Q. I was reading 2 Cor. 12: 2-5 again where Paul speaks about a man that was caught up into the third heaven. I have always believed that Paul is speaking about himself although I had questions why he would speak as if he is referring to the second person. My understand was recently challenged by an opinion of a friend who says Paul was perhaps more speaking about Stephen in Acts 7: 54-58 who when he was stoned saw heaven opening, Glory of God and Lord Jesus standing at the right hand of God. I have to be honest with you that this new view kept me thinking hence I ask for your view. Is Paul speaking about himself here or about Stephen perhaps? If he is speaking about himself then why he refers to himself as a second person?
A. You are correct and your friend needs to read the passage more carefully, because Paul was obviously speaking of himself. He referred to himself as another person because he didn’t want people to think he was bragging. It’s a common literary device.
John used the same technique in His Gospel. He never referred to himself by name but called himself the disciple Jesus loved in John 13:23, John 19:26, John 20:2, John 21:7, John 21:20. In both cases the writers were speaking of themselves in a way that demonstrated their modesty.