2 Corinthians 12

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

Paul could have talked about many revelations he had from the Lord, but he did not want to teach them to base their lives on visions. He only said this because the troublemakers said that he was not speaking from God.

2. I know a man in Christ who was taken up to the third heaven. This happened 14 years ago. I do not know whether the man was in his body or out of his body. But God knows.

This could have happened when Paul was stoned in the city of Lystra (Acts 14:19). It could have happened when he was in the desert with the Lord (Galatians 1:17).

3 – 4

And I know that this man was taken up to paradise. I do not know if he was in his body or away from his body. But he heard things he is not able to explain. He heard things that no man is allowed to tell.

Sometimes God tells you things that are not for anyone else to hear. See Revelation 10:4.

Now get to your feet! For I have appeared to you [Paul] to appoint you as My servant and witness. You are to tell the world what you have seen and what I will show you in the future. Acts 26:16

5. I will brag about a man like that. But I will not brag about myself, except about my weaknesses.

Paul is saying that his weakness was a gift from God.

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

People know when a man says one thing but his life shows something else.

7. But I must not become too proud of the wonderful things that were shown to me. So a painful problem was given to me.

This problem is a messenger from Satan. It is sent to beat me and keep me from being too proud.

A thorn is a red flag to watch for other coming temptations. It is a messenger with a message.

8. I begged the Lord three times to take this problem away from me.

Paul thought he could serve better if he was healed but God knew better. We are like little children who have to trust that our Father knows the way home better than we do.

9. But the Lord said to me, “My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, then my power is made perfect in you.” So I am very happy to brag about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can live in me.

No wonder Paul could go through so many things because God told Paul that He was giving him the strength to live this way.

We can ask God to take away our thorn but then that would take away the power to live through certain things. Has God said that His grace is enough for you?

10. So I am happy when I have weaknesses, insults, hard times, sufferings, and all kinds of troubles. All these things are for Christ. And I am happy, because when I am weak, then I am truly strong.

God has turned the thorn into a tool to bring us into a greater experience of His power working in our lives. We will see things that we never knew could happen before. Living this way is better than giving God a list of things that He must do for you.

11. I have been talking like a fool. But you made me do it. You are the ones who should say good things about me. I am worth nothing, but those “great apostles” are not worth any more than I am!

God does not do anything for you because you deserve it. He reaches down to you because He loves you.

If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. 1 Corinthians 10:12

12. When I was with you, I did what proves that I am an apostle signs, wonders, and miracles. And I did these things with much patience.

You should see here that showing self-control and patience is even better than miracles.

Do not believe them, even if they say they had a spiritual vision. 2 Thessalonians 2:2

13. So you received everything that the other churches have received. Only one thing was different: I was not a burden to you. Forgive me for this!

Many times money shows what is in a person’s heart. Luke 16:1-15

14. I am now ready to visit you the third time. And I will not be a burden to you. I want nothing from you, I only want you. Children should not have to save up to give to their parents. Parents should save to give to their children.

Paul says, “I do not need money from my spiritual children. I do not want your money. I want you!”

15. So I am happy to give everything I have for you. I will even give myself for you. If I love you more, will you love me less?

There are stories of Christians who have suffered long and hard and laid down their lives for each other. Ann of Ava was very sick and died shortly after, but while she was alive, she took care of her baby and crawled on her hands and knees to bring food to her husband, Adoniram Judson in his jail cell.

These were people of whom the world was not worthy, wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. Hebrews 11:38

16. It is clear that I was not a burden to you. But you think that I was tricking you and used lies to catch you.

There are many ministries that exist for the purpose of being served by the people that follow them.  They are always saying that they need money and they need your help.  What they should be saying is, “Our lives are for you, not for ourselves.”

17 – 18

Did I cheat you by using any of the men I sent to you? No, you know I did not. I asked Titus to go to you. And I sent our brother with him. Titus did not cheat you, did he? No, you know that Titus and I did the same thing and with the same spirit.

When people accuse you asked them to bring two or three witnesses to prove what they are saying.

19. Do you think that we have been defending ourselves to you all this time? We have been speaking in Christ and before God. You are our dear friends. And everything that we do is to make you stronger.

Paul says, “What else will it take to prove that I am an apostle?”

20. I do this because I am afraid that when I come, you will not be what I want you to be. And I am afraid that I will not be what you want me to be.

I am afraid that among you there may be arguing, jealousy, anger, selfish fighting, evil talk, gossip, pride, and confusion.   

God had already taken the lives of people who were destroying His church (Acts 5:5, Acts 12:23). Paul knew that playing church is a dangerous game.

What started as groups of people who had different ideas about who should lead the church became total rebellion and open fighting against each other.

21. I am afraid that when I come to you again, my God will make me ashamed before you. I may be saddened by many of those who have sinned. I may be saddened because they have not changed their hearts and have not turned away from their impurity and their sexual immorality.

The trouble started when the church of Corinth did not want the idol worshipers and men of science to think badly of them. They open themselves up to all kinds of crazy ideas because they did not want to suffer for Christ.

Paul says, “I do not want to think that it will be embarrassing to think that I started this church.”