Obviously, God’s throne is not in the sky where the clouds are and the birds fly—the first heaven. Nor is it in the visible confines of outer space—the second heaven. Putting this reference together with what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians, we discern that the third heaven, then, must refer to the location of the throne of God.
The Jews spoke of three heavens. The first heaven consisted of the atmosphere where the clouds and birds were. The second heaven was where the sun, stars, and moon was. The third heaven was the dwelling place of God. When Paul said he was caught up to the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:2), he was referring to the very dwelling place of God.
How many heavens are there and what is the third heaven Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians 12: The Hebrew word for “heavens” is shamayim, it is in a plural form, meaning “heights,” “elevations.”It is found in the first verse of the Bible (Genesis 1:1; 2:1).
Paradise, or the third heaven, is the place where God is. Jesus promised to the criminal on the cross: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). They will be in the presence of God together. So ‘third heaven’ (which only appears once in the Bible) has the same meaning as how we normally use the word ‘heaven’.
What does Paul mean by the third heaven and what kind of experience did he have? Maybe the easiest and most important thing is to describe what the third heaven is not. The third heaven is not a place of merit, such as the idea of works or rewards. We will be judged and rewarded, but we will not exist in different heavens.
In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the Third Heaven is a division of Heaven in religious cosmology.In some traditions it is considered the abode of God, and in others a lower level of Paradise, commonly one of seven.
“The third heaven” mentioned at 2 Corinthians 12:2 is likely the Messianic Kingdom in the hands of Jesus Christ and the 144,000, the “new heavens.” —2 Pet. 3:13. It is “the third heaven” because the Kingdom is a superlative, an elevated, form of rulership.
So what is the third heaven? The Third Heaven. The only reference to the ‘third heaven’ in the Bible is found in 2 Corinthians 12:2 which says: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago – whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows – such a man was caught up to the third heaven.
Although the "third heaven" is not directly mentioned in the Genesis narrative, the established structure of all things is defined in Genesis 1 and, when understood, allows us to comprehend exactly where and what Paul was talking about when he mentions the "third heaven" in his letter. It also gives the reader a better understanding of John's ...
2 Corinthians 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago---whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows---such a man was caught up to the third heaven. The idea of "the third heaven" is a strange concept to us today that raises all sorts of questions.