2 Corinthians 12
Paul's Revelations and Thorn in the Flesh.
SUMMARY.--Visions and Revelations.
Caught Up into Paradise.
The Thorn in the Flesh.
God's Answer to Prayer.
Weakness Made Strength.
The Signs of an Apostle.
Coming Now the Third Time to Corinth.
Paul's Unselfish course at Corinth.
1-5. It is not expedient for me, doubtless, to glory. It was
distasteful for him to speak on himself, and he could only do it when
compelled by the disparagement of adversaries.
I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. Supernatural
things revealed to the spiritual eye and divine truths revealed to the
2. I know (not knew)
a man above fourteen years ago. He knows the man and could name
him, since the man was himself. See
Above fourteen years ago this man was caught up, etc. This letter was
written A. D. 57. The being caught up was then in
A. D. 43. This is about the time that Paul was at Antioch with
Barnabas, or at Tarsus
(Acts 9:29, 30).
It could not have been at conversion, for that was about twenty years
earlier than A. D. 57, nor could it be the trance in the temple
for that was too late.
Whether in the body or, etc. A person could then be caught up, see
and hear, without his body, in Paul's view. Hence the human spirit is
The third heaven. A Jewish expression for that heaven which was
beyond (1) the air, and (2) beyond the sun and stars; the secret place
of the Almighty.
3. I know such a man. Why does he not use the first person?
Because it would seem more like he was glorying in his own
4. He was caught up into Paradise. Paradise and "the third
evidently mean the same. The term applied to a blessed abode beyond the
Luke 23:43 and Rev. 2:7.
Heard unspeakable words. Words that would be neither right nor
possible to reveal in human speech.
5. Of such an one will I glory. One so favored had ground for
boasting, but of himself personally he will not glory, save in his
infirmities. See note on
While he glories of such an one, if he glories of himself it will be in
6-9. For though I would desire to glory, I should not be a fool.
He could declare things truthfully that would show that his boast was
not empty vanity.
7. Lest I should be exalted, etc. This verse shows that
refers to himself.
There was given me a thorn in the flesh. Generally supposed to
be some painful physical infirmity. See
Gal. 4:13, 14.
A messenger of Satan. All physical evils are due to sin and
hence are ascribed to Satan. This thorn was (1) in the flesh; (2) it
buffeted or assailed him; (3) it was permitted to prevent undue
exaltation, hence must have been humiliating.
8. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice. Prayed thrice that
the thorn might be removed.
9. My grace is sufficient for thee. The Lord answered his
prayer, not by removing the thorn, but by giving grace to bear it, and
by the assurance that Paul's sense of weakness, caused by it, fitted
him to receive the divine strength.
Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities.
Because his infirmities fit him to enjoy the power that Christ bestows.
What was true of Paul is true of every saint. It is when we feel our
weakness that God strengthens us.
10-13. Therefore I take pleasure, etc. The unparalleled
distress, sufferings and persecutions, described in
even give him pleasure because they bring him to a sense of his
helplessness and then God makes him strong.
11. I am become a fool in glorying. As he looks back on what he
written he finds that he has done what he condemned as a folly,
commended himself; compelled to; a thing that ought not to have been
necessary, for the Corinthians ought to have commended him.
Behind the chiefest apostles. The false teachers who had claimed
at Corinth to be leading apostles.
12. Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought. While preaching
at Corinth he demonstrated his apostleship.
13. What is it wherein ye were inferior, etc.? They had enjoyed
every privilege of the most highly favored churches, and, perhaps,
complained that he had preached without charge to them. See notes on
If this was a wrong, he asked forgiveness.
14, 15. The third time I am ready to come to you. Then he had
been there twice before; once when he founded the church; once while
preaching at Ephesus, of which visit Acts gives no account. See also
and notes on
And I will not be burdensome to you. As before, he will maintain
himself this third time.
For the children, etc. As parents do with children, so will he,
their spiritual father, do. He does not ask them to provide for him,
while he feeds them the bread of life.
15. I will gladly spend, etc. As a loving father, he will gladly
spend and be spent for them; even without the return of his love.
16-18. But be it so, I did not burden you, etc. It was charged
that even if he did not burden them, there was guile about it and in
some other way he would secure their substance. Hence he asks:
17. Did I make gain by any of the messengers or helpers I sent
you? Did they demand anything? He then specifies:
18. I desired Titus. He sent Titus and another brother, but they
asked no gain.
19-21. Think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? He must guard
against a misapprehension. He is not defending himself before a human
bar. He speaks as before God; says what will tend to
edify them. His only object is to build them up.
20. For I fear, etc. He has been led to speak because he feared,
unless he spoke plainly, that when he came he would have to rebuke
severely on account of sins which he enumerates.
Debates, etc. The sins here given are those that belong to a
21. And lest . . . my God will humble. Lest he be
humiliated by the prevalence of sensual sins also. The sins here named
are the peculiar Gentile sins which he has rebuked so severely in both