An Alphabetical Analysis
Volume 9 - Prophetic Truth - Page 66 of 223
A Note on the Use of the Singular and Plural of the word 'Heaven'
When we open the New Testament and read about 'heaven', we discover
that in the gospel of Matthew, the Greek word ouranos occurs 84 times, and of
this number, 58 occurrences employ the word in the plural and the remaining
26 use it in the singular.  Of this latter number the Authorized Version
translates the word 'air' three times, and 'sky' three times.  In one verse
the plural form and the singular are found together:
'The stars shall fall from the heaven (sing.), and the powers of the
heavens (plur.) shall be shaken' (Matt. 24:29).
Where the words, 'till heaven and earth pass' and 'heaven and earth
shall pass' (Matt. 5:18 and 24:35) the word 'heaven' is in the singular.
We make no pretence of having arrived at an understanding of these
differences; such would necessitate a patient consideration of every one of
these 84 references.  We do observe however the following features, 'the
air', 'the sky' and 'the heaven' that will pass away, are all in the singular
in Matthew's Gospel.  When we turn to the book of the Revelation we note a
complete reversal.  Here the word ouranos occurs 54 times, and out of that
number, one occurrence only is in the plural, namely Revelation 12:12,
'rejoice, ye heavens'.  We find, therefore, 53 occurrences of the word
'heaven' in the singular.
It is heaven, in the singular that 'fled away' (Rev. 20:11).
It is heaven, in the singular that is made 'new' (Rev. 21:1).
It is from heaven, in the singular that the New Jerusalem from God
descends (Rev. 3:12; 21:2,10).
While therefore we acknowledge our limitations and will not build a
doctrine upon the evidence we have assembled, what we have found and can
examine, is seen to be in line with the thought that the whole book of the
Revelation is limited in its scope, even as the new heaven takes the place,
not of the heavens of Genesis 1:1 but of the firmament, the curtain stretched
as a tent (Isa. 40:22) which passes away at the end of the Millennium (Rev.
20:11; 21:1).
Should the reader still entertain doubts as to the limits we have set
to the new heavens and the new earth, let him ponder the closing verses of
Isaiah 66, where in direct association with the new heavens and the new earth
we read:
'And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that
have transgressed against Me: for their worm shall not die, neither
shall their fire be quenched: and they shall be an abhorring unto all
flesh' (Isa. 66:24).
Such a state of affairs does not coincide with generally accepted views on
'The new heaven and the new earth'.
We postponed an examination of the terms, 'the nations', the 'camp of
the saints' and 'the beloved city' which are mentioned in the Millennial