#28──第三層天──The Third Heaven

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第三部分:創造的體系

第二十八章 第三層天

與巴比倫的儀式魔法、柏拉圖的著作或猶太法典不同,我們不會處理七層天的概念,第三層天只是靠近中間的一層,我們會從聖經的描述細看作為沙瑪伊姆 (Shamayim)──天──的「天上的天」(The Highest Heaven)。這可能會打擊一些心胸狹隘的人,然而,我在整個工作中努力拋開所有的教條和聖經以外的著作,只是為了給你帶來最純正的話。無論我的立場如何,我(在大多數情況下)都把它們留在門外,只把純潔無瑕的教導帶進來。如果有任何錯誤,那也是我一個人的錯,而不是聖經的錯。解經只是我一個的業餘追求,我不是個專業的學者。

聖經在很多地方都使用「天」這個詞。

保羅在哥林多後書12: 2-4寫道:「我認得一個在基督裡的人、他前十四年被提到第三層天上去.或在身內、我不知道.或在身外、我也不知道.只有 神知道。我認得這人、或在身內、或在身外、我都不知道.只有 神知道。他被提到樂園裡、聽見隱秘的言語、是人不可說的。」 387

保羅說樂園是第三層天。我們都還記得耶穌對那個悔過的強盜說:「今日你要同我在樂園裡了。」388在這個例子中,他們都使用了同一個詞:「樂園」(Paradiso)。 樂園是耶穌在十字架上所描述的,是義人死後才去的地方389──至少那些在新約之前死去的義人是這樣子。不過我們可以有把握地假設,從某些方面來看,因為基督如今已復活升天,這已起了些變化:「又是那存活的.我曾死過、現在又活了、直活到永永遠遠.並且拿著死亡和陰間的鑰匙。」390 因此,如果基督現今已拿著陰間的鑰匙,那麼其目的可能確實已改變了。

我們可以正確地推測,在基督復活之前,地獄(或稱陰間)是一個被分割的洞穴;在祂復活之後,它是不義之人唯一的住處,那些義人則被帶到第三層天去。這種解釋是有原因的,它始於拉撒路和財主的故事,有趣的是,在路加福音第16章裡講述了兩個按照基督的話而寫成的故事,其中大部分確實不是寓言。在這兩個例子中,我們看到希臘文是這樣寫的,從第1節開始──「有一個財主」;然後又在第19節──「有一個財主」,就這些故事的前言已表明了它們不是比喻,因為與其他「故事」的開頭作為比較的話,其他故事則用:「耶穌用比喻對他們講… 」391

「有一個財主、穿著紫色袍和細麻布衣服、天天奢華宴樂。又有一個討飯的、名叫拉撒路、渾身生瘡、被人放在財主門口、 要得財主桌子上掉下來的零碎充飢.並且狗來餂他的瘡。後來那討飯的死了、被天使帶去放在亞伯拉罕的懷裡.財主也死了、並且埋葬了。他在陰間受痛苦、舉目遠遠的望見亞伯拉罕、又望見拉撒路在他懷裡.就喊著說、我祖亞伯拉罕哪、可憐我罷、打發拉撒路來、用指頭尖蘸點水、涼涼我的舌頭.因為我在這火焰裡、極其痛苦。亞伯拉罕說、兒阿、你該回想你生前享過福、拉撒路也受過苦.如今他在這裡得安慰、你倒受痛苦。不但這樣、並且在你我之間、有深淵限定、以致人要從這邊過到你們那邊、是不能的、要從那邊過到我們這邊、也是不能的。財主說、我祖阿、既是這樣、求你打發拉撒路到我父家去.因為我還有五個弟兄.他可以對他們作見證、免得他們也來到這痛苦的地方。亞伯拉罕說、他們有摩西和先知的話、可以聽從。他說、我祖亞伯拉罕哪、不是的.若有一個從死裡復活的、到他們那裡去的、他們必要悔改。亞伯拉罕說、若不聽從摩西和先知的話、就是有一個從死裡復活的、他們也是不聽勸。」392

這個「樂園」現在是什麼,當一個新天新地被創造出來時,我們將知道它是什麼還有待觀察,但在基督降臨和升天之前,我們有理由將這個地方剖析為舊約中的「死人之地」。現在 「樂園」是什麼,我們只知道保羅告訴我們他朋友如何造訪了第三層天,那麼,我們能否正確地假設,耶和華所坐之處的第三層天,就是新的樂園?

