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7even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. 8Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, 9but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

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7. exalted above measureGreek, "overmuch uplifted." How dangerous must self-exaltation be, when even the apostle required so much restraint! [Bengel].

abundanceGreek, "the excess"; exceeding greatness.

given … me—namely, by God (Job 5:6; Php 1:29).

thorn in the flesh—(Nu 33:55; Eze 28:24). Alford thinks it to be the same bodily affliction as in Ga 4:13, 14. It certainly was something personal, affecting him individually, and not as an apostle: causing at once acute pain (as "thorn" implies) and shame ("buffet": as slaves are buffeted, 1Pe 2:20).

messenger of Satan—who is permitted by God to afflict His saints, as Job (Job 2:7; Lu 13:16).

to buffet me—In Greek, present: to buffet me even now continuously. After experiencing the state of the blissful angels, he is now exposed to the influence of an evil angel. The chastisement from hell follows soon upon the revelation from heaven. As his sight and hearing had been ravished with heavenly "revelations," so his touch is pained with the "thorn in the flesh."

8. For—"concerning this thing."

thrice—To his first and second prayer no answer came. To his third the answer came, which satisfied his faith and led him to bow his will to God's will. So Paul's master, Jesus, thrice prayed on the Mount of Olives, in resignation to the Father's will. The thorn seems (from 2Co 12:9, and Greek, 2Co 12:7, "that he may buffet me") to have continued with Paul when he wrote, lest still he should be "overmuch lifted up."

the Lord—Christ. Escape from the cross is not to be sought even indirectly from Satan (Lu 4:7). "Satan is not to be asked to spare us" [Bengel].

9. said—literally, "He hath said," implying that His answer is enough [Alford].

is sufficient—The trial must endure, but the grace shall also endure and never fail thee [Alford], (De 33:25). The Lord puts the words into Paul's mouth, that following them up he might say, "O Lord, Thy grace is sufficient for me" [Bengel].

my strengthGreek, "power."

is made perfect—has its most perfect manifestation.

in weakness—Do not ask for sensible strength, FOR My power is perfected in man's "strengthlessness" (so the Greek). The "for" implies, thy "strengthlessness" (the same Greek as is translated "weakness"; and in 2Co 12:10, "infirmities") is the very element in which My "power" (which moves coincident with "My grace") exhibits itself more perfectly. So that Paul instead of desiring the infirmity to "depart," "rather" henceforth "glories in infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest (Greek, 'tabernacle upon,' cover my infirmity all over as with a tabernacle; compare Greek, Joh 1:12) upon" him. This effect of Christ's assurance on him appears, 2Co 4:7; 1Co 2:3, 4; compare 1Pe 4:14. The "My" is omitted in some of the oldest manuscripts; the sense is the same, "power" (referring to God's power) standing absolutely, in contrast to "weakness" (put absolutely, for man's weakness). Paul often repeats the word "weakness" or "infirmity" (the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth chapters) as being Christ's own word. The Lord has more need of our weakness than of our strength: our strength is often His rival; our weakness, His servant, drawing on His resources, and showing forth His glory. Man's extremity is God's opportunity; man's security is Satan's opportunity. God's way is not to take His children out of trial, but to give them strength to bear up against it (Ps 88:7; Joh 17:15).

10. take pleasure in—too strongly. Rather as the Greek, "I am well contented in."

infirmities—the genus. Two pairs of species follow, partly coming from "Satan's messenger," partly from men.


when—in all the cases just specified.

then—then especially.

strong—"powerful" in "the power of Christ" (2Co 12:9; 2Co 13:4; Heb 11:34).