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Verses on Heaven: What We Will and Won’t Do There as Well as What Heaven is Like

February 23rd, 2012 · No Comments · Bible, Christianity, Heaven, New Testament, Religion, Worship

What is heaven?

  • Heaven is God’s dwelling place (Deut 26:15)
  • Home of angels (Gen 28:12, Rev 4 & 5)
  • Home of the deceased righteous (2 Kings 2:1, Rev 6:9-11)
  • Ultimately the place of all the redeemed – 1 Thess 5:10, John 14:1-4

 What will we do in heaven?

  • Recognize people – Luke 9:30 (recognizing the dead)
  • Worship God – Revelation 4:8-11
  • Worship Christ – 5:13-14 (every living creature…that includes us)
    • Worship is the activity described the most in heaven
  • See things clearly – 1 Cor 13:12
  • See God face to face – Revelation 22:4
  • Dwell/live with God – Rev 21:3
  • Have our tears wiped away – Rev 21:4
  • Drink the water of life – Rev 21:6 & 22:1
  • Serve God and Christ – Rev 22:3 & 5:10
  • See Christ “as he is” – 1 John 3:2
  • Be pure:
    • Washed robes – 7:14
    • White robes – 3:5
    • Fine linen/bright and pure – 19:8
    • Spotless – Rev 14:4-5
    • Nothing impure can enter into heaven = no need for gates – 21:27
  • Respond to God:
    • Joy & Satisfaction are the two dominant responses (Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, 372)

 What won’t we do in heaven?

  • No marriage – Mark 12:24-25
  • No sex – Matthew 22:30
  • Die, mourn or cry – Revelation 21:4
  • Be cursed – Rev 22:3
  • Some say no eating or drinking in heaven – Rom 14:17 (but see Matthew 26:29 & Rev 21:6, is that symbolic?). Paul doesn’t say no eating or drinking…he says it is not a matter of eating or drinking. That just means those things won’t be matters of dispute because there will be so many more meaningful and substantial things going on in heaven.

 Mystery about heaven:

  • We don’t see clearly now – 1 Cor 13:12
  • Jesus obscured as he went into heaven – Acts 1:9
  • Revelation – often doors and seals must be open for mysteries to be reveled and for visions to be seen. (Rev 4, 15, 19)

How is heaven described

  • Heaven is God’s Holy City, the New Jerusalem – Rev 21:9-10
  • It radiates and appears shining and brilliant – Rev 21:11
  • Doesn’t say it was made of jasper but that it shown like jasper – 21:11
  • The Sea
    • No more sea – 21:1
    • Sea of glass before God’s throne – Rev 4:6
    • 15:2 – the victors standing beside what looked like a sea of glass
    • Reconciling the images
      • 4:6 – Rev 21 & 22 describe what happen after God redeems his people. Rev 4, it hasn’t happened yet. Things can and do change.
      • 15:2 – what looked like = metaphorical
  • High wall with 12 gates/12 tribes of Israel – 21:12
    • Made of pearl (21:21) – perfection, beauty, value, purity
    • 3 gates/side
    • 1 angel/gate – 21:12
    • Gates never shut – 21:25 (sign of power…there is no need to protect from evil)
  • 12 foundations – 12 apostles (21:14)
    • Each foundation like a precious stone (21:19-20)
  • Street of gold – 21:21
  • City dimensions:
    • Square shaped
    • Same length and width – 1,400 miles X 1,400 miles = Miami to Providence, RI and from Jacksonville, FL to New Mexico
    • Walls – 200 feet high
    • Made of gold – 21:21
  • Source of light:
    • There is no sun or moon – 21:23
    • God is its light – 21:23
    • No more night – 22:5
  • Throne of God – 22:1
    • God is sovereign
    • River of life flows from God’s thrown – God is the source of life
    • Tree of life – 22:2
  • Who is there?
    • Those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of Life – 21:27


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  • Andrew Patrick

    “Home of the deceased righteous (2 Kings 2:1, Rev 6:9-11)”

    Where does 2 Kings 2:1 say either that,
    a) Elijah died (considering that he sent a specific letter to a king after this time)
    b) Say that Elijah was to be caught up to the third heaven (not the heaven also called the sky)

    Where does Revelation 6:9-11 say that this altar that is pictured,
    a) is a literal altar (this is a vision)
    b) that this altar is in heaven (these saints were slain upon the earth)

    I would like to submit two more verses about heaven that may bear on these questions:

    Joh 3:12-13 KJV
    (12) If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
    And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

    Assuming that Elijah was man, then Christ’s statement would exclude Elijah.

