Does heaven have different levels?
The Bible speaks of only one eternal home for believers in which all of God's people will ultimately dwell with Him forever. However, there has been much confusion on this topic due to a passage in 2 Corinthians 12 in which Paul speaks of a third heaven. What did he mean by this?
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Although stated in an anonymous fashion (v. 2), it appears clear that Paul spoke of himself when discussing his vision of the third heaven. In it, he made reference to the cultural idea that included three levels of "heaven." The first level referred to the sky. In fact, the Greek and Hebrew words for heaven and sky are the same. The second level referred to the night skies or what we would call outer space. The third heaven referred to the unseen heaven where God dwells with His people.
In addition to this passage, many people have been confused about levels of heaven because of the popular writing by Dante called the Divine Comedy. In it, he describes nine levels of heaven with details regarding each level. This writing, though creative, is a work of fiction and is not to be accepted as the teachings of the Bible.
Further, many other religious movements speak of multiple levels of heaven or the afterlife. Both Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormon Church have concepts of the afterlife that include more than one level of what would be considered heaven. However, these concepts are not traditional biblical interpretations but rather interpretations unique to these movements.
For example, Jehovah's Witnesses believe there is a special group of 144,000 people will be in the highest level of "heaven" or "paradise" with Jehovah and that other faithful followers will exist in a different heavenly afterlife on earth based on Revelation 7. However, this view inaccurately treats the 144,000 as a group of faithful Jehovah's Witnesses rather than 144,000 Jewish evangelists who share the gospel of Jesus in the last days.
In the Mormon Church, there are three levels of the afterlife called the celestial kingdom, the terrestrial kingdom, and the telestial kingdom. Mormon doctrine teaches that the celestial kingdom is the third heaven mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12, is reached by the most faithful Mormons and children who die before the age of 8 years old, and is where both God the Father and Jesus Christ dwell (considered two Persons in Mormon teachings).
While there are many views of heaven and the afterlife found in cultural and religious teachings, the Bible presents only two places in the afterlife—heaven and hell—and does not teach multiple levels of heaven. All of God's people will dwell in God's presence forever.
Where does the idea of seven heavens come from? Is the idea of a seventh heaven biblical?
Does the Bible tell us what Heaven is like?
Does hell have levels, each with a different degree of punishment?
Is the concept of purgatory biblical?
What is the intermediate state?
Truth about Eternity