2 Corinthians 12:4
Parallel Verses
New International Version
was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.

New Living Translation
that I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell.

English Standard Version
and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.

New American Standard Bible
was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.

King James Bible
How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
was caught up into paradise. He heard inexpressible words, which a man is not allowed to speak.

International Standard Version
was snatched away to Paradise and heard things that cannot be expressed in words, things that no human being has a right even to mention.

NET Bible
was caught up into paradise and heard things too sacred to be put into words, things that a person is not permitted to speak.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Who was snatched up to Paradise and heard words that are unspeakable, because it is not authorized for a man to speak them.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
was snatched away to paradise where he heard things that can't be expressed in words, things that humans cannot put into words. I don't know whether this happened to him physically or spiritually. Only God knows.

Jubilee Bible 2000
who was caught up into paradise and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

King James 2000 Bible
How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

American King James Version
How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

American Standard Version
how that he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Douay-Rheims Bible
That he was caught up into paradise, and heard secret words, which it is not granted to man to utter.

Darby Bible Translation
that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable things said which it is not allowed to man to utter.

English Revised Version
how that he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Webster's Bible Translation
That he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Weymouth New Testament
God knows--was caught up into Paradise and heard unspeakable things which no human being is permitted to repeat.

World English Bible
how he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Young's Literal Translation
that he was caught away to the paradise, and heard unutterable sayings, that it is not possible for man to speak.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

12:1-6 There can be no doubt the apostle speaks of himself. Whether heavenly things were brought down to him, while his body was in a trance, as in the case of ancient prophets; or whether his soul was dislodged from the body for a time, and taken up into heaven, or whether he was taken up, body and soul together, he knew not. We are not capable, nor is it fit we should yet know, the particulars of that glorious place and state. He did not attempt to publish to the world what he had heard there, but he set forth the doctrine of Christ. On that foundation the church is built, and on that we must build our faith and hope. And while this teaches us to enlarge our expectations of the glory that shall be revealed, it should render us contented with the usual methods of learning the truth and will of God.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 4. - Into Paradise. Here, again, we encounter long speculations as to whether Paradise is the same as the third heaven; whether St.,Paul is referring to two visions or two parts of one vision. Such questions are clearly insoluble, and I leave them where I find them. We shall never understand this passage otherwise than in the dim and vague outline in which St. Paul has purposely left it. All that we can know from the New Testament about Paradise must be learnt from this verse and Luke 23:43 and Revelation 2:7, and it is extremely little. Unspeakable words. A figure of speech called an oxymoron. Utterances (or "things") incapable of utterance. Not lawful for a man to utter. How futile, then, must be the attempt to guess what they were, or on what subject!

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

How that he was caught up into paradise,.... Not the earthly paradise in which our first parents were; this was destroyed by the flood, and the place where it was not now to be known; and to what purpose the apostle should be carried thither cannot be guessed at; though some have thought that this is here meant: but not this, nor any place distinct from the "third" heaven, or place of the blessed, is meant; which is the sense of many of the ancients, who suppose the third heaven and paradise to be two distinct places, and that the apostle had two separate raptures. Clemens Alexandrinus (m), reads the words thus, "I knew a man in Christ caught up to the third heaven, , from thence to paradise"; and so Theophilact upon the place says, "from the third heaven he was immediately called up into paradise"; and so Oecumenius, "he was caught up unto the third heaven, and so again from thence into paradise"; and some modern writers have been inclined to think there were two raptures, and the rather inasmuch as the apostle is said to be caught "up to" the one, and caught "up into" the other, and makes use of the words "caught up" twice; or otherwise he would be guilty of a tautology, both in that and in repeating his ignorance of the manner of the rapture; to which is added, that he proposed to speak of "visions" and "revelations" in the plural number, 2 Corinthians 12:1, and afterwards calls this vision an "abundance of revelations", 2 Corinthians 12:7, but as it was at the same time that he was caught up to the third heaven, and into paradise, there being one and the same date of fourteen years ago to both; and as, in the account of the one and the other, he was equally ignorant of the manner how he was caught up, whether in the body, or out of the body; and seeing that there is no account of what he saw and heard in the third heaven, but only what he heard in paradise, which is referred to be told in the after account of this vision; and as the third heaven and paradise are one and the same place, it seems most reasonable to conclude, that not two raptures and two visions are here designed, but only one; and without any show of a vain repetition, the apostle having begun the account of this vision, might reassume what he had said, in order to give a more plain and clear account of it; and especially as there were some things he had not yet mentioned, and the whole was not easy to be understood and taken in, and the manner of it even unknown to himself; and this he might do to raise the attention the more unto it, as being something wonderful and extraordinary; besides, if his design had been to have given an account of two raptures, he would have distinguished them in a numerical way; and would have told us that he was twice caught up, as well as he afterwards says that he besought the Lord "thrice", at another time; and this would have been necessary to have prevented a mistake, of taking the one and the other for the same rapture, as is generally done; heaven is called paradise, because as the garden of Eden, which bears that name, was of God's planting, so is this made and prepared by him; as that was a delightful place, so is this; also because of Christ the tree of life, which is in the midst of it, besides an innumerable company of angels, and spirits of just men made perfect, the pure and undefiled inhabitants of it; and because of the river of divine love, of endless pleasures, the saints there are made to drink of. It was usual with the Jews to call heaven , "the garden of Eden", or paradise; and which they (n) sometimes speak of as upper and lower; the lower they suppose the souls of men are introduced into, immediately upon their dissolution; where they stay a while, and then go up to the upper paradise, the world of souls, where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are. The Jews ought not to object to the apostle's being had into paradise before his death, for they tell us of several that entered there whilst alive;

"nine (they say (o)). , "entered in their life time into the garden of Eden", or paradise; and these are they, Enoch the son of Jared, and Elijah, and the Messiah, and Eliezer the servant of Abraham, and Hiram king of Tyre, and Ebed Melec the Ethiopian, and Jabez the son of Rabbi Judah the prince, and Bethiah the daughter of Pharaoh, and Sarah the daughter of Asher; and there are some that say also (p) Rabbi Joshua ben Levi";

and in another place (q),

"four , entered into paradise; and these are they, Ben Azzai, and Ben Zoma, another, and R. Akiba;''

upon which is (r) added,

"they entered into paradise as it were by the hands of God, and they did not ascend up above really, but it seemed to them as if they ascended;''

how far this may serve to explain and illustrate the apostle's case, I leave, with this observation more concerning another use of the word paradise with them; which sometimes signifies a considerable share of knowledge of mysterious things, relating to the nature of God, angels, &c. of which Maimonides having spoken, says (s),

"these things the former wise men called "paradise", as they say, "four entered into paradise": and although they were the greatest men of Israel, and exceeding wise men, yet they had not all of them power to know and comprehend all these things clearly; and I say, that he is not fit to walk "in paradise", but he whose belly is filled with flesh and bread, and it is bread and flesh to know what is forbidden, and what is lawful, and the other precepts of a like nature;''

and again (t),

"a man that is filled with all these virtues (meaning with wisdom, and understanding, and government of the passions and appetites) is perfect in his body, as he that enters into paradise, and inclines himself to these things which are great and afar off:''

once more (u),

"the words of the tradition are comprehended in the written law, and the exposition of them in the oral law; and the things which are called paradise, are contained in the Talmud;''

this they (w) call , "the paradise of wisdom"; whether this sense and use of the word may be applied to the passage before us, and so be expressive of that large share of divine knowledge which was communicated in an extraordinary way to the apostle, may deserve some consideration: however, this is certain, that when he was caught up into paradise, he

heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter; to instance in particular things, which be then either saw or heard, as some have done, is bold and daring; as that he saw the divine Being with the eyes of his understanding, the several angelic forms, thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, and the glory and beauty of the souls of departed saints; and heard the harmonious music of each of these happy creatures; had a view of the book of life, and was shown the order and method of divine predestination; was let into the mystery of the calling of the Gentiles, and the change that will be on living saints, and heard the whole account of the dispensation of things, in the church of Christ to the end of the world: the things were unspeakable, never yet related, and so not to be known: they were such things which the apostle himself, when out of the rapture, might have but very inadequate ideas of, and such as he was not able to put into proper words and language to be understood by others; and which as he heard them not from a mere man, but from the Lord, so no mere man was able to utter them, none but he of whom he had heard them: and besides, whatever conceptions the apostle might have of them himself, and how capable soever he was of expressing them; yet they were not fit and proper to be told in the present state of things, being no part of the counsel of God relating to man's salvation, the whole of which he faithfully declares; and yet were necessary to be heard by him, in order to establish his faith in the Gospel, to animate him in his ministry, and fortify his mind against all the afflictions, reproaches, and persecutions, he was to meet with for the sake of Christ. The phrase seems to be the same with , "it is impossible to say it" (x); and of such like secret things in paradise, or the world of souls, the Jews say (y) that

continued...

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

4. unspeakable—not in themselves, otherwise Paul could not have heard them; but as the explanation states, "which it is not lawful … to utter" [Alford]. They were designed for Paul's own consolation, and not for communication to others. Some heavenly words are communicable (Ex 34:6; Isa 6:3). These were not so. Paul had not the power adequately to utter; nor if he had, would he have been permitted; nor would earthly men comprehend them (Joh 3:12; 1Co 2:9). A man may hear and know more than he can speak.

2 Corinthians 12:4 Additional Commentaries
Context
Paul's Revelation
3And I know how such a man-- whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows-- 4was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. 5On behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses.…
Cross References
Ezekiel 8:3
He stretched out what looked like a hand and took me by the hair of my head. The Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and in visions of God he took me to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the inner court, where the idol that provokes to jealousy stood.

Luke 23:43
Jesus answered him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise."

Acts 8:39
When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.

1 Corinthians 13:1
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

2 Corinthians 12:2
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know--God knows.

1 Thessalonians 4:17
After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

Revelation 12:5
She gave birth to a son, a male child, who "will rule all the nations with an iron scepter." And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.
Treasury of Scripture

How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

paradise.

Ezekiel 31:9 I have made him fair by the multitude of his branches: so that all …

Luke 23:43 And Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, To day shall you be with …

Revelation 2:7 He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches; …

lawful. or, possible.

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