In Chapter 12 of 2 Corinthians, the apostle Paul talks about a man who he knows, who was caught up to the third heaven about fourteen years ago. This man apparently “…was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.”
Who is this man that Paul talking about? If you read the prior chapter to get some context and then keep reading forward, you will realize that Paul is really talking about himself. One indication of this is that Paul shifts his language from speaking in the 3rd person to the 1st person.
Now here is a question: How long ago did Paul have these remarkably great experiences and receive “surpassingly great revelations”?
Ans. Fourteen years ago.
” …I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven…” ~ 2 Cor. 12:2
And another question: Why is Paul telling us this now?
Why has Paul kept silent for fourteen years? I mean should he not have written whole epistles and books on the subject matter. Why so much silence? Why just a bare paragraph’s worth of information – no details given – and all this fourteen years later! Why?
Ans. I can’t say I know 100% why, but we can gather at least this much. Part of it was this it was not God’s will that he speak of these things. Another part of it is that Paul did not regard these experiences as particularly important to the furthering of the Gospel. He simply did not think that these subjective, and if you will – mystical – experiences were anything worth talking much about or anything that would help his neighbor in some special way.
Other wise Paul would have been the last person to hold back. If one reads the New Testament and gets a feel for Paul’s personality and temperament, one will realize that Paul would have been the last person to hold back on anything that will help you get to know God better. So for me the question becomes – just how important are mystical experiences?
I opine that they are not of much value. They simply are not. At the end of the day, our most important need is salvation from our slavery to sin. This comes from the Cross.
Here is a sermon, Strength In Weakness by Kent Hughes that in part discusses said issue: