Oct 15th WT View of The Third Heaven--What a Scream!

by Mary 34 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Mary

    OK, we all know the scripture where Paul says "...I know a man in union with Christ who, 14 years ago, was caught away to the Third Heaven.....whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know...he was caught away into paradise and heard unutterable words which it is not lawful or a man to speak."

    According to the October 15th Watchtower, you wanna know what exactly this means? Paragraph 9 says "....It would involve the Christian congregation......When was that vision to be fulfilled? Paul called what he saw a 'revelation', something future. He knew that after his death an extensive apostasy would develop........Yet the time would come for true worship to be elevated again...That actually came to pass a few years after God's Kingdom was established in heaven. And with the passing of the decades, it becomes very evident that God's people enjoy a spiritual paradise which Paul foresaw in that vision."

    So there you go. The "Third Heaven" and "Paradise" that Paul was caught away to, was really just a vision of one of the congregations (no doubt in New York). Maybe Paul was watching them get ready for the Instruction Talk. Or maybe he was watching someone getting counselled on going overtime on their talk. Maybe he was watching 15 people at the Bookstudy. Yes, it must have been awfully exciting for Paul to watch all this excitement----it was so exciting watching these drones that he recorded for all mankind to read..........

  • Kenneson

    Yes, Paul heard "unutterable words." The words also were not understandable. They were spoken by Charles Taze Russell, Judge Rutherford, Nathan Knorr, Fred Franz, Milton Henschel, et. al.

  • Satanus

    Holy bats**t, superman. So paul was actually time traveling when he went to the third heaven. And he never really went to heaven in the traditional sense, of somewhere in a spiritual realm. You gotta hand it to the wt, they have the whole truth compressed and shaken down, so that all of it will fit into a little instruction booklet. Imagine, every time a dub goes to an assembly, he enters the turd third heaven.


  • Elsewhere
    We find Paul compelled to continue his "foolish boasting". Coming to
    the issue of visions and revelations of the Lord, he describes "a man
    in Christ" (most commentators believe Paul has reference to himself)
    who fourteen years before had been caught up into Paradise and heard
    inexpressible words unlawful to utter. Paul would boast of "such a
    one", but in direct reference to himself he would only boast in his
    "infirmities", lest people think too highly of him (1-6).
  • Elsewhere

    Looks like they can't make up their mind what it means....

    (Paul was talking about himself)

    *** Watchtower 2000 7/15 p. 27 Persecution Sparks Growth in Antioch ***

    Another event that seems to date to this period is described at 2 Corinthians 12:2-5. Saul said: ?I know a man in union with Christ who, fourteen years ago was caught away to the third heaven, into paradise, and heard unutterable words which it is not lawful for a man to speak.? Apparently, Saul was talking about himself. Since he wrote this in about 55 C.E., 14 years earlier would take us back to 41 C.E., in the middle of the "silent years."

    (Paul is talking about the JW congregation)


    Watchtower 1970 12/15 pp. 767-768 Questions from Readers ***


    What is the "third heaven" and "paradise" to which 2 Corinthians 12:2, 4 refers??R. B., U.S.A.

    At 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 the apostle Paul describes one who was "caught away . . . to the third heaven" and "into paradise." Since there is no mention in the Scriptures of any other person having had such an experience, it seems likely that this was the apostle Paul?s own experience. Whereas some have endeavored to relate Paul?s reference to the "third heaven" to the early Rabbinical view that there were stages of heaven, even a total of "seven heavens," this view finds no support in the Scriptures.

    When we examine the context, it becomes apparent that the apostle is not referring to the heavens within earth?s atmospheric expanse or to outer space. The apostle wrote: "I shall pass on to supernatural visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in union with Christ who, fourteen years ago?whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know; God knows?was caught away as such to the third heaven. . . . he was caught away into paradise and heard unutterable words which it is not lawful for a man to speak."?2 Cor. 12:1-4.

    It therefore appears that the reference to the "third heaven" relates to the spiritual heavens and indicates the superlative degree of the rapture in which this vision was seen. In this regard, one can note the way words and expressions are repeated three times at Isaiah 6:3, Ezekiel 21:27, John 21:15-17 and Revelation 4:8, evidently for the purpose of expressing an intensification of the quality or idea.

    Caught away to the "third heaven," the vision-viewer entered "paradise" and heard unutterable words. A key to understanding Paul?s description of the vision is found in the prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures that relate to the restoration of God?s ancient people. Throughout many of the prophetic books of the Bible divine promises are found regarding the restoration of Israel from the lands of its exile to its desolated homeland. God would cause that abandoned land to be tilled and sown, to produce richly and to abound with humankind and animalkind; the cities would be rebuilt and inhabited and people would say: "That land yonder which was laid desolate has become like the garden of Eden."?Ezek. 36:6-11, 29, 30, 33-35; compare Isaiah 51:3; Jeremiah 31:10-12; Ezekiel 34:25-27.

    However, these prophecies also show that paradise conditions related to the people themselves. By faithfulness to God, they could now "sprout" and flourish as "trees of righteousness," enjoying beautiful spiritual prosperity like a "well-watered garden," showered by bounteous blessings from God due to having his favor. (Isa. 58:11; 61:3, 11; Jer. 31:12; 32:41) The people of Israel had been God?s vineyard, his planting, but their badness and apostasy from true worship had caused a figurative ?withering away? of their spiritual field, even before the literal desolation of their land took place.?Compare Exodus 15:17; Isaiah 5:1-8; Jeremiah 2:21.

    Thus the paradise envisioned by the apostle Paul could refer to a spiritual state among God?s people, as in the case of fleshly Israel. This can be seen from the fact that the Christian congregation was also God?s "field under cultivation," his spiritual vineyard, rooted in Jesus Christ and bearing fruit to God?s praise. (1 Cor. 3:9; John 15:1-8) As such it had replaced the nation of Israel in God?s favor.?Compare Matthew 21:33-43.

    Paul?s vision, nevertheless, must logically have applied to some future time. An apostasy was due to set in among the Christian congregation, was already working in Paul?s day, and would result in a condition like that of a field oversown with weeds. (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43; Acts 20:29; 2 Thess. 2:3, 7; compare Hebrews 6:7, 8.) So, Paul?s paradise vision would not reasonably apply while such was the case. Rather, it would evidently relate to the time of the "harvest season" when the genuine Christians would be gathered by the angelic reapers and would enjoy rich blessings and spiritual prosperity from God.

    The anointed footstep followers of Jesus Christ who are living today are indeed enjoying a spiritual paradise, as can be seen from the spiritual prosperity now evident among them. In fact, the spiritual prosperity today under God?s established kingdom is more glorious than that enjoyed during the apostolic days, the initial period of Christianity. Sharing in today?s spiritual prosperity are the "great crowd" of "other sheep" who look forward to enjoying a literal paradise here on the earth in the near future.?Rev. 21:1-4.

    (Paul was talking about himself)

    *** Watchtower 59 2/1 pp. 69-70 Paradise ***


    "He was caught away into paradise and heard unutterable words which it is not lawful for a man to speak."?2 Cor. 12:4.

    WHEN something as grand and lovely as an Oriental Persian garden has been revealed by the fulfillment of divine prophecy, then it becomes lawful and timely for us to speak about it. Man can then speak about it with certainty, upon the solid ground of plain facts. Today, after nineteen centuries from when the apostle Paul mentioned it to the Christian congregation in Corinth, Greece, we can speak understandingly about the wonderful thing revealed to him. When submitting proof to the Corinthian Christians that he was an apostle of Jesus Christ, Paul said:

    2 "I have to boast. It is not beneficial, but I shall pass on to supernatural visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in union with Christ who, fourteen years ago?whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know; God knows?was caught away as such to the third heaven. Yes, I know such a man?whether in the body or apart from the body, I do not know, God knows?that he was caught away into paradise and heard unutterable words which it is not lawful for a man to speak. Over such a man I will boast, . . . I shall not be unreasonable, for I shall say the truth . . . just because of the excess of the revelations."?2 Cor. 12:1-7.

    3 Fourteen years before Paul wrote those words would fall about the year 41 (A.D.), or at least five years after he was converted from Judaism to Christianity by means of a miraculous vision in which he saw some of the blinding glory of the resurrected Jesus Christ in heaven. Telling about it before the Roman governor Festus and King Agrippa II and others in the stately group of people in the official audience chamber in Caesarea, Paul solemnly said:

    4 "Amid these efforts as I was traveling to Damascus with authority and a commission from the chief priests, I saw at midday on the road, O king, a light beyond the brilliance of the sun flash from heaven about me and about those traveling with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground I heard a voice say to me in the Hebrew language: ?Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? To keep kicking against the goads makes it hard for you.? But I said: ?Who are you, Lord?? And the Lord said: ?I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. Nevertheless, rise and stand on your feet. For to this end I have made myself visible to you, in order to choose you as an attendant and a witness both of things you have seen and things I shall make you see respecting me? . . . Wherefore, King Agrippa, I did not become disobedient to the heavenly sight, but both to those in Damascus first and to those in Jerusalem, and over all the country of Judea, and to the nations I went bringing the message that they should repent and turn to God by doing works that befit repentance."?Acts 26:12-20.

    5 That vision was no daydream, no mere imagination or hallucination. It was so true that Paul took it most seriously and did not disobey its message to him. For proving obedient to the vision to the end of his life he died a martyr?s death. Equally so, Paul wrote in all seriousness about the supernatural visions and revelations that the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven gave to him. We may be sure, then, of one thing: We are not wasting time with a mere hallucination when we consider the supernatural vision to which the man personally known to Paul was caught away, to see paradise and hear unutterable words, which it was not then lawful for a man to speak. Rather we are using time to come to an understanding.

    6 The man favored with such a supernatural vision was doubtless the apostle Paul himself, for no one else has told us about this experience that happened about A.D. 41. Paul, however, was not the only man to whom Jesus Christ made a disclosure about a paradise. Well before Paul became a Christian there was a man to whom Jesus spoke about paradise. This occurred in the year 33 (A.D.), on the Jews? Passover day, at Calvary, outside the walls of Jerusalem.

