Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Heaven 25

“I know a man in Christ,” Paul says in 2 Cor 12:2, “who who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know?God knows. 3 And I know that this man?whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows? 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.”
Here Paul equates, or comes as close as one can to equating, “heaven” and “Paradise.” That word is found in the NT only at Luke 22:43 and Rev 2:7. Those texts are referring to a place people go after death. And Paul says this heaven is the “third” heaven in 2 Cor 12:2. In the Jewish word there were “multiple” heavens or layers to the heavens: anywhere from two to ten, with seven being the norm. It is best to think Paul saw only three and that this person — probably Paul — had been to the top of the mountain.
Heaven here seems to be the place of secrets and Paul gets in, by God’s grace, on the secret revelations (v. 7).

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posted August 11, 2008 at 8:30 am

I don’t want to jump the gun, but are you seeing, even in the various “layers” of heaven that Paul acknowledges, that heaven, or at least the third heaven, is the spiritual dimension of existence, which also happens to be the only dimension in which, for now, God dwells fully (in all his glory)?

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Bob Brague

posted August 11, 2008 at 4:08 pm

Okay, building on what T (#1) said, it’s time to trot out a sonnet I wrote over 30 years ago. It is actually the fourth one of five under the heading, “Sonnets for the Space Age, circa 1976.”
Three heavens stretch above Earth?s little pond:,
The daylight blue; the midnight?s starry host;
Incalculable distances beyond
These two, the one that modern men fear most.
(For if there is a Heaven they should gain,
A Hell to shun the day they pause to die,
Then all their science simply can?t explain
How in the merest twinkling of an eye?)
So, flippantly declaring it absurd,
Men laugh until their laughter turns to tears;
But Saul of Tarsus visited that third
And dared not speak of it for fourteen years.
If not till set of sun come out the stars,
Why balk at glories waiting behind Mars?
So did I write an evangelical poem, a post-evangelical poem, an emerging poem, an Emergent poem, a postmodern poem? What is it exactly?

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posted August 12, 2008 at 2:19 pm

Bob it’s a wonderful poem.

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posted August 12, 2008 at 2:24 pm

Could the apostle John have been writing of the three layers of heaven when he wrote to the children, young men and fathers in 1st John?

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