Letters to a Christian

Question 14

Suffering - God's Will?

Hello, and God bless you.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7, what is the voice, tense and mood for the phrase "I should be exalted above measure?"  And at best, how would it then read with the voice, tense and mood?
No one knew about the abundance of the revelations Christ showed Paul, except that he told the Corinthian believers and it wasn't very much because he was not permitted to speak of the knowledge that was revealed to him by revelation.  Why then is it being taught that Satan had Paul buffeted so that he should not be lifted up because of the abundance of the revelations?  This does not make any sense.  In other words, how would Satan know Paul was being lifted up?
Could it be that it was not due to his being lifted up because of the revelations, but that he was getting the Corinthian believers to look at his weaknesses and that he was just as human as anyone else so that they, the Corinthian believers, should not lift him up?  Paul let them see that within himself he was weak and needed to rely on God's strength and power to get through Satan's attacks.  This would certainly keep the Corinthian believers from thinking that Paul was lifting himself up or seem to lift himself above others.
I hope you understand my questions.
Thank you for giving your time to help me figure this out. :)

BCBSR Response

"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me." 2Cor 12:7
Or in the NKJV "I should be exalted" is the present passive subjunctive of "exalted". "should" is not a separate word in the Greek but is just the English translation of the fact that "exalted" is subjunctive. Subjunctive is the mood of possibility.

It is a very common phenomenon that when Christians get revelation from God - even revelation of the application of the Bible - often what can follow is a prideful spirit. I see it all the time. Someone has a revelation - even one which is in fact true - but then becomes proud and feels superior to other Christians who don't have that revelation. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.

This being the case God, in his love and grace, helped Paul maintain a proper level of humility by allowing Satan to torment him. Thank God for sources of humiliation - even if from the devil.



Hi Steve,
I appreciate your quick response to my question.
I do not agree with the answer you have supplied.  Sickness, disease and sufffering are never the will of the Father.  Neither does our heavenly Father use them as a tool or means to cause His people become better Christians or to curb them from doing wrong.  So whether or not Paul was becoming too puffed up and full of pride, which I know was not the case, God still would not have allowed Paul to be heavily persecuted in order to humble him.
It does not make sense that in case Paul "might" (may or may not) become too prideful that had God permitted Paul to have a thorn in his flesh, which made his life miserable, and which also hindered him from moving the gospel of Christ.   No where does it say "God" permitted or sent Paul the thorn in the flesh.  To say so, is based on assumption and private interpretation, which the Word of God is of no private interpretation.  If it was from God or He permitted it to occur, He would have said so in His Word.  It was a messenger from "Satan," and there are no ifs, ands or buts about it.
It also would make no sense that Paul was sent a thorn in the flesh by Satan "in case or if perhaps Paul might become over exalted due to the abundance of the revelations, because as I stated, "no one knew he had the visions and revelations of the third heaven and Paradise."   Paul was being persecuted from the start of his ministry, which was immediately after his conversion and healing.  It didn't take long before Paul had to escape with his life from the enemy.  Inf fact, God showed Paul the revelations to keep him going, to encourage him because of his thorn in the flesh, which was from the Judaizers and all those who hated the gospel he preached.
There is only one conclusion left if we are to remain within the accuracy of the scriptures; and, that is Paul did not want the carnally-minded Corinthian Christians, whom he is addressing the whole time, and whom he told he had the revelations, to think he was being superior to others because of the revelations, which would make Paul the object of their faith, and not God.   Verse 7 should flow with the context.  I believe Paul was saying lest I seem to you to exalt myself above others, or lest you might think I am making myself to be superior to others ---there was given...  He begins to tell them about Satan's attacks and because of these attacks, he prayed to the Father to remove them.  Why? Because Satan's attacks were blocking him from doing the things of the ministry that he wanted to do and that needed to be done.  If anything, Paul was extremely humble to God.  By revealing his weaknesses and his reliance on God's power and might, Paul was showing the Corinthians that he was just as every bit of flesh, blood and bones as themselves.  Paul wanted them to focus in on the God and the greatness of the revelations, not on him as their object of faith or as their god.
You need to understand the background and history of the Corinthians to know why Paul was so concerned, but he does let us know by his writings that the Corinthians believers were vulnerable to being deceived by the false apostles because at the time they were still carnal and gloried after the flesh. They were not spritually mature and able to receive the deeper spiritual truths of the revelations which is why in verse 6 Paul, if he could tell, would abstain, lest they may esteem him beyond what they see of or hear from him.  In other words, they would deem him to be a god, and was when in Lystra because of the miracle he did while there, when he healed a man who had been born a cripple.
I think Christians who believe God works in the way you described, do err, because of not knowing the scriptures, and therefore do not know nor understand the very nature of God, which is all love and all good.  I pray you come to realize this and to also recognize that leading others to believe it is God's will for them to suffer, be sick, have diseases, etc. for whatever reasons, is a very dangerous thing.  Iit will keep Christians who accept such teachings from receiving their healing and deliverance, which Jesus Christ made available through his suffering, death and resurrection.  Jesus Christ was striken, smiten of God with our weaknesses and infirmities.  Jesus put away sin, sickness and disease, and in His name we have dominion over Satan and the works of his hands.  Satan is the one who sent Paul the thorn in the flesh to buffet him, and Satan is the source of all that is evil and has no rights over God's people.  This is what the scriptures teach, this is what Paul taught, and this is what we as Christians should be teaching others.
God bless you,

BCBSR Response

You are mistaken in your assessment. In fact you make the same hermeneutical error you accuse me of, namely rejecting a proper interpretation because it conflicts with your theological presumptions.
You say, "leading others to believe it is God's will for them to suffer, be sick, have diseases, etc. for whatever reasons, is a very dangerous thing"
Here's what the Bible says:
"It has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake." Php 1:29
Hebrews 12:
4   In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lordís discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?
If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
10  Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.
11  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
1Pe 3:17  For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
1Pe 4:19  Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.
Rev 2:
22  "Indeed I (Jesus) will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.
23  "I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.
As you can see from the above, Bible teaches that at times it is God's will that Christians suffer for various reasons. To teach that it is never God's will for Christians to suffer is not only to teach contrary to the Bible, but also is saying that God has no control over the circumstances of Christian's lives - which is a very dangerous doctrine.
Secondly going back to 2Cor 12:7 notice it says:
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
But 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 Christís power may rest on me.
10  That is why, for Christís sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
So let's get this straight. He pleaded with the Lord (and I assume you understand that the Lord is not Satan) to take away the thorn. This indicates he believes that the Lord is completely in control of the thorn. Did the Lord take it away, or did the Lord allow Paul to suffer? Can you answer that question based on what the passage ACTUALLY SAYS? Now if the Lord didn't take it away, then why didn't he? THINK - Give up your dogmatic theological presumptions and read the Bible as it is written. You need to learn to read out of the Bible rather than reading into it. Sorry your pride has to be stepped on. But "Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid." Pr 12:1 "If I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it." 2Cor 7:8 Afterall "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret." 2Co 7:10 Or are these ideas contrary to your opinion?

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jul 29,2015