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Word Study On "Heaven"
In the New Testament

by John Edmiston


I will divide this word study into two parts. The first is an extract from "Vines New Testament Dictionary" which is in the public domain to the best of my knowledge. This resource can be obtained from most Christian bookstores and is available as part of many Bible search programs and on CD's such as The Bible Library. The second part will be a few comments by yours truly and some application. For the purists an apology for using "transliterated " Greek but I haven't figured out how to put Greek characters on the Web yet as fonts are still very restricted.

Vine's New Testament Dictionary

[[1]] Topics: HEAVEN, HEAVENLY (-IES)
Strong's Number: 3772
Transliterated: ouranos
Text:

Probably akin to ornumi, "to lift, to heave," is used in the NT (a) of "the aerial heavens," e.g., Matt. 6:26; 8:20; Acts 10:12; 11:6 (RV, "heaven," in each place, KJV, "air"); Jas. 5:18; (b) "the sidereal," e.g., Matt. 24:29, 35; Mark 13:25, 31; Heb. 11:12, RV, "heaven," KJV, "sky"; Rev. 6:14; 20:11; they, (a) and (b), were created by the Son of God, Heb. 1:10, as also by God the Father, Rev. 10:6; (c) "the eternal dwelling place of God," Matt. 5:16; 12:50; Rev. 3:12; 11:13; 16:11; 20:9. From thence the Son of God descended to become incarnate, John 3:13, 31; 6:38, 42. In His ascension Christ "passed through the heavens," Heb. 4:14, RV; He "ascended far above all the heavens," Eph. 4:10, and was "made higher than the heavens," Heb. 7:26; He "sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens," Heb. 8:1; He is "on the right hand of God," having gone into heaven, 1 Pet. 3:22. Since His ascension it is the scene of His present life and activity, e.g., Rom. 8:34;. Heb. 9:24. From the thence the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost, 1 Pet. 1:12. It is the abode of the angels, e.g., Matt. 18:10; 22:30; cf. Rev. 3:5. Thither Paul was "caught up," whether in the body or out of the body, he knew not, 2 Cor. 12:2. It is to be the eternal dwelling place of the saints in resurrection glory, 2 Cor. 5:1. From thence Christ will descend to the air to receive His saints at the Rapture, 1 Thess. 4:16; Phil. 3:20, 21, and will subsequently come with His saints and with His holy angels at His second advent, Matt. 24:30; 2 Thess. 1:7. In the present life "heavens," is the region of the spiritual citizenship of believers, Phil. 3:20. The present "heavens" with the earth, are to pass away, 2 Pet. 3:10, "being on fire," v. 12 (see v. 7); Rev. 20:11, and new "heavens" and earth are to be created, 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1, with Isa. 65:17, e.g. In Luke 15:18, 21, "heaven" is used, by metonymy, for God. See AIR. Notes: (1) For the phrase in Luke 11:13, see Note on B, No. 2 (2) In Luke 11:2, the KJV, "as in heaven," translates a phrase found in some mss.

Comments and Application

It seems that there are at least three heavens. Paul was taken up "into the third heaven" where God dwells. The angel in Revelation flies in the "mid-heavens" and the birds of the air dwell in the first heavens. While there is general agreement that about the "first heaven" being where the birds fly and the third heaven being where God dwells, the nature of the second heaven has become a subject of some discussion. Conservative scholars tend, like Vine's , to assign the second heavens to "outer space" and term it the "sidereal heavens".

Pentecostal scholars see it as the scene of spiritual warfare where angels and demons do battle as in Daniel 10. It was this "second heaven" that Christ conquered during His ascension when He "took captivity captive". The answers to daniel's prayer was immediate in the "third heaven" but delayed by conflict in the second. This is not the place to answer the debate but both sides have considerable merit. My personal approach is to use whatever interpretation makes most sense with the passage I am looking at at the time.

Once Christians were accused of being "too heavenly minded for any earthly use". This is seldom the case today. Heaven is less than fashionable and few Christians place much stock in it. However we should. During times of suffering a "heavenly perspective" on our troubles enables us to endure "as seeing Him who is unseen". The name "GlobalChristians.Org" was arrived at after I went through a very dark patch in my life during which my main sustaining thought was the realization that eternity was there, was good and awaited me if I was faithful to Him who had called me. Out of sheer gratefulness to God for this one sustaining thought I called the magazine "Eternity" to remind myself and others of the importance of a "heavenly" mindset.

As citizens of heaven we need a bit of civic pride. We are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms though we are scarcely aware of it. We have come to Mt Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem and we keep the company of the godly. To see ourselves this way subtly changes our sense of identity and purifies us. Sin seems quite incompatible with a citizen of glory - which we are. As we catch a vision of Christ descending from heaven with a shout and us returning with Him to judge the world or rising to meet Him in the air lets live it out. Let's live like heaven matters. Its real its there, its worth living for.

Heaven is not a story or a fairy-tale. It is not Never-Never Land. It is the cosmic center of all creation and we shall dwell there as co-regents with Christ in heavenly glory. Make a mental note of the status of the believer. Do not forget it any more than you would if you were given a peerage. You are a peer of the realm, and that realm is heaven.


This article may be freely reproduced for non-profit ministry purposes but may not be sold in any way. For permission to use articles in your ministry, e-mail the editor, John Edmiston at johned@aibi.ph.