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2 Corinthians 12:7-10
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
The power of God is made perfect in weakness, therefore Paul will boast in his weakness so that the power of Christ may dwell in him
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Published April 27th, 2020
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Main point summary
5 reasons why God allows and uses suffering/weakness for our good and for his glory
Main point summary
God uses both 1) suffering to keep us from becoming conceited and 2) weakness to showcase his power
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
So f to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, 1 g a thorn was given me in the flesh, h a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.
καὶ τῇ ὑπερβολῇ τῶν ἀποκαλύψεων.
and due to the surpassing greatness of the revelations
διὸ ἵνα μὴ ὑπεραίρωμαι,
wherefore to keep me from becoming conceited
ἐδόθη μοι σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί, ἄγγελος σατανᾶ,
a thorn was given to me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan
ἵνα με κολαφίζῃ,
in order to brutally mistreat me
ἵνα μὴ ὑπεραίρωμαι.
in order to keep me from becoming conceited
i Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.
ὑπὲρ τούτου τρὶς τὸν κύριον παρεκάλεσα
Concerning this three times I asked the Lord
ἵνα ἀποστῇ ἀπʼ ἐμοῦ.
in order that it would depart from me
But he said to me, j “My grace is sufficient for you, for k my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that l the power of Christ may rest upon me.
καὶ εἴρηκέν μοι• ἀρκεῖ σοι ἡ χάρις μου,
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you,
ἡ γὰρ δύναμις ἐν ἀσθενείᾳ τελεῖται.
for power is made perfect in weakness."
Ἥδιστα οὖν μᾶλλον καυχήσομαι ἐν ταῖς ἀσθενείαις μου,
Therefore I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses
ἵνα ἐπισκηνώσῃ ἐπʼ ἐμὲ ἡ δύναμις τοῦ Χριστοῦ.
so that the power of Christ may reside upon me
m For the sake of Christ, then, n I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For o when I am weak, then I am strong.
διὸ εὐδοκῶ ἐν ἀσθενείαις, ἐν ὕβρεσιν, ἐν ἀνάγκαις, ἐν διωγμοῖς καὶ στενοχωρίαις, ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ•
Therefore I am well-pleased with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities for the sake of Christ
ὅταν γὰρ ἀσθενῶ,
For when I am weak
τότε δυνατός εἰμι.
then I am strong
I take it as a dative of place... "This term is most often rendered as "thorn" in English translations, could refer to something sharp or pointed, such as a splinter or a stake, but against the LXX backdrop, the translation "thorn" seems appropriate (Numbers 33:55; Hosea 2:6; Ezekiel 28:28). There the image speaks of forms of opposition, something incessantly painful and thus irritating or vexing. Paul defines this thorn as "in the flesh" probably a dative of place, though some have taken it as a dative of disadvantage, reading it as a thorn "against the flesh."
Causal "due to the surpassing greatness"
the only use of ἐπισκηνώσῃ throughout the entire new testament. BDAG defines it as to use a place for lodging, take up quarters, take up one’s abode. The term σκηνώσῃ can refer to a tent, a temporary shelter, or the OT tabernacle
1. hēdista is the superlative of hēdeōs , from which we get “hedonism.”
Today, we live in a culture that is bent on self-exaltation, instant gratification, and living our best life now. These concepts and desires can slowly and sneakily seep into the church and harmfully distort our perception of God’s purpose behind suffering and weakness. The concept of God using suffering and weakness for our good and for his glory can then be a concept that is foreign and unattractive to some believers.
5 reasons why God allows and uses suffering/weakness for our good and for his glory
1) To keep us from becoming conceited/exalting ourselves (v. 7) God utilizes this thorn in the flesh from allowing Paul to become conceited. There can be a danger in becoming conceited from countless sources. One source can even be heavenly revelations and visions. That somehow in our sinfulness, we can get heavenly revelations and visions of God and try to exalt ourselves with it. That we can study hard and see great revelations of God in his word, preach about it in the pulpit, but yet try to lift ourselves up even more than the glory of God in our hearts at times. God in his mercy and love will send a thorn to his children to keep us from becoming conceited, to make us more Christ-like, and to finish the work that he has begun in us. 2) To experience at a heart level that his grace is sufficient in and every circumstance (v. 9) In every circumstance, the grace that he has given is enough. Every second of every day, his grace his sufficient. Every breath in our lungs is grace. Every heart beat. Even in the toughest trials of life, we will see and experience that his grace will sustain us and carry us through. 3) God's power/working is perfected in our weakness (v.9) Paul writes earlier in chapter 4 , “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” We are jars of clay. Vessels of which God chooses to use to showcase his power. God’s power is most evident and seen when we are weak. When all of the working and power is clearly seen as God’s working and power and not our own 4) To learn true contentment in Christ (v. 10) · This deep physical pain that led Paul to plead with God three times probably seeped into Paul emotionally and spiritually. This trial, however, led Paul to lean and depend on God, and therefore experience Christ’s presence with him. Paul learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. He had not learned this through placing his trust on something that would fade, rather, he had anchored his hope in Christ, an imperishable treasure. This secret is revealed by Paul to be Christ strengthening him. The surpassing worth of knowing Christ our Lord is the secret to getting through any and every situation. ( Philippians 3:8) In the midst of our pain and brokenness, God is with us and strengthening us. How we are able to get through this and find contentment in it is through the strengthening that Christ's spirit provides. We know that we are not alone in this, but Christ has given us His Helper to get through all things with joy. 5) To wean us off dependency on ourselves and unto him (v. 10) Paul knows that when he is weak, that is actually when he is strong. That he is no longer relying on human strength but the strength and power that comes from Christ. Paul writes in chapter 1 that “we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But this was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again” God is most glorified when we are completely reliant on Him instead of ourselves. Song: Though You Slay Me ·
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.