Sunday, 27 December 2015
…how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 2 Corinthians 12:4
Once again, with the two thoughts finished, placing them side by side gives a better perspective of Paul’s statements –
*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.
*And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
As can be seen, it is probable, but not entirely certain, that the terms “the third heaven” and “Paradise” are not the same thing. He is likely saying that he was been caught up to the third heaven as well as having been caught up into Paradise. The word for “Paradise” here is the same word as that used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament when referring to the Garden of Eden, or the “Paradise of Eden.” This word is found only three times in the New Testament; in Luke 23:43, 2 Corinthians 12:4, and in Revelation 2:7. It is the reward which faithful believers will receive because of the finished work of Christ.
Paul says that while there he “heard inexpressible words.” In this, there is either:
1) A paradox – he heard speaking which may not be spoken because it is impossible for us to express the same words. In attempting to do so, he would do injustice to what he had heard. Or,
2) They are words which are not to be uttered by man at this present time. He was allowed to hear them, but forbidden from re-stating them.
The second option seems more likely because of his final words, “…which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” The Bible scholar Bengel explains the verse in this manner –
“Others, who did not hear them, cannot; Paul, who did hear them, is not sufficiently able; and though he were able, yet it would not be lawful, it would not be proper in the state of mortality; because the inhabitants of the earth would not understand them.”
Life application: Verses 2-4 of this chapter show us that those who claim to have had visions of heaven, and who then repeat them, are most probably making them up. Why would God have Paul state the things he did here and then change His way of dealing with someone later? The answer is that He wouldn’t. We have just what we need in the pages of the Bible to satisfy our current walk with the Lord. Further, He has given us enough information about what is coming to let us know that wonderful things lie ahead.
Heavenly Father, I know that because of Jesus, the very worst day of my life is as close to hell as I will ever get. On the other hand, the very best day of life for one who rejects Him is as close to heaven as they will ever get. As this world is disappointing even on the very best of days, I’m all in for Jesus. I cannot wait to see what wonders You have in store for us. May that day be soon! No fear here. Even so, come Lord Jesus. Amen.