The third heaven


In The Second Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 12 Verse 2 states:

 I know someone in Christ who fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know, God knows) was caught up in the third heaven.       

 What is the third heaven?


I’ve pondered the same question, CyrilSebastian. I’m going to bookmark this thread and see if anyone has a good answer. There are certainly people on CAF who blow my mind with their knowledge, so I think it’s a good bet that someone here will actually have wrestled with this verse and gained insight into the matter.:slight_smile:


Well the first heaven would refer to the atmosphere of the earth or maybe any other planet out there.

The second heaven refers to outer space.

The third heaven refers to the dwelling place of God and the Saints. It’s the perfect state of happiness.


From the NAB footnote to 2 Corinthians 12:1-4:

The third heaven…Paradise: ancient cosmologies depicted a multitiered universe. Jewish intertestamental literature contains…

Read more at:****

And an article by Jimmy Akin:

How Many Heavens Are There?
May 7, 2013

[LEFT][LEFT]In the Divine Comedy, Dante is guided through the heavens by his courtly love, Beatrice.These heavens are based on the astronomical ideas of the day, and she takes him through nine of them before they arrive at the ultimate dwelling place of God. The idea that there are multiple heavens… [/LEFT]

Read more at:



Detoutcoeur, Thank you for the references.
Thank goodness for footnotes. Thank goodness for biblical footnotes.


As the linked article suggested, there was considerable discussion among Jewish scholars about the number of heavens.

Why was this?

In his book Everyman’s Talmud, Abraham Cohen explains the rationale for seven heavens.

There are seven Hebrew words that refer to heaven either literally or idiomatically. So, the conclusion was that there were seven levels of heaven, and God dwells in the most remote level of heaven.

It was thought that the time to traverse each level of heaven towards the Divine for each level was 500 years of equivalent earth-bound travel.

Aside from rationalizing the use of seven words for heaven in the Hebrew Bible, the attempt was meant to express in human terms the transcendence of God – how far about mankind He is.

This contrasts with the other revelation of God, which is His immanence – how close God is to us, that He can hear a prayer expressed in the faintest whisper.


You’re welcome!


I agree that Dante describe the idea of 3 heavens, although actually there were 10 in Paradisio, however there were 3 groups of 3 heavens and then the absolute top which is the abode of God. A lot of his ideas were about the planetary system.

The Paradiso begins at the top of Mount Purgatory, at noon on the Wednesday after Easter. After ascending through the sphere of fire believed to exist in the earth’s upper atmosphere (Canto I), Beatrice guides Dante through the nine celestial spheres of Heaven, to the Empyrean, which is the abode of God. The nine spheres are concentric, as in the standard medieval geocentric model of cosmology,[1] which was derived from Ptolemy. The Empyrean is non-material. As with his Purgatory, the structure of Dante’s Heaven is therefore of the form 9+1=10, with one of the ten regions different in nature from the other nine.

I’m not sure his ideas directly relate to Paul’s concept of the 3rd heaven. I think this must be a Jewish concept.


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