As you may know there are many books where people have said they had been in hell and in heaven, and that even Jesus guided them. And that sounds a lot like Divine Comedy.

I'm pretty sure that's not true, because there are several parts of the Bible that do not fit with their stories, and also I don't believe that God would like to make us experience Hell:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. — [John 3:16-18 ESV]

Anyway, the only one who had been in hell and heaven was Jesus; this is what he said to Nicodemus in all the gospels. Also in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Abraham told to the rich man:

He said to him, "If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead." — [Luke 16:25 ESV]

So, what biblical passages are used to support the idea that living people can experience hell and heaven?

It would really be helpful if you can give some Bible verses that talk more about the subject. I have been using the Nelson's Bible dictionary to understand more about it, which I recommend because it gives a list of related verses.

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    I think what these people claim is more serious than it might first appear. To claim to have been given some revelation such as this, is more or less claiming to be a prophet having a message from God directly. If anything such people say that they learned by these experiences is not scriptural then they are not just confused but false prophets. Paul the Apostle or John having visions of eternal truths to prepare them for remarkable and historic ministries is altogether different from what you are describing as they were actual Apostles directly called by Jesus Christ.
    – Mike
    Commented Jun 2, 2013 at 13:37
  • Jesus was not in Hell - see here
    – warren
    Commented Jun 11, 2013 at 19:02
  • @Steve He made a note of his reason here (the edit history - it's usually worthwhile to check that first, prior to asking such a question). Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 6:12

2 Answers 2


It happened before in the Bible, so I don't see why it cannot happen again. In 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, Paul the Apostle tells about a time when he is taken up to Paradise "and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter" (v4). He could not tell whether he was in a body or not (v3).

Perhaps the most famous occasion of a man going to heaven and coming back to earth to record the experience would be John, who wrote the book of Revelation. He saw much in heaven. It appears that he actually took notes while he was in heaven; at one point he was admonished not to write about the 7 thunders (Rev. 10:4). He was told to write what he saw and deliver it to the angels of the 7 churches (Rev 1:10-11).

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    Paul doesn't specifically say that it was him "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven." we speculate that it was him. Much moreover he did not say this to prove his authority at all. chapter 11 does mention false apostles but he isn't standing on the authority of a visit to heaven he simply is mentioning that it happened to someone. he stands on the authority of the his appointment by Christ in the truth rather than some happenings.
    – user4060
    Commented Jun 3, 2013 at 2:50
  • how can he be using it to prove his authority its not even about him?
    – user4060
    Commented Jun 3, 2013 at 3:06
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    After that story, he talks about the abundance of revelations and why God gave him the thorn in his flesh. That ties it in pretty nicely.
    – Steve
    Commented Jun 3, 2013 at 13:52
  • Paul was given a stewardship by God to "complete the word of God" (Col. 1:25), that could definitely justify a unique position of being lifted to heaven for a time. John also, in order to write the book of Revelation. These examples show men being brought to heaven, but not arbitrarily. I'm dubious toward someone who would have revelations on that scale simply to resolve their own personal conflicts, to have a "new start", etc. I'm not ruling it out, but decidedly dubious.
    – Mirror318
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 20:40

From an Orthodox perspective, this really depends on how you define heaven and hell. Are you referring to the intermediate state prior to the final judgment, or to our final place of blessedness or damnation? As our tradition (along with the scriptures) differentiates between Sheol/Hades (where everyone goes after death) and the final state after the last judgment, we would say that one may experience the intermediate state - but only those who have been bodily resurrected (second resurrection) have yet experienced the final state (i.e. Christ Himself, and many Orthodox and all Catholics would also include the Virgin Mary).

  • "No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man" (John 3:13).

  • "But, as it is written, 'What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him'" (1 Corinthians 2:9).

  • "But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Peter 3:13).

  • Its important to know that John 3:13 was written before the resurrection of Jesus and subsequent resurrection of old testament saints. now many have ascended into heaven. you are greatly taking 1 cor 2:9 out of context it has nothing to do with heaven and even the next verse tells us those thing are revealed to us by the spirit. so your not standing on much scriptural basis.
    – user4060
    Commented Jun 3, 2013 at 2:57
  • @caseyr547 Sounds like you've got just about as much scriptural support as I do, you just happen to disagree about what it means.
    – Dan
    Commented Jun 3, 2013 at 16:04

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