New Defender's Study Bible Notes
12:2 above fourteen years ago. This unique experience of Paul may have been when he was stoned to apparent death at Lystra, then recovered, possibly being miraculously resurrected from the dead (Acts 14:19-20). This is uncertain, however, and there is no other New Testament reference to this event.
12:2 in the body. Paul had already written about a future bodily rapture into heaven and also about the departure of the soul from the body into heaven (I Thessalonians 4:16-17; II Corinthians 5:6-8), so both types of events are possible. In this case he was not sure which it was. Perhaps in His visit to heaven he had encountered both men in physical bodies (e.g., the Old Testament saints raised after Christ’s resurrection—Matthew 27:52-53) and also translated souls awaiting resurrection (see notes on II Corinthians 5:1-8), and he could not be certain of his own state at the time.
12:2 third heaven. The pagans in many cases believed in seven heavens, but there is no Biblical hint of any such thing. It is possible that Paul was translated in time to the future heaven—that is, the new heaven and new earth, the first having been destroyed by water, the second by fire (II Peter 3:5-13). More likely, however, he was translated beyond the heaven of the stars and the heaven of the birds (Genesis 1:15,20) to the heaven where God’s throne is (e.g., Isaiah 14:13; Job 22:12), the heaven to which Christ ascended to the right hand of God at His throne (Mark 16:19; Ephesians 1:20).