Messages

Wed, Jul 05, 2017

His Strength Through My Weaknesses

2 Corinthians 12:1-10  “His Strength Through My Weakness”

1 It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast.

I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord:

2 Corinthians 11:16-18
16
I say again, let no one think me a fool. If otherwise, at least receive me as a fool, that I also may boast a little.
17 What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord, but as it were, foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.
18 Seeing that many boast according to the flesh, I also will boast.

 

·      Paul’s not boasting OF his infirmities – he is boasting IN his infirmities

2 Corinthians 11:30    If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.

2 Corinthians 12:5   Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities.

2 Corinthians 12:9   Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

o   Boasting of God’s grace and provision – the main lesson here.

 

2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven.

·      14 years earlier Paul was in Lystra and Derbe preaching he Word:

Acts 14:8-22
19
Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.
20 However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch,
22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”

 

3 And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows —
4 how he was caught up[1] into
Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

·      Inexpressible words

  • ἄρρητος, ον (cp. ῥῆμα; Hom.+; Sb 7600, 7; TestSol 8:7 D; JosAs 12:5 cod. A 27:2; GrBar ins 1; ApcZeph; Philo; Jos., Bell. 7, 262; Just., D. 127, 2 al.; Ath. 6, 1; Tat. 34, 3; for spelling B-D-F §11, 1)
    • of someth. that cannot be expressed, since it is beyond human powers, inexpressible (Pla., Symp. 189b; Plut., Mor. 564f; Herm. Wr. 1, 31; PGM 13, 763 explains it: ἐν ἀνθρώπου στόματι λαληθῆναι οὐ δύναται).
    • of someth. that must not be expressed, since it is holy, not to be spoken (since Eur., Bacch. 472; Hdt. 5, 83, 3; Thessalus [I a.d.] adjures Asclepius διʼ ἀρρήτων ὀνομάτων: Cat. Cod. Astr. VIII/3, 137. Not infreq. on sacral ins [Nägeli 55]. PGM 3, 205; 12, 237; Vett. Val. 19, 1; Plut., Mor. 360f; Mesomedes in: Alex. Coll. p. 198, no. 36, 14=IAndrosIsis, Mesomedes p. 145 ln. 14; Philo, Det. Pot. Ins. 175) ἄ. ῥήματα words too sacred to tell 2 Cor 12:4 (cp. Lucian, Epigr. 11).—DELG s.v. 2 εἴρω. M-M. TW.     [2]

 

·      Unlawful to speak outside of Paradise?

o  What language?

§  Angelic tongues?

1 Corinthians 13:1   Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.

 

1 Corinthians 14:2–5

2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.

3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.

4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.

5  I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.

 

o  Worship?

1 Corinthians 2:9    But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

 

·      Paradise

o   The word Paradise comes from a Persian word which means a walled-garden. When a Persian king wished to confer a very special honor on someone specially dear to him, he made him a “companion of the garden” and gave him the right to walk in the royal gardens with him in intimate companionship. In this experience, as never before and never again, Paul had been the companion of God.    [3]

Genesis 2:8    The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.

 

Genesis 2:15    Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.

 

Genesis 3:8    And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

 

·      It will all be worth it one day!

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

 

5 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.

7 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.

·      What was this “thorn”?

o  Emotional

§  Spiritual or Carnal temptations

o  Relational

§  Mother-in-law

§  Jewish resistance

o  Physical

§  The word (skolops) can mean thorn but more likely it means stake. [4]

·      Sometimes criminals were impaled upon a sharp stake.

·      It was a stake like that that Paul felt was twisting in his body

§  Indicates a tremendous chronic painful experience/lifestyle

§  Headaches?

·      Both Tertullian and Jerome believed that Paul suffered from severe and prostrating headaches. .    [5]

§  Blind?

·      Another theory is that Paul suffered from eye trouble and this would explain the headaches.

o   Was Paul blind after his Damascus road experience?

Acts 9:9    And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

o   Paul said of the Galatians that they would have plucked out their eyes and would have given them to him.

Galatians 4:15   What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me.

o   Paul closes Galatians describing the large words he wrote

Galatians 6:11    See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!

§  Malaria?

·      Very prevalent around the Mediterranean in Jesus’ day.

·      One who has suffered from it describes the headache that accompanies it as being like “a red-hot bar thrust through the forehead.” Another speaks of “the grinding, boring pain in one temple, like the dentist’s drill—the phantom wedge driven in between the jaws,” and says that when the thing became acute it “reached the extreme point of human endurance.”     [6]

 

o   It had a demonic origin

§  Can Christians be utterly possessed by demons?

§  Can Christians be utterly oppressed by demons?

 

2 Corinthians 2:11    lest Satan should take advantage of us;

for we are not ignorant of his devices.

·      Forgiveness central to defeating Satan’s devices  (v7, 10)

o  Satan lives in bitterness and unforgiveness

·      Choosing to love those that have harmed you  (v8)

·      Obedience to forgive and justify others.  (v9)

 

2 Corinthians 10:3–5

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.

4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,

5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

 

Chuck Swindoll - By the way, demon “possession” and demon “oppression” are not actual biblical terms.  The Greek text supports only the idea of one being “demonized,” which may include any of several levels of demonic activity and/or control.  [7]

 

8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.
9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

·      Paul was one of those Super-Apostles wasn’t he?

o   Paul asked 3X!

o   How come he didn’t get his request answered?

o   Paul did – God answered him – the answer was No.

·      Someone once wrote: "The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you." That's another way of saying with Paul that we never have temptations greater than we can bear. We pray for lighter burdens when we ought to pray for stronger backs. We pray for an easier path when we ought to pray for tougher feet. We pray for fewer problems when we ought to pray for better solutions.

 

10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

·      Paul’s not boasting OF his infirmities – he is boasting IN his infirmities

2 Corinthians 11:30    If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.

2 Corinthians 12:5   Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my

infirmities.

2 Corinthians 12:9   Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

 

o  Boasting of God’s grace and provision – the main lesson here.

 

·      Make sure it is God's trumpet you are blowing--if it is only yours, it won't wake the dead; it will simply disturb the neighbors.  [8]



[1] Paul was raptured (caught up is from the same verb harpazō used in 1 Thes. 4:17 of saints at the Rapture) to the third heaven, the dwelling place of Christ and the saints, which Jesus called paradise (Luke 23:43; cf. Rev. 2:7).    David K. Lowery, “2 Corinthians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 582.

[2] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 134–135.

[3] The letters to the Corinthians. 2000, c1975 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, Ed.). The Daily study Bible series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

[4]The letters to the Corinthians. 2000, c1975 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, Ed.). The Daily study Bible series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

[5]The letters to the Corinthians. 2000, c1975 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, Ed.). The Daily study Bible series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

[6] The letters to the Corinthians. 2000, c1975 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, Ed.). The Daily study Bible series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

[7] Chuck Swindoll, Stress Fractures, © 1990 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc., Published by Multnomah Press, Portland, Oregon.  Pg 200

[8] Maj. W. Ian Thomas, quoted in Context (Feb. 1991), Christianity Today, Vol. 35, no. 4.