2 Corinthians 12:3 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

2 Corinthians 12:3, NIV: And I know that this man--whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows--

2 Corinthians 12:3, ESV: And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—

2 Corinthians 12:3, KJV: And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)

2 Corinthians 12:3, NASB: And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows—

2 Corinthians 12:3, NLT: Yes, only God knows whether I was in my body or outside my body. But I do know

2 Corinthians 12:3, CSB: I know that this man--whether in the body or out of the body I don't know; God knows--

What does 2 Corinthians 12:3 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Using as much humility as is possible, Paul is describing his experience of being taken to the "third heaven" 14 years prior. In order to avoid being given any personal credit for the experience, he begins by saying that it happened to a man he knows. He clearly means the Corinthians to understand that this is his story, however (2 Corinthians 12:6–7).

Paul describes himself as being "caught up" into paradise. This is a form of the same Greek word, harpazo, that he uses in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 to describe what will happen to the believers who remain alive when Christ returns. Some traditions describe this future event as the "rapture" of the church.

In the previous verse, Paul called his destination the third heaven. Now he refers to it as paradise. In both cases, believers understood this to be the dwelling place of God and angels. Jesus told the believing criminal on the cross next to Him that "today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43).

Paul repeats once more that he does not know whether he travelled to paradise in his body or through some type of vision. He is confident that it happened, however, and that God knows whether he was there in person or in spirit.