How Many Heavens Are In The Bible

It’s an age old question which still puzzles theologians today – how many heavens are in the Bible? While it might seem like a straightforward answer, the truth is murkier and more complicated. The Bible doesn’t explicitly say “there are X number of heavens”; rather, it makes a number of references to different kinds of “heavens”, from a physical sky to a spiritual realm. To unravel the mystery, it’s helpful to look at the different origins and meanings of the biblical word for “heaven” in the various contexts in which it’s mentioned.

In scripture, the most common Hebrew word for “heaven” is shamayim, which was derived from the root shamah, meaning “high” or “distant”. The Greek equivalent is ouranos, which is derived from the root oura meaning “sky”. Both words are used to refer to the physical heavens – the literal sky, stars, and planets – as in Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” This physical realm is also referred to as a “firmament” – an atmosphere or barrier between this physical world and the world beyond, as seen in Genesis 1:6-7: “And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament.”

The Bible also describes a spiritual realm beyond our physical universe, which theologians have called the “heaven of heavens”. This “heaven of heavens” is a divine, invisible world where God dwells, as seen in Deuteronomy 10:14: “Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.” This “heaven of heavens” is often referred to as the “third heaven” in the Bible, and is thought to be a spiritual realm where God and angels dwell.

In addition to these two “physical” and “spiritual” heavens, there are also several distinct levels of heaven described in the Bible. For example, Daniel 2:44 suggests that there is a “heavenly throne” – a place where God is enthroned in power and might. And in Psalm 148:4, it speaks of a “heavenly host” – a group of angels that sing praises to God. And Ezekiel 1:26 speaks of a “heaven of heavens” – a place of the glory of God that is beyond any other.

So while there is no one definitive answer to how many heavens are in the Bible, it can be said that there are at least two physical and spiritual heavens, and several distinct levels of heavenly places that are described in scripture. Furthermore, these various heavens have different meanings and purposes according to their context. The physical heaven is the sky and stars that we can see with our eyes, the spiritual heaven is a invisible realm where God dwells, and the levels of heavens are places of glory, power, and might.

Earthly Heavens

The idea of a physical heaven is echoed throughout the Bible, from the very first references in Genesis to the more elaborate descriptions provided by the prophet Isaiah and Job. In the Old Testament, this physical heaven is often referred to as a “firmament” – a barrier between the physical and spiritual realms, or as a “vault” or “circle” of heaven – an overarching dome or tent of heaven that contains the stars and planets.

One of the most intriguing illustrations of the physical heaven is the visions of Ezekiel. The prophet sees a vision of four creatures that “appeared to be like a wheel within a wheel” (Ezekiel 1:16 NIV). This image is interpreted by some scholars as a symbolic representation of the physical heavens, as the four creatures could represent the four elements – earth, water, air and fire – each representing a different celestial body. In this sense, this vision could point to the complex and diverse nature of the physical heavens.

The physical heavens also serve as a symbol of God’s majesty and power, as demonstrated in the passage from Job 22:12-14: “Is not God in the height of heaven? And behold the height of the stars, how high they are! And thou sayest, How doth God know? Can he judge through the dark cloud? Thick clouds are a covering to him, that he seeth not.” Here we can see that the physical heavens are “too high” for human beings to comprehend, and thus serve as a reminder that God’s power and glory is beyond our understanding.

Divine Heavens

The Bible also speaks of a spiritual realm beyond the physical heavens, which is often referred to as the “heaven of heavens”. This spiritual realm is often seen as a place of divine revelation, where God reveals himself and his plans for the world. As described in Exodus 20:22, “You shall not make for yourself an idol or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water below.” This passage speaks of a heightened spiritual experience, where God is revealed and his power and majesty is made manifest.

The heavens are also used as a symbol of God’s power and authority on earth. In the book of Daniel, the prophet sees a vision of a great figure like the “Son of Man” (Daniel 7:13) riding a cloud, which is described as “the Ancient of Days” (Daniel 7:22). This figure is believed to be a representation of God himself, and the cloud is seen as a symbol of his divine authority. In this way, the heavens are often seen as a sign of divine rule on earth.

