THOUGHTS on THIRD HEAVEN

BY:  DAVE GARNER – MAY 24, 2007

A personal observation!

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PART ONE

I was doing a study on the word heaven and I came across Paul’s statement concerning the third heaven and because I have heard so many diverse opinions about the text, I thought I would do a little research on the matter to see what I found.  I thought I would share them with you. 

There are people who read Paul’s reference to a man being caught up into the third heaven in his letter to the church at Corinth; who believe that He was speaking of himself.  In my research on the subject of heaven, a closer examination of his prior statements indicates that he was not referring to himself but to someone he had known in the past.  His statement was actually a part of his discourse concerning his reckless boasting, which was started from the previous chapter.  In Second Corinthians the eleventh chapter, verse sixteen Paul said that he did not wish for them to think him to be a fool, but receive him as he foolishly boasted a little.  He was not speaking as lifting up the Lord, but rather he was being recklessly confident in his own boasting since many were glorying in themselves in their own accomplishments in the flesh, he could also boast just as well.  He said that they were measuring themselves against fools, and by doing so making themselves look wise.  If they were suffering themselves to be held in bondage, or devoured (consume or destroy), to be seized, exalted against, or to be slapped in the face and spoke of as in reproach (dishonor or disgrace) and in that they (including himself) were boasting when they were really weak or feeble. 

However, whoever was bold (possessing courage) in their boasting, he said he would be reckless also in his own boldness toward them in boasting of his own accomplishments.  He said “they were Hebrews, so was he. Just as they were Israelites, so also was he.  They were born of the seed of Abraham, so was he.  He was a minister of Christ boasting even more about himself, he said that he had labored harder, had been repeatedly imprisoned, whipped with lashes almost beyond physical endurance, and many times in places or situations where he could lose his life.  He was beaten by the Jews with thirty nine lashes, beaten with a stick three different times, stoned once; three times he was shipwrecked, and spent a day and a night floating in the sea.  Many times he faced dangers in his journeys, from water, robbers, men of his own country, heathen, in the city, in the wilderness, in the sea, and by false brethren.  He had continued to minister the gospel even when he was tired (in weariness), in sadness, and even when he had often gone without sleep; suffering hunger, thirst, and fasting, often in nakedness and the cold.  This did not include the burden that he daily carried for the care of the churches. 

Paul asked “Who is feeble and weak?  Who is not offended?”  There had been times that he had been weak and feeble and he had been offended, but he said that if he continued to boast that he would burn from guilt for boasting too much.  He was not going to burn literally, he did not feel it right to continue boasting of his infirmities, but he felt a real need for them to know what he had endured on behalf of the gospel he was ministering.  He would rather boast in what had caused the reasons for his discomforts, which was ministering the gospel.  The Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who had been blessed forever more knew that he was telling the truth.  He said that when he was in Damascus, the governor under king Aretas attempted to apprehend him, but he was let down out of a window in a basket and escaped from the city.  It was not good or profitable to the Corinthian church for him to boast, even about the visions and revelations that he had received from the Lord.  He had even known a man in Christ (the anointing) fourteen years before who had been caught away unto the third heaven.  He did not know whether it was in the body or out of the body, only God knew.   Because the man had been caught up into paradise he had heard inexpressible words that was not right for a man to publicly say.  He could boast about concerning one such as this man, but as for himself, he would rather not boast about anything in himself, even in his weaknesses.  (1 Corinthians 4:10-21) 

By his own admission he was speaking of knowing a man, as in the third person, referring to someone he had known.   He had no reason to not openly declare that it had been he who had ascended to that height, had it been of himself that he had been referring.   Paul said that it would not have been necessarily profitable to the Corinthian church for him to boast as he did, even also about coming to visions and revelations of the Lord.    He chose however, not to boast, but rather to be a fool for the truth.  But, he spoke cautiously to them lest any of them because of his boasting, thought more highly of him then they saw or heard of him (2 Corinthians 12:1-8).  

Paul felt that it was more important for him to abase himself and not boast concerning things that he had personally seen and heard to the Corinthians, as it would not be to their advantage for him to do so.  He said he would rather be a fool for the truth then to speak things that should not be publicly spoken, which was in reference to the subject of knowing a man who had been caught up into the third heaven.  This is the only place that Paul wrote about a third heaven and there are no other scripture references concerning a third heaven.   In reality it probably does not make a difference whether it was Paul or another person; the importance is the reference that Paul made to a third heaven and that the man who had gone there had spoken of things that should not have been spoken.   For my part, it would only be speculation concerning what the third heaven was.  The truth is that Paul felt that it was more important to boast of the Lord and stay grounded in the word of truth, then to focus attention upon himself. 

PART TWO

A concerned request for clarification sent to me from a dear brother – MAY 25, 2007

From: jlewis

To: Dave F Garner

Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2007 8:49 PM

Subject: Re: Thoughts on Third Heaven

Hello Brother Dave,

You said that there were no references concerning a third Heaven. My dear brother are you saying there is no third realm or dimension spoken of in the Scriptures? Does God work in three’s? Outer court, Holy place, & Host Holy place? What about Prov. 22:20: Have not I written to thee excellent things. The word excellent; Means three fold things What about Rev 1:10; I was (I became) in Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and heard  BEHIND me a great voice, as a trumpet. My question is what realm was he standing in, without question it was the third dimension of Grace, when he turned, he seen the candlesticks, they were in the second dimension. What about the fourth chapter verse one. He was in a realm with no limitations, no boundaries, it was a realm that was immeasurable. The Bible is full of threes & sevens. After the Cross there are only three Days or three dimension of Grace. I am just wanting to know what you are saying with clarity.

Absolutely not. The Bible is full of references concerning the third experience and the three realms or dimensions of the tabernacle.  And yes, He absolutely works in threes.   In my defense and for clarification I should have said that Paul never made any reference to a third heaven in the same manner in which he spoke of it here in these particular verses as the term “third heaven.”   As for me, Paul was not dealing with the subject of the three realms of the tabernacle experience in these particular verses, nor does the text of his letter to the Corinthians give any indication that he wanted to, as he was responding to a defense from them concerning his first letter of instruction and rebuke as his letter indicates.  When Paul was teaching the spiritual reality of the tabernacling or third day experience he, nor anyone else, as far as I can find used the term “third heaven.” 

2 Cor 2:1-6, But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.  For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me?  And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.  For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.  But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.

I would not even begin to deny the three realms of the tabernacle or salvation experience that correspond to the three feast.  

2 Cor. 5:1-9, For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:  If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.  For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.  Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.  Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)  We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.  Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

2 Cor. 7:1-12, Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.  Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man.  I speak not this to condemn you: for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts to die and live with you.  Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.  For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.  Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus;  And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more.  For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.  Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.  For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.  For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.  Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you.

2 Cor. 13:1-5, This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.  I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare:  Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.  For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.  Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THOUGHTS on THIRD HEAVEN, Parts 1 and 2 [Dave Garner] 5-24-07          1

 

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