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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

Introductory .-The subject of heaven is difficult to treat fully without diverging into the discussion of kindred subjects and trespassing on the province of other articles. The reader is referred to the articles Eschatology, Hades, Immortality, Paradise, Parousia, and Resurrection, in this and other Dictionaries for discussion of various matters which are relevant to the treatment of the conception of heaven.

Two broad general lines of development in things eschatological were already at work at the beginning of the Christian era. Palestinian Judaism on the whole tended towards literalism and more material conceptions of the Last Things, while Alexandrian Judaism was moving towards a spiritualization of the principal elements in the future hope. Both these tendencies are discernible in the development of Christian eschatology during the 1st century. But the most important element is the influence of the primitive apostolic beliefs concerning the Resurrection of Christ and His state of existence after death. Special attention is directed in this article to the influence of these beliefs on the development of the Christian conception of heaven.

1. Jewish apocalyptic

( a ) Alexandrian .-The principal features or Alexandrian Jewish eschatology in relation to heaven are the view that the righteous enter at once into their perfected state of happiness after death, and the view that the resurrection of the righteous is of the spirit only. Hence the conception of heaven is wholly spiritualized, and the thought of it as an intermediate place of rest disappears. But it must not be supposed that a wholly consistent view can be found in the apocalyptic literature of the period, any more than in the NT writers. It was a time of change; new forces were at work modifying the older beliefs, and the above statement is simply a broad generalization of the trend of Alexandrian Judaism. When particular passages are examined the difficulty of constructing a homogeneous scheme of the Last Things becomes apparent at once. The principal difficulty is the recurrence of the idea of the earthly Messianic kingdom (cf.  Wisdom of Solomon 3:7 f. with  Wisdom of Solomon 5:17 f.), which is incompatible with a purely spiritual conception of resurrection and of heaven. The chief passages are:  Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9;  Wisdom of Solomon 4:7-14;  Wisdom of Solomon 5:15-16;  Wisdom of Solomon 5:2 En. iii-xxii. (account of the ten heavens in order; Paradise is in the third heaven, and also the place of punishment for the wicked), Leviticus 2, lxvii, 2,  4 Maccabees 13:16  ;  4 Maccabees 5:37  ;  4 Maccabees 18:23 (note the phrase ‘Abraham’s bosom’ used for the place of rest for the righteous after death).

( b ) Palestinian .-The two important writings belonging to this period are Apoc. Baruch and 2 Esdras . For a full treatment of their critical analysis and eschatological system see Charles, Eschatology , ch. viii. also Box, The Ezra-Apocalypse , 1912, and the edition of both in Charles, Apoc. and Pseudepig. of the OT . The general view of heaven in Palestinian apocalyptic as illustrated by these two writings is as follows.

Heaven, also identified with Paradise, is the final abode of the righteous ( Apoc. Bar. li.,  2 Esdras 7:36  ;  2 Esdras 8:52). An intermediate place of rest for the righteous ( Apoc. Bar. xxx. 2) is described as ‘the treasuries,’ ‘in which is preserved the number of the souls of the righteous’ (cf. also  2 Esdras 4:41). Messiah comes from heaven to establish a temporary Messianic Kingdom, and returns to heaven at the close of it. The righteous in heaven are made like to the angels ( Apoc. Bar. li. 10).

2. Pauline literature. -In dealing with any eschatological conception in the NT it is necessary to consider first of all how much is due to the Jewish background of thought; then, in the case of each writer, to see how for the conception belongs to the common stock of primitive Christian tradition, and how far it is peculiar to the writer under discussion. In dealing with St. Paul it is also necessary to examine the question of a possible development of thought. In general the orthodox Jewish view of heaven represented in the Synoptic Gospels forms the background and starting-point of all the NT writers. The principal points which call for examination in St. Paul’s correspondence are the relation of the conception of heaven to Christ, and the conception of heaven as the future place of abode for believers.

( a ) Heaven in relation to Christ .-Two main questions arise from St. Paul’s treatment of this subject. First, the question of the pre-existent life of Christ; and second, the question of His present state of existence.

(1) For the first point the chief passages are  1 Corinthians 15:47,  Romans 10:6, and possibly in this connexion  Philippians 2:6 and  Colossians 1:15-17. In  1 Corinthians 15:47, reading ‘the second man is from heaven,’ it is quite possible to interpret the passage as referring to the Parousia rather than to the doctrine of a pre-existent Heavenly Man.  Romans 10:6, an application of  Deuteronomy 30:12-13, to Christ, may be referred to the present place of Christ; i.e. it is unnecessary to bring Christ down again after His Resurrection and Ascension.  Philippians 2:6 is also capable of being interpreted as referring to Christ’s moral likeness to God. Thus St. Paul’s testimony to the pre-existent life of Christ as in heaven is not clear, though it may be upheld on the ground of the above passages.

(2) The second point is far more vital to St. Paul’s thought, and has largely influenced his view of heaven in relation to the future condition of believers. The words ‘ascended into heaven’ clearly represent the consensus of primitive apostolic tradition. To the Jewish view of the transcendence of God, and of His dwelling in heaven as in contrast to earth, the primitive tradition added the doctrine of Christ’s present existence there with God. It is evident that St. Paul held the common Jewish views of heaven (cf.  2 Corinthians 12:2 : the third heaven, or Paradise, regarded as God’s dwelling-place;  Philippians 2:10 : the division of the universe into things heavenly, earthly, and infernal;  Galatians 1:8 : an angel from heaven;  Romans 1:18 : God’s wrath revealed from heaven, etc.). But it is still more evident that he had also thought deeply on the question of Christ’s Resurrection, its nature, His present state of existence, and the bearing of these questions on the future state of believers. This is not the place to discuss the possible conclusions at which St. Paul may have arrived. But we can see that his thinking on this point tends in the direction of a spiritualization of the whole conception of heaven. He conceives of Christ’s present existence as spiritual; Christ and the Spirit are identified; Christ is for the present ‘hid in God’ ( Colossians 3:3); the dead believers are ‘at home with the Lord’ ( 2 Corinthians 5:8). It is generally conceded that Ephesians, even if not St. Paul’s, is certainly Pauline. Hence we may use it here as evidence for the elaboration of the conception of a quasi-material, quasi-spiritual region, τὰ ἐπουράνια. Here Christ is seated at God’s right hand; believers have here their proper home and their characteristic blessings; and here is being waged the age-long conflict between the spiritual powers of good and evil ( Ephesians 6:12).

Lastly, the link which connects this side of the subject with the more purely eschatological use of heaven as the future abode of believers is the passage in  2 Corinthians 5:1-2. Here we have the conception (possibly developed directly from St. Paul’s view of our Lord’s Resurrection, although the conception of a ‘body of light’ found in Jewish and Gnostic sources may have influenced his thought) of a spiritual body laid up in heaven for the believer. This body was evidently after the pattern of our Lord’s Resurrection body or mode of existence (cf.  Philippians 3:20,  1 Corinthians 15:49). In thinking of it as laid up or reserved in heaven, St. Paul is no doubt using Rabbinical categories of thought. For example, the Rabbinical tradition could think of the Law, the Temple, and other central ideas of Judaism as laid up with God before the creation of the world.

( b ) Heaven as the future abode of believers .-This conception is conspicuous by its absence from St. Paul’s thought. The Parousia is always ‘from heaven,’ alike in the earliest ( 1 Thessalonians 1:10) and in the latest ( Philippians 3:20) of St. Paul’s letters. But when he speaks of the future place of existence of the Christian it is always ‘with the Lord,’ ‘with Christ,’ and apparently he has been chiefly occupied with the fresh question of the mode of the Christian’s future existence as determined by Christ’s existence. Possibly, also, he so takes it for granted that believers will have their place in a Messianic earthly kingdom that he does not think it necessary to mention it. The grief of survivors in  1 Thessalonians 4:13 seems to imply this clearly, also the reference to the judgment executed by believers in  1 Corinthians 6:2. But what seems most evident is that St. Paul passed almost unconsciously from the traditional and more material view of the future state implied in  1 Thessalonians 4:13 to the simpler and more spiritual conception of future likeness to Christ, and a blessed existence with Him. This takes the place of all sensuous joys of heaven.

3. Petrine literature .-If the Lucan record of St. Peter’s speeches may be taken as at least representing Petrine material, then we have one or two passages relating to Christ’s present place in heaven.  Acts 2:34-35 interprets  Psalms 110:1 of the Ascension of Christ, and  Acts 3:21 adds that it was necessary for the Messiah to return to heaven because the ἀποκατάστασις had not yet arrived. Both passages show that the belief in the Messiah’s present existence in heaven was an essential part of primitive apostolic tradition, and also that the early tradition was very little occupied with heaven as a place of abode in the future, but rather as the place whence God would intervene by sending the Messiah again to establish the kingdom on earth. The few passages in the First Epistle which speak of heaven add nothing to this position.  1 Peter 1:4 echoes  Colossians 1:5 : heaven is the place where the inheritance incorruptible and undefiled is kept with care until the moment for the revelation of Messiah.  1 Peter 3:22 re-affirms the doctrine of  Ephesians 1:20;  Ephesians 4:10, etc.: the Ascension of Christ to heaven and His Exaltation over all the spiritual powers in the heavenly sphere. Hence, as far as the literature attributed to St. Peter is concerned, we do not find anything peculiar to him, but only a confirmation of the two main elements of primitive Christian tradition-the present existence of Christ in heaven conceived of in a quasi-material way as a place or sphere contrasted with earth, and the revelation of Christ from heaven bringing the accomplishment of all hopes of blessing, all that is comprised in σωτηρία. The connexion of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven with the eschatological expectation of the early Church is also characteristic both of the speeches in Acts and of the Epistle (cf.  Acts 2:16-18,  1 Peter 1:12). The same thought is frequent also in St. Paul ( Romans 8:23, where the Spirit is the ἀπαρχή, an anticipatory guarantee of the blessings yet to come; and  Ephesians 1:14, where the Spirit is the ἀρραβών).

4. Hebrews .-The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews contributes much of importance to our inquiry. Possibly be is the only one of the NT writers who shows clearly the influence of Alexandrian Judaism in his views on the Last Things. St. Peter represents the primitive Jewish Christian eschatology in its simplest form; even in the First Epistle, although Charles finds an advance on the eschatology of Acts, the hope is still rather for the kingdom on earth; the heavenly nature of the inheritance is not to be understood as referring to the place where it is enjoyed, but rather to the place from which it comes. Even in St. Paul’s case, In spite of the clear advance towards a greater spiritualization of the eschatology, this advance seems to consist in the increasing emphasis laid on the spiritual assimilation of believers to Christ as the goal of hope, rather than in an abandonment of the hope of an earthly kingdom. The idea of the kingdom falls into the background, but its abandonment cannot be proved conclusively from St. Paul’s writings. But the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews seems to have arrived at this stage of the development. There is no passage in his letter which points clearly to the belief that the righteous share with Christ the joys of a kingdom on or over the earth. The principal passages for consideration are:

( a ) Those which confirm the primitive apostolic tradition of the present session of Christ in heaven ( Hebrews 4:14;  Hebrews 7:26;  Hebrews 8:1;  Hebrews 9:23-24). The writer lays stress on the fact that Christ is higher than the ‘heaven’; he implies a contrast in the phrase ‘heaven itself,’ αὐτὸν τὸν οὐρανόν, the special dwelling-place of God, with the heaven of Jewish theology. Jesus has passed ‘ through the heavens.’ Of course this thought is found in  Ephesians 4:10 also. ( b ) The eschatological passages ( Hebrews 3:1;  Hebrews 11:16;  Hebrews 12:22-24). Believers are partakers of a ‘ heavenly calling.’ This might be understood as the source of the calling, but in the light of the subsequent passages it is more naturally understood as referring to the place and goal of the calling. In  Hebrews 11:16 the writer represents the believers of old as seeking a better and a heavenly country, and declares that God has prepared a city for them. In  Hebrews 12:22-24, the climax of his appeal, he depicts the heavenly city, the home of the Christians whom he is addressing. ‘Ye have come,’ he says, implying that the city exists already, and that it contains the myriads of angels, the assembly of first-begotten ones whose names were enrolled in heaven ( Luke 10:20), the spirits of righteous men who have been ‘ perfected ,’ and finally Jesus Himself, the Leader and Completer of the faith. The sense of τετελειωμένοι is a difficulty, but its interpretation is clearly suggested by the author’s use of the word with reference to Christ in  Hebrews 2:10;  Hebrews 5:9;  Hebrews 7:28. The author implies that Christ’s present existence in heaven in a perfect state is the result of His experience on earth. He is morally and spiritually perfected as Man, and hence fitted to be the Leader and Completer of the faith. His present state is the witness and the guarantee of the future state of those who follow His leadership. God will do for them what He has done for Christ. This order of things constitutes the heavenly kingdom, the ‘unshakable kingdom’ which will be manifest at the Parousia, when everything that can be shaken will be removed. The writer evidently regards the Parousia as the moment when the material heaven and earth will disappear, the wicked and apostates will receive the just judgment of God, and nothing will remain but the heavenly order of things already revealed to faith by the Resurrection and Attainment of Christ. Here we have St. Paul’s line of thought carried to a clear and triumphant conclusion. Moral and spiritual progress and ultimate full conformity to the character of God are the true goal of hope. The old words σωτηρία, ἔλπις, κληρονομία are being filled with a definitely spiritual content, and have practically lost their temporal and material significance.

The Pastorals, James and Jude add nothing of importance for the study of this particular conception.

5. Johannine literature .-The treatment of the Johannine literature as a whole is of course impossible. While it still remains a tenable position to regard the Apocalypse, the Epistles, and the Gospel as the work of the same author, representing three different stages of his spiritual development (Ramsay), the question is too complex to discuss here, and too undecided to assume any position as certain. It will be sufficient, therefore, to treat our subject as it appears in each of the three divisions of the Johannine literature separately. On the surface, the difference between the Apocalypse and the Epistles seems to represent the extreme movement of Christian thought from the most material form of Jewish apocalyptic to the most deeply spiritual form of the Christian hope.

