Do people physically go to heaven or hell?


Where is paradise? Is it above the earth or below? When Jesus was raised, how can he be lifted up in the flesh? By flesh, will a man go to heaven or hell? When Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus in what form did they appear, flesh or spirit? Where is third heaven? After death, where did Jesus spend those three days?


Paradise is in Hades, that is in the realm of the dead. As Jesus died on the cross, he told the thief, "And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."" (Luke 23:43). Yet, Peter quoted the Old Testament to explain that Jesus did not remain in Hades. "For You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption" (Acts 2:27). Therefore, we conclude that Paradise is a region in Hades. This is supported by the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. "So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom" (Luke 16:22-23). Torments is another region in Hades and in this description, Abraham's bosom appears to be another name for Paradise.

Paul stated, "But someone will say, "How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?" Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain--perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption" (I Corinthians 15:35-50). Therefore, people do not bodily go to heaven or hell. These are spiritual places, not physical places.

What happened to the bodies of Enoch, Moses, Elijah, and Jesus? We aren't told. However, "Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-- in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory"" (I Corinthians 15:51-54). If God can do so with all who remain at Jesus return in an instant, I have no trouble believing that something similar happened with those taken from the earth.

In the description of the Mountain of Transfiguration (Matthew 17), Jesus changed into a spiritual body (was transfigured) and then began to speak to Moses and Elijah. Therefore, it would appear that Moses and Elijah were also in spiritual form at this time.

In the Bible, the word heaven is used in three different senses. There is the heaven where the birds fly; that is our atmosphere (Jeremiah 4:25). There is the heaven where the sun, moon, and stars reside; that is, outer space (Isaiah 13:10). And there is the heaven where God dwells which is a spiritual realm (Hebrews 9:24). The last does not reside in the physical universe. This is the third heaven. It does not make sense to say it is up or down or to the left or the right. These are all physical concepts. The third heaven is a spiritual realm.

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