Question of the Week: When God’s people enter the new creation what will happen to the current third heaven mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:2? Will it cease to exist, or will there be two heavens?
My Answer: The reference that Paul made to the third heaven in 2 Corinthians 12:2–3 has its foundation in the biblical Hebrew word for heaven possessing three literal definitions. It can refer to the troposphere where rain clouds form. It can refer to the realm of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars. It can refer to the spiritual realm beyond the universe where the angels dwell. Paul in 2 Corinthians is implying that he was taken up to the angelic realm where he “heard inexpressible words, which a human being is not allowed to speak.”
The Bible is clear that when we enter the new creation, described in Revelation 21–22, the universe will cease to exist since it will have fulfilled its purposes. The Bible does not tell us what will happen to the third heaven—whether it will continue to exist, cease to exist, or be incorporated into the new creation. We will find out when Jesus Christ ushers those of us who have received his redemptive offer into the new creation.