This glorious entanglement of arms and legs, both mortal and angelic represents Saint Paul’s rapture up to the third heaven. The lower angel on the right is supporting the Apostle under the knee, while the lower angel on right, whose face is shadowed, lifts him just above the ankle. The chief angel, situated above Saint Paul, is pointing upward as if to say, “Let us go up thither.” On the slab of stone at the bottom of the painting we see the bound book of Saint Paul’s Epistles and a sword. The sword represents the Word of God preached by the Apostle; it also prefigures his martyrdom.
And I know such a man
(whether in the body, or out of the body, I know not: God knoweth):
that he was caught up into paradise,
and heard secret words,
which it is not granted to man to utter.
For such an one I will glory,
but for myself I will glory in nothing,
but in my infirmities. . .