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The third Heaven. What Did the Apostle Paul really see?

by Joshua Sparks

posted in News and Society : Religion

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Praise the Name of Jesus Christ,

Firstly I want to make it a point to always teach Bible Truth in every aspect of our Ministry. Whether it be in teaching in a worship service, or online, or by way of blogging or the printed page, our goal is to present to the world God’s Word without apology and without wavering any from what is written on the pages of God’s Word the bible. So many today are writing about things they have been taugh, and never take the time to rightly divide the Word of Truth. ( 2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV) Be diligent(Study)  to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. What does it mean to a worker or workman. This word worker or workman comes from the greek word Ergates which is as a laborer 10 times and as a worker or workman 6 times. This means we must labor in rightly dividing the Word of Truth. You cannot take man;s word for it you must laborer in God’s Word or rightly divide the Word of Truth.

What does it mean to rightly divide. This thought or statement comes from the greek word Orthoyomeo which means to disect or expound correctly the divine message. To disect the truth and find the truth on the pages of God’s Word and not man written handbooks is how we rightly divide the Word of Truth. I get disgusted by so many who write studies on the internet who need to go get back in a baby craddle and take the milk bottle and mature before they teach God’s Word. (Heb 5:12 NKJV) For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. The Apostle Paul wrote by inspiration from God concerning this generation in (1 Timothy 4:3-4NKJV) 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. And the wisest man alive King Solomon wrote by Inspiration (Proverbs 15:14NKJV) The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, But the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.

The Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians Chapter 12 is writing about an experience that he has had in the Lord. As we examine this experience we will see it was not an out of body experience. Paul was not telling about what he saw as he was stoned by the jews from Antioch and Iconium who had stones Paul supposing he was dead (Acts 14: 19) about an out of body experience he had but was speaking prophetically of a time in the future when The third Heaven or as Paul called it Paradise would be established on this earth. For those of you who still believe that we go to Heaven at death or that Heaven will be our eternal home I am praying God will increase your knowledge in His Word. The only people who will be removed from this earth are the wicked. (Proverbs 10:30 NKJV) The righteous will never be removed, But the wicked will not inhabit the earth. All who believe that the earth which is to say the planet earth will be destoryed cannot find this teaching in their bibles. (Ecclesiastes 1:4NKJV) One generation passes away, and another generation comes;  But the earth abides forever. And also (Psalms 115:16NKJV) The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’s;But the earth He has given to the children of men.

Lets look at the account Paul gives concerning the third Heaven he saw.

(2 Corinthians 12:1-4) 1 It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: 2 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. 3 And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Notice Paul said whether with the body or without he doesnt know meaning He wasnt sure if he was transported there bodily as Phillip was to Azotus in (Acts 8:39) or if it was a vision in the Spirit. He wasnt sure if he went there bodily or was taken there by the Spirit in a vision. Paul says this man was caught up into paradise. The word paradise here comes from the greek word Paradeisos which is a garden or park specifically an Eden or a place of future happiness. It also has been referred to as According to the early church Fathers, the paradise in which our first parents dwelt before the fall still exists, neither on the earth or in the heavens, but above and beyond the world. This leads me to believe that even the early church fathers believed it to be a future place of happiness a better world to come when God would lift the curse from the earth and make it a paradise such as our first parents enjoyed.

There are three divisions or dispensations or Epochs of human history and this I believe will help us understand this third heaven Paul was speaking of. These consist of 1) The world that then was. 2) The Heavens and earth which now are, or this present evil world. 3) New Heavens and earth or the world to come where righteousness dwells.  The Apostle Peter writes about this very same thing and it is found in 2 Peter Chapter 3.

( 2 Peter 3: 1-13)  1This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: 3Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.  8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

Lets look at all three periods of human history. Peter wrote speaking about the world that then was standing in the water and out of the water (2 peter 3:6). This is speaking of the world that persished during the flood of Noah. Noah and his family were saved but the world peroshed. What was it that was destroyed. All flesh both human and animal as wellas the old social orders and governments they too were destroyed by the flood. The Heavens and earth which now are Peter says have by the Word been kept in store reserved unto fire against the day of judgement and perdition of ungodly men. This Heaven we see when we look up is the same heaven Noah looked up into. This earth we stand and walk on is the same earth Noah walked on. This earth will never be destroyed. The world system of that first earth age or the world that then was perished but heaven and earth remained and is referred to as the Heavens and earth which are now or as Paul calls it this present evil world (Galatians 1:4) and when Jesus comes the Heavens will pass away with a great noise which is the sounding of the last trump or the trumpet of God.