The Bible also speaks of various beings who inhabit the spiritual heavens. In Revelation 12:7-9, the dragon is described as “a great red dragon […] who sought to devour the woman who was about to give birth”. This image can be interpreted as a metaphor for the struggle between evil and good in the spiritual realm.

In addition, the Bible speaks of angels and other heavenly beings who serve as messengers of God’s will. In Isaiah 6:3, the prophet sees “six-winged creatures flying above the throne”, while in Revelation 4:8, the creatures are described as “four living creatures” – each with six wings. These creatures are referred to as “the living ones”, and are seen as messengers of God’s word and will.

Eschatological Heavens

The Bible also speaks of a heavenly realm beyond this physical and spiritual world – a place of divine judgment and blessings. The Old Testament prophets often describe this place as the “heaven of heavens” or the “new heavens and new earth”. This place is seen as a “world to come” – a heavenly realm beyond our own existence, where justice, peace, and righteousness reign.

The New Testament writers also point to this heavenly realm, as seen in 2 Peter 3:13: “Therefore, beloved, since you are expecting these things, be eager to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” This passage speaks of the hope of living in a future heavenly realm, where God’s judgments will be revealed and our sins will be forgiven. This concept of a heavenly realm is also found in the book of Revelation, where it is described as “the inheritance of the saints in light” (Revelation 21:27).

The heavens are also used as a symbol of God’s promised future. In Isaiah 65:17, the prophet speaks of a time when “the former heavens and the former earth” pass away, and a “new heaven and a new earth” will be created. This idea of a new heaven and earth is echoed in the New Testament book of Revelation, where “a new heaven and a new earth” are promised (Revelation 21:1). This concept speaks of a future where God’s promises will be fulfilled and justice, peace, and righteousness will prevail.

Theological Perspectives

The question of how many heavens there are in the Bible is an area of ongoing debate amongst theologians. While there is no one definitive answer, there is general agreement that the Bible speaks of at least two physical and spiritual heavens, each with their own distinct characteristics and meanings, as well as several levels of heavens as described in Daniel and Revelation.

Theologians often agree that the concept of physical and spiritual heavens correspond to the idea of the Godhead. The Hebrew Scripture speaks of “the heavens and the earth” as two distinct bodies, and thus, the physical and spiritual realms could represent God and the world created by him. This idea is echoed in the New Testament passages, where the spiritual and physical heavens are seen as two distinct realms and a symbol of God’s power and presence.

From a theological perspective, the Bible’s references to the heavens also point to the divine nature of God and the hope of a promised future. The concept of a heavenly realm beyond our own existence speaks of a hope for mercy, justice, and peace that transcends the boundaries of this physical world. In this way, the references to heaven in the Bible can be seen as a reminder of God’s power and a symbol of hope that His promises will one day be fulfilled.

Spiritual Implications

The various references to heaven in the Bible are not just theological musings; rather, they can have a practical, spiritual impact on our lives. The concept of a spiritual realm beyond our own speaks of a hope for a better future and a reminder of God’s mercy and grace that ultimately transcends our own understanding. In this way, the metaphor of heaven can encourage us to seek a higher purpose and to strive for eternal life.

The Bible’s references to the heavens can also provide comfort in times of trial and despair. Isaiah 65:17 speaks of a “new heavens and a new earth” that awaits us, which can provide hope in difficult times and remind us that God will ultimately bring about good in our lives. Similarly, Revelation 21:1-4 speaks of a new heavenly realm that awaits us, which can bring peace and comfort in a chaotic and uncertain world.

By reflecting on the various references to the heavens in scripture, we can gain a greater understanding of God’s power and promises, and of our own role in the larger divine plan. We can also be encouraged to persevere in times of difficulty, knowing that God’s power and promises are ultimate and that a better future awaits us.


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Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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