伊甸園被稱為樂園,我們知道最初的園子是一個真實的地方,但也知道這是那即將到來之樂園的影子和類型。有一個論點可以提出,就是說伊甸園實際上是「天堂」,因為亞當和夏娃在還沒有任何一個人死亡之前就被驅逐了,而且我們知道當時伊甸園裡只有兩個人──但我不會做這種論證。顯而易見的是我們從創世記 1:1 中看到──起初,上帝創造諸天和大地,是不單單只有一個天:「那降下的、就是遠升諸天之上要充滿萬有的」393──因此,這個詞的用法是:”πᾶς “或「萬有」意味著有兩層以上的天。這是「經文彙編」(Strong’s Concordance) 的詞:”pas “或”panton”,在這個參考文獻中,它表示充滿或整體的總和──「萬有」是指小部分的結束。

總而言之,至少有兩層天,保羅也只寫到第三層天。為了重申這一點,我將對有關段落進行解讀:「我認得一個在基督裡的人、他前十四年被提到第三層天上去.他被提到樂園裡、聽見隱秘的言語、是人不可說的。」394上帝住在那裡嗎?上帝是住在諸天之上嗎?如果這個人被提上去,聽到屬天的言語,那麼提他上去的會是撒但嗎?還記得司提反為耶穌被石頭打死的事嗎?「但司提反被聖靈充滿、定睛望天、看見 神的榮耀、又看見耶穌站在 神的右邊」;395 司提反是否也看到了第三層天?有趣的是,這是唯一一次提到耶穌站在耶和華的旁邊。基督定睛,見證了司提反的殉道,祂是多麼慈愛的基督──準備好將這無畏無懼的傳道者擁進祂懷內。我不在乎是否有三層天或一萬五千層天:主耶穌必要來。

387 和合本

388 路加福音23:43

389 同上

390 啟示錄1:18

391 研讀馬太福音13:1-23,以進一步瞭解這一現象。

392 路加福音16:19-31

393 以弗所書4:10

394 哥林多後書12: 2-4

395 使徒行傳7:55

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Part Three : The System of Creation

Chapter 28: The Third Heaven

Unlike Babylonian ritual magic, the works of Plato, or the Judaic Talmud, we will not be dealing with the idea of seven heavens, the third heaven being only one near the middle, but we will be studying the Biblical representation of the idea of “The Highest Heaven” as the Shamayim. This may strike some as narrow minded, however, I have striven in this entire work to throw out all dogmas and extra-Biblical writings, simply to bring you the most pure refined Word. Whatever my stances, I have (for the most part) left them at the door, and only brought in with me pure and undefiled teaching. If there be any error, it is the fault of mine alone and not scripture. Exegesis is only a part-time pursuit of mine, I am not a professional scholar.

The Bible uses the word: “Heaven” for a variety of places.

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12: 2-4: “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”1

Paul states that Paradise is the Third Heaven. We recall Jesus saying to the repentant thief: “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”2 It is the same word: “Paradiso” that they both used in this instance. Paradise is a place described by Jesus on the cross to be the place where the just go after they die.3 At least that is what happened to those just who died pre-new covenant. We can safely assume that this has changed in some aspect as now that Christ has ascended into the heavenlies after He was raised. “and the Living One. And I was dead, and behold I am living to the ages of the ages, and I have the keys of Death and of Hades.”4 So now supposing that Christ holds the keys to Hades, it may have indeed changed in its purposes for today.

