Archive for the ‘heaven’ Category

The Biblical Background of Heaven: shamayim and ouranos

June 15th, 2008

I. The Greek Classical View of Heaven (Acts 14:8-18)

A. “The word always has a double reference” (Kittel, 497).

1. Cosmological sense (starry heavens)

2. Theological view (habitation of the gods/myth)

=>”The gods have come down to us” (Acts 14:11)

B. Ouranos meant both physical and metaphysical in Greek culture, and eventually came to denote by the New Testament period a guiding principle (as astrology in the Roman World). This concept of heaven became a flurry of philosophical activity from Homer, Pythagoras, Aristotle, and Plato, and others. In fact, Plato taught that heaven (ouranos) was the starting point for absolute knowledge (Phaedrus, 247b).

II. Old Testament/shamayim

A. shamayim is identified with raqia (Gen. 1:6-8)

B. a place of fixed references (Gen. 1:14; Ps. 119:89)

C. The Bethel Story and the dwelling place of God (Gen. 28)

D. The God of heaven formula (Deut. 26:15; 32:40; Ex. 9:29,33)

E. Source of all blessing (Gen. 49:25; Deut. 33:13; 1 Ki. 8:35)

F. Especially salvation-history (Dan. 7:17)

III. New Testament/ouranos

A. Jn. 3:9-12; 6:33 Jesus’ source

B. Acts 1:9-11; 2:34 Jesus will come again

C. 2 Cor. 5:1-9 Heaven holds all to me

D. Eph. 1:3 etc. The Christian’s position

Robert M. Housby

Meant for Heaven, Made for Earth

June 8th, 2008

“The heavens are the Lord’s heavens,

but the earth he has given to the children of man”

(Psalm 115:16)

“…he has put eternity into man’s heart…”

(Ecclesiastes 3:11)

The Old Testament provides the biblical background for the Christian doctrine of heaven. It is through the Old Testament writings that we read about shamayim, translated “heaven.” A close synonym of shamayim is raqia (Psalm 148:4); raqia, being the more specific term, and shamayim the more comprehensive terminology.

In our presentation (06-08-08), we made three points about heaven:

1. Your deepest reality is that you were meant for heaven and are known as eternal in God’s eyes (2 Cor. 5:1-8).

2. Heaven is expressed in symbolism in the Scriptures (Jn. 3:12,13; Rev. 1:1-2;4:1-2). Crowns; harps, and gold (Rev. 2:10; 14:2; 21:18,21) mean something beyond themselves: victory; joy; festivity (1 Cor. 9:25,27); calming, infinity, ecstasy (1 Sam. 16:14-23); preciousness and timelessness.

3. Revelation 4 and 5 express the relevance of heaven in creation and redemption, respectively.

-Robert M. Housby