12:1 It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast.
For I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.
12:2 I know a man in Christ, fourteen years ago
(whether in the body, I don't know, or whether out of the body, I
know; God knows),
such a one caught up into the third heaven.
12:3 I know such a man
(whether in the body, or outside of the body, I don't know; God
12:4 how he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable
which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
12:5 On behalf of such a one I will boast,
but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in my weaknesses.
12:6 For if I would desire to boast, I will not be foolish; for I
speak the truth.
But I forbear, so that no man may account of me above that which he
sees in me, or hears from me.
12:7 By reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations,
that I should not be exalted excessively, there was given to me a
in the flesh,
a messenger of Satan to buffet me, that I should not be exalted
12:8 Concerning this thing, I begged the Lord three times that it
depart from me.
12:9 He has said to me,
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my
power is made perfect in weakness."
Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my weaknesses,
that the power of Christ may rest on me.
12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in
in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am
then am I strong.
12:11 I have become foolish in boasting.
You compelled me, for I ought to have been commended by you,
for in nothing was I inferior to the very best apostles, though I am
12:12 Truly the signs of an apostle were worked among you
in all patience, in signs and wonders and mighty works.
Avoiding Financial Support
12:13 For what is there in which you were made inferior to the rest
unless it is that I myself was not a burden to you? Forgive me this
12:14 Behold, this is the third time I am ready to come to you,
and I will not be a burden to you; for I seek not your possessions,
For the children ought not to save up for the parents, but the
for the children.
12:15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.
If I love you more abundantly, am I loved the less?
12:16 But be it so, I did not myself burden you.
But, being crafty, I caught you with deception.
12:17 Did I take advantage of you by anyone of them whom I have sent
12:18 I exhorted Titus, and I sent the brother with him.
Did Titus take any advantage of you?
Didn't we walk in the same spirit?
Didn't we walk in the same steps?
12:19 Again, do you think that we are excusing ourselves to you?
In the sight of God we speak in Christ. But all things, beloved, are
for your edifying.
12:20 For I am afraid that by any means, when I come,
I might find you not the way I want to, and that I might be found by
you as you don't desire;
that by any means there would be strife, jealousy,
outbursts of anger, factions, slander, whisperings, proud thoughts,
12:21 that again when I come my God would humble me before you,
and I would mourn for many of those who have sinned before now,
and not repented of the uncleanness and sexual immorality and
which they committed.
vs 1 If there is nothing to be gained by his continued
they why does he continue to boast?
vs 7,8 How did God help Paul to maintain an appropriate level
How has God helped you to maintain an appropriate level of humility?
What are examples of sources of humiliation?
vs 9 What are examples in the Bible of choosing the weak over
vs 12 What kinds of evidence identify one as an apostle and
how do these differ from the identifying marks of ordinary
vs 14 What is the Biblical principle concerning financial
between parents and children?
And how did Paul practice this in his relationship with the
vs 21 Why would Paul be humbled if he found inappropriate
among the Christians in Corinth when he returns?
A Vision of Paradise
2Cor 12:1-4 I must go on boasting. Although
is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations
the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught
to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body
not know— God knows. And I know that this man— whether in the body
apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to
paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not
permitted to tell.
In competing against false teachers, Paul has been boasting of his
credentials. Though he says he shouldn't have to. He has been
the Corinthians for their allegiance to false teachers on the basis
such teachers vain credentials, mere idle boasts. While through
last couple of chapters Paul has spoken of his superior credentials,
It may be the case that such false teachers had boasted of visions
God. Paul writes to the Colossians, "Do not let anyone who delights in
false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the
Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and
unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions." Col 2:18 Here Paul says he also
experienced visions, but speaks with much more humility and
does not go into details. Such visions would tend to invoke pride,
which Paul will speak of in the next few verses, and as such he is
being careful here to suppress any sense of pride, even speaking in
third person of himself. And he is careful to admit what he doesn't
Beware of the kind of rhetoric you use when you speak of having a
revelation from God. For sinful human pride characteristically finds
way to express itself.
