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Matthew Henry's Commentary

2 Corinthians Chapter 12 

he apostle's revelations. (1-6) Which were improved to his spiritual advantage. (7-10) The signs of an apostle were in him, His purpose of making them a visit; but he expresses his fear lest he should have to be severe with some. (11-21)

Verses 1-6: There can be no doubt the apostle speaks of 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, but he set forth the doctrine of Christ. On that foundation the church is built, and on that we must build our faith and hope. And while this teaches us to enlarge our expectations of the glory that shall be revealed, it should render us contented with the usual methods of learning the truth and will of God.

Verses 7-10: The apostle gives an account of the method God took to keep him humble, and to prevent his being lifted up above measure, on account of the visions and revelations he had. 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. Prayer is a salve for every sore, a remedy for every malady; and when we are afflicted with thorns in the flesh, we should give ourselves to prayer. If an answer be not given to the first prayer, nor to the second, we are to continue praying. 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: as he sometimes grants in wrath, 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 11-21: We owe it to good men, to stand up in the defence of their reputation; and we are under special obligations to those from whom we have received benefit, especially spiritual benefit, to own them as instruments in God's hand of good to us. Here is an account of the apostle's behaviour and kind intentions; in which see the character of a faithful minister of the gospel. This was his great aim and design, to do good. Here are noticed several sins commonly found among professors of religion. Falls and misdeeds are humbling to a minister; and God sometimes takes this way to humble those who might be tempted to be lifted up. These vast verses show to what excesses the false teachers had drawn aside their deluded followers. How grievous it is that such evils should be found among professors of the gospel! Yet thus it is, and has been too often, and it was so even in the days of the apostles.

 


David Burnette's Life Application

Glory in Mine Infirmities

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we continue in the book of 2nd Corinthians with Chapter 12 and in our text we see Paul's concern for the Corinthians as he shares his vision and His thorn in the flesh. He goes on to thank the Lord for his infirmity as it humbles him and keeps him dependent on the Lord. In making application we see that the Lord may allow us to have a thorn in the flesh to keep us humble and dependent on Him. How about you? Has the Lord given you a thorn in your flesh? Let us learn from our text today and the life of Paul to see that we too can "Glory in mine infirmities" knowing that the Lord works all things together for good and our infirmities keep up humbled, balanced, and dependent on the Lord allowing us to love and serve Him in a deeper way.

 

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2 Corinthians 12

2 Corinthians 12

 1It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.

 2I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

 3And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)

 4How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

 5Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.

 6For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.

 7And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

 8For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

 9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

 10Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

 11I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.

 12Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

 13For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.

 14Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.

 15And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.

 16But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.

 17Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you?

 18I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps?

 19Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.

 20For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:

 21And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.