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Paul’s Visions and Revelations


It is necessary to boast; nothing is to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. 3And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows— 4was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. 5On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. 6But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, 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.

Paul’s Concern for the Corinthian Church

11 I have been a fool! You forced me to it. Indeed you should have been the ones commending me, for I am not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing. 12The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, signs and wonders and mighty works. 13How have you been worse off than the other churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!

14 Here I am, ready to come to you this third time. And I will not be a burden, because I do not want what is yours but you; for children ought not to lay up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15I will most gladly spend and be spent for you. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 16Let it be assumed that I did not burden you. Nevertheless (you say) since I was crafty, I took you in by deceit. 17Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? 18I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Titus did not take advantage of you, did he? Did we not conduct ourselves with the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps?

19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves before you? We are speaking in Christ before God. Everything we do, beloved, is for the sake of building you up. 20For I fear that when I come, I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish; I fear that there may perhaps be quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. 21I fear that when I come again, my God may humble me before you, and that I may have to mourn over many who previously sinned and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and licentiousness that they have practiced.

12. The signs of an Apostle By the signs of an Apostle he means — the seals, that tend to confirm the evidence of his Apostleship, or, at least, for the proofs and evidences of it. “God has confirmed my Apostleship among you to such a degree, that it stands in no need of proof being adduced.” The first sign he makes mention of is patience — either because he had remained invincible, 925925     Il a tousiours demure inuincible, et ferme sans se reculer;” — “He has always remained invincible and firm, without shrinking back.” by nobly withstanding all the assaults of Satan and his enemies, and on no occasion giving way; or because, regardless of his own distinction, he suffered all injuries patiently, endured in silence countless grievances, 926926     “Il a laisse passer beaucoup de fascheries sans en faire semblant de rien;” — “He has allowed many grievances to pass, without seeming to take any notice of them.” and, by patience, overcame indignities. 927927     Beaucoup de lasches tours;” — “Many base tricks.” For a virtue so heroic is, as it were, a heavenly seal, by which the Lord marks out his Apostles.

He assigns the second place to miracles, for while he makes mention of signs and wonders and mighty deeds, he makes use of three terms, as he does elsewhere, (2 Thessalonians 2:9,) for expressing one and the same thing. Now he calls them signs, because they are not empty shows, but are appointed for the instruction of mankindwonders, because they ought, by their novelty, to arouse men, and strike them with astonishment — and powers or mighty deeds, because they are more signal tokens of Divine power, 928928     Ce sont exemples et tesmoignages plus excellent et euidens de la vertu Diuine;” — “Those are signal and manifest instances and evidences of Divine power.” than what we behold in the ordinary course of nature. Farther, we know that this was the main design of miracles, when the gospel began to be preached — that its doctrine might have greater authority given to it. Hence, the more that any one was endowed with the power of working miracles, so much the more was his ministry confirmed, as has been stated in the fifteenth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. 929929     Calvin seems to refer here more particularly to the observations made by him, when commenting on Romans 15:18. “Hie nobilis est locus de miraculorum usu: nempe ut reverentiam obedientiamque Deo apud homines comparent. Sic apud Marcum (Mark 16:20,) legis, Dominum confirmasse doetrinam subsequentibus signis. Sic Lucas in Actis (Acts 14:3,) narrat, Dominum per miracula testimonium reddidisse sermoni gratiae suoe;” — “This is an admirable passage in reference to the use of miracles — that they may secure among men reverence and obedience towards God. Thus you read in Mark 16:20, that the Lord confirmed their doctrine by signs following. So also Luke, in Acts 14:3, relates that the Lord by miracles gave testimony to the word.of his grace.” — Ed.

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