2 Corinthians 12:1-6 Paul describes an incident where he was given a vision of heaven, but his point of focus will be the infirmity associated with it.
2 “…a man in Christ…”
Odd way of telling the tale. He speaks of another person, but it is obvious he is speaking of himself. Commentary suggests he does so to separate himself from the glory of the vision. He was given the glory, but the infirmity that resulted was his.
2 “…the third heaven”
Way of specifying heaven where God is as opposed to those we associate with earth and space. Genesis 1:6-8 describes the first two. The space or firmament between the earth’s surface and the original water canopy was the first heaven. The space above the canopy reaching out into outer space is the second. The third is that spiritual dimension where God dwells.
3 “…whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows”
Seems repetitive in relation to the tale. Commentary suggests he is splitting the tale into two stages, the vision occurs and his response. He was given a great vision, but he realizes it was not by his action or because of any greatness on his part.
4 “…heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter”
Heard things too wonderful to even express. Couldn’t find the earthly words to describe or perhaps couldn’t be translated so he could relate them. The not lawful is odd as no frame of reference is given other than just that. Perhaps he was told or impressed upon not to reveal certain aspects of what he saw and heard. Daniel was told to seal up some of what he was shown.
5 “Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast…”
It was great that he saw the vision, but he knows it wasn’t his doing or because he deserved it.
6 “…I will speak the truth. But I refrain…”
He would love to talk about how he saw the vision, but he knows it was not of himself, it was given to him. He makes sure everyone knows this. He also realizes just telling the tale sounds like he’s building himself up, so he doesn’t tell it often.
7 “…thorn in the flesh…”
Much has been debated on what the thorn was. Most agree it was probably some physical infirmity which made Paul dependent on others. Having to depend on others for basic functions can be a humbling experience. Many suggest his failing eyesight which he references in some of his epistles. What it was is not as important as how God used it.
9 “…My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness”
God’s response to Paul’s prayer for deliverance from the infirmity. A reminder that Paul’s strength was through and from Christ and not of himself. When he isn’t able to accomplish something because of the infirmity, he is able when God provides the power and strength.
10 “…when I am weak, then I am strong”
How Christ works through us plainly stated.
11-13 “…I ought to have been commended by you…signs of an apostle were accomplished…Forgive me this wrong!”
Hard to know his frame of mind here, could be straight forward or somewhat exaggerated or sarcastic. Commentary seems to lean toward more straight forward, but I can’t help feeling like his statement of forgive me this wrong is like the common well, excuse me! Instead of the Corinthians being able to tell the difference between a real and false apostle, they have fallen into relying on surface drama. Paul wasn’t as flashy as the others, so he must not be as much of an apostle. He is irritated that they should have known the truth to the point of defending him, but instead have caused him to play silly games of “I’m just as good as them.” All the same signs that accompanied the true apostles were shown in Corinth. The only difference between them and other churches Paul worked with was that he didn’t ask them to support him while he was there. Sounds like he’s saying, “Excuse me for trying to help you out.”
15 “…the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved”
The more he does for them, the less they seem to appreciate it. He doesn’t do it for the appreciation, but out of his love and care for them.
19-20 “…we do all things…for your edification…For I fear…”
All of this was for them. Paul is still concerned about some of them not holding to the truth and falling back into old ways.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.