2 Corinthians 12-13: Paul Is Caught Up into the Third Heaven

New Testament: Student Study guide, (2003), 130


Paul wrote that he was “caught up to the third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2)—the celestial kingdom. In 1836 the Prophet Joseph Smith also had a vision of the celestial kingdom. He wrote:“I saw the transcendent beauty of the gate through which the heirs of that kingdom will enter, which was like unto circling flames of fire;“Also the blazing throne of God, whereon was seated the Father and the Son.“I saw the beautiful streets of that kingdom, which had the appearance of being paved with gold” (D&C 137:2–4).

Understanding the Scriptures

2 Corinthians 12

Unspeakable (v. 4)Indescribable, perhaps too holy to be talked about 
Buffet (v. 7)Mistreat 
Bewail (v. 21)Mourn for 
Lasciviousness (v. 21)Unbridled lust 

2 Corinthians 12:2—Paul Sees the Celestial Kingdom

Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “Speaking of himself, Paul says he was ‘caught up to the third heaven,’ which is the celestial kingdom” (The Mortal Messiah, 4:394).

2 Corinthians 12:7—“A Thorn in the Flesh”

Neither the scriptures nor modern revelation tells us what “thorn in the flesh” afflicted or tormented Paul. Many believe Paul was afflicted with a physical disability that hindered his missionary labors.

2 Corinthians 13

Reprobates (v. 5)Those who are unworthy or fail the test 
To edification, and not to destruction (v. 10)To strengthen you, and not to condemn you 

2 Corinthians 13:1—“Two or Three Witnesses”

God always provides more than one witness to support His words. This is called the law of witnesses (see 2 Nephi 11:3–4; D&C 6:28). Even today priesthood ordinances must be performed with more than one witness present.

2 Corinthians 13:12—“Greet One Another with an Holy Kiss”

The Joseph Smith Translation changes the word kiss to salutation, meaning a warm greeting.

Studying the Scriptures

Do activities A and B as you study 2 Corinthians 12–13.

Activity A iconUnlock the Scriptures

Read the following pairs of scriptures and explain how the first scripture helps you better understand Paul’s teachings in the second scripture:

  1. 1.

    Doctrine and Covenants 137:1–5 and 2 Corinthians 12:1–4

  2. 2.

    Ether 12:27 and 2 Corinthians 12:5–10

Activity B iconChoose a Favorite Verse

As you read 2 Corinthians 13, choose a verse that stands out to you as being very important. Write that verse in your notebook and tell why you chose it.