12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows) was caught up to the third heaven. 12:3 And I know that this man (whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows) 12:4 was caught up into paradise 1 and heard things too sacred to be put into words, 2 things that a person 3 is not permitted to speak.
1 sn In the NT, paradise is mentioned three times. In Luke 23:43 it refers to the abode of the righteous dead. In Rev 2:7 it refers to the restoration of Edenic paradise predicted in Isa 51:3 and Ezek 36:35. The reference here in 2 Cor 12:4 is probably to be translated as parallel to the mention of the “third heaven” in v. 2. Assuming that the “first heaven” would be atmospheric heaven (the sky) and “second heaven” the more distant stars and planets, “third heaven” would refer to the place where God dwells. This is much more likely than some variation on the seven heavens mentioned in the pseudepigraphic book 2 Enoch and in other nonbiblical and rabbinic works.
2 tn Or “things that cannot be put into words.”
3 tn Grk “a man.”