I have heard there are seven heavens. How many are there, and which one is Jesus in?
The idea of seven heavens is found in Islam, Judaism and Hinduism. In Islam and Judaism, the divine throne is said to be in or above the seventh heaven. In Hinduism, the god Brahma lives in the seventh heaven. However, none of these ideas are mentioned in the Bible.
It is thought that the myth of seven heavens came from ancient astrologists who could identify seven great heavenly objects (the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) and assumed that each was moving in a separate heaven, in a series of layers above the earth. These were the only objects that people could see in the sky that moved with respect to the fixed stars. They gave us the names of the week: Sunday after the sun, Monday after the moon, and Tuesday to Friday after the Norse versions of Mars, Mercury, Jupiter and Venus, and Saturday after Saturn.
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word “samayim” (Strongs #8064) is translated as “heaven” or “heavens” and has the following meanings according to the context in which the word is used:
- The earth’s atmosphere: “the rain had stopped falling from the sky” (Gen. 8:2NIV).
- The realm of the stars: “the stars in the sky” (Gen. 22:17).
- The dwelling place of God and the angels: “Hear from heaven, your [God’s] dwelling place” (2 Chron. 6:21).
Another expression representing the dwelling place of God is “the highest heaven” (literally the heaven of heavens): “To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it” (Dt. 10:14). This expression doesn’t represent multiple heavens, but the uniqueness of God’s home compared to the atmosphere and the stars.
In the New Testament, the Greek word “ouranos” (Strongs #3772) is translated as “heaven” or “heavens” and has the following meanings according to the context in which the word is used:
- The earth’s atmosphere: “the birds of the air” (Mt. 6:26).
- The realm of the stars: “the stars in the sky” (Heb. 11:12).
- The dwelling place of God and the angels: “Father in heaven” (Mt. 6:9; 12:50).
- God: “I have sinned against heaven [referring to God, by metonymy] and against you” (Lk. 15:18).
Christ’s incarnation and ascension is described as: “He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens” (Eph. 4:10). This expression doesn’t represent multiple heavens, but the uniqueness of God’s home compared to the atmosphere and the stars.
Paul said that he was “caught up to the third heaven”, which was “paradise” (2 Cor. 12:2-4). If God’s dwelling place is the third heaven, then the other two heavens are the earth’s atmosphere and the universe beyond the earth.
So, the Bible refers to three different heavens, not seven heavens. These are three usages of the word “heaven”, not a series of layers above the earth. God dwells in the “highest heaven”, which is unique (Lk. 2:14). It is not necessarily physically uppermost or furthest from the earth, but it is superior and supreme. That is why Jesus is “exalted above the heavens”; He is greater than anything in the atmosphere and the rest of the universe (Heb. 7:26). Today, we mainly use the word “heaven” for God’s dwelling place.
Written, April 2012
Sounds nice but it was not Paul who was caught up
June 22, 2014 at 8:56 pm
Thanks for the comment.
I assume you are referring to 2 Cor. 12:2-4 “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell”. Who is this referring to if it is not Paul?
The context of this passage it that Paul is defending his apostleship. In Ch. 10 he replies to his accusers. In Ch. 11 he exposes them as false apostles and boasts about his sufferings. In Ch. 12 he boasts about a vision, his “thorn in the flesh” and his “signs, wonders and miracles”. The key word in these chapters is kauchaomai (Strongs #2744), which means “to boast”. It occurs 17 times. Clearly it’s all about Paul, not someone else. If it wasn’t Paul, why was Paul given a “thorn in the flesh” to keep him from being conceited with regard to the vision? It is clear from v.5-7 that this happened to Paul and not someone else. In this case Paul wrote in the third person “so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say” (2 Cor. 12:6). He was humble and didn’t wish to be exalted.
August 20, 2014 at 8:51 pm
it was enoch who went to heaven and then came back for 30 days read the book of enoch its great
April 22, 2016 at 5:13 am
it is Paul who was caught to the third heaven. he knows how to relate avoiding a case of him being worship. Heavens are seven, get it from the book of Enoch a man who walked with heavenly host, and was caught up to the seventh heaven….
February 7, 2016 at 7:58 pm
Thanks for the comment Nyoni.
There is no Scriptural support for the idea that God created seven heavens – the book of Enoch is extra-biblical.
2 Corinthians 12:2 doesn’t indicate multiple levels of heaven as other religions teach. Instead, it differentiates between the earth’s atmosphere, space, and the spiritual dwelling of God. When the Bible says God lives in heaven, using the same words as sky, it doesn’t mean that God lives with the clouds or the stars, just that He is above us spiritually and not limited like the physical world.
February 9, 2016 at 8:36 am
In the book of Enoch, there are 10 heavens and God is sitting in the 10th heaven.
March 2, 2018 at 4:58 pm
Thanks for the comment Retha.
The Book of Enoch is a fallible historical document. The book is a pseudepigraphal (falsely attributed, whose claimed authorship is unfounded) text that is attributed Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah (Genesis 5:18-24). So, it’s not a part of the inspired, authoritative Word of God.
