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2 Corinthians 12 Commentary

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A verse by verse commentary with quotations from many different authors.
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  2 CORITHIAS 12 COMMETARY EDITED BY GLE PEASE Paul's Vision and His Thorn 1 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 1. JAMISON, He proceeds to illustrate the glorying in infirmities (2Co 11:30). He gave one instance which might expose him to ridicule (2Co 11:33); he now gives another, but this one connected with a glorious revelation of which it was the sequel: but he dwells not on the glory done to himself, but on the infirmity   which followed it, as displaying Christ's power. The oldest manuscripts read, I MUST NEEDS  boast (or glory) though it be not expedient; for   I will come. The for gives a proof that it is not expedient to boast : I will take the case of revelations, in which if anywhere boasting might be thought harmless. Visions refers to things seen:   revelations, to things heard (compare 1Sa 9:15) or revealed   in any way. In visions their signification was not always vouchsafed; in revelations there was always an unveiling of truths before hidden (Da 2:19, 31). All parts of Scripture alike are matter of inspiration;  but not all of revelation.  There are degrees of revelation; but not of inspiration. of  --that is, from  the Lord; Christ, 2Co 12:2.2. GUZIK i. Paul's reluctance is expressed in his opening words of this chapter: It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. Paul is tired of writing about himself! He would much rather write about Jesus! But the worldly thinking which made the Corinthian Christians think little of Paul was also making them think little of Jesus, even if they couldn't perceive it.Visions and revelation ? whether they are of angels, Jesus, heaven, or other things -are more common in the New Testament than we might think.i. Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, had a vision of an angel (Luke 1:8-23).ii. Jesus' transfiguration is described as a vision for the disciples (Matthew 17:9).iii. The women who came to visit Jesus' tomb had a vision of angels (Luke 24:22-24).iv. Stephen saw a vision of Jesus at his death (Acts 7:55-56).v. Ananias experienced a vision telling him to go to Saul (Acts 9:10).vi. Peter had a vision of the clean and unclean animals (Acts 10:17-19 and 11:5).vii. Peter had a vision of an angel at his release from prison (Acts 12:9).viii. John had many visions on Patmos (Revelation 1:1).ix. Paul had a revelation of Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 22:6-11 and 26:12-  20).x. Paul had vision of a man from Macedonia, asking him to come to that region to help (Acts 16:9-10).xi. Paul had an encouraging vision while in Corinth (Acts 18:9-11).xii. Paul had a vision of an angel on the ship that was about to be wrecked (Acts 27:23-25).xiii. So, we should not be surprised if God should speak to us through some type of visions and revelations of the Lord. But we do understand that such experiences are subjective , and prone to misunderstanding and misapplication. In addition, whatever real benefit there are to visions and revelations of the Lord, they are almost always limited to the one receiving the visions and revelations. We should be rather cautious when someone reports a vision or revelation they have regarding us.xiv. How often people have wanted to tell me about their visions! I am always suspicious. I want to know what they had for supper the night before! If people have visions of this sort they are silent about them. (Morgan) 3. BARNES 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, 2Corinthians 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 John 7:41, Shall, THEN, (\~mh gar\~) Christ come out of Galilee? Acts 8:31, How can I, THEN, (\~pwv gar\~) except some man should guide me See also Acts 19:35; Romans 3:3; Philippians 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 Isaiah 1:1 , and also See Barnes Acts 9:10 . The vision which Paul here refers to was that which he was permitted to have of the heavenly world, 2Corinthians 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. 4. Calvin 1. It is not expedient for me to glory   Now, when as it were in the middle of the course, he restrains himself from proceeding farther, and in this way he most appropriately reproves the impudence of his rivals and declares that it is with reluctance, that he engages in this sort of contest with them. For what a shame it was to scrape together from every quarter commendations, or rather to go a-begging for them, that they might be on a level with so distinguished a man! As to the latter, he admonishes them by his own example, that the more numerous and the more excellent the graces by which any one of us is distinguished, so much the less ought he to think of his own excellence. For such a thought is exceedingly dangerous, because, like one entering into a labyrinth, the person is immediately dazzled, so as to be too quick-sighted in discerning his gifts, 877877 “ Ses dons et graces ;” — “His gifts and graces.” while in the mean time he is ignorant of himself. Paul is afraid, lest this should befall him. The graces conferred by God are, indeed, to be acknowledged, that we may be aroused, — first  , to gratitude for them, and secondly, to the right improvement of them; but to take occasion from them to boast — that is what cannot be done without great danger. For I will come 878878 “ I will come Marg ‘ For I will’ Our Translators have omitted ( γὰρ) , 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 ( γὰρ) , for , is used in John 7:41, ‘Shall then ( µὰ γὰρ) Christ come out of Galilee?’ Acts 8:31, ‘How can I then ( τὰς γὰρ) except some man should guide me?’” — Barnes. Granville Penn renders the passage as follows: “Must I needs boast? It is not good indeed, yet I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.” This rendering he adopts, as corresponding with the reading of the Vat. and most ancient MS. Καυχὰσθαι δεὰ οὰ συµφὰρον µὰν ὰλεὰσοµαι δὰ εὰς ὰπτασὰας καὰ ὰποκαλὰψειςΚυρὰου — Ed. to visions.  “I shall not creep on the ground, but will be constrained to mount aloft. Hence I am afraid, lest the height of my gifts should hurry me on, so as to lead me to forget myself.” And certainly, if Paul had gloried ambitiously, he would have fallen headlong from a lofty eminence; for it is humility alone that can give stability to our greatness in the sight of God.  Between visions  and revelations  there is this distinction — that a revelation is often made either in a dream, or by an oracle, without any thing being presented to the eye, while a  vision  is scarcely ever afforded without a revelation, or in other words, without the Lord’s discovering what is meant by it. 879 5. CLARKE, It is not expedient for me - There are several various readings on this verse which are too minute to be noticed here; they seem in effect to represent the  verse thus: “If it be expedient to glory, (which does not become me), I will proceed to  visions,” etc. The plain meaning of the apostle, in this and the preceding chapter, in reference to glorying is, that though to boast in any attainments, or in what God did by him, was in all possible cases to be avoided, as being contrary to the humility and simplicity of the Gospel; yet the circumstances in which he was found, in reference to the Corinthian Church, and his detractors there, rendered it absolutely necessary; not for his personal vindication, but for the honor of the Gospel, the credit of which was certainly at stake. I will come to visions - Οπτασιας·  Symbolical representations of spiritual and celestial things, in which matters of the deepest importance are exhibited to the eye of the mind by a variety of emblems, the nature and properties of which serve to illustrate those spiritual things. Revelations -  Αποκαλυψεις·  A manifestation of things not before known, and such as God alone can make known, because they are a part of his own inscrutable counsels. 6. GILL, It is not expedient doubtless for me to glory  ,.... Though it was lawful for him to glory, and was necessary in the present circumstances of things, in vindication of himself, and to preserve the Corinthians from being carried away with the insinuations of the false apostles; and so for the honour and interest of Christ and the Gospel; yet it was not expedient on some other accounts, or profitable and serviceable to himself; he might find that it tended to stir up pride, vanity, and elation of mind in him, and might be interpreted by others as proud boasting and vain glorying; wherefore he chose to drop it, and pass on to another subject; or rather though it was not expedient to proceed, yet, before he entirely quitted it, he thought it proper to say something of the extraordinary appearances of God unto him. Some copies, and the Vulgate Latin version, read, if there was need of glorying, it is not indeed expedient ; the Syriac version, there is need of glorying, but it is not expedient ; and the Arabic version, neither have I need to glory, nor is it expedient for me: I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord ; such as the Lord had made to him, and not man; and which were not the fruit of his own fancy, or the delusions of Satan; but were from the Lord Jesus Christ, and his glory. The apostle might very well speak of visions or heavenly appearances, since he was favoured with many; his conversion was owing to a vision or appearance of Christ to him, whom he saw with his bodily eyes, and heard him speaking to him, and which he calls the heavenly vision ; at another time when at Troas, a vision appeared to him in the night, and a man of Macedonia stood and prayed him to come over and help them; and when at Corinth the Lord spoke to him by a vision, and bid him not be afraid, but go on preaching the Gospel, because he had much people there to be brought in through his ministry: and as for revelations, besides what are ordinary and common to all believers, he had extraordinary ones; the Gospel and the scheme of it, the knowledge of the several
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