Bro. Michael Jacob
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 circumstances.
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 we are”.
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 us patience.
“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. Psalms 138:3.
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. 2:!