Heaven

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  1. Definitions. The phrase "heaven and earth" is used to indicate the whole universe (Gen 1:1; Jer 23:24; Acts 17:24). According to the Jewish notion there were three heavens,
    1. The firmament, as "fowls of the heaven" (Gen 2:19; 7:3, 23; Ps 8:8, etc.), "the eagles of heaven" (Lam 4:19), etc.
    2. The starry heavens (Deut 17:3; Jer 8:2; Mt 24:29).
    3. "The heaven of heavens," or "the third heaven" (Deut 10:14; 1 Kg 8:27; Ps 115:16; 148:4; 2Cor 12:2).
  2. Meaning of words in the original,
    1. The usual Hebrew word for "heavens" is shamayim, a plural form meaning "heights," "elevations" (Gen 1:1; 2:1).
    2. The Hebrew word marom is also used (Ps 68:18; 93:4; 102:19, etc.) as equivalent to shamayim, "high places," "heights."
    3. Heb. galgal, literally a "wheel," is rendered "heaven" in Ps 77:18 (R.V., "whirlwind").
    4. Heb. shahak, rendered "sky" (Deut 33:26; Job 37:18; Ps 18:11), plural "clouds" (Job 35:5; 36:28; Ps 68:34, marg. "heavens"), means probably the firmament.
    5. Heb. rakia is closely connected with (d), and is rendered "firmamentum" in the Vulgate, whence our "firmament" (Gen 1:6; Deut 33:26, etc.), regarded as a solid expanse.
  3. Metaphorical meaning of term. Isa 14:13, 14; "doors of heaven" (Ps 78:23); heaven "shut" (1 Kg 8:35); "opened" (Ezek 1:1). (See 1Chr 21:16.)
  4. Spiritual meaning. The place of the everlasting blessedness of the righteous; the abode of departed spirits.
    1. Christ calls it his "Father's house" (Jn 14:2).
    2. It is called "paradise" (Lk 23:43; 2Cor 12:4; Rev 2:7).
    3. "The heavenly Jerusalem" (Gal. 4: 26; Heb 12:22; Rev 3:12).
    4. The "kingdom of heaven" (Mt 25:1; James 2:5).
    5. The "eternal kingdom" (2 Pet 1:11).
    6. The "eternal inheritance" (1 Pet 1:4; Heb 9:15).
    7. The "better country" (Heb 11:14, 16).
    8. The blessed are said to "sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," and to be "in Abraham's bosom" (Lk 16:22; Mt 8:11); to "reign with Christ" (2 Tim 2:12); and to enjoy "rest" (Heb 4:10, 11).

In heaven the blessedness of the righteous consists in the possession of "life everlasting," "an eternal weight of glory" (2Cor 4:17), an exemption from all sufferings for ever, a deliverance from all evils (2Cor 5:1, 2) and from the society of the wicked (2 Tim 4:18), bliss without termination, the "fulness of joy" for ever (Lk 20:36; 2Cor 4:16, 18; 1 Pet 1:4; 5:10; 1 Jn 3:2). The believer's heaven is not only a state of everlasting blessedness, but also a "place", a place "prepared" for them (Jn 14:2).


This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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