I'm quite familiar with the fact that God himself is outside of time, this is very easy to show through scripture.

However it seems to be an increasingly popular conception that there is no time in heaven as well. For example, in this answer about saints. (Probably not the best example, but readily available.)

I'm quite certain that time works differently there as we have many examples from scripture where future and past events in heaven are participated in. But a lot of people are explaining it in a way that makes man eternal (not just living forever but, existing eternally as God does in every time frame). I have also heard some Mormons say they were always taught man will become eternal too (don't know if this is official, just what I have heard some say).

This seems to me to create a problem with the fact that Satan was supposed to have been cast out of heaven, but by necessity is still in heaven if there is, in fact, no time. Even if we dismiss the depictions in scripture of time passing in heaven as metaphorical, in order to help us understand certain things.

How widespread is this doctrine and where did it originate? Does any whole tradition hold this view, or is it simply a failure of individuals to communicate their meaning?

  • 3
    It doesn't make sense that there is no time in heaven. After all, just talking takes time to occur, and plenty of talking gets done in heaven throughout the book of Revelation. There are passages like Rev. 8:1 (silence in heaven for about half an hour) and Rev. 6:10-11, in which the martyrs are told to wait a little longer. It takes time for the trumpets to blow and bowls of wrath to be poured; they are not all poured out at once. We are told in Eph. 2:7 of the ages to come ahead of us. Every event takes place in time.
    – Steve
    May 30, 2013 at 4:15
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    Not a duplicate, but closely related: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/5935/… Whether or not there is time in Heaven is discussed at the linked question. Rather than commenting here, it might be better to post an answer there. May 30, 2013 at 4:20
  • @Steve I agree, but people who hold that view have explained that it's just being related to us that way. As in it's only a shadow of eternal truth. It's more of metaphorical of some higher truth then events actually happening. Allot of people don't take passages literally.
    – 2tim424
    May 30, 2013 at 4:21
  • To @2tim424: You have asked me to answer to this question from a Catholic perspective, but 'eternal now' is different from man eternal existence. Catholics do not hold that man (soul to be more specific) has existed always like God. Catholics hold that a Soul once created, will exist for eternity. Since your question is specifically directed to 'traditions that hold this view', one cannot answer this from a Catholic perspective. You have also stated that if there is no time in heaven, Satan should be in heaven. Which is not true because Satan was cast "to earth" (Rev 12:9) which is time bound. May 30, 2013 at 9:55
  • Can you cite some source that maintains there is no time in heaven? In the Orthodox understanding , there is time, but it is chiral rather than chronological. A moment in time is, was and will be all simultaneously.
    – guest37
    Feb 1, 2018 at 15:20

2 Answers 2


It depends what you mean by time. From our faith, as revealed in Scripture, we know that our experience of the heavenly state is to be without end, and without decay or corruption. However, it does not necessarily follow that there will be no perceptible succession of events. In general, orthodox theology has assumed that we will not assume God's own unique attributes - we will not become omnipotent, for example - and so we will not end up "outside time" in the fullest sense, as this is directly and innately part of the God-nature. (I suspect that some of this insistence is in opposition to gnostic/Neoplatonist ideas.) I'm not aware of any sect that holds dogmatically that we will become atemporal, though perhaps some people believe it, or leave it open as an option.

In theology, much of the speculation has historically been guided by the philosophy of Aristotle. In On the heavens 1.9 he writes (my annotations in square brackets):

It is therefore evident that there is also no place or void or time outside the heaven [= beyond the boundary of the universe]. For in every place body can be present; and void is said to be that in which the presence of body, though not actual, is possible; and time is the number of movement. But in the absence of natural body there is no movement, and outside the heaven, as we have shown, body neither exists nor can come to exist. It is clear then that there is neither place, nor void, nor time, outside the heaven. Hence whatever is there [= the Prime Mover], is of such a nature as not to occupy any place, nor does time age it; nor is there any change in any of the things which lie beyond the outermost motion; they continue through their entire duration unalterable and unmodified, living the best and most self-sufficient of lives. 1

This passage indicates that time as such is particular to our world; whatever is outside the world is beyond time. Similarly, Physics 4.12 speaks of a category of eternal things which are not contained in time, measurable by time, or affected by the passage of time.

From a Christian perspective, it is natural to say that God himself ought to be covered by this concept (and while this articulation of the idea is from Greek philosophy, it's not totally un-Biblical). Can other things - heaven, angels, human souls - be considered atemporal as well? If we try to jam Aristotle and the Bible together, we might well think that souls in heaven are outside of time, because they're no longer in the world. But in general, theologians have been reluctant to say this. Truly being outside of time is reserved for God alone, as an essential part of his nature. Other things may, through the grace of God, be made perpetual or incorruptible or immutable.

