Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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2 CORINTHIANS - Chapter 12

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2 Corinthians 12

Supplemental Commentary:

III.  THE APOSTLE DEFENDS HIS APOSTOLATE  10, 1 -- 13, 10 (continued)

12, 1-21.  In addition to his superior labors and greater suffering for the gospel, St. Paul can prove his divine commission by the extraordinary graces and gifts with which God has favored him.  He therefore cites some of is visions and revelations.  Could his adversaries boast of anything of the kind?  And yet her prefers to glory in his infirmities.  If his converts had been true to their Apostle, all this apparent boasting, so distasteful to him, would have been unnecessary.  After all, he is not on trial before the Corinthians.  God is his judge.

12, 1-6:  His Revelations.    2.  A man in Christ: St. Paul humbly speaks of himself in the third person.  Whether in the body, etc.: the Apostle at the time was totally abstracted from the senses, as in ecstasy.  The third heaven: i.e., paradise, the abode of the blessed.  The fourteen years ago, spoken of in this verse, would be shortly before the beginning of the first missionary journey, that is, around 43-44 A.D., if this Epistle was written around 57-58 A.D.

12, 7-10:  His Infirmities.    7.  Thorn for the flesh: or "thorn in the flesh," seems to refer to some physical defect or chronic illness.    9.  And he has said to me: the use of the perfect tense here implies that the force of the reply continues.  Strength is made perfect, etc.: the power of God is most perfectly realized and appreciated when human strength is wanting, that is, when weak human agents are made use of to accomplish great results.

12, 14-21:  His Third Visit.    14.  This is the third time, etc.: in view of 13, 1 this can only mean that the forthcoming visit to Corinth would be his third.  See Introduction.    15.  Some critics make the second clause of this verse independent, and read it interrogatively: "If I love you more abundantly, am I to be loved the less?"

16.  But be it so: it would seem from the preceding verse that less love from the Corinthians was to be St. Paul's reward for his more abundant love of them.  But the accusation against him could take another form.  His enemies perhaps said, or would say, that he was cunning enough to get money from the Corinthians through his legates.    18.  There is some confusion about the mission of Titus referred to in this verse.  Perhaps we shall encounter fewest difficulties if we suppose three visits of Titus to Corinth.  Thus, (a) an earlier one in which he and a brother started the collection for the poor in Jerusalem, to which the present passage and 8, 6 seem to allude; (b) the visit following the painful letter (2, 13; 7, 6.13); (c) the visit on which he and two brethren were to complete the collection (8, 6.17.18.22).    19.  We speak before God in Christ: i.e., before God as our judge, and as ministers of Christ.    21.  Who sinned before, refers to some former period in the Christian life of the Corinthians, perhaps before St. Paul's second visit, the painful visit.


Confraternity Bible:

His Revelations  1 If I must boast---it is not indeed expedient to do so---but I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.  2* I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago---whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows---such a one was caught up to the third heaven.  3 And I know such a man---whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows--- 4 that he was caught up into paradise and heard secret words that man may not repeat.  5 Of such a man I will boast; but of myself I will glory in nothing save in my infirmities.  6 For if I do wish to boast, I shall not be foolish; for I shall be speaking the truth.  But I forbear, lest any man should reckon me beyond what he sees in me or hears from me.

His Infirmities  7* And lest the greatness of the revelations should puff me up, there was given me a thorn for the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to buffet me.  8 Concerning this I thrice besought the Lord that it might leave me.  9 And he has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for thee, for strength is made perfect in weakness."  Gladly therefore I will glory in my infirmities, that the strength of Christ may dwell in me.  10 Wherefore I am satisfied, for Christ's sake, with infirmities, with insults, with hardships, with persecutions, with distresses.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.

He Has Been Forced to Boast  11 I have become foolish!  You have forced me.  For I ought to have been commended by you, since in no way have I fallen short of the most eminent apostles, even though I am nothing.  12 Indeed, the signs of the apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in miracles and wonders and deeds of power.  13 For in what have you been less favored than the other churches---unless in this, that I was no burden to you?  Pardon me this wrong!

His Third Visit  14 Behold, this is the third time that I am ready to come to you.  And I will not be a burden to you; for I do not seek yours, but you.  For the children should not save up for the parents, but the parents for the children.  15 But I will most gladly spend and be spent myself for your souls, even though, loving you more, I be loved less.

16* But be it so: I was no burden to you, but, being crafty, I caught you by guile.  17 Did I take advantage of you through any of these whom I sent to you?  18 I urged Titus to go, and I sent our brother with him.  Did Titus take advantage of you?  Have we not walked in the same spirit, have we not walked in the same steps?

19* Are you thinking all this time that we are defending ourselves before you?  We speak before God in Christ; but in all things, beloved, for your own edification.  20 For I fear lest perhaps when I come I may not find you as I should wish, and lest I may be found by you not as you would wish---lest perhaps there be found among you contentions, envyings, animosities, dissensions, detractions, gossiping, arrogance, disorders--- 21 lest when I come again God should humiliate me before you, and I should mourn over many who sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness and immorality and licentiousness that they practiced.
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2: A man in Christ: St. Paul humbly speaks of himself in the third person.  Whether in the body, etc.: the Apostle at the time was totally abstracted from the senses, as in ecstasy.  The third heaven: i.e., paradise, the abode of the blessed.

7: Thorn for the flesh: or "thorn in the flesh," seems to refer to some chronic illness.

16: I caught you by guile: his enemies perhaps said, or would say, that he was cunning enough to get money from the Corinthians through his legates.

19: We speak before God in Christ: i.e., before God as our Judge, and as ministers of Christ.