2 Corinthians 12

* The apostle's revelations. (1-6) Which were improved to his

spiritual advantage. (7-10) The signs of an apostle were in him,

His purpose of making them a visit; but he expresses his fear

lest he should have to be severe with some. (11-21)

1-6 There can be no doubt the apostle speaks of himself.

Whether heavenly things were brought down to him, while his body

was in a trance, as in the case of ancient prophets; or whether

his soul was dislodged from the body for a time, and taken up

into heaven, or whether he was taken up, body and soul together,

he knew not. We are not capable, nor is it fit we should yet

know, the particulars of that glorious place and state. He did

not attempt to publish to the world what he had heard there, but

he set forth the doctrine of Christ. On that foundation the

church is built, and on that we must build our faith and hope.

And while this teaches us to enlarge our expectations of the

glory that shall be revealed, it should render us contented with

the usual methods of learning the truth and will of God.
7-10 The apostle gives an account of the method God took to

keep him humble, and to prevent his being lifted up above

measure, on account of the visions and revelations he had. We

are not told what this thorn in the flesh was, whether some

great trouble, or some great temptation. But God often brings

this good out of evil, that the reproaches of our enemies help

to hide pride from us. If God loves us, he will keep us from

being exalted above measure; and spiritual burdens are ordered

to cure spiritual pride. This thorn in the flesh is said to be a

messenger of Satan which he sent for evil; but God designed it,

and overruled it for good. Prayer is a salve for every sore, a

remedy for every malady; and when we are afflicted with thorns

in the flesh, we should give ourselves to prayer. If an answer

be not given to the first prayer, nor to the second, we are to

continue praying. Troubles are sent to teach us to pray; and are

continued, to teach us to continue instant in prayer. Though God

accepts the prayer of faith, yet he does not always give what is

asked for: as he sometimes grants in wrath, so he sometimes

denies in love. When God does not take away our troubles and

temptations, yet, if he gives grace enough for us, we have no

reason to complain. Grace signifies the good-will of God towards

us, and that is enough to enlighten and enliven us, sufficient

to strengthen and comfort in all afflictions and distresses. His

strength is made perfect in our weakness. Thus his grace is

manifested and magnified. When we are weak in ourselves, then we

are strong in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; when we feel

that we are weak in ourselves, then we go to Christ, receive

strength from him, and enjoy most the supplies of Divine

strength and grace.
11-21 We owe it to good men, to stand up in the defence of

their reputation; and we are under special obligations to those

from whom we have received benefit, especially spiritual

benefit, to own them as instruments in God's hand of good to us.

Here is an account of the apostle's behaviour and kind

intentions; in which see the character of a faithful minister of

the gospel. This was his great aim and design, to do good. Here

are noticed several sins commonly found among professors of

religion. Falls and misdeeds are humbling to a minister; and God

sometimes takes this way to humble those who might be tempted to

be lifted up. These vast verses show to what excesses the false

teachers had drawn aside their deluded followers. How grievous

it is that such evils should be found among professors of the

gospel! Yet thus it is, and has been too often, and it was so

even in the days of the apostles.

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