What is Third Heaven?

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Sargon
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What is Third Heaven?

#1 Post by Sargon » 8 years ago

I'm hearing rumors of a ridiculous new interpretation of this scripture at 2 Corinthians 12:2. What are your thoughts? There are no other references to third heaven in the canonized scriptures, but there is a reference in the book of Enoch. It appears third heaven is the same place Jesus refers to in Revelation 2:7.

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imacountrygirl2
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Re: What is Third Heaven?

#2 Post by imacountrygirl2 » 8 years ago

whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 2 Corinthians 12:2 (ESV)
Sargon, I am not at all sure what this scripture means as it also says "whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows." I am trying to figure out how he knew someone went to a third heaven if he doesn't even know whether it was visible or not?
It appears third heaven is the same place Jesus refers to in Revelation 2:7.
I don't see a third heaven here. I thought we had already been established that paradise is in heaven, as well as the tree of life being in heaven.
I love clever and witty sayings...I just can't think of any right now.

GodsWordIsTruth
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Re: What is Third Heaven?

#3 Post by GodsWordIsTruth » 8 years ago

Sargon wrote:I'm hearing rumors of a ridiculous new interpretation of this scripture at 2 Corinthians 12:2. What are your thoughts? There are no other references to third heaven in the canonized scriptures, but there is a reference in the book of Enoch. It appears third heaven is the same place Jesus refers to in Revelation 2:7.
I've heard the same rumors....

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MeletiVivlon
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Re: What is Third Heaven?

#4 Post by MeletiVivlon » 8 years ago

imacountrygirl2 wrote: Sargon, I am not at all sure what this scripture means as it also says "whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows." I am trying to figure out how he knew someone went to a third heaven if he doesn't even know whether it was visible or not?
Based on the context, it is conceivable that he is referring to himself in the third person and that the vision was so real that he could not say for sure that it was a vision or that it actually happened.

KeepOnSeeking
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Re: What is Third Heaven?

#5 Post by KeepOnSeeking » 8 years ago

MeletiVivlon wrote:
imacountrygirl2 wrote: Sargon, I am not at all sure what this scripture means as it also says "whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows." I am trying to figure out how he knew someone went to a third heaven if he doesn't even know whether it was visible or not?
Based on the context, it is conceivable that he is referring to himself in the third person and that the vision was so real that he could not say for sure that it was a vision or that it actually happened.
I came to this conclusion as well.

Bobcat
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Re: What is Third Heaven?

#6 Post by Bobcat » 8 years ago

Here is the context from the ESV:
1 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— 6 though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

The NWT makes a paragraph break after the first phrase in verse 7. Other translations make paragraph breaks at various locations. The NLT after verse 4. The NASB after verse 6. The NIV and HCS follow the ESV with no paragraph break.

A footnote in the NAC-2 Corinthians commentary (David E. Garland, p. 515) points out that "Jewish writings only agree that there were various levels of the heavens but not on the precise number, whether there were three, five, seven, or ten. The Hebrew word for heavens is plural, samayim, and lends itself to this type of speculation."

Incidentally, contra the Society, the number three is not used for emphasis. If it has any symbolic value it may be closer to the idea of completeness (i.e. when it is not used for its literal numeric value). On the other hand, repeating something three times (thus, only using "3" obliquely) does possibly have emphatic value.

Here is a breakdown of every version of three in Revelation:
Repeating something three times: Rev 4:8 (3 pair of wings, 3x "holy"); Rev 8:13 (3 "woes"); Rev 13:18 (666)

Fractional value, one-third: Rev 8:7-12; 9:15, 18; 12:4 (possibly indicating a significant minority)

Symbolic time indicator: Rev 11:9, 11; 12:14 ( 3 1/2 times)

Literal numeric value:
Rev 6:6 (3 qt. of barley, comparative with 1 qt. wheat for a denarius)
Rev 8:13 (three angels out of an initial group of seven)
Rev 9:18 (three woes remaining out of an initial seven)
Rev 16:13 (three frogs corresponding to what comes out of mouths of Dragon, Wild Beast, and False Prophet
Rev 16:19 ("split into three parts"; an allusion to Ezekiel 5:1, 2 MT, divided hair representing fate of those in Jerusalem)
Rev 21:13 (3 gates per side, 12 gates total on a 4 sided city)
(For more on the number three in scripture, see this post.)

But I digress. Paul's vision happened 14 years prior to the letter. This was before Paul met the Corinthians. Thus, in telling them now (at the time of the letter) he never told them this before. He never used this experience as part of his credentials as an apostle. He is being a bit sarcastic, as if to say, 'if your superfine apostles can boast about themselves, I could too. But I don't because I don't want anyone to think more of me than what I am - a fellow disciple of Christ.'

Moreover, there is nothing to be learned from Paul's experience. He said that he was forbidden to divulge anything he heard. The experience was for him personally, and no one else.

If you ask me, the GB, who seem to be aspiring to movie-star status among JWs, have completely lost the purpose for Paul's writing about this.

When you look at and compare 2Co 12:2-3 it is possible that Paul is using parallelism to describe the "third heaven" as "paradise." The "third heaven" referring to God's place of residence. The first heaven being our atmosphere, and the second heaven being interstellar space. This is how many commentaries take it, with "paradise" being a description of the "third heaven."


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menrov
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Re: What is Third Heaven?

#7 Post by menrov » 8 years ago

My view? :D. Well, whatever is really meant by the third heaven and paradise, it is not said by Paul as a new revelation or teaching.2Cor 12:4 says that it was not something to speak about. Paul was making a point and his arguments start in chapter 11. Paul could boast about his sufferings but also about Jesus and the visions he was given. Paul was better informed and had more knowledge than most so-called Super Apostles. This statement in 2Cor 12:4 was part of his arguments. So, whatever interpretation is given by others, like the WT, it is pure speculation as it was not for other, only for Paul and even he did not explain because he did not know. It was not important.

