According to tradition, Papias (c. A.D. 70 – 155) was bishop of Hierapolis, a city not far from Laodicea in Asia Minor; a disciple of John the Evangelist (who was either John the Apostle, or a disciple of John the Apostle); and a contemporary of Justin Martyr and Polycarp. During his life, he wrote five exegetical volumes on the sayings of Jesus, which unfortunately are lost today except for a few small fragments quoted by other early Christian writers.
Eusebius provides us one quote in which Papias details the doctrine of three kingdoms of heaven, more subtley illustrated by Paul in his epistles:
As the presbyters say, then those who are deemed worthy of an abode in heaven shall go there, others shah enjoy the delights of Paradise, and others shall possess the splendour of the city; for everywhere the Saviour will be seen, according as they shall be worthy who see Him. But that there is this distinction between the habitation of those who produce an hundredfold, and that of those who produce sixty-fold, and that of those who produce thirty-fold; for the first will be taken up into the heavens, the second class will dwell in Paradise, and the last will inhabit the city; and that on this account the Lord said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions:” for all things belong to God, who supplies all with a suitable dwelling-place, even as His word says, that a share is given to all by the Father, according as each one is or shall be worthy. And this is the couch in which they shall recline who feast, being invited to the wedding. The presbyters, the disciples of the apostles, say that this is the gradation and arrangement of those who are saved, and that they advance through steps of this nature; and that, moreover, they ascend through the Spirit to the Son, and through the Son to the Father; and that in due time the Son will yield up His work to the Father, even as it is said by the apostle, “For He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” For in the times of the kingdom the just man who is on the earth shall forget to die. “But when He saith all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted which did put all things under Him. And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.”