Yes, Enoch and Elijah went to heaven [Akin]

jimmyakin.com/wp-content/uploads/elijah-300x197.jpgMany Catholics are aware that Jesus “opened the gates of heaven” and allowed the righteous dead to go there.

The Catechism even says it:

CCC 637 In his human soul united to his divine person, the dead Christ went down to the realm of the dead. He opened heaven’s gates for the just who had gone before him.

This leads to a question that comes up periodically: What about figures like Enoch and Elijah, who seem to have been assumed into heaven prior to the time of Christ?

The obvious answer, I’ve always held, is that they were exceptions. As a general rule, heaven was not open to those who lived before the time of Christ, but God is omnipotent, and he can make exceptions if he chooses.

Some of the people I’ve discussed this with seem to struggle with it, and I haven’t understood the source of their difficulty.

God can clearly give the blessings of the Christian age to someone prior to the time of Christ, on the basis of what Christ did. After all, that’s why the Virgin Mary was immaculately conceived. The Catechism explains:

CCC 492 The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: She is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son.”

CCC 508 From among the descendants of Eve, God chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of his Son. “Full of grace”, Mary is “the most excellent fruit of redemption” (SC 103): from the first instant of her conception, she was totally preserved from the stain of original sin and she remained pure from all personal sin throughout her life.

If God could apply the redemption Christ wrought to Mary before his death and resurrection, then he could similarly apply its fruits to others as well—at least on an exceptional basis.

And the way that Enoch and Elijah’s lives concluded was clearly exceptional.

In Enoch’s case, Genesis 5:24 says that God “took” him, but doesn’t say where. Sirach 44:16 and 49:14 make it clear that he was taken up from the earth, and Hebrews 11:5 adds “so that he should not see death.”

In Elijah’s case, 2 Kings 2:11 states that “Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” First Maccabees 2:58 adds, “Elijah because of great zeal for the Law was taken up into heaven.”

Both 2 Kings and 1 Maccabees both use the ordinary Hebrew and Greek words for “heaven” (shamayim and ouranos, respectively)—indicating that heaven was where they went.

Recently I was rereading St. John Paul II’s general audience on heaven and noticed that he also acknowledged this:

The depiction of heaven as the transcendent dwelling-place of the living God is joined with that of the place to which believers, through grace, can also ascend, as we see in the Old Testament accounts of Enoch (cf. Gn 5:24) and Elijah (cf. 2 Kgs 2:11) [General Audience, July 21, 1999].

It thus seems that John Paul II—who is now himself in heaven—acknowledged the exceptional nature of Enoch and Elijah’s admission to that blessed realm.

feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/jimmyakin/HPRf?d=yIl2AUoC8zA
http://forums.catholic.com//feeds.feedburner.com/~r/jimmyakin/HPRf/~4/mVxsSMjyXCQ

More…

[ http://www.catholic.com/blog/jimmy-akin/yes-enoch-and-elijah-went-to-heaven](“http:// http://www.catholic.com/blog/jimmy-akin/yes-enoch-and-elijah-went-to-heaven”)

I apologize if this is already elsewhere in the forums. I did look around a little and didn’t see it.

So, some people believe that no one went to heaven before Yeshua came and opened the gates. However, I agree with Jimmy Akin here that Enoch and Elijah are clear exceptions. What are your thoughts on this one? What about Moses, given some midrashic beliefs along with Jude 9, which suggest that he even died and was resurrected?

In addition, what about the numerous psalms which suggest that Sheol wasn’t the only option for Hebrews after they die? Do you think that David, the author of many of those psalms, or any others went to heaven or to somewhere better than Sheol? I know about the belief about Yeshua descending into Sheol to redeem the saints, which belief I share, so it was probably rare for someone to go elsewhere. Very interested in your thoughts on these things.

Their entrance into heaven was only sequenced temporally as before the crucifixion. However, time has no bearing on eternity since time does not exist in the eternal state. Therefore God did accept them as redeemed by Christ without respect to the sequencing of time, just as Mary was.

+1; you said it better than I could.

ICXC NIKA

I can’t get the link to open.

However, why would Jimmy Akin make void our Lord’s saying: John 3:13 “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.”

This debate has raged on and off for years here. But ultimately it rests on poor Biblical exegesis. Or maybe I should say it anachronistically assigns the Christian meaning of Heaven where it is found in the Old Testament.

After all the Gospel message of Jesus was (is) The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

This was NEWS, because beforehand, it wasn’t.

I apologize about the link. It was my first time posting a link here. Catholic Answers posted the link on Facebook, and I went to the article and copy/pasted the url into the little url tool at the top of the post editor on this site. Anyway, it’s Akin’s blog on Catholic.com. He referenced some other verses which expand upon where Elijah and Enoch were taken. I don’t recall the verses. I wish that the link worked. I can’t figure out what to do different for the link.

Do you have an alternate definition of the heaven to which Elijah and Enoch were taken? It’s clear that they did not go to Sheol. Anyone have an opinion about Moses, given the information in the op?

Thanks :slight_smile: Personally, i rather leave things like this as a mystery. The fact that our faith has mysteries is not a stumbling block but rather a testament to the fact that we believe in a great God who cannot always be reduced to a finite human understanding. But if I am forced to rationalize it, that’s how I would do it. :slight_smile:

Although I can’t open the link or find out where to get it, from what I have read so far people are expressing an opinion only and not a Church teaching.
It is clear that the death and resurrection of Christ opened the gates of Heaven. They were closed to everyone prior to that. I do not believe Elijah and Enoch were taken to Heaven. I believe they were in the Limbo of the Fathers.

The only problem is that the Limbo of the Fathers would never be confused with Heaven and the Beatific Vision of God. The scripture clearly says they went to Heaven.

Let me try manually typing the url here. It might not appear as a link though.

catholic.com/jimmy-akin/yes-enoch-and-elijah-went-to-heaven

I’m not sure what I did wrong in the link share. I will try that again too though.

[ http://www.catholic.com/blog/jimmy-akin/yes-enoch-and-elijah-went-to-heaven](" http://www.catholic.com/blog/jimmy-akin/yes-enoch-and-elijah-went-to-heaven")

The Link doesn’t work.

CCC 637 In his human soul united to his divine person, the dead Christ went down to the realm of the dead. He opened heaven’s gates for the just who had gone before him.

CCC 637 is correct. But did Elijah die like the other fathers and go to the realm of the dead OR was he different in that he went directly to heaven as scripture says?

This catechetical quote (below) may help.

God bless.

Cathoholic

**
ROMAN CATECHISM** Part I, Article V. Why He Descended into Hell

To Liberate The Just

Having explained these things, the pastor should next proceed to teach that Christ the Lord descended into hell, in order that having despoiled the demons, He might liberate from prison those holy Fathers and the other just souls, and might bring them into heaven with Himself. . . . This deliverance of the just was long before predicted by Osee in these words: O death, I will be thy death; O hell, I will be thy bite; ’ and also by the Prophet Zachary: Thou also by the blood of thy testament hast sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit, wherein is no water; and lastly, the same is expressed by the Apostle in these words: Despoiling the principalities and powers, he hath exposed them confidently in open show, triumphing over them in himself. . . .

. . . Wherefore before His death and Resurrection heaven was closed against every child of Adam. The souls of the just, on their departure from this life, were either borne to the bosom of Abraham; or, as is still the case with those who have something to be washed away or satisfied for, were purified in the fire of purgatory.

Elijah and Enoch did not go to Heaven prior to the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Church does not teach that they did. Quite the opposite the Church teaches that nobody went to Heaven prior to Christ opening the gates after his death and resurrection.

Thread edited to add post from RSS feed here at CAF for convenience and accuracy.

haš-šā-mā-yim is the Hebrew word for Heaven AND the sky. (see here for more details)

Ouranos is the Greek equivalent and merely means “air, heaven, sky”. (see here for more details)


**haš-šā-mā-yim is used in 2nd Kings 2:11 . . . . **

2nd KINGS 2:11 11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

Below with parenthetical addition of the Hebrew

**
2nd KINGS 2:11** 11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into **heaven (haš-šā-mā-yim) **

(haš-šā-mā-yim can be seen in 2nd Kings 2:11 here).


**haš-šā-mā-yim is used here too . . . . **

GENESIS 1:1 1 IN the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Below with parenthetical addition of the Hebrew

GENESIS 1:1 1 IN the beginning God created the heavens (haš·šā·ma·yim) and the earth.


**haš-šā-mā-yim is also used here for example . . . . **

DEUTERONOMY 11:10-12 10 For the land which you are entering to take possession of it is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and watered it with your feet, like a garden of vegetables; 11 but the land which you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven, 12 a land which the LORD your God cares for; the eyes of the LORD your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.

Below with parenthetical addition of the Hebrew

DEUTERONOMY 11:10-12 10 For the land which you are entering to take possession of it is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and watered it with your feet, like a garden of vegetables; 11 but the land which you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven (haš·šā·ma·yim), 12 a land which the LORD your God cares for; the eyes of the LORD your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.

Catholic Answers: Yes, Enoch and Elijah went to heaven
Jimmy Akin
catholic.com/blog/jimmy-akin/yes-enoch-and-elijah-went-to-heaven

Many Catholics are aware that Jesus “opened the gates of heaven” and allowed the righteous dead to go there.

The Catechism even says it:

CCC 637 In his human soul united to his divine person, the dead Christ went down to the realm of the dead. He opened heaven’s gates for the just who had gone before him.

This leads to a question that comes up periodically: What about figures like Enoch and Elijah, who seem to have been assumed into heaven prior to the time of Christ?

The obvious answer, I’ve always held, is that they were exceptions. As a general rule, heaven was not open to those who lived before the time of Christ, but God is omnipotent, and he can make exceptions if he chooses.

Some of the people I’ve discussed this with seem to struggle with it, and I haven’t understood the source of their difficulty.

God can clearly give the blessings of the Christian age to someone prior to the time of Christ, on the basis of what Christ did. After all, that’s why the Virgin Mary was immaculately conceived. The Catechism explains:

CCC 492 The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: She is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son.”

CCC 508 From among the descendants of Eve, God chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of his Son. “Full of grace”, Mary is “the most excellent fruit of redemption” (SC 103): from the first instant of her conception, she was totally preserved from the stain of original sin and she remained pure from all personal sin throughout her life.

If God could apply the redemption Christ wrought to Mary before his death and resurrection, then he could similarly apply its fruits to others as well—at least on an exceptional basis.

And the way that Enoch and Elijah’s lives concluded was clearly exceptional.

In Enoch’s case, Genesis 5:24 says that God “took” him, but doesn’t say where. Sirach 44:16 and 49:14 make it clear that he was taken up from the earth, and Hebrews 11:5 adds “so that he should not see death.”

In Elijah’s case, 2 Kings 2:11 states that “Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” First Maccabees 2:58 adds, “Elijah because of great zeal for the Law was taken up into heaven.”

Both 2 Kings and 1 Maccabees both use the ordinary Hebrew and Greek words for “heaven” (shamayim and ouranos, respectively)—indicating that heaven was where they went.

Recently I was rereading St. John Paul II’s general audience on heaven and noticed that he also acknowledged this:

The depiction of heaven as the transcendent dwelling-place of the living God is joined with that of the place to which believers, through grace, can also ascend, as we see in the Old Testament accounts of Enoch (cf. Gn 5:24) and Elijah (cf. 2 Kgs 2:11) [General Audience, July 21, 1999].

It thus seems that John Paul II—who is now himself in heaven—acknowledged the exceptional nature of Enoch and Elijah’s admission to that blessed realm.

The depiction of heaven as the transcendent dwelling-place of the living God is joined with that of the place to which believers, through grace, can also ascend, as we see in the Old Testament accounts of Enoch (cf. Gn 5:24) and Elijah (cf. 2 Kgs 2:11) [General Audience, July 21, 1999].

Believers CAN (through grace) ascend into Heaven (in this sense).

But you cannot conclude from that statement that they “through grace, ascended”
to that destination immediately.

You cannot conclude from that statement that they “through grace, ascended” to that
destination . . . . before Jesus.

Especially when the Roman Catechism says:

ROMAN CATECHISM . . . Wherefore before His death and Resurrection heaven was closed against every child of Adam. The souls of the just, on their departure from this life, were either borne to the bosom of Abraham; or, as is still the case with those who have something to be washed away or satisfied for, were purified in the fire of purgatory.

In summary . . . .

**Before the Resurrection EVERY child of Adam was borne to . . . . **
[LIST]
*]**The Bosom of Abraham . . . or . . . **
[/LIST]
[LIST]
*]Purgatory
[/LIST]

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