Levels of Heaven and Hell
Q: Are there different levels to heaven or hell? If so, what are they?
A. Regarding hell, unbelievers will suffer condemnation and eternal separation from God in both body and soul (see Matthew 18:8; 25:46; Mark 9:43; John 3:36; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Jude 13; Revalation 14:11). While the damned will experience indescribable torment, varying degrees may be determined by the nature of the sins to be punished (Matthew 11:20-24; 23:15; Luke 12:47-48).
As for what some term the “degrees of glory” in heaven, the Scriptures depict eternal life as a state of never-ending “blessedness.” This means that Christians will live forever in perfect freedom from sin, death, the devil, and every evil (Isaiah 25:8; 49:10; 1 Corinthians 15:26, 55-57; Revelation 2:7, 11; 20:14; 21:4). They will also enjoy the never-ending joy of being with God in the new heavens and new earth (e.g., Revelation 21-22; Psalm 16:11). Falling away from God will be impossible.
This blessedness includes the joy of being in eternal communion with our fellow believers. Matthew 17:3 hints that we may well recognize them when we are translated to glory. While all the saints will enjoy unlimited happiness and blessed peace, there will be degrees of glory corresponding to differences of deeds and faithfulness while on earth. This will result in even greater praise to God but will provoke no envy among the saved (see 2 Corinthians 9:6; Matthew 20:23).
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Walter Snyder is a Lutheran pastor, conference speaker, author of the book What Do Lutherans Believe, and writer of numerous published devotions, prayers, and sermons.