2 Corinthians 12: Boasting of Weakness

Why do you think Paul suggested that his audience might not benefit from his story?

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2 Corinthians 12:1 My boasting may be of no benefit, but I will tell about visions and revelations from the Lord.
King James
2 Corinthians 12:1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.

When do you think Paul was caught up into Heaven, a time when he wasn’t sure whether he was alive or dead?

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Acts 14:19 Their attitude changed quickly when Jews from Antioch and Iconium persuaded them that not only were these men not gods, they were of the devil. So they stoned Paul and left him outside the city, believing he was dead.
2 Corinthians 12:2 More than fourteen years ago, I was caught up into Heaven. Only God knows whether I was there physically or only spiritually.
King James
Acts 14:19 And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.
2 Corinthians 12:2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

Why might we believe his experience was real and not just a dream?

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2 Corinthians 12:3 It seemed like I was there in my physical body, but I might have been having an out-of-body experience. God knows which it was.
King James
2 Corinthians 12:3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)

What do you imagine Heaven will be like?

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2 Corinthians 12:4 I was caught away to paradise, where I heard and saw things far more wonderful than words can describe.
King James
2 Corinthians 12:4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

When have you been awed by something too beautiful to describe?

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2 Corinthians 12:5 Instead of boasting about that experience, I will call attention to my weaknesses.
King James
2 Corinthians 12:5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.

Why did Paul not go into great detail, as best he could, to describe what Heaven was like?

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2 Corinthians 12:6 I’m inclined to boast, which wouldn’t be foolish since I’d be telling the truth. But I don’t want people to think more of me than what they see me do and say.
King James
2 Corinthians 12:6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.

Many have claimed to know what Paul’s affliction was, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. Because others wrote for him and he said people would pluck out their eyes and give them to him, some think Paul was going blind. Why is it not important to determine the nature of his affliction in order to understand his plight?

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Galatians 4:15 What happened to the joy you had back then? If it had been possible, I know you would have given your eyes to me, sacrificing your own ability to see.
2 Corinthians 12:7 To protect me from thinking too highly of myself in the abundance of revelations, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan sent to keep me humble.
King James
Galatians 4:15 Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.
2 Corinthians 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

After praying once for his affliction to be removed, why do you think Paul kept praying?

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Matthew 6:7 When you pray, do not repeat empty words like the pagans, who think they will be heard because of their incessant babbling.
2 Corinthians 12:8 I prayed at three different times for the Lord to remove my affliction.
King James
Matthew 6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
2 Corinthians 12:8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

Why did Paul stop praying after three times?

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2 Corinthians 12:8 I prayed at three different times for the Lord to remove my affliction.
12:9 But God said no. “My grace is sufficient,” he said. “In your weakness, your dependence upon me makes you strong.” Therefore, I will boast of this affliction if it makes the power of Jesus Christ alive in me.
King James
2 Corinthians 12:8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

If grace is “God’s unmerited favor,” how is it that Paul was not given what he wanted?

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2 Corinthians 12:9 But God said no. “My grace is sufficient,” he said. “In your weakness, your dependence upon me makes you strong.” Therefore, I will boast of this affliction if it makes the power of Jesus Christ alive in me.
King James
2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

How can afflictions be a benefit to us? How might they work against us?

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2 Corinthians 12:10 I take pleasure in weakness, insults, and hardships. Persecuted, frustrated, suffering for Christ’s sake, I am thankful for my weakness that makes me strong in him.
King James
2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

What motivated Paul to brag about being better than other messengers?

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2 Corinthians 12:11 I’ve been a fool for boasting like this, but you’ve made it necessary. You should be commending me, but instead, when I shouldn’t be taking credit at all, I must brag that I’m the greatest of messengers.
King James
2 Corinthians 12:11 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.

In what ways do you think Paul would have shown that he was God’s appointed messenger and show that others were not?

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2 Corinthians 12:12 In my patient work among you, the signs, wonders, and miracles are clear evidence that I really am God’s messenger.
King James
2 Corinthians 12:12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

If Paul felt a strong conviction that he should not ask support from the Corinthians, why would he suggest that he might have made a mistake?

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2 Corinthians 12:13 How might I have put you at a disadvantage compared to other churches? If I was wrong in not pushing you for financial support, please forgive me.
12:14 Now I am coming to you for the third time, and I still have no plan to be a financial burden. I am coming to help you, not have you help me. Parents should provide for their children, not the other way around.
King James
2 Corinthians 12:13 For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.
12:14 Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.

What would Paul have felt he could do to help the believers in Corinth?

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2 Corinthians 12:15 Because of my abundant love for you, I will gladly expend all my resources to help you, even if you love me less as a result.
King James
2 Corinthians 12:15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.

If Paul received no support in his previous visits to Corinth, how could anyone argue that he had been deceptive and manipulative?

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2 Corinthians 12:16 Although I was not a burden to you, as you most certainly know, some will still say I was deceptive and took advantage of you.
12:17 That’s absurd. Did I gain anything from those I sent to help you? No, nothing.
King James
2 Corinthians 12:16 But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.
12:17 Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you?

Why do you think Paul’s associates followed his practices in ministry?

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2 Corinthians 12:18 When I sent Titus and another brother, did he take advantage of you? Of course not. He and I are one in spirit, walking together in understanding how we should minister.
King James
2 Corinthians 12:18 desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps?

As Paul anticipated arriving in Corinth, what was his greatest concern?

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2 Corinthians 12:19 Are we just making excuses to justify our actions? No, we bring the message of Jesus Christ. As God’s servants, we do everything for your benefit.
12:20 I fear that when I come, you will not be as I hope you will be, and my behavior toward you won’t be what you want. Will I see contention, anger, and backbiting? Will there be gossiping, political wrangling, and social uprisings, people lifted up in jealousy and pride?
12:21 I’m afraid I’ll be humbled by what I see when I arrive, many of you not truly surrendered to the Lord, remaining in your sins, never repenting of your unclean thoughts, sexual immorality, and lust for pleasure.
King James
2 Corinthians 12:19 Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.
12:20 For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:
12:21 And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.