    Act 2:34-35 KJV
    (34) For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
    (35) Until I make thy foes thy footstool.

    The reason Peter is making this important distinction is because heaven is the abode of God, and that presence in heaven (as alluded to by Christ in John 3:13) is a special identification of the King of Glory, also called the LORD of hosts, thus in the context of his Jewish audience, Peter is identifying Jesus who did ascend to heaven as their God. David, who merely wrote the 24th Psalm, is still dead, and buried, and his sepulcher is with them to this day.

    • mattdabbs

      Yeah, I should take out the 2 Kings 2:1 verse but I would stand by Rev 6:9-11. Jesus’ statement in John 3 was in conversation to Nicodemus to help him get a grasp on spiritual matters/heavenly matters. I believe His point is that if Nicodemus could go up there, see it for himself, and come back down that he would get it. Since he can’t do all that he needs to listen to the one who has been there and is now on the earth to testify about it. I don’t think that verse, when taken in context, excludes the possibility of people being with God today.

      Acts 2:34-35 is the same. David had not ascended to heaven when he said what he said. So how did he know? It doesn’t say he didn’t ascend or hasn’t ascended. It says he “did not ascend to heaven, and yet said…” which is all about David prior to death. It says nothing about David postmortem.

      • Andrew Patrick

        Revelation 6:9-11 does not use the word heaven, and this seal is juxtaposed along quite a few other elements that do not seem to be a fitting description of heaven. The prior elements include the four horsemen of the apocalypse, one of which is named Death, and Hell follows him.

        Rev 6:8 KJV
        (8) And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

        In other words, the only contextual clues we are given behind this seal indicate that this part of the vision is upon the earth. The following seal after the scene of the slain martyrs that are told that they shall not be avenged until after a little season pictures an earthquake (which necessitates the earth.)

        Concerning John 3:13, I realize that the passage may seem troubling if one has a perspective that people “go to heaven when they die.” Perhaps the question we should be asking is why anyone would believe that in the first place. If you were to pick up the bible at Genesis and start reading forwards, at what point would all the scriptures that tell us that the dead are dead, passed away, without thought, being, love, envy, hatred, and unable to praise the LORD…

        … at what point do we discard this divine revelation and replace it with a model that requires “going to heaven when you die” in the sense that we would need to interpret John 3:13 to be compatible with this said idea? Why would the promised resurrection of the dead be insufficient, or I could even ask, why would the resurrection be necessary?

        Touching on Peter’s speech in Acts, that was specifically spoken of in the context of David remaining dead and not being in heaven, and the King James Version, at least, says that David is not ascended (reflecting his current state) and it is hard to imagine why the context would demand otherwise.

        Act 2:29-35 KJV
        (29) Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.
        (30) Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
        (31) He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
        (32) This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
        (33) Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
        (34) For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
        (35) Until I make thy foes thy footstool.

        Peter is definitely speaking of David “post-mortem.” The difference between David and Christ is that Christ’s soul was not left in hell, and his flesh did not see corruption, and we know this because he was raised from the dead. That would mean that David’s soul remains in hell, that his flesh has seen corruption, and that he has not yet been raised from the dead.

        The gospel accounts record a conversation Jesus had with the Sadducees who denied the resurrection (and also rejected the majority of scripture past the first five books of Moses.) Jesus answered the Sadducees from Moses, even from the example of Moses at the burning bush, and for the purpose of proving the absolute necessity of the resurrection, he said to them:

        Mat 22:29-32 KJV
        (29) Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
        (30) For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.
        (31) But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying,
        (32) I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

        The context of Christ’s answer rejects any possibility that Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob currently existed in any state that could possibly be described as “living” in any form, because otherwise he would have been contradicting himself and denying of the resurrection of the dead.

        Christ’s argument uses context and necessity, for God’s statement of “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (present tense) makes no sense unless Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be resurrected in the future. This account is considered important enough to be be repeated in the books of Mark and Luke.

        Therefore, why is anyone suggesting that the dead are currently living in any form? The resurrection is explicitly taught, but where is there any explicit teaching of “going to heaven when you die” that would require that we start to change our method of interpretation by the time we reach the gospel of John or even Revelation? When did the promised resurrection to immortality become unsatisfying?

