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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

2 Corinthians 12

Verse 1

Revelations [αποκαλυψεις] . See on Revelation 1:1.

Verse 2

l knew [οιδα] . Rev., correctly, I know.

Above fourteen years ago [προ ετων δεκατεσσαρων] . Above, of A. V., is due to a misunderstanding of the Greek idiom. Lit., before fourteen years, that is, fourteen years ago, as Rev.

Caught up [αρπαγεντα] . Compare Dante :

"Thou knowest, who didst lift me with thy light" " Paradiso, " 1, 75.

The verb suits the swift, resistless, impetuous seizure of spiritual ecstasy. See on Matthew 11:12; and compare Acts 8:39; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Revelation 12:5.

Third heaven. It is quite useless to attempt to explain this expression according to any scheme of celestial gradation. The conception of seven heavens was familiar to the Jews; but according to some of the Rabbins there were two heavens - the visible clouds and the sky; in which case the third heaven would be the invisible region beyond the sky. Some think that Paul describes two stages of his rapture; the first to the third heaven, from which he was borne, as if from a halting - point, up into Paradise.

Verse 4

Paradise. See on Luke 23:43.

Unspeakable words [αρρητα ρηματα] . An oxymoron, speaking which may not be spoken.

Verse 7

Abundance [υπερβολη] . Rev., more correctly, the exceeding greatness. Thorn [σκολοψ] . Only here in the New Testament. Frequent in classical Greek in the sense of a pale or stake. It occurs once in Euripides, meaning a stump (" Bacchae, "983). It is a stake for a palisade, or for impaling; a surgical instrument; the point of a fish - hook. In the Septuagint it occurs three times, translated thorn in Hosea 2:6, where, however, it is distinguished from ajkanqaiv thorns; brier in Ezekiel 28:24, and prick in Numbers 33:55. Nine different Hebrew words are rendered by thorn, for which, in the great majority of cases, Septuagint gives akanqa. The rendering thorn for skoloy has no support. The figure is that of the impaling stake. Herodotus, alluding to this punishment, uses ajnaskolopizein (i., 128; 3, 132). In the ninth book of his history, Lampon says to Pausanias :" When Leonidas was slain at Thermopylae, Xerxes and Mardonius beheaded and crucified [ανεσταυρωσαν] him. Do thou the like by Mardonius.... for by crucifying [ανασκολοπισας] thou wilt avenge Leonidas " (ix., 78). The verb seems, therefore, to have been used interchangeably with crucify; and clear instances of this occur in Philo and Lucian.

At least one text of the Septuagint gives ajnaskolopizw in Esther 7:10, of Haman's being hanged. 159 See further, on Galatians 2:20. The explanations of the peculiar nature of this affliction are numerous. Opinions are divided, generally, between mental or spiritual and bodily trials. Under the former head are sensual desires, faint - heartedness, doubts, temptations to despair, and blasphemous suggestions from the devil. Under the latter, persecution, mean personal appearance, headache, epilepsy, earache, stone, ophthalmia. It was probably a bodily malady, in the flesh; but its nature must remain a matter of conjecture. Very plausible reasons are given in favor of both epilepsy and ophthalmia. Bishop Lightfoot inclines to the former, and Archdeacon Farrar thinks that it was almost certainly the latter.

Messenger of Satan [αγγελος σαταν] . The torment is thus personified. Messenger is the word commonly rendered angel in the New Testament, though sometimes used of human messengers, as Luke 7:24, Luke 7:27; Luke 9:52; James 2:25; see also on the angels of the churches, Revelation 1:20. Messenger and Satan are not to be taken in apposition - a messenger who was Satan - because Satan is never called aggelov in the New Testament. Messenger is figurative, in the sense of agent. Satan is conceived in the New Testament as the originator of bodily evil. Thus, in the gospel narrative, demoniac possession is often accompanied with some form of disease. Compare Luke 13:16; Acts 10:38, and see on 1 Corinthians 5:5.

Buffet [κολαφιζη] . Connect with messenger, which better suits depart; not with thorn, which would be a confusion of metaphor, a stake buffeting. For the verb, meaning to strike with the fist, see Matthew 26:67; Mark 14:65; 1 Peter 2:20. Compare Job 2:5, Job 2:7, where the Septuagint has ayai touch, and epaise smote.

Verse 8

For this thing [υπερ τουτου] . Rev., concerning this thing. But it is better to refer this to messenger : concerning this or whom. For, of A. V., is ambiguous.

