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440 A.D.?:  An alleged description of Paul's visit to the Third Heaven.

 

  In the Bible, in 2nd Corinthians Chapter 12, Paul the Apostle speaks briefly, one time, of being snatched up bodily to the 3rd Heaven in either his body or in a vision (he is unsure it seems) to be shown amazing things which he does not discuss in detail in the Bible.  In fact, he is not allowed to speak of at least part of it, perhaps all of it:

  "I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 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. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations."

End Quote

  So Christians do not learn much about the details of Pauls vision or visit.  But in a book called 'The Ante-Nicene Fathers' , which I ran into at (  http://www.gnosis.org/library/visionpaul.htm  )  when looking for something else, there is a story told (whether it is true or not, who can say?) that begins roughly as follows (I am just summarizing): 

  A man living in Tharsus (the town where Paul the Apostle was from is usually written in English as Tarsus, but same city)  receives a vision from an angel that he should dig beneath his house to look for something.  It turns out that he lives in the house once lived in by the Apostle Paul about 375 years earlier, plus or minus a few decades, based on the reign of Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius Augustus the Younger, who is about to be spoken of.  When he does so he finds a mysterious box sealed with lead.  Fearing to open it, he takes it to the local judge.  The local judge takes it to the Byzantine Emperor, Theodosius Augustus the Younger, (408 A.D. to 450 A.D.) who opens it.  Inside it is Paul's account of what happened, and what he heard and saw when he was snatched up to heaven. 

  This excerpt below is only a small portion of the alleged description of Paul's vision, and in other portions of this text that I didn't include Paul is told and shown some things which he is not allowed to speak of to others, so in that respect it does not necessarily conflict with 2 Corinthians 12 where Paul mentions things that 'no one is permitted to tell'.  This text has him seeing some things that he is not warned to keep quiet about, and some things that he is told not to speak of.   

  I don't support 'gnosticism', just the Bible, but I sometimes read writings about Christian subjects from outside the Bible.  I know people who say not to do that, and they may be right.  So, this is just a writing, maybe you don't want to read it, and I'm not endorsing it.  Since I did not even know that there was any alleged account of this I was curious and read it.  I did not make up my mind about whether it was true or not, and even if I had it would only be an opinion.  Also, it takes most of an hour to read it.  But, there were a couple of interesting sections.  One was about some of the specific punishments that the souls of deceased sinners-in-waiting are enduring as they wait for the day of the Lord's judgement.  One particular part caught my attention because as best I remember it is the only ancient description I have found about specific punishments that the men and women who kill their own babies must endure. 

  Abortion is a sin that we can repent of, and even infanticide is too I think.  The only sin that we are told that we cannot be forgiven of is mocking the Holy Spirit.  These sins like abortion and infanticide, bad as they are, are just another example of ugly soul-destroying sin, so if you are a man or woman involved in aborting or purposely killing your children, repent and take it to the Lord.  There can be mercy if your heart is truly repentant, as I understand the scriptures.  The same for the murderer of grown men, for the adulterer, for the thief.  Through Jesus, there can be forgiveness. 

  But, here is an excerpt that mentions the ALLEGED fate of the unrepentant killer of infants or apparently of the killers of the just born.  It lets us know, if there was any reason to doubt, that God has strong feelings against it (presuming that this account really is of the vision and so is accurate, which it may or may not be).  So here is a portion of the writing.  Paul is speaking, describing the punishments of various sorts of sinners that an angel is showing him:    

From 'The Ante-Nicene Fathers', Volume 10

Begin quote:

37. And I saw another multitude of pits in the same place, and in the midst of it a river full of a multitude of men and women,26 and worms27 consumed them. But I lamented and sighing asked the angel and said: Sir, who are these? And he said to me: These are those who exacted interest28 on interest and trusted in their riches and did not hope in God that He was their helper.

And after that I looked and saw another place, very narrow, and it was like a wall, and fire round about it. And I saw inside men and women gnawing29 their tongues, and I asked: Sir, who are these. And he said to me: These are they who in church disparage the Word of God, not attending to it, but as it were make naught of God and His angels: for that cause they now likewise pay the proper penalty.

38. And I observed and saw another old man down in a pit and his countenance was like blood, and I asked and said, Sir, what is this place? And he said to me: Into that pit stream all the punishments. And I saw men and women immersed up to the lips and I asked, Sir, who are these? And he said to me: These are the magicians who prepared for men and women evil magic arts and did not find how to stop them till they died.

And again I saw men and women with very black faces in a pit of fire,30 and I sighed and lamented and asked, Sir, who are these? And he said to me: These are fornicators and adulterers who committed adultery having wives of their own: likewise also the women committed adultery having husbands of their own: therefore they unceasingly suffer penalties.

39. And I saw there girls having black31 raiment, and four terrible angels having in their hands burning chains, and they put them on the necks of the girls and led them into darkness: and I, again weeping, asked the angel: Who are these, Sir? And he said to me: These are they who, when they were virgins, defiled their virginity unknown to their parents; for which cause they unceasingly pay the proper penalties.

