Cor. Chapter 12
verses for this week: 2
Pet 1:19 We have also a
more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed,
as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn,
and the day star arise in your hearts:
2 Pet 1:20 Knowing
this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private
Introduction: Last week in Chapter 11,
Paul the church to not be deceived by Satan who wars against
us each day. And to
watch carefully for the false teachers that rise up in the church to
teach false doctrine. This
week, we discuss some of the visions and revelations that Paul
Visions and Revelations- Further Proof of Apostleship
2 Corinthians 12:1 It
is not expedient for me doubtless to glory.
I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.
2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether
in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot
tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
finds it necessary to continue his “glorying and boasting.”
Visions refer to supernatural sights granted to men, while
revelations are the truths shown during such events.
Paul was one of the few men who had such experiences, and he
writes now of the supreme revelation.
This came directly from the Lord.
Paul did not go to the seminary or schools of higher learning
to find out about Christ. He
had attended the school of Gamaliel before he was saved, but God
gave him a revelation about Jesus Christ.
It was Christ himself that dealt with Paul when he was known
as Saul there on the road to Damascus.
This is where Paul always went back to concerning his
And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I
cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught up into
paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a
man to utter. 5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not
glory, but in mine infirmities. 6 For though I would desire to
glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I
forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth
me to be, or that he heareth of me. 7 And lest I should be exalted
above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was
given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet
me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
years had passed since this miracle, and Paul had apparently never
told anyone about this revelation.
And now, he couldn’t reveal all of it.
Paul does not take credit for this as to say “I did it”,
but speaks in the third person as he relates himself as being “I
knew a man in Christ”.
He really doesn’t reveal that it was he that he spoke of
until verse 7. Paul
said he was raptured (caught up) to the third heaven, the place
where God abides. He
questions whether this rapture happened in the body or in the
spirit. Perhaps it was
just a spiritual event, but Paul himself was not sure.
If he was not allowed to tell the words that he heard, then
why was he permitted to hear these words?
It was for his own personal comfort and strengthening.
Each of us most likely have had an experience (outside of
salvation) that you can relate to that you know came from the Lord.
I’m not saying a revelation like Paul, but something that
you know that God spoke to you.
Perhaps the reason that Paul was not allowed to tell all of
his experience was that it might cause him to glory too much and
exalt himself too highly. Paul
said that if he gloried, he gloried in his weakness. He knew that it was a special honor to be used of the Lord, a
feeble vessel that only God could turn into a vessel of honor.
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from
me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my
strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I
rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest
upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches,
in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake:
for when I am weak, then am I strong.
the time Paul was granted this experience, he had also received
something else that was quite different.
He speaks of this “thorn” he had in the flesh.
He petitioned God three times to remove this thorn, which may
have been his poor eyesight, but God simply told him that “My
grace is sufficient for thee.”
When we don’t see immediate answers to our prayers, God may
be saying “No”, or he may just be saying “Wait a while.”
But we need to seek God in all things we do, and be sure He
is guiding us. Paul
said this thorn was used by Satan as a messenger to buffet him.
Paul did not view this as a good thing, and asked God three
times to remove it. When
bad things come in our life, we need to look deeper to see if this
is being used by God to mold us and make us into something greater
for His service. As the
years passed by, God revealed to Paul why he allowed this infirmity
to remain. This was a
gift to keep Paul from becoming exalted with spiritual pride, and to
become a castaway. God
not only granted Paul the grace to bear the “thorn”, but the
grace to live victoriously in spite of it.
Now Paul glories in the trials which demonstrate his
weakness, for this made him cling more closely to the Lord.
You know in your own life, physical infirmity is not always
bad. Sometimes it comes
for our own good.
Paul’s Unselfish Love for the Corinthians
I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to
have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very
chiefest apostles, though
I be nothing. 12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among
you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. 13 For
what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be
that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.
Paul says he
is now finished with his glorying.
He acknowledges that he had become a fool in so doing. He had truly been forced to write in this foolish way
because they had compelled him to do so.
He knew that when critics slandered him the Corinthians
should have the ability to answer them.
These people had seen in his ministry the signs of an
apostle. Paul had not
taken financial help from this church and he asked them to forgive
him this wrong. J.
Vernon McGee had some excellent points about verse 12.
are certain sign gifts which were given to the apostles to
authenticate their message. They had the gift of healing. They could
raise the dead and speak in tongues, which does not mean unknown
tongues but languages and dialects. Paul had gone through the
Galatian country, and there must have been fifty dialects and
languages in that area. Paul could speak them all. Had he studied
them? No. In that early day it was necessary to get the Word of God
out into the Roman Empire in a hurry, and so these apostles were
equipped with these gifts. Today missionaries and translators must
spend years learning the languages they will use. “Signs of an
apostle were wrought among you.” They could identify him as an
apostle because he had the gifts of an apostle.
have just come through a wonderful section of Scripture. Someone has
said that one of the reasons Paul was not to tell us about heaven
was because there would be a mass exodus up out of this world to get
there. I don’t know about that, but it is true that we could spend
our time contemplating heaven and lose sight of a lost world that
needs to hear of the Savior. Heaven is a wonderful place, but very
little is said about it in the Word of God. Probably it is so
wonderful that human language cannot describe it. It is our business
to try to reach folk with the gospel so that they will be in heaven
Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be
burdensome 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. 15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you;
though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
statement that this was the third time I am ready to come to you
does not necessarily mean he had already paid two visits to the
city. He plainly says
that this is the third time he was ready to come.
Sometimes we make plans, and God does not allow us to
complete those plans for whatever reason. We know in chapter 1 of this book that Paul said that
the second time he planned to come he was hindered from coming due
to their conduct. Because
Paul would not be burdensome unto them earlier, he purposes that he
will still not take their financial support.
Paul was their spiritual father and he would care for them,
even though they may not appreciate it.
And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye
might have a second benefit; 16
And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of
Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward
Judaea. 17 When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or
the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that
with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay? 18 But as God is true,
our word toward you was not yea and nay.
19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among
you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and
nay, but in him was yea. 20 For all the promises of God in him are
yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. 21 Now he which
stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; 22
Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our
hearts. 23 Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to
spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth.
16 But be it so, I did not burden you:
nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile. 17 Did I make a
gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you? 18 I desired Titus,
and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked
we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps?
of the people, the critics of Paul, said that even though he was not
taking their money, perhaps he was using guile and getting money
through such emissaries as Titus.
He tells them that his friends were people who sacrificed
just like he did to serve the Lord.
Titus and Paul walked in the same footsteps, and those where
the footsteps of the Lord Jesus Christ.
III. The Warning
19 Again, think ye that we excuse
ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all
things, dearly beloved, for your edifying. 20 For I fear, lest, when
I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be
found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings,
wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: 21
And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and
that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not
repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which
they have committed.
Paul makes it plain that he is
not writing in this manner simply to defend himself. While not bringing this case to them to judge them, Paul
speaks as before God. His
purpose of helping was to edify them.
He fears lest when he makes his promised visit, he will find
them earnestly and humbly living the Christian life, but he fears
they may be doing the very opposite.
If they are not following the commandments and doctrines laid
down to them, Paul says he will be forced to correct them.
He also warns against sins which were evidently special
temptations to them. Paul’s
heart and soul’s desire was to see the churches, both these in
Corinth, and all other true churches of the Lord, to serve the Lord
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