31 Aug. 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

31 Aug. Paul's weaknesses have become his strength

"I must continue to boast. It will do no good, but I will talk now about visions and revelations from the Lord."

"I know a man in Christ who was taken up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. I do not know whether the man was in his body or out of his body, but God knows."

"And I know that this man was taken up to paradise. I don't know if he was in his body or away from his body, but God knows."

"He heard things he is not able to explain, things that no human is allowed to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses."

"But if I wanted to boast about myself, I would not be a fool, because I would be telling the truth. But I will not boast about myself. I do not want people to think more of me than what they see me do or hear me say."

"So that I would not become too proud of the wonderful things that were shown to me, a painful problem was given to me. This problem was a messenger from Satan, sent to beat me and keep me from being too proud."

"I begged the Lord three times to take this problem away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.'"

"So I am very happy to boast about my weaknesses. Then Christ's power can live in me. For this reason I am happy when I have weaknesses, insults, hard times, sufferings and all kinds of troubles for Christ. Because when I am weak, then I am truly strong."

          (2 Corinthians 12:1-10)

 

 

Paul's letters are at their most difficult to understand when he talks in riddles - and today's reading is a good example!

Paul begins by 'boasting' about someone 'he knows' who has had a vision of heaven and has heard and seen things that no other person is aware of.

He says, "He heard things he is not able to explain, things that no human is allowed to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses." (2 Corinthians 12:5)

But it soon becomes clear that Paul is indeed talking about himself! He says, "So that I would not become too proud of the wonderful things that were shown to me..."

Paul is writing to the Corinthians in 56AD and he says this person " was taken up to the third heaven fourteen years ago" - that is, in 42-43AD - which is when Paul was brought from Tarsus in Cilicia to Antioch in Syria by Barnabas in preparation for the great commission to set forth on his missionary journeys to take the Good News to the Gentiles across the Mediterranean world.

So we can assume from this that Paul is describing here how he was commissioned by God to spread the Word by being given an amazing vision of the Glory of heaven at this time.

Paul wants to tell the Corinthians about this amazing experience, but he doesn't want to 'boast' about it, so he goes on to tell them instead about his weaknesses, and to 'boast' about these difficulties instead.

He tells the believers that he has been given a ‘thorn in the flesh’ – a painful physical ailment which keeps him from being puffed up with pride. This may have been recurring bouts of malaria, which was common along the southern coast of Asia Minor in Paul’s day.

Three times Paul prayed and asked the Lord to take this ailment away, but Jesus’s answer was always the same: “My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

So Paul 'boasts' about his weaknesses because, in reality, these weaknesses have caused him to become completely reliant on Jesus, and so have become his true strength.

The photo shows remains of Roman Tarsus where Paul had his vision of heaven in 42 or 43AD.

You can read more from Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/14-paul…/pauls-weaknesses/


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