If heaven is real, where exactly is it? Many people ask this question because they want to more about the eternal destiny that awaits them or a loved one. The Bible describes heaven in several passages, including some of the people, events, and activities that happen there. But what does Scripture say about where heaven is located?
The Bible doesn’t say how far heaven is from Earth, though some theologians believe that there is enough evidence in Scripture to conclude that it exists somewhere in the universe. The reason some scholars believe this is because the New Testament teaches that heaven is an actual place.
Why doesn’t the Bible say how far away heaven is? Is heaven in a different realm? Is heaven merely a state of mind? Is the New Heavens and New Earth a physical place? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
Also see Can People With Tattoos Go To Heaven? to learn more.
Is heaven in a different realm or dimension?
While the Bible seems to teach that heaven is an actual place, it doesn’t say where it is or how far away it is in terms of distance or time. Like Bible readers today, the authors of Scripture likely didn’t know how far away it is either. It’s also possible that the answer isn’t presently knowable; i.e., finite minds may not be able to comprehend it.
Is heaven far away in like in a distant corner of the universe? Heaven may be a great distance away from Earth, but the Bible doesn’t explicitly teach that. For example, no passage or verse of Scripture says that heaven is light years away from Earth. This doesn’t mean that heaven isn’t far away, for Scripture’s silence on a matter doesn’t prove the truth of it, but it may also be the case that the idea of distance is misleading.
Does heaven exist in an alternative parallel realm or dimension? In the worldview of many people today, there is a physical realm of existence and nothing else. The Bible disagrees. Scripture testifies to the existence of a spiritual realm. For example, the Bible says that,
- God is Spirit (John 4:24)
- People are physical, but they are also spiritual beings who have souls (1 Thess. 5:23)
- There are beings that inhabit the spiritual realm as well, such as angels and demons (e.g. Eph. 6:12)
Are there multiple non-physical realms or dimensions? For some people, the question sounds like science fiction, but to others, it’s interesting to think about the possibility. Some scientists believe in the existence of a multiverse or in numerous dimensions, and some Christians wonder if the Bible alludes to such realities. (Also see Will We Eat Food In Heaven?)
Is heaven a state of mind or an alternative (and higher) form of consciousness? The Bible clearly teaches that life in heaven will be far superior to life on Earth. People will experience God’s presence in a special way and experiences like sadness, mourning, crying, and pain will cease (Rev. 21:4). How people think will be transformed and their consciousness will experience a sinless environment for the first time.
But heaven is more than a purified state of mind and consciousness. The Bible indicates it is also physical and spatial (more below). One theologian writes,
“Heaven is even now a place — though one whose location is now unknown to us and whose existence is now unable to be perceived by our natural senses. It is this place of God’s dwelling that will be somehow made new at the tie of the final judgment and will be rejoined to a renewed earth.”Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 1160
Also see Do Dogs Go To Heaven? to learn more.
Is heaven a place or a state of mind?
Several verses in the Bible suggest that heaven is an actual place with physical and spatial aspects:
- After Jesus’ ascension, angels said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11, ESV, emphasis added) The angels refer to heaven as an actual place. Jesus left Earth and went somewhere else; he didn’t just acquire an improved state of mind. Jesus was taken from Earth, and “taken up” and “into heaven.”
- Luke’s account of the first Christian martyr reads, “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked intently into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.'” (Acts 7:55-56) Though Luke doesn’t mention how far heaven is from Earth, Stephen appears to be looking at something that has physical spatial elements to it.
- John 14:2-3, “In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and welcome you into My presence, so that you also may be where I am.” Jesus speaks as if he was going somewhere that physical and spatial aspects to it. A “room” suggests personalized space.
Doesn’t Jesus’ mention of welcoming people into his presence mean that the nature heaven is spiritual? One person can be in another person’s “presence” in a place that has physical and spatial elements to it.
Also see Is There Sex In Heaven? to learn more.
The New Heavens and New Earth
The Bible teaches that people will spend eternity on a New Heavens and New Earth after the Second Coming of Christ. Theologians debate if this means the present universe will be renewed or if God will make an entirely new created order. Either way, the description suggests a physical reality whose spiritual aspects are without the effects of sin.
- Isa 65:17, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.” (ESV)
- Isa 66:22, ““For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the LORD, so shall your offspring and your name remain.” (ESV)
- 2 Peter 3:13, “But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (ESV)
- Rev. 21:1, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.”
Some passages about the New Heavens and New Earth have clear descriptions, and even examples, of what life will be like compared to how it is in a fallen world:
“The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.”
(Isaiah 11:6-9, ESV)
“I don’t know about you, but the more I think about the new heaven and the new earth, the more excited I get! It is incredible to think that one day soon we will not only experience the resurrection of our carcasses, but the renewal of the cosmos and the return of the Creator. We will literally have heaven on earth.”Hank Hanegraaff, Resurrection, p. 92.
Also see When We All Get To Heaven (Lyrics and Meaning).
The Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, along with Protestantism, comprise the three historic branches of the Christian religion. The Catholic and Orthodox branches separated from...
Roman Catholicism and Protestant Christianity, along with Eastern Orthodoxy, make up the three historic branches of the Christian religion. Catholicism and Protestantism are, by far, the two largest...