2 Corinthians 12:2 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

2 Corinthians 12:2, NIV: I know a man in Christ 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.

2 Corinthians 12:2, ESV: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.

2 Corinthians 12:2, KJV: I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

2 Corinthians 12:2, NASB: I know a man in Christ, who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven.

2 Corinthians 12:2, NLT: I was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my body or out of my body, I don't know--only God knows.

2 Corinthians 12:2, CSB: I know a man in Christ who was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether he was in the body or out of the body, I don't know; God knows.

What does 2 Corinthians 12:2 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul begins to tell the story of his supernatural experience of being taken to "the third heaven." There he was shown otherwise unknowable truths by Christ (2 Corinthians 12:4). Especially in the Old Testament, the third heaven is often referred to as the highest heaven, a place created by God where He lives and where angels praise Him (1 Kings 8:27; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 148:4). Most commentators understand the first heaven—or first heavens—to be the sky above the earth. The second would be the realm of the sun, moon, and stars: what we would now refer to as outer space.

Humility was so ingrained into Paul that enemies have pointed to it as a criticism (2 Corinthians 10:1). He's so deeply concerned not to be arrogant that he first describes this experience as happening to a man he knows. This is true, but the man is clearly Paul himself (2 Corinthians 12:6–7). He seems fully committed to not receiving any personal credit for this experience. He emphasizes that only God knows whether he physically travelled to the third heaven in his body or whether it was an out-of-body experience.

Paul say that this happened 14 years before the time of this writing. That would put the experience sometime around AD 42–44, prior to his first missionary journey.