( a ) The Apocalypse .-The following is a summary of the chief points regarding heaven as the writer of the Apocalypse uses the conception. (1) There is the current division into heavenly, earthly, and infernal ( Revelation 5:3;  Revelation 5:13). (2) The principal part of the vision implies a sharp contrast between heaven and earth as spheres of moral activity. In heaven is the throne of God; His will is done in heaven; Christ is there; the angels, and the OT symbols of the power and presence of God in Creation, are seen in heaven. The redeemed are seen there. Heaven is the source of every action directed against the power of evil. On the other hand, earth is the scene of conflict between good and evil. Those who maintain the cause of God and Christ are a suffering and persecuted minority. From the abyss comes the moving power of the enmity against God. In the writer’s view, earth is ruled by the abyss rather than by heaven. Even heaven itself is invaded by the powers of evil, and we have the war in heaven ( Revelation 12:7) and the victory of Michael and his hosts over the dragon and his hosts; the heavens and all those that dwell therein are summoned to rejoice over the victory and the final deliverance of heaven from the powers of evil ( Revelation 12:12). (3) The heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, the dwelling of God, of Christ, and of the saved, comes down from heaven, after the earthly kingdom is over. It is only the new heaven and earth that the prophet’s vision conceives of as fit for the coming of the holy city. Apparently during the millennial reign, the city, in so far as it is conceived of realistically, remains in heaven. We have, on the one hand, a description of the earthly blessing of the risen saints and martyrs during the millennial kingdom ( Revelation 20:4-6); on the other hand, the vision itself supposes that those who have attained are already in heaven. The elders probably re-present those who are ‘perfected’ in the sense of Hebrews. There are the multitudes of the redeemed ( Revelation 7:9-17); the souls of the martyrs are seen under the altar in heaven; they are granted white robes, and rest until the appointed number of the martyrs is made up. Further, the description of the heavenly city supposes that there is built up of the apostles and saints a spiritual city whose place is heaven. The difficulty of distinguishing between symbol and the literal meaning of the vision makes it a hard task to sum up clearly the writer’s position. He is obviously heir to all the visions of the prophets and the apocalyptists, and master of them all. The spiritual and the symbolic are so subtly blended that it is hard to think that the writer is the slave of his symbols. He seems rather to have brought all the symbols of the previous apocalyptic, from Babylonia and Egypt in the remote past down to the almost contemporary visions or Ezra and Baruch, under the sway of the spiritual conception of the kingdom of God. If we may read him so, then his view of heaven must be so interpreted in terms of the ultimate and fundamental contrast between good and evil, progress and perfection, struggle and attainment.

( b ) The Epistles .-These add practically nothing to our inquiry, although they are of importance for the study of the Parousia ( q.v. [Note: quod vide, which see.] ). The only passage that calls for comment is  1 John 3:1-3, where the ultimate hope of the believer consists in being like God (αὐτῷ really has θεοῦ in  1 John 3:2 as its antecedent, but it is characteristic of the writer’s method of thought that he often passes from God to Christ without apparently being aware of a change of subject; in  1 John 2:28, e.g. , the Parousia is naturally interpreted as Christ’s, but ‘born of him’ in  1 John 2:29 must refer to God; cf. also  1 John 3:24 with  1 John 4:13). We have already noticed the tendency in St. Paul and Hebrews to represent the ultimate goal of the Christian as conformity to God or Christ.

( c ) The Gospel .-In the Gospel we have: (1) the passages which unequivocally represent heaven as the dwelling-place of the pre-existent Christ-  John 1:18;  John 3:13 (which retains the implication, even if we omit ὁ ὢν ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ with א BL[Note: L Bampton Lecture.]33 and good Western support)  John 3:31;  John 6:38;  John 6:62. Unlike the Pauline passages, these examples are quite unequivocal evidence of the writer’s belief on this point.

(2) The eschatological passages-  John 14:1-3;  John 17:22-24. Here it is worthy of note that the use of the term ‘heaven’ is avoided. The nearest approach to a suggestion of a place is the phrase ‘in my Father’s house are many abodes,’ which may perhaps be taken as a spiritualizing of the Temple (cf. ‘my Father’s house’ in  John 2:16). Apart from this, the idea of a place of material joy or rest does not appear. We have instead the phrases ‘where I am,’ ‘with me,’ ‘receive you unto myself.’ The satisfaction of a personal relation is presented as the hope. The enjoyment of Divine love without hindrance is the ultimate goal, a spiritual union of character, will, and affections whose type is the union that exists between the Father and the Son. These things constitute heaven. But a resurrection state in the future is also implied by  John 6:39;  John 6:54. Nevertheless, the enjoyment of the spiritual blessings described in chs. 14 and 17 does not apparently depend on this at all. For the writer of the Fourth Gospel death is a mere incident that does not break the continuity of eternal life; and where such a position is reached, the precise conception of heaven has evidently become irrelevant.

6. The Apostolic Fathers

( a ) Clement of Rome .-In 1 Clement we have the following passages: v. 4: Peter ‘went to his appointed place of glory’; v. 7: Paul ‘departed from the world and went unto the holy place’; l. 3: ‘they that by God’s grace were perfected in love dwell in the abode of the pious (ἔχουσιν χῶρον εὐσεβῶν), who shall be manifested in the visitation of the kingdom of God.’ In 2 Clement we have-v. 5: ‘the rest of the kingdom that shall be’; vi. 9: ‘with what confidence shall we … enter into the kingdom of God?’ (τὸ βασίλειον should perhaps be rendered ‘the palace of God’); xvii. 7: the righteous see the torments of the wicked; ix. 5: the righteous receive their reward ‘in the flesh,’ in the coming kingdom.

No striking or original thoughts as to the future place and state of believers are found here. We have the simple acceptance of the doctrine that the righteous enter after death into a place of rest and glory with Christ. The resurrection of the flesh is taught and apparently is referred to the Parousia, but the nature of the intermediate condition is not clearly stated.

( b ) Ignatius .-In the Ignatian correspondence there is no explicit doctrine of heaven, but the implication of several passages seems to be that immediately after death the believer is perfected, ‘attains to God.’ His emphasis is laid principally on the resurrection, which is after the pattern of Christ’s ( Trall. ix. 2). He looks forward to receiving his inheritance; he will rise unto God ( Rom . ii. 2); ‘I shall rise free in Him’ (iv. 3); ‘when I am come thither then I shall be a man’ (vi. 2). Death for him is new birth (ὁ τοκετός μοι ἐπίκειται, vi. 1). It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Ignatius thought of the believer, or at least the martyr, as entering upon his perfect state and full reward immediately after death. His view of heaven would seem to coincide with the developed Johannine conception, though several phrases, ‘attaining to resurrection,’ and so forth, are Pauline.

( c ) The Martyrdom of Polycarp contains one interesting passage describing the condition of Polycarp after martyrdom: ‘Having by his endurance overcome the unrighteous ruler in the conflict and so received the crown of immortality, he rejoiceth in company with the Apostles and all righteous men, and glorifieth the Almighty God and Father, and blesseth our Lord Jesus Christ’ (xix. 2).

The Shepherd of Hermas lies outside our period, and is more curious than valuable for information as to the teaching of the Church of the Apostolic Age. It is easy to see that we are no longer dealing with a creative period. The doctrine of heaven is becoming stereotyped. Such a man as Ignatius is probably hardly representative of the general thought of the Church. The passage from the Martyrdom of Polycarp probably gives the common view of the state of the believer in heaven after death.

Conclusion .-In conclusion, it may be said that for the Church in general during the 1st half of the 1st cent. the centre of interest was not heaven but the Parousia of Christ. Heaven occupied the attention of the NT writers principally as the place where Christ was and whence He would come. St. Paul and others, such as the author of Hebrews, were interested principally in the spiritual consequences of the Resurrection of Christ. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews presents the most striking and consistent picture of the future state of the believer.

As the century advances, the tendency appears in the literature of the period to regard the Parousia more as an article of the faith than as a fact of imminent importance. Side by side with this tendency we find the growth of firmly established ideas of future blessedness based on the imagery of the Apocalypse, crowns and harps, etc., and no searching analysis of the reality of such ideas. It remained for the fresh creative period of Clement of Alexandria and Origen to go over the stereotyped ideas of heaven and transform them.

Literature.-R. H. Charles, Eschatology 2, 1913, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the OT , 1913; P. Volz, Jüdische Eschatologie , 1903; J. B. Lightfoot, Apostolic Fathers , 1 vol., 1891; C. Clemen, Primitive Christianity and its Non-Jewish Sources , Eng. translation, 1912; E. F. Scott, The Fourth Gospel , 1906, The Kingdom and the Messiah , 1911; W. O. E. Oesterley, The Last Things , 1908; S. D. F. Salmond, The Christian Doctrine of Immortality 4, 1901; H. B. Swete, The Apocalypse of St. John 2, 1907; B. F. Westcott, Gospel acc. to St. John , 1908, Epistles of St. John , 1883; Sanday-Headlam, Romans 5 ( International Critical Commentary , 1902); articles in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) and Dict. of Christ and the Gospels .

S. H. Hooke.

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [2]

Is considered as a place in some remote part of infinite space, in which the omnipresent Deity is said to afford a nearer and more immediate view of himself, and a more sensible manifestation of his glory, than in the other parts of the universe. That there is a state of future happiness, both reason and Scripture indicate; a general notion of happiness after death has obtained among the wiser sort of heathens, who have only had the light of nature to guide them. If we examine the human mind, it is also evident that there is a natural desire after happiness in all men; and, which is equally evident, is not attained in this life. It is no less observable, that in the present state there is an unequal distribution of things, which makes the providences of God very intricate, and which cannot be solved without supposing a future state. Revelation, however, puts it beyond all doubt. The Divine Being hath promised it,  1 John 2:25 .  1 John 5:11 .  James 1:12; hath given us some intimation of its glory,  1 Peter 3:4;  1 Peter 3:22 .  Revelation 3:4 . declares Christ hath taken possession of it for us,  John 14:2-3 . and informs us of some already there, both as to their bodies and souls,  Genesis 5:24 .  2 Kings 2:1-25 : Heaven is to be considered as a place as well as a state: it is expressly so termed in Scripture,   John 14:2-3 : and the existence of the body of Christ, and those of Enoch and Elijah, is a further proof of it.

Yea, if it be not a place, where can these bodies be? and where will the bodies of the saints exist after the resurrection? Where this place is, however, cannot be determined. Some have thought it to be beyond the starry firmament; and some of the ancients imagined that their dwelling would be in the sun. Others suppose the air to be the seat of the blessed. Others think that the saints will dwell upon earth when it shall be restored to its paradisaical state; but these suppositions are more curious than edifying, and it becomes us to be silent where divine revelation is so. Heaven, however, we are assured, is a place of inexpressible felicity. The names given to it are proofs of this: it is called paradise,  Luke 23:43 . Light,  Revelation 21:23 . A building and mansion of God,  2 Corinthians 5:1 .  John 14:2 . A city,  Hebrews 11:10;  Hebrews 11:16 . A better country,  Hebrews 11:16 . An inheritance,  Acts 20:32 . A kingdom,  Matthew 25:34 . A crown,  2 Timothy 4:8 . Glory,  Psalms 84:11 .  2 Corinthians 4:17 . Peace, rest, and joy of the Lord, Is. 57: 2.  Hebrews 4:9 .  Matthew 25:21;  Matthew 25:23 . The felicity of heaven will consist in freedom from all evil, both of soul and body,  Revelation 7:17; in the enjoyment of God as the chief good, in the company of angels, and saints; in perfect holiness, and extensive knowledge. It has been disputed whether there are degrees of glory in heaven.

The arguments against degrees are, that all the people of God are loved by him with the same love, all chosen together in Christ, equally interested in the same covenant of grace, equally redeemed with the same price, and all predestinated to the same adoption of children; to suppose the contrary, it is said, is to eclipse the glory of divine grace, and carries with it the legal idea of being rewarded for our works. On the other side it is observed, that if the above reasoning would prove any thing, it would prove too much, viz. that we should all be upon an equality in the present world as well as that which is to come; for we are now as much the objects of the same love, purchased by the same blood, &c. as we shall be hereafter. That rewards contain nothing inconsistent with the doctrine of grace, because those very works which it pleaseth God to honour are the effects of his own operation. That all rewards to a guilty creature have respect to the mediation of Christ. That God's graciously connecting blessings with the obedience of his people, serves to show not only his love to Christ and to them, but his regard to righteousness. That the Scriptures expressly declare for degrees,  Daniel 12:3 .  Matthew 10:41-42 .  Matthew 19:28-29 .  Luke 19:16;  Luke 19:19 .  Romans 2:6 .  1 Corinthians 3:8 .  1 Corinthians 15:41-42 .  2 Corinthians 5:10 .  Galatians 6:9 .

Another question has sometimes been proposed, viz. Whether the saints shall know each other in heaven? "The arguments, " says Dr. Ridgley, "which are generally brought in defense of it, are taken from those instances recorded in Scripture, in which persons who have never seen one another before, have immediately known each other in this world, by a special immediate divine revelation given to them, in like manner as Adam knew that Eve was taken out of him; and therefore says, This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man,  Genesis 2:23 . He was cast into a deep sleep, when God took out one of his ribs, and so formed the woman, as we read in the foregoing words; yet the knowledge hereof was communicated to him by God. Moreover, we read that Peter, James, and John, knew Moses and Elias,  Matthew 17:1-27 : as appears from Peter's making a particular mention of them: Let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, one for Moses, and one for Elias, 4th ver. though he had never seen them before. Again, our Saviour, in the parable, represents the rich man, as seeing Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom,   Luke 16:23 , and speaks of him as addressing his discourse to him. From such like arguments, some conclude that it may be inferred that the saints shall know one another in heaven, when joined together in the same assembly. "Moreover, some think that this may be proved from the apostle's words, in  1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 .