Verse 9

He said [ειρηκεν] . Rev., correctly, He hath said. The force of the perfect tense is to be insisted on. It shows that the affliction was still clinging to Paul, and that there was lying in his mind when he wrote, not only the memory of the incident, but the sense of the still abiding power and value of Christ 's grace; so that because the Lord hath said "my grace," etc., Paul can now say, under the continued affliction, wherefore I take pleasure, etc., for Christ 's sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong. A more beautiful use of the perfect it would be difficult to find in the New Testament.

My strength. The best texts omit my, thus turning the answer into a general proposition : strength is perfected in weakness; but besides the preeminent frigidity of replying to a passionate appeal with an aphorism, the reference to the special power of Christ is clear from the words power of Christ, which almost immediately follow. Compare 1 Corinthians 2:3, 1 Corinthians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 4:7; Hebrews 11:34. Rev., rightly, retains my italicized. May rest upon [επισκηνωση] . Only here in the New Testament. The simple verb skhnow to dwell in a tent is used by John, especially in Revelation. See on John 1:14. The compound verb here means to fix a tent or a habitation upon; and the figure is that of Christ abiding upon him as a tent spread over him, during his temporary stay on earth.

For Christ 's sake. This may be taken with all the preceding details, weaknesses, etc., endured for Christ 's sake, or with I take pleasure, assigning the specific motive of his rejoicing : I take pleasure for Christ 's sake.

Verse 11

I am become a fool in glorying. Ironical. By the record I have presented I stand convicted of being foolish.

I ought to have been commended of you. You ought to have saved me the necessity of recounting my sufferings, and thus commending myself as not inferior to those preeminent apostles (ch. 11 5).

Verse 12

Signs [σημεια] . See on Matthew 24:24. Stanley observes that the passage is remarkable as containing (what is rare in the history of miracles) a direct claim to miraculous powers by the person to whom they were ascribed. Compare 1 Corinthians 2:4; Romans 14:19.

Were wrought [κατειργασθη] . The testimony was decisive. They were fully wrought out.

Verse 13

Except that I was not a burden. Alluding to the possible objection that his refusal to receive pay was a sign either of his want of power to exact it, or of his want of affection for them (ch. 11 7).

Forgive, etc. Ironical.

Verse 15

Be spent [εκδαπανηθησομαι] . Only here in the New Testament. To spend utterly. Later Greek writers use the simple verb dapanaw to expend, of the consumption of life.

Verse 16

With guile. Alluding to a charge that he availed himself of the collection for the poor to secure money for himself. He uses his adversaries ' words.

Verse 20

Strifes [εριθειαι] . Rev., better, factions. See on James 3:14. Wraths [θυμοι] For the plural, compare deaths, ch. 11 33; drunkennesses, Galatians 5:21; bloods, John 1:13 (see note); the willings of the flesh, Ephesians 2:3; mercies, Philippians 2:1. Excitements or outbursts of wrath.

Whisperings [ψιθυρισμοι] . Psithurismoi, the sound adapted to the sense. Only here in the New Testament. Secret slanders. In Sept., Ecclesiastes 10:11, it is used of the murmuring of a snake - charmer. 161 Yiquristhv whisperer, occurs Romans 1:29.

Swellings [φυσιωσεις] . Only here in the New Testament. Conceited inflation. For the kindred verb fusiaw to puff up, see on 1 Corinthians 4:6.

Tumults [ακαταστασιαι] . See on ch. 2 Corinthians 6:5.

Verse 21

Among you [προς υμας] . Better, as Rev., before. In my relation to you.

Shall bewail [πενθησω] . Lament with a true pastor 's sorrow over the sin.

Many [πολλους] . With special reference to the unchaste.

Sinned - already [προημαρτηκοτων] . Rev., heretofore. Only here and ch. 13 2. The perfect tense denotes the continuance of the sin. Heretofore probably refers to the time before his second visit.

Have not repented [μη μετανοησαντων] . The only occurrence of the verb in Paul 's writings. Metanoia repentance, occurs only three times : Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:9, 2 Corinthians 7:10.

Of the uncleanness [επι τη ακαθαρσια] . Connect with bewail, not with repent. There are no examples in the New Testament of the phrase metanoein ejpi to repent over, though such occur in the Septuagint. Lasciviousness [ασελγεια] . See on Mark 7:22.

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Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 12". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/vnt/2-corinthians-12.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.