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Old Testament Saints and Heaven

Question: Did the Old Testament saints go to Heaven?



Sheol (Hebrew) and Hades (Greek) = Place of the dead (both good and bad)

There is description of a part of Sheol/Hades that is a place of torture translated as hell and the other part is called ‘Abraham’s Bosom’ or ‘Paradise’, a place of comfort.

The wicked were in Sheol/Hades (Psalm 9:17; 31:17; 49:14; Isa 5:14), and so were the righteous (Gen 37:35; 42:38; 2 Sam 22:6; Job 14:13; Psalm 88:3; Eccl 9:10; Isa 38:10; Jonah 2:2)

Heaven = 3 meanings: atmosphere, outer space, presence of God

a)BEFORE Jesus’ death, the Bible says the saints are in Sheol(Gen 37:35; 42:38; 2 Sam 22:6; Job 14:13; Psalm 88:3; Eccl 9:10; Isa 38:10; Jonah 2:2), which is ‘down’ in the earth (Gen 37:35; 42:38; 44:29; 44:31; Num 16:33; 1 Sam 2:6, etc.). In the New Testament the word Hades is used of Sheol, and before His death Jesus taught that the righteous went there (Lk 16:19-31, cf. V 23).

b)AFTER Jesus’ death, the Bible says the saints are in Heaven with God(Heb 12:22-24, cf. v 23b; Rev 6:9), which is ‘up’ (John 6:33, 38; Acts 1:9-12; 2 Cor 12:2-3; Rev 4:1b, etc.).

People of Faith OT Hebrews

Heb 11:6 Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Hebrews 11:8-10 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. ... For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

Looking forward to the new Jerusalem of the future.

Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

All the OT Saints died looking forward to something that had not taken place.

Hebrews 11:39-40 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

None of the promises had been fulfilled yet for the OT saints. Some are now fulfilled for us, but not all. We still look forward to some, like the resurrection of the saints and the return of Christ.

Psalms 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

I will dwell ... looking forward (both OT and NT Saints) to the eternal Kingdom of God (New J)

Rich man and Lazarus Luke 16:19-31

- Sheol / Hades shown as having to compartments that can interact but with an impassible gulf between


There is much debate among the scholars of the Bible whether or not the OT saints went directly to the presence of God (Heaven). It is clear that they all went to the grave (Sheol/Hades) except for Enoch and Elijah, but it is not clear whether ‘Abraham’s bosom’ or ‘Paradise’ was in the presence of God. What we do know is that after the death and resurrection of Jesus all true believers go directly to the presence of God, and that one day all three groups of saints (OT, NT and Tribulation) will be living on the new Earth, in the new Jerusalem, in the presence of God forever.

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