Answer: Enoch and Elijah, and their apparent disappearance, mystifies many readers of God's word. Some believe they are evidence proving those who die righteously will go to heaven. So, what does the Bible really say happened to these two men?
Although the prophet Elijah is referenced 69 times in the KJV Bible, only two places discuss Enoch by name, Genesis 5:24 and Hebrews 11:5. Concerning the reference in Genesis, various translations state that he walked with God and that he took him (KJV, NKJV, NIV, HCSB, and NRSV). The NAB says he "was no longer here."
Without a trace
The NLB, Moffet, and TEV translations state the Enoch "disappeared." For the reference in Hebrews 11:5, several translations state that because of his faith he was taken and 'did not see death' because the Eternal took him away.
By faith Enoch was transported so that he would not look upon death, and was not found because God had transported him; for before his departure it was testified of him that he pleased God (Hebrews 11:5, HBFV).
In these references, you will not find a single mention of heaven or that God miraculously whisked anyone to receive their eternal reward ahead of everyone else. The Greek word in Hebrews 11 from which the phrase "was taken" is derived (the King James Bible uses the word "translated") is Strong's Concordance #G3346. This word, in the Greek, means to transport or transfer a person.
An exclusive club
The gospel of John records for us Jesus' statement to Nicodemus that not a single person has gone to where God's throne exists except the Son of Man. The Lord told him, "no one has ascended into heaven (this includes Elijah and Enoch!), except He Who came down from heaven, even the Son of man . . ." (John 3:13, HBFV). The apostle Peter reiterates this point in Acts 2:29 - 34.
Where did Elijah go?
What happened, however, to the prophet? We find out answer in the second chapter of 2Kings.
Elijah and Elisha set out from Gilgal . . . then suddenly a chariot of fire pulled by horses of fire came between them, and Elijah was taken up to heaven by a whirlwind (2Kings 2:1, 11).
The word translated as 'heaven' in 2Kings 2 comes from the Hebrew shamayim (Strong's Concordance Number #H8064). Shamayim, plural of the original language word shameh, means the sky above us or the arch we see clouds moving in around the earth. It is decidedly not in reference to the 'heaven' we commonly think of when we refer to where the throne of God exists.
When Christ and the apostle Peter state that not one human being is now in heaven, they are referencing the location of God's throne, which is the center of the entire universe.
When the book of Hebrews says Enoch was "translated" or "taken" (the same thing which occurred to Elijah), it is not stating that the Eternal somehow took him 'early' because of his righteousness to receive his eternal award ahead of countless people who also deserve eternal life. He traveled within what we today call the sky to another location on planet earth.
Transported to safety
The Lord, in His wisdom, decided to transport Enoch and Elijah away from where they were originally located so that someone (or something) would not be able to physically kill or murder them at that particular time.
Elijah the prophet and righteous Enoch did not go to heaven, but continued to live the same kind of fleshly existence we do after they moved until they died. This is in agreement with other scriptures that state all men must die a physical death (Hebrews 9:27).