Did Paul go to heaven or was he speaking of another person?

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Paul wrote, “It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—  how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.  Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities” (2 Corinthians 12:1-5).

In 2 Corinthians chapter 12, Paul is speaking of himself. And we know that for the following reasons:

  1. The reference to visions was part of a narrative of events related with his personal life and service to the Lord.
  2. Paul showed that these revelations were made to himself: “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure” (vs. 7).
  3. Paul used the third person to avoid boasting. In a similar manner, John, in humility, didn’t refer to himself (John 13:23, 24; 19:26; 21:20).

Paul did not know how he was taken to heaven because in visions people are not fully aware of their surroundings. And the supernatural power of God is revealed in ways that are not known to men (Isaiah 55:8-9). The perception of things seen and heard in vision, and at times involvement in the acts presented, are completely as real to the awareness as the normal physical experiences of life. We don’t know why Paul didn’t write more about what he saw. Either he had been instructed not to disclose what he saw and heard or human language is inadequate to describe it (1 Corinthians 3:2).

Although Paul received a great and unique revelation, he realized that it was no credit to him personally (1 Timothy 1:15). His only reason for writing about it was to answer the charges of his objectors.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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