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What is the third heaven?

Discussion in 'Biblical Debates' started by ThisShouldMakeSense, Jun 13, 2005.

  1. ThisShouldMakeSense

    ThisShouldMakeSense Active Member

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    In 2 Corinthians 12:2, Pauls speaks of the third heaven. does anyone know what he's talking about?
     
  2. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    The pagans in many cases believed in seven heavens, but there is no Biblical hint of any such thing. It is possible that Paul was translated in time to the future heaven--that is, the new heaven and new earth, the first having been destroyed by water, the second by fire (2 Peter 3:5-13). More likely, however, he was translated beyond the heaven of the stars and the heaven of the birds (Genesis 1:15,20) to the heaven where God's throne is (Isaiah 14:13; Job 22:12), the heaven to which Christ ascended to the right hand of God at His throne (Mark 16:19; Ephesians 1:20).:)
     
  3. ThisShouldMakeSense

    ThisShouldMakeSense Active Member

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    WoW! Fast responce! Thanks for that, that is an interesting theory. the best i've heard so far. BTW, who was the man who was taken there? cos in some translations Paul says ' I know of a man'...?
     
  4. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    When Paul speaks of himself, it is as a poor sinner, and very humble. Then it is I myself. Rom. 7. But here, lest ostentation should appear, he conceals himself under the character of another man.

    I may be wrong, and no doubt someone please correct me if I am, but the passage from Romans 7:7 through the end of the chapter describes the internal conflict in Paul (as in believers generally) between the old and new natures. Romans 7:22, for example "I delight in the law of God after the inward man," could not be the sincere testimony of an unsaved man, but it does reflect the attitude of a true Christian who loves God's law (Psalm 119:7) but struggles with its temptations because of his still-active 'old sin-nature'. So here, in case he should sound pretentious or vain, he conceals himself under the character of another man.:)
     
  5. ThisShouldMakeSense

    ThisShouldMakeSense Active Member

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    yes, that is the other theory i've heard, but i'm not sure about that. in chapter 11 he compares himself to the most eminent apostles, and in verse 23 he says: 'Do they work for Christ? I have worked for Him much more than they have. (I speak as if I am crazy.) I have done much more work. I have been in prison more times. I cannot remember how many times I have been whipped. Many times I have been in danger of death.'

    so i'm not sure if he was referring to himself as another man on the grounds of being humble, if in other verses he made great claims of himself...
     
  6. njcl

    njcl Active Member

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    i call gods/christs {where they sit enthroned} inner sanctum 7th heaven,i dont know where i picked this up from but could anybody illuminate where i found it??
     
  7. hanessah

    hanessah Member

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    A wonderful book to get to read is the book of ENOCH who in the Bible we know he went to heaven but nothing else was said about this WHY?? This tells of the seven heavens or layers of heaven as beautiful or awful as they may be and how the heavens work right down to controlling the weather and seasons. Mentioned above, the pagans believe in 7 heavens, I see no difference in reading this or Thomas, or the Infancy anything that is kept out of the standard WORD its great reading the edition I have alsohas is the story of Adam and Eve also great reading it could bring an entire new picture on the OT reading of Genesis.and who is to say it's wrong
     
  8. DeepShadow

    DeepShadow White Crow

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    Here's one explanation:

    Thus the "third heaven" would be the celestial kingdom.
     
  9. sandy whitelinger

    sandy whitelinger Veteran Member

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    You need to go to Genesis 1 in a King James Bible. In the Beginning God created the heaven(singular) and the earth. Later He created the firmament of heaven (space) which separated the waters from above from the waters from below. Even later He created birds and placed them in the open firmament of heaven.

    Those are the three heavens, 1. heaven, 2. the firmament of heaven, 3. the open firmament of heaven.

    You can see from Corinthians that heaven is deemed the third heaven.
     
  10. EnhancedSpirit

    EnhancedSpirit High Priestess

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    Here is a pretty good explanation I found at The "Third Heaven"

    First, most students of Scripture accept that Paul is writing this verse about himself, and that he is referring to his own visionary experience on the road to Damascus some years earlier (Acts 9:1-9, 22:6-11). It was this experience that caused Paul to claim in another letter that he had seen the risen Christ (1 Cor 15:1-10, cf. Gal 1:12). His half-hearted attempt at modesty in addressing the Corinthians led him to claim rather weakly that he knew a man who had this experience. Well, that man was Paul. He was not trying to be deceitful or evasive, but used this method of writing as a means of getting his point across in the letter.

    Remember that there was a group in Corinth, maybe even the majority, who were questioning the authority of Paul (1 Cor 9:1-14, 2 Cor 10-11). This group was following the lead of some who were claiming higher knowledge due to some special powers or ecstatic experience (1 Cor 12; cf. 1 Cor 3:21, 4:6-7). It could be that after diminishing the importance of these "powers" that Paul did not want to use his own special experience to claim authority for himself, even though he admits just a few verses later that he was this man (12:7). His point was to establish his authority as an apostle without boasting about his own spiritual experiences to do so (cf. 12:5). This all simply suggests that the answer to this question will come from within this text and its historical context and not from our own later theological ideas.

    Jews of that time did not have the scientific knowledge that we take for granted, so they did not think of the world in scientific terms or descriptions. Instead they attempted to conceptualize the world in terms of what they knew, and usually described it visually. So, when they conceived of the universe, they constructed a multi-layered world, sort of like a large onion composed of various layers with the physical world in which human beings lived at the center. These layers were called "firmament" or shamayim (heavens or sky) in the Old Testament or "heavens" in the New Testament era. There are many other non-Biblical books and writings that also describe these layers. This model was still in use in the Middle Ages (1400s AD) when Dante wrote of the various levels of heaven and hell.

    Most often this model contained seven heavens but in a few writings there were only three layers. Even though the number of layers was different these models of the universe shared some common traits. The lowest heaven, the core of the "onion," is the visible physical world that all people can see. In most of these models the second heaven is composed of water, a great sea, a firmament dividing the earth from the heavenly beings. This water that surrounded the earth became a common symbol for chaos and disorder that threatened to engulf the world (cf. Gen 6; see Speaking the Language of Canaan for a discussion of the symbolism of the cosmic waters). So often, these waters were understood to be gathered to await the coming day of judgment when they would once again be loosed to destroy the unrighteous. However, the third heaven was beyond the sight of human beings. It was the dwelling place of God and his attendant heavenly beings whom he would send to protect Israel and the righteous. So when Paul claims to have seen the risen Christ he is describing his experience in terms that he, and others, would readily understand. In that cultural context, he would have assumed that God had taken him to the region where it was possible to see spiritual beings, and the risen Christ.
     
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