A study of “the eternal state” is rightly seen as a subdivision of the greater study of eschatology, or the doctrine of last things. It must be admitted first that the only sure word of testimony regarding this subject is the Holy Bible; no other “holy book” or philosophy is as trustworthy or as informative as the Bible.
The Greek word most often translated “eternal” in the Bible is aionos, from which we get our word eon. Essentially, this word denotes having no beginning and no end, or having a beginning but no end, with respect to time. The exact meaning is always determined by the context. When this word is combined with “life” (Greek zoe), it denotes not only life without end, but a certain quality of life that is distinguished from mere biological life.
We know that all believers will receive resurrected bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42). Thus, we will not exist as disembodied spirits, but we will possess glorified bodies especially suited for an existence in the eternal state.
The Bible gives few details of what that state will be like. Scripture says that God creates a new heaven and a new earth, and the New Jerusalem descends from God to the new earth (Revelation 21:1-2). In this new creation, “the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3). “So, we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
Our existence in the eternal state will be markedly different from what we are used to now: “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). The curse that came with sin will never hold sway again (Revelation 22:3). We can hardly imagine a world without pain or sorrow, but that’s what God promises—a reality beyond imagination. “As it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’” (1 Corinthians 2:9; cf. Isaiah 64:4).
Neither will our existence in the eternal state be marred by bad memories of the old earth. Joy will swallow up all distress: “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind” (Isaiah 65:17).
The eternal state will involve serving the Lord (Revelation 22:3), seeing God face to face (verse 4), and living in perfect health (verse 2) and holiness (verse 5). Second Peter 3:13 says that the new heaven and earth will be “the home of righteousness.” Sin will not cast its shadow anywhere in that realm.
From the beginning of creation, it has been God’s plan to bring His redeemed ones to this place of completion and glory (Romans 8:30; Philippians 1:6). No more sin, no more curse, no more death, no more good-byes—all because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. In the eternal state, God’s perfect plan will be brought to glorious realization, and mankind will accomplish its chief end, “to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”
Click here to learn more about Heaven, Hell, and Eternity.