Three Heavens

Q. Re: the third heaven of 2 Cor. 12:2. Are there Biblical references to the first and second heaven? What are your thoughts on the heavens?

A. 2 Cor. 12:2 says, I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Most scholars believe Paul was speaking of a time when the Lord took him to His throne in Heaven for some special instruction.

As I understand it, Greek thinking in Paul’s time held that the first heaven was what we would call Earth’s atmosphere, the second Heaven would be outer space to us, and the third Heaven was the throne of God. I believe it’s the only time in the Bible where a distinction of this kind was made.

In Genesis 1:1 the Hebrew word translated heaven is plural although the King James renders it as a singular word. In Genesis 1:6 a different Hebrew word is translated firmament, but in Genesis 1:8 God called the firmament heaven (KJV) or sky (NIV). Since the Sun, Moon, and stars were placed there (Genesis 1:14-19) it’s probably a reference to what Paul called the first and second heavens.

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