God’s Saving Word: Spiritual Renewal
2 Corinthians 12:1-10: The apostle Paul begins to tell about his vision as if it happened to someone else, but he is most likely talking about himself. He reveals that he was given a painful physical ailment, and he concludes by saying that, when he is weak, he is strong because he knows that God’s kindness and power are all he needs and that he does not need to rely on his own strength.
Paul’s Visions and Revelations
12 I have to boast, even though it doesn’t do any good. But I will now talk about visions and revelations given me by the Lord. 2 I know a certain Christian man who fourteen years ago was snatched up to the highest heaven (I do not know whether this actually happened or whether he had a vision—only God knows). 3-4 I repeat, I know that this man was snatched to Paradise (again, I do not know whether this actually happened or whether it was a vision—only God knows), and there he heard things which cannot be put into words, things that human lips may not speak. 5 So I will boast about this man—but I will not boast about myself, except the things that show how weak I am. 6 If I wanted to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be telling the truth. But I will not boast, because I do not want any of you to have a higher opinion of me than you have as a result of what you have seen me do and heard me say.
7 But to keep me from being puffed up with pride because of the many wonderful things I saw, I was given a painful physical ailment, which acts as Satan’s messenger to beat me and keep me from being proud. 8 Three times I prayed to the Lord about this and asked him to take it away. 9 But his answer was: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me. 10 I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Today’s Key Verse: 2 Corinthians 12:9b
[Paul writes:] I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me.
In Paul’s day, people argued about how many levels heaven had. The third level was said to be where God dwells. What does Paul say about this vision of the “highest heaven” (verse 2)? What does Paul say about a painful physical ailment he has (verse 7)? What are your thoughts about Paul’s statement in verse 10? In what ways does today’s reading relate to 2 Corinthians 11:30 from yesterday’s reading?
Lord God, you are all I need. Even when I am weak, I am strong because I trust in your steadfast love and care. I am always secure in your powerful and protective embrace. Amen.
2 Corinthians 12:11-21: The apostle Paul expresses concern for the Corinthians.