The Agora
Bible Commentary
2 Corinthians

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2 Corinthians 12

2Co 12:2

Paul, speaking of himself: vv 6,7,9,11; 2Pe 3:16.

FOURTEEN YEARS AGO: Some suggest this happened while Paul was in Arabia (Gal 2:1). But, better, SCx suggests: "This places the vision around the same time as Paul's vision of Christ in Acts 18:9: 'Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized. One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city." So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.' Paul's visions of Christ are not so common that this is likely to be a coincidence. The mention of 'fourteen years ago' might not mean anything to new members of Corinth, but to those whom Paul had baptized during his 18 months setting up the ecclesia it would be a powerful reminder that they owed their conversion to a real direct 'vision and revelation of the Lord' (2Co 12:1) on their behalf, without which Paul would probably have quickly moved on from Corinth.

"Did Paul at the same time as this 'vision and revelation' in Acts 18:9 have the same view into the Kingdom that Christ gave Peter, James and John at the transfiguration (Mat 16:28)?"

CAUGHT UP: Harpazo = caught AWAY: Joh 10:28,29.

THIRD HEAVEN: Heaven and earth sym ruling powers (Isa 14:4,12; 34:4-10) and subjects (Rev 6:13; 12:16). The 3 "heavens": (1) Mosaic (Deu 32:1; Isa 1:2), (2) Millennium (Isa 65:17,18), and (3) "All in all" (1Co 15:24-28). See Rev 21:1. Or, perhaps, inner court, holy place, most holy place.

2Co 12:3

APART FROM THE BODY: In a dreamlike state, caught in God's power for purpose of revelation. In vision, in trance (Act 10:10).

2Co 12:4

"The new life is a wonderful life: it is one of majestic vision; of mighty purposes, and of unsurpassed worth. There are times when we see these things of the spirit so clearly and in such beauty that we are uplifted by them and can sympathize with the feelings of the apostle Paul who wrote of a time when 'he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter.' But these moments of exaltation are all too rare" (TNL).

2Co 12:7

THORN IN MY FLESH: Cp Jdg 8:16n. Possibilities: (a) an adversary angel, as in Gen 32, or (b) an enemy in the ecclesia (2Co 11:13,14). Note: Christ gave him this "thorn" (Act 9:16)! Or (per PTRC) an attack of malarial fever, contracted during his stay in the low lying and notoriously unhealthy district of Pamphylia on the south coast (Act 13:13). Such an illness would certainly incapacitate him from work, and it would be natural enough for him to go as far north as to Antioch to escape the miasma and to recuperate. Then with returning strength he would find opportunity to preach the Gospel to the Galatians (Act 13:14).

2Co 12:9

MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU: In the end all of the redeemed will acknowledge that the Lord did in them what they could never have done in their own strength. The result will be glorious -- a great host of spiritual sons and daughters, in whom he will have developed his righteousness, and with whom he can share his nature and with whom he will dwell for the eternal ages.

"If none of God's saints were poor and tried, we should not know half so well the consolations of divine grace. When we find the wanderer who has not where to lay his head, who yet can say, 'Still will I trust in the Lord,' or when we see the pauper starving on bread and water, who still glories in Jesus; when we see the bereaved widow overwhelmed in affliction, and yet having faith in Christ, oh! what honour it reflects on the gospel. God's grace is illustrated and magnified in the poverty and trials of believers. Saints bear up under every discouragement, believing that all things work together for their good, and that out of apparent evils a real blessing shall ultimately spring -- that their God will either work a deliverance for them speedily, or most assuredly support them in the trouble, as long as He is pleased to keep them in it. This patience of the saints proves the power of divine grace. There is a lighthouse out at sea: it is a calm night -- I cannot tell whether the edifice is firm; the tempest must rage about it, and then I shall know whether it will stand" (CHS).

MY POWER IS MADE PERFECT IN WEAKNESS: "A primary qualification for serving God with any amount of success, and for doing God's work well and triumphantly, is a sense of our own weakness. When God's warrior marches forth to battle, strong in his own might, when he boasts, 'I know that I shall conquer, my own right arm and my conquering sword shall get unto me the victory,' defeat is not far distant. God will not go forth with that man who marches in his own strength. He who reckoneth on victory thus has reckoned wrongly, for 'it is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.' They who go forth to fight, boasting of their prowess, shall return with their gay banners trailed in the dust, and their armour stained with disgrace. Those who serve God must serve Him in His own way, and in His strength, or He will never accept their service. That which man doth, unaided by divine strength, God can never own. The mere fruits of the earth He casteth away; He will only reap that corn, the seed of which was sown from heaven, watered by grace, and ripened by the sun of divine love. God will empty out all that thou hast before He will put His own into thee; He will first clean out thy granaries before He will fill them with the finest of the wheat. The river of God is full of water; but not one drop of it flows from earthly springs. God will have no strength used in His battles but the strength which He Himself imparts. Are you mourning over your own weakness? Take courage, for there must be a consciousness of weakness before the Lord will give thee victory. Your emptiness is but the preparation for your being filled, and your casting down is but the making ready for your lifting up" (CHS).

REST: Episkenoo = to spread a tabernacle over.

2Co 12:10

FOR WHEN I AM WEAK, THEN I AM STRONG: "It is in our very weaknesses that the strength of God is perfected. If we are so foolish as to admit of no weaknesses of our own, may we not be, in that very attitude, denying God the opportunity to work in us and through us? This must be a possibility to consider. Paul's thoughts on the matter indicate that, at the very least, it may be suggested as a possibility and with all reverence, that Divine strength needs human weakness as its vehicle or medium of operation" (CE Hinde, Xd 114:405).

2Co 12:16

CRAFTY FELLOW THAT I AM: Paul was being stigmatized as a crafty serpent by those who were in reality serpent-like themselves (2Co 11:13...). Suggestion: Paul's enemies charged him (or Titus) with embezzlement from Corinthian collections (WFB 43).

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