Scholastics, who were the first to tackle the topic systematically, came up with various elaborate categories; the most important here is the aevum or aeviternal, which is the kind of relationship to time that the angels have. They are creatures of time insofar as they experience a succession of events, but they do not decay, or age, or change in any essential way. Moreover, God's knowledge of the future was held to be direct, because in a sense he's already there, whereas angels may only make inferences about the future (see Aquinas, Summa Theologica 1.57.3). They are everlasting but not atemporal.

In some writers, the aevum is distinguished from the true eternal in that aeviternal things could be destroyed by God, whereas he himself is immutably immutable. Some sources also note that when the heavens and earth have passed away, there would no longer be an objective way of measuring time, and so the duration of events would be up to our perception alone. This points to a certain "timelessness" of experience, even though there is still a succession of cause and effect.

An influential patristic text is in Augustine's Confessions 11.9,

For, doubtless, that heaven of heavens, which Thou in the Beginning created, is some intellectual creature, which, although in no wise co-eternal unto You, the Trinity, is yet a partaker of Your eternity, and by reason of the sweetness of that most happy contemplation of Yourself, does greatly restrain its own mutability, and without any failure, from the time in which it was created, in clinging unto You, surpasses all the rolling change of times.

nimirum enim caelum caeli, quod in principio fecisti, creatura est aliqua intellectualis, quamquam nequaquam tibi, trinitati, coaeterna, particeps tamen aeternitatis tuae, valde mutabilitatem suam prae dulcedine felicissimae contemplationis tuae cohibet, et sine ullo lapsu, ex quo facta est, inhaerendo tibi, excedit omnem volubilem vicissitudinem temporum.

and another is Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy 5 Pr. 6,

We may say that God indeed is eternal, but the world truly is perpetual.

deum quidem aeternum, mundum vero dicamus esse perpetuum

The exact definition and nature of the aevum was disputed, but the standard account is that of Albertus Magnus in his Summa de Creaturis; the first part, De quattuor coaequaevis, covers the different sorts of time, but the whole text is really one piece. His pupil Thomas Aquinas also mentions the aevum in Summa Theologica 1.10.5-6. For more than you ever wanted to know: The medieval concept of time, ed. Pasquale Porro, BRILL 2001.

1. Translation by J. L. Stocks, 1922.

  • Lds dogmatically assert that man becomes like God, therefore, outside of time.
    – user3961
    May 31, 2013 at 1:02

According to low of physics and theory of relativity. Time can only functions inside the materialistic world. It must interact with the matter.

E = mc2

If the spiritual world doesn't consist of matter, which we think doesn't then the time doesn't matter. The beings can be 'at the same time' 'at the same place'. Place has the same meaning as time.

The physicist observed similar phenomena in the sub-atomic world where atoms can go through the walls and be at the same time in every location possible before they are observed. So if there is no material observer(humans) the atoms can be everywhere the human mind can observe.

The spiritual beings are not made out of materialistic substances so only mind is present which makes the time and space non-existent and irrelevant.

Anyway to answer your question is that it originates from the bible. Revelation 10:6

And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer

  • ESV says "that there would be no more delay" which makes much more sense in context.
    – curiousdannii
    Jun 11, 2015 at 13:42
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    The underlying issue here is that people have the idea of heaven being immaterial as you are saying. Where really the bible says the opposite. We are given resurrected bodies and reign on earth with him and his throne will be down here, in new Jerusalem, where he will be our light. It is indeed a physical final state of heaven. Physical maybe not like we know it, but when describing it to us we are told "bodies" not "spirits" so it's closer to material than immaterial even by our current definitions. And if its physical, then your explanation demands there is time.
    – Joshua
    Jan 2, 2016 at 18:07
  • @JoshuaBigbee, Jesus has glorified body that appear physical but can go through the walls. It is totally different immaterial physics which don't apply to our world. So even if you are right, the world will rule different 'physical' laws.
    – Grasper
    Jan 4, 2016 at 14:22
  • @Grasper my point is, even you are still using physical spacial terms to describe it. if it's so new and immaterial why does he have his wounds still and why does it matter so much he resurrected from the dead rather than just return from heaven with new body? And if it is completely new physics then asking about time is kind of... Anachronistic in the weirdest way. Just say time as we know it will be different, whether it exists or not. Don't claim there won't be but then base that conclusion on our world's physics (E = mc2).
    – Joshua
    Jan 4, 2016 at 14:29
  • @JoshuaBigbee, why do you need time in eternity? I'm sure the heavenly beings already have it figured out and use some type of measurement of the eternity 'time flow' but it is not the time which we know. I know humans can't grasp the idea of not having time.
    – Grasper
    Jan 4, 2016 at 19:39

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