Q: #105. What is the "third heaven" that Paul is speaking about in (2 Cor 12:2)?
A: The third heaven, also called Paradise by Paul (2 Cor 12:4), is the place where the Lord and all believers who have died are residing. If there is a third heaven, then there must be a first and second heaven, right? Yes, but this does NOT mean that there are “levels” in Heaven. The “first heaven” is simply the atmosphere surrounding the Earth, and the “second heaven” is the stars and outer space.
We don’t know exactly how it works, but the Heaven in which believers and the Lord reside is beyond our atmosphere and outer space. The Bible mentions that Jesus passed through the “heavens” (Heb 4:14), which I believe occurred at His ascension (Lk 24:51)(Heb 4:10). Stephen saw the “heavens” open up to reveal the “Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56).
In (1 Pet 5:8), it says that the “devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” The Bible also calls Satan the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2), the “prince of this world” (Jn 12:31), and the “god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4). Where is Satan roaming, and of what is he the “prince and god?” I believe this is the first and second heavens.
Satan offered Jesus all of the kingdoms of the world if He would worship him (Mt 4:8-9). Jesus never disputed that Satan could do so. Right now, Satan has the God-given ability to rule in the first and second heavens, but there will come a time when the Lord returns, and this will no longer occur.
For more on Heaven, see:
Q: #12. Will we remember people and events from Earth when we get to Heaven?
Q: #13. Will there be time in heaven?
Q: #14. Is it true that we will receive a new name in Heaven?
Q: #68. Will we work in Heaven?
Q: #189. Can people in Heaven see us?
Q: #190. Will we be able to sin in Heaven?
Q: #206. What will Heaven be like?