Caste System In Heaven
By Grant Phillips
Jealousy is a terrible thing. This one sin can result in gossip, theft, emotional and physical harm to others, even murder. And this is just the short list. Isn’t it great to know that even though there will be differences in our standing in Heaven, there will be no jealousy? Only by God’s grace is that possible.
Instead of being jealous, we will be happy for whatever standing the other Christian has been awarded, whether it is greater or smaller.
But won’t we all be equal in Heaven you say? In many ways we will be equal, but in responsibilities and ranks we will be different.
We will be equal in the love the Lord has for us, and to me, that is the most important. We will be equal in the fact that all of us who are Christians will be with the Lord Jesus for all eternity. None of us will ever sin again. We will never hurt again. We will never age. We will never have any of the frailties our physical bodies lay upon us. That’s equality, and we will be equal in so many other ways.
Have you ever noticed that there was a caste system of sorts Jesus put upon the twelve disciples, who later became apostles? The twelve were separated into three groups as shown in Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:13-16 and Acts 1:13. Judas Iscariot was omitted in the Acts listing and of course never became an apostle.
In Mark’s listing the groups were: Peter, James, John and Andrew in the first list; Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas in the second list; and James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddeus, Simon and Judas Iscariot in the third list.
Peter was always named first in the first list. Philip was always named first in the second list, and James (son of Alphaeus) was always named first in the third list. This holds true in all four sources: Matthew, Mark, Luke and Acts.
Peter obviously was the chief apostle and also of his group. Philip was head of his group and James (son of Alphaeus) head of his group. Also, the first group of four men would have had a higher status than the other two and so forth.
Even in the first group, notice in your Bible, that Peter, James and John were always chosen by Christ to be included for special occasions.
Heavenly Gates and Foundation
In Revelation 21:12 we see that the twelve gates are named after the twelve tribes of Israel, which were Jacob’s twelve sons. In Revelation 21:14 the twelve foundations for the city wall are named after the twelve apostles of the Lamb. No gate or foundation is named after you or me, so it is clear that these are special people.
The Bible also speaks of crowns. There are five crowns: the incorruptible crown, the crown of rejoicing, the crown of righteousness, the crown of life, and the crown of glory.
1 – “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” 1 Corinthians 9:25
2 – “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
3 – “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8
4 – “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Revelation 2:10
5 – “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. 2 Peter 5:2-4
When we stand before Jesus Christ at the judgment seat of Christ there will be great rejoicing for those rewards some will receive, but there will also be great disappointment and sorrow for those who have no rewards. I believe this may be a time that Jesus will wipe away the tears from so many of us.
While others will have crowns they can joyously cast at the Savior’s feet, many will have nothing to offer because they will have no crown or reward.
Our Heavenly Residence
In John 14:1-2 Jesus tells the twelve, “Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
I have heard several folks over the years get really bent out of shape if verse two isn’t translated “mansions.” Actually, the correct translation is “dwelling places,” but they will have none of it. Anyway, we all think we’re going to live in our own personal mansion in Heaven, but Jesus said that He was going to “prepare a place for you.” That leads me to believe, especially when I see the whole picture that our living quarters will all vary based upon our faithfulness to Jesus. I guess that wrinkled a few brows.
On the other hand, I’ve heard others say they didn’t care if they live in a hut and are appointed the street cleaner, they would just be so thankful to be there. Now I commend that statement because their heart seems to be in the right place. However, I don’t personally envision “huts” in Heaven, and there certainly won’t be any streets to clean in Heaven since everything is perfect.
All that said, there will be different degrees of living and serving in Heaven just as there will be different degrees of judgment in hell.
The point of this commentary is to remind us, including myself that now is the time, while we are still breathing, to work for our rewards and crowns. Otherwise, we may come up short. If we are His, we will not lose our salvation, but we may lose any reward we could have earned while here on earth.
May we desire more than anything to hear our Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”