Four Part Study: The Word "Heavenly" - Heavenly Places - Far Above All - The Cherubims On The Mercy Seat

Posted in: 2006
By Tom L. Ballinger
Feb 29, 2008 - 5:50:24 PM

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


We live in a day and age of impatience. We want instant service, instant answers, and quick fixes. That’s why we are so mixed-up and confused. We are too busy to take the necessary time to research the pertinent facts regarding a matter. We are “headline readers” and “headline believers.” We, foolishly, believe “men of reputation” who have mastered the art of rhetoric, whether in speaking, or writing. Many of these men, when analyzed closely, turn out to be puffed-up buffoons, who speak “great swelling words” (2 Peter 2:18); they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage (Jude 16).

When it comes to Biblical truths, there are no quick-fixes, nor instant answers.

This was not Paul’s manner. “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor. 2:4).

As members of the Church, over which Christ Jesus is the Head, we have invested very heavily in the word “heavenly.” We have attached a great deal of prominence to the word as it relates to our calling, and rightly so. But, have we failed to really comprehend the meaning of the word, “heavenly,” when it is used in the capstone of all revelation—Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians? In order to explore this question, we will look at some of the twenty times in which the Greek word “epouranios” is translated as “heavenly,” “celestial,” “heaven,” and “high.”(Strong’s Concordance number for “epouranios” is 2032). As we do so, we should be able to glean a clearer understanding as it relates to us.

Epouranios is an adjective. According to the Greek Lexicons, (1) it must modify those beings that inhabit heaven, that is to say, heavenly beings; including the bodies of stars, or (2) that which is heavenly in origin, or nature.

“So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matthew 18:35).

This is the first occurrence of “heavenly” (epouranios) in the New Testament. Here, it is clearly an adjective which modifies “Father.” As an adjective, “epouranios” modifies that which exists in heaven. “Father” certainly pertains to heaven; “our Father which art in heaven” (Matt. 6:9).

“Epouranios” is derived from the word, “ouranos,” which means “heaven.” Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words states that: “Epouranios, heavenly, what pertains to, or is in heaven (epi, in the sense of ‘pertaining to,’ not to ‘above’” (page 209). Keep this in mind; it will prove very valuable, later.

“If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” (John 3:12).

Epouranios (heavenly), highlighted in yellow, modifies “things” just as “earthly”
modifies “things.” It should be pointed out that in this verse, the words, “things” are not in Greek manuscripts (see Interlinear Bible – New Testament.) The KJV translators supplied the words, “things,” but didn’t put them in italics. This is not unusual; for we have come to notice that they were not consistent in their use of italics.

In plainer words, the Greek would read thusly; “If I told you earthly…, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly… ” Of course, the Greek text doesn’t have the dots, as I have inserted. In fact, in Greek, there are no punctuation marks. If heavenly (i.e. epouranios) must modify a noun, or pronouns which relate to the inhabitants of heaven, or the stars, or that which is heavenly in origin, or nature, then the word “things,” should not have been supplied. “Things” are not heavenly beings; neither are they stars. “Things” are not that which has their origin in heaven, nor are “things” heavenly in their nature.

When an Omission, or Ellipsis, is to be supplied in a sentence, according to the law of syntax, it must come from the context where the Omission occurs. The context of John 3:12 must supply the omitted word, words, or idea. The context to John 3:12 is to be found in John 3:3-8. This is where the Lord Jesus told Nicodemus; “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” In this context, the Lord Jesus describes the earthly character (nature) of a man’s natural birth, and, then compares that to a man being “born of the Spirit” which is of a heavenly character (nature). The former speaks of a natural (i.e. earthly) birth, while the latter speaks of a supernatural (i.e. heavenly) birth. Dr. E. W. Bullinger refers to this type of Omission (Ellipsis) as a Relative Ellipsis, “where the omitted word or words are to be supplied from, and are suggested by the context.” The following would give the sense of John 3:12.

If I told you of an earthly [birth], [such as that which is born of the flesh is flesh] (John 3:6), and you believe not, how shall you believe if I tell of a heavenly [birth], [such as that which is born of the Spirit is spirit] (John 3:6).

In 1 Corinthians 15:35, Paul asked two questions concerning resurrection: (1) How are the dead raised up? And (2), with what body do they come? He answers the second question first, in verses 36 through 44. Notice, the progressive argument Paul makes:

That which is sown is not made alive unless it dies (v. 36)
That which is sown (a seed of grain) is not the body it shall be (v. 37)
God gives it a body as it pleases Him, and every seed its’ own body (v. 38)
Different kinds of flesh—of men—of beasts—of fishes—of birds (v. 39)
Different kinds of bodies (v. 40):

“There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another” (1 Cor. 15:40).

The first instance of “celestial” modifies the subject: bodies. In the second instance in which “celestial” is used, there is no subject following. The subject is omitted, not by chance, but by Divine design—hence, an Ellipsis occurs. Not only that, but a second Ellipsis is found in the same phrase where the verse states; “and the glory of the terrestrial is another.” The word “terrestrial,” is the Greek word, “epigeios;” it is an adjective, meaning, “of the earth, or earthly.” However, in the text, there is not a noun or pronoun for it to modify. “Terrestrial” (epigeios) is twice set in contrast to “heavenly” (epouranios); this is what the Spirit would have us dwell on—that is, the nature of the bodies, not on the omitted words. However, the omitted words will be supplied, and they will be placed in brackets.

“There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: the glory of the celestial [body] is one, and the glory of the terrestrial [body] is another” (1 Cor. 15:40).

There is one glory of the sun—another of the moon—another of the stars: each star differs from another in glory (v. 41)
So it is with the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption—it’s raised in incorruption (v. 42)
It is sown in dishonor—it’s raised in honor—it’s sown in weakness—it’s raised in power (v.43)
It is sown a natural body—raised a spiritual body (v. 44)
The first man Adam was made a living soul—the last Adam was made a quickening spirit (v. 45)
The natural came before the spiritual (v. 46)

“The first man is of the earth, [he is] earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven [He is heavenly] (v. 47).

“As is the earthy [man, Adam], such [shall be] they also that are earthy [men]: and as is the heavenly [Man, the Lord], such [shall be] they also that are heavenly [men]” (v. 48).

The Ellipses supplied in verse 48 is clear from the verse that follows:

“And as we have borne the image of the earthy [man, Adam] we shall also bear the image of the heavenly [Man, the Lord]” (v. 49).

Thus far, in each instance, “epouranios” has been observed as an adjective which modified a heavenly Being or men who will have a heavenly nature which will originate from heaven. Also, we should note that “heavenly” bodies (i.e. the stars), was translated as “celestial.” Why did the translators render “epouranios” as “celestial” instead of “heavenly” in 1 Corinthians 15:40?

In Thayer’s Lexicon, on the word “epouranios,” he mentioned; “Existing in heaven…the heavenly beings, the inhabitants of heaven; including the bodies of the stars (which the Apostle Paul, according to universal ancient conception, seems to have regarded as animate [cf. Bishop Lightfoot on Colossians page 376].” Therefore, he used “epouranios,” (heavenly) to modify “bodies,” as if they were animate and dwelling in heaven (1 Cor. 15:40).

Here are a few more uses of the word, “epouranios,” translated as “heavenly.”

The Lord will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom (2 Timothy 4:18)
Partakers of the heavenly calling (Hebrews 3:1)
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift (Hebrews 6:4)

But now they seek a better country, that is an heavenly [country] (Hebrews 11:16).
But ye are come unto Mount Sion—the city of the living God—the heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22)

“Heavenly” (i.e. epouranios) is an adjective. An adjective cannot stand alone. However, it does when an Ellipsis or Omission, as a figure of speech, is used. An adjective serves as the modifier of a noun, denoting the noun’s quality as distinct from something else—heavenly as distinct from earthly, as an example.

Tom L. Ballinger

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


If we were to make a single sentence summary of Paul’s epistles to the Colossians and the Ephesians they would be: Colossians presents Christ as the Pre-eminent Person of the universe and ranking Him as head over all spiritual authorities who inhabit the heavens. Ephesians presents the Church, which is His body, as the corporate being who is to grow up into one colossal Man who will even have supremacy over the heavenly spiritual authorities.

The Apostle Paul makes reference to these spiritual authorities, numerous times, in Colossians and Ephesians. The Spirit of Truth authorized him to give names to these high ranking spiritual rulers as: principalities, powers, thrones, mights, and dominions. These high ranking, authorities dwell in the heavens along with an innumerable company of heavenly hosts.

Col. 1:16: Christ created all things – that are in heaven…whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers

Col. 2:10: And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power

Col. 2:15: Having spoiled principalities and powers, …triumphing over them

Eph. 1:21: Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion

Eph. 3:10: Now unto principalities and powers in heavenly places

Eph 6:12; "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

These high positioned spiritual authorities are angelic beings, based in the heavens. We notice, in Colossians and Ephesians, only two others who are said to be in heaven—God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Of course, there are the multitudinous “heavenly host,” Luke 2:13). The internal evidence of these two epistles informs us who can be identified as “heavenly.”

“Heavenly” is the Greek word, “epouranios.” Epouranios, according to New Testament Greek Lexicons, is an adjective, and it is to be used only as a word to modify, or describe beings which inhabit heaven. It can also be used as an adjective, describing things such as stars, that have their origin in heaven.

If the Spirit of Truth used the word, “epouranios,” as an adjective to modify, or describe beings who dwell, or have their abode in heaven, then we, or anyone else, are not at liberty to alter its’ definition. When the Spirit inspired Paul to use the word “epouranios;” as soon as the ink dried, that fixed the Scriptural meaning of the word. “Epouranios” translated into English, is “heavenly.”

The subject of this study is the phrase found in our English Bible—heavenly places. It occurs five times in Ephesians. In each instance, PLACES is italicized—PLACES. This alerts us to the fact that an Ellipsis, or Omission, was found in the Greek text. The King James translators failed to follow the grammatical rules for supplying an Ellipsis: (1) It is to be supplied from the nature of the subject alone, or (2) It is to be supplied from the context, or (3) It must be supplied by repeating the word, or words, from a clause which precedes or follows. “Places” does not meet any of the three criteria. In fact, “places,” is not found anywhere in the Book of Ephesians. Did the translators just pull the word, “places,” out of thin air?

Not only did they fail to follow grammatical rules for supplying the Ellipsis; they failed to take into account the Scriptural meaning of “epouranios” which was fixed—set in stone, as it were. “Epouranios” must modify those who dwell in heaven—heaven dwellers.

Looking at the concordance, we find there are only three words in New Testament Greek which mean “places.” None of the three would make any sense if they were used. In fact, none of the three words could possibly be used. They are: (1) Topos – this word is used seven times in the Greek N.T. It means; “a spot, but limited to occupancy,” (2) Petrodes – it is used twice. It means; “rock like,” as in “rocky places,” and (3) Hagion – it’s used once, meaning; “a sacred thing” as in Hebrews 9:24; “Christ entered into the holy places…”

In plainer words, the translators supplied the word, “places,” to fill the Ellipsis, but it was chosen from the English language and not from the text of the New Testament Greek. Evidently, they wanted the phrase to read; “heavenly places,” even though there was no textual authority to do so. You may ask, “Why did they do this?” Our reply is simply this—all we are doing is publishing our findings. “Ours’ is not to reason why” the King James Scholars translated as they did. What we have found is out there for everyone to find if they choose to do so. Scholars of the New Testament Greek, we don’t have to be.

