Should Heaven Be Capitalized? The Answer May Surprise You


Heaven is the great desire of all Christians. It’s also the subject of great curiosity for many believers. Followers of Jesus Christ think about Heaven, talk about it, and write about it as well. One question writers ask about Heaven is whether or not it should be capitalized.

Some Christians capitalize Heaven to make a theological point to their readers that it’s a real place. Other believers don’t capitalize the word, not necessarily because they don’t believe it’s a real place, but because they are inclined to follow the word’s conventional spelling.

Why do some people insist on capitalizing Heaven? Is Heaven a real place or just a spiritual state of awareness? What Bible verses indicate that Heaven is a real place? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.

Heaven in Christianity
Does capitalizing Heaven make a theological point? See below

Why do some people insist on capitalizing Heaven?

Some people imagine that heaven is merely a heightened state of consciousness. They believe it’s not a place, like Vancouver, British Columbia, or the Mediterranean Sea, but a utopian mental state. In contrast, the Bible teaches that Heaven is an actual place, which followers of Christ will one day inhabit.

Does capitalizing Heaven have theological implications? To some writers, it does. Some Christian theologians and teachers capitalize Heaven because that is normal when referring to a specific location when writing. A utopian mental state, for example, isn’t an actual place, so there is no place-name to capitalize. Author Randy Alcorn capitalizes Heaven to emphasize an important truth to his readers,

“To underscore the fact that Heaven and Hell are real places, I am deliberately capitalizing them throughout the book, as I would other proper nouns, such as Chicago, Nigeria, Europe, or Saturn. I also capitalize the New Earth, just as I would New England. Not to do so would imply that Heaven and Hell and the New Earth aren’t real places. But they are–they’re as real as the places we were born and the places we live now.” [1]

Why doesn’t the Bible capitalize Heaven? If Heaven is a place, and that’s communicated in part through capitalizing the term, why doesn’t the Bible do it? The appearance of words in English-language Bibles is the result of decisions made by the steering committee for each respective translation, such as those for the NIV, NASB, NKJV, and ESV. Generally, translation committees follow the conventional rules of English spelling and grammar.

Heaven in the Bible
What Bible verses indicate that Heaven is an actual place? See below

Is Heaven a real place or just a spiritual state or awareness?

According to the Bible, Heaven is a place, but it’s not just a place. It’s also a state of being, but it’s not just a state of being. Heaven is both a place and a state of being. For example, Heaven is an eternal state of blessing, sinlessness, and salvation. Jesus also made clear in the Gospels that Heaven is an actual place as well.

  • John 14:2, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” Jesus refers to a house with rooms, which he is preparing for believers. There is no indication in the description or the context of the passage that he was speaking metaphorically.
  • John 14:3, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” Jesus isn’t just preparing rooms in a house for his followers, but one day he will retrieve them so they can live there. Jesus isn’t referring to a new sense of awareness or enlightenment. He is teaching about an actual place that believers will one day travel to and inhabit.

More Bible verses that indicate Heaven is a place

Hebrews 11:8-10, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” (ESV)

Isaiah 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)

Isaiah 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)

Revelation 21:1-4, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (ESV)

Christian evangelist D.L. Moody on Heaven as a place

Surely it is not wrong for us to think and talk about Heaven. I like to find out all I can about it.

I expect to live there through all eternity. If I were going to dwell in any place in this country, if I were going to make it my home, I would inquire about its climate, about the neighbors I would have – about everything, in fact, that I could learn concerning it.

If soon you were going to emigrate, that is the way you would feel. Well, we are all going to emigrate in a very little while.

We are going to spend eternity in another world… Is it not natural that we should look and listen and try to find out who is already there and what is the route to take? [3]

References:
[1] Heaven by Randy Alcorn, pg. xxvi (footnote)
[2] Source
[3] Source
[4] Source

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