2 Corinthians, 12
Depending on God
1: It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2: I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3: And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4: How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5: Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. 6: For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. 7: And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8: For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9: And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10: Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Paul says in this chapter that it has become necessary to glory in his ministry to make the point that his ministry is in no way inferior than these ‘super apostles’ who trouble the churches. Here he relates his amazing visions. (He speaks in the third person) He says, l knew a man in Christ, who fourteen years ago had such visions of the heaven, (were God dwells), that he did not know whether he was in the Body or in the Spirit - only God knows. Paul says, he was caught up into the third heaven. [There are three ‘heavens’ in scripture. There is the heaven were the birds fly, which we call the atmosphere. There is the heaven were the sun, moon and stars are, which we call outer pace. Then there is the third heaven where God is. Where outer space ends - there the third heaven begins.] Paul says, he (himself) was caught up into paradise and heard things unable to be described in words. They were things which are so holy that it is not lawful for man to speak of them. Paul says, l will glory in God but not in myself, but l will glory in my infirmities. Then Paul says, l have been foolish enough and will stop this tomfoolery. And l will stop so that people will not think of me greater than what l am. To prevent me from getting above myself, because of the many revelations that l received, God gave me a special difficulty in the body. It was a special thing, from Satan, which prevented me from getting proud of myself. And three times l asked the Lord to take this thing away, yet he said to me that his enabling grace would be sufficient for me to bear it. You see my spiritual strength is made strong in the midst of my bodily weakness and so therefore l will glory in my infirmities so that the power of Christ will rest upon me. In a way l take pleasure in my weakness and in infirmities, in reproaches, in my needs, in persecution and in my total poverty for Christ’s sake because at this moment of weakness God makes me strong as l trust in him completely.