What does the Bible say about heaven?
Why should we think about heaven? God’s Word tells us to! “Keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2)
It’s easy to get distracted by what’s going on here on earth. But the Bible reminds us that “our citizenship is in heaven.” (Philippians 3:20) In fact, if we become too consumed with earthly things, we are “enemies of the cross of Christ.” (Philippians 3:18-19).
God wants us to explore what the Bible says about heaven because this directly impacts our values and how we live and think.
Christian quotes about heaven
“My home is in Heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.” Billy Graham
“Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” C.S. Lewis
“For the Christian, heaven is where Jesus is. We do not need to speculate on what heaven will be like. It is enough to know that we will be forever with Him.” William Barclay
“Christian, anticipate heaven…Within little time you will be rid of all your trials and your troubles.” – C.H. Spurgeon.
“The doctrine of the Kingdom of Heaven, which was the main teaching of Jesus, is certainly one of the most revolutionary doctrines that ever stirred and changed human thought.” H. G. Wells
“Those who go to Heaven ride on a pass and enter into blessings that they never earned, but all who go to hell pay their own way.” John R. Rice
“Let heaven fill your thoughts instead. Because when you do, everything on earth gets placed in its proper perspective.” Greg Laurie
What is heaven in the Bible?
Jesus spoke of heaven as “my Father’s house.” Heaven is where God lives and reigns. It is where Jesus is currently preparing a place for each of us to live with Him.
God’s temple is in heaven. When God gave Moses instructions for the tabernacle, it was a model of the real sanctuary in heaven.
Jesus is our great high priest, our mediator of the new covenant. He entered the holy place of heaven once and for all with His blood shed from His great sacrifice.
1. Hebrews 9:24 “For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”
2. John 14:1-3 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
3. Luke 23:43 “And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
4. Hebrews 11:16 “Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
Heaven versus heavens in the Bible
The Hebrew word for heaven (shamayim) is a plural noun – however, it can either be plural in the sense of there being more than one or plural in the sense of size. This word is used in the Bible for three places:
- The air within earth’s atmosphere, where the birds fly (Deuteronomy 4:17). Sometimes translators use the plural “heavens” just as we say “skies” – where it has more to do with size than number.
- The universe where the sun, moon, and stars are – “God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth” (Genesis 1:17). When used to mean the universe, various Bible versions use heaven (or heavens), sky (or skies).
- The place where God lives. King Solomon asked God to “hear their prayer and their supplication in heaven Your dwelling place (1 Kings 8:39). Earlier in the same prayer Solomon speaks of “heaven and the highest heaven” (or “heaven and the heaven of heavens”) (1 Kings 8:27), as he’s talking about the place where God lives.
In the New Testament, the Greek word Ouranos likewise describes all three. In most translations, when the plural “heavens” is used, it’s referring to either earth’s atmosphere or the universe (or both together). When referring to God’s home, the singular “heaven” is mostly used.
5. Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
6. Nehemiah 9:6 “You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.”
7. 1 Kings 8:27 “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”
8. 2 Chronicles 2:6 “But who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him? Who then am I to build a temple for him, except as a place to burn sacrifices before him?”
9. Psalm 148:4-13 “Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LORD! For he commanded and they were created. And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away. Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word! Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds! Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and maidens together, old men and children! Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.”
10. Genesis 2:4 “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.”
11. Psalm 115:16 “The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to mankind.”
12. Genesis 1:17-18 “And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.”
What is the third heaven in the Bible?
The third heaven is mentioned only one time in the Bible, by Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 – “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows—was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.”
Paul meant the “highest heaven,” where God resides, as opposed to the “first heaven” – the air where birds fly, or the “second heaven” – the universe with stars and planets. Notice that he also calls it “Paradise” – this is the same word Jesus used on the cross, when He told the man on the cross beside Him, “Today, you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) It’s also used in Revelation 2:7, where the tree of life is said to be in the Paradise of God.
Some groups teach that there are three heavens or “degrees of glory” where people go after their resurrection, but there is nothing in the Bible that supports this concept.
13. 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 “I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 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. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.”
What is heaven like in the Bible?
Some people have an idea that heaven is a boring place. Nothing is further from the truth! Look around at all the fascinating diversity and beauty of our present world, even though it is fallen. Heaven certainly won’t be anything less – but more, so much more!
Heaven is a real, physical place inhabited by God and His angels and the spirits of His saints (believers) that have already died.
After the return of Christ and the rapture, all the saints will have glorified, immortal bodies that will no longer experience sadness, sickness, or death (Revelation 21:4, 1 Corinthians 15:53). In heaven, we will experience the restoration of everything that was lost through sin.