But as for the particulars here:
It is interesting that in Galatians
2:1 he had just spoken of his conversion and then said, "Fourteen years later I went
up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas." And there
confront the cult of the circumcision. Could be that his
in Jerusalem and this letter to the Corinthians occurred the same
in which case the vision occurred early on in his conversion.
This simply refers to what we normall call "heaven" as where the
resides as is used in such expressions as "Our Father in heaven".
second heaven then is the abode of the stars, and the first the
A bit of speculation here. To the man on the cross who died next to
Jesus, the Lord said, "Today
will be with me in paradise."Luke
23:43 Yet where was Jesus that day? He was not in heaven.
would not ascend to his Father in heaven until 40 days after his
resurrection. In Acts chapter two Peter speaks of Jesus being in the
grave saying, "His soul was
left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption." Then he
of Christ's resurrection. But prior to his resurrection Jesus was in
Hades. Jesus described Hades in Luke 16 as a place of the dead
into two parts separated by an impassable rift. One side was
(we shall call "paradise"), and the other when we typically think of
"hell". Now what may have happened is when Jesus rose from the dead
open the gates of paradise, having atoned for sin, and essentially
relocated paradise to heaven. Thus today we speak of Christians
and going to "heaven", whereas prior to Christ's resurrection they
spoke of people dying and going to "hades", also called "sheol".
2Cor 12:5,6I will boast about a man like that,
I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if
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
is warranted by what I do or say.
People who boast about themselves characteristically lie in that
credit themselves more than they deserve, seeing as boasting is
generally an expressing of the prideful human nature. Thus Paul is
careful not to make too much of himself. "We, however, will not boast beyond
proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has
assigned to us, a field that reaches even to you." 2Cor 10:13 Humility and
the truth go hand in hand. Remember Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5
boasted of giving more to the Lord than they gave? God killed both
them for lying. We Christians could avoid alot of sin along these
if we simply didn't care what others thought of us.
And let us not take credit for other people's work. Some do this in
evangelism. Jesus said, "I sent
you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the
work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor." John 4:38 And remember to give
credit for his part in all our labors. A
2Cor 12:7-10 To keep me from becoming conceited
because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given
thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the
take it away from me.
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
Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I
delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions,
difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Much as Satan is view as an enemy, he is useful in discipling
Christians, much like God had previously used the Babylonians and
nations to discipline Israel. Paul himself used Satan to discipline
Christians. "hand this man
to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his
saved on the day of the Lord."1Cor
But realize that discipline is not always punitive. It also
can be preventative, as it was here in Paul's case. For note he
says, "To keep me from
But as torment can help the Christian maintain a proper level of
humility, so affluence and comfort can invoke pride. Our sinful
responds to circumstances. So beware of getting too comfortable.
Note here also that God answers prayer, though the answer may be
But even so, persistent prayer often results in understanding as we
here - an understanding which results in life applications 14 years
later. So don't consider prayer in vain, though the answer may be
Often we pray not to experience hardship, or only pray when hardship
comes so that we may be delivered from it, but as we mature we learn
appreciate the benefit of hardship. Paul speaks of even delighting
such things. So "Endure hardship as discipline; God
treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his
father?" Heb 12:7and "Endure hardship with us like a good
soldier of Christ Jesus." 2Tim
2Cor 12:11,12I have made a fool of myself, but
drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am
the least inferior to the "super-apostles," even though I am
The things that mark an apostle— signs, wonders and miracles— were
among you with great perseverance.
Again he makes reference to "super-apostles" as he did in 2Cor 11:5 No these are not men
fly around in capes with a big "S" in their chest. He's alluding to
Corinthian's obsession with celebrites - an obsession which later
into the kind of idolatrous worship of the saints characteristic of
Catholic and Orthodox churches. Paul's rhetoric here "even though I am nothing"
simply doesn't fit into such dogma.
