Bro. Tom’s Weekly Bible Study
  Week #49
Posted: June 30, 2005

IN CHRIST
A Study of Positional Truths

In our last study of II Corinthians 12, we looked at a heavenly vision Paul had because of being IN CHRIST. (12:2) Paul told us that God said he could tell us nothing about what he saw. 

We continue that study this week by looking at II Corinthians 12:7-10 where Paul tells us of the price he paid for this vision of the Heavenly Paradise.  In verse 7 Paul said he was given a ‘thorn in the flesh’.  The word ‘thorn’ has two meanings.  One is a pointed or prickled piece of wood.  The second is a bodily annoyance or disability that leaves one parched and lean.  It is the second definition that Paul magnifies.  He said that Satan was the delivery boy of this thorn lest he should be ‘exalted above measure’.  The phrase ‘exalted above measure’ has the idea that Paul was given the thorn to keep him from the pride of getting too big for his britches because of the heavenly vision. 

Paul does not tell us what this painful disability was.  It must have left him in great agony because in verse 8 Paul asks the Lord three times to remove it.  The repeated request leads us to believe that there was an agonizing and begging from Paul to the Lord about this thorn.  The Lord’s answer in verse 9 ignores the thought of removing Paul’s thorn.  The Lord said, ‘My grace is sufficient’.  The word ‘grace’ here means the underserved favor of God to do and to be.  The Lord said it was ‘sufficient’ more than enough to enable Paul to withstand the pain of this thorn.  The Lord told Paul, God’s strength (all power and ability) will be perfected in weakness. 

In response to this answer Paul tells us in verse 9b that he begins to ‘glory in his infirmities’.  I feel that Paul is not telling us he is shouting over the thorn but he is ‘glorying’ in the God of the thorn.  He does this that the ‘power of Christ may rest upon him’. (9c) 

Paul tells us in verse 10, ‘he takes pleasure in infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, and distresses’.  The word ‘pleasure’ means to think well or good of something.  Can we imagine thinking good about feebleness of body and mind, harmful insults, distressing constraints, being pursued with suffering, and calamity that narrows ones space?  Paul, how could you think well of these?  Paul said in verse 10 he did it for ‘Christ sake’.  He knew that Christ was looking on.  Paul knew that Christ had responded to His suffering by saying, ‘It was the joy that was set before him’. 

Paul makes a statement in verse 10 that is diametrically opposed to all natural reasoning.  Paul said that ‘when I am weak, it is then that I am strong’.  Our strength comes not from a physical well being but a spiritual well being. 

Paul paid a price for his heavenly vision of paradise.  Although he was told to keep quiet about what he saw he did say some things that leads us to believe that he saw amazing things.  Paul said, “For I am in a straight betwixt two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ; which is far better. Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”  Paul told us that dying was a far better gain.

Let me remind us of the man while traveling to a city stopped to inquire of a little boy about the rough condition of the road.  The man asked, ‘Son, is the road rough like this all the way to town?’  The boy said, ‘No sir.  It is rough like this all the way to the grave yard.  On the other side of the grave yard it is paved and smooth all the way into town.’

Paul’s position IN CHRIST had caught a glimpse of life on the other side and even the suffering of this side would not deter his focus from the Heavenly Paradise.

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