About 14 years before Paul wrote 2 Corinthians, he had begun to teach in the church at Antioch*. Several prophets came to Antioch at that time. A prophet is someone who receives messages from God. Clearly, a prophet should have an especially close relationship with God, and he should spend much time in prayer. Perhaps, therefore, the experience that Paul records here was the experience of one of those prophets.
Paul says that the man entered the Ďthird heavení. The word for heaven can mean simply the sky, but Paul meant somewhere higher than that. It was above the Ďheavení (sky) where birds fly. It was even above the Ďheavení (sky) where the stars are.
The man entered heaven, but his body had not died. Paul was unsure whether the manís body entered heaven during this experience. Perhaps only the manís spirit went there. At death, the spirits of Godís people enter heaven, but of course their bodies remain on the earth. Perhaps something similar happened to this man - but the man was not dead. The man entered heaven, then he returned, and Paul knew him. Clearly, Paul heard from the man about his experience. However, the man could not tell Paul everything. Some things were too wonderful to explain*.
Paul does not record anything more about this manís astonishing experience. Clearly, Paul considers it one of the most wonderful experiences that he has ever heard about. It probably encouraged Paul much to hear the manís report about heaven. Maybe it was important for Paul to hear that as Paul began his special work for God.
People often say that, really, this was one of Paulís own experiences. However, Paul never says that. In fact, he seems to say the opposite in verse 5.
* See complete article for these Bible references.
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© 2016, Keith Simons.