2 Corinthians 12:3

From: James C. Clardy, Jr. (JClar100@worldnet.att.net)
Date: Tue Jun 24 1997 - 00:20:03 EDT

I'm still working on this passage from 2 Corinthians 12. Thanks to all
who sent helpful messages last week.

Now, I want to ask about verse three: "...whether in the body or out of
the body..."-- eite en swmati eite cwris tou swmatos. COULD this
construction suggest, as one scholar seems to think, that when Paul had
the unutterable experiences of the third heaven (paradise), he was
possibly literally dead (out of the body), as could have happened during
the stoning at Lystra and Derbe (Acts 14)? Some who were present
thought he was dead. At this point, I don't remember the actual dating
of the events at Lystra/Derbe or the writing of the Second Corinthian
Epistle, as that might soundly disprove such a theory.

It's clear that Paul was not sure whether at the time he was in the body
or out of the body. Perhaps we can't know either. "...God knows," to
quote Paul. But what I'm really asking is whether there is some kind of
evidence from the language which would suggest that "cwris tou swmatos"
means actual death.

I'm not trying to turn this research toward some weird theological
point, or even to personally suggest Paul had some kind of "near death
experience." However, it seems clear to me that this was no ordinary
event, or, perhaps it was. Anyway, it made an impact upon him which
that "thorn in the flesh" would never permit him to talk about.

Neither does he seem to suggest that it was an hallucination. However,
that statement probably reveals my prejudice.

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