The NIV translation supplies the Ellipsis with the word “realms,” as in “heavenly realms.” Some prominent teachers of the word make reference to the “heavenly spheres.” Neither realms, nor spheres would be an appropriate noun for “epouranois” to modify since they are not beings who have their abode in heaven. Some students and teachers of the Bible follow the lead set forth in the Companion Bible’s notation on Ephesians 1:3 which reads as follows: “heavenly places = heavenlies, i.e. heavenly spheres” [page 1760]. What this reading does, in fact, is it changes the adjective, “heavenly,” into a noun—heavenlies. The word, “heavenlies,” is not a word that is found in Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary. Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary states that: “The word [heavenlies] you've entered isn't in the dictionary.” Our understanding is that Dr. Bullinger died before he finished his work on the “Companion Bible,” and an unnamed editor finished his work. Many believe the unnamed editor was Charles Welch. But, whoever it was coined the word, “heavenlies.” When we type the word on Microsoft Word a red squiggly line shows up under the word, heavenlies, indicating there is an error in the spelling. It automatically adds a “t” to it—making it read “heavenliest.” Then we have to backspace to delete the “t.”

For those who want to believe that ”heavenly places” refers to some super-heavenly sphere to which a special calling of God’s people get to go—then the phrase, makes sense to them. We, too, were in that number. We wrote extensively about “heavenly places.” But, over time, we began to question, in our mind, if we were building upon an idea that the Spirit of Truth did not intend to convey.

As we proceed, we will, again point out that there are spiritual beings who inhabit the heavens. This is their first estate; that is to say, their proper domain. Many of the spirit beings (angels) left their first estate (Jude 6) and chose the daughters of men to co-habituate with (Genesis 6:2).

Outside of the Godhead, the highest ranking principals in the heavens are: principalities, powers, thrones, dominions, and mights. They make up heaven’s hierarchy. There are good, spiritual authorities who are identified as being “in Christ,” as we shall see. There are evil, or wicked, spiritual authorities owing their allegiance to the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). They are the wicked spirits of Ephesians 6:12. Each category, good and bad, are angelic rulers who make their home in the heavens. Isaiah 24:21 refers to them as, “the high ones that are on high.”

All of the foregoing was written in order to understand what word, or words, we should supply to fill the Ellipses, or Omissions, in the five verses in Ephesians in which the KJV reads; “in heavenly places.” We have settled on the words, “angelic rulers.” As independent students of the Word, some might want to use “exalted beings,” or, “spiritual authorities,” or, even, “angelic hierarchies.”

Ephesians 1:3. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” KJV.

In line with the definition of epouranios, which requires that it must modify a being, or beings, in heaven, we suggest that “angelic rulers” be supplied. But, by doing this, a grammatical error occurs unless an adjustment is made to accommodate “angelic rulers.” Otherwise, the verse would read; “…who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly angelic rulers in Christ.” This doesn’t make grammatical sense.

However, if we look at the Greek word, en, as translated, “in,” we find it means; in a plural setting, among. The plural setting would be angelic rulers. Thayer even notes that en, in such cases, can be rendered; “with, among, in the presence of.”

Many dispensationalists believe that “in heavenly places” answers the question; WHERE the Church is well spoken of. Contrariwise, we think it should answer the question; AMONG WHOM the Church is being well spoken of. (“Blessed” comes from our word, eulogize; hence, “speak well of”). We believe what the Spirit of Truth would have us to understand is:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed us (the Church) with all spiritual blessings among (or in the presence of) the heavenly [angelic rulers] in Christ.

The supplied Ellipsis is placed in brackets as English syntax requires.

Notice, if you will, these angelic rulers are “in Christ.” Some are “in Christ,” while others are not “in Christ.”

Ephesians 1:20. “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,” KJV.

Here again, the question is not WHERE, but AMONG WHOM is He seated and with what authority He has. Set, sat, and seated, many times, refers to sitting upon a “throne” which figuratively, means having the authority to rule.

Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand among (or in the presence of) the heavenly [angelic rulers].

