In 2 Corinthians Chapter 12, Paul continues his second letter to the church in Corinth.
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Paul Boasts of His Weaknesses
Paul told the Corinthians that although he was willing to boast about others (such as a man he knew 14 years ago who had a revelation of paradise and heard and saw things no other human has experienced), he was reluctant to boast about himself except about his weaknesses.
Paul Remains Humble
Paul said he did not want anything he told them to raise himself in their eyes, rather they should form their own opinions of him. He said that he had his own weaknesses, or his own thorn in the flesh, to keep him humble, and that Christ’s power works through Paul’s weakness.
Paul Wanted Hearts, Not Possessions
Paul reminded the Corinthians that he had never made himself a burden to them, but remarked that they seemed to think less of him as a result. He affirmed to them that the truths he taught them were no less true just because he has not made himself appear more important than them – it was their hearts he wanted, not their possessions.
Paul’s Reason for Going to Corinth
Paul also said that he felt like a parent to them, and he gladly spent what he had to be with them and help save their souls, because he loved them. He reminded them that the representatives he had sent to them, including Titus, did not take advantage of them. Instead, they were there to support them and speak on Christ’s behalf rather than their own.
Paul’s Hopes for His Visit
Paul was preparing to visit the Corinthians for the third time, but he was worried that he would find them different to the church that he hoped for and expected. He feared that they may expect him to be greater and more important than he was, and they may be disappointed in the face of his human weaknesses. He hoped this would not result in arrogance, disagreements, or jealousy, and that they could accept one another.
2 Corinthians 12 (King James Version)
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 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 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.