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Thursday, December 14 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

Introduction

In last week’s study, we saw Paul defending his apostleship against those apostles he referred to as “deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ”, whose utmost desire was to corrupt the churches from the simplicity that is in Christ. He gave a large account of his own qualifications, labours, and sufferings (not out of pride or vain-glory, but to the honour of God, who had enabled him to do and suffer so much for the cause of Christ). In today’s study, we shall be looking at his concluding defense and learning from his experiences.

 

Verses 1-6 – Paul’s Revelations

“True, there is nothing to be gained by it, but [as I am obliged] to boast, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or away from the body I do not know, God knows—4 Was caught up into paradise, and he heard utterances beyond the power of man to put into words, which man is not permitted to utter. 5 Of this same [man’s experiences] I will boast, but of myself (personally) I will not boast, except as regards my infirmities (my weaknesses). 6 Should I desire to boast, I shall not be a witless braggart, for I shall be speaking the truth. But I abstain [from it] so that no one may form a higher estimate of me than [is justified by] what he sees in me or hears from me.”

 

Although Paul said in verse 2 say: “I know a man . . ..” he was talking about himself! Whether heavenly things were brought down to him, while his body was in a trance, as in the case of ancient prophets; or whether his soul was dislodged from the body for a time, and taken up into heaven, or whether he was taken up, body and soul together, he knew not. We are not capable, nor is it fit we should yet know, the particulars of that glorious place and state. He did not attempt to publish to the world what he had heard there as he was instructed not to.

 

Verses 7-10 – Paul’s Thorn and lessons to learn

“And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness (preeminence) of these revelations, there was given me a thorn (a splinter) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted. 8 Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me; 9 But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! 10 So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength)”

 

Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so he wouldn’t get a big head, he was given a physical condition - a thorn in his flesh to keep him in constant touch with his limitations. We are not told what this thorn in the flesh was, whether some great trouble, or some great temptation. But God often brings this good out of evil, that the reproaches of our enemies help to hide pride from us. If God loves us, he will keep us from being exalted above measure; and spiritual burdens are ordered to cure spiritual pride. This thorn in the flesh is said to be a messenger of Satan which he sent for evil; but God designed it, and overruled it for good.

Troubles are sent to teach us to pray; and are continued, to teach us to continue instant in prayer. Though God accepts the prayer of faith, yet he does not always give what is asked for: so He sometimes denies in love. When God does not take away our troubles and temptations, yet, if he gives grace enough for us, we have no reason to complain. Grace signifies the good-will of God towards us, and that is enough to enlighten and enliven us, sufficient to strengthen and comfort in all afflictions and distresses. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Thus his grace is manifested and magnified. When we are weak in ourselves, then we are strong in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; when we feel that we are weak in ourselves, then we go to Christ, receive strength from him, and enjoy most the supplies of Divine strength and grace.

 

Verses 11-12 – Paul’s Disappointment at being made to “boast”

“Now I have been [speaking like] a fool! But you forced me to it, for I ought to have been saved the necessity and] commended by you. For I have not fallen short one bit or proved myself at all inferior to those superlative [false] apostles [of yours], even if I am nothing (a nobody). 12 Indeed, the signs that indicate a [genuine] apostle were performed among you fully and most patiently in miracles and wonders and mighty works.”

We owe it to good men, to stand up in the defense of their reputation; and we are under special obligations to those from whom we have received benefit, especially spiritual benefit. Paul’s expectation was that it would have been the Corinthian church writing about him and defending him to the so called “super apostles”

 

Verses 13-15 – Paul’s Independence – A worthy example

“For in what respect were you put to a disadvantage in comparison with the rest of the churches, unless [it was for the fact] that I myself did not burden you [with my financial support]? Pardon me [for doing you] this injustice! 14 Now for the third time I am ready to come to [visit] you. And I will not burden you [financially], for it is not your [money] that I want but you; for children are not duty bound to lay up store for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 But I will most gladly spend [myself] and be utterly spent for your souls. If I love you exceedingly, am I to be loved [by you] the less?”

 

Paul was one who lived what he preached! He who would not work should not eat 2 Thessalonians 3:10. He worked with his hands and did not ask the church for food and a place to stay and this was what the so called “super apostles” were using to bring him down

 

Verses 16-21 – Conclusion Paul’s reply to false charges –- Cautions and warnings

“But though granting that I did not burden you [with my support, some say that] I was crafty [and that] I cheated and got the better of you with my trickery. 17 Did I [then] take advantage of you or make any money out of you through any of those [messengers] whom I sent to you? 18 [Actually] I urged Titus [to go], and I sent the brother with [him]. Did Titus overreach or take advantage of you [in anything]? Did he and I not act in the same spirit? Did we not [take the] same steps? 19 Have you been supposing [all this time] that we have been defending ourselves and apologizing to you? [It is] in the sight and the [very] presence of God [and as one] in Christ (the Messiah) that we have been speaking, dearly beloved, and all in order to build you up [spiritually]. 20 For I am fearful that somehow or other I may come and find you not as I desire to find you, and that you may find me too not as you want to find me—that perhaps there may be factions (quarreling), jealousy, temper (wrath, intrigues, rivalry, divided loyalties), selfishness, whispering, gossip, arrogance (self-assertion), and disorder among you. 21 [I am fearful] that when I come again, my God may humiliate and humble me in your regard, and that I may have to sorrow over many of those who sinned before and have not repented of the impurity, sexual vice, and sensuality which they formerly practiced.”

 

Here is an account of the apostle's behavior and kind intentions; in which we see the character of a faithful minister of the gospel. His great aim and design, was to do good to the Corinthians – not being a burden to them. These last verses show to what excesses the false teachers had drawn aside their deluded followers. That they could still confidently live in sin and Paul feared that he would meet them in their un-repented state.  How grievous it is that such evils should be found among professors of the gospel! But this is the painful truth, as we see it these days very often, and it was so in the days of the apostles.

Parts of this study was culled from https://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=47&c=12

 

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 10:13 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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