Ephesians 1:21, of necessity, must be commented on here; “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:”

Here, in verse twenty-one, the angelic rulers are named. They, as angelic rulers, should supply the Ellipsis instead of PLACES because of the rule number three in supplying an Ellipsis, or Omission; (3) It must be supplied by repeating the word or words from a clause which precedes or follows.

Ephesians 2:6. “And raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,”

The question, here, is not WHERE, but AMONG WHOM is the Church seated together in Christ.

And raised us (the Church) up together, and made us sit together among (or in the presence of) the heavenly [angelic rulers] in Christ.

Again, notice that these angelic rulers are the ones who are “in Christ.” They are not of the Wicked one.

Ephesians 3:10. “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,” KJV.

The fourth occurrence of “heavenly places,” like the other three references, speaks about AMONG WHOM, not WHERE the Church makes known the manifold wisdom of God.

To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers among (or in the presence of) the heavenly [angelic rulers] might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,”

The last time we come across “epouranios” is in Ephesians 6:12. However, here, the translators didn’t translate it as “heavenly” but rather, “high.” Some folks believe that is because these spiritual authorities (or rulers) are under the allegiance to their leader, Satan. They are not “in Christ,” but, it could be said they are “in Satan.” Therefore, they could not be in the same realm, or sphere, as the angelic rulers who are “in Christ.” They must be in a lower sphere where the wicked rulers of this world’s darkness dwell. But, the fact of the matter is that it should have been translated “heavenly,” not “high.”

Ephesians 6:12. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” KJV.

To be consistent in the translation, it should read “heavenly.” The correct translation of “epouranios” is heavenly.

In the spiritual realm, there is the Kingdom of Darkness and the Kingdom of God’s Dear Son—the Kingdom of Light. The difference between the two is good and evil; not one of altitude. The good are not higher in space than the evil. That is to say, they share the same, heavenly environment. In an effort to make an illustration, let’s say, at one time America was good; a land of opportunity, individual liberty abounded, free from oppression, acknowledging that the Lord Jesus Christ was the hope of the world. Yet, America, at the same time, shared the same earthly environment in which Godless despots and tyrants ruled most of the world.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness among the heavenly [angelic rulers]

The contest, here is individual; not corporately of the Church. We, as individual believers of present truth, contend against evil, angelic rulers who abide in heaven—hence, they are “epouranios”—that is to say, they are heavenly.

In summary, the translation, “in heavenly places,” is based upon the translator’s theology. The meaning of “epouranios” was fixed in Scripture. As an adjective, it was required to modify spirit beings who inhabited the heavens. It was not to have been used to modify portions of space in the heavens, such as “places.” The word, places, is an Ellipsis wrongly supplied. In each of the five instances in Ephesians where it is found, the nouns to be supplied are in the immediate context—the names of the angelic rulers. Nowhere in the context can a justification be found for inserting “places.” It is not a question of WHERE? But rather, it is the question of AMONG WHOM?

Tom L. Ballinger

Thursday, February 23, 2006


In this composition, we will consider the phrase, “Far Above All.” The Apostle Paul uses it twice in Ephesians. First he wrote, “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come” (Eph. 1:21). The second instance was, “He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things” (Eph. 4:10).

These words, taken by themselves presents no problem or difficulty to many who insist they adhere to the principle of 2 Timothy 2:15. “Far above all” appears to agree with the tradition they have received regarding “heavenly places.” But, the phrase presents a grave difficulty to those who endeavor to get the meaning from the “Scope” and the “Context” of the passages, as distinct from the actual meaning of the separate words. The case in point is—FAR ABOVE ALL.

The traditional teaching of “Right Divsionists” is that “heavenly places” refers to places outside of the realm or sphere of creation. The location is so “far above all” principality and power, and so “far above all” heavens that it is surely some super-heaven; an uncreated realm on the tip-top of the universe.

As it was pointed out in the study on “Heavenly Places,” the acceptance of this phrase, as is, seems to satisfy the question of WHERE the five occurrences take place. But, if we disregard the Scope of Ephesians and the Contexts where “far above all” is mentioned, we get an interpretation quite foreign from what was the Spirit of Truth’s original intent.

