Paul's Visions and Revelations
12:1I must needs glory, though it is not expedient; but I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 12:2I know a man in Christ, fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I know not; or whether out of the body, I know not; God knoweth), such a one caught up even to the third heaven. 12:3And I know such a man (whether in the body, or apart from the body, I know not; God knoweth), 12:4how that he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.1 12:5On behalf of such a one will I glory: but on mine own behalf I will not glory, save in my weaknesses. 12:6For if I should desire to glory, I shall not be foolish; for I shall speak the truth: but I forbear, lest any man should account of me above that which he seeth me to be, or heareth from me. 12:7And by reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations, that I should not be exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, that I should not be exalted overmuch. 12:8Concerning this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 12:9And he hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made perfect in weakness.2 Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 12:10Wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 3
- heard unspeakable words. Huston Smith says he met a Father Lazarus, a missionary of the Eastern Orthodox Church who had spent the last twenty years in India. After telling him that he was attracted to Hinduism because of its doctrine of universal salvation, Father Lazarus referred to this passage from St Paul, saying that what Paul heard "no mortal is permitted to repeat." Smith writes that Father Lazarus was convinced that the secret that Paul had received in the third heaven was that ultimately everyone is saved. Why Religion Matters, pp.269-70.
- My grace is sufficient for you. Agnes Sanford tells of a woman who was not able to be healed from an incurable disease. Rather, she was told that her strength was made perfect in weakness and that His strength was sufficient for her. Sanford writes, "She interpreted 'My strength is made perfect in weakness' to mean that in her weakness His strength would be made perfect. She does her own work, teaches classes, starts prayer groups, attends conferences heals the sick and comforts the sorrowing by renewing her strength through His Strength every day." The Healing Light, pp49-50.
- For when I am weak, then am I strong. “There is an allness in every illness”—Eric Butterworth
Paul's Concern for the Corinthian Church
12:11I am become foolish: ye compelled me; for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing was I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I am nothing. 12:12Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, by signs and wonders and mighty works. 12:13For what is there wherein ye were made inferior to the rest of the churches, except it be that I myself was not a burden to you? forgive me this wrong.
12:14Behold, this is the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be a burden to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 12:15And I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more abundantly, am I loved the less? 12:16But be it so, I did not myself burden you; but, being crafty, I caught you with guile. 12:17Did I take advantage of you by any one of them whom I have sent unto you? 12:18I exhorted Titus, and I sent the brother with him. Did Titus take any advantage of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps?
12:19Ye think all this time that we are excusing ourselves unto you. In the sight of God speak we in Christ. But all things, beloved, are for your edifying. 12:20For I fear, lest by any means, when I come, I should find you not such as I would, and should myself be found of you such as ye would not; lest by any means there should be strife, jealousy, wraths, factions, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults; 12:21lest again when I come my God should humble me before you, and I should mourn for many of them that have sinned heretofore, and repented not of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they committed.
Following Entry: II Corinthians 13