Paul’s defense of his Apostolic ministry-part 2 (10:1-13:10), continued
2 Corinthians 12-He distinguishes his ministry from others claiming to be Apostles (11-12). He points to...(continued)
6. His source of wisdom (12:1-10)-Paul says that while he doesn't like to "boast" (talk about himself), it is necessary at this point in order to make his point and establish his rightful position as an Apostle. He speaks of an experience that happened 14 years earlier...when he was "caught up to the third heaven" (:2, this is the same Greek word as 2 Thes. 4:17; Paul is not certain if it was just a vision, or if an actual event-:2,3; Ryrie-some think this happened when he was stoned, Acts 14:19). What does Paul mean by the "third heaven"? In the New Testament three heavens are mentioned: 1st heaven-where the birds fly; 2nd heaven-where the stars afe located; and the 3rd Heaven-the place where God dwells, Paradise (:4). IT was there, in the 3rd Heaven, that he was told things that he was not allowed to speak about (:4). This is Paul's trump card...he claims a revelation from God that exceeds anything that these false apostles had put forth. He then goes on to say that the vision was of such a magnitude...that to keep him from exalting himself for having received it...a "thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan" was given to him as a reminder of the fact that the message is what should be glorified, and not the messenger. The word "buffet" literally means "to strike with the fist". Paul said that he asked God to remove this thorn on three occasions...but God said that His grace and power were sufficient for him to handle it. Paul said that therefore, he will boast about his being weak...so that the power of God will be exalted. Could this be Paul's way of dismissing the accusations of these false apostles concerning his personal appearance as being unimpressive (10:10)...he is saying that the reason is because of this thorn that God has given him. Paul says that even this, his weakness, is an evidence of God's strength in him.
- Themiraculoussignsheperformed(12:11-12)-Paulsaysthathedeserves better than this from the church at Corinth. He has previously proven his apostleship through signs and wonders. They should have already settled this matter.
- The intention of his message to build them up (12:19-21)-Paul says that what he has just told them about himself was not to brag about himself...but, about God. His message has always been one that was meant to build them up, not tear them down (:19). And now, he is concerned that when he comes there may still be wrong attitudes and unrepented sin (:21).
Prayer: Father, please help me to find my strength in You. As I face difficulties, help me to see them as thorns that force me to depend even more on You, and on Your strength. Let Your glory be manifested through me. Help people to see Jesus in me...not me.