What is our hope or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? for ye are our glory and joy; which seems to argue, that he apprehended their happiness in heaven should contribute, or be an addition to his, as he was made an instrument to bring them thither; even so, by a parity of reason, every one who has been instrumental in the conversion and building up others in their holy faith, as the apostle Paul was with respect to them, these shall tend to enhance their praise, and give them occasion to glorify God on their behalf. Therefore it follows that they shall know one another; and consequently they who have walked together in the ways of God, and have been useful to one another as relations and intimate friends, in what respects more especially their spiritual concerns, these shall bless God for the mutual advantages which they have received, and consequently shall know one another. Again; some prove this from that expression of our Saviour in  Luke 16:9 . Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations; especially if by these everlasting habitations be meant heaven, as many suppose it is; and then the meaning is, that they whom you have relieved, and shown kindness to in this world, shall express a particular joy upon your being admitted into heaven; and consequently they shall know you, and bless God for your having been so useful and beneficial to them. "

To this it is objected that if the saints shall know one another in heaven, they shall know that several of those who were their intimate friends here on earth, whom they loved with very great affection, are not there; and this will have a tendency to give them some uneasiness, and a diminution of their joy and happiness." "To this it may be replied, that if it be allowed that the saints shall know that some whom they loved on earth are not in heaven, this will give them no uneasiness: since that affection which took its rise principally from the relation which we stood in to persons on earth, or the intimacy, that we have contracted with them, will cease in another world, or rather run in another channel, and be excited by superior motives; namely, their relation to Christ; that perfect holiness which they are adorned with; their being joined in the same blessed society, and engaged in the same employment, together with their former usefulness one to another in promoting their spiritual welfare, as made subservient to the happiness they enjoy there. And as for others, who are excluded from their society, they will think themselves obliged, out of a due regard to the justice and holiness of God to acquiesce in his righteous judgments. Thus, the inhabitants of heaven are represented as adoring the divine perfections, when the vials of God's wrath were poured out upon his enemies, and saying, Thou are righteous, O Lord, because thou hast judged thus: true and righteous are thy judgments,  Revelation 16:5;  Revelation 16:7 ." "

Another question has been sometimes asked, viz. Whether there shall be a diversity of languages in heaven, as there is on earth? This we cannot pretend to determine. Some think that there shall; and that, as persons of all nations and tongues shall make up that blessed society, so they shall praise God in the same language which they before used when on earth; and that this worship may be performed with the greatest harmony, and to mutual edification, all the saints shall, by the immediate power and providence of God, be able to understand and make use of every one of those different languages, as well as their own. This they found on the apostle's words, in which he says, That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; which they suppose has a respect to the heavenly state, because it is said to be done both by those that are in heaven, and those that are on earth, Phil.ii. 10, 11. But though the apostle speaks by a metonymy of different tongues, that is, persons who speak different languages being subject to Christ, he probably means thereby persons of different nations, whether they shall praise him in their own language in heaven, or no. Therefore some conjecture that the diversity of languages shall then cease, inasmuch as it took its first rise from God's judicial hand, when he confounded the speech of those who presumptuously attempted to build the city and tower of Babel; and this has been ever since attended with many inconveniences. And, indeed, the apostle seems expressly to intimate as much, when he says, speaking concerning the heavenly state, that tongues shall cease,  1 Corinthians 13:8 . that is, the present variety of languages.

Moreover, since the gift of tongues was bestowed on the apostles for the gathering and building up the church in the first ages thereof, which end, when it was answered, this extraordinary dispensation ceased; in like manner it is probable that hereafter the diversity of languages shall cease." "I am sensible, " says Dr. Ridgley, "there are some who object to this, that the saints understanding all languages, will be an addition to their honour, glory, and happiness. But to this it may be answered, that though it is, indeed, an accomplishment, in this world, for a person to understand several languages, that arises from the subserviency thereof to those valuable ends that are answered thereby; but this would be entirely removed, if the diversity of languages be taken away in heaven, as some suppose it will." "There are some, who, it may be, give too much scope to a vain curiosity, when they pretend to enquire what this language shall be, or determine, as the Jews do, and with them some of the fathers, that it shall be Hebrew, since their arguments for it are not sufficiently conclusive, which are principally these, viz.

That this was the language with which God inspired man at first in paradise, and that which the saints and patriarchs spake; and the church generally made use of in all ages till our Saviour's time; and that it was this language which he himself spake while here on earth; and since his ascension into heaven, he spake to Paul in the Hebrew tongue,  Acts 26:14 . And when the inhabitants of heaven are described in the Revelations as praising God, there is one word used by which their praise is expressed, namely, Hallelujah, which is Hebrew; the meaning whereof is, Praise ye the Lord. But all these arguments are not sufficiently convincing, and therefore we must reckon it no more than a conjecture." However undecided we may be as to this and some other circumstances, this we may be assured of, that the happiness of heaven will be eternal. Whether it will be progressive or not, and that the saints shall always be increasing in their knowledge, joy, &c. is not so clear. Some suppose that this indicates an imperfection in the felicity of the saints for any addition to be made; but others think it quite analogous to the dealings of God with us here; and that, from the nature of the mind itself, it may be concluded. But however this be, it is certain that our happiness will be complete,  1 Peter 5:10 .  1 Peter 5:4 .  Hebrews 11:10 . Watts's Death and Heaven; Gill's Body of Divinity, vol. 2: p. 495; Saurin's Sermons, vol. 3: p. 321; Toplady's Works, vol. 3: p. 471; Bates's Works; Ridgley's Body of Divinity, ques. 90.

Holman Bible Dictionary [3]

shamayim mayim  Genesis 1:6-8 Genesis 1:14-18 Genesis 7:11 Isaiah 42:5 Isaiah 44:24 Psalm 136:6 Ezekiel 1:22-26 Ezekiel 10:1 Deuteronomy 33:26 Psalm 57:10 Isaiah 45:8 Jeremiah 51:9 Psalm 36:6 Psalm 108:4

Only God has the wisdom to “stretch out” the heaven” ( Jeremiah 51:15 ). “Heaven” thus becomes the curtain of God's tent, separating His dwelling place from that of humanity on earth ( Psalm 104:2;  Isaiah 40:22 ). Like a human dwelling, heaven can be described as resting on supporting pillars ( Job 26:11 ) or on building foundations ( 2 Samuel 22:8; though the parallel in  Psalm 18:7 applies the foundations to mountains). Just as He built the partition, so God can “rend” it or tear it apart (  Isaiah 64:1 ). Thus it does not seal God off from His creation and His people. English translations use “firmament” (KJV), “expanse” (Nas, Niv ) “dome” (Tev, Nrsv ) or “vault” (REB) to translate the special Hebrew word describing what God created and named “Heaven” ( Genesis 1:8 ).

Hebrew does not employ a term for “air” or “space” between heaven and earth. This is all part of heaven. Thus the Bible speaks of “birds of the heavens,” though English translations often use “air” or “sky” ( Deuteronomy 4:17;  Jeremiah 8:7;  Lamentations 4:19 ). Even Absalom hanging by his hair from a tree limb was “between heaven and earth” ( 2 Samuel 18:9; compare  1 Chronicles 21:16;  Ezekiel 8:3 ). The heaven is the source for rain ( Deuteronomy 11:11;  Psalm 148:4 ), dew ( Genesis 27:28 ), frost ( Job 38:29 ), snow ( Isaiah 55:10 ), fiery lightning ( Genesis 19:24 ), dust ( Deuteronomy 28:24 ), and hail ( Joshua 10:11 ). This is the language of human observation and description, but it is more. It is the language of faith describing God in action in and for His world ( Jeremiah 14:22 ). Heaven is God's treasure chest, storing treasures such as the rain ( Deuteronomy 28:12 ), wind and lightning ( Jeremiah 10:13 ), and snow and hail ( Job 38:22 ). The miraculous manna came from God's heavenly storehouses for Israel in the wilderness ( Exodus 16:11-15 ).

Heaven and earth thus comprehend the entire universe and all its constituents ( Jeremiah 23:24 ), but God fills all these and more so that no one can hide from Him (compare  1 Kings 8:27-30;  Isaiah 66:1 ). Yet this One also lives in the humble, contrite heart ( Isaiah 57:15 ).

As God's dwelling place, heaven is not a divine haven where God can isolate Himself from earth. It is the divine workplace, where He sends blessings to His people ( Deuteronomy 26:15;  Isaiah 63:15 ) and punishment on His enemies ( Psalm 2:4;  Psalm 11:4-7 ). Heaven is a channel of communication between God and humans ( Genesis 28:12;  2 Samuel 22:10;  Nehemiah 9:13;  Psalm 144:5 ).

As God's creation, the heavens praise Him and display His glory and His creativity ( Psalm 19:1;  Psalm 69:34 ) and righteousness ( Psalm 50:6 ). Still, heaven remains a part of the created order. Unlike neighboring nations, Israel knew that heaven and the heavenly bodies were not gods and did not deserve worship ( Exodus 20:4 ). It belonged to God ( Deuteronomy 10:14 ). Heaven stands as a symbol of power and unchanging, enduring existence ( Psalm 89:29 ), but heaven is not eternal. The days come when heaven is no more ( Job 14:12;;  Isaiah 51:6 ). As God once spread out the heavenly tent, so He will wrap up the heavens like a scroll ( Isaiah 34:4 ). A new heaven and new earth will appear ( Isaiah 65:17;  Isaiah 66:22 ).

The Old Testament speaks of heaven to show the sovereignty of the Creator God and yet of the divine desire to communicate with and provide for the human creature. It holds out the tantalizing examples of men who left earth and were taken up to heaven ( Genesis 5:24;  2 Kings 2:11 ).

New Testament In the New Testament, the primary Greek word translated “heaven” describes heaven as being above the earth, although no New Testament passage gives complete instructions regarding the location or geography of heaven. Other than Paul's reference to the three heavens ( 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 ), the New Testament writers spoke of only one heaven.

The New Testament affirms that God created heaven ( Acts 4:24 ), that heaven and earth stand under God's lordship ( Matthew 11:25 ), and that heaven is the dwelling place of God ( Matthew 6:9 ).

Jesus preached that the kingdom of heaven/God had dawned through His presence and ministry ( Mark 1:15 ). By using the image of a messianic banquet, Jesus spoke of heavenly life as a time of joy, celebration, and fellowship with God ( Matthew 26:29 ). Jesus taught that there would be no marrying or giving in marriage in heaven ( Luke 20:34-36 ).

Christians should rejoice because their names are written in heaven ( Luke 10:20 ). Jesus promised a heavenly home for His followers ( John 14:2-3 ).

According to Paul, Christ is seated in heaven at the right hand of God ( Ephesians 1:20 ). Paul believed heaven is the future home of believers ( 2 Corinthians 5:1-2 ). Paul referred to the hope of heaven as the hope of glory ( Colossians 1:27 ). The Holy Spirit is the pledge of the believer's participation in heaven ( 2 Corinthians 5:5 ). Peter affirmed that heaven is the place where the believer's inheritance is kept with care until the revelation of the Messiah ( 1 Peter 1:4 ).

The word “heaven” occurs more frequently in Revelation than in any other New Testament book. The Revelation addresses heaven from the standpoints of the struggle between good and evil and of God's rule from heaven. The most popular passage dealing with heaven is  Revelation 21:1 to   Revelation 22:5 . In this passage, heaven is portrayed in three different images: (1) the tabernacle ( Revelation 21:1-8 ), (2) the city ( Revelation 21:9-27 ), and (3) the garden ( Revelation 22:1-5 ). The image of the tabernacle portrays heavenly life as perfect fellowship with God. The symbolism of the city portrays heavenly life as perfect protection. The image of the garden shows heavenly life as perfect provision.

Trent C. Butler and Gary Hardin

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [4]

the place of the more immediate residence of the Most High,  Genesis 14:19 . The Jews enumerated three heavens: the first was the region of the air, where the birds fly, and which are therefore called "the fowls of heaven,"  Job 35:11 . It is in this sense also that we read of the dew of heaven, the clouds of heaven, and the wind of heaven. The second is that part of space in which are fixed the heavenly luminaries, the sun, moon, and stars, and which Moses was instructed to call "the firmament or expanse of heaven,"  Genesis 1:8 . The third heaven is the seat of God and of the holy angels; the place into which Christ ascended after his resurrection, and into which St. Paul was caught up, though it is not like the other heavens perceptible to mortal view.

2. It is an opinion not destitute of probability, that the construction of the tabernacle, in which Jehovah dwelt by a visible symbol, termed "the cloud of glory," was intended to be a type of heaven. In the holiest place of the tabernacle, "the glory of the Lord," or visible emblem of his presence, rested between the cherubims; by the figures of which, the angelic host surrounding the throne of God in heaven was typified; and as that holiest part of the tabernacle was, by a thick vail, concealed from the sight of those who frequented it for the purposes of worship, so heaven, the habitation of God, is, by the vail of flesh, hidden from mortal eyes. Admitting the whole tabernacle, therefore, in which the worship of God was performed according to a ritual of divine appointment, to be a representation of the universe, we are taught by it this beautiful lesson, that the whole universe is the temple of God; but that in this vast temple there is "a most holy place," where the Deity resides and manifests his presence to the angelic hosts and redeemed company who surround him. This view appears to be borne out by the clear and uniform testimony of Scripture,; and it is an interesting circumstance, that heaven, as represented by "the holiest of all," is heaven as it is presented to the eye of Christian faith, the place where our Lord ministers as priest, to which believers now come in spirit, and where they are gathered together in the disembodied state. Thus, for instance, St. Paul tells the believing Hebrews, "Ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written," or are enrolled, "in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than the blood of Abel,"

 Hebrews 12:22-24 . Here we are presented with the antitype of almost every leading circumstance of the Mosaic dispensation. Instead of the land of Canaan, we have heaven; for the earthly Jerusalem, we have the heavenly, the city of the living God; in place of the congregation of Israel after the flesh, we have the general assembly and church of the first-born, that is, all true believers "made perfect;" for just men in the imperfect state of the old dispensation, we have just men made perfect in evangelical knowledge and holiness; instead of Moses, the mediator of the old covenant, we have Jesus the Mediator of the new and everlasting covenant; and instead of the blood of slaughtered animals, which was sprinkled upon the Israelites, the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, to make a typical atonement, we have the blood of the Son of God, which was shed for the remission of the sins of the whole world; that blood which doth not, like the blood of Abel, call for vengeance but for mercy, which hath made peace between heaven and earth, effected the true and complete atonement for sin, and which therefore communicates peace to the conscience of every sinner that believes the Gospel.

