What Does the Bible Mean by The "Third Heaven"?

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What Does the Bible Mean by The "Third Heaven"?

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The Bible speaks of three different heavens. Genesis 1:1 says that God created "the heavens"—plural. The first heaven is the atmosphere around the earth. In describing the rain that brought on the Flood of Noah’s time, Genesis 7:11 says "the windows of heaven were opened." Commenting on the extent of the water, verse 19 says "all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered."

The second heaven is commonly referred to as "outer space." Exodus 32:13 is one of many references to "the stars of heaven." Stars are not in the skies from which the rain falls, but in the space beyond our atmosphere. Nehemiah 9:6 also refers to space as heaven: "You alone are the Lord; you have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host [the planets and stars]."

A "third heaven" is mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4. Paul also called it "Paradise" in verse 4. That word is from the Greek word for park or garden—not just any park or garden, but a magnificent one. It’s the same word used in the standard Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, to mean the Garden of Eden.

Revelation 4:2 reveals that God’s throne is in heaven, but which one? Obviously, God’s throne is not in the sky where the clouds are and the birds fly—the first heaven. Nor is it in the visible confines of outer space—the second heaven. Putting this reference together with what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians, we discern that the third heaven, then, must refer to the location of the throne of God.

For more understanding, please read our free booklet, "Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach?"

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  • 2cool4skul

    Grace peace and mercy from God and our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. A question please. Please who was god referring too when he said "now the man has become like one of us"? Who is the one of them that God is talking about here in Genesis 3:22 ? Am confuse, I don't know if he was referring to Satan or Jesus... Thanks for your kindness...

  • Donald Cook

    There is an interesting 15th century woodcut (for printing images) by Camille Flammarion which appears to illustrate Paul's reference. What makes it all the more interesting is that I, while in the body I could not tell, saw the same shapes depicted in the woodcut. I was at church that day and was taken in the Spirit to a majestic and powerful 'place' with what at first sounded like a chorus of angels; and I saw those same shapes as Flammarion, though his were crude replicas. What I saw and heard were marvelous and powerful, but no 'contact' was made to me other than being there. And my return to 'this place' was uncomfortable as I transited 2-3 dimensions (?). Bear in mind that Paul was a 'murderer' of Christians at his experience, so one does not need to be 'pure and holy' to go there. So: did I indeed go to the third heaven? And by the way, 'heavens' (ha-shammayim) in Gen 1:1 is otherwise translated as 'expanse' and 'earth' was aka 'the firm'...ha-eretz. And the verse could simply imply 'the universe'...that is, God created the universe. But that begs the question, 'where is God?' if the universe didn't exist yet.

  • Soulsweet

    I really in joyed this leason I never thought about it this way I'm a new Christian I have been saved for almost two years and if anyone could refer me to more bible study's like this it would be greatly appreciated God bless all of you

  • brikimg

    You information for the 1st and 2nd heaven appears to be based on conjecture and speculation. Gen 1:17 puts the sun, moon and stars in the 'expanse of the heavens'. In gen 1:20, the birds fly in the 'expanse of the heavens'. No distinction between the heavens that birds fly in and the heaven that the starts occupy.
    Consider 2 Peter 3:1-13, this clearly tell that there have already been 2 heavens and earths and that the third is yet to come. Paul was given revelation of the end times (Book of revelation information). He calls it the 3rd heaven and paradise. It is the third because it comes after the one we are in now (the 2nd) passes away. Some other verses that also indicate that there are multiple heaven and earths in time (not space) are Isaiah 65:17, 66:22; Rev 21:1. 2 Peter 3:7 indicates the flood of Noah caused the 1st heaven and earth to pass away. The heaven and earth we have now are being reserved by God for the fire of judgement. When that happens, the 2nd heaven and earth will pass away and then, Rev 21:1 happens. The Greek "protos" translated 'first' in Rev 21:1 is the same word in Rev 21:4 translated 'former' (or 'old order' NIV).

  • KARS

    What makes this lesson nice is it straight and to the point.

    It proves that there is a spirit realm that we can not see unless God our Father lets us see it. Like the disciple Steven from the New Testament for instance.

    When I made a study about this years ago I found something interesting about it. I looked at it another way. I saw it as when our Savior was here the 3rd heaven was here and the 1st heaven was with our Father. Kind of crazy yah?

    Just the same, this lesson has been wonderful to learn.

  • timbahl

    Bible is absolutely clear if we need to know about three Heaven's. But some use other faith -books & count 7 heavens.

    This article makes it very clear about third Heaven the highest.
    I understand that 3rd Heaven means highest place for God is above all. He has plans to get us up there. Paul refused openly to talk anything about 3rd Heaven.Which obviously means in the very Presence of the Most High God. Let us learn only as much it may benefit us.

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