The Way - Day 090 (2 Corinthians 12)

Daily Reading:
2 Corinthians 12
Don't forget to journal in your Foundations Book!
Daily Reading Audio Commentary:
Today's Question or Action Step:
Read 2 Corinthians 12:5 aloud. What does it look like to practically apply thus verse? How can we examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith?
Weekly Memory Verse(s):
OPTION 1: Psalm 30:5
OPTION 2: Proverbs 14:12
OPTION 3: Matthew 5:36-37
Further Study Resources:
Study Guide for 2 Corinthians 12 (Enduring Word - David Guzik)
Pastor Tom's Journal on Today's Reading:
2 Corinthians 12
Paul used the majority of this letter to the church of Corinth to defend his apostolic authority against the false teachers who had entered the city (2 Corinthians 1-7).  They had called into question Paul's motives and sincerity causing many to withdraw their loyalty from Paul who had delivered the gospel to them and spent time trying to help them mature in their faith.  Although many had accepted the lies of the false teachers, Paul lovingly exhorted the Corinthians to return to the truth and separate themselves from these teachers (2 Corinthians 6-7).  After defending his God-given authority, Paul addressed the offering for the poor believers in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8-9).  One year earlier the Corinthians committed to contribute to this offering, but had not yet followed through on that promise.  Paul wrote a few words about the importance of generous giving.  Paul concluded his letter by directly writing to those who were still following these men who were spreading lies (2 Corinthians 10-13).

In 2 Corinthians 10-11, Paul appealed for the repentance of those Corinthians who were still being deceived and even detailed his ministry as an apostle.  Apparently, these teachers compared themselves to Paul in order to discredit his sincerity, so Paul was compelled to detail all the things he had suffered for the sake of the gospel.  Although Paul was reluctant to boast in himself, he made sure that he gave all glory to God for what had been accomplished through him.  One of the areas that the false teachers boasted in was their supposed visions and revelations from God.  Paul was familiar with visions and revelations; in fact, the book of Acts records six of them (9:12; 16:9-10; 18:9; 22:17-18; 23:11; 27:23-24) and a couple of his letters also document his visions (Galatians 1:12, 2:2; Ephesians 3:3).  Here he recounted a vision which had occurred fourteen years ago when he was caught up into the third heaven (12:1-6).  The first heaven is the earth's atmosphere.  The second heaven is outer space.  The third heaven is the dwelling place of God.  During this vision he heard "inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter" (12:4).  In this vision, obviously from God, Paul became aware of things that he could not speak.  He hoped that the Corinthians would understand that he was truly an apostle sent by God and that these false teachers were simply seeking to deceive them.

In case the Corinthians thought that he was trying to simply promote his strengths, Paul exposed to them a weakness (12:7-10).  God had given Paul a "thorn in the flesh" so that he would remain humble.  This continual, painful circumstance was a direct result of God allowing a messenger (angel) from Satan to plague Paul (12:7).  Many explanations have been given concerning Paul's "thorn in the flesh," but it seems better that it is not specifically defined because it provides a broad application to those who experience weakness.  Even though Paul begged God to take away the circumstance (12:8), God chose not to remove it but rather give him the strength to endure.  God gave Paul some beautiful words to embrace through his difficulty, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (12:9).  Instead of allowing the circumstance to control his life, he took pleasure in it for the sake of Christ, knowing that when he was weak, God could show Himself strong (12:10).

In his concluding words of this letter to the church at Corinth, Paul urges those who were still being deceived by the false teachers to repent of their sin and return to the truth.  These teachers had used trickery and deceitfulness to lead many of the Corinthians astray, causing them to question Paul's apostolic authority and sincerity.  Since Paul would soon be paying a visit to Corinth (12:14), his greatest desire was that the Corinthians would abandon these wicked teachers and receive him with open arms.  Most of this letter had been spent defending his sincerity and divine authority (2 Corinthians 1-7, 10-12), even though Paul did not like to boast about his accomplishments (12:11-13).  With a great sense of urgency, Paul used his final words to the church at Corinth to evidence his love for them.  He writes, "And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved" (12:15).  Paul's love for Corinth was growing, while the love they had for him was faltering.  The Corinthians had no reason to question Paul's love or sincerity; after all, Paul (or his associates) had never taken advantage of them nor had he been a burden to them during his stay in Corinth (12:16-19).

Upon his arrival in Corinth, Paul feared discovering people consumed by "...contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults" (12:20).  Finding unrepentant hearts amongst the Corinthian people would be devastating to Paul (12:21); however, he promised to deal with any sin which remained in Corinth upon his visit (13:1-2).