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Commentary » II Corinthians 12:1-II Corinthians 12:10 » Family-Times.net
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Paul’s Vision and Thorn in the Flesh

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To seek to earn, merit, or purchase salvation is to insult the Giver. Imagine yourself invited to a banquet in the White House by the president of the United States. You are seated at a table that is filled with the choice foods. Every effort is made to give you a most enjoyable … More


In the previous chapter Paul’s focus of attention has been on earthly, physical experiences in the gospel. Now he shifts his attention to two experiences he has had from God. In order to avoid exalting himself he describes these experiences in the third person.

  1. The Revelation (vv. 1-6) - Fourteen years before the writing of  this letter Paul had been caught up into the very  presence of Christ in heaven (v. 20). Paul was not quite sure whether God had taken him bodily to heaven, or whether his spirit had left his body. Possibly this  was when he was stoned and his broken and bruised body lay in the dust near Lystra (Acts 14:19). At any rate Paul had kept quiet about this experience for 14 years. If he had been seeking honor for himself, he would have immediately told what had happened and would have become famous. Instead, he exercised discipline and told his experience to no one.
  2. The thorn in the flesh (vv. 7-10) - The Lord knows how to balance our lives. If we have only victories and blessings, we may become proud; so He permits us to have burdens as well.  For this reason he permitted his dear apostle to have a “thorn in the flesh."  We do not know what it was except that it was some annoying, painful and persistent source of suffering. Some Bible scholars think it was an eye affliction of some kind (Galatians 6:11). Three times Paul asked the Lord to remove it but instead He just gave him the grace to endure it. An acrostic of the word grace is God’s Riches Available at Christ’s Expense.


God did not give Paul any explanations but instead gave him His grace. When I face obstacles, it is only by His grace and His power that I will be made effective to do a work with everlasting value.

II Corinthians 12:1-10 (English Standard Version)

I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows-- and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. Though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

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