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Introduction to 2nd Corinthians Chapter 12

THIS chapter is a continuation of the same general subject which was discussed in the two previous chapters. The general design of the apostle is to defend himself from the charges brought against him in Corinth; and especially, as would appear, from the charge that he had no claims to the character of an apostle. In the previous chapters he had met these charges, and had shown that he had just cause to be bold towards them; that he had in his life given evidence that he was called to this work; and especially that by his successes and by his sufferings he had shown that he had evidence that he had been truly engaged in the work of the Lord Jesus. This chapter contains the following subjects :—

(1.) Paul appeals to another evidence that he was engaged in the apostolic office—an evidence to which none of his accusers could appeals that he had been permitted to behold the glories of the heavenly world, 2 Co 12:1-10. In the previous chapter he had mentioned his trials. Here he says, (2 Co 12:1) that as they had compelled him to boast, he would mention the revelation which he had had of the Lord. He details, therefore, the remarkable vision which he had had several years before, (2 Co 12:2-4,) when he was caught up to heaven, and permitted to behold the wonders there. Yet he says, that lest such an extraordinary manifestation should exalt him above measure, he was visited with a sore and peculiar trial—a trial from which he prayed earnestly to be delivered, but that he received answer that the grace of God would be sufficient to support him, 2 Co 12:5-9. It was in view of this, he says, (2 Co 12:10,) that he had pleasure in infirmities and sufferings in the cause of the Redeemer.

(2.) He then (2 Co 12:11,12) sums up what he had said; draws the conclusion that he had given every sign or evidence that he was an apostle; that in all that pertained to toil, and patience, and miracles, he had shown that he was commissioned by the Saviour; though with characteristic modesty he said he was nothing.

(3.) He then expresses his purpose to come again and see them, and his intention then not to be burdensome to them, 2 Co 12:13-15. He was willing to labour for them, and to exhaust his strength in endeavouring to promote their welfare without receiving support from them; for he regarded himself in the light of a father to them, and it was not usual for children to support their parents.

(4.) In connexion with this, he answers another charge against himself. Some accused him of being crafty; that though he did not burden them, yet he knew well how to manage so as to secure what he wanted without burdening them, or seeming to receive anything from them, 2 Co 12:16. To this he answers by an appeal to fact. Particularly he appeals to the conduct of Titus when with them, in full proof that he had no such design, 2 Co 12:17-19.

(5.) In the conclusion of the chapter he expresses his fear that when he should come among them he would find much that would humble them, and give him occasion for severity of discipline, 2 Co 12:20,21. This apprehension is evidently expressed in order that they might be led to examine themselves, and to put away whatever was wrong.

Verse 1. It is not expedient. It is not well; it does not become me. This may either mean that he felt and admitted that it did not become him to boast in this manner; that there was an impropriety in his doing it, though circumstances had compelled him—and in this sense it is understood by nearly, or quite, all expositors; or it may be taken ironically: "Such a man as I am ought not to boast. So you say, and so it would seem. A man who has done no more than I have; who has suffered nothing; who has been idle and at ease as I have been, ought surely not to boast. And since there is such an evident impropriety in my boasting and speaking about myself, I will turn to another matter, and inquire whether the same thing may not be said about visions and revelations. I will speak, therefore, of a man who had some remarkable revelations, and inquire whether he has any right to boast of the favours imparted to him." This seems to me to be the probable interpretation of this passage.

To glory. To boast, 2 Co 10:8,13; 11:10.

One of the charges which they alleged against him was, that he was given to boasting without any good reason. After the enumeration in the previous chapter of what he had done and suffered, he says that this was doubtless very true. Such a man has nothing to boast of.

I will come. Marg., "For I will." Our translators have omitted the word (gar) for in the text, evidently supposing that it is a mere expletive. Doddridge renders it, "nevertheless." But it seems to me that it contains an important sense, and that it should be rendered by THEN: "Since it is not fit that I should glory, then I will refer to visions, etc. I will turn away, then, from that subject, and come to another." Thus the word (gar) is used in Joh 7:41, "Shall, THEN, (mh gar) Christ come out of Galilee?" Ac 8:31, "How can I, THEN, (pwv gar) except some man should guide me" See also Ac 19:35; Ro 3:3; Php 1:18.


To visions. The word vision is used in the Scriptures often to denote the mode in which Divine communications were usually made to men. This was done by causing some scene to appear to pass before the mind as in a landscape, so that the individual seemed to see a representation of what was to occur in some future period. It was usually applied to prophecy, and is often used in the Old Testament. See Barnes "Isa 1:1, and also See Barnes "Ac 9:10".

The vision which Paul here refers to was that which he was permitted to have of the heavenly world, 2 Co 12:4. He was permitted to see what perhaps no other mortal had seen, the glory of heaven.

And revelations of the Lord. Which the Lord had made. Or it may mean manifestations which the Lord had made of himself to him. The word rendered revelations means, properly, an uncovering, apokaluqeiv, from apokaluptw, to uncover; and denotes a removal of the vail of ignorance and darkness, so that an object may be clearly seen; and is thus applied to truth revealed, because the obscurity is removed, and the truth becomes manifest.

{1} "I will come" "For I will"

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