Paul said he was caught up into paradise and this is the third period of man’s history Peter was speaking of and Peter said we look according to His promise for a new heaven and earth where dwells righteousness. This will be a time when man is under the perfect Government of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 9:6) who will cause this heaven to pass away and a new Heaven to be created. Satan right now has built his kingdom in the heavens and is the prince of the powers of the air. (Ephesians 2:1-2NKJV) 1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience. Paul also declares we dont fight flesh and blood but the devil and spiritual wickedness. (Ephesians 6:12 NKJV) 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

The Lord told satan that if he tried to build his nest in the stars that he would cast him down. (Obadian 4 NKJV) Though you ascend as high as the eagle, And though you set your nest among the stars, From there I will bring you down,” says the LORD. Satan is the prince of the power of the air and is the prince of spiritual wickedness in high places which is to say the heavens. The heavens that will pass away with a great noise is the spiritual kingdom of the devil in the heavens the god of this world who has blinded the minds of the people and stopped the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ from shinning to them and leading them out of darkness. ( 2 Corinthians 4:3-4NKJV) 3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age(world)  has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

The new Heaven will be a Heaven where Christ rules and reigns in righteousness and satans kingdom which is now presently the power of the air or atmosphere will pass away with the shout of the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God and the dead will be raised and those living will be caught up with them to be with Jesus in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air which is the greek word AER which means the atmospheric region. Look it up for yourselves in your strongs concordance Greek section # 109. When the Last trumpet sounds the Lord will return and the dead and living saints of God will be changed and put om immortallity ( 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; 1 Corinthians 15: 51-54).

The Heavens being on fire is symbolic for God’s Judgement on satans kingdom and on the wicked. ( 2 Thessalonians 1: 8 NKJV) in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Peter also talks about the elements melting with fervent heat. The word elements here is the same word rudiments or the basic principles of this world as found in Colossians 2: 8 and 20. (Colossians 2: 8 ) Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:20) Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances. The elements or rudiments of this world that will be destroyed is sin and everything it encompasses. I know this is not popular teaching but it is truth. This earth and the atmosphere we call heaven will not pass away but heaven satans spiritual seat and the earth man’s social systems, governments and sin will.

Paul was seeing paradise where Jesus rules the heavens and his kingdom is set up on earth and replaces all earthly kingdoms. ( Revelation 11:15NKJV) Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” This word paradise is the same word used when Jesus promised the thief on the cross that when he came into His Kingdom he would be with Jesus in this paradise. Not in a heavenly place but in the paradise where Jesus reigns as King in His Kingdom. ( Luke 23:42-43) 42And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.  43And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. So many believe that because the comma was placed before Today that this is how Luke wrote this passage. Chapters, Verses, and punctuation was added much later after the scriptures were written. This thief did not go to paradise when He died but was made a promise He would be in paradise whn Jesus does set up the Kingdom and friend it has not been physically established on earth. If you believe it has you need to wake up and read your newspaper and watch the 6 o’ clock news more closely.

This new heaven, or third heaven Paul saw was not a third part to a three layer heaven that we have heard taught from the pulpit but just as Paul said it was paradise or a place of future happiness a park or an eden. Jesus will make all things new and will make for us a paradise in a better world to come. If you are feeling down and depressed get up Jesus has promised a better world to come and a kingdom that will overthrow satans kingdom and mans governments and will be a kingdom of peace and life everlasting established forever.

Are you part of that kingdom? You can be. The Gospel is Jesus came and died in your place and his blood can set you free and wash your sins away. Obey His Gospel today.

(Acts 2:3 8 NKJV) Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

In Jesus name,

Bro. Josh Sparks.

About the Author:

Bro. Sparks is a bible teacher who has been involved as a Pastor, Evangelist and International Radio Missionary. He has reached many through radio programs and the printed page for over 18 years. Bro. Sparks is a bible student and is only concerned with preaching the truth of God's Word. Bro. Sparks is married to his best friend and faithful companion and fellow laborer of the Gospel Sis. Melissa Sparks and they have two sons, Ronnie age 7 and Elijeh 1 years old.

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