What is the Third Heaven Mentioned by the Apostle Paul?

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.

Some have jumped to conclusions, assuming this must mean there are levels of heaven reserved only for the super spiritual. This idea is reinforced in Dante's Inferno, where the author describes 9 levels in both of his fictional heaven and hell. While the Bible does promise different rewards to believers in heaven based on their works, nowhere in scripture can you find this idea of restricted levels in heaven based on what you did in your life on earth.

"Heavens" was used in plural in the Old Testament and in Stephen's sermon to the Pharisees in Acts 7:56. Jews understood the heavens referred to the sky, outer space, and the spiritual heaven. By saying "the third heaven," Paul is making it crystal clear to the Corinthians that he's referring to the heaven where God lives.