But while Paul made nothing of himself with regards to a celebrity
status, he proved by this works that he was an apostle. For much as
Peter could say of Jesus,
of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles,
signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves
know." Acts 2:22,
so could Paul. Miracles
were the credentials of Jesus and his apostles. Why believe in
Why believe his apostles? Because of the miracles they did. The
miracles provide forensic evidence validating their testimony. "God did extraordinary miracles
through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had
him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the
spirits left them." Acts
Now this being the case it should comes as no surprise that such
authentic miracles are not as common today among the Christian
community, else they water down the credentials of apostleship were
they common today. Avoid
a Financial Burden
2Cor 12:13-15How were you inferior to the other
churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this
wrong! Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will
be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions
you. After all, children should not have to save up for their
but parents for their children. So I will very gladly spend for
everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more,
you love me less?
Again he's speaking facetiously. But he reiterates this practical
- that one evidence of his sincerity is that he intentionally
get paid for ministy. For people paying you for ministry is liken to
the hired man and not the shepherd of the sheep. Here Paul uses the
analogy of the family.
should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for
children." but in fact many parents intentionally
even met this standard. For some have children just so they
have someone to take care of them in old age. Though "if a widow has children or
grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their
into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their
parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God."1Tim
5:4 But generally parents recognize their responsiblity in
raising children, graciously saving up for them. This also should be
the view of the minister. Isn't it shameful for a father to be
financially dependent upon his children? Yes, it may be necessary at
times, but it shouldn't be the norm as has become the case in
institutional Christianity where it goes on unquestioned.
Not only was Paul not financially dependent upon the Corinthians, he
was one who spent himself on them. And, just to reiterate, he said
the Ephesian elders, "You
yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own
the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that
this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the
Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to
2Cor 12:16-19 Be that as it may, I have not been
burden to you. Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by
Did I exploit you through any of the men I sent you? I urged Titus
go to you and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not exploit
did he? Did we not act in the same spirit and follow the same
Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending
to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in
and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening.
Paul was rather annoyed at the fact that he had to defend
given his credentials, the miracles he had performed in their
and the sacrifices he made on their behalf. And thus the facitious
rhetoric he's been using. Here he's making fun of the fact that his
enemies are being crafty, while here he speaks facitiously of being
crafty in that he proved his sincerity in just the opposite way of
enemies, who likely demanded pay for their ministry. To the
Thessalonians he wrote, "You
we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up
is our witness. We were not looking for praise from men, not from
or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden
you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her
children."1Thess 2:5-7 Likewise
example. Ministers who sacrifice personal
rights and entitlements gain credibility.
Just as parents should look to the edification of their children,
despite the personal sacrifice it may require of themselves, so also
children should recognize and appreciate such sacrifices that were
on their behalf.
2Cor 12:20,21For I am afraid that when I come I
not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you
me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts
anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. I am
that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I
grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of
impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.
He noted such characteristics in 1Cor. "Brothers, I could not address you as
spiritual but as worldly— mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk,
solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are
not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and
quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like
also to note that he made no allusions in these passages explicitly
their salvation status, though he calls it into question in 2Cor 13:5. But we can see that
immature behavior does not necessarily mean such Christians are
unsaved. One does not have to be perfectly sinless to be reckoned
saved. And much as this should be obvious, I mention it because I
have run across those who reckon sinless perfect a condition of
Another thing I have also run across are Christians who excuse
themselves from attending church because there is quarreling,
outbursts of anger and the like. Yet Paul did not disfellowship
from such churches. It is not the healthy who need a physician but
sick. It should be that the squeaky wheel gets oiled. If there's a
problem, fix it. Yet many Christian use the rhetoric of babies,
excusing themselves for a place where they can get "fed". Might it
be time for you to get out of your diapers and start feeding others?
"Let us consider how we may
another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting
together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage