Heaven - the Hope of the Church

The Meaning of the Word “Heaven”

From the most ancient of Biblical times there has been “heaven” and there has been “earth.” It matters not whether Hebrew, Greek, English, or any other language is used. They all generally have the same meaning of the English root - “heaved”. That is “heaved up” or that which is above the ground.

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #8064 = Hebrew SHAMAYIM is from a root meaning “lofty.” It is obvious this may also be a figure of speech.

1) heaven, heavens, sky
1a) visible heavens, sky
1a1) as abode of the stars
1a2) as the visible universe, the sky, atmosphere, etc
1b) Heaven (as the abode of God)

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #3772 = Greek OURANOS [from which we get Uranus]

1) the vaulted expanse of the sky with all things visible in it
1a) the universe, the world
1b) the aerial heavens or sky, the region where the clouds and the tempests gather, and where thunder and lightning are produced
1c) the sidereal or starry heavens
2) the region above the sidereal heavens, the seat of order of things eternal and consummately perfect where God dwells and other heavenly beings

In English the word-group “heaven” may appear also in a plural form “heavens” [Genesis 1:1] or “heavenly”. [Matthew 5:48]. The general word-group “heaven” occurs about 800+ times.

Thus, from the beginning in Genesis 1 birds are described as flying in “heaven”, meaning that area above the earth between ground level and say 30,000 feet. [Genesis 1:1, 9, 14, 15, 17, 20, 26, 28, 30; 7:3, 11, 14, 19, 23; 2 Samuel 18:9; Psalm 107:26] [Ravens have been seen flying over Mount Everest!] But, obviously birds do not fly in what we would today call “outer space” or the stellar universe visible to us in the stars and moon at night as well as the sun during the day. [Psalm 19:1; Isaiah 40:22, 26]

Also from earliest times “heaven” is used for that place where God and spirit-beings reside. Indeed sometimes just the word “Heaven” is a synonym for God. [Job 20:27] It is true the word is used in poetic books as a figure of speech, and in some cases it is hard to tell whether the word means the Sky or God’s Residence.

1 Kings 8:27 But is it truly possible that God may be housed on earth? see, heaven [? Atmosphere] and the heaven of heavens [? Stellar universe] are not wide enough to be your resting-place; how much less this house which I have made!

34 Then give ear in heaven [God’s residence], and let the sin of your people Israel have forgiveness, and take them back again into the land which you gave to their fathers.

35 When heaven [Atmosphere] is shut up and there is no rain, because of their sin against you; if they make prayers with their faces turned to this place, honouring your name and turning away from their sin when you send trouble on them:

36 Then give ear in heaven [God’s residence], so that the sin of your servants, and of your people Israel, may have forgiveness. [Bible in Basic English]

In 2 Chronicles 6:18 words some of the above in this manner:

“But is it truly possible that God may be housed with men on earth? see, heaven and the heaven of heavens are not wide enough to be your resting-place: how much less this house which I have made:” [Bible in Basic English]

In a similar manner the prophet Isaiah shows the difference between Heaven as God’s residence and the earth:

“[Yehowah] says, Heaven is the seat of my power, and earth is the resting-place for my feet: what sort of house will you make for me, and what place will be my resting-place?” [Isaiah 66:1 Bible in Basic English]

Has Anyone Ever Gone to Heaven?

Though some Christian groups disagree, others see strong evidence that no human being has ever ascended to heaven as the place of God’s residence. For example, Proverbs 30:4 asks,

“Who has gone up to heaven and come down?” [Bible in Basic English]

It is true that on some rare occasions someone such as Elijah is spoken of as ascending into the heavenly atmosphere in a whirlwind. [2 Kings 2:1, 11] Our Nazarene Master makes it clear that no human being has ever ascended to that heaven where God resides and from whence Jesus came. For he tells his disciples:

“No person has ascended into the Heaven if not the One having descended from the Heaven, ‘the Son of Humankind’.” [John 3:13 NCMM; compare also Acts 2:34]

Here Jesus alludes to the only verse in the Hebrew Bible that sees a human being ascending to heaven - Daniel 7:13. Jesus alludes to this source again when he later tells his disciples:

“Then, what if you [disciples] might see the ‘Son of Humankind ascending’ [Daniel 7:13] to where he was formerly?” [John 6:62 NCMM]

The Nazarene Master makes clear again and again that he came from God - or from heaven. [John 6:31-58] It seems fair to conclude that this “heaven: is God’s own residence. Jesus confirms this in his final Passover prayer with his faithful apostles in John 17:5,

“So now, You glorify me next to Yourself with the glory that ‘I possessed next to You before the Cosmos existed’.” [Proverbs 8:22, 30 LXX]” [NCMM]

Can anyone argue that our Master did not descend from heaven - God’s Residence, the Celestialum - and that he returned there to be with his Father?