January 9, 2019 at 2:20 pm
I have never understood why people are so closed minded about other peoples beliefs. None of this has any thing to do with ones salvation in JESUS who is in the highest of the heavens! GOD’s plan for the human race as a WHOLE has NEVER changed and NEVER will!
August 3, 2014 at 10:30 pm
Thanks for your contribution Dale.
“God’s plan for the human race” and “one’s salvation in Jesus” is revealed in the Bible and nowhere else. Therefore, “other peoples beliefs” must be evaluated in light of God’s revelation in the Bible.
Because “other peoples beliefs” are inconsistent, we are also inconsistent if we accept all of them.
August 20, 2014 at 9:37 pm
God bless you all for your contribution on the topic
But permit me to ask this, where is the place of the demon on air? for Daniel prayed and the prince of Persia held the Amen of his prayer. God bless you
July 16, 2016 at 7:31 am
Thanks for the comment Opatile.
Please see my reply: “Where are Satan and demons“?
August 19, 2016 at 6:44 am
The mind of man is the highth heaven jesus desceded to the lowest an ascended to the height heavens spiritual not physically.
March 6, 2017 at 9:38 pm
Thanks for the comment Ayyub.
The Bible says that Jesus descended to earth from the third heaven (the abode of God) and that He ascended back to the third heaven (Eph. 4:8-10). And it doesn’t associate the human mind with heaven. Where does this idea come from?
As mentioned in this post, the word “heaven” is used in the Bible to describe the earth’s atmosphere, the realm of the stars, and the dwelling place of God and the angels.
November 27, 2017 at 11:41 am
if you use the earths atmosphere to describe heaven then that means all the nine planets are also heavens thus nine heaven already underway.
i believe in the three heavens.
1) the first heaven is the firmament which begins with the atmosphere of the planets including the earths atmosphere, through the starry space and way up to the end of the universe. its a physical heaven.
2) the second heaven is a spiritual heaven and its called Paradise which is different from the third heaven. this is the Paradise Jesus said i go to prepare a place for you.(John 14;2-3). this is the dwelling place of the Righteous.
3) the third heaven is called the Paradise of God not man (Rev. 2;7) or God’s Throne room. this is where the first sphere of Angels ministers to him, Seraphims, Cherubims and Ophenims.
October 24, 2018 at 12:44 am
What about a reference to kobol? The Mormons use a Hymn “hie to kobol?” It came from an English Hymnal. I think the story goes that Kobol was suppose to exist in the first period of creation or was a star or celestial body closest to God or Heaven. Where does this originate from?
October 30, 2017 at 2:29 pm
Thanks for the question Charles.
Kolob is a star or planet described in Mormon scripture as being the heavenly body nearest to the throne of God. Mormons have interpreted this literally and metaphorically. It’s mentioned in the “Book of Abraham” which was dictated by Joseph Smith in 1836. Although Mormons claim this book was translated from an Egyptian papyrus scroll, there is no evidence to support this.
Kolob is also the inspiration for the planet Kobol within the Battlestar Galactica universe, created by Glen A. Larson, a Mormon.
As Mormonism distorts the nature of God, the person of Jesus Christ, and the means of salvation; it’s inconsistent with the Bible. And Mormonism teaches three heavenly kingdoms as the eternal destiny of most humans (celestial, terrestrial, and telestial), which is also inconsistent with the Bible. That’s why there is no reference to “kobol” in this blogpost, which is based on the Bible.
October 31, 2017 at 6:05 pm
There is a fourth heaven spoken of in Scripture. It is not realized yet but the Bible calls it the ‘new heaven’. Rev. 21:1
May 23, 2018 at 7:14 pm
Thanks for the comment Don on 24 October 2018.
My blog showed that the word “heaven” has three meanings in the Bible. Two of these are physical (the atmosphere, and the universe of stars and galaxies), and one spiritual (where God dwells).
The Bible never describes the atmosphere of another planet as “heaven”.
You say that “the third heaven is called the Paradise of God not man (Rev. 2:7) or God’s Throne room”. But Revelation 2:7 says, “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God”. This says that people will occupy this paradise – those who are victorious or overcomers. So it is a “dwelling place of the Righteous” (like your second heaven). Because of this, I think that your second and third heavens are equivalent.
October 24, 2018 at 6:56 am
The whole discussion is very interesting. May God grant us wisdom as we look into it. I’m interested in this topic.
October 10, 2021 at 3:02 am
My name is Elie Hofer. I live in Victoria, Canada. I found the Seven Heavens figure pictured on the GeorgesJournal website. I included the figure in my Ph.D dissertation on C. S. Lewis. Wipf and Stock Publishers in Eugene, Oregon has offered to publish my dissertation and has asked to get your consent to publish the figure. May I have your consent? My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for the message. The seven heavens is not my image. I found it somewhere online in 2012. I see it referenced in a book that was published in 2008, “Planet Narnia” by Michael Ward.
“The Seven Heavens – Planet Narnia”
George S. Hawke
April 8, 2022 at 1:37 pm