        In other words, I am asking what we should be using to shape our interpretation of scripture. Do we start in Genesis or read onward, or should we assign the weight of Catholic tradition a greater degree of authority?

    • mattdabbs

      Andrew…good thoughts. I appreciate the time and thought you put into that. I don’t really have time to respond today and maybe not even until Monday. But I will get back with you on this. I don’t want you to think I am ignoring what you are saying.

      • Andrew Patrick

        Thank you for putting that placeholder in there….

        On a slightly different angle, I would like to point out that a reference to “the kingdom of heaven” is not the same as a reference to “heaven.” They are different from both a grammatical and a contextual approach.

        Heaven (the third heaven, not the sky or the starry sphere) is the abode of God, but when we see a reference to the Kingdom of Heaven, the word “of” is usually indicative of source and origin, but not necessarily that of present location.

        In fact, all the parables of the kingdom of heaven are pointing to its establishment upon Christ’s return on the earth, indicating that the kingdom of heaven is first established upon the earth with the second coming. You will see many places where Jesus says “the kingdom of heaven is like …” but no where that he describes “heaven is like…”

        The resurrected saints that are made perfect, immortal, and incorruptible might access the heaven of God’s throne, but if we are compiling a list of descriptive attributes, “the kingdom of heaven” seems to be initially placed on earth, from the authority and power of heaven, without describing heaven (as God’s throne) itself.

        In other words, “heaven” is not equal to “the kingdom of heaven.”

  • Keith Brenton

    On the question of eating and drinking in heaven, I’d add the somewhat ambiguous: “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 8:11

    • mattdabbs

      Revelation has multiple examples of drinking from the water of life in heaven. Jesus said to the disciples that he would take the Supper again with them in the kingdom. Unless those are figurative there will be eating and drinking in heaven. Some have a hard time with that because they don’t believe in a bodily resurrection. I will post on that later.

      • Jerry Starling

        Remember that the tree of life is also there in “the new heavens and the new earth.” Figurative? Perhaps, but it certainly recalls the Paradise of Eden where Adam was to eat of all of the fruits and herbs except one.

  • Jerry Starling

    In thinking about the “already, but not yet” aspect of the kingdom of heaven consider Eph 2:6 where we are assured that we now sit with Christ in the heavenlies (heavenly places, KJV) and that in Christ we are a part of the new creation.

    I would add that in heaven, we will have a corporeal body – though it will be like the resurrection body of Jesus. There will be real work (not laborious toil, but meaningful work and activity) to do. We will NOT be bored! That will be work in keeping with our status as children of God, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.

    Will we continue to learn and grow in heaven? I genuinely believe we will – but I cannot point to a specific passage that says so.

  • James

    Thinking about the reference to Romans 14:17, I don’t believe he’s referring to what occurs in heaven at all, but what happens in the kingdom of God (the reign of God in his people) in the hear and now. The context is that we should understand that our lives in the kingdom are not dictated, or centered around, food and related restrictions/laws/convictions.

    Over all on that point, though, I agree that the view that we will not eat is shaky.

    I’m not convinced that when a person dies, they go to heaven (the Bible doesn’t actually come right and say this directly, to my own surprised when challenged on the point years ago; Elijah’s situation is hardly normative, and other passages are vague at best). I do think that Luke 16, often seen as a parable, but not told in Jesus’ typical parable style, nor addressed as such in the scripture, gives us a view of what happens, which was also the typical understanding of the Jews at the time, and one never changed/corrected by Jesus. Hebrews 11 ends by reminding us that all the OT saints mentioned have not yet gained their final reward, but are awaiting a time when we all will enter receive it together, because “God had something better planned.” That’s a far more dramatic and exciting picture, if you ask me, than the now-popular idea that we die, and that second we enter heaven and that’s that…which I’m pretty sure is more Bugs Bunny and pop-culture than Bible. 🙂

    Jerry, I agree that the idea of a transformed body is certainly the teaching of scripture, and why the Resurrection is so important, and why Hebrews 11 ends as it does, with a view toward the new body described in 1st Cor. 15. It’s going to be exciting, and you’re right, we won’t be bored!

  • K. Rex Butts

    So would that phrase “in heaven” refer to somewhere out there that apart from this life or will it be here connected to this life where heaven and earth are joined together?

    I’m not really expecting an answer as I know that such an answer is not easy. Further more, any answer depends on how we read scripture too…that old hermeneutic thingy again. I do think such a question is good for people to think about and wrestle with.

    Grace and Peace,


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