What Did Jesus Promise His Disciples?

However, what did Jesus promise to his disciples? Where would they live at some future moment? Would they live on earth? Or, would they live in heaven? That is, would they reside in God’s own Residence in the Celestialum?

Right in the same prayer mentioned above Jesus gave his answer when he said:

“Father, regarding what You have given to me, I wish that where I am, also those [apostles] may be with me, so that they may behold my glory that You had given to me. Because You loved me before the founding of the Cosmos.” [John 17:24 NCMM]

This language echoes that in John 17:5 where it is clear Jesus expected to return to his Father and enjoy that dwelling he had before the Universe was created. Thus, it seems fair based on this Jesus let’s his disciples know that they would also be blessed by such a life in God’s Residence in the Celestialum.

The disciples, of course, already knew this to a degree because Jesus had already told them:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You [apostles] continue to believe in the God. Continue to believe in me. In the House of my Father are many abodes. If it were otherwise I would certainly have told you, because I am going to prepare you a place. Also, if I should ever go and prepare a place for you, I am returning and shall bring you along toward myself.” [John 14:1-3 NCMM]

Of course, this is not the only time that Jesus indicated that his faithful disciples would enjoy a heavenly existence in the spirit-realm. On the occasion when one Jewish sect challenged Jesus regarding the resurrection, the Nazarene describes the kind of being such disciples would become:

“Those who are considered worthy of attaining the New Age and the resurrection from the dead neither marry or are given in marriage. Nor is it possible for them to ever die again, for they are equal to the angels as they are God’s sons by being sons of the resurrection.” [Luke 20:35, 36 NCMM]

[NOTE: see the Greek word ISAYYELOI, Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 2465 - like the angels.] The Nazarene tells those who do not agree with this view as not knowing either the Scriptures or God’s power. [Matthew 22:29]

Jesus had also assured his disciples that they would share in his heavenly Kingdom. For example, in the parable of the wheat and tares Jesus concludes with the words:

“The angels will cast out (the sons of the Evil One) into the furnace of fire. There will be lamentation and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will ‘shine forth like the sun’ [Daniel 12:3] in the Realm of their Father. Let the one with ears, hear.” [Matthew 13:42, 43 NCMM]

In the teachings of Jesus there is a difference between the kingdom of the Son [the Church] and that of His Father. It is obvious that God’s Realm or Kingdom is not earthly but heavenly. [Matthew 5:45; Isaiah 66:1]

Jesus promises his disciples that they will also share in his “kingdom” just as his Father covenanted with him:

“Now you are those who remained with me in all my trials. And so I make a covenant with you just as my Father made a covenant with me for a Kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom. You will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” [Luke 22:28-30 NCMM]

What Did Paul Teach About Going To Heaven?

The Nazarene did not explain every detail of the future lives of his faithful disciples. [John 16:12] He left this to that promised “spirit of the truth” he promised to send. [John 16:13] So we look to the inspired disciples for more information on the future of Christ’s Church.

In this matter we are given an abundance of information. It is mainly the apostle Paul who discusses in detail the resurrection and the body-type the Saints will enjoy. This he does in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. In this chapter Paul mentions two body types - an earthly one and a heavenly one. [1 Corinthians 15:40] He uses several words to describe both of these body types. For example, the earthly body is described as being soul-like [or, animal], corruptible [or, decayable], physical, dusty, and patterned after Adam. On the other hand, the spirit-like body type is described in opposite terms: heavenly, incorruptible, immortal, non-flesh and blood, and patterns after the image of Christ. [1 Corinthians 15:40-49]

Thus, Paul concludes:

“And just as we bore the image of the clay-person, we should also bear the image of the heavenly Person. Now this I tell you, brothers, that flesh and blood are unable to inherit God’s Kingdom.” [1 Corinthians 15:49, 50 NCMM]

Now we may ask where is God’s Kingdom located? Is it on earth? Or, is it in heaven? We have already seen from Solomon’s prayer that God cannot dwell with humankind on earth for not even the stellar universe can contain Him. [2 Chronicles 6:18] The earth is but a mere footstool for His feet. [Isaiah 66:1]

If the above words were not clear enough Paul expresses his own conviction near the end of his life from a Roman prison:

“Indeed, the Master will continue to rescue me from every harmful thing and preserve me for his heavenly Kingdom.” [2 Timothy 4:18 NCMM]

To Paul it seem assured that the “kingdom” of Jesus Christ was not earthly but heavenly.

It is in this context that Paul and Peter describes Christians as real citizens of heaven and really only strangers and aliens here on earth. Paul writes:

“I am pursuing [the] goal of the prize of the upward calling of the God incorporate in Christ Jesus. … But [in contrast to the earthly mentioned previously] our citizenship continues on the rise in heaven, from where we are eagerly awaiting a savior, [the] Master Jesus Christ. [He] who will change the schematic of our lowly body, conforming to his glorious body, just as his inner energy enables him also to subject everything to himself.” [Philippians 3:14, 18-21 NCMM]

And Peter expresses his own conviction:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Master Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy, has [given us] a New Genesis unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading inheritance. ‘[This hope] is reserved for you in the heavens’ [Colossians 1:5], safeguarded by God’s Power by means of [your] faith leading to the revelation of a salvation at the End-Time.” [1 Peter 1:3-5 NCMM]

Peter may even echo Paul’s words at Colossians 1:5,

“Our reason is that we have heard of your deep conviction in Christ Jesus, as well as your loving concern for all the Saints, and also because of the Hope being held in reserve for all of you in the Heavens.” [Colossians 1:4, 5 NCMM]

Paul makes clear a bit later that this is not something on earth but rather something above where Christ resides:

“So, if all of you have been raised up together with the Christ, continue seeking those things above, where the Christ is ‘sitting at the right hand of God’. [Psalm 110:1] Continue thinking about things above, and do not keep thinking about earthly things. For all of you died and your life is carefully concealed with the Christ in union with the God. Whenever the Christ - our Life - becomes visible, then all of you, also, together with him, will become visible in glory.” [Colossians 3:1-4 NCMM]

In another context regarding a “true tent” Paul writes about Jesus as a great High Priest who went to heaven with his own sacrifice to cleanse “heavenly things”. In Hebrews 9:23, 24 he writes:

“Therefore, it was indeed a necessity the diagrams of the things in the heavens be cleansed. However, the heavenly things with sacrifices better than [those fleshly offerings]. For Christ did not enter holy places of human construction - which are anti-types of true realities - but rather into the very heavens, now to appear before the person of The God in our behalf.” [NCMM]

This “greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation” [Hebrews 9:11 NWT] is no earthly tabernacle like that Moses built.

Though here Paul does not mention a heavenly, spiritual priesthood composed of others than the High Priest it is highly suggested. Peter certainly makes such a claim: [1 Peter 2:5] However, Paul goes on to use language that points the way to just such a heavenly priesthood and not some earthly priesthood. Note his words in Hebrews 10:12, 13 19-21,

“However, after this person approached [God in heaven] with a single sacrifice accomplishing the covering sins [perpetually], ‘he sat down at the right hand of The God’. [Psalm 110:1] From that time onward [he] ‘waits until his enemies are placed as a footstool for his feet.’ [Psalm 110:1] … Therefore, brothers, possessing a boldness regarding the Way into the Holy Places by the blood of Jesus -- which in our behalf he originated [in] a ‘living and fleshly-slaughtered’ [Exodus 29:11] manner by means of the ‘curtain’ [that is, his flesh] -- a great ‘Priest over the House of The God’ [Zechariah 6:11-13] -- may we continue to approach [The God] with a true heart in complete conviction - our hearts having been ‘sprinkled’ [Exodus 24:6] from a wicked conscience and our body ‘bathed in clean water.’ [Exodus 30:18, 19]” [NCMM]

Paul’s says Christians “possess a boldness regarding the Way into the Holy Places by the blood of Jesus.” These “holy places” have already been described Paul as heavenly - that is, not of this creation. [Hebrews 9:11, 23, 24] He has also already stated that “the way into the holy places [those of heaven] had not been made manifest while the first tent [of Moses] was standing.”

Paul does not stop here describing the wondrous hope of the “heavenly calling” [Hebrews 3:1] After listing all the ancient worthies through the ages - stating they never did see the fulfillment of promises made to them - he mentions the Saints and God’s purpose regarding them:

“Though all of these persons [Abel to Jeremiah and beyond] received convincing evidence regarding their faith, they did not capture the Promise, our God having foreseen something better for us so that they might not be perfected apart from us.” [Hebrews 11:39, 40 NCMM]

It is the opinion of many - one shared by this author - that “the Promise” made to the ancients was that of a restored Edenic paradise on earth. Paul sees something “better” for the Saints, and based on what he has already written this is nothing less than life with God and Christ in the Celestialum.

Paul continues to point in the direction in heaven - having no where given the slightest idea of some earthly hope - at Hebrews 12:22-24,

“Rather, you have approached toward Mount Zion and the City of a Living God - to heavenly Jerusalem and myriads of angels -- to a great praise-assembly and to an ecclesia of those firstborn persons who have been inscribed in [the] heavens, to a God who is Judge of everyone, and to the pneumas of those righteous who have been perfected, and to Jesus, to a mediator of a New Covenant - and to the blood of sprinkling which speaks in a better way than Abel.” [NCMM]

Paul elsewhere describes this “heavenly Jerusalem” as “the Jerusalem above.” [Galatians 4:4] Concluding in the context of this “heavenly Jerusalem” on a celestial Mount Zion, Paul ends: “Now, let us go out and face toward him outside the encampment bearing his reproach. For we do not have here a city which will remain [earthly Jerusalem], but rather we are earnestly seeking that future City [heavenly Jerusalem] to come.” [Hebrews 13:13, 14 NCMM]

Having considered the above, it is fair to state that if Jesus and Paul had in mind an earthly existence for the Saints they go about it in a strange way. Nowhere do the Nazarene or Paul - or any other inspired disciple - give the slightest clue that the Saints will live on earth.

Where Is The Church Seen In Revelation?

However, it may be said that it is left to one of those present when Jesus promised “the spirit of the truth” would reveal “future things” - the beloved apostle John. In the book of Revelation of Jesus Christ our heavenly Master reveals to John the destiny of the Saints. In reading the seven Christine epistles in chapters 2 and 3, Jesus several times tells those who will be victorious what they reward will be. For example, to the first congregation in Revelation 2:7 Jesus promises:

“Let the person with ears listen to what the Pneuma is saying to the congregations: To the person who conquers I will give [authority] ‘to eat of the Tree of the Life that is in the Paradise of the God’.” [NCMM]

Now this is a rare phrase echoing images of Eden. However, we can determine whether this “paradise” here is earthly or heavenly by Paul’s use of similar language. He writes regarding one of his visions:

“Fourteen years ago I knew a person incorporate in Christ - whether in a body or outside a body, I do not know [God knows] - having been raptured as such to the third heaven. I knew such a person - whether in a body or apart from a body I do not know [God knows!] - that he was raptured into the Paradise.” [2 Corinthians 12:2, 3 NCMM]

Paul clearly parallels this “paradise” with “heaven” into which he was caught away. Though some will argue with this line of reasoning, it seems fair that at least one use of the word “paradise” refers to heaven.

Regardless, Jesus continues in his promises to the other congregations in the Revelation to make clear he has in mind, not the earth, but rather the Celestialum where God resides. For example, to the Philadelphians he promises:

“The person who conquers I will make a pillar in the Divine Habitat of my God and he will never leave it to go outside. And I will write upon him the Name of my God and ‘the name of the city of my God’ [Ezekiel 48:35], that ‘New Jerusalem’ [Isaiah 65:18] that descends out of heaven from my God, and also that ‘new name’ [Isaiah 62:2] of mine. Let the person with ears listen to what the Pneuma is saying to the congregations.” [Revelation 3:12, 13 NCMM]

We fairly ask: where is this “divine habitat of my God”, that is, God’s Temple? We have seen in Paul - and we will see further in Revelation - that this is God’s residence in the Celestialum.

Finally, the heavenly Master’s last promise to the seventh congregation is:

“The person who conquers I will grant to sit down with me on my throne just as I also conquered and ‘sat down with my Father on his Throne’. [Psalm 110:1] [Revelation 3:21 NCMM]

Paul has already shown that the fulfillment f Psalm 110:1 takes place in heaven. Jesus sat down, not on an earthly throne, but on a heavenly one in God’s own residence. Jesus draws a parallel ad promises the Saints that they also would share in a similar experience.

