 (NLT)
'40 But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”'

Where did Jesus (and the criminal) go for the three days that He was dead?

There is also the fact that "Hades" refers to a different place than "Hell".

So...what other Biblical evidence is there for a temporary holding place?

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I was so glad to find this and some Biblical references. My grandfather, who is almost 92 told me that when he had his eyesight he had read somewhere in John that there will be a holding place for those believers who die before the coming of Jesus. He asked me to help him find reference to it being paradise. I couldn't find anything in John. Thank you. –  user8813 Nov 28 '13 at 16:49
Welcome to the site. I'm sure I speak for all regular members when I say we're glad to know that the site is helpful! Was there a particular answer here that you found helpful? I'd like to get a moderator to convert your answer into a comment on the post. I'm sure you meant this to be a comment rather than an answer, but you don't yet have sufficient reputation to post comments. See the help page –  David Stratton Nov 28 '13 at 17:58
Also, if you plan on participating, I'd like to suggest reading this post as well: How we are different than other sites? Many people mistake the purpose of this site at first, and that page clears up a lot of misconceptions. –  David Stratton Nov 28 '13 at 17:59
@user8813, please note what David Stratton said in his comments above. I went ahead and converted your 'answer' into a comment. –  El'endia Starman Nov 28 '13 at 21:27
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5 Answers

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Remember that after the Crucifixion, when Mary Magdalene found Jesus in the garden, he told her that he had not yet ascended to his Father in Heaven. This implies that Paradise, where he had been while he was dead, is not Heaven.

It gets even more interesting in 1 Peter chapter 3, where it says that while Jesus was dead, he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who had been disobedient while in mortality. So here we have mention of two intermediate "holding places:" Paradise for the righteous and the spirit prison (for lack of a better name) for the wicked.

These are not to be understood as the final dwelling places of the soul, commonly known as Heaven and Hell, because we will be sent to our final dwelling places after the Judgment, which is described as taking place after the Resurrection.

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Excellent point: Jesus DID say that he has not ascended to his Father yet, and Jesus said to the robber that he will be with him in the paradise. –  Sȱɳɨȼ Ʈħe ǶḝÐɠḝħȱɠ Aug 25 '11 at 17:03
What about the Apostles Creed? That says "He suffered died and was buried. He descended into Hell. On the third day he rose again from the dead." Are you saying that the Apostles were wrong? The creed still fits with that Jesus said, without supposing the existence of any "temporary holding place." –  John Aug 26 '11 at 4:04
@John: Saying "are you saying that the Apostles were wrong?" implies that the Apostles were actually the ones who came up with it. Historical evidence strongly suggests otherwise. –  Mason Wheeler Aug 26 '11 at 4:09
Whether the Apostle's Creed was actually written by the apostles or not is not the question. It is a widely held belief that deserves attention. –  Jeff Sep 7 '11 at 0:21
Wait ... why would Jesus go preach to the spirits of the dead? –  unregistered-matthew7.7 Sep 2 '12 at 0:31
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It's very clear from the scripture that you quoted that wherever they went, they were in paradise.

If you want to translate that as heaven, that would be a decent translation. However, there are, as ChaosGamer mentioned, other references that need to be reconciled.

  • Abraham's side is one of those references. Does that mean Heaven? It's certainly not hell!

  • Hades We can't be certain that this is hell, but it doesn't sound like heaven, either!

Unfortunately, this is something that we cannot know while here on Earth.

1 Cor 13:12 (NIV)

12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

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In the Bible, there is no denying that there are couple of mentions that refer to the place where a person went who believed in God but died before the Christ. It says that they go to the Abraham's side.

In Luke 16 verse 22, it is written that after Lazarus died, he was carried to Abraham's side. For the people who has accepted Jesus as their christ, which is after Christ, will go to paradise. Jesus also said this in Luke.

Also, for those people who have not accepted Jesus as their Christ will become one of Satan, or ghosts/demons, if you will. They roam around the earth until the Judgment Day.

