“And I know that this man—-whether in the body or apart from the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—-was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.” (2nd Corinthians 12:4)
Paul was humbly described his own vision of “paradise,” a word borrowed by the Jews from the Persian language, meaning “enclosure, garden, park” from the. The early Greek translation of the Old Testament used paradise for the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2–3. In the period between the Testaments at least some Jewish groups developed the idea of paradise as the resting place of righteous souls before the final resurrection. In the New Testament paradise is (1) where the repentant thief would join Jesus “today” after the crucifixion, (2) a renewed garden of Eden promised to the faithful (Rev. 2:7), (3) and the place to which Paul was caught up.
It was apparently the same as the “third heaven.” Paul could not describe paradise. Neither was he certain whether he had been transported bodily or whether he had had a vision or his soul had left his body. Which he meant depends on whether Paul believed in the traditional Hebrew understanding of the unity of body and soul or whether he was influenced by Greek thought and separated body and soul. Paradise is, at least, the place where departed righteous dead are present with God.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY:
Precious Abba, as well versed in the Old Testament (the Pentateuch, first five books of the Old Testament) as Paul had been taught by Jewish masters, I suspect he knew it well. The New Testament was developing, but combined with the Old and New is some aspects. Abba, Paul was highly educated, and did not discard the Old for the New Testament, instead he took what he had already been taught, and added the scriptures of the New Testament. Guide us in our own lives, that we too will gain knowledge both of the Old and New Testaments, and then help us how to interpret these scriptures to teach others. Amen
THOUGHT OF THE DAY:
“Helping others is the best way to help yourself.”
“Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. I gave yo my solemn oath and entered into a covenant wit you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine. I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you.” (Ezekiel (16:8–9)
God’s people can never claim a right to be his people. Ancestry, religious ritual, and social class are not qualifications to be God’s people. The gracious love He shows
in initiating the relationship wit us.
Marital intimacy offers appropriate language to symbolize God’s relationship to His people. Ezekiel used the sexual union to symbolize God’s establishment of covenant with Judah. In the remainder of the chapter he symbolized the infidelity of Judah by using marital and family terms. In spite of her infidelity, the covenant love of God would never be totally lost.
“The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” Jesus replied, ‘Not everyone can accept this world, but only those to whom can accept this world, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it!” (Matthew 19:10-12)
The Greek expression translated “renounced marriage” literally refers to a man who ha castrated himself. Jesus did not refer to a literal self-castration but rather to persons who abstained from sexual relations to devote their full commitment to the kingdom of God.
Jesus honored celibacy as a valid life choice just as He honored marriage in the preceding verses. A eunuch is a person physically incapable of sexual union. According to Jewish law such a eunuch could not be validly married. He further affirmed those who remain single by choice to fulfill a vocational commitment to serve for God. Jesus’ own life illustrates that commitment as does the life of Paul. The daughters of Phillip were also unmarried by religious commitment. Since marriage was the normal expectation for all people in the Hebrew faith, the Bible does not deal explicitly with singleness as a lift-style. It does offer guidelines to human wholeness that are applicable to singles as well as to married persons.
SECOND THOUGHT of the DAY:
“Now for the matters you wrote about.” It is good for a man not to marry.” I wish all man were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better o marry than to burn with passion.(1st Corinthians7:1, 7-9)
Satan tempts people to sexual sin by using the lack of self-control to lead them to immorality. Satan can take the good gift of God and lead people to use it in sinful ways. Human commitments in marriage can distract a person’s commitment to Christ. For some it is better not to marry than to get their lives so involved. On the other hand, because of he nature of human sexuality and it compelling force, marriage offers an opportunity to serve God was well.
Remaining single offers extra time for special service to God. It was Paul’s choice of life-style based on a God-given gift to live it. Most people do not have this gift. Thus, marriage is the more common life-style for God’s people. The single person must be able to avoid temptations to sexual immorality.