First, can you give some insight on the "third heaven" that Paul was referring to in 2 Corinthians 12? Second, is Paul the "man" in 12:2? -- Steve Johnson

The ancient Jews thought of three "heavens": the sky (locus of the birds), the celestial heavens (locus of the stars), and the third heaven (locus of God and his angels). The third heaven is, according to this interpretation, the highest heaven to which man can ascend. Some Jews speculated and believed in many more "heavens," but this is not justified by the Scriptures.

Some early Christians thought of this third heaven, or paradise, as contained in Hades, or the realm of the dead. Wherever it was, it was wonderful.

And yes, the man is apparently Paul himself, given his modesty and reluctance to go into detail about the experience--which was, after all, ineffable.

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