Gregory of SinaiThe kingdom of heaven is like the tabernacle which was built by God, and which He disclosed to Moses as a pattern (cf. Exodus 25:40); for it too has an outer and an inner sanctuary.

Into the first will enter all who are priests of grace. But into the second – which is noetic [of the illuminated intellect] – will enter only those who in this life have attained the divine darkness of theological wisdom and there as true hierarchs have celebrated the triadic liturgy, entering into the tabernacle that Jesus Himself has set up, where He acts as their consecrator and chief Hierarch before the Trinity, and illumines them ever more richly with His own splendour.

By “many dwelling-places” (John 14:2) the Saviour meant the differing stages of spiritual ascent and states of development in the other world; for although the kingdom of heaven is one, there are many different levels within it.

That is to say, there is place for both heavenly and earthy men (cf. 1 Cor. 15:48) according to their virtue, their knowledge and the degree of deification that they have attained. “For there is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars, for one star differs from another star in glory” (1 Cor. 15:41); and yet all of them shine in a single divine firmament.

You partake of angelic life and attain an incorruptible and hence almost bodiless state when you have cleansed your intellect through tears, have through the power of the Spirit resurrected your soul even in this life, and with the help of the Logos [i.e. Christ the Word] have made your flesh – your natural human form of clay – a resplendent and fiery image of divine beauty.

[…] The land of the gentle (Ps. 37: 11) is the kingdom of heaven. Or else it is the theandric [fully divine and fully human] state of the Son, which we have attained or are in the process of attaining, having through grace been reborn as sons of God into the new life of the resurrection.

Or again, the holy land is our human nature when it has been divinized or…the land granted as an inheritance (cf. Numbers 34:13) to those who are truly saints, the untroubled and divine serenity and the peace that transcends the intellect (cf. Phil. 4:7) – the land wherein the righteous dwell quietly and unmolested.

The promised land is dispassion, from which spiritual joy flows like milk and honey (cf. Exod. 13:5). The saints in heaven hold inner converse together, communicating mystically through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Gregory of Sinai (1260s–1346): On Commandments and Doctrines, chs 43-45, 47-49, Text from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (trans. and eds.) The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. 4 (Faber & Faber, London & Boston: 1979ff), pp. 220-221.