2Corinthians 12:1-5 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 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. Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.
‘It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory.’ Paul admits that it was not profitable for him to boast, but since it is necessary to answer his enemies at Corinth, he will continue his boasting about visions and revelations.
‘Revelations’ [Greek: apokalupsis] unveiling of things not known before and which God alone could make known.
‘Fourteen years ago’ – this takes us back to about 46 A.D., some 14 years after Christ died. Just where he saw the vision is not known.
‘In the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell.’ It could have been in the body, as in the case of Enoch, Elijah, and John (Gen. 5:24; 2Kin. 2:1-25; Rev. 4:1). The fact he did not know proves the possibility of a natural body going to heaven. It also proves that he believed in the consciousness of souls after leaving the body (5:8; Php. 1:21-24; Heb. 12:23).
‘Caught up to the third heaven’ – caught up, like in 1Thessalonians 4:16-17. Paul was not doubtful about being caught up to the third heaven. He was certain about that (12:2, 4). It was whether in the body or out of it that he was doubtful (12:2-3).
‘Third heaven’ – there are three heavens: the clouds or atmospheric heavens (Gen. 1:8; Ps. 77:17-18; 104:2-3); paradise (12:4; Luke 23:43; Rev. 2:7); and God’s heaven (Gen. 1:1; Isa. 14:12-14; 66:1; Rev. 21:2, 10).
‘Unspeakable words’ – this simply means that human lips and tongues could not express them. They were too sacred to repeat.
‘It is not lawful for a man to utter’ Paul may have been forbidden to utter these words like John was commanded to seal up and write not what the seven thunders uttered (Rev. 10:4).
‘Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory’ – again he repeats that he will not glory in himself and his attainments, but in his infirmities and other experiences suffered for Christ (12:1, 5; 11:30).