There were plenty of references of demons in the Bible if you look close enough. In Matt 8 verse 28 through 32, he heals two demon possessed men. In here, the demons begged Jesus and asked him if he came here to torture them before the appointed time.

What would that mean? Demons are not angels who have followed Lucifer when he turned against God. These demons are souls of people who did not believe in God. They are the reasons for all kinds of sickness and disabilities. In the appointed time, they will be condemned for their actions when they lived.

The back up of this explanation is on Matt 12 verse 24. Here, Pharisees said that Jesus drives out demons with the power of the prince of demons. Note the word, drive out. Edit: Jesus has contridicted the Pharisees when they said that he was using the power of Devil.

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Wow. Ghosts? I would love to know the biblical basis for that! –  Richard Aug 25 '11 at 12:57
@Richard you will soon. Now, I am digging Bible for back up. :) –  Sȱɳɨȼ Ʈħe ǶḝÐɠḝħȱɠ Aug 25 '11 at 13:16
@Richard I have edited my answer. Tell me your opinion on this. –  Sȱɳɨȼ Ʈħe ǶḝÐɠḝħȱɠ Aug 25 '11 at 13:57
That is... an interesting view point. I've never heard of anything like that before. It looks like others share this viewpoint. +1 for a well thought out answer (even if I don't agree with it) ;) –  Richard Aug 25 '11 at 14:07
I must mention that in Jesus disputes the claim made by the Pharisees in Matt 12:24 to say that he is not driving out demons by the power of the "prince of demons", but that his power comes from God. Matt 12:24-28 (NIV) shows both that quote and his answer. –  Richard Aug 25 '11 at 14:13
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There are two places, Hades, and Hell. Hades (Abraham's bosom) was the holding place for people before Jesus' time and was where Jesus went to preach for the three days. See this article.

1 Peter 3:19 (ESV)

...he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison

Acts 2:31 (ESV)

31he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.

So, yes, there is Biblical support for two places after death, but Hades was destroyed and now people go to either hell or heaven.

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I don't see how you derive "Hades was destroyed" from the quoted verses. Would you mind elaborating a little? –  Mason Wheeler Aug 25 '11 at 22:38
Sorry, Hades was abolished as prophesied in Rev. 20:14 (ESV):"*14*Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire." Although Revelation is a symbolic book, the interpretation of this verse is that Hades is destroyed. We could get stuck on death, but that wasn't the point. –  daviesgeek Aug 26 '11 at 4:37
...but everything in Rev. 20 takes place after the Second Coming. We need look no further than the evening news to know that Satan has not been bound "that he should deceive the nations no more" yet, for example! –  Mason Wheeler Aug 26 '11 at 4:42
@Mason Hmm...do we really want to discuss this? We are getting into "controversial territory" here. If you want to continue this in chat here's a new room I created (chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/1194/eschatology-chat) Note that I will challenge your beliefs (I don't say this in a mean or belittling way). Just be forewarned. If you don't like being challenged, don't continue this with me. (Again, I say this in the kindest way, to avoid dissension). –  daviesgeek Aug 26 '11 at 4:47
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Now I want to temper this with the fact that I'm not a greek expert, but I want to point out that the comma could easily be in the wrong place as there is no comma in greek. Searching for greek and comma the first result I got referred to this passage. http://www.textkit.com/greek-latin-forum/viewtopic.php?t=889 so the text could very well mean "I assure your today, you will be with me in paradise"

Second, according to strong's greek dictionary today could also be translated as now. so the text could faithfully read "I assure you, now you will be with me in paradise" meaning that because of what he just did he will end up in paradise, not that they are going directly there.

Also it seems that in the greek it has the definite article in front of paradise, so however you read it should read "you will be with me in THE paradise" so I would interpret that to be stressing that there's only one paradise, and since I don't think heaven is something other than paradise I would bet it's talking about there.

I'll try to revisit this later addressing the other issues.

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