Where is Heaven?

When a Christian dies, we usually say that they "go to Heaven" or "go to be with the Lord".

What does the Bible have to say about this?

There are two concepts of heaven1 described in the New Testament:

  1. Heaven before the return of Jesus.

  2. Heaven after the return of Jesus.

Scriptures that describe heaven before the return of Jesus.

Luke 23:43

Jesus told the thief on the cross that he would be with Jesus in "Paradise" on that same day. Paradise is equivalent to heaven2.

John 14:1-3, 28, Acts 1:9-11

Jesus told his disciples he was "going to the Father" to prepare a place for them, indicating that he went to heaven as later described in Acts.

Philippians 1:21-24

Paul indicates that to die would mean to "be with Christ". Since Jesus is in Heaven, that would mean being in heaven.

These and other scriptures clearly indicate that, when a believer dies, his spirit goes to be with God in Heaven3 and his body remains here on earth and decays. We do not know for sure where Heaven is, but we know that it is somewhere other than on earth4.

Scriptures that describe heaven after the return of Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Look at what this scripture says:

  • When Jesus returns, he will "bring with him" the spirits of those who have "fallen asleep". For those who die before the return of Jesus, their bodies are "asleep" in the ground and their spirits are with God and Jesus in Heaven. When Jesus returns, their bodies will be resurrected, and their spirits will be reunited with their bodies.

  • Those who are still alive when Jesus returns will be "caught up" to be with Jesus.

2 Peter 3:10-13

Look at what this scripture says:

  • After Christ's return on the Day of Judgment, the whole universe will be destroyed and the earth will be "laid bare" or "burned up"5.

  • The old universe will be replaced by new heavens (sun, moon, stars, space) and a new earth.

Revelation 21

Look carefully at some of the things that are said in this chapter:

  • Verse 1 - The first heaven and earth will cease to exist.

  • Verse 1 - There will be a new heaven and a new earth.

  • Verse 3 - Human beings will live on the new earth.

  • Verse 3 - God will live among them on the new earth.


A careful reading of these and other New Testament scriptures seems to yield the following chronology:

  • When Christians dies, their bodies are returned to the earth and their spirits goes to Heaven with God and Jesus.

  • At the return of Jesus, their bodies will be resurrected and reunited with their spirits.

  • At the return of Jesus, those Christians who are still alive on the earth will be removed from the earth to be with Jesus and the resurrected Christians.

  • The earth and universe will then be destroyed.

  • God will then create a new heaven (universe) and earth.

  • Believers will live with their resurrection bodies on the new earth in God's presence.


1. What about the word "heaven"?

The word "heaven" has three different meanings as used in the Bible, and this can sometimes lead to confusion.

  • "Heaven" can refer to the earth's atmosphere.

  • "Heaven" can refer to "outer space", that is, the area where the sun, moon, and stars are located.

  • "Heaven" can refer to the place where God is now.

2. What is Paradise?

The Greek word translated "paradise" is used three times in the New Testament:

Luke 23:43 - The place where Jesus' spirit went when he died, the place for the spirits of the righteous dead.

2 Corinthians 12:4 - The "Third Heaven", the place where God dwells.

Revelation 2:7 - The new Jerusalem in the new earth, Revelation 22:1-2.

3. Where is God now?

In Heaven. Matt. 5:16,45; 6:1,9; 7:11,21; 10:32; 12:50; 16:17; 18:14,19; 23:9

4. Where is heaven now?

Jesus told his disciples that he was "going away" (from them, from the earth). John 14:1-3

In Acts 1:9-11, the angels told the disciples that Jesus was taken to Heaven.

5. Translation of 2 Peter 3:10

". . . .the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." (KJV)

". . . .and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare." (NIV)

There is uncertainty among Bible Scholars as to the correct translation of the Greek here.

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