2 Corinthians Chapter 12-13

September 6, 2012

This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on 2 Corinthians. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.

You can listen to the study by clicking here

2 Corinthians 12:1-21 (NIV)
1 I must go on boasting. Although 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 fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know–God knows. 3 And I know that this man–whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows– 4 was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, 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 refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say. 7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me 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 he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 11 I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing. 12 The things that mark an apostle–signs, wonders and miracles–were done among you with great perseverance. 13 How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong! 14 Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less? 16 Be that as it may, I have not been a burden to you. Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery! 17 Did I exploit you through any of the men I sent you? 18 I urged Titus to go to you and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not act in the same spirit and follow the same course? 19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening. 20 For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. 21 I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.

2 Corinthians 13:1-14 (NIV)
1 This will be my third visit to you. “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” 2 I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, 3 since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. 4 For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him to serve you. 5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test? 6 And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. 7 Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong. Not that people will see that we have stood the test but that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. 8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection. 10 This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority–the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down. 11 Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints send their greetings. 14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

2 Corinthians 12:1-5

Paul continues with his boasting by talking about revelations that the Lord had given him. Paul talks about being taken up to the third haven, a reference to the highest part of the heavens, beyond the atmosphere and the stars. He wasn’t sure if he had gone in body or spirit but he had been there. While it is impossible to link this with any specific time in Paul’s life, it seems to me that it might have taken place when Paul had been stoned and left for dead in Acts Chapter 14:

Acts 14:19-20 (NIV)
19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.

2 Corinthians 12:6-10

Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Again we can’t be certain of what this is because we are not told in scripture. There are a lot of ideas floating around. Among the top contenders are malaria, epilepsy, or a disease of the eyes because of Galatians 4:13-15:

Galatians 4:13-15 (NIV)
13 As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. 14 Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. 15 What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me.

What the disease was is really not the issue. The issue is that it was an ongoing problem for Paul. It was a hindrance to his life and ministry and he prayed for God to take it away, but God never did. Instead, God told him that His grace was sufficient. Paul prayed for healing in a lot of people who were healed, and yet in his own life his prayer for healing was not answered. We don’t fully understand why. Why are some people healed and others not? God has a sovereign plan. Our task is to pray, believe and trust. The results are always on God. Even though God did not heal Paul, He did promise to demonstrate His power in Paul. The fact that God displays His power in our weakness should be something that encourages all of us. It is not up to us to make anything happen, to force anything to happen, to manipulate, to play mind games, to place blame for what we perceive as a lack of results. It is always up to Him. We just need to be vessels that He can use. Our limitations should make us realize that we are dependent on Him for everything.

2 Corinthians 12:11-21

Paul reminds the Corinthians again that he had come to them without being a burden to them in any way. Paul explained that he was not looking for money like the false teachers and apostles, but that he truly only desired that the Corinthians believers would be blessed by the ministry he did there.

2 Corinthians 13:1-3

As we enter the last chapter of 2 Corinthians, Paul begins by saying that when he arrives, he is going to deal with any issues that have not been repented of.

2 Corinthians 13:4-7

Paul encourages the Corinthians to take a good look at themselves and to get serious about their walk with Christ. To start living by doing the next right thing. If we are not actively seeking to grow closer to God, we are drawing farther away from him.

2 Corinthians 13:8-13

Paul has a father’s heart for the Corinthian church and he desires to see them grow and mature in their faith. Changed lives are what we should all desire to see in our lives and the lives of the people we are ministering to.

Like a good dad, Paul’s hope was to build up and strengthen the believers, not to tear them down. This is a good reminder to us about the importance of the Ministry of Encouragement. We should always try to be people that build each other up, not tear each other down.

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