Where Is the Location of the 3rd Heaven You Mention when Discussing the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus?
Question from a reader:
When discussing the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, you indicated that it is referring to the 3rd Heaven. I think it is referring to the location of Heaven before Christ’s ascension. Perhaps the saints of the Old Testament went to “Abraham’s Bosom” and after the ascension, heaven moved. Since Jesus hadn’t ascended, maybe he wasn’t referring to Intermediate Heaven. Support for this perhaps can be found in Ephesians 4:8-10. This isn’t my original thought...more from studying Kay Arthur’s precepts and Irwin Lutzer’s One Minute after you Die. If it was the Old Testament Heaven, perhaps there really was a chasm between Hades and Heaven that people could see. What are your thoughts on this?
I also wonder when Paul refers to the 3rd heaven that maybe it isn’t a level but perhaps an actual number of how many Heavens there have been...1st heaven—before the earth was created; 2nd-Old Testament Heaven; 3rd—where Heaven is now.
Answer from Randy Alcorn:
In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul calls the third heaven “paradise.” When Jesus (before his resurrection), refers to where the thief on the cross would go, he calls it paradise. Therefore, third heaven, paradise and the place Lazarus went (Abraham’s bosom) are basically all the same place. It is possible that paradise was relocated, as you suggested from Ephesians 4:8-10, though there are alternative understandings of that passage.
For more information on this subject, see Randy Alcorn's book Heaven.