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In Matthew 24:35 (KJV) Jesus says:

"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."

How can heaven pass away, since it is the abode of God? (See, for example, 1 Kings 8:49; Psalm 123:1.)

Are there any other Scripture passages that can help to clarify this saying?

  • Thank you for the edit. I was unable to do the proper formatting because I wrote the question on my phone and the formatting options don't appear on my phone. – jay_t55 Oct 30 '14 at 17:46
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    Passages like these are especially confusing in a post-medieval society, when "heaven" and "kingdom of heaven" are often treated as synonymous. In today's language, this verse might be better translated as "The universe shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." – Ryan Oct 30 '14 at 19:59
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    I know this may come as a surprise, but this question needs to be more focused in order to stand on this site. There are several major views inside Christianity on heaven and they are not all compatible. In order to ask how something "should" be understood, you must include "according to who". This site is for explaining the extant teachings of specific Christian groups, not for a general search of truth. If you are looking for textual analysis instead we could migrate this to Biblical Hermeneutics, or you could edit here to add a framework inside which you are interested in hearing answers. – Caleb Oct 31 '14 at 9:49
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    You might also find these meta posts helpful in understanding what we expect from questions around here. Others like What Christianity.StackExchange is (and more importantly, what it isn't) and How we are different than other sites? have more general info on how the site works. – Caleb Oct 31 '14 at 9:51
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Heaven can mean several things:

  1. The abode of God/angels/righteous
  2. The firmament (sky)
  3. State of utmost happiness

These are related concepts, and even in ancient languages, these meanings are conflated.

When heaven and hell are used together, #1 or #3 make the most sense.

When heaven and earth are used together, #2 probably makes the most sense.

So

The sky and the earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

or

The universe will pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

This isn't hypothetical; this event will happen, on the "day of the Lord",

the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up

2 Peter 3:10

Now, maybe God lives in a new place too -- I don't know any reason why that couldn't be true -- but the point isn't that God gets a new house, so much as it is that all creation will pass away, but not God's word.

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"Heaven and earth shall pass away; but my words shall not pass away" - (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33). The Bible records it three times for double emphasis. It simply means that all created matter may pass away (because the heaven and earth were created by God (Genesis 1:1), but the Word of The Omnipotent God (Revelation 19:6), The Only Potentate (1 Timothy 6:15) - which shares of His most essential attribute - is pure, powerful, totally effectual potentiality in itself, has no capacity to pass away and is eternal in essence.

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Yes he did. Revelation and an epistle by Peter confirm this:

Revelation 21:1

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

2 Peter 3:10

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

This is reported in those locations as a literal event, not figurative.

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