Patricia Hofer

Have you ever thought about Paul’s “third heaven”?

“In the Biblical line of heritage, Enoch lived a few generations before Noah and long before Abraham. What he is most remembered for by Christians is found in this statement: “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Gen. 5:24). But Jewish tradition has preserved some writings that are sourced to him. In one of them, The Second Book of Enoch, he describes the “Third Heaven.”
..This would have little interest at all to Christians except Paul also refers to what he called the “third heaven.”… “The man in Christ,” as Paul refers to himself, has not arrived in a final place but is in what Paul refers to as “paradise.” Enoch, whose existence is also mentioned briefly in the book of Jude, described “the Third Heaven” as a halfway place, a place “whereon the Lord rests, when he goes up into paradise” (Second Book of Enoch, chapter 😎. That actually tends to match what Jesus said to the repentant man who was crucified next to him: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (NIV Luke 23:43).
… Augustine described Paul’s vision of the “third heaven” as a vision “granted only to him who in some way dies to this life, whether he quits the body entirely or is turned away and carried out of the bodily sense…” This vision, wrote Augustine, is superior to any other kind of vision because it is seen “by the mind after it has been so separated and removed and completely carried out of the senses and purified…” He considers this seeing to be a mystery that occurs “through the love of the Holy Spirit” (The Literal Meaning of Genesis, 55, 56 and 67). (From chapter 10, “Can reincarnation and near death experiences be Christian?”)

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