“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 knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.”
King James Version (KJV)
12:2 I knew a man in Christ - That is, a Christian. It is plain from #2Cor 12:6|,7, that he means himself, though in modesty he speaks as of a third person. Whether in the body or out of the body I know not - It is equally possible with God to present distant things to the imagination in the body, as if the soul were absent from it, and present with them; or to transport both soul and body for what time he pleases to heaven; or to transport the soul only thither for a season, and in the mean time to preserve the body fit for its re - entrance. But since the apostle himself did not know whether his soul was in the body, or whether one or both were actually in heaven, it would be vain curiosity for us to attempt determining it. The third heaven - Where God is; far above the aerial and the starry heaven. Some suppose it was here the apostle was let into the mystery of the future state of the church; and received his orders to turn from the Jews and go to the gentiles.
2Co 12:2 I knew a man in Christ. "Know", as in the Revised Version, not "knew". He knows the man and could name him, since the man was himself. See 2Co 12:7. Above fourteen years ago this man was caught up, etc. This letter was written A.D. 57. The being caught up was then in A.D. 43. This is about the time that Paul was at Antioch with Barnabas, or at Tarsus (Ac 9:29,30). It could not have been at conversion, for that was about twenty years earlier than A.D. 57, nor could it be the trance in the temple for that was too late (Ac 22:17). Whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell. A person could then be caught up, see and hear, without his body, in Paul's view. Hence the human spirit is not material. The third heaven. A Jewish expression for that heaven which was beyond (1) the air, and (2) beyond the sun and stars; the secret place of the Almighty.