ChristianAnswers.Net WebBible Encyclopedia

What is…
heaven

  1. Heaven—where God, His holy angels, and His believing children dwell

    Heaven is the place of the everlasting blessedness of the righteous; the abode of departed souls whose names are written in The Lamb’s Book of Life.

    In Heaven, the blessedness of the righteous consists in the possession of…

    • Eternal life” (Daniel 12:2; Matthew 19:29; 25:46; Romans 5:21)
    • “An eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17 NASB)
    • New eternal bodies

      For we know that if our earthly house [physical body], this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven… —2 Corinthians 5:1-2 NKJV

    • An exemption from all sufferings forever
    • A deliverance from all wicked people and evils deeds (2 Tim. 4:18)
    • Bliss without termination, the “fulness of joy” forever (Luke 20:36; 2 Corinthians 4:16, 18; 1 Peter 1:4; 5:10; 1 John 3:2)

    The believer’s Heaven is not only a state of everlasting blessedness, but also a real “place,” a place “prepared” for them.

    “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” —John 14:2 NASB

    First human in Heaven

    Who was the first human to get to Heaven? It was likely Abel, the godly murdered son of Adam and Eve.

    A later righteous pre-Flood descendant of Adam named Enoch was apparently taken directly to Heaven, without dying.

    “The son of Jared, and father of Methuselah (Genesis 5:21; Luke 3:37). His father was one hundred and sixty-two years old when he was born. After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch “walked with God three hundred years” (Genesis 5:22-24), when he was translated without tasting death. His whole life on Earth was three hundred and sixty-five years. He was the “seventh from Adam” (Jude 1:14), as distinguished from the son of Cain, the third from Adam. He is spoken of in the catalogue of Old Testament worthies in the Epistle to the Hebrews (11:5). When he was translated, only Adam, so far as recorded, had as yet died a natural death, and Noah was not yet born. Mention is made of Enoch’s prophesying only in Jude 1:14.” —Matthew G. Easton

  2. Heaven and Earth

    The phrase “heaven and Earth” is used to indicate the whole universe (Genesis 1:1; Jeremiah 23:24; Acts 17:24).

    According to the Jewish notion, there were 3 heavens:

    1. The firmament, as “fowls of the heaven” (Genesis 2:19; 7:3, 23; Psalm 8:8, etc.), “the eagles of heaven” (Lam. 4:19), etc.

    2. The starry heavens (Deuteronomy 17:3; Jeremiah 8:2; Matthew 24:29)

    3. “The third heaven” (the Heaven of God)

      “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.” —2 Corinthians 12:2 ESV

  3. Hebrew and Greek words translated as “heaven”

    Meaning of words in the original:

    1. Hebrew: שָׁמַיִם —transliteration: shamayim —meaning: heaven, the sky

      This is the usual Hebrew word for heaven and it appears 421 times in Scripture.

      In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. —Genesis 1:1 NKJV (Gen. 2:1)

      Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. —Genesis 1:9 NKJV

      The Lord your God has multiplied you, and here you are today, as the stars of heaven in multitude. —Deuteronomy 1:10 NKJV

      …bird that flies in the sky… —Deuteronomy 4:17 NASB

      fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. —2 Kings 1:10 NKJV

    2. Greek: οὐρανός —transliteration: ouranos —meaning: heaven

      This was used to refer both to the visible heavens (the atmosphere, the sky, and the starry heavens) and the spiritual heavens.

      “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2 KJV)

      “Our Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:9 NKJV)

      “till heaven and earth pass away” (Matthew 5:18 NKJV)

    3. Hebrew: מָרוֹם —transliteration: marom —meaning: heights, high places, high, heaven

      Used in Psalm 68:18; 93:4; 102:19, etc.) as equivalent to shamayim, “high places,” “heights”

    4. Hebrew: שַׁחַק —transliteration: shachaq or shahak —meaning: clouds, sky or dust

      “through the skies in His majesty” (Deuteronomy 33:26 NASB)

      “behold the clouds— they are higher” (Job 35:5 NASB)

      “Can you, with Him, spread out the skies” (Job 37:18 NASB)

      “For who in the heaven can be compared…” (Psalm 89:6 KJV)
      “For who in the skies is comparable…” (Psalm 89:6 NASB)

    5. Hebrew: רָקִיעַ —transliteration: raqia or rakia —meaning: expanse, an extended surface, firmament

      Then God said, “Let there be a firmament [or expanse] in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” —Genesis 1:6 NKJV

      There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,
      Who rides the heavens to help you,
      And in His excellency on the clouds. —Deuteronomy 33:26 NKJV

      …like the brightness of the expanse of heaven… —Daniel 12:3 NASB

      …Like the brightness of the firmament… —Daniel 12:3 NKJV

  4. Metaphorical uses

    • “Yet He had commanded the clouds above, And opened the doors of heavenPsalm 78:23 NKJV)
    • “When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain” (1 Kings 8:35 NKJV)
    • “the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God” (Ezek. 1:1 NKJV)

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Article Version: September 27, 2019