Question from Danny:
I read in 2 Corinthians 12:2 that a man was "caught up into the third heaven." What does that mean?
Answer from Pastor Bob:
Apparently Paul was speaking about a vision he himself had, and "third heaven" was an expression for being in the presence of God in heaven itself (first heaven would refer the atmosphere, second heaven would refer to the planets and stars, and third heaven would be God's presence.) Verse four says he "was caught up into paradise." Since paradise and heaven are one and the same, we can gather that "third heaven" means the same thing that we would normally call heaven.
Some religious groups teach that there are three different heavens, and that some people go to one heaven and some to another, but that is a misunderstanding of the expression in this passage.