SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Paul continues his “foolish” boasting and talks about a man who was caught up into the third heaven and heard things that he was not permitted to tell. From verses five and six, along with verse one, it seems clear that Paul is talking about himself. When Paul says the "third heaven" he is talking about the place where God dwells, as opposed to the sky or the stars which could be considered the first and second heavens.
- Paul talks about a thorn in his side that torments him, which he begged God to take away, but was told, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul said that the thorn in his side was a messenger from Satan. What this thorn/messenger was isn’t known. Some scholars think Paul may have been referring to a physical condition or ailment like poor eyesight, or deficient speaking skills. Others think it could be a reminder of his persecution of Christians, or some temptation he struggled with.
- Paul makes the point that children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. Paul is like a parent to the Corinthians and never wants to burden them.
- Everything that Paul does is for their strengthening and he’s afraid that when he comes they will not be as they should be in obedience to Jesus.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- We like to focus on and brag about our strengths, but it's in our weaknesses that we rely on God's strength. And so our weakest spots can become our strongest. And it's in our weakness that we can experience the presence and power of God like nowhere else in our life.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Paul talked about having a thorn in his flesh that torments him. Do you have any “thorns” that torment you, like an ailment, medical condition, past relationship, abuse, or addiction? Paul was told that God’s grace is sufficient for him and that God’s power is made perfect when he’s weak. Let whatever torments you drive you to God. Seek God’s grace and presence in your life. Start asking God to use your weakness for his kingdom and focus on his grace being enough!