Let’s begin by reading 2nd Corinthians 12:2: “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” (NKJV). From this verse we can clearly conclude that there are, at the very least, THREE HEAVENS. Since Paul spoke of being “caught up” we can also infer that heaven is indeed “above us” and NOT “within us.” In fact, Paul didn’t even know if he was in his body at the time that he was translated to the third heaven.

Paul also said, in verse 4, that “he was CAUGHT UP INTO PARADISE and heard inexpressible words.” It seems obvious that he is still referring to the “third heaven” here, and yet he calls it “paradise.” Now let’s read Luke 23:43, “And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise’.” In this verse the Lord was assuring the penitent thief that after he died he would be with the Him in Paradise, the same place that Paul was caught up to. So, where is Paradise? The answer lies in Luke 23:46, “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit’.” Jesus knew that after He died His spirit would return to His Father. When we put these verses together we conclude that the “third heaven,” which is called “Paradise,” is the very “dwelling place of God.”

We had mentioned that there must be at least THREE HEAVENS and it would appear, from what we’ve just seen, that there are only three, with the “third heaven” being the highest heaven. 1st Kings 8:27 would seem to confirm this: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the HIGHEST HEAVEN cannot contain You, how much less this house which I have built” (NASB). So, if the “third heaven” is the “highest heaven,” what are the other two heavens?

In Deuteronomy 11:27 we read, “Or the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens SO THAT THERE WILL BE NO RAIN and the ground will not yield its fruit” (NASB). This is obviously the ATMOSPHERIC HEAVEN which are right above the earth. This is confirmed in other verses, such as Acts 14:17: “And yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and GAVE YOU RAINS FROM HEAVEN and fruitful seasons.” Here we have the “first heaven.”

And finally, we read of the SECOND HEAVEN in the following verses: “The heavens are telling the glory of God…IN THEM he has placed a tent for THE SUN” (Psalm 19:1 & 4). “They will spread them out to THE SUN, THE MOON, AND TO ALL THE HOST OF HEAVEN” (Jeremiah 8:2).  (225.7)  (DO)