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Because of the false teachers, Paul continued boasting, though such would not ordinarily be desirable. The visions of which he spoke would have been given by God, while revelations were used to expose truths God had not shown before. The specific vision the apostle referred to involved a man, which was Paul according to verse 7, caught up into the third heaven. The birds fly in the first heaven, stars shine in the second, and God abides in the third. Paul could not tell whether he went bodily or only in spirit. Some think the passing of fourteen years would place Paul back in Antioch ( Act_13:1-3 ). However, he may have been speaking of the stoning at Lystra ( Act_14:19-20 ). The latter would more readily explain why he could not say whether he was in or out of the body ( 2Co_12:1-3 ).
Jewish writers often used parallelism, a technique wherein they write of a matter twice using slightly different but synonymous words so the reader is sure to understand. Paradise, as used in this verse, apparently refers to the "third heaven". The purpose for this vision is unknown, though it must have helped Paul face the trials already mentioned. We do know God would not allow him to talk about it.
Verse 5 Such a man had certainly been honored and Paul could boast about the man's honor. As for himself, he would only glory in his weakness.
Verse 6 Boasting was foolish if one exaggerated his ability. Paul could boast without that, but chose to stand on his speech and actions. He did not want men to honor him for what God had given.
Verse 7 Paul could have been destroyed by pride because of what God had shown him. So, he was given a "thorn" or "stake" in the flesh which kept him form becoming overly proud. This physical condition kept him from being puffed up by spiritual revelations he had received.
Verse 8 As in the case of Jesus at Calvary, this prayer was heard and answered in the negative.
Verse 9 Not only was the answer no, God also told Paul that he would see to it that his problem did not overburden him ( 1Co_10:13 ). God further made it clear that His power was brought to its fullest use when men were weakest. Men of faith, such as Gideon, learned this fact. Therefore, Paul boasted of his weakness because that was the time God's power would be the strongest in his life.
Verse 10 Lipscomb and Shepherd say "injuries" refer to "wrong springing from violence, injury, affront, and insult, to which there are frequent allusions in this epistle" ( 2Co_1:17 ; 2Co_3:1 ; 2Co_7:8 ; 2Co_10:10 ; 2Co_11:6 ; 2Co_11:8 ; 2Co_11:16 ). The spiritual man's hours of greatest weakness are the times God's greatest strength is brought to bear in his behalf.
Verse 11 Since they would not defend him, the Corinthians forced Paul into boasting. Paul knew that he was nothing without God. Even at that, he was greater than those false teachers who set themselves up as the chiefest of apostles.
Verse 12 There had been an apostle among them, but it was Paul. He was supported in his claim by the signs Christ had promised ( Mar_16:1-20 ). These same words were used by Peter about the vents on Pentecost ( Act_2:22 ). Paul also told the Thessalonians that the "wicked" one would deceive them with things like these ( 2Th_2:9 ).
Verse 13 In fact, the church at Corinth had the same blessings and gifts as any church started by an apostle. The only thing they lacked was a demand of high wages by Paul, like the false apostles had made.
Verse 14 During his soon to come visit, Paul would again refuse pay out of a love for them as a parent for a child ( 1Co_4:14-15 ). He did not seek their money, but the salvation of their souls.
Verse 15 Like a father, he would give up all he had for the salvation of his spiritual children. He wonders if this greater love will cause them to love less.
Verse 16 Paul was willing that their love be lessened if they could benefit. Yet, his accusers claim he tricked them into paying him.
Verses 17-18. Since he had taken no money personally, they apparently accused him of using Titus and the others to take money for a false collection. Paul wants to know if Titus received wages of them or took up the collection personally. The money had, instead, been kept in the church treasury ( 1Co_16:1-2 ).
Verse 19 Instead of defending himself before them, Paul was laying out the facts in the sight of God, who is the judge. Paul had done all to teach them, as God knew.
Verse 20 Paul had worked with them and written to them so they would put away sin. He hoped he would not find them still in it when he arrived. If they were in sin, which he did not want, he would discipline them, which they did not want. Debates - quarrel, wrangling Swellings - haughtiness Tumults - instability, disorder.
Verse 21 Paul did not want to find such evil since he would be humiliated and forced to weep over those who refused to turn from their evil ways. Repentance would cause them to change their minds and ways. They should no longer be divided into factions which sinfully attacked one another.
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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 12". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17