This raises the question regarding God’s Throne? Where is it located? On earth? Or, in heaven? John does not leave us to guess. In chapter 4 of Revelation John is invited to go up into heaven and behold the sight of God’s throne. John enters this “open door” into heaven and describes the glory of what he beholds with its wondrous colors and glassy floor. It is, indeed, the grand Throne-room of God Almighty who is surrounded by the angels. Including chapter 5 the vision is something of a grand amplification on Daniel 7:13, 14.

This is not the last we are to read of God’s Throne. For in chapter 7 the end-time Saints are described as serving God within “His Temple” where the angels and other celestial beings reside. [Revelation 7:9-17] [For details see Nazarene Commentary 2000, the book Nazarene Apocalypse 2000 on these verses, or the Biblical Articles under the subjects of the 144,000 and the Great Crowd. But, we can say that throughout Revelation God’s Temple is always seen in heaven and is described with angels coming and going from it. [Revelation 11:19]

One of the major themes of Revelation is the Great Oppression against the end-time Saints. [Revelation 7, 11-13] All of this is something of an inspired commentary on Daniel 7:21-25. In Revelation chapter 11 the end-time Saints are described as “outside the Temple” and in a position to be trampled on by the nations as citizens of the New Jerusalem. [Revelation 11:1, 2] The end-time Saints are described as being “killed” in a war with the Wild Beast. They are seen as dead within the Great City Babylon the Great. However, they come to life and then in verse 12 they are told:

“And the 2 Witnesses heard a great voice out of Heaven, calling: ‘Come up here!’ And the 2 Witnesses ‘ascended into Heaven in the cloud’ [2 Kings 2:11; Daniel 7:13] and their enemies beheld them.” [NCMM]

Clear they are raptured in the direction of the Voice and rise into heaven. Now before there are some cries of objection, this rapture first is into the “air” or heavenly atmosphere where they will meet the Master along with the Christian dead of the ages. [1 Thessalonians 4:14-17; see details in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

Where are these end-time Saints - as well as Saints from the Gospel Age - seen elsewhere? The horror of chapter 13 is followed by the victorious scene of the end-time Saints on heavenly Mount Zion with the Lamb. [Revelation 14:1-5] There can be no argument that this “Zion” is heavenly for the phrase is taken from Psalm 2:6, 7 and Paul applies these to the resurrection and ascension of Christ to heaven. [Acts 13:33]

Chapter 15 also sees the Saints in heaven for John’s description reads:

“And I saw another sign in the heaven (great and wonderful): 7 angels having the 7 last plagues because in these ‘the anger of The God’ is finished. [Numbers 22:22] And I saw a sea of glass mixed with fire and those coming out of their conquest of the wild Sea Beast, and the Image of the wild Sea Beast, and the number of it’s name. The victorious stood upon the sea of glass holding harps of The God.” [Revelation 15:1, 2 NCMM]

This “sea of glass” seems likely to be the same described in chapter 4, so it is fair to state that these victorious Saints - having been seen raptured into heaven earlier - are now seen in God’s Throne-room. They are described in a manner similar to the 144,000 in Revelation 14:1-3.

It may be - and some think so - that the same are described or included in Revelation 19:1-8,

“After these things I heard a great voice as of a Large Crowd in heaven, saying: " ‘Alleluia!’ [Psalm 104:35] The salvation, the Glory, the Power of our God! ‘Because His judgments are true and right’. [Deuteronomy 32:4] Because He judged the Great Harlot who corrupted the earth with her prostitution. ‘He avenged the blood of His slaves shed by her’." [Deuteronomy 32:43] And a second time they sing: " ‘Alleluia! The smoke of her (burning) ascends’ into the Ages of the Ages!" [Isaiah 34:10] And the 24 Presbyters and the 4 Living Creatures fell and worshipped The God, ‘the One sitting upon the Throne’, [Isaiah 6:1] saying: "Amen! ‘Alleluia!’" And a voice from the Throne came forth, saying: " ‘Praise our God, all His slaves, those fearing Him, all His slaves, the small and great’." [Psalm 134:1] And I heard a voice of a Large Crowd, and it was like ‘the sound of thunderous waters’, [Daniel 10:6] saying: "‘Alleluia! For our Lord has reigned’. [Psalm 93:1] Rejoice and exult! We shall glorify Him because the ‘Marriage’ of the ‘Lamb’ arrived. [2 Corinthians 11:2; Isaiah 53:7] ‘His Wife’ [John 3:29] has prepared herself, enwrapped with fine linen, bright and clean. For the fine linen is the righteousness of the Saints." [Revelation 19:1-9 NCMM]

The language so strongly identifies the Saints that it is difficult not to conclude that these are seen in heaven - in God’s residence in the Celestialum. The description of their singing is identical to those in Revelation 14:1-3.

