Did John Go to Heaven in Revelation? (John’s Vision in Revelation)

I always found the book of Revelation intimidating. So, as a theology student, I made it my mission to understand this book. I poured over commentaries and engaged in endless discussions on John’s visions in Revelation with my college professors and the local clergy. Ultimately, I had a decent grasp of the timelines and events in the book. These efforts paid off during a light-hearted conversation during a New Testament class. To test my students’ understanding, I asked them if John really went to Heaven or if he had a vision. Surprisingly, there were different responses. Some insisted he was in Heaven, and others that it was a vision. I let the back and forth go on for a few minutes before explaining what the scriptures said. We looked at the earlier portions of Revelation for a conclusive answer. So, did John go to Heaven in Revelation?

John didn’t physically ascend to Heaven. In the prologue, he tells us that he was in the Spirit on the day of the Lord. This suggests John was in prayer or a trance. In Chapter 4, John clarifies that he had a vision of Heaven. Revelation is, therefore, a record of John’s visions about future events. The Holy Spirit allowed him a sensory experience of Heaven. John could see, hear, and feel like he was in Heaven. Consequently, his account is richer and fuller than other writers.

This article explores John’s Heavenly vision. I invite you to join me in answering questions about the levels of Heaven, John’s description, and what the book of Revelation says about his Heavenly experience.

Does the book of Revelation mention that John goes into Heaven?

The book of Revelation doesn’t teach that John went into Heaven; it teaches that he saw a vision of Heaven. Revelation 1:9-10 tells us that he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, indicating perhaps that he was in prayer. We see a similar statement in Revelation 4:2, where John tells us of seeing a vision by the Spirit. Evidently, the Holy Spirit allowed John to experience Heaven as though he was there. We have sensory and emotional descriptions of John’s visions, providing a richer reading experience.

What level of Heaven did John see in his Revelation?

John’s Vision in Revelation
What level of Heaven did John see in his Revelation? Image source: Pixabay

John was probably in the Third Heaven. The Bible doesn’t explicitly teach that there are three Heavens. However, Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12:2, tells us of an experience in the Third Heaven. From his description, we infer that there must be a first and second Heaven, which begs the question, what is contained in each level?

Contrary to some beliefs, these levels don’t denote the spiritual highs Christians ascend after death. Instead, writers use them to distinguish what they’re talking about. For instance, the first Heaven is the atmosphere where birds fly (Hosea 2:18); the second Heaven is space, where the stars and planets are (Matthew 24:29); the Third Heaven is where God dwells (Hebrews 8:1).

Some argue for seven Heavens, but we don’t see it in the Bible. Therefore, we’ll stick to the three Heavens. In that case, John was clearly in the Third Heaven since he describes a throne room, a court, and the presence of God.

How does John describe Heaven in his vision?

John’s vision of Heaven corresponds with what Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel saw. We get the best description in Revelation 4.

John saw an open door and, beyond it, a throne whose occupant radiated colors similar to jasper and rubies. An emerald rainbow encircled the throne, and beyond it were 24 thrones occupied by 24 elders clothed in white robes and golden crowns.

Lighting and thunder emanated from the throne, denoting activity. John also saw seven lamps blazing in front of the throne and the floor resembling a sea of glass. Closer to the throne were four Creatures. The first resembled a lion, the second an ox; the Third looked like a man, and the fourth, an eagle. These Creatures bore six wings covered with eyes.

The Creatures and elders continually worshipped the one on the throne, who we know to be the Almighty God.

Did John go to other Heavens in his vision?

There is no indication that John went to other Heavens. The scenes in Revelation switch between Heaven and Earth. In the first 12 chapters, John seems to observe events from Heaven, and from Chapters 13 to 22, he seems to be on Earth. Going by our earlier explanation of the three Heavens, we can conclude that John didn’t visit the other Heavens in his vision.

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