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Paul’s Vision and Paul’s Thorn! 2 Corinthians 12:1-13

13/10/2013

Paul’s Vision and Paul’s Thorn!
Text: 2nd Corinthians 12:1-13
Paul’s argument was that in his weakness, God would manifest His strength.

1) Paul’s Vision!
But there was something else the hyper-apostles boasted about. They were men who had marvellous visions and revelations from the Lord and they claimed that this made them superior to the other, more ordinary Christians, and certainly more spiritual that Paul! (Paul had a wealth of revelation given to him by God before the Canon of Scripture was complete:- On the road to Damascus – Acts 9:3-6 At Troas – Acts 16:8-10 In Corinth – Acts 18:9-11 In Jerusalem again – Acts 23:11 On his way to Rome – Acts 27:22-25. So, in their criticism of Paul’s spirituality, they were completely far off the truth!) How will Paul answer them? As you might expect, Paul begins his account of this vision in a typically humble and modest way. It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. He pushes the vision away from himself, and completely down-plays it!

The Heavenly Man! V2 I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago. Paul NEVER resorts to self exaltation! If this is his own experience he is speaking about, he’s not going to boast about it. He pushed his experience away into the third person! He didn’t even want to talk about the nature of the experience, was it a bodily, physical experience, or a purely spiritual experience, it doesn’t matter! —whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows

The Heavenly Place! He speaks about the ‘third heaven.’ such a one was caught up to the third heaven He is simply speaking about the PRESENCE OF GOD! That’s a place, but its also a spiritual condition!

The Heavenly language! Paul’s experience of heaven is amazing! how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. He says, ‘The words that I heard in the presence of God were heavenly words that I could not understand, and even if I could understand them, it would be against God’s law for me to tell you what they were saying!’ You see, Paul knew that God’s message to mankind was delivered in Christ, and would be wrapped up in the Scriptures! In the Bible, God has given to us, everything that we need to know. No further revelation is necessary or lawful!

So, Paul could certainly stand up like the hyper-apostles and boast of his great spirituality, and his great visions and revelations, but will he do so? No! Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities. 6 For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me

2) Paul’s Thorn!
In 2 Co 12:7-10, Paul tells of “a thorn in the flesh” which greatly bothered him. And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.

1. What was Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh?
Different suggestions have been made. Possibly chronic eye problems cf Ga 4:13-15; 6:11 Perhaps a result of the blinding light he saw on the Damascus Road?
Could it have been Paul’s infirmities? Could the ‘messenger of Satan,’ be those who contended with and fought against him? Cf. Num 33:55; Judg 2:3
Whatever the thorn was, it was “a messenger of Satan”. That is, it was something from Satan with evil intent. Yet it is evident that God put it there and allowed it to remain! This leads us to ask…

2. Why was this Thorn Given to Paul?
Lest Paul be exalted!
To BUFFET him!

3. How did Paul React? He wanted it to go away! Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from

4. How did God answer Paul’s Prayer? And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” It is in times of weakness and difficulty that the Lord’s strength can be fully experienced. For in such times we really come to depend upon the Lord, and not upon our own strength or wisdom!

5. How did Paul respond to God’s answer? I will boast in my infirmities – Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

There are some practical lessons here.

Sometimes, it is God’s will that we are sick! It was for Paul’s own good that he was suffering this pain and sickness. When we get sick, sometimes the Lord may choose not to remove the infirmity. Instead, He may choose to give you the strength to endure it.
It is God’s will that we should be humble! We are not naturally humble, so sometimes it is the Lord’s will that he should help us in our humility, by reminding us that we are all less than perfect!

It is God’s will that we should pray! Paul did!

God uses ordinary people! Modern Christians, like the Corinthians, seem to think that God uses celebrity Christians! He doesn’t – he uses ordinary, weak, everyday believers to accomplish his divine purpose.

Finally, Paul draws this argument to a close by apologising for his reluctant boasting! He has become a fool in all this boasting, and he only did it because the Corinthians compelled him to do so. They should have known better, and they should have been defending Paul, not joining in the criticism, for they had already seen the results of Paul’s preaching among them, and they had not been deprived of God’s blessing through Paul, only that he had not financially benefited from his ministry among them. For that he apologises!

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