Jewish and Christian beliefs and Pauline descriptions of heavenly and ecclesiological realities provide support for a possible explanation for Paul's supernatural experience in 2 Cor 12. In this experience, Paul enters the heavenly model for the earthly temple and witnesses God and Christ enthroned and glorified in the heavenly equivalent of the holy of holies. But Paul's ecclesiology, featuring as it does the temple nature of the church and the church's union with Christ, suggests that he would have seen the church enthroned as well (Eph 2:6). Tendencies in NT visions also lend support to this interpretation. Various factors, when combined with Paul's commitment to the growth of the church as the earthly manifestation of the heavenly temple, suggest a possible link between the unspecified thorn in the flesh and Paul's cruciform, missional suffering.

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