2 Corinthians 12:1-21 NIV
Paul’s Vision and His Thorn
1I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
9But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My Power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul’s Concern for the Corinthians
11I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,”a even though I am nothing. 12I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles. 13How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!
14Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less? 16Be that as it may, I have not been a burden to you. Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery! 17Did I exploit you through any of the men I sent to you? 18I urged Titus to go to you and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not walk in the same footsteps by the same Spirit?
19Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening. 20For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. 21I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.
This chapter contains the following subjects.
1. Paul appeals to another evidence that he was engaged in the apostolic office - an evidence to which none of his accusers could appeal - that he had been permitted to behold the glories of the heavenly world, 2 Corinthians 11:1-10.
In the previous chapter he had mentioned his trials. Here he says 2 Corinthians 12:1, that as they had compelled him to boast, he would mention the revelation which he had had of the Lord. He details, therefore, the remarkable vision which he had had several years before 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, when he was caught up to heaven, and permitted to behold the wonders there, yet he says, that lest such an extraordinary manifestation should exalt him above measure, he was visited with a special trial - a trial from which he prayed earnestly to be delivered, but that he received answer that the grace of God would be sufficient to support him, 2 Corinthians 12:5-9. It was in view of this, he says 2 Corinthians 12:10 that he had pleasure in infirmities and sufferings in the cause of the Redeemer.
2. He then 2 Corinthians 12:11-12 sums up what he had said; draws the conclusion that he had given every sign or evidence that he was an apostle; that in all that pertained to toil, and patience, and miracles, he had shown that he was commissioned by the Savior; though he said he was nothing.
3. He then expresses his purpose to come again and see them, and his intention then not to be burdensome to them; 2 Corinthians 12:13-15. He was willing to labor for them, and to exhaust his strength in endeavoring to promote their welfare without receiving support from them, for he regarded himself in the light of a father to them, and it was not usual for children to support their parents.
4. In connection with this, he answers another charge against himself. Some accused him of being crafty; that though he did not burden them, yet he knew well how to manage so as to secure what he wanted without burdening them, or seeming to receive anything from them; 2 Corinthians 12:16. To this he answers by an appeal to fact. Particularly he appeals to the conduct of Titus when with them, that he had no such design; 2 Corinthians 12:17-19.
5. In the conclusion of the chapter, he expresses his fear that when he should come among them he would find much that would humble them and give him occasion for severity of discipline, 2 Corinthians 12:20-21. This apprehension is evidently expressed in order that they might be led to examine themselves, and to put away whatever was wrong.