Updated 5 Aug 2020
- Mark 12 - The Widow's Offering
- Mark 11 - The Triumphal Entry
- Mark 10 - The Rich Young Ruler
- Mark 9 - The Transfiguration
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2 Corinthians 12
Paul shares an insight into an extraordinary vision that God had given him, but he also talks about being given a thorn in his flesh, which he considered was to humble him regarding the great revelations that he had received. Paul had a very special and powerful understanding of God's grace and he is very aware of the needs of the early church. He is particularly concerned for the Corinthians and expresses his longing that they should be strengthened in their faith.
Paul's vision was remarkable and it had made a great impression on him. He recalls that it had been 14 years since he received the vision and he speaks of it in terms of not fully understanding all that had happened to him. However, it seems to have been a vision about heaven. The word 'paradise' was used by Jesus on the cross, when he comforted the thief that he would be taken safely through death. The experience clearly brought much joy to Paul and, whilst we don't know quite what he saw, it must have been truly wonderful!
The Thorn in the Flesh
Many people have attempted to determine what this was, but we just don’t know. However, it was something that was real and obviously kept Paul humble, so that he would boast about God but never about himself. It would seem that his experience of the vision could have tempted him to be proud but, whatever the thorn in the flesh was, it reminded him of his weaknesses and his need to depend on God. Paul describes it as a messenger of Satan, indicating that the devil might have been allowed to inflict this suffering, just as Job was tempted by the evil one under the sovereignty of God.
The Power of Christ
In order to handle the glory of the experience but still to serve God effectively, Paul would need God's grace. The vision was great, but the thorn in the flesh was also considerable. Paul was blessed but also felt weakness and he needed to draw upon God's mercy and strength, to know the power of Christ and be able to cope with many persecutions and struggles in the ministry.
Paul's Concerns for the Corinthians
Paul was aware that some teachers were considered more eminent than him, but he argues that the signs, wonders and miracles that he had patiently wrought amongst the Corinthians were sufficient proof of his apostolic ministry. He indicates that he did not want to be a burden to the believers and describes himself as being like a parent, whose responsibility was to support rather than be supported. Paul had sent Titus and Titus had behaved in the same way to the Corinthians as Paul did. Paul indicates that he has not been seeking to defend himself but, rather, that he has a desire for the church to be built up and strengthened. Paul was hoping to see them for a third visit but he was concerned that he might find things that were displeasing to God and he lists various sins that might be present in the life of the church. Disorder and immorality have often undermined the message of the church in the past and they can still be evident in the church today. Paul was very concerned for the Corinthians and we can safely say that he would have been overjoyed if he could have found that the things he feared were happening, were not.
Points to Consider:
- How did Paul understand and share the vision of heaven that God had given him?
- Why did God allow a thorn in the flesh to trouble Paul?
- How have we experienced the sufficient grace of God?
- What does Paul fear he will find in the Corinthian church?
- Do we have the same concern for the church that Paul had?
God bless you!
Bible Study: 2 Corinthians 12
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