Presentation on theme: "“Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years."— Presentation transcript:
“Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak…”
“… On behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses. For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me” (12:1-6).
False brethren were attempting to undermine Paul’s apostolic authority (10:7-18). Paul began his “boasting” as a means of answering “those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting” (11:12), i.e. they were both claiming apostolic authority and denying Paul’s credentials. Paul decides to beat them at their own game (11:18, cf. Philippians 3:4). Although he considers it as “foolishness” his opponents have forced him to engage in such argumentation (12:11).
Paul’s self-imposed limitations regarding his visions are quite revealing. –He refrains from naming himself as the recipient, although he is the one who experienced the vision. –He does not know what state in which he arrived in “paradise,” i.e. the abode of God. –He does not describe what he saw. –He is not allowed to speak the words he heard.
His purpose was two-fold: –Respect of the mystery of the sacred. –Deliberately shaming his rivals by not revealing anything substantive about the revelation itself, but the “mere happening” of the vision (Bultmann, 222). –Note the difference in his approach and his opponents. His “glorying” was in his “weaknesses” for Christ. –Paul’s boasting is actually rooted in his self-renunciation in contrast to the carnal self-promotion of false brethren (12:5, 6; cf. 10:12, 17-18; 11:21-31). –The criteria of judging him was not “visions” but observable confirmation, “seeing” and “hearing” “signs.”
“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.  Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times…”
… that it might depart from me.  And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
The entire phrase should be interpreted metaphorically, rather than literally. (Some want to interpret “in the flesh” literally and the term “thorn” metaphorically). “The term thorn represents something that causes pain in contrast to an illness ” (Thorn in the Flesh, 390, Verena Jegher- Bucher, the Strack-Billerbeck Commentary of the New Testament from the Talmud and Midrash). Prominent scholars have argued for every imaginable interpretation: Epilepsy, blindness, sexual desire and a guilty conscience, but in my mind these views fall short of the textual evidence.
“Unless one seizes on a different meaning of the term ‘weakness’ than Paul gives it in the immediate context of 2 Corinthians 12:7 or in any of his correspondence with the Corinthians, there is nothing remotely to suggest this his ‘thorn in the flesh’ is a physical illness…but Paul’s mention of his ‘thorn in the flesh’ is sandwiched between plural forms of the noun which relate to his many tribulations that are listed in 2 Corinthians 11:21-33 and 12:10” (Truth Commentaries, 2 Corinthians, Melvin Curry, 419).
The term “weakness” as used in 11:21-30 and 12:9-10 references the adversities and adversaries mentioned in 2 Corinthians. Namely, the extremely difficult circumstances and painful persecutions that Satan continually used to attempt to destroy the apostle’s mission. The only other Biblical references to the term thorn (skolops) occur in the Greek version of the Old Testament (Numbers 33:55; Ezekiel 28:24). In all of the preceding instances, Israel’s disobedience, as a work of Satan, becomes an occasion for God to demonstrate his power. In essence Paul is arguing that these false brethren are working for Satan, but used by God to strengthen Paul!
Whatever the “thorn in the flesh” was – Paul wanted it removed and saw it as a hindrance to his work and mission as a gospel preacher and apostle!
We could our “thorns” be? –Sickness –Hardships –Unfaithful Brethren –World –Career –Finances –Family problems
Even the persecutions were aimed at the battle of the mind and soul (10:2-6; 2 Timothy 4:6-8).
To the Corinthians, Satan appeared as ‘an angel of light,” (11:14) in order to work darkness. To Paul, he appeared as an angel of agony in order to work despair. However, it backfired, God used Satan’s messenger to deliver His own message.
God’s purpose was to ensure that Paul maintained the right view of himself in spite of his spiritual privileges!
The term “buffet” means to “strike with the fist,” literally. Metaphorically it is variously translated as to “pound away,” “abuse,” or “torment”. The thorn becomes a fist! “What a dreadful poison pride is, so that the only antidote to it is another poison”
12:10 Paul expresses his submission to God’s will for his development. Came to understand the purpose of trials in the development of patience and humility! Notice the qualifying phrase, “for Christ’s sake.”
Suffiency and Adequacy of God’s Grace (9). God’s power is perfected in weakness (God’s power is only experienced in the life of one who realizes he cannot save himself by his own strength) (9; 13:4). Power of Christ May Dwell in Me (9) –To set up a tent for protection! –It is when we need God the most—that we observe the greatness of his power.