- Published: 16 December 2010
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EN TOIS EPOURANIOIS
This is not any attempt to show off some knowledge of Greek or to be superior in any way. But the above expression is found only 5 times in the Bible, and all five are found in Ephesians. And since Ephesians opens up a great mystery or secret, we look at every new thing that comes up in order to find light on the hope and calling of today.
Four times it is translated, In heavenly places, and once high places.
This realm is mentioned in other parts of the Bible, but under different names. Here are a few of them;
1. Heaven of heavens. Deuteronomy 10:14.
2. Far above all. Ephesians 4:10.
3. Holies, Holiest of all. Ephesians 2:19.
4. Glory. Colossians 3:4.
By using a concordance, one can find the other occurrences of these terms.
This place is not the third heaven of 2 Corinthians 12:2 for that heaven does not now exist. It is the new heaven of Revelation 21. As you find in Peter's writings, there was a heaven and earth that then were (Genesis 1:1), the heavens and earth that are now (Genesis 1:6), and the heavens and earth to come, the new ones.
So John was caught up to see something that does not yet exist. We know little about the heavens above us now, and much less about those that then were.
But our subject is the heaven of heavens. As far as we know, no one has ever traveled from the earth into that sphere, except the Lord Himself. He ascended far above all heavens.
There is no description to be found anywhere of this realm. It is far beyond the stars. That would put it many billions of miles away. It would take some time to make the trip in earthly physical bodies. The citizenship of the church which is the body of Christ is there. Philippians 3:20. And from that homeland, or commonwealth we are to look for the Savior, when He appears or shines forth. That is the hope of the members of the church which is His body. See Colossians 3:4. Note also Titus 2:13.
It is not hard to discern the things that differ, and here is a case that needs that discernment, if one is to rightly divide the Word of truth. The millennial kingdom here on the earth is not to be compared with this glorious abode of God and of Christ, the future home of the church.
There is no possible way that the great sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7) could have any relationship with this place far beyond the stars. Also, one soon notes that things connected with this hope and sphere have no relationship with things on the earth, or any kingdom on the earth. You might do well to study these things and then make up your mind which would be preferred as a future hope and abode. Do this in light of Colossians 3:1-4. Set your affection on things above, in en tois epouraniois.
Deuteronomy 10:14. Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord's the God.
1 Kings 8:27. Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee.
Nehemiah 9:6. Thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host.
Psalms 8:1. O Lord our Lord...Who hast set Thy glory above the heavens.
Psalms 57:5. Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens.
Psalms 57:11. Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens.
Psalms 108:5. Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens.
Psalms 113:4. The Lord is high above all nations, and His glory above the heavens.
Psalms 115:16. The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord's.
Psalms 148:4. Praise Him, ye heavens of heavens.
We have already written about The Three Earths, and The Three Heavens. But here we find something far outside these two spheres. It is far beyond the heavens and the earth. So far, astronomers have not explored this territory. We have set out above the 10 references to this realm which appear in the OT.
Five times we find this realm mentioned in Ephesians. The Greek is en tois epouraniois. Literally, it is in the above heavenlies. So this is a continuation of the 0T terms. Briefly, the structure is;
A. 1:3. Blest in.
B. 1:20. Christ in.
C. 2:6. Church enthroned in Christ in.
B. 3:10. Principalities and powers in.
A. 6:12. No wrestling in.
Definitely this sphere outside of the creation is the home, the destined resting place of the Church which is His body.
Other references in the NT are as follows; Ephesians 4:10. Far above all heavens. Ephesians 1:18. In the saints. Holy of Holies. Ephesians 2:19. The saints, household of God. Col 1:12. Partakers of the inheritance of the saints, the holiest of all. Colossians 3:4. Appear with Him in glory. Philippians 3:20. Our commonwealth in heaven. Now you will note that in all the OT references, there is no thought of anyone inhabiting the heaven of heavens except God Himself. There is no mention of it being a hope for any believer. There is the one reference where Satan planned to set his throne above all. Note what he says in Isaiah 14:13,14. I WILL ascend into heaven, I WILL exalt my throne above the stars of God: I WILL sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I WILL ascend above the heights of the clouds; I WILL be like the Most High. Satan was a WILFUL creature, who would set himself above his Creator.
But God, in His wonderful grace, has already set the Church in the heavenlies.