|1 Luke 23:43||And Jesus said unto him, Truly I say to you, To day shall you be with me in paradise.|
|2 2 Corinthians 12:2-4||Caught up to the third heaven... How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.|
|3 Revelation 2:7||He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.|
Regarding these words on Paradise and the third heaven, I've compared Paulís words just below with the words in the Second Book of Enoch, part of the Jewish Apocrypha, attributed to Enoch who lived some 3,000 years prior to Paul, and a prophet quoted in the book of Jude verse 14.
Firstly, Paul's words in verses 2 - 4.
I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knows;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knows;)
How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
Now if it's not lawful (i.e. "allowable", or "what is right") then yes, much of what he heard has remained hidden.
In fact, according to the Jewish Encyclopaedia link below, these First and Second Books of Enoch were lost for years, with the First Book (or Ethiopian Enoch) discovered in 1773, and the Second Book (or Russian / Slavic Enoch) discovered in collections of text in the later part of the 19th Century. The original text is uncertain i.e. whether Enoch talked about walking with God through seven heavens or ten heavens in 3031 BC, at a time which was of course in a time before Noah's flood, well, as well as the flood changing everything, editors may well have adapted his original text. I guess these number of heavens will all become clear in God's good time :-)
But what is interesting is the comment about Paradise, yes, it's in the third heaven, and it helps explain where Paul was coming from, regarding "unspeakable words" / "inexpressible goodness".
1. And those men took me from there, and led me up on to the third heaven, and placed me there; and I looked downwards, and saw the produce of these places, such as has never been known for goodness.
2. And I saw all the sweet-flowering trees and beheld their fruits, which were sweet-smelling, and all the foods borne by them bubbling with fragrant exhalation.
3. And in the midst of the trees that of life, in that place whereon the Lord rests, when he goes up into paradise; and this tree is of inexpressible goodness and fragrance, and adorned more than every existing thing; and on all sides it is in form gold-looking and vermilion and fire-like and covers all, and it has produce from all fruits.
4. Its root is in the garden at the earthís end.
5. And paradise is between corruptibility and incorruptibility.
6. And two springs come out which send forth honey and milk, and their springs send forth oil and wine, and they separate into four parts, and go round with quiet course, and go down into the PARADISE OF EDEN, between corruptibility and incorruptibility.
7. And from there they go forth along the earth, and have a revolution to their circle even as other elements.
8. And here there is no unfruitful tree, and every place is blessed.
9. And there are three hundred angels very bright, who keep the garden, and with incessant sweet singing and never-silent voices serve the Lord throughout all days and hours.
10. And I said: How very sweet is this place, and those men said to me:
1. This place, O Enoch, is prepared for the righteous, who endure all manner of offence from those that exasperate their souls, who avert their eyes from iniquity, and make righteous judgment, and give bread to the hungering, and cover the naked with clothing, and raise up the fallen, and help injured orphans, and who walk without fault before the face of the Lord, and serve him alone, and for them is prepared this place for eternal inheritance.
Next, the place of Hades (the "unseen" place), on its northern side, -- in Hebrew, "north" literally means "unseen" or "hidden" .
1 And those two men led me up on to the Northern side, and showed me there a very terrible place, and there were all manner of tortures in that place: cruel darkness and unillumined gloom, and there is no light there, but murky fire constantly flaming aloft, and there is a fiery river coming forth, and that whole place is everywhere fire, and everywhere there is frost and ice, thirst and shivering, while the bonds are very cruel, and the angels fearful and merciless, bearing angry weapons, merciless torture, and I said:
2 Woe, woe, how very terrible is this place.
3 And those men said to me: This place, O Enoch, is prepared for those who dishonour God, who on earth practice sin against nature, which is child-corruption after the sodomitic fashion, magic-making, enchantments and devilish witchcrafts, and who boast of their wicked deeds, stealing, lies, calumnies, envy, rancour, fornication, murder, and who, accursed, steal the souls of men, who, seeing the poor take away their goods and themselves wax rich, injuring them for other menís goods; who being able to satisfy the empty, made the hungering to die; being able to clothe, stripped the naked; and who knew not their creator, and bowed to the soulless and lifeless gods, who cannot see nor hear, vain gods, who also built hewn images and bow down to unclean handiwork, for all these is prepared this place among these, for eternal inheritance.
Yes, a different world, that's for sure.
End of Report