2 Corinthians, chapter 12

Chapter 12: 2 Corinthians 12:1-21, raptured to paradise

Prayer

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.

Application:

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.

Prayer:

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.

2 Corinthians, chapter 11

Chapter 11: 2 Corinthians 11: 1-33, marks of true apostle 

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we pray for a special anointing into Your Word. We pray for Your help, presence, and fellowship. We pray for the rain of the Holy Spirit to fall afresh upon us today, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

VV 1-4, 1 Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly, and indeed you do bear with me. 2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you may well put up with it!

God is a jealous God. The church is the bride of Christ. Christians owe their allegiance fully to Christ. Paul warned his audience not to be deceived by the false apostles who preached a corrupted gospel, a corrupted Jesus, and a corrupted spirit.

VV 5-6, 5 For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles. 6 Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things.

Paul sarcastically commented that he was inferior to the most eminent of the false apostles. The false apostles falsely accused Paul for his poor oratory skill and lack of knowledge.

VV 7-9, 7 Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you. 9 And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything, I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself.

Paul asked 1 rhetorical question. The false apostles falsely accused Paul of robbing other churches so that he could offer free services to the Corinthian Church. Paul never requested financial support from the Corinthian church. He worked as a tentmaker and received financial support from the Macedonian churches.

VV 10-15, 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no one shall stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows! 12 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

Paul asked 2 rhetorical questions. Paul boasted about Achaia because he loved them. Paul warned his audience to reject the false apostles because they were ministers of satan. They transformed themselves into ministers of righteousness although they were ministers of lawlessness. They were wolves in sheep’s clothing. Even satan transformed himself into a false angel of light to deceive people.

VV 16-21, 16 I say again, let no one think me a fool. If otherwise, at least receive me as a fool, that I also may boast a little. 17 What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord, but as it were, foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. 18 Seeing that many boast according to the flesh, I also will boast. 19 For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise! 20 For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face. 21 To our shame I say that we were too weak for that! But in whatever anyone is bold, I speak foolishly, I am bold also.

The false apostles boasted according to the flesh but Paul boasted according to the Spirit. The false apostles exalted themselves, enslaved their followers, and devoured them. Paul did not give us any hint on whether these false apostles were Gnostics or Judaizers.

VV22-23, 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ? I speak as a fool, I am more, in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.

Paul’s 4 rhetorical questions indicated that the false apostles were Jews. They were ministers of satan, sent by him to oppose the work of God and deceive the Corinthian Christians.

VV 24-28, 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have been in the deep, 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fasting often, in cold and nakedness, 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily, my deep concern for all the churches.

Paul asked 3 more rhetorical questions. He spelled out the marks of a true apostle, viz. suffering, tribulations, trials, and persecutions. Paul was beaten, persecuted, and stoned by the Jews, robbed by robbers, and shipwrecked in the open seas. He suffered weariness, sleeplessness, hunger, thirst, cold, and even nakedness. The tribulations that Paul suffered were beyond imagination, and yet he did not give up on the ministry. If Paul was not a true apostle, he would have thrown in the towel and given up.

VV 29-33, 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? 30 If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. 31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me, 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.

Paul asked 2 more rhetorical questions. If Paul wanted to boast, he would only boast about his weakness. With God as his witness, Paul testified that he told the truth. In Acts 9:25, when the governor of Damascus wanted to arrest Pau, his supporters hide him inside a basket, lowered the basket down the wall through a window, and successfully allowed Paul to escape out of Damascus.

Acts 9: 25, “Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.”

Application:

Satan and his agents walked around as an angel of light to deceive Christians. False apostles are present even to this day. There are false preachers and teachers of the prosperity doctrines and other heretic doctrines going around deceiving Christians. We should be careful not to be deceived. The best way to counter this threat to know the Word and be biblically literate by diligently studying the Bible.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for raising up the great apostle Paul who educated us through his extensive writings in the New Testament. Thank You for his faithfulness, determination, boldness, and spiritual gifting, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

2 Corinthians, chapter 10

Chapter 10: 2 Corinthians 10:1-18, spiritual warfare

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we pray for transformation, renewal, new insights, revelation, and anointing. We pray for understanding, insight, and application of difficult and controversial passages. We pray for spiritual eyes of faith to see into the spiritual world, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

VV 1-2, 1 Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you. 2 But I beg you that when I am present I may not be bold with that confidence by which I intend to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.

Paul was bold when he wrote letters to his audience but was meek, gentle, and lowly when he confronted them face to face.

But Paul was bold when he confronted the false apostles because he was not afraid of them .

VV 3-6, 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

Our battle is not physical but spiritual. Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers, thrones, rulers, authorities, and spiritual wickedness in high places, Ephesians 6:12. Since our battle is spiritual, our weapons of warfare are also spiritual. These are the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, Ephesians 6:14-17. The first five are weapons of defend. The sixth, the sword of the Spirit, is a weapon of defend and attack. The sword of the spirit is the word of God and prayer. We defend ourselves with the word of God. We attack the enemy with prayer.

Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Ephesians 6:14-17, “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

VV 7-11, 7 Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s. 8 For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed, 9 lest I seem to terrify you by letters. 10 “For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” 11 Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such we will also be in deed when we are present.

Paul asked 1 rhetorical question. Paul urged his audience not to judge him by outward appearance. Paul boasted about his apostolic authority from Christ. The false apostles criticised Paul’s unremarkable oratory skills and unimpressive outward appearance although they acknowledged his exemplary writing skills.

VV 12-13, 12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us, a sphere which especially includes you.

Paul and his co-workers dared not judge or praise themselves. The false apostles however, did not hesitate to judge, praise, and elevate themselves excessively.

VV 14-18, 14 For we are not overextending ourselves (as though our authority did not extend to you), for it was to you that we came with the gospel of Christ, 15 not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere, 16 to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s sphere of accomplishment. 17 But “he who glories, let him glory in the

Lord.” 18 For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.

Paul and his co-workers imposed limits to their boastings and authority. Paul preached the gospel to places where no other apostles visited so as not to encroach into other apostle’s sphere of influence. Paul quoted Jeremiah 9:24.

Jeremiah 9:24, “But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight, says the Lord.”

Application:

Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers, thrones, rulers, authorities, and spiritual wickedness in high places, Ephesians 6:12. The spiritual weapons of our warfare are the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, Ephesians 6:14-17. In order to win this battle, we must identify and know our enemy and we must use the correct spiritual weapons.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, help us to understand that we are not fighting against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers, thrones, rulers, authorities, and spiritual wickedness in high places. Help us to protect and fight this battle using Your full spiritual armour, in Jesus’ name, Amen.