2 Corinthians 12: Boasting, Weakness, and God’s Sufficient Grace

(21 verses, 3:30 to read)


What I am about to READ

Paul boasts of his vision and of his thorn in the flesh and prepares the Corinthians for his next visit.


1 – “Though there is nothing to be gained”—Pastors do not advance the cause of the gospel by preaching about their own personal visions and religious experiences. They preach the Gospel. That is what Paul meant when he qualified what he was about to do. But as we have seen, Paul was forced to boast, and he did so only to counteract what the super-apostles (2 Cor. 11:5) were doing. It’s very possible that they were boasting about their visions and experiences.

2 – In keeping with his unwillingness to boast about himself, he veiled this reference by speaking about himself as another man. Paul did not want to exalt himself. It is clear that this vision was given to him as a special gift from the Lord, designed to help him in his missionary work. Note verse 6. Paul said he would not be a fool to boast openly about his visions, but he did not want anyone to evaluate him beyond what they had seen him do or heard him say.

  • “Fourteen years ago”—This happened before Paul’s first missionary journey when he was in Tarsus, waiting for the Lord to tell him what to do.
  • “Third heaven”—Paul was referring to paradise. Some suggest that the first heaven is the clouds; the second, the starry skies.
  • “In the body or out of the body”—Paul was not sure whether he had this vision in body and soul or if only his soul was involved.

7 – “A thorn . . . in the flesh”— Perhaps something afflicting Paul’s body, although there are many theories about the nature of this thorn. Yet, this thorn was sent from the Lord. The difficulties that come into our lives are from the Lord. And as in Paul’s case, the Lord sends them for our good so that we learn to rely on his grace.

9 – Paul prayed that the thorn be removed so he would be able to do his missionary work more effectively. Yet that is what God enabled Paul to do by supplying Paul with his grace.

10 – Paul wanted to boast only about his weaknesses because then people’s eyes would not be focused on him but on the Lord, whose strength was at work in Paul. Paul was strong when he was weak, for only when his strength got out of the way would God’s strength take over.

11 – The Corinthians drove him to boast by doubting.

12 – Paul had done things among the Corinthians that he labeled the marks of an apostle. Had the super-apostles done these things? Not likely.

14-18 – Paul and Titus did not want to make it seem as if they were trying to line their own pockets. They loved the Corinthians and did not want to be a burden to them.

20 – Paul was afraid he would not find the Corinthians as he wanted, and they would not find him as they wanted him to be. In other words, they wanted a friend who would speak words of encouragement. But Paul may have to continue rebuking them. He feared that some had not repented and were still engaged in the sins he mentioned.

21 – He feared that the Corinthians were in need of some heavy law to humble them.


“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” The undeserved grace that the Lord gives to sinners who deserve the very opposite is totally, completely sufficient. The thorn in the flesh was sent by God Himself, and it remained in order to keep Paul humble and focused on Christ. Whatever points us to Christ alone is in fact a blessing – even though we may not recognize it as such.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Post below, or join the conversation in our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/dailybiblemeditation/

Sub Cruce,

Pastor Kevin Zellers, Jr.


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