Bible verses that say Believers go to paradise immediately, to be with Jesus in heaven, after they die
Paradise* (or heaven) is a temporary place for martyrs, Believers*, those who have been set-apart. The “unsaved people” (those who do not have Christ, wicked, and Unbelievers*) will sleep in their graves until Christ returns.
The first resurrection takes place in stages (Rev. 20:4-6). The body of a “Believer” in the grave will rise and reunite with its soul and spirit (see verses below). With a glorified body, they will meet Jesus in the sky (Rapture) and prepare for His Second Coming.
The second resurrection is for “unsaved people.” Their body, soul, and spirit sleep in the grave when they die. They will wake up upon Jesus’ Second Coming to be judged. (Ecc. 12:7; 9:5; 1 Thes. 4: 14)
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Paradise* is a place of blessing where the righteous go after death. (Righteousness comes by faith in Jesus, Romans 3:22). The word paradise is synonymous with “heaven.” (Revelation 2:7)
Believers* are those who believe and received Jesus as their personal Savior (Acts 4:12). They may belong to other religions, but their true faith is with the “real” Jesus. A New Heaven awaits all God’s children. (Rev. 21:1-22:5)
Unbelievers* are atheists or agnostics. They were NOT saved by grace. Instead, they thought that keeping the law and good works will earn their way to heaven. For others did not hear the Gospel or rejected God’s gift of salvation.
Luke 23:43 – The thief is in heaven.
Jesus answered him, “Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Other religions insist that “today” is not literal because Jesus did not go back immediately to heaven when he said, “today, you will be with me.”
Jesus is “Omnipresent,” He can be at any place at any time—He is God in one person, and the Father is in heaven.
The word “today” (σήμερον, sēmeron) means precisely just that — daily, always, this day. (NASB)
2 Corinthians 5:8 – Christians who die are with Jesus.
We are confident, yes, well pleased rather, to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
In v5-6, God gave the Holy Spirit as a guarantee for what is to come. That is why Paul was 100% sure that as long as we’re alive on earth, our spirit is away from Jesus.
Therefore, it is with certainty that when Believers die, they will immediately be with God. Christians should be happy with that rather than twist the Bible to support a religious belief.
Philippians 1:23 – Paul prefers to depart to be with Christ.
I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.
Paul would rather die to be with Jesus, but he still had a mission to complete. He is torn betwen suffering on earth and being with Jesus in heaven. He said in Philippians 1:21, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
If he were to sleep in the grave after death, wouldn’t it be better if he lived longer to serve Christ? Clearly, Paul favored dying so he can be with Jesus in heaven.
Ecclesiastes 12:7 – Spirit returns to God, not stay on earth.
The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
Categorically says, “spirit returns.” Both Unbelievers and Believer’s Body returns to earth as dust. Their spirits return to God (Ecc. 12:7). There two judgments; for Believers (for their works) and final judgment for Unbelievers. The spirit of Believers goes to be with Jesus in heaven. (2 Corinthians 5:8)
Acts 7:56-59 – Stephen is received by Jesus.
“Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God… While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” …
Jesus was ready to welcome Stephen into heaven at that moment. Stephen saw an “open gate,” not a closed one. He spoke in the present tense, expectantly with assurance.
Revelation 6:10 – Old Testament believers.
They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”
In the OT, martyrs who died remain sleeping in the grave (Gen. 4:10); they know nothing (Ecc. 9:5). Their “crying out” could be symbolic, or they are with Jesus asking the question.
However, there are people in the OT confident of going to heaven after death (Job 19:26-27; Psalm 23:4,6; Luke 16:22; Heb. 11:13-16). The righteous who died before the coming of Christ is now in God’s presence. [Read commentary]
Ecclesiastes 9:5 – People of the Old Covenant.
For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten.
There are at least eight people in the OT who went to heaven, including Enoch and Elijah. People who died before Jesus’ death and resurrection were under the curse of death. [See Judaism]
But God so loved the world that He gave His son Jesus to “open the gates of heaven” for those who believe. Those under this New Covenant have this hope.
1 Thessalonians 4: 14 – The New Covenant & Rapture of Believers.
For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord, himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
The “dead in Christ” are Believers who died before the second coming of Jesus. Their body will rise first (first resurrection). The body of Unbelievers who died will remain asleep on earth (until the second resurrection).
Believers still alive on earth will join the rest of Believers (spirit of Believers who died) in the sky, which is the “Rapture of Believers.”
However, we should also note that the Bible also says the spirit returns to the Lord, which is another topic. (Ecc. 12:7; Ez. 37:5-6).