3. Among the numerous refinements of modern times, that is one of the most remarkable which goes to deny the locality of heaven. "It is a state," say many, "not a place." But if that be the case, the very language of the Scriptures, in regard to this point, is calculated to mislead us. For that God resides in a particular part of the universe, where he makes his presence known to his intelligent creatures by some transcendent, visible glory, is an opinion that has prevailed among Jews and Christians, Greeks and Romans, yea, in every nation, civilized or savage, and in every age; and, since it is confirmed by revelation, why should it be doubted? Into this most holy place, the habitation of the Deity, Jesus, after his resurrection, ascended; and there, presenting his crucified body before the manifestation of the divine presence, which is called "the throne of the Majesty in the heavens," he offered unto God the sacrifice of himself, and made atonement for the sins of his people. There he is sat down upon his throne, crowned with glory and honour, as king upon his holy hill of Zion, and continually officiates as our great High Priest, Advocate, and Intercessor, within the vail. There is his Father's house, into which he is gone before, to prepare mansions of bliss for his disciples; it is the kingdom conferred upon him as the reward of his righteousness, and of which he has taken possession as their forerunner,   Acts 1:11;  Hebrews 6:19-20 .

4. Some of the ancients imagined that the habitation of good men, after the resurrection, would be the sun; grounding this fanciful opinion on a mistaken interpretation of   Psalms 19:4 , which they rendered, with the LXX and Vulgate, "He has set his tabernacle in the sun." Others, again, have thought it to lie beyond the starry firmament, a notion less improbable than the former. Mr. Whiston supposes the air to be the mansion of the blessed, at least for the present; and he imagines that Christ is at the top of the atmosphere, and other spirits nearer to or more remote from him according to the degree of their moral purity, to which he conceives the specific gravity of their inseparable vehicles to be proportionable. Mr. Hallet has endeavoured to prove that they will dwell upon earth, when it shall be restored to its paradisaical state. The passages of Scripture, however, on which he grounds his hypothesis, are capable of another and very different interpretation. After all, we may observe, that the place of the blessed is a question of comparatively little importance; and we may cheerfully expect and pursue it, though we cannot answer a multitude of curious questions, relating to various circumstances that pertain to it. We have reason to believe that heaven will be a social state, and that its happiness will, in some measure, arise from mutual communion and converse, and the expressions and exercises of mutual benevolence. All the views presented to us of this eternal residence of good men are pure and noble; and form a striking contrast to the low hopes, and the gross and sensual conceptions of a future state, which distinguish the Pagan and Mohammedan systems. The Christian heaven may be described to be a state of eternal communion with God, and consecration to hallowed devotional and active services; from which will result an uninterrupted increase of knowledge, holiness, and joy, to the glorified and immortalized assembly of the redeemed.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [5]

From "heaved up;" so "the heights" ( Psalms 148:1). The Greek Ouranos and the Hebrew Shamaim , are similarly derived. It is used of the surrounding air wherein "the fowls of heaven" fly ( Genesis 1:26, compare  Genesis 1:20); from whence the rain and hail fall ( Deuteronomy 11:11). "I will make your heaven as iron," i.e. your sky hard and yielding no rain ( Leviticus 26:19). "The four quarters of heaven" ( Jeremiah 49:36) and "the circuit of heaven" ( Job 22:14) refer to the atmospheric heaven. By metaphor it is represented as a building with foundations and pillars ( 2 Samuel 22:8;  Job 26:11), with an entrance gate ( Genesis 28:17) and windows opened to pour down rain ( Genesis 7:11, compare  2 Kings 7:2;  Malachi 3:10).  Job 37:18, "spread out the sky ... strong ... as a molten looking glass," not solid as "firmament" would imply, whereas the "expanse" is the true meaning ( Genesis 1:6;  Isaiah 44:24), but phenomenally like one of the ancient mirrors made of firm molten polished metal.

Matthew, who is most Hebraistic in style, uses the plural, the Hebrew term for heaven being always so. "The heaven of heavens" ( Deuteronomy 10:14) is a Hebraism for the highest heavens. Paul's "third heaven" ( 2 Corinthians 12:2) to which he was caught up implies this superlatively high heaven, which he reached after passing through the first heaven the air, and the second the sky of the stars ( Ephesians 4:10).  Hebrews 7:26, "made higher than the heavens," for Christ "passed through the heavens" ( Hebrews 4:14, Greek), namely, the aerial heaven and the starry heaven, the veil through which our High Priest passed into the heaven of heavens, the immediate presence of God, as the Levitical high priest passed through the veil into the holy of belies. The visible heavens shall pass away to give place to the abiding new heaven and earth wherein shall dwell righteousness ( Psalms 102:25-27;  Isaiah 65:17;  Isaiah 66:22;  2 Peter 3:7;  2 Peter 3:13;  Revelation 21:1;  Hebrews 12:26-28).

"The kingdom of the heavens" in Matthew, for "the kingdom of God" in Mark and Luke, is drawn from  Daniel 4:26, "the heavens do rule," ( Daniel 2:44) "the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed." It consists of many stages and phases, issuing at last in heaven being brought down fully to earth, and the tabernacle of God being with men ( Revelation 21:2-3;  Revelation 21:10, etc.). The plurality of the phases is expressed by "the kingdom of the heavens." The Bible is distinguished from the sacred books of false religions in not having minute details of heavenly bliss such as men's curiosity would crave. The grand feature of its blessedness is represented as consisting in holy personal union and immediate face to face communion with God and the Lamb; secondarily, that the saints are led by the Lamb to living fountains of water, and fed with the fruit of the tree of life in the midst of the paradise of God, the antitype of the former Adamic paradise.

It is no longer merely a garden as Eden, but a heavenly "city" and garden combined, nature and art no longer mutually destructive, but enhancing each the charm of the other, individuality and society realized perfectly (Revelation 2-3, 7, 21-22). No separate temple, but the whole forming one vast "temple," finding its center in the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb, who are the temple to each and all the king-priests reigning and serving there. This was the model Moses was shown on Sinai ( Hebrews 7:1-6). The earthly tabernacle was its pattern and figure ( Hebrews 9:23-24). The "altar" ( Revelation 6:9) and the "censer," etc. ( Revelation 8:3), the "temple" in heaven ( Revelation 11:19;  Revelation 14:17;  Revelation 15:5;  Revelation 15:8), are preliminary to the final state when there shall be "no temple therein" ( Revelation 21:22), for the whole shall be perfectly consecrated to God.

Negatives of present provisional conditions and evils form a large part of the subordinate description of heaven's bliss: no marriage ( Luke 20:34-36), no meats for the belly ( 1 Corinthians 6:13), no death, no sorrow, crying, pain; no defilement, no curse, no night, no candle, no light of the sun, for the Lord God giveth them light ( Revelation 21:4;  Revelation 21:27;  Revelation 22:3;  Revelation 22:5). Heaven is not merely a state but a place. For it is the place where Christ's glorifed body now is; "the heaven must receive Him until the times of restitution of all things" ( Acts 3:21).

Thither He will "receive His people to Himself" after He hath "prepared a place for them" ( John 14:2-4), that where He is there His servants may be ( John 12:26). From heaven, which is God's court, angels are sent down to this earth, as the multitude of the heavenly host (distinct from the host of heaven,"  Acts 7:42), and to which they return ( Luke 2:13-15;  Luke 22:43). God Himself is addressed "Our Father who art in heaven." His home is the parent home, the sacred hearth of the universe.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [6]

People in ancient times did not understand the universe the way we understand it today. For them the universe consisted of ‘the heavens and the earth’. The earth was where they lived and the heavens were the skies above, the place of the sun, moon, stars, clouds and birds ( Genesis 1:1;  Genesis 1:17;  Genesis 1:20;  Genesis 15:5;  Deuteronomy 4:19;  1 Kings 18:45;  Matthew 5:18;  Hebrews 11:12).

A characteristic of human speech is that people often speak of realities and experiences beyond their understanding as being ‘over’, ‘above’ or ‘higher than’ them. Consequently, it was natural for people to speak of God as dwelling far, far above them in the highest place they could imagine, namely, heaven ( Deuteronomy 26:15;  1 Kings 8:30;  1 Kings 8:32;  Ezra 1:2;  Psalms 2:4;  Matthew 5:45;  Matthew 6:9;  Matthew 7:21).

The Bible therefore speaks of heaven as being ‘up’; not in the sense that it occupies a particular location in outer space, but in the sense that it represents a state of existence far beyond anything people can experience in the physical world. The Jews so identified heaven with God that they often used the word ‘heaven’ instead of ‘God’. This was also a sign of respect for God, for it prevented them from using his name irreverently ( Daniel 4:26;  Matthew 19:23-24;  Luke 15:18;  John 3:27; see Kingdom Of God ).

Heaven is the dwelling place not only of God, but also of the angelic beings who worship him ( Nehemiah 9:6;  Matthew 18:10;  Matthew 28:2;  Mark 13:32;  Luke 2:15). Jesus Christ came from heaven ( John 3:31;  John 6:38), returned to heaven after his death and resurrection ( Acts 1:11;  Ephesians 1:20), at present appears in heaven on behalf of his people ( Colossians 3:1;  Hebrews 8:1;  Hebrews 9:24) and will one day return from heaven to save his people and judge his enemies ( Acts 1:11;  1 Thessalonians 4:16-17;  2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

Through the grace of God, heaven becomes also the eternal dwelling place of all those who through faith have become God’s children ( John 14:1-3;  2 Corinthians 5:1-2;  Colossians 1:5;  Hebrews 12:22-23;  1 Peter 1:3-5). For them, to be for ever in the presence of God is to be in paradise ( Luke 23:43;  2 Corinthians 5:8;  Philippians 1:23; cf.  2 Corinthians 12:2-3).

From the present viewpoint of earth, no one has any way of knowing what life in heaven will be like ( 1 John 3:2). No doubt people will be identifiable in heaven by their individual personalities just as they are on earth. The form of life, however, will be different from the form of life in the present world (cf.  Matthew 22:23-30;  1 Corinthians 15:35-44;  1 Corinthians 15:50; see Resurrection ).

When the Bible writers refer to some of the features of heaven, they are not giving literal descriptions of physical characteristics of heaven. They are merely using the only language available to them to try to illustrate and describe life as it will be in an entirely new order of existence ( Matthew 22:30;  Matthew 26:29;  John 14:2;  Hebrews 12:22-23;  1 John 3:2).

This new order will find its fullest expression in what the Bible calls ‘a new heaven and a new earth’. This again distinguishes it from the physical universe as we know it at present ( Isaiah 66:22;  2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21;  Revelation 22:1-5). Although the Bible writers give few details of life in the new order, that life will not be one of laziness or idleness. It will be a life of joyful activity in the worship and service of God ( Revelation 5:8-14;  Revelation 14:2-3;  Revelation 22:3).

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [7]

HEAVEN . In the cosmic theory of the ancient world, and of the Hebrews in particular, the earth was flat, lying between a great pit into which the shades of the dead departed, and the heavens above in which God and the angels dwelt, and to which it came to be thought the righteous went, after having been raised from the dead to live for ever. It was natural to think of the heavens as concave above the earth, and resting on some foundation, possibly of pillars, set at the extreme horizon (  2 Samuel 22:9 ,   Proverbs 8:27-29 ).

The Hebrews, like other ancient peoples, believed in a plurality of heavens ( Deuteronomy 10:14 ), and the literature of Judaism speaks of seven. In the highest, or Aravoth , was the throne of God. Although the descriptions of these heavens varied, it would seem that it was not unusual to regard the third heaven as Paradise. It was to this that St. Paul said he bad been caught up (  2 Corinthians 12:2 ).

This series of superimposed heavens was regarded as filled by different sorts of superhuman beings. The second heaven in later Jewish thought was regarded as the abode of evil spirits and angels awaiting punishment. The NT, however, does not commit itself to these precise speculations, although in  Ephesians 6:12 it speaks of spiritual hosts of wickedness who dwell in heavenly places (cf.   Ephesians 2:2 ). This conception of heaven as being above a flat earth underlies many religious expressions which are still current. There have been various attempts to locate heaven, as, for example, in Sirius as the central sun of our system. Similarly, there have been innumerable speculations endeavouring to set forth in sensuous form the sort of life which is to be lived in heaven. All such speculations, however, lie outside of the region of positive knowledge, and rest ultimately on the cosmogony of pre-scientific times. They may be of value in cultivating religious emotion, but they belong to the region of speculation. The Biblical descriptions of heaven are not scientific, but symbolical. Practically all these are to be found in the Johannine Apocalypse. It was undoubtedly conceived of eschatologically by the NT writers, but they maintained a great reserve in all their descriptions of the life of the redeemed. It is, however, possible to state definitely that, while they conceived of the heavenly condition as involving social relations, they did not regard it as one in which the physical organism survived. The sensuous descriptions of heaven to be found in the Jewish apocalypses and in Mohammedanism are altogether excluded by the sayings of Jesus relative to marriage in the new age (  Mark 12:25 ||), and those of St. Paul relative to the ‘spiritual body.’ The prevailing tendency at the present time among theologians, to regard heaven as a state of the soul rather than a place, belongs likewise to the region of opinion. The degree of its probability will be determined by one’s general view as to the nature of immortality.