In summary here we observe two points:

  1. Never [NEVER] does Jesus or Paul say the Saints of the Church of Christ will ever reside on earth forever as though they were human beings; and,
  2. rather, everywhere it seems to the majority of the Church throughout two thousand years heaven in a spirit existence is the hope of the Saints.

The above may be summarized in what Paul writes to those Greek Christian who formerly had believed in an immortal soul:

“For we realize that if ever our earthly habitat of this tent should be taken down, we are going to possess a building originating from God - not a handmade house - everlasting in the Heavens. Now in this [tent] we continue to groan, longing to dress ourselves in our heavenly habitation, so, having dressed ourselves, we shall not be found as those without clothes. Indeed, existing in this tent, we are groaning and burdened, not wanting to undress, but rather to dress ourselves - so that what is ‘mortal may be devoured by the Life’. [Isaiah 25:8] Now the One who produced us for this very thing is God, the One having given us the token of the Pneuma. Being of good courage, therefore, we are always aware that if we have our home in this body, we are absent from the Master. For we are walking by faith and not by sight. We continue to be of good courage. We also think it better to become absent from the body and thus enter the Lord’s presence. And so, whether absent or present, we want to be acceptable to him. For it is necessary that all of us appear in front of the judgment-seat of the Christ, so that we might receive what we deserve for those things performed by means of the body, whether these things be ‘good or vile.’ [Daniel 12:2]” [NCMM]

Having stated the above without including all the other Bible verses confirming the eternal celestial home of the Saints with God and Jesus Christ and the “chosen angels” we need to add another thought. The above does not mean the Saints will never rule “on” the earth as spirit-beings. Indeed, the idea is strongly stated that the Messiah with his Saints will, indeed, reign on earth during a period of 1,000 years - the Millennium. This is first suggested in Revelation 5:9, 10:

“Then the 24 Presbyters sang ‘a new song’, [Psalm 33:3] saying: "You are worthy to receive the Small (Apocalyptic) Bible and open its Seal because you were slaughtered. With your blood you bought for The God (persons) out of every ‘tribe, tongue, people, and nation’. [Daniel 7:14] You made them ‘a Kingdom and priests to our God’. [Exodus 19:6] They are reigning upon the earth." [NCMM]

There is some difficulty with the final phrase, for two reasons:

  1. the Greek EPI can be either “upon” or “over.” [Compare Revelation 9:11] And,
  2. the tense of the verb may indicate a present state of reigning.

Regardless, other material in Revelation seems to point to a reign on earth of Christ and his Church during the Thousand Years.

What Is the Order of Future Events?

Mainly this is shown in the vision of the Holy City New Jerusalem descending from heaven. [See Revelation 19-22.] Though there are different views on this, let us present one scenario. [For details see the book Nazarene Apocalypse 2000©] It is present here in something of a chronology of events.

Despite the fact that the Saints reign on earth with Christ as inhabitants of the Celestial Holy City New Jerusalem with God as the Most Holy resident, the Saints are still spirit-beings as Paul described who reside in a golden cubic City with its top in the heavens. Throughout the Thousand Years earth’s nations will live under the reign of Christ and his Church. The Church, despite reigning upon earth, never leaves the New Jerusalem as permanent “pillars” in such a holy structure.


Will the Saints be able to manifest themselves at some time, whether during the Thousand Years or thereafter? That is, will such victorious members of the Church of Christ appear and perhaps walk among earth’s inhabitants? The Bible does not tell us so. Some will be free to speculate on this as well as the matter of what happens to New Jerusalem following the Thousand Years. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and speculations as long as they are balanced with what we do know from the Bible.

This author believes the Holy City may move on to a new assignment. The Universe is huge beyond imagination despite the most powerful telescopes situated in earth orbit. There is the whole “day of eternity” ahead of the Lamb and his Wife. Who can say that other places in the Universe may not be one day peopled? Who can say that humans living on earth may wish to travel to distant galaxies? It is all such a glorious and wondrous thought! Irrespective of these speculations one thin has been true throughout the two-thousand year history of the Christian Church: it has always maintained the hope of heavenly life in the Presence of God Almighty and His Son along with the chosen angels. Let us rejoice in this “one hope”! Let us preach this true gospel to others who are in need of comfort.

[19 July 2001]

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Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller

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