Did Elijah and Enoch enter Heaven before the Death and Resurrection of Jesus?


#1

I understand that Catholic teaching is that before the Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, nobody entered Heaven. The righteous (good) people who died were in the “Bosom of Abraham” in sheol where they were comforted - waiting for our Lord Jesus to open the Gates of Heaven. Now that the Lord has died for our sins, and rose from the dead, and ascended to Heaven, the gates of Heaven are now opened. This part I fully understand.

Now…

According to 2 Kings 2:11, “Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” Enoch also is thought to have entered Heaven (**Genesis 5:24 , Sirach 44:16 **and 49:14 , Hebrews 11:5).

However…

Our Lord says in John 3:13:

“And no man hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.” Douay Rhiems Bible

“No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.” New American Bible

I have seen many different answers to this from fellow Catholics on the internet. So now…

Did Elijah and Enoch enter Heaven before the Death and Resurrection of Jesus (as an exception)? OR were they also taken to the “Bosom of Abraham” waiting along with the other righteous people to enter Heaven? Has the Church said anything on this?

Thanks and God Bless!


#2

My understanding is that Heaven being timeless (since linear time is a material effect), this question does not arise.

It’s the same as the Scripture saying “the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world” even though, historically, this occurred in AD30/Jewish 3790, etc.

ICXC NIKA


#3

catholic.com/quickquestions/was-elijah-assumed-into-heaven-before-mary


#4

The Haydock Commentary says some consider the place was the Bosom of Abraham. St. John Chrysostom has a homily in which he speculatively mentions the Paradise of Adam and Eve or "some other delightful place" as possibilities.

The Haydock Commentary, Genesis 5:24

"Though it be not an article of faith, whether Henoch be now in that Paradise, from which Adam and Eve were driven, or in some other delightful place; yet the holy Scriptures affirm, that God translated him alive, that he might not experience death," S. Chrys. hom. 21.

The Haydock Commentary, 2. Kings 2:1

To decide where the paradise which they inhabit, (H.) is situated. would be rash. S. Chrys. hom. 21. in Gen. &c. Some suppose it is still in some unknown region of the earth: others place it above the sky, (M.) or in the bosom of Abraham. C.


#5

The word heaven has also been used to mean sky, and I would usually associate this meaning with when heaven is mentioned in the Old Testament in most cases. Such as the context when the 10 Commandments states that no one should fashion idols of anything on earth, under the earth, in the sea, or in heaven. In the context, it seems more likely that the use of heaven is that of the sky, and could also be used literally if you consider that those that are pure spirit do not have a physical form, but may take on a physical form when appearing on earth, such as the angels appearing as they do.

So, I would venture to say that (in my understanding of scripture and the language used) it is more likely that what is described is them being taken up into the sky, or at least that is how it appeared to them, and they were taken to the Bosom of Abraham.

As I said, this is from my understanding, you are by no means required to take this as fact.


#6

If Elijah was taken to the bosom of Abraham, then Abraham was also taken up into heaven.

But scripture dosen’t say that Abraham was taken up.

Just an observation.

Besides wan’t being in the bosom of Abraham only a way of speaking for all those who were good and died? It would have been a figurative way of speaking. If all the good who died landed on the bosom of Abraham, it would have been terribly crowded on Abraham.

Just a thought.

Could it be that this was a way of saying that Elijah might be the prophet who would return as the messiah? And he was taken up so he could return. But this too was a figurative way of speaking for a true messiah who would come.

Just some mumblings.


#7

You are taking the name “Bosom of Abraham” to be the literal chest of Abraham. This is not the case. It is just the name for the place in Hades where those who died in God’s favor were kept until the coming of Christ to open the gates of Heaven.

No, it was not meant to be taken figuratively. It was (is?) a real place for those who died. It was a place in Hades/Hell (the land of the dead) where those who died in God’s favor were kept and protected from the suffering in hell (the bad part). Bosom of Abraham is just what it was called.

Look to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus for this.


#8

Thanks for all the responses! It seems as the Church has not said anything official on the subject. We do know that the righteous were waiting in the “Bosom of Abraham” until the day the Gates of Heaven were opened by Jesus, and therefore I believe Elijah and Enoch were taken there with the other righteous people.

2 Kings 2:11 says “Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” Could this have been in Heaven with God? Sure it could have - anything is possible with God and God can allow anyone He want into Heaven. But it could also mean a different “heaven.” Remember, the Jews understood there to be 3 heavens: #1 the sky (where the birds and clouds are), #2 Outer Space (where the planets and stars, etc. are), and #3 The Kingdom of Heaven - where God is. Therefore, Enoch and Elijah could have been taken to Heaven where God is, or they could have been taken up to the first heaven (the sky) and transported to another place in the physical world/universe or to the “Bosom of Abraham” with the rest of the righteous people to wait for Jesus to open the Gates of Heaven by His Death and Resurrection.

Please correct me if I am wrong… but with all this said, and looking at John 3:13, I’d say Elijah and Enoch entered Heaven where God is after Jesus shed His Precious Blood for us.


#9

Thanks for all the responses! It seems as the Church has not said anything official on the subject. We do know that the righteous were waiting in the "Bosom of Abraham" until the day the Gates of Heaven were opened by Jesus, and therefore I believe Elijah and Enoch were taken there with the other righteous people.

2 Kings 2:11 says "Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven." Could this have been in Heaven with God? Sure it could have - anything is possible with God and God can allow anyone He want into Heaven. But it could also mean a different "heaven." Remember, the Jews understood there to be 3 heavens: #1 the sky (where the birds and clouds are), #2 Outer Space (where the planets and stars, etc. are), and #3 The Kingdom of Heaven - where God is. Therefore, Enoch and Elijah could have been taken to Heaven where God is, or he could have been taken up to the first heaven (the sky) and transported to another place in the physical world/universe or to the "Bosom of Abraham" with the rest of the righteous people to wait for Jesus to open the Gates of Heaven by His Death and Resurrection.


#10

and then there is methusaleh too in some translations …

God bless


#11

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