The Visions and Revelations of Paul
2 Corinthians 12:1-6
(1) I must go on boasting! Although I know there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord! (2) I know a man in Christ who 14 years ago was taken up to the third heaven—whether it was in or out of the body I do not know, only God knows. (3) And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, only God knows—(4) was taken up to paradise and heard things which cannot be talked about, things that no human is permitted to tell. (5) I will boast about this man, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. (6) Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I have chosen not to boast, so that no one will think more of me than how they see me live, or hear what I say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations.
Paul’s Contentment in Weakness
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
(7) Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming full of pride, I was given a thorn in my flesh—a messenger of Satan—to torment me. (8) Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. (9) But the Lord said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, because my power is made complete in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power will rest upon me. (10) That is why—for the sake of Christ—I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, and in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong in God’s power.
The Characteristics of a True Apostle
2 Corinthians 12:11-13
(11) I have made a fool of myself, but you forced me to it. I should have been commended by you, because I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles” in Corinth, even though I am nothing. (12) In utmost patience I demonstrated among you the characteristics (signs, marks) of a true apostle, including miraculous signs, wonders, and works of power. (13) For in what way were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I was never a financial burden to you? Oh, forgive me this wrong!
Paul’s Third Visit to Corinth
2 Corinthians 12:14-21
(14) Now I am ready to make a third ministry visit to Corinth. I will not be a financial burden to you, because I don’t want your possessions but your very lives! After all, children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. (15) So I will be very glad to spend everything I have, even by giving my life to you as well. If I love you more, will you love me less? (16) But be that as it may, I was never a financial burden to you, though some in Corinth say that I acted deceitfully and took advantage of you through trickery. (17) Did I ever take advantage of you through any of my ministry partners I sent to you? (18) I urged Titus to go to Corinth, and I sent our brother along with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Didn’t we live by the same Spirit? Didn’t we live our lives in the same way?
(19) My dear friends, have you been thinking that we have been defending ourselves to you? Absolutely not! We have been speaking in God’s sight as those in Christ, and everything we do is to build you up. (20) For I am afraid that when I come to Corinth again I will not find you as I desire you to be, and you will not find me as you desire me to be. I fear that there will be quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorder among you. (21) I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many people who have sinned earlier and who have not repented of the impurity, sexual perversion, and sensuality (pursuit of sexual pleasure) that they practice.