Chapter 12: 2 Corinthians 12:1-21, raptured to paradise
Heavenly Father, help us to surrender our lives to You. Help us to make You the centre of our lives. We believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty of our sins, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
VV 1-6, 1 It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago, whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows, such a one was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know such a man, whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows, 4 how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5 Of such a one I will boast, yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities. 6 For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me.
14 years ago, Paul was raptured into the third heaven. There are three heavens. The atmosphere is the first heaven. The outer space where the sun, moon, and stars are located is the second heaven. The dwelling place of God is the third heaven. Greek for caught up is “harpazo”. Latin for caught up is “rapturo”. Paul was caught up to the throne room of God in the third heaven which he described as Paradise. God did not permit him to disclose what he saw and heard. What he saw was so glorious and magnificent that could not be expressed in words. This event was believed to have happened at Lystra when Paul was stoned by the Jews until he was unconscious and possibly dead, but the Lord miraculously raised him up, Acts 14:19.
Acts 14:19, “the Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there, and having persuaded the multitude, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.”
VV 7-10, 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
The thorn in the flesh was a health issue. Paul prayed to the Lord three times for healing of this condition but the Lord answered no, saying that His grace was sufficient for him and His strength was made perfect in weakness. Paul did not say what this health issue was. Some scholars suggest eye problems, others suggest it was malaria but these are all conjectures.
VV 11-13, 11 I have become a fool in boasting, you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you, for in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing. 12 Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds. 13 For what is it in which you were inferior to other churches, except that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me this wrong!
Paul disputed the false apostles’ claim of super spirituality. Paul’s credential of a true apostle was his ability to perform signs, wonders, miracles, and mighty deeds, Acts 19: 11-12. The false apostles did not have this power. Paul asked 1 more rhetorical question.
Acts 19:11-12, Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them, and evils spirits went of them.
VV 14-15, 14 Now for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be burdensome to you, for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls, though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.
Paul’s next visit to Corinth would be his third and he would not ask for any financial assistance from them.
VV 16-18, 16 But be that as it may, I did not burden you. Nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you by cunning! 17 Did I take advantage of you by any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus, and sent our brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not walk in the same spirit? Did we not walk in the same steps?
Paul asked 4 rhetorical questions to reinforced that he and his co-workers did not take advantage of the Corinthian Christians.
VV 19-21, 19 Again, do you think that we excuse ourselves to you? We speak before God in Christ. But we do all things, beloved, for your edification. 20 For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish, lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbiting, whisperings, conceits, tumults, 21 lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced.
Paul asked 1 more rhetorical question. Paul loved his audience and did everything for their edification.
Paul warned them not to have contentions, jealousies, wrath, self-ambitions, backbiting, murmuring, conceit, and confusion as these would destroy the church. Paul urged his audience to repent of their sins.
Memorise 2 Corinthians 12:9, And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” When we are weak, we can rely on the strength of God.
God will not answer all your prayers with yes. A no answer is also an answer. God did not answer Paul’s prayer to remove his thorn in the flesh. His grace is sufficient for you.
Heavenly Father, apostle Paul pleaded with You three times to remove the thorn in his flesh but You answered no. Your grace is sufficient for Paul and will be sufficient for us. Your strength is perfected in our weakness. Thank You that You are strong even when we are weak, in Jesus’ name, Amen.