In heaven, we will see God just as He is, and we will be like Him (1 John 3:2). God’s will is always done in heaven (Matthew 6:10); even though Satan and evil spirits currently have access to heaven (Job 1:6-7, 2 Chronicles 18:18-22). Heaven is a place of continuous worship (Revelation 4:9-11). Anyone who thinks that will be boring has never experienced the joy and ecstasy of pure worship, unbridled by sin, wrong desires, judging, and distraction.
14. Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
15. Revelation 4:9-11 “Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: 11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
16. 1 John 3:2 “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
17. Ephesians 4:8 “Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”
18. Isaiah 35:4-5 “say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you. 5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.”
19. Matthew 5:12 “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
20. Matthew 6:19-20 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
21. Luke 6:23 “When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way.”
22. Matthew 13:43 “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
Descriptions of heaven from the Bible
In Revelation 4, John was invited to come up to heaven, in the spirit, where he saw great wonders.
Later, in Revelation 21, John saw the exquisite beauty of the new Jerusalem. The wall was made from sapphire, emerald, and many other precious stones. The gates were pearl, and the streets were gold, like transparent glass (Rev. 4:18-21). There was no sun or moon, because the city was illumined by the glory of God and the Lamb (Rev. 4:23). A crystal-clear river flowed from God’s throne, and on each side of the river was the tree of life, for healing of the nations (Rev. 22:1-2).
In Hebrews 12:22-24, we read more of the new Jerusalem.
23. Hebrews 12:22-24 “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”
24. Revelation 21:2 “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.”
25. Revelation 4:2-6 “At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. 3 And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. 4 Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits[a] of God. 6 Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back.”
26. Revelation 21:3 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”
27. Revelation 22:5 “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”
28. 1 Corinthians 13:12 “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”
29. Psalm 16:11 ” You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
30. 1 Corinthians 2:9 “That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
31. Revelation 7:15-17 “Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
32. Isaiah 35:1 “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus.”
33. Daniel 7:14 “He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal-it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.”
34. 2 Chronicles 18:18 “Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing on his right and on his left.”
Where is heaven in the Bible?
The Bible doesn’t specifically tell us where heaven is, except “up.” We have numerous scriptures about God looking down from His glorious home in heaven (such as Isaiah 63:15) and angels coming down from heaven (such as Daniel 4:23). Jesus came down from heaven (John 6:38), ascended back up into the sky and into a cloud (Acts 1:9-10), and will return from heaven on the clouds of the sky with great power and glory (Matthew 24:30).
Regarding location, we are bound by our limited human concept of geography. For one thing, our earth is a sphere, so how do we determine “up”? Up from where? Going straight up from South America would be going in a different direction that up from the Middle East.
The Bible hints that rather than some distant location beyond our universe, heaven is near, perhaps in a different plane of existence. John saw the door to heaven, apparently with his physical eyes, before he went up into heaven in his spirit (Revelation 4:1-2). In his dream, Jacob saw a ladder, extending from earth to heaven, with angels ascending and descending it, and he called the place the “gate of heaven” (Genesis 28:10-19).
35. 1 Corinthians 2:9 “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived—the things God has prepared for those who love him.”
36. Ephesians 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
37. Isaiah 63:15 “Look down from heaven and see, from your lofty throne, holy and glorious. Where are your zeal and your might? Your tenderness and compassion are withheld from us.”
What will we do in heaven?
People in heaven are receiving comfort from the sufferings they endured in life. (Luke 16:19-31). In heaven, we will be reunited with our beloved family and friends who died in Christ (and yes, we will know them – the rich man recognized Lazarus in the above passage).
In heaven, we will worship along with the angels, and with believers from all time and places, and with all created things! (Revelation 5:13) We will sing and play instruments (Revelation 15:2-4). We’ll be worshiping and fellowshipping with Abraham and Moses, with Mary Magdalene and Queen Esther, but most importantly, we will be face to face with our loving Lord and Savior Jesus.
In heaven we will feast and celebrate! “The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain” (Isaiah 25:6). “Many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 8:11). “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9).
Heaven is a place of incomprehensible beauty. Think of trips you’ve taken to enjoy the beach or the mountains, see natural wonders or magnificent architecture. Heaven will be so much more beautiful than any of the exquisite things we can see on this earth. We will likely spend a lot of time exploring!
We will reign as kings and priests forever! (Revelation 5:10, 22:5) “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?” (1 Corinthians 6:2-3) “Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.” (Daniel 7:27)
38. Luke 23:43 “And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
39. Isaiah 25:6 “And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.”
40. Luke 16:25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.”
41. Revelation 5:13 “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”
What are the new heaven and new earth?
In Revelation, chapters 21 and 22, we read about the new heaven and new earth. The Bible says the first earth and the first heaven will pass away. It will be burned up (2 Peter 3:7-10). God will recreate heaven and earth as a place where sin and the effects of sin will no longer exist. Sickness and sorrow and death will disappear, and we will not remember them.
We know our present earth is fallen and even nature has suffered the consequences of our sin. But why would heaven be destroyed and recreated? Isn’t heaven already a perfect place? In these passages, “heaven” may be referring to our universe, not the place where God dwells (remember the same word is used for all three). The Bible speaks numerous times about the stars falling from heaven in the end times (Isaiah 34:4, Matthew 24:29, Revelation 6:13).
However, as previously noted, Satan and his demons do currently have access to heaven. Revelation 12:7-10 speaks of Satan being in heaven, accusing believers day and night. This passage tells of a great war in heaven between Michael and his angels and the dragon (Satan) and his angels. Satan and his angels are thrown from heaven to earth, an occasion of great rejoicing in heaven, but horror for earth because of the wrath of Satan, especially against believers. Eventually, Satan will be defeated and thrown into the lake of fire and the dead will be judged.
After Satan’s final defeat, the new Jerusalem will come down from heaven in great beauty (see “Descriptions of heaven” above). God will live with His people forever, and we will enjoy perfect fellowship with Him, like Adam and Eve did before the Fall.
42. Isaiah 65:17-19 “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. 19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.”
43. 2 Peter 3:13 “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”
44. Isaiah 66:22 “As surely as my new heavens and earth will remain, so will you always be my people, with a name that will never disappear,” says the LORD.”
45. Revelation 21:5 “And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.”
46. Hebrews 13:14 “For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.”
Bible verses about heaven being our home
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived nomadic lives in tents in the promised land. Even though God had directed them to this particular land, they were looking for a different place – a city whose architect and builder is God. They desired a better country – a heavenly one (Hebrews 11:9-16). For them, heaven was their true home. Hopefully, it is for you as well!
As believers, we are citizens of heaven. This gives us certain rights, privileges, and duties. Heaven is where we belong – where our forever home is – even though we are temporarily residing here. Because heaven is our eternal home – this where our loyalty should lie and where our investments should be focused. Our behavior should reflect the values of our true home, not our temporary residence. (Philippians 3:17-21).
47. Philippians 3:20 “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
48. Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”
49. 1 John 5:4 “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”
50. John 8:23 “Jesus said to them, “You’re from below. I’m from above. You’re from this world. I’m not from this world.”
How to set your mind on things above?
We set our mind on things above by being aware that we are in the world but not of it. What are you striving for? Where are you directing your energy and focus? Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34). Is your heart striving after material things or after the things of God?
If our mind is set on heaven, then we live for God’s glory. We live in purity. We practice the presence of God, even when going through mundane tasks. If we are seated with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6), we need to live with the consciousness that we are united with Him. If we have the mind of Christ, we have insight and discernment in what is going on in the world around us.
51. Colossians 3:1-2 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
52. Luke 12:34 “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
53. Colossians 3:3 “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
54. Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
55. 2 Corinthians 4:18 “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
How to get into heaven according to the Bible?
You can’t earn your way into heaven. You can never be good enough. However, wonderful news! Eternal life in heaven is a free gift from God!
God made a way for us to be saved and get into heaven by sending His own Son Jesus to take our sins upon His sinless body and die in our place. He paid the price for our sins, so that we could life forever in heaven!
56. Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
57. Romans 10:9-10 “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
58. Ephesians 2:6-7 “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
59. Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
60. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
61. Acts 16:30-31 “He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
62. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
63. John 17:3 “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
64. Romans 4:24 “but also for us, to whom righteousness will be credited–for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.”
65. John 3:18 “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
66. Romans 5:8 “But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Is there only one way to get to heaven according to the Bible?
Yes – only one way. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)
67. Revelation 20:15 “Only those whose names are written in the book of life will enter into heaven. Everyone else will be thrown into the lake of fire.”
68. Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
69. 1 John 5:13 “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”
70. John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Am I going to heaven or hell?
If you repent, confess you are a sinner, and believe in your heart that Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead, you are on your way to heaven!
If you don’t, no matter how good you are or how much you do to help others – you’re going to hell.
I trust that you have received Jesus as your Lord and Savior and are on your way to heaven and an eternity of unspeakable joy. As you journey down this path, remember to live with eternity’s values in view!