The exalted experiences of the Spirit-filled Christian overbalance all he is called upon to bear for Christ’s sake. Whom God loves, He will keep from being exalted above measure, and spiritual burdens will be ordered, with grace to bear them, for the keeping down of spiritual pride. As we communicate our experiences let us remember to take notice of what God has done to humble us, as well as to advance us.
II Corinthians 12
1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.
2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.
6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
11 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.
12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.
13 For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.
14 Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not your’s, 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 you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
16 But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.
17 Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you?
18 I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps?
19 Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.
20 For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:
21 And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.
II Corinthians 12 Intro – J. Vernon McGee
II Corinthians 12:1 – J. Vernon McGee
II Corinthians 12:2-5 – J. Vernon McGee
II Corinthians 12:6-9 – J. Vernon McGee
II Corinthians 12:10-12 – J. Vernon McGee
II Corinthians 12:13-18 – J. Vernon McGee
II Corinthians 12:19-20 – J. Vernon McGee
II Corinthians 12:21 – J. Vernon McGee
2 Corinthians 12:1-10 – The Secret of Strength
It is a sublime phrase–a man in Christ. We reach our full stature only when we are in Him. We are but fragments of manhood until the true man is formed in us. Of course the presence of Jesus is always with us, but its manifestation is reserved for special emergencies, when it is peculiarly needed. It is thought that this supreme revelation was synchronous with Paul’s stoning at Lystra, Acts 14. While the poor body was being mangled, his spirit was in the third heaven, that is, in Paradise. What a contrast between being let down in a basket and being caught up into glory! How indifferent to the derisions of men is the soul that lives in God!
We do not know what this thorn, or stake, was—whether eye trouble, or imperfect utterance, or some deformity in appearance—but it was the source of much suffering and many temptations. At first Paul prayed for its removal, but as soon as he learned that its continuance was the condition of receiving additional grace, he not only accepted it, but even gloried in its presence. May we not believe that all disabilities are permitted to drive us to realize and appropriate all that Jesus can be to the hard-pressed soul! —Through the Bible Day by Day
II Corinthians 12:10—When I am weak, then am I strong.
We need not discuss the nature of Paul’s thorn in the flesh. It is enough that he calls it “a stake,” as though he had been impaled. It must have, therefore, been very painful. It must also have been physical, because he could not have prayed thrice for the removal of a moral taint, and been refused. It came from Satan, permitted by God, as in the case of Job, to buffet his servant. It is not unlikely that be suffered from weak eyes, or some distressing form of ophthalmia; hence the eagerness of the Galatian converts to give him their eyes (see Galatians 4:15).
God does not take away our thorns, but He communicates sufficient grace. He always answers prayer, though not as we expect. Let the music of these tender words soar unto thee, poor sufferer! “My grace is sufficient for thee” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Sufficient when friends forsake, and foes pursue; sufficient to make thee strong against an infuriated crowd and a tyran nical judge; sufficient for excessive physical exertion and spiritual conflict; sufficient to enable thee to do as much work, and even more, than if health and vigour were not impaired, because the very weakness of our nature is the chosen condition under which God will manifest the strength of his.
Do not sit down before that mistaken marriage, that uncongenial business, that physical weakness, as though thy life must be a failure; but take in large reinforcements of that Divine grace which is given to the weak and to those who have no might. It is clear that Paul had reached such a condition, that it was a matter of deep congratulation to him to be deficient in much that men hold dear, and to have what most men dread. He rejoiced in all that diminished creature-might and strengthened his hold on God. —Our Daily Homily
2 Corinthians 12:11-21 – “I Seek not Yours, but You”
“The long burst of passionate self-vindication has now at last expended itself,” says Dean Stanley, and Paul returns to the point whence he diverged at II Corinthians 10:7, where he was avowing his intention to repress the disobedience of those who still resisted his authority at Corinth. “Now,” he says, “my folly is over. That I should have indulged in it is your fault, not mine.” What a comfort it is that he lays such repeated stress on his weakness! Instead of complaining of it, he used it as an argument with Christ that He should put forth more grace, and as an argument with his converts, that the results of his work had been granted as the divine endorsement of his apostolate.
Paul felt that his paternal relation to this church gave him the right to rebuke them, as a father rebukes his children. But he realized that they did not reciprocate his love, probably because they permitted the evil things enumerated in the closing verses. Often moral obliquity accounts for the decline and failure of love. Among other things, they had even accused him of getting money, if not directly, yet through Titus. But there were worse things still that needed to be dealt with, II Corinthians 12:20-21. Would that we were more often humbled to the dust by the sins of our brethren! —Through the Bible Day by Day