Shailer Mathews.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [8]

The principal words so translated are shamayim, from 'the heights,' and οὐρανός. They are used in a variety of senses: as

1. The atmosphere in which the birds fly, and the lightning appears, and from whence the rain descends.  Genesis 7:23;  Deuteronomy 11:11;  Daniel 4:21;  Luke 17:24 . It will pass away.  2 Peter 3:10,12 .

2. The firmament or wide expanse in which are seen the sun, moon, and stars.  Genesis 1:14,15,17 .

3. The abode of God, where His throne is.  Psalm 2:4;  Psalm 11:4;  Matthew 5:34 . Whence the Lord descended and to which He ascended, and where He was seen by Stephen.  Mark 16:19;  Acts 7:55;  1 Corinthians 15:47 .

4. The abode of angels.  Matthew 22:30;  Matthew 24:36;  Galatians 1:8 .

It is important to see that, in forming the present system of this world, God made a heaven to this earth, so that the earth should be ruled from heaven. The blessing of the earth, either materially or morally, depends upon its connection with heaven. This blessing will be full when the kingdom of the heavens is established in the Son of man, and He will come in the clouds of heaven.  Psalm 68:32,35 . It is the place of angelic power, 'the principalities and powers in the heavenly places' being angelic, Satan and his angels, though fallen, still being among them.  Job 1:6;  Job 2:1;  Revelation 12:7-9 .

That there are various heavens is evident; Satan cannot have entrance into the glory, and Paul speaks of being caught up into the third heavens,  2 Corinthians 12:2; and the Lord Jesus passed through the heavens, and we read of 'the heaven of heavens.'  Deuteronomy 10:14;  1 Kings 8:27 . Very little is said of the saints going to heaven, though their citizenship is there now, Phi . 3:20; but they are to be where Jesus is, and He went to heaven, and prepared a place for them. In the Revelation the four and twenty elders are seen in heaven sitting on 'thrones.' To Him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Believers "look for NEW HEAVENSand a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."  2 Peter 3:13;  Revelation 21:1 .

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [9]

The word is used to identify certain spaces or certain conditions.

Since it is used in so many ways, we will in this paragraph just list a few, and these will cover a majority of the Scripture references.

1. The place where the birds fly (  Genesis 1:20;  Lamentations 4:19).

2. The place in which are located the sun, moon and stars (  Genesis 1:14-17).

3. The place where the clouds are seen (  Genesis 7:11).

4. The place from which the lightnings come (  Genesis 19:24;  Luke 9:54;  Luke 10:18).

5. The place where GOD dwells (  Genesis 21:17;  Genesis 22:11).

6. The place where dew originates (  Genesis 27:28;  Genesis 27:39).

7. The place from which angels come (  Genesis 28:17).

8. The place from which rain comes (  Deuteronomy 11:11;  1 Kings 8:35;  2 Chronicles 6:26;  Jeremiah 10:13).

9. The place which describes Israel's dispersion (  Deuteronomy 30:4;  Nehemiah 1:9).

10. The place where the blessings of earth originate such as rain, dew, heat and cold. (  Deuteronomy 33:13).

11. The place where storms form with thunder, lightning and wind. (  Job 26:11).

12. The place where manna, the heavenly food, came from. (  Psalm 78:24;  John 6:31,  John 6:41).

13. The place which describes the supreme seat or throne of GOD. It is above all the other heavens. (  1 Kings 8:27;  2 Chronicles 2:6;  2 Chronicles 6:18).

14. The place where the believer, the Christian, the saved person, goes in his spirit when he dies.

We never read in the Bible that the believer "goes to Heaven." Probably the reason is that the Holy Spirit never calls our attention to the place where we are going, but always to the Person by whom we go, and to whom we go. We are said to be "absent from the body, and present with the Lord." We also read, "I have a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better." Jesus said, "I will receive you unto Myself." We should notice that it is always the Person, and never the place that gives comfort to the heart.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [10]

  • Spiritual meaning. The place of the everlasting blessedness of the righteous; the abode of departed spirits.

    (A) Christ calls it his "Father's house" ( John 14:2 ).

    (B) It is called "paradise" ( Luke 23:43;  2 co  12:4;  Revelation 2:7 ).

    (C) "The heavenly Jerusalem" ( Galatians 4 ::  26;  Hebrews 12:22;  Revelation 3:12 ).

    (D) The "kingdom of heaven" ( Matthew 25:1;  James 2:5 ).

    (E) The "eternal kingdom" ( 2 Peter 1:11 ).

    (F) The "eternal inheritance" ( 1 Peter 1:4;  Hebrews 9:15 ).

    (G) The "better country" ( Hebrews 11:14,16 ).

    (H) The blessed are said to "sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," and to be "in Abraham's bosom" ( Luke 16:22;  Matthew 8:11 ); to "reign with Christ" ( 2 Timothy 2:12 ); and to enjoy "rest" ( Hebrews 4:10,11 ).

    In heaven the blessedness of the righteous consists in the possession of "life everlasting," "an eternal weight of glory" ( 2 Corinthians 4:17 ), an exemption from all sufferings for ever, a deliverance from all evils ( 2 Corinthians 5:1,2 ) and from the society of the wicked ( 2 Timothy 4:18 ), bliss without termination, the "fulness of joy" for ever ( Luke 20:36;  2 co  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 "place", a place "prepared" for them ( John 14:2 ).

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Heaven'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/ebd/h/heaven.html. 1897.

  • Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words [11]

    Shâmayim ( שָׁמֶה , Strong'S #8064), “heavens; heaven; sky.” This general Semitic word appears in languages such as Ugaritic, Akkadian, Aramaic, and Arabic. It occurs 420 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.

    First, shâmayim is the usual Hebrew word for the “sky” and the “realm of the sky.” This realm is where birds fly. God forbids Israel to make any “likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air” (Deut. 4:17). When Absalom’s hair caught in the branches of a tree, he hung suspended between the “heaven” and the earth (2 Sam. 18:9). This area, high above the ground but below the stars and heavenly bodies, is often the locus of visions: “And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the Lord stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem” (1 Chron. 21:16).

    Second, this word represents an area farther removed from the earth’s surface. From this area come such things as frost (Job 38:29), snow (Isa. 55:10), fire (Gen. 19:24), dust (Deut. 28:24), hail (Josh. 10:11), and rain: “The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained” (Gen. 8:2). This realm is God’s storehouse; God is the dispenser of the stores and Lord of the realm (Deut. 28:12). This meaning of shâmayim occurs in Gen. 1:7-8: “And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven.”

    Third, shâmayim also represents the realm in which the sun, moon, and stars are located: “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night …” (Gen. 1:14). This imagery is often repeated in the Creation account and in poetical passages. Thus the “heavens” can be stretched out like a curtain (Ps. 104:2) or rolled up as a scroll (Isa. 34:4).

    Fourth, the phrase “heaven and earth” may denote the entire creation. This use of the word appears in Gen. 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

    Fifth, “heaven” is the dwelling place of God: “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision” (Ps. 2:4; cf. Deut. 4:39). Again, note Deut. 26:15: “Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel.…” Another expression representing the dwelling place of God is “the highest heaven [literally, the heaven of heavens].” This does not indicate height, but an absolute—i.e., God’s abode is a unique realm not to be identified with the physical creation: “Behold the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is” (Deut. 10:14).

    American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [12]

    In the Bible, means primarily the region of the air and clouds, and of the planets and stars, but chiefly the world of holy bliss above the visible heavens. It is called "the third heaven," "the highest heaven," and "the heaven of heavens," expressions nearly synonymous. There holy beings are to dwell, seeing all of God that it is possible for creatures to see. Thither Christ ascended, to intercede for his people and prepare for them a place where all shall at length be gathered, to go no more out forever,  Ephesians 4:10   Hebrews 8:1   9:24-28 .

    In this life we can know but little of the location and appearance of heaven, or of the employments and blessedness of its inhabitants. The Scriptures inform us that all sin, and every other evil, are forever excluded; no fruits of sin will be found there-no curse nor sorrow nor sighing, no tear, no death: the former things are passed away.

    They describe it figuratively, crowding together all the images which nature or art can supply to illustrate its happiness. It is a kingdom, an inheritance: there are rivers of pleasure, trees of life, glorious light, rapturous songs, robes, crowns, feasting, mirth, treasures, triumphs. They also give us positive representations: the righteous dwell in the presence of God; they appear with Christ in glory. Heaven is life, everlasting life: glory, an eternal weight of glory: salvation, repose, peace, fullness of joy, the joy of the Lord.

    There are different degrees in that glory, and never-ceasing advancement. It will be a social state, and its happiness, in some measure, will arise from mutual communion and converse, and the expressions and exercises mutual benevolence. It will include the perfect purity of every saint; delightful fellowship with those we have here loved in the Lord,  Matthew 8:11   17:3,4   1 Thessalonians 2:19   4:13-18; the presence of Christ, and the consciousness that all is perfect and everlasting.

    We are taught that the body will share this bliss as well as the soul: the consummation of our bliss is subsequent to the resurrection of the body; for it is redeemed as well as the soul, and shall, at the resurrection of the just, be fashioned like unto Christ's glorious body. By descending from heaven, and reascending thither, he proves to the doubting soul the reality of heaven; he opens it door for the guilty by his atoning sacrifice; and all who are admitted to it by his blood shall be made meet for it by his grace, and find their happiness for ever in his love. See Kingdom Of Heaven .

    Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [13]

    HEAVEN and Heaven Of Heavens

    are expressions generally made use of to denote the more immediate place where JEHOVAH hath fixed his throne. For thus it is expressed in Scripture. "Thus saith the Lord, The heaen is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?" ( Isaiah 66:1) But Solomon breaks out in an expression, as one overwhelmed with surprise and wonder in the contemplation: "But will God indeed (said he) dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven, and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee!" ( 1 Kings 8:27) But what would this mighty monarch have said, had he lived to have seen the Lord of heaven and earth tabernacling in the substance of our flesh?

    But, though, according to the language of Scripture, we call that place heaven which John saw opened, and where the more immediate presence of the Lord is gloriously displayed, yet it were to limit the Holy One of Israel to suppose, that JEHOVAH dwelleth in any place, to the exclusion of his presence or glory elsewhere. In the immensity of his Godhead and the ubiquity of his nature and essence, he is every where; and, consequently, that place is heaven where JEHOVAH'S presence, in grace, and favour, and glory, is manifested. How little do they know of heaven, or of the divine love and favour, that conceive, if they could get to heaven in the crowd, though they know not how, and I had almost said, they care not how, provided they could get there, how little do they know in what consists the felicity of the place! Alas! an unsanctified, unrenewed, unregenerated heart would be miserable even in heaven. Sweetly doth David speak of the blessed work of assurance and grace in the soul respecting heaven, and in that assurance describes the suited preparation for it. "I shall behold (said he) thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when I awake; with thy likeness." ( Psalms 17:15)

    King James Dictionary [14]

    HEAVEN, n. hev'n.

    1. The region or expanse which surrounds the earth, and which appears above and around us, like an immense arch or vault, in which are seen the sun, moon and stars. 2. Among christians, the part of space in which the omnipresent Jehovah is supposed to afford more sensible manifestations of his glory. Hence this is called the habitation of God, and is represented as the residence of angels and blessed spirits.  Deuteronomy 26

    The sanctified heart loves heaven for its purity, and God for his goodness.

    3. Among pagans, the residence of the celestial gods. 4. The sky or air the region of the atmosphere or an elevated place in a very indefinite sense. Thus we speak of a mountain reaching to heaven the fowls of heaven the clouds of heaven hail or rain from heaven.  Jeremiah 9;  Job 35

    Their cities are walled to heaven.  Deuteronomy 1

    5. The Hebrews acknowledged three heavens the air or aerial heavens the firmament in which the stars are supposed to be placed and the heaven of heavens, or third heaven, the residence of Jehovah. 6. Modern philosophers divide the expanse above and around the earth into two parts,the atmosphere or aerial heaven, and the etherial heaven beyond the region of the air, in which there is supposed to be a thin, unresisting medium called ether. 7. The Supreme Power the Sovereign of heaven god as prophets sent by heaven.

    I have sinned against heaven.  Luke 15 .

    Shun the impious profaneness which scoffs at the institution of heaven.

    8. The pagan deities celestials.

    And show the heavens more just.

    9. Elevation sublimity.

    O! for a muse of fire, that would ascend

    The brightest heaven of invention.

    10. Supreme felicity great happiness.

    Smith's Bible Dictionary [15]

    Heaven. There are four Hebrew words thus rendered, in the Old Testament, which we may briefly notice.

    1. Raki'a , Authorized Version, Firmament. See Firmament .

    2. Shamayim. This is the word used in the expression "The Heaven And The Earth", or "The Upper And Lower Regions".  Genesis 1:1.

    3. Marom , used for heaven in  Psalms 18:16;  Isaiah 24:18;  Jeremiah 25:30. Properly speaking, it means A Mountain as in  Psalms 102:19;  Ezekiel 17:23.

    4. Shechakim , "Expanses", with reference to the Extent of heaven.  Deuteronomy 33:26;  Job 35:5.

    St. Paul's expression, "third heaven,"  2 Corinthians 12:2, had led to much conjecture. Grotius said that the Jews divided the heaven into three parts, namely,

    i. The air or atmosphere , where clouds gather;

    ii. The firmament , in which the sun, moon and stars are fixed;

    iii. The upper heaven , the abode of God and his angels, the invisible realm of holiness and happiness; the home of the children of God.

    People's Dictionary of the Bible [16]

    Heaven. There are four Hebrew words thus rendered in the Old Testament. 1. Râkî'A, A. V. firmament. 2. Shâmayim ; used in the expression, "the heaven and the earth," or "the upper and lower regions."  Genesis 1:1. 3. Mârôm, used for heaven in  Psalms 18:16;  Isaiah 24:18;  Jeremiah 25:30. Properly speaking, it means a mountain, as in  Psalms 102:19;  Ezekiel 17:23. 4. Skechâkîm, "expanses," with reference to the Extent of heaven.  Deuteronomy 33:26;  Job 35:5. Paul's expression, "third heaven,"  2 Corinthians 12:2, has led to much conjecture. Grotius said that the Jews divided the heaven into three parts, viz., 1. The air or atmosphere, where clouds gather. 2. The firmament, in which the sun, moon, and stars are fixed. 3. The upper heaven, the abode of God and his angels.

    Webster's Dictionary [17]

    (1): ( n.) The sovereign of heaven; God; also, the assembly of the blessed, collectively; - used variously in this sense, as in No. 2.

    (2): ( v. t.) To place in happiness or bliss, as if in heaven; to beatify.

    (3): ( n.) The dwelling place of the Deity; the abode of bliss; the place or state of the blessed after death.

    (4): ( n.) The expanse of space surrounding the earth; esp., that which seems to be over the earth like a great arch or dome; the firmament; the sky; the place where the sun, moon, and stars appear; - often used in the plural in this sense.

    (5): ( n.) Any place of supreme happiness or great comfort; perfect felicity; bliss; a sublime or exalted condition; as, a heaven of delight.

    Charles Spurgeon's Illustration Collection [18]

    'Who,' saith an old divine, 'chides a servant for taking away the first course at a feast when the second consists of far greater delicacies?' Who then can feel regret that this present world passeth away, when he sees that an eternal world of joy is coming? The first course is grace, but the second is glory, and that is as much better as the fruit is better than the blossom.

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [19]

    There is, says Daubuz, a threefold world, and therefore a threefold heaven- the invisible, the visible, and the political among men, which last may be either civil or ecclesiastical. We shall consider these in the inverse order.

    A. Terrestrially And Figuratively Regarded. Wherever the Scene of a prophetic vision is laid, Heaven signifies symbolically the ruling power or government; that is, the whole assembly of the ruling powers, which, in respect to the Subjects on Earth, are a political heaven, being over and ruling the subjects, as the natural heaven stands over and rules the earth. Thus, according to the subject, is the term to be limited; and therefore Artemidorus, writing in the times of the Roman emperors, makes Italy to be the heaven: "As heaven," says he, "is the abode of gods, so is Italy of kings." The Chinese call their monarch Tiencu, the son of heaven, meaning thereby the most powerful monarch. And thus, in  Matthew 24:30, Heaven is synonymous to Powers And Glory; and when Jesus says, "The powers of the heaven shall be shaken," it is easy to conceive that he meant that the kingdoms of the world should be overthrown to submit to his kingdom. Any government is a world; and therefore, in  Isaiah 51:15-16, heaven and earth signify apolitical universe, a kingdom or polity. In  Isaiah 65:17, a new heaven and a new earth signify a new government, new kingdom, new people. (See Heaven And Earth).

    B. Physically Treated.

    I. Definitions And Distinctions. The ancient Hebrews, for want of a single term like the Κόσμος and the Mundus of the Greeks and the Latins used the phrase Heaven And Earth (as in  Genesis 1:1;  Jeremiah 23:24; and  Acts 17:24, where "H. And E."= "the world and all things therein") to indicate The Universe, or (as Barrow, Sermons On The Creed, Works [Oxford ed.], 4:556, expresses it) "those two regions, superior and inferior, into which the whole system of things is divided, together with all the beings that do reside in them, or do belong unto them, or are comprehended by them" (compare Pearson, On The Creed, who, on art. 1 ["Maker of H. and E."], adduces the Rabbinical names of a Triple division of the universe, making the sea, יָם , distinct from the יָשׁוּב , Οἰκουμένη . Compare also the Nicene Creed, where another- division occurs of the universe into "Things Visible And Invisible"). Deducting from this aggregate the idea expressed by "earth" (See Earth); (See Geography), we get a residue of signification which exactly embraces "heaven." Barrow (l. c.) well defines it as "all the superior region encompassing the globe of the earth, and from it on all sides extended to a distance inconceivably vast and spacious, with all its parts, and furniture, and inhabitants not only such things in it as are visible and material, but also those which are immaterial and invisible ( Colossians 1:16)."

    1. Wetstein (in a learned note on  2 Corinthians 12:2) and Eisenmenger (Entdecktes Judenthunm, 1, 460) state the Rabbinical opinion as asserting Seven Heavens. For the substance of Wetstein's note, see Stanley, Corinthiun, 1. c. This number arises confessedly from' the mystic: value of the numeral Seven; "omnis Septenarius dilectus est in saeculumine superis." According to Rabbi Abia, there were six antechambers, as it were, or steps to the seventh heaven, which was the " Ταμεῖον in quo Rex habitat"-the very presence-chamber of the divine King himself. Compare Origen, Contra Celsum, 6, 289, and Clemens Alex. Stromlata, 4, 636; 5, 692. In the last of these passages the prophet Zephaniah is mentioned, after some apocryphal tradition; to have been caught up into "the fifth heaven, the dwelling-place of the angels, in a glory sevenfold greater than the brightness of the sun." In the Rabbinical point of view, the superb throne of king Solomon, with the six steps leading up to it was a symbol of the highest heaven with the throne of the Eternal, above the six inferior heavens ( 1 Kings 10:18-20). These gradations of the celestial regions are probably meant in  Amos 9:6, where, however, the entire creation is beautifully described by "The Stories [or steps of the heaven," for the empyreal heaven; " The Troop [or globular aggregate, the Terra Firma; see A. Lapide, ad loc.] of the earth," and "the waters of the sea" [including the atmosphere, whence the waters are "poured out upon the face of the earth"]. As for the threesald division of the celestial regions mentioned in the text, Meyer thinks it to be a fiction of the learned Grotius, on the ground of the Rabbinical seven heavens. But this- censure is premature; for

    (1) it is very doubtful whether this Hebdomadal division is as old as Paul's time;

    (2) it is certain that the Rabbinical doctors are not unanimous about the number seven. Rabbi Judah (Chagiga, fol. 12:2, and Aboth Nathan, 37) says there are "two heavens," after  Deuteronomy 10:14. This agrees with Grotius's statement, if we combine his Nubiferum ( רקיע ) And Astriferumi ( שׁמים ) into one region Of Physical Heavens (as indeed Moses does himself in  Genesis 1:14-15;  Genesis 1:17;  Genesis 1:20), and reserve his Angeliferum for the שמי השמים "the heaven of heavens," the supernal region of spiritual beings, Milton's "Empyrean" (P. L. 7:Sub Fin.). See bishop Pearson's note, On The Creed (ed. Chevallier), p. 91. The learned note of De Wette on  2 Corinthians 12:2 is also worth consulting.

    (3) The Targum on  2 Chronicles 6:18 (as quoted by Dr. Gill, Comment. 2 Corinth. 1. c.), expressly mentions the triple distinction Of Supreme, Middle, and Lower heavens. Indeed, there is an accumulation of the threefold classification. Thus, in Tseror Lansamsor, fol. 1, 4, and 3:2,3, and 82, 2, three worlds are mentioned. The doctors of the Cabbala also hold the opinion of three worlds, Zohar, Numbers fol. 66, 3. And of the highest world there is further a tripartite division, of angels, עוֹלָם הִמִּלְאָכַים ; of Souls, נְפָשׁוֹת ; and of Spirits, הָרוּחַים עוֹלָם . See Buxtorf's Lex Rabbin. col. 1620, who refers to D. Kimchi on  Psalms 19:9. Paul, besides the well-known  2 Corinthians 12:2, refers again, only less pointedly, to A Plurality of heavens, as in  Ephesians 4:10. See Olshausen (ed. Clark) on the former passage.

    2. Accordingly, Barrow (p. 558, with whom compare Grotius and Drusius on  2 Corinthians 12:2) ascribes to the Jews the notion that there are Three Heavens: Coelum Nubiferum, or the firmament; Ccelum Astriferum, the starry heavens; Coelum Angeliferum, or "the heaven of heavens," where the angels reside, "the third heaven" of Paul. This same notion prevails in the fathers. Thus St. Gregory of Nyssa (Hexaem., 42) describes the first of these heavens as the limited space of the denser air ( Τὸν Ὅρον Τοῦ Παχυμερεστέπου Ἀἐρος ), within which arrange the clouds, the Winds, And The Birds; the second is the region in which wander the planets and the stars ( Ἐνῳ Δὲ Πλανῆ Ται Τῶν Ἀστέρων Διαπορεύοται ), hence aptly called by Hesychius Κατηστρισμένον , Locum Stelliferum; while the third is The Very Summit Of The Visible Creation ( Τὸ Ο῏Υν Ἀκρότατον Τοῦ Αἰσθηροῦ Κόσμου ), Paul'S Third Heaven, Higher Than The Aerial And Stellar World, Cognizable [not by the eye, but] By The Mind Alone (Ἐν Στασίμ῎ῼ Καὶ Νοητῇ Φύσει Γενόμενος ), which Damascene calls The Heaven Of Heavens, The Prime Heaven Beyond All Others ( Οὐρανὸς Τοῦ Οὐρανοῦ , Πρῶτος Οὐρανός , Orthod. Fid. lib. 2, c. 6:p. 83); or, according to St. Basil (In Jesaiarm, Visione 2, tom. 1, 813), The Throne Of God ( Θρόνος Θεοῦ ), and to Justin Martyr (Quaest. Et Resp. Ad Graecos, Ad Ult. Quaest. p. 236), The House And Throne Of God (Οϊ v Κος Καὶ Θρόνος Τοῦ Θεοῦ ).

    II. Scripture Passages Arranged According To These Distintions. This latter division of the celestial regions is very convenient and quite Biblical.

    (I.) Under the first head, Caelum Nubiferum, the following phrases naturally fall

    (a) "Fowl," or "fowls of the heaven, of the air," see  Genesis 2:19;  Genesis 7:3;  Genesis 7:23;  Genesis 9:2;  Deuteronomy 4:17;  Deuteronomy 28:26;  1 Kings 21:24;  Job 12:7;  Job 28:21;  Job 35:11;  Psalms 8:8;  Psalms 79:2;  Psalms 104:12;  Jeremiah 7:33 et passim;  Ezekiel 29:5 et passim;  Daniel 2:38;  Hosea 2:18;  Hosea 4:3;  Hosea 7:12;  Zephaniah 1:3;  Mark 4:3 ( Τὰ Πετεινὰ Τοῦ Οὐρανοῦ );  Luke 8:5;  Luke 9:58;  Luke 13:19;  Acts 10:12;  Acts 11:6 in all which passages the same original words in the Hebrew, Chaldee, and Greek Scriptures ( שָׁמִיַן שָׁמִיַם . Οὐρανίο ) are with equal propriety rendered indifferently " Air" and "heaven" similarly we read of "the path of the eagle In The Air" ( Proverbs 30:19); of "the eagles of Heaven" ( Lamentations 4:19); of "the stork of the Heaven" ( Jeremiah 8:7); and of" birds of Heaven" in general ( Ecclesiastes 10:20;  Jeremiah 4:25). In addition to these zoological terms, we have meteorological facts included under the same original words; e.g.

    (b) "The Dew Of Heaven" ( Genesis 27:28;  Genesis 27:39;  Deuteronomy 33:28;  Daniel 4:15 et passim; Haggai 10  Zechariah 8:12):

    (c) " The Clouds Of Heaven" ( 1 Kings 18:45;  Psalms 147:8;  Daniel 7:13;  Matthew 24:30;  Matthew 26:64;  Mark 14:62):

    (d) The Frost Of Heaven ( Job 38:29):

    (e) The Winds Of Heaven (1 Kings 18:55;  Psalms 78:26;  Daniel 8:8;  Daniel 11:4;  Zechariah 2:6;  Zechariah 6:5 [see margin];  Matthew 24:31;  Mark 13:27):

    (f) The Rain Of Heaven ( Genesis 8:2;  Deuteronomy 11:11;  Deuteronomy 28:12;  Jeremiah 14:22;  Acts 14:17[ Οὐρανόθεν Ὑετούς ];  James 5:18;  Revelation 18:6):

    (g) Lightning, With Thunder ( Job 37:3-4;  Luke 17:24).

    (II.) Celum Astriferum. The vast spaces of which astronomy takes cognizance are frequently referred to: e.g.

    (a) in the phrase " Host Of Heaven," in  Deuteronomy 17:3;  Jeremiah 8:2;  Matthew 24:29 [ Δυνάμεις Τῶν Οὐρανῶν ]; a sense which is obviously not to be confounded with another signification of the same phrase, as in  Luke 2:13 (See Angels)

    (b) Lights Of Heaven ( Genesis 1:14-16;  Ezekiel 32:8):

    (c) Stars Of Heaven ( Genesis 22:17;  Genesis 26:4;  Exodus 32:13;  Deuteronomy 1:10;  Deuteronomy 10:22;  Deuteronomy 28:62;  Judges 5:20;  Nehemiah 9:23;  Isaiah 13:10,  Nahum 3:16;  Hebrews 11:12).

    (III.) Calum Angeliferums. It would exceed our limits if we were to collect the descriptive phrases which revelation has given us of heaven in its sublimest sense, we content ourselves with indicating one or two of the most obvious:

    (a) The Heaven Of Heavens ( Deuteronomy 10:14;  1 Kings 8:27;  2 Chronicles 2:6;  2 Chronicles 2:18;  Nehemiah 9:6  Psalms 115:16;  Psalms 148:4 :

    (b) The Third Heavens ( 2 Corinthians 12:2):

    (c) The High And Lofty [Place] ( Isaiah 47:15): (d) The Highest ( Matthew 21:9;  Mark 11:10;  Luke 2:14, compared with Psalm 168:1). This heavenly sublimity was graciously brought down to Jewish apprehension in the sacred symbol of their Tabernacle and Temple, which they reverenced (especially in the adytum of "the Holy of Holies") as "the place where God's honor dwelt" ( Psalms 26:8), and amidst the sculptured types of his celestial retinue, in the cherubim of the mercy-seat ( 2 Kings 19:15;  Psalms 80:1 :  Isaiah 37:16). III. Meaning Of The Terms Used In The Original.

    1. By far the most frequent designation of Heaven in the Hebrew Scriptures is שָׁמִיַם , Shama'Yim, which the older lexicographers [see Cocceius, Lex. s.v.] regarded as the Dual, but which Gesenius and F Ü rst have restored to the dignity, which St. Jerome gave it, of the Plural of an obsolete noun, שָׁמִי as ( גּוֹרַם . Plur. omf גּוֹי and מִיַם from מִי ). According to these recent scholars, the idea expressed by the word is Height, Elevation (Gesenius, Thes. p. 1453; Furst, Hebr. Wort. 2, 467). In this respect of: its essential meaning it resembles the Greek Obpavoi [from the radical 6 P, denoting Height] (Pott, Etymol. Forsch. 1, 123, ed. 1). Pott's rendering of this root Op, by "sich Erheben," reminds us of our own beautiful word Heaven, which thus enters into brotherhood of signification with the grand idea of the Hebrew, Chaldee, and Greek.. Professor Bosworth, in his Anglo-Sax. Dict. under the verb hebban, to raise or elevate, gives the kindred words of the whole Teutonic family, and deduces there from the noun heofon or heofen, in the sense of heaven. And although the primary notion of the Latin caelum (akin to Κοῖλος and our Hollow) is the less sublime one of a covered or vaulted space, yet the loftier sense of Elevation has prevailed, both in the original (see White and Riddle, s.v. Caelum) and in the derived languages (comp. French Ciel, and the English word Ceiling)

    2. Closely allied in meaning, though unconnected in origin with שָׁמִיַם , is the oft-recurring מָרוֹם , Mardm'. This word is never Englished Heaven, but " Heights," or "High Place," or "High Places." There can, however, be no doubt of its celestial signification (and that in the grandest degree) in such passages as  Psalms 68:18 [Hebr. 19]; 93:4; 102:19 [or in the Hebr. Bib. 20, where ַמְּרוֹם קָדנְשׁו ֹ is equal to the מַשָּׁמִיַם of the parallel clause]; similarly,  Job 31:2;  Isaiah 57:15;  Jeremiah 25:30. Dr. Kalisch (Genesis, Introd. p. 21) says "It was a common belief among all ancient nations that at the summit of the shadow of the earth, or on the top of the highest mountain of the earth, which reaches with its crest into heaven the gods have their palace or hall of assembly," and he instances "the Babylonian Albordsh, the chief abode of Ormuzd, among the heights of the Caucasus; and the Hindoo Meru; and the Chinese Kulkun (or Kaen-lun); and the Greek Olympus (and Atlas); and the Arabian Caf; and the Parsee Tireh." He, however, while strongly and indeed most properly censuring the identification of Mount Meru with Mount Moriah (which had hastily been conjectured from "the accidental resemblance of the names"), deems it improbable that the Israelites should have entertained, like other ancient nations, the notion of local height for the abode of him whose "glory the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain;" and this he supposes on the ground that such a notion "rests essentially on polytheistic ideas." Surely the learned commentator is premature in both these statements.

    (1.) No such improbability, In Fact, unhappily, can be predicated of the Israelites, who in ancient times (notwithstanding the divine prohibitions) exhibited a constant tendency, to the ritual of their בָּמוֹת , or "High Places." Gesenius makes a more correct statement when he says [Hebr. Lex. by Robinson, p. 138], "The Hebrews, like most other ancient nations, supposed that sacred rites performed on High Places were particularly acceptable to the Deity.. Hence they were accustomed to offer sacrifices upon mountains and hills, both to idols and to God himself ( 1 Samuel 9:12 sq.; 1 Chronicles 13:29 sq.;  1 Kings 3:4;  2 Kings 12:2-3;  Isaiah 45:7); and also to build there Chapels, Fanes, Tabernacles ( בָּתְּי הִבָּמוֹת ,  1 Kings 13:32;  2 Kings 17:29), with their priests and other ministers of the sacred rites ( כֹּהֲנֵי הִבָּמוֹת ,  1 Kings 12:32;  2 Kings 17:32). So tenacious of this ancient custom were not only the ten tribes, but also all the Jews, that, even after the building of Solomon's Temple, in spite of the express law of Deuteronomy 12, they continued to erect such chapels on the mountains around Jerusalem."

    (2.) Neither from the character of Jehovah, as the God of Israel, can the improbability be maintained, as if it were of the essence Of Polytheism only to localize Deity on mountain heights. "The high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy," in the proclamation which he is pleased to make of his own style, does not limit his abode to celestial sublimities; in one of the finest passages of even Isaiah's poetry, God claims as one of the stations of his glory the shrine of "a contrite and humble spirit" ( Isaiah 57:15). His loftiest attributes, therefore, are not compromised, nor is the amplitude of his omnipresence compressed by an earthly residence. Accordingly, the same Jehovah who "walketh on The High Places, בִּמוֹת , of the earth" ( Amos 4:13); who "treadeth on The Fastnesses, בָּמוֹת , of the sea" ( Job 9:8); and "who ascendeth above The Heights, בָּמוֹת , of the clouds," was pleased to consecrate Zion as his dwelling-place ( Psalms 87:2), and his rest ( Psalms 132:13-14). Hence we find the same word, מָרוֹם , which is often descriptive of the sublimest heaven, used of Zion, which Ezekiel calls "the mountain of the height of Israel," הִר מְרוֹם יַשְׂרָאֵל ( Ezekiel 17:23;  Ezekiel 20:40;  Ezekiel 34:14).

    3. גִּלְגֵּל , Galgal'. This word, which literally meaning a Wheel, admirably expresses Rotatory Movement, is actually rendered "Heaven" in the A.V. of  Psalms 77:18 : "The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven," בִּגִּלְגִּל [Sept. Ἐν Τῷ Τροχῷ ; Vulg. In Rota ] . Luther's version agrees with the A. Vers. In Himmel; and Dathe renders Per Orbem, which is ambiguous, being as expressive, to say the least, of the globe of the earth as of the circle of heaven. The Targum (in Walton, vol. iii) on the passage gives; בּגלגלא (il rota), which is as indeterminate as the original, as the Syriac also seems to be. De Wette (and after him Justus Olshausen, Die Ps Erkl Ä Rt, 1. c.) renders the phrase "in the whirlwind." Maurer, who disapproves of this rendering, explains the phrase "rotated." But, amidst the uncertainty of the versions, we are disposed to think that it was not without good reason that our translators, in departing from the previous version (see Psalter, ad loc., which has, "the voice of thy thunder was heard round about"), deliberately rendered the passage in the heaven, as if the גלגל were the correlative of תֵּבֵל , both being poetic words, and both together equalled The Heaven And The Earth. In  James 3:6, the remarkable phrase, Τὸν Τροχὸν Τῆς Γενέσεως , the course, circuit, or wheel of nature, is akin to our גלגל . (The Syriac renders the Τροχόν by the same word, which occurs in the psalm as the equivalent of גִּלְגּל , Schaaf's Lex. Syr.; and of the same indefiniteness of signification.) That the general sense "heaven" best expresses the force of  Psalms 77:18, is rendered probable, moreover, by the description which Josephus gives (Ant. 2 , 16, 3) of the destruction of Pharaoh's host in the Red Sea, the subject of that part of the psalm, "Showers of rain descended from Heaven, Ἀπ , Οὐρανοῦ , with dreadful thunders and lightning, and flashes of fire; thunderbolts were darted upon them, nor were there any indications of God's wrath upon men wanting on that dark and dismal night."

    4. As the words we have reviewed indicate The Height And Rotation of the heavens, so the two we have yet to examine exhibit another characteristic of equal prominence, The Breadth And Expanse of the celestial regions. These are שִׁחִק , Shach'Ak (generally used in the Plural) and רָקַיע . They occur Together in  Job 37:18 : "Hast thou with him Spread Out ( תִּרַקַיע ) The Sky Or Expanse of heaven?" ( לַשְׁחָקַים , where ל is the sign of the objective). We must examine them separately. The root שָׁחִק is explained by Gesenius to grind to powder, and then to expand by rubbing or beating. Meier (Hebr. Wurzelw. b. p. 446) compares it with the Arabic shachaka, to make fine, to attenuate (whence the noun shachim, a thin cloud). With him agrees Furst (Hebrew. b. 2, 433). The Heb. subst. is therefore well adapted to designate the sky region of heaven with its cloud dust, whether fine or dense. Accordingly, the meaning of the word in its various passages curiously oscillates between sky and cloud. When Moses, in  Deuteronomy 33:26, lauds Jehovah's "riding in his excellence on The Sky;" and when, in  2 Samuel 22:12, and repeated in  Psalms 18:11 (12), David speaks of "the thick clouds of The Skies;" when Job ( Job 37:18) asks, "Hast thou with him spread out The Sky? " when the Psalmist ( Psalms 77:17 [18 ]) speaks of "The Skies sending out a sound," and the prophet ( Isaiah 45:8), figuratively, of their "pouring down righteousness;" when, finally,  Jeremiah 51:9, by a frequently occurring simile [comp.  Revelation 18:5, Ἠκολοῦθησαν Αὐτῆς Αἱ Ἁμαρτίαι Ἄχρι Τοῦ Οὐρανοῦ ], describes the judgment of Babylon as "lifted up even to The Skies," in every instance our word שְׁחָקים in the Plural is employed. The same word in the same form is translated "Clouds" in  Job 35:5;  Job 36:28;  Job 37:21;  Job 38:37; in  Psalms 36:5 (6); 57, 10 (11);  Psalms 68:34 (35) [margin, "Heavens" ];  Psalms 78:23; in  Proverbs 3:20;  Proverbs 8:28. The prevalent sense of this word, we thus see, is a Meteorological one, and falls under our first head of caelum nubiferum: its connection with the other two heads is much slighter. It bears probably an astronomical sense in  Psalms 89:37 (38), where "the faithful witness in heaven" seems to be in apposition to the sun and the moon (Bellarmine, ad loc.), although some suppose the expression to mean The Rainbow, "the witness" of God's covenant with Noah;  Genesis 9:13 sq. (see J. Olshausen, ad loc.). This is perhaps the only instance of its falling under the class caelum astriferum; nor have we a much more frequent reference to the higher sense of the coehln angeliferum ( Psalms 89:6 containing the only explicit allusion to this sense) unless, with Gesenius, Thes. s.v. we refer Psalm 58:35 also to it. More probably in  Deuteronomy 33:26 (where it is parallel with שָׁמִיַם , and in the highly poetical passages of  Isaiah 45:8, and  Jeremiah 51:9, our word שְׁחָקַים may be best regarded as designating the empyreal heavens.

    5. We have already noticed the connection between שְׁחָקַים and our only remaining word רָקַיע , Raki'A, from their being associated by the sacred writer in the same sentence ( Job 37:18); it tends to corroborate this connection that, on comparing  Genesis 1:6 (and seven other passages in the same chapter) with  Deuteronomy 33:26, we find רָקַיע of the former sentence, and שְׁחָקַים of the latter, both rendered by the Sept. Οτερέωμα and Firmamentum in the Vulg., whence the word "Firmament" passed into our A.V. This word is now a well-understood term in astronomy, synonymous with sky or else the general heavens, undivested by the discoveries of science of the special signification which it bore in the ancient astronomy. (See Firmament).

    For a clear exposition of all the Scripture passages which bear on the subject, we may refer the reader to professor Dawson's Archaia, especially chap. 8, and to Dr. M'Caul on The Mosaic Record Of Creation (or, what is substantially the same treatise in a more accessible form, his Notes On The First Chapter Of Genesis, sec. 9:p. 32-44). We must be content here, in reference to our term רָקַיעִ , to observe that, when we regard its origin (from the root רָקִע , to spread out or Expand by beating; Gesen. s.v.; Fuller, Misc. Sacr. 1, 6; Furst, Hebr. W. b. s.v.), and its connection with, and illustration by, such words as שְׁחָקַים , clouds, and the verbs טָפִח ( Isaiah 48:13, "My right hand Hath Spread Out the heavens") and נָטָה ( Isaiah 40:22, ‘‘ Who Stretcheth Out the heavens like a curtain" [literally, Like Fineness], "and Spreadeth Them out as a tent"), we are astonished at certain rationalistic attempts to control the meaning of an intelligible term, which fits in easily and consistently with the nature of things, by a few poetical metaphors, that are themselves capable of a consistent sense when lcell subordinate to the plainer passages of prose. The fuller expression is רְקַיִע הִשָּׁמִיַם ( Genesis 1:14 sq.). That Moses understood it to mean a solid expanse is clear from his representing it as the barrier between the upper and lower waters ( Genesis 1:6 sq.), i.e. as separating the reservoir of the celestial ocean ( Psalms 104:3;  Psalms 29:3) from the waters of the earth, or those on which the earth was supposed to float ( Psalms 136:6). Through its open lattices ( אֲיֻבּוֹת ,  Genesis 7:11;  2 Kings 7:2;  2 Kings 7:19; compare Κόσκινον , Aristophanes, Nub. 373) or doors ( דַּלָתִיַם ,  Psalms 78:23) the dew, and snow, and hail are poured upon the earth ( Job 38:22;  Job 38:37, where we have the curious expression "bottles of heaven," "utres caeli"). This firm vault, which Job describes as being "strong as a molten looking-glass" ( Job 37:18), is transparent, like pellucid sapphire, and splendid as crystal ( Daniel 12:3;  Exodus 24:10;  Ezekiel 1:22;  Revelation 4:6), over which rests the throne of God ( Isaiah 66:1;  Ezekiel 1:26), and which is opened for the descent of angels, or for prophetic visions ( Genesis 28:17;  Ezekiel 1:1;  Acts 7:56;  Acts 10:11). In it, like gems or golden lamps, the stars are fixed to give light to the earth, and regulate the seasons ( Genesis 1:14-19); and the whole magnificent, immeasurable structure ( Jeremiah 31:37) is supported by the mountains as its pillars, or strong foundations ( Psalms 18:7;  2 Samuel 22:8;  Job 24:11). Similarly the Greeks believed in an Οὐρανὸς Πολύχαλκος (Hom. Ii. 5, 504), or Σιδήρεος (Horn. Od. 15, 328), or Ἀδάματος (Orph. Hymn. Ad Coelum), which the philosophers called Οτερέμνιον or Κρυσταλλοειδές (Empedocles, ap. Plut. de Phil. plac. 2, 11; Artemid. ap. Sen. Nat. Quaest. 7, 13; quoted by Gesenius, s.v.). It is clear that very many of the above notions were metaphors resulting from the simple primitive conception, and that later writers among the Hebrews had arrived at more scientific views, although, of course, they retained much of the old phraseology, and are fluctuating and undecided in their terms. Elsewhere, for instance, the heavens are likened to a curtain ( Psalms 104:2;  Isaiah 40:22). (See Cosmogony).