And again I observed there men and women with hands cut and their feet placed naked in a place of ice and snow, and worms devoured them. But seeing them I lamented and asked: Sir, who are these? And he said to me: These are they who harmed orphans and widows and the poor,32 and did not hope in the Lord, for which cause they unceasingly pay the proper penalties.

And I observed and saw others hanging over a channel of water, and their tongues were very dry, and many fruits were placed in their sight, and they were not permitted to take of them, and I asked: Sir, who are these? And he said to me: These are they who break their fast33 before the appointed hour, for this cause they unceasingly pay these penalties.

And I saw other men and women hanging by their eyebrows and their hair,34 and a fiery river drew them, and I said: Who are these, my Lord? And he said to me:35 These are they who join themselves not to their own husbands and wives but to whores, and therefore they unceasingly pay the proper penalties.

And I saw other men and women covered with dust, and their countenance was like blood, and they were in a pit of pitch and sulphur and running down into a fiery river, and I asked: Sir, who are these?36 And he said to me: These are they who committed the iniquity of Sodom and Gomorrah, the male with the male, for which reason they unceasingly pay the penalties.

40. And37 I observed and saw men and women clothed in bright garments, having their eyes blind, placed in a pit, and I asked: Sir, who are these? And he said to me: These are of the people who did alms, and knew not the Lord God, for which reason they unceasingly pay the proper penalties. And I observed and saw other men and women on an obelisk of fire, and beasts tearing them in pieces, and they were not allowed to say, Lord have pity on us! And I saw the angel38 of penalties putting heavy punishments on them and saying: Acknowledge the Son of God; for this was predicted to you, when the divine Scriptures were read to you, and you did not attend; for which cause God's judgment is just, for your actions have apprehended you and brought you into these penalties. But I sighed and wept, and I asked and said: Who are these men and women who are strangled in fire and pay their penalties? And he answered me: These are women who defiled the image of God when bringing forth infants out of the womb, and these are the men who lay with them. And their infants addressed the Lord God and the angels who were set over the punishments, saying:39 Cursed be the hour to our parents, for they defiled the image of God, having the name of God but not observing His precepts: they gave us for food to dogs and to be trodden down of swine: others they threw into the river. But their infants40 were handed over to the angels of Tartarus who were set over the punishments, that they might lead them to a wide place of mercy: but their fathers and mothers were tortured in a perpetual punishment.

And after that I saw men and women clothed with rags full of pitch and fiery sulphur, and dragons were coiled about their necks and shoulders and feet, and angels having fiery horns restrained them and smote them, and closed their nostrils, saying to them: Why did ye not know the time in which it was right to repent and serve God, and did not do it? And I asked: Sir, who are these? And he said to me: These are they who seem to give up the world for God,41 putting on our garb, but the impediments of the world made them wretched, not maintaining agapae , and they did not pity widows and orphans: they did not receive the stranger and the pilgrim, nor did they offer the oblations, and they did not pity their neighbour. Moreover their prayer did not even on one day ascend pure to the Lord God, but many impediments of the world detained them, and they were not able to do right in the sight of God, and the angels enclosed them in the place of punishments. Moreover they saw those who were in punishments and said to them: We indeed when we lived in the world neglected God, and ye also did likewise: as we also truly when we were in the world knew that ye were sinners. But ye said: These are just and servants of God, now we know why ye were called by the name of the Lord: for which cause they also pay their own penalties.

And sighing I wept and said: Woe unto men, woe unto sinners! why were they born? And the angel answered and said unto me: Why dost thou lament?42 Art thou more pitiful than the Lord God who is blessed forever, who established judgment and sent forth every man to choose good and evil in his own will and do what pleases him? Then I lamented again very greatly, and he said to me: Dost thou lament when as yet thou hast not seen greater punishments? Follow me and thou shalt see seven times greater than these.

End Quote

  It is certainly food for thought.  The Bible tells us that Jesus can save the soul of a repentant sinner.  But the same scriptures sometimes seem to tell us that no sin goes unpunished.  So, is our soul ultimately saved if we are Jesus' servant, but not before we are 'salted with fire'?  I admit that these are things I am still trying to understand.  But this much I understand:  it is wise for us to avoid all sin.  Any sin might be judged as one sin too many.

Hello,

  My name is Dan Curry and I just wanted to make brief mention of something to you, if you will in spare a minute. 

  I personally believe that realizing how many great deeds of God have actually occurred through out history will lead some people to be saved giving their life to Christ.  If you agree, then please, take the time to be a 'missionary', to love your neighbor enough to care about their soul.  Please mention and recommend visiting the Deeds of God website on any social media sites that you belong to.  Tell a favorite account to your friends or family, and tell them where you read it.  To know God is to stand in awe of Him, but too few people know Him today.  Accounts like these are yet another way to come to know Jesus and the Holy Father, and the Spirit of Truth that helps us understand.  Thank you.  Dan Curry

 

 

 

 

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