For today’s post we will tackle another question from the Skeptic Annotated Bible: When was heaven created?
Here are the two answers which the skeptic believes shows a Bible contradiction:
When the earth was created.
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34)
Sometime after the ascension of Jesus.
“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2)
(All Scriptural quotation comes from the New American Standard Bible)
Here’s a closer look at whether or not there is a contradiction:
- When dealing with skeptics’ claim of Bible contradictions it seems one can never be reminded enough of what exactly is a contradiction. A contradiction occurs when two or more claims conflict with one another so that they cannot simultaneously be true in the same sense and at the same time. To put it another way, a Bible contradiction exists when there are claims within the Bible that are mutually exclusive in the same sense and at the same time.
- We must look at the claims that the skeptic have stated to see if they are contradictory. We ask this because there are times the Skeptic Annotated Bible have presented us with claims that in the website’s own words are not even contradictory. (See for instance our post on “When did Jesus receive his beating?“) In answering the question “When was heaven created?” the first claim, “When the earth was created” and the second claim “Sometime after the ascension of Jesus” are both contradictory. But just because the two claims that are stated by the skeptic are contradictory doesn’t mean there’s still a Bible contradiction; we must ask if the verse cited by the skeptic support the skeptic’s premises.
- Let us look more closely at John 14:2 to see if it supports the second claim that heaven was created after the ascension of Jesus. John 14:2 does not support the claim that heaven was created after Jesus’ ascension.
- There is no mention of the act of creation in the verse nor in the context of John 14. Which makes this verse improbable as the exegetical basis to say God created the heaven after Jesus’ ascension when it did not even mention God’s creation of heaven.
- It seems a possible argument for the skeptic’s view of the creation of heaven in John 14:2 is the phrase “for I go to prepare a place for you.” But the verb “prepare” does not mean “create” and the skeptic is still not justified in employing John 14:2 to claim that it teaches that heaven was created only after Jesus ascended.
- In the Greek the verb translated “prepare” is the verb ἑτοιμάσαι. The lexical form of the verb is ἑτοιμάζω.
- ἑτοιμάζω does not necessary mean “make,” in the sense of creating something.
- Even when there is some idea of “making” something it does not convey creation ex nihlo. It can mean preparing something from preexisting items. For instance the appearance of the verb in Matthew 22:4 about preparing for dinner doesn’t mean that dinner was created out of thin air; rather it was prepared from available items.
- More importantly the verb clearly is not synonymous with creation and creating something. It merely means being ready and being prepared. Look at how the verb is used in Acts 23:23. In Acts 23:23 a Roman military commander ordered two Centurions to “get two hundred soldiers ready.” The commander was not asking the centurion to create two hundred soldiers (the context demand these soldiers be immediately ready and not just to be trained up to have Roman soldiers); it was having them be prepared for a mission.
- If being prepared and creating something are not synonymous then the skeptic has no basis to say that this verse teaches God’s creation of heaven after the ascension of Jesus.
- It is strange that the skeptic would even claim that the Bible would teach heaven was created “after the ascension of Jesus.”
- First off in order for Jesus to ascend to heaven that requires Jesus to first descend down to earth from heaven. Note John 3:13, “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.” Thus heaven must exist already and thus it would not make sense to claim that heaven was only created after Jesus’ crucifixion and ascension.
- What’s further strange is that the verse I cited, John 3:13, definitely shows the existence of heaven prior to Jesus’ ascension within the very book of John that the skeptic tries to use in chapter fourteen verse 2 to prove that heaven was only created after His ascension. If the rest of the context of the book of John have any bearing, it shows that the skeptic has misinterpreted the verse in John 14:2.
- Since the second claim is not taught in the Bible we thus do not have a Bible contradiction.
- Let us look more closely at Matthew 25:34 to see if it supports the first claim that heaven was created when the earth was created. Careful look at Matthew 25:34 reveal that it does not support the skeptic’s interpretation of the verse.
- Again there is nothing within the verse itself that talks about God’s creation of heaven.
- It seems a possible argument for the skeptic’s interpretation that heaven was created the same time as the creation of earth comes from the phrase in the verse that “the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” But this is a bad interpretation since the participle “prepared” does not mean “create.”
- The root of the participle comes from the verb ἑτοιμάζω.
- Everything we have stated about ἑτοιμάζω under Matthew 25:34 applies here as well in that ἑτοιμάζω does not mean creating something.
- If both claims are not supported by the verses cited as proof that the Bible teaches the timing of the creation of heaven, we do not have here a contradiction.
Thus another alleged Bible contradiction from the skeptic is refuted.