  • ozziepost

    Such bizarre interpretations would not be unusual for the so-called "channel" in Crooklyn.

    As for it referring to Paul - well, be careful of those who make bold assertions; what he writes is: "I know a man", so he doesn't say it was him.

  • Leolaia

    The interpretations are indeed bizarre and betray an ignorance of late Jewish cosmology, which repeatedly located Paradise in heaven (cf. Testament of Abraham 11:1-10; 4 Ezra 4:7-8; 2 Baruch 4:6, 51:7-11; Life of Adam and Eve 25:3, 42:4; compare Revelation 21-22), or specifically in third heaven (cf. 2 Enoch 8:1-7; Apocalypse of Moses 37:5). This "Paradise" was not some vague notion of a wonderful "paradise earth," but nothing less than the original Garden of Eden which had been preserved in heaven, which currently exists as the abode of Enoch, Elijah, and other OT saints, and which would be revealed as the abode of the righteous at the end of the age. Thus we read in Jewish apocalyptic literature:

    "And the men took from there. They brought me up to the third heaven. And they placed me in the midst of Paradise. And that place has an apperance of pleasantness that has never been seen. Every tree was in full flower. Every fruit was ripe, every food was in yield profusely; every fragrance was pleasant. And the four rivers were flowing past with gentle movement, with every kind of garden producing every kind of good food. And the tree of life is in that place, under which the Lord takes a rest when the Lord takes a walk in Paradise. And that tree is indescribable for pleasantness of fragrance" (2 Enoch 8:1-3).
    "And he shall open the gates of Paradise; he shall remove the sword that has threatened since Adam, and he will grant the saints to eat of the tree of life. The spirit of holiness shall be upon them, and Beliar shall be bound by him" (Testament of Levi 18:10-12).
    "To him who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God....I saw the holy city, and the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven...Then the angel showed me the river of life, rising from the throne of God and of the Lamb [in heaven] and flowing crystal-clear down the middle of the city street. On either side of the river were the trees of life, which bear twelve crops of fruit a year, one in each month, and the leaves of which are the cure of the pagans" (Revelation 2:7; 21:2; 22:1-2).
    "And he shall take from Beliar the captives, the souls of the saints; and he shall turn the hearts of the disobedient ones to the Lord, and grant eternal peace to those who call upon him. And the saints shall refresh themselves in Eden; the righteous shall rejoice in New Jerusalem, which shall be eternally for the glorification of God" (Testament of Dan 5:11-12).

    In light of this well-attested concept in the contemporary literature, it is clear that Paul is here describing a vision involving a rapture into heaven, witnessing the indescribable things of Paradise -- a rapture rather reminiscent of that of Enoch who was taken up into heaven in the body, but who was "extracted from his earthly clothing" when he entered the highest heaven (2 Enoch 22:8). It is not necessary to interpret 2 Corinthians 12 as referring to a vision of the future since the Paradise of Eden continues to exist in heaven before the throne of God.

    As to whether Paul was referring to himself or someone else in the passage in 2 Corinthians 12, it is true he prefaces the vision by saying "I know a man in Christ," but the whole experience is related within a discussion of boasting of Paul's own experiences (ch. 11), and the fact that Paul related "these revelations" (tón apokalupseón) in v. 7 to his own physical infirmity ("the thorn in the flesh") and interpreted his infirmity as preventing him "from getting too proud" about the visions indicates that he was indeed referring to his own experiences. It is generally thought that Paul's description of the vision in the third person was a rhetorical device designed to undercut a claim that he was boasting, since he was on the surface speaking of someone other than himself when he was really reporting his own experiences. Otherwise, what relevance was there about talking about someone else's experiences in this text? He was here trying to respond to the criticisms of his opponents, which specifically included a criticism of "weakness" and a criticism of "ambition" (10:1-18). His "weakness" or frailty in the flesh is rationalized in 12:7-10 as a hidden benefit which prevents him from getting proud from having "visions and revelations". He only mentions the visions to explain why he has this "weakness" that others criticize. But he is at pains to not boast about the visions, and talks about it in a way that distances them from himself. For Paul, he would rather boast about his weakness than his spiritual strengths (11:30). By doing so, he contrasts himself with the "super-apostles" opposing him who freely boast about themselves (11:12).

  • ellderwho

    This is good stuff. (holding me belly as I chuckle at the bafoonary of brooklyn)

  • Mary
    Leolaili said: it is clear that Paul is here describing a vision involving a rapture into heaven, witnessing the indescribable things of Paradise -- a rapture rather reminiscent of that of Enoch who was taken up into heaven in the body, but who was "extracted from his earthly clothing" when he entered the highest heaven

    Exactly...........Enoch was literally taken away and raptured to heaven and Paul obviously was seeing incredible things on his trip to the Third Heaven . I can't believe they actually expect anyone to believe that Paul was seeing visions of the "spiritual Paradise" that the Borg thinks they're in today.

    Then again, it would make perfect sense if he was seeing the Pedophile Paradise where he "..heard unutterable words which it is not lawful for a man to speak.?

  • kj

    How can anyone take this crap seriously?


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