"THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS" Chapter Twelve OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To understand why the Lord allowed Paul to suffer so much persecution 2) To see why Paul took pleasure in his infirmities suffered for Christ's sake SUMMARY We find Paul compelled to continue his "foolish boasting." Coming to the issue of visions and revelations of the Lord, he describes "a man in Christ" (most commentators believe Paul has reference to himself) who fourteen years before had been caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words unlawful to utter. Paul would boast of "such a one," but in direct reference to himself he would only boast in his "infirmities," lest people think too highly of him (1-6). Lest he be exalted above measure because of the abundance of revelations he had received, a "thorn in the flesh" (also described as a "messenger of Satan") was given to buffet him (that is, to keep him humble). When he asked the Lord on three separate occasions to remove it, the Lord's reply was that His grace was sufficient and His strength was made complete in times of weakness. This prompted Paul to take pleasure in his "infirmities" endured for Christ's sake (which perhaps was in fact the "thorn in the flesh"). For when he was weak, the power of Christ in him made him strong (7-10). Paul's "foolish boasting" concludes with a mild rebuke for their compelling him to do it, for it is they who should have commended him. Indeed, while with them he demonstrated the "signs of an apostle" (signs, wonders, mighty deeds) that clearly showed he was not in anyway behind "the most eminent apostles." The only charge that could be brought against him? He had not accepted support from them like he had from other churches (11-13). The remaining part of this chapter is filled with an expression of love and concern for them. He explains again why he will not accept support from them: like parents for their children, Paul will gladly spend and be spent for their souls. Neither he nor those he sent to them had taken advantage of them in any way, and have sought to do all things for their edification (14-19). Finally, he expresses his fear that when he comes the conditions will not be what he and they wish. He is fearful that there will be all sorts of strife, and that many of those who have sinned will not have repented (20-21). OUTLINE I. PAUL'S "FOOLISH BOASTING" CONTINUES (1-13) A. THE VISION OF PARADISE (1-6) 1. Though such boasting is not profitable, Paul finds it necessary to discuss visions and revelations of the Lord (1) 2. He writes of one (possibly himself) who: a. Was caught up to the third heaven, that is, Paradise (2-4a) b. Heard inexpressible words, unlawful for a man to utter (4b) 3. Of such a one Paul would boast, but not of himself, except in his infirmities (5) 4. His concern is that people might think too highly of him (6) B. THE THORN IN THE FLESH (7-10) 1. That he not be exalted above measure by the abundance of his revelations, he was given a thorn in the flesh (7) a. Called a messenger of Satan b. Designed to buffet him 2. He pleaded with the Lord that this "thorn" might depart from him (8-9a) a. He did so three times (8) b. The Lord's reply (9a) 1) "My grace is sufficient for you" 2) "My strength is made perfect in weakness" 3. This led Paul to boast in his infirmities, for in his weakness the power of Christ has opportunity to make him strong (9b-10) C. THE SIGNS OF AN APOSTLE (11-13) 1. He was compelled to engage in foolish boasting by those who ought to have commended him (11a) a. For in nothing was he behind "the most eminent apostles" (11b) b. For among them he accomplished the signs of an apostle: signs, wonders, and mighty deeds (12) 2. His only mistake? He had not been a financial burden to them! (13) II. PAUL'S LOVE AND CONCERN (14-21) A. HIS LOVE FOR THEM (14-19) 1. Ready to come for the third time, he will not be burdensome to them (14-16) a. He does not seek what is theirs, but them (14a) b. Like parents providing for their children, he will gladly spend and be spent for their souls (14b-15a) c. Even though it seems to jeopardize their love for him (15b) 2. Some have taken this to be craftiness and guile on his part (16-19a) a. But he asks them whether he has taken advantage of them by any of those he had sent to them (17-18) b. He needs no excuse, for he does all things for their edification (19) B. HIS CONCERN FOR THEM (20-21) 1. His fear is that when he comes, they will not find one another the way they wish (20a) 2. His fear is that there will be all sorts of strife (20b) 3. His fear is that he will find many of them unrepentant of their sins (21)
REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER Move your mouse pointer underneath each question to see the answer.
1) What are the main points of this chapter? 2) As Paul continues his "foolish boasting," what does he now come to? (1) 3) Where was the "man in Christ" taken? What did he hear? (2-4) 4) Of himself, in what would Paul boast? About what was he concerned? (5-6) 5) Why was Paul given "a thorn in the flesh"? (7) 6) How many times did Paul plead with the Lord to remove the "thorn"? What did the Lord respond? (8-9) 7) In what, then, did Paul choose to boast? Why? (9-10) 8) What were the "signs of an apostle" that Paul had done among the Corinthians? (12) 9) What had Paul done that some charged made the Corinthians inferior to other churches? (13) 10) Why would Paul continue not to be a burden to them? (14-15) 11) What was the motive behind all that Paul did for the Corinthians? (19) 12) What was Paul afraid he might find when he got to Corinth? (20) 13) What else was Paul afraid of finding when he got to Corinth? (21)