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Bible Commentaries

Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected Books of the Bible
2 Corinthians 12

 

 

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Introduction

Love And Concern For Corinth
- Second Corinthians Twelve -

Paul described what he did in 2 Corinthians 11:1-33 as foolish boasting. Now in 2 Corinthians 12:1-21 he wrote about a man that was caught up into the third heaven. The third heaven is called Paradise. There this man heard "unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." This took place about 14 years before. Most assume that this man was Paul himself. Likely Paul did not name himself as the man because he did not want people to think that he thought too much of himself.

Paul received a "thorn in the flesh," a "messenger of Satan" to buffet him or to keep him humble. He prayed to the Lord three times for it to be removed but it was not the Lord"s will to do so. Instead of removing the thorn God said, "My grace is sufficient for thee." Paul"s strength was made perfect in this weakness. Those that recognize their own weakness can find strength in Christ.

It should never have been necessary for Paul to do the foolish boasting because he had the "signs of an apostle." He said that his only wrong against these brethren was that he had not accepted support from them like he had from other churches. Paul closed this chapter by saying to these brethren, "I will very gladly spend and be spent for you." (2 Corinthians 12:15) He had a deep love for these brethren and he wanted to find love, faithfulness and commitment to God at Corinth.


Verses 1-6

A vision of paradise - 2 Corinthians 12:1-6 : Paul felt that there was nothing to be gained by his boasting. He said that he would only tell them about the visions and revelations that he had received from God. The Lord, by means of revelation, gave Paul truths that he would have never known otherwise. Paul told about a man that was taken up into the third heaven fourteen years ago. He did not know whether the man was in the body or not. He did not know but he knew that God knew. He was marvelously and swiftly taken or transferred from one place to another. The first heaven is the region where the birds fly. (Genesis 1:20) The second heaven is that where the sun, stars and moon are located. (Genesis 22:17) The third heaven is where God"s throne is located. (Hebrews 12:2.)

Paul told us that the man was taken up into paradise. In paradise he saw things that were too wonderful to tell. The third heaven was called paradise. The word paradise literally means "pleasure gardens." Paul said, "On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses." Paul would not be so foolish as to boast too much. He did not want anyone to think more highly of him than they should.


Verses 7-10

A thorn in the flesh - 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 : Paul said that one of Satan"s angels was sent to make him suffer terribly. He felt that the purpose of this was to keep him from becoming conceited. This messenger of Satan brought a thorn in the flesh to torment Paul. The throne is described as "something that excites severe and constant pain, probably some bodily infirmity." Paul begged the Lord three times to take the thorn in the flesh away. God"s reply was, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." God power is best seen when we are weak.

Paul realized that his strength came through his weakness. Therefore, he said that he was glad to be weak, insulted, mistreated or to have troubles and sufferings, if it is for the sake of Christ. Paul endured this suffering with the desire that good would come to his own soul and to the kingdom of God. He found strength in his own weakness.


Verses 11-13

Signs of an apostle - 2 Corinthians 12:11-13 : Paul felt that he had been forced to make a fool of himself. He knew that he was nothing. He also knew that he was not at all inferior to these super-apostles at Corinth. Paul felt that the Christians at Corinth should have been speaking up for him instead of putting him down. These brethren seemed to have taken Paul"s kindness for granted, and as a result had failed to recognize the greatness of this apostle. Paul had the evidence of an apostle and he gave all glory to God. He had worked all the powerful miracles and signs and wonders of a true apostle.

Both as an apostle and as a preacher Paul worked at Corinth with all patience. He felt that the only wrong that he had done at Corinth was by not allowing them to support him as he preached there. The Lord"s plan is that preachers should be supported by the churches with which they share the Gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:14) Concerning this he said, "Forgive me for doing you wrong."


Verses 14-21

Paul"s concern for Corinth - 2 Corinthians 12:14-21 : Paul planned a third visit to Corinth. Even then he did not want to be a burden to them. He said, "What I really want is you, and not what you have." He used this illustration to help them understand. He said, "Children are not supposed to save up for their parents, but parents are supposed to take care of their children." Paul told these brethren that he would gladly spend and be spent for their souls. He would not allow the indifference or lack of love from the Corinthians stand in the way of his love for them. Paul would keep on loving them with his time, talents and heart.

Some at Corinth were saying that it was true that Paul had not been a burden to them in their having to support him. However, they were saying that he some how tricked them so that he could make a gain of them. He wrote, "But granting that I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit." If they felt Paul had cheated them to taken advantage of them he asked them to identify the person that he used to accomplish this. Paul specifically asked if Titus or the brother that was with him had cheated them. Paul, Titus and all the brethren had behaved approximately at Corinth.

Paul did not speak the things that he did to defend himself. He did not need that. He spoke the truth for Christ and he desired to encourage these brethren. Paul did not want to come and find the brethren arguing or jealous or angry or selfish or gossiping or insulting each other. If he came and found them that way he would feel much sorrow because that would mean that they never gave up their old sins. How sad it would be for Paul if they were still doing things that were immoral, indecent, and shameful. His desire was to find the Christians loving each other and conducting themselves decently and orderly.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.

Bibliography Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 12:4". "Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/box/2-corinthians-12.html. 2014.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, September 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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