Bobcat
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Re: What is Third Heaven?

#8 Post by Bobcat » 7 months ago

Came across an expressed view on Paul's reference to "the third heaven" (2Co 12:2) on Reddit AcademicBiblical: Here.


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RR144
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Re: What is Third Heaven?

#9 Post by RR144 » 6 months ago

Sargon wrote: 8 years ago I'm hearing rumors of a ridiculous new interpretation of this scripture at 2 Corinthians 12:2. What are your thoughts? There are no other references to third heaven in the canonized scriptures, but there is a reference in the book of Enoch. It appears third heaven is the same place Jesus refers to in Revelation 2:7.
The term “third heaven” refers to the religious rulership in the world to come, the spiritual control of the Kingdom under Christ. The Scriptures speak of three worlds: the “world that then was [before the Flood],” the “present evil world,” and the “world to come” wherein “dwelleth righteousness” (Matt. 12:32; Gal. 1:4; 2 Pet. 3:6,7,13). Therefore, it is more reasonable to see the “third heaven” as the religious rulership of the third world, or dispensation, rather than the third level of going up into heaven, as some in the nominal system believe. Paul was not just caught upward and given a marvelous vision but onward, forward, way into the distant future, to see things as they will happen. He was caught up prophetically and given an advanced preview of things to come, seeing events as though they were actually occurring.
The vision was so real that he did not know if he had been literally and miraculously transported in the flesh or just in a vision.

Because the expression “third heaven” is so misunderstood, we will state the matter another way. Many might think the “third heaven” is above us in the heavens. From this vertical standpoint, there is, first, our solar system consisting of the sun, moon, and nine planets. When we look beyond them at the starry host above our solar system, we see another “heaven,” the galaxies. Still higher is the “heaven of heavens” (Deut. 10:14). However, Paul was not speaking of vertical heavens but of horizontal heavens, as shown on the Chart of the Ages, traveling dispensationally from the world before the Flood, through the world that now is, to the world to come; that is, Paul was speaking about being translated in time down to the Kingdom Age and seeing events taking place there. God sees things future as though they are either the present or the past depending on how He chooses to view them. Time is not what man thinks it is. Isaac Newton’s concept of mathematics and astronomy is the most practical way for man to view things under the present circumstance. However, Einstein brought in another perspective with a deeper view and thus opened up a wealth of information that is like a Pandora’s box in that the attention of scientists is taken away from the Lord in trying to fathom the mysteries of the universe. Instead of trying to understand these mysteries, they should be seeking to understand the mysteries of the Author of the universe.

Paul was caught up in vision to the “third heaven” and to “paradise” (see verse 4). “Paradise” was lost in the Garden of Eden, and it will be restored in the Kingdom. Paul was given a vision of the third world, or dispensation, so that in explaining different subjects to Christians, he would have a depth of understanding others did not have. He was forbidden to talk directly about what he saw, but the language in his sermons and epistles was affected. Where appropriate, for example, he introduced modifying factors.

Is there a distinction between the “third heaven” and “paradise”? The Kingdom Age will consist of “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1). Part of the Lord’s Prayer is, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). The purpose of the Kingdom Age is to establish God’s will and authority and to reveal Him as the God of love. The “third heaven” pertains to the Kingdom, and we do not think the vision went beyond the end of the Kingdom. On the Cross, Jesus said to the thief, “Verily I say unto you today, Thou shalt be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43 paraphrase and permissible comma change). “Paradise” will occur when the thief is raised from death in the Kingdom.

We know Jesus by the things he said and did—his sermons as well as his miracles. The miracles gave his ministry power and provided samples of things to come in the Kingdom Age. Jesus spoke plain truth: “I am the Son of man,” “I am the bread of life come down from heaven,” etc. Without these statements, which were not prideful, the Word would not be as powerful as it is today. Likewise, Paul humbled himself in elaborating proofs of his apostleship.

“(Whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;).” The vision was so real that Paul did not know whether he was translated bodily to this experience or taken in another sense; that is, he did not know whether he was having an in-the-body or an out-of-thebody experience. His attention was so riveted on this startling revelation that he overlooked that detail.

Kerry Huish
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Re: What is Third Heaven?

#10 Post by Kerry Huish » 6 months ago

The tabernacle pattern, that is a shadow of heavenly realities, outlines 3 very specific and separate conditions.

Condition 1. Beyond the 1st screen, the inner courtyard, where the altar of burnt offering, bowl for washing and the tabernacle itself resided.
Condition 2. The Holy, the first compartment of the tabernacle, where there was the altar of incense, a lampstand and a table of showbread.
Condition 3. The Most Holy, where the Ark of the Covenant and God's presence resided.

Hebrews 8:5 They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”

So according to Paul - the man he knew in Christ - who was called away to the 3rd heaven, was called into the very presence of God himself.
This harmonizes with what Paul further wrote about 'others' also being called there:-

Hebrews 12:22-24 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

So the 'Third Heaven' would be what is symbolized by the Most Holy, being brought up into the very presence of God himself.
Each and everyone of Christ brothers has appeared here and been ransomed by the blood of the Christ.

Psalms 87:5, 6 Indeed, of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one were born in her, and the Most High himself will establish her.” The Lord will write in the register of the peoples: “This one was born in Zion.”

Revelation 14:1-3 Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.

Kind Regards

Kerry
Revelation 10:7 But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.”

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