This is an interesting question that encompasses the entire Bible.
Gen 1 1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Revelation 21 1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first
heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any
In Genesis 1:1, the MT uses הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם (plural) and the LXX uses τὸν οὐρανὸν (singular), heavens and heaven, respectively. I will argue that it is probably impossible to say exactly what will be destroyed apart from earth, but also that it doesn’t make much difference to the believers who will be living in the new earth.
Jewish tradition holds that there are 3 heavens with the first two comprising the known universe and the third being the abode of God.
The destruction of the heavens and the earth was already being predicted in the OT.
The psalmist wrote,
102 25 “Of old You founded the earth,
And the heavens are the work of Your hands.
26“Even they will perish, but You endure;
And all of them will wear out like a garment;
Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed.
Isaiah also prophesied:
51 6 “Raise your eyes to the sky, Then look to the earth beneath; For
the sky will vanish like smoke, And the earth will wear out like a
garment And its inhabitants will die in the same way. But My salvation
will be forever, And My righteousness will not fail.
In the NT, Peter uses the plural οὐρανοὶ
2 Pe 3 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the
heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed
with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
From these passages it seems that the created universe would be destroyed along with earth. The question would then be if the other worldly heaven also created by God will be destroyed.
In Luke 21, Jesus uses ὁ οὐρανὸς in the singular. He often used terms like ”kingdom of heaven” to denote the Father’s abode, though admittedly the plural can also be used with that meaning.
33Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass
We saw that Revelation 21 refers to the first heaven and earth passing away and the same singular term οὐρανὸν also refers the heaven οὐρανοῦ from which the new earth descends.
It is therefore possible that the so-to-speak supra sidereal heaven will also be destroyed because a new earth will be created for the purpose of God being together with man. He would not then need to dwell in a heavenly abode. The description given in this verse is that there will be no sea, so it will be quite different from the water-defined world we now live in. We are not told what the purpose of a new heaven would be and it could be the new galactic environment for earth.
The early church fathers tended to interpret Revelation literally. Irenaeus quotes Isaiah 65.
17“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.
18“But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;
For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing
And her people for gladness.
19“I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people;
And there will no longer be heard in her
The voice of weeping and the sound of crying.
He believed that the tabernacle was a type for the new Jerusalem.
And of this tabernacle Moses received the pattern in the mount; Exodus
25:40 and nothing is capable of being allegorized, but all things are
steadfast, and true, and substantial, having been made by God for
righteous men's enjoyment. For as it is God truly who raises up man,
so also does man truly rise from the dead, and not allegorically, as I
have shown repeatedly. And as he rises actually, so also shall he be
actually disciplined beforehand for incorruption, and shall go
forwards and flourish in the times of the kingdom, in order that he
may be capable of receiving the glory of the Father. Then, when all
things are made new, he shall truly dwell in the city of God. For it
is said, He that sits on the throne said, Behold, I make all things
new. And the Lord says, Write all this; for these words are faithful
and true. And He said to me, They are done. Revelation 21:5-6 And this
is the truth of the matter. (Against Heresies (Book V, Chapter 35)
Speculative addendum added free of charge
God destroys the earth because it has been corrupted by man’s sin. Maybe it is possible that heaven becomes corrupted by the sinners who are resurrected to receive judgment there.
“But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and
immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part
will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the
second death.” Rev. 21:8 NASB
I realize that this is speculative but it might be an argument that annihilationists could make that everything that is not holy will be destroyed along with the first heaven and earth. The forever and ever aspect of eternal damnation would then belong to the previous order and not be carried over into the new. In other words, the second death would be even more final than the first due to the resurrection to judgment.
I must confess I like that argument because I do not understand the idea of eternal punishment. Once people have clearly and painfully understood what an awful mistake they have made, why should they need to suffer forever? I am not saying however, that it is a solid hermeneutical conclusion that anyone should count on. I wouldn’t want that on my conscience if I’m wrong. Only God knows how everything will play out and he did warn us of eternal punishment so we must take that seriously and act accordingly.