    IV. Metaphorical Application Of The Visible Heavens. A door opened in heaven is the beginning of a new revelation. To ascend up into heaven signifies to be in full power. Thus is the symbol to be understood in  Isaiah 14:13-14, where the king of Babylon says, "I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of God." To descend from heaven signifies, symbolically, to act by a commission from heaven. Thus our Savior uses the word "descending" ( John 1:51) in speaking of the angels acting by divine commission, at the command of the Son of man. To fall from heaven signifies to lose power and authority, to be deprived of the power to govern, to revolt or apostatize.

    The heaven opened. The natural heaven, being the symbol of the governing part of the political world, a new face in the natural, represents a new face in the political. Or the heaven may be said to be opened when the day appears, and consequently shut when night' comes on, as appears from Virgil (AEn. 10, 1), "The gates of heaven unfold," etc. Thus the Scripture, in a poetical manner, speaks of the doors of heaven ( Psalms 78:23); of the heaven being shut ( 1 Kings 8:35); and in  Ezekiel 1:1, the heaven is said to Be Opened. Midst Of Heaven may be the air, or the region between heaven and earth; or the middle station between the corrupted earth and the throne of God in heaven. In this sense, the air is the proper place where God's threatenings and judgments should be denounced. Thus, in  1 Chronicles 21:16, it is said that David saw the angel of the Lord stand between the earth and the heaven as he was just going to destroy Jerusalem with the pestilence. The angel's hovering there was to show that there was room to pray for mercy, just as God was going to inflict the punishment: it had not as yet done any execution.

    C. Spiritual And Everlasting Sense, i.e. the state and place of blessedness in the life to come. Of the nature of this blessedness it is not possible that we should form any adequate conception, and, consequently, that any precise information respecting it should be given to us. Man, indeed, usually conceives the joys of heaven to be the same as, or at least to resemble, the pleasures of this world; and each one hopes to obtain with certainty, and to enjoy in full measure beyond the grave, that which he holds most dear upon earth-those favorite employments or particular delights which he ardently longs for here, but which he can seldom or never enjoy in this world, or in the enjoyment of which he is never fully satisfied. But one who reflects soberly on the subject will readily see that the happiness of heaven must be a very different thing from earthly happiness. In this world the highest pleasures of which our nature is capable satiate by their continuance, and soon lose the power of giving positive enjoyment. This alone is sufficient to show that the bliss of the future world must be of an entirely different kind from what is called earthly joy and happiness, if we are to be there Truly happy, and Happy Brever. But since we can have no distinct conception of those joys which never have been and never will be experienced by us here in their full extent, we have, of course, no words in human language to express them, and cannot therefore expect any clear description of them even in the holy Scriptures. Hence the Bible describes this happiness sometimes in general terms, designating its greatness (as in  Romans 8:18-22;  2 Corinthians 4:17-18), and sometimes by various figurative images and modes of speech, borrowed from everything which we know to be attractive and desirable.

    The greater part of these images were already common among the Jewish contemporaries of Christ; but Christ and his apostles employed them in a purer sense than the great multitude of the Jews. The Orientals are rich in such figures. They were employed by Mohammed, who carried them, as his manner was, to an extravagant excess, but who at the same time said expressly that they were mere figures, although many of his followers afterwards understood them literally, as has been often done in a similar way by many Christians.

    The following are the principal terms, both literal and figurative, which are applied in Scripture to the condition of future happiness.

    a. Among the Literal appellations we find Ζωή , Ζωὴ Ηἰθ῎Νιος , which, according to Hebrew usage, signify "a happy life," or "eternal well-being," and are the words rendered "life," "eternal life," and "life everlasting" in the A. Vers. (e.g.  Matthew 7:14;  Matthew 19:16;  Matthew 19:29;  Matthew 25:46): Δόξα , Δόξα Τοῦ Θεοῦ , ‘‘ glory," "the glory of God" ( Romans 2:7;  Romans 2:10;  Romans 5:2); and Εἰρηνη ,," peace" ( Romans 2:10). Also Αἰώνιον Βάρος Δόξης , "an eternal weight of glory" ( 2 Corinthians 4:17); and Σωτηρία , Σωτηρία Αἰώνιος , "salvation," "eternal salvation" ( Hebrews 5:9), etc.

    b. Among the Figurative representations we may place the word "heaven" itself. The abode of departed spirits, to us who live upon the earth, and while we remain here, is invisible and inaccessible, beyond the bounds of the visible world, and entirely separated from it. There they live in the highest well being, and in a nearer connection with God and Christ than here below. This place and state cannot be designated by any more fit and brief expression than that which is found in almost every language, namely, "heaven" a word in its primary and material signification denoting the region of the skies, or the visible heavens. This word, in Heb. שָׁמִיַם , in Gr. Οὐρανός , is therefore frequently employed by the sacred writers, as above exemplified. It is there that the highest sanctuary or temple of God is situated, i.e. it is there that the omnipresent God most gloriously reveals himself. This, too, is the abode of (rod's highest spiritual creation. Thither Christ was transported: he calls it the house of his Father, and says that he has therein prepared an abode for his followers ( John 14:2).

    This place, this "heaven," was never conceived of in ancient times, as it has been by some modern writers, as a particular planet or world, but as the wide expanse of heaven, high above the atmosphere or starry heavens; hence it is sometimes called the third heaven, as being neither the atmosphere nor the starry heavens. Another figurative name is "Paradise," taken from the abode of our first parents in their state of innocence, and transferred to the abode of the blessed ( Luke 23:43;  2 Corinthians 12:4;  Revelation 2:7;  Revelation 22:2).

    Again, this place is called "the heavenly Jerusalem" ( Galatians 4:26;  Hebrews 12:22;  Revelation 3:12), because the earthly Jerusalem was the capital city of the Jews, the royal residence, and the seat of divine worship; the "kingdom of heaven" ( Matthew 25:1;  James 2:5); the "heavenly kingdom" ( 2 Timothy 4:18); the "eternal kingdom" ( 2 Peter 1:11). It is also called an "eternal inheritance" ( 1 Peter 1:4;  Hebrews 9:15), meaning the possession and full enjoyment of happiness, typified by the residence of the ancient Hebrews in Palestine. The blessed are said "to sit down at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," that is, to be a sharer with the saints of old in the joys of salvation; "to be in Abraham's bosom" ( Luke 16:22;  Matthew 8:11), that is, to sit near or next to Abraham [see BOSOM]; "to reign with Christ" ( 2 Timothy 2:11), i.e. to be distinguished, honored, and happy as he is to enjoy regal felicities, to enjoy "a Sabbath," or "rest" ( Hebrews 4:10-11), indicating the happiness of pious Christians both in this life and in the life to come.

    All that we ca

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [20]

    Heaven, the state and place of blessedness in the life to come.

    As we can have no distinct conception of those joys which never have been and never will be experienced by us here in their full extent, we have of course no words in human language to express them, and cannot therefore expect any clear description of them even in the Holy Scriptures. Hence the Bible describes this happiness sometimes in general terms designating its greatness (as in; ); and sometimes by various figurative images and modes of speech, borrowed from everything which we know to be attractive and desirable.

    The following are the principal terms, both literal and figurative, which are applied in Scripture to the condition of future happiness.

    Among the literal appellations we find 'life,' 'eternal life,' and 'life everlasting,' literally 'a happy life,' or 'eternal well-being' ; 'glory,' 'the glory of God' (;; ); and 'peace' . Also 'an eternal weight of glory' and 'salvation,' 'eternal salvation' , etc.

    Among the figurative representations, we may place the word 'heaven' itself. The abode of departed spirits, to us who live upon earth, and while we remain here, is invisible and inaccessible, beyond the bounds of the visible world, and entirely separated from it. There they live in the highest well-being, and in a nearer connection with God and Christ than here below. This place and state cannot be designated by any more fit and brief expression than that which is found in almost every language, namely, 'heaven,'—a word in its primary and material signification denoting the region of the skies, or the visible heavens. It is there that the highest sanctuary or temple of God is situated, i.e., it is there that the omnipresent God most gloriously reveals Himself. This, too, is the abode of God's highest spiritual creation. Thither Christ was transported: He calls it the house of His Father, and says that He has therein prepared an abode for His followers .

    This place, this 'heaven,' was never conceived of in ancient times, as it has been by some modern writers, as a particular planet or world, but as the wide expanse of heaven, high above the atmosphere, or starry heavens; hence it is sometimes called the third heaven, as being neither the atmosphere nor the starry heavens.

    Another figurative name is 'Paradise,' taken from the abode of our first parents in their state of innocence, and transferred to the abode of the blessed .

    Again, this place is called 'the heavenly Jerusalem' (;; ), because the earthly Jerusalem was the capital city of the Jews, the royal residence, and the seat of divine worship; 'the kingdom of heaven' ; the 'heavenly kingdom' the 'eternal kingdom' . It is also called an 'eternal inheritance' , meaning the possession and full enjoyment of happiness, typified by the residence of the ancient Hebrews in Palestine. The blessed are said 'to sit down at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,' that is, to be a sharer with the saints of old in the joys of salvation; 'to be in Abraham's bosom' , that is to sit near or next to Abraham [BOSOM]; 'to reign with Christ' ), i.e. to be distinguished, honored, and happy as he is—to enjoy regal felicities: to enjoy 'a Sabbath,' or 'rest' , indicating the happiness of pious Christians, both in this life and in the life to come.

    All that we can with certainty know or infer from Scripture or reason respecting the blessedness of the life to come, may be arranged under the following particulars:— 1. We shall hereafter be entirely freed from the sufferings and adversities of this life. 2. Our future blessedness will involve a continuance of the real happiness of this life.

    I. The entire exemption from suffering and all that causes suffering here, is expressed in the Scripture by words which denote rest, repose, refreshment, after performing labor and enduring affliction. But all the terms which are employed to express this condition, define (in the original) the promised 'rest,' as rest after labor, and exemption from toil and grief; and not the absence of employment, not inactivity or indolence (;;;; comp. 7:17).

    This deliverance from the evils of our present life includes—

    1. Deliverance from this earthly body, the seat of the lower principles of our nature and of our sinful corruption, and the source of so many evils and sufferings .

    2. Entire separation from the society of wicked; and evil-disposed persons, who, in various ways, injure the righteous man and embitter his life on earth .

    3. Upon this earth everything is inconstant, and subject to perpetual change; and nothing is capable of completely satisfying our expectations and desires. But in the world to come it will be different. The bliss of the saints will continue without interruption or change, without fear of termination, and without satiety (;;;;; , sq.).

    II. Besides being exempt from all earthly trials, and having a continuance of that happiness which we had begun to enjoy even here, we have good reason to expect hereafter other rewards and joys, which stand in no natural or necessary connection with the present life. For our entire felicity would be extremely defective and scanty, were it to be confined merely to that which we carry with us from the present world, or were we compelled to stop short with that meager and elementary knowledge which we possess here. Besides the natural rewards of goodness, there must, therefore, be others, which are positive, and dependent on the will of the Supreme Legislator.

    In the doctrine of the New Testament positive rewards are considered most obviously as belonging to our future felicity, and as constituting a principal part of it. For it always represents the joys of heaven as resulting strictly from the favor of God, and as being undeserved by those on whom they are bestowed. Hence there must be something more added to the natural good consequences of our actions, something which cannot be considered as the necessary and natural consequences of the good actions we may have here performed. But, on this subject, we know nothing more in general than this, that God will so appoint and order our circumstances, and make such arrangements, that the principal faculties of our souls—reason and affection, will be heightened and developed, so that we shall continually obtain more pure and distinct knowledge of the truth, and make continual advances in holiness.

    Some theologians have supposed that the saints in heaven may be taught by immediate divine revelations, especially those who may enter the abodes of the blessed without knowledge, or with only a small measure of it; e.g. children and others who have died in ignorance, for which they themselves were not to blame. On this subject nothing is definitely taught in the Scriptures; but both Scripture and reason warrant us in believing that provision will be made for all such persons in the world to come. A principal part of our future happiness will consist, according to the Christian doctrine, in the enlarging and correcting of our knowledge respecting God, his nature, attributes, and works, and in the salutary application of this knowledge to our own moral benefit, to the increase of our faith, love, and obedience.

    In the Scripture revelations respecting heaven Christ is always represented as one who will be personally visible to us, and whose personal, familiar intercourse and guidance we shall enjoy. Herein Christ himself places a chief part of the joy of the saints (, etc.); and the apostles often describe the blessedness of the pious by the phrase being with Christ. To his guidance has God entrusted the human race, in heaven and on earth. And Paul says , we see 'the brightness of the divine glory in the face of Christ,' He is 'the visible representative of the invisible God' . According to the representation contained in the Holy Scriptures, the saints will dwell together in the future world, and form, as it were a kingdom or state of God (Luke 16;;;; ). They will there partake of a common felicity. Their enjoyment will doubtless be very much heightened by friendship, and by their confiding intercourse with each other.

    The Nuttall Encyclopedia [21]

    In Christian theology the place of the immediate Divine presence, where God manifests Himself without veil, and His saints enjoy that presence and know as they are known. In Scripture it denotes, the atmosphere, the starry region, a state of bliss, as defined, the divine presence, and God Himself.