a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

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.

20. For I fear He declares, in what way it tends to their edification, that his integrity should be vindicated, for, on the ground that he had come into contempt, many grew wanton, as it were, with loosened reins. Now respect for him would have been a means of leading them to repentance, for they would have listened to his admonitions.

I fear, says he. This fear proceeded from love, for, unless he had been concerned as to their welfare, he would very readily have overlooked all this, from which he sought to obtain no personal advantage. For otherwise we are afraid to give occasion of offense, when we foresee that it will be hurtful to ourselves.

And I shall be found by you. Here is a second ground of fear — lest he should be constrained to act with greater severity. Now it is a token not merely of love, but even of indulgence, to shun severity, and have recourse to milder measures. “As to my striving at present to maintain my authority, and endeavoring to bring you back to obedience, I do this, lest I should find occasion to punish your obstinacy more severely, if I come, and find among you nothing of amendment.” He teaches, accordingly, by his example, that mild remedies must always be resorted to by Pastors, for the correction of faults, before they have recourse to extreme severity; and, at the same time, that we must, by admonitions and reproofs, prevent the necessity of having recourse to the utmost rigor.

Lest, by any means, there be contentions. He enumerates the vices, which chiefly prevailed among the Corinthians; almost all of which proceeded from the same source. For had not every one been devoted to self, they would never have contended with each other — they would never have envied one another — there would have been no slandering among them. 938938     Ils n’eussent iamais mesdit l’vn de l’autre;” — “They would never have slandered one another.” Thus the sum and substance of the first catalogue 939939     Du premier denombrement de leur vices qu’il fait yci;” — “Of the first enumeration that he makes here of their vices.” is want of love, because (φιλαυτία) self-love, 940940     Calvin has here very probably in his eye 2 Timothy 3:2, in commenting on which, he calls his readers to remark, that the vice first noticed by the Apostle in that passage — self-love (φιλαυτία), may be considered to be the fountain, as it were, of all the other vices there enumerated by him — avarice, boasting, pride, etc. — See Calvin’s Harmony, vol. 2, p. 69, and vol. 3, p. 60; also Calvin’s Institutes, volume 1. and ambition prevailed.

VIEWNAME is study