Does Paul in [2 Corinthians 12:2] allude to Enoch's journey into the third heaven [2 Enoch 8-9]?

Paul claims : "I know a [man] in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven." (12:2 οἶδα ἄνθρωπον ἐν Χριστῷ πρὸ ἐτῶν δεκατεσσάρων εἴτε ἐν σώματι οὐκ οἶδα εἴτε ἐκτὸς τοῦ σώματος οὐκ οἶδα ὁ θεὸς οἶδεν ἁρπαγέντα τὸν τοιοῦτον ἕως τρίτου οὐρανοῦ)

We are told of the third Heaven in 2 Enoch 8.

[2 Enoch:8-9] Chapter 8, VIII 1 And those men took me thence, 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 ineffable 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 earth’s 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 thence 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:

Chapter 9, IX 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.

Enoch must be the one anthrōpos [man] mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:2. - Correct?

  • 1
    I wonder how this would fit in with Jesus saying 'no man has ascended into heaven' at John 3:13?
    – agarza
    Oct 5, 2021 at 17:55
  • Heaven is a dual; thus, the third heaven is basically a wordplay; Enoch did not invent it.
    – Lucian
    Oct 6, 2021 at 3:35
  • @agarza: ...except the son of man, who is in heaven. Just as John is spiritually identified with Elijah (Matthew 11:13-15, 17:12-13), who ascended into heaven, so also Christ himself is symbolically likened to Enoch, the only other human to ascend to heaven.
    – Lucian
    Oct 6, 2021 at 3:48
  • @Lucian so if both Elijah and Enoch went to heaven, as you say, then was Jesus lying at John 3:13?
    – agarza
    Oct 6, 2021 at 3:53
  • @agarza: He is comparing himself to them, as he did with John as well.
    – Lucian
    Oct 6, 2021 at 3:57

1 Answer 1


Possibly. Many people think Paul was speaking about himself as this man who was caught up to the third heaven. Paul’s style of writing does not convey that. In fact, it leaves us with the opposite impression. It appears that Paul meant just what he said–that this was someone else, not Paul.

It is interesting to note that Paul could not tell whether this man was in or out of his body during this experience. In other words, Paul was not sure whether this experience was strictly spiritual or partly physical. Sometimes it is difficult to draw a sharp line of demarcation between that which is in the spirit realm and that which is in the physical, or natural, realm. This reveals how the spirit world and the physical world are, in a sense, intermingled or coexistent.

Due to the similar wording of 2 Corinthians 12:2 (“caught up to the third heaven”) and 2 Corinthians 12:4 (“caught up into paradise”), it appears as though the third heaven and paradise are synonymous. According to Jewish tradition, the third heaven, or God’s dwelling place, was thought to be the highest of three heavens.

So because Paul seeming drew from Jewish tradition, it is possible that he was influenced by the book of Enoch. There are places in his letters that he does allude to sources outside of Torah, including Enoch, but, in this particular reference you are using, this really can not be argued exegetically in a convincing outline.

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