Ref: II Corinthians 12:7-10
Occasion of the Prayer : False teachers had
appeared at Corinth and had sown seeds of dissension in the assembly there. The saints
were in danger of being turned away from Christ. Paul's credibility was questioned. That
was why Paul offered this prayer.
Paul, An Apostle:
Paul's enemies had insisted that he was greatly
inferior to the eleven disciples, that he was not an apostle at all since he lacked all
the essential qualifications stated in Acts 1:22-22. Paul was not one of the 12 disciples
chosen by Christ nor Paul had witnessed Christ's resurrection with them. So Paul's enemies
charged that he was not a Divinely called apostle and he had no authority to oversee the
churches and to regulate their concerns. That was why Paul said IICor 11:5. Then Paul
spread before the Corinthians his credentials (certificates) II Cor. 11:22-33.
Paul did not boast the success of his labors, the
souls that had been saved under his preaching, or the number of churches he had planted.
But Paul only mentions the opposition he had met, the persecutions encountered and the
sufferings he had gone through. He showed them that his sufferings and his patient
endurance of them made manifest that he was a genuine minister of Jesus Christ(Gal. 1:10)
To have seen the Lord was one of the requisites of Valid Apostleship (I
Cor. 9:1) and Paul had done so by heavenly vision(Acts 26:19) (IICor. 12:1) (Acts 18:9-10)
. But over and above these Paul went on to relate an experience which offered superlative
evidence of the favour of God to him as an Apostle.
Paul's Unparalleled Experience:
II Cor 12:2,4: This was an experience
unparalleled in the recorded history of men. He was personally transported to paradise,
translated to the Father's house, permitted and entrance to the place of the sovereign of
the Universe. For a brief reason he was taken to be with "the spirits of just men
made perfect". He saw the glorified Lamb upon the throne, and he heard the seraphim
exclaiming "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts"
And note the following verses, II Cor. 12:5-6.
Paul could have boasted about the high favour which God had shown him, but he did not.
II Cor. 12:7 - Paul was in danger of being unduly elated by the
extraordinary manifestation of the Divine favour he had received. The Lord knew this,
dealt accordingly, bestowing on Paul that which kept him humble.
Pride a Besetting Sin:
By nature Paul was a proud man. Pride was the main ingredient in the sin
of our first parents. They aspired to be as God. That is why, there was given to Paul,
"a thorn in the flesh: - thorn - something painful. It was a bodily affliction by the
words "in the flesh". That it remained with him is seen from his prayer. Satan
aggravated it, "the messenger of Satan to buffet me".
Paul thorn in the flesh was a divine favour! It is thus we should regard
each painful trial - Paul accepted it thankfully. The cases of Job, the women of Luke
13:16, demon-possessed man Christ healed to show that the Devil is given the power to
cause bodily affliction. In Paul's case Satan desired to disqualify him from his work but
the Lord overruled Satan and made him render Paul a good service. Look above Satan and
from God the reason why He has permitted to afflict us.
God's Design in affliction:
II Cor 12:7 - Paul not only accepted it but alos perceived why it was
given him. The thorn came to humble him. Is that not God's chief design in His
disciplinary dealings with us? In Paul's case the affliction was not for correction but
for prevention. How effective Paul's thorn was appears from the fact that he for 14 years
never mentioned his rapture to paradise and would not have done so now but for exceptional
II Cor. 12:8 : The thorn did not make Paul angry. IT CAUSED HIM TO PRAY.
II Cor. 12:8 - some have argued from the example
of Christ in Gethsemane and Paul's case here that we should not ask God more than three
times for any particular thing. NO. IT IS WRONG. (Ref. Isa. 62:7, Luke 11:8, 18:7). The
repeated request for deliverance shows how human Paul was - a man of "like passions
Further, let us consider the answer Paul
received. II Cor. 12:9 - God's answer is not always along the line that we think. Often we
ask for temporal things, and God gives us eternal; we ask for deliverance, and He grants
"My Grace" - It is the Head speaking to
a member of the body. It is fresh grace. He who gives thorn also gives grace to bear it.
II Cor 12:9 - when the apostles had been beaten
they departed Acts. 5:40-41.
II Cor 12:10 - Paul "took pleasure" in
infirmities. Because they were the occasion of manifesting the power of Christ. Psalms
119:71. By the power of Christ Paul triumphed over all difficulties.
What is meant by "When I am weak, then I am strong". There is
weakness which does not result in strength. Some are constantly talking about their
inability and mourning their helplessness, and their it ends. But he who has a true
spiritual sense of his insufficiency, is most earnest in crying to the strong for
strength. To be weak is to be emptied of self; but to be all the time occupied with our
inability is self. To be spiritually weak means that you are conscious, "I lack
wisdom" and that makes you to "ask of God" (James 1:5)
Look Heb 12:2 -> A consciousness of my
weakness is of value only when it turns to God's sufficiency.
Look John 15:5 - Phil. 4:13 - Eph.6:10 - II Tim.