What Does Heaven Really Look Like? [The Bible’s Glimpse]

Imagining what heaven will be like can fill a person with hope and expectation. Questions about who will be in heaven and what people will do there are common.

Another question that often captivates the human imagination is what heaven looks like.

This curiosity comes from wanting to understand what the Bible says about heaven and the desire to understand what lies beyond our earthly existence.

How and where does the Bible describe the appearance of the New Heavens and New Earth? What does the Book of Revelation say about what the New Jerusalem looks like? Can near-death experiences tell us anything about heaven’s appearance?

Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.

Also, see What Do Angels Look Like In Heaven? to learn more.

New Heavens and New Earth
What does Revelation say about the New Heavens and New Earth? See below

What Will the New Heavens and New Earth Look Like?

The Bible teaches that people will spend eternity in the New Heavens and New Earth after the Second Coming of Christ (Isa. 65:17, 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:13).

Theologians debate if this means the present universe will be renewed or if God will create an entirely new order.

Either way, the description suggests a physical reality whose spiritual aspects are without the effects of sin.

What will the New Heavens and New Earth be like?

The table below provides a concise overview of what the Bible says about the New Heavens and New Earth.

Each fact is accompanied by chapter and verse references from the Book of Revelation, offering a scriptural basis for these concepts.

Fact about New Heavens and New EarthBible Reference
New Heaven and Earth CreatedRevelation 21:1
No More SeaRevelation 21:1
New Jerusalem DescendsRevelation 21:2
God Dwells with HumanityRevelation 21:3
No More Tears or SufferingRevelation 21:4
All Things Made NewRevelation 21:5
No More CurseRevelation 22:3
God and the Lamb are its TempleRevelation 21:22
No Need for Sun or MoonRevelation 21:23
Nations Walk by its LightRevelation 21:24
Gates Never ShutRevelation 21:25
No Night ThereRevelation 21:25
Only the Pure May EnterRevelation 21:27
River of LifeRevelation 22:1
Tree of LifeRevelation 22:2

Author Hank Hanegraaff writes, “I don’t know about you, but the more I think about the new heaven and the new earth, the more excited I get!”

He continues, “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.” (Resurrection, p. 92.)

streets of gold
What will the New Jerusalem look like? See below

7 Questions About the New Jerusalem and Its Appearance

The New Jerusalem, also called the “Holy City” (Rev. 21:2a), is part of the New Heavens and New Earth (Isa. 65:17, 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:13).

The passages in the Bible that provide the most information about the New Jerusalem are chapters 21 and 22 of the book of Revelation.

Some envision the New Jerusalem as similar to a capital city of the eternal, sinless, Christ-centered new world.

Who is the architect of the New Jerusalem?

God is the city’s architect and builder (Heb. 11:10).

The New Jerusalem descends from heaven and is likened to a bride dressed for her groom (Rev. 21:2b).

The imagery reminds the reader of a wedding.

How big is the New Jerusalem?

The New Jerusalem is symmetrical: “The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width.

And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia” (Rev. 21:16, ESV).

12,000 stadia is about 1,380 miles or 2,220 kilometers.

What is the New Jerusalem made of?

The Holy City is pure gold, including its streets. Walls surround the city.

They are adorned with valuable jewels like jasper, sapphire, agate, emerald, onyx, carnelian, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, chrysoprase, jacinth, and amethyst.

The Holy City has 12 gates, each made of a single pearl (Rev. 21:18-21).

Why doesn’t the Holy City have a sun?

There is no need for the sun in the New Jerusalem because God’s glory will illuminate it (Rev. 21:11).

“And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev. 21:23).

What will be the centerpiece of the New Jerusalem?

The Throne of God. “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him” (Rev. 22:3).

The “Lamb” John refers to is Jesus of Nazareth, who died for sin, and the Father raised from the dead to save all people from eternal death and give them new and everlasting life.

In response, the faithful will worship him forever.

Does the New Jerusalem have water?

A river flows down the center of the Holy City, descending from God’s throne (Rev. 22:1).

The Tree of Life bears fruit on each side of the stream (Rev. 21:2).

Why should people look forward to the New Jerusalem?

Like Abraham, the faithful men and women of the past looked forward to the Holy City (Heb. 11:10), which God prepared for him (Heb. 11:16) and others.

Believers will see God face to face in the Holy City (Rev. 22:4). There will be no more crying, mourning, or pain there (Rev. 21:4).

Also, see What Does Jesus Look Like In Heaven? to learn more.

what will heaven look like
Will there be animals in heaven? See below

Biblical Descriptions of Heaven: Precious Gemstones

In the Book of Revelation, specifically in chapters 21 and 22, heaven is described as a radiant city adorned with all kinds of precious stones like jasper, sapphire, and emerald.

Precious GemstoneBible Reference
JasperRevelation 21:11
SapphireRevelation 21:19
AgateRevelation 21:19
EmeraldRevelation 21:19
OnyxRevelation 21:20
RubyRevelation 21:20
ChrysoliteRevelation 21:20
BerylRevelation 21:20
TopazRevelation 21:20
TurquoiseRevelation 21:20
JacinthRevelation 21:20
AmethystRevelation 21:20

The streets themselves are said to be made of gold so pure it’s like transparent glass (Rev. 21:18-21). These vivid details emphasize heaven’s divine and perfect nature.

Also, see What Is Heaven? to learn more.

Christian cross
Will the Garden of Eden be in heaven? See below

Personal Accounts and Near-Death Experiences

While the Bible offers its own descriptions of heaven, many people claim to have glimpsed it through near-death experiences (NDEs).

These accounts often share similarities but also vary widely in detail, adding another layer of complexity to our understanding of what heaven might look like.

Some individuals describe seeing a bright light or a tunnel often associated with a feeling of overwhelming peace and love.

Others recount meeting deceased loved ones or even divine figures.

The settings described can range from beautiful gardens to grand cities, often filled with radiant light.

It’s important to note that these personal accounts are subject to interpretation and are often influenced by the individual’s cultural and religious background.

For example, a Christian might see imagery consistent with Biblical descriptions, while someone from a different religious background might have a different experience altogether.

Medical experts have various theories to explain these phenomena, ranging from the effects of low oxygen levels in the brain to the release of endorphins.

However, no scientific explanation has been universally accepted, and the experiences remain a topic of ongoing research and debate.

Will people live on clouds in heaven? See below

Frequently Asked Questions

Will there be animals in heaven?

Isaiah teaches that animals will be in heaven (see verses above). However, whether pets will be or not is the subject of debate among Christian theologians.

Some argue that animals, as part of God’s creation, have a place in the afterlife. Others contend that heaven is exclusively for human souls, citing the absence of clear Biblical support for animals in heaven.

Will the Garden of Eden be in heaven?

The notion that the Garden of Eden will be part of heaven is also a subject of differing opinions. Some believe that Eden will be restored in heaven.

Others argue that Eden and heaven are distinct, citing varying Biblical descriptions and theological interpretations for each.

Does the Bible say people will live on clouds and play harps in heaven?

The popular image of people living on clouds and playing harps in heaven is more cultural than Biblical.

The Bible doesn’t specifically describe heaven in this way; instead, it offers a richer reality, emphasizing communion with God and eternal joy rather than leisurely activities.

[1] Bible Hub
[2] Heaven and Hell in Christian Thought
[3] UMMA Exchange

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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