St Paul's vision in 2 Corinthians 12

I’ve been thinking about St Paul’s vision of the third heaven in 1 Corinthians 12:2-4.

It is interesting as it blows the view that mysticism is incompatible with Christianity out of the water. It is almost downright esoteric, with Paul being held captive to information usually forbidden to man.

But I digress, I’m here because it seems clear to me that in this passage, Paul is assuming a Hellenised Jewish cosmology of multiple (three or seven) concentric heavens. This is interesting not only because it shows that Paul held his own pre-scientific cosmology, but also because it shows that Paul was not fazed by the contradictions between this cosmology and that of the OT’s flat earth with a single heaven. Perhaps we shouldn’t see contradiction with our cosmology either.


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Paul’s vision is very mystical and esoteric in nature, I feel he tries to keep humble by trying to speak the third person I assume “I know a man in Christ…” Paul and many other Jews probably developed a Hellenized Jewish understanding of the heavens as you have stated. If you read further in 2nd Cor. 12:7 Paul seems to have been kept humbled with this vision and given his “thorn in the flesh” to “keep me from exalting myself!” Jewish theology was heavily developed around the time of Jesus and Paul and was far more complex in its understanding of heaven, angels, demons and other issues then that of Moses, David and Elijah.

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Moses and Elijah were first hand witnesses to what this creation looks like from heaven to the world beneath. They just revealed what needed to be revealed in their day. They were not in the dark about anything themselves. God revealed to Paul what Paul needed to know. Nothing about heaven is a mystical esoteric experience. It is a tangible physical reality as much as earth is. Earth only has the church as a spiritual witness, and not a very good one either. Mysticism is just a prefabricated state Satan pushes off on humanity to confuse them. Science is not any better with advancement in technology. Science is just as much confusing to this world as mysticism is. If there was no confusion, science would not contradict a single verse, nor would there be any twisting of science, nor Truth. It is not a vs. situation though. It is Satan deceiving us with facts that seem there, but are not. The third Heaven is God on the throne. The angels are the stars, in the second heaven. Heaven is the sky above. All physical and real, just separated from us because being in Adam, we are awaiting to be restored to the full image of sons of God. Paul knew this because God revealed such information to Paul. When God on the throne appears, and heaven will be rolled back, all humanity will know the Truth. There is a physical reality that we have not known about, because Adam disobeyed.