The actual word for “heaven” from the Greek is: “παράδεισος (parádeisos). In the Ancient Greek, it would’ve been “Elysium,” also called Elysian Fields. In this Greek mythology, originally the paradise to which heroes on whom the gods conferred immortality were sent. Even today, there are cross-words for multiple meanings which can lead to confusion.
For example, ουρανός (Ouranos) means heaven or sky, whereas παράδεισος (Paradeisos) means paradise or heaven. To better understand, we need to go back to early Greek Mythology where we find the god “Ouranos.” This was the god of the heavens; son and husband of Gaia and father of the Titans in ancient mythology. Ouranos was a Greek deity who was worshipped by the Ancient Greeks. In the Latin we find Uranus … a planet (wanderer in Greek) within our Solar System. Now we can see the connection between God, Paradise, Heaven, and Sky.
Remember also, the ancient Greeks used two words for air: aer meant the dim lower atmosphere, and aether meant the bright upper atmosphere above the clouds. Also related, the Greek word “Pneuma” (πνεῦμα, Lat. spiritus) and has a basic meaning of “air in motion,” or “breath” as something necessary to Life. In Greek tragedy it is used of the “breath of Life” and it is the “Spirit” of the New Testament Bible.
Knowing all this now, you can better understand what was meant when Jesus was quoted as saying that “the Kingdom of Heaven/God is within you.” Don’t merely look to the skies, and proclaim this to be the Heavenly realm, but look within as well. As above, so below. As within, so without. Literal constructs were always used to represent esoteric and metaphysical deeper meanings. Imagine a world that goes within you, as far and as deep as it goes outside of you. The possibilities are endless … and eternal.
Just a thought …
Justin Taylor, ORDM.