We can rightly surmise that Hades (or Sheol) was a divided cavern before the resurrection of Christ. After His resurrection, it was the habitation solely for the unjust, those who were just were taken into the third heaven. There is a cause for this interpretation and it begins with the story of Lazarus and the rich man. It is an interesting note that Luke chapter 16 deals with two stories that are according to the words of Christ, most indeed not parables. In both of these instances we see the Greek read: “A man certain there was rich” from verse 1, and again: “A man now certain there was rich” from verse 19. These precursors to the stories indicate that they were not parables. Compare these to other “stories” that begin with: “And Jesus told them a parable…”5

“There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day; and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, who was laid at his gate, full of sores and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass that the beggar died and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom; the rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and saw Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime didst receive thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted here, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who would pass from here to you cannot; neither can they pass from there to us. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham said unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, No, father Abraham; but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, even though one rose from the dead.”6

What this “Paradise” is now and what we will know it to be when there is a new heaven and a new earth created remains to be seen, but we are rightful to dissect this place as the “place of the dead” in the Old Testament, meaning, before the descent and ascent of Christ. What “Paradise” is now, we know only of Paul’s telling us about his friend visiting the third heaven. Can we rightly suppose that the third heaven, where YHVH sits, is the new Paradise?

The Garden of Eden is referred to as Paradise. We know that the original Garden was a real place, but also that this was a shadow and type of the coming Paradise. An argument could be made that the Garden of Eden was actually “Heaven”, because Adam and Eve were expelled before any men had died, and we know that there were only two human inhabitants in the garden at that time… But I will not make that argument. What is plain is what we see from Genesis 1:1 – That in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. There are more than one. “he who went down is the same also who went up far above all the heavens, that He may fill all things -”7 So that the usage of the word: ”πᾶς” or “all” means that there is more than two. It is Strong’s Concordance word: “pas” or “panton” in this reference, and it indicates the fullness or whole sum of the parts. “All” is the completion of the smaller pieces.

In conclusion, there are at least two heavens. Paul writes of a third one. To reiterate, I will paraphrase the passage in question. “Around fourteen years ago I knew a man who was caught up to the third heaven. He was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”8 Does God live there? Is it God who dwells in the heaven above the heavenlies? If the man was caught up and heard divine mutterings, then was it Satan that caught him away? Recall Stephen when he was stoned for Jesus? “But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;”9 Could Stephen be seeing the third heaven as well? It is an interesting note that this is the only time Jesus is referred to as standing next to YHVH. Christ was at attention, witnessing Stephen’s act of martyrdom. What a loving Christ He is… Ready to embrace his fearless preacher into His arms. I do not care if there are three heavens or fifteen thousand: Maranatha Lord Jesus.

Footnotes

1 KJV

2 Luke 23:43

3 Ibid

4 Revelation 1:18 BLB

5 Study Matthew 13: 1-23 for a greater understanding of this phenomenon.

6 Luke 16:19-31, JB 2000

7 Ephesians 4:10 YLT (emphasis mine)

8 2 Corinthians 12: 2-4 without all the self introspection.

9 Acts 7:55 NASB

──Biblical Cosmology by Pauly Hart
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SUPPORT – Pauly Hart

Buy the book online: Biblical Cosmology Paperback


見證

奪回(三)──陳影音 Esther

八歲開始偷竊,十六歲開始吸毒;四次牢獄,接近二十多年的偷竊習慣及毒癮…人的盡頭、神的開始…

teddy hung

丟棄萬事 得著基督──FORMER MAFIA BOSS BECAME A FOLLOWER OF JESUS CHRIST

黑社會大佬信耶穌?當神帶他去了地獄與天堂,便震撼地起了天翻地覆的改變…在人不能,在神凡事都能…

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