Notice the Scope of Ephesians as it relates to Epouranios which is translated as, “Heavenly:”

Ephesians 1:3 answers the question, “Among WHOM the Church is blessed?”
Ephesians 1:20 answers the question, “Among WHOM is Christ seated?”
Ephesians 2:6 answers the question, “Among WHOM is the Church seated with Christ?”
Ephesians 3:10 answers the question, “Among WHOM is the Church making known the manifold wisdom of God?”
Ephesians 6:12 answers the question, “Among WHOM are we wrestling?”

The inspiration of Ephesians is to present the Church, which is His Body, as having a preeminent and superior position to that of any other of God’s exalted beings, whether in this aion, or the one which is to come (the Kingdom of God). The presentation of the Church of the Dispensation of the Grace of God, as found in Ephesians, is one of superior rank to that of all of the angelic rulers dwelling in the heavens.

1. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings among the heavenly [angelic rulers] in Christ: (Eph. 1:3)

Ephesians 1:3 tells us, in plainer words, that the Church should praise and exalt the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ because He has praised and exalted (in eulogy) the Church among the heavenly angelic rulers. In His eulogy of the Church He informed them: that the Church was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, that He sees it as being holy and without blame before Him in love. The Church was also predestinated to receive the adoption as sons, by Jesus Christ to Himself. All according to the good pleasure of His will. And that we, the Church, should be to the praise of the glory of His grace. Furthermore, He has made the Church acceptable in the Beloved (Eph. 1:4-6).

This speaks of the superior position, or standing, the Church has over the position held by the heavenly angelic rulers.

2. Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand among the heavenly [angelic rulers], (Eph. 1:20).

Ephesians 1:20 speaks of the exalted, or preeminent, position the raised Jesus Christ has over the heavenly angelic rulers. His preeminence is “FAR ABOVE ALL principality, power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come” (Eph. 1:21). The phrase, “far above all,” measures His authority, rank, and preeminence over the angelic rulers—not His height above the vast heavenly expanse.

3. And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together among the heavenly [angelic rulers] in Christ Jesus: (Eph. 2:6).

Ephesians 2:6 informs the believer that the Church has been raised up together with Christ Jesus (figuratively speaking) to assume our seats (or thrones) of authority which are far superior in rank and position to those of the spiritual authorities dwelling in the heavens. The Church, seated with Christ, will have a far greater role in the ages to come than that of the named spiritual powers who inhabit the heavens.

4. To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers among the heavenly [angelic rulers] might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, (Eph. 3:10).

Ephesians 3:10 presents the Church as His instrument through which the manifold wisdom of God might be known to the high ranking angelic rulers.

5. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness among the heavenly [angelic rulers]. (Eph. 6:12).

Ephesians 6:12 tells us, as individual members of the Church, that our warfare is not against flesh and blood men, but against the spiritual forces among the angelic rulers who are “in Satan.” These spiritual forces war against our minds. They are the forces of darkness who, under the auspices of the powerful Prince of the air, direct the course or flow of this world. Every effort is being exerted by these dark, angelic rulers of this age to have us “go with the flow” of this world system.

We have seen that, five times, references are made to those beings who dwell, or have their abode in the heavens, as the heavenly angelic rulers. These are found in four of the six chapters in Ephesians. It is in this context that we find the following:

“He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things” (Eph. 4:10).

The first time Paul used this phrase was in Ephesians 1:21 in which he stated that Christ was raised and seated “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion…” These spiritual rulers are the inhabitants of the heavens. We cannot believe that Paul switched the subject in “mid-stream,” four chapters deep into Ephesians, and began to speak about a PLACE called FAR ABOVE ALL HEAVENS. Yes, he wrote “far above all heavens.” But, if we are to interpret these words as taken by themselves, it is apparent that the idea is repugnant to the Scope and Context of Ephesians. These words should be understood in the sense in which Paul already used them. If we don’t do so, it defies logic, common sense, and clear Bible exegesis.

This can be explained another way. The word, “heavens,” as found in Ephesians 4:10, is a figure of speech—a Metonymy of Subject—where “heavens” are put for those who dwell there. Just as “Heaven” is frequently put for “God,” Who dwells there; so, it is also for the angelic rulers who dwell there.

“Far above all heavens” refers to the fact that Christ ascended above the heavenly rulers in regards to rank, position, authority, dignity, and power. It does not indicate, at all, that He ascended to a place outside of the created universe.

The angelic rulers played a prominent role in Colossians and Ephesians. In the former, the Person of Christ was shown to be preeminent and superior to them; in the latter, the Church, which is His Body, was shown to be preeminent and superior to them.

Tom L. Ballinger

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Below is an image of the Mercy Seat which is located on top of the Ark of the Covenant with the two Cherubims mounted on each end of the Mercy Seat. The image was down- loaded from “Google Images.”


The LORD spoke to Moses, giving him the “blueprint” of the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat in Exodus 25:1-22. He told Moses what were to be the materials used in its’ production. Two cherubim were to be made of pure beaten gold and placed at each end of the Mercy Seat.

“And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee” (Exodus 25:17-22).

Pay close attention to the position of the two cherubims overlooking the Mercy Seat. Notice, their wings cover the Mercy Seat. The LORD said, “And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings ON HIGH, covering the mercy seat with their wings…”

This fact becomes extremely significant to all of us who embrace Present Truth. In The Epistle To The Hebrews, we find the New Testament equivalent to what Moses wrote concerning the cherubims in Exodus.

“Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And OVER it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly” (Heb. 9:4-5).

The Mercy Seat, in Exodus, is two words while, in Hebrews it is one. But, the foremost, or principal thing to notice in the Hebrews’ description of the position of the cherubims is; “And OVER it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat.” Exodus 25:20 says; “on high;” whereas Hebrews, 9:5 says, “over.” This shows that the two words are interchangeable.

You should notice, again, the image and the placement of the cherubim and their wings.

This brings us back to the phrase of our previous study, “Far Above All.” The word, translated from the Greek into English as “far above,” is “huperano.” Huperano is only used thrice in the Greek New Testament. It seems to be an inspired word for only the Apostle Paul to use. No other writers used it.

Paul used it in Ephesians 1:21; “Far above (huperano) all principality, and power, and might, and dominion,…”

Again, he used it in Ephesians 4:10; “He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above (huperanoo) all heavens,…”

If you were to check the Interlinear Bible- New Testament, you would discover that the word, “far,” is not in the Greek text. It reads; huperano, then gives the translation as “far above.” However, the definition of the Greek word, “huperano,” is “above a thing, or place,” (Thayer’s NT Lexicon)—not FAR ABOVE. Strong’s definition (No. 5231) for “huperano” is, “above upward”—not FAR ABOVE. If the word, “FAR,” is not in the Greek text, we would think the translators would have placed the word, “far,” in italics, indicating it was added by them. They chose not to do so. They chose to insert the superlative form of an adverb—“far,” thus, modifying the adjective “above.”

In light of the next time they translated the word, huperano, it seems that the only justification they had for translating it as “far above,” was their own theology. This is hard to say, in as much as, we are not a scholar in Greek, but we can apply common sense to what we find.

We find that when huperano is translated in Hebrews 9:5—they do not translate it as “And FAR ABOVE it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat …”

The King James Version reads, “And OVER (huperano) it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat…” Look at the cherubims on the Mercy Seat in the image we have supplied. Can we, by any stretch of our imaginations, say the cherubims are FAR ABOVE the Mercy Seat? That’s an emphatic, “NO!” They are attached to the Mercy Seat, one at each end, with their wings over-shadowing the Seat. Does this make sense to you?

Some brethren of the faith have taken two instances where the translators rendered HUPERANO as “far above” and built a “FAR ABOVE ALL DOCTRINE.” That is to say, a doctrine in which “heavenly places” is a sphere outside of Creation. As proof texts for this “doctrine” they use “far above all principality, and power;” and “far above all heavens.” As Dr. Peter Ruckman, of Pensacola, Florida, used to say regarding certain things that were not Scripturally true; “It may make good preaching, but that doesn’t make it true.”

The Wilderness Tabernacle

The design and pattern of the Tabernacle must have been of great significance. The Word of God devotes one chapter, in Genesis, to creation while it devotes chapter after chapter, in Exodus, to the design, the workmanship, and the materials which go into the Tabernacle. Thus, the tabernacle must be of significant importance.

Moses was very careful to make sure it was built according to the exact pattern that God gave him. The LORD especially equipped the craftsmen who performed the intricate work of actually building the Tabernacle and all of its’ furnishings (Ex. 31:1-5). It, including the Mercy Seat, had to be built to the exact cubit that the LORD gave Moses. Its’ dimensions were very precise. It was to be a sanctuary; “that I may dwell among them” (Ex. 25:8). But, it was only to typify the “TRUE TABERNACLE, which the LORD pitched, and not man” (Heb. 8:2).

Writing about the High Priests who served as ministers in the earthly Tabernacle:

They (the High Priests) serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: "See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain." (Heb.8:5) NIV.

The Tabernacle which Moses built as the General Contractor, who was commissioned by the Heavenly Architect—Yahweh (the LORD), was a “copy,” or facsimile, of the heavenly Tabernacle. Without going into great detail concerning its’ construction, the Tabernacle had three areas. (1) The Court of the Sanctuary: it was 150 feet long and 75 feet wide, (2) The Holy Place: it was 30 feet long and 15 feet wide, (3) The Most Holy Place (Holy of Holies): it was 15 feet long and 15 feet wide. The measurements are from the International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia which converted the Biblical cubits into feet.

It is of paramount importance to underscore the fact that the Most Holy Place, where the Ark rested with the Mercy Seat upon it and with the Cherubims on each end, was WITHIN THE TABERNACLE ITSELF. It was not outside the confines of the Tabernacle. It was within the Tabernacle’s Most Holy cubicle where the LORD would meet once each year (i.e. Day of Atonement) with Israel’s High Priest.

The High Priest would have to pass through the Court of the Sanctuary and the Holy Place in order to go beyond the veil into the Most Holy place—where Yahweh (the LORD) would meet the minister.

Since the Tabernacle was a pattern of the heavenly One, it was appropriate for Hebrews to say; “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession” (Heb. 4:14) KJV.

Most all other translations of this passage read; “Seeing we have a great high priest, that is passed through the heavens.” Many Acts Twenty-Eight friends use this to advance their belief that our Lord Jesus Christ passed though the heavens and entered into an uncreated sphere outside of His Creation.

If their interpretation is correct, why would Christ have to purify, with His Own Blood, a sphere uncontaminated by sin, because it is located outside of Creation?

“It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these” (Heb. 9:23)

The next verse informs us where Christ is.

“For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:” (Heb. 9:24)

The “true” Most Holy Place is within His Creation, just as the Most Holy Place was located within the confines of the Tabernacle area built by Moses.

Hebrews 7:26 refers to the Lord Jesus Christ as the true High Priest, stating that He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” Here, the word for “higher” is hupselos (NT. 5308) which means “esteemed, or exalted higher, or highly.” What Hebrews 7:26 is really telling us is that Christ was made to be more highly esteemed than the “heavens” [i.e. angelic rulers, who inhabit the heavens].

At one time, we believed in “The Far Above All Doctrine.” We wrote extensively about it. But, when we faced the Biblical facts concerning this matter, we were led to make an agonizing reappraisal of this particular position. It, humanly speaking, was tough to renounce our own writings, but, to the Word we must be true.

Dear friends and Mountaineers, rightly dividing the Word of Truth is a work-in-progress. If we stop where we are, we become like a sailing ship without a